Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tales From Fantasyland


As a change of pace, I thought it might be a nice idea to run through the latest DVD releases and toss in a little more from the wonderful world of fantasy and imagination.

A new box set of Gary Cooper movies is coming on DVD, according to the New York Times. Let's see... oh, according to the AP, a musical version of The Addams Family will be coming out soon.

What else have we got? Hmmm. . . oh, here we go. Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne shared with us his latest paranoid fantasy on the Investor Village message board. Seems that Barron's financial weekly is taking its marching orders from a web of international criminals. Oh my goodness!

What touched off this latest in a spate of bizarre, nutty rants from "Sith Lord" Byrne is a routine article in Barron's. This is apparently what set him off on a rampage:

Prior to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, suspicious trading of puts was spotted in American and United airlines. There was similarly suspicious trading in Europe in insurance-company stocks. U.S. intelligence agencies determined that portfolio managers coincidentally initiated the trades before al Qaeda's attack.
No! No! It was a conspiracy of naked short sellers! Obviously Barron's was under instructions to hide the truth! Said Byrne:

"INSTRUCTIONS: You are to write an article about criminals manipulating stock markets on an international scale. However, under no circumstances will you mention 'naked shorting' or even 'shorting.' Instead, refer to 'puts,' even if you have to write some terribly awkward sentence. . .
So what you have is another of a long line of conspiracies at work, this one preventing Barron's from revealing the truth -- a criminal conspiracy to naked-short stocks ahead of the attacks.

No matter that there was no calculated trading in advance of 9-11, as Alexander Rose pointed out in a definitive National Review article a few years ago. This is, after all, a drama being carried out in Byrne's mind, not the real world.

In his somewhat scary, unsigned reverie, Byrne -- posting as "Hannibal" (Reg. FD be damned) -- reflects as follows:

Really wild.

"First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. Then they circumlocute."
Not exactly. The real-world procedure is "First you make a damn fool of yourself. Then they ridicule you. Then the board of directors fires you." I expect that Byrne's latest "please fire me" cry for help will go unanswered by his lapdog board of directors, as usual.

I wonder if Byrne's bizarre, paranoid message board posts are known to the political figures Byrne has been courting via his massive campaign contributions? Byrne is known for his right-wing posturing and support of causes like school vouchers, but posting nutty rants on message boards is his true passion.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.

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