Monday, November 21, 2011

The Tangled History of Occupy Wall Street 's Nemesis

Wall Street heroes are anti-naked shorting conspiracy theorists

There's an intriguing item in Business Insider today about two "heroes of Wall Street": John and Derek Tabacco, who counter-demonstrated against Occupy Wall Street last week, holding up green posters that read "Get A Job" and "Occupy A Desk!"

"They then declared their movement the 'Wall Street Freedom Fighters.'", Business Insider pointed out. Their two-man counter-demonstration was first reported by Business Insider and Salon.

The Tabacco brothers operate something called They are also leading "naked short selling" conspiracy theorists, who have been quoted all over the media, including by the estimable (and, on naked shorting, distressingly gullible) Matt Taibbi on the subject of this ferocious but largely imaginary menace to the financial markets.

What Taibbi didn't point out, in quoting Tabacco expounding on the subject, is that John Tabacco worked for the investor ripoff shop called First Hanover, as Salon has pointed out. He was barred from the securities industry for his activities there. Salon has previously reported the brothers' strange history in other areas. Kind of impacts on Tabacco's credibility, wouldn't you say?

John Tabacco's scuzzy background is not surprising. Naked shorting conspiracy theories were originally promoted by penny stock brokers, before being spread to the world at large by the ancestral bank roll of their friend and benefactor, CEO Patrick Byrne.

Byrne, an outspoken right-wing activist, foul-mouthed misogynist and campaign financier, has tried to link his nutty conspiracy theories to Occupy Wall Street, even though he is the living embodiment of everything OWS is fighting--and his conspiracy theories exonerate Wall Street banks for collapsing the market in 2008. Byrne has promoted his theories in tandem with the Tabaccos, promoting on Overstock's website and on CNBC. In a bizarre incident in 2006, Byrne actually held up a sign naming and a conspiracy-theory website during a CNBC appearance (above).

In addition to First Hanover, John Tabacco also was employed by Russo Securities and DH Blair, both notorious penny-stock emporiums. After his expulsion from the securities industry, Tabacco tooled around in various jobs before deciding to become an anti-nekked-shorting conspiracy theorist. At one point he was business partners with the worst SEC chairman in the history of the universe, Bush-appointed clown Harvey Pitt.

I've got to give the Tabaccos credit. At least they haven't tried to present themselves as friends of OWS, but rather as what they and the naked shorting conspiracists really are: shills for Wall Street, trying and failing to divert the public's attention from real issues and real problems.

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
AYN RAND NATION: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, will be published by St. Martin's Press on Feb. 28, 2012. Click here to pre-order the book from, and here to pre-order from Barnes & Noble. Follow me on Twitter @gary_weiss.

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