Free Mark Cuban!

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During an NBA contest between the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz several years ago, a shoving match at the low post quickly mutated into a bench-clearing brawl. In time-honored pro sports fashion, the fans were treated to the spectacle of world-class athletes conducting an empty and largely harmless pantomime of actual violence.

Somehow, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban ended up on the floor at the periphery of the mle.

Cuban, a legitimate self-made billionaire internet entrepreneur, can usually be found sitting court-side. With splendid indifference to the informal rules of team owner decorum, Cuban can be found mingling with the fans and hurling abuse at opposing players and officials alike. So when the scuffle erupted, Cuban figured he’d get a taste of the action — or at least a suitable substitute that he could enjoy at a minimum safe distance.

The following day, Cuban made a comment to the effect that he wanted a piece of Jazz power forward Karl Malone. This gesture was a bit like an asthma hound Chihuahua calling out a cape buffalo. I found myself admiring Cuban’s audacity even as I entertained doubts about his sanity.

Only recently did I learn that Cuban, in addition to being a wildly successful businessman and a genuinely brilliant if occasionally abrasive person, is an individualist whose favorite author is Ayn Rand.

Cuban’s favorite book is The Fountainhead, which in my view was Rand’s best work; Cuban claims to have re-read it on several occasions, and was prepared to finance an updated version of the film. (The 1949 film, in my view, is among the finest movie adaptations from a novel, surpassed only by the pitch-perfect 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.)

Much to his credit, Cuban’s defiant individualism extends to more important matters than court-side deportment. He provoked the theatrical condemnation of coprocephalic talk show goon Bill O’Reilly by offering to bankroll the cinematic distribution of the 9-11 revisionist documentary Loose Change, which presented evidence that the Black Tuesday atrocity was an “inside job" by the Bush Regime, which sought a pretext for war with (inter alia) Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

O’Reilly, who suffers a severe histaminic reaction whenever he’s exposed to critical thinking, insisted that Loose Change was a “diversion” from the sacred war on terror that shouldn’t be “given a platform” of the sort Cuban offered. Cuban riposted that since the film was already in circulation on the internet and through other samizdat channels, it made more sense to bring it out in the open and confront its claims honestly.

“I’m not going to back away from a topic because it’s controversial,” Cuban promised, doubtless causing O’Reilly’s wattles to become empurpled with outrage.

Cuban’s talk radio exchange with O’Reilly apparently was overheard by Jeffrey B. Morris, a Ft. Worth attorney employed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), one of the Regime’s most corrupt and useless enforcement appendages.

Inconsolably offended that someone would insult the supposed honor of his Fhrer, Norris appears to have fashioned some kind of derogatory depiction of Cuban and threatened to make it public; this, it seems, prompted Cuban to threaten action of some kind in defense of his reputation.

The New York Times reproduced key excerpts of e-mail correspondence between Norris and Cuban:

"Previously, I thought you were merely foolish and naïve. Now, however, I see that you are also a hypocrite. I guess your belief in free speech has severe limitations. If someone else is the victim of an absurd conspiracy theory, you defend your right to participate in smearing the good name of a patriot like President Bush. But, when you are the subject of a parody of the attack you have endorsed, you suddenly issue threats.

I think I will e-mail this to Chairman Cox myself. I think he will enjoy it. I’m sure he is also a Laker fan.

Since Chairman Cox may not know the background, I will explain. [The following would be sent to Cox by Norris.] Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and has participated in distributing the vicious and absurd documentary, "Loose Change," which posits that President Bush planned the demolition of the World Trade Center as a pretext for going to war against Iraq. We have had some past exchanges about my opinion the Mr. Cuban’s support for this project is irresponsible and immoral. Below, I parodied his position that every opinion, no matter how absurd and vicious, deserves to be broadly disseminated."

It’s difficult to see how this could be interpreted as anything other than a blackmail threat, best summarized as follows: “Withdraw your support for Loose Change, and retract your unpatriotic smear of our Dear Leader, or I’ll take up this matter with someone who can really mess your s**t up."

This was apparently the first time Cuban had attracted the malevolent attention of the SEC’s "Patriotism Enforcement" division. He may have provoked official retaliation by his most recent effort to expose official squalor to the disinfecting rays of public sunlight. Cuban has underwritten the investigative website BailoutSleuth.com, which is devoted to chronicling and exposing the details of the largest economic crime in history: The theft of trillions of dollars from the middle class to cushion the financial collapse of politically favored Wall Street welfare whores.

Not too long ago, Cuban only had to worry about being criticized by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and paying NBA fines for criticizing the most corrupt officials in professional sports. His willingness to finance this indispensable exercise in forensic journalism has made him an Official Enemy of the Ruling Oligarchy and exposed him to retaliation from the Regime.

On November 17, the SEC announced it was filing a civil complaint against Cuban alleging that he had been involved in “insider trading” four years ago.

The SEC complaint is really weak beer. It alleges that in 2004, the CEO of a Canadian internet company called Mamma.com notified Cuban — at the time the company’s largest shareholder — that the company was going to raise capital through a PIPE (Public Investment in Private Equity) offering. Reportedly offered a chance to participate, Cuban allegedly became very upset, believing (correctly, as it happened) that a PIPE offering would dilute the value of his own holdings.

Cuban supposedly complained that he was “screwed” because he “couldn’t sell” his stock on the basis of privileged information, and would simply have to take a beating. Yet, according to the complaint, Cuban did arrange to unload his entire share in Mamma.com before the PIPE offering was made public. This, according to the SEC, was “securities fraud [committed] by engaging in insider trading,” and that by engaging in this purported fraud “Cuban avoided losses in excess of $750,000.”

The “evidence” adduced in the complaint amounts to Cuban’s word against that of an unspecified accuser, filtered in such a way that parts of it amount to second-hand hearsay. The merits of the evidence aside, I’m of the opinion that the activity called “insider trading” is an artifact of corrupt prosecutorial ambition, as opposed to a description of a legitimate crime of fraud.

It’s worth remembering that last September the SEC, which would have us believe Mark Cuban is a menace to honest commerce, actually banned short-selling the stocks of financial institutions whose rotted foundations were visibly disintegrating. This ban was imposed, according to the SEC, in order to “restore falling stock prices that have shattered confidence in the financial markets….”

Well … no.

That ban was imposed to keep the stock prices of fatally corrupt financial institutions artificially high. It was more than simply a vulgar political manipulation of the market; it was an act of Soviet-style intimidation in the service of a politically necessary fiction for the benefit of the favored, fraudulent few on Wall Street.

Herr Paulson, Comrade Bernanke, and their enablers and minions have redistributed an estimated five trillion dollars into the hands of impenitent fraud artists and thieves.

The architects of that crime insist that they owe no accounting to anybody for their actions. Thanks to the bailout legislation extorted from Congress under the literal threat of state terrorism, there is no mechanism of public accountability for this process.

Mr. Cuban, who is among the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, recognizes a critical market gap when he sees it. He also has an honest man’s impatience with self-serving bovine residue. Hence his decision to fund BailoutSleuth.com, which immediately began to exhume and publicize fetid details regarding carefully redacted crony contracts, the squalid compensation arrangements for the mendicant Wall Street nomenklatura, and other invaluable details regarding this world-historic crime.

So now the same official financial enforcement apparatus that is laboring to put hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars into the hands of unreconstructed Wall Street criminals has targeted Mark Cuban for ruin over a purported offense involving $750,000.

This is like Stalin and Vyshinsky taking a breather from the work of slaughtering millions of human beings in order to prosecute someone for cruelty to animals.

Let there be no ambiguity about the matter: This is unalloyed retaliatory intimidation, the purpose of which is as transparent as the mechanics of the Plutocrat Bailout have been opaque. The rulers of this nation are aware that the financial system is in an irreversible implosion; like their counterparts in the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union circa 1990, they are prepared to strip this country bare before the collapse is consummated, and they’re willing to ruin anybody with the means to pose any kind of plausible threat.

Cuban denies the allegations and promises to fight the SEC. Taking on the Leviathan is an even more formidable prospect than throwing down with Karl Malone. It would be worthwhile for decent people in numbers as large as can be arranged to let Cuban know that we have his back.

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] writes the Pro Libertate blog.

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