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March 2010
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Wall Street State of Mind

[Those of you who have never had the grand pleasure of knowing Wall Street people should read this.  That Wall Street only exists because of massive taxpayer give-aways doesn't even enter their minds.  Enjoy this glass of undistilled narcissism -  Mike.] 

We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether it's a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourselves. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don't take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don't demand a union. We don't retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I'll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we're going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we're going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren't going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it's really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?"

Goldman Sachs is Under Criminal Investigation

Ding dong the witch is (almost) dead:

Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into trading at Goldman Sachs, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the investigation is still in a preliminary stage, the move could escalate the legal troubles swirling around Goldman.

Dear Department of Justice lawyers who read this page: I guarantee you that I can make a criminal case against Goldman Sachs.  Call me.  I will work pro bono.  You can have all of the glory.

You should also talk to AUSA Joseph Paul Facciponti.  He's the lawyer prosecuting Sergey Aleynikov on behalf of Goldman Sachs.  At Aleynikov's bail hearing, Facciponti told a judge that Aleynkikov allegedly stole software from Goldman Sachs that could "manipulate markets in unfair ways."

Perhaps you should ask AUSA Facciponti why Goldman Sachs has in its possession software that unfairly manipulate markets.  Perhaps Goldman Sachs should be investigated for having software that unfairly manipulate markets.

Clearly AUSA Facciponti has substantial information regarding Goldman Sachs' illegal trading activities.  Perhaps you should remove AUSA Facciponti from the malicious prosecution of Aleynikov, and instead have him focus on the real criminals inside Goldman Sachs.

Brian J. Hogan: Goldman Sachs' Next Star Trader?

The iPhone thief has been discovered.  His name is Brian J. Hogan, and he's a miserable thief:

The person who found and sold an Apple iPhone prototype says he regrets not doing more to return the device to its owner, according to a statement provided by his attorney Thursday in response to queries from

Make no mistake, he regrets getting caught:

According to the statement from his lawyer, Hogan was in the bar with friends when another patron handed him the phone after finding it on a nearby stool. The patron asked Hogan if the phone belonged to him, and then left the bar. Hogan asked others sitting nearby if the phone belonged to them, and when no one claimed it, he and his friends left the bar with the device.

I've found cell phones twice.  The first time, I called the first number I saw in the address book.  The second time, I sent a text to "Mom."  That's because I wanted to return their phones.

Hogan didn’t know what he had until he removed a fake cover from the device and realized it must be a prototype of Apple’s upcoming next-generation iPhone, according to Gizmodo’s account of the find.

several journalists were offered a look at the device. received an e-mail March 28 — not from Hogan — offering access to the iPhone, but did not follow up on the exchange after the tipster made a thinly veiled request for money. Gizmodo then paid $5,000 in cash for it. 

He's only 21.  Give him a break.  Maybe.  Maybe not: 

The owners of the bar told reporters that Hogan didn’t notify anyone who worked at the bar about the phone. They also said Powell returned several times after losing the phone to see if anyone had found it and turned it in. 

Most criminality starts young.  Sociopaths start torturing animals at 8-years old.  Show me a 50-year old who is cooking your books, and I'll show you someone who was stealing cell phones in his 20s.  

In fact, this person's age belies his criminal sophistication.  At the young age of 21, he knew the iPhone was a prototype.  He knew that journalists would be interested in the phone.  He knew quite a bit for being a humble man-child who merely exercised "poor judgment."

A good prosecutor will charge this case properly.  Hopefully Hogan doesn't face felony charges.  A misdemeanor diversion plea that would allow him to clear his record after behaving for a year, should be enough of a lesson.  Don't ruin his life.

His name, however, deserves to be plastered all over the Internet.  If someone wants to hire someone who was selling stolen iPhones in his 20s, go for it.  But at least be fully informed about it.

And, heck, the kid has pluck.  How many of us would have been able to sell an iPhone for five grand?  If I had intended to steal the phone and found it non-workable, I'd have tossed it.  This kid had the entrepreneurial spirit to recognize value in stolen property.

In fact, Brian Hogan would fit in nicely at Goldman Sachs.   Brian, Goldman's PR people check in here regularly.  Do attach a resume, as you'd fit in perfectly.

Ho-Hum, Off to Lunch

Scott Greenfeld comments on the recent case in Nevada, where a woman was sentenced to life imprisonment for allowing a teenage boy to touch her clothed breast.  His best point is the saddest:

And then there's the judge, whose casual demeanor toward his duty was painful to watch. When he allowed defense counsel to pursue her constitutional argument over the prosecutor's objection, the outcome became clear. But his imposition of a life sentence for what, at best, can be describes as a trivial offense, without any indication that he was disturbed at being a grocery clerk for the politicians, was very troubling. It was so routine, so inconsequential, but for the fact that Taylor was sentenced to life in prison.

When sentencing a person to life in prison becomes just another day at the office, it's time to find a new job.

Pattis & Cernovich "Flex Their Rights"

A law student who reads this blog recently had a run in with the police.  You can read about how he handled it over at his site.  Now, here is how two people who sue cops for a living interact with police.

I was in Connecticut for the week helping Norm get out from under a bunch of briefs.  The weather was miserable, the wind strong, and the front door to his office was flimsy.

And so he gets a call at 10 p.m. from his alarm company.  "The alarm went off at the office, Mike, want to go for a ride."  

We went to his office, disarmed the alarm, and shut the front door.  

The cop showed up just as we were leaving.  

He reasonably asked for identification.  Norm showed him his I.D.  It said, "Norman A. Pattis."  We were outside of the Law Offices of Norman A. Pattis.  The alarm company had alerted police that the alarm had gone off at the Law Offices of Norman A. Pattis.

End of story, right?

The guy with a neck thicker than his head demanded that Norm allow the cop to take a look around - you know, to make sure that Norm and I hadn't burglarized Norm's own office.  Norm was annoyed, but got out of his car.  As he started walking towards the office, I saw the cop lower his hand to his gun.  Yes, the cop was prepared to draw down on this very dangerous lawyer.

I pulled out my iPhone to look up local media numbers.  This cop was an idiot.  If Norm had slipped on the ice, there's no doubt that the cop would have drawn his gun and started firing.

After several minutes, Norm left his office safely, and we left realizing a couple of things.

One, how stupid was the cop?  If the cop had stopped me, demanding that I walk him through the office - cool.  But Norm was in his car - registered to Norman A. Pattis - outside of a law office that has Norman A. Pattis prominently displayed.  One need not have worked through Aristotle's Analytics to realize that the alarm was triggered by the wind.

Two, resistance is futile. 

We could have been dicks.  After all, the cop was.  What would that have gotten us?

We'd have been detained at the scene.  We'd have been forced to exit the vehicle, standing out in sub-zero weather.  The police would radio for backup, and we'd wait until someone logical came on the scene.  Eventually we'd have been let go.  

That's the best case.

Worst case involves a baton to the head.  Think that's not a threat?  Go work in a civil rights shop for a few weeks.  Plenty of people get knocked around for contempt of cop. 

That's a lot of drama...For what?  So that you could feed your narcissistic rage?  After all, flexing your rights is often simply about you.  Doesn't it feel so good to tell a cop to, "Fuck off!"  It's almost pornographic.  If you want to make everything in life about you, cool.  Just don't wrap up your wager in some higher garb.  Lashing out is about you - and only you.

Do you think that our flexing our rights would have changed the officer's future behavior?  Do you think a supervisor would have sat the moron down with a book on critical thinking?  Nothing would have happened to the police officer who couldn't pas 7th grade logic.

Had we wanted to sue, what result?  Nothing.  A court would have concluded that we were not seized under the Fourth Amendment, but instead were merely detained for an investigation.  The cop would get qualified immunity.

I understand the young law student's rage.  There is no legal duty to be nice to police.  In truth, one has a First Amendment right to be a prick.  While you can't legally yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater, you can yell, "Fuck the police!" 

In reality, you'd be wiser to break the law rather than follow it.  Causing a public disturbance ("Fire!") is a misdemeanor diversion plea.  Telling a cop to fuck off is going to get you the ass beating of your life - in addition to charges of resisting and obstructing an officer and battery of an officer.

At the end of the day, you gotta get home safely.  If a cop wants to violate your rights, let him.  The best you can due is sue him later.  While courts are unfair, I'd gladly put my trust in a judge's hands before a cop's.


Nevada Woman Receives Life Imprisonment for Breast Fondling

This is insanity.  A woman allowed a 13-year-old boy to touch her breasts.  The prosecutor did not offer any plea agreement.  He took the case to a jury, and won a conviction.  

Although a forensic psychologist testified that the woman had a low risk of offending, and although the judge himself could not comprehend the prosecutor's actions, the result was the same.  The woman is going to spend the rest of her life in prison:

New Yorkers Are Evil!

They all walked by a homeless person who was on his stomach, bleeding to death - after he had rescued a woman from a knife-wielding rapist.  That's the headline, anyway:

NEW YORK – The homeless man lay face down, unmoving, on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, blood from knife wounds pooling underneath his body.

It wasn't until after the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been lying there for nearly an hour that emergency workers arrived, and by then, it was too late. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax — who police said was stabbed while intervening to help a woman being attacked — had died.

The reality is something different.

There are a lot of bums in cities like New York and San Francisco.  Most often you just see a pile of clothes, or the outline of a body underneath a jacket or cover.  What do you suppose would happen to a person who went around flipping these homeless people over?

In hindsight, of course everyone did the wrong thing by not calling the police.  Yet the people who didn't call the police didn't realize the guy was dying.  Hindsight bias makes great headlines, while telling us nothing useful about culture or humanity.

Second, why isn't the woman whom the homeless man saved being excoriated by the media?  If we going to blame people, why blame those who had no idea what happened to the homeless man when there was an actual person who knew that something bad had happened to him?

Tale-Yax was stabbed several times when he intervened to help the woman, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. She and the other man fled in different directions, and Tale-Yax pursued the man before collapsing. Authorities are searching for the man and woman.

If someone saved my life, I'd try to figure out who did it.  If it were a homeless man, not only would I ensure that an ambulance came - but I'd ensure that the person had a fat wad of cash stuck in his pocket.  Probably I would write several other checks.  None of this, "Thank you," stuff.  I'd write checks.  It's my life, after all.

Instead, the woman never bothered to thank her savior.  She ran away.  She didn't bother calling the police to save her savior.

And so the story has another message: Why be a Good Samaritan when the people you save will let you die?  All of you white knights out there should take note: A woman whose life you just saved no only will not sleep with you - she will let you bleed to death in the cold New York streets. 

Warren Buffett is a Scoundrel

In 2003, Warren Buffett said:

The derivatives market has exploded in recent years, with investment banks selling billions of dollars worth of these investments to clients as a way to off-load or manage market risk.

But Mr Buffett argues that such highly complex financial instruments are time bombs and "financial weapons of mass destruction" that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system.

In 2010 - after derivatives caused a depression - the Senate proposed a bill regulating derivatives.  Now what?

Warren Buffett sought a provision that would exempt previously written derivatives contracts from proposed rules on collateral, according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity. Berkshire owns derivatives tied to about $63 billion in assets.

Warren Buffett certainly has the right to advocate against legal reform.  We certainly have the right to recognize him as a villain rather than a folk hero.  We also have the right to recognize that any media attempts at portraying Buffett as "Uncle Warren" are propaganda.  

More truth about Warren Buffett may be found here; here; and here.