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August 12, 2005 may have been “the proudest day of Patrick Byrne’s life”, as this week’s section of Deep Capture states, but it’s just possible July 15, 2008 may well have surpassed it.  To listen to advocates of Byrne and Mitchell’s movement, the order issued that day by SEC chairman Chris Cox was tantamount to an admission that Overstock’s frequently-delusional CEO is exactly the kind of man we need telling us how to run the equity markets.  And to listen to the words of Cox himself… if that’s not what he’s trying to say, he could do with a lesson or two from someone more versed in the art of communication.  Like, say, President Bush.  Seriously, does Cox still think that tossing bones like this is going to satisfy the complainers?  Anyway…

One day before the events of this section, on August 11, 2005, Overstock filed a lawsuit against Rocker Partners (now Copper River Management), a hedge fund, and Gradient Analytics, a research firm, with conspiring to drive down the price of Overstock’s common stock and profit through short-selling.  On the following day, Byrne held a special conference call discussing the suit.

Five hundred blue chip investors are said in the piece to have been on the call.  I suspect that by the end, at least 495 were surprised that the men in white coats had not yet arrived.

If you’ve followed the Overstock story at all, you may have heard of the “Miscreants’ Ball” (a reference to something else, and I frankly could care less what) presentation, and that it what attendees of the conference call got.  Among many, many, many other things, Byrne asserted that at the head of one of the grandest conspiracies in world history, was a mysterious figure he called the “Sith Lord”.  He went to some lengths to specify at that time that he had a specific individual in mind, a claim he has not only since retracted, but actually suggested the idea of the “Sith Lord” being anything other than a metaphorical construct was an invention of his detractors.

But truly, Mitchell’s piece does not even come close to capturing the… grandeur of Byrne’s presentation.  For that, I will defer to the scribework of Tracy Coenen, who captured Byrne’s speech in loving detail in a recent entry on her blog.  (Note: The blog entry contains a link to the actual transcript, that which is quoted in her blog is someone’s summation.)

Really, to look at this section of Deep Capture out of context, and not knowing the author, one would strongly suspect there was an element of sarcasm in the author’s glowing summary of Byrne’s rant.  And yet it’s all straight-up.  Mitchell truly believes Byrne’s presentation to be a work of genius and furthermore believes that history will regard it as a landmark speech, right up there with the greats:

“I have dream”
“Fourscore and seven years ago”
“They’re going to bury you under the prison”

Next week: By the time you read this I will be on summer holiday.  If I still care about any of this when I get back, and if there’s still a stock market, we’ll move on to the next section, which is about… well, honestly, I’ve read it over three times just now and am still not sure.  I’ll figure it out later.

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  1. […] fact, the only specific example cited was the coverage of Patrick Byrne’s Miscreants’ Ball presentation, specifically a New York Post piece by Roddy Boyd and Dan Colarusso (both […]

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