As any engineer will attest, the key to an enduring structure is a solid foundation. Builders who choose not to worry about foundation issues will deliver a product that’s worthless at best, and a dangerous liability at worst.
Likewise, arguments crafted without a foundation amount to something ranging from worthless to dangerous.
In both cases, the motives of those responsible must be questioned.
Observers of one Yahoo stock message board were recently treated to the equivalent of a foundation-free high-rise project. It started with a post by New York attorney Howard Sirota, who demanded:
No More Anti-Semitism on this Board!
I just did a search for “Jew” on this Message Board.
There are 428 posts containing the word “Jew.”
That means that this board is infested with anti-semites, which is intolerable.
Sirota went on to claim that some admittedly inappropriate comments made to this blog (which were immediately removed once brought to my attention) were symptomatic of a further anti-Semitic infestation.
In his blog, Gary Weiss reflected on Sirota’s assessment saying:
The subject is a disturbing one — the tendency of the Baloney Brigade anti-short-selling lunatics to use anti-Semitic stereotypes and imagery.
And with that, a set of flimsy and transparent walls were hastily erected.
Sam Antar also chimed in, insisting that the unnoticed words of one commenter somehow equate to the endorsement of the board of directors of my employer.
“The Audit Committee…has a simple choice: wheather (sic) they choose to be associated with such vile ugliness from their inaction in fully enforcing the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics or to take swift action to prevent further vile acts…”
And with that, a particularly leaky and incompetent roof was put in dropped in place and the mass was dubbed a house.
Looking at their work, Gary Weiss and Sam Antar would have the world believe that they’re responsible for creating something great.
But one thing is absent: a foundation, which Howard Sirota neglected to build, rendering the contributions of both Weiss and Antar worthless.
Let’s start with Weiss, who built his claim of anti-Semitism on the part of opponents of illegal market manipulation entirely upon Sirota’s assertion that one company’s stock message board was infested with anti-Semites. This claim, in turn, was based upon Sirota’s observation that the word “Jew” appeared in 428 of the tens of thousands of messages posted there over more than five years.
For the sake of argument, and in deference to Mr. Sirota, who is Jewish and undoubtedly better at recognizing anti-Semitism than a non-Jew, let us assume that this is a reliable metric of a message board’s level of bigotry.
Weiss takes the argument one step further and announces that in addition to being quantitative, this metric is also qualitative, in that from it, blameworthiness can also be assigned. Specifically, Weiss feels the blame for 428 tainted message board posts fall squarely at the feet of all opponents of illegal naked short selling.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to gauge the integrity of this line of reasoning.
A search for posts including the word “Jew,” conducted two days after Sirota’s, returned 442 such messages. The authors of these posts were then divided up based on their attitude toward illegal naked shorting (with a third category comprised of those who, like Mr. Sirota, have made no statements on the topic).
The result is very instructive.
- Those in favor of illegal naked short selling authored 323 messages, or 73% of the total.
- Those most likely to be opposed to illegal naked short selling authored 96 messages, or 22% of the total.
- Those without a discernible position on the issue of illegal naked short selling authored 23, or 5% of the total.
But wait, there’s more!
Among those authors in favor of illegal naked short selling, one stands out far above the rest: Lamborghini751, who personally authored 131 messages deemed anti-Semitic by Howard Sirota.
That’s one-third of all of them.
The best part: Lamborghini751 is Gary Weiss (as demonstrated here).
In other words, if Sirota’s method of assessing message board bigotry is accurate, the biggest culprit is Gary Weiss himself, thereby invalidating everything Weiss has written on the topic, whether as himself, as Lamborghini751, or as the blogger Mediacrity.
On the other hand, if Sirota’s method is not accurate, then the entire basis for Weiss’s claim of anti-Semitism being endemic to opponents of naked shorting is flawed, again invalidating everything Weiss has written on the topic.
Now let’s look at Sam Antar.
What Sammy apparently forgot to tell Sirota (a longtime Antar family friend) is that thanks to the Dissembler Sorting Algorithm, it’s possible to determine when multiple Yahoo message board aliases are tied to the same account. In the case of Mr. Sirota, it was quickly discovered that he is behind not only the username hsirota, but also StanleySargoy.
Sirota created StanleySargoy in 1999 and used the account very occasionally to either promote or demote companies primarily in the pharma and biotech space, until 2005.
Then in April of this year, StanleySargoy was called out of retirement and into active combat duty. The target: Usana, a company under heavy short seller attack by convicted felon Barry Minkow and his so-called Fraud Discovery Institute, which just days before had issued an internally authored study accusing Usana of serious fraud.
Oh yeah…Minkow is shorting Usana.
StanleySargoy (who says he hails from San Francisco) has since become one of the more active and negative posters to Yahoo’s Usana message board.
What interest would Sirota have in Usana?
You may recall a March column by Herb Greenberg entitled What Two Crooks Told me Over Lunch, in which Greenberg details his no-reason-given meal with Sam Antar and Barry Minkow.
We can surmise that Antar and Minkow do business together.
Thanks to the actions of StanleySargoy, it appears Sirota and Minkow are doing business together.
By the transitive property, a little common sense, and some educated observation, it now appears Sirota and Antar are also doing business together.
Finally, let’s take a quick look at Howard Sirota.
Sirota’s first demand that certain comments be removed from this site was sent early Friday, June 8. The offending comments were posted June 7. Server logs confirm that, prior to their removal, only Sam Antar (whose IP address is very well known) saw all three.
In that time, no other visitor managed to see more than any one of the offending comments. Thus, assuming he’s even been to AntiSocialMedia.net, Howard Sirota’s complaint — which he likely didn’t write — dealt mostly, if not entirely, with content he likely never saw.
You might want to stand clear, Howard…with no foundation, this flimsy house that Gary and Sam built is in the process of coming down just like all the others.