Friday Roundup: You Just Bought Superbowl Tickets, ExxonMobil Sets Record, Obama’s Tantrum & More

  • It appears your tax dollars are going to pay for the mayors of Dallas, Arlington, and Fort Worth to attend the Superbowl. It’s “research” donchaknow.
  • The weird part is, there are plenty of people who will actually criticize ExxonMobil for setting a new high in annual profits. I’d say I’d like to know why, but the truth is I don’t want to know those kind of toxic people, and I just don’t care what they think because frankly, they’re losers.
  • The current resident of the public housing on Pennsylvania Avenue (who incidentally has never held a real job) and who wants to give $1 trillion in taxpayer money to the thieves at ACORN, to lazy welfare recipients, to untalented painters, and to other pork projects, is throwing a tantrum over a mere $18 billion in private money. Mr. Obama, shut up. ($600 million to buy government employees new cars. Seriously.)
  • Does it occur to anyone else that the kind of people who either weren’t aware of the digital conversion or who can’t afford the converter box probably should spend less time watching television?

Dallas Developer H. Walker Royall Still Trying to Muzzle Free Speech

From Jacob Sullum over at Hit n’ Run:

Over at Real Clear Politics, journalist Carla Main and her publisher at Encounter Books, Roger Kimball, discuss the libel suit they face as a result of her 2007 book, Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land. Dallas developer H. Walker Royall is suing them, along with a writer who favorably reviewed the book, the newspaper that published the review, and University of Chicago legal scholar Richard Epstein, who wrote a blurb for the book, because he did not like the way he came across in it:

As we see it, Royall’s case against us is not an ordinary libel suit. It is a suit aimed at suppressing the process of investigative journalism and the free circulation of ideas. In his complaint, Royall does not identify a single word of Bulldozed that libels him. He says only that “the gist” of the book defames him….

Royall has picked on the most vulnerable people he could find—writers, a scholar, a nonprofit publisher and a community newspaper. He didn’t sue more powerful venues, such as The Wall Street Journal, which favorably reviewed “Bulldozed,” or the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine, which have the resources and the lawyers to defend themselves.

Main and Kimball, who are represented by the Institute for Justice, also summarize the Freeport, Texas, eminent domain case at the center of Bulldozed, in which Royall figures prominently. I noted Royall’s habit of suing his critics last month.

Free Mark Cuban, Part Troix

The appearance of bias is getting stronger — read the angry emails between Mark Cuban and the SEC’s Jeffrey Norris back when Cuban was considering distributing “Loose Change”.

Meanwhile, the case against Cuban appears to be getting weaker.

Free Mark Cuban, Part Deux

William Norm Grigg has an exceptionally researched and far-reaching piece on how Mark Cuban is getting hosed by the SEC and the feds.

Full item here.

Free Mark Cuban

That’s the takeaway from William Norm Grigg this morning, and he makes several key points:

  • Cubes treated the SEC like he does lazy NBA officials, and this looks like retaliation.
  • The evidence appears to be hearsay.
  • Cuban ticks off Bill O’Reilly, which is a virtue itself.
  • How can any organization that bans short-selling be taken seriously?

Mark Cuban Charged With Insider Trading? UPDATE: Yes

Via Drudge: SEC charges DALLAS MAVERICKS owner Mark Cuban with insider trading... Developing...

UPDATE AT 11:16 a.m.

Being the savvy day trader I am, I pulled this off the SEC’s website:


Litigation Release No. 20810 / November 17, 2008

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Mark Cuban, Civil Action No. 3-08-CV-2050-D (SF)

SEC Files Insider Trading Charges Against Mark Cuban

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it filed insider trading charges today against Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The Commission’s complaint alleges that Cuban violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws by engaging in illegal insider trading in the securities of Inc. (“”), a publicly traded Internet search engine company (now known as Copernic Inc.) based in Montreal, Canada. According to the complaint, in June 2004, Cuban sold his entire 600,000 share position in on the basis of material, non-public information concerning an impending PIPE (private investment in public equity) offering by the company. The complaint alleges that Cuban avoided losses in excess of $750,000 by selling his stock prior to the public announcement of the PIPE offering.

According to the complaint, Cuban was’s largest known shareholder during the relevant time period. On June 28, 2004, the complaint alleges,’s then-chief executive officer — after securing Cuban’s agreement to keep the information confidential — invited Cuban to invest in the PIPE offering. The complaint further alleges that Cuban knew that the offering would be conducted at a discount to the prevailing market price and that it would be dilutive to existing shareholders. According to the complaint, later that day, Cuban called his broker and — in breach of his agreement to keep the information confidential — instructed him to sell out his entire position in the company. That afternoon (June 28), and over the next day (June 29), the broker liquidated Cuban’s entire 600,000 share position. After the markets closed on June 29, 2004, publicly announced the PIPE offering. The next day,’s stock price opened at $11.89, down $1.215 or 9.3%, from the prior day’s closing price of $13.105. According to the complaint, Cuban thereby avoided losses in excess of $750,000 by selling on the basis of material, non-public information concerning the PIPE offering.

The complaint alleges that by engaging in illegal insider trading, Cuban violated the antifraud provisions of both the Securities Act of 1933 (Section 17(a)) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder). The Commission’s complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Cuban from future violations of the applicable provisions of the federal securities laws, disgorgement (with prejudgment interest thereon), and a civil penalty.

SEC Complaint

UPDATE 2: Doug speaks to my conspiracy-tending nature when he notes:

Funny how they are going after Cubes after he has a website tracking the bailout…..

Which Cuban’s been doing on, if a little less neatly then certainly more aggressively than most of the mainstream media.

How about that.

Update 3: Mark Cuban responds.

Clang Clang Clang Went the Trolley, Broke Broke Broke Went the Convention Center Hotel…

With headline apologies to Judy Garland (and consequently to Eric Celeste), you can meet me in St. Louis, but it probably won’t be at their taxpayer-owned convention center hotel. No one goes there.

From the Oct. 30 issue of Bond Buyer, we learn that the St. Louis convention center hotel is not just broke, it may be going bankrupt.

Holders of $98 million of senior-lien revenue bonds issued for a St. Louis convention center hotel complex, along with its operator and developer, are scheduled to meet Nov. 11 to discuss the project’s future amid warnings of a $1.4 million shortfall in hotel revenue available for December debt service payments.

“The rapidly declining economic environment has contributed greatly to this previously unforeseen deterioration in the project’s performance” leading to the $1.4 million shortfall in the $3.5 million interest payment owed Dec. 15, wrote A. Thomas Leonhard Jr., president of project developer Historic Restoration Inc., in a letter to bond trustee UMB Bank NA.

At the Nov. 11 bondholder meeting, set up by the trustee at the request of HRI, hotel operator Marriott Corp. will present its financial forecast for the remainder of the year and a budget for next year, which is expected to show further deterioration in hotel operations. HRI also will present a forbearance option for bondholder consideration, according to the letter.

The St. Louis Industrial Development Authority issued the senior-lien revenue bonds in 2000 as part of a complex financing scheme to acquire and renovate the $266 million hotel complex at the city’s convention centers. The 165-room Renaissance Suites opened in 2002 and the 918-room Renaissance Grand opened a year later.

Yeah, it's like that.

Yeah, it's like that.

So let’s talk about the St. Louis convention center hotel complex. The city was sold on the idea of building an attached convention center hotel paid by city-issued bonds — with St. Louis taxpayers on the hook if the hotel didn’t generate enough income — after a study by HVS Global Hospitality Services said it would be a great investment for the city and a Borat-style big success.

This is the same HVS that conducted a study in 2007 for Dallas that says the same thing. But that was after HVS’s 2004 study that said it wouldn’t be viable. So they against it before they were for it.

The St. Louis taxpayer-owned hotel has performed pretty badly, despite the promise from HVS and convention hotel backers that it would bring tons of new conventions to the River City.

In September 2000, a division of HVS International…said the St. Louis convention center accounted for 460,000 room nights in the city annually. “It is expected that with the addition of the subject properties, the city will be able to accommodate over 800,000 room nights in future years,” HVS reported

Instead, from a peak of 500,000 convention room nights in 2000, the total fell to 400,000 in 2003. It is now projected to be 470,000 in 2007.

Read more about that here.

Any of this have any bearing on Dallas?

Well, aside from the obvious — that the projections for the performance of Dallas’ proposed $550 million convention center hotel are wildly optimistic, just like St. Louis’ were — let’s consider how much plumb confidence this will give the bond buying market. (And what a stable market we are in.) The St. Louis city bonds have fallen “deep into junk bond territory.”

The city of Dallas plans to dive headfirst into this shallow pool and start selling bonds to pay for construction of the convention hotel in January, despite the fact it’s a sure thing the issue will go to voters in May and may very well get shot down. This on a project type that has a less-than-stellar track record, and for an industry — conventioneering — which is stagnant and, over the long-haul, shrinking.

Would you buy those bonds? Do Dallas taxpayers want to be on the hook if the hotel doesn’t perform (highly likely) and the bonds can’t be serviced?

St. Louis taxpayers are only on the hook for a portion of the $266 million hotel complex; Dallas taxpayers get the bill for the whole $550 million. Keep in mind that $550 million is a rough reckoning — they don’t even know how big they want the hotel yet, so it’s not exactly a truthsome figure, and there’s no guarantee construction costs won’t go up. Which, come on, a city construction project without cost overruns?

You can jump for the full Bond Buyer report. It’s downright morbid. It’s what the city of Dallas’ future probably holds if Mayor Leppert insists on going ahead with this boondoggle in spite of 60,000-plus citizens who demanded a chance to put this project to a vote. [Read more...]

“Since the Great Depression” Must Die

You can’t hear a stump speech or read a blog post without someone showing the economic and historical vacuum that runs rampant — “worst crisis since the Great Depression.”

Oh, please.

The third quarter of this year was the first one with negative growth since 9/11. And that was just a contraction of 0.3 percent. Less than analysts feared. Unemployment is up only 1 percent over the past year to 6 percent. The bottom of the market seems to be in sight, which means there’s only one way to go from there. And the claim of a shrinking middle class is a myth.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the Great Depression was 25 percent in the worst years. In the Carter years, unemployment was almost 8 percent by the end of his term, inflation was 12 percent, and interest rates topped 20 percent.

Doom and gloom sells papers, but the negative perceptions from doomsday writing only exacerbates the problem. What we’re in is more like the dot-com bubble break, or maybe the market crash in 1987. Both of which we overcame most riki-tik.

Lighten up. And when you hear the media or worse, pols, selling you fear and anxiety, remember what H.L. Mencken said:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Did Your Rep Help Cause the Financial Crisis? Something to Carry to the Voting Booth

Via, here’s a list of Texas representatives who voted for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001, which “contained a provision preempting state regulation of financial derivatives under gambling or ‘bucket shop’ laws. The result less than a decade later was the out-of-control market for credit default swaps that has caused so much financial, and perhaps economic, chaos.”

TX-4 Hall, Ralph (R)
TX-8 Brady, Kevin (R)
TX-9 Lampson, Nicholas (D)
TX-10 Doggett, Lloyd (D)
TX-13 Thornberry, William (R)
TX-15 Hinojosa, Rubén (D)
TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre (D)
TX-18 Jackson-Lee, Sheila (D)
TX-20 Gonzalez, Charles (D)
TX-21 Smith, Lamar (R)
TX-28 Rodriguez, Ciro (D)
TX-29 Green, Raymond (D)
TX-30 Johnson, Eddie (D)

Vote accordingly.

Wednesday Roundup: Homeowner Bats 500, Lupe’s Grades, Grannies Gone Wild, Cuckolds & More

  • Sheriff Lupe Valdez says of her first term, “I would say it was great.” Wonder what qualifies in her world as “just okay.” The jail she’s in charge of has failed state inspection each and every one of those four years of her first term. And her own employees have endorsed her opponent. So, you know, ouch.
  • Define cuckold,” and then find it in this story.
  • Via The Agitator, your Wednesday morning Econ 101 lesson. No, really, watch it. Now.