I mentioned earlier in a comment that I was practically overwhelmed with emails of late. All were very respectful but several were like this one from a disturbed regular reader that asked:
Doug: Your “battle royale” with Feldman is “interesting”, but I’m not sure why you’ve stuck your neck out so far. If things are as “bad” as you believe them to be (and I’m not sure they are since we have only “limited” information since 2008), then won’t USDOJ and The White House go into an attack mode? Maybe I don’t understand, but don’t you BENEFIT from enjoining the moratorium? I know we all have to be “principled”, but don’t commit suicide.
Before I share the gist of my answer I think I need to share a little bit more about myself and how my previous life experiences translates into this highly successful project called Slabbed.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are
Until Hurricane Katrina all my blogging was confined to the Yahoo finance boards, a strange and at times wonderous place where retail investors, money managers, corporate executives and paid shills come together. Blogging there means there is money on the line every time you press the post button. After I ventured into individual equities in 2002 I had a good bit of luck early on playing certain publicly traded construction companies including one that had a special run. I followed all the rules and the sage advice from the talking heads and I scoured the SEC filings of the companies in which I invested.
The confidence I gained from my early winners translated in swing trading including one special day swing trading ELN as it plunged from over $40/share to under $5 in very short order where I literally made $5,000 in 2 hours. The message board was buzzing with posts as the stock cratered. One message came after trading closed that was a very heart felt post put up by an investor who had 20,000 shares of the stock, worth around $400,000 with $200,000 of related margin debt when trading opened that day. He was caught in the selling stampede, stopped out and owed his broker/dealer over $100,000 when trading ceased that afternoon. The man was wiped out.
He chastised himself for not diversifying his holdings and cited his faith in God praying for the strength to tell his wife what happened to their nest egg. Messages of support followed in reply but then he was flamed by a professional money manager that no doubt had a short position. He told the man he was a failure due to ignorance caused by greed. He went on to harshly explain to the man that his problem wasn’t that he didn’t follow conventional wisdom rather he failed to do basic due diligence; that he was a “sheeple” that was herded and sheared.
It remains by far the cruelest flame I’ve ever seen anywhere on the internet and one that years of subsequent experience would bear out because despite its cruelty it was true though I had to experience being sheared first hand to truly appreciate the harsh lesson. (I’m still in the market so my shearing was not catastrophic.) I learned that seeing things that no one else did was highly profitable. I learned that having strength of conviction with money on the line was a precious gift.
I could never succinctly sum into words those lessons learned until Nowdy wrote a post with that Anais Nin quote above in the title. You see, to thrive in the cut throat world investing in individual stocks one must put aside ones ego and learn to see things outside of ourselves. An ego is a terrible thing when not controlled and I’ve used that character flaw to silence more than one blowhard through time. Those experiences came to mind earlier this week when I explained to a gentleman that has become a good friend the concepts of FUD and GROPE, acronyms that I will not define in this post but which should be in every good bloggers bag of tricks. So while others were concerned with how far I stuck out my neck relying on 2008 information to out Martin Feldman’s conflict of interest in his recent ruling I knew the man without ever meeting him from my own experience in behavioral finance, his court rulings and the observations of many other lawyers who have suffered the man’s thugish abuse for many years.
This brings us to the topic of this post because the resulting shit storm we kicked up has gone nation wide and unfortunately become politicized by those with a few communication skills and a mindless legion of ditto heads that hang onto every word without doing any critical thinking of their own. Exhibit A is conservative talking head Jeff Crouere at Channel 32, whose show, Ringside Politics evidently appeals to the right wing fringes. Jeff wrote a column for Bayou Buzz where he revealed himself as someone who is incapable of seeing things as they are choosing instead to circle the wagons and politicize an issue that does not involve politics in a clean judiciary. He leapt before he looked placing his faith in a man who did not deserve it simply because he thought the Feldman’s politics were the right kind. And today he is the butt of jokes circulating in the local bar because of it.
It may surprise our readers to know that the tips on Feldman that we received came from the both the local corporate and plaintiff’s bar. The plaintiff’s bar knew all along Feldman was a result oriented judge that didn’t follow the law unless it led to his desired result. The corporate bar because they know the man for the lackey he is. They turned on him because they knew they would not get a fair shake representing other businesses against BP or Transocean in Feldman’s court room. No one respects a waterboy, even those that benefit from them on occasion.
The issue here is not political at all, far from it fact. Judge Feldman swore to uphold the law yet holds himself above it as evidenced by his refusal to do the right thing and step aside from the oil spill cases where he had a dog in the hunt. He failed all those that hoped President Obama’s drill moratorium will be shut down because that clear conflict of interest. He failed his fellow judges and he failed the public which is taught that justice is blind. Now this important issue, one that impacts people across the Gulf South, has become a circus side show full of political recriminations all of which could have been avoided if Martin Feldman had been able to control his outsized ego and his need to legislate from the bench. We had a good idea what was in his portfolio on Tuesday when we went to press with his 2008 financial disclosure form not because we had inside information. Rather we knew the man better than he knew himself.
Here at Slabbed we’ve exposed many judges and their rulings for abusing of the concept of justice and our analysis does not know political boundary. We have taken the LAED’s most liberal judge, Ginger Berrigan, to task many times for not following the law for example and at Slabbed that is all we’ve ever focused upon is the rule of law. People of good will can respect philosophical differences, and indeed at Slabbed we encourage a diversity of opinion. It gives us a competitive advantage over the political shills and apologists and therein lies the secret to our success. It also explains why so many people honor us with their trust when giving us information.
I answered that email using the concepts I outlined above and added the following regarding that which I perceive benefits me the most:
A clean judiciary and government benefit me and my children and my children’s children far more than stopping a 6 month time out from drilling deep water.
There is no panacea that will ease the pain of this region. Just like with AROD, the Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal and the sand berms we’re prepared to lead this area to the promised land of independent, critical thinking as we throw off the yoke of ignorance bred from fear. By now no one should doubt we can do it but to our detractors I’ll add watch and learn.