Saturday, October 22, 2011

Conrad Black Writes

Some of you may remember my post back in June about the re-sentencing of Conrad Black.

As he did throughout his first incarceration, Black writes a column for the National Post. I always delight in reading his writing. None more so than today where Black remembers his older brother.


  1. Be sure to look at the comments. The Black case demonstrates one thing: if you are conservative, the U.S. Justice Department will go to untold lengths to put you in prison -- even if they have to make stuff up.

  2. Black's writing resonates with me. I haven't lost a sibling (thank G-d, as I only have one) I can remember when my mother died that my sister and I realised that we were orphans. We were both in our forties at the time but the loss isn't mitigated by how old you are when it happens.

  3. Always humbling to read someone whose command of the English language vastly exceeds one's own.

    For the past four years I've maintained a little notebook of words I encounter and look up. I can never get through one of Black's essays without making an entry. Today it was "revenance".

  4. Both my parents have passed away, but they were preceded by my oldest brother. The death of your parents is anticlimactic if a brother died first.

  5. lewy, I completely agree. Today's word for me was "propitiate".

  6. A fine read, Fay, I felt I got a little peek into the brother's love and respect for each other. I just don't know much anything about his case except that it seems he was made a scapegoat, a la Martha Stewart - and that his sentence was far too harsh.

    But in all seasons of life, through a difficult divorce, some financial pressures (which he successfully surmounted), and other travails, he remained bonhomous, indomitable and always able to reduce almost anything to a quip. These were never flippant or escapist, and always retained the implicit determination that almost anything could be overcome, without alarm or despair or a loss of proportion, or even of the absurdity of a great deal of life itself.

    Wouldn't that be a wonderful quality? I wish I had it.

    I had to look up propitiate as well. I was thinking it was propitious...

  7. Wouldn't that be a wonderful quality? I wish I had it.

    Me too, florrie. Me too.


    Heh - the only reason I know the meaning of "propitiate" is that Richard Fernandez ("Wretchard") used it in a post at his old blog The Belmont Club several years ago now - had to look it up then... being a neo-con paid me some small dividend, I guess.

  8. I view him as nothing more than a bloviating windbag inheritor who fleeced two little old ladies and pillaged (legally) a pension fund to get his start in life. His and his brother's legacy will be gutting Massey-Ferguson. And the obstruct charge he was quite correctly convicted of.

    That said, Margaret MacMillan refers to him as a peer, which is extraordinarily high praise (I admit that I have yet to read Black's'FDR).

  9. Do you believe in redemption, Earl?

    As I said, I'm not real familiar with his case but he is serving prison time.

    What do you think of the article he wrote in tribute to his brother?

  10. I was just reading about him on Wiki.

    Seth Lipsky, in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that ran on June 28, 2011, called the verdict against Black "head-scratching," noting that Black was found not guilty of the most serious charges brought against him and "the jury convicted him of a count of obstruction, for obeying an eviction notice by Hollinger to remove from his former office in Toronto boxes of papers and personal effects that he hadn't been informed were under seal. Prosecutors claimed that, out of 13 boxes, a single document was relevant to the investigation. It was a copy of a non-compete agreement that Black had previously turned over to the investigators." Lipsky also raised the issue of why Black was denied a retrial by jury as to whether he had committed pecuniary fraud after the Supreme Court unanimously found that Judge St. Eve's instructions to the jury were "incorrect," which led to two of the three fraud counts ultimately being vacated. In the end, the fraud conviction was allowed to stand and the count of obstruction: "The fraud Black stood guilty of involved a gain to him of but $285,000. He has made restitution of $32 million. He has been forced to stand aside while his business empire was reduced to rubble and $250 million or so of his own equity destroyed. And he has incurred tens of millions of dollars in legal fees... even some of his critics are wondering why the prosecutors engaged in the conduct they did."

    Seems like he has paid a very high price for his wrongdoings - is still paying.

  11. His biggest wrong doing is that he is conservative. If they wanna get you, they can.

  12. Conrad Black:

    Member of the Order of Canada
    British Peer
    Law Degree from Universite Laval
    MA in History from McGill University
    Best Selling Author
    Model Prisoner
    Mentor & tutor to prison inmates and correctional officers

    Oh, and, a bloviating windbag.

  13. @ Fay

    OC- will likely be soon stripped- he's a convicted criminal. Think, Al Eagleson.

    British Peerage- bought through the odious Blair. No merit appointment there.

    MA (McGill), historian- I'll unreservedly credit him for a sound academic c.v.- his Duplessis was thorough.

    Model prisoner? Try, self-aggrandizing and arrogant. Plus, what was a paunchy old white guy going to do in a federal prison?- act up?

    A bloviating windbag? Unquestionably. Try reading any of his turgid monographs.

    That was the puzzling lapse with his hubris- he literally could pick up the phone and have lunch with anyone in the world. He controlled the Tel and the Sun Times, for heaven's sake. He was a respected historian, and a real raconteur. Instead, the remaining memory of the man will be of him slithering under the CCTV cameras as he absconded with who-knows-what from his former office, and for his wife's vanities. Really, a life wasted in many respects. And taking Hollinger public was the greatest mistake of his life.