No Good News – Election Blues, Conrad Goes to London

Is anybody else as sick of the U.S. Election as I am? I mean, holy cow, we get it: there’s going to be a second great depression. Luckily for those of us in Canada, we’ve signed some deal where we only trade with China. So, apart from not having American television anymore, this isn’t going to be a big deal at all.

While we’re at it, is anyone else as sick of Margaret Wente still having a job as I am? It almost isn’t worth pointing out that her unauthorized Coles-Notes quote-without-creditorials are the most hateful snoozefests in the media today. But I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.

Whoa! Post-Wentegate, the Globe have rebranded her as… shiny and old? New head shot aside, it’s the same old in the Mind of Wentcia.

If Barack Obama loses the election, my friend Jim will be one reason why.

Four years ago, Jim voted enthusiastically for hope and change. This year, he’s voting for Mitt Romney. “I like Romney,” he says. “When folks saw and listened to him right next to Obama, he looked and spoke more like a president than Obama did.

I think we can all agree that there is no “my friend Jim” Is that how Wente thinks normal people talk? Did she sit down at her Dell Inspiron and think, “I’m going to channel one of the little people”? No person would say that collection of words. The sentiment, sure: just not those actual sentences. Those words in that order. No human being alive would say that thing in that way.

Plenty of Americans feel overlooked by both parties. Jennifer Erickson, a married mom in the swing state of Iowa told the Des Moines Register that the way she sees it, Mr. Obama champions the poor and Mr. Romney is for the ultra-rich. “Either way, the middle class loses.”

“A married mom”? Who says that? That’s not even a demogra… guys, are you bored of this column? I don’t care about Margaret Wente anymore, and I certainly don’t care about the U.S. Election. It’s so dreary. But you know what isn’t boring? Conrad Black saying “No reader could possibly be more bored with the subject of my late legal travails than I.” That’s because we’re not bored of it: not bored in the slightest.

When Black says “Will you stop this bourgeois priggishness?” I actually started singing “O Holy Night” because this interview was like Christmas for Conrad Black fans. Here are some of the highlights:

“Because 99.5 percent of prosecutions are convicted. The whole system is a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt of a corrupt prison system.”

“Under that theory, Nelson Mandela couldn’t sit.”

“Oh God, I am going to throw up.”

He’s so incredible. And when he threatens to smash Jeremy Paxman’s face? Priceless.

The interview makes Black’s editorials that much more believable. He really does speak that way! He really believes the things he’s saying! Which is much more than I can say for Wente. So when he says “My London adventure”, well, I can’t wait. I CANNOT WAIT.

As I launched my 2011 book A Matter of Principle in Britain last week, that country’s appallingly lazy and destructive press corps were well in arrears of their Canadian and American analogues in realizing what unutterable rubbish the case against my co-defendants and myself had been… Though the British generally consider the United States to be a half-mad country, and know that its justice system is a wild and woolly business, I correctly guessed that much of their media would be resistless against the temptation to open with the sighting shot that I was a common criminal and try to advance from there. It did not require a Marshal Foch of infantry tactics (the Dwight D. Eisenhower of the First World War whose equestrian statue greets arriving passengers through the Euro-tunnel at Victoria Station), to conclude that heavy artillery counter-fire would be required, and in this I was, by consensual agreement, an over-achiever.

Well, I can’t believe I don’t have this book in my hands yet, and I blame this website. “Unutterable rubbish!” I can hear him say it in his Upper Canada College-piqued Toronto accent. “Wild and wooly”? I suppose that’s a way to put it, especially since he insists on calling himself a survivor. Did he see his time in prison as some sort of cross between Midnight Express and Brideshead Revisited? And then the arcane-to-most-Canadians mention of Marshal Foch: who does he imagine his readers are? I’m guessing not me. And, finally, always coy, Black calls himself an over-achiever. He threatened to smash a guy’s face! Side note: if you Google image search “angry conrad black” and “conrad black”, the facial expressions are the same. The man’s in control.

The days were filled with media encounters and commercial initiatives as I twitch back to pecuniary life in consecutive places like a Wagnerian tenor doomed to play the recovering Brunhilda serially; but the nights were the sumptuous liver-busting dinners of Mayfair and Knightsbridge with sparkling conversation, uproarious gossip, spontaneous oratory. 

Wagnerian tenor, he says. Here’s what that means:

With the theme of Wagner, I might say that Black is a Nietzchean hero: he sees no ethical mistake in what he did. He puts his own decisions above good and evil, in a way that is more or less logically sound. When it comes to his bank account, morality is prattle, bourgeois even. The only immorality he wants to talk about? Passing moral judgement from a position of corruption:

The opening gun, to lay down fire before my arrival, came from News Corporation’s Sunday Times, which shouldered aside the very respected Eleanor Mills, and sent to Toronto their premier hit-person Camilla Long, who arrived bearing chocolates and nice photographs of my wife and her dogs. Since the tactics of that company and individual are fairly predictable, I went ahead with the interview, but arranged for a simultaneous article, by telephone, with The Mail on Sunday, in which I predicted the antics of News Corporation and described the London media, with conspicuous and numerous personal exceptions, as morally “the lowest mutation of human life” I had encountered, apart from American prosecutors.

Yeah, the only thing lower than journalists? American prosecutors. Do I disagree with him? I can’t! I agree with him again, about Rupert Murdoch:

Rupert Murdoch — the greatest media proprietor in world history, a former competitor with whom my relations had been cordial for 25 years before the onset of my legal travails, who had since succumbed to sociopathic antagonism — graciously Tweeted that he was “saddened” by my description of him as a “psychopath”.

Conrad Black is dead set on destruction. He was reborn in prison to raise hell. But he’s not just being a punk. He’s profoundly spiritual. He knows who can judge him: God.

When I feel sinful, …I confess to ordained clergy, not to the media, and discharge the assigned penance. Contrary to agnostic myth, this does not eliminate guilt, but does ameliorate it. We are all sinners, and there is not a Manicheaen barrier between those who have been convicted of something and those who have not. 

Journalists! Prosecutors! Agnostics! Sinners and non-sinners! Gnostics? He’s taking everybody down. Except the clergy. But does he have anything nice to say about anyone? Whose side are you on, Black?

I must add my high opinion of Air Canada, now one of the world’s superior airlines, efficient and even stylish… I was reminded of the value of the queue, boarding my returning flight. Egalitarianism (though I had a premium ticket) is uplifting, and it was a relief not to be conspicuous nor to worry if I was being extravagant or self-indulgent as I often did on a company private aircraft (though they are certainly necessary sometimes, as when I left prison and the United States in May).

I wonder if Air Canada will add this to their media package. Unlikely. In the end, Black came out of London with something. I want to say a kind of hardening? In his own words, which I can’t do any justice to except to bring down to our level:

Unjust though it was that I was sent (twice) to prison, I have done my best to live up to the not disinterested assertion of the judge who sent me there that I am “a better person” for it.

I think he means, “I’ll stick my foot so far up your ass you’ll be shitting my pants for a week.”

About Matt Collins

Matt Collins is a musician (Ninja High School), cartoonist (Sexy), jock (Manhunt), and comedian (Matt Collins) in Toronto, Ontario. Please buy more Matt Collins. [Other Posts By Matt]