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A five year old reads from the selected works of Lord Conrad Black
November 8, 2012 12:19 PM   Subscribe

"What does that mean? It's really weird what I'm saying." [audio] Five year old Mitchell Cait-Goldenthal reads an excerpt from former media mogul and convicted felon Lord Conrad Black's apoplectic post-US election Huffington Post essay [warning: bombast]. From CBC Radio's news show The Current. posted by hurdy gurdy girl (73 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think your first link might be broken; it's blank, no video.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roomthreeseventeen, there's no video; it's an audio link (the "listen" button next to the text).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Conrad Black, writing in HuffPo. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
posted by ssg at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first link has audio only.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2012


Conrad Black upsets a chess board after being put in check
Conrad Black holds his breath until he falls over
Conrad Black tells a friend he looks unwell
Conrad Black eats somebody's sandwich out of the office fridge
posted by boo_radley at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2012 [30 favorites]


My concern is not partisan or ideological.
*spittake*
posted by mfu at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So tempted to edit that essay, adding in refuting links. There are sections where literally every single sentence contains a lie.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


"[Romney] also might have prevented Iran from becoming a nuclear military power. Now, we may be fairly confident that Iran will achieve that status, requiring Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to do the same, unless Israel can deal with it itself, as the world, once again united in cowardice, leaves it to the Jews to do its dirty work."
Wow. That is, indeed, apoplectic.
posted by maryr at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2012


That five-year-old is such a good reader! I'm particularly impressed with his game, mostly-successful tries as "pelagic" and "fascistic," and the way he nails "bloodletting" and the cadence and emphasis in the last couple phrases of the Churchill quote
posted by longtime_lurker at 12:34 PM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


So says the convicted felon and fraudster.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Current is a radio show - and a pretty good one. But I miss the Voice.
posted by jb at 12:36 PM on November 8, 2012


The problem with capitalism is that the most successful people tend to look and sound a lot like Mr. Black.
posted by MetalFingerz at 12:37 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This cracked me up when I heard it this morning. It is so absolutely delightful to hear Black so thoroughly mocked. How do you like your freedom of the press now, Baron?
posted by looli at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2012


"Baron Black of Crossharbour."

Really? That sounds like a character from The Great Race.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:44 PM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


But I miss the Voice.

Oh, man, how did I miss the fact that they've axed the Voice? I confess I've always loathed that opening segment, not least because of their butchery of adverbs. I wrote them in the early days of The Current to let them know so, and they swore they had received lots of letters from people saying they loved it. I was dubious! But I suppose that outpouring at his leaving probably wasn't faked.
posted by looli at 12:45 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That kid reads quite well for a five-year-old!

Goddamn pinko socialist cannuk educational system!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:50 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mr. Mitchell Cait-Goldenthal could have a successful career as a radio personality, if he is so inclined. I'd love to hear him read from Atlas Shrugged, but it would be wrong to expose a developing mind to that kind of material.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2012


So is that five-year-old a reading prodigy, or is that within the realm of normal for that age? Can some current or former owners of five-year-olds chime in?
posted by HotToddy at 1:00 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand his use of pelagic, actually. What?

the pelagic argosy sights land
posted by selfnoise at 1:00 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let me see if I've got this straight. Nations Conrad Black doesn't like:

Canada
The United States
Iran
All other Arab or Muslim countries
France

Nations Conrad Black does like:

Israel
England (sort of)
Conrad Black
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


So is that five-year-old a reading prodigy, or is that within the realm of normal for that age? Can some current or former owners of five-year-olds chime in?
Judging by the asides, it's scripted. The kid has likely had time to learn it rather than read it straight out.
posted by Jehan at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2012


So is that five-year-old a reading prodigy, or is that within the realm of normal for that age?

I don't know the answer to this question, but it sounds to me like it's been pretty heavily edited. Not that there's anything wrong with that for a comedy piece.
posted by muddgirl at 1:08 PM on November 8, 2012


He is the only president to be reelected to a second term with fewer electoral votes than in his first election.

Truly unprecedented.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This thread is difficult for me to read, to be honest. It's depressing to contemplate how depraved we as a society have become when we are so nonchalant in the face of such an egregious instance of child abuse.
posted by koeselitz at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Such a pusillanimous, priggish pipsqueak.
posted by bonehead at 1:12 PM on November 8, 2012


The Card Cheat: "Nations Conrad Black does like:"

Don't forget [sic] "The Jews". Which, ick
posted by boo_radley at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2012


I wouldn't call it child abuse, exactly, Mr. Black is sixty-eight.

It's unfortunate that he somehow slipped back into the country, but Black is a lot more entertaining now that the US government clipped his claws. Huzzah for your legal system! Seriously.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of rot in Black's bombast but I am afraid I have to agree with this line: Any substantial president would have mopped the floor with Romney, and any serious challenger would have evicted the incumbent like a derelict squatter.
posted by chavenet at 1:17 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alright, here's a snippet. There's far too much whining to sit and expand this to the entire article.
There are five million fewer people working than four years ago, and there is no economic recovery. Inflation is only apparently moderate because the housing industry is bombed out, most other industries are very soft, and interest rates are negligible in an unsuccessful effort to revive economic activity, and this disguises 25 per cent annual gasoline price increases, and double digit annual increases in the price of most of the essential food and milk shopping basket, (and food stamp users have almost doubled to about 47 million, almost as many people as have criminal records thanks to the country's fascistic justice system).

President Obama has no mandate at all; he may not have as many votes as Governor Romney, did not achieve the endorsement by the voters of any particular program, and the country perpetuated gridlock in government, with the most unimpressive congressional leadership the country has had in over a century. Speaker John Boehner is a nervous, lachrymose bumbler, where some great legislators have sat, (though he is not as utterly hopeless in policy terms as Nancy Pelosi), and Harry Reid is an affront to the memory of previous Senate majority leaders such as Joe Robinson, Alben Barkley, Robert Taft, Lyndon Johnson, Howard Baker and Robert Dole.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:18 PM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yes, Mr. Black, everything stinks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:24 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't the former Baron Black a friend of the questionably sane Melanie Phillips?

I like a bit of irony in my schadenfreude, but this evening I find I am in danger of overdosing.
posted by cstross at 1:24 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, he should get together with that Pierce guy from Esquire. Their writing seems to be on about an equal level, and I think they'd have a lot of fun together.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2012


... On the other hand, Conrad Black isn't as bonkers as that other blackguard, [the late] Sir James Goldsmith, a swivel-eyed loon who could have been the very model of a Bond villain if only he wasn't such a self-conscious parody Englishman. And Melanine Phillips (as poisonous as her chemical near-namesake) is not as toxic as Josef Goebbels.
posted by cstross at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to take seriously anyone who describes President Obama as "an enemy of capitalism." Especially one who was convicted of embezzling, making him quite an enemy of capitalism himself.
posted by maxim0512 at 1:32 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I see terrible, demonstrably wrong writing like this, I thank my lucky stars that during his time in jail, Lord Tubby didn't find religion.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2012


While much of the article is ridiculous, it contains a relatively interesting policy prescription, whether or not one agrees with it:

What the country needs is a blend of economic conservatism, regulatory libertarianism, liberal human rights and leftist but innovative welfare policy, but not just the extravagant acquisition of the votes of the destitute and the defenseless by bigger government in the name of "spreading wealth around."

And he's right that a national sales tax is the best way to raise revenue.
posted by Dasein at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dasein: Black's prescription is basically straight-down-the-middle Thatcherite conservativism, UK version. If anything he's a little to the left of David Cameron's current swarm of opportunists, ideologues, and idiots.
posted by cstross at 1:45 PM on November 8, 2012


As insufferable as Black can be (which is 'quite'), he does represent a classical tragic figure (which is not to say a sympathetic one), as much as his beloved Nixon. The same personal skills and characteristics which led to his success (beyond family money and connections) were those same characteristics which led to his downfall. His bombast and self-assuredness got him to the top, but also prevented him from being able to accept a slap on the wrist for his corporate naughtiness, bringing him down and landing him in jail. Mind you, who knows what comes next?

Fascinating, in a way. Which is not to say I'd ever read a biography on him.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This an interesting litmus test, something so full of wrong that if you find one thing about it that makes you go, "Hey, maybe this guy has a point here," then you have found a troublesome source of dumbness within yourself.
posted by fleacircus at 1:52 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who feels tricked when reading the National Post's op-ed pages online? I see an interesting headline, make it part way through the column, and think "my god this guy's a jackass". I review the header. Sure enough, it's Conrad. Every goddamn time.

I feel like the Post should, I don't know, write his byline in blood so I know what articles to skip. Or better yet, just not publish his ramblings at all.
posted by ZaphodB at 1:58 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Them grapes, they sure are sour.
posted by johngumbo at 2:00 PM on November 8, 2012


ZaphodB: "I feel like the Post should, I don't know, write his byline in blood"

man this is the web. we're not there yet.
posted by boo_radley at 2:01 PM on November 8, 2012


This an interesting litmus test, something so full of wrong that if you find one thing about it that makes you go, "Hey, maybe this guy has a point here," then you have found a troublesome source of dumbness within yourself.

Or Black could be too smart/savvy to totally lose sight of what his bombast looks like to others.
posted by subdee at 2:01 PM on November 8, 2012


And he's right that a national sales tax is the best way to raise revenue.

Well, except that all sales taxes disproportionately punish the poor.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Awww, it's okay widdle Conrad, that electoral landslide isn't going to take all of the money you tore off the backs of working people.

Just a much better portion of it.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:05 PM on November 8, 2012


It's been an interesting time, watching some of paragons of entitlement and self-importance (Black, Trump, Romney) reach some sort of nadir of relevance as a result of their separation from reality.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:16 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, except that all sales taxes disproportionately punish the poor.

Not "all". One could imagine a system in which everyone reported their income, as they do for income tax, and got a little ticket they'd have to present when making a purchase, indicating at what rate they have to pay sales tax, based on their income. There would be all kinds of problems with this, I'm sure, but it wouldn't punish the poor disproportionately any more than taxing income directly does. (E.g. if you're poor, and your car payment is a higher percentage of your income than the same payment by your higher-income neighbour, then they pay a higher sales tax than you do on a car of equal price.)

Or, one could imagine a tax on the sale of goods not deemed "essential", with things like food, a certain amount of rent, etc. exempt and other things being taxed marginally according to some measure of "extravagance". (This way, somebody with no discretionary income pays no sales tax, while someone buying a ludicrously oversized house pays 200% of the amount above what the minimum possible rent over the period of their mortgage is deemed to be, or whatever*.) Again, I'm not advocating it, but it's a counterexample to the blanket statement "all sales taxes disproportionately punish the poor". Maybe you meant "all extant sales taxes", or something, and that's probably true.

If we're going to point and laugh at some blowhard's batshit spew, which is a good idea, it behooves us not to do so by repeating little maxims that perhaps convey something more or less true but that are, speaking literally, false.

*(Obviously easily gamed by paying over a very long term, because then the total rent approaches the cost of the house, but then the total interest is increased. It's a First-World Optimization Problem!)
posted by kengraham at 2:33 PM on November 8, 2012


We've got plenty of sales taxes in Canada, and no doubt there are others all around the world. When considered alone they're pretty regressive, but when paired with income-scaled rebates or some other system for balancing the load they can be fairer than income tax. However, Conrad Black is the last person I'd trust to design that system.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:44 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, we had sales taxes for centuries - excise taxes, on certain items (usually imported) - and they were really not very good. There is a reason that developed nations introduced income taxes: they raise more revenue more effectively, less regressively and with less bother. (the UK had a land tax inbetween, as a kind of proxy-income tax, but that's not very effective in a post-agrarian society).
posted by jb at 2:53 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


ZaphodB*: I see an interesting headline, make it part way through the column, and think "my god this guy's a jackass". I review the header. Sure enough, it's Conrad.

Well, you're not reading the NP closely enough then, because he's possibly not "the biggest" jackass they have. BIG, certainly -- ENORMOUS, even. And you're making an important point! I just think you should give Terence Corcoran or Tasha Kheiriddin more of a chance. I promise you won't be disappointed.


* Watzamatta, can't spell "Beeblebrox"?
posted by sneebler at 3:14 PM on November 8, 2012


I think it is telling that Black focuses so resolutely on Obama and Romney, ignoring all the other forces that have changed the US over time. Really, the state of the US has little to do with Obama or even Bush; the forces in play are much longer term than a president or two.

Black's hero is Churchill, who arguably bookends the "great men" of history, the last gasp of a very out of date view (of course, Churchill was a believer himself). Lord Black's own delusions of grandeur in the Churchillian mode need hardly be mentioned.

And so here, Lord Black takes the measure of Obama and Romney against those mythical great men and sees fit to pronounce the verdict from the grandest soapbox to which he can still ascend: far short of the mark and so much less than the great Lord Black himself!

If only the Americans had hailed him as their king!
posted by ssg at 3:19 PM on November 8, 2012


If we're going to point and laugh at some blowhard's batshit spew, which is a good idea, it behooves us not to do so by repeating little maxims that perhaps convey something more or less true but that are, speaking literally, false.

Really? Literally false?

OK, does "All sales taxes disproportionately punish the poor, unless otherwise compensated for by, say, taxing some things and not others, except when poor people purchase other things that aren't deigned appropriate for them." work for you?

I kind of prefer the pithier version, especially because I was replying to a blowhard's batshit spew on an Internet forum, fine as MetaFilter is. It also has the benefit of being demonstrably true, unlike his notions of politics and society.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:37 PM on November 8, 2012


Well, except that all sales taxes disproportionately punish the poor.

That's easily remedied with a refundable tax credit, which any sales tax should include.
posted by Dasein at 3:57 PM on November 8, 2012


Kevin Street: “I wouldn't call it child abuse, exactly, Mr. Black is sixty-eight.”

Mitchell Cait-Goldenthal is only five.
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on November 8, 2012


I know, but he sounds very mature! Almost five and a half.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:03 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really, the state of the US has little to do with Obama or even Bush; the forces in play are much longer term than a president or two.

GWB didn't invent the decline of the American Empire by himself, but he really pushed it. Those trillions spent on foreign adventures might come in handy now.

Conrad is pompous, yes. I don't agree with everything he says, but there are a few things worth noting. America is overdue for reconfiguring the War On Drugs, for example...

I like The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, they do excellent work.
posted by ovvl at 4:07 PM on November 8, 2012


Conrad is pompous, yes. I don't agree with everything he says, but there are a few things worth noting. America is overdue for reconfiguring the War On Drugs, for example...

He's also right about the U.S. Prison system being absolutely shameful. It's just that I don't think he'd care about it at all had he not been a resident.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:14 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Black makes a few good points, though. From the perspective of a Canadian, Obama most certainly is anti-free enterprise. He totally ignored NAFTA treaties when drafting stimulus bills.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:28 PM on November 8, 2012


There is a reason that developed nations introduced income taxes: they raise more revenue more effectively, less regressively and with less bother.

Most of the nations of the world that progressives tend to hold up as examples of what they wish the US would emulate have very high sales taxes. The trick is to mitigate the regressive nature of the tax with heavily redistributive spending.
posted by yoink at 4:59 PM on November 8, 2012


There is a reason that developed nations introduced income taxes: they raise more revenue more effectively, less regressively and with less bother.

They also disincentivize work and saving. They're not an unalloyed good in policy terms. No tax is perfect, but sales taxes can easily be made non-regressive and they allow people to earn and invest without being taxed. They also ensure that non-residents who use a country's infrastructure pay a portion of its upkeep.
posted by Dasein at 5:08 PM on November 8, 2012


There's a lot of rot in Black's bombast but I am afraid I have to agree with this line: Any substantial president would have mopped the floor with Romney, and any serious challenger would have evicted the incumbent like a derelict squatter.

I see no good evidence to support this claim. Months ago Nate Silver ran the numbers on the basic economic situation and showed that Obama was a slight favorite to win simply on that basis alone (that is, a generic incumbent President with Obama's economic record would be predicted to prevail against a generic opponent). Obama slightly outperformed the generic candidate, but not by all that much--and that's a measure of the fact that Romney actually ran a pretty good campaign. Everyone is always wise after the event and tells you that it was "obvious" that the loser was a bum--but that's simply good old 20-20 hindsight. In fact, I would say that The Romney-Obama debates were the most evenly fought and the highest quality of any Presidential debates in the last 30-odd years. They showcased two extremely adroit politicians doing a truly outstanding job (with the exception of Obama's stumble in the first debate). Had Obama not been a truly outstanding political performer those debates could have sunk his campaign; that they threatened to do so is a testimony to Romney's well-honed skills as a campaigner.

The fundamental "mistakes" Romeny made in the campaign (such as going hard-right on immigration to win the primaries) were not the mistakes of a poor candidate--they were symptoms of the larger structural problems the Republicans face in building a viable coalition in the contemporary US electorate.
posted by yoink at 5:12 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am very unpopular in Canada for liking Black, but as an intellectual (as opposes to his vulture capitalist / mini-Rupert Murdoch persona) he is actually quite interesting - his biography of FDR is worth a read. Anyway, I tend to agree with what he said in the HuffPo article above:

What the country needs is a blend of economic conservatism, regulatory libertarianism, liberal human rights and leftist but innovative welfare policy, but not just the extravagant acquisition of the votes of the destitute and the defenseless by bigger government in the name of "spreading wealth around."
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 PM on November 8, 2012


I mean, unwittingly or not, he's just described Canada for the past 20 years.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 PM on November 8, 2012


Conrad is pompous, yes. I don't agree with everything he says, but there are a few things worth noting. America is overdue for reconfiguring the War On Drugs, for example...


Sure, but that isn't even remotely the subject of this piece.
posted by ssg at 5:21 PM on November 8, 2012


"Regulatory libertarianism" has to be the most ridiculous phrase this side of Mittmentum.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:27 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, unwittingly or not, he's just described Canada for the past 20 years.

I don't entirely agree. Canada definitely does not subscribe to regulatory libertarianism - just try building a pipeline. Even the federal Conservatives can hardly be described as libertarian.

Economic conservatism? Again, the federal Conservatives massively increased program spending and the federal debt. We were conservative for about five years with Martin as finance minister.

Liberal human rights? I'd say we're on better ground there, with gay marriage, a sane justice system, and no death penalty, though until the country gets rid of its totally illiberal hate-speech laws and the kangaroo tribunals they spawn, we can't really describe ourselves as a free country. (Come on, Supreme Court! It's not too late to fix your mistakes!)
posted by Dasein at 5:51 PM on November 8, 2012


This an interesting litmus test, something so full of wrong that if you find one thing about it that makes you go, "Hey, maybe this guy has a point here," then you have found a troublesome source of dumbness within yourself.
posted by fleacircus at 4:52 PM on November 8 [3 favorites +] [!]
Yes, the important thing is to never think critically or consider an opposing viewpoint, especially if that viewpoint has any flaws whatsoever. Only listen to things that agree with everything you already believe. Anyone who disagrees with you is stupid.

/sarcasm

I think this article is mostly wrong, but it actually does make a few good points. Like this:
... the Democrats are the only party that has any interest in human rights or helping the disadvantaged. What the country needs is a blend of economic conservatism, regulatory libertarianism, liberal human rights and leftist but innovative welfare policy
I don't think I would vote for this party, but it's a least a party that would offer conservative leaning folks a real choice. The last two elections have shown that the Republic party can no longer win with backwards, hateful, repugnant policies. Much to the chagrin of many mefites, conservatives will continue to exist, and have a role to play in providing competition to liberals in the US. The thing we've been missing more and more of recently is any kind of intelligent, thoughtful conservatism.

I really hate the lack of critical thinking I often see in political threads here. People read something that contradicts at all their viewpoint, and immediately their brain turns off. They post a sarcastic comment and get 20 favorites, and get to feel smug without having done anything intelligent at all.

Finally, a question:
And he's right that a national sales tax is the best way to raise revenue.
posted by Dasein at 4:43 PM on November 8 [2 favorites +] [!]
Why the best way? Also, what to say of the idea that taxing people would hurt spending, which I think we desperately need to keep the recovery moving/
posted by !Jim at 6:57 PM on November 8, 2012


Mitchell Cait-Goldenthal sounds almost exactly like an adult with his voice pitch-shifted.
posted by Bugbread at 7:26 PM on November 8, 2012


what to say of the idea that taxing people would hurt spending

People spend when they have money in their pockets, and keeping income taxes low puts money in people's pockets. A VAT is economically efficient and lets people keep their income to either spend or invest.

Also, people spend money when they have jobs. People have jobs when companies can create them. Companies can create them when they have confidence in the economy and can raise capital. That can happen when the economy isn't being crushed by government debt. For that to happen, taxes have to go up, and spending has to go down. Canada got its house in order in the late 90s, and now it's America's turn.
posted by Dasein at 7:40 PM on November 8, 2012


He is the only president to be reelected to a second term with fewer electoral votes than in his first election.

Truly unprecedented.


Very much so.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:38 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Black makes a few good points, though. From the perspective of a Canadian, Obama most certainly is anti-free enterprise. He totally ignored NAFTA treaties when drafting stimulus bills.

This brings up something I'm finally noticing. The far-right, being very doctrinaire about their economic policies, seem to posit that those on the left are equally rigid, when in reality the dems are pretty purely economic pragmatists, which doesn't play as well in a narrative. So I don't think it's so much that Obama would be "anti-free enterprise" so much as, "he did or didn't do such-and-such at whatever time."
posted by Navelgazer at 9:33 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lord Black of Crossharbour (a.k.a. Lord Tubby of Fleece)
The now-defunct Canadian satirical magazine Frank dubbed him ‘Tubby’ after Tubby Tompkins, a character in the Little Lulu comic strip. Tubby Tompkins was a rotund and nasty, scheming child of privilege who often became a victim of his own shortcomings. The analogy stuck.

Not that Conrad ever gave a rap. He was mega-bright, he was filthy rich and he was utterly impervious to the pot-shots and putdowns that percolated up from the little people. He had money, fame and fortune.

And then the roof fell in.

Lord Black of Crossharbour ended up swatting mosquitoes in a cell in a Florida jail. Never in my lifetime has any mortal fallen so far and so utterly.

But here’s the thing.

Conrad Black was not beaten. He served his time like a pro. He never cried the blues or begged for mercy or murmured contrition. He spent $100 million on his defence; still faces over $1 billion in civil suits -- and yet the man is unbowed.

Is he magnificent -- Or deluded?

Maybe he just has sisu in spades. Sisu is a Finnish word that means, roughly, extraordinary bravery and tenacity. The Finns showed sisu when they fought the militarily superior Russians to a standstill in World War ll. I once asked a Finlander to explain sisu to me. “It means having the hide of a rhinoceros,” he told me. Then, after a pause he added:
“And perhaps the brain of one too.”
The Unsinkable Tubby Black
Publish Date: Wednesday, 7th of December 2011
by Arthur Black
posted by dougzilla at 11:08 PM on November 8, 2012


Based on the conservative responses to the election - including this one* - I think that the right is absolutely terrified that the US government will start supporting the middle-class again with a strong program of spending. If it did, a resurgent middle class would reduce the power of the Republican party's corporate backers still further and cement a strong base of support for the Democratic party for the foreseeable future.

In order to ward off this frightening possibility, they are now talking a lot about Obama winning because of people who "expect he will give them 'stuff'", or in Conrad Black's words, "the extravagant acquisition of the votes of the destitute and the defenseless by bigger government in the name of "spreading wealth around.""

I mean, this didn't happen. The "Obama phone" story was thoroughly debunked. That simply was not why Obama won.

What we have here, is a party that has used its enormous resources to create a bubble - in which they do not have to acknowledge reality. That cost them the election this week. Now, rather than soberly reconsider their position, they are doing what they know how to do - they are trying to build up a lie about the left in order to push their agenda, in order to prevent Obama from doing what he was elected to do.

We have seen this many times in the past. This is how right-wing propaganda works: scare left-wing pundits and politicians into moving right, by presenting the reasonable as unthinkable. They hope that despite winning a solid victory, the Democrats will be so scared of appearing to be the party that gives stuff to undeserving poor people, that they won't use their mandate and the power of the government to fix the economy, fix public education, fix the enormous amount of private sector debt that is weighing the economy down - and by doing these things, strengthen the middle-class - and cement a liberal agenda in place for a generation.

What would it be like if for once the left didn't back down? If for once it embraced its victory and said - in effect - "We're not going to do anything crazy or unreasonable, but we won - and that means our values, our views and our program have been endorsed by the electorate and we are now going to put them into effect, regardless of what hyperbolic terms you use to describe them."

That would be nice, I think. And it might be necessary, too, if anyone is to solve the challenges the economic and environmental challenges that the US now faces.

---

* Conrad Black is Canadian and his conservatism is of a peculiar sort - but I think in many ways he displays what are fast becoming the depressing marks of the modern conservative intellectual: he claims to be "libertarian" on economic issues (which boils down to "government should help the rich and powerful to trample on everyone else"), he lies freely, he pretends that his callow interpretations of history prove him right, etc. etc.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:54 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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