I more or less lost interest in newspapers when my old boss Conrad Black stopped running them. His flagship Daily Telegraph in London is a pale shadow of its former self, and The Chicago Sun-Times is even more diminished, a pale shadow of a pale shadow. Lord Black's career as a publisher ended with a multi-count conviction in US federal court in the Northern District of Illinois for a "corporate governance" "crime" that none of his enemies can even explain.
He was imprisoned, and, either because he's Canadian or a member of the House of Lords, was deemed ineligible for minimum-security and incarcerated among a rough crowd in Florida to whom, when I visited him, he seemed to endear himself. (In prison he taught American history classes, as remedial education for the deficiencies of American public schools.) I found it amazing that he was not only surviving but thriving. Beyond his cell, he fought his conviction, up past a somnolent appeal judge, the overrated and arrogant Richard Posner who (as was all too apparent in court) hadn't even read the briefs, and all the way to the Supreme Court,. Two years into his sentence everything was tossed out except one count.
Whereupon the original trial judge, Amy St Eve, notwithstanding what had happened on her watch, sent him back to gaol.
So Conrad Black was the victim of a grotesque miscarriage by America's hideous and corrupt federal justice system - which urgently needs (as we see from, inter alia, the military force dispatched to take down Roger Stone) the kind of top-to-toe overhaul no one apparently is willing to give it.
Meanwhile, back in Canada, Lord Black, if no longer The National Post's proprietor, has been reborn as a columnist in the newspaper he founded.
Nothing I have gone through compares to what he endured, but it does all suck up an awful lot of the remaining sands in one's hourglass. Re my current tormentor, the college-loan cockwomble Cary Katz, I emerged, for example, yesterday from an afternoon given over to a pre-trial hearing in Katz's second $10,000,000 arbitration suit against me to find that there had been new developments in his duplicative federal suit against me in Nevada. Next week pleadings are due in the New York appellate case (following his company CRTV's total defeat in the first arbitration). It consumes not just an enormous amount of money but an enormous amount of life. In that respect, I apologize for two scheduled January extravaganzas that I was unable to complete in time and which we'll be holding off to February. (We will, however, have a new edition of Mark's Mailbox this weekend.)
Katz made a substantial fortune lending money to university students, and collecting in, according to the admittedly suspect New York State attorney general, an allegedly predatory manner. He loaned out a total of US$19 billion, and did well in that business. He is also a professional poker player and pioneer in television poker. Katz is a television impresario and was the founder of CRTV â€” Conservative Review television â€” and the television network Poker Central. He is a major shareholder in both, although CRTV last year merged with Glenn Beck's TV outlet, The Blaze.
Which brings Conrad, of course, to yours truly:
Immediately after losing the US$10 million claim, Katz came back with a second suit against Mark for US$5 million (since upped to US$10 million), this time using the American Arbitration Association rather than the courts. He accompanied this with an entertaining sequence of dilatory procedures evidently designed to run Mark out of funds before he could collect his original judgment. The first smoke-screen actions were dismissed by the New York Supreme Court, but Katz then started to peel the onion of the endless lawyer's paradise of American litigation. He sued CRTV, his own company. Mark properly alleged that this was in order to try to make it incapable of honouring the judgment against it in the Steyn decision. Mark described this as "Katz's left buttock is suing Katz's right buttock into pseudo-insolvency as a fraud upon the court."
Even though the case was heard in Nevada â€” long one of several American states where you knew there was an economic recession when the Mafia was laying off judges â€” a happy result ensued.
That's a very Conradian line. Alas, Lord Black made the mistake of introducing me at last year's inaugural George Jonas Award gala, presented by Canada's Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. And in the course of his too kind remarks he congratulated me en passant on my spectacular legal victory over "this absolute scoundrel Mr Katz" and called Judge Gordon's award "the greatest act of accidental justice produced by the American legal system in decades". Another very Conradian line.
So Katz's crackerjack legal team has now added to their grievances Conrad's intro on the grounds that I obviously put him up to his epithet. (It's "Statement 75b" here.) Underneath Conrad's column, reader Lee Simpson comments on how pathetic a man has to be to sue on such grounds:
Amusing to read of the suicidal response by Katz, that Con Black would require time, even one second, with Mark Steyn to come up with the descriptor, "absolute scoundrel" for Katz, thus blaming Steyn for its origin.
In retrospect, 'moron' would now be best, given that the two principal wordsmiths each possesses an eloquence of vocabulary far surpassing that of Katz and any 50 lawyer team he might retain to do his cowardly bidding, in order to compensate for the smallness of things in his world!
Indeed. Still, my old boss is enjoying his special guest appearance in the cockwomble's suit-without-end:
In his complaint, Katz generously compares me to the late, eminent American barrister Johnnie Cochran, who brilliantly secured the acquittal of O.J. Simpson, as one colleague said, by "Playing the race card and dealing it off the bottom of the deck." I have rarely been so highly complimented, albeit from an unwelcome source.
Do read Conrad's full column - it is written with his characteristic brio and fearlessness. As for the remark that gave him a cameo in my own case, you can enjoy it, as the trial judge and who knows how many appellate courts surely will, below. Conrad's intro, followed by my speech, begins approx twenty minutes in:
~We hope to see a few National Post readers in the crowd for Mark's upcoming dates this month on his first ever tour with the great Dennis Miller. The Syracuse, New York date on February 23rd isn't (too) inconvenient for Kingston and Loyalist country, and Rochester, New York a few days later is a pleasant tootle down the QEW. And don't forget, with VIP tickets, you get to meet Dennis and Mark after the show.
On Monday, Joe Concha launches a brand new show on New York's legendary WOR, where Steyn appears from time to time guest-hosting for Rush. Mark will be among Joe's guests on that very first show, live at 6pm Eastern, immediately after The Sean Hannity Show. We hope you'll tune in.