This week, after a travesty of justice and (in effect) two prison terms, Conrad Black finally received his long overdue presidential pardon:
When my assistant said there was a call from the White House, I picked up, said "Hello" and started to ask if this was a prank (suspecting my friends in the British tabloid media), but the caller spoke politely over me: "Please hold for the president." Two seconds later probably the best-known voice in the world said "Is that the great Lord Black?"
In today's National Post (the Canadian newspaper that he founded and I spent five very happy years writing for) I give my own take on the remarkable battle Conrad fought against America's disgusting and corrupt federal "justice" system:
In 2007, on the first day of Conrad Black's trial on the 12th floor of the Mies van der Rohe skyscraper that houses Chicago's dozens of federal courtrooms, I went looking for somewhere to make a discreet call on my cellphone. There were people everywhere — reporters, lawyers, spouses, curious deputy attorneys dropping in from neighbouring offices, a fan of mine wanting me to autograph my Broadway book to his pal John Mahoney from "Frasier"... Eventually, I pushed open a door and found myself in an empty courtroom. So I phoned from there in complete privacy. When others attending the trial discovered the room, I went to the empty courtroom further down the corridor. And, when in turn that also grew popular as a capacious handsomely paneled telephone booth, I went to the empty courtroom upstairs, or downstairs.
So many courtrooms, and no trials. Because, when the odds of not losing are one in 100, who goes to court?
Americans who know anything about the country's evil and depraved "justice" system grasp that central fact. It's only rubes who say "let the process play out" or "if you haven't done anything wrong, you've got nothing to fear."
The whole system needs demolishing and starting from scratch. Until that blessed day, I hope this new Attorney-General is at least serious about reining in some of the more obvious abuses.
Toward the end of my piece, I mention that Conrad was kind enough to testify on my behalf just the other week in one of the various suits by the tosspots of Blaze TV. There were those on my team who fretted about how much credibility an ex-con might have before an American jurist, but I rather liked that part of Conrad's curriculum vitae and figured we might as well own it in the pleadings. So we described the witness thus:
The Lord Black of Crossharbour is an eminent Canadian historian, a member of the House of Lords, a papal knight, the former Honorary Colonel of the Governor General's Foot Guards, and in America a convicted felon.
Alas, that last distinction has been taken from him by President Trump. Do read my piece in the Post. It is an indictment of an indefensible system, and one whose standard operating procedure, as in the Black case, was later used against the President himself.
~Elsewhere in the Post, Joseph Brean compiles a list of those who remained supportive of Conrad. Truth be told, there are names on there I wouldn't have included - Bill Buckley for one, although Elton's been great. I was, however, somewhat alarmed by this passage:
Another ally during the trial was the writer Mark Steyn, who used to guest host Limbaugh's radio show.
Er, does Mr Brean know something I don't? I see from my diary that I'm supposed to be guest-hosting for Rush this Monday. But maybe Cary Katz's Blaze TV sidekick Chris Crane has finally achieved his goal of getting me "marginalized".
~Conrad and I last appeared on stage together at the JCCF's George Jonas Award gala last June. (This year's honoree, by the way, is our mutual pal, the great Christie Blatchford.) No need to sit through my speech again, but Conrad's introduction of me (about twenty minutes in) was utterly charming and the crowd greatly enjoyed it:
Conrad, incidentally, wanted to come on last year's inaugural Mark Steyn cruise. Because he was (until his pardon) banned from setting foot in the United States, we thought he could board in Montreal and get off in Halifax, the last Canadian port before the ship sailed into American waters. But no. The control freaks who police the US border won't let any prohibited persons board a US-bound vessel even if they get off long before any American port.
What's the point? Thirty million people broke in across the southern border, half of them during a period when America was supposedly on "orange alert". US Homeland Security can do bugger all about that and its transformative consequences for thousands of American communities ...but they can prevent a member of the House of Lords from sailing in Canadian waters.
There is no point to a bureaucracy that can't prioritize.
~The second anniversary observances of The Mark Steyn Club continue this evening with a Tales for Our Time special that I think listeners will enjoy, and tomorrow with a live-performance video edition of our Song of the Week, and at the beginning of the new week with the second part of my in-depth interview with George Papadopoulos. Thank you for all your kind comments on our birthday and its various commemorations. I am very grateful to all the members of The Mark Steyn Club from London, Ontario to London, England to London, Kiribati who have stuck with us these last two years. We hope to welcome many more of you in the decades ahead.