Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mark Slackmeyer said it first.

Mike P. updates a classic:




Blogger Xtreme English said...

i get it now....i just went to the chicago tribune online to find out why a canadian was being tried in chicago. his company, hollinger, owns the chicago sun-times, among many other newspapers. didn't ann landers used to write for the sun-times? i think so.

throw em all in the slammer! greedy bums!!

11:31 a.m.  
Anonymous Dann said...

Why is this story so important to you??

8:46 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Who are addressing this to, Dann? Me? Ronnie?

I presume so, and not to XE, to whom it has not been "so important".

'Cause if you are addressing it to me, I have a laundry list, hon. Get out your notepad. Put at the top of the list the title "Canadian Citizen".

We'll work backwards from there ;)

9:01 p.m.  
Anonymous Dann said...

Hi Ronnie,

Yup. You.

I read about the story. Interesting. Nothing spectacular in terms of book cooking. And there was the suggestion that he may have the decision reversed on appeals. So not exactly gross book cooking.

Yet if you feel anything like Mark Slackermeyer, there is a bit more emotion there than just the casual recognition that someone got caught doing something they shouldn't.

I'm curious as to why this particular story appears to inflame your passion.


12:25 a.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

I can certainly speak to why it inflames me, and I'm not Canadian. Conrad Black represents two very toxic elements in the media -- one is the utter greed that has lead to the consolidation of newspapers under huge Wall Street banners so that the 20-plus profit margins they already make are not enough. Black's media empire has long stood as a symbol of how this trend is destroying local service in the industry, and information coverage is the worse for it. This isn't theory -- I've worked in the business and watched it happen in front of my face, to the communities where I've lived, to the people with whom I've worked and for whom I've served for pay that is the lowest of any career field that requires a college degree. Even within that context, Conrad Black is considered among the two or three worst examples.

Second, he and his harpy wife represent the greed we saw in Enron, the wretched excess in personal lifestyle that is particularly galling when you see them turn around and express such contempt for the "little people" who make it possible. With Enron, it was the memos about ripping off little old ladies ha ha ha, with Barbara Ameil, it's heartless conservative columns on an Ann Coulter level -- only Ann Coulter isn't renouncing her citizenship so she can be called "Lady Ann." And, incidentally, when someone is bitching about a reporter who gave $50 to a Democratic candidate, they never seem to look into what the Conrad Blacks and Rupert Murdochs are handing out in terms of cash and free, softball coverage to the objects of their political admiration.

In short, Conrad Black and his contemptible wife represent the despicable, heartless, amoral classism that is destroying newspapers and dividing our society.

On the other hand, you're probably right -- stealing millions of dollars from investors is not the same as lying about oral sex! ;-)

6:10 a.m.  
Anonymous Dann said...


I'm not sure that I made that comparison. Based on the news story about the trial, Mr. Black may have a legitimate chance at overturning his conviction during the appeals process.

That makes his offense...or offence...not quite the spectacular rip off that is and was the Enron debacle. Perhaps you are projecting? [grin]

That observation aside, I'm not offering any opinion for or against Mr. Black. I'm just wondering why Ronnie is so enthused by his conviction.


8:22 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

All righty, Dann, glad to oblige.

Black and his wife represent the very worst of heartless capitalist excess. While metaphorically rolling in their excessive wealth ("My extravagance knows no bounds," Barbara cooed in a Vanity Fair interview), she was writing columns in Maclean's railing against Canada's social programs designed to help those who couldn't afford $3000 handbags, while he started an entire freaking national newspaper to disseminate his right-wing, xenophobic, anti-social-safety-net views. You probably don't think that's a bad thing; and while it is certainly their right to behave in such a fashion, I have every right to be contemptuous of it.

Meanwhile, he threw away - with visible contempt - his citizenship in this country, the thing I hold dear above all else - for a British peerage, the ultimate in ridiculous classism. He threw away his Canadian citizenship so that he and his hideous wife could believe themselves better than all 30 million of us.

Then, when he got caught obstructing justice - on videotape, no less - he began bleating about how he was now an "enthusiastic Canadian" who was making moves to get his citizenship back. Happily, the fact that he is now a convicted felon means he got enthusiastic too late.

I'm all for capitalism. All the better if it's benevolent capitalism. Some wonderful things have been done by fantastically wealthy philanthropists. The Blacks represent the very, very worst of the bottom-feeding "I got mine, now you fuck off" face of capitalism. They can't fall hard or fast enough for me.

But really, it all comes down to the citizenship. He treated something I hold precious like trash, and then like a commodity to keep him out of a US jail, and sneered while he did so. How much respect would you have for someone who gave up - while making snotty comments to the press about it - their United States citizenship for a title?

He thought himself above the law. It turns out he is merely beneath contempt.


10:11 a.m.  
Anonymous Dann said...

Hi Ronnie,

Thanks much.

I agree/sympathize with your perspective regarding his abandoning of Canadian citizenship as a part of his pursuit of "royal" recognition. Describing me as "dismissive" towards all things "royal" is a bit of an understatement. [grin]

I disagree with your association of his desire for personal aggrandizement as being inherent to capitalism. Such conceited behavior exists independent of economics. It is an indication of a personal character flaw that fortunately manifested itself in a pursuit of wealth. There are worse options. I would suggest that one of the benefits of living in a socially and economically free nation is the ability to uncover and limit such behavior.

Thanks for sharing.


1:25 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

I disagree with your association of his desire for personal aggrandizement as being inherent to capitalism. Such conceited behavior exists independent of economics. It is an indication of a personal character flaw that fortunately manifested itself in a pursuit of wealth.

I said that it was the ugly face of capitalism, which is, in fact, all about making a profit, is it not? Yes, this was capitalism gone amuck and it was indicative of some deep character flaws on the part of the Blacks. Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree on whether this was capitalism gone mad, or merely two mad capitalists :)

Incidentally, Canadian entrepreneur and impresario "Honest" Ed Mirvish died around the same time Black was convicted. Another fabulously wealthy man who made his fortune in retail (his anchor "Honest Ed's" in Toronto is a city landmark), rather than media. He is the father of modern theatre in Canada (think The Lion King, Mama Mia, etc.) and spent a lot of his money building theatres and mounting productions. Dozens of his employees wrote to Toronto newspapers about how he remembered their children's and grandchildren's names, how he gave every employee a turkey at Christmas, how much they loved him. Thousands of Torontonians lined the streets to witness his funeral cortege.

That is the other face of capitalism, the one I admire.


7:48 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

And in related news...

8:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Dann said...


mumble, mumble....agree to disagree...mumble, mumble....

Although I wish it were otherwise.


11:13 p.m.  

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