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article imageConrad Black critiques Obama’s first year in office

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By Michael Squires     Feb 19, 2010 in Crime
In 2007, Conrad Black was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice over the theft of more than $6 million USD from a Chicago-based newspaper company he once controlled. Now in prison, Black writes a popular blog.
Born in Canada, Black ― also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour ― was chairman and chief executive of Hollinger International Inc, for eight years. Hollinger is a sprawling media group that owned titles such as the Chicago Sun Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Jerusalem Post. He resigned in 2003 after an internal inquiry was launched into claims he and fellow top executives had been pilfering millions from the group as it sold off key assets.
Still insisting on his innocence, Black – nicknamed Lordy by fellow inmates – and three other former executives were convicted of fraud over the theft of $6.1 million USD. They were sentenced to minimum security prison.
Leaving his wife, the columnist and former social hostess Barbara Amiel behind, Black reported to prison in March 2008 where his early duties included dish-washing.
Black, 64, is now using part of his time behind bars to write articles that appear in forums such as The National Post.
In a recent post, Black has written a critique of President Obama’s first year in office.
Spiked with larrikin sarcasm the The Toronto Star once published as an anthology of quotes, The National Post article, titled, Incompetent Obama teeters on the edge, Black leads with a shot at the Massachusetts Senate loss for the Democrats.
The burning question after the Massachusetts Senate election is whether the administration responds by making a course correction to survive politically by jettisoning its policy core and cleaning up its methods, or 'doubles down,' as President Obama has implied, and escalates the ideological and guerrilla war for direction of public policy. This was a referendum on the Obama administration, including health care, not just on health care. Even less was it just the rejection of an astonishingly unappealing candidate, predestined to glory as a trivia question. John F. Kennedy took that seat with lashings of his father's money in an anti-Brahmin revolt against Henry Cabot Lodge in 1952, and was re-elected by 864,000 votes in 1958. In the intervening years of Teddy Kennedy, the Democrats could have won with a candidate not confined to two legs and one head. This was less a wake-up call than a Te Deum for a dying and sweaty dream.
The president has three principal problems. He is well to the left of the public and of what he promised the voters in 2008, and it is an old, passe leftism, that is authoritarian, deviously presented and was discredited in this country decades ago; the sort of nostrums that caused Bill Clinton and others to become New Democrats. He is increasingly perceived as having credibility problems and of being cold, cocksure, narcissistic and intoxicated by what he modestly called 'the gift' of his own articulation. And as president, he has been quite, and quite surprisingly, incompetent.
Black wrote that neither Obama’s radical or sleazy connections stuck to him.
In a bizarre twist, a sleazy connection of Obama may just become Black’s Get Out Of Jail Card. The important development related to his chances of winning his appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court and it came from a surprising source.
In a special report from CTV News, Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared in court last week to plead not guilty to a superseding 24-count indictment of political corruption charges.
Falling just short of waving a white surrender flag, the same United State Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Illinois that launched Black's prosecution signaled its shaken belief that his fraud convictions might be vacated.
The prosecution's wavering confidence in the Black verdict was exposed by the case of Blagojevich.
Chicago city prosecutors of the impeached governor were trial shy to proceed with an indictment riddled with references to the honest services fraud statute.
Prosecutors are concerned the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently reviewing the law, could erase it from the books or limit it to the point that it might not be useful in prosecuting Blagojevich.
If Black's position prevails and the Supreme Court rules the statute is unconstitutional or significantly narrows the applicability of honest services fraud, then Blagojevich's prosecutors can simply dismiss those counts from his indictment without missing a beat.
If the fraud statute is ruled to be unconstitutional, Black's remaining three fraud counts will invariably fall. And what of the obstruction of justice charge that would remain? The court might be persuaded that if it isn't vacated, Black will be left with a single conviction for a crime committed in another country in relation to a set of circumstances that were determined by the court to be non-criminal. The absurdity of that logic leading to a dubious conviction could possibly lead the Supreme Court to vacate the charge of obstruction of justice as well.
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