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Crumbling Shape of America - Do to coronavirus quarantine the USA economy and housing market crumbling concept on black background.

A Conversation with Conrad Black

Episode #25  |  March 3rd, 2021
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In This Episode:

It appears the Dems won’t get their coveted $15 minimum wage hike inside the latest stimulus bill — for many small business owners, this comes as a relief. The measure was expected to damage the economy and, by the Congressional Budget Office’s own predictions, would have cost the economy 1.4 million jobs. Nonetheless, extremists on the left have vowed to keep fighting. Media mogul Lord Conrad Black, the former owner of London’s Daily Telegraph, tells Trish how he thinks the economy comes back. They also discuss everything from Dr. Seuss to the future of the Republican Party, including a possible Donald Trump run in 2024 and what that might mean for the country. For more from Trish Regan follow her on Twitter @trish_regan & visit


Lord Conrad Black

Conrad Black is a Canadian-born British peer, and former publisher of The London Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post, and founder of Canada's National Post.


Trish Regan:               [Music plays] Democrats may not have gotten their way when it comes to minimum wage. We’re seeing that the Senate parliamentarian – there was a Senate parliamentarian. The Senate Parliamentarian is coming out and saying, “Look. You can’t do this. It’s against the rules. You can’t smuggle this minimum wage in with reconciliation.” Hello, everyone. Welcome to American Consequences. I am Trish Regan, and we’re talking about the minimum wage… the minimum wage that, don’t forget, Biden ran on.

And you’ve heard Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many others on the most extreme side of the Left champion this idea that somehow you need a $15 minimum wage in order to actually make the country whole. Of course, the CBO who’s come out and said that it would result in well over 1 million job losses. Democrats would say, “Well, it’s going to actually lessen the poverty rate in America.”

Of course, if you don’t have a job and you’re stuck living off the government, that’s really not a good outcome now, is it? Anyway… I’m excited to have on the show today none other than Lord Conrad Black. You know him well. He was the publisher of the London Daily Telegraph, the Spectator, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Jerusalem Post. He was the founder of Canada’s National Post. He’s a columnist – regular contributor to a whole bunch of publications, including the National Review Online, the National Interest, American Greatness, the New York Sun, and the National Post. I’m so excited to have you here today with us. Lord Black, welcome.


Conrad Black:            Thank you, Trish. Always a pleasure to be with you. Thank you for your introduction. I don’t recognize myself, but I’m happy to hear it anyway no matter how outlandishly flattering it is.


Trish Regan:               Well, you’ve accomplished so much, and you have such an incredible body of work behind you. I want to get your perspective, first of all, on what we’re hearing out of the Left right now. This is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lord Black. She’s absolutely furious. She wants to fire the Senate parliamentarian. Let’s play the tape.


Recorded voice:          Any person who thinks that a $15 minimum wage is the crazy socialist agenda is living in a dystopian, capitalist nightmare. And we should not prop that up. We should not continue that. People are sleeping in their cars. They can’t afford baby formula. There are basic goods that people can’t afford to live on, on $7.25. It is deeply, deeply shameful that we are even having this conversation. Because when you take the minimum wage from several decades ago and you actually account for inflation and productivity gains of today, it should be $24 an hour. So we need other Democrats to understand how deep of a compromise $15 an hour is. And by the way. This bill has a multiyear phase-in as well. So even if we pass this…


Trish Regan:               I’m going to jump in because, you know, “dystopian, capitalist nightmare” is how she describes the current wage scenario. Lord Black, what are your thoughts on her comments and whether we need, in fact, a minimum wage?


Conrad Black:            Look… I agree with her lamentation about the financial condition of some people. But the answer is not raising the minimum wage. The senator mentioned basically right, but you have a different standard of living in different states. And there are a number of states, including – I believe Sen. Sinema mentioned Arizona as one of them – where the minimum wage is $15. And the problem with just raising the minimum wage is, it’s a simplistic, Leftist sort of dirigist idea where the state will intervene wherever it wishes, and the operation of the free market in order to produce the result it wants. But it produces consequences that it doesn’t want.

And when you do that in places like West Virginia, you get a shrinkage of the workforce. The total amount of money paid in compensation to employees does not change. The income goes up to those who keep their jobs, and it goes down to those who are laid off in order for all the businesses affected to maintain a payroll that they can survive on. And it’s not the best way of dealing with the problem that she identifies. I agree that that problem is there. I wouldn’t use the absurd phrase “dystopian, capitalist nightmare.”

If she wants dystopian nightmare, she should just go somewhere where her own views are enacted. But the way to do it is to train up the workforce, incentivize investment and job creation in low-income areas as the previous administration did – Sen. Ian Scott’s bill from – Tim Scott, I should say – from South Carolina and control the influx of unskilled work coming in illegally.


Trish Regan:               That’s a biggie, because that affects – this is a very interesting sort of wrinkle in all of it, right? Because that, I would assume, has got to have a tremendous effect on wages when you have unskilled workers coming into this country.


Conrad Black:            Well, if I can say another word on this, Trish, the previous administration – as you know, prior to the onset of the coronavirus, just before that – had 750,000 more jobs on offer, jobs to fill, than there were unemployed people in the country. It was full employment for the first time since the second world war, and they didn’t have to have armed forces of 13 million people in them as there were in World War II and a population of 130 million to get full employment.

And in those circumstances, it was in part because of the reduction of the influx of insufficiently documented or undocumented – let’s call them illegal entries – into the country. In those circumstances, you had for the first time in any serious jurisdiction the lowest 20% of income-earners gaining in percentage terms… gaining income more quickly than the top 10%. Trump was the only government in the history of the world in a serious jurisdiction that actually started to tackle the income disparity problem, which Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez would be one of the most vociferous complainants of it. But she should think this stuff through instead of just [beeping sound] like she does.


Trish Regan:               You know, look. I think there was a time when actually Democrats did care about how this would affect wages. I remember, if you go back 20 years, we’ve played the tape before of Dianne Feinstein saying, “Look. We’re not going to be Mexico’s welfare system.” And there was very much a push in previous Democratic administrations to guard against too many people coming here and not having the proper documentation because the thought is – and was or used to be, anyway – exactly what you’re saying… that it would drive down wage and make it more challenging for unskilled Americans to find jobs.

And I guess the answer now is, “OK. Go get the skills.” Well, good luck. I don’t think everybody should have to have a PhD, Lord Black, to be able to take care of their family or go work as a Google engineer. I think that part of the greatness of this country in previous times has been that maybe you could get a high school – maybe not even a high school education. But you still had an opportunity to work hard and provide for yourself and your family. Am I right?


Conrad Black:            Yeah. Absolutely right. I think part of the problem… I mean, of course it’s a vast problem, and we don’t want to oversimplify it. But part of the problem is, we have two great investments by society. And this applies to all the advanced Western countries. In an education system at the elementary and secondary school levels, it’s consuming more and more money to produce less and less well-educated people. And at the university level, it’s dispensing stupefying amounts of money to produce graduates in areas that are not economically relevant or even self-sustaining.

I mean, you can’t make an income out of being a Bachelor of Arts in, for argument’s sake – gender studies. I mean, if you want to study gender matters, you can do it. But it shouldn’t be subsidized by the state as if it was a preparation for gainful income that would support a family. Because it isn’t. And that goes for… I’m being arbitrary here, but perhaps half the people at the university… if we gave degrees, fluffed them up a bit, and called them a sanitary engineering or something for plumbers and people like that, we would have a workforce better-tailored to the needs of society.


Trish Regan:               Well, you’re getting at something that’s pretty critical here. We have seen this real shift – right, over the last several decades – this need, this total need, to send everybody to secondary education, to college education. And look… I mean, I’ve gotten a great education myself. So I would never say that somebody shouldn’t pursue that. But I also recognize that and – a few bucks will get you a cup of coffee. A few more bucks these days, right? At Starbucks. Maybe $5 will get you a cup of coffee.


Conrad Black:            You’re presumably a lesser person in an area that did allow you to join the workforce. I mean, obviously you’ve been very successful and have a sizeable income. I mean, not to be ingratiating, but you’re clearly a talented person. But some people are less fortunate than you in that respect. And we got to do our best to help all of these people, everybody. I’m all in favor of that. I’m just as passionate and advocative of the underprivileged as the congresswoman you just put on the air is. But in a different way. I mean, the old “shoot from the hip” socialist, “Wave the magical wand,” in President Obama’s phrase – that doesn’t work. We’ve seen it doesn’t work.

What works is what President Reagan said, “The only welfare system we ever had that worked is a job.” And that’s what you need. Job creation. And as long as you generate the growth in the economy that absorbs the unemployed and incentivizes job training on the job… precisely the thing you said a few minutes ago. But the dream and aim of American society being that everyone can get on if they work hard – that will happen. And it was happening in the last administration. It’s not going to happen with the nostrums that this outfit is trying to put through.


Trish Regan:               I mean, you look at the numbers, right, in the last administration. And until COVID came about, we were just going on – we were gangbusters. You know, you saw the lowest unemployment rate for minorities, for women.


Conrad Black:            Oh, there was no unemployment. I mean, nobody who wanted a job didn’t have one. And the alternative on the Democratic side right now – not always in that party but right now – is, well, what the private sector doesn’t employ will take care of by just taking more from people who’ve earned and giving it to people who haven’t… not that, for the most part, they wouldn’t like to earn it, but they’re not able to because the economic system functions the way it does when your aim is in part, in effect, to increase the state benefit addiction of the population.

I mean, it’s the old thing that Mitt Romney referred to rather unwisely when he was a candidate where nearly half the people in the country are reliant on some sort of state benefit. Well, you know, there’s nothing wrong in itself of any individual getting some sort of benefit from the state. But when the aim of the government is to addict enough people to that benefit that they are in effect buying their votes to keep them, the government, in place, then democracy is not working well. And we’ve been teetering on the brink of that in the United States and other Western countries for a long time in one place or another.


Trish Regan:               Lord Black, you’ve heard me go back to my experience with some of these Latin American countries. But that’s exactly what they’ve done. Recently, Argentina just did a big confiscation of people’s wealth [laughs] as well, which leads me to Sen. Elizabeth Warren who wants to do a kind of wealth tax here. We’re going to roll the tape on this. She thinks she can make a huge difference with this wealth tax. I want to get your reaction.


Recorded voice           The people who could afford to pay a fair share understand their wealth will continue to grow. During the pandemic, they have increased, the billionaires have increased their – the trillionaires, the billionaires, have increased their wealth by $1.3 trillion. But they’ve been throwing their wealth for years now at 6%, 8%, 10%, 12%. They have their own money managers, their own people who manage these great fortunes. A two-cent wealth tax means they just don’t grow it quite as fast. But that two cents is an enormous difference for the rest of America. It is an opportunity for every child in America to have universal pre-K and opportunity for every child to have childcare paid for and every parent, and raise the wages of every childcare worker. We can make a huge difference with this wealth tax.


Trish Regan:               It sounds good [laughs], Lord Black. We can make a huge difference. It’s just going to be two cents for those, you know, wealthy – she calls them billionaires, trillionaires – whoever they are – that have all these money managers. Your reaction?


Conrad Black:            It’s trusting the Rubicon to seizing people’s property. It’s one thing to tax their income, but that’s tax-paid money. So subtle taxation. All those people that she’s complaining about who are wealthy, they all paid tax on their income as they piled up the money. And now, she’s coming back for a double-dip, and the state is just seizing property. That’s what it is. Once you have accumulated the wealth… it isn’t income. It’s wealth. So it is seizing the property. It’s their property, Trish. I mean, it’s like seizing their house.

Now, I accept that it starts with this apparently demagogically tempting target of saying, “All right. A person has a billion dollars. What’s 2% of that to him?” Well, what is $20 million? We’ll just take $20 million.” But what you’re doing is legitimizing the concept of seizing, confiscating  people’s property, and then distributing the proceeds of the confiscation to people implicitly in exchange for their votes to perpetuate a regime. And that is a corrupt system of government. And the problem with it is, human nature being what it is, it will just give way farther and farther until you’re essentially demonizing all the wealthy, driving them to extremes of tax avoidance. And suppressing economic growth the way France… prior to the revolution, yes.

But you have it in a lot of – like Venezuela. You were talking about Latin America. That’s an example. I mean, Argentina. It’s fine, but now the wealthy Argentinians aren’t Argentinian taxpayers anymore. And that’s what you get. I mean, it’s insane. Now, what I would approve of is the following type of wealth tax where it is an anti-poverty tax. And the wealthy people administer it themselves. They submit to the obligation to have a certain percentage of their income – not their wealth. But their income – consecrated to anti-poverty schemes that are verified as being genuine the way charities are. You can’t do it with a scam.

But it actually does contribute in some way to a tangible, measurable reduction of poverty. And it’s a self-limiting tax. The tax comes down. It doesn’t start at a high percentage, but it comes down to nothing as statistical poverty is eliminated. That would align the interests of the rich with the interests of the poor and the smartest commercial and financial minds in the country who would be put to work fighting poverty. And I think that would work if you presented it properly. But that is a completely different thing. What she wants is just to steal the money of the people who’ve earned more money than anyone else and redistribute it in exchange for votes for herself and those that think like her.


Trish Regan:               And then, what would happen? I mean, again… ELAN tried this in France, and everybody left. You mentioned Latin America as we were talking about, “Everybody’s left. You’re not a taxpayer in Argentina anymore.” Venezuela for that matter. That is, if Venezuela didn’t get everything from you already. But how do you – I mean, would you actually see a scenario, do you think, where people would say, “You know what? To heck with this. I’m going to find somewhere else to live”? Or is it already so challenging? I mean, right now if you say, “I want to give up my American citizenship and move to a tax-free shelter,” it’s not that easy, and they’ll take a good percentage of whatever wealth you’ve accumulated thus far.


Conrad Black:            Well, they’ll do it now because other countries will cooperate. But if you had large numbers of Americans seeking a tax refuge – in other words, jurisdiction where they could simply decamp to that place and not have that jurisdiction carry out American wishes in terms of the seizing money or, if need be, forcibly returning the individuals, the tax fugitives… if you had enough of them, you’d get countries – and France would be one of the first, by the way, who would say, “Well, we accept these people. They are tax refugees. They are fugitives from fiscal injustice.”

“And you, the U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments, get lost with your warrants.” They would treat the United States on that issue the same way they treated them in their shameful attempt to extradite Roman Polanski. They made it clear to Switzerland if they extradited them, Switzerland would not export one cent of goods or services to the European Union after that. So needless to say, the Swiss as usual did the economically sensible thing. I mean, there are limits to American extraterritoriality.

And they can only get away with the kind of thing you’re talking about because the numbers of people fleeing the jurisdiction are not humorous. But if all of a sudden you had 10,000 dissenting millionaires and billionaires and multibillionaires banging on the jurisdictional door of, let us say, France, do you think the franc would say, “Oh, no. We can’t let you in. You’re going to have to pay your taxes to the Americans”? Of course they wouldn’t. It would serve the United States right if they were stupid enough to do that.


Trish Regan:               Interesting. Interesting. By the way, Switzerland doing the economically sensible thing – I mean, that’s one country where you can’t just exactly immigrate into. I mean, again – going back to the minimum wage and issues of immigration, we’re unique, right? In that, for some reason, we’re much more willing than so many of these countries that I think the Left kind of looks up to – right, these European nations – that make it much, much harder to even be there in the first place.

But let me just turn to what we’re seeing on a political level both in New York and then also I want to turn nationwide to the Republican Party. But Cuomo is certainly stepping in it. And it seems that his days are increasingly numbered. One of the things that have struck me, Lord Black – and these are allegations, and who knows? I think that there’s something kind of inherently unfair about allegations and just tearing anybody down. But if they’re true, then the guy’s a real schmuck.

And if they’re true, and you don’t have the – regardless if they’re true or not, you don’t have people on the Left… like, where’s Kirsten Gillibrand? Where’s Hillary Clinton? Where are the women that have spoken up for the rights of other women on this issue? I mean, I guess it once again is sort of showcasing how splintered we are and how it’s never really about the issues., which is pretty disappointing. But it’s never about the issue. It’s about politics and sides. And you know I don’t love AOC, but I give the woman credit because she’s at least said, “Look. We need to have an investigation into what happened or what didn’t with Cuomo.”


Conrad Black:            Yeah. But look… I don’t like conviction by denunciation. I understand the anguish of women who really have been victimizing. Of course they do. But frankly, I think a lewd comment – it’s tasteless, but you don’t fire the governor for that. And if he’s denying it, you can’t automatically take her word for it. I mean, this theory that the feminist put up in the Kavanaugh affair – which was obviously completely spurious… he’s a blameless person in that regard – that you automatically have to believe the woman, if you do that you’re making every adult male in the country a person who’s only a conditional holder of his present occupation.

I mean, you can throw them all out. And we just can’t run a society that way. The bigger problem as far as I’m concerned with Cuomo is this business about withholding the facts and misinforming officials to whom he had a duty of full disclosure on matters to do with coronavirus deaths and his conduct in sending those people back into the homes for the elderly where there was an extreme vulnerability. And apparently, many thousands of unnecessary deaths. I think that is grounds for impeaching and removing the governor. If it’s true. I mean, a man deserves a fair examination. I’m not doing a-


Trish Regan:               His right-hand gal there came out and said it, which is-


Conrad Black:            On one woman after another coming out of being silent for a period of time, I am skeptical of this kind of stuff.


Trish Regan:               I am with you in that I think in society you can’t just point fingers and immediately… I mean, it’s like the Salem witch trials, right? I mean, “Boom. She’s a witch. Boom. He’s a, you know, sexual harasser.” These are some pretty serious allegations. I’m with you in that I’m really disturbed by the nursing home data. And when I say his right-hand gal, it was-


Conrad Black:            These women haven’t alleged physical assault by him that I’ve heard. They’ve alleged lewd remarks and suggestive remarks.


Trish Regan:               Right. Well, there was one that was getting a kiss. [Laughs] There was one that was getting a kiss at a wedding, and it turns out one of her friends took a picture of him holding her cheeks. But you know what? Listen. I think in some ways it is a distraction from the big, big, big issue, which is that his staff member – again, his right-hand person there – she got on a telephone call with all the Democrats in New York and said, “Well, yeah. No. We didn’t come forward with these numbers. They were much more, but we didn’t come forward because Trump made us do it.” Basically she said, “We thought that the Justice Department would go after us. I mean, he was going after California. He was going after Michigan. He was going after New Jersey. What would’ve stopped him from going after New York?” And so, that to me – that really shows how broken we are.


Conrad Black:            By the way. I consider Jim DeBlasio’s attacks on Cuomo indicative of how morally bankrupt the New York Democratic Party is. I mean, when we have to listen to the most incompetent mayor in the 400-year history of New York accuse the governor of these things with the sanctimonious claptrap of his, it is truly time to put the whole state and its principal city in trusteeship, I think.


Trish Regan:               That’s a good point. I mean, the city’s a mess. The city is in – I don’t know anybody living there now. I mean, everybody has gotten out. If you can, you do. Turning, though, to the Republican Party. So we heard from Donald Trump there at CPAC over the weekend in Orlando, Florida – he’s effectively, you know, hinting that he’s going to run again in 2024. You know, it’s tough for the Republican Party right now. And I think people like Nikki Haley who’ve really exemplified that… right? On the one hand, she comes out and criticizes him and says, “We shouldn’t have followed him,” blah-blah-blah. And on the next hand, she’s coming out – as recently as Monday night – with a Tweet talking about how wonderful his speech was.

So there’s a lot that he has done that should be continued, I believe, in terms of his appreciation for the middle class and the values of the middle class and the need to really embrace what’s fair in this country. But simultaneously, he’s got some challenges given what happened. So where does the Republican Party go from here? Did they have a future without him? Can they bring him in in a way that is not polarizing to some that would be in the middle?


Conrad Black:            I think you’ve got a couple of alternatives. First of all, when you say, “Considering what happened,” if you’re referring to the January 6 thing, that had nothing to do with Trump really. I mean, the attempt to portray him as having deliberately provoked the outrage that occurred has failed. I mean, he didn’t do that. He didn’t want anyone to storm into the Capitol and beat people up or kill people or vandalize the U.S. Capitol. He wasn’t asking for that. The real problem here is the attempt to suppress, literally suppress in a totalitarian way, the argument that it’s a tainted election.

There’s no doubt that Joe Biden won the popular vote, and President Trump in my opinion made a jackass of himself claiming otherwise. Biden won the popular vote, but that’s happened six times before, that the popular vote has been won by the person who did not win the election. I mean, if you count the ballots – right – in Alabama, JFK came behind Mr. Nixon. And President Eisenhower urged Nixon to challenge it, and he thought – the traditional patriot as he was…. which his enemies have never conceded, but it is the case – Mr. Nixon said it would be a bad thing for the country to go through that at this point in the Cold War.

And he stood down. But he was supposed to be elected, of course. But Trump does have a case. There’s no doubt that the results in those six or so swing states where these big drops came in the middle of the night and overwhelming numbers for Biden… unfair, verifiable votes because of changes in voting rules, many of which were unconstitutional because they weren’t voted by the legislators. That puts the election result in question.

So Trump makes that point. He feels the election was stolen. That is a legitimate argument. It may have been. And he has aggrieved at that, and he has a right to be aggrieved at it. But he did not urge criminal action at the Capitol. So the argument that he did is a fraud, which is an attempt to destroy him politically, and it has failed as it deserves to fail. So the fact is, the country ratified Trump’s policies. You saw that in the Congressional elections and in the state elections.

They like those policies. 56% of Americans said they were better off with him than under the previous Administration. There was resentment and understandable objection to Trump’s personality. It’s an acquired taste or not. I mean, there’s plenty to… I mean, look. I support Trump, but I find some of the things he says outrageous. I thought he was brilliant on some… I didn’t see anything wrong with anything he said on Sunday. So I think there are two answers to this. And I’m sorry to be so long-winded, but it’s a bit complicated.


Trish Regan:               No, no, no. It’s a big question. [Laughs]


Conrad Black:            Yeah. But, you see, I think either if Trump cleans it up a bit so that he doesn’t make the kind of boorish and boastful remarks that irritated people – too many people – before when he was a candidate when he was President… if he cleans that up, then I think people will forget about that. And it’s a kind of a new Trump, like it was a new Nixon in 1968. And I think he will win – if he wants the nomination, he’ll win easily. And he’ll probably win the election. In the alternative, if he doesn’t then the Republicans have to find someone.

And the governor of Florida is the obvious one to fill this role if it can be worked out, who Trump personally approves of and will support and urgers supporters who are the great majority of Republicans to support. But he’ll also attract non-Trump people. So either Trump cleans it up so he can spread sort of a broader tent over the electorate or – if he doesn’t clean it up – he hands the ball to somebody who will, presumably – I mean, the governor of Florida is the most obvious one. But Sen. Hawley might do it. Gov. Abbott might do it. I don’t know.

But what the Republicans can’t do – and there’s some who are trying to do it – is say, “All right. We’ll take all of Trump’s support, but we’re getting rid of Trump.” You can’t do that. Trump is not a salad where you take parts of him and not others. He’s a cocktail. You take the whole thing or nothing. And these people got to grow up and understand that Donald Trump doesn’t exist for the purpose of keeping Mitch McConnell in his rotten borough in his sinecure in the senate. He’s trying to do something for the country and gain position for himself, not be a mindless conduit of support to people who haven’t earned it by lending his popularity to people that don’t agree with him.

And in fact, in large numbers betrayed him after the election. The Republican Party clearly showed – the traditional Republican Party clearly showed. And McConnell’s the example of it. They were delighted to see him lose, but they wanted to keep all his supporters. Well, that’s not how the game works. I mean, a man like McConnell – a seven-term senator, he should’ve figured that out by now. I mean, remember “Happy” Chandler and Alben Barkley and Henry Clay, these great Kentuckians. That’s not how it happens.


Trish Regan:               Well, when I say, “All that has happened,” in some ways I think I’m speaking to sort of this exhaustion – right – that some people feel. And it’s a lot of people that are in the middle. So I think you’re right. But part of it’s the media, too, right? Like, the media is part of this. It’s like, you know, “Who wants to deal with them anymore?” And one of the things that the Democrats were successful with, in 2020 was painting this picture of Biden as sort of not all that, right?

He’s not going to suck all the oxygen out of the room. [Laughs] He may be, you know, on oxygen for all we know. He’s a whole different ball game versus Trump who really is going to command the room and is a big presence. But that is his success, right? That is Trump’s success. He has a popularity and an appeal that I haven’t really seen before. I’m just going to say that. I mean, all these politicians, you feel like they can come and go, right?

But they don’t really stand for anything. They don’t feel like… whereas, he kind of feels like he stands for what he stands for. You may like it, you may not. But he’s got a conviction and a viewpoint, and he believes with great passion in that viewpoint… Whereas, I think some of these other people, they just feel like cookie-cutter politicians that you can interchange. And so, I don’t know how the party moves forward if it doesn’t have that kind of personality to really help bring people in. People liked him. They got a kick out of him – or they hated him, right? That’s the truth of it.


Conrad Black:            Trish, he’s the first person since Franklin D. Roosevelt where people would go in tens of thousands and stand in the cold or the rain for hours just to see him. No one – I mean, Reagan could pull good crowds. Eisenhower pulled good crowds. But not like this. The last person who did was Roosevelt, and that was before people had television. It was, you know, an amazing thing to see the president. You know? And what Trump has got is this colossal following. And he’s got it because he earned it. He saw an echelon of public opinion that no one else saw.

And when he denounced his nomination five years – his candidacy for the nomination five years ago, virtually 90% of the observers said this was a complete joke. Well, it wasn’t a complete joke. I mean, he sought what they didn’t. And you can dislike him. There’s plenty of reason to find his public – I mean, his personality. He’s a very nice man, I think. But publicly, there’s plenty of reason to find fault with him. I mean, he is sometimes garish, boastful, and possessed with absurdly juvenile ego – particularly for the holder of such a great office.

But that’s not the point. He has a following, and he’s just what you said. He’s a strong, unambiguous leader. And in policy terms, the fact is he’s right. And he was right to cut illegal immigration. He was right to cut taxes. He was right to identify the China danger in a responsible way. Not a McCarthyite, witch hunt way but say, “This country’s a rival and picking our pockets, and we can’t stand for it.” And it’s a great country. We admire China, and I respect its president, but we can’t stand for it. I mean, his policies were good, and they were ratified in the election.

So he has to narrow the gap between the approval of his policies and the roughages of his personality. And I thought he showed signs of doing that on Sunday. He didn’t say anything obnoxious or boorish or in poor taste on Sunday. He spoke for 90 minutes. It was the greatest political speech delivered in the United States, I would say, since Reagan’s time. It was a great speech he delivered on Sunday. And if that’s the way he’s going – if that’s the way he plays it from here on, he’s coming right back into the White House.


Trish Regan:               He’s very talented from an oratory standpoint, and I agree with you. I mean, I looked… you know, I’m wonky enough that I actually read everyone’s policies – especially the tax policies. And I saw his, and I thought, “This is smart. I mean, this is really good. This is what we need.” You know? He, to me, was spot-on, on all of the policy issues. And I agree with you, Lord Black. The country, they’re not where AOC and Bernie Sanders want to take us. We’re not there like as a country. We actually are very much middle-center, right, as a nation. And his poll… I mean, “America first.” Right? Just saying, “America first,” right now – that’s like considered hate speech. And I’m like, “Wait. But shouldn’t you put your own country first? Like, isn’t that sort of obvious? I bet China’s putting its country first.”


Conrad Black:            It’s like a person coming out the door of his home every day saying, “Well, I am going to be a doormat for everybody I encounter today. I’m not going to do anything in my own interests. I will not bother to eat. I’m barely clothed in order not to be an offense to public decency. But as far as I’m concerned, my purpose in the world is to abase myself for everybody else.” I mean, objecting to the idea of “America first” is advocating such a policy as that for the country as a whole… of course you put America first.

You have these spurious pseudo-historians claiming that what he means was what was meant by America first at the end of the ’30s, which was an isolationist movement led by Colonel Lindbergh that Roosevelt rightly said was, in effect – although it might not have been intentionally so – an attempt to assist Hitler in the United States when Roosevelt was sponsoring measures to assist Britain and Canada in continuing in the war against Germany, Nazi Germany. I mean, it’s a total outrageous slander to say that Trump – by invoking the expression “America first” – is making any reference at all to what was an isolationist and rather primitively-minded and motivated organization 80 years ago, that not 1% of Americans would know anything about today.


Trish Regan:               I want to get to one more story before I let you go. And by the way, everybody should follow you on Twitter. I’m sorry I didn’t mention that earlier, but it’ll be in the description. @ConradMBlack. Follow his tweets. There’s a story today. It’s Read Across America Day. And Dr. Seuss is coming under fire. And the National Education Association, as of a couple years ago, began distancing itself from Dr. Seuss books and a school district down in Virginia – county in Virginia – is advising the teachers and the principals not to introduce kids to Dr. Seuss books because it turns out that Dr. Seuss apparently, in some of his very early works… and this is going way back, right? I mean, pre-World War II, he drew some pictures of Asians and African Americans in ways that have invited a lot of criticisms in recent years and were seen as racist. I just want to point out that Dr. Seuss has some really awesome books.

I remember reading the one about The Sneetches as a little kid, the Sneetches. They had the stars on their belly. And it was actually a wonderful lesson to me, Lord Black, as a little, little kid – right – in how you need to treat people fairly and equally, and we’re all sort of the same. Because in the story of the Sneetches, they’ve got the star on their belly. And so, they think they’re a big, big, deal because they’ve all got stars. And the Sneetches that don’t have the stars feel really bad. So they go, and they get the stars. Well then, the Sneetches with the stars figure out that those guys got the stars.

So then, they go get their stars taken off. And it’s this big rigamarole. Eventually, everyone ends up happily ever after because they realize they’re all just Sneetches, right? So that was a wonderful book. And then, you think about Yertle the Turtle, which was written as an anti-Hitler kind of fable and the dangers of fascism. So I think it’s a real mistake. I mean, here we are now canceling Dr. Seuss, not giving the kids the opportunity to read things like Yertle the Turtle or The Sneetches because some of his early works – which by the way, his organization admits, and they’re actually no longer going to publish, were insensitive in their imagery. Your reaction.


Conrad Black:            I think it’s all nonsense. It’s like these people wanting to cancel parts of Shakespeare. I mean, Merchant of Venice because the caricature of a, you know, avaricious Jew. And you could raise arguments against parts of the Bible for portraying non-white people in unflattering ways. I mean, there’s no end to this foolishness. And it’s simply got to stop. We have to stop being so easily offended. I mean, we simply have to be more thick-skinned. I mean, you cannot have a functioning society involving – what are we in the world, 7 billion people now – if we’re going to ban a book because in the ’30s it published some characteristic depictions of non-whites in a way that they now judge to be unflattering.

That was a time, by the way, when the Japanese were murdering thousands of Chinese every day and prior to their grand crescendo at Pearl Harbor and thereafter. I mean, and we simply can’t function like that. I mean, we’ve got to have… everyone should be proud of what they are. Whatever their ethnic group or religion if they have one or absence of it if that’s their conscious decision.

They should be confident in themselves, and they deserve respect. But they can’t go about saying, “My feelings are offended by literature that was acceptable by the standards of two generations ago.” We just can’t get to that. We are becoming a species of cowardly idiots hiding like moles because of this ludicrous pandemic that is only a lethal threat to less than 1% of the population and not taking offense as you said… Dr. Seuss. You could hardly find a more benign title than that from 90 years ago. This is foolishness.


Trish Regan:               No, really. And I think we’re depriving our kids of some of the great works that he did have.


Conrad Black:            You’ll have to tear down Dickens because of the way he portrayed Fagin. I mean, you can take apart almost every serious author. But, I mean, what is the point of it? What are we doing?


Trish Regan:               You know, I don’t know. Because you got to walk on eggshells everywhere. You have no idea what might set someone off in this kind of environment. And given our sensitivities now, it feels like you can’t really have authentic conversations. And I don’t know where that leads us. I really don’t. Not in a good way, because I believe you need all that diversity of opinion, and you need stuff that you don’t always agree with, and you need to be able to look at text and art within a historical context. Someone said to me the other day – you’ll appreciate this one – you know, nobody says, “Gee. George Washington, he’s such a fool because he had wooden teeth.” That’s all you had back then. Like, you have to have some appreciation for the time and place in which somebody was living.


Conrad Black:            Of course. And this has always been one of the great strengths of the United States. It is obviously a very polyglot population. I mean, if you break it down, the ethnicity – the ultimate antecedents of the population is extremely mixed. I mean, most of them happen to be white. But very mixed nationalities all across Europe. And it works. I mean, they’re Americans. And that was a matter of pride. You know, look. You can find amusing or not amusing jibes to make at every group. And what we want – when you say, “Where does it lead to,” I think it leads to the point where the country finally can’t stand it anymore and rewards a bit of political incorrectness.

That, by the way, was one of the secrets of Trump’s success. He didn’t bother with that. He brought back Christmas cards that said, “Merry Christmas,” instead of, “Season’s Greetings.” And he put it up there. And his family is an illustration of the point. I mean, the Trumps are from Germany originally. But his wife’s a Slovenian and I mean, his daughter is a convert to Judaism. His wife’s a Roman Catholic. He’s a Protestant. It all works. You know? I mean, that’s America. I mean, what on Earth are you doing getting into this nonsense?

This politically correct nonsense, it’s the atomization of society. It’s taking the great American melting pot, one nation, one flag, one Constitution, one ethos of freedom, economic freedom and opportunity… and not stratification and replacing it with every single subgroup of aggrieved people. And the most absurd example of all now is reorganizing sports for the – as I understand it – 1 person in 15,000 who might be a transgender person. They have to be treated fairly, but you don’t turn the whole thing upside-down because of 1/15,000th of the population.


Trish Regan:               Well, I agree with you on that. You know, I was having this conversation with someone the other day. And I was pointing out, “Well, that’s really – it’s not like there’s a ton of people out there that are going to be asking for this.” But it does affect the women that are… I mean, if you are the one person, right, that gets beaten out by somebody who is dealing with just a different biological makeup, then it stinks for you. The other thing is this whole idea of the transgender – you know, do you think I would care if someone was unfortunate enough, right, to be in such a spot where they had to… do you think – and by the way, I’ve seen transgenders in restrooms before. I don’t care.

You know what? If you feel like you’re a woman, then join the club, right? I don’t have a problem with that. But when you suddenly now legislate it and now a man can feel like a woman on any given day and has a right to be there at the kid’s playground in New York City in the girls’ restroom… I mean, this doesn’t make any sense, right? Again… I would just say, like, have some just appreciation for each other and individuals. I think most women would not complain if there was a man dressed as a woman who struggled with this issue, right? But the idea that some guy can walk in and say, “Well, it’s my right,” is a whole different ballgame.


Conrad Black:            In the end, you have to do what makes sense. I mean, rights don’t belong only to those who are numerous. I’m not talking about oppressing trans people. They must not be oppressed. But on the other hand, you don’t seriously inconvenience 99.999% of the public because of them. I mean, if they want to compete… I mean, let me put it this way. I don’t think they can say on the one said there are actually many sexes but, on the other side in sports, there are only two sexes, and we’re changing to the other one. I mean, if they want sports competitions among trans people, they can have them. But you can’t have men announcing they’re women and possibly surgically enacting that and then competing as women when they have every advantage. I mean, that’s not fair to the women who started out as women.


Trish Regan:               I’ll leave you with this one funny story. I was actually in the Miss America Pageant years ago. And I did it because I was an opera singer and needed to earn some money for my conservatory education, which my parents were not too excited to pay for. And so, I went in. And I remember signing the contract [laughs], and I had to swear that I had always been a woman. And I thought that that was the funniest, strangest thing I’d ever seen. I wonder if they still have it in the contract these days. Probably not, right? Because it’s a whole different world. But they actually had it in writing. I had to swear I’d always been a woman. Anyway… Conrad Black. It’s great to talk to you. I am going to let you go get some water and save that voice of yours. But thank you again.


Conrad Black:            Trish, it’s a joy talking with you. So let’s do it again. [Music plays and stops]


Trish Regan:               It’s true. I mean, there are real questions right now as to where our country is going. When you look at where America is, we’re not with AOC. We’re not with Bernie Sanders. We don’t want to be Venezuela. We don’t want to be socialists. We just want a little common sense. And right now, I’m not sure how much we’re going to get. I mean, the sort of Left-wing academia mob has taken over. So yeah. You know? So much for Yertle the Turtle or The Sneetches or any of these really – I would argue – great children’s books.

And for that matter, everything else, right? I mean, everything else is under the microscope right now in ways that are not healthy. And I suspect there will be a backlash at some point to this. Meanwhile, if you go back and read my writings in, you’ll also hear my concerns right now on inflation. I think inflation is a very real issue that we need to be considering. I mean, there’s those that don’t care. Paul Krugman for one is sort of saying that the danger here is not going big enough. Paul Krugman, the economist from Princeton University and New York Times columnist.

Well, he’s wrong on that. There is a danger in going too big because if you go too big and you have inflation in the economy… he says the Fed can handle it. No, the Fed can’t just handle it. The Fed can’t handle it. You know why? Because as soon as the Fed starts to move higher on interest rates, you’re going to see nothing but a good, old-fashioned taper tantrum. Remember the taper tantrum of the Obama-Biden years? Every time the Fed indicated that it was going to pull back on its QE, you got a big, old taper tantrum.

You know, if you get some big tantrums on Wall Street associated with these higher rates, I don’t know if we can sustain these levels. I mean, when you’re trading at 30 times earnings… when was the last time we traded at 30 times earnings? Never. OK? Normally we’re like 14, 15 times earnings. But when you’re trading at 30 times earnings, you’ve got a very precious scenario. And at some point, when the Fed says, “OK. We need to change course,” if they do so in reaction to inflation that creeps into our economy because we got a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that is too big and too late, then good luck. Good luck.

Make sure you’re diversified. Make sure you’re prepared for this. Not saying it’s going to happen now, but at some point we’re going to wake up. And if this is not managed correctly and well, we will have problems. OK. Make sure you tune into Trish Intel, that podcast where I am every day. Go to… If you have not read our monthly issue, make sure you subscribe. Make sure you get… I’ve got a big piece on bitcoin, which also is being affected by all this inflation these days. And I’ll see you right here again next week.


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