Lord Black writes from prison in Florida:
Americans do not do themselves a favor by not recognizing the terrible erosion of their country's education, justice, and political systems, the shortcomings of U.S. health care, the collapse of its financial industry, the flight of most of its manufacturing, and the steep and generally unlamented decline of its prestige.
Unionized teachers have destroyed much of the state school system. Rampaging and often lawless prosecutors win 95 percent of their cases (compared to 55 percent in Canada), by softening the pursuit of some in exchange for inculpatory perjury against others, in the plea-bargain system. The U.S. has six to fourteen times as many imprisoned people as other advanced prosperous democracies, and they languish in a corrupt carceral system that retains as many people as possible for as long as possible. There are an astounding 47 million Americans with a "record," and the country glories with unseemly glee in the joys of the death penalty. Due process and the other guarantees of individual rights of the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments (such as the grand jury as any sort of assurance against capricious prosecution) scarcely exist in practice.
Most of the Congress is an infestation of paid-for legislators from rotten boroughs, representing the interests that finance their elections
and exchanging earmarks with their colleagues like casbah hucksters.
It all amounts to a gloomy view (which one can understand, given his circumstances). I'd still rather live in America than anywhere else, and as the author of a biography of Samuel Adams, I certainly disagree with Lord Black's Canadian/British assessment, in the same piece, that "'no taxation without representation' and the Boston Tea Party and so forth were essentially a masterly spin job on a rather grubby contest about taxes."
Anyway, whatever your view of Lord Black is (and I'll always be grateful to him for Hollinger International's early investment in the New York Sun), the man can certainly turn a phrase, even from behind bars. "Casbah hucksters"!