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Tag: democracy

CPAC Meeting In Hungary Promotes Assault On Liberal Democracy

During a speech at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson his “friend” and told his audience that Carlson’s show should be “broadcasted day and night.”

Orban is a self-identified supporter of what he calls “illiberal” democracy and has rapidly consolidated power for his far-right party, Fidesz.

According to Orban, the secret to his political success was controlling the media, and he endorsed Carlson as the model to follow. “Have your own media,” said Orban, also noting: “Only friend Tucker Carlson places himself on the line without wavering.”

The nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has labeled Orban a “predator” to press freedom for his censoring of critics and his successful consolidation of previously independent media outlets under the control of friendly oligarchs. Fidesz now controls 80 percent of the country’s media landscape, and any remaining independent outlets are denied access to official government information and labeled “fake news.”

Carlson returned the strongman’s praise in his prerecorded keynote address, celebrating Hungary as a “signpost to a better way” for America, a dog whistle to Hungary’s racist, anti-immigrant politics.

Since his election in 2010, Orban has worked to silence free speech, banned LGBTQ content in schools, and enforced harsh immigration rules. Because of these policies, the nonprofit Freedom House downgraded the country from “free” to “partly free,” making it one of the least free countries in Europe.

Orban’s far-right politics are thinly veiled applications of the same “great replacement” conspiracy theory that has become front-page news in the United States. “Hungarians are an endangered species,” he said as he stoked fears over immigrants to curtail and prevent further immigration. In 2015, the country built a wall along its border with Serbia to keep out mostly Muslim asylum-seekers, whom he characterized as “invaders” and a threat to national security, Christian identity, and Hungarian society. (Orban’s smears of migrants should sound very familiar to anyone accustomed to Fox News’ portrayals of the southern U.S. border.)

Human Rights Watch described people in Hungary’s detention centers as being “kept in pens like animals, out in the sun without food and water, without any medical assistance." According to Vox, “this is all by design: Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his goal is to discourage refugees from crossing into Hungary, even at the cost of treating them inhumanely.”

Orban’s “great replacement” rhetoric is uncannily similar to segments from Carlson’s prime-time show. In fact, Carlson’s video appearance at the convention comes on the heels of intense media focus regarding his role mainstreaming the great replacement theory in America, which motivated a shooter to massacre 10 people in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. His praise for Hungary under Orban’s leadership is just another example of his support for the racist theory.

Orban wants to turn this ideology into a movement, and he sees Carlson’s show as a model for right-wing media outlets. During his speech at CPAC, Orban urged conservatives in America and Europe to “find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops” and to “take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels.”

Carlson seems eager to help in these efforts. He praised the country’s anti-immigration policies in 2019, saying that "Hungary's leaders actually care about making sure their own people thrive” and praised Hungary for “using tax dollars to uplift their own people” instead of “every illegal immigrant from the third world.”

Despite broad international criticism for Orban’s draconian policies, Fox News greenlit a special episode of Carlson’s show last year that broadcast from Budapest, during which Carlson proclaimed, “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.”

Republicans chose to hold CPAC in Orban’s Hungary, one of the world’s most repressive right-wing countries. By Orban’s own admission, a loyal media was key to his party’s takeover and overhaul of Hungary’s democracy. With midterm elections approaching, audiences should take Orban’s endorsement of his “friend” Tucker Carlson as a warning.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

WATCH: Attorney General Dodges Question On Meadows Contempt Charge

A reporter at the Department of Justice on Friday asked Attorney General Merrick Garland the question that’s been on many minds of late: Why hasn’t former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows been formally charged with criminal contempt of Congress?

On December 14 the full House of Representatives sent DOJ a contempt of Congress referral for Meadows. Since that time even more damning information has been reported by the press.

The attorney general was not just unwilling to give a direct answer, he was unwilling to even confirm there was a referral sent to DOJ, a commonly-known fact that is also in the official Congressional Record.

"Four months is a gracious plenty of time to make a decision about whether to prosecute Meadows, especially since SCOTUS has mostly resolved the executive privilege argument,” former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance noted on Twitter.


Biden Convenes More Than 100 Nations For World Democracy Summit

Washington (AFP) - President Joe Biden, who took office amid the biggest US political crisis in decades, hosts representatives of more than 100 countries for a democracy summit Thursday that is drawing fire from China and Russia.

The event, held by video link because of the coronavirus pandemic, is billed by the White House as US leadership in an existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships.

"Make no mistake, we're at a moment of democratic reckoning," said Uzra Zeya, the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

"It's no secret that democracies around the world are facing increasing challenges from new and novel threats. Countries in virtually every region of the world have experienced degrees of democratic backsliding."

The summit, running Thursday and Friday, will feature opening remarks from Biden at the White House and is set to gather representatives from some 100 governments, as well as NGOs, private businesses, philanthropical organizations and legislatures.

But the fact that Biden continues to face a shocking challenge to US democratic norms from Donald Trump and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election provides a troubling backdrop for the summit.

And even before summit attendees could meet, tensions erupted simply over who should be on -- and off -- the list.

China and Russia, which Biden sees as champions of the autocracies camp, were pointedly left out, something they say is stoking an ideological "rift."

"No country has the right to judge the world's vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick," wrote ambassadors Anatoly Antonov of Russia and Qin Gang of China in a joint essay last month.

Further prickling Chinese sensibilities, the Biden administration has invited Taiwan -- the democratically ruled island that mainland China considers part of its territory, albeit not yet under its control.

On Monday, the Biden administration also announced it would not send US government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February in protest at human rights abuses, including "genocide" against the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang.

Australia, Britain, and Canada have joined the diplomatic boycott, although the countries' athletes will still compete. Again, Russia joined China in criticizing the decision.

Deciding when other countries should be excluded from the summit for human rights abuses or vote rigging hasn't been any less fraught.

For example, Pakistan and the Philippines are in, while EU member Hungary's nationalist government is out. Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is invited, while the leader of NATO member Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been shunned.

Democracy Problem At Home

The most awkward element to the summit, however, is the fact that Biden is struggling to restore faith in democracy at home, let alone on the other side of the world.

Trump refuses to recognize the results of the 2020 election, in which Biden defeated him.

With the help of sympathetic media outlets, including the powerful Fox News, the former Republican president continues to spread lies about fraud to his tens of millions of supporters.

And with shockwaves from the January 6 storming of Congress by Trump supporters still reverberating, there are growing fears over the 2022 legislative elections and the 2024 presidential vote in which Trump may seek a comeback.

Bruce Jentleson, who teaches political science at Duke University, said the summit was "never a good idea."

"Our problems here are much worse than in any other Western democracy. We had our Capitol building attacked, an attempted coup. We haven’t seen that happen in Paris, or at the Bundestag, or at the EU headquarters in Brussels," he said.

"If we want to compete, we've got to do our best and that is really more up to us within the country than somehow getting 100 leaders together and saying, 'We like democracy.'"

Biden Delivers Memorial Day Speech Warning Democracy Is 'In Peril'

By Andrea Shalal ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden used his Memorial Day speech on Monday to defend America's "imperfect" democracy, calling for more work to deliver the promise of what he said remained "the greatest experiment" in world history. In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery touching on voting rights, freedom of speech and efforts to rectify persistent economic and racial disparities, Biden warned that democracy was "in peril" in the United States and around the world in the face of autocratic forces he did not identify. "Democracy is more than a form of governm...

Saving Not Just Our Roads And Bridges, But Democracy Itself

Talking about the challenges faced by the United States and its allies in a world always ambivalent about democracy, President Joe Biden said a few words the other day that bear directly on his own confrontation with authoritarian forces at home. What he aimed to explain is more important than any specific aspect of his infrastructure proposal or the debate over how to pay for that big bill's cost.

"It is absolutely clear," said the American president, that this era "is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies," by which he meant China and Russia but not only those major rivals. "That's what's at stake here. We've got to prove that democracy works."

Proving democracy works is no longer an abstraction for a civics classroom. At the moment, that phrase has a very specific meaning: Can we maintain, improve, and modernize the nation left to us by the greatest generation, now that we are painfully aware of its disrepair? Can we provide a decent livelihood to our people – all our people – and preserve an environment that sustains and nourishes them? And can we do all that in a political system that is free, competitive, transparent, and fair?

The Chinese and Russian autocrats, and their smaller imitators, openly mock those aspirations. China's leader Xi Jinping argues that only a party-led dictatorship can achieve high living standards and development. So does Putin, with less candor. The dictators are eager to test their power against our principles. And thanks to the partisan myopia of the Republican Party, now infected with a yearning for its own would-be dictator, we are in danger of failing that challenge.

To anyone who has observed American politics over the past three or four decades, Biden's warning is indisputably apt. Our political system suffers from a gravely diminished capacity to achieve important public purposes – let alone the massive national investment required to rebuild our physical infrastructure. When every major decision becomes an occasion to achieve partisan victory, rather than national progress, a closely divided America will remain paralyzed.

The chief vector of this paralytic illness has long been Mitch McConnell, the highest ranking Republican. Ten years ago, he could imagine no purpose more compelling than to end Barack Obama's presidency after a single term. While Democrats aimed to modernize the health care system and provide universal coverage, Republicans conceived their role as wholly negative and behaved accordingly.

They acted like termites – and that is exactly what they are threatening to do with Biden's infrastructure plan today.

Well aware of what polls show about infrastructure –and health care, for that matter – the Republicans offer lip service to popular preferences. Many Republican elected officials will endorse public works, improved transportation, safer water systems, even carbon reduction. They may then pretend to "negotiate" with Biden, but they won't vote for a program that he proposes or that Democrats can support.

What makes their reflexive opposition so dispiriting is that the Republicans know very well how desperately the nation needs the physical and economic revival offered by the Biden program. Whatever they mean by "America First," their political opportunism always puts America last.

The contradiction between Republican rhetoric and the party's termite behavior is drawn even more starkly when framed in a global context. While Beijing surely poses economic, diplomatic, ideological, and perhaps even military challenges to America and its allies, the Republican response is almost hysterical -- as if the "Chicom" hordes were about to literally invade our shores. Their answer to the coronavirus pandemic wasn't action to save American lives, but a racially tinged blame campaign aimed at the Chinese.

Yet if the Republicans believed their own warnings about China, they would find ways to support Joe Biden's infrastructure plan rather than trying to block him. For the past four years, their own president laughably and limply failed to address this enormous problem. The opportunity to now rise above petty partisan concerns, defend democratic values, and build the future is historic – and history will condemn every politician who fails again.


To find out more about Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

The Military Oath That Could Preserve Our Democracy

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Now that Donald Trump dispatched the American military to stop a peaceful protest against police killings of black men and declared he will do the same nationwide, a little-known fact about our military looms large.

Trump expects the American military, regular troops as well as National Guard and Reserve units, to do whatever he commands. Using the racist language of some 1960s southern police chiefs, Trump tweeted that this will include turning "vicious dogs" on protesters and "when the looting starts the shooting starts."

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Danziger: Teach Your Children Well

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.