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Tag: viktor orban

Viktor Orban Is A Racist Bully — And A Failed Leader

Nobody should still pretend to be shocked that the Conservative Political Action Conference, an entity no longer "conservative" in any meaningful sense, would feature an appearance by an authoritarian leader like Viktor Orban. The Hungarian autocrat is the idol of the international far Right. He has repeatedly enjoyed the bootlicking attentions of Tucker Carlson on Fox News and indeed, CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp led his gang to celebrate Orban in Budapest earlier this year.

What makes Orban so alluring to the American far rightists is his example as an illiberal politician who, unlike their idol former President Donald Trump, has managed to corrupt Hungarian democracy so thoroughly as to guarantee his own continuing rule.

Trump attempted to steal the 2020 election by an assortment of tactics that included mob violence but failed (although he and his followers are poised to try again). Trump complains about the news media, while Orban seized control of media outlets in Hungary and ruthlessly suppressed his critics. Trump blurts out racist and anti-Semitic allusions, but Orban openly encourages bigotry against Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians along with state action against the vulnerable targets of his Christian nationalist dogma — which echoes the fascist ideology that once ruled his homeland. Both of these pseudo-populists decry "globalism," whatever that means (and what it means can change instantly according to political convenience).


In short, the Orban regime is just what Republicans like Schlapp and Carlson envision for America's future, with or without Trump himself.

Behind the aggressive rhetoric of the Budapest boss, however, lies a less imposing reality. In Dallas, Orban exhorted the boisterous CPAC crowd to join his angry movement against "the globalists." That conspiratorial rubric includes the European Union, of course, despite the inconvenient fact that Hungary is an EU member state. "We must take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels," he thundered.

To the cowboy fascists, Orban must sound like one tough hombre — except that he is currently on his knees before the European authorities, ten-gallon hat in hand, as he pleads for their financial assistance. Years of his incompetent rule have inflicted fiscal and monetary disaster on Hungary, and he is begging the "globalists" to bail him out. But his admirers in the West are much too polite (and dishonest) to mention these embarrassing realities.

Consider inflation, the rallying issue that Republicans hope will create a "red wave" in midterm elections. Nearly every day, outfits like CPAC issue broadsides against President Joe Biden that blame him and Democrats for rising prices. They won't acknowledge the real inflationary pressures caused by pandemic disruptions and the Russian assault on Ukraine.

And what CPAC won't ever mention is that inflation in many other nations is higher than here — including Hungary, where year-on-year prices have spiked by almost 12 percent so far and are expected to keep going up. Orban recently made matters worse for the average Hungarian family by ending a price cap on household utilities, but his mismanagement left no other choice. The same inexorable forces led him to raise taxes on small business, which will be passed on to consumers.

The Hungarian currency is plunging to new lows, along with its stock market, while the country's deep budget deficit has yet to reach bottom. Naturally, the middle-class and working-class voters who voted to back Orban are infuriated by his failures - and thousands of them have taken to the streets in protest. They didn't mention that in Dallas either.

In Brussels, meanwhile, the European Union leaders have given Hungary's finance ministry a long list of demands that Orban must meet before any bailout funds will be released. The conditions include restoring the rule of law, curbing the government's dictatorial tendencies and dealing more transparently with Hungary's rampant corruption. Rather than defying the EU as he suggested in Dallas, Orban meekly stopped baiting Brussels over LGBTQ issues — and has instead proclaimed his eagerness to make a deal.

Yes, like most bullies, he retreats when anyone his own size hits back.

Americans should beware the populist temptation offered by thuggish politicians of Orban's stripe. They promise to lift up the "forgotten man," whom they invariably betray in favor of plutocratic cronies and corrupt plunderers. And they consistently seek to shift public anger toward minorities, immigrants, feminists, gays, transsexuals, public school teachers and any other scapegoats perceived as too weak to resist.

Not long before his CPAC appearance, Orban spoke on immigration in Romania, declaring that Europeans "do not want to become peoples of mixed race." So horrified was one of his closest advisers that she resigned publicly, denouncing the speech as "a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels."

That sickening incident didn't disturb Orban's CPAC fans at all, of course. Everyone knows that's what they like about him.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

"Father Knows Best": A One-Act Play

"MEDICAL TYRANNY" reads the screaming headline in large red letters behind Tucker Carlson as he broadcasts his show on Fox News.

CARLSON: It's purely about obedience, it's hardly about medicine. More than 150 health care workers in that Houston hospital system were fired just because they wouldn't be vaccinated, so remember that the next time they tell you there's a health care shortage in this country. This is lunacy. We should not go along with it. It has nothing to do with medicine. It is a terrifying precedent that, if we let solidify, we will deeply, deeply regret. This is not about Covid, this is about the existence of rational decision-making in this country and personal autonomy. Most people are going along with this because they are afraid. A few brave souls are not.

He shuffles his papers and puts them aside.

CARLSON: Ta-ta-da, da, da, da da! That's all folks!

VOICE OF PRODUCER: Thanks, Tucker! Another wrap.

CARLSON: Just a couple more weeks from this studio for the season. Love this place. Wish I could spend all my time here. On Bryant Pond. Maine. Bliss. A studio of my own, next to a summer place of my own. All my own.

VOICE: Florida, Tucker.

CARLSON: The studio will be up and running at my Florida house when I get there in September. Live, from Gasparilla Island in Grande Boca! Maine man becomes Florida man!

VOICE: Are we ever going to see you in D.C. or New York again?

CARLSON: Now why would I do that? Would that be quote rational decision-making unquote? Sold the big Washington house for that reason. They'd make me go into the Fox studio on the Hill. Half the technicians aren't vaccinated. It's a leprosy ward. Covid has made all my home studios possible. Who knew before the pandemic you could do this? What a breakthrough! And it's completely safe and sound. I owe this whole setup to Covid. It's a godsend. Plus, a tax write-off.

VOICE: We're all vaccinated now and we even have vaccine passports to get in the building.

CARLSON: I don't trust it. Some of those guys, I know them, would fake the passports. I'm in my studios so long as Lachlan says so.

Carlson leaves his custom studio in the cottage on his property, walks a short distance to his house and as he enters his daughter Hopie greets him.

CARLSON: Hopie!

HOPIE: Daddy, my girlfriends love what you brought me from Hungary. The dolls, the nesting dolls. What do they call them?

CARLSON: Matryoshka dolls. The prime minister Viktor Orban, gave them to me as a gift. And I told him that it had your name on it.

HOPIE: First, there's Putin. Then when you open him, there's Orban. And when you open Orban, there's Donald Trump. And then when you open Trump—surprise!—there's you, Daddy! I love you as a little doll. How did they know to put you inside all of the others?

CARLSON: They made that one in my honor. There's only one of these. It was like a state visit. And during state visits the leaders give each other presents. They always gave Trump paintings of himself. And this was the special gift for me. Only more clever.

HOPIE: Hand painted. It's the old you. With a bow tie.

CARLSON: So, are you almost ready to go back to school? Got all your clothes picked out?

HOPIE: Yes, Daddy.

CARLSON: And your proof of vaccination? I read the student vaccine requirement. "All students who live, learn, or work in person at the University of Virginia during the 2021-2022 academic year must be fully vaccinated." Don't forget your vaccination card.

HOPIE: (Exasperated) Daddy!

CARLSON: I'm just worried about you. I want you to be safe.

Enter Susan Carlson, Tucker's wife and Hopie's mother.

SUSAN: Tucker, there were two calls while you were broadcasting. Lachlan Murdoch and Donald Trump.

CARLSON: Susie, please make sure Hopie has her vaccination card to take to school.

SUSAN: All under control, right Hopie? Come with me, let's pack some more and leave Daddy to make his calls. Tucker, Trump seemed pretty urgent.

CARLSON: I've got to call Lachlan.

Susan and Hopie exit. Carlson punches in a number on his phone.

CARLSON: Lachlan!

LACHLAN: Tucker, so glad you called.

CARLSON: Everything cool down under?

LACHLAN: Swimming with the sharks at Bondi Beach, mate. Just checking in on my numero uno. The show on "Medical Tyranny," brilliant, mate. And brilliant about how we're going to be "invaded" by Afghan refugees. Turned that invasion bit inside out. We're being invaded! Heh, heh.

CARLSON: Heh, heh.

LACHLAN: The numbers remain spectacular, mate. Sky high. I'll take that instead of the woop woop to outer space with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Now, about this Covid stuff, mate…

CARLSON: (Slightly anxious) I should stick with it, don't you think?

LACHLAN: You said there's no new variant killing people, zero chance. You said, Fauci is taking away our liberty, forcing people to take medicine they don't want. You said, college kids shouldn't get the shot, a bigger risk for them than Covid.

CARLSON: Is that a problem?

LACHLAN: It's a bloody beauty. No drama. Good on ya. Put another on the barbie. Keep going to never never. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Flat out. That's not me blowing smoke up your ass. The numbers never lie. You're Braveheart.

CARLSON: I'll ramp it up on Fauciism. How's Rupert? Where is he these days, London, Sydney, New York?

LACHLAN: When the Delta variant hit, Dad got the booster and went back to Bel Air in L.A., like he did in the first wave after he got an early shot. It's a world in itself there. The house is on the Moraga Vineyards, fourteen acres in the middle of Bel Air, up in the Santa Monica Mountains. Once owned by Victor Fleming, directed Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Now who's the wizard from Oz? Makes ace wine. I'll ship you a case or two. Red or white?

CARLSON: Mix it up.

LACHLAN: Two cases of each. Make it three.

CARLSON: Send it to the Florida address.

LACHLAN: And I'm sending you a doctor to give you a booster to go along with the cabernet. Don't say no. You don't have a choice. The wine and the doctor will be there to meet you. Keep it going, mate.

CARLSON: Best to your father.

LACHLAN: Your biggest fan. Catch you later.

Carlson punches another number in his phone.

CARLSON: Mr. President?

TRUMP: Watched your show. Love "Medical Tyranny." How are the numbers? Still a winner, Tucker?

CARLSON: Top of the line, Mr. President.

TRUMP: I was just on Fox Business, told them that the booster sounded like a money-making operation for Pfizer and that the whole thing is just crazy. Why would you need another one? It's the Trump vaccine. It's good for life. I could see the dollar signs in their eyes—of that guy that runs Pfizer. You know, the guy that announced the day after the election that he had the vaccine. But we knew that, and I knew that, and the people knew that. A money-making operation, that's what it is. Yeah, a money-making operation.

CARLSON: You would know.

TRUMP: Who else would know better?

CARLSON: Great work, keep it up. So, what should I know, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I had Dr. Ronny come to Bedminster. Lined up everyone—Ivanka, Jared, Don, Jr., Eric, Lara---bing, bing, bing, bing. Everyone gets the booster. Oh, and that annoying Kimberley. Ivanka didn't want to tell her Dr. Ronny was there. Let her die out on the 9th hole.

CARLSON: Mr. President, what you said about the booster is perfect about the elites against the people.

TRUMP: Before I tell you what I think you should be saying, I want to tell you that you have to get the booster. You're vaccinated, Tucker, not like some poor schmuck, like the guy who wanted a shot when they were putting the ventilator on his face? He's begging, give me the shot and they're telling him it's too late, and they clamp on the ventilator. Please, please, the shot…

CARLSON: Pfizer, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Two shots, but maybe not enough. Booster. Take no chances. Take it and run. You're too valuable. You can knock that Pfizer CEO around like I did. It's a charm. My PAC fundraising, off the charts. You want me to send Dr. Ronny?

CARLSON: That's not necessary, Mr. President. I'm using the Murdoch doctor.

TRUMP: But promise me you'll get it.

CARLSON: I promise.

TRUMP: Father knows best.


Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel ,and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the tenth in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard, The Exclusive, The Role Model, A Modest Proposal, The Exit Interview, and The Hitler Gospel.

What Admirers Of Hungary’s Dictator Reveal About The Right

As someone who was weaned on stories of leftist intellectuals and journalists traipsing off to communist countries to pay obeisance, I can only shake my head as a parade of right-wingers are making their way to Hungary to sing the praises of authoritarian Viktor Orban. Tucker Carlson of Fox News is the highest-profile rightist to make the trek, but the path was already well-trod.

Former National Review editor and Margaret Thatcher speechwriter John O'Sullivan has moved to Budapest to head the Danube Institute, a think tank funded by Orban's government. He likes his nationalism straight up.

A few years ago, at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C., Orban was an honored guest, which was a bit head-snapping for those inattentive to the drift toward authoritarianism on the right. Speakers at the conference (and a follow-up one held in Rome) have featured mainstream figures such as John Bolton, Chris DeMuth, Peter Thiel, Oren Cass and Rich Lowry. In addition to Orban, other questionable invitees included Marion Marechal (she has dropped Le Pen from her surname) and Steve Bannon pal Matteo Salvini.

I'd wager that all of these conservative opinion leaders, along with more recent pilgrims traveling to Budapest (Dennis Prager, Rod Dreher and Patrick Deneen) are deeply versed in the sad and reprehensible pattern of Western intellectuals becoming seduced by leftist authoritarian regimes. From Lincoln "I have seen the future, and it works" Steffens to George Bernard Shaw to Noam Chomsky to Norman Mailer to William Sloane Coffin, intellectuals have fallen into this trap repeatedly since the 1930s. Paul Hollander's 1981 book Political Pilgrims was updated numerous times because intellectuals never tired of finding new autocrats to worship. When the Soviet Union was no longer viable as a model (purges, show trials, the Hitler/Stalin pact and all that), the eager acolytes switched to Mao Zedong and then to Fidel Castro and then to Daniel Ortega (Sen. Bernie Sanders, we're looking at you). Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer even wrote glowing praise of North Korea's Kim Il Sung.

As any number of conservative critics observed, you can tell a lot about people's hierarchy of values by the regimes they admire. Leftists were so focused on equality of condition that they were willing to overlook or whitewash the brutal repression of individual rights. Basics of liberal democracy like free and fair elections, freedom for workers to organize, free speech, free association, religious liberty, property rights and more were virtually nonexistent in those nations. Yet that didn't dim the enthusiasm of the Susan Sontags and Ramsey Clarks.

The ironic plot twist was that the communists never delivered the equality and widespread prosperity they claimed. They didn't even do as well for workers as the "running dog capitalists." And at their worst, the communists starved and shot scores of millions of people. As George Orwell put it, the communist world was "a boot stamping on a human face — forever." It was revealing that so many leftists were willing to sacrifice the precious rights we enjoy — a free press and trial by jury, for example — on the altar of equality.

The American Orbanistas are likewise revealing themselves. Though they are familiar with the folly of political tourism, they are lining up now to laud a leader who no longer even pretends to be democratic. The new state Hungary is building, Orban said, "is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state." Freedom House agrees. It no longer lists Hungary among the world's democracies.

Fidesz has used its control of the judiciary to hound competing political parties with fines and investigations. Orban has also taken control of 80 percent of Hungary's news media, and these crony-controlled outlets now constitute an enormous propaganda machine. Voting, which never had a long history in Hungary, was hamstrung by gerrymandering to give Fidesz a huge advantage. As The Economist noted, "In the general election last year, Fidesz won 67 percent of the parliamentary seats — maintaining its supermajority — while taking just less than half of the popular vote." At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orban was granted sweeping powers to rule by decree. The newly empowered state immediately made spreading "misinformation" a crime.

Orban's nationalism is appealing to American conservatives. You can sense their excitement when he says things like: "We do not want to be diverse. We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others." The trouble for the American Orbanistas is that Hungary, a central European nation of 10 million, is not diverse. The United States is and — this cannot be stressed too often — always has been. The "conservatives" who thrill to talk of a monoculture are not preserving an American tradition; they are seeking to import something else.

The leftist intellectuals who lent their prestige to vicious regimes discredited themselves in the eyes of conservatives. We said they were apologists for anti-democratic ideas and justifiers of repression. We said their infatuation with unchecked power was a worrying sign. Every word of that is true today of the conservative pilgrims, who, one would have thought, had more attachment to the American experiment in ordered liberty than to the lure of blood and tribe.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Trump Praises Hungary’s Anti-Semitic, Dictatorial Orban As ‘Like Me’

here he goes again …

Trump on Monday praised yet another authoritarian leader who has cracked down on democratic values in his home country.

“You’re respected all over Europe,” Trump told Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a photo-op in the Oval Office. “Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that’s OK, that’s OK. You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.”

Let’s break down what “a little bit controversial” means.

Orban is anti-Semitic, using anti-Semitic tropes against Jewish philanthropist George Soros, and is trying to whitewash Hungary’s role in the Holocaust. And the president welcomed Orban as Trump himself is twisting words of Democratic members of Congress to try to accuse them of being anti-Jewish.

Orban has also cracked down on the free press in his country and has demanded funding from the European Union to build a fence between his country and Serbia to “[protect] all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants.”

Orban’s visit has drawn bipartisan condemnation, with members of Congress against the optics of welcoming an authoritarian leader to the White House.

“Prime Minister Orban represents so many things that are antithetical to core American values,” reads a letter sent by 10 Democratic members of Congress to Trump on May 9, urging him not to meet with Orban. “He has overseen a rollback of democracy in his country, used anti-Semitic and xenophobic tropes in his political messaging, and cozied up to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.”

“He also has suppressed independent media and academic freedom in an effort to consolidate his increasingly autocratic rule,” the Democratic members of Congress wrote. “It troubles us to see the president of our country, which has historically supported the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, meeting with a ban who so regularly disregards these values.”

Of course, Trump loves to praise dictatorial strongmen.

He congratulated Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for an undemocratic power grab and has praised murderous Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his extrajudicial killings.

That’s not to mention Trump’s coziness with violent and oppressive North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he has called a friend, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is openly hostile to democratic values and has attacked the United States’ bedrock value of free and fair elections.

In Orban, Trump admitted he sees a lot of himself.

And that’s a big self-own given that Orban is an anti-Semitic autocrat who wants to tamp down democracy.

Published with permission of The American Independent.