Red Lights on the Dashboard

Some recent news items that add to concern about American democracy.

“Lights” by Steve Wild is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

These are three stories that are disturbing to me that I have noticed this week that are indicative of disturbing trends in American politics. They could be easily dismissed as being an example of a fringe politician, a cable TV host, and an insignificant publication. But given the size of the megaphone of those two individuals, and the general trends in some parts of rightward American political, I don’t think it is wise to handwave this behavior away. I will readily admit that the cable news host’s behavior, which has deep connectivity in some quarters of the right, is actually more disturbing, even if it may sound less dramatic.

These stories are not directly connected save that they both illustrate destructive currents within the right–currents that the mainstream of the Republican Party either are largely ignoring and/or trying to ride these tigers to electoral victory in 2022 with the thought that surely those tigers won’t eat their collective faces (or all of our faces) at some point.

First, the politician: Representative Majorie Taylor Greene, making an appearance just down the road from me in Dothan, AL. MSNBC reports, Marjorie Taylor Greene suggests Southerners could ‘welcome’ Biden’s ‘police state friends’ with guns.

“You lucky people here in Alabama might get a knock on your door, because I hear Alabama might be one of the most unvaccinated states,” Greene told the crowd, prompting cheers and applause over the state’s low vaccination rate. “Well, Joe Biden wants to come talk to you guys. He’s going to be sending one of his police state friends to your front door to knock on the door, take down your name, your address, your family members’ names, your phone numbers, your cellphone numbers, probably ask for your Social Security number and whether you’ve taken the vaccine or not.”

She continued: “What they don’t know is in the South, we all love our Second Amendment rights, and we’re not real big on strangers showing up on our front door, are we? They might not like the welcome they get.”

Cheering low vaccination rates is its own problem, but this isn’t a Covid-19 post so I will leave it alone (save to note that this is just another example of how anti-vaccination has become an issue of identity for some).

More significantly, this is straight-up suggesting that deadly violence might be an understandable response if public health officials show up at your doorstep. Further, the description of what they might ask for simply increased the already brewing tension.

There is no excuse for an elected official to be stoking this kind of fear and anger.

Second, is Tucker Carlon of Fox News who has been touting the glories of Hungarian authoritarianism this week.

This whole situation likely requires multiple posts (the last time I wrote about Hungary the title of the post was Hungary Goes Full Authoritarian), but let me start this section with the summary on Freedom House’s page on Hungary:

After taking power in 2010 elections, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Alliance of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) party pushed through constitutional and legal changes that have allowed it to consolidate control over the country’s independent institutions. More recently, the Fidesz-led government has moved to institute policies that hamper the operations of opposition groups, journalists, universities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) whose perspectives it finds unfavorable.

Freedom House ranks Hungary as “partly free” (with a generally negative trend over the last decade).

Carlson has been singing the praises of Orban and his particular form of nationalism. He is not alone, as the NYT noted, Conservative Fellow Travelers: Tucker Carlson Drops In On Viktor Orban.

It’s been a meeting of conservative fellow travelers: a jovial host — who heads an authoritarian government bent on targeting liberal institutions, including universities, the judiciary and the media — and his American guest exchanging grins.


The American author and journalist Rod Dreher, who writes for The American Conservative (for which Mr. Carlson sits on an advisory board), has been in Hungary since April, thanks to a paid fellowship at an institute funded by Mr. Orban’s government.

Mr. Dreher said he had been inspired by the Hungarian leader when he first met him along with a group of visiting conservatives in 2019.

“Here was a leader who was not the thuggish strongman of media caricature, but an intelligent man who had obviously thought deeply about political and cultural issues,” Mr. Dreher said.

Not to be overly cynical or anything, but financing a writer to come to hang out in Europe and pontificate, while treating him like a valued guest, is a pretty good way to secure the good feelings of that writer.

Just sayin’

Beyond that, anyone familiar with Dreher’s oeuvre will recognize that one of his key issues is culture, with “culture” being defined largely as concern over homosexuality and especially transexual rights/culture acceptance. And so the dots aren’t hard to connect:

Mr. Orban’s party recently adopted a law restricting depictions of homosexuality; critics said it was being used to target the country’s L.G.B.T.Q. community. And the government-aligned media regularly rails against the destabilizing effect that Western “woke” culture has on traditional society.

It is worth noting that early interest and acceptance, if not admiration, of Vladimir Putin by some in the American right was over Putin’s condemnation of homosexuality. For example, from 2014 in WaPo, Franklin Graham: Putin is better than Obama on gay rights.

“In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Franklin Graham writes of Russia’s controversial prohibition on gay “propaganda.” “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

When people like Graham, Dreher, and Carlson talk about protecting the family or “the culture” they very much mean protecting their personal views on what that means. A gay couple and their children need not apply. And “culture” tends to very much be about very specific sexual mores.

And hence we get:


One is reminded of J.D. Vance recently arguing that people should get as many votes as they have children, and inaccurately pretending like people on the left are childless.

Not to put too fine of a point on this, but democratic pluralism requires the ability to accept multiple approaches to family. Indeed, I recall discussions in the literature on democratization from 25-to-30 years ago discussing acceptance of homosexual rights as a key indicator of democratic maturation. After all, how can you have democracy if some people are treated as second- or third-class citizens? Or, worse, be forced to deny who they are entirely?

Back to the NYT piece about Carlson and Orban we can add to the parade of the American right interested in Hungary:

Hungary was also a focus for another American conservative, Stephen K. Bannon, President Donald J. Trump’s former adviser, who traveled to Europe to work with Mr. Orban and other nationalist populist parties ahead of the 2019 elections for the European Parliament. Mr. Bannon’s efforts fizzled, partly because of the difficulty reconciling competing national priorities among the continent’s different nationalist parties.

Bannon’s connection and promotion to white nationalism are well known and should give others pause about his involvement with Orban and his ilk unless of course, they are not especially concerned about white nationalism.

Jonathan Chait doesn’t mince words: Tucker Carlson Has Seen the Future, and It Is Fascist Orban’s Hungary is the road map for American authoritarianism.

Third, along these lines are essays like The Salazar Option in American Greatness.

This is already a too-long post, but let me note that Salazar was an authoritarian dictator.

We can mince words over exactly how fascistic any of this is, but that both Orban and Salazar are examples of authoritarian governance is indisputable. That anyone of prominence on the right is embracing such figures is truly disturbing. And to bring Greene back into this: calls for violence over basic public health policy are not democratic.

Many on the right like to pretend that the mainstream Democratic Party and its allies are embracing people like Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela (or that they want the Cuban system in the United States), but all of that is mostly caricatures of what is actually argued for. Here, however, we have with Tucker Carlson, one of the most prominent mainstream rightwing media personalities literally putting forth an authoritarian state up as a model for the US because it will protect “the culture.” And we have others who are considered respected on the right, like Dreher (and Dennis Prager, whom I have not yet mentioned) doing the same.

All of this very much qualifies as flashing red warning lights.

(See, also David French, as a conservative writing that Hungary Is No Model for the American Right).

FILED UNDER: Democracy, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Argon says:

    TAC is a magazine that Patrick Buchanan helped start but even he didn’t go as far as Carlson. And it’s interesting to see that Dreher is going for the Full Metal Benedict Option.

  2. mattbernius says:

    Interesting footnote from the NYT article about past links between the Carlson Family and Hungary:

    Mr. Carlson himself has a family connection with the Hungarian leader — his father, Richard Carlson, is listed as a director of a Washington-based firm that has lobbied for Mr. Orban in the United States.

    In 2019, the firm, Policy Impact Strategic Communications, disclosed in a lobbying filing that it “coordinated an interview of Minister Szijjarto on the Tucker Carlson show,” referring to Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade.


    Continue reading the main story

    William Nixon, the firm’s chairman and chief executive, said in an interview that Mr. Carlson’s father — a former journalist, media executive and American ambassador — was not involved in arranging the interview with the foreign minister, and is neither an investor nor an employee of the firm. A filing shows that the firm’s contract with the Hungarian government ended in late 2019.

    Mr. Nixon said the firm had no role in arranging Mr. Carlson’s trip this week to Hungary. Fox News said Mr. Carlson’s father “is retired and had nothing to do” with the visit or the meeting with Mr. Orban. “Tucker and his team booked the interview, and the expenses were covered by Fox News,” the network said in a statement.

  3. mattbernius says:

    The TAC used to be really hard to pin down (or at least represented a broad spectrum of Conservative thought). Then late last year they more or less decided to go full Dreher (social con) and fired Larison and the rest of their most interesting writers.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Argon: Not quite true. Some of Dreher’s writing recently has been pretty explicit that they don’t need to settle for the Benedict Option, retreat from society, they can follow Orban’s example and take over.

    I don’t recall a source, but I’ve seen statements that when he started down this path Orban hired U. S. Republican advisors to plan and operate his campaign. This is a huge red light on the dash, flashing right above the fire bottle pull handle. But besides the Constitution Police, who is going to organize the response?

  5. Scott F. says:

    Excellent post, Steven. I had been hoping for your take on the recent Orban fetishism from Carlson & others and you didn’t disappoint. This open embrace of authoritarianism from prominent Republican mouthpieces can not be ignored – it is truly scary.

    But, I think there is a teachable moment in your section on Rep. Green’s calls for violence against public health officials. You state (reasonably) that “There is no excuse for an elected official to be stoking this kind of fear and anger,” but of course there is an inexcusable reason: red meat for the fringe wins primaries in the GOP. But, juxtapose this with the recent outcome in the special Democratic primary for the House seat representing Cleveland. Here the fringe candidate, Nina Turner, had more money, more name recognition, and lots of high profile advocacy. But, the Democratic establishment, most importantly Jim Clyburn, asserted themselves on behalf of Shontel Brown. Brown prevailed and she will almost certainly win the seat in the general election.

    To my mind, MTG‘s threats of violence are more egregious than the social media of hers that led to the loss of her committee assignments. If there are any Republicans who want to try for a dismount of the tiger that won‘t destroy their party (and the country along with it), they could take a page from Clyburn and throw their whole weight against Ms Green. Her seat is in all likelihood safely red, so they should make an example of her, if there is any interest from the GOP establishment in wresting control of their party back from the MAGAts.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    Judging from personal/family experience, the portion of the right-wing that composed the “tea party” has long since transitioned away from holding a high value on democracy as a governing model. My sis’s explanation for democracy: “two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner”.

    Won’t bother to look right now, but there were quite a few American journalists who were enraptured with the Italian experience with fascism. Mussolini ‘made the trains run on time’, doncha know! Mr Carlson is in a lengthy tradition.

    On the optimistic side, there is a greater and greater tendency that I’ve noticed in the media to call a fascist a fascist. Makes me recall the several tangles we’ve had here about the use of the F-word to describe the Trump administration.

  7. Teve says:

    I’m not going to read Doubthat’s column, but those who do say he’s blaming the right’s embrace of Orban on recent cultural progressivism.

  8. Teve says:

    “You know I don’t wanna hit you, baby, why’d you make me hit you?”

  9. EddieInCA says:

    @Scott F.:

    Exactly. Wihtout the support of a majority of the GOP, people like MTG, Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert, and Rand Paul, wouldn’t say/do the crazy shit they do.

    This isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. I’ve come to realize that there is a large segment of Americans who would rather burn down the country, literally, than give equal rights to black, brown, gay and trans folk. They’d rather have a Orban/Erdogan/Putin institute a hard line against “cultural” change (gay/trans rights) instead of trusting the citizens to vote for things democratically or constitutionally.

    It’s going to get much worse before it gets better. I’m so glad I’m 60 and not 20 in this country today.

  10. Scott F. says:

    @Scott F.:
    I‘d add, IMHO, the Republican establishment pols can afford to renounce Carlson and Dreher as well. The tigers are hungry.

  11. JohnMcC says:
  12. Scott F. says:

    I agree that there is a large segment of Americans who would rather burn down the country, literally, than give equal rights to black, brown, gay and trans folk, but I also believe that there are powers that be in the corporatist and country club wings of the Republican Party that fully understand that burning down the country isn‘t good for business and these folks should be getting pretty close to figuring out that they‘ve gotten as much as they‘re going to get from leveraging these arsonists for their own power. Republicans who have to sell their products to the public or who need to hire creatives to profitably run their businesses are there already.

    This is an optimist‘s take, but then, though I‘m nearly 60, I have two kids in their 20s in this country today.

  13. flat earth luddite says:

    Got to agree with you, Eddie. Frankly, watching this crap happening, my two regrets are that (1) we actively resisted burning this sucka down in 69 and starting over, and (2) that while I’m not likely to live to see the end, my daughter is in her mid 30’s, and likely will. Sometimes I envy Cracker’s lack of hostages to fortune.

  14. CSK says:

    Dreher I think is deadly serious about what he spouts. He really believes it. Carlson I’m not so sure–which in a way makes him worse, because he’s just telling his audience what it wants to hear. It’s the kind of cynical exploitation of people’s worst instincts that reminds me of Trump. Neither one of them believes in anything but attention and money.

  15. CSK says:

    Bad link.

  16. Matt Bernius says:
  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott F.: Take a closer look. Republican economic policy isn’t about business, it’s about capital. The main feature of capital is that it is portable–if they burn this place down, the owners of capital will set up shop elsewhere. It’s all the same from their perspective.

  18. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    Thanks. I believe they have reason to worry.

  19. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    You are more cynical than I am and you may be right.

    But I believe capital is something like crack in that those who have capital are addicted to it and always want more of it. And there is, despite current trends, no better place in the world to grow capital than the US of A.

  20. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    …if they burn this place down, the owners of capital will set up shop elsewhere

    Where is capital as safe though?
    Only if you are are part of the Party system, and in good standing with the current leadership
    Similar but even more so: if you have no “roof”, you are prey.
    You will be protected by the rule of law; but also subject to it, and to the political reality that Europe has never bought in to liberalism to the same extent as the US. (Yes, Republicans, liberalism; look it up in the European context.)
    Latin America? Perhaps, until the you get caught out by a populist revolt against oligarchic domination

    There is nowhere in the modern world where capital has been as safe, relatively, in the long term, as in the US.
    An intelligent capitalist would know when they are on to a good thing, and to refrain from taking the p!ss

  21. JohnSF says:

    I need to get some thoughts and facts straightened out before writing it up, but there are some good reasons why the Republican Rights’s attempt to hold up Hungary as a model is a massive category error.
    Hungary has both an extremely traumatic history, and a memory of a “stabilised” society, neither of which are even remotely applicable to modern USA.
    Weell, except maybe, sort of, the post-bellum South.
    In a way.
    Need to think about this some more.

  22. JohnSF says:

    Orban’s authoritarian/populist government, and it’s appeal to a sixable section og the Hungarian people, is rooted in Hungarian history.
    Even a cursory examination reveals that the 20th century was traumatic (WW1; Trianon; Bela Kun, revolution, civil war and terror, hyperinflation; WW2; German alliance; Nazi Occupation; Russian conquest; the Purges; the Revolt of 1956 and the Soviet reconquest).
    The 19th century not that much better, at least before 1867.
    The 18th century, not too bad, relatively, apart from the Hapsburg autocracy, and the Prussian and Napoleonic wars etc.
    Less said about the 17th and 16th centuries the better.

    The US has nothing comparable to this. The experience of defeat of the South is trivial by comparison.

    The Hungarian people have damn good reasons for a defensive attitude to change and outsiders and the competition of political elites in Budapest.
    It does not justify all their popular inclinations toward reaction, but it certainly helps to explain it.
    See also a reflexive suspicion, even hostility re, Muslims.
    Again, not a justification, but like much of SE Europe Hungary has unpleasant historic memories of Ottoman Muslim rule; and even fellow Muslims tended to find the Ottomans uncongenial.

    Another key social-political difference: the Hungarians under the Austro-Hungarian Empire had an experience of a “stasis society” utterly unlike that of American experience.
    An established, enforced, and damn near universally adhered to Church.
    Jews were tolerated, usually.
    But Protestants were very often dealt with in a fashion that might not please the average Southern Baptist.
    And an aristocracy that was NOT the capitalist planter/slavers of the Old South; for all their faults, the Magyar főnemesség genuinely had a concept of service and sacrifice to the state, the church, and the nation.
    As well as gouging the peasants and disdaining the bourgeoisie.

  23. JohnSF says:

    “sixable”? Dammit.

    Oh, where art thou, sweet but elusive edit function?

  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    Just want to remind everyone that David French was a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, where as recently as 2003 he was arguing in federal courts that states had a “duty” to imprison LGBT people for there own good. He also has previously argued that the state should take the children of LGBT parents and give them to Christian families to raise.

    I’m not sure why he’s treated as a voice of moderation.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott F.: @JohnSF: I’m relieved to not have to get into a contest about who’s more cynical and I’ll agree with both Scott F. about America as a place to grow capital and with JohnSF that the view is certainly short sighted. I also suspect though that the guys most directing GQP policy goals (and maybe conservative economic policy at large–but I won’t cross the street to argue it) have little vision beyond the short term and have no real ability to see how their beliefs shape things. Imagine a room full of MOU types with no one actually smarter than FG and I think you have a picture of what the GQP economic “brain trust” looks like.

  26. gVOR08 says:


    I’ve come to realize that there is a large segment of Americans who would rather burn down the country, literally, than give equal rights to black, brown, gay and trans folk.

    True. But I’m sure you know, as some above have noted, that that’s not what this is about. Anywhere. Orban didn’t hire Republican consultants to tell him how to fight the Romani, immigrants, and the EU. He hired Republicans who told him demonizing the Romani, immigrants and the EU (his Blacks, immigrants, and elites) was his path to power.

    Jane Mayer in Dark Money (2016) told us what’s happening, as have a whole lot of others. As Dr. T has taught us, a republic not a democracy is a stupid thing to say, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a compelling ideology for a lot of people. If they thought they could get away with it they’d be trying to restrict the franchise to owners of significant property. But they can’t, so they seized on the culture war to win enough votes.

    A couple of Federalist Society drones on the Supreme Court have signaled they’re good with state legislatures usurping power over elections, even overturning elections. GOP legislatures are trying to establish means to do it. They may only be trying to pander to the base, but if the opportunity arises, the tools will be in place. Of course this only works if we have GOP legislatures in Blue states. Which we have, because of the aggressive gerrymandering enabled by the 2010 Redmap Project. The goal of the Gerrymandering was to create a House in danger of swinging GOP, but they’ve stumbled into it maybe being able to add throwing an election to a GOP Prez. And if the Supremes say it’s legal, it’s legal, no matter if their originalist rationale is stupid.

    There’s no hidden lair with the Billionaire Boys Club at a conference table chaired by Charles Koch with a white cat in his lap laying devious plans that will take decades to mature. But there might as well be. There is a large community of like minded opportunists. The Kochtopus, for lack of a better term, is a bunch of “think tanks”, activists, consultancies, legal advocates, and for all I know militia groups, all funded by a huge pile of money channeled through foundations with interlocking boards of directors. They don’t have a central committee but they do have converging interests. Which works almost as well.

    I somewhat cryptically noted above @gVOR08:

    But besides the Constitution Police, who is going to organize the response?

    Dems have think tanks (real ones), activists, consultancies, and legal advocates. But like most bothsides, there’s a difference of scale. And they’re all dedicated to minority rights, fair housing, environmental advocacy, and a thousand other causes including electing Dems. Who’s charged with organizing them to effectively defend small d democracy? And who’s going to fund it?

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: As pertains to my comment a click or two up, the same people who are offering Orban as a model ruler are designing Republican economic policy. I can even imagine one of those jar heads believing that he’s the capitalist the world has been looking for to start the “Hungarian Miracle.” US economy falls apart? No problem! Hungary, Serbia, and the Stans are waiting for us to come! (And no, they don’t have any idea at all of how stupid that idea is.)

  28. @Stormy Dragon:

    I was unaware of that history, so thanks for the info.

  29. JohnSF says:

    I’ve heard before references to Republican advisors to Fidesz.
    I really doubt the utility of their influence.
    They might be useful on the tactics of modern right-politics (fundraising, astro-turfing, modern media/campaigning, fund raising, etc) but I really doubt their capacity to feel the politics of modern east-central Europe.

    For instance, the Romani are 3 to 4% of the population. Compared to African Americans 13.5.
    re. immigration, Orban was dominant well before the migrant crisis of 2015.
    re. EU Orban has played a clever but stupid game; trolling the EU re “liberalism” for domestic kudos and international neo-Right LOL-ery and autocrat game points in Moscow and Beijing.

    At the same time being careful to keep the sweet, sweet Brussels euros pouring into his pockets (EU support = c.5% Hungarian economy; Hungarian EU remittances about another 5% IIRC) .

    And to keep Warsaw onside: support from Poland is the key to Orban’s position.
    Absent that, he crumples like a squeezed coke can.

    The key factor is: EU political dynamics and US ones are very different due to the nature of the systems: the EU is NOT a federal state. It is a legal structure of coordinating sovereign nation states.
    This gives Orbanist Hungary immunities it would not possess as a US state vs federal authority; but also means that, ultimately, should Budapest sufficiently annoy other EU countries, they are less constrained in their response.
    So far, the gadfly irritations of Orban have not passed the damage threshold of a treaty-breach response.
    This may not be the case for ever.
    And Orban must continually watch his positioning: should he fully lose cover from Warsaw, and really annoy the other states, his position is very precarious,

  30. Arm The Homeless says:

    The Hungarian fascists found a way to unify their disparate factions when the fear of–brown–migrants became a rallying cry.

    My real fear is how we react when the coming climate refugees start making their way to the Western world in numbers that dwarf the most recent waves.

    I don’t have a lot of faith in our culture when presented with and us vs. them question. Trying times ahead no matter which doughy fascist rises to the top of the GQP’s septic tank

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Arm The Homeless:
    Unless, of course, the potential for northern grassland dessication and possible higher rainfall in the current desert belts means the refugee movement goes the other way.

    Climate change may not necessarily mean simply linear “gets hotter and drier”.
    Some indication from Tertiary climates suggest most catastrophic collapse could be in current “grain belt” arable systems, due to either diversion of current rainfall (too much spring/summer drought for grains)or increased rainfall (too much humidity = rot/mould)

    We could end up with Europeans and North American desperately trying to move to current desert/savanna zones.

  32. Tlaloc says:

    They fired Daniel Larison? That’s a shame, I always found him thought provoking.

  33. JohnSF says:

    @Arm The Homeless:
    Also, note that Orban was PM of Hungary since 2010; prior to the refugee peak of 2015.
    In some ways the economic turmoils of post-2008 were more important.
    Though IMO the base goes a lot further back in Hungarian history.

    Factionalism was not really his main problem.
    It’s balancing the need to keep the flow of EU subsidy on the one hand, while on the other managing the diversion of subventions between wider supporters, upper echelons of the Fidesz, and “inner circle” pockets.

    Even re. migration, it’s a ghost, a dependency on historic derived fears: any migrants are vanishingly unlikely to decide that Hungary is their preferred abode.
    The start was the migrant flow of 2015 and the possibility at the time, initially, that Hungary would end up with primary financial responsibility for handling the influx into the EU zone from non-EU Serbia.

  34. Mimai says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I too am unaware of this:

    he was arguing in federal courts that states had a “duty” to imprison LGBT people for there own good. He also has previously argued that the state should take the children of LGBT parents and give them to Christian families to raise

    I poked around a bit and couldn’t find the original sources. Can you point me in the right direction?

  35. Modulo Myself says:


    I think Hungary’s complicated role with the Nazis is a key thing. Hungary fought with the Germans. They were there at Stalingrad. They were in the end as guilty as Poland was in giving up their Jewish citizens. I’ve known several people whose parents were Hungarians and survived the camps. Their neighbors did turn on them. It wasn’t only the Nazis in the end.

    Likewise, the idea that Hungary was a victim of communist aggression is not how it works. They were Germany’s ally. Lose a genocidal war and you get what you deserve.

  36. Matt Bernius says:

    Larison no longer weird for the as of a few months ago. I don’t know the specifics.

  37. Stormy Dragon says:


    I’d point you to the ADF amicus brief for Lawrence v. Texas, for the first claim. For the second, I can’t remember the exact cite (it’s been years), but as I remember it was a family court case in Florida. I’m traveling though and it’s hard to research thing from my cell phone.

  38. Mimai says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Thanks. I found the amicus brief. It appears to have been written by Glen Lavy (Counsel of Record). I couldn’t find French’s name anywhere in the document.

    I couldn’t find a court case for the second, but I did find a NRO article he wrote about Christian adoption agencies that seems relevant. He argues about the “rights” of these agencies, but nothing about the state taking kids from LGBTQ parents and giving them to Christian families. It’s entirely possible (likely even) that this is not what you were referring to in your initial comment.

    Please don’t mistake my questions as a defense of his or anyone else’s anti-LGBTQ positions. Rather, your initial comment surprised me, given what little I know of him these days. So I was hoping to get more info.

    Regardless, enjoy your travels and please don’t feel any need to keep responding to me.

  39. JohnSF says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    Hungary was tainted by alliance with Nazi Germany.

    But to understand the politics of modern Hungary, you have to think about why they allied with Germany.
    Because many Magyars saw themselves as victimised by the Allies of the First World War; possibly because the aftermath of the Red/White civil war; partially because they had little choice in the matter.
    When Berlin said “hop” Budapest could only ask “how high?”

    As to what they deserved: remember even to their enemies the truly genocidal nature of the Nazis came a something of a shock. I have been told, by British veterans of the times, who were anti-Nazi from the outset, how continually horrifying the Hitlerian dedication to atrocity was.
    And the peace of 1945 was less harsh on Hungary than that of 1918; which is why Trianon is still bitterly remembered by Magyars.

    I’m hesitant to say “Poland was guilty” as there was, essentially, no Poland to be guilty at the time. Only individual Poles.
    Hungary can be considered more collectively guilty, if one is interested in the concept of collective guilt.
    But it should be remembered that though the Hungarians started as allies of Germany, and had been officially anti-semitic even before Germany, nonetheless in 1944 the Germans occupied Budapest due to Hungary baulking at Nazi demands.

    My objective in this is not to defend Hungarians of that time.
    But to point out the traumatic nature of their history, and why Orbanism has an appeal to a rural, working class/peasant voter base who are suspicious of change.
    As I trying to indicate, for many people in central Europe, the lesson of the recent past is that change may be a precursor to catastrophe; and the schemes of the idealists can end in disaster.
    (Don’t forget, from this perspective the fascists, and the communists, and the nationalists, and the liberals, and etc, can ALL be lumped together as idealists. A perspective alien to us, perhaps but nonetheless convincing to many central Europeans of the working class/peasant class )

    An irony is that Orban has twisted the uses of history to portray his opponents as recapitulating subservience to Germany, whilst he is standing up for Hungarian freedom from the dominance of Berlin.
    This is where his alignment with Putin serves him; ironically, as one might expect Hungarian populism to be virulently anti-Russian. See also Orban’s good relations with Israel; or at least with Netanyahu.
    Ironic how many of the modern European far Right combine (at the least) some tropes of antisemitism with a professed love of Israel; or at least, of Likud.

    In the end, Hungarian history, while at an extreme, is only one exemplar of the tragedies of European history in the 20th century, and part of the appeal of the Far Right and of nationalist populism (the two are not the same thing, though related) in modern Europe.
    Even in the Czech Republic, which can hardly be tainted with alignment with Nazism, Right Populism has considerable appeal.

    In ways that are difficult for Americans, or Britons, to understand, large numbers of people in central Europe look at the recent past with traumatized horror, and desire above all that historical change should just go away and leave them alone.

  40. Matt Bernius says:

    And this morning Dreher was innocently promoting VDare articles authored by someone who was too openly racist for the National Review.

  41. Stormy Dragon says:


    So your argument is that if an organization that exists solely to engage in legal advocacy files an amicus brief in SCOTUS, the senior legal counsel for the organization can’t be called out on it because his name isn’t on it, even though there would be no reason his name would be on it?

  42. Moosebreath says:

    Tom Sullivan at Digby’s place makes a good point about why Republicans aren’t deescalating this — they can’t:

    “Donald Trump knew the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact would harm his reelection chances, so he denied it was a problem and tried to Jedi-mind-trick it away with happy talk. Bodies overflowing morgues forced him into his flailing response that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. He and Republicans aboard the Trump train amped up their base’s distrust of and hostility towards any gummint action on Covid in the name of free-dom until they, like DeSantis, had painted themselves into a corner. Delta be damned. Their base now demands they (and DeSantis) ride this runaway train to the bottom of “Eastwood Ravine.””

    Not trying to make this about COVID, either, just the first example in the article.

  43. @Matt Bernius: Dreher has moved very much into the useful idiot” column, at a minimum. And maybe he is just a true believer since the thing that appears to be paramount to him is “culture” and “family” as he wants it defined.

    I honestly find it all very disturbing as I know people who think this way and I could see them buying into an authoritarian government if it protected their culture because they rank order it so highly.

  44. Mimai says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I didn’t make an argument. Not even close. And if I was to make one, I sure as hell wouldn’t make that one.

    I wasn’t familiar with the case, nor with French’s previous employment. I’m also not a lawyer or well-versed in amicus briefs, how they’re drafted, by whom, etc.

    That’s why I asked you to point me in the right direction. Which you did. So….thanks.

  45. Beth says:

    @Scott F.:

    …I also believe that there are powers that be in the corporatist and country club wings of the Republican Party that fully understand that burning down the country isn‘t good for business and these folks should be getting pretty close to figuring out that they‘ve gotten as much as they‘re going to get from leveraging these arsonists for their own power.

    The first person I thought of was Peter Thiel. If there was a person who should be afraid of the arsonists but isn’t, it’s ol’Pete. I don’t understand why these billionaires think that they are somehow safe from the forces they are funding. How’s that low tax rate going to feel when you’re swinging from a lamppost with the rest of us queers?

  46. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dreher wants a state controlled by a church where the state defers to the church on personal behavior and defines deviancy. A theocrat or close enough.

    This from a person that burned bridges with two possibly three past professed religious allegiances.

    The man is a seeker. And what he seeks is church and state enforced authority over bedroom behavior and to stamp gender fluidity into the ground.

    I hate him with every atom I possess.

  47. de stijl says:


    Billionaire nihilist. Let it all burn.

  48. de stijl says:

    Carlson’s blatant tongueing / kissing up to Orban is both obscene and revelatory.

    I fear for us. Thus is like the way some US pols in the late 30s cozied up to Hitler and Mussolini.

    It is profoundly disturbing that the highest ratings host on America’s foremost right leaning news / opinion network is cozying up to a loathsome blatantly authoritarian slug like Orban. He’s not even trying to hide his goals.

    Like, as in fearing for our very future bad warning signs and alarm bells. It is extremely alarming. Our right wing looks like it wants to assume absolute control. By coup if they cannot win at the ballot box.