Friday, August 06, 2021


Shit is wild.

•   Busy today (Ha! Every day! And this is the thanks I get!) but will try to stick on some commentary later. Meantime enjoy freebies from Roy Edroso Breaks It Down, the Only Substack That Matters: Today’s is the script for a trailer inspired by the latest film in which 90-year-old Clint Eastwood stars. Now, I love the guy, too – I even liked American Sniper – but you gotta admit, that’s funny; it’s up there with late Bob Hope romantic comedies. If it’s politics you crave, here’s the earlier one about Biden doing that dumb Obama thing where he has a bunch of conservative columnists over for lunch

•   Jamelle Bouie notes, in his consideration of rightwingers’ recent Orbanmania – which has been amplified by Tucker Carlson, ably assisted by favorite alicublog Figure of Fun Rod Dreher --  that conservatives really do have a soft spot for dictatorship as long as it’s not communist. He even pulls up some examples like William F. Buckley’s qualified (or mealy-mouthed, depending on how you look at it) praise for South African apartheid in 1963:

They may be wrong, as we may be: but we should try at least to understand what it is they are trying to do, and deny ourselves that unearned smugness that the bigot shows. I cannot say, “I approve of Apartheid” — its ways are alien to my temperament. But I know now it is a sincere people’s effort to fashion the land of peace they want so badly.

This is very similar to Dreher’s similarly circuitous apologies for Orban’s “illiberal” rule, as in this most recent example

OK, so what do we US conservatives have to learn from Hungary? Let’s stipulate that Hungary is a very different country from America. It is ethnically homogeneous, has a very different history, and a very different constitutional system. Some of what Orban’s government has done is legal here, but not under the US Constitution (e.g., the recent law prohibiting pro-LGBT propaganda to children and minors). My enthusiasm for Hungary has more to do with Orban’s ideals. As I see it, Orban grasps the nature of the fight in front of us much more clearly than most of his US counterparts.

One would have to be willfully blind to miss that, for all the hand-waving, if Orban or someone exactly like him could be installed as our own leader via the vote-rigging methods he has perfected (far in advance of Tubby’s), Dreher and his pals would be thrilled. 

But this is nothing new. Here’s a National Review celebration of the life and career of Augusto Pinochet on the occasion of his death in 2006. The following is from the contribution of Roger W. Fontaine, “a National Security Council staff officer in the Reagan administration”:

…Human rights did suffer under Pinochet. And Chile spent years under Pinochet recovering from his predecessor Salvador Allende’s mad dash to a Soviet style command economy. It has also lately been shown he was personally corrupt. Finally, at least for Americans, there was the small matter of the caudillo’s secret services committing murder on the streets of Washington, D.C.

But Pinochet will also be remembered as leaving the country better off than he found it. It was Pinochet who obeyed his own electorate by stepping down from power after he lost a national referendum. And unlike his fellow Latin American generals, he let market-oriented civilians lay the basis for Chile’s economy — the most productive in the region. Can his fellow caudillo in Cuba — soon to be among the departed as well — say the same?

This is who and what they are and who and what they’ve always been. The difference is they're bolder now about prescribing Pinochet measures, not just for foreigners, but also for their fellow countrymen.

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