Vicious attacks on critics of the Orbán government: George Kopits and Kim Scheppele

I’m in trouble again. I don’t know where to start because in the last three days an incredible amount of news emerged from the turbulence of Hungarian political life.

But perhaps I should first say a few words about topics we’ve already covered but thanks to the Hungarian penchant for not letting sleeping dogs lie remain in the news. This compulsion on the part of the Hungarian government to answer every criticism usually works against them.  To take but a single instance of how counterproductive these constant counterattacks can be, consider the case of the German children’s show on the Kinder Kanal (KiKa) about the Orbán government’s attitude toward democratic rights. There is no need to describe the details of the case, but the Orbán government took this “affront” so seriously that Viktor Orbán himself felt it necessary to tell the Germans off about “brainwashing” German children. The result? Another cartoon, this time showing Viktor Orbán dressed up as a clown stomping his feet and threatening his critics. Did Hungary need this? Certainly not. And did HírTV, a pro-government television station, have to respond with a primitive cartoon of its own about Angela Merkel who can do anything because Germany has a lot of money? Again, certainly not. In fact, it would have been best to have said nothing.

Well, something similar is going on at the moment but on a much more serious level. The Hungarian government has taken offense at criticisms from sources a bit higher up than a kiddie show in Germany.

In the first instance, the Hungarian National Bank’s new deputy governor decided to write a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal in connection with an opinion piece published in the newspaper by George (György) Kopits, former chairman of Hungary’s Fiscal Council between 2009 and 2011. I wrote about this hard-hitting letter in which Kopits called Viktor Orbán’s newly constructed regime “a constitutional mob rule.”

Newspapers normally give a government or important state institution the opportunity to answer any article it finds objectionable. So The Wall Street Journal had to publish at least part of Ádám Balog’s letter to the editor. Balog, a thirty-two-year-old with no banking experience, gained the favor of his boss in the Ministry of the Economy from where he followed György Matolcsy straight to the Hungarian National Bank. Now, it seems, he’s the bank’s “hit man.”

A very short letter appeared only in the European edition of the paper although Kopits’s piece appeared in the American edition as well. Let me quote the text that The Wall Street Journal decided to publish:

In his recent op-ed, George Kopits urges action against Hungary by international financial markets and the European Union (“Constitutional Mob Rule in Hungary,” March 28). Mr. Kopits criticizes the operations of Hungary’s central bank in particular.

The operation of the National Bank of Hungary is lawful and transparent, contrary to Mr. Kopits’s claims. Under the leadership of new governor Gyorgy Matolcsy, the central bank has replaced an essentially one-person management system with a system based on a broader foundation. During this transition, the turnover in the central bank’s staff, including managers and subordinates, was less than 4%. That means that essentially the same people work at the Hungarian central bank as before.

The real threat to the authority and professionalism of the central bank lies not in such changes to management, but rather in criticisms, like Mr. Kopits’s, that are not supported by facts.

Adam BalogDeputy Governor / National Bank of Hungary

That was published on April 2. Obviously, the leadership of the Hungarian National Bank was dissatisfied with the excised version of Balog’s letter to the editor. They decided to make public the original, which was full of ad hominem attacks against Mr. Kopits.

Here is the original version:

Gyorgy Kopits’s outlash harmful for the interests of Hungary

A discredited person criticizes the Hungarian central bank in the international press

Gyorgy Kopits, a former member of the National Bank of Hungary’s Monetary Policy Council has urged action from international financial markets and the European Union against Hungary. Mr. Kopits heavily criticized Hungary, and the operations of the central bank in particular, in the editorial section of the Wall Street Journal on March 27.

American readers may not be familiar with Mr. Kopits’s career in Budapest. He was a member of the Monetary Policy Council of the National Bank of Hungary between 2004 and 2009. He received the request to fill that post from Zsigmond Jarai, who was finance minister in the first government of the current Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who Mr. Kopits furiously criticized in his article, and then was appointed by the same government to the post of central bank governor.

Mr. Kopits held his position in the Monetary Policy Council, the top decision-making body of the central bank, in a period when lending in foreign currencies was on the rise. Foreign currency loans continue to place a major burden on tens of thousands of Hungarian families and firms to the very day. The National Bank of Hungary is among those that are now making efforts to mitigate the damages, to lower the impact.

Gyorgy Kopits’s criticism of the central bank—while it harms the prestige of the independent central bank—also lacks credibility. As the president of the Fiscal Council, Mr. Kopits approved Hungary’s 2010 budget, in which revenues were significantly over- and expenditures underestimated. Without immediate measures, the budget deficit of the 2010 budget would have been above 7% of gross domestic product as against the originally planned 3.8% of GDP viewed as attainable by Mr. Kopits.

The operations of the National Bank of Hungary are lawful and transparent. The new central bank’s management under the leadership of [new central bank governor] Gyorgy Matolcsy replaced the essentially one-person management system with a system based on a broader foundation in March. Turnover in the central bank’s staff, including managers and subordinates, was less than 4%. That means that essentially the same people work at the Hungarian central bank as before. Not the changes in central bank positions but rather the malicious writings similar to that of Mr. Kopits, which are not supported by facts but are unfounded, are posing a threat to the authority and the professionalism of the central bank.

Ádám Balog, Deputy Governor, Magyar Nemzeti Bank.

Vicious dog / beardenb / flickr

Vicious dog / beardenb / flickr

You will, I’m sure, notice that the English of the original version leaves a lot to be desired. And, instead of answering Kopits’s criticism, Balog hurls personal attacks on him. He is “a discredited person.”  He is ungrateful because he received his post on the Monetary Council of the Hungarian National Bank thanks to Viktor Orbán whom he now “furiously” criticizes. During his tenure on the Monetary Council wrong decisions were made concerning “lending in foreign currencies,” so he is responsible for the current financial problems of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian families and businesses. Kopits not only “harms the prestige of the independent central bank” but “also lacks credibility” because he was “president of the Fiscal Council” that approved the 2010 budget despite the fact that in that budget “revenues were significantly over- and expenditures underestimated.”

Similar personal attacks were launched against Professor Kim Lane Scheppele the other day by Gergely Gulyás, the great Hungarian “expert” on constitutional law. I am almost certain that the letter was not written by Gulyás. The language of the text and its reasoning points to someone who received his legal training in the United States. Moreover, the author of the letter is thoroughly familiar with laws of individual U.S. states which, with due respect to Gergely Gulyás’s wide ranging knowledge of the law, is probably outside the purview of someone who received his law degree at the Catholic Péter Pázmány University in Budapest.

The ad hominem attacks on Professor Scheppele are similar in tone to those Ádám Balog leveled against Kopits, but they are considerably more sophisticated. The document is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few choice tidbits: “unfounded allegations,” “factual mistakes,” “academic freedom … does not equal freedom from facts,” “egregious mistakes ,” just to mention a few descriptions in the first couple of paragraphs of a fairly long letter. The author of the letter even accuses Professor Scheppele of misleading Paul Krugman who allowed her to use his blog in The New York Times, because if he knew about all the misinformation in her writing Krugman “would surely object to … using him in such ways.” Body blow after body blow.

I can only surmise that the Orbán government came to the conclusion that they crossed the line with the latest amendments to the constitution, which may have grave consequences for Hungary. Therefore, serious critics like Kopits and Scheppele must be discredited. I expect these attacks on critics of the Orbán government to continue unabated.

My suspicion that the Fidesz political elite fears serious countermeasures from the European Union was only reinforced when I heard Viktor Orbán’s Friday morning interview on Magyar Rádió. According to him, Hungary’s economic performance doesn’t warrant the continuation of the excessive deficit procedure, but he expects no fairness in Brussels toward Hungary. The country must be prepared for the possibility that the European Union will not be satisfied with the current figures and the government’s predictions for 2013. Hungary will be punished unfairly.

Critics must be discredited one way or another.  Just as the Austrian paper, Der Standard, said the other day: “Fidesz politicians are bloodthirsty, unscrupulous, and vindictive.”

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52 comments

  1. “The Wall Street Journal had to publish at least part of Ádám Balog’s letter to the editor. Balog, a thirty-two-year-old with no banking experience, gained the favor of his boss in the Ministry of the Economy from where he followed György Matolcsy straight to the Hungarian National Bank. ”
    No experience? Fits right into Fidesz.

  2. Our boy, Gulyas, the pretty face next to Ader during the hearing, wrote the following in the Hungarian letter to Professor Scheppele:

    “Your continued efforts to paint Hungary as a tyrannical Frankeinstein leads me to believe that your academic assessments are colored by personal preferences”

    http://bit.ly/Y6ZEV1

    Here is the full letter in English:

    http://static.fidesz.hu/download/201304/Gergely_Gulyas_open_letter_1623.pdf

    Why did take so long? The PR guys in England didn’t get the check??

  3. Who cares?
    Nobody in Hungary will read the Balog or Gulyas letters.
    It is only important to Orban, who thinks that he has a battle to fight with the West.
    A total of 2 West European Orban allies will use these letters to side with the disgraced Orban.
    I am continuing to call on all Hungarians to go on the barricades and dismiss the tyrants of this regime including the vonas, morvays…

  4. Walter B. Mann of blessed memory told us, his grade 10 English class, that the assassination of John F. Kennedy signalled the revenge of the low-brow and unintelligent. Well, Mr. Mann, with your advance warning one is now able to recognize the aggressive attack of the mediocre, uncomprehending, simple-minded Hungarians taking on learned opponents far and wide armed only in their belief of the superiority of their abysmal simple-mindedness. Their idiocy is buttressed by their total moral decrepitude.

  5. :
    Darling Petofi, you are brave. Hungary needs such man. I love you. …

    I am probably foolish (that’s my Hungarian side), but I am angry
    (that’s my mother’s Serbian side); and the love of law, decency, and my overflowing,righteous indignation is from my jewish heritage.

  6. “Critics must be discredited one way or another.”

    Well, that’s what *they* think because that it’s how it operates in the policy-free world of Hungarian politics. The kind of responses covered above are instinctive, knee-jerk but not very clever in the modern world of normal democratic -politics as practised outside Orbanistan.

    Two facts; very few people in Hungary are aware how the regime is perceived in democratic circles elsewhere. By writing a response and publicising it in the poodle media in Hungary, it alerts the factto those still unaware that Orban and his cronies are being criticised elsewhere.

    Secondly, the kind of schoolyard personal insults which might work in the likes of Magyar Hirlap do not achieve anything with those who, presumably, the regime is trying to influence abroad. It just makes them look the thick, ignorant bullying boors that they are. I

  7. Mutt :
    Our boy, Gulyas, the pretty face next to Ader during the hearing, wrote the following in the Hungarian letter to Professor Scheppele:
    “Your continued efforts to paint Hungary as a tyrannical Frankeinstein leads me to believe that your academic assessments are colored by personal preferences”
    http://bit.ly/Y6ZEV1
    Here is the full letter in English:
    http://static.fidesz.hu/download/201304/Gergely_Gulyas_open_letter_1623.pdf
    Why did take so long? The PR guys in England didn’t get the check??

    Mutt: You surely mean Szájer, not Áder..

  8. Mutt :
    Our boy, Gulyas, the pretty face next to Ader during the hearing, wrote the following in the Hungarian letter to Professor Scheppele:
    “Your continued efforts to paint Hungary as a tyrannical Frankeinstein leads me to believe that your academic assessments are colored by personal preferences”
    http://bit.ly/Y6ZEV1
    Here is the full letter in English:
    http://static.fidesz.hu/download/201304/Gergely_Gulyas_open_letter_1623.pdf
    Why did take so long? The PR guys in England didn’t get the check??

    Thanks for the link, Mutt.
    I only glanced through it, but even then, the horse manure was all over my hands.
    How about the nerve of the guy trying to slip this gem by:

    “As a legal scholar, you surely know the difference between a “one party government” and a government lead by two parties, which is Hungary’s case. Fidesz and KDNP…”

    Yeah, really. As if KDNP was a significant partner! Gimme a break. But in typical Orban-fashion, he tries to get a half-truth by us. Scheppele, of course, knows better but many readers will not, and the Fidesz tactic is always to influence the unknowing.

    I doubt Scheppele will answer this nonsense.

  9. Today, Fidesz parliament plans to ban again political advertisement in commercial radio and television. This goes directly against the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court.

    Major parties will get equal, but very limited time in the Fidesz-controlled “public” media. On the other hand, government announcements will not count as Fidesz party propaganda.

    We will also see whether they count Fidesz and KDNP as two parties to provide double time for Fidesz.

  10. Hey! I got it!!
    Question: “Do you know why Hungarians tell half-truths?”

    ….Because that’s all they can afford !!! (For now and the foreseeable future.)

  11. Re Júlia Király. I like her. Encountered her the first time on Klubrádió when Zsófia Mihancsik had a weekly program on Sunday nights. Unpretentious, funny, and smart woman. I was also impressed when she gave a very large donation to her alma mater, the Pécs Law School. Her salary was very high at the time. Soon after she gave that large donation, Orbán cut the salaries of the governor and the two deputy governors!

    Not long time ago there was an interview with her on Népszabadság’s NOL video. (I think that’s the name of the program). I’m sure that it is available on line. Or, maybe even on YouTube.

    So, she couldn’t even wait until the end of the month when her tenure expired.

  12. tappanch :
    Today, Fidesz parliament plans to ban again political advertisement in commercial radio and television. This goes directly against the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court.
    Major parties will get equal, but very limited time in the Fidesz-controlled “public” media. On the other hand, government announcements will not count as Fidesz party propaganda.
    We will also see whether they count Fidesz and KDNP as two parties to provide double time for Fidesz.

    For sure all the Fidesz lowered prices on this and that will be heard 24/7. There is not a thing that Fidesz will not overrule that does not fit their agenda.
    tappanch, I hope your friends are ready and not tired yet to go out to the streets and let the world know that there is an opposition. You guys are the only hope. You are the ones who do not only speak and fire up eavj other, but in fact show your dissatisfaction. It is so very important!

  13. tappanch :
    Today, Fidesz parliament plans to ban again political advertisement in commercial radio and television. This goes directly against the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court.
    Major parties will get equal, but very limited time in the Fidesz-controlled “public” media. On the other hand, government announcements will not count as Fidesz party propaganda.
    We will also see whether they count Fidesz and KDNP as two parties to provide double time for Fidesz.

    And speaking of government announcements, over the past week I’ve noticed that government “information” posters are now plastered all over trumpeting the “successes” of the current government. Perhaps it cheers up the gangs of unemployed who are put to work street-cleaning to learn that things are going so well!

  14. Our weakness is, we can’t help.
    We also can not stop loving Hungary.
    Most of its people are decent.
    Deak loved the law.
    Deak made an impact on the Hungarian conscience.
    Half truths lead to lies.
    The Hungarians are taking the half truths, because they are packaged in sweet patriotic colors.
    It seems that the Kadar era ended too soon.
    The economical stabilization was not finished.
    The rest is history.
    Orban will commit big crimes.
    Whether he and his handlers will end up jail?
    Grey areas.

  15. Here is an interview with the last of the “greats” in Hungary:

    http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=635978

    @Some1
    I am just a single, sometimes shouting observer at the demos.

    The only time I felt that a demonstration came close to the strength of a revolution
    was at the Opera House on January 2, 2012.

    But as Tamas Ungvary remarked in his “Ubu Roi” article above, the time of a revolution cannot be predicted.

  16. tappanch, Ungáry Tamás is “one of the greats”????? Great at what? Being III/III? Earning the nickname “the bubonic plagiarist”? This is the man who ruthlessly exploited his Party contacts for his own financial gain for years and years (check out the 10% royalty he earns for his “translation” of “My Fair Lady” compared to the pittance the non-Party Zsuti got for doing all the lyrics, i.e. the vast majority it!) a man who thought nothing of translating Sunday Times articles and presenting them as his own (when no one else had access to catch him out…)

    Yes, an entertainer, a great speaker of English, very learned but a “great” man??? Give us a break. He was a Kádár era operator of a rather sinister and all too familiar kind.

  17. @Cakewalk
    I have not found a single reference in my quick search for any connection between Tamas Ungvary and iii/iii. It is not NICE to write down libelous statements…

    I am open to any link!

  18. tappanch :

    @Cakewalk
    I have not found a single reference in my quick search for any connection between Tamas Ungvary and iii/iii. It is not NICE to write down libelous statements…

    I am open to any link!

    Same here.

  19. Absolutely terrible result in Monor, MSzP-DK received 15% of the vote, Jobbik got 29%, and Fidesz got 56%.

  20. HVG had a good article about MSZP’s current situation.

    They are bleeding from dozens of (partly self-inflicted) wounds. The big nihil, that’s what they have.

    Meanwhile Bajnai talks like a boring Socialist (technocrat) from the 1970’s. People hate (but even if they don’t hate them they cannot like) self-proclaimed professionals like Mario Monti. They want leaders and want to dream and want to deal with the politicians like if he/she was a reality show actor. Noone cares about Bajnai much less about Mesterházy.

    I wonder if they end up like the Polish left?

  21. @Lecso

    In the same district of Monor in the Fall of 2010:
    Fidesz 47.3%
    Jobbik 18.0%
    MSzP 10.2%

    So Monor has never been a left-wing bastion.

    Quiz: who was the representative from Monor during WW2?

  22. “Fidesz politicians are bloodthirsty, unscrupulous, and vindictive.”

    Isn’t this an ad hominem type attack? Isn’t “Der Standard” a Vicious Dog?

  23. “The Past is a guide to the Future”, so said someone once.

    My summer reading has just arrived and I’ve already dipped into the eye-popping account of one Filip Muller,
    who wrote, “Eyewitness Auschwitz–Three Years in the Gas Chambers”.

    Mr. Muller was a Slovak from Sered, and no doubt cognizant of that great art collector and war criminal,
    Mr. Csatary–poster boy of Fidesz and the Interior Ministry. While Mr. Csatary basks in the pleasures of the Buda hills, Mr Sered has the entertaining prospect of nightly nightmares of Auschwitz.

    Sic transit Hungaricum.

    If Mss Morvai or Mr. Vonai wish, I can send their disbelieving eyes this memoir , free of charge.

  24. It is true that Monor is strongly right wing.

    But that is the trick.

    See, in order for the opposition to win they have to win in places where no non-right politician has ever won. Such is the advantage of Fidesz based on the elections laws.

    But how do wou win in District XII or Hodmezóvásárhely or Sopron?

    That is more than a tall order. It’s like the chances for Democrats in Texas or Repubicans in California.

  25. Johnny Boy :
    “Fidesz politicians are bloodthirsty, unscrupulous, and vindictive.”
    Isn’t this an ad hominem type attack? Isn’t “Der Standard” a Vicious Dog?

    Yay!! Johnny’s back! We’ve been missing you so much!!

    To answer your question, no, it’s a fact.

  26. London via Gyor (still!) Calling!

    Hello Johhny Boy!

    Not Ad hominem

    …………..Ad rem.

    Regards

    Charlie

  27. “They want leaders and want to dream and want to deal with the politicians like if he/she was a reality show actor.”

    In such a case, Laszlo Köver, Viktor Orban and Gyorgy Matolcsy are splendid choices.

  28. Orban did not stay silent this time – against my prediction – with respect to the anti-Semitic “goy motorist” counter-demonstration titled “Push more gas” scheduled for April 21.

    He ordered the Interior Minister to ban the demo, he claimed in Parliament today. My opinion is that police should have re-routed the anti-Semitic march to avoid the neighborhood of the Holocaust Remembrance march “March of the Living”.

    But if a Prime Minister can ban a march today, against the law, he will ban demonstrations against his own rule tomorrow.

  29. Kirsten :
    “They want leaders and want to dream and want to deal with the politicians like if he/she was a reality show actor.”
    In such a case, Laszlo Köver, Viktor Orban and Gyorgy Matolcsy are splendid choices.

    lol Agreed!

  30. tappanch :
    Orban did not stay silent this time – against my prediction – with respect to the anti-Semitic “goy motorist” counter-demonstration titled “Push more gas” scheduled for April 21.
    He ordered the Interior Minister to ban the demo, he claimed in Parliament today. My opinion is that police should have re-routed the anti-Semitic march to avoid the neighborhood of the Holocaust Remembrance march “March of the Living”.
    But if a Prime Minister can ban a march today, against the law, he will ban demonstrations against his own rule tomorrow.

    Now, that is an interesting argument. Maybe you are right. THey just should of send motorists on an other route. First or second districts would of been good choices. They need a little wake-up call.

  31. Mutt :

    Johnny Boy :
    “Fidesz politicians are bloodthirsty, unscrupulous, and vindictive.”
    Isn’t this an ad hominem type attack? Isn’t “Der Standard” a Vicious Dog?

    Yay!! Johnny’s back! We’ve been missing you so much!!
    To answer your question, no, it’s a fact.

    Then, everything written about Kopits, is also a fact.
    (BTW no need to pretend you missed me. You feel best among yourselves, without any critic voice. It shows from your recent reply that you are completely incapable of self-reflection. I won’t be commenting here.)

  32. tappanch :
    Orban did not stay silent this time – against my prediction – with respect to the anti-Semitic “goy motorist” counter-demonstration titled “Push more gas” scheduled for April 21.
    He ordered the Interior Minister to ban the demo, he claimed in Parliament today. My opinion is that police should have re-routed the anti-Semitic march to avoid the neighborhood of the Holocaust Remembrance march “March of the Living”.
    But if a Prime Minister can ban a march today, against the law, he will ban demonstrations against his own rule tomorrow.

    I guess one should be happy that he didn’t plan to join them ;-((.

    BTW isn’t this against the law in Hungary?

  33. tappanch :
    Orban did not stay silent this time – against my prediction – with respect to the anti-Semitic “goy motorist” counter-demonstration titled “Push more gas” scheduled for April 21.
    But if a Prime Minister can ban a march today, against the law, he will ban demonstrations against his own rule tomorrow.

    Good grief, you need the PM to order the police to do their job???? Funny but I was just watching Trudeau’s infamous answer to the question of “how far would you go” question that was posed to him during the FLQ crisis. The answer was; “just watch me”.

    The young Hungarian MP, Gergely Gulyás, insists in his letter to me that the constitutional drafting process of 2010-2011 was open to public input and that the “constitutional drafting committee” sought advice from civil society and opposition parties. Like many statements in the Fidesz PR blitz, this is true as far as it goes, but it is misleading.

    I really like Kim’s work. It’s very hard hitting and very factual. But sometimes she’s too soft with the truth. There is no real truth in the public involvement in the constitutional process. This point seems to water down the follow on points that the process was clearly non-inclusive. In fact I would consider it a document written at an opportunistic moment for which there was no mandate and thus has questionable legitimacy. So sad that her safety has been threatened by cowards that have not the intellectual capacity to engage in a meaningful debate.

  34. tappanch :
    The last non-Fidesz appointee member of the monetary council of the National Bank, Julia Kiraly, resigned today.
    http://nol.hu/media/file/attach/71/14/00/000001471-8496.pdf
    http://nol.hu/media/file/attach/73/14/00/000001473-3814.pdf
    She writes that the new leadership of the bank lacks professional experience, endangers the prestige of the bank, and made decisions in the last month causing grave damage to the Hungarian economy in the long run.

    I’ve seen her speak in Budapest… very very impressive… I wish her luck in the future and that the Fidesz dogs don’t get to her.

  35. All this is for internal consumption. Orbán doesn’t give a fig about external opinion (and why should he?), all he cares about is maintaining absolute power at home. Which means keeping his core support onside and happy. I can tell you from a depressingly large amount of personal experience that they absolutely love this stuff,

  36. Johnny Boy :
    Then, everything written about Kopits, is also a fact.
    (BTW no need to pretend you missed me. You feel best among yourselves, without any critic voice. It shows from your recent reply that you are completely incapable of self-reflection. I won’t be commenting here.)

    Of course! One man’s vicious dog is another man’s pretty little puppy. The title of this post was an ironic reference to the Orban government’s crybaby attitude to criticism.

    See? You have logic. The reason we missed you (others will back me up) is that the troopers that came after you don’t seem to go beyond the usual kindergarten arguments. I’m not saying they are not smart – they just just don’t argue. You did.

    Don’t be a crybaby. This is the lion’s den for you. Duh! If you say something we will go after you (viciously). In packs. But isn’t the truth worth fighting for?

    Bring it on Johnny! Show us what you got! There’s gotta be a reasonable explanation to the Orban government’s shenanigans.

    Believe me. I’m honest …

  37. petofi :

    I doubt Scheppele will answer this nonsense.

    Viktor Orban vs. Kim Lane Scheppele

    On one side, a petty grudge match, on the other, an international constitutional scholar’s penetrating and timely analysis of a deplorable and rapidly declining situation in an Eastern European backwater.

    Article is here.

  38. Stevan Harnad :

    petofi :

    I doubt Scheppele will answer this nonsense.

    Viktor Orban vs. Kim Lane Scheppele
    On one side, a petty grudge match, on the other, an international constitutional scholar’s penetrating and timely analysis of a deplorable and rapidly declining situation in an Eastern European backwater.
    Article is here.

    I stand corrected: Scheppele is indomitable. When I glimpsed at Gulyas’ flim-flam I thought: “What a bunch of half-truths mixed with outright lies. The Hungarian smorgasbord! Who’s got patience to unravel and explain this?”

    Well, Scheppele, god bless her, has the patience, cool-headedness, and Winstonian bull-doggedness to see it through. A masterful job.

    Gulyas’ mis-mash (or, more likely, whatever PR firm wrote it up for him) reminds me of Brit film-flamers with the pea trick. Back many years ago, when visiting London, I hung out of my walk-up and watched this all transpire: there was a guy with an up-turned carton with a pea and three paper cups. He was the sleight-of-hand artist. Within the gathering crowd he had at least three accomplices who showed how ‘easy’ it was to win money by finding the pea. There were also two look-outs hanging out windows to watch for cops. Well, in no time at all, the gullible tourists–Chinese, Japanese, East European (Hungarian?!)–were ready to try their luck. One after another plucked down 20 pounds and picked their cup, never to win. One frustrated player–no doubt the Hungarian–after losing his money, made a dive for the other two cups. But he was two slow. Two of the accomplices jumped on the carton and held the cups down. He walked away muttering. Of course, his doubts were well-founded: the manipulator palmed the pea when the tourists were playing. You couldn’t win.

    Arguing with Hungarian politicians is like that. Here a half-truth, there a complete lie; often a false comparison and, finally, indignation worthy of a 50 year old virgin. If you zero in on them, well, they just shift the argument–move the pea–and finally, just palm it. You can’t win: they change the rules as they go along.

    Best to stay away, because encountering one of these nay-sayers leaves one…soiled.

  39. I finally found a line of argument that gives my Fidesz-supporting Hungarian friends some pause regarding their blind support of the constitution. I simply asked them, given their stated belief that the new constitution was a democratic one which, in the least, means that an unpopular government could be voted out of office, if Fidesz were to become so unpopular as to lose in some future election to some other party or coalition, how would they feel about the constitution if its powers were to be exercised by any party other than Fidesz?

  40. PWT: plain English pleeease. That is the reason why Bajnai can’t win. The messages should be simple. Anything more than a basic sentence with more than 4 words should be avoided. Fidesz knows this instictivly. On the left – they have no idea.

    You should have realized by now: nobody wants to debate things. Politics is not about debating and delibaretaion. That is a liberal delusion. Politics is about taking decision. Action. That is what people want in bad times. That, (or rather?) the belief that action has been taken.

  41. Mutt :
    Of course! One man’s vicious dog is another man’s pretty little puppy. The title of this post was an ironic reference to the Orban government’s crybaby attitude to criticism.
    See? You have logic. The reason we missed you (others will back me up) is that the troopers that came after you don’t seem to go beyond the usual kindergarten arguments. I’m not saying they are not smart – they just just don’t argue. You did.
    Don’t be a crybaby. This is the lion’s den for you. Duh! If you say something we will go after you (viciously). In packs. But isn’t the truth worth fighting for?
    Bring it on Johnny! Show us what you got! There’s gotta be a reasonable explanation to the Orban government’s shenanigans.
    Believe me. I’m honest …

    You are exactly as honest as the left extremist protesters celebrating Thatcher’s death in the streets.
    The dead right winger is a good right winger.

  42. Johnny Boy :

    Mutt :
    Believe me. I’m honest …

    You are exactly as honest as the left extremist protesters celebrating Thatcher’s death in the streets.
    The dead right winger is a good right winger.

    You lost me. Is this a compliment?

  43. Mutt :

    Johnny Boy :

    Mutt :
    Believe me. I’m honest …

    You are exactly as honest as the left extremist protesters celebrating Thatcher’s death in the streets.
    The dead right winger is a good right winger.

    You lost me. Is this a compliment?

    Who knows? Fidesz witticisms fall somewhere between a zen master’s statement and haiku–ask Matolscy, a noted expert.

  44. Kárpáti levelét megírta a Galamusban:
    http://www.galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=202479:csodalatos-emberekben-bizhatunk&catid=65:az-olvasok-irasai&Itemid=101

    Dr. Kim Lane Scheppele
    a Princeton Egyetem professzora

    Tisztelt Professzor Asszony!

    Sajnálom, hogy nem tudok az Ön anyanyelvén, így kénytelen vagyok magyarul megszólítani. Nagy tisztelője vagyok, öreg értelmiségiként meghatottan hálás vagyok a tevékenységért. A magyar nemzetért tett erőfeszítései nem légbuborékok, mindnyájan az Önhöz hasonló nemes eszmeiséggel és tettel munkálkodó, csodálatos emberekben bízhatunk.

    Felháborított, hogy az elnyomó párt tagja a szájára veszi az Ön nevét, olyasvalaki, akinek életútja a nullával lenne egyenlő, de nem az. Nem egyenlő a nullával, mert a pártjával egyetemben végzett pusztító tevékenységébe mindnyájan beledöglünk.

    Nem tudom, hogy az e-mailem eljut-e Önhöz, mert a párt erőszakszervezete (TEK) ellenőrzés alá vonta a polgárok teljes életét. Megtorlásuk nem érne meglepetésként. Öreg ember vagyok, engem már nem lehet megtörni, megtörtem már az elmúlt három évben.

    Kezeit csókolom, tisztelettel:

    Kárpáti Tibor
    nyugdíjas, a magyar nemzet tagja, magyar állampolgár

  45. London via Győr (still!) Calling!

    If Google translate gets anywhere near the sentiment of $$$ then this is a very touching post.

    From an older citizen it seems – who has seen through this rancid Government.

    Times they are a-changing.

    Köszönöm Tibor!

    Regards

    Charlie

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