Monthly Archives: September 2009

Factcheck Hungarian style

The first time I encountered was during the 2002 campaign when listening to the early morning news on NPR (National Public Radio). The segment, an analysis of Republican and Democratic campaign speeches, pointed out the not entirely truthful claims about the state of American education. I wished at that time that there would be something similar in Hungary where untrue "facts" are repeated ad nauseam without anyone correcting them.

As a faithful viewer of ATV's "Egyenes beszéd" (Straight Talk with Olga Kálmán) I was astonished to hear two interviews on consecutive days (September 21 and 22). … Read the rest

Mostly about the Hungarian prime minister

The first time I heard the name of Gordon Bajnai was when I read in 2006 that Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány called on him to be the head of the National Development Agency. Later appointments in more and more important posts followed; eventually he became head of the newly formed National Economic Development Ministry. And now, of course, prime minister.

The prime minister's given name, Gordon, is not exactly commonplace in Hungary. Actually I would be surprised if there were another person in the whole country named Gordon unless, of course, it is … Read the rest

Land Ahoy! Hungary’s agriculture by S. K.

This time it's a strictly private opinion that I am risking here, based on an e-mail circular I received during the week. This circular letter is urging the repatriating Hungarians of the diaspora to buy land in Hungary, because the traitor government is conniving to “sell out” the land to foreigners. To facilitate the purchase, there are agents and lawyers of the proper Hungarian patriotic persuasion at the buyer’s disposal. The letter also exhorts the readers to support Jobbik, “because this is the only hope, if they succeed in getting elected … Read the rest

Hungarian “progressive” writers and World War I

Years ago there was a series of conferences jointly sponsored by Brooklyn College and The City University of New York on the Habsburg Monarchy and World War I. One of the lecturers was the late Robert A. Kann, a historian of the Habsburg Empire, who talked about the war hysteria that broke out among Austro-German writers during the war. The Hungarian historians in the audience came up with the idea that perhaps it would be worth taking a look at the Hungarian literary scene at the time. We remembered no war hysteria among … Read the rest

Overconfident politician and lousy Hungarian journalists

Sorry to be so harsh, but after reading an interview with Viktor Orbán in Blikk (September 26) I don't feel too charitable. These two so-called journalists either don't know the first thing about their profession or they are in cohoots with Viktor Orbán and the interview they penned is no more than an opportunity to give him a platform. They obviously were not ashamed of their handiwork because they put their names at the bottom: Bori Fodor and Gábor Tibay.

First a few things about Blikk. It is considered to … Read the rest

Beginning of a new Hungarian media war? Nap-kelte

Political parties, not without reason, consider the media a weapon that they want in their own arsenal. In the first few years after 1990 liberal journalists dominated the scene. József Antall and later Viktor Orbán made serious efforts to counterbalance this liberal hegemony. Antall didn't have enough time to change the political communications map. Moreover, at that point there were no financial "angels" to fund right-wing media ventures. Viktor Orbán was a bit more successful during his tenure as prime minister, but his real triumph came in the last few years. Today we can safely … Read the rest

Hungarian healthcare: Emergency service

One hears far too many horror stories about patients in need of urgent care who are being bounced from hospital to hospital. The staff in one hospital claims that for one reason or another they can't handle the case and recommends that the patient be transferred to another institution. To those of us who are not familiar with the workings of Hungarian hospitals these trips from hospital to hospital and often from city to city seem quite mysterious. The latest case, involving a 57-year-old man complaining about a bloody stool who a few hours later lost consciousness en … Read the rest