Kim Lane Scheppele: Hungary and the State of American Democracy

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University doesn’t need an introduction to the readers of  Hungarian Spectrum or to anyone who is interested in Hungarian constitutional law or politics. Here is her take on the hearing held by Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

* * *

Usually, I write about the dismal state of Hungarian democracy.   But today, I will write about the dismal state of American democracy.

I went to Washington Tuesday to attend the hearing about Hungary before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats. You can see the hearing and read the witness statements for yourselves here.

The hearing had a much higher profile than one might have expected. Fully nine Congressmen showed up and stayed through much of the hearing, which counts as a big turnout on Capitol Hill. In the audience, there was standing room only. Once the hearing began, however, it became obvious that the Democratic and Republican sides of the committee were not evenly matched nor was the committee interested in what the witnesses had to say. The Democratic members of the committee did not really understand why they were there, but the Republican members of the committee had an agenda that they relentlessly pushed for the full three hours.

Republicans hammered home their point that the US is unfairly picking on Hungary because it has a conservative government that adheres to Christian values. Hungary has entrenched in its constitution respect for fetal life, traditional marriage and belief in God, they pointed out, suggesting that the Obama administration was criticizing Hungary because it does not share these commitments. According to committee Republicans, the US ignores worse violations of democratic principles in other countries but, with its criticism of Hungary, has singled out unfairly a country that has been a loyal friend to the US. They argued that the Obama government’s increasingly critical policy toward Hungary is nothing more than a politically motivated campaign. Nothing to worry about in Hungary, they argued — it’s just conservative.

The performance of the American Congress on display at Tuesday’s hearing was not something to be emulated by any other democracy. It started with the disrespectful tone of the hearing toward witnesses – with Republican Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher of California leading the way – and continued with the ignorance of the members of Congress who should have known better about the subject of their own hearing. Most shocking of all was the fact that the questions from the House Republicans to critical witnesses were identical to those that have been directed in the past against other critics of the Hungarian government – including me – by representatives of the Hungarian government itself. (For evidence of that these ways of attacking critics are not new and have been the Hungarian government’s line for years, see my earlier responses to those same questions here.


The Republicans followed the Hungarian government’s usual script precisely, which raises questions about how that script was communicated to them. Or maybe members of the subcommittee were really ignorant of the agenda they were pressing, which would be a different sort of scandal. Tuesday’s hearing made it appear that the important House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee had simply offered their space to a foreign government to put on the show it wanted.

In addition, the hearing provided yet another example of Republican congressmen undermining the foreign policy of the Obama administration. In its audacity, the performance of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Tuesday was only a step below the recent incident in which congressional Republicans wrote to the government of Iran to tell them not to negotiate with President Obama because he could not make his word stick. Tuesday’s hearing misrepresented and mocked the concerns of the State Department while Republicans on the subcommittee buried witness Deputy Assistant Secretary Hoyt Yee under a barrage of hostile and irrelevant questions that he could not possibly have anticipated because they required him to discuss other countries that were not on the hearing’s agenda. The committee Republicans seemed to be willing to allow a NATO ally – and a country where the United States has worked hard to promote democracy through multiple presidential administrations of both parties – to slide into autocracy so long as this autocratic government promoted Christian conservative values.

But two important things came out of this hearing – both more consequential over the long-term:

  1. The prepared remarks of DAS Hoyt Yee were more critical than any prior State Department statement has been to date about Hungary. After all, it is the State Department that is charged with articulating US foreign policy, not the House Foreign Affairs Committee, so Yee’s statement represents current policy. It linked Hungarian democratic weaknesses at home to its ability to be a reliable member of NATO: “Since internal weakness invites nefarious influences from the outside, NATO needs all of its members to be internally strong.” That is why the state of Hungary’s democracy will continue to be of concern to the US government.
  2. The Congressional Research Service prepared a report for the hearing, which was extremely critical of Hungary. The CRS has a reputation for being neutral, factual, and non-partisan. The report shows that the “fact assessment” arm of the US Congress has found that Hungary’s critics have truth on their side. This will have a larger influence than anything that the committee members said on Tuesday because it what everyone looking for a neutral source on Hungary’s present condition will cite.

Those are the two important takeaways from the hearing. We should not confuse the embarrassing performances of the members of the committee Tuesday for real US policy, which is moving ever more resolutely toward serious consequences for Hungary.

That said, the hearing was a dismal performance by America’s elected representatives. It appeared to be a victory for the Hungarian government, if only because the belligerent committee chair engaged in frequent monologues so only the Hungarian side of the story – which he presented – actually got out. It was the kind of victory that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán specializes in – bullying, one-sided and mean. It was a demonstration of “gotcha” politics and depressing to see that the Hungarian government’s unfair tactics toward its opponents were transferred in every particular to Republican members of the US Congress who became the ventriloquists’ dummies for the government of Hungary.

For example, one of the witnesses was asked to recite the opening lines of the Hungarian constitution. Not surprisingly, he – being American – did not have the Hungarian constitution committed to memory. So the committee member triumphantly quoted the line: “God Bless the Hungarians.” And then he gave a lecture about how critics objected to the invocation of God, which was for him evidence of that the attacks of Hungary were politically motivated.

Actually, virtually all of the criticism of this opening line of the Hungarian constitution focuses on the fact that the constitution uses the word for “Hungarians” that covers only ethnic Hungarians and not all citizens of the country. So the constituent power invoked in the constitutional preamble fails to include Jews, Roma and members of other ethnic groups who are Hungarian citizens while it also includes ethnic Hungarians outside the territory who are not even citizens. That is why this statement raised red flags to many of us – not because it mentioned God. But the committee did not seem to have a clue about this issue.

Former Hungarian ambassador to the US, András Simonyi did a masterful job Tuesday holding his own as a witness in a show-trial-like situation. He focused on the Hungarian government’s refusal to recognize any limits on its powers and the way its non-transparent deals with Russia threatened to undermine European alliances, including the EU and NATO. Tad Stahnke from Human Rights First eventually got Chairman Rohrabacher to look a bit less sure of himself by mentioning the Hungarian government’s attacks on churches, which the congressman did not seem to know anything about (despite the fact that many of his colleagues signed a letter to the Hungarian government in 2011 protesting the cancellation of the legal status of hundreds of religious organizations and backing up the State Department concerns on this issue).

Chairman Rohrabacher got many of his facts wrong, and many dangerously so, but, since he controlled the chair, no witness could challenge them.For example, he denied all evidence of officially stoked anti-Semitism in Hungary, following the Hungarian government’s line that it is open-minded and tolerant while only the far-right Jobbik party is anti-Semitic. In response to an attempt by witness Tad Stahnke from Human Rights First to explain that the Hungarian government is rewriting Hungarian history through monuments, textbooks and museums to say that the Germans alone were responsible for the Holocaust in Hungary, Rohrabacher mocked the witness and pointed to the existence of open synagogues as the only evidence that was necessary to show that charges of anti-Semitism are baseless.

Chairman Rohrabacher was oblivious of the fact that surveys show levels of anti-Semitism in Hungary and a fear on the part of many Jews in Hungary about their futures there. He also didn’t seem to know that 30 of his Jewish colleagues in the US Congress had written a letter to Prime Minister Orbán protesting the Hungarian government’s rewriting of history again backing up the State Department’s expressed concerns. Chairman Rohrabacher’s denial that Jews in Hungary have reason to be alarmed was not a particularly good demonstration of his solicitude toward religion – or his colleagues.

The hearing made apparent that the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee was living in a parallel universe in which they got to invent their own facts. They paid no attention to the Congressional Research Service report and its careful findings. The three Republican congressmen that stayed throughout the whole hearing (Chairman Rohrabacher and Republican members Randy Weber and Ted Poe from Texas) denied evidence about growing authoritarianism and intolerance in Hungary, which turned the representatives’ description of Hungary into something like the fact-denying opinions of some of their party colleagues on climate change, economic policy and more. Stephen Colbert used to say that “reality has a well-known liberal bias” which is what these committee members seemed to believe. And so they were having none of it.

In fact, Chairman Rohrabacher and his allies on the committee did even worse than engage in denying facts that the Congress’ own research arm established. They followed the script used by the Hungarian government to bash its critics, literally repeating the same questions, the same comparisons and the same defenses of Hungary that I have heard many times from members of the Hungarian government itself.

I was in the audience, but only the official witnesses were allowed to speak. So let me give Chairman Rohrabacher some answers to his questions, given that he did not extend the courtesy to the witnesses to do so. By now I know all about these questions, since Hungarian officials have asked me the very same questions so often.

Chairman Rohrabacher argued that the Obama Administration has singled out Hungary for criticism even though it is no different than many of the US’s allies. He asserted that the UK has no more “checks and balances” than Hungary has – so why pick on Hungary? (The UK is the Hungarian government’s favorite example, too.) But can he really know so little about the government of both places? Yes, the UK has many more checks and balances than Hungary. While the UK, like Hungary, has a parliamentary system in which the parliament elects the prime minister, it also has an upper house – unlike Hungary – as well as a fiercely independent judiciary – unlike Hungary. And it has well-functioning independent accountability offices that can call the government to heel, unlike Hungary. Plus the UK has a robust party system with real choices, a free media and a strong and independent civil society, unlike Hungary. It’s a ridiculous comparison.

Chairman Rohrabacher, backed by Congressman Weber, then argued that Bulgaria and Romania were more or less in the same league, democratically speaking, as Hungary, but they badgered DAS Yee about why the US wasn’t also picking on them. They should have known that both Bulgaria and Romania were let into the EU with asterisks. Neither country fully complied with EU criteria upon entry and both are still under the supervision of the EU Cooperation and Verification Mechanism to ensure their continued progress toward EU standards, which they have not yet met. Hungary, which sailed through without question into the EU more than 10 years ago, should not be in the same league with Bulgaria and Romania because it started off much farther ahead in its democratic performance. The congressmen were right that Hungary is no longer clearly ahead of Bulgaria and Romania, but the comparison is misleading. It’s not, unfortunately, because Bulgaria and Romania have gotten so much better. Instead it is because Hungary has gotten dramatically worse. Since when is an exit by one of its allies from the family of unproblematic democracies of no concern to the US government?

Chairman Rohrabacher also excused the current Hungarian government for gerrymandering the last election because gerrymandering happens in the US too. Yes, both countries gerrymander, but there are big differences between the gerrymanders. In Hungary, a single party gerrymandered the whole country at once, with absolutely no input from any opposition party; in the US, gerrymanders in national elections happen at the state level so there is variation in who captures the process across the country. Plus it is a violation of American election law to exclude all opposition parties from the process of districting, which is precisely what happened in Hungary. In Hungary, there is no judicial review of the district maps to check for unduly self-serving gerrymanders; in the US, court review of districting is routine. Not all gerrymanders are the same. Yes, the US is bad on this – but Hungary is far worse.

Chairman Rohrabacher seems to believe that the US and Hungary both single out politicians for unfair treatment when they are in opposition. If he thinks his party is badly treated under a Democratic administration, I wonder what he would think of being in a parliament where an opposition party would have no chance to introduce bills, make amendments, or even debate most proposals of the government – and where they cannot even see the bills far enough ahead of time to know what they contain before the governing party calls the vote to pass them. Or where any attempt to protest the exclusion of opposition legislators from participation in the legislative process comes with hefty fines against individual members who try to make their views known. I suspect he would think that that was a different world.

I could go on, but you get the picture. The performance of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Tuesday was shameful. The committee allowed itself to be used to parrot the views of the Hungarian government and in so doing, showed what dreadful shape American democratic institutions are in.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

There is no need to get upset about the attitude of some US legislators. We cannot expect anything from ignoramuses.
The history of mistakes made by them since President Wilson sorted out Europe in 1920 ought to prove that whenever the US ought to interfere in other nation’s affairs they will radically misjudge the situation and will be concerned either with their own problems or else will be acting in an ignorant way and misjudge the situation almost every time.
We know that the USA is a great and strong nation, but their politicians are anything but. I could also include some of their financial people who caused many a disasters throughout the World as we all know from recent experience.
Maybe when the Americans will sort out their own troubles, such as education, race relations and health, they will gain the appreciation by people who resent their isolation and interference (or non-interference).


It is a pity no one from the National Security agency or from the CIA’s Office of Russian and European Analysis (OREA) was invited to testify. I would have very much like to have heard a discussion of SVR activity in Hungary, Russian support for Hungarian fascists, the use of companies like Gazprom, Rosneft, LUKoil, and Rostekhnologii to further Russian interests in Hungary, and the links between Russian Mafia and what is called the Hungaro-Slovak mafia. This mafia group of Hungarian criminal clans in the south of Slovakia are regarded to be exceptionally violent and their work is often done at the behest of the Russian mob. A discussion of these interesting issues would have been most enlightening for Americans.


The whole point of the exercise – as with Orbán’s appearance before the European parliament the other day – is to put on a show for the folks back home.
In this case, the show is designed to get across the message that US-Hungarian relations are back to normal.
The involvement of Connie Mack and Kurt Volker in the subcommittee hearing was only the beginning of their role. Mack was on M1 on Thursday night and Volker is in Friday’s Napi Gazdaság, both declaring that relations are firm and friendly since new ambassadors Colleen Bell and Réka Szemerkényi took up their posts.
Szemerkényi was on Fidesz-friendly media last weekend saying the same thing.
Mack told M1 that “some people attempted to present Hungary in a bad light at the sub-committee hearing, but they failed”.
It’s enough to fool some of the people all of the time, as Fidesz long ago figured out.
It’s interesting, though, that they still feel a need to present Hungary as a country in good standing with the US – that bastion and fount of liberalism.


Ms K.L. Scheppele cannot say it…but my god the ‘bread droppings’ would certainly make one think that Rorschach and the others were given a script, along with some pocket change, don’t it?


Rohrabacher looked more like a kindergarten drop out turned street bully more than the chair of a subcommittee and Roe was his straight man. Clearly this wasn’t about Hungary, it was just another Obama bashing session. Question, is being stupid a requirement to be a republican? Andras Simonyi did not disappoint. I was also very impresses with Mr. Hee. He was hammered relentlessly, words twisted about as badly as one could twist them and given little opportunity to respond.


Thank you, Eva and thank you, prof Scheppele for that brilliant analysis!
Re this “performance” by those US members of congress:
If it weren’t so sad it would be funny!

PS and not too much OT:
“Repugs” is the word I use for those politicians …

Petofi’s supposition seems to be well-founded in that Szazveg were recently financed with, what was it?, $140 million for “lobbying in Washington”. That is enough to buy an awful lot of lobbying, including that fellow who looks like a used car salesman, Connie Mack IV, as chief Fidesz-KDNP spokesperson in Warshindon and Hungarian TV… It has been clear for many years that Big Money has had a very corrupting influence in US politics and particularly so since corporations and other entities have been judged to have free speech rights just as Joe Blow has, except that those corporate rights are backed by colossal money resources usually sufficient effectively to silence the individual. So of course, Orban is simply following recognized US political practice by buying political influence and indeed, it appears that a whole Congressional hearing can be bought and you can even provide your own script! As Prof. Scheppele says, however, the shame lies with the venal Congressmen ready to play anyone’s tune for a fee. Rohrabacher’s hearing was an unusually sad display of US politics as usual, complemented by Hungary’s own brand of politics as usual. Orban and his government clearly hold the Hungarian people in utter contempt… Read more »

“Orban and his government clearly hold the Hungarian people in utter contempt when he is ready to pay such sums for “lobbying” while the Hungarian economics minister tells people that spending on health care will remain unchanged for 2016 following the Fidesz reduction of 40%.”

When will the Hungarians perceive the darkness at the end of the tunnel?


Quo usque tandem…?

If there is any sense and justice in the world, Viktor Orbán will soon begin facing what has long been his due for his shameless and shameful acting out of the very lowest and ugliest features of Hungarian culture. But before he is driven out of office and into exile let us hope that the much wronged and duped Hungarian populace will find a way to recover the billions and billions that Orban, his family and his cronies have been systematically stealing from them while feeding them instead with anti-european, anti-western, xenophobic cant.

Albrecht Neumerker

I am afraid they never will.

Brian McLean

“Christian values”, hahaha! Viktor Orbán appears to have got hold of a quite different translation of the New Testament from mine.


“The hearing made apparent that the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee was living in a parallel universe in which they got to invent their own facts.” This has gone on for a long time with the Republicans. Most notoriously with the “evidence” that Bush and Cheney used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Of course, here in Hungary, Orban lives in his own parallel universe.

András Göllner

One should never hold illusions about illusionists. As Prof Scheppele showed us, there are illusionists in the US Congress as well – and why shouldn’t there be ?. They put on a small sideshow financed by Hungary’s government. Their purpose was pretty straight forward: to hide the unbearable lightness of Orbán’s illiberal State. The onus is on those who can see through the illusionists’s act – their sleight of hand, their mixing of the cards so that we end up fleeced of our money and principles. Politics is a struggle about who gets what, when and how. They had their say – now it’s our turn. The more people speak up and reveal the trickery, the cover up, the illusion being foisted upon an unsuspecting public, the less persuasive these people will become. Now is not the time to lament – now is the time to speak up and act !!!. People with a conscience, a concern for the preservation of justice, and the ability to express themselves, should follow the example of Kim Lane Scheppele and raise their voices wherever they happen to be.


[…] egy oly szakavatott elemzője, mint Kim Lane Scheppele rögtön klaviatúrát ragadott és dühös írást tett közzé. Na, most persze kivételesen nem (csak) a „magyar közállapotokat”, hanem az […]


What kind of right wing org is this “Center for Fundamental rights” ?


It’s a Fidesz (that is taxpayers’) financed NGO (2-3 young fideszniks really, not even full-time). I think it must be oriented towards foreigners as in Hungary nobody would believe that they work for ‘fundamental rights’ in any way. But superficial foreign observers may overlook the telltale signs (Századvég, Polgári Magyarországért Foundation etc.) or get confused and since this NGO publishes stuff in English, these fidszniks may be of some limited use to Fidesz.

Leto مؤدّب

So the American democracy got into a dismal state, too, because Scheppele’s hysteria about Hungary and Orbán didn’t go down so well with that committee this time. 😀

Sic transit gloria mundi… except there was no glory in your activities, Ms. Scheppele.


Well Leto مؤدّب [letomuaddib], as a mischaracterized self (polite, urbane, gallant and a few other barfers) and as a selfdescribed “hardcore Fidesz supporter” (per the above links) how do you feel watching your party slowly going down the tubes? Not a pretty sight, ugye?

Regardless of what went down in Washington on Tuesday past, things will not play out as you, Orbán, Lázár and any number of Fideszniks may want. Everybody has got Viktor’s number. We’re talking Washington and we’re talking EU. And we’re talking Moscow, however Putin wont be able to help Orbán when the chips are down.

I will let others comment on what most will perceive as your antisemitism.

Vik and Vlad ??? What a team !!!




You sound like a man-in-the-know, so tell us: how much did Szijjarto and Orban rake in on the axe-murderer?

My guess is 50 million euros. Am I close?

I also saw this an hour ago but couldn’t find it on the English site … I copied the beginning of the thing – so here it is: A keddi, az amerikai Kongresszusban Magyarországról folytatott albizottsági meghallgatás nem sikerülhetett rosszul a magyar kormány szempontjából. Ez már csak abból is látszik, hogy az eseményt követően a hazai közjogi rendszer egy oly szakavatott elemzője, mint Kim Lane Scheppele rögtön klaviatúrát ragadott és dühös írást tett közzé. Na, most persze kivételesen nem (csak) a „magyar közállapotokat”, hanem az amerikai képviselőházat, annak érintett albizottságát, azon belül is annak republikánus tagjait állítva pellengére. A meghallgatás ugyanis – híven a vonatkozó kongresszusi eljárásokhoz – a következő koreográfiát követte: az albizottság republikánus elnökének meghívására „tanúként” megjelent a testület előtt négy „szakértő”, akik a maguk „szakterületéről” beszámoltak a testület kilenc – republikánus és demokrata – tagjának. Az albizottság tagjai azonban nem csak kérdeztek, hanem megnyitó-beszédeikben, illetve a „szakértőkkel” folytatott eszmecsere során maguk is kifejtették nézeteiket Magyarországról, illetve az amerikai-magyar kapcsolatokról. És persze ez volt az, ami annyira felháborította Scheppelét, akit – minden viccet félretéve – nemes egyszerűséggel csak „a magyar alkotmányjog szakértőjeként” szoktak emlegetni (már azok, akik ezt tényleg el is hiszik). Az nyilván az amerikai belpolitikai adok-kapok… Read more »

Juncker: “The dictator is coming”


This is funny for Juncker, because he does not understand that Hungary REALLY is a dictatorship inside the European Union. He should be ashamed of the fact that he leads a “Union” that contains a dictatorship.


No Junker does not know that, because perhaps he or his advisers might actually look at the facts occasionally.

And perhaps you should as well. Perhaps you should read the latest report from Freedomhouse which ranks Hungary ahead of fellow EU members Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece on freedom.


Does it qualify as ironic when a person who talks about “look[ing] at the facts occasionally” cant even properly spell the name of a person he is criticizing, especially when that person’s name is in full view?

I doubt that you’re intelligent enough to pun with Junker. Jean-Claude Juncker knows enough about Viktor Orbán to realize that he does not like what VO stands for. Neither do I.

Inquiring minds would like to know why you defend a corrupt leader of a corrupt party that wallows beside the worst cesspool [Jobbik pöcegödör] in Europe, by most measures.

Viktor Orbán is not –yet !!!– a dictator, however he has his aspirations.



So, show the proves of dictatorship!
The facts areare the followings:
– Fidesz party won 2 elections with great majority.
– demonstrations can be held not like during the earlier liberal government.
– you can freely publish anything even critics of Orbán.


Only Obama is accountable for the sad performance of United States!

Rohrbacher is a minor problem, he has been corrupted by lobbyists, and by his weak staff.


With all the republican-bashing going on related to this topic, I would like to remind the commenters a couple of facts:

Senator McCain, a republican, was the one, who recently called the Orban government a fascist one.

Also, generally the two parties close ranks when it comes to foreign policy. For example most members of Congress from both parties agreed to the war in Iraq. As the President, they used the intelligence reports that proved to be false, after the fact. The fact that President Obama’s foreign policy does not produce major successes (to put it mildly) contributes to the fact that this habit is not followed at this time, not just partisanship.

Which brings me to the last point: is Congressman Rohrabacher briefed by the intelligence agencies responsible for such topics about the reality of a country that is being discussed in a hearing? Or are these intelligence agencies unable to describe reality there? Or is Congressman Rohrabacher unable to read?


Obviously, these congressmen are “undemocratic” now, that they pushed back against the anti-Hungary smear campaign. Which by the way, they are right, because Hungary still ranks as a free country, ahead of a significant number of other EU members, and that is a fact!!!

And it is equally obvious that Kimi does not need professional attention, because calling into question US democracy, just because they did not go along with the vicious attacks Hungary has been subjected to, is obviously a perfectly normal reaction on her part.

And the majority of people on this forum do not need a reality check either.


It has been said many times but it seems to be necessary to repeat it:
Criticism of the Hungarian government is not an attack on Hungary. The Orban government is not identical with Hungary and it is not above criticism..


Fidesz and Orban are the genuinely anti-Hungarian types here. They have been destroying Hungarian civilization by creating the most corrupt regime of the last 300 years, by destroying the educational system, etc. – leading back the country into the Dark Ages.

They are the Hungarian equivalent of Da’ish [Dawlah al-Islāmiyah] in this aspect.


Just as the Republicans are anti-American – the analogy is very close at this time.


Do yourself a favour, dear, and watch the hearing before you further implicate yourself as an ignorant little twit – you don’t want that, do you?

One more – well deserved – help: the link is the first few words with red letters in the article above.

Good luck!


So Zoli, if you beat your wife and I reveal that fact to the world, then that (by your logic) would constitute a “smear campaign”. Ugye?

While what went down in Room 2200 last Tuesday was just another aspect of ‘democracy in America’, the point of that gettogether was to find out about the government of Hungary. Presumably the chair was supposed to be a sort of ‘tabula rasa’, someone untainted by preconceived notions.

Had you watched it you would have seen otherwise.

Nobody’s fooled except Viktor Orbán, who now thinks that the US government actually likes him.

As was well pointed out, this was merely an exercise in agendaing, mostly by the Republicans, whose positions are antithetical to the Democrats, by and large, even to the extent of mollycoddling Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz government running his unbig-deal Hungary.

What you dont get is the charade that was this Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats meeting. KL Scheppele is not a seeker of attention. She’s plenty qualified and she gets plenty of it, rightly so.



Horthy, Rakosi, Kadar, Orban and all the other crazy leaders of Hungary could buy support from the nation, which has been divided and confused all its history.

Listing the crimes of Orban is useful, and one day, our ultrapatriotic friends will agree with us on this subject.

Today, they are remaining blind out of a misunderstood loyalty.

Csaba K. Zoltani
Ms. Scheppele claims: “opening line of the Hungarian constitution focuses on the fact that the constitution uses the word for “Hungarians” that covers only ethnic Hungarians and not all citizens of the country. So the constituent power invoked in the constitutional preamble fails to include Jews, Roma and members of other ethnic groups who are Hungarian citizens” WRONG. Neither the Hungarian Constitution nor the Preamble mentions ethnicity nor religious affiliation as conditions for being magyar. In fact, the Hungarian Jewish organization requested that ethnicity should NOT be used in referring to Jews, since they are Hungarians. The Hungarian Jewish Community is prospering with returnees from Israel. The Congressional Research Service report uses phrases like “some critics assert”, “some opponents have charged”, etc. but fails to provide the verifiable proofs for the criticism. Until it is provided, the charges remain the opinions of the analyst who formulated it. Knowledgeable Americans do not venture into the problem of gerrymandering stateside. It is widely practiced in the U.S. to confer electoral advantage to those in power and to assure that minority candidates fare well. This meeting was organized to elaborate on the Hungarian-American relationship, not the shortcomings of either side. It is regrettable… Read more »

“Knowledgeable Americans do not venture into the problem of gerrymandering stateside.”
Nonsense! You wouldn’t have a clue about gerrymandering stateside if knowledgeable Americans weren’t writing about it, critically and constantly. Incidentally, you wouldn’t even have the word to describe the practice – gerrymandering – if an American journalist hadn’t created it (out of outrage) in 1812.

For some reason this reminds me of the Hungarian terms simicskázni (now obsolete – for corruption, and/or winning every tender every time), and “schmittelni/schmittelés” for plagiarism.

I wonder what a good Hungarian term would be for gerrymandering under Orbán? Kubatoválni? Doesn’t sound right.

Hmm. I’m afraid that your comprehension of the text – both the Hungarian anthem and the Preamble – would do with some improvements. You see, the quoted first line refers to the ethnic group of people, and not to the citizens of the state. In case of doubt read a little longer, there is no doubt, whatsoever, since it refers clearly to ancestry: Hungarian Lyrics “Őseinket felhozád Kárpát szent bércére, Általad nyert szép hazát Bendegúznak vére. S merre zúgnak habjai Tiszának, Dunának, Árpád hős magzatjai Felvirágozának.” Literal Translation You brought our ancestors up Over the Carpathians’ holy peaks By You was won a beautiful homeland For Bendeguz’s sons And wherever flow the rivers of The Tisza and the Danube Árpád our hero’s descendants Will root and bloom. Poetic Translation By Thy help our fathers gained Kárpát’s proud and sacred height; Here by Thee a home obtained Heirs of Bendegúz, the knight. Where’er Danube’s waters flow And the streams of Tisza swell Árpád’s children, Thou dost know, Flourished and did prosper well. Source: So, in this respect you are wrong, and Ms. Scheppele is right. Mind you, it could happen even with the most devoted Nationalists too, so don’t be… Read more »

Not too much OT:
The German National Anthem also contains a few gems:
Von der Maas bis an die Memel, von der Etsch bis an den Belt …
These rivers have always been in other states, not in Germany.
And then of course:
Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles, über alles in der Welt …
Since WW2 these verses are forbidden because they can be interpreted as Nazi propaganda.

That’s maybe one of the reasons why many Germans get a strange look when they hear about the anti-taxi company “uber” …


Thanks for the info, wolfi!

Even if I familiar with the text of the German National Anthem, I still don’t know, if it appears in the German Constitution, or a Preamble, not to mention this little treasure what called “National Avowal”, which actually contains the aforementioned details.

Otherwise I haven’t said a word against the Hungarian National Anthem, if you read my comments, but the misuse of it, and about the false interpretations of the result.

“God bless the Hungarians.” is a citation, the 1st line of the Hungarian national anthem written in 1823(!). Following Scheppele’s logic this is neglecting the minorities as well. What will be the next “suggestion” of the Department of State? We have to change our national anthem? Sheppele’s arrogant post suggest me only one think: I’m a kind of earthworm or so. A primitiv uneducated stupid hungarian ape, member of a rubbish nation. The only that I have right to do is: shutting my month up and following what Royal Highness of Madame Sheppele and Pres. Obama orders! Long time I’m hardly finding the difference between the style of the Soviet “comrades” and “comrade” Sheppele’s preaching, still no success… I know I’m an ape without intelligence. Just one more question! Is there any plan in the drawer of the Department of State for my future (mostly if Clinton will be the name of the next pres.)? Maybe a friendly bombing? Or just just simple clearing my beloved country from the map, disjoining her and sharing among our neighbouring countries? Just to be sure what can I expect from our friend and ally. It would be better to know in time. To… Read more »

No, but there is a plan to get Hungary thrown out of the EU. It’s not in Washington. It’s so secret not even written down. It’s in Orban’s head.
You wrote of yourself: “I know I’m an ape without intelligence.”
Thank you for saving us the time and energy.


You are so stereotypical…
– pick one thing out of its context (the quoted sentence from constitution), put it into another one (back to its original) and jump to a conclusion no one wanted to claim
– merge two unrelated (Scheppele with DS)
– accuse the writer of personally insulting you (as usual, sensible people reads it as is, a criticism to Hungarian government)
– throw in the mix communists and name the critic as one among them (don’t you know the official policy of the old comrade Putin being a great friend, you should love comrades for the time being!)

Calm down and think twice or thrice before commenting any nonsense like this. Watch the facts even if they are hurting.


Before I forget:

”…I know I’m an ape without intelligence.

-Thank you, dear, to make it clear to all of us, so we don’t have to bother with Brehm!
A very generous gesture, indeed!


“To study a new language quite time consuming process…”

I assume your Russian still/already quite fluent, so you have nothing to fear, dear!


Your personal attacking style does not pay off. You may feel satisfaction, but that’s a scant consolation, finally no one minds you.


Once again a revealing sequel by Scheppele. This time we can get an idea on how certain kind of so called conservatives think and act. They are all seem alike regardless of their residence. Their brain are wired for being retrograde, deny and distort facts. Their false sense of collective belonging overwrites their objectivity.


Mr Webber,

A Not even written down (sic) secret plan? LOL

And who’s telling this – you, a mind reader superman who clearly see what is in Orban’s head or you just James Bond himself? Mr Webber 007 isn’t it? A super agent who knows all of the not even written secrets? Or Mrs Scheppele’s friends have seen this in their magic sphere?

Yeap, maybe I’m an ape without any inteligence – a low level life form on Earth like every hungarians – as Mrs Scheppele’s post clearly suggest.
But from your comment I have no doubt that you think yourself as a superman. An “ubermensch”, who have the natural right not just revelate the truth and to squash like a cockroach anyone who does not share your conviction…

Bravo Mr “ubermensch” Webber…


No, Scheppele does not consider Hungarians low forms of life.
Her criticism was directed solely at the Hungarian government.
You can disagree with her, but it’s disgusting of you to transfer her criticism of the government onto all Hungarians – and yet that was what you did. How you must hate Hungarians to reduce a whole nation to its partisan government – and such a corrupt and crappy government at that!

As for myself, I consider some Hungarians among the nicest humans in the world.

My comments were directed solely toward you, personally – nobody else.

Do you consider yourself a cockroach? Strange.

I would never assume criticism of a government was criticism of an entire nation – only an idiot would.

(your ubermensch comment is weird – I can only guess you made it because you assume I am German. Another sign of stupidity on your part.)