Sunday, July 9. 2017
[Exchange excerpted from Professor Éva Balogh’s Hungarian Spectrum]
Stevan Harnad [To Istvan, a retired US army officer residing in Chicago area]: "Istvan, Do you think there is the sense and the resolve to defy the “commander-in-chief” if he decides to fritter us away with the codes?"
Istvan: "Boy that is a complex question Stevan. This will not be short: Every US officer swears alligence to the Constitution of the United States, not to the president. We are commissioned by Congress and formally our names are read into the Congressional record. However, if Trump ordered an attack on North Korea, arguing that it was preemptive to a launch by the North Koreans, our military would obey that directive, in my opinion.
Tuesday, May 2. 2017
The EU has no way to rid itself of a malign, corrupt, incompetent madman, sustained by an evil entourage, who has managed to get himself elected by a minority of deplorables in a gerrymandered electoral system.
The US has no way to rid itself of a malign, corrupt, incompetent moron, sustained by an evil entourage, who has managed to get himself elected by a minority of deplorables in a gerrymandered electoral system.
Monday, January 2. 2017
LANGUAGE, LIE-DETECTORS AND CARLO COLLODI
1. Yes, Trump is a compulsive (and repulsive) serial liar.
2. Yes, the right-wing press is trying to minimize this.
3. Yes, it’s harder to prove that someone tried to deliberately misinform people rather than just “mistakenly asserting and believing something false to be true.”
4. Yes, Trump can be serially absolved of his serial lies by sugar-coating them as “mistakenly asserting and believing something false to be true.”
5. Fine. Ban the word “lie” in the Trump era, forget about intent, and simply, relentlessly keep building a cumulative list of the things that Trump asserts to be true that are false, from day to day, every day, coupled with the evidence in each case.
6. Let’s see how many people are ready to believe the things Trump says as this list just grows and grows and grows.
7. Natural language evolved 300,000 years ago on the default assumption that what people tell you is true; if the default assumption had been that it was false, language could never have gotten off the ground.
8. But, as a safeguard, we also evolved highly sensitive serial lie-detectors: If someone keeps lying to us, we stop believing them, whether we like it or not.
9. The deplorables believed (or pretended to believe) Trump enough to vote for him despite the evidence; the decent majority already saw through him long, long before the time of the election (but the electoral laws gave Trump a false majority anyway).
10. Let’s see how long Trump’s serial lying leaves him any credibility at all in the US and the world as the list of the things he asserts to be true that are false just grows and grows, like Pinocchio’s nose…
Tuesday, December 27. 2016
Hilary was only half-right: The Trump supporters were (and are) ALL deplorables, without exception. So are those who voted 3rd-party or didn't vote. They all share the blame for what's to come. Only the numerical majority of decents are blameless. Yet they, too, will suffer the consequences of the triumph of the deplorables -- as will the rest of the world.
To have voted for a vile, cheap, ignorant and indescribably dangerous con-man like Trump, with eyes open, has no other word to describe it than deplorable. Yes, we now have to try to make the least worst out of this terrible bargain, but to pretend that Trump voters are anything but deplorables is to pretend OJ Simpson was actually innocent because so adjudged by a jury of peers.
We are in the era of crowd-sourced hearsay demagogy (that some are beginning to call "post-truth").
Wednesday, December 21. 2016
My explanation would be different:“Anyone looking for a crystal ball for the coming Trump administration would do well to ‘study Hungary’s record’. And not just for clues about how a rightist strongman can permanently reorder a society and its institutions once it controls the legislature (as Trump and Orban do) and a judiciary (as Orban does and Trump is about to) – but also for how such a politician continues to consolidate power as his policies fail….”
1. No one lives for centuries: Each individual’s lifetime experience is what they see and hear during their own life-cycle (including what they are told about past centuries).
2. Hungarians have not been oppressed for centuries; they've just kept telling themselves that for centuries. Plenty of eastern European peoples (and peoples elsewhere) have had a much worse time of it than Hungarians, who were on the side of the oppressors during the Austro-Hungarian centuries. But Hungarians have made a culture of feeling sorry for themselves (though not for their victims), and they keep passing it on from generation to generation.
3. I think the real common factor is the mentality of the deplorables; they are all over the planet. Perhaps under 50% in the US. But the majority in Hungary. I could sketch the profile of a deplorable; it’s not very deep: They are not impoverished people but people who are less well off than they were or they feel they deserve to be. And the rest is just about where they lay the blame: immigrants, black people, non-christians (or non-whatever is the home cult), conspiracies, China, liberals. They also claim to blame the rich (though that’s exactly what they want to be, and when they are, they become exactly like the rest; Trump is among the worst of them, though he’s always been well off).
Well the deplorables now have their day (again). But more is at stake than ever in the past. And more damage — permanent damage — can be done by them in a short time than ever before. The worst time to hand the planet over to the deplorables.
Saturday, November 12. 2016
The accession to power of the likes of Donald Trump is by far the greatest catastrophe -- moral and environmental -- to befall the planet since WW II, perhaps ever.
With control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court all ceded to Trump, all the US consitution's intended checks-and-balances are check-mated and Trump's malign destructiveness rules unchecked.
Since the free and open media helped get him there, it is unlikely that they will be able to constrain him now.
Bottomless ignorance, incompetence, pettiness and malevolence have been empowered limitlessly.
And by 2020 immense, irreversible damage will have been done.
Even a violent revolution could not prevent it, just make it worse.
Only a quick impeachment from one of the pending court cases against him can mitigate the damage (though Pence et al are not much better).
Sunday, July 31. 2016
A very fair and accurate picture provided by Christopher Adam. Yes, Budapest is still in many ways a wonderful city, worth visiting. But this is despite Orban’s corrupt and autocratic regime, not because of it.
And, yes, the Orban regime is hypocritically using the memory of the Hungarian refugees of 1956 as part of a cynical and demagogic foreign campaign to capitalize on former worldwide good will toward Hungary to camouflage the regime’s current shameful hate campaign against refugees, soon to culminate in a “Referendum.”
Orban’s domestic hate campaign (now being masked by his charm campaign in Montreal and elsewhere) is not even being conducted primarily because of visceral hatred on the part of the Orban regime. There is real hatred there too, of course, but Orban cultivates it in the Hungarian populace mainly out of self-serving opportunism: Orban systematically foments fear, anger and loathing to distract the Hungarians from his depredations on both their civil liberties and their public funds (along with his enormous cut from all EU subsdidy funds) and their liberties, which he steals to enrich hmself and his accomplices and to keep increasing his personal autocratic powers.
Hungary’s cultural charm is real. The Orban regime’s cynical charm campaign is repugnant, reprehensible, and should be unmasked by all decent, thinking people, Hungarian or otherwise.
Canadian-Hungarian Democratic Charter
Sunday, September 6. 2015
It is by now patently obvious that the refugee “crisis” that Hungary's PM Viktor Orban has artifically and systematically created had 3 goals:
(1) to divert attention from Orban’s many mounting corruption scandals,(The bonus of the new emergency right to break into the homes of people suspected of giving refuge to refugees (sic!) is that Orban will now at last gain the legal right to break into the home of his arch-enemy, the former prime-minister, Viktor Gyurcsany, whom he had ousted through dirty tricks and character assassination and who is now giving refuge to the refugees: perhaps Orban will even be able to do what he has so long tried, so far unsuccessfully, to do, which is to find a legal pretext for imprisoning Gyurcsany.)
This is the standard M.O. of psychopathic dictators, if they are not stopped by concerted resistance from normal, decent people.
Saturday, May 2. 2015
I did not read the entire exchange entitled "The Limits of Discourse As Demonstrated by Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky" verbatim, but I read equal portions on both sides.
Professor Chomsky was indeed rather impatient, as Sam Harris notes, yet on matters of substance he was quite to the point. Harris was concerned about erroneous judgments he thought Chomsky had made about him and his views; Chomsky was concerned with errors of substance (not "misreadings") and agreed to try to sort them out in a private exchange with Harris. Harris was evidently from the outset aiming for a public exchange, for their respective “readers.” Chomsky is remarkably generous in private, one-on-one communication, but he is clearly impatient with grandstanding (exhibitionism), as he notes. And although Chomsky notably neither expects nor demands it, it is evident to an onlooker that Harris did not show him the respect that he has most assuredly earned, if anyone has. Harris seems to think the exchange makes Chomsky look bad; perhaps that was Harris's intention. I think the exchange makes Harris look extremely bad.
Chomsky's main point, as is often the case, is that defenders of power often overlook or minimize the wrong done by their side, reckoning only the wrongs done by their enemies. And that the Western powers often inflict a far greater scale of carnage than their enemies. All this without reference to who is in the right or the wrong, nor what their intentions -- actual or avowed -- are. Chomsky is uncannily skillful in detecting and providing evidence of these double standards and imbalances, and the moral blindness they represent. Harris does not seem to show understanding of that, nor the motivation to discuss it head on. He seems too concerned about Chomsky's having done him wrong (whereas it's Harris who wrote a not too courteous critique of Chomsky, not Chomsky of Harris: "Leftist Unreason and the Strange Case of Noam Chomsky").
Harris's is not an unusual reaction toward someone of the intellectual and moral stature of Professor Chomsky. See "Chomsky's Universe"
Despite Chomsky's generosity with his time, this was yet another opportunity missed.
(I do not, by the way, think that benign intentions are irrelevant, and that only quantity of carnage caused counts; but I don't think Chomsky thinks that either… He's right, too, that self-righteous nationalism can be every bit as monstrous as any other creed or credo.)
Monday, November 25. 2013
There really does seem to be something unique in the blend of carping, complacency and collusion in the Carpathian Basin. If it's not in the genes (as hyperbolically hypothesized by the Kossuth-prize winning novelist Akos Kertesz -- for which he then had to seek asylum in Canada at age 80), maybe it's in the drinking water?
Sunday, September 8. 2013
Why on earth should the democratic opposition seek electoral victory?
Viktor Orban has robbed the country blind.
Even if the opposition wins the next election, Orban’s long-term appointees, oligarchs, croneys and infrastructure will be there to make sure the opposition fails and Orban gets quickly and triumphantly re-elected the next time round.
Meanwhile, the poop is set to hit the propellor in the next few years, big time, as Orban’s Ponzo Kleptocracy implodes.
And the Hungarian populace is fully media-primed to pin the blame for the catastrophe on the opposition yet again, if they are in government at the time.
So it seems to me like lose/lose for the opposition to aim for electoral victory.
The opposition should instead pull out all stops on telling it how it is, whether or not the populace is yet ready to believe it — and this seems to be exactly what Ferenc Gyurcsany's Democratic Coalition is doing.
Let the public hear the truth, loud and clear, vote for Fidesz just the same, and then face the consequences.
Just deprive Orban of his supermajority, which allows him to paper over every piece of piracy with a new law.
The economic catastrophe of the next four years is now inescapable: Let it fall on Orban’s head, deprived of the superlegislative power to protect him from the consequences.
And let the free and foreign media trumpet the Democratic Coalition's message loud and clear throughout.
Hungary is beyond any quick fix now; but allowing effects to coincide with their causes is the only hope of awakening the gormless Hungarian electorate to who and what is the real cause of their misfortunes.
Sunday, March 31. 2013
The insightful March 8 essay on Hungary's Self-Destructive Demons, by poet/journalist Thomas Orszag-Land described the complex and sinister relationship between the stunning success of Viktor Orban's opportunistic megalomania and his unscrupulous exploitation of the unreconstructed cultural affinity of the Hungarian populace for the ugliest and most vicious forms of denial, scapegoating and xenophobia.
Apart from a couple of points on which it (forgiveably) goes a bit over the top (about the potential for kingship and the triple "junk" quote), Orszag-Land's March 8 essay is temperate, timely and telling, and has since been not so much overtaken as confirmed by events, with the self-ratification, by Orban's supermajority, of the constitutional amendment self-indemnifyng Orban's new constitution from oversight by the constitutional court.
Orszag-Land raises the interesting hypothesis that although Orban has successfully used his supermajority (as well as the pork-barreling of the electorate, party faithful and oligarchs) to entrench his power far beyond the possibility of reversal even under any ordinary electoral majority defeat by the (shamefully and self-destructively divided) democratic opposition, he may yet be undone by having profoundly alienated the only forces that can sustain the dictator of a small, poor country in modern times: either powerful international economic interests or the support of powerful surrounding nations.
And there is another potential contingency: Orban is not stable. He has already demonstrated himself to be a psychopath, has already been showing signs of mounting paranoia, is rumored to be under treatment for bipolar disorder, and seems to be less and less aware (or perhaps less and less in control) of the fact that Hungarian is translatable into any other language -- and diffuses at lightning speed in today's online era -- so that his so far successful double-talk (in contemptuous jingo for his compatriots and sugary demagoguery for the rest of the world) may yet prove his undoing, impelling his hitherto intact cult following to jump ship out of self-interest, rather than to continue to sink with their leader, as his antics become more and more dissociated and pathological.
Hungary is not, after all, North Korea (and not just because it lacks China to prop it up, come what may).
Sunday, December 23. 2012
"[M]embership of the [Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA)] 'requires a commitment to the nation, a certain ‘national sentiment'.' Artists who criticise the government abroad are not eligible for membership..."
If this "national sentiment" Diktat reaches the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) it will be my pleasure and a historic honour (indeed an obligation) to step down rather than just gazing passively in appalled disbelief.
Sunday, September 30. 2012
Well, a bit of quote-bowdlerization by Jan Petter Myklebust here [quote omitted the part in green, missing the point], but JPM's article's basically OK.
Happy PR Day, October 1...
"I like neither the name "Pussy Riot," nor, I'm sure, their music. I don't like the style of their criticism of dictatorship. But I support with all my soul their right to name themselves "Pussy Riot," play their music, style their style, and criticize dictators. A prison sentence for this is an appalling assault on freedom and the surest vindication of their indictment of Putin's dictatorial propensities. It makes even the likewise autocratically inclined prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, with his FUD campaign against critical philosophers, look like Thomas Jefferson."
Tuesday, February 7. 2012
See the American Hungarian Federation: AHF Reacts to Unmerited Criticism of Hungary
Yes, the current government of Hungary was democratically elected with a two-thirds majority. It then used that two-thirds majority to steadily and systematically erode democracy in Hungary and entrench its power with a new Constitution and autocratic measures that only a two-thirds majority in the other direction will ever be able to undo.
And, yes, the partisan politics in Hungary is appallingly polarized and vicious, but the current government is capitalizing on and stoking it shamelessly, by seeking revenge instead of reform, playing opportunistically on primitive populist and irredentist sentiments and slogans instead of acting honestly and constructively to solve Hungary's mounting economic and social problems.
The concerted effort by the Hungarian government, in Hungary and abroad, to put a defensive spin on its transparently offensive policies and practices has found a familiar echo in this shamefully biased cry of "bias" echoed by the American Hungarian Federation (AHF).
The mounting worldwide criticism of Hungary's government is not only far from being unfair and unmerited, but the strategy of portraying it as the result of Hungary's being yet again victimized by villains, internal and external, will resonate only with the broad (but exclusively Hungarian) Manichean mentality of vendetta and vengeance (hinted at in the dark allusions to the former government's prime minister in this AHF article) that the present Hungarian government is systematically cultivating at home and abroad, at the cost of Hungary's present and future in the democratic world.
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