The Prime Minister asked last Thursday for something symptomatic and politically very interesting.
It was, and I quote, “a scientific consensual effort”, that is, that scientists define “fundamental marks that should serve as a red line to enact confinement and not green lines to end it”.
Basically what he seemed to be asking was that scientists stop saying contradictory, inconsistent things or that, in António Costa’s words, stop saying and disdain over the course of a day.
THE REPUBLIC OF SCIENTISTS?
It is evident that the request is nonsense, as this is not how “science” works, as for example Professor Carlos Fiolhais explained. Another thing would have been to set up a multidisciplinary Scientific Council a year ago and transparently to advise what – as Filipe Froes said – António Costa refused.
And the proposal is absurd for another reason: on the question of the pandemic and how to face it, we must integrate very different scientific areas (epidemiology, public health, virology, mathematics, intensivists, economists, sociologists, etc.) and in each of them if “ pull the ember for your sardine ”, in the background taking to the extreme a partial look at reality.
Consensualizing all this, it would be the task of God or Hercules and therefore the result will be a fight without quarter between scientists.
Indeed, when an experienced and intelligent politician makes a statement like this, and at the same time requests that they decide on the red lines that will force them to keep or return to confinement, we should not stick to the theory of nonsense.
Last week I mentioned that, after the Infarmed meeting and Professor Manuel Carmo Gomes’ show, António Costa made statements in which he handed himself over to the “experts”. And I also said that this “surrender” was very dangerous.
When I said that, I was thinking not only that the surrender to specialists will be made to some and not to all, and that it was basically to put epidemiologists to rule, in a kind of (dangerous) “Republic” of Plato. And I also thought that this would lead to paralysis or an errand between theses that are changing more than we – we poor mortals – can keep up with.
Costa’s intervention, in my opinion, will have something like a withdrawal, like “I’m going to do what they want once and for all and then we’ll see”. But I don’t think I do it mainly out of irritation, but rather by calculation.
The economic and social situation, but above all the effects on public health of this “confine, distrust, confine” system are a very serious problem for the Government.
Today the polls cannot be better for the PS and they cannot be worse for the opposition to the Right and the Left.
But Portugal has more deaths with Covid than the usual bad guys on the tape (USA, Brazil and Sweden), the film has more episodes, the most relevant of which is our hypochondriac president paradoxically putting subtle pressure on the deflation without, however, the do so that it will not allow you to deny that intention.
The Prime Minister is therefore much more trapped than he appears. To govern is to arbitrate between opposing or at least contradictory challenges and drives.
Budgetary pressure, the breakdown of the business fabric, the way the most disadvantaged classes are being affected by the pandemic, the increase in the severity of untreated diseases, the effects on mental health, all of this is an explosive cocktail.
And before that comes the temptation of the solution – in fact so Portuguese … – to pass the responsibility by simulating passing the power: the Government will start to do what the “scientists” tell it, whether there is consensus or not, and in this case it will do what the most fashionable scientists say that they are without a doubt – which also has to do with our depressive background – the most catastrophists.
Or, even better for the Prime Minister, the babelic cacophony will allow him to say that his mistakes were inevitable …
Let us therefore wait for the next chapters.
GOUVEIA AND MELO, OR HOPE
SIC did an excellent report a few days ago with Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the vaccination task force. In my opinion, it is worth seeing again; and dedicate some reflection on what came out of what he said and how he said it.
First of all, I note his assertive character, which was undoubtedly reinforced by the camouflages dressed by him and the other soldiers. I noted that he always spoke in his personal name, not hiding behind an impersonal collective.
Basically, he is taking responsibility for what happens, as is the style and strength of the military. Gouveia e Melo has a mission and some rules. Respecting that, now it’s all up to him. And we can count on not giving in to the usual somersaults and commitments that politics is made of.
Second, he looked us in the eye, he was “Churchillian”, he didn’t promise us facilities or he announced wonders – as “markeeters” and political leaders like – but it was clear that this is a war that has to be won.
In my opinion, this is how trust is gained and citizens are adhered to and accepted as sacrifices. But this is so different from what we are used to, that there is a risk that on our side we do not even realize its relevant meaning.
Thirdly, I noticed a contrast that can be inefficient: apparently the military team is in Oeiras and the civilian team in Lisbon. And the visual image in the report accentuates the idea that we are facing two worlds.
Due to the natural logic of the functioning of organizations, in addition to the political-party dimension that dominates at the high level of the Ministry of Health, it is to anticipate resistance, inefficiencies, postponements, following the decisions of those coming from the Health area. instrumentalized to Marta Temido’s desire to control from the back seat, avoiding blame and trying to benefit from successes.
I think it would be a good rule, of efficiency and clarification of power, to bring the whole team together in one place.
One last note: I understand my role in this type of weekly intervention as being justified in denouncing the evils of the world rather than participating in the process of sanctifying the just.
But I want to emphasize that, for the first time since the pandemic began, I am believing that a pandemic mission can be well managed and therefore better fulfilled. Critics also need a supplement of spirit (and soul) from time to time and for that I am grateful to Gouveia e Melo and SIC.
THE PSD AND PS ANTI-COMPETITION CARTEL
I was warned by a statement by Rui Moreira: he could be forced to create a political party, due to Law 1-A / 2020 of 20 August which made life hell for independent candidates for municipalities. In fact, in addition to other individual evils, they cannot submit a single application to the City Council / Assembly and to the Parish Assemblies.
This law was proposed by the PSD and approved also and only by the PS; and it’s a shame in democratic terms. If the Competition Law were applied to the “industry” of Politics, as it should be, this law could never exist, since it is a blatant instrument of an abuse of a dominant position by a duopolistic cartel.
The PSD – always incompetent – perhaps thought that this way Isaltino Morais surrendered and accepted to be a PSD candidate (as I said about a year ago that it would certainly be Rui Rio’s strategy). But the result was the opposite, as with the law, which will give another victory to Rui Moreira. It is that the people are less stupid than sometimes some think …
Today it is a collective compliment to what the Minister of Health called “criminals”, just because they dare to criticize what is wrong. I could speak of many, but I choose:
a) Professor Abel Mateus, who today published in the Observer “Portugal: world record in the third wave of the pandemic”, an objective, scientific text that shames everyone who for months spoke about Sweden, USA and Brazil as we remember and now are silent ;
b) Ana Sá Lopes, who last Thursday wrote in Público on the same topic and the Government’s mistakes “The best in the world, the worst in the world”;
c) The President of the Portuguese Bar Association, Professor Luis Meneses Leitão, who wrote today in “I” about “The 11th State of Emergency”, stigmatizing what this reveals of disinterest in the rule of law.
READING IS THE BEST REMEDY
The death of Lieutenant Colonel Marcelino da Mata, the most decorated Portuguese military man, made me reread the description of the tortures he suffered in May 1975, at RALIS, at the hands of identified military and civilians.
I suggest, in this regard, the reading of the “Report of the Commission for the Investigation of Violence on Prisoners subject to the Military Authorities”, which had occurred in 1974 and 1975, so that we do not forget. As we must not forget those who suffered others before 1974, after all, all united in the role of victims of radicalism and the lack of freedom.
THE QUESTION WITHOUT ANSWER
To paraphrase a famous phrase attributed to Salazar (“are they from the protocol because they are stupid, or are they stupid because they are from the protocol?”) Was what reminded me when I read that Rui Rio announced that he wanted to postpone the municipal elections.
He did it without agreeing with his duopolistic partner and without asking himself the question: does postponing from October to December make Covid 19 risk less dangerous?
The political result is evident: the thesis that he is so afraid of the election results has stuck to his skin that he wants to find an excuse to apologize now…
The question is, once again, obvious: “do they run the PSD because they are stupid, or are they stupid because they run the PSD?”
THE MANSA MADNESS
I received an email from a couple who are in Brazil with a baby daughter and who expresses the situation of more than 3000 Portuguese “imprisoned” in the sister country.
Flights between Portugal and Brazil are suspended. Using flights to other European countries is not feasible as they only accept their nationals. TAP flew on January 31 and demanded an unbearable price. But wouldn’t it be wise for the Government to charter TAP planes that are stopped to pick them up?
Source: Expresso by expresso.pt.
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