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Facing the Surge

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 11:45:58 PM EST

I don't agree with his economic policies, and his party has just been roundly defeated in a general election by a people yearning for change. But every now and then it's nice to see some basic competence in your leaders. Leo Varadkar didn't announce any radical new measures in this broadcast to the nation and to the world on St. Patrick's day, but he got this speech just about right. The detail can come later.

For the full text, see here.


One of my roles, during my business career, was to act as speech writer for three consecutive Managing Directors of Guinness, three wildly different personalities. In writing a speech you are trying to connect with quite a few different audiences, and it is easy to try to cram in too much detail to appeal to them all.

Whoever wrote Varadkar's speech did a good job. They spoke directly to key demographics, addressed widespread concerns, and yet didn't drown people in the minutiae of policy proposals. There wasn't any hint of trying to justify previous policies, of scoring party political points, or of playing blame games. Spokespeople for Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein couldn't find any fault with the speech, and moved swiftly on to what needs to be done next.

Ireland's approach to the crisis depends crucially on voluntary and conscientious compliance with hygiene and social distancing guidelines, on avoiding unnecessary journeys and social contacts. But we also need to keep the health and social care services and supply chains up and running. Building a national consensus around what needs to be done is crucial to achieve those goals, and so far Varadkar's small minority caretaker government has hardly put a foot wrong.

Crucially he didn't try to gloss over just how tough things are going to be, predicting 15,000 cases within two weeks. It will be easy for people to lose heart seeing the inexorable rise in positive tests and fatalities despite their best efforts. You have to give some hope without raising false hopes or expectations. There's a long and very hard road to go, but at least we have started on the right foot.

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From the normally very cynical and funny Miriam Lord:
Desperate times require extraordinary lines as Leo finds right words

"In years to come, let them say of us: when things were at their worst, WE were at our best".

The right words were there when they were needed most. This was appreciated. For these are frightening times. People are scared. Worried about protecting themselves and the health of their loved ones and worried sick about what might happen if they can't work and pay the bills.

This is where cynicism subsides. When people forget to give out and look instead to politicians for leadership and direction and actually hope it might be there.

On Tuesday night in Dublin, Leo Varadkar did not let them down.

In the run-up to his television address, the national mood stiffened in uneasy anticipation of what bad news he had in store. At 9pm, there would be a rare schedule interruption under Section 122 of the Broadcast Act, which allows the Government airtime for announcements in the event of a major emergency. People were expecting the worst.

There was no big drama from Varadkar. No talk, yet, of military boots on the ground. No unveiling, yet, of immediate plans to escalate the containment measures already in place.

Instead, the Taoiseach delivered a calm and honest assessment of where we are now, the grim likelihood of what will happen next, what the authorities know and what the professionals can do and how we must all play our part in combating this pandemic.

By working together and looking out for each other, we can overcome. It was a masterly speech from a skilled and elegant pen, one for the history books. It was reasoned, very realistic yet reassuring.

There was empathy, clarity and at the end, hope. His powerful words traced a defining moment in Irish life and nailed down the speech of Leo Varadkar's life. This was for the generations.

"In years to come, let them say of us: when things were at their worst, WE were at our best". Some listeners said afterwards that this line - it came very early in Varadkar's 12 minutes -- was when they first began welling up.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 10:18:42 AM EST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Spreading fastest in London | The Guardian | [UK cases update]

Words of Courage ... replace the WWII enemy by the new invasion of CoV-2 - a foreign entity caught us by surprise. Brexit would return Great Britain's freedom and sovereignty. That's how the Brexiteers won the election ... ill prepared and the NHS underfunded. Soon the Empire will have new nuclear submarines ...

... history tells us how it all ended, coming around @10 o'olock - here.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 12:05:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The USA could do with a couple of politicians like Leo Varadkar. Especially we could use one in the White House right now.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 09:49:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He may soon become available, given his party finished third in the recent general election. If he does decide to leave Irish politics, a high profile job with the WHO may be more his preference.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 01:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 12:58:03 PM EST
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 11:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 11:57:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here in Austria they talked about evaluating the quarantine measures in a week. Heh. And the state TV domestic politics guy talked about the risks of listening to rumors on social media, like the one about a lock down, on the very day they announced the lock down. It's all pretty dumb.
by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 02:04:15 PM EST
The eerie tranquility outside brings back memory of The Week The World Stood Still :: Cuban Missile crisis of October 1962.

"The façade of harmony and tranquility in the social realm broke down as collectieve resentment became expressed in violent action."

[Source: National Trauma and Collective Memory: Extraordinary Events in the American Psyche

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 02:33:06 PM EST
How the Great Depression Still Shapes the Way Americans Eat | The Atlantic |

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 02:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
John Crace: Pantomime clown Boris Johnson flounders as crisis deepens
And on Tory faces there were growing flickers of concern. Choosing Boris Johnson as their leader suddenly wasn't looking like such a good idea. Boris is a good-time party guy. The sort of man who can be the life and soul of the Olympics and be relied on for any upbeat bollocks about Brexit.

But Boris just can't do the serious stuff. He is levitas incarnate. A man with an unbearable lightness of being. At a time of national crisis, the country wants a man who is willing to put in the hard yards. Who can be bothered to read briefing papers longer than two sides of A4.

What's more, deep down, Boris knows he is floundering. That he is hopelessly out of his depth. Up till now he's always got away with somehow coming up with the right words. The master of the glib. A catchphrase for every occasion. Now though, those same words are dying in his throat. They don't even convince him, let alone the other members of the cabinet. Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove could barely look at him. Liz Truss was lost in a world of her own. But then she often is.

The pantomime clown with the pantomime hair has morphed into a pantomime villain. Someone even children can identify as inherently untrustworthy. And it's taking its toll. Over the last few weeks - since he first got round to taking the pandemic seriously - he has aged years. His eyes are red and puffy, his complexion pallid and the bags deepening into furrows. At night he weeps, though mostly for himself. Of all the gin joints in all of the towns in all of the world, why did he have to walk into this one?

This may well have been Jeremy Corbyn's last PMQs, if rumours that parliament might shut for ordinary business at the end of the week are true or self-isolation for the over-70s is brought in at the weekend. If it is, then at least he can say he went out on a high, for his questions struck just the right tone and manner. While promising to work with the government in doing whatever was required, he pointed to some abject failures in the government response. Why couldn't statutory sick pay be raised to EU levels? Were families really meant to get by on £90 per week? What about those on zero-hours contracts? What about those who couldn't pay the rent? And why wasn't more being done to test NHS workers - as well as the rest of the population - and provide more vitally needed protective clothing and ventilators?

Unusually, the Tory benches were just as keen - if not more so - to hear the answers. Because up till now most of Johnson's public announcements have been somewhat on the vague side, and their constituents are just as concerned as Labour's. Trying to convince the country that the UK's science is miles ahead of the rest of the world's science hadn't been a spectacular success, and it's often felt like the rest of the country has been streets ahead of the government in its preparations for coronavirus.

----<snip>---

Every question was on the coronavirus and the longer the session progressed, the more Tories began to further self-isolate from Boris. His answers on protective wear, ventilators and widespread testing sounded borderline delusional. How can one man have done so little when NHS staff have been begging him to do more for weeks? The prime minister couldn't even bring himself to contemplate a possible extension to the Brexit transition. Imagine it. When the country might be economically on its knees, we have a prime minister happy to bankrupt it completely just to keep the right wing Brexiters on board.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 09:06:49 PM EST
Clue?

Taking his cue from the BIG Lyer-In-Chief

Is Boris Taking His Cues From Trump? Authoritarianism Scholars Think So | The Atlantic - Sept. 2019 |

They were soul brothers to get Brexit done, damage the EU-28 and with the same clan of billionaires funding the action.

After all the fear of Brexit and im- and exports waiting in traffic jams at Dover ... saw this today at Schengen borders:



Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 09:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 11:01:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"When the country might be economically on its knees, we have a prime minister happy to bankrupt it completely just to keep the right wing Brexiters on board."

Even the usually clownish Trump looks good in comparison. Amazingly, he seems to have gotten the message, at least to some extent, judging from his recent comportment during press briefings. He has toned down the science skepticism and accepts the opinions of experts - NOW - for the most part. Maybe he is on Prozac. But he still cannot keep himself from droning on and on when he really has nothing to say.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 10:00:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he is on Prozac. But he still cannot keep himself from droning on and on when he really has nothing to say.

Something like 15 high ranking Brazilians have it and they were all at his garish estate.

by generic on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 at 10:16:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google tells me that The Irish Independent has published my letter to the Editor (below) but it is behind a paywall and I don't want to give them my money. So for your delectation, I give you:
A Chara,

The Covid-19 outbreak is a deeply serious and tragic event which should never be trivialised or reduced to political considerations, but there is something deeply ironic about the possibility that the Cov-19 outbreak could be the undoing of President Trump.

Not only is he the science denying congenital liar who fired and disbanded the White House anti-pandemic public health team, but he is a germaphobe who uses hand sanitisers incessantly .

His cuts to public services have undermined public US medical services and made individual, insurance led, privatised health care for those that can afford it the dominant model.

This means US public services are unable to address a major pandemic or even provide test kits to test for the disease with the result that the disease may be present largely undetected in many communities.

He has had no concern for environmental degradation, clean water, sanitation and immunisation services and even decried the Cov-19 crisis as a Democratic Party hoax - until it became impossible to ignore.

He tried to lay off responsibility for managing the crisis on his hapless Vice President, Mike Pence, but cannot bear to be left out of the limelight, with the result that he will own the consequences totally.

He frames every issue as a conflict between Americans and foreigners and even tried to imply that his Mexican border wall could have stopped the pandemic.

It will be interesting to see the political fall-out if the virus gradually eats into his older demographic support base. Trump will not be defeated by an anaemic opponent such as Joe Biden in the November polls. But he might just be beaten by Cov-19.

Kind regards,

Frank Schnittger



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 01:11:34 AM EST
the Cov-19 outbreak could be the undoing of President Trump

Dear Lord, Are you listening to Frank Schnittger? Amen.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 09:05:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did the USA fail in its initial coronavirus response? - "BBC Inquiry" being repeated "live" as I write.

You may have to create a login at BBC to access the above download

by oldremainmer48 on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 03:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A handful are not behind the pay-wall, CoV-2 and health issues?

This is now a global war, and our actions show that we intend to fight it head on

How we can stay calm and cope as the threat rises from an invisible and contagious enemy

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 10:19:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's weird. Some letters are behind paywall and others are not. They've only just introduced the paywall, so its probably still in implementation phase.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 12:58:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Undone by a Chinese virus with a Mexican product name?

warum nicht?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 12:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to see you around.  Hope you're doing well!
by Bernard on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 07:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
euractiv | It's official: Europe's virus deaths have exceeded Asia toll
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told Germany's Bild newspaper that politicians had initially underestimated the virus threat. "But now it is clear that this is a virus that will keep us busy for a long time yet," she said. "We understand that measures that seemed drastic two or three weeks ago 30 Jan, need to be taken now."
REUTERS | Climate fight will survive dual oil and virus blow
Substitute the coronavirus for the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, and 2020 is beginning to sound like 2008.
by Cat on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 02:36:46 AM EST

Full contrast with the many acts of kindness across the globe ... InThisTogether

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 08:30:57 AM EST


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