Tag Archives: Trump

The Aussie Pandemic Diaries


Date: October 6, 2021

Another week of cynicism, lies, prevarication and obfuscation. We should have a unique page in the thesaurus for the many ways we can label public discourse in Australian public life.

Today Dan Tehan arrived in Paris. Yes, slow talking Dan, who is our Trade Minister. He is going to try and arrange for someone in France to talk to him. His loner status was caused by the Prime Minister’s recent attempt at international diplomacy.

You might remember how the Prime Minister tore up a long-standing, large ($90 Billion) contract for submarines. If he worked for a corporation rather than a country, he’d be sacked on the spot. The damages will be substantial, as will the damage to our reputation for fair dealing. But then I cannot think of a corporation which would consider employing him.

He replaced the contract with the French with (drumroll) zero, zilch, nothing. A photo opportunity in Washington. But there was a result. The French are not taking our calls. They do sit on the Security Council of the United Nations, but who needs the French when you’ve got Boris on your team?

Remember the PM’s first foray into international affairs? He attempted to move our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was slavishly following Donald Trump’s lead. Remember how the Islamic world turned on him, (and us, by association) for his sheer naivety, and his stupidity. Who else would have joined with Trump, that well known career diplomat?

I have a theory that he heard the name “Jerusalem”, from those “end of world” lectures at that weird church he belongs to, and he thought “how good is Jerusalem?”

Angus Taylor has had a bad week. Firstly an American advisor to Joe Biden on climate change, asked whether he was an idiot, or an ideologue? Tough question, when you have listened to his nonsense about gas-led recoveries, and the end of the weekend. Then Ford announced they are releasing electric versions of the F150 ute. Thank God the weekend is safe.

This week Twiggy Forrest described Carbon Capture and Storage as useless. It doesn’t work. All Angus’ eggs are in that basket. What to do? Send some dodgy figures to a newspaper, Angus. Hopefully your goose is cooked, come election time.

New South Wales lost its Premier. There was a’moaning and a’groaning about what a great Premier she had been. Strangely forgotten was the reason for the loss of her career. She was being actively investigated for corrupt conduct. Or having bad taste in men? Possibly both.

With no hint of shame, several news organisations suggested that the Federal Liberals would use this event to further delay a National Integrity Commission, because it had ‘caught out’ a Liberal Premier, and such a result was regrettable, and a reason NOT to have a Federal watchdog. Very like abolishing the police, because they keep catching criminals.

Her replacement was a staunch and rigid Catholic, who looks to have close to zero life experience, but he likes straight marriage, lots of kids, and presumably doesn’t mind people like George Pell. He is against abortion in all cases. He has also something of a chequered career as Treasurer, but he is white, straight, male and religious. What could go wrong?

He wants to open up the economy, like Scott Morrison does, when they hit the bare minimum of vaccinations, no matter the number of cases. We will remember if they cause unnecessary deaths, and the thinking electorate is already stocking up on baseball bats.

Morrison has also just accused the Queensland Premier of attempting to extort money from the Commonwealth, because she fears an overload on their hospital system, and she wants to be prepared for the rush of cases when we do inevitably open up.

Now his chronic inability to actually deliver a reasonable sentence, has him accusing a Labor Premier of a criminal offence, for trying to cushion what will be an outburst of new infections, once those borders come down.

If nothing else, his statement was tone deaf, stupid, defamatory, demeaning, meaningless. She wasn’t trying to buy herself a condo in the Gold Coast, she was asking for health funding in the midst of a pandemic which has seen the deaths of nearly five million people. Classy, Scotty. Even your mates from the Gas Industry would call that a step too far.

Finally, will he, or won’t he, go to Glasgow? Too chicken to go, too chicken to not go. Decisions, decisions. Man up, Scott.

I can’t wait for another week to pass. Reminder! I am not making this up.

Afghanistan-did we learn anything at all?


The Taliban over-ran Kabul last night. They had been advancing throughout Afghanistan for weeks, ever since the Americans called a halt to the Afghan War. When the Americans ceased operations, so too did all their allies.

Australia was one of more than 40 countries which had signed up for the conflict, and which is still scrambling to tie off the ‘loose ends’ of twenty years of war. The loose ends include Afghanis who assisted us, or the Americans, during those twenty years.

As an advanced democracy, we also bear responsibility for the backlash which will inevitably fall on those we leave behind. Admiral Chris Barrie (retired) commented today that we announced our decision to leave in April, and yet, here we are four months later, still trying to arrange the retrieval of our support staff. Too little, too late, again?

The current situation resembles Vietnam in the final weeks, as the Americans strive to get out. Their Afghan allies have been abandoned, military supplies left to the victors, collaborators are in extreme danger of retribution. There is also another large group, which finds itself in dire peril-women and girls.

The Taliban is an extreme and pre-modern Islamist movement, and women and girls can expect, at the very least, the re-introduction of arranged marriages, the removal of hard-won rights and personal freedoms, the abolition of education for girls, and the mandatory dress code, which includes the most extreme version of the burqa. They have also threatened all divorced women in the country, for being divorced.

When you invade a country, any country, you must win the war, or, even if you retreat with honour, you lose. The enemy surges if you abandon the field of battle, and the ideology you were battling against, wins. The Vietnamese are still Communist, and the Taliban will continue to be Islamist fundamentalists.

Why were we there?

Eighty years ago, Prime Minister John Curtin prepared a New Year’s Eve message for the Australian people. It was written three weeks after the war with Japan had begun. It was published in the Melbourne Herald on 27 December, 1941: 

‘Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.’

With this message he informed the world that Australia’s foreign policy direction must change, in response not only to the military situation with Japan, but to Australia’s location in the Pacific. From then on, he states, Australia will be proactive, the architect of her own interests. 

Australia disengaged from the ‘general war’ to concentrate on the Pacific conflict. Both Churchill and Roosevelt were surprised, and dismayed, but the die was cast. Australia survived the war, but only with massive assistance from the U.S. America has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy ever since. The alliance between Australia and the United States was formalised through the ANZUS Treaty in 1951.

John Howard took us there

John Howard signed us up for this war. He invoked the ANZUS Treaty. He was in Washington on September 11, 2001 and Australian troops were committed to Afghanistan within a month, by October that year. On the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. he stated that “the decisions I believed were right. I still believe they were right, and I believe history will vindicate them.” Sadly, every Australian Prime Minister since then, has kept Australia in this fruitless, endless war.

Not even Joe Biden thought the Alliance should still be there. The original mission was to hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the second to deny Al-Qaeda a foothold. Both had been completed. The Americans should stop the nation building, and mind their own business. Look what they have done to every country they have tried to ‘save’. Scenes from the airport at Kabul are a sobering reminder of their folly.

Australians have fought alongside Americans in every major US military action since World War 11. They include Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, and lately, Syria.

Many have used the “shared history, and shared values” argument to justify our continued relationship. Others question the value for Australia, which has stood loyally by its mighty ally, through its many wars, with not much to show for the effort, except in terms of lost lives, and wasted military resources. We were never there as equal partners. 

Realpolitik suggests that there is an element of coercion in the relationship, in that the U.S. is understood to reward its allies, and to punish those who are not. Self-interest is also clearly evident. We consider ourselves too small to defend ourselves in a dangerous world, and so being friends with the richest and most powerful nation on earth, adds to our international weight.

Is Morrison committing us to a war with China?

Last year our Prime Minister ramped up the hysteria and the rhetoric concerning China. He even committed a sum of $270 billion to defence, which included funding for long range missiles. These are presumably to warn China that we are deadly serious about defending ourselves, militarily, against our largest trading partner. 

This can be traced back to a slavish desire, on Morrison’s part, to please Donald Trump. The ex-President, in an attempt to divert attention away from his own criminal negligence regarding the pandemic in America, had sought to demonise China for somehow ‘inventing’ Covid19.

So by jumping onto Trump’s bandwagon, Australia is now in the uncomfortable position of having antagonised our largest trading partner, and then by clearly choosing the Americans over China, in a geo-political struggle which we should have stayed out of.

So we probably do need the relationship with the Americans, because we chose to be China’s enemy. Or is the American Empire heading toward its inevitable end? In Australian terms “have we backed the wrong horse?”

Trump’s Australian fans are as stupid as you would expect


Although the US election is done and dusted, and Donald Trump now faces an uncertain future, most of the democratic world seems to have formed a consensus that the scenes in the Capitol were scandalous, and terrifying. They might still lead to criminal charges against the President; they have already caused him to be impeached, for a genuinely “unprecedented” second time.

The fact that the crowd was incited by Trump is seemingly settled, and leading parliamentarians from around the world have weighed in to condemn both the actions of the murderous mob, and also those of the ‘Instigator in Chief’.

Those leaders include Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern, and even Vladimir Putin. They all condemned the revolt, but in good old Australia we weren’t that concerned, it seems.

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, expressed his “distress”, but he could not bring himself to connect the actions of the mob with President Trump. That is a disgraceful omission, for a democratically elected leader, considering that Trump’s goal was to incite a violent insurrection, with the possible outcome of seizing power, perhaps permanently. Do not forget that Trump is still the “Commander in Chief” of the most powerful nation on earth.

Some MPs thought Twitter was more at fault than the President

Michael McCormack was our acting Prime Minister last week. He was asked whether he condemned Trump’s actions, but then he went on to answer that “violence is violence and we condemn it in all its forms,” and then he compared the Black Lives Matter demonstrations with the attack on the Capitol. He did not want to be drawn on who was to blame.

Liberal MPs Craig Kelly and Dave Sharma, Nationals MP George Christensen, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack are among government members who have condemned the “silencing” of Trump.

This is presumably because they believe that your right to incite violence is more important than the competing right of having your vote counted, and not overturned by a mob of illiterate thugs. It also shows that these ‘luminaries’ are woefully ignorant of the exceptions to the First Amendment. These are as follow:

Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising. Wikipedia (Categories in bold type are those Trump habitually uses.)

Why would Morrison not condemn Trump?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has always been embarrassingly taken in by Trump’s ‘braggadocio’ (an apt term, meaning boastful or arrogant behaviour). Morrison has stopped far short of condemning the President, an extraordinary omission from the leader of a liberal democracy, considering Trump’s goal was to violently overthrow the results of a democratic election and retain his power.

A complicating factor is that much of Trump’s electoral success has been built on the white evangelical vote. Footage of charismatic Christians ‘laying hands on’ Trump in the White House may be viewed as quaint in Australia, but is Morrison ‘blinded by the light’ when it comes to Trump? We can only hope he does not see Trump as “the chosen one”, as Trump has been described in the US.

Well after Trump lost the election, he awarded Morrison a Legion of Merit, for leadership which if it wasn’t so tragic, would be funny. Presumably he did not mean the award to be for addressing global warming!

So John Howard gets a medal, and we go to war in Iraq. Scott Morrison gets a medal, and we defend Trump’s right to attempt to overturn an election.

Trump has been exposed over the last four years as a violent sexual predator, an adulterer, a white supremist, an anti-semite, a religious bigot, a homophobe, a fraudulent businessman, a liar, a thief, an environmental vandal and a putative dictator, and yet many of our elected representatives appear to support his right to invalidate elections and to undermine the rule of law.

The death and destruction he caused by mis-handling the pandemic is yet to be finally calculated, but the fallout will continue for years, I suspect. Will he ever be brought to book for that? As he kills his supporters they continue to flock to his side, so maybe not. Again, where were Australia’s leaders standing as he touted dangerous and stupid solutions? If you are Craig Kelly, shoulder to shoulder.

These matters are not mere mannerisms, or a lack of style. They set him apart from most of humanity, and it is worth thanking fate for his incompetence, and lack of care for detail. At least we have been spared the damage he could have caused if he was half-way competent. The US is still a democratic republic, and we can only hope Joe Biden can repair some of the damage.

But what of the state of our own democracy? A Government obsessed with secrecy, faux threats to our security, unaccountable, most of the members in the grip of the neoliberal sickness, and some individuals who appear to be in personal thrall to the departing, failed President. How many times must we utter “Poor Fellow, my country”? It might be time for Australians to actually stop, and think. This is serious.

Is our alliance with Trump’s America worth it?


Almost eighty years ago Prime Minister John Curtin prepared a New Year’s Eve message for the Australian people. It was written three weeks after the war with Japan had begun. It was published in the Melbourne Herald on 27 December, 1941: 

‘Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.’

With this message he informed the world that Australia’s foreign policy direction must change, in response not only to the military situation with Japan, but to Australia’s location in the Pacific. From then on, he states, Australia will be proactive, the architect of her own interests. 

Australia disengaged from the ‘general war’ to concentrate on the Pacific conflict. Both Churchill and Roosevelt were surprised, and dismayed, but the die was cast. Australia survived the war, but only with massive assistance from the U.S. America has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy ever since.

Eighty years later, are Australia and the U.S. still a ‘perfect match’, or is it time to re-consider the partnership? Although America is the pre-eminent power on earth, does Australia need its protection, and secondly, does America provide said protection, and at what price? Is there a credible threat to us, or would we be more sensible to take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book, and be no-one’s enemy, and no-one’s target? It is important to look at our similarities, but also at the areas where we diverge.

Shared history, shared values?

For years, at least until President Trump was elected, there was a type of consensus that what we had in common far outweighed our differences. Recent events, particularly in America’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and then the Black Lives Matter protests, have thrown some doubt on that shared vision. 

Many have used the “shared history, and shared values” argument to justify our continued relationship. Others question the value for Australia, which has stood loyally by its mighty ally, through its many wars, with not much to show for the effort, except in terms of lost lives, and wasted military resources. We were never there as equal partners. 

We supported American wars whenever we were asked

Australia joined the U.S. in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War in Iraq, the Afghanistan War, the Second Gulf War in Iraq. When push comes to shove, Australia is expected to step forward, no questions asked. Perhaps the debt from 1941 – 1945 has been paid?

Democratic standards

Australia and the U.S. are both nominally democratic societies, and yet there is in the U.S. an active campaign to suppress the vote for minorities, and to rig elections by gerrymander. There are efforts to outlaw postal voting, even when in the midst of a pandemic. 

Australians are used to electoral matters being decided by independent umpires. We are not only encouraged to vote, but we are punished if we do not. So is America still a democracy, and worth defending?

Guns in America

Probably the most contentious right Americans possess is the right “to keep and to bear arms”. Covered by the Second Amendment, and intended to permit the personal use of arms as a defence against state tyranny, it has mutated into a violent and uncontrolled gun culture. 

In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level since 1968, with 39,773 deaths by firearm, of which 23,854 were by suicide and 14,542 were homicides. see here  Another side of this tragedy is that suicide accounts for almost twice as many deaths as homicide. 

By comparison Australia’s gun deaths in 2017 were 189. It is incomprehensible to Australians that Americans insist on their right to kill, and to be killed. The USA had a death rate from guns, in 2017, that is effectively 14 times that of Australia.

This situation is exacerbated by the militarisation of the various state police forces, and the sheer number of mainly gun-fuelled deaths. Most of those deaths are of Black men, arguably by overzealous police. Do we share the values of a nation which practices officially sanctioned, racially based murder? 

Health system 

There is no universal healthcare in America. If you get sick in the U.S. someone has to pay, and there are tales of patients treated for Covid19 who have been charged as much as US$34,000 for testing and treatment. Estimates of costs usually range from US$9,000 to US$20,000.  

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine says the biggest reason for bankruptcy in the U.S. is medical debt. President Trump appears to be fixated on abolishing Obamacare, which is the closest many Americans come to being covered for illness and treatment. 

In Australia we have universal health care. Many see it as a basic human right. Some people opt for private insurance, but it is increasingly seen as a poor option, driven by elitism. The U.S. is actively pushing to remove any health insurance, and any welfare support, from its most vulnerable citizens. Do we share those values?

Is Morrison committing us to a war with China?

Recently our Prime Minister has ramped up the hysteria and the rhetoric concerning China. He even committed a sum of $270 billion to defence, which included funding for long range missiles. These are presumably to warn China that we are deadly serious about defending ourselves, militarily, against our largest trading partner. 

This can be traced back to a slavish desire, on Morrison’s part, to please Donald Trump. The President, in an attempt to divert attention away from his own criminal negligence toward handling the pandemic in America, has sought to demonise China for somehow ‘inventing’ Covid19. So by jumping on Trump’s bandwagon, Australia is going to be ‘protected’ if China reacts badly to our belligerence.

The logic behind that approach to foreign policy defies belief. If America was once a trusted ally, the Trump presidency must cause us to reconsider where we stand. A buddy this week, maybe not so much next week? We need to tread carefully until the U.S. has a leader who can be trusted, and we need to consider whether we actually do share values suited to a common future. Or is the American Empire heading toward its inevitable end? In Australian terms “have we backed the wrong horse?”