For those of us who thought that 1st January, 2021 heralded a brave new world, perhaps we need to do a re-think.
It’s Friday here in Australia and I’ve been reading about yesterday’s events in Washington with dismay. Donald Trump, ex-President of the USA, has been saying since his defeat in the November elections that in fact he’d won by a landslide and the only reason Joe Biden had won was because of wide-spread fraud. He and his lawyers have repeatedly tried to raise court cases in a number of US states and the Supreme Court. I think the last count was sixty-three. Sixty-two of those were denied for various reasons – but the biggest is that the Trump lawyers could not produce evidence. In a recorded phone call, Trump tried to intimidate the Georgian state legislature into finding him the 11,800 votes he needed to claim victory. For many days now Trump has been making it clear that 6th of January, something was going to go down. He addressed a rally, basically telling his supporters that he would NEVER concede defeat, that Biden’s election win was THEFT. And he encouraged them to go to the Capitol building (the US parliament) and protest.
Which is exactly what they did, carrying guns (of course) American flags, Confederate flags, and even the flag of Georgia (the country – which says a lot about the ‘protesters’). Almost all of the mob were white. And whereas the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were guarded by riot police for a Black Lives Matter march, far from protecting the building, the Capitol police actually helped the protesters to get inside. We were treated to the most unedifying spectacles of a fellow gleefully looting a speaker’s podium, windows broken, members barricaded in the chamber, cops taking selfies with invaders. The chambers were barricaded until the politicians could be hustled off to safety. One of the most chilling sights was a gallows erected opposite the Capitol building. And another was that some of the participants had the foresight to have shirts printed with the slogan “Civil War January 6, 2021”. Here they are for the world to see.
And this is what they and their mates came to do.
This at a time when the House was in session to carry out the usually routine ritual of counting the electoral college votes to announce Joe Biden as the incoming president. That process was delayed because of this mob, although it has now been completed. It’s the sort of spectacle we might expect to see in Africa or the Middle East or the Balkans, not the great democracy of the USA.
Putin, Xi, and a few others will be giggling over their champagne glasses.
And what did Trump have to say when he finally spoke to his supporters? He called this bunch of thugs ‘proud patriots’ and asked them to go home.
However, in a speech on Twitter he has finally conceded he lost and has condemned the attack on the Capitol building. BTW, the comments on that Twitter feed are fascinating.
This is not the end. It seems the majority of Americans on all sides of politics were appalled at what happened. But the divisions in America are cracking open even further. Millions of Americans voted for Trump in 2020 and millions believe the election was stolen. It’s all a bit like 2016, when Democrats insisted that Trump only won that election through Russian interference – which was investigated and found to be false. I think the vast majority of Americans – Republicans and Democrats – sit in the central part of the political spectrum. But each side has extremists and all of them have guns There were protests and marches in 2016 but the events of 2021 are on a different, disturbing scale.
Joe Biden won’t be president until 20th January. In the meantime, some people are calling for Trump to be impeached, others that the cabinet or senate invoke the 25th amendment (which happens when a president is no longer fit for office) which would make Mike Pence the president until Biden takes over. I don’t think there’s time for either. Besides, that probably will simply motivate his extreme right wing supporters.
Either way, the road ahead for the US of A is going to be very, very rocky.
In Australia, the state premiers are loving the power that the covid crisis has handed them. State borders were open but after an outbreak in Sydney around Christmas, Victoria brought down the iron curtain for NSW, effective 1st January. If Victorians couldn’t manage to get across the border from their holiday in Queensland (or whatever) before that time – too bad. They needed to apply for a permit to get home and then go into quarantine.
All this coming and going on border closures is nothing short of ridiculous. As of 7th January, Victoria had 38 active cases and NSW 196. [source] Locally acquired cases in the last 24 hours was 6 for NSW, 0 for Victoria. If slamming down a border over these figures isn’t a sledgehammer walnut scenario, I don’t know what is. BTW, the NSW border isn’t closed to Victorians.
The more virulent UK strain of covid has reached Australia. A young woman working in one of the quarantine hotels in Brisbane has become infected up to five days ago (that’s one person) so the Premier and the Chief Health Officer have locked down greater Brisbane for three days, as of 6pm yesterday. As a result before that deadline the roads were packed, as were the supermarkets, which had to introduce rationing of staples (and yes, toilet paper) even though people would be permitted to go to the shop while in lockdown. WA’s Premier McGowan of course slammed that state’s borders shut to anybody from Queensland. Anyone from Queensland who arrived after 2nd January has been ordered into self-isolation for two weeks. Some people were en route to Perth when they were told.
The impact on businesses by all this toing and froing is incalculable. I know some people will fold their arms and say health comes first. But health is more than covid. What about mental health? Anxiety? Unemployment? Stress? Depression? There has to be a balance. If Victoria’s contact tracing system has been fixed, as Premier Dan says it has, these numbers surely shouldn’t be an issue. On the other hand, Liberal member for Kew, Tim Smith, wrote an opinion piece that spells out how the contact tracing system isn’t fixed. [source no pay wall] Queensland Premier Palaszczuk wasn’t far behind Chairman Dan in closing the border from NSW. It’s too complicated for me to bother summarising, and it’s a moving target. Here it is.
Meanwhile in Beijing, it seems Xi and his minions have come to the conclusion that China-bashing is now something that has become politically correct in Australia, which is the result of internal politics. So basically, it’s all our fault. [source] Obviously, that’s an explanation for the Chinese people.
Needless to say, the World Health Organisation’s probe into the origins of covid-19 has already been stymied by China. I can only go on what I read but I’m beginning to think the virus escaped from the lab at Wuhan, not the wet market. Certainly Xi and his mates couldn’t have created a better weapon to attack the world without firing a shot.
It’s pleasing to see the roll-out of covid vaccine around the world, although it won’t make a difference for some time. Meanwhile, more and more of our supermarkets and stores are advertising Australian food and goods. More power to them – and the entrepreneurs willing to see these times as an opportunity to shift processing back to Australia.
Here in Hervey Bay we wait for a vaccine and stay home a lot. The wet has started with a bang in the north of the state. Barron Falls is putting on a show and the places we visited on our trip to Cairns would look a lot different now,
Maybe we’ll have to do something like that again. It would be much too dangerous to go to NSW or (heaven forbid) Victoria.
Stay safe everybody.