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Corrupto-virus threatens world governance

By Ad astra

People the world over are understandably alarmed by the recent eruption of a novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19) and its spread to countless countries, bringing in its wake widespread disruption, chaos, panic, illness and death. Previous coronavirus infections: SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), and MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) haunt our memory. We fear how widespread this epidemic might become, what the final toll of illness and death will be, and how it might affect us personally. Although dismayed by the profound effects of this coronavirus, both personal and economic, we are somewhat reassured by the response to the virus, both in the field and in the laboratory. As Australians, we are proud of the contribution our doctors and scientists are making in developing a vaccine.

But are we as alarmed by the endemic nature of an old virus – corrupto-virus (2020+ CoV) – which continues to infect systems of governance the world over with flagrant corruption under our very noses? We ought to be. COVID-19 will eventually dissipate, but corrupto-virus is here to stay.

It has always been so. Reflect on the intrigue and backstabbing that characterised political behaviour as far back as the days of Ancient Rome. So little has changed over the years that it is too easy, too lazy to say ‘What’s new?’ and carry on as usual. That would ‘permit’ our leaders to believe that we, the people, have not noticed their behaviour, that we do not care, that they do not need to review how they conduct themselves, that they do not need to change.

Let’s review some contemporary examples of corrupto-virus.

Take the impeachment of Donald Trump. We all know, including the US congress and Senate, that Trump did just what he is accused of doing. He used his powerful position as US President to gain political advantage in the 2020 US Presidential election by attempting to bribe another nation to investigate alleged wrongdoing by an opponent, Joe Biden. By threatening to freeze millions of dollars of congressional approved aid to Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelensky did as he insisted, Trump thought he had him over a barrel. There is no doubt about it. Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton recently confirmed this in a book he’s writing. But what did we see? The Republican dominated Senate, assigned the task of carrying out Trump’s impeachment ‘trial’, decided to not hear any witnesses at all! Have you ever heard of a trial where key witnesses were deliberately excluded?

Everyone knows the whole process was a cynical charade, but Trump got away with it because his Republican colleagues valued saving his skin and the political heft of the Republican Party more than justice, fairness and decency. Everyone knew Trump would be found ‘not guilty’. Prudently, he made no reference to his impeachment in his State of the Union address, but at a subsequent ‘prayer breakfast’ could not resist an exhibition of arrogant triumphalism’ when, after brandishing the front page of The Washington Post: ‘Trump Acquitted’, took the opportunity to lambaste his opponents, sack several of them, and viciously demean all those who sought to convict him, reserving his most extreme vitriol for one of his own: Mitt Romney, who had the moral courage to call Trump out.

Looking further afield, we see overt corruption in the Soviet Union where President Vladimir Putin is engineering an indefinite role for himself as President. Look at China where Xi Jinping is President without term limits, a position he manoeuvred for himself.

Let’s not get too smug though. Reflect on our own political turmoil.

I won’t go over the details of the Bridget McKenzie ‘sports rort’ affair; details are to be found in Accountability in the Canberra Bubble published here on 14 February, and anyway she’s already gone to the backbench. Suffice is it to say that she, her department, and the PM’s department too, carried out one on the most spectacular episodes of audacious pork-barrelling in Australian political history. Forget the rorting by the oft-quoted Ros Kelly. By comparison, she was an unsophisticated amateur. The best she could muster was a whiteboard! McKenzie and her entourage had a stylish spreadsheet. A professional rorter, nothing but the most elaborate colour coded display would do.

The ABC’s Andrew Probyn did a fine journalistic job in exposing, day after day, the depths to which the rorts descended. The subsequent parliamentary inquiry uncovered still more details of this monumental rort. Each new piece of evidence, each new rort uncovered astonished us, but apparently not our PM, who in response to questions about them, resorted to an old Turnbull stunt, labelling journalists’ pointed questions as ‘editorialising’, prefacing his answers with ‘I reject the premise of your question’, and old-fashioned lying. And like Basil Fawlty’s deflection of questions about the War, he probably thought ‘he got away with it’, so dangerously out of touch is he.

Are we as ordinary voters awake to the depth of corruption that we are seeing in contemporary Australian politics? Are we willing to ‘call it out’? Are we willing to pass judgement when next we get a vote? Or will we just drift along?

It’s so easy to become complacent, so easy to accept the corruption, let alone the sheer incompetence of the Morrison government, so easy to let our preoccupation with the cricket or the football or the golf distract us from how our nation is being governed, how poorly our government is addressing the crucial issues of climate change, inequality, and a stuttering economy, and how incompetent, dishonest and corrupt our politicians have become. As the image that heads this piece highlights, money, and with it power and influence, is at the heart of all corruption, as the recent ‘sports rort’ saga so strikingly demonstrates.

If we let our leaders off the hook, we will have only ourselves to blame.

So this piece is a heartfelt call to be aware of the peril we face while the Morrison government is in charge, an earnest call for the courage to speak up loudly, a plea to call out its corruption, its self-serving behaviour, and its incompetence. Otherwise we are doomed. The corrupto-virus epidemic will continue unchecked. Unless we can bring about a change, our beloved country will wither, and we with it.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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14 comments

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  1. Robert

    the photo says it all masquerading as prime minister makes sense is actually a virus

  2. ajogrady

    Trump is now following Australias lead in corrupting independent commissions, agencies, authorities and the judiciary with sycophantic foot soldiers of the L/NP. Who would have thought that the Morrison government would be ahead of the curve over Trump and the Republicans. But is it the charlatans and spives who masquerade as our elected representatives that should be held to account or the voters/enablers that are the cause. Enough evidence was there for the Republicans and also for the Australian voter but we have Trump and Morrison and the buck stops with those who voted for these criminals

  3. Michael Taylor

    “Babbling baboons”.

    I like it. 😀

  4. DrakeN

    Corrupto-Virus has been endemic to humanity since forever.
    It sometimes seems that it is a long-term incurable malady that is resistant to all attempted cures and/or remedies.
    The symptoms are well described, but a real understanding of the aetiologic foundations seem to have escaped us.
    Perhaps it is all too complex and nebulous for even the best of minds to clearly comprehend.

  5. Josephus

    Sometimes there are revolutions but here soma holds sway- the latest soap, some pointless sports contest . Panem et circenses.

  6. Matters Not

    Re:

    all know … that Trump did just what he is accused of doing.

    That he openly confessed and subsequently boasted about same seems rather conclusive. Beyond dispute, one would think. What’s even more worrying is the failure of the checks and balances principle which is supposedly a hallmark of constitutional government. But wait – there’s more.

    Trump is now (and has been) interfering in the judicial arm of government. Yes, he’s constitutionally empowered to make recommendations re certain judicial appointments but to intervene in the day-to-day running of the Justice Department is a new outrage. Now wants to determine length of sentence(s). And of course he has the power to forgive convicted criminals BUT only for Federal offences. Probably why certain jurisdictions are now so keen to prosecute offenders for State crimes.

    In Australia, it’s bad enough that members of the executive are also members of the legislature but we also see increasingly more and more legislation that bestows judicial powers on Ministers. With Peter Dutton to the fore. So we have Ministers who introduce legislation who then administer that legislation and finally are the decision makers who determine whether or not appeals and/or clemency are granted. Perhaps doctrines such as the Separation of Powers have outlived their usefulness? And we have in substitution, the brilliant ethical and moral pontifications of Peter Dutton?

  7. Michael Taylor

    There’s no doubt, MN, that there’s a ‘rule of law’ crisis in Trumpland.

  8. Aortic

    And the AFP standing for the All Forehead Lickspittle Pretenders have been cleared of all charges in relation to the raid on ABC journalists and offices. If we are reduced to Murdochracy, Sky News, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones et al we might as well pack up and move to NZ or Canada. Look at the price Julian Assange for instance has paid for having the temerity to expose the truth and where is the Morrison government support for an Australian citizen who has committed no crime. Shame he wasn’t a well connected au pair then he would have been fine. And they have the hide to call it democracy! Seen them all since Menzies but this mob absolutely tops them all for sheer gutlessness, secrecy and the point is they promulgate it all in the sincere belief that we will accept it as fact. Time to make a bigger noise than we are making now.

  9. John L

    Please don’t quote the Washington Post on Putin! They have a ” more than biased” view of Russian politics that is some way off the truth, but fits the western view of “Russia the bogeyman” ! I haven’t read such a load of codswollop for some time. Of all world leaders, he would be one of the few trustworthy ones who sticks to international law – unlike the rogue governments of the US and the UK! 20 yrs of white anting by western media has certainly worked.

  10. Matters Not

    MT, the odds are that Trump (the most unpopular President since polling began) will nevertheless be re-elected. His base care! They will vote! And now his (once) amateur campaign is now fully professional with an average of 3 000 data points on each voter. Amazing! Unbelievable! The ‘other’ knows more about you than you do yourself.

    Ironically, the only Democrat(ic) aspirant who could match that level of sophistication is Bloomberg. Seems like that nothing (of substance) will change. Just a different face.

  11. Phil

    Unless Sanders dies of old age, a heart attack, an ingrowing toe nail, gets pushed under a bus or, the Dumbocrypts rig the nomination, he will be the next POTUS. That is money in the bank. Trump is fini fck, gone end of story. The US economy will be well collapsed before November. The penny has finally dropped.

  12. Matters Not

    Nevertheless, Trump is getting good spiritual advice from another spruiker of the Prosperity Gospel

    With top billing on the event website as “Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser,” … But White is better known as a purveyor of the prosperity gospel, a Christian theology that says faith and donations will bring health and wealth. Prosperity preachers like White are a special breed of evangelical Christians, and they are not the majority.

    Perhaps it’s time for Morrison to have one on the payroll as well. Is Brian available? And there’s no need to give up the day job. Just a bit on the side.

    How Do You Get From the Trailer Park to a White House Job? Give Money to Trump’s Spiritual Adviser.

  13. whatever

    Dean Koontz wrote one of his spy-stories ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ in 1981, about a super-virus developed in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

  14. Kaye Lee

    The Coalition is considering using federal government building contracts to pressure companies not to engage in or to cave in to environmental boycotts.

    If the federal building code were used to prevent secondary or environmental boycotts, the government could potentially put pressure on a company to build a rail line to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine or lose all its government work, for example.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/18/coalition-may-use-government-contracts-to-crack-down-on-environment-protests

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