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Trump’s new world disorder catches Turnbull government napping.

“Watching Donald Trump take the oath of office is like seeing Bobo the Clown Photoshopped into the Last Supper,” writes the ABC’s Simon Royal. Many Americans are equally shocked. A narcissist with no concern beyond himself and his wealth, a political simpleton, with no experience in public life and little understanding of public issues, an egoist who poses as a populist reformer, a redneck who made his contempt for tradition, protocol and taboo his byword, the 45th President of the United States is a shocker.

Could Americans have chosen a more divisive, more unfit figure? The inauguration, 20 January of the seventy-year-old, reality TV star, real-estate hustler, former beauty pageant entrepreneur, six-times bankrupt and one time professional wrestler installs a president with a 40% approval in opinion polls, the lowest on record.

Trump gained 3 million popular votes less than his rival, Hilary Clinton. It shows. Washington public transport figures reveal fifty per cent fewer locals turn out for Trump than Obama. Protesters take to the streets.

Trump already has half the population offside – and not just in the USA. Eclipsing the inauguration crowd, half a million women in pink knit “pussy hats” march on Washington, the following day in the largest protest demonstration in US history while around the world 1.5 million more march in support in 161 cities across all seven continents. “You can’t comb over misogyny reads one sign.” “Make America compassionate again” reads another.

“It’s been a heart-rending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country, says activist America Ferrera. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.”

“You are really special, amazing people” Trump tells the CIA the next day, ignoring the Women’s March. He makes a beeline for the CIA HQ in Langley Va; after the National Prayer Service. He’s going to need to build some bridges, at least, with the CIA, having trashed their reputation in dismissing evidence Russia intervened in his election.

The “amazing special people” will require more persuasion than empty flattery, however. Sadly, it’s all Trump knows – along with contesting the truth of anything unflattering to himself.

The newly inaugurated president has already gone to work on his attendance figures, attacking reports of poor attendance. The media’s lying, he says of estimates of 250 thousand. He’s sure it was over a million people. His media people are working on it. Give them a few weeks and it will be at least a million and a half.

White House press secretary, whining Sean Spicer uses his first White House briefing to lecture the press on its “deliberate false reporting” for ten minutes before walking out without taking questions. This administration will be holding the media to account, he says.

It’s an alarmingly adversarial start to the Trump Presidency’s relationship with the press, yet it continues the Trump campaign theme that bad news is fake news and the tactic of disputing all reporting which may be critical or hold Trump presidency to account.

Trump can, however, count on a Mexican wave of support down under. Luckily for the new president and for the “ordinary Strines” she claims to represent, (while consistently voting with the government), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has sent its envoy Brian Burston to give the 45th president its own special blessing.

Burston’s already in the press with his endorsement of the new type of One Nation candidate and how they are heaps better than the 1998 train wreck, QLD PHON party. For starters, this time the party is way smarter. Any fool can see that unlike today’s breed,

They ran dopes, unemployed, inexperienced, not all that intellectual

Hanson’s too busy, herself, she says with state election matters involving travel which she books up to her federal government account, unable or unwilling to see when challenged that this is a rort. Burston pays his own way to the US Trump mother ship.

Busy indeed. Hanson assembles her WA candidates but refuses to speak about them, in a Trump-style attack on right of the press to scrutinise public life. “I’m not going to have trial by media here, with all of my candidates. If this interview is going to be all about the candidates that represent me, I’m sorry, but this interview is finished,” Hanson says.

Piquing interest, is One Nation’s candidate for Dawesville, Pastor Lawrence Shave, whose Bikini Baristas business plan will enable consumers to ogle women in swimwear while they satisfy their caffeine fix. Pastor Shave also professes divine, healing powers but Hanson stops the presser.

Hanson’s new WA breed of candidate is a step up from the old guard including former PHON Senator, stand up comedian Rod Culleton whose latest routine is to refuse to accept the Federal Court and Senate ruling that he should be removed from his seat because he is bankrupt. He says he is solvent and will not leave his office. He could now face prosecution for impersonating a government official. It’s a sobering prospect. Yet Pauline’s distracted.

A Trump-struck Hanson shuns the former sheep farmer to put tickets on herself.

So keen is PHON to be invited to Trump’s big bash, empiricist Malcolm Roberts badgers DFAT to find them some spare tickets. Later, these are flourished as evidence of One Nation’s hotline to The Donald and of PHON’s clout in US-Australian relations. Now all Strines can see how big PHON is. Earlier Hanson, or James Ashby on her account, tweets:

“Would you believe it? I have been gifted tickets to the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony of Donald Trump – What an honour!” Of course it’s not. Reports quickly emerge of masses of discarded tickets at the under-subscribed ceremony. “Gifted”, also, is a big stretch.

SBS journalist, Lee Lin Chin is quick to attack Hanson’s grandstanding: “Who hasn’t got tickets? No actual Americans want to go so they’re just inviting everyone. I’ve got a +8 for my man harem,” the pint-sized presenter replies.

The Donald’s Oz cheer squad extends beyond One Nation, or Lee’s man harem, however. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep before you even consider Corey Bernardi.

Never to be upstaged, former Labor PM and UN leadership hopeful, Kevin Rudd calls for a fair go for Trump. Patronises him. Like a child with a tantrum, Trump, should “calm down” his dangerous talk on China and Taiwan, seize our help with nuclear disarming North Korea and bring back the TPP, suggests “One Kevin” Rudd ever bubbling with practical ideas.

Always at arms’ length from practicality, PM Turnbull is upbeat about the TPP. Why, he’s been on the blower to The Donald, jumping the Trump shark, thanks to Greg Norman. Bill Shorten says it’s “a waste of time” and “a distraction” from a PM who has no plans for jobs.

Shorten is proved correct on the time-wasting when an unusually coherent White House statement that is not a lecture or a tirade confirms Trump’s promise to withdraw from the TPP is one of the Administration’s first acts. So much to undo, so little time.

Oz-media’s made itself look silly smoothing the way for Trump, the vulgarian at the gate. The ABC’s inauguration commentary is saccharine with mindless Coalition optimism, which is quickly revealed as so much wishful thinking from a government caught on the nod.

The official ABC spin seems to be that now he’s thrown his rattle out of his playpen and he’s got what he wanted, The Donald will morph into a sensible and moderate monster who only wants our constant undivided attention and who has the nuclear codes to do it with.

Nothing in the Donald’s inauguration speech, not even an echo of Batman, The Dark Knight Rises “…and we give it back to you, the people,” suggests that Trump will soften his campaign rhetoric in favour of more statesman-like role once in power. Everything he says about isolationist foreign policy, in his “dark and inward-looking” fourteen minute speech, his “America first, only America first” is an alarming departure from US interdependence.

So much for the Turnbull’s government’s agility. Its foreign policy, like its domestic planning is rooted in inertia; do nothing, or as little as possible, repeat mindless Abbott era slogans, bag Bill Shorten and see what evolves.

Now it’s caught flat-footed. Foreign Affairs light-weight Julie Bishop says she’s been on the job, briefing Trump’s team on Australia’s requirements but that could mean anything and besides, there’s no evidence whatsoever anyone’s listening. Or ever will. Even the national broadcaster struggles to spin that.

To be fair, Aunty is distracted by the shock resignation Friday of Director of TV’s Richard Finlayson which comes at a time of deep unrest within the ABC, under former Murdoch executive, Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, a Turnbull appointee, whose reign is mired in job losses, cost cutting and ringing accusations of “piss poor management”.

Guthrie is critical of Four Corners-type programs and seems not to understand the role of investigative reporting at all; wants to do “more about successful businessmen”. It’s a work in progress. Already ABC news is lurid with tabloid stories; sensation displaces information.

Expect a puff piece soon on Mr Donald Trump, the people’s president and the inspiring business types who comprise his cabinet. When it’s properly run down and ready to be privatised as the IPA wishes, the ABC could be flogged off to an American. Rupert Murdoch is reported to be currently enjoying Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull’s harbour-side hospitality.

Other media outlets are also complacent; Donald-conciliatory. The least predictable presidency, the least qualified and most divisive figure on the world stage ever is spun as more of the same. Nothing to see here. Business as usual.

“The fair-minded thing is to give the guy a go,” a folksy Rudd tells Seven’s Sunrise on Friday, aglow with sanctimonious hypocrisy given his undermining of Julia Gillard. Rudd’s voice upstages Turnbull as intended – briefly- but fails to quell what is reported to be hundreds of Americans who try to block the entrances to the Inauguration. Dump-Trump demonstrations take place in other cities in America and throughout the world.

“Illegitimate, bastard” shouts Code Pink women’s rights organiser, Madea Benjamin, who makes it into the section reserved for honoured guests and journalists and Joe Hockey before she is thrown out by police. A protestor gets dangerously close to the new president, if not quite in The Donald’s orange face, at least not far below it.

“Trump is not going to be stopped at the top, he’s going to be stopped from the bottom, from people rising up,” says Ben Allen, a thoughtful 69-year-old retired teacher from San Francisco.

“We support the right of everybody in this country, no matter what nationality, what religion, the colour of their skin, to be respected as a human being, and this guy doesn’t respect anybody.”

As he speaks, removed from the web is the Department of Labor’s report on the rights of lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgender people. The White House’s exposition on climate change and efforts to combat it are also excised. Police hurl flash bang grenades to banish protestors from the inauguration parade route. The smell of tear gas wafts over K street, the heart of Washington’s lobbying district. So much to undo. So little time.

To borrow a Trumpism, its 45th president is bigly disliked already – before he’s even had time to” bomb the shit out of ISIS” or leave NATO or reverse Obama’s sanctions against Russia for hacking the election. He’s yet to slash corporate taxes, bring back water boarding, dismantle Obamacare or lift a brick to wall out waves of Mexicans.

Civil Rights leader, veteran Democrat Congressman John Lewis boycotts the inauguration also because Mr Trump is an “illegitimate” President, he says. Thin-skinned Trump takes this personally, as he does all criticism- even working into his speech an “all talk no action” gibe at “politicians” to echo his earlier tweet that “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”

“All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!” Trump dismisses Lewis’ role in the protest movement which led to the landmark voting rights act of 1965 and the end of racial discrimination in voting in the US. Lewis has already achieved more for his people and for human rights than Trump ever will.

Malcolm Turnbull may not have been certain Tuesday just who would represent Australia at Trump’s swearing in but Ambassador Joe, Big Noter, Hockey clears that up with tweets that he, along with “all the chiefs of mission”, would attend all the events. We don’t hear that much from Joe: it’s good to know he’s still alive and tweeting. Doubtless he’s been busy saving the TPP and working on that people-trafficking asylum-seeker swap deal.

A messianic figure, in his own eyes, at least, Trump vows to be the greatest job producer that God ever created, a feat he will achieve by cutting taxes for corporations, a trickle-down con trick familiar to Australian voters deceived by similar promises. It’s a key detail in a fact free speech which is stuffed over-full of dreaming big and winning.

“We must think big and dream even bigger,” he says. “America will start winning again, winning like never before.” There’s no explanation of how this will be achieved or even what it means, just echoes of a former casino operator philosophy overlaid, perhaps, with the mindless Neoliberal cruelty which divides all human endeavour into winning and losing.

“We will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our borders, we will bring back our wealth and we will bring back our dreams.” Trump fist pumps. But expect delays. His transition team has only two of its fifteen cabinet members approved and has made only 29 of 660 executive appointments. Trump Inc. is nowhere near ready for government.

Big business is investing heavily in bringing back its wealth. Trump’s inauguration is awash with corporate donations. Chevron ($660,000) and Boeing ($1.3 million) are some of the big business donors who help the Trump team raise more than $131 million for their inauguration hoe-down — double any previous President’s send-on. A big donation secures an intimate dinner with the President and First Lady.

Doubtless, Trump aims to invest heavily in himself, (as did Turnbull with his $2 million donation to his own campaign.) Of course, he claims he won’t. Yet delegating his business affairs to his sons is no substitute for a blind trust. One expert on corporate governance warns that Donald Trump will be a “hopelessly conflicted president” whose unprecedented swag of commercial conflicts of interest will undermine his presidency.

“Parliament is set to return in just over a fortnight but why are they even bothering?”, asks Fairfax’s Adam Gartrell, who points out that MPs have little or nothing on their plates. The government’s legislative list is minimal. The new travel allowance and expenses bill shouldn’t take up more than six months.

As luck would have it, a new president of a newly Disunited States and a new world disorder will afford plenty of distraction, even if it’s only reading The Donald’s tweets. And being terrified.


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  1. Peter

    A well written article. Will Trump mirror Australia’s government with all words and no action? For the world’s sake, let’s hope so.

  2. Terry2

    I wonder if orange foundation will become a thing with men of a certain age ?

  3. Lorraine Stansfiewld

    Interesting article Graeme.
    Not so sure about this comment though – ” The conservatives arguably brought a healthy revitalization to Western politics in the Reagan/Thatcher era” All Thatcher did was ruin industries in England. As for her friend Reagan – according to some reports he was just a puppet President.

  4. Henry Rodrigues

    Graeme Henchel…That is a very well analysed and far seeing perception of politics and the change that will be driving it in the future. Like the author, I will always have a good opinion of Obama and what he tried and succeeded in doing in his period in office. He was a thoroughly decent human being and a leader we all wish we had in our own countries. Trump will end up as no more than a blot on the political landscape of world history, visible, but despised.

  5. 245179

    One things for sure.Trump has people thinking / talking, EVERYWHERE, some positives may emerge out of his crazyness. You / me / us, talking has to be one positive.
    A “fox” in the henhouse ( and he is a fox ) will create mayhem until the farmer arrives with a big stick and says gotcha.

  6. Dani K

    Everybody needs to stop with the Trump bashing. It is not compulsive to vote in the USA so I say suck it to idiots that didnt vote. if you do not vote you have a say. Clinton had a far worse foreign policy & if that hawk had have got it probably would lead to outright nuclear holocaust with as many countries as she could inflame. The fascist in charge our own country are of main concern, let alone the rising threat of China to our north. Like really protesting in Australia over Trump? How about protesting about the Neo-Nazi regime called the LNP. Death camps for the poor,disabled & mentally ill if they in left power for another term.

  7. kate ahearne

    Thanks, David. Even for those of us who have read quite a bit about all this in the last few days, there are some great titbits that we mightn’t have known about – and a few much needed giggles.

  8. Egalitarian

    Dani K Your right about getting on with our protest against the LNP. But Trump is a very sad choice for the States. The Russians had him pegged a long time ago.

  9. jimhaz

    Trump’s inauguration speech sounded no different from one of his earlier campaign speeches I listened to. Perhaps all of them – I’ve only listened to one due to distaste.

    One trick pony like Abbott, both only know regressive destruction.

  10. kerri

    Dani K may I recommend you avail yourself of the “click to edit” function on this site and maybe check a dictionary for the difference between “compulsive” and ” compulsory”?

  11. kate ahearne

    Kerri, Dani obviously isn’t as blessed as many of us are with a great command of written English. She?’d have to know in the first place that ‘compulsive’ was inappropriate in that context in order to know she needed to check it and fix it. Of far more interest, at least to me, and far more worrying, is her message.

  12. John Lord

    Excellent read David. Thanks.

  13. helvityni

    kate ahearne,

    kerri’s advise to Dani K was pragmatic, there was no value judgement…that was enough.

    Your post illustrates that good manners and ‘an excellent command of written English’ do not necessarily go hand in hand…

  14. kate ahearne

    helvityni, No value judgement? Perlease!

  15. Maxoz

    Helvityni, adviCe is spelt with a c!

  16. Dani K

    Written in a hurry, after waking up to another article regarding Trump. My use of grammar or incorrect use I could not care about peoples comments. I was expecting as such, however relationships between the USA & Russia need to be built, so in a fashion if Trump delivers it will be wonderful. I gracefully accept the following criticism. I did use the spellcheck, however when only just woken up to another article about Trump, oh well, ones mind wasn’t awake.

  17. Jexpat

    Dani K:

    The flip side of that would be escalating tensions and the potential for armed conflict with China.

  18. Roswell

    Maxoz, English is helvityni’s second language. I think she does a damn good job in her use of it.

  19. kate ahearne

    Dani, I’m guessing that you speak Engllsh as a second language. Whether that is the case or not, you did make yourself perfectly clear. My problem was with the points you were making, not your English language skills. It worries me that so many people have such high hopes for this Trump presidency. It seems to me that he has already shown the whole world that he is seriously unfit to hold the office. If the only black mark against him was his attitude towards women, that would be enough for me – that’s half of his constituency that he has utterly disrespected on numerous clearly-documented occasions. And you do go on to make some pretty big claims about Clinton and about the Australian government’s attitude to our own most disadvantaged citizens: ‘Death camps for the poor,disabled & mentally ill if they in left power for another term.’ I am no fan of the LNP, but remarks like this just undermine your position and don’t help anyone but the LNP government.

  20. Roswell

    Jexpat, tensions between America and Russia would have been an easy choice for Australia in regards with who to side with.

    Not so easy with China. Sure, Australia will side with America, but knowingly at the risk of losing a major piggy bank.

  21. helvityni

    Thank you Roswell, you are most kind. 🙂

    Actually when I went to school in Finland, we had to learn Swedish the first year at the high school, the second year German was added, during the last three years ( before Uni),English and Latin were added to the list subjects.

    Now it’s different, English is of course more important now than German and is started early…my nephews and nieces visiting Oz, spoke perfect English but had a problem understanding Aussie…

  22. Dani K

    dank je wel kameraad

  23. helvityni

    Dani K, Ik heb drie jaren in Nederland gewoond en fond de Nederlander taal gemakkeliker dan Duits…. 🙂

  24. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Ok helvi,

    please translate so the rest of us mere mortals can join the party.

  25. Roswell

    Jennifer, translated it means “Roswell is a top bloke”. I’d recognise it in any language.

  26. kate ahearne

    Roswell, a very nice try, and R probably is a top bloke, but thanks to Professor Google, I think Dani originally said something like ‘Thank you very much, comrade (or friend?)’ Then helvityni said that she had lived in the Netherlands for 3 years, and liked Dutch better than German. I think. Awaiting correction.

  27. Roswell

    Kate, nobody is going to believe that. They all prefer my interpretation.

  28. helvityni

    Anything for you Jennifer: I lived in Holland for three years and I found the Dutch language easier than German’

    And for Roswell: 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. kate ahearne

    Roswell, I rest my case. No doubt Dani herself or helvityni will reveal all about Dani’s original remark.

  30. Jexpat

    Roswell wrote: “Not so easy with China. Sure, Australia will side with America, but knowingly at the risk of losing a major piggy bank.”

    Perhaps, but there’s also opportunity and incentive here for Australia to step back and reconsider its knee jerk propensity to follow the US into every short-sighted misadventure that’s conjured up.

  31. Deanna Jones

    JMS I think it’s just small talk, not a conspiracy to take over the AIMN or anything.

  32. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    well done.

    If I’d been thinking more like an egomaniac, I would have said something along the same lines but about me of course! 🙂

    True Deanna, but now let’s get back into the serious biz as Jexpat rightly is doing.

  33. MichaelW

    Helvityni, nos da mercher, cwches. Not sure if the spelling is correct been 50 years since I spoke in this language.

  34. kate ahearne

    Jennifer, It’s all serious business. If people on ‘our’ side of politics don’t allow themselves and each other to recognize and address mistakes that WE are making, we can’t expect to prevail, and we don’t deserve to. If we can’t resist the temptation to be small in our own minds, to be the first to find fault with others who are also trying to make the world a better place; if we snipe at each other, undermine each other, and cling to our right to do so, we are no different those nasty people we think we are opposed to.
    We need to address all of this ‘small stuff’ here, and in places like this, where we are free to do it, and supported by friendly souls. Because if we abuse each other, we are no different from the enemy – we ARE the enemy.
    However, when we notice each other doing stinky stuff – belittling, smarty-pants stuff when it is not called for, we get a bit of lee-way, don’t we? I think we do – not to be nasty ourselves, but to challenge with a little bit of sarcasm or whatever, but with persistence. Not before, though.
    I think that one of the worst things we can do in the current climate – in any climate, really – is to make statements, assumptions that are not based in fact. One of the biggest problems we face is the indisputable fact that we truly are living in a post-truth/post-fact society, along with all the minefields we need to cross to get back to truth.
    So why on earth would the likes of us be flinging around unsubstantiated stuff? And yet we do. Donald Trump and his coterie are doing it, but so are we.
    If the likes of us could make our first port of call an examination of our own hearts whenever we feel a little bit challenged, what a wonderful world it would be. Note to self.
    (Nobody enjoys being a smarty-pants more than I do.)
    For me, the interesting and heartening thing about this thread has been that it might have become quite nasty, but then somehow or other, people became more accepting of each other.

  35. Michael Taylor

    Helvityni, I quite like what I’ve seen of Finland, which isn’t much, just a few days in Helsinki. My enduring memory is of the Baileys cheesecake with cappuccino sauce at the Radisson Blue Hotel where we stayed. A damn delicious treat on a shivering night.

    Tell me, do all hotels in Finland have heated toilet seats and heated bathroom floors?

  36. wam

    WTF does trunbull ‘napping’ got to do with trump?

    The lnp have a great ally in trump. The TPP was a potential vote loser. 15% is a vote winner. China distracts from the CFTA

    Parliament is set to return in just over a fortnight but why are they even bothering?”, asks Fairfax’s Adam Gartrell, who points out that MPs have little or nothing on their plates. The government’s legislative list is minimal. The new travel allowance and expenses bill shouldn’t take up more than six months.

    As luck would have it, a new president of a newly Disunited States and a new world disorder will afford plenty of distraction, even if it’s only reading The Donald’s tweets. And being terrified.

    Sure reads like, David, thinks trump is such a godsend that trunbull can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that all or none can be caught napping depending on the timing of his tweets,
    bet there are some algorithms set to buy or sell on tweet key words.
    pps a mate is a boer and a rabid LNP but among so horrible pommie european and american tripe, he sends some terrific dutch sites.

  37. Michael Taylor

    wam, me thinks you didn’t read the article properly. Or didn’t read it at all.

  38. MACAM

    /Users/mccam98/Desktop/Post Trump.jpg

  39. helvityni

    Michael, talking about heated floors etc, I have to say how overly hot all hotels and trains were in Holland when we arrived there after living in Oz; I tried to open train-windows and people told me not to. When back in Australia a travelling American told me that Australian houses are nothing but wind-breaks….

    It’s all relative… 🙂

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