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Vale 2020

By Ad astra

As we exit the year past, what do you consider to be the most significant event of 2020?

Among a plethora of extraordinary events, as a doctor, the occurrence of COVID-19 gets my vote. Why?

Look at the statistics:

At the time of publication, this is the stark situation worldwide:

Cases: 72 million
Recovered: 47 million
Deaths: 1.6 million

In the US alone, the figures are startling:

Cases: 16.3 million
Deaths: 300,000, equivalent to the entire population of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The US now records more daily deaths from COVID-19 than occurred on the day of that infamous terrorist assault on the US – September 11, 2001.

The bald numbers worldwide though fail to capture the anxiety, distress, pain, and sorrow evoked by COVID-19. We know that there are many undocumented cases, notably in the underprivileged, poverty-stricken countries of the world. Clearly, this is the most devastating pandemic since the Spanish Flu, which none of us are able to remember.

The pandemic threatens to continue for years, at least until an effective vaccine is created and administered to sufficient of the world’s population to create enough herd immunity to abort the spread of the virus. We have to accept this ugly reality, even as we hear promising talk of emerging vaccines in every news bulletin.

It is wreaking its legacy of disease, disability and death against an appalling background of war and civil strive the world over, far too widespread and enduring to list in this piece. Instead, if you have the stomach for it, take a look at this catalogue of contemporary events: Be prepared to be dismayed.

Add to these violent events the sad reality of political turmoil in hundreds of countries, in some manifest by benign disagreement, but in others characterised by confusion, uncertainty, political oppression, civil disorder, violent behaviour, even war. You don’t need a catalogue. Just turn on the TV each evening.

Then we have the politics. Wherever it exists, we are assailed by the unedifying spectacle of partisan, adversarial behaviour where virtually everything the opponents do or propose is wrong, inadequate, incompetent, ‘too little, too late’, or simply foolish. We are pleasantly surprised when agreement is achieved, or a compliment thrown across the political divide.

On the global front, intrigue, dishonesty, blackmail, manipulation, gaslighting, mafia-like behaviour, even assassination, are the tools of trade. ‘Throwing someone under the bus’ is a slightly less offensive trademark, but just as aggressive.

We hear regularly about the dubious or dishonest behaviour of Putin, Netanyahu, dictators in Central and Eastern European nations, and those warring in Armenia and Azerbaijan. It scarcely attracts our attention; these situations feel remote, not our concern.

While we bridle at some of the utterances of our own politicians, they pale against those we hear from other countries; ours are a relatively benign mob!

For sheer effrontery though, is there anyone who can hold a candle to POTUS Donald J Trump?


Image from


We know we won’t have to endure his shenanigans in the role as President for much longer, but realise he will continue to affront many of his own Americans, his allies, his enemies, and all who follow his extraordinarily bizarre behaviour, while all the time energising his cult followers.

Whilst he now seems prepared reluctantly to exit the White House, he will continue to insist that he won the recent Presidential election ‘in a landslide’, and that he is being deprived of victory by his adversaries (especially his nemesis ‘the fake media’) whom he accuses of perpetrating fraud on a massive scale, notwithstanding the repeated rejection of his assertions by several courts, and even some of his closest staffers. Moreover, he will continue to insist that he will contest the next election for President.

We must not take this threat lightly! He means it. His narcissistic need for continual publicity and adoration will never abate. Nor will the devotion of the cult that follows his every move, and accepts his every word. He will continue to be their inspiration, their saviour; indeed they will still insist they would ‘die for him’. The dangerous toll of entrenched belief starkly highlights this reality.

We have to acknowledge his enduring capacity to inspire, arouse, and enlist the unquestioning devotion of his followers. He has been doing so for many years, starting with his reality show The Apprentice. Attracting such devotion is his lifeblood, the very reason for his existence. We may struggle to understand such devotion, but it is real and enduring. His addiction to his adoring supporters is incurable, such as is his chronic narcissistic personality disorder.

Even during the interregnum between Trump, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being in office and in complete control, Trump will continue to tweet his disapproval and protests. His disruptive comments will continue long into Biden’s rule. Remember Trump is insane. Nothing will change that stark reality.

Even as he recedes into the mists of times past, don’t believe we’ve heard the last of him. He will continue be there in the background, sticking his nose into public affairs, offering his learned analysis and advice, insisting he is the one, the only one who has the wherewithal to govern the US, and steer the world in the right direction.

What have we done to deserve this?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Andrew Smith

    Another issue is how political ‘elites’ of the right have been mainstreaming scepticism towards science, education and ‘experts’ for electoral gain and policy shenanigans over decades; supported by ‘dark money’ from the fossil fuel and related sectors.

    Trump will continue to have some form of presence but he is more a sympton of and/or sock puppet for a long game by radical right libertarian forces. They now infect the democracies in the Anglosphere of i.e. US, UK and Australia, via think tanks, media and parties owned by corporate donors.

  2. Josephus

    Add the resurgence of bigotry, racism and fascism in a number of other countries, thanks to mass media controlled by the rich and/or those elected by the uneducated, who feel reassured by leaders as limited as themselves. This democracy cum populism seems to be merging in many respects with authoritarianism, and is leading humanity to its destruction, and with it that of other animals and plants, though the planet will eventually recover.

  3. wam

    There are many aspects of life in australia that deserve valete:
    The LNP’s use of the labor solutions that avoided the ravages of the GFC experience have gone without acknowledgement,
    The help some workers and businesses got through the economic difficulties. Now going or gone for workers but enhanced to almost carte blanche for businesses many having used the virus to ‘reform’ with anti-worker results.
    The absence of bipartisanship and the reluctant meetings with the unions gone with a vengeance. With the government’s disingenuous use of such meetings was exposed with a new ‘work choices’ bill. These deserve the sadness associated with vale but the year of covid 19 is not dead yet with the poms (with a new strain??) not far behind the septics and india, the hidden tiger and the source of our covids, and Africa, all taking 2020 in to 2021.
    Trump’s power with half america behind him, makes him formidable but perhaps his trashing of the media may allow biden the media access to expose his ridiculous stances and counter attack with successes with enough republicans fearing the trump’s destruction of the GOP.

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