This Isn’t Just Incompetence

My Facebook feed has been full of unkind comments about the “protestors” who gathered together–in close quarters–to bewail the loss of their “liberty” to catch and spread the Coronavirus.

Granted, these gatherings were small, and definitely not genuine grass-roots displays. Numerous reports have identified the the rightwing, “astroturf” organizations funding and organizing them. Participants, however, have been drawn from the ranks of the true believers–the people who are convinced by the conspiracy theories of loonies like Alex Jones and who look askance at “elitists” like Dr. Fauci.

A few days ago, I posted about the critical social role played by trust, and the importance of    government in creating it. As the saying goes, fish rot from the head. When you cannot trust anything your government tells you, why would you trust the CDC? Or your doctor? (Why is my doctor pushing vaccines? Is s/he getting a kickback from Big Pharma?)

It’s easy enough to look at the recent protests and conclude that the participants are stupid or demented or both. For that matter, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that anyone still supporting Donald Trump is similarly demented–or so consumed by the racism and bigotry Trump stokes that nothing else, including basic competence, matters.

After all, in order to believe that the pandemic is a politically-motivated hoax–in order to risk your life on that belief, you would have to overlook more than the overwhelming ineptitude of this administration.

You would have to be able to ask–and answer— the following questions:

Why would a President who claims to be addressing (“perfectly”) a serious public health crisis encourage people to rise up against the very measures his administration has advocated to abate that crisis?

Why would a President insist on lying about the availability of testing and equipment? Nearly a month ago, Trump promised that 27 million tests would be available by the end of March. We are now in the latter part of April, and according to most reports,  only 4 million tests have been conducted.

Why would an administration tell the states that dealing with the pandemic is their job, and proceed to make it more difficult for those states to get the protective equipment they need? Reports like this one have been widespread.

Over the last few weeks, it has started to appear as though, in addition to abandoning the states to their own devices in a time of national emergency, the federal government has effectively erected a blockade — like that which the Union used to choke off the supply chains of the Confederacy during the Civil War — to prevent delivery of critical medical equipment to states desperately in need. At the very least, federal authorities have made governors and hospital executives all around the country operate in fear that shipments of necessary supplies will be seized along the way. In a time of pandemic, having evacuated federal responsibility, the White House is functionally waging a war against state leadership and the initiative of local hospitals to secure what they need to provide sufficient treatment.

If a President isn’t doing anything wrong–i.e., stealing us blind, or withholding supplies from states led by Democrats, or diverting funds meant for struggling Americans to wealthy friends and supporters–why does he undermine any and all efforts to monitor his behaviors?

Time Magazine recently reported on Trump’s most recent refusal of oversight. Congressional Democrats had insisted that the bill authorizing pandemic aid contain three oversight mechanisms: an inspector general at the Treasury Department to oversee the $500 billion Treasury fund, and Congress and executive branch panels to monitor the Treasury fund and broadly oversee the law’s implementation. Trump signed the bill, but said he would ignore those provisions, and would not allow the Inspector General overseeing the executive branch’s committee to submit reports to Congress. This is arguably illegal/unconstitutional, and entirely in character: Trump has waged war against rules and Inspectors General throughout his term.

Gee, I wonder why?

Presumably, protestors and others who believe in the various conspiracy theories think that facts–some reported by multiple, credible journalists, some attested to by Trump’s own tweets and bloviations–are false. They, and only they, are privy to the real story.

Many of the dispiriting details of the real real story, of course, probably won’t be known for years. One thing, however, is already clear: the malpractice of this horrific administration goes way, way beyond mere incompetence.

And it is killing people.


  1. What does it say about some people that they are oblivious to the fact that our government is pursuing policies that are killing people? It is one thing to believe a liar, but it something else when large numbers of people (I believe the number yesterday was about 50,000) are dying because the liar is purposely letting them die in order to bolster his chances for reelection by assuming the powers of a dictator? Mussolini and Hitler were the result of these kinds of policies a century ago. Is America going down that path today?

  2. So many problems, so little time. And the Pandemic came to this country at the worst possible time for any hope of help from our government and our failing health care system. Those non-believers who are protesting intelligent medical advice will find reason to blame Trump’s opposition should they become infected or should they lose a loved one to this Covid-19 Pandemic. It is more than “Incompetence” on their part and on the part of the government at all levels; the fact that we can no longer place trust in the current chaotic administration or keep track of who is still part of this administration weakens our faith in having a future as it increases our stress level physically and emotionally…an illness within an illness.

    On the lighter side, the Washington Post has a yearly Neologism contest; finding alternate meanings for common words. “Esplanade: to attempt an explanation while drunk” was my personal favorite but I found some useful terminology in the section of the contest to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter and supply a new definition. Regarding those Trumpist protesters; “Bozone: the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The Bozone layer, unfortunately, shows no sign of breaking down in the near future.”

    As for Trump himself and his “explanation” for injecting disinfectants to cure coronavirus, “SarcHasm; the gulf between the author of sarcasm and the person who doesn’t get it” and “IgnoraNus; a person who is both stupid and an asshole.”

    And another Trump Monday is upon us.

  3. Again, you have explained both clearly and simply — about the executive branch. But, the key to this whole upcoming election will be to choose people who will do their jobs, according to the Constitution, in the judicial branch, yes, but ESPECIALLY in the upper house of the Congress. If the ’empty’ states don’t understand the importance of electing Democrats to the Senate, there is little hope of ever surviving what has happened.

  4. I believe he is actively trying to kill as many Democrat voters as possible before November. He is a malignant narcissist. The only person he cares about is himself. We have a person in charge who will kill thousands to get re elected. He is about as ruthless a human as there is.

  5. There people leave me stuck on the horns of an ethical dilemma. I know I shouldn’t, but I do feel some glee whenever I read about them coming down with the virus.

  6. As the NYT states, the government may be refusing to disclose the monies handed out by the banks who’ve made billions in fees from the $350 billion slush fund known as the Paycheck Protection Program, but some companies are disclosing they’ve received the monies.

    And Main Street businesses thought the Democrats and Republicans and the President were working for their best interests and wanted to help them to stay open…wrong!

    They shouldn’t worry; another $340 billion became available today for the largest banks to hand out to those suffering under government-mandated closures, so certainly monies will be available for them this go around. LOL

    This is called “free-market economics,” which despises government intrusion. We live under an economic system in this country, and use our military to spread it to other countries, which breeds corruption. This corruption has bought the political class — both parties are captives of our economic system. Call it NeoFascism if you like, but you can certainly see why the rich get richer, and the working classes get the shaft by now.

    Don’t you?

  7. This will interest a few daily posters:

    “Meet “Beijing Biden”, also known as “Sleepy Joe”. According to Donald Trump and his allies, he is both a comrade of “Crazy Bernie” and an establishment creature of Washington, whose coziness with China and long history of verbal stumbles make him unfit for the presidency.

    This emerging, and at times conflicting, portrait of Joe Biden is part of a recent effort by the Trump campaign to define the presumptive Democratic nominee to its advantage, ahead of a general election that has now been thoroughly reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

    As the death toll from the outbreak has passed 50,000 Americans and mass unemployment reaches historic levels, Trump’s main case for re-election – a roaring economy – has evaporated. Instead, he and his team are trying a new strategy: tying his political rival to an old geopolitical foe.

    “China wants Sleepy Joe sooo badly,” Trump tweeted on 19 April, adding: “Joe is an easy mark, their DREAM CANDIDATE!” A campaign email earlier this month hammered the point: “I am TOUGH ON CHINA and Sleepy Joe Biden is WEAK ON CHINA.”

    For weeks, Trump has sought to shift the focus for his administration’s erratic response to the crisis by harnessing America’s growing hostility toward China, where the virus originated. To defend himself against criticism of his handling of the outbreak, Trump has repeatedly pointed to a January decision to impose restrictions on travel from China, which he says impeded the virus’s spread in the US.”

  8. Donna,
    “He is a malignant narcissist. The only person he cares about is himself. We have a person in charge who will kill thousands to get re elected. He is about as ruthless a human as there is.”

    Yes, these combinations of traits could also label Trump as a psychopath. That would be my choice.

    Todd, apart from your daily bashing of Democrats, I liked your presentation of the 4th grade level Trump campaign blurbs. Those 4th graders who vote will happily turn out in November (If an election is allowed) to cast their bread upon the stinking, fetid swamp of the Republican party. Democrats, on the other hand, will be represented by high school graduates.

  9. How does one access your Facebook page?? I’ve looked and looked and can’t find you! Help!

  10. Trump may be a sociopath or psychopath, but he is operating in the auspices of a philosophy of sovereignty that is far more influential than he will ever be.

    Basically, that philosophy projects that the strength of a nation is a nation’s first priority and 2) national strength is determined by HOW STRONG ITS UPPER CLASS IS.

    Note their understanding of national strength:The first purpose of a nation is to be strong enough to protect its citizens from subjugation from outside entities. Subjugation could come in the form of powerful armies, aggressive multi-national corporations, or the contagion of an attractive philosophy. Thus, a nation must be strong enough to perform its first responsibility.

    The thing that makes that philosophy dangerous is: it is hard to argue against it.

    How do you win your argument that the strength of a nation is determined by how strong its middle class is, not how strong its upper class is?

    It is frustrating to me that Western literature on this subject never tackles that question; rather it seems to always begin with the assumption that the strength of a nation is determined by how strong its middle class is. And goes from that assumption to all sorts of propositions designed to beef up the middle class.

    What if the strength of a nation is determined by the strength of its upper class?

    Then our only argument for a robust middle class would be a moral or ethical one, an indefensible argument which is countered by: how moral is it to save the middle class and lose the nation, the result of a strong middle class that did not make the nation strong enough to protect itself.

    In recent generations, the Republican party accepts the first understanding of national strength–that it depends on the strength of the upper class.

    And the Democratic party accepts the second understanding–that national strength depends on the strength of the middle class.

    But neither party nor their leading philosophers support their argument. They ask us to choose sides on no more logical reason than an assumption.


    Except, the issue we are to choose sides on is existential. The wrong choice on this issue can weaken or strengthen the nation, in turn making it, and our very life, easy pickings for many kinds of enemies.

    I would love to read one book that examines this issue rather than takes off on one or the other assumption.

  11. I’m going to repost an article that I posted at the very end of yesterday’s therapy session here:

    It is the best analysis of those who support Trump and why that I have seen. It’s applicable to all states but I would like some Hoosier feedback on how well it fits there.

    While it might help many of us, it certainly did me, understand the “enemy” it unfortunately is short on Sheila’s favorite action starter, what can be done.

    The pandemic has kindled some hope in me due to the fact that our troubles should be just about peaking at election time and such a crises probably will harden the resolve of both sides of the Gulf of America. To the degree that democracy still exists here I feel confident that 2020 will not be a repeat of 2016. I’m hoping probably more than expecting that blue no matter who will prevail.

    None of that will cure the structural ills pointed out in the article but at least the country will be in a position to address them. My hope is that by the time we are in a position to address them the pandemic will have created the will to because it will be crystal clear by then that what was is no longer with us. It will have collapsed of it’s own weight and dysfunction. From the rubble something new will start growing.

    Of course there are no guarantees. It’s possible that Trump the brand manager will have concocted some flim flam that will have killed democracy here once and for all.

  12. Todd,
    “…Trump’s main case for re-election – a roaring economy – has evaporated.”

    There was no “roaring economy”!

    Even an economy that pushes the DOW above 80,000, almost triple its record high, creates a million new millionaires, and has unemployment 20 points below zero is a FAILED economy…if it did its thing on the broken backs of laborers, farmers, minorities, education, children, and international respect.

  13. Larry,

    With all due respect to your comments, Trump isn’t smart enough or educated enough to understand or appreciate those subtelties (sic) of power. His psychopathy is purely self-serving. THAT is what makes him such a clear and present danger to all humanity.

  14. Sheila posts multiple “why would hes” today and I think he goes backwards and forth in order to continue creating chaos as a cover and to keep our attention away from, for instance, the “loans” he has on properties world wide (e.g., UAE, Indonesia, New York City) from the State Bank of China, on whose board I am now informed (if unconfirmed to date) that McConnell’s father in law sits, and Russian loans on other properties his son admitted to a couple of years ago when he announced that “we get a lot of money from Russia.” I think this plot is much more thickened than we uninformed peasants know about and that Don is (successfully) playing us for suckers. Truth in advertising > My daughter disagrees. She thinks all this is just in the nature of a narcissist, that he doesn’t plan anything etc.

    I think that either Barr or a congressional committee (and I prefer a committee since Barr would whitewash such an investigation as he did before) should investigate whether these “loans” to Trump from Russia and China have compromised our foreign and trade policies and whether Republican China-bashing is an extension of the cover Trump has designed to distract the attention of the peasants while he forever trashes the emolument clause big time.

    I admit to being one of the distracted and ready to pounce on Trump’s daily distractions, but perhaps it’s time to seriously look into this sick man’s thievery (in almost plain sight), ignore the chaos, and proceed to instead have a congressional committee make deep investigations of just what this freak is trying to pull and its effect, among other things, on the country’s trade and foreign policies, i.e., are we being sold down the river by a loan-compromised narcissist? Let’s find out.

  15. Gerald,

    I really doubt that Trump does anything consciously except praise himself and whine about not being praised by others. Everything else is part of his pathology. It’s clear to everyone that his brain isn’t wired correctly to do anything else.

  16. I agree with Larry. It wouldn’t make any difference if the Dow were at 100,000 and the unemployment rate were at 0% as long as we have the present system of wealth and wage inequality. So long as such a plainly unfair and inequitable system exists there will be no such thing as “a roaring economy.” We have been sold on Wall Street’s framing and definition of terms in such connection, a frame and definition I reject.

  17. Vern – Of course you are right; his brain is hard-wired in narcissism, but hard-wired narcissists can and do commit crimes (as measured by our standards) and when such crimes as committed are especially contra to the public interest in the world we inhabit we have to pull them out of their Otherworlds and hold them accountable.

  18. Pete,
    I will post again my response to your “cracked” post yesterday.

    That article on is very good. I’m glad you found and shared it.

    Ten years ago, I was writing articles on the Internet similar to that. Usually, I summed my comments with a single sentence similar to this: people growing up in Indianapolis and people growing up in New Palestine, Indiana, with only 16 miles separating them, have a greater cultural difference between them than Indiana and Palestine in the Middle-East, 6,225 miles apart.

    I’ve seen it. I’ve lived rural and I’ve lived city. I’ve lived in other countries. People in Indianapolis have more in common with people in Mexico City than they have in common with people in Mexico, Indiana.

    I warned about the cultural conflict coming, but people–rural and urban– who read my warnings thought I was just making words to be making words. They likely will think the same of this guy’s article.
    Additionally, when I left the farm in Indiana to go to college in Texas, I was determined to never return to Indiana. Eighteen years later, I weakened and returned. I had learned that the oppression of individual fulfillment, which I had felt in Indiana, was not an Indiana thing; it was a rural thing. Or more specifically, it was a thing of thinly populated places where the task of one’s life was to live and die as close as possible to the condition in which one was born. With maybe a smidge more humility.

    This link is to an excerpt from one of my novels, which describes that cultural oppression I felt in Indiana.;postID=5213467648314789070;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname

  19. Larry, I would very much like to read your blog but when I try I get a message that says that my blogger account won’t allow me access. Is there anything to be done about that?

  20. Larry, that link worked fine.

    Your prose certainly reveals your writing skills as well as a lot of my feelings about small town America back in the day.

    My first exposure to culture (they say you don’t know one until you know two) was going from small town rural NY to small town western Va for college. I had heard about what was then the South and their racism but have to say that I had no idea.

    Engineering was easy to understand compared to southern hospitality and hostility. I survived both but I learned along the way that what I assumed was normal was really local.

    I’ve added quite a few cultures to my collection since and now know for sure that there is no normal.

    It’s therefore now comfortable for me to understand that Trumpublicans “serve” two constituencies, donors and the easiest to influence voters and what makes the voters easy to influence on entertainment media is not necessarily ignorance but because they’re pissed at what “liberals” have taken away from them no matter why it went away or where it went. Having the comfortable rug pulled out from under was how I felt for quite awhile in Virginia and I was mad about it too. Clearly it was my parents fault for suggesting this was where engineering degrees were affordable.

    I don’t know what will replace old rural America but I’m not trapped there like those high school friends I left behind are so it’s easy for me to think they should have left like I did. But I also know how cultural glue requires a great deal of motivation to overcome. Mine came from accepting that engineering was probably the only thing I could be good at and nobody needed one in Herkimer.

  21. Pete, thanks for a bit of interest in my writing.
    Back on subject, what do we think when we see video coverage of entire African villages walking barefoot to a new life somewhere else? Carrying a few possessions tied up in a blanket. Walking maybe 1000 miles to start over. Having babies and burying old folk on the way.

    I think of our ghetto dwellers in comparison. Why don’t they put on their sneakers and walk out of those places? Likewise, our holler dwellers in Appalachia?

    And then I meet someone from one of those places who did leave. I wonder why that one person left. Why so many others stay. What is the difference between them? Is it as fundamental as a single tick on the genetic blueprint in our DNA?

    It’s as if Americans landed on this continents from two different planets. There is a terrible, almost extraterrestrial, distance between the two world views.

  22. I moved from Chicago to a small town (approx 8,000 pop.) in Ohio in the early 1950s. I was an idyllic place to grow up if you were 6 or 7. Not so much as I got older and the latent bigotry began to become apparent. A cross burned on the front lawn of one of 27 Catholic families, the sheriff showing up to tell an Hispanic family (part of those who came every year to work the tomato farms) moving into town that they had better be beyond the city limits by sundown or he would arrest them, the teacher who chastised me for refusing to pray the then Protestant ending to the Lord’s Prayer that was compulsory at the start of every school day. I could go on and on. My siblings and I were seldom included in any adult involved activities in the neighborhood because we were “different” from them. Younger kids were okay with us, but the older kids parroted what they heard at home. We moved to a city, smaller than Chicago by a bunch, when I was 12. I can’t tell you how happy I was to leave the subtle hostility behind.

    Those rural communities were losing their young people even back then. They left for jobs and schooling and seldom moved back because there was little to draw them. Farming was changing, automating, expensive and extremely risky. Small business depended on the limited goods available and a shrinking population EVEN THEN. You “can’t keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree” was as true then as it is today.

    Demonizing those who are different is as old as time. We are condemned to repeat what we fail to learn from our past. Sad.

  23. Todd,
    I saw an interesting article that with a quick check, I was not able to verify, but it implied Trump has strong financial ties to the Bank of China and has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from them. With the opacity of Trumps finances, who is to say what it true, but if can imagine Trump may already doing the kinds of things he is accounting Biden of.

  24. I object to the assertion that liberals took anything away from rural folk, or anyone else for that matter.

    Change/progress took away almost everything rural people complain of losing. All liberals did was apply a different strategy of dealing with the change.

    Liberals admit change will come no matter what and try to adjust to it.

    Conservatives are sure that change will TRY to come and vow to prevent it no matter what.

    Well, Conservatives have met “progress”, and progress has won.

    Maybe Conservatives should take a page from the goose and the gander…or their hero Ayn Rand: If failure is evolution’s way of improving the human race, then maybe Conservatives should be allowed to rot and die.

  25. Dan, if you follow Trump’s narcissistic Tweets and listen to his rallies, he consistently blames others for his own faults. That’s typical of self-centeredness. There’s an old saying that goes, “Spot it, you got it.”

    And bravo Larry on your assessment of rural/urban America. The whole slogan of MAGA appeals to those left behind by progress. They have a laundry list of complaints for which they blame on liberals. Sadly, their minds are closed and their brains aren’t pliable. “Contempt prior to investigation.”

    Bernie Sanders addressed their needs and was balked at because the nightly news called him a socialist. But Trump, he’s a messiah.

    Also, Trump has done business with the mob all over the country. He’s a blathering idiot but he knows the con game better than anybody. Don’t discount his thriving intentions. As the American Prospect points out in great detail, the con has been working for 3.5 years. Even if Biden beats Trump in November, the American taxpayer — the working class will be in such chaos over our debt issues that recovery will be years in the making, if at all.

  26. Some would think it a great boon to society that so many chapters of the Darwin Club be founded all over the nation. It would be so to folks like Lt. Gov of Texas. If only these folks would hold 14 day meetings I close quarters. But, if immigration is killed and the eloi serfs are killed, what these do replace their current poolofserfs? Oh, I fotgot. It will be us. Goodbye, middle class.

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