One lesson Americans should have learned from the past four years is that competent governance matters.

I understand that most Americans don’t follow the “inside baseball” of agency regulations, don’t realize the ways in which EPA rules, for example, affect the air they breathe and the water they drink, or how the disaster named Betsy DeVos has undermined their children’s education.But every sentient American should be able to appreciate the consequences of federal ineptitude in the face of COVID-19.

Perhaps it’s true that America was always going to bungle the vaccine rollout, as Ryan Cooper recently wrote in The Week, but if there was any doubt, the last couple of weeks should have dispelled it. Throughout the last, ghastly year, we’ve been treated to a do-nothing federal government–an administration unwilling and unable to provide coherent leadership or even accurate information. The effort to develop a vaccine was successful thanks to international cooperation and the allocation of a lot of money (although I should point out that the first vaccine “past the gate” didn’t even participate in Operation Warp Speed.)

The rollout has been equally unfocused, with the federal government shipping vaccine to the states and telling them to figure out how to distribute it. According to Bloomberg, as of January 2d, something like 12.5 million doses had been sent out, but just over 3 million shots had actually been administered. If efforts continued at this rate, it would take  seven years to inoculate the whole country

President Trump, of course, has completely failed to organize anything at the federal level. For all his manic shattering of political norms, his most characteristic behavior is simply not doing anything in a moment of crisis. Since early November, over a thousand people a day have died of COVID, steadily increasing to nearly 4,000 on some recent days, but Trump has done virtually nothing except try to overturn the election with tweets, play golf, watch television, and pardon his criminal friends…

That of course is making things exponentially more difficult for those lower levels of government. The federal government has always played a central role in previous mass vaccination efforts, because it is the only entity that can coordinate the whole country. States and cities have already endured brutal austerity, laying off millions of employees and cutting back services. Now they are trying to organize a massive logistical operation during a murderous pandemic by the seat of their pants.

It isn’t simply a lack of experience with this level of responsibility. As public health officials have repeatedly pointed out, the state-level public health departments that suddenly find themselves responsible for distribution of the vaccine have been starved of resources for decades.

Here in Indiana, that lack of experience and resources has sent the 80-and-up cohort who have finally been told they can now get vaccinated to a website that wouldn’t be considered “user friendly” even by tech-savvy youngsters. Their alternative is a telephone number that takes callers to an automated phone tree and an interminable wait. (As an aside, whoever designed that website should be tarred and feathered…)

Cooper notes that the utter incompetence that has characterized America’s response to the pandemic means that the task facing the incoming Biden Administration will be enormous.

Frankly I do not believe [Biden] will get very close to the standard of other wealthy countries, but on the other hand he could not possibly do any worse than Trump. Let’s hope when the void at the center of the American state is filled by something, the pace of vaccination can be drastically accelerated, and 2021 isn’t the nightmare that 2020 was.

Meanwhile, as Americans continue to die in horrific numbers, our insane President has taken up full-time residence in la la land, entirely absorbed in his delusional effort to overturn the election and hang onto a job he has shown absolutely no interest in doing.

As the old saying goes, this is no way to run a railroad–or a country.


  1. Michael Cohen described Trump perfectly in his book; at least we saw it play out since it was published. OF COURSE Trump did nothing to help is sick and dying citizens. OF COURSE he tried to overthrow the election. OF COURSE he lied about everything and anything that showed him in a poor light. It’s what psychopaths are like.

    To Trump, COVID was something bad for his ratings, so, since he utterly lacks any capacity to plan and actually do things – besides exploit the weakness of others – the vaccine “rollout” was bungled. “Let the states do it.” was classic in creating misdirection and conflicting actions. Throw in the Trump ass-kissers like DeSantis and you have what we have.

    As this week comes to a merciful end, we see that our founders didn’t plan, exactly, for a psychopath to be President. They had more faith in the people who would come after them. But, they were wrong. The riot at the Capitol showed exactly who and what we are in the hustings. That snarling, ignorant, self-serving, maniacal mob were the perfect tool for Trump. He found he could control their weaknesses and use them to his own purpose… and his purpose is pure evil.

    It took four years for rational people in government to call the president and his Republican lackeys for what they are: seditious cowards interested only in themselves and their political careers. We’ve known that Ted Cruz is a shameless slug with the morals of a barnyard rooster. Now we have Josh Hawley as his “running” mate. Disgusting wretches. Every Republican, like Kevin McCarthy, who just picked up where they left off after the riots and continued their seditious ways. Will they be punished adequately? I don’t think so. There are too many of the goons who weren’t at the Capitol who will embrace the white grievance position and keep returning these bastards to government.

    They reflect what we’ve become… or maybe always were.

  2. Well, I’m thinkin,

    Joe Biden so much going on right now, a lunatic predecessor, a virus, an economic crisis, and insurrectionists running around!

    Everyone talks about Trump declaring martial law, but possibly Biden will have to do that very thing to get people to stay home, wear masks, figuring out how to get an infrastructure bill going, amongst all of the other things.

    If people want that $2000 assistance check, it seems to me that they would have to get vaccinated 1st! To get people from running around trying to blow up government facilities, along with everything else going on, he is going to have to have some pretty regimented and probably even some draconian policies to put a stop on everything that’s happening right now.

    That’s what happens and you have an arsonist currently in the White House, you have to set back fires to put out the raging Inferno’s he set across the country and throughout government.

  3. The Trump Administration is run by extreme privatization advocates. it is ideologically opposed to utilizing the resources of the government indeed it is determined to dismantle the administrative state. We can thank the Koch Brothers and their fellow greedster billionaires for placing anarchist stooges in office to accomplish the demolition. Don’t blame Trump, he was just being used by much smarter people.

  4. The point about government dysfunction is well said; when government is working well and functioning with competence, it is not noticed. It is when it ceases to function that it stands out because that is when it has negative effects on peoples lives. Pot holes in a road are a perfect metaphor.

  5. The Trumpet is a Male Macho-Authoritarian with Narcissistic Personality. He must be the center of attention. The Corona Press Conferences last year were centered on The Trumpet.

    When ever, the experts were called in The Trumpet stood fidgeting uncontrollably and interrupting the experts. Afterwards he took to Twitter to spread falsehoods and proudly displayed his mask less face. Like Gang Members his stooges and lackeys also went mask less.

    Carrying it one step further The Trumpet had his rally’s where the Cult could show their allegiance by going mask less and not social distancing.

    The Trumpet appointed Pastor Pence to lead the Corona Team. Pastor Pence was and is the epitome of an empty suit. Pastor Pence would never take the lead or center stage and The Trumpet knew it. The Trumpet wanted the adoration of a leader but none of the responsibility.
    When events went sour, The Trumpet was quick to deflect blame to the states.

    As other articles I have read on the internet indicate our public health institutions were woefully underfunded and understaffed to begin with.

    We do manage every year to vaccinate millions of people for the flu. Corona is different and required a creative operational plan. The stooges and lackeys The Trumpet installed culled the institutions of the competent’s and installed the incompetents.

    Do not make waves for the Boss must have been the guiding principle. This meant that when Corona was proving to be unstoppable, it was best to ignore it. The 74,000,000 or so that voted for The Trumpet and Pastor Pence displayed profound indifference to all those who died of Corona.

  6. ML,

    Thank you for describing, in exemplary detail the traits of a psychopath.

    There was NEVER any hope or plan from the executive branch to lead any kind of plan to thwart, then treat, then vaccinate regarding the Corona virus. You’re absolutely right about Pence. He’s an Indiana Republican politician. What else would we expect from such a shallow wretch?

    But the answer to the above is simple: Psychopaths don’t give a single damn about anybody but themselves. Trump doesn’t care AT ALL about anyone but himself. Pence was obliged to follow and reinforced the insanity. They are a match made in Hell.

  7. Larry,
    i agree. ive been coming here to get a view from well educated people,who obviously have a decent education,and hopefully,a mindset to use it to shed light on those who deem themselves correct after indulgences from social and commercial media. im finding facts here to relate to and lay term them down so us social misfits can relate.your agast i never use capitals and dignify my perception in $5 words. ive grown up around media that was to the most part centered,(until reagan)and opinions also from people who share them,in lay terms.
    i do come from a well educated background but seen my life working blue collar over a pin stripe. i today see that same pin stripe telling me its a uniform that tells me, they are above me.
    excuse the view, go fuck yourself if this is how and why you have taught Americans to hate its own democracy. o.k. that out of way. im not reflecting on anyone here. im sure were all above the
    crap weve been handed since reagan. at 66, ive read and watched in full view the dismantaling of our democracy and self preservation. im down on street level, and im in full view, and discussing with others of my own socio-economic status about the everyday culture that has now expressed
    its munich style mob. in recent articles from various print and online journals,were all up in arms about what has happen,few have gone to where it started,and why. i watched lindseed(you call him what you want)grahm on c span go on about how and why he supported trump,to a public audiance on stage after the gate crash. he sure did his best to tell me why it didnt happen that way and how i saw our countrys people amass DC and take matters in their hands while grahm washed his hands.we seen the pics, we dont really see why. as educators here,im sure you have a great understanding on how you teach a mind,er,person,to act resposable and to the beat of our countries needs over our own when needed. the fact is, we have allowed so many news medias and false narritve of such to spawn a billion dollar mind over a working class pride to be part of the so called(now) American dream. ive had my share here also on degrading my opinion of how wall sreet has run this mob fromDC the last 4 years. its wall street think tanks,and how many of our reps on both sides of the isle and state houses, were elected to do just that, control our media and controling our goverment. even murdochs demond seeds sees this as DC mob as malicious,but again hes just washing his hands. ( does mcconnel get a dunce hat now?)
    the startling fact is,when the BLM people were in DC the police were heavy handed compared to this travisty. ive been here and said,im in the presence of such as the trumpers,and proud boys, etc,they are dangerous. ive stood in front of them the last 4 years and made my case. not in media, in person. i come from a lower class,(many here would evaluate my socio-economic state) of neighborhood. i wear jeans and working class Ts,i can walk that street. coming here i get ammunition and in words, hopefully set a minset,its not just trump, he a vehicle, its who you elect,and who they are working for. people in suits have no right to represent any working class person today.its all convience for $ to get elected. i never seen a person in a T shirt and jeans stand for election to any office here in America. its always the fabrication of the suit,as i said above. its visual,and it tells people what they are,not,who they are.simple math? look at that headline in google or some right wing site about so called news, it was presented in that socio- economic class. were not all poor who support the trumpisteen march. when ive encountered say, contarctors who support trump, why? because he changes things,makes them right. well, im still waiting for your answer. all he did was allow the wall streeters like youeself take more money out of the working class and give it to you(your right,numbers dont lie dow at 30.000) much for gaining any traction for a living wage.
    id like to mention something i feel important besides ones pocket. its the why we are here and why we have witnessed the downfall of our world view,and home town allegance.
    theres a journalist named Eric Altman, hes leaving the staff,and he didnt say where,ive followed his pro progressive,diligent views and research,and opinions,since reading his pieces decades ago. in his final narritive,he has 3 parts of why hes leaving. it would educate everyone here to read them and sit for awhile and look back,at how and why,we got here,and when..
    best wishes,still lurking

  8. As any epidemiologist will tell you. It is a long way from having a vaccine to having everyone vaccinated.

    I will agree with the State of Indiana Web site, as a IT veteran, it took me several minutes to even find the button that would get you started on the “schedule my shot” function. Hearing from several friends, it does seem like it going pretty smoothly in Indiana, but still very slow.

  9. Imagine how streamlined the vaccine program would be if we had single payer healthcare.

  10. Thanks to Germans of Turkish background (and my antiquity), I got a shot of Moderna vaccine yesterday afternoon and am scheduled to receive my second shot four weeks later. I expect nonetheless to wear a mask both before and after the second shot as a matter of what I perceive to be good citizenship in modeling good behavior. I do not agree with Trump’s maskless propaganda, even if personally immune. As to how the view that my “freedom” is involved, uh, I stop at red lights and wear seat belts, too. Such infringements!

    As for Trump’s psychopathy, garbage in, garbage out. He badly needs some serious couch time with a Viennese shrink in a quiet environ in the hope that his disease can be contained even though too late for a cure, but from a sane perspective and the danger posed to our democratic republic, he should be removed from office without delay, as his participation in the events at the capitol a few days ago conclusively demonstrates.

    I see no reason that this great country should fall or even be slowed in its quest for greatness as a result of psychopathic obsession for power by anyone, including but not limited to Trump and such opportunists as Hawley, Sasse, Cruz, Rubio, and other enablers in both House and Senate who approved of Trump’s capitol caper for raw political gain, all of whom should resign or suffer expulsion from their seats. As for when Trump should be expelled from power and prosecuted – yesterday.

  11. Indiana’s woefully “inadequate” an un-navicable online vaccine registration should come as no surprise to those of us who had daily messages from Indiana’s Covid tracking effort following a positive test. Too few questions, too little data requested. Boiled down, the questions amounted to “How ya feelin’ today? Any new symptoms?”

    The initial phone call to begin contact tracing was a little better, but not by much.

  12. We have been taught that the groups who matter are Democrats and Republicans. Obviously life is far more complicated than that or by skin color or education or collected wealth or Faith or zip code or willingness to comply with our laws.

    We nerds have been handed the analogous situation that reality is chemistry and physics and biology and geology, etc. There’s only one reality but in order to get our heads around it we create the abstraction of groups to organize the big picture into separate little pictures.

    Biden’s favorite word seems to be united. What unites us is far more important than what divides us.

    The fact is that progress has been expanding our view to encompass even a bigger picture. What really unites us is that we are 7.5B highly connected humans making resource demands on limited earth and pretending like only our time matters.

    Until we can use our brains to go up the scale to more inclusive rather than down to only people exactly like us in every way, our intelligence will be inadequate to our challenges.

  13. I’m not making excuses for the bungled roll-out. Leaving it to the under-resourced states wasn’t ever a viable plan.

    That said, they got a vaccine out in record time. The initial roll-out is seriously clunky… but let’s make sure that we, as individuals, are doing our part. Quit bitching about the wait times, the lame website, etc. and get a shot in your arm. Seriously. And if it’s not your turn, help other people who are eligible to get signed up.

    Remember it takes about a month from the shot for maximum immunity. Don’t wait around for a better website, or a single shot, or such. In a month things can get MUCH worse.

  14. As much as I’d love to lay 100% of the fault of inept and/or incompetent government to the Current Occupant (only one Scaramucci left in his term!), it can’t be. Intentional malgovernance started with the 1979 Presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan with its 2nd biggest lie (the first was supply-side economics): “Government isn’t the solution. Government is the problem”. He and many of his disciples, including Mitch Daniels, carried this like a banner into many state legislatures and executive offices. It is also a well-documented strategy embraced by organizations such as The Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity (Koch Bros), Club For Growth (McIntosh), and Americans for Tax Reform (Grover Norquist) to shrink government by discrediting it and in ways that are visible and touch peoples’ lives. Intentionally defunding departments, or hobbling it with red-tape, or staffing it with incompetents, or creating competing interests, and on and on until they fail to support their mission. 

    There are many examples of this, and two of the most visible and egregious were what former Governor Daniels did to the Departments of Motor Vehicles and Family & Social Services (If you’re not aware of those you either didn’t live here then or were hiding under a rock). But the most heinous and far-reaching example of this tactic, and coordinated at the national level, are what Governors Daniels, Pence and now Holcomb have done and are still doing to destroy our system of public education through commoditization and privatization. And it all started with, and still depends on, the total vilification of public schools, public school teachers, and public school teacher unions.  I just started reading a new book by Jack Scheider and Jennifer Berkshire called A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School and I look forward to the opportunity to share a thought or two about it in comments on a future post as appropriate.

    So, as it is, I’m impatiently waiting for our local Board of Health to be given permission to vaccinate people of my age (60-69) at the county’s Department of Health facility with 4 parking places. Just 10 miles North of us in Branch County Michigan, I could make an appointment today to get a shot at a large vaccination center readied to quickly offer their citizens protection from further harm of the Coronavirus. Because, well, that’s what government is supposed to do.

    The GOP isn’t the party of Trump. The GOP is the party of Big Lies. And the biggest of them all was that Trump was not a pathological nut job. Mainstream Media and millions of political moderates believed this big lie for 5 long years and have only just realized how wrong they were on January 6, 2021.

  15. Do you recall the 60 Minutes (Dec., 2020) show devoted to the US plan for inoculating 300 million people against Covid 19?

    After a career as an Army supply officer, four star General Gus Perna was two months away from retirement when President Trump tapped him to lead Operation Warp Speed. 60 Minutes went into his operations center where the plan to get the vaccine out to 300 million Americans is being orchestrated by military specialists brought in from across the country. What I saw was impressive and reassuring. It looked to me as if the military led Operation Warp Speed could and would get the job done, even if confronted by unexpected obstacles. So.

    What happened? The only answer I’ve seen in the media is that the Trump administration decided to bypass General Perna and Operation Warp Speed, ship directly to states, and then wash its hands of further responsibility. Why? The administration wants through its sabotage of the rollout to provide one more demonstration of how government cannot do anything right and therefore should itself be shut down.

    Does subversion legally require someone’s intent to subvert a SPECIFIC GOVERNMENT, or would subverting GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL be considered criminal subversion?

  16. Competence has been banished from the land for so long that many of us forget what it looks and feels like. When it is reintroduced by the Biden administration, it will be welcomed like an old friend returning from abroad after a lengthy vacation. Logistics – a key weapon against the virus – won WWII 75 years ago. Since that time it has become a more sophisticated discipline and was shown by General Honoré to be alive and well when he put New Orleans back together after Bush and Brown did their best to wreck it following Hurricane Katrina.

    Individuals who never develop a respectable level of expertise at anything complicated have no understanding about how to plan and execute responses to great challenges. They, especially Trump, don’t even know that it is possible. The experts Biden deputizes to address the myriad aspects of bringing Covid-19 under control will restore our faith in our county’s ability to solve seemingly intractable problems. They will do it surprisingly quickly and re-establish our position as a country others want to emulate. If the Trumpers have a sense of shame, most will self-eliminate as they watch how people who know and care what they are doing go about the relatively routine work of making public health whole again. They will, collectively, be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2021. Covid-19 will disappear long before racism, conspiracy theories, lies and thuggery, aka Trump’s legacy.

  17. “One lesson Americans should have learned from the past four years is that competent governance matters.”

    This is the one thing that far, far too many people overlooked. It’s not just we had a reality show star, failed businessman running the country. (I am jumping ahead using the past tense, but I am so excited to see Trump gone, I’ve started doing that.) That reality show star appointed scores of people throughout the government who were not competent to do the job for which they were assigned.

    So many of my Trumper friends talk about how liberal Kamala Harris is. (They generally leave Biden alone when complaining someone is too far left.) Perhaps. But she has the competence to do the job as President if she had to step in. So did Hillary. Trump clearly lacked the competence to do the job in 2016 and he learned absolutely nothing in four years of being president to render him competent in 2020.

  18. I have faith that Biden’s team is going to get all US citizens (that want it) innoculated in rapid fashion once he assumes Potus power. Vaccine is being produced by multiple pharms & more in the pipeline to the States. It’s amazing what clear headed & intentional professionals can direct and accomplish. Once all healthcare workers & first responders are innoculated the most vulnerable will get theirs. By then Biden’s in & the force of US will be behind getting all (who want it)the vaccine.

  19. Patrick summed up a lot of my thoughts – thank you

    I had wondered why FedEx and UPS delivered the vaccine and not the military. Again, a belief in “private industry is always superior”.

    Operation Warp Speed (notice T’s obsession with Star Trek) did boost early production (companies were paid whether the vaccines worked or not), but we also forget the real science. Private companies didn’t “invent” the new technologies out of thin air. Years of government sponsored research in government and university labs gave us a great new technical route to creating vaccines. OWS did not speed development of the vaccine; that was the product of the technology, developed largely at tax payer expense. BTW – the journal Science named the process that provided for rapid development of the vaccine as the “Breakthrough of the Year” for 2020.

    I hate to end on a downer, but – I heard an interview with a Republican Congresswoman today (can’t remember her name or state – newly elected) – She was appalled by the violence and lawlessness. She thought that the rhetoric was overheated – and she repeated that dangerous mantras that got us here, “on both sides” and “in both parties” – over and over – the rhetoric is overheated in both parties; we refuse to cooperate in both parties, etc. over and over – she must have said it a dozen time. Welcome the the new Republican Party of 2021 – everyone is at fault, so no one is at fault – we are innocent; we don’t need to change

    Here’s to rapid and efficient vaccinations in 2021. I will end on the hopeful note.

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