As the reign of Potus 45 draws to a close the people of America, or at least that part of the population with a nodding acquaintance with reality, must be wishing that he would play more golf. Because some of the decisions that he is making are jaw dropping. It is difficult to imagine more malevolent yet incompetent decisions being made.
But if anyone is capable of such evil incompetence it is Donald J Trump.
For instance he is botching the roll out of the Covid vaccine.
From Mark Sumner at Daily Kos:
Despite months of listening to Donald Trump brag about the incredible military operation he had put together to distribute a vaccine that did not then exist, states are suddenly discovering that the shipments they were expecting have been drastically reduced without explanation. Meanwhile Pfizer seems just as confused—it says there are millions of doses sitting in its warehouse ready to go, but Trump’s team is allowing them to gather dust.
As Bloomberg reports, some states were informed on Wednesday that their supply of Pfizer’s vaccine would be cut drastically. For Oregon, that means a 40% drop in the 74,000 doses they had been expecting. Gov. Kate Brown tweeted that this was a federal decision made through “Operation Warp Speed.” Oregon is not alone. As The Washington Post reports, officials in multiple states were alerted that their shipments of the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech would be “drastically cut” for next week.
Notices that they would not be getting what they were earlier told was on the way went out to at least six states. That list includes Illinois, Washington, and Maine, in addition to Oregon. Meanwhile, Florida officials seem to have lost their shipments of vaccine altogether, saying they disappeared from the online shipping system.
You would think that Operation Warp Speed would be like, lets do this at warp speed. But no.
A statement for Operation Warp Speed blamed states for “requesting an expedited timeline.” But on Thursday Pfizer put out a statement making it clear: “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
The sudden change in availability would be less suspicious had Trump not spent so much time touting the supposed military efficiency of his distribution system. And a lot less suspicious had Trump not spent the spring threatening governors over the availability of personal protective equipment and respirators.
“I want them to be appreciative,” said Trump. He also stated that he had told Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan because they were not supportive enough of Trump. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” said Trump.
But wait it gets worse. Josh Kovensky at Talkingpointsmemo points out that the problem is bigger than initially estimated:
More than a dozen states are now reporting that the feds slashed their COVID-19 vaccine allocation, leading to questions over the Trump administration’s planning for the distribution effort.
Experts in vaccination and medical supply chains whom TPM contacted expressed dismay and confusion at the situation.
States from California to Maine have said that their vaccine allocations have been cut while Pfizer, the manufacturer, has said that it has “millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
To Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of health policy at CUNY who helped model the rollout of the H1N1 vaccine, it suggests a logistical issue.
“When vaccines get produced and they remain in the warehouse, that means something went wrong with the supply chain,” Lee said. “That it was not coordinated.”
He added that the cut in vaccine shipments, in some cases by 30 percent and some cases by far more, comes amid concerns about “what is the plan with the supply chain and delivery system, and that hasn’t been vey clear.”
Operation Warp Speed and CDC officials informed states of the reduction in vaccine shipments on a call on Wednesday, blaming the issue on manufacturing issues at Pfizer. HHS Secretary Alex Azar did the same in an interview Thursday morning.
Pfizer has denied that, saying that it has yet to receive orders on where to send the doses that it has.
This brings into bright relief the earlier story about how Trump, supposed king of the deal makers, did not secure a further 100 million vaccine doses when it was offered to him. From the New York Times:
Before Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was proved highly successful in clinical trials last month, the company offered the Trump administration the chance to lock in supplies beyond the 100 million doses the pharmaceutical maker agreed to sell the government as part of a $1.95 billion deal over the summer.
But the administration, according to people familiar with the talks, never made the deal, a choice that now raises questions about whether the United States allowed other countries to take its place in line.
This makes a mockery of Trump’s deal making prowess.
This is not the only act of malevolence by the outgoing Trump administration.
The news broke recently that Biden wanted to save $2.6 billion by cancelling the Trump wall.
From the Washington Post:
The U.S. government would save about $2.6 billion if President-elect Joe Biden halts construction on the border wall project on his first day in office, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates reviewed by The Washington Post.
Biden told reporters this summer he would not build “another foot” of the border barriers that became a symbol of the Trump presidency and one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history. But the financial implications of a decision to stop work — including the costs to the government it will potentially incur — have not been publicly disclosed.
So what does a narcissist despot do? From Lara Seligman at Politico:
The tension between the Trump administration and President-elect Joe Biden’s team spilled out into the open on Friday, as officials traded accusations over the status of a series of Defense Department transition meetings that a Biden spokesperson called “invaluable” for national security.
Biden spokesperson Yohannes Abraham directly contradicted acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller’s claims that the two teams “mutually agreed” to pause the interviews until after the holiday, after Axios reported that Miller had abruptly ordered a department-wide halt to cooperation with the transition team.
“Let me be clear, there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break,” Abraham said, adding that the team hopes the Pentagon will resume meetings and answering requests for information “immediately.” “That our agency review teams will be able to have access to the sort of information that is invaluable for keeping the homeland safe.”
Chris Miller was a Trump appointee who took his role over on November 1.
But wait there is more. Trump has attempted to shift the blame to China following allegations that Russian entities have been engaged in a concerted hacking campaign on American institutions and corporations. And claimed that it was evidence of a hack that did not occur, that of voting machines. From NBC News:
President Donald Trump commented for the first time on Saturday on the hacking campaign that has torn through U.S. government and businesses that many experts believe is the work of Russian intelligence and downplayed the security breach as well as attempted to deflect blame away from Russia.
Trump’s comments contradict what members of his own government have said about the hack and it is the latest example of his unwillingness to criticize Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have said interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump.
“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of… discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!),” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump also baselessly claimed on Twitter that the attack could have impacted voting machines, continuing his campaign to discredit the election results. Twitter immediately flagged the president’s tweet, directing users to other sources of information on the election results.
It is almost as if the election did not happen.