Despite the president’s magical thinking that if we ignore it, somehow it will go away, that nasty virus seems to be winning in most every state in the USA. For now, the Midwest and Great Plains states are hurting the most, but, clearly, we are in for a tough winter and probably equally tough early spring. Election Day will bring us close to 250,000 COVID deaths, still without any consistent national policy in place. European countries like France, some of whom thought they had it beat, are also seeing another wave. But, unlike us, they’re shutting down tight until the worst passes.
The economy is hurting in many places, but the pain is very uneven. For example, the real estate market here in California (which includes Malibu) is very hot, the existing median sales price in September for an existing single-family home was a statewide median of $712,430, which is up 17.6 percent for the year, according to the California Association of Realtors. Houses are selling at the fastest pace since February 2009. Of course, $712,430 might buy you a gardener’s shack here in Malibu. The stock market is also doing fine. One year ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 26,827 and today it’s back up to 28,308 even after a precipitous dip in March. The problem is that most other Americans are not doing that well, and it’s not looking like there is going to be any additional federal money for now, since they can’t seem to cut a deal. The budget hawks who were all very quiet when they pushed through a trillion-dollar tax cut have suddenly woken up to a growing deficit and are dead set against us spending it on silly things like milk, food and rent. Strangely enough, when you look it up, our budget deficit, which I will admit is quite large, is owed 77 percent to us, the American people, and 23 percent to outsiders. Since, frankly, I can’t see us foreclosing on our own government, I’m wondering if this is much ado about rather little. Perhaps the government could just issue shares in America, payable with interest sometime in the future. We financed World War II with bond drives, so why couldn’t we just get the Kardashians out there selling peace bonds?
As I look forward, there are two things that terrify me. First is that the LA Dodgers, after a spectacular season and an amazing playoff comeback, may already be spent and may not have enough left to take the series. My pessimism, of course, comes from a childhood in Brooklyn watching the Dodgers win the pennants and the Yankees steal way the big prize in the World Series. That empty spot way down in my gut has never left me, but maybe this is the year.
There is another possibility that terrifies me even more—that is that this presidential election will somehow end up in the hands of the United States Supreme Court, because if it does, I’m fearful it will mean civil war. No one will accept their decision and it will tear our country apart. Just recently, in a 4-to-4 split decision, the court let stand an important decision about voting in Pennsylvania, and that only occurred because Chief Justice Roberts voted with the three liberals on the court. If a critical decision is made by the court on this election, after Barrett is on the court, it will be a disaster for this country, one I’m fearful from which we will never recover.
Here in California, many people are voting early. Of the 21 million or so registered voters, 4 million have already voted, which is way ahead of previous elections. It’s also looking like this election is going to break box office records for turnout (this is Hollywood after all), which shows what a state can do when it wants its citizens to vote. Mail-in balloting is great and easy. However, there are lots of states that don’t want their citizens to vote, or at least certain types of their citizens, and this has been pretty much OK with our U.S. Supreme Court so far. So, you can see the populace is already primed to believe that anything the court does is partisan, and they may be right, which is why I’m so fearful.
On a lighter note, several people have taken me to task for running a front-page picture of a couple of fishermen who landed a 367-pound bluefin tuna here in close-in waters. Essentially, they accused me of being insensitive to nature and oblivious to what they saw as a one-sided battle to land the fish. I feel I must respond.
I am sure my critics must be aware that bluefin tuna, beautiful as they are, are not vegans; in fact, they are not even vegetarians. They are, and I hesitate to use the word, carnivores. I know in certain circles being a carnivore seems to be evidence of a lack of moral character, and even an insufficient devotion to our planet’s environment, but I can assure my readers that 367-pound bluefin was not the least bit disturbed by that accusation. That tuna, which is the largest anyone had seen in the last 67 years since they dredged Marina Del Rey, got to be his enormous size by eating lots and lots of small fish and sea life, many of whom I’m certain had their young lives ended before they had a chance to grow and breed and enjoy fish family life. Their lives were cut short by this gigantic, efficient predator who wiped out generations of other fish. This was not just a predator but really the “Dexter” of predators, the serial killer that all the other sea life had heard about and hoped never to encounter. I am sure that in the kelp forests and the rocky bottoms where the denizens of our bay gather, there is a collective sigh of relief that the monster fish is dead. And lest you think he met his end scooped up in a net or in some other ignominious way, the truth is that this great fish met his end after a three-and-a-half-hour battle with man, mano a mano, and it was right and true and as it should be.