There are less than 100 days to the Nov. 3 presidential election and everyone is so focused on the Trump-Biden contest that it’s easy to forget there is an entire slate of candidates, ballot propositions and a Malibu City Council race also in the mix. Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we are all going to be overwhelmingly voting by mail. That creates an entirely new set of problems. For one thing, no one is sure if the post office can handle all these ballots in a timely fashion. To make matters worse, the White House, meaning Trump, is making noise to get us to distrust the post office and even cutting back on their budget. So, you have to approach this year somewhat differently than you have in the past. 

First, sign up for the vote-by-mail-ballot online. They may say it happens automatically, but check in online with the LA County Registrar of Voters, which is running the entire 2020 election—national, state and local—just to be safe. They say that the first day you can return the vote-by-mail ballot, which is statutorily set, will be Oct. 5 or so. There is nothing lost by hanging on to the ballot for a week or two. We at The Malibu Times intend to make our endorsement later that first week for all the races and ballot propositions. Typically, voters tend to vote in two rushes, one rush in the beginning when they receive the vote-by-mail ballots and a second rush toward the end of the campaigns, close to election day. There is no last minute voting at the polls, but you will be able to drop off the last-minute ballots at a local location right up to the polls closing. We’re asking all the local council candidates to send us a photo, short bio and CV, which we will run early before ballots are returned. We’re also going to give them all an opportunity to run a free, 750-word guest editorial to tell us more about who they are, why they’re running, their past experience and what they plan to push if elected. 

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For the first time in weeks, there appears to be the faintest glimmer of hope that the COVID-19 crisis has peaked in California and that, very slowly, things are improving. But in every category that improvement is under 10 percent: that includes new cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. That improvement applies to California and some other states that have tried to be vigilant. But there are many other states that have not been vigilant, or opened too soon, or crazily fought wearing masks or social distancing, and those states are seeing no improvement. In fact, some in the Midwest and the South are seeing a second wave or at least an extension of the first wave. The second wave seems to also be a worldwide phenomenon; countries that thought they had it under control are seeing some additional problems. Maybe people are tired of being shut in and getting less vigilant, maybe even fatalistic. The future problem coming is that the kids are going back to school, and in many districts they are actually going back into the classrooms, which portends an almost-guaranteed rise in the infection rate. Despite the chatter, kids do get the virus and there are already some signs that it impacts many organs of the body. There have been a number of cases where infections have affected victims’ hearts. Some new patients have even been professional baseball players who typically are wonderfully conditioned athletes. So if they can get it, we all can get it, and some of the effects may be long term, even if they don’t kill us. I know there is a massive push to develop a vaccine, but no matter what they say, it’s really going to take years. The AIDS virus research took a least 15 years to come up with the cocktails that worked and still, those aren’t a cure; they merely hold the disease at bay. I suspect COVID-19 will be the same. Viruses have been around a long time and are very adaptive little SOBs. We are already seeing some changes in the virus—mutations. It’s a battle for the virus’ survival versus our survival, and has little to do with the U.S. Constitution, that I can see. 

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Nationally, Congress seems to have fallen back into old habits. They went into recess as the $600 unemployment supplement ran out. The House has already passed an additional $3 trillion bailout and the Senate has come up with their own $1 trillion additional bailout. Normally, that would mean there was a deal in there somewhere. But it looks like the Senate is having problems with the White House; the two seem divided on what they want to do. In any event, the economy had a quick upward spurt in May/June, but that seems to be quickly dying. Additionally, the presidential race is getting closer to the finish line and the Democrats have clearly decided to run out the clock. To put it another way (if you don’t happen to be sports fan) they are just sitting on their lead and trying not to make any mistakes. The Democrats seem to think that Trump will run out of time to revive his campaign. Biden is running an old-fashioned front porch campaign, which has been done by prior presidential candidates probably a century or more ago. Since it seems to be working, Biden’s campaign is not likely to change strategy. If I were a Biden adviser, I’d say, “Joe, go back to the basement, stay there. Then, come out every couple of weeks, make a presidential-type address, then rush back to the basement. We all know that Trump is at his political best when he has a foil to play against, so if you’re not around, it makes it difficult for him to play the game.”

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