You wouldn’t like it here
There ain’t no entertainment
And the judgments are severe
The Maestro says it’s Mozart
But it sounds like bubble gum
When you’re waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come
When I started this blog, not so long ago, my plan was to write about the possibilities of a new society emerging from the darkness of the present moment. I saw the pandemic as a force for the transformation of a world poised on the brink of climate change and apparently unable to make the adjustments necessary to avert the crisis.
Now the crisis has reached its climax. Facing death at potentially close hand, we are witnessing deterioration at all levels, from a plague that continues to spread to global economic collapse and a government in a state of cardiac arrest. And I have to say that I, idealist that I am and would-be visionary, cannot see the outcome.
Now diagnosed with Covid and heavily medicated with a powerful steroid, the man in the White House, coughing and spewing viral contagion unarrested even by whatever protection a mask could afford, is doing rallies for his stuttering campaign. It is a pathetic sight, one that might evoke the deepest sympathy for such a pathetic display of mental unraveling, if we hadn’t already lost our compassion for a man who has put immigrant children in cages, whose lies have been totaled at some fantastic number, who has stopped the Iranians from access to its money, who has been bombing Yemen with his friends the Saudis (a country where half the population is stricken with a famine the proportions of which we fat Americans can barely imagine) and, well, you know the list.
Last week Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an intention to form a commission to evaluate the “president’s” competence to continue in office and hopefully decree that he must be removed. How long this might take in a sluggish bureaucracy like ours is hard to guess – the word emergency seems to be out of parlance in our country, or we would not be where we are sitting today. Indeed, it’s extraordinary that we have come so far. Even before the steroid-induced mania, psychiatrists issued their statement that this man was not fit to remain in the highest office in the world.
Evidence that this man got into power with the backing of Russian and Saudi oligarchs has also been out in the open. If my grandchildren were to ask me what happened to the Mueller investigation and subsequent impeachment, I would have to say I had no idea. But even before that useless and extravagant process, clues were falling like embers over the political scene. In 2016, Dutch public TV released a series of three films called, “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump,” tracking and exposing in celluloid the trail of thugs who had been investing in the Donald’s empire for decades. You can view the films online.
More recently, Sarah Kendzior has published her book, Hiding in Plain Sight, dissecting the sinister network of alliances that supports the lumbering tyranny threatening to stretch its filthy tentacles around the throat of our nation, stripping its economy for sordid personal benefit, with absolutely no ethical, much less edifying, purpose.
If that were not enough, we know of Trump’s association with the slovenly Jerry Epstein and his own lecherous history of abusing and raping women, even a twelve-year-old girl he allegedly tied or chained to the bed.
That this disgusting individual could be president, that in a nation of checks and balances no resume or qualifications was ever proposed or required, no tax report, no work history, no bankruptcies declared, when any job – any puny little executive job – in this entire country qualifies and investigates its applicants, is simply incredible. Donald Trump fell into power through a gaping loophole that no one ever saw.
What next? We are in the midst of an election, and most of us are pinning our hopes on Biden. Biden’s presence at the October 15 Town Hall in Philadelphia was relaxing, almost soothing; here was a normal politician, dapper, decent, kind, like a visitation from a previous, more coherent era, a man with a plan.
But he’s going to have an awful lot to deal with.
In just one little pocket of the country, here in Sonoma Valley, though spared the direct onslaught of the fires, we are seeing the impact of an economic collapse that some say has only just begun. It is affecting everything, from the food supply to government agencies. Robots are running the system, and robots can’t think. And we’re all getting very tired.
That’s pretty annoying and makes it hard to get things done. But if you are someone without a job – 31,400 people countywide — you are still living under the threat of eviction, according to the Sonoma Valley Housing Group, despite the county moratorium and a state bill prohibiting evictions due to Covid. And that is due, at least in part, to the market pressure of well-heeled home buyers from Silicon Valley, now working at home, who are seeking properties here.
Since the new law AB3088 only applies to Covid, landlords have already begun to find other causes for eviction not covered by the law, even when tenants have been paying rent, in order to remodel for more affluent tenants. Meanwhile, the County moratorium on evictions runs out in February.
The prospect of thousands of newly homeless people in the midst of a highly contagious pandemic has health authorities shuddering. Even if not evicted, local families face a large “consumer debt” for the months of unpaid rent. That’s like an ax about to drop.
But is this Moratorium the solution? The demands are many and the costs not determined. Where will the money come from? The County paid off its budgetary deficit this month with $25 million from the PG&E settlement. Just $10 million went to affordable housing!
Times are tough. The future is impossible to predict. We are quite unused to this level of uncertainty in our lives, with all its new rules put in place for protection from the spreading virus limiting our options in so many spheres. We are pushed to develop new habits, new attitudes: an unprecedented amount of patience mixed with a high level of grit. The pressure is too much for some; therapists are booked, and the health center has taken on new staff in behavioral health, the very nice Noah Harris who helped me out of a crisis last week. And people have been kind.
There are signs of change. Cyclists are everywhere. People are doing yoga outside at Bikram, to the live beat of a Congo drum last night. Innovative small businesses, though struggling, are surviving, and sidewalks now host tables downtown. Halloween festivities are on hold, but kids will find something to do with their attentive parents. Many people are harvesting their new home gardens.
On October 17 an ad hoc group of women led by Connie Schlelein who organized the ongoing daily protests in front of the post office is holding a Women’s March in the square. She writes in an e-mail, “Our goal is encouraging people to vote, showing that we the people are in charge and that the apathy is over.”
Maybe the miracle will come.
(To request a copy of the SVHG letter, write [email protected]/)
Parts of this blog will appear in my November column in the Sonoma County Gazette.