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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/13/20

Good morning!

Let's take a break. No politics—no election—just some fun stuff for a change, as we head to the weekend! I’ll have some policy suggestions on Monday, but it will be about ideas and not about the election…


While I decry the failure of our schools to teach history or civics to our children, and the ramifications this poses for our electoral process and civil society, I believe television might actually save us. We are in a “golden age” of high quality television about history and biography. Much of it is based upon war narratives of Vietnam, WWI and WWII. Some of it is excellent biographical presentations, like Paul Giamatti as John Adams. And some of it is the dramatization of more recent history, like the Trial of the Chicago Seven. Here are a few short miniseries with a narrative flow and an end (as opposed to season after season after season of bingeing!).

  • Chernobyl. While I lived through the news of this event, I never fully appreciated the hair-trigger tension associated with the nuclear mishap, its discovery, cover-up and handling. The acting is tremendous. Perhaps most revealing is the manner in which the film, its cinematography, its mood, and its unspoken commentary on the former Soviet Union show the bleak nature, lack of trust, and political/moral bankruptcy of the FSU.

  • I, Tonya. You really couldn’t set out to write such a crazy plot. Remember how we were all flabbergasted by the idea of breaking a competitor’s legs in order to gain advantage in the world of figure skating? A sad story of a sad family and what people will do, wrongly thinking they’re actually doing something good.

  • The Comey Rule. I haven’t watched it yet but Dennis Mulhaupt recommends it highly. Jeff Daniels as former FBI Director James Comey, based on his book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership. This is the story of a man of principle presented with multiple bad alternatives and yet, in trying to choose the least among those presented, seemed to end up having to have picked the worst… (I read the book). President Trump still vilifies this man who, probably more than any other single person in the 2016 election, tipped the balance of opinion Mr. Trump’s way in his several proclamations about the Hillary Clinton emails (seeming in these days of political duplicity and decadence almost quaint in its relative unimportance).

  • The Loudest Voice in the Room. Russell Crowe, to my mind one of the greatest actors of his generation, in a star turn as Roger Ailes. See the vanity, vision and ultimate destruction of this choreographer of the demonic Fox News, untethering the news from any pretense of objectivity and seeing (presciently) that it was all about popularity, ratings, personalities and stowing people’s deepest fears. Sean Hannity is a character of minimal importance in this series, laughably vacuous and incoherent.

  • LBJ, Rob Reiner film starring Woody Harrelson. The story of a flawed man who did monumental things in his administration. But for the Vietnam War’s escalation in the face of long-odds and advice to get out, LBJ might have gone down in history as a great President. This is echoed in the sad decisions of George W. Bush, who fought disease in Africa, tried to further the notion of “compassionate conservatism” and gave America voice, solace and purpose after 9/11. But these great errors unfortunately result in a destiny of derision and perceived mediocrity.

  • Band of Brothers. Among the best of WWII stories.


Yes, I know I’m becoming (or perhaps just increasingly becoming) an old crank, but here are a few more things that irk me…

  1. People who don’t understand that pedestrians walking in the road are supposed to walk against traffic, so as to see and be seen by oncoming traffic

  2. Bicyclists who don’t understand that they are vehicles—ride on the right side of the road, stop at stoplights and stop signs, don’t ride through crosswalks (unless you dismount)

  3. People who say “irregardless”—it’s not a word

  4. People who say “anyways”—also not a word

  5. People who can’t differentiate between its and it’s

  6. People saying “no worries” or “no problem” instead of “you’re welcome.” What made you think I was trying to worry you or create a problem?

  7. People on walks without masks who won’t step out of the way

  8. People who say “you know” and “like” every fifth word

  9. People who confuse your and you’re or their and they’re

  10. People who try to use “I” instead of “me” so as to appear knowledgeable, but who are not… E.g., “He was talking to Joe and I.”

  11. People who mix up “imminent” and “eminent.” Things are not imminently fair. And something about to happen is not eminently happening. And the queen is not “her imminence.”

Have a great weekend,


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