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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 12/14/20

Good morning, Today the Electoral College meets. Well, technically it doesn’t “meet.” Rather, electors meet in their respective State capitals and vote. It is remarkable that there has been such build-up to this day. This date hasn’t taken on significance of any kind since 1876, when the election for president was undecided and competing electors from some states were presented to the Electoral College. Other than that historical anomaly and the Adams/Jackson election, the meeting of the Electoral College has been a decidedly non-event. Today is arguably one of the most historic days in the life of our republic. It is a day whose purpose has been the subject of over 50 dismissed or withdrawn lawsuits that asserted but failed to demonstrate election fraud. The election, the most precisely executed, transparent, public election in the nation’s history has been under attack by knaves. Wild-eyed absurd political theories, promulgated by an unhinged President unconcerned about the damage he has done and continues to do to our country, supported by supporters and enablers of this travesty, have caused many of our fellow citizens into doubting our democratic institutions. And for what? For the game of the pursuit and manipulation of power and so that our president can line his pockets. Presumably now, finally, this absurd circus of unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, amateur statisticians suggesting Biden could not possibly have gotten more votes than Clinton, and slamming of our dedicated professionals that ran the most thorough, transparent, and unmanipulated election in memory, is finally over. But the damage remains. Congratulations, Joe and Kamala. And, I might add, congratulations to our country. It now will be up to Joe and his administration to dig out from the calamities created by this gang of kleptocrats, ideologues, and craven political power junkies and try to fix some things—some of which were broken intentionally. It is now up to a new administration to address the profound problems we face, while battling widespread misinformation, and try to regain trust in our institutions—government, the media, universities, science, experts…a taller order than one would think. Yesterday was another 25th issue anniversary of Musings from the Bunker. And with it, some sharing… BEST FICTION Apeirogon, by Colum McCann. On its face it the story of an Israeli father who loses his daughter to a suicide bombing and a Palestinian father who loses his daughter to a random rubber bullet fired by a young Israeli soldier. They find each other and speak out about the conflict and employ their grief to change hearts and minds. What is most interesting about the book is the way the story is presented. This is not a “linear” story. It is a mosaic of history, metaphor, the desert and water, birds and migration, aspiration, photographs, musings, and so much more. The “chapters” are numbered and consist of a few words, a sentence, a single picture, or pages of text. An apeirogon is a polygon of infinite sides. The story, the chapters and the structure reflect the notion of a place and a problem with infinite facets and perspectives. BEST NON-FICTION I like two books about instrumentalities of our federal government. One is the Senate—which has been plagued with doing too little. The other is the Court—which is at real risk of trying to do too much… For my money, Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate is the best book to explain the history and lore of the Senate. It is the third volume of Caro’s Biography of LBJ. Caro has written four volumes (to date; a fifth is coming) on LBJ. This volume provides the best introduction to the history, traditions, operations, and arcana related to the Senate. Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine—Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court is one of the best single volume exposes of the Court and its workings. Meticulous, anecdotal, and fascinating. For a snapshot of a consequential justice of another time, I loved Louis D. Brandeis, American Prophet, by Jeremy Rosen. BEST IDEAS FOR FIXING THE COURT In a tactical error, I believe the debate about the confirmation of Amy Coney Barret was mischaracterized by President-elect Biden and the Democrats during the campaign. They saw her confirmation as wrong because it came at the end of the Trump presidential term. But actually, it should have been prevented in order to right the wrong of the Republican-led Senate not considering the Merrick Garland nomination in 2016. As a result, President Trump received one “extra” nomination. By virtue of the three Trump nominations (that should have been only two), the make-up of the court is a 6-3 conservative majority, when by all rights, logic and fairness, it should be a 5-4 conservative majority. I think a move to increase the Court to 11 justices is simply to rectify the court packing already done by the Republican Senate. The court packing occurred in 2016 and by virtue of failing to follow the precedent they sought to create. There are other good ideas, like term limits or an upper age limit. But something needs to be done to reduce the politicization of the court. BEST MUSIC The L.A. Philharmonic, performing Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in “Salon Los Angeles”: Here they are with “Dancing With Myself,” in black and white and dressed for the 30s: BEST TWEET There are so many. Soon, I’m likely to stop quoting them. This one is good because of its strange use of capitalization, strange turns of phrases, absurd assertions, and the non-sensical (is the media fake or silent or both?). “He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!” A SIGN THAT THE INTERNET SURVEILLANCE OF US IS FLAWED One would have thought the methodology for cataloguing my interests and spewing out advertisements keyed to my desires would have refined since then. Alas, Facebook provided me links to items being sold “near me.” Here’s the inventory of their suggestions last week:

  • Five pounds of lead ingots, which apparently have myriad uses, including as sinkers for fishing (I rarely fish)

  • A fender guitar (I don’t play)

  • Female dog cotton underpants (our dog is male)

  • A 1999 Airstream trailer (never have driven, owned, or been a passenger in one before)

  • A 2001 Porsche

A 20% success rate? That’s right at the Mendoza Line. They’ll have to learn to do better than that. BEST MOVIES Midnight in Paris remains my favorite of modern movies set in Paris. Owen Wilson, as a screenwriter, wanders the streets of Paris at night and is transported to 1920s Paris. As he returns to this era, he meets Cole Porter, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemmingway and others. He then is transported to Belle Epoque Paris, meeting Gaugin and Degas. The film, winner of Best Original Screenplay, is a beautifully filmed homage to Paris, the arts, nostalgia and to the question of “which time was the best of times.” Moulin Rouge, the Baz Luhrmann masterpiece based on La Boheme, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (with a great supporting turn by John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec). This film brilliantly melded together a classic story, modern pop and rock music, and remarkable cinematography in a great historic spectacle. BEST STATEMENT ON THE SWAN SONG “The sorry tale of Trump, then, is almost behind us. The difficult tasks of understanding, reflection, and reconstruction are before us, and will last far longer than his appalling strut across the stage of American history.” BEST POETRY Time Is By Henry van Dyke Time is Too Slow for those who Wait, Too Swift for those who Fear, Too Long for those who Grieve, Too Short for those who Rejoice; But for those who Love, Time is not. The next “anniversary” is the 300th Musing, in a little over three weeks and in the new year! Keep sending in recommendations, advice, corrections, and complaints… Warm regards, Glenn

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