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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 2/4/21

Good morning! Today’s Musing is a potpourri of comments from others (and responses)… PRINCIPLES VERSUS TRUMPISM A few weeks ago, after I said that I was “done with Trump supporters,” I received this from a friend: “…In one of your recent Musings you said you were DONE with Trump supporters / Conservative minded thinkers…I believe broadening your perspective would enhance your Musings. [Your points] read more like propaganda rather than providing a fair assessment of the reality of what took place this summer and this week…Do you not consider statues of our founders / Lincoln symbols of Democracy?” My response was:

First off, I didn’t say conservatives—only Trumpists. There’s a big difference.

In the summer they were actually protesting something important. Protesting police brutality and the murdering of defenseless Black people in the custody of the police qualifies as a legitimate beef where I come from. Here, people were complaining that their guy didn’t win an election and it wasn’t fair…without proof…

The Black Lives Matter protests actually were peaceful. Hundreds took place. Yes, looting and vandalism occurred at some and that’s bad. But it really was a few and generally toward the end of an otherwise peaceful rally. That said, the looters were arrested and some are being prosecuted. Here, some police helped the rioters in their exit.

The objective of the summer's rallies was not the destruction of property or putting people in physical danger; here it was the primary objective. Here, some of the protesters were prepared to take hostages.

The police were actively involved in quelling the other protests. Here, they largely stood idly by.

Here the President and his allies were fomenting violence and insurrection.

Here the symbols of democracy and the very acts of our democracy (Congress doing its business) were attacked. I don’t like that statues are defaced but I don’t think it’s equivalent at all.


On another, rather humorous, note…

I was approached last week to participate as the “reasonable” conservative participant in a conversation for graduate students. After indicating I was flattered, I noted that I abandoned the Republican party a while ago and that, while I still adhere to a few conservative principles, I’d have to describe myself as still a centrist (a la Scoop Jackson or Nelson Rockefeller), but probably leaning more toward the left in today’s environment.

I indicated to the organizer that it might be difficult to find many principled Republicans out there. So many Republicans were knowingly furthering the election lies of our former president, hyping up the more extreme ends of the political spectrum and then defending the continuation of that lie, all while supporting further suppression of voting for future elections. It gives one pause after all of this to understand what they stand for. It appears they will give former president Trump a free pass and not convict him. Many seem desperate to show how low they can go in currying favor with Trump. Kevin McCarthy, slithered his way down to Mar-a-Lago to seek the favor of the current Defendant in Chief. This is the same McCarthy who declared that Trump had incited the rioters, only now to state that everyone in America shares some of the blame. Wow…

I’m not sure many of the self-styled “new” Republican party can lay claim to conservative principles. It’s interesting to see that they have rediscovered fiscal responsibility with a Democratic president, after having cut taxes so drastically, resulting in a ballooning national deficit. I’m hoping they will learn that the word “conservative” has the same root as “conservation” and will support the efforts to not further despoil the Earth and work toward addressing climate change. I’m hoping they will rediscover that “free markets” also mean “free trade” and turn away from trade wars. I’m hoping they will rediscover the value of international alliances that can only help increase trade and human well-being while reducing the risk of war.

I’m guessing the cries of “lower taxes,” “build a wall,” and “America first” will continue, along ever-increasing race-baiting and fear-mongering to respond to the desires of “the base.” In the meantime, the party can’t find the courage to speak out as a group against a crazy lady who endorses dangerous conspiratorial racism and antisemitism. Leadership doesn’t look like this.


A couple of weeks ago, I had noted a few French-based and British-based TV shows worthy of watching. Barry Patmore recommended a show we just started, Lupin, inspired by the adventures of Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief, a popular French serialization from the early 20th century. I love that it was serialized in the magazine Je sais tout (“I know all”). Imagine a thief with a soft spot and who is smarter than most (a la Robert Wagner in It Takes a Thief) and something to prove. In this case, the hero is avenging his father for injustices inflicted by a wealthy family. Great short series that leaves me wanting more (which is unusual).

Barry also recommends Call My Agent, which IMBD says “plunges us into the intense and madcap world of talent agents…With humor and wit, the agency partners juggle their chaotic personal lives with the needs of the demanding celebrities they represent.” I’ve started watching this and agree it’s great.

A final French series, recommended by several people, is The Bureau, a political thriller following the daily lives and missions of the Frances external security forces. It is very positively reviewed. The New York Times describes it as “moody, cynical & stylish.”


After the list of presidential libraries and sites, Howard Kroll offers two more, both dealing with the Garfield assassination. Garfield was the second of the four presidents assassinated in office (Lincoln being the first and Kennedy the most recent…trivia question: who was the fourth?):

123 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. It is the location where Chester A. Arthur lived and was sworn into office when Garfield died. You cannot go in, but there is a small plaque memorializing the event (see attached photos). Of note, Arthur was a product of New York “machine” patronage but when he became president, he acted to break down the spoils system.

The Former Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in DC. This is where Garfield was shot. It is now in or near the National Gallery of Art’s West Building. There has been no marker showing the location of the assassination until a couple of years ago.

For a great book regarding Garfield, his times, the assassination and his death, largely the result of poor medical care as he lingered for several months, Destiny of the Republic, by Catherine Millard, is a phenomenal read. Garfield had the bad fortune of being shot right around the time germ theory was gaining prominence. Yet his official doctors resisted, beginning with them probing the bullet wounds with their fingers and other implements while he lay on the floor of the railroad station. The subtitle of the book tells it all: “A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.” It is a brilliant page-turner of great narrative history.


In addition to Garfield, Lincoln, and Kennedy, William McKinley was the fourth president assassinated. Next Presidential trivia (answers appearing next week):

Who was the assassin in each of these four murders and what was their alleged justification for doing so?

· Which president served the short term in office and why?

Warm regards, Glenn

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