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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/16/21

Good morning, THE MUSINGS—WHAT’S NEXT? I’ve been trying to pick the date when I go from daily to thrice weekly. At first it was to be 100 days, then 200, then 300, then when I was vaccinated. But that year was in reach! And still, I’m having a hard time letting go of the daily Musings and moving to the next phase of this project. It’s really troubling for someone with a touch of obsessive compulsion. Do you go with a significant moment (the date of vaccination, the date the “tide turns,” the beginning of a season), the number of days of Musings (some number divisible by 10), or a date on the calendar (like the end of a month)? But I think I’ve settled on the beginning of Spring. For some reason, that seems most appropriate and, arguably, poetic. We began during the Winter of a year ago and emerge in Spring of the current year. By the end of Spring in June, we should be over 50% vaccinated and well on the way to herd immunity. Feels right… So it’s settled—this will be the end of daily Musings. As we emerge, I’m moving to Monday, Wednesday and Friday—with the occasional extra weekend edition (I can’t help myself…). THE BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAYS This Saturday evening, the USC Libraries presented the 33rd annual Scripter Awards to the best adaptation of the written word into film. The winners were Nomadland, which reads as much as a character study, travelogue or non-fiction commentary on our society and those left behind as it does as entertainment. It’s certainly one of the favorites for the Academy Awards (held in April this year—two months late due to the pandemic). The other nominees include One Night in Miami, The Father, The White Tiger, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. I suspect One Night in Miami is the other favorite (at least in my book). This is an interesting piece of filmmaking, consisting of an imagined evening bringing together of Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and James Brown is a great meditation on race, celebrity, friendship, and the seeking of truth and change that is evocative of an era. The best book made into a TV episode was “Queen’s Opening,” the first episode of Queen’s Gambit. Also a great piece of original literature and filmmaking. All the nominees were great. One was The Plot Against America, by Phillip Roth. For those who haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. The TV series is a great time capsule of 1930s-1940s America through the lens of alternative history. RESPONSE TO MORE COMPLAINTS FROM THE RIGHT Here is the latest complaint from a friend: “How come you’re not concerned about the Biden administration’s change in policy at the southern border? You’ve repeatedly talked about the danger of COVID and Trump. Do you not think that Trump’s “border wall” and strict immigration controls played a significant role in mitigating the influx of people that might be spreading COVID. From my perspective the Democrats aren’t than concerned about a wave of new immigrants even if there’s a spike in COVID cases as long as there’s the likelihood the immigrants will find a pathway to citizenship and vote for Democratic politicians.” Um, no… In no particular order, here are my responses:

  • Biden’s change in policy on the southern border will involve the humane treatment of families, the willing acceptance of refugees at risk of persecution, and a kinder way of engagement. It will involve more immigration (but still at lower than historic rates). It is not a border that will be porous and uncontrolled.

  • Trump’s border wall did nothing to slow down COVID, nor did his strict immigration controls. Certainly the initial arguments for the wall did not involve avoiding the spread of disease (Mr. Trump’s focus on murderers and rapists). In any event, most of the disease came to us via Europe, from which we had no controls for too long and few controls thereafter (they are, after all, white and, therefore, presumably COVID-free in Trump’s eyes…). And his restrictions on flights from China did not limit all visitors from China; just those of Chinese nationals. Tens of thousands of people made it through Mr. Trump’s “Chinese wall.” Actually, Trump bobbled the ball repeatedly and spectacularly.

  • Regarding the fear of citizenship and voting for Democratic politicians, do you really believe that the primary thrust (or even secondary) of a more humane immigration system is to increase the Democrats on voter rolls through immigration? It remains troubling that the Republican party has the option of attempting to appeal to those “in the middle” (of which, we are learning from polling and election results, includes a decent segment of the Latino population) but instead is pursuing policies of limiting immigration and pursuing blatantly racist efforts to limit voting in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other Republican-controlled legislatures.

  • On another front, I assume that, because you value American citizenship so highly, you must favor that the Americans who live in DC and in Puerto Rico should be entitled to vote in Presidential elections (as DC currently does) and have representation in Congress. After all, it would spread the franchise to our fellow Americans. I think you would be hard-pressed to argue against representation to these Americans, other than that the Republicans don’t want to do that because it might bring more minorities to the polls. Perhaps the Republican party should focus on policies that are of more broad appeal, counteracting the shift of the balance of voters toward the left that they fear such enfranchisement might yield.

Best, Glenn

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