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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/19/21

Good morning! LESSONS FROM THE BUNKER I wrote last week about why I started the Musings from the Bunker. But there are lessons I have learned along the way, based largely on recommendations, corrections, and opinions of readers, and through my observations of life in the pandemic.

  • People are introducing themselves to themselves. What do I mean? People are forced to be in their own company. On the one hand, they are self-critical. On the other hand, they often like the company. Being in the company of ourselves makes us more introspective, more aware of the world, more contemplative, and more appreciative.

  • People really want to communicate and share. A funny thing happened after I wrote…people started to answer back. I’m fielding many emails every day. Some ask me to add someone to the “list.” Most are on the order of “you said what I’m thinking” or “right on.” Others disagree. Some recommend books (and some send those books). True to their advice, I’m reading constantly—people demand I read more!!!. But people really are communicating with me and, through the Musings, with each other. People want to think and share.

  • People are depressed. Some have shared with me a level of depression that is deeply personal and surprising to me. Their confessions of fear, depression, lack of self-worth, remind me that there is a mental health pandemic in this country. It existed before Covid and it is being exacerbated by the pandemic. Our lifestyles, the problems in the world, the day-to-day challenges of life, prey upon us. My wife and I realized this before the pandemic, when we created the Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative at USC. Over 50% of college students self-report mental illness. In the year we established the initiative, nine students at USC died—from suicide and drug overdoses. It’s a huge, undiagnosed, unacknowledged problem. It’s named for our son who suffered from mental illness

  • People are becoming better consumers. They are starting to realize that colleges have been fleecing them for years, that government has been under-performing for years, that the moguls of Silicon Valley have been using and manipulating them for years, and that they don’t really require 47 choices of cereal loaded with sugar.

  • People want to try new things. People have gobbled up book recommendations, ordered jigsaw puzzles, binge watched BBC police dramas. People have shared with me “favorite hobbies” and how to plant a garden and the best puzzles on line. People are thinking about ideas and celebrating life. I try to “send this stuff back out there” for others to enjoy—typically devoting most Thursday Musings to this.

  • People are happy to move slower. Few people seem to miss charitable dinners and business dinners, appreciating the cocooning in their own homes, going on long walks, reading good books and “dialing down” the freneticism of modern life.

  • We need each other. The great myth of the rugged individualist is just that. We need companionship. We need each other and the stimulus of others and their ideas.


A friend takes me to task:

“Jeez Glenn, if you’re gonna play it from the middle, play it from the middle. …The so-called COVID relief bill was nothing more than a partisan cram down. Ten Republicans offered compromise and were rejected out of hand. If you look at history you will see many examples of the majority reaching out across the aisle to embrace some portion of compromise with the loyal opposition. Not necessarily the other way around.”

While I agree “the ten” moderate Republicans made credible offers. I will note that the levels at which federal government subsidy checks phase out were moved lower. Certainly, the Democrats have been good at playing the obstructionist game; contrary to the current narrative, Nancy Pelosi is not the modern day incarnation of Joan of Arc and the Democrats didn’t always make it easy for George W. Bush (I don’t count the obstruction of Donald Trump, since I believe all reasonable people should have obstructed much of what he attempted). That said, there are notable differences with the McConnell obstructionist agenda:

  • There has never been a leader in either house who started a term with the comment that his job was to ensure the president would not get reelected and to stand in the way of his actions.

  • There has never been a leader who crafted an intellectually indefensible argument that a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a president’s term should not be given a hearing and then COMPLETELY IGNORING that new “rule” when politically convenient to do so.

  • There has never been a party that so blatantly was supportive of a clear lie, simply for the sake of power. This is, of course, the lie of a “stolen election.” It is unacceptable that a political party can knowingly embrace such a lie and use that lie to delegitimize the duly elected president.

  • Finally, and we shall see this played out in spades if/when DC or Puerto Rican statehood arises as an issue, we haven’t had a party stand so clearly in the way of enfranchising American voters as this party has been.

THE PERFECT FOOD I have been a foodie for a while. There is nothing quite like eating one delicious meal while preparing for the next. But as much as I enjoy an elaborate meal prepared by a great chef, my taste also trends toward the more plebian. During these days “in the bunker,” I’ve also been contemplating the best, tastiest, filling foods that cover a variety of “food groups.”.It has come to me that there is, indeed, a perfect food. And its name is “breakfast burrito.” Plenty of protein from the eggs and legumes, rice, a little “kick” of spice and only the tiniest bit of carbohydrates represented by the thin tortilla wrap. An outstanding breakfast burrito is a near religious experience; but even the more basic renditions are hard to mess up (plus hot sauce can solve a shortcoming here or there). Try the one at Huckleberry’s in Santa Monica. Happy weekend, Glenn

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