12 Winters Blog

The New Lost Generation

Posted in October 2019, Uncategorized by Ted Morrissey on October 27, 2019

Gertrude Stein is credited with coining the phrase “the Lost Generation” in referring to the young Americans who emerged from the First World War years with shattered belief systems. The brutality and totality of the conflict left them confused, hopeless and directionless. The values that previous generations could believe in, could rely on, had been eviscerated and subverted by the war’s carnage.

As a high school English teacher, as someone who has been teaching predominantly seniors for the last 37 years, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the image of a “lost generation” in the context of today’s seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds. These are young people who have grown up with technology, who have had their own tablets and cell phones from an early age, who have lived much of their lives on social media.

The term “social” media seems, in retrospect, ironic because in fact their technology has cut them off from each other in meaningful and fruitful ways. They tend to exist in digital enclaves of like-minded others who repeat and reaffirm their view of the world — no matter how misguided or downright false that view may be.

Their Snapchat threads and Twitter feeds are filled with trivial details about each other’s lives, and “news” regarding athletes, entertainers, and flash-in-the-pan Internet celebrities.

Most do not read books, even for school if they can help it.

But the furthest lost of this New Lost Generation are those young people who have grown up in a Trump-supporting environment, which is almost without exception a Fox News environment, a Breitbart environment, an InfoWars environment. What little awareness of the broader world they have is refracted through these deliberately distorting lenses.

young women at trump rally

They wholeheartedly believe things like . . .

Mexicans and other Hispanic people are pouring unchecked into the country through an all but nonexistent border, murdering and raping and selling drugs while also reaping the benefits of hardworking Americans’ tax dollars with free housing, healthcare, and schooling.

Muslims are terrorists, and many such Muslim terrorists have crept into the United States through the southern border, embedded among the hordes of Mexican murderers, rapists and drug dealers.

Guns are inherently good, and the more “good people” who own guns the safer other “good people” would be. Mass shootings wouldn’t take place if more good people were carrying guns — apparently all the time, everywhere.

Christians are inherently better than non-Christians. The separation of Church and State is at the root of all our country’s problems. The government needs to be more overtly Christian, and so do public schools.

Socialism is inherently bad. Only lazy people want “free stuff.” Government handouts make people weak — and increase the national debt.

Public schools and universities are filled with liberal teachers and professors who want to indoctrinate conservative young people into being liberals with their radical and dangerous leftist ideas. Discussing issues related to ideologies and public policies is a form of leftist brainwashing that must be guarded against.

Journalists are the enemy of the people. Any reporting on the President and his supporters that is negative must be false, made up for malicious purposes.

Democrats advocate ideas that are not simply wrong: they are dangerous.

Meanwhile unwavering support of Donald Trump has taught this New Lost Generation that . . .

Disrespectful, name-calling rants on Twitter are fine. Even if those rants are racist, misogynistic, or xenophobic.

Spreading misinformation and baldfaced lies is fine. In fact, opinions are the new facts for the New Lost Generation.

Infidelity to your spouse is fine. Lying about it is fine. Paying off people to conceal it is fine. Conspiring with others to keep it a secret is fine.

Women are to be used, cast aside and (if necessary) bought.

Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are fine people.

Coequal branches of government is a myth. The Executive branch, especially the President, is supreme.

Checks-and-balances is a myth. Any attempted check is a conspiracy and a coup.

The Rule of Law is a myth. Officers of the court, members of Congress, requests for information and interviews, even subpoenas are powerless and meaningless. Laughable in fact.

The Constitution is meaningless.

Majority-rule is meaningless. Democracy is a pointless concept. The minority can rule if they play dirty enough, if they band together single-mindedly enough.

Accepting and even encouraging assistance from another country — including a geopolitical enemy — to win an election is fine. Only results matter. The method is without substance or consequence.

Making money — as much money as possible, in any way possible, partnered with anyone who can make it happen — should be one’s greatest goal in life. One shouldn’t let ethics, common decency or even the law stand in one’s way of making money.

If people or the environment is harmed, even destroyed, in the service of making money, so be it.

Claiming oneself a Christian without adhering, even remotely, to values associated with Christianity is fine. Saying the word is all that matters. Actions are something else entirely.

Donald Trump will be out of office someday, but his corrupt legacy will live on exponentially via the New Lost Generation — unless they can manage to find their way and save themselves. In spite of it all, I hold out hope. I must.

(Photo found here.)

A Concise Summary and Analysis of The Mueller Report

Posted in June 2019, Uncategorized by Ted Morrissey on June 12, 2019

I’m excited about the release of my book A Concise Summary and Analysis of The Mueller Report (available in paperback and Kindle editions). I’ve taken the Special Counsel’s nearly 450-page, single-spaced, heavily footnoted, and often redacted tome, and condensed it to about 80 highly readable pages, logically organized into four chapters, plus an Introduction which puts the report in context. Below is an excerpt of the book’s Introduction, but first here is its description in full:

“The Mueller Report,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, may be the most important political and historical document produced in the 21st century, but it is extremely challenging to read, at nearly 450 single-spaced pages, with almost 2,400 footnotes, sentences, paragraphs and whole pages blacked out, and references to a vast number of people, many of whom have Russian or Ukrainian names that are difficult to process and retain. Award-winning author and educator Ted Morrissey has written a concise summary and analysis of Mueller’s report to assist those who are interested in its contents but find the complete report daunting. “A Concise Summary and Analysis” includes an Introduction and four chapters dealing with the most crucial material in Mueller’s full report: the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, Russia’s cyber warfare on the United States, the President’s possible obstruction of justice, and Mueller’s legal analysis. “A Concise Summary and Analysis of The Mueller Report” includes clear citations to the original for those who want to read in more detail about specific issues, and it provides just enough context to make the most complex issues easier to understand. Each chapter is separated into subtitled sections to make it even easier to follow. Don’t rely on hearsay and biased reporting in the media. Read for yourself what it says in “The Mueller Report” without spending months wading through all 450 heavily footnoted and frustratingly redacted pages.

Mueller in Brief Cover 1000

Let me begin where Robert S. Mueller III ends: No person—not even the President of the United States—is above the law. This is the point on which Mueller chose to end his Office’s “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” more familiarly known as The Mueller Report, submitted to William P. Barr, the recently confirmed Attorney General, on March 22, 2019. After nearly two years of extraordinarily tight-lipped investigation (by a Special Counsel’s Office which consisted at its peak of forty personnel working alongside and in coordination with forty FBI agents and other Bureau staff), Mueller filed a two-volume report of nearly 450 pages—one volume discussing Russia’s contacts with members of the Trump team and the Russians’ efforts to sway the election in Trump’s favor; and the other volume discussing the President’s efforts to obstruct the investigations and the legal issues related to matters uncovered by the Special Counsel.

Upon its submission, Attorney General Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Republicans in Congress, and conservative media (especially Fox News) began the process of misrepresenting the contents of The Mueller Report. Rather than immediately releasing The Report, to Congress and the American people, Bill Barr, on March 24, gave to Congress a four-page summary of what he represented as Mueller’s conclusions: Mueller was not able to find evidence that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia; and on the issue of obstruction of justice, while Mueller did not exonerate the President, Barr and Rosenstein decided there was not sufficient evidence to accuse Trump of committing a crime. When submitting his summary to Congress, Barr also made a public statement in which he communicated these same ideas.

Barr’s letter and his public statement gave Trump and his allies license (as if they needed any) to claim The Mueller Report was a total exoneration of the President and that the investigation had been—as he said repeatedly—a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” The President also called for an investigation into the investigators, whom he had long characterized as members of a “deep state” liberal conspiracy intent on removing him from office, insinuating, too, that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were at the root of the plot, still angry over Clinton’s embarrassing loss in the 2016 election. The President accused the FBI of “spying” on his campaign. (As of this writing, Attorney General Barr has, in fact, initiated an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe and has, at times, supported Trump’s characterization of the FBI investigation as “spying.”)

When The Mueller Report was finally released, it was eye-opening as well as jaw-dropping on several levels: the numbers of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russians and Ukrainians, Russia’s wide-ranging and sophisticated efforts to help Trump win the election, and Trump’s efforts to derail or at least curtail the investigation—to most readers of The Report it was all rather shocking. But therein lay a problem: It was shocking to readers of The Report, and very few people were reading it, or even likely to read it.

As a teacher, writer, librarian and publisher I am more aware than most (in fact I am reminded of it almost daily) that the United States has become a country predominantly of non-readers. It is a challenge to get Americans to read a news article of more than a few paragraphs, leave be a document like The Mueller Report, which presents challenges to even avid readers. It is long, nearly 450 single-spaced pages. It has frequent redactions, interrupting sentences and even disappearing entire paragraphs and whole pages. It is heavily footnoted (2,375 footnotes to be exact). The majority of the footnotes are purely documentary, supplying a citation for a given source, but many of the footnotes are several sentences in length and provide important, eyebrow-raising information themselves. While much of The Report is narrative and tells an intriguing story (oftentimes reading like a Robert Ludlum spy novel), overall it is not organized chronologically. Finally, there is a vast cast of characters to keep in mind as one reads, and many of those characters are Russians or Ukrainians with names that American readers do not easily process and retain.

To date, very few Americans have read The Mueller Report. Even members of Congress, especially Republicans, have not read Mueller’s findings. That is the opinion, for example, of Justin Amash, a Republican Representative from Michigan, who has been the only Republican calling for Trump’s impeachment and openly criticizing Attorney General Barr for his misrepresentations of The Report and for assisting Trump in blocking congressional investigations (even refusing to respond to congressional subpoenas). Amash said that he supported Trump’s impeachment because he actually read The Mueller Report, unlike the majority of his colleagues. Amash conducted a town hall in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 28, 2019, and was met with standing ovations for his stance on protecting the Constitution over protecting the President. In a video clip that was widely aired a woman who identified as a Trump supporter was interviewed after Amash’s town hall, and she acknowledged that Amash’s descriptions of Trump’s behavior were truly surprising; she said she did not know there was anything negative about Trump in Mueller’s report.

It is anecdotal of course, but the woman may well represent the majority of Americans who get their news from right-wing outlets like Fox.

My hope in writing A Concise Summary and Analysis of The Mueller Report is that more people will become informed about the true contents of Robert Mueller’s report and the findings of the Special Counsel’s two-year investigation.

Regarding my summary and analysis, I have tried to limit myself to the contents of Robert Mueller’s report, and not add a lot of contextual material and updated information that has arisen in the weeks since The Report’s publication. My primary goal was to produce an accurate but attractively readable text, so it would have been counterproductive to write a 300-page summary of Mueller’s 450-page report. In other words, I tried to keep it short while also including the most pertinent information. Nevertheless, from time to time I did find it helpful to include some background information, or to add clarity based on more recent events. I think in each case it is clear that I am adding to The Report, and not drawing from it, in these rare instances.

Throughout I have cited the page numbers from The Mueller Report where I am getting the quoted material or specific paraphrase. It should be an easy task to verify my summary and to read further from The Report itself.

Also, I have organized the summary a bit differently than Mueller organized his report because it seems to me that each volume has two distinct subject matters. Volume I deals with both contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russians or Ukrainians, and Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election, so I have separated these into Chapters 1 and 2 of my summary. Similarly, Volume II discusses Trump’s possible obstruction of justice, and the legal issues surrounding the President’s actions, so Chapters 3 and 4 cover these topics, respectively.

Finally, my original notion was to write a distinct summary followed by a brief analysis (my own take on the events and the issues at hand), but I decided a more effective approach was to provide small doses of analysis along the way. Again, as with the contextual additions, I believe my analytical insertions stand apart from the text of the summary itself. For one thing, if an analysis is Mueller’s, and not my own, it is clearly cited.