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A lesson well-learned at ACC

Myron David Orr’s English class at Alpena Community College, if not consistently informative, was usually enjoyable. This particular day, it was both.

My friend, Doug Scott, and I were in attendance when instructor Orr, as was his habit, advanced a proposition having nothing to do with English. I forget what mentor Orr’s unassailable assertion was for that day, but it failed to find the usual unquestioned acceptance.

The reason? Doug spoke up. He advised the class he had recently read an article refuting what instructor Orr had just stated.

You could hear a pin drop.

“You’re not telling me you believe everything you read, are you?” instructor Orr challengingly replied.

To which my friend responded: ” No, sir, I don’t. I read somewhere you shouldn’t believe everything you read.”

Silence.

Of course, we shouldn’t believe everything we read — or everything we hear. Our media is full of “talking heads” eager to gain our attention with their unsupported assertions. What a smooth bunch of salespeople they are.

Don’t get me wrong; I value people who can inform: those whose work, education, or training, qualify them. However, performers who day after day sit on their bums, masquerading as authorities — I do my best to avoid them.

Give me a book, a magazine, or a newspaper, something I can hold in my hand to consider, something with its credibility established, its sources revealed, in a format that endures — like that publication with the integrity to teach Doug not to believe everything he read.

Armed with such sobriety, you can minimize spoilage, dampen down foul odors, cut through misinformation, and save yourself and your country a lot of erroneously induced aggravation.

Which brings me to Bob Mueller.

Bob was a Marine Corps officer, a Bronze Star winner, and a Purple Heart recipient — some would say a real loser and a sucker. Like me, he’s an old guy — plodding and unexciting — not someone you would hire to sell a perfect smile toothpaste.

But Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI for 12 years. A registered Republican, he was appointed by a Republican attorney general to be the special counsel investigating Russia’s involvement in our 2016 election. Bob may be a bore, but he’s a competent, impressive one.

Despite that, talking heads have talked themselves hoarse trying to deflate his report — The Mueller Report. Why? I wanted to find out, so I ordered a copy and read it. OK, so I didn’t read all of it — but I read the summaries and parts of several sections.

Don’t let anyone tell you there weren’t adequate grounds to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. There were. The details are on pages 48-186 in Volume I, and they’re extensive.

Here’s a summary.

First: Both Russia’s social media campaign and its hacking and dumping of stolen information violated U.S. law.

Second: His investigation uncovered numerous contacts between individuals with ties to the Russian government and those associated with the Donald Trump campaign.

Third: Several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to Mueller’s investigators and Congress about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals. These lies materially impaired the special council’s investigation — lies for which people were prosecuted, convicted, and jailed. One of them — convicted of lying, obstruction, and witness tampering — received a presidential commutation before his imprisonment could begin.

Though Mueller failed to uncover sufficient evidence to prove a conspiracy with Russia, he did not absolve Trump of that act, despite reports he had. Mueller’s summary concludes: “Accordingly — given these identified gaps — (we) cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on the events described in this report.”

A few weeks ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, warned that Russia is actively interfering in the upcoming presidential election, spreading misinformation about Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The Russians are particularly focused on smearing Biden, because, Wray said, they view him as “kind of an anti-Russian establishment.”

There are times when we shouldn’t believe what we read — my friend Doug taught me that in Myron Orr’s English class — but there are times we should.

When credible people provide written warnings supported by facts and reasonable inferences, that merits our attention — and our action.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.

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