teacher, teacher, give me the news…

I’m not really a pet peeve kind of person. I mean, I suppose I have a few random hot takes — such as putting two “e’s” in “judgment” or overusing the phrase, “it is what it is” when the reality is you really just want the conversation to end. But if pressed to share a potentially more precarious vexation, I think it would be this growing idea that so much of life is a binary choice. 

We all do it… sometimes totally seriously…

If you’re not for me, you’re against me.

If you’re not anti-racist, you’re a racist.

If you didn’t vote for Hillary, you must love Trump.

With all due respect to those who sincerely possess the above convictions, I get it. I understand. I simply don’t believe the binary to be true. Binaries seem more what we employ to explain away what’s most difficult to fully comprehend.

There’s a current, popular binary that the Intramuralist finds increasingly disturbing. I feel like there’s this thought being promoted that you’re either pro-teacher or anti-teacher. Related black-and-white categories evolve to be as simplistic as all teachers are good or all teachers are bad… the union is all good or all bad… Sorry, friends. None of those make sense to me. 

Like many, no doubt, I have dear friends who are professional educators. Starting with my gifted madre, teachers have sweetly shaped me into much of who I am today… It was Evelina who spurred on my interest in government, the popular Mr. C who inspired me to be observant of current events, and the articulate Carol F. who taught me to love Tennyson. It was Virginia D. who made me work, Mrs. Greaves who made me write, and Coach Potter who made writing a joyful, rhythmic discipline.

Combine that with dear friends who’ve become teachers or teachers who’ve become friends. Several have been lifelong friends (… shout out to you, dear Roni). Several others, we have delightfully met here. I am grateful for each of you. 

I also have tremendously deep gratitude for those who have selflessly invested in the lives of my children. From baseball to biotech to even basic hygiene, I have so much respect for you. Call me pro-teacher, therefore, if you will.

But I think there’s this trickle down evolution of thinking, that if we’re pro or anti anything, we fall prey to ignoring what doesn’t fit our narrative. Like if we’re pro-teacher, we can’t admit that we’ve at times had some bad ones — not bad people, just educators who weren’t all that good at what they did. That doesn’t change anything about the excellence of Evelina, etal. 

It seems this has trickled, too, to the school board races across the country. Sadly, in my opinion, here is where national elected leadership has done the rest of us a tremendous disservice when they choose to be disparaging of those with whom they disagree; Democrats and Republicans alike have modeled awful interactions. Hence, now at the local school board level, rumors, accusations and insults are way too common. Just because a singular board, member or candidate may act or say something foolishly, that does not make all boards, members, or candidates to be foolish. There’s no need to be pro or anti school board; it’s simply not a binary assessment. 

One school board situation that isn’t helping — and one that is having significant state (and potentially national) implications, especially in the hours before the gubernatorial race is decided — is in Virginia’s Loudoun County, home of the nation’s highest median household income. Loudoun County Public Schools has become the current center of the education debate. With the school district’s stated intentional effort to become more equitable and inclusive, there have been multiple intense interactions with parents, concerned about the perceived extremity of the district’s approach. Unfortunately, the friction only intensified when a parent was arrested for his outburst at a public meeting, upset about the district’s perceived lenient transgender bathroom policy. The dad was arrested even though his daughter was assaulted by a male student, who had dressed as a female and freely entered the girls’ bathroom under the policy. To make the situation sadly worse, it was recently uncovered that the district’s superintendent lied about having knowledge of any assaults in their restrooms. He knew of the assault even when he allowed for the arrest and shaming of the parent, who was the father of an actual victim. 

All this to say that we have to find a better way to handle the educational challenges that continue to evolve in this country… How do we best care for our students? What should we be teaching? What should we not? How do we not oppress one student in order to meet the needs of another? When does the woke-ness go too far? Is Critical Race Theory a thing? How are political affiliations getting in the way? How do we deal with the very real challenges of teacher pay, classroom size, and school safety? How do we sustainably fund? How do we better care for those with special needs? How do we improve education in impoverished communities? What’s the role of standardized tests? What’s the deal with Common Core? What’s the wisest way to handle the transgender restroom situation for all students? What’s an effective disciplinary approach to bullying? Are letter grades still effective? How can schools and parents partner more together to better care for students social and emotional development? What role belongs only to the parent?…

I am no expert, friends. Not even close. But these are the conversations we should be having. It isn’t about being pro-teacher or anti-teacher or pro-education or anti-education. It’s about focusing on our students, listening to the entirety of our communities, partnering with parents, leaders humbly leading, teachers utilizing their sweet gifting, and no one attempting to enact any political agenda. The political agendas seem to be distracting us from acting in the best interest for all our kids. Their well being — the well being of the entirety of students — should always come first.

No judgment, friends. Ever. 

By the way, that’s with only one “e.”



dear Alec Baldwin

Dear Alec,

I can only imagine…

How awful… how tragic… how gut-wrenching it must be to know you are responsible for accidentally ending the life of another. I am so sorry, Alec… for Halyna… for her family… for you and your family, too…

For our Intramuralist readers, allow me to briefly share some background on the incident, as reported by Reuters:

“Alec Baldwin was handed what was described as a safe ‘cold gun’ on the set of his movie ‘Rust’, but the prop gun contained live rounds when it was fired, according to details of the police investigation into the fatal shooting released on Friday.

The shot hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest, and director Joel Souza who was behind her, in the shoulder, according to a county sheriff’s affidavit filed in Santa Fe magistrates court.

Hutchins died of her wounds and Souza was injured but has since been released from a local hospital.

The assistant director who handed Baldwin the prop gun did not know it contained live rounds, the affidavit by Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department Detective Joel Cano said…

Baldwin, 63, on Friday expressed his ‘shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident’ that killed Hutchins. In a message on his social media accounts, he said his ‘heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.’”

Alec, I’m sorry. How unprecedented your shock and sadness must be.

You know, I’ve learned a little something as my years of life grow longer. I’m no expert. No wise philosopher, guru, whatever. Just like you — just like each of us, actually — I’m an imperfect adult, created in God’s image, enjoying the sweet blessings of life, encouraging others, learning from my mistakes, trying to live life as wisely as I can, being at peace with all people.

The totality of that description keeps me humble. Well, semi-humble at least. In fact, I can remember a time when I was younger, seeing things on the news, headlines on the front page, thinking, “I would never do that!” Or better yet, “I’m not capable of that.”

And then as I grew, still enjoying those sweet blessings, I learned that I really was capable of a whole lot more stupid stuff than I ever deemed possible.

That recognition was eye-opening to me. Maybe it’s what propelled me into this whole respect thing. Maybe it’s what’s made me see that we really are called to honor all people — regardless of what we have in common… regardless of differences in opinion. The recognition of our own imperfection is the path to humility in self and compassion toward everyone else.

Alec, I appreciate your many talents and giftedness as an actor; the reality is also true that you haven’t always been gracious to those who don’t think like you or share your opinion. You haven’t been consistently thoughtful or considerate. It’s no secret that you aren’t known for your kindness.

True, too, in the wake of this tragedy, not all have been thoughtful and considerate of you.

I’m not ok with that. I’m not ok with a lack of kindness… or lack of honor. For any.

Hence, as I pray for comfort and peace for Halyna’s family and for yours, I also pray that this awful situation is one in which your shock and sadness spur on your humility. No judgment, Alec. I simply want what’s best for you. I believe humility always to be best.

May each of us continue to grow — never forsaking humility or intentionally forgoing what is wisest and best.

God be with you… and with all those deeply affected by the tragedy of this time.



paying attention. China. Taiwan. More…

Oh, my. Stop it.

All right. That might not have been my most respectful nor articulate intro, but this is personal to me. And let’s acknowledge right from the get go, that when it’s personal, our passions swell. When our passions swell, we need to be more cautious in any errors of discernment and also recognize we have reason to shortcut any typical, prudent, critical thinking exercises. So let me begin once more.

Oh, my. Could we please be wiser?

Let me also add a further caveat. Sometimes when things aren’t “happening to me,” we minimize what’s actually happening. Sometimes when what’s occurring is 10,000 miles away, we conclude it’s no big deal. We oft conveniently pay more attention to massive manhunts in southern Florida or former royals who seem quite enthused about severing any residual family ties.

Let me not posit that either of the above are unworthy of our attention. My point is simply that what’s happening in the South China Sea is very worthy of our attention. Allow us to thus first provide a very brief summary to provide context, as shared by the Council on Foreign Relations:

  • Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory. Beijing has vowed to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland, using force if necessary.
  • Tensions are rising. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party platform favors independence, has rebuked Beijing’s efforts to undermine democracy. Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taipei.
  • Some analysts fear that war between the United States and China could erupt over Taiwan. The United States provides Taiwan with defensive weapons, but leaves the question of whether it would actually defend Taiwan unanswered.

While under every new administration, China seems to test what they can/can’t get by with and what gets/doesn’t get a reaction from American leadership, understand that since the frenzied unfolding of events in Afghanistan two months ago, the situation has become significantly worse.

Two weeks ago, China flew a record number of military jets — 150+ — into Taiwan’s air defense zone — within a four day period, a recognized act of armed aggression. The U.S. State Department released a press statement saying they are “very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan.” It is destabilizing the region and international relations around the world. Taiwan’s defense minister calls tensions with China the worst in 40 years. To be clear, when the U.S. abruptly exited Afghanistan, the Chinese state news agency, as reported by CNN, “trumpet[ed] the supposed decline of America and taunt[ed] Taiwan with threats of invasion.” 

“The fall of Kabul marks the collapse of the international image and credibility of the US,” said the commentary. “Following the blows of the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the decay of the American hegemony has become an undisputed reality. Its failure in Afghanistan is another turning point in that spiral fall.” In other words, the messaging to Taiwan is that the U.S. commitment to them — and to the rest of their allies — is unreliable.

After the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, the approach of the U.S. toward Taiwan has been one of “strategic ambiguity.” By law instituted by treaty, the U.S. is committed to sell Taiwan modern arms and equipment, but as for the ambiguity aspect of our approach, they are not bound to respond if China invades. And yet, with all due respect, listen to Pres. Joe Biden’s words…

When the President was asked on August 18th by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan meant Washington could not be relied upon to come to Taiwan’s defense, Pres. Biden seemed to suggest that was untrue. “We have made — kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article Five that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with — Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.” The next day a senior Biden administration official said “policy with regard to Taiwan has not changed”; multiple analysts of varied partisan leanings said Biden appeared to have misspoken.

Then this week it happened again. At a CNN town hall style meeting Thursday evening, the President vowed to come to Taiwan’s defense if it comes under attack from China. Again, the day after, the White House sought to correct Pres. Biden’s words. No such commitment to help Taiwan exists. Our approach remains ambiguous. 

My passion is that our approach and leadership are simultaneously prudent. With noted aggression, should our policy change? How can our words be more consistent? This continued correction of what we mean and what we don’t is confusing at best.

Did I mention, no less, this was personal? 

I have a kid there.

Let’s be wiser in both our words and response. We care about what’s happening 10,000 miles away.



fix/not curse

Our country lost a great man this week — a man respected by the countless… men, women, varied ethnicity and partisan leaning. Hear the wisdom embedded in some of his most poignant remarks, made at the spring of 1994 commencement address at Howard University. Hear the words of Gen. Colin Powell [all emphasis mine]:

“… I believe with all my heart that Howard must continue to serve as an institution of learning excellence where freedom of speech is strongly encouraged and rigorously protected. That is at the very essence of a great university and Howard is a great university. And freedom of speech means permitting the widest range of views to be presented for debate, however controversial those views may be. The first amendment right of free speech is intended to protect the controversial and even outrageous word, and not just comforting platitudes, too mundane to need protection… I also have complete confidence in the students of Howard to make informed, educated judgments about what they hear. But for this freedom to hear all views, you bear a burden to sort out wisdom from foolishness.

There is great wisdom in the message of self-reliance, of education, of hard work, and of the need to raise strong families. There is utter foolishness, evil and danger in the message of hatred, or of condoning violence, however cleverly the message is packaged or entertainingly it is presented. We must find nothing to stand up and cheer about or applaud in a message of racial or ethnic hatred.

I was at the inauguration of President Mandela in South Africa earlier this week… Together, we saw what can happen when people stop hating and begin reconciling… Last week you also saw Prime Minister Rabin and PLO Chairman Arafat sign another agreement on their still difficult, long road to peace, trying to end hundreds of years of hatred and two generations of violence…

In these two historic events, intractable enemies of the past have shown how you can join hands to create a force of moral authority more powerful than any army and which can change the world. Although there are still places of darkness in the world where the light of reconciliation has not penetrated, these two beacons of hope show what can be done when men and women of good will work together for peace and for progress.

There is a message in these two historic events for us assembled here today. As the world goes forward, we cannot start going backward. African-Americans have come too far and we have too far yet to go to take a detour into the swamp of hatred. We, as a people who have suffered so much from the hatred of others, must not now show tolerance for any movement or 

philosophy that has at its core the hatred of Jews or of anyone else. Our future lies in the philosophy of love and understanding and caring and building. Not of hatred and tearing down…

…  You have been given citizenship in a country like none other on Earth; with opportunities available to you like nowhere else on Earth; beyond anything available to me when I sat in a place similar to this 36 years ago. What will be asked of you is hard work. Nothing will be handed to you. You are entering a life of continuous study and struggle to achieve your goals. A life of searching to find that which you do well and love doing. Never stop seeking.

I want you to have faith in yourselves. I want you to believe to the depth of your soul that you can accomplish any task that you set your mind and energy to. I want you to be proud of your heritage. Study your origins. Teach your children racial pride and draw strength and inspiration from the cultures of our forbearers. Not as a way of drawing back from American society and its European roots. But as a way of showing that there are other roots as well. 

African and Caribbean roots that are also a source of nourishment for the American family tree. To show that African-Americans are more than a product of our slave experience. To show that our varied backgrounds are as rich as that of any other American; not better or greater, but every bit as equal. Our black heritage must be a foundation stone we can build on, not a place to withdraw into. I want you to fight racism. But remember, as Doctor King and Doctor Mandela have taught us, racism is a disease of the racist. Never let it become yours…

Racism is a disease you can help cure here by standing up for your rights and by your commitment to excellence and to performance. By being ready to take advantage of your rights and the opportunities that will come from those rights. Never let the dying hand of racism rest on your shoulder, weighing you down. Let racism always be someone else’s burden to carry.

As you seek your way in the world, never fail to find a way to serve your community. Use your education and your success in life to help those still trapped in cycles of poverty and violence.

Above all, never lose faith in America. Its faults are yours to fix, not to curse. America is a family. There may be differences and disputes in the family but we must not allow the family to be broken into warring factions. From the diversity of our people, let us draw strength and not cause weakness.

Believe in America with all your heart and soul and mind. It remains the `last best hope of Earth.’ You are its inheritors and its future is today placed in your hands. Go forth from this place today inspired by those who went before you. Go forth with the love of your families and the blessings of your teachers. Go forth to make this a better country and society. Prosper, raise strong families, remembering that all you will leave behind is your good works and your children. Go forth with my humble congratulations. And let your dreams be your only limitations…”

No doubt a great man. A wise one, too.



what we believe (that we shouldn’t)

It’s a fascinating Google search: “things people believe that are untrue.”

As compiled by BestLifeOnline, Reader’s Digest, and Treehugger, the following are things we the people tend to believe that aren’t actually true:

  • “All Your Fingernails Grow at the Same Rate”
  • “Bagpipes Are Scottish”
  • “Bananas Grow on Trees”
  • “Bats Are Blind”
  • “Bulls Hate Red”
  • “Coffee Stunts Your Growth”
  • “Cracking Knuckles Leads to Arthritis”
  • “Dogs Sweat by Salivating”
  • “Don’t Eat and Swim”
  • “Don’t Touch Baby Birds”
  • “Dropped Pennies Kill”
  • “Goldfish’s Three-Second Memory”
  • “Milk Increases Mucus”
  • “Most Body Heat Is Lost Through the Head”
  • “Oil Stops Stuck Pasta”
  • “Only 10 Per Cent of the Brain is Used“
  • “Penguins Mate for Life”
  • “Police Require a Waiting Period Before Filing a Missing Person’s Report”
  • “Salty Water Boils Quicker”
  • “Seven Years to Digest Gum”
  • “Shaving Thickens Hair”
  • “Sleepers Swallow Eight Spiders Per Year”
  • “Sugar Makes Kids Hyperactive”
  • “Toads Cause Warts”
  • “Twinkies Last Forever”
  • “We Have Only Five Senses”
  • “You Can Get Sick From Being Cold”
  • “Your Hair and Nails Keep Growing After Death”

We even believe things about people that aren’t true…

  • “Einstein Failed Math”
  • “Napoleon Was Short”
  • “Ninjas Wore Black”
  • “Vikings Wore Horned Helmets”

Or that “Ben Franklin Wanted the Turkey to Represent America.” To be clear, “while designing a national seal,” reports Reader’s Digest, “Franklin proposed an image of Moses, not a wild turkey, to represent America.”

I’ll be the first to admit, even as I write this, there is still much I want to shake my head and say, “Hey, no way!” For example, of course bananas grow on trees! Well, in actuality, they indeed look like a tree, but they’re really massive herbs upon which the bunch grows.

And hair? We all know it grows in darker once puberty’s onslaught of shaving begins! Foiled again. “Regrown hair isn’t thicker, coarser, or darker; it just appears so because it grows back with a blunt tip.”

So the zillion dollar takeaway of the day is simple but profound… maybe humbling, too…

What else do we wholeheartedly believe that is untrue? That we refuse to see differently?

What have we concluded about another person that is just plain wrong?

For the record, another widely held misconception is that “Toilet Seats Are Full of Germs.” I’m sorry, but that’s going to take major work to get rid of that one, even if a University of Arizona study found them to be relatively clean since they are often routinely cleansed and disinfected.

According to that same study, in fact, toilet seats were found to have “10 times fewer germs than cell phones.”

Time to think about what we actually believe.



who do you hate?

Wow… thanks for stopping here. Thanks for reading. For realizing I’m not perfect either, but still feel tugged to talk about an undoubtedly tough topic. “Hate” is a word that repels us. We don’t like it. “Hate” is a word associated with other people — not with ‘me.’ Or we so believe.

Hence, before we wrestle with today’s title question — who do you hate — examining what perhaps we conveniently ignore or believe — let’s parse it out a little.

There are two kinds of hate.

Most of us are most familiar with the first one. It’s hot. It’s the one most obviously recognizable. It’s the one we are quickest to call out in other people. It’s thus the one that paves the way to believe that because our contempt is hot, there exists no hate in self.

“Hot hate” is downright disgust.

It’s loud. It’s clearly visible. It’s the disparaging name-calling by our leaders — the rhetorical, insulting shouts emboldened by cheers. It’s the one that flips off the driver who pulled in front of us — the one where we lay on the horn. It’s the kind of hate that rants on social media. It’s the generous offering of insult or argument — always directed at someone else… that person who gets on our nerves… that group of people who drive us crazy… 

If it weren’t for them, I could succeed… we could succeed.

In other words, “I don’t get you, so I don’t like you.”

Thus, we immediately think of another as lesser. And so we argue, honk, and sternly rebuke only them. Not us. Them.

Then there’s the cool kind of hate. It’s a little more socially acceptable, especially in organizations believing themselves to be of higher ethical or social standards.

“Cool hate” is softer. More dismissive, maybe mockery. It’s sarcasm and snark. It’s the immediate rolling of the eyes when someone says something we disagree with. It’s the satirical meme posted on social media to which we instinctively offer a gentle “like” or admittance of “oh, that’s funny,” convincing ourselves it’s not really hurting anyone.

But yet it is. It’s a sign of contempt.

Knowing that we oft finds ways to ignore said signs, we would be wise to look a little more inward. My sense is we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that we don’t actually hate anyone because we only employ the cool variety. As one who holds the Intramuralist accountable reminded me last weekend, I would respectfully but firmly contend that both kinds are damaging; both qualify as hate. We’re not alone in that thought.

Note the fascinating expert observations of renown therapist John Gottman, as written by Arthur C. Brooks in The New York Times: 

“Cool hate can be every bit as damaging as hot hate. The social psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman was famously able to predict with up to 94 percent accuracy whether couples would divorce just by observing a brief snippet of conversation. The biggest warning signs of all were indications of contempt, such as sarcasm, sneering and hostile humor. Want to see if a couple will end up in divorce court? Watch them discuss a contentious topic — which Mr. Gottman has done thousands of times — and see if either partner rolls his or her eyes. Disagreement is normal, but dismissiveness can be deadly.”

The point is that hate expresses itself as both hot and cold. We tend to justify the cooler of the two, but the problem — and what qualifies each to fall into the contempt category — is that both allow for the lesser thinking of another. Both justify believing that it’s only the other guys who need to change — only someone else who has work to do. Or better yet… it’s only somebody else who needs to realize they’re stupid. Or… something worse.

So two more questions… 

First, humbly asking once more, who do you hate?

And second, when will we realize that honor will always be wiser?



should we be worried about all the spending?

I’ll be the first to stand and say I’m no proponent of worry. Who of us via worry can add a single hour to our life? Let me therefore respectfully rephrase. Is there cause for concern?

President after president, Congress after Congress continue to spend trillions. Let’s put that in numerical form for emphasis; each asserts the dire need to spend additional $1,000,000,000,000’s. Be sure to notice all those zeros. Did I mention a cause for concern?

Fascinatingly — sort of — for the presidents and Congress, their individual party affiliation matters not. When they’re in power, they want to spend more; when they’re not in power, they want to spend less. Then they have creative, gas-lightish ways of pointing figures at the other party. It’s honestly a little crazy. I think they think we the people have incredibly short memories. Perhaps we’re blinded. Maybe we’ll simply forget what they said when their agency was different. The fact is that neither Democrats nor Republicans have a consistent, positive track record of fiscal prudence. When in power, they each justify spending a huge, honking, monstrous, mountainous, gigantic, titanic, astronomical amount of money. Could we be more clear? (If in doubt, please revisit that number of zeros.) 

“Spending like there’s no tomorrow!” says the timeless idiom. And with calls to spend exponentially more — $3.5 unspecified trillions, being the current, fiscally-questionable refrain — sometimes I wonder if our leaders really do think there actually will be no tomorrow. Why would you spend so much now, especially during fragile economic and inflationary times?

Ah, yes… I’ve heard some… it costs “zero,” so they say. Question: did any of those who currently claim such ever take Econ in college? To be clear, the Intramuralist is no expert, but this semi-humble blogger does possess a Bachelors Degree in Business Management complemented by multiple graduate level Econ classes. Claims of “zero cost” are not accurate.

But let me not mistakenly assert myself as an expert. Hear from them more than me…

From David Wessel, the Director of The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and  Senior Fellow in Economic Studies: “Even before the pandemic, the federal deficit was large by historical standards and projected to rise. The sharp recession and the spending increases that Congress and the president approved in response has made the deficit even bigger. Big deficits mean a growing federal debt—the total the government owes—already at its highest point since World War II. Extraordinarily low interest rates allow the U.S. to shoulder a heavier debt burden, but the debt is on an unsustainable course and its size may limit the government’s ability or willingness to continue to fight the economic ill effects of the pandemic or future economic downturns.”

An unsustainable course. In other words, we can’t afford this.

From George P. Shultz, John F. Cogan, and John B. Taylor — public servants and an economic trio of experts — warning before Shultz’s death this past spring: “Many in Washington now seem to think that the federal government can spend a limitless amount of money without any harmful economic consequences. They are wrong. Excessive federal spending is creating grave economic and national-security risks. America’s fiscal recklessness must stop. The COVID-19 crisis has provided the latest impetus for government spending, even to the point of steering the American mind-set toward socialism—a doctrine that has always harmed people’s well-being. But some say there is no need to worry about excessive spending. After all, they argue, record-low interest rates apparently show no sign of increasing. The economy was humming along just fine until the pandemic hit, and will no doubt rebound strongly when it ends. And is there even a whiff of inflation in the air? This thinking is dangerously shortsighted. The fundamental laws of economics have not been repealed. As one of us demonstrated in his book ‘The High Cost of Good Intentions,’ profligate government spending invariably has damaging consequences.”

And one more expert, because again, this is sobering to say the least, from Adam A. Milsap in Forbes recently: “America is engaging in an unprecedented spending spree. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the infrastructure proposal and the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending plan will result in $2.9 trillion (about $8,900 per person) of additional government borrowing over the next decade. This debt will not solve our problems. America needs more private sector innovation to solve our biggest challenges—uplifting the poor, healing the sick, and protecting the planet—not more government spending and top-down regulation. If all this proposed spending occurs, the federal debt is likely to hit 109% of GDP by 2031 but could get as high as 125%. This would surpass the debt-to-GDP ratio in the years immediately following World War II.”

Something is wrong, friends. With both parties.

Prudence says we allow no more partisans, presidents, or parties to kick the can down the road. They need to stop spending. Until they do, we all have serious cause to be concerned.



telling the truth about our opponents

With trusted, wise, respectful voices in seemingly rare supply, who we listen to matters. With massive amounts of media sharing misinformation and amplifying hosts who encourage rage and/or fear — because rage and fear maximize response and minimize critical thinking — when you find a source you actually can trust, what a refreshing find indeed. One such voice the Intramuralist trusts is David French. He’s fair, logical, and respects all people. His weekend column was excellent. Sobering. And worth sharing. It’s entitled “A Whiff of Civil War in the Air: Malice and misinformation are driving national division.” An excerpt from French…

* * * * *

“On Thursday the University of Virginia released pollingresults that should shock exactly no one who closely follows American politics and culture. A majority of Trump voters (52%) and a strong minority of Biden voters (41%) strongly or somewhat agree that it’s ‘time to split the country.’

Why would they even contemplate taking such a drastic step? Well, the poll provides the answers, and they’re not surprising. Competing partisans loathe each other and view the opposition as an existential threat. This also isn’t new. It’s been tracked in poll after poll for year after year. This one found that a ‘strong majority’ of Trump supporters falsely believe there is no real difference between Democrats and socialists. A majority of Biden voters falsely see no real difference between Republicans and fascists. What this poll tracked better than many others is that the mutual loathing is based more on emotion than policy…

We’ve seen it time and again. The combination of malice and misinformation is driving American polarization to a fever pitch. While there are real differences between the political parties, a fundamental reality of American politics is that voters hate or fear the opposing side in part because they have mistaken beliefs about their opponents. They think the divide is greater than it is.

For example, other polls have found that Americans ‘substantially exaggerate the extent to which members of the other party dehumanize, dislike, and disagree with them.’ In addition, ‘Democrats and Republicans imagine almost twice as many of their political opponents as reality hold views they consider ‘extreme.’’ Moreover, this ‘perception gap’ gets worse with increased education and media consumption. 

Last week the Washington Post’s Robert Kagan published one of the most important essays of the year. Called ‘Our constitutional crisis is already here,’ Kagan persuasively argued that America was set for an electoral confrontation (especially if Trump runs again) that could lead to the ‘greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves’…

He understands what few people grasp—that American radicalism has now filtered down into the ranks of the ‘normal’ folks, the solid citizens who are often the pillars of their communities… The cycle works a bit like this. Malice and disdain makes a person vulnerable to misinformation. Misinformation then builds more malice and disdain and enhances the commercial demand for, you guessed it, more misinformation. Rinse and repeat until entire media empires exist to supply that demand…

It’s important to understand that there is no policy fix for malice and misinformation. There is no five-point plan for national harmony. Popular policies (like the Biden policies supported by Trump voters) don’t unite us, and there are always differences and failures to help renew our rage. 

Instead, we are dealing with a spiritual and moral sickness. Malice and disdain are conditions of the soul. Misinformation and deception are sinful symptoms of fearful and/or hateful hearts…

I do not pretend for one moment that there aren’t significant differences between left and right. But our system was built from the ground up to channel political differences through a Constitution that is designed to protect the fundamental human rights of both winners and losers, majorities and minorities, including minorities of one. 

So long as those constitutional guarantees last, the stakes of our political disputes should never grow so high as to necessitate the rupture of our national union. And if we want social peace in a time when false accusations of ‘socialism’ or ‘fascism’ echo across the land, then telling the truth about our opponents is the most fundamental and necessary start.”

* * * * *

Did I mention sobering?



misreading the mandate

Unity often spirals with the perception of some kind of mandate…

I remember in 2004, when Pres. George W. Bush won the election by a 286 to 251 Electoral College count — a 31 to 19 state count — but only received a narrow 50.7% of the popular vote. He then asserted that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security. “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” Except he didn’t seem to realize such a narrow victory did not result in said mandate.

The 2020 victory of Joe Biden had an eerily similar feel. Biden was inaugurated on a 306 to 232 electoral count — a 25 to 25 state count — but also received only a narrow popular vote victory, at 51.3%. Making it increasingly more politically complicated, the President’s party saw their House of Representatives majority decrease to a mere 8 votes out of 435 (a majority of 1.8%), and the Senate outcome resulted in a 50/50 tie of sitting U.S. Senators. With that as the current legislative backdrop, the President is attempting to spend unprecedented trillions in a precarious inflationary time, with all sorts of partisan policy initiatives creatively now called “infrastructure.” Dare we go out on a less precarious limb here and suggest Pres. Biden has not yet learned from Pres. Bush.

Maybe it’s just me. Always possible. Each of us can be a little foggy-brained at times. But I’m not sure how majorities formed by unequivocal razor-thin margins ever equate to a so-called mandate. If a mandate is a license to enact any policy of choice, far more than 50/50 needs to be in play. Far more than less than 2%. Otherwise the elect is not really representing all of “we the people.”

Let us figuratively think out loud for a moment…

What’s it like to be on the receiving end of a mandate? No harshness, but rather, simply, sincerely, when we disagree with what a leader believes to be wise, what’s it like?

What does it feel like to be on the other end of the opinion, knowing that regardless of what you believe, those in elected authority are determined, come hell or high water, so-to-speak, to jam their desired means and methods through no matter what? 

This could apply to our government, our neighborhood HOA, or other organizations and institutions to which we belong. What’s it like to be on the other end of another’s authority when you respectfully but sincerely disagree?

Do you feel important?

Do you feel like your opinion matters?

Do you feel like you matter?

Do you feel like the leaders actually speak for you and represent you?

Do you feel like they care if they represent you well?

Do you feel like they keep acting as if only they know best?

Do you feel like they think you’re stupid?


Completely misguided?

And do you feel like others presume that unity only arrives if you change your mind?

I’ve been thinking more of this not “treading on me” concept. Let me be honest. I’m not a huge fan of the brash, in-your-face, shouting display, no matter its association with historic American patriotism. The Intramuralist is also not a fan of the arguably less brash, but still disrespectful, your-perspective-doesn’t-matter approach. Each seems to feel it’s ok to still tread on someone.

There’s no humility in those approaches. And I feel like so many of us, while we believe that humility is good thing, we also behave as if we believe it starts with “you.”

Humility never starts with somebody else, friends. Humility always starts with “me.”

What would it change if we realized how people on the other side of “me” feel? What would it change if we realized when we declare a mandate, how we’re making other people feel? What would it change if we realized that we are actually misreading the mandate? … that maybe, just maybe, we’re not called to enact mandates but to model humility instead?

My sense is that such an approach would be totally good and right and true… healthy and positive… solution-oriented… progress making…

… unifying, too…