blaming the gun

At halftime of Sunday night’s Eagles vs. Cowboys football game, NBC host, Bob Costas, added a creative sort of commentary.  In reference to the weekend murder-suicide initiated by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher — and quoting significantly from Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock’s editorial column — Costas shared the following on national television:


Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.


In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries.  Who knows?  Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend.  What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.


In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed.  Who knows?  But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe.  If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.


As typical of our seemingly oft hypersensitive society, cyberspace and Twitter’s tweets were active with both outrage and support…


Is it appropriate for a sports host to offer a politically-charged monologue?


Is it appropriate for Costas to speak of something other than sports?


And is it appropriate for the host to opine against what is actually a civil right?


Would other civil rights opposition be treated similarly on TV?


Truth is, while the Intramuralist wonders about Costas’ conviction, I don’t claim to know the answers to all of the above.  Costas consistently shares an opinion in his weekly segment; rarely, however, does the opinion have any political connotation.


Is there some truth in what Costas opined?  Possibly.


Is there also some truth ignored?  I would agree with that as well.


The gun control debate in this country is challenging.  The right to keep and bear arms is firmly implanted in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights; it is the law of the land and a civil right.


As with all “rights,” they are often used and abused.  Sometimes it seems the most grievous abuse — regardless of frequency — garners the greatest attention.  Jovan Belcher sadly, grievously misused his right.


The ignored truth, in my opinion, begins first with the impossibility for any to aver definitively — not even a respected long time NBC sports host — that Belcher and his girlfriend would actually be alive today if Belcher had not access to a gun.  Too often our society blames a thing or a circumstance as opposed to recognizing the foolishness of one man’s actions — as opposed to holding the responsible person responsible.  In other words, it was not the gun that triggered the murder-suicide; it was Jovan Belcher.


I wonder if the reason we so quickly and easily jump to blame the gun (or the thing or relative circumstance) is because it’s easier to control.  Maybe if we attempt to impose gun control, we won’t have to deal with the foolish ways some utilize guns; maybe if we attempt to limit free speech, we won’t have to wrestle with the foolish things some say.  If we focus on control of things and/or circumstances, perhaps then we never have to focus on the actual foolishness of some people.


And my sense is that the foolishness of some people is what’s most challenging to control.





As perhaps you have by now surmised, the Intramuralist believes thanks can be given in all scenarios and circumstance.  Don’t let me suggest that it’s always easy nor that we always feel like being intentional with our gratitude.  I would never diminish the days that are hard for each of us.  Nonetheless, I do believe reasons for thanksgiving are always plentiful.


Today, I am thankful for…


Life.  Liberty.  The pursuit of far more than happiness.  Democracy.  Elections.  Voting.  The absence of dictatorship.  The freedom to agree or disagree.  The right to free speech — even when we actually disagree.  The Constitution.  The Bill of Rights.  Freedoms endowed by our Creator.  The wisdom foreseen by our founders.


Communication.  Listening.  The encouragement to listen.  Authentic dialogue.  The art of dialogue.  Respectful dialogue.  Dialogue where opinions aren’t all pre-determined (see again, listening).  Community.  Other people.  People to remind us that self is not as important as we think it is.  Humility.  Being grounded.  Accountability.  Wise persons bold enough and compassionate enough to help us in the grounding.


Faith.  Freedom within faith.  Freedom of faith — not freedom from it.  Free will.  The opportunity to see God and love him back.  His creation and the challenge and responsibility to love his children well.  Forgiveness — especially when we’ve needed it most but had somehow had no idea.


Ice cream.  Sundaes.  Coffee.  Playing cards.  More coffee.  Jokers wild.  Walking on sunshine, water, or just plain walking.  Game shows.  Knowing the Daily Double.  The Oak Ridge Boys.  Computers.  Christmas.  iPods, Pads, etc.  Diet Coke.  Mountain Dew.  Caffeine-free Mountain Dew.  Garland.  (Not tinsel, though… too messy on Dec. 26th.)


Chocolate.  Hot chocolate.  Whipped cream.  Starbucks.  Lattes.  Nonfat.  Foam.  (Did I mention coffee?)  More foam.  Sunrise.  Sunset.  “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Old musicals.  Old books.  Classics.  Julie Andrews.  New movies.  Star Wars.  Han Solo.  The princess.  That Darth is not my father.


Music.  More music.  Mariah Carey.  Martina McBride.  Miranda Lambert.  Bruno Mars.  The Beatles.  London.  Those big Beefeater hats.  Prince William and Princess Kate.  Monarchies.  Monarchies not here.  Broadway.  Elphaba.  Empathy.  Compassion.  Selflessness.  Teachability.  Tenderness.  Truth.  Growth.  More growth.  Recognizing both the need for growth and progress.


Respect.  Submission.  Honor.  The elderly.  Youth.  The privilege of learning.  The responsibility of teaching.  Taking them seriously.  Being intentional.  Sometimes being silly, too.


Old dogs.  New tricks.  Recognizing none of us have life all figured out.  College football.  College basketball.  Good games.  The NFL.  Positive attitudes.  Knowledgeable fans.  Cheering for a good play by the other team.  The other team.  Cool uniforms.  Nike.  Adidas.  Sweats on a Saturday morn.  Swag.  (Sometimes no swag.)


Falling leaves.  Brilliant colors.  No more to pick up.  Winter snows.  The beach.  Dreaming of the beach as winter arrives.  The mountains.  Water by the beach and the water by the mountains.  Friends there.  Friends here.  Friends who love you no matter what.  Thick or thin.


Foreign countries.  Home.  Coming home.  Clean laundry.  Sheets just out of the dryer.  Picked up toys.  Puzzles.  Getting the toys out.  Throwing them everywhere.  Children.  Babies.  Special kids.  Mature adults.  Even teenagers… well, most of the time.

Sitcoms.  Sundays.  “Cheers.”  A good toast.  Baking.  Alma maters.  Work.  Days off.  Vacation.  Christmas music.  Creativity.  Brainstorming.  Donuts.  (P.S. brainstorming while eating donuts is extra good.)  Wine.  The first miracle.  All miracles.  Being aware of them.  Vision.  Seeing rightly.  Acting wisely.  Loving those around us.  The opportunity.  The challenge.  The joy…


Yes, these things make me thankful…  today…




what’s it about?

The headlines are messy.  Actually, it’s more than the headlines that are so messy.


David Petraeus, who up until 2 weeks ago, was considered perhaps one of the nation’s few, contemporary, national “heroes,” unfortunately instantly had his heroic status removed.  Petraeus, the then current head of the Central Intelligence Agency — and former 4 star general — resigned his directorship of the CIA, citing an extramarital affair that was reportedly discovered via an FBI investigation.


Yes, the headlines are messy.  The details are murky.  There are questions and more questions as to the timeline of Petraeus’s infidelity, additional military personnel involved, potential breach of classified information, disclosure to the White House and Congress, timing surrounding the election, and any impact on Petraeus’s testimony regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.  Friends, this blog will address none of the above.  The reality is that none of the ‘questions and more questions’ are issues that at this time we can affirm or deny with certainty; hence, we will resist any temptation.  Today I wish to instead focus on one reaction… actually a common reaction… a reaction we especially employ when we’re fairly fond of the hero…


… such as Bill Clinton.  Julia Roberts.  Jerry Seinfeld.


All people at the “top of their game,” so-to-speak.  People who were at pinnacle points in their careers, and yet…


… they engaged in extramarital affairs.


The common reaction when we’re fond of our “hero”?


“It’s just about sex.”


The reality is it’s not “just about” sex; that’s what we tend to say in order to minimize the extent of what it’s actually all about.  It’s about a complete lapse of judgment.  It’s about emotion trumping commitment.  It’s about an ethical standard that is lesser or potentially nonexistent.  It’s often also about self.


Now please hear no piling of shame upon any person.  The truth is that each of us are capable of lapses of judgment and emotion trumping all; in fact, dare I suggest that I am not climbing out on any limb by disclosing that each of us have most likely fallen prey to some poor decision-making.  I also suggest — wholeheartedly — that each of us, also, is not fully defined by that poor decision-making; each of us is capable of redemption and forgiveness…


… which is equally available to Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Jerry Seinfeld.  It is available to David Petraeus.


True, it still makes no sense.


How could a person so admired and decorated stoop so seemingly, unscrupulously low?  Petraeus has a Ph.D.  He was an assistant professor.  He was confirmed unanimously at the CIA.  In 2007, Time magazine named him as one of their 4 runners up for “Person of the Year.”  He was named the second most influential American conservative by The Daily Telegraph as well as their Man of the Year.  In 2005, Petraeus was identified as one of America’s top leaders by U.S. News & World Report.  In 2008, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines selected Petraeus as one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals.  The Static Line Association named him its 2008 Airborne Man of the Year.  Der Spiegel named him “America’s most respected soldier.”  Newsweek named him the 16th most powerful person in the world.  He was also named as one of the “75 Best People in the World” in the October 2009 issue of Esquire.


Why would one man risk so much?  … put so much on the line?


Because it’s not about sex.  It’s about a lapse in judgment.  If we compromise our ethical standards in one area, where else are we willing to compromise?


Recognizing that we are each in need of redemption and forgiveness…




hail to the victor… oops… wrong approach

The people have spoken in different ways.  Some this day are jubilant.  Others are deeply disappointed.  Friends, we don’t all feel the same way.  In fact, as previously posted amidst this setting, the candidates have spent much of the past year actually encouraging us to not feel the same.  In order to propel their individual candidacy — arguably advocating the end justifies the means — the candidates have intentionally divided the country in order to drum up increased passion for their agenda.  Here’s the problem:  the election is done, but the people remain divided.


Many will take to the oratorical airwaves to proclaim that there exists no division; in fact, one of the many things I appreciated about Pres. Obama’s acceptance speech Tuesday night was his recognition of our differences, but his added comments that “we are not as divided as our politics suggests” nor “as cynical as the pundits believe.”  Perhaps not as divided or as cynical, but the Intramuralist suggests that we will only not be that segregated if we are intentional in addressing this issue.  There is no way around it; we are a nation in which millions of boys and girls weekly stand up in their classrooms, affirming our existence as one indivisible nation under God, and yet, we haven’t acted like it for years.


So how do we become less divided or cynical?  How does the healing begin?


Perhaps if I had all of life’s answers I wouldn’t be as busy with this blog nor my self-amusing caricature habit (all right, I’d still be doodling those pronounced facial features).  But I have a sense of a few steps essential in our healing…


Step 1:  Start now.


Healing can’t wait until next month or next year or the next election cycle.  If we want to keep the division from assuming permanent root, we must begin the healing today.  Looking it in the eye.  Calling it what it is.  And making a commitment to seriously and soberly address the divisiveness.


Step 2:  Be empathetic.


If you’re like me, you found the initial 24 hours on Facebook and Twitter a bit overwhelming.  Some gloated.  Some complained.  Some announced their readiness to exit the country.  Others responded with ‘good riddance.’  The bottom line with each response — from those who both loved and loathed the results:  neither worked to understand the emotions of those who felt differently.  Instead of empathy, they chose arrogance.  Arrogance is never attractive.


Step 3:  Eliminate the following words:  “mandate” and “compromise.”


Many will claim a mandate…  “We voted.  We won!”  And quite true is that such is often the winner’s bold assertion and the loser’s rueful admonition.  Please remember the context of this post.  We are acknowledging a “divisible” state of America.  With an estimated popular vote margin of 50% to 48%, almost as many people voted for the victor as against.  Thus, to profess a mandate is not a process that builds unity; it will encourage further division.


Let the record also show that many others will claim the need for compromise.  While I was never fond of the President’s 2009 quip that “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won,” the reality is that Obama was victorious.  More voters supported him than Gov. Romney.  Hence, Obama should not be expected to always meet in the middle.


Step 4:  Listen.


Remember (as does my 15 year old) that to listen means to both hear and consider.  To only hear does not qualify.  To only hear and consider the likeminded also does not qualify.  To listen reveals an interactive, respectful process with those on all sides of any aisle.


And Step 5:  Be humble.


Earlier I mentioned that arrogance is never attractive.  I can’t say that enough.  Confidence is contagious, but arrogance is polarizing.  When career Major League Baseball stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, declared he was “the greatest of all time — thank you,” did that make any feel better about his accomplishment?  My point is that humility is always more unifying than arrogance.  Allow me to be clear:  humility doesn’t mean silence nor submissiveness; it doesn’t equate to weakness.  Humility means joyfully being of one spirit, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit… considering others… and looking to their interests.  It is not an abandoning of one’s own interests, but rather, it is a respecting of those who are different.


We do feel differently this day.  We are in need of leadership.  We have some tough issues to tackle in this democratic, debt-ridden, capitalistic, and freedom-driven society.  We are also in need of healing.  If we begin now, we can be that one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  It’s time to be intentional.




this is the day

This is the day!  While surely many will thank God that such denotes the end of the inundation of political advertising, today also marks the anniversary of the Intramuralist.  Four years ago on election day, this blog began.  My reason for writing that day was because my strong sense was the wisdom shared would be the same regardless of the election’s outcome.


We then posted the following:




  1. People will do anything to win.

9.  Tina Fey is a comedic genius.

8.  Limericks using “Obama” can be fun (“Homearama”… yo momma…).

7.  Jesus would not be a Democrat OR a Republican.

6.  Objectivity in the media cannot be assumed.

5.  No party has a true grasp of all that encompasses social justice.

4.  “Feminism” does not mean “in support of all women.”

3.  People need to pray for our nation more than once every 4 years.

2.  Most people don’t know how to respect those with whom they disagree.


And for this playful artist…


1.  Both Presidential and ‘Veep’ candidates will be fun to caricature over the next 4 years!


As for this current election cycle, many of the above observations were again made manifest, although I would also add the following:




10.  A combined campaign costing approx. $2 billion cannot be a process that’s pure.

9.  Hope and change mean different things to different people.

8.  Racial and religious discrimination is still alive on planet Earth — and often in more places than vocal victims claim it to be.

7.  Vice Presidents don’t require polished speaking skills.

6.  Budgets make politicians financially accountable.

5.  Government mandated health care is divisive.

4.  First ladies always have a cool side.

3.  Debates matter.

2.  Spending is far easier than saving.



1. A President Romney wouldn’t be as much fun to caricature — although Paul Ryan, that’s a different story!  (Sorry, friends… it’s all about the facial features…)


The reality is that on Wednesday, our country has a lot of work to do.  First, we have to recognize that many candidates (on the federal, state, and local level) intentionally divided the country in order to spur on their own election.  Perhaps it’s not as self-serving as we’re oft inclined to conclude, as many candidates believe so deeply in both their articulated and unarticulated agendas, that the end justifies their divisive means.  Allow me to simply say that if I ever ran for office, I would hope to not fall prey to such alienating activity.


Also, after intentionally investing in the sewing up our nation’s political scars, we must then tackle a run-away economic situation and get control of our nation’s debt.  We must return to and embrace our (responsible) fiscal and (thus also moral) roots.  Regardless of how passionate any of us is about any budget category or entitlement, our spending patterns over the past 12 years cannot be sustained; our fiscal fragility must be aggressively addressed.


Enough of that.  Happy Anniversary, friends!  Thanks for modeling respectful dialogue with me and one another.  You have done your job well!


And here’s to 2016!  Maybe I’ll be running.  More likely, I suspect, I’ll be busy with new caricatures.





The pictures are heartbreaking — almost unbelievable.  As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remarked, “The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable.”


There have been multiple deaths, major destruction, and now massive need for clean up.  Extending along the coast and even branching eastward into Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc., the impact has been environmentally and economically huge.  Gov. Christie is right; the devastation is unthinkable.


So what do we do when unthinkable storms happen? … the seemingly unprecedented, natural disasters?


I suggest there exist two starkly different responses:  one rooted in arrogance — one, however, rooted in humility… two ways we respond when the unimaginable storms come our unfortunate way.


Allow me to suggest that the arrogance is often veiled; it’s an imperious approach that typically manifests itself within some form of blame — blame of another person or circumstance — but blame on something so concrete that potential disagreement is muted.  How can we disagree with a blame spoken with certainty?  How can we oppose a reasoning seemingly so concrete?  Yes, the arrogance guised as blame allows us to have an answer for the storm, even though reality often means the answer is at best ambiguous.


Almost simultaneously as Sandy destroyed our nation’s shores, multiple persons proclaimed that the concrete reason for the storm was climate change (also known as global warming or insertion-of-currently-most-politically-correct-and-or-convenient-noun here).  Former VP Al Gore, for example, wasted little time in labeling Sandy “a disturbing sign of things to come,” adding, “We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis.”


Now before proceeding with this posting, allow me to add a small but significant disclaimer:  the Intramuralist does not know whether or not climate change is fact.  I do not know.  I don’t know if it’s true or if it’s false.  Reasonable people disagree on this issue, and many of those most passionate on one side or the other are either agenda-driven or stand to personally benefit by the enactment of the argument.  Hence, I’ll say again:  I don’t know if climate change is true or false.  No one knows for certain.


What I do believe, no less, is that when we assume that climate change is the reason for a weather event, we are acting arrogantly.  Please… I mean no disrespect.  My point lies within the basis of the theory.  The basis for climate change is that dangerous weather events are happening due to changes in the Earth’s climate that have materialized due to man’s irresponsible behavior.


At first, such sounds fairly selfless — man’s irresponsible behavior.  Does that not sound selfless?  Where is the arrogance?


The arrogance lies within the focus; the focus is completely on man.


Within the climate change theory, there is zero acknowledgement of a potential divine being who may or may not have a purpose of which we are unaware.  There is no intentional corporate nor individual reflection that asks, “If there is a God of the universe — if he has allowed this — what could be the reasoning?  How, possibly, could this be part of any intentional plan?  Is there a reason?  A plan?  A consequence?”  The arrogance of the climate change theory is the assumption with certainty that we are the ones in control.  There is no submission to any God of the universe nor to anyone wiser or more omniscient than we.  Hence, true or untrue, I find the absolute blaming on climate change a veiled, arrogant approach.


But wait… where’s the second response to these storms?  … the one rooted in humility?  … the one that makes us feel a little better?


Watch how people now bond together… to clean up… support one another… and to love one another well.  To sort through the ruins… building each other’s houses… putting their houses back up on the rock… and encouraging those whose loss is yes, by all means unthinkable.  At times of crisis, the humbly beautiful approach is where we work side by side regardless of color or creed, income or demographics, or any potential disparity.


A wise approach to life’s storms means focusing on what binds us as opposed to what rips us apart.


Thank God… until Tuesday, at least.


In search of wisdom… always…




turning off the news

Oh, you’ve felt it, too…


Enough of it!  We’re through already!  Politics, schmolitics…


I am certain more than just a few of us are sick of the election cycle.  It hasn’t always been this way; it doesn’t have to be this way; and I pray it won’t remain this way.


Interestingly, I hear my more conservative-leaning friends blame the current president for this seemingly sad state of affairs.  I hear my more liberal-leaning friends blame his predecessor.  As a semi-humble current events observer (emphasis on the “semi”), I suggest that neither is wholly responsible; each administration has at times embraced divisive rhetoric and employed intentional negativity to pursue their desired end goal, but the Intramuralist’s clear sense is that Presidents Obama and Bush 42 only added to the increasingly, polarized state — a state that has many of us turning off the news, avoiding our Facebook accounts, and wondering how in the world we will unify after one more election.


As shared previously amidst these postings, the Intramuralist believes the seeds of polarization were sewn decades ago.  The majority of my belief was discerned when reading, Common Ground, a book co-authored by the very liberal Bob Beckel and very conservative Cal Thomas.  Endorsed by both the now deceased, liberal George McGovern and conservative Jack Kemp, Common Ground encourages each of us to (1) end partisanship, and thus (2) “save America.”  The book is insightful, especially for those of us whose blood continues to boil as we watch the Washington wrangling intensify.


Beckel and Thomas contend this corrosive culture began in the 1970‘s.  According to the authors…


The size of the federal government grew under both Democratic and Republican presidents.  These new agencies and departments created a substantial increase in government rules and regulations, impacting citizens and businesses alike.  The growth of governments produced cadres of political activists who would descend on Washington, demanding (and getting) access to policy makers.  Activists working for change were countered by an increase in the number of people who worked to protect the status quo.  The result was a tenfold increase in the number of lobbyists and lawyers…


Something else happened on Carter’s watch that would feed polarization.  Congress, especially the House, began to change the structure of committees.  Important committees, including Ways and Means and Appropriations, established subcommittees with new chairmen.  New subcommittees meant more staffers and congressional hearings, which meant more lobbyists and special-interest groups would descend on Washington.


These activists, lawyers, lobbyists, and special-interest groups possess personal motivations in regard to singular agendas.  Polarization keeps their agenda alive.  The problem is that it also promotes skewed perspective.  Ask Presidents Clinton and Bush 42, who, according to Common Ground, served as “Polarization’s Poster Children.”  Ask Ann Coulter and Arianna Huffington, whose careers have thrived on it.  Ask Rush Limbaugh and David Axelrod, who daily employ it.  Or ask Robert Bork, whose career was derailed by it.  Again, according to our liberal and conservative authors:


The Bork battle [Reagan’s 2nd nominee for the Supreme Court] rewrote the rules for future nominees.  No longer were a potential jurist’s qualifications paramount; ideology and personal issues were now fair game.  After Bork, no Supreme Court nominee would be as candid in confirmation hearings as Bork had been.  The Bork defeat, as much as any other event, helped launch a new era of “the politics of personal destruction.”


My point this day is that while Obama and Bush have embraced the division — in order to fuel their own election — the intensifying [and dare I suggest, foolish] division was not initiated by either.  They have perhaps used and abused the situation, although it did not start with them.


Politics, schmolitics…


I’ll go back to turning off the news, avoiding my Facebook account, and yes, wondering how in the world we will unify after this election.




debating the football

Here comes the game again…  the lights are on… the stage is set… this should be interesting… the game of the night… the game of the month…


What will the refs be like?  … silent?  … deferring?  … biased?  Let’s hope not.  Replacement moderators just don’t seem all that effective.


Ah, blue for one team — red for the other.  Wait — there’s also some pink in there.  It is still October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The Intramuralist so appreciates how those on center stage still bring attention to someone other than self.


Ok, wait… here come the ground rules…  (Mr. Ref, they don’t listen to the rules; haven’t you noticed?  Haven’t you seen all that fighting at the bottom of the pile — all that scrapping and punching and grappling when the mics aren’t on?)


There went the coin flip.  The incumbent will go first.  (Nice posture, by the way, gentlemen… although too many stare downs on the line already… kind of creepy… what are they looking at — each other’s helmet?  … tie?)


Hmmm… the teams’ staring continues.  Strategists must have said, “You need to look right at the other team.”  Oooh… strategists must have also said, “Don’t look so mad,” but that one’s a little harder.


Keep your game face on!  Intimidate them!  But be sure to look confident and strong.


“I am strong,” the sigh seemed to say.


(Golly, that pronoun “I” came off a little strong there.)


Personal foul!  You can’t say that on television!  The world is watching.


Lining up again.  Next play.  Next question.  Here we go.


They are fighting… they are actually fighting!  Throw the flag!  Throw the flag!!


Ooops… there went the flag.  But once again, of course, the teams disagree on who the foul should be on.  They even disagree on what the foul should be about.


Unsportsmanlike conduct!  Yes, the whistle blows again.


Yikes, he was offsides there.  (Funny how they always deny it.)


Quit grabbing!  That’s holding!!


15 more yards… or was that seconds?  It’s hard to discern sometimes.


I, me, my, myself.

We hear that a lot in this format.  I’m stunned, in fact, at how much these leaders refer to themselves and their plethora of accomplishments.  Hmmm… I would think leadership equates to a little more humility.


Geepers… that sure seemed like an illegal block.  Then again, that can only be employed by the moder- – I mean, referee… that is, if the ref gets too involved.


A call for leadership… yes, I like that… responsible, ethical, knowledgeable, transparent, courageous, consistent, non-political…  humble, too… oh, wait… they aren’t that good at that.


Ah, invoking the name of those who’ve gone before us — those “Hall of Famers,” so-to-speak.  We can almost see the names on the back of the jerseys… J. Kennedy… R. Reagan… yes… invoke those names; it makes us feel better.  They also employ the names they believe will make us think lesser of the other team — or maybe that they’re a little weaker, less effective somehow…  J. Carter… G. Bush  (p.s. I can’t put of their other choice words in print).


Hey, teams, have you made any mistakes?  Can you admit it?  What personal fouls will you acknowledge you committed?


Are you kidding?!  We only acknowledge fouls that are visible and proven!


And that, my friends, is what’s wrong with Monday Night Football… I mean, the presidential debate… I mean, football…


Sometimes it’s hard to tell…




oh! the places you’ll go

(With all due respect to Dr. Seuss, Big Bird, Green Eggs, Ham, the Muppets, etc.)


Congratulations!  Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!


You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.


Oh, yes, we’re off to great places.

As some would argue, “There’s no position that’s greater.”

For you see you’ve been chosen

To be the next debate moderator.


You’ll look at the topics.  Look ’em over with care.

About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,

You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.


And you may not find any, you’ll want to go down.

In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.


Like Lehrer and Raddatz and CNN’s Candy,

Each who was slammed for being something less than dandy.

Jim was too silent; Martha deferring;

And Crowley on Libyan ambiguity was for some reason confirming.


It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do

to people who think they’s so brainy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry.  Don’t stew.

Just go right along.  You’ll start happening, too.


But when they talk over their allotted time, as they’ll so obviously do

Please have the guts to tell them to be quiet.  And shoo.


Oh, it disturbs me how this system has evolved

Too much money, attack ads — and individual responsibility absolved.

The candidates come in with their pre-determined thoughts

Avoiding the questions, like no always-ethical leader ought.


Do they really, truly not comprehend our questions?

Or did their campaign simply have better talking point suggestions?


Why do they ramble and talk over time?

Why does no one keep them in line?


Yet each partisan camp will declare them the winner

While subtly inferring their opponent is some merciless sinner.


Geepers.  Geepers.  Watch out, friend.

To this game of spin there will be no end.


Can you believe this election is a bit of a game?

And the partisan camps, they are to blame?

They are divisive and rude — with straight-forward answers too late.

Don’t even get me started on all they exaggerate.


Can you believe the winner will our country then direct?

Even though he can’t treat his opponent with respect?


But as for this debate, when each finds victory still in doubt,

They’ll shudder and shift…  “It was the moderator!” they’ll shout.





Yes, to some place greater…

Hopefully, hopefully…

If you’re not the moderator.


Respectfully… always… with a little tongue in cheek…



Those who have long been loyal royal watchers will remember the photos…


Gone was the seemingly innocent, inner joy.  The smile had faded.  So had the warm glances in her one time prince’s direction.  As her public appearances increasingly lacked her infectious smile and persona, Princess Diana’s body language began to communicate what she couldn’t — wouldn’t — or perhaps didn’t want to verbally articulate.  Her nonverbal behavior conveyed something deeper… something more.  It began to tell us that royal as it was, her marriage was in trouble.  What Diana didn’t say told us more than what she actually did.


Nonverbal behavior is perhaps in some sense, a language all its own.  It is at times deeper and at times different than anything spoken.  It is at times more powerful and poignant.  Perhaps it’s why a picture is worth a thousand words.  Nonverbal behavior is a picture that either confirms or contradicts our message.


Such as…


When JFK, Jr. saluted his father as the coffin passed by him.  Then only 3, John John stepped forward, raising his arm, staring intently.


What did his nonverbal behavior convey?


An honor and love for his dad.


Or when…


Since December of 1993 — when LeRoy Butler, who scored after a Reggie White fumble recovery and lateral against the then L.A. Raiders — and later popularized by receiver, Robert Brooks — many Green Bay Packers jump into the end zone stands after scoring a touchdown.  The move is affectionately referred to as the “Lambeau Leap.”


What does this nonverbal behavior convey?


A joy and celebration of the points scored.


Or when…


The tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in June of 1989.  As Chinese protestors were being forcibly removed by the Communist government, an anonymous man positioned himself in the middle of the street as the tanks approached.  He stood still directly in the armored vehicles’ path, waving at the tanks with 2 shopping bags.


What did his nonverbal behavior convey?


A courage and coming in peace.


Last week at the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, much post-debate commentary on both the news networks and social media centered not around substance — which both candidates significantly offered — but instead on the nonverbal behavior of the current vice president.


Granted, for some reason, the U.S. continues to elect vice-presidents who have some extremely prominent quirk (regardless of party affiliation) that makes many question the leader’s actual credibility.  For yes, on this night, VP Joe Biden laughed heartily, repeatedly, and consistently when Rep. Paul Ryan was speaking.  It was odd.  The most unusual aspect from the Intramuralist’s perspective was that Biden laughed out loud and smiled hugely even when the subject was as sobering as people out of work or Iran building a nuclear bomb.


What did his nonverbal behavior convey?


What couldn’t he, wouldn’t he, or didn’t he want to verbally articulate?  Was his nonverbal communication more powerful and poignant?  Did it confirm or contradict his message?  And I wonder if what Joe Biden didn’t say tells us more than what he actually did.


Great questions.  I can’t tell.