a variety of voices… this is great…

Well, this is it.

You know our mantra here at the Intramuralist. We are a respectful dialogue of current events. 

That means the following…

  • All topics are welcome.
  • Disagreement is completely acceptable.
  • The only caveat is that all opinion, perspective and conviction must be stated in a way that is respectful toward the one who disagrees with you.

Hence, there is no denigration, insult nor targeted vulgarity. 

In order to aid in said standards, there are also aims and objectives we frequently advocate for and sincerely encourage, believing they are good and wise and true. For example…

  • Learn what it means to honor other people.
  • Figure the faith thing out.
  • Listen — and listen especially to a variety of voices.

One of culture’s current challenges is that many of us only listen to the same sort of voices over and over again — and then walk away thinking we have a solid opinion and perspective because we’ve heard the same thing so many times. If the voices all come from like sources, then we’re unknowingly ignorant of the insulated bubble we’ve conveniently prepackaged ourselves in. That bubble then impedes conversation. Why? Because we’re thoroughly convinced we’re right, unaware of our own ignorance.

Such is why we advocate listening to different voices… people from all walks of life — age, ethnicity, education, profession… people with all sorts of experience — easy, hard, silly or serious… people with different stories to share.

One of the reasons we struggle to solve problems is because we equate singular experience — or similar experience heard repeatedly — as truth. The key — and a key that I wish absolutely every legislator, leader and lawyer knew and acknowledged — is that wise and effective solution comes when we listen to the different, when we work to understand alternative points of view, and pragmatically discern how they all fit together, rather than trumping one angle as truth and getting stuck in our own bubble.

Here at the Intramuralist, we practice what we preach.

As has been our creative, annual custom in our near 15 year existence, it is time for our 2023 Guest Writer Series!!

I am so excited, friends!

Over the course of the next several weeks, you will hear from all sorts of people — that variety of voices. You will hear from a former politician, licensed professional counselor and educator. You will hear from working professionals, a stay-at-home mom and at least one still college student. 

The topics vary, too, as do their passions. From masking to anxiety to 100 questions with a historian, this talented group has much to discuss!

We learn from one another no doubt.

So while personally I engage in a brief season of intentional rest — a practice that the older I get, I question why I didn’t develop the discipline earlier in life — our 2023 excellent guest writers have a few things to share with you.

Know now that I will not agree with everything they say. They do not speak for me. But these are men and women from all walks of life who are committed to respectful dialogue. Thus, they are people from whom we can learn, grow and be encouraged. Such will always, always trump agreement.

Enjoy, my friends. Fire up to start on Wednesday…

Respectfully… and ciao for now…


who do you follow?

Seriously. Who/what do you follow?

Those on Instagram, for instance, who have the most followers, are:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo — The Portuguese professional soccer player has more followers than many have in their own country with 593 million followers. 
  2. Lionel Messi — The Argentine soccer player gets close to Ronaldo, but only with 475 million followers.
  3. Selena Gomez — One of the fastest recent risers, this non-athlete talks about far more than being the Biebs’ ex-girlfriend. Her food and mental health conversations have found her with over 423 million followers.
  4. Kylie Jenner — Here comes the first of this familial clan, as this media personality and young business woman now has 395 million followers.
  5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — This retired professional wrestler, now actor and tequila connoisseur finds himself 5th on the list with 385 million followers.
  6. Ariana Grande — The pop icon with an impressive four-octave range tunes in with 375 million followers.
  7. Kim Kardashian — A half-sister of the aforementioned Jenner, this media personality slightly trails the above with 360 million followers.
  8. Beyoncé Knowles — Unquestionably, “Queen Bey” is one of the greatest entertainers of her generation, evident by her 312 million followers. 
  9. Khloe Kardashian — Next in the famous family tree is the “reality” TV sister with 309 million followers.
  10. Nike — At 10th comes our first non-individual, with the popular shoe brand currently netting some 299 million followers.
  11. Justin Bieber — One of my personal faves, the Canadian-born pop star has 292 million followers.
  12. Kendall Jenner — Another Kardashian/Jenner celebrity — daughter of Kris and then Bruce — now Caitlyn — has a respectable 291 million followers.
  13. National Geographic — The only other non-individual focuses on authentic beauty without any make-up, as noted by its 279 million followers.
  14. Taylor Swift — Swifties shake off any idea that their icon isn’t in the top ten, regardless of also only 264 million followers.
  15. Virat Kohli — And lastly, in spot 15, we’re bookended by one more sports star, this one a cricketeer with 252 million followers.

My personal feed includes a few (far) lesser known personalities, such as Omgitswicks, the “part tour guide/part wise uncle” who provides hilarious sketch comedy focused on Florida nuances, and TJ Therrien, the middle child who showcases family therapy by amusingly exaggerating the differences in the oldest, middle and youngest child approaches. 

But all that to make a singular point this day…

All of the above are known as who/what we enjoy… we like… at the very least we’re curious and want to pay attention them. Hence, we follow them. 

But my strong sense, with absolute all due respect to each of the above, is that current culture has diluted what it means to follow.

Whether it be a new diet, the Golden Rule or Jesus Christ, for example, to actually follow doesn’t mean simply to enjoy, like or pay attention to. It doesn’t mean being curious or behaving however we want to. To “follow” and “follow halfheartedly” are contradictory. To follow, friends, is to be wholly in. What we like or agree with are secondary to why we chose to follow the who/what to begin with.




a fascinating political update

Ok, I admit, I’m a little bit fascinated. I’m fascinated by the number of persons (and total respect if such includes you — it’s only a fascination), but at the number of persons who suggest that the corruption we’re seeing and sensing is happening in a singular political party. Maybe it’s a deduction of the lesser of two evils, so-to-speak, omitting, however, that “lesser” infers that both are still evil.

Let me not suggest that either the Democrats or Republicans are wholly evil (although I know many are lured to think otherwise). But it seems painstakingly obvious that Washington is broken and the system is corrupt. There is clear crookedness in both parties. For example, witch-hunt or not, it doesn’t take any rocket science nor thirty more indictments to discern that there is something unscrupulous in former Pres. Trump’s behavior. It also doesn’t take any indictment to know there is some sort of duplicity in the Biden family business, especially with Hunter at the head. (I’ll spare any reference to House Republican George Santos or Senate Democrat John Fetterman.) The bottom line is that corruption exists within both parties, and turning a blind eye toward one is what prompts the aforementioned fascination.

That said, as has been documented here — and I might add, is gaining national attention and momentum — No Labels, a political organization that has been promoting nonpartisan governance since 2010 — has been working diligently to provide American voters with an “insurance policy” for 2024. Poll after poll show approximately 70% of us don’t want either Joe Biden or Donald Trump to be President. Our nation is deeply dissatisfied with both gentlemen for various reasons. To be blunt, they are each divisive (albeit in their own, unique way), and to be even more frank, they are arguably too old. Hence, if that is again America’s choice, No Labels will provide a “unity ticket,” with both a Democrat and Republican on the ticket. They are only preparing for the possibility; they have not yet committed to do so. It depends on who the establishment nominates, as the commonsense majority knows we can do better than Biden and Trump.

As part of the preparation, therefore, No Labels is currently focused on nationwide ballot access. That takes time. Look, though, at the response of the establishment…

Time out — my apologize. Let’s first briefly review what the parties officially state in regard to election integrity and our voices being heard. It’s eye-openingly relevant…

From the Democrats: “Democrats will strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing that every American’s vote is protected. We will make it a priority to pass legislation that restores and strengthens the Voting Rights Act, and ensure the Department of Justice challenges state laws that make it harder for Americans to vote. We will make voting easier and more accessible for all Americans…”

From the Republicans: “Our platform is centered on stimulating economic growth for all Americans, protecting constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms, ensuring the integrity of our elections, and maintaining our national security. We are working to preserve America’s greatness for our children and grandchildren.”

Now, though, look at their actual efforts at election integrity, as shared via an update from No Labels this week:

“Ten months ago, No Labels submitted more than enough petitions to get on North Carolina’s 2024 presidential ballot, with plenty of time for officials to review them. Getting on states’ presidential ballots is part of our Insurance Policy 2024 to potentially offer our ballot line to a bipartisan Unity ticket if the two parties insist on saddling the country with presidential choices they don’t want.  

In North Carolina, after almost a year of mysterious delays, the Democratic-controlled state elections board last week affirmed our signatures … but then they said they would indefinitely wait on certifying our ballot access while the Board Chair conducts an additional review process with no precedent and no objective standard.  

We know a pattern when we see one. When the left-progressive North Carolina Green Party sought a spot on the state’s 2022 U.S. Senate ballot, state Democrats went to court, arguing that the Greens would ‘harm Democrats’ electoral prospects because [our] candidates will have to compete …’  

The Greens had met all the requirements, but the board said it needed to investigate claims of signature fraud. And then it unanimously reversed itself.  

In federal court, the Greens said 20 of its signatories reported being contacted by people claiming to be from the Green Party and pressuring them to tell election officials they never signed the petitions. Otherwise, the Green Party would split the Democratic vote, they were told.  

In all, a sickening partisan spectacle. But please don’t single out North Carolina election officials. In Arizona, the state Democratic Party has sued to knock No Labels off the ballot there. One of its arguments is that No Labels would “harm Democrats’ electoral prospects because [our] candidates will have to compete …”   

And in Maine, amid our registration effort, the Democratic secretary of state took the unprecedented step of sending a targeted mailing directed at all 6,456 citizens of Maine who had recently registered as No Labels Party members, questioning if they meant to join No Labels and casting aspersions on our organization.  

These aren’t coincidental cases of overdoing the red tape. This is rank partisan obstructionism aimed at protecting entrenched power.”

Friends, the parties are fighting to keep No Labels off the ballot. That is not democracy. That is not election integrity. That is about power. It’s also sadly about corruption.



happy 5th!

I am always grateful for July 4th. While hitting the sand and the sunshine for an extended stay, there’s time to read and listen to the perspectives of others — such as from someone who didn’t actually grow up in this country, like Martin Gurri, an author, former CIA analyst, and currently a Visiting Fellow at George Mason University. Important note: we learn from those experiences which are different than our own. One more note: the experiences of others help us see that our experience isn’t the only way. Hence, as shared by Bari Weiss’s, excellent, thought-provoking The Free Press — it’s a little long but by far the best thing I read yesterday…

I arrived in the United States as a child from Cuba, and immediately realized things were different here. Nobody talked politics—it was a boring subject. Everyone went calmly about their business and trusted everyone else to do the right thing. Pedestrians walked in front of moving cars because of some abstract notion called the “right of way”! (I still can’t bring myself to do that.) The rules of social life were understood and internalized. Beyond that, it was up to you. The American people seemed to have freedom in their bones, in their DNA: so deep that they didn’t even notice.

Is there such a thing as American exceptionalism? When asked that question, Barack Obama once replied, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” As often happened with Obama, he was both glib and wrong.

Actually, each country is not exceptional in its own way and doesn’t deserve a little trophy just for being there. The U.S. stands apart. And it isn’t so much who we are that separates us from other nations as the path that brought us here. Each American alive today benefits from an extraordinary history. Call it luck, call it destiny, but those who came before us rose to every challenge in a manner that defied probability and bestowed on us, their heirs, the easygoing freedom of pedestrians who casually face down moving cars.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the hands of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, the Revolution could have gone wrong in many ways. Instead, we got the generation of the Founders and Framers: a world-historical flowering of political genius. These were tough-minded, pragmatic men, who fought and won a war against the greatest power on earth and built a framework of government that has lasted 235 years. But they were also brilliant political thinkers. Their most enduring legacy was an ideology of individual freedom to which even our decadent latter-day politics must refer and yield.

When I asked my five-year-old grandson what he knew about George Washington, all he could say was, “He owned slaves.” That’s how Washington is remembered today: slaves, bad teeth, and a face on the dollar bill. But he won the Revolutionary War by sheer force of character; the precedents he set as our first chief executive embodied the ideology of freedom and remain in effect today. Other great men of similar talents behaved quite differently. Napoleon began as first consul, then promoted himself to emperor. Simón Bolívar went from liberator to dictator. By contrast, Washington voluntarily and with much relief relinquished power and ended his days as a farmer at Mount Vernon. That was unusual, unlikely—and exceptional.

The Civil War could have resulted in nothing more than a brutal power play—the North and the West devouring the South much like Bismarck’s Prussia swallowed the German principalities. That didn’t happen because Abraham Lincoln gave the war a profound moral dimension. The “last best hope” for human freedom, he insisted, was at stake. It was Lincoln who defined our exceptionalism. He believed we were the first nation to rise above the accidents of history and be “dedicated to a proposition.” Yet an ideology of freedom couldn’t coexist with chattel slavery. The slaughter of war was the punishment for that monstrous contradiction. Lincoln’s second inaugural address, a towering moral document, reads like a combination of a Greek tragedy and a lost book from the Bible. He was, to put it mildly, an uncommon politician.

In times of need, other Americans have stepped into the breach with remarkable regularity. When the Great Depression shook our way of life to its foundation, Franklin Roosevelt rejected “fear itself” and restored faith in representative democracy. When the Cold War against the forces of unfreedom appeared eternally deadlocked, Ronald Reagan could conceive only of a single outcome: “We win, they lose”—and so it was.

When the disgrace of Jim Crow segregation needed to be atoned for and eradicated, we should have expected, and certainly deserved, rage and hatred for the oppressors from the black leadership. Instead, we got a magnificently eloquent preacher who practiced nonviolence and taught Christian forgiveness. As anyone can tell who has read “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. was nobody’s pushover. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor,” he wrote; “it must be demanded by the oppressed.” But he quoted the words of the Founders in front of the temple to Lincoln in Washington, D.C.—appealing to the American ideology of freedom and demanding a share of it for all Americans. And so began the long process of healing the nation.

New citizens in Los Angeles pledge allegiance to the U.S.A. (Joe Sohm via Getty Images)

Even our industrialists and innovators have been exceptional. Anywhere else, if you wanted to make money you had to sell to the government or to the rich—after all, they possessed most of it. But from Thomas Edison and Henry Ford to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, American manufacturers aimed their goods at the ordinary citizen, the consumer. (Ford actually kept the prices of his cars low to ensure that “the great multitude” could afford them.) This started a virtuous cycle, since the more money ordinary people made, the more goods they could purchase: higher salaries for employees actually benefited millionaire CEOs. Here was the ideology of freedom, conquering the economic domain.

And for those of you who love to sneer at “consumerism,” let me repeat a story I have told before. A Cuban woman, a recent refugee, entered a supermarket in Miami and proceeded to burst into tears. Surrounded by such a dazzling display of goods, her heart broke, she said, when she thought of the people she had left behind in Cuba, who had so little.

The opposite of consumerism isn’t authenticity—it’s penury. It’s scarcity and hunger. We are fortunate and exceptional that most of our problems stem from abundance.

This amazing history is the property of every American—and it was the legacy that confronted me when I first arrived in this country. But here’s the strange thing: fairly quickly, without my knowing how, I started to think of it as my legacy. I internalized the evolution of freedom the U.S. represents. It belonged to me no less than to any Mayflower descendant—maybe more, since I knew too well the alternative to freedom.

My process of Americanization bears thinking on. Having recently tested my ancestry, I know my genetic roots go back almost entirely to Spain and France. So is Thomas Jefferson my “forefather”? Don’t bother to answer—I know he is. He stands in a line with Washington, Lincoln, and MLK—and, yes, Edison and Jobs—who, as older family members do, provided for me the maxims and models of how the life of a free citizen should be lived. I have had angry conversations with Jefferson, as I did with my own father; he was an encyclopedic genius but a frustratingly slippery character. Europeans have sometimes asked me why Americans are so obsessed with the opinions of long-dead politicians. My reply is that we have been exceptionally fortunate in our history.

I became American without thinking about it, by osmosis. My personal differences with my native-born friends seemed more like advantages than barriers. Being young in the United States felt like an immense adventure—a constant exploration and discovery of new perspectives in a land of infinite possibilities. Americans, I learned, are restless and lonely, because we always live on the edge of a frontier, and are always tempted by the siren song of the future to leave everything behind. We are, in a word, unsettled. That’s a rare but honorable condition.

At some point, somehow, my life became that of an ordinary American. I went to school, married and begot children, became a bureaucrat at—of all places—the Central Intelligence Agency, and moved on to the serial pontification I am engaging in at this moment. My version of the American dream was never extravagant but I have seen most of it come true. Long ago, I found a woman who has put up with me all these years. I have bounced grandkids on my knee and watched the Washington Nationals win the World Series. I never forget that I’m Cuban, but weeks go by that I fail to remember I’m an immigrant—if that sounds like a contradiction, you don’t understand the meaning of “Cuban” or the life of an immigrant in the United States.

Some of you, I realize, will object to such talk of freedom and unqualified praise for our country. Half of the American economy was built on slavery, you will say. Well, yes, but as Lincoln observed, we paid for that sin with rivers of blood. Still—you will press on—we remained a legally racist country for a century after the Civil War. Well, yes, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 broke the shackles of discrimination and today the highest-earning Americans are of Indian and East Asian descent. But this remains systemically and fundamentally a white supremacist nation, and there’s no help for that, forever and ever, you will charge, unreconciled.

Well, no—that’s just fumes inside your head. But if you believe it, then rise to the level of the history that made you. Quit whining. Stop throwing words around and point to cases. Persuade me by engaging in respectful debate, using the shared language of reason and evidence. As so many Americans have done before, become an avatar of freedom in a time of crisis, so that your descendants long hence will look back with pride and say, “That was an exceptional generation.”

Happy 4th & 5th… Respectfully…


what details are we dismissing?

29 opinions were released by the Supreme Court this past June. Many were 7-2, 8-1 or even unanimous decisions, finding common ground on voting rights, immigration issues, etc. We, though, oft focus on cases that are more divided and passionate — and on the ones via which we see only a singular side. With all due respect, that’s a significant challenge for us. When we focus solely on a singular side — legitimate as our passion and perspective may be — we typically miss the bottom line. We fail to see what the issue is about when we dismiss detail and ignore other perspective.

Take three of the high court’s decisions released in the end of the week news dump. (No doubt all institutions/administrations have learned said art of sharing controversial info on Thursdays, Fridays or right before a holiday, making it hopefully easier to avoid ample media scrutiny.) We speak today of Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, and Biden v. Nebraska. My point today is not to offer advocacy nor opposition; my point is to acknowledge the bottom line of each case — what is being addressed — and thus the core issue we may miss when passionately wrought by singular perspective.

In Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, the court ruled that race-based affirmative action in college admission programs is unconstitutional.

Brief details… Many who disagree are persons who believe they or those they love benefitted from affirmative action decades prior; they understandably want others to have the same opportunity…  Called into question is how other ethnicities have been discriminated against in the process, specifically those of Asian and Latino descent… And interestingly, California, one of the most liberal states of the union, banned affirmative action at their public colleges 27 years ago…

The legal bottom line addresses the Equal Protection Clause embedded in the 14th Amendment. Such forces a state to govern individuals impartially, meaning all U.S. citizens must receive “equal protection of the laws.” If others are discriminated against via the process, impartiality is the question. The additional core debate recognizes that affirmative action originated in 1961, and thus wonders if current circumstances and needs for correction are the same as they were 62 years ago. This issue isn’t about discriminating against any one ethnicity; it’s about the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the court ruled that the state cannot force a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which she disagrees.

Brief details… Many who agree and disagree with this decision perceive the ruling as a blow to the rights of our friends in the LGBTQ+ community, suggesting this legalizes increased discrimination… The plaintiff argued not that she didn’t want to work with LGBTQ+ individuals; she solely does not want to create same-sex wedding or trans wedding websites due to her faith…

The legal bottom line addresses the question of free speech embedded in the 1st Amendment. Can a person be forced by the state to express something that their religious faith prohibits? The additional core debate is whether or not a website falls under such expression; do “creative products” count as speech? This issue isn’t about LGBTQ+ rights; it’s about the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

And lastly, in Biden v. Nebraska, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration overstepped its authority last year when they announced they would cancel up to $400 billion in student loans.

Brief details… Many who disagree with this decision are persons who would benefit from not having to pay their own loans back; makes sense. There simultaneously exists significant question as to who this would most help/hurt, as the debt wouldn’t simply go away; other taxpayers would have to absorb the outstanding financial obligation… Candidate Joe Biden made the pledge that he would permanently cancel up to $20,000 in debt during his 2020 presidential campaign… After elected, Biden said, “I don’t think I have the authority to do it”… Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power”…

The legal bottom line addresses America’s separation of powers; it’s one of the key elements which laudably distinguishes the U.S. from other monarchies, dictatorships and more authoritarian forms of government. This means that government’s responsibilities are distinctly divvied up into the three branches of government in order to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. The legislative branch is responsible for not only enacting the laws of the state but also appropriating the money necessary to operate. In other words, Congress holds the “power of the purse,” the power to control government spending. The President does not. Such is why Speaker Pelosi said so prior to the court case; she was actually cited in the Supreme Court’s decision.This issue thus isn’t about student loans; it’s about Article I of the U.S. Constitution. 

Friends, I understand the legitimate passion in both agreement and dissent; there exist strong opinions on affirmative action, LGBTQ+ rights and student loan forgiveness; each affects people differently. But let not our passion prompt us to dismiss the details and therefore unintentionally miss the bottom line.

Respectfully… always…


should we care where our news comes from?

While admittedly hesitant to feel capable of demanding what all others should care about, perhaps the better question is: “Do we care if our news is accurate?” Unquestionably, not all proclaimed news sources present actual, factual news.

To be clear, biased sources are capable of being actual and factual; the credibility question, however, is simply whether they are transparent in regard to how their bias impacts the way in which they report.

Take “fact checkers,” for example. We’d like to assume they are providing us with accurate news. They publicize and pronounce themselves as sources which scrutinize reality. Take Snopes, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, for example. Each claims to be actual and factual.

Yet a key, oft-overlooked part of fact-checking is ensuring that the assessments are balanced and complete. Notice how AllSides, a respected Intramuralist source, shares 6 ways in which the Fact Checkers quietly mislead by embedding their bias:

Just fact check the other guys, leave “their side” mostly unchallenged.

This is apparent in the case of President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump — when Biden falsely said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Trump supporters at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “killed a police officer,” few fact-checkers paid any attention to it. Many of the same outlets that didn’t cover Biden’s claim published inaccurate stories in the riot’s immediate aftermath about the officer’s death. Conversely, few right-rated sources spend any time fact-checking Trump’s claims that election fraud cost him the 2020 election…

Fact check extreme or narrow statements to label them as false, implying that a more general idea is also false.

PolitiFact (Lean Left bias) recently analyzed the statement that “critical race theory has moved into all our schools in Virginia” and found it to be false. The claim is in essence true, though highly exaggerated. If PolitiFact instead had fact checked whether “themes of CRT are being taught in schools today,” that answer, based on their own description, would be true. Fact checkers on both sides issue true/false binaries on claims that are largely subjective. In an article about a Florida bill that would prohibit discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, Breitbart Fact Check rated the claim that “Conservative Florida legislators are targeting vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex children” as “FALSE”, even though the claim itself is highly subjective. Breitbart’s presentation of the claim minimizes more specific criticisms of the bill about freedom of expression and general concerns about the LGBTQ+ community.

Subjectively judge claims, often beyond the hard facts, to give a final “fact check” rating. 

One example of this is in this controversial fact check by The Washington Post of Carly Fiorina’s statement, “I started as a secretary, typing and filing for a nine-person real estate firm. It’s only in this country that you can go from being a secretary to chief executive of the largest tech company in the world, and run for president of the United States. It’s only possible here.”  The Washington Post Fact Check (Lean Left) gave her statement a “3 Pinocchio” rating (which means “mostly false” or has “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”), saying that “In telling her only-in-America story, she conveniently glosses over the only-for-Fiorina opportunities and options beyond what the proverbial mailroom worker has,” while also affirming with detail that she had indeed started as a secretary.

Trust only a few government experts or others that are likely biased toward one conclusion.

Fact checkers often show bias via which authority they appeal to. They may trust claims and data given by institutions or authorities such as government agencies or military branches that are themselves being charged with falsehood or controversial behavior. For instance, years ago, PolitiFact fact checked the GOP accusation that many would not be able to hold onto their current doctor with Obamacare. PolitiFact appealed to statements from Obama’s administration to state as fact that you could keep your doctor, and called accusations to the contrary as false, not covering the arguments and data showing that you would lose your doctor. (To their credit, after Obamacare was passed and many people were forced to give up their current doctors, exposing the lie, PolitiFact called Obama’s claim that you could keep your doctor their “Lie of the Year”.)…

Only provide or emphasize data that supports one conclusion.

On issues such as gun control, racism in policing, and abortion, there is a range of data and research that support and oppose the various arguments about the issue. A fact checker might emphasize one set of data and facts while completely ignoring or greatly downplaying another set of data and facts that support an alternative conclusion…

Lack of thought diversity within the fact checker team.

Journalists tend to lean left. This may explain why Politifact doubled down on a fact check debunking the theory that Kyle Rittenhouse’s possession of a rifle on the night he killed two men and wounded one during Black Lives Matter unrest was “perfectly legal.” A judge tossed out a charge of a minor carrying a weapon, reportedly due to unclear laws regarding the alleged violation, but Politifact wrote a lengthy explanation about why they believe their fact check conclusion still had merit.

Just want to be actual and factual, friends. That would help so many of our conversations, enabling us to more productively dialogue about what is indeed true.




With Google being our active and semi-altruistic friend, the individual info search has become quite the convenient, domestic activity. Hence, on a witty whim earlier in the week, we asked, “What are people prone to?”

The answers span the spectrum of creativity, if I do say so myself…

Depression… coronavirus… certain health conditions.. each was shared via take #1.

A more involved search produced the concepts of being prone to accidents, addiction and anxiety. Such sent my pondering brain in a different direction — one perhaps more tailored toward an Intramuralist focus — especially when I was asked by a friend recently, “Why aren’t you more prone to insult?”

For communicative clarity (which we believe is one of current culture’s unfortunate, increasing scarcities), let’s provide some basic definitions.

First, what does it mean to be prone?

prone (adj.) – likely to do something


insult (v.) – to speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse

It’s amazing how frequently insults flow. We find ourselves in these insulated, likeminded huddles, where we justify the disrespect and scorn. It’s like we think it’s ok there. I recently saw someone throw even public, scornful shade at one who had recently died. They pointed out all the perceived, massive wrongdoing of the deceased and then suggested that in heaven, if there, Jesus would be gently but demonstrably pointing out all the ways the man had erred in his judgment. I didn’t have the heart to say that such is likely to be true for all who are blessed to enter those pearly gates. But alas, we stand amazed.

Ah, let’s offer one more definition. That of “amazed.” Note that “amazed” is a neutral adjective; it is not aligned with good nor bad. It simply means “causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing.” Yes, it’s amazing how frequently insults seems to flow.

So the question was why is the Intramuralist not likely to engage in such verbal abuse. Allow me first a very important distinction. Unfortunately, I have had moments in which I contributed to said negative discussion. I have had times where I joined in the fray. I have said things that were rude and disrespectful. And yes, absolutely, I have had multiple moments that I regret. I most likely will have some more.

Yet with the experience gained through seasons of life — as a constant student, continuous learner, and one who desires to grow in what is good and right and true — there is clear recognition that none of us are perfect. Each of us often falls prey to lesser, disrespectful things.

The goal is to justify the lesser less.

I honestly, simply believe that no one is deserving of my disrespect.

And in those moments, where I have felt so emboldened in justifying that scorn or disrespect, I am typically really, really, really focused on the errors in another…

And simultaneously really, really, really ignoring the imperfections in me.

That, my friends, is amazing.

Respectfully… indeed…


a wee bit nostalgic

As we soon celebrate the 15th year of the Intramuralist (crazy… I know!), I find myself grateful, gleeful and sincerely humbled. It’s been a true labor of love for this decade and a half. As we near our actual anniversary this fall, we will find ways to appropriately (and wittily) acknowledge the years, span the subjects, and express our deep gratitude to the thousands of you who have loyally tuned in.

The reality is this also finds me a wee bit nostalgic. It’s fun to remember some of which we wrote. So I scaled back to our earliest years and found the following insightful gem.

It’s a little more personal.

And it began by discussing how we look at other people.

It started by suggesting that we tend to look at one another in one of two ways — that all-too-luring, all-too-incomplete binary choice…

“… We look at others in one of two ways:  (1) what they are capable of doing, or (2) what they are not. We employ this tactic often, and it appears we employ it with a confidence that is questionable… perhaps sometimes inappropriate.”

And after presenting the binary bait, we acknowledged how this plays itself out in politics and sports.

But alas, neither is truly my favorite subject.

As written years ago, indulge me in my no doubt favorite example, from a sweet, momentous time…

“Today my youngest son ‘graduates’ from his first school. He has attended the early childhood center for 5 years, having the privilege of learning under some extremely, highly skilled educators since the age of 2. He has grown. He has blossomed. He can now do things we once wondered if impossible! Joshua is ready to tackle whatever happens next. He is fully confident that he can move forward — even without knowing all that ‘forward’ entails.

His propitious development astounds all who invest in him. Remember, this is the same child who solicited an initial in utero response from more than one doctor in regard to our desire to abort him. Please know their question was asked respectfully. It simply would have been more tactful had they congratulated us on his conception first.

Each day Josh looks at mountains and perceives them to be merely mole hills. Each day there are those who try to remind him they are really mountains. Some hold sincere intention, like his elementary, female peers who possess that seemingly innate mothering gene and thus work to instill some type of independent control in all those around them. But I also see adults interact with him… like the mom on the baseball field who seems to only announce what my son is doing wrong.  Where is the affirmation for being on that field instead? Where is the affirmation for what my son can potentially do? Who he can potentially be?

I believe one of our objectives in life on planet Earth is to spur others on to be who they were called to be. To encourage them all the more. To motivate them to use their gifts. If we only look at others from the perspective of what they cannot do, we ourselves will never spur on another.  We will then be the ones incapable.”

It’s a fascinating phenomena…

The greatest limitations are those we discern we have the ability to place… either on others or on self.

So we ask today: who are we negatively assessing? Who are we seeing most from the perspective of what they cannot do?

Let’s be better. Let’s be kinder. Let’s spur another on.


partying is a problem

We’ll get to the partying. First, let’s review one recently discussed fact:

The clear majority of American adults don’t want either Joe Biden or Donald Trump to run again for President. But alas, they are still running. 

With all due respect, it begs the question: who do they each care most about?

But they aren’t the only ones whose care is in question…

Many months ago, we shared the motives here of a group called No Labels. Ardent Intramuralist readers will recall that through this organization, this current events blogger has had the recent privilege of being in very thought-provoking meetings with politicians Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gov. Larry Hogan, Gov. Pat McCrory, civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and for interviewing purposes, New York Times reporter David Brooks. As spokespersons or chairmen, they respectfully advocate for a “national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems.” Unfortunately, intense political polarization has halted progress on our problems. And some of the advocated legislation on the left and the right has become fairly radical — and dare I semi-humbly suggest, radically disrespectful of often at least half the country’s population.

No Labels encourages each of us to have the courage to put our country first… to care most about country. As they sincerely but bluntly acknowledge, “In American politics today, it doesn’t take courage to follow the party line. You don’t need a backbone to hurl pot shots at the other side. To stir up hate and recrimination. To gum up the works. To refuse to cooperate.” And yet, that is what many are doing. Joe Biden and Donald Trump each contribute significantly to the problem, albeit via varied angles.

Hence, aware of the potential of the again insufferable choice between Biden and Trump, where questions of competence and character are unquestionably in play, No Labels has been working for multiple years now to craft what they call the “Insurance Policy 2024.” If we face Biden vs. Trump round 2, No Labels is preparing to offer a unity ticket, a presidential ticket that features strong, effective and honest leaders who will commit to working closely with both parties to find those commonsense solutions. They are preparing for the possibility; they have not yet committed to doing so. They care more about the country than any one party. 

Now that they are making notable progress, picking up steam, with more and more of us attracted to a movement that doesn’t pander to the extreme left or right, notice, no less, how the parties have reacted…

Last week from the primary two parties, a group of approximately 40 political strategists and former officials — including Pres. Biden’s former chief of staff — met quietly together for a singular purpose: to “subvert” the No Labels plan. As Michael Scherer penned for The Washington Post, “The group discussed raising money to minimize impact of No Labels presidential bid, pressure donors and potential candidates to back away… Their mission: Stop No Labels.”

Their mission doesn’t stop there. In Arizona, the Arizona Democratic Party is actually suing to keep No Labels off the ballot. They are suing to actually obstruct the democratic process.

Let me be clear; this is not just the Democrats. This is not just the Republicans. This is both. These are the established political parties who are threatened by the existence of another, viable party. We ask once more: who do they care most about?

Partying is a problem.

Let us suggest the Democrats and Republicans are threatened by more than a sensible third party. Note, in their words, what No Labels stands for

  1. We care about this country more than the demands of any political party.
  2. Political leaders need to listen more to the majority of Americans and less to extremists on the far left and right.
  3. We are grateful to live in a country where we can openly disagree with other people.
  4. America isn’t perfect, but we love this country and would not want to live any place else.
  5. We can still love and respect people who do not share our political opinions.
  6. We support, and are grateful for, the U.S. military.

As is our passion here at the Intramuralist — and no doubt one of the reasons we are sincerely attracted to the efforts of this movement — note in particular values #3 and 5: grateful to live where we can openly disagree… and… we can still love and respect those who don’t share our political opinions…

That, my friends, is eye-opening. Neither established, primary party is known for their gratitude amid disagreement nor their respect for those who actually disagree. No wonder they are threatened; people are realizing that their partying is a problem. 



telling the truth

One of the Intramuralist’s key ambitions is to routinely encourage what is good and right and true. But let’s face it. In a society bombarded by seemingly constant moral digression, sometimes what’s good and right and true is difficult to discern.

We watch people fight. We watch them denigrate the different and call others names. We watch them refuse to listen.

And those are just the adults.

My sense is that part of our downfall is we’ve polluted the third pillar in the good, right and true metric; we’re confused by the definition of truth. Our airwaves and even casual conversations are befouled by quotes depicted as “brainy,” that in actuality speak of truth differently… I am my truth… Your truth and my truth may not be the same… This is my truth; tell me yours…

All of the above, therefore, prompt us to ask today’s zillion dollar question:

Is truth relative?

To ensure we are aligned, let’s put forth a few definitions…

truth | tro͞oTH | – noun

the quality or state of being true

  • (also the truth) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality
  • a fact or belief that is accepted as true

true | tro͞o | – adjective

in accordance with fact or reality

  • [attributive] rightly or strictly so called; genuine
  • [attributive] real or actual
  • said when conceding a point in argument or discussion

And last but not least… 

rel·a·tive | ˈrelədiv | – adjective

considered in relation or in proportion to something else

• existing or possessing a specified characteristic only in comparison to something else; not absolute

So let’s get this straight…

“Truth” or “true” means that which is in accordance with fact. Facts are not debatable nor deniable. They are proven reality.

“Relative” means possession a characteristic only in comparison to something else. In other words, by definition, it is not fact.

Hence (and clearly, this isn’t rocket science nor actually any kind of science), truth cannot be relative.

“I am my truth,” therefore, instead implies that I am mixing up the words “truth” with either my “preference,” “opinion” or “desire.”

“Your truth and my truth may not be the same”… Such is also understandable, yet we’re getting lost in a most poetic idea, wherein “truth” is getting confused with either “perspective” or “experience.”

And as for “This is my truth; tell me yours”… That’s another good one, but here we’ve misplaced “truth” on top of “story” or “conviction.”

It makes sense that we would each have different preferences, opinions, desires, perspectives, experiences, stories, and convictions. With absolutely all due respect, it does not make sense that there exist different truths.

Truth be told, if we tell the truth — the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that is — truth is not relative. It’s can’t be. That’s good. That’s right. And it’s actually true.