Cyprus

 

Right now, in a galaxy not so far away…

 

(As reported by Forbes…)

 

“Why is a dot-sized European country causing outsized effects?  Because what starts in Cyprus, a tiny isle of 1.1 million people, could soon spread to London or New York or Hong Kong, making misery for many millions more.

 

Cyprus experienced severe turmoil this weekend after its prime minster agreed to force a tax on all bank deposits in order to receive a bailout.  The prospect of a tax set off a run on ATMs and made observers worry that financial contagion could spread throughout the continent and then beyond…

 

How unpopular is this in Cyprus?

Forgive the understatement.  It’s deeply, deeply unpopular.  Cypriots made a run on all available ATMs this weekend, depleting cash reserves across the country.  Cyprus, in response, also suspended electronic transfers.

 

Why are we even talking about this?

To receive a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout, [Cypriot President Nicos] Anastasiades agreed to the taxes.  Cyprus badly needs foreign aid, and a deal has been in official discussions since June.  The complexity of any package delayed it, as did the opposition from Anastasiades’ predecessor.  The money, in part, comes from the Troika: the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.  But the tax on depositors ensures a major portion comes from Cyprus, too.  And here’s the larger picture. Cyprus is badly indebted. Its debt-to-GDP ratio pushed to 127% in the third quarter of 2012…”

 

[One more tangent comment from Forbes…]

 

Did the president really get elected while supporting this tax?

Anastasiades rejected the idea during the campaign.”

 

So here are the facts:

 

One federal government.  So deep in debt.  Owes billions to foreign countries.  Has a history of overspending.  Has never prioritized a specific plan to pay back the debt.  And has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 100%.

 

(Note:  A general debt-to-GDP guideline is that a ratio below 50% is considered healthy, while a ratio above 90% is regarded as potentially, economically dangerous.  If economic growth is strong, a country can support higher debt.)

 

How have the leaders of Cyprus determined to stop the economic bleeding?

 

Government agreed to seize the citizens’ income.  Those in power decided it is legal, moral, and appropriate to confiscate what belongs to the people.  Call it “seizure.”  Call it “confiscation.”  One could inarguably also make a case for “theft.”

 

Quoting Forbes once again, “why are we even talking about this?”

 

Because one American government… so deep in debt… owes billions (now over $1 trillion) to China… has a history of overspending… has not prioritized a plan to pay it back… and has a debt-to-GDP ratio that crossed the 100% mark in early 2012, with current projections hitting 113% in 2013.  How will our leaders stop the economic bleeding?  What will they determine to be legal, moral, and appropriate?

 

In response to the mandated confiscation in Cyprus, there was a rush to withdrawal money from the country’s banks.  In response to the citizens’ withdrawal, the banks have now closed.  Hence, more are making a valid case for “theft.”

 

Respectfully,

AR

geepers

Perhaps this is news to you.

 

I can’t always tell my son what to do.  I can’t.

 

Sure, sometimes I tell him, and perhaps, yeah, maybe, he means well.  He might even say “yes, madre,” but then he doesn’t follow through.  He has a mind of his own.  He has choices to make.  And perhaps this is even more news to the waiting, watching world:  sometimes he makes bad choices.

 

I’m sorry, but that’s the reality.  Sometimes my son — sometimes you and me — sometimes we make bad choices.  But thank God we’re allowed to make bad choices!  It’s my past bad choices that instrumentally influence my decisions now.  In wisdom we weigh outcomes, discerning cost, benefit, prudence, etc.  Bad choices are God’s way of allowing us to figure life out.  Thank God for bad choices.

 

But there are times we are undoubtedly uncomfortable with the bad choices of another…

 

Can we then force people to do what we want them to do?

Is it even appropriate to force people to do so?

 

There’s a lot of things I’d like to force…

 

… people to act maturely…

… partisans to get along…

… the Senate to finally pass a budget…  (geepers…  why in the world does our federal government not pass a budget these past 4 years?  … why is there this obvious, discouraging evasion of accountability?)

 

But yet, we continually attempt to mandate behavior…

 

… mandating drivers and passengers to each don their seat belt…

… mandating our teenage boys commit to what’s nothing less than basic, moral hygiene…

… but also mandating Americans buy medical insurance…

… and mandating New Yorkers don’t buy too big a soft drink…

 

Geepers.  What is ok to force people to do?

 

It seems to this semi-humble, casual observer that forced behavior must initially pass through the following conditions:

  1. Does the person in question possess the ability to make a rational decision?  And,
  2. Does the person’s decision negatively impact anyone else?

 

Hence, the Intramuralist is comfortable with the example of mandated car seats for infants, as the infant does not possess the ability to make a rational decision.  Equally true, the Intramuralist advocates the additional example of prosecuting drunk drivers; drunk driving puts other people on the road at risk.

 

But if the mandated behavior fits neither condition above, what is the logic behind the restriction?

 

… that we are incapable of making rational choices?

… that we wish to be a more socialist society?  (egad)

… or that government is both arrogant and naive — thinking they know best, that people are incapable, and forgetting the great teacher of negative consequences?

 

As said multiple times previously, “geepers.”  Let me add an affirmative “egad.”

 

Respectfully,

AR

16 ounces

Perhaps you’ve noticed the latest, looming crisis…

 

Via the Board of Health, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned the sale of sugary drinks over the size of 16 oz.  No pitchers.  No Ventis.  No accompanying 2 liter bottles.  But alas, on Monday — one day prior to the law going into effect — a state Supreme Court justice overturned the ban, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”  As Huffington Post host, Mike Sacks, inferred the ruling, such is “law-speak for too stupid to be legal.”

 

(Talk about a new sugar high.)

 

First are the facts:

 

  • In September of 2012, NYC’s Board of Health voted unanimously in favor of the proposed regulations.
  • The restrictions were passionately supported by Mayor Bloomberg.
  • A 16-ounce limit was placed on sweetened bottled drinks and fountain beverages sold at NYC restaurants, bars, movie theaters, sports venues, and street carts.
  • The limit applied to beverages with more than 25 calories per 8 ounces.
  • Included in the regulations were sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, juice drinks, slushies and smoothies, among other beverages.
  • Excluded were alcohol and milk-based drinks.
  • The judge declared that the NYC’s Board of Health was only meant to intervene “when the City is facing eminent danger due to disease.”

 

Reacting to the ruling, Mayor Bloomberg said he disagreed with the court decision and cited his intent to appeal.  With a rising number of overweight and obese people, he said, “It is reasonable and responsible to draw a line.”

 

Ok, sorry, but the Intramuralist must pause and take a deep breath (… those deep breaths, uh, assist in articulating a respectful response…).

 

When I look at this sequence — and I do believe that the Mayor was attempting to do what he sincerely believes is honorable and right — I see one huge, glaring bottom line that makes this semi-humble current events observer cringe.  Follow me here; perhaps the discomfort will dissipate (… although I highly doubt it).

 

Bloomberg wants to ban large sugary drinks.  Understandable.  Excess sugar puts excess weight on excess people.  Excess isn’t all good.  Granted, pizza, chips, candy bars, milkshakes, etc. also contribute to “excess,” but none of the above were covered under New York’s regulations (hence, the “arbitrary” distinction).

 

But besides the arbitrary and thus inconsistent application of the regulations, there is a more significant cause for my discomfort.

 

Bloomberg wants to help the obese among us, yet in order to assist the obese, the assumption must also be made that people are incapable of controlling their consumption.  People are incapable of wise decision-making.

 

In other words, according to Bloomberg:  people cannot control their own choices.  Therefore, our ever-more-caring government will control their choices for them… We’ll take the big drinks away.  Under this line of thinking, if citizens are left to their own decision-making, they may make poor choices; thus, it’s government’s duty to protect citizens from themselves.  Government must keep the negative, “excess” consequences from ever occuring.  Government, my friends — according to Bloomberg — knows best.  Government knows better than the people.  Excuse me, but has government not realized that negative consequences are often the most effective actual deterrent to negative decision-making?

 

True, this regulation only regarded plus size soft drinks… but what will be next?  That’s the concern:  what will be next?  There is no way soft drinks are the end of the extent of government interference.  There is no way soft drinks are the end of the extent of government arrogance, believing they somehow know best.

 

What’s next?  Something bigger.  Something more.  Something more intrusive.  Something far more than 16 ounces.

 

Respectfully,

AR

the origin of the claim

Steven Colbert of the “The Colbert Report” is a comedic genius.  Most comedic geniuses, in my semi-humble opinion, are strikingly funny because there is an element of perceived truth in what they actually say.  The following Colbert quote (possessing possible, perceived truth) was in an attempt not to be so funny:

 

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

 

Originally shared in December of 2010, the concept claimed by Colbert continues to gain traction.  It’s actually a fascinating concept.

 

Here’s the challenge…

 

There currently exists significant social policy in which the stated motivation is to help the poor.  The motive — at least that which is publicly stated — and which has been affirmed amidst these postings — is to abundantly assist the so-called “least of these.”

 

It’s a valid, compassionate motive.  How can we care — how should we care — for the lesser among us?  And perhaps the absolute best question that arises — in regard to the formation of actual policy — is how are we called to such care?  Is it an individual or a corporate, government calling?  Is it a natural outflow of our heart or an essential government mandate?

 

(… great question…)

 

What I find most interesting about Colbert’s claim, no less — dismissing the completely unsubstantiated facade that Jesus was selfish — is that he ties the call to help the poor to the person of Jesus Christ.

 

Let me get this straight…

 

Many of those who advocate social policy in which monies are usurped from the wealthy to go directly to the poor believe the act is exactly what Jesus has called us to do.  That, too, is an excellent question with which each of us should wrestle.

 

I wonder then what Jesus meant when he said, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 

Obviously, if we were to follow the call and command of the Savior of the world — again not distinguishing between the individual, corporate, and/or national calling — we would not hesitate to generously feed the hungry and care for the poor.

 

Yet herein lies the challenge.  Many of the same people who passionately advocate for a feeding of the hungry and caring for the poor omit the origin of the calling.  Many will call for compassionate action, yet they will simultaneously omit the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Which is it?

 

Are we to feed the hungry?

… care for the poor?

And thus, too, are we to acknowledge where the calling came from?

 

Or are we to believe it’s wise to follow such a claim, without ever acknowledging the calling’s origin?

 

Fascinating… yes, fascinating indeed.

 

Respectfully… always…

AR

stop, drop, & roll

There are some days where the digressing moral pattern in this country causes me to stop, drop, and take notice.  Whether is be an acceptance of a previous, absolute immorality or simply the disrespectful tone in which we sometimes speak to one another, it oft seems clear to this casual observer that we continue to slide down a slippery moral slope.  Hence, knowing the question mark is my favorite punctuation employment, the Intramuralist asks why.  What causes us to continuously slip and slide?  Then I come across something written in the ancient manuscripts of long ago, something that causes me to stop, drop, and roll even a little more…

 

“Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy.  Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’  For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him?  And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?

 

But watch out!  Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen.  Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!  And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren…

 

Do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form — whether of a man or a woman, an animal on the ground, a bird in the sky, a small animal that scurries along the ground, or a fish in the deepest sea.  And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars — all the forces of heaven — don’t be seduced into worshiping them.  The Lord your God gave them to all the peoples of the earth…

 

So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you.  Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this.  The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.  In the future, when you have children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time, do not corrupt yourselves by making idols of any kind. This is evil in the sight of the Lord your God and will arouse his anger.

 

Today I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you.  If you break my covenant, you will quickly disappear from the land you are crossing… You will live there only a short time; then you will be utterly destroyed.  For the Lord will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive.  There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone — gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.  But from there you will search again for the Lord your God.  And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.

 

In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.

 

Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other.  Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before?  Has any nation ever heard the voice of God speaking from fire — as you did — and survived?  Has any other god dared to take a nation for himself out of another nation by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts?  Yet that is what the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, right before your eyes.

 

He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other.  He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you.  He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.  Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power.  He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today.

So remember this and keep it firmly in mind:  The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.  If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children.  I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

 

“All will be well with you”… “for all time.”

Stop. Drop.  And roll…  rolling a little more… wondering what this means… wondering if there’s something relevant… wondering if there’s something we have forgotten.

 

Respectfully,

AR

cutting

Years ago I read a book written by bestselling author, William J. Bennett, entitled The Death of Outrage.  While Bennett spoke of the relevance of then Pres. Clinton’s sexual misconduct and how that potentially affected his governance, the focus of the book is the lack of indignation surrounding unscrupulous activity.  Too often, as a people, we selectively (and sometimes conveniently) turn the other way.

 

For example, many who are quick to criticize Pres. Obama for any potential inaccuracy, gave Pres. Bush 43 a seemingly free pass when no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.  Similarly, many who were quick to criticize Bush 43 for his stated inaccuracies, now give Obama complete freedom to “evolve” on multiple issues.  Friends, our “yes” must mean “yes” and our “no” mean “no.”  We would be wise to be consistent.  Hence, where is the outrage?

 

Yesterday I came across an eye-opening report from The Washington Times…

 

The Times was investigating the actual impact from last week’s sequestration enactment, especially since some pundits and politicians predicted significant doom and gloom even though the “cuts” are only decreases to planned increased spending; they are not actual cuts.  At question has been whether or not any involved are now attempting to score political points as opposed to leading wisely and doing what’s best for our country.  In other words, there is some question as to whether or not specific cuts will be made that are wisest — OR (and this is a big “OR”) — will the cuts be made in areas where we feel it most, where it hurts, thus prompting us to be outraged that the sequestration ever occurred.

 

Ah, but such is not where the death of outrage is in question.  What I question is the rest of the report, and where is our collective outrage — and the media’s outrage — about the following?  I quote The Washington Times:

 

The White House announced Tuesday that it is canceling tours of the president’s home for the foreseeable future as the sequester spending cuts begin to bite and the administration makes good on its warnings of painful decisions.

 

Announcement of the decision — made in an email from the White House Visitors Office — came hours after The Washington Times reported on another administration email that seemed to show at least one agency has been instructed to make sure the cuts are as painful as President Obama promised they would be.

 

In the internal email, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of.

 

“We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be,” Mr. Brown, in the internal email, said his superiors told him.

 

In other words, when a federal worker asked how to apply the cuts, instead of being directed to be prudent or efficient or consider what might do the least harm — instead of being encouraged to act wisely — the worker was told not to contradict anything that had been publicly stated.  There is no way that such is a wise nor effective means of running the federal government.

 

Hence, the Intramuralist asks:  where is the outrage?

 

Respectfully,

AR

total omission

On the front page of my Sunday paper ran the following headline:

 

“Climate Change Already Changing How Americans Live”

 

In an editorial from USA Today, the author wrote a solid, lengthy piece on the global, economic impact already visible via global warming.  In addition to heat waves, downpours, droughts, and wildfires, the author attributed each of the following to the climate cause:  asthma, allergies, heat stroke, rising food and utility prices, rising sea levels, unemployment due to drought-related factory closings, cataclysmic storms, wiped out neighborhoods, sinking towns, longer seasons, and flooded bridges, subways, and airport runways.  Note that none of these conclusions were presented subjectively.  Each was asserted as fact.

 

As long has been stated by the Intramuralist, I come nowhere close to comprehending all in regard to global warming, climate change, or insert-your-currently-politically-more-convenient-term-here.  I don’t comprehend it all.  I can’t.

 

What I do know for certain, however, is that this is not — I repeat, “not” — a political issue.  One of our seemingly greatest challenges is that we routinely accept or reject potential truth based on who is the stater of the subject.  Fact is fact regardless of who states it; opinion is opinion via the same conditions.  Transitively true then is that opinion cannot be equated with fact simply due to the stater of the opinion.  As a culture, we are not collectively good with the discernment necessary in said process.  We are thus not always good at distinguishing truth.

 

While the USA Today article very briefly acknowledged that there exist skeptics, it concerns this current events observer that the reason for the skepticism was quickly dismissed with a singular sentence in a 1200 word essay.  Therefore, the reader is confronted with an opinion piece that is presented as fact.

 

Honestly, even though such practice is a primary reason why mainstream media continues to lose credibility — as they continue to subtly (and not so subtly) insert opinion and bias — such is not what concerns me most.  Each of us is entitled to our own opinion, while also true, is that we are not entitled to our own facts.

 

What concerns me most regarding the concept of climate change is the complete — and in my opinion, arrogant — total omission of God.

 

Now before the blood boils, allow me to assert that I believe many of us can be arrogant people.  I sometimes label myself with that same description (… typically, especially, on the first day of March Madness, where boasting about my bracket is the common, annual practice… that is, well, at least until day 2 of the madness).

 

But I find us to be an arrogant people in how we believe and assert how powerful we are — that so much is under our control — that we, the people, make such a huge, dynamic difference.

 

While it would be wise to study how our grocery store bags and excessive use of plastic contribute to eroding the Earth’s atmosphere — wise, too, to acknowledge the carbon dioxide in the air (as pointed out by the USA editorial) — it would be equally wise to comprehensively study why such a situation may exist.  After all, multiple historical scriptures speak of the future destruction of this planet.  Note that the point of this post is not the validation nor refuting of said scriptures; however, if I were a scientist, and I knew that somewhere, anywhere, there existed multiple foretellings of the Earth’s end, I would be studying the authenticity of those scriptures with zeal.  My sense is that plastic bags would then be omitted from the discussion.

 

As previously stated, I don’t comprehend it all when it comes to global warming or climate change.  I don’t claim to.  But the reality is that opinion-driven journalists, those of us who’ve accepted opinion as truth, and even the scientists don’t comprehend it all either.  They don’t comprehend it all.  They can’t…

 

… especially when they omit significant aspects from their study.

 

Respectfully,

AR

blame

Pres. Obama blames congressional Republicans.

Congressional Republicans blame Pres. Obama.

Senate Democrats — well, I’m not sure who they’ve found yet to blame.

Gun control advocates blame semi-automatic assault weapons.

The NRA blames criminals.

Samsung blames Apple.

Apple blames Samsung.

Oscar Pistorius blames an imaginary intruder.

The liberal media blames Bob Woodward.

Rush Limbaugh blames the liberal media.

Lots of people blame Pres. Bush.

Still more always blame the referee.

Jim Harbaugh blamed a non-pass interference call.

Green Bay Packer fans (sorry, Dad) blamed the replacement referees.

Al Gore blames global warming.

The entire Middle East blames Israel.

Hugo Chavez blames the United States.

Lance blamed a lot of other people.

Some people blame junk food.

Others blame their kids.

Kids blame their parents.

Democrats blame Fox News.

Fox News blames the mainstream media.

(… there’s that media again…)

The rich blame the poor.

The poor blame the rich.

The black man blames the white man.

The white man blames the black man.

OJ hasn’t figured out yet who new to blame.

Islamic terrorists blame Western Christians.

Tom Cruise blamed Oprah.

Many blamed Scientology.

Deepak Chopra blamed America.

Kobe blames the Lakers’ age.

Tiger blames fatigue.

Ashley Judd blames hip hop.

Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer blames her family.

Colin Kaepernick blames himself.

 

(Finally…)

 

As a culture we spend significant time blaming other people.  Whether it be the doctor for an inaccurate diagnosis, the friend who treated us wrongly, or the server who messed up our order — we are quick to identify who’s culpable.  We also are not good at acknowledging our own culpability — no matter the message, no matter the magnitude.  Let’s admit that most often more than one person is culpable…  the player and the ref, two ex-spouses, and yes, those testy politicians.  However, regardless of our role, we prefer shifting the negative focus — and blame — elsewhere.

 

Thank God for the Colin Kaepernick’s of the world, the rookie 49ers’ QB.  When all eyes were upon him after the Super Bowl (save those reflectively still reveling in Beyoncé’s halftime show), he didn’t utilize his moment before the mic to cast blame on someone else.  He humbly acknowledged he had made multiple mistakes contributing to the negative outcome.

 

Way to go, Colin.  Maybe we should send you to Washington.

 

Respectfully (albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek)…

AR

fire & brimstone

Years ago when I was still trying to figure this faith thing out, I remember observing a plethora of preachers and teachers.  Never will I forget the man effusing fire and brimstone.  You know the kind.  Such are the ones who seemingly attempt to motivate you to follow God because if not, you will rot to death.  You will burn in the blazing fires of hell; and thus, you will be eternally doomed.  “Doomed, I say!”  The stereotypical fire/brimstone address is therefore oft accompanied by unparalleled levels of enthusiasm… albeit also accompanied by rampant rage and rather angry, scary facial expressions (… did I happen to mention the doom?).

 

Now it would be both fascinating and enlightening to have a conversation about the purported realities of hell.  But the primary motivation for following God — investing in an actual personal relationship with him — is a love response for all he has done and continues to do.  The heart of the Christian, in other words, is not one motivated by fear.

 

So why do they do it?  Why do some persons still employ the ugly, angry tactics?  Why?  Because sometimes it works.  It makes people move.  Granted, it’s an emotional response; but it’s a response, nonetheless.

 

As I observe current events, I can’t help but wonder if some ‘preachers and teachers’ are also employing the tactic in non-religious sanctuaries.  Watch what’s happening with the so-called sequestration, scheduled to go into effect on Friday.  Let us first objectively identify what the sequestration actually is.  It is not actual cuts.  The amount the federal government spends will still increase with sequestration in place; the sequester process only decreases the amount of the planned increase.  Hence, there is little validity to too much disappearing.  Yet note the many before the mics…

 

On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Education Sec. Arne Duncan said “as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs.”  Such assumes the entire $2.8 billion in impending department cuts would come from teacher salaries, even though Duncan previously testified there would be cuts elsewhere.  Also, according to FactCheck.org, “the bulk of teacher layoffs, if they occur, will be decided by the school districts (not the federal government) and happen in the 2013-14 school year (not the current one).”  [emphasis mine]

 

Last week Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood warned that we “should expect delays of up to 90 minutes at peak airports during sequester.”  When then asked Friday why the airline lobby predicted no major impact on air travel from the sequester, he suggested the industry didn’t have up-to-date information.

 

And yesterday, Stephanie Cutter, the spokesman for Pres. Obama’s new political action committee, sent me the following:  “Prepare yourself for job layoffs, reduced access to early education, slower emergency response, slashed health care, and more people living on the street…  If Congress fails to act, we’d see budget cuts pretty much across the board to critical services that teachers, first responders, seniors, children, and our men and women in uniform rely on every day.  It sounds bad because it is.  And with all these cuts on the line, why are congressional Republicans refusing to budge?  Because to do so, they’d have to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners. I’m not kidding.”

 

While the objectivity within that statement is certainly questionable, Ms. Cutter has a job to do; she is attempting to elicit a response.  Granted, it may be an emotional response; but it’s a response, nonetheless.

 

Note that by most accounts of objective observers — meaning those who stand to gain nothing from the enactment or withholding of the “cuts” — the specifics and severity of the results are at best ambiguous.  We don’t know what will happen.  They don’t know what will happen.  No one knows exactly what will happen.  Pres. Obama does possess some leeway in how the “cuts” are actually administered.  But since the “cuts” are only gradual decreases to planned increases — as opposed to the actual cutting of spending — the predictions of eternal doom seem misleading.

 

So why do some persons still employ these tactics?  On all sides of the aisle?

 

Because sometimes it works.  Wise or not, it makes people move.

 

Respectfully,

AR

call me crazy

Last week I had a conversation with my oldest son that was — well, allow me to simply yet transparently say — entirely unproductive.  It wasn’t a serious nor significantly sobering topic; we were discussing what time his friends should be leaving on a school night.

 

Jake has some terrific friends.  Yet regardless of the high character caliber of his closest friends, we disagreed by one seemingly, incredibly huge, exaggerated hour what time their exit should occur that evening.

 

When it was obvious that polar opposite opinions existed on this issue — and that his parents weren’t immediately nor automatically going to adopt his perspective — my talented, typically loving son resorted to a tactic employed by a multitude of 15-16 year olds:  he criticized us.  Loudly.  Fairly harshly.  My spouse and I became persons undoubtedly out-of-touch.  And dare I also transparently repeat, “crazy.”

 

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  I have, and I did.  I do.

 

I’ve concluded, no less, that one of the most important parenting skills we each need to develop is the ability to refrain from matching our children’s reaction.  Whether it’s matching the fluent tears of a toddler’s fear of first stitches or matching a teen who articulates abundant insult, the parent must always choose instead to model the appropriate emotion…  bravery to that toddler… and yes, respect to a disrespectful teen.  We can’t expect our toddler to be brave nor our teen to be respectful when our response compares so similarly to their initial, often immature action.

 

As I later processed my son’s response, I was once again hit over the head with one of those obvious, potentially-divine two-by-fours.  My son called me “crazy.”  It was an emotional response.  But he did it because he disagreed with me.

 

The “a-ha”?

 

How many times have young people seen otherwise intelligent adults articulate insult of another simply because they disagree?

 

Watch adults.

Watch Washington.

Watch Congress.

Watch the President.

Watch people on and off TV…

Celebrities.  Parents.  Athletes.  You and me.

 

What do we do when we disagree?  What do even intelligent adults do?

 

Instead of working tenaciously to understand — and offering the grace and respect that opposing opinion deserves — intelligent people criticize… fairly harshly… loudly; they call the possessors of the opposing opinion out-of-touch.  Sometimes they even call them crazy.

 

Not everyone who thinks differently than you and me is bad or mean or evil — or evennecessarily — wrong.  Not everyone who thinks differently than the President nor Congress nor your local legislator is bad/mean/evil/wrong either.  But yet, each of the above — each of us — no matter our individual intelligence — at times resorts to criticism in place of the tenacious seeking of comprehension.  Once again, wisdom and intelligence are two totally, different things.

 

The reason our 15-16 year olds (and feel free to add any age here) sometimes criticize others when agreement is lacking is because they’ve seen the adults who’ve gone before them do the exact same thing.

 

Crazy.

 

Respectfully,

AR