You’ll Poke Out Your Ayatollah with That Thing

Jupiter Ballistic Missile

It’s one thing when your dear old granny attempts to keep you from playing with weapons of mass destruction, but when that warning comes from a source that may not be any more responsible with the use of their toys than you are, well that can be a difficult pill to swallow–hence the challenges posed when one country endeavors to tell another country what is the acceptable methodology and hardware for poking out your neighbor’s eye. That is why the history of arms control is rife with hypocrisy, irony and downright silliness. But even if most of our efforts at promoting greater global stability and cooperation prove futile, the outcome and costs of a failed peace are in many instances preferable to that of a successful war.

As to the potential agreement that was struck with Iran, I find little reason not to give it an honest try, nor do I find the reasoning of those critics of that deal to be worthy of much consideration.

There are those who are already comparing the President and this pact to Neville Chamberlain’s capitulations to Hitler at Munich in 1938. There seems to be this underlying belief that we are negotiating with Iran from a point of weakness.That point of view is patently absurd. This is not pre-World War II Great Britain. We are by no means an unprepared, outgunned nation trying to buy some time. America has the capability, capacity and the will to wage war at a moments notice if we believe in the cause–and initially, we always believe in the cause.

Then there are those ever cheerful voices of doom and distrust, such as John Boehner and Benjamin Netanyahu, forewarning the world of the dire consequences to follow if we place even the slightest degree of reliance on the ability of the Iranians to adhere to the terms of any agreement. First off, Mr. Boehner’s personal displeasure with the President is always evident, and with so many of his fellow Republicans seeking to fill the comfy chair in the Oval Office his political posturing is quite predictable and perhaps even a touch more partisan than usual.

Now as to Mr. Netanyahu’s  pronouncements on the matter, many of his concerns are certainly not unfounded nor are they lacking some historical basis.The Iranian leadership has for too long propagated a constant stream of malice and contempt toward Israel and her western allies. But as to whether or not that same government is worthy of our trust concerning a nuclear arms accord, the State of Israel might not necessarily be in the position to be staking out the high ground in that regard.

To that point:

  • In 1949, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion began a clandestine program to develop an atomic bomb.
  • In 1957, as part of a quid pro quo deal with Israel, the French entered into a secret agreement to help build a reactor at Dimona that would eventually be capable of producing weapons grade fissionable materials. In exchange, France wanted the Israelis to attack Egypt so that both the British and French could enter into the conflict as joint peacekeepers with the real intent of gaining control of the Suez Canal. That phase of the deal ended when the threat of Soviet intervention in the region forced Great Britain and France to withdraw their forces.
  • In 1960, the Eisenhower administration requested information concerning the ongoing development at the Dimona site that was recorded by U-2 flyovers. Israel claimed that the construction was for a future textile factory, but they refused to allow for any onsite inspections by American authorities.
  • In 1964, the United States was thwarted in its attempt to keep Argentina from selling uranium concentrates (Yellowcake) to Israel.
  • In 1968, Israel backed away from signing or ratifying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • Under its continued decades-old policy of “nuclear ambiguity” Israel will neither confirm or deny the existence of its nuclear stores. But it is estimated that the Israelis possess somewhere between 75 – 400 nuclear warheads that could be delivered by way of aircraft, missiles or submarines.

While I certainly understand why Israel, a small country surrounded by a host of hostile neighbors, might resort to surreptitiously stockpiling weapons of mass destruction in order to counterbalance that threat. I also recognize the fact that the Iranians may be reluctant to give up on their own military ambitions knowing full well that those same countries brokering this tenuous arrangement are fully aware of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.The real solution would be for all nations to disclose and disarm. But it is probably way too late to put that atomic genie back in the box. So we are once again left with only two real options: war or exercising those fragile understandings and promises that possibly spare us from war. I highly recommend the latter.

Because there are certainly better uses for Uranium than building bombs for countries–and most definitely better uses for Titanium than constructing artificial limbs for soldiers!  

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review 

Dealing from the Absolute Bottom of Another Trumped-up Deck

A rigged poker game. Photo by: Chris Poh

“They didn’t ask us what our immigration status was, they just said that they needed help and a lot of it…”  Mauricio Avila – a volunteer from Ecuador who assisted with rescue efforts immediately after the 9/11 attack

In the days following the attack on New York’s World Trade Center, private contractors were brought in to assist with the initial rescue and recovery, and then ultimately the cleanup of the site. This almost overwhelming task required a tremendous amount of additional manual labor. As usual, many of those who would swell those ranks were  undocumented immigrants. And as usual, a good number of those private contractors would not be inquiring as to their legal status–taking advantage once again of those who so often give more than a good day’s work for less than a good day’s wage.

Operating under the assumption that the air around “Ground Zero” was safe to breathe, as alleged by government officials, many of the illegal immigrants that worked the pile would eventually face those same life threatening health issues that were affecting their properly documented counterparts. A deadly mix of lead, cadmium, mercury, benzene, and the fine particulate from the millions of pounds of pulverized building materials would eventually hasten or cause a host of medical conditions–some of which that would prove to be fatal. But for those workers and volunteers living outside of those laws that define what constitutes an appropriate presence within our borders recompense and recognition was seldom granted.

It is ironic that most of those who carried out the attacks on September 11th had their paperwork in order, while the names of the undocumented victims of that crime will not appear on any memorial.

Fourteen years and four presidential election cycles later with virtually nothing resolved concerning comprehensive immigration reform,  a man who is still questioning the legitimate citizenship of the current President of the United States has managed to be at the forefront of the topic. While in my heart, I would like nothing more than to viciously attack and condemn Mr. Trump for his comments about Mexico and her citizens, I will refrain from doing so other than to point out that simple truth that whenever political candidates have nothing to offer–they offer up fear.

Tragically though, that particular tactic of focusing the anger and frustration of potential supporters against another group of people has in many instances led to some of mankind’s darkest days. We need not look back any further than 9/11 or the Second World War to see the results of intolerance and race-baiting. But perhaps Mr. Trump’s venomous diatribes  will serve some useful purpose. It might just cause those worthy candidates from both sides of the political spectrum to seriously address the issue of immigration.

As for my own point of view, I’ve tried to maintain a fairly welcoming disposition. But I also understand that our current immigration policies put undue burdens on the government and social services being provided by a small number of states. Overall, there seems to be some solid economic evidence that more liberal reforms would in the long run provide a substantial net economic gain for both the private and government sectors. But of course those people who favor closing our borders completely can point to their own set of statistics. As usual, any debate based solely on statistical analysis yields suspect results. There are though a few provable facts that should be clearly stated when dealing with those voices that would champion the rhetoric of Donald Trump.

  • The country of Mexico during any given business quarter ranks second or third in terms of trade with the United States. For the most part, both economies enjoy strong benefits from this relationship.
  • Many more American jobs will be lost to technology than as the result of additional immigration. There may be more to fear from Silicon Valley than from the Mexicali Valley.
  • There is no evidence to support the notion that immigrants, legal or otherwise, commit more crimes than the general U.S. population.
  • While the drug cartels have brought their own people into the United States in order to establish distribution networks, American citizens are the number 1 consumers of illegal drugs on planet earth. The solution is quite simple. If you want the bad guys to stay home or go elsewhere, stop purchasing their poison.
  • In the course of the Mexican Drug War it is estimated that as many as 100,000 people have been killed, many of them innocent civilians at the hands of  the cartel’s enforcers and foot soldiers. Those same cartels purchase a large percentage of their firearms from American gun shops.

Perhaps we should be viewing those sneaking through our southern borders more as refugees from tyranny and war and not just as criminals trying to skirt the law. Their plight in many instances is solely about safety and survival.

Then there is that Karma thing. While I do not believe that we necessarily need to apologize for the misdeeds done by those that have gone before us, we would do well to remember just how we established some of those borders that we don’t want others to cross. On more than one occasion, we violated treaties and territorial sovereignty in order to acquire land and resources. And once we had completed that sea to shining sea acquisition we had no difficulty building out that immense piece of real estate with the sweat, toil and suffering of immigrant labor.

Today, whenever I peek into the kitchen of a restaurant, walk through the corridor of a nursing home, or head down to breakfast after a comfortable night’s sleep at a hotel I see the faces of immigrants. And interestingly enough, I do not encounter anyone that looks like me on the outside of those buildings clamoring to fill those particular positions.

For the sake of all Americans and for all those who still aspire to that American dream, it is time to enact reforms that are fair, just and in keeping with our founding principles!

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…”
George Washington

“Citizenship to me is more than a piece of paper. Citizenship is also about character. I am an American. We’re just waiting for our country to recognize it.”
Jose Antonio Vargas

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

The Burning Kind in Baltimore

THE BOMBARDMENT OF FORT McHENRY  BY ALFRED JACOBS MILLER 1810-1874

THE BOMBARDMENT OF FORT McHENRY
BY ALFRED JACOBS MILLER 1810-1874

“Baltimore: the Monumental City—May the days of her safety be as prosperous and happy, as the days of her dangers have been trying and triumphant.”   President John Quincy Adams 1827

I, like so many other Americans, was disheartened by those images of the recent civil unrest and violence in the city of Baltimore. The glow of fires against a night sky evoked memories of the riot plagued streets of our urban communities during the 1960s. Now as then, I questioned the logic and motives of those who participated in the wanton and reckless destruction of private property.

Today, my mindset on such matters is much more introspective, and no longer prone to the range of emotions that often accompany the thought processes of someone trying to make sense of human behavior through the eyes of an adolescent. At this point in my life, I’ve come to the simple conclusion that whenever groups of human beings are in disagreement there is the distinct possibility that amongst them are individuals that would prefer to make their point with a gun, a rock, or some incendiary device. And within the chaotic cover of the crowd, or the perceived protection accorded them by a position or institution, these individuals achieve the anonymity needed to commit their crimes of convenience.

This predisposition towards aggression and criminality is not by any means more prevalent in one group than another. It is not a matter of race, ethnicity, religious creed, or financial status–it is sadly just about the nature of a small percent of humankind. But that relatively small percent tends to establish a foothold in almost every situation. And throughout human history they are the ones that set the stage for the confrontations and conflagrations that too often become the defining story.

On the evening of September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key, while under temporary confinement on a truce ship anchored in the Patapsco River, watched the relentless bombardment by British Naval forces on Baltimore’s defenses at Fort McHenry. Throughout that long night, Key had to wonder if the city would eventually suffer the same fate that he had witnessed in Washington weeks earlier. Many of the same British troops that had looted, vandalized, and put the torch to our nation’s capital, partly in retribution for similar American atrocities against English settlements in Canada, were now on the threshold of taking this prize on the Chesapeake. But on the morning of the 14th, Key’s spirits would be bolstered by the realization that the heroic defenders of Baltimore had saved the city.

Ultimately, those wishes for prosperity and happiness uttered by John Quincy Adams in 1827 would be visited upon the city. Baltimore would become one of the nation’s leading industrial centers, a major rail transportation hub, and the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic states. But along the way those days of danger would be many, and they would not necessarily always give way to triumph.

In August of 1835, rioting mobs took to the streets of Baltimore in response to the deceptive business practices that led to the collapse of the Bank of Maryland. Bystanders cheered as the disgruntled throngs fueled their public bonfires with the personal possessions taken from the ransacked homes of the city’s wealthier citizens.

Baltimore Riot 1861

Baltimore Riot 1861

On April 19, 1861, just a few days after Southern artillery had accomplished a  casualty-free,  gentlemanly  surrender of
Fort Sumter, sympathizers to the “Confederate Cause” living in Baltimore attacked Northern militia units as they
marched through the city en route to a train bound for Washington D. C. The resulting melee and riot left 4 soldiers and 12 civilians dead. Some historians contend that this bloody encounter put both the Union and the Confederacy in a position where neither would be dissuaded from engaging in a full-scale war.

Baltimore Rail Strike Riot 1877

Baltimore Rail Strike Riot 1877

On July 20, 1877, Maryland Governor John Lee Carroll ordered the state’s  National Guard to quell the spreading unrest among the striking workers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad who had blocked rail service at Cumberland. As troops left their armories in Baltimore and headed toward the Camden station they were physically harassed by citizens who supported the strike. The guardsmen responded by opening fire on the attacking mob. It would take the further intervention of federal troops and marines over the next two days to restore order. By then 10 people were dead, scores of soldiers and civilians were wounded, several pieces of rolling stock were destroyed, and portions of the rail yard and station were burned.

After the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4,1968, the city was subjected to that same wave of emotional outrage and bloodshed that was sweeping through the streets of so many of America’s poorer neighborhoods. Even today, sections of Baltimore remain blighted and scarred by that weeklong period of rioting.

While I am not quite ready  to pen a new national anthem over recent events in Charm City, for it appears now that both the police and Baltimore’s criminal element might be taking advantage of the situation,  I am cautiously optimistic about the overall local response to the initial mayhem that occurred as a result of the death of Freddie Gray. In our nation’s past, all too often those voices that could have brought about calm remained quiet as the bullies and belligerents on either side of the issues ruled the day.

If we are to have a constructive conversation concerning America’s ongoing racial and economic divide, we must first silence the discord of those that would have us burn down the house in order to make a case for better furniture.

Click on the image below to read about one of our favorite public houses that has proudly weathered the tumult and turmoil of Baltimore’s stormy past.

The Wharf Rat

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Filling My 12 Ounce Bucket List

Ballantine IPA

A while back an older friend, who had just gone through some serious health problems and was having to face those inevitable questions that trouble all of us–inquired as to the contents of my bucket list. Other than my wish to have spent more time with loved ones that had already passed on, or my unrealistic hopes of getting the definitive photograph of the Loch Ness Monster, or having an actual encounters with alien beings, I realized that for the most part my bucket was empty.

But then I did recall that there was one experience (even though it seemed even less attainable than the alien or lake creature thing) that I had always told people that I wanted to repeat before permanently giving up my allotted space at the bar–and that was to enjoy at least one more encounter with my first true American ale infatuation–the Ballantine IPA!

During the past seven plus years of publishing American Public House Review, it seems that whenever beer was the topic of discussion my longings for that superlative pale ale would be exuberantly voiced, and on occasion, as noted below, those passions would find their way into the final draft of an article.

  • Here was a world-class recipe that rivaled my long lost and much lamented first true beer love – the Ballantine India Pale Ale. Since the 1983 demise of that well hopped heavyweight, (60 IBUs during its prime recipe years}), I’ve been on a personal quest for the next great IPA. Thankfully, we live in a time when so many American brewers are emulating the style and techniques of those early masters of the craft…     From a 2010 article about Wagner Valley Brewing in Lodi, New York
  • In the February-March 2000 edition of“Celebrator Beer News,” Fred Eckhardt wrote, “Ballantine IPA would be a good choice for the greatest and most enduring American brewing triumph of the early and mid-20th century.” From a more personal perspective, Ballantine IPA continues to this day to be the most memorable and pleasant beer drinking experience of my life.  From a 2008 article about the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, Rhode Island

So it is with many a heartfelt thanks that I raise my glass to the memory of Peter Ballantine, and those very talented, present day brewers at Pabst whose efforts and expertise  have reshaped and resurrected this American classic. Because of you my bucket list is now full–and my recycling bin is overflowing!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

A Post St. Patrick’s Day Confession

barflyConfessionalLogo

While it is probably more a function of the passing years, this particular St. Patrick’s Day was a rather tame, yet extremely pleasant, undertaking. Four pints and one wee dram of Tullamore Dew was accompanied by a bowl of Irish Stew at McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub in Bethlehem, PA. But there were those other years when my behavior was fraught with a lack of good judgement.

I was reminded recently of one such endeavor by an old friend who had agreed to escort, and would eventually wind up maintaining the upright position of me and another staff member of American Public House Review as we attempted to traverse the island of Manhattan during one of our March 17th adventures nearly twenty years ago. As I recall, that exceedingly warm afternoon’s long stretch of the legs began at Peter McManus Cafe in Chelsea and ended at Molly’s Shebeen on New York’s West Side. As to the finer details of the return trip, one would have to direct such inquires to the steadfast and sturdy host of The Barfly Confessional.

As part of a long overdue thanks and perhaps a bit of penance, we are pleased to announce a new partnership between our magazine and this superb podcast. And as the latest episode of The Barfly Confessional explores the life and challenges facing a priest in today’s Roman Catholic Church, hopefully, our partnering will be the source of many mutual blessings–or at the very least a few well deserved indulgences!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Stand Your Round and Sing those Songs

instrumnets
“Let it flow outta ya as it’s been flowin’ inta ya for the last couple a hours!”    (The late Tommy Makem’s signature appeal for audience sing-along participation)

I was in conversation a few days ago with a Joe Jencks, a very passionate and talented singer/songwriter who can also tout his fair share of Erin’s heritage. He spoke of a recent house party at which the host made multiple requests that he sing some of the old Irish drinking songs. Rather than regale his parlor audience with those raucous strains, he chose instead to give his host a history lesson.


By his account, those particular songs only speak to the diabolical behavior of the British during the Great Famine of the 19th century in which the English government kept a starving population from engaging in a violent civil uprising by keeping them pleasantly plied on whiskey and beer. While there is probably some degree of truth in that particular point of view, there are many political, social and economic factors that fueled this terrible human tragedy. During the famine years, Ireland was in fact a net exporter of food to England. And during the first nine months of what was to become known as “Black 47” the actual export of grain distilled spirits from Ireland was 1,336,220 gallons.

This great starvation was not a matter of there not being enough food, but instead it was a matter of there not being enough human compassion coupled to an over abundance of prejudice and greed.

So it would still be my inclination  to stand my round and to sing those merry songs that may have been rooted in a very sad bit of Irish history.


We wish all of our friends and readers a very joyous St. Patrick’s Day!


And to help you along with the festivities of the day we invite to listen to and download some of our favorite Celtic artists from our podcasts at Sit Downs and Sessions.


Green Tag

Their Swords into Plowshares and Their Kalashnikovs into Candy Canes

AK-47_5_small

At this time of the year my period of decompression during those late night rides home, after a lengthy session of dealing with an assortment of barroom customers,  affords me the added pleasure of  being able to view those displays of light that adorn the structures of the socially and economically diversified inhabitants that populate my piece of eastern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately. during one of those recent drives my pre-Christmas cheer was somewhat dampened by a story heard on my car radio by way of the international news service provided by those rather proper folks at the British Broadcasting Company.

It appears that Mr. Putin’s imperialistic incursions into the Crimea might lessen the holiday bounty of those hardworking craftsmen responsible for the production of the AK-47. Just as they were getting ready to introduce a new version of that legendary rifle to the American market, the economic sanctions barring the importation of certain goods into the United States from Russia may have just put the kibosh on the Kalashnikov. And while a few less weapons being made available to our buying public during this season of peace and goodwill might appear to be a good thing for mankind, I suspect that those guns will eventually find their way into the hands of those individuals and groups that are far more likely to engage in the taking of life and the ongoing slaughter of the innocent. At least in the American marketplace, the majority of gun purchases are simply about the need to fill the toy chest, to make that occasional political statement, or to perhaps prop up one’s overly sensitive self esteem.

So how do we go about controlling the commerce of carnage and mitigating the merchandising of our misery?

Christmas CandleWhile it may appear that those answers are beyond our reach and comprehension, it is as it was on that winter’s night some two-thousand years ago. Our joy resides within the lives of our children, our hope within the counsel of wiser men–and our peace within the beat of a loving heart!

Wishing all our Family and Friends a Joyful Holiday Season!

Christmas in Lahaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

A Haunting in New Hampshire

Mount Washington Hotel

With a motto like “Live Free or Die” so ingrained in the mind and spirit of those who hail from “The Granite State”, there is probably no other place in the Union that expresses a more cavalier attitude toward the inevitable outcome of life. So it is of little wonder that some of  the state’s more stalwart former residents refuse to leave, even after they no longer have the corporal wherewithal to cast even a single vote in the New Hampshire primary.  One particular local that seems to be a gathering place for those restless specters is “The Cave“, a Prohibition era bar cleverly concealed below the porch of the  Mount Washington Hotel.  I recently received a call from David Correa, one of our readers  who along with his friend Brian Gregoire, may have captured some very interesting photographic evidence of these uncanny after hours activities.

In the course of our conversation we exchanged some theories and feelings about those veiled possibilities of life after death. I as usual took the position of  that skeptic that suspects that most of what we believe to be otherworldly is nothing more than the  result of malfunctioning technology. David on the other hand was of a more open mind, and upon hearing about some of his experiences during his own spiritual journey, I was better able to deal with those occurrences and personal losses that so often haunt my own life. And while our current technologies may not be able to provide portals to the dimension of the disembodied, they can connect us with those kind souls who can offer comfort and good counsel during those times of need.

May all your dealings with the spirits, whether they be liquid or ethereal in their nature, always be to your liking! Happy Halloween from the rogues and wraiths at American Public House Review!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Below are the images from The Cave at the Mount Washington Hotel.

The Cave_1

 

The Cave_2

The Cave_3

So What’s the Good Pirate to do on a Day Such as This?

The Atlantic Squadron

“I go so far as to say that I do not regret having been his prisoner for some time… He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny.”   Ion Hanford Perdicaris

During the spring political campaign of 1904,  in an effort to bolster his chances to be an elected president after assuming that office from his assassinated predecessor William McKinley–Theodore Roosevelt  sent several Marine companies and a squadron of naval warships steaming toward the North African port of Tangier in order to rescue the abducted  American playboy Ion Perdicaris from the clutches of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni (the leader of the Jebala tribal confederacy in Morocco) and  referred to by many of his detractors as “The last of the Barbary Pirates.”

The celebrated hero of San Juan Hill would use the incident to prove to both his party and the public the effectiveness of his   “Big Stick Philosophy” when asserting United States power abroad. But for anyone who has been following Ken Burns’ latest  documentary film about the Roosevelts,  it is clear that Teddy, like so many overly ambitious politicians, was willing to forego some truth when trying to influence public opinion. As it turned out, the P resident learned early on that the supposed victim in the affair was not even an American citizen. Mr. Perdicaris had given up his US passport many years earlier so that he could firmly reestablish his Greek citizenship.That fact remained hidden from the American people until the 1930s.  Furthermore, while government officials blustered that they wanted Perdicaris alive or Raisuni dead, the captor and his captive had already established a respectable friendship, and the so-called “Last of the Barbary Pirates” had vowed that no harm would befall Ion Perdicaris while he was in his care.

Ultimately,  Perdicaris was set free after the United States Government secretly prodded France and England to put pressure on the Sultan of Morocco  to cede to the financial and political demands of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, his release was viewed as being the outcome of some very tough and well-orchestrated gunboat diplomacy. And as is so often the case when trying to decipher the dealings of mankind, it was difficult to distinguish between the villains and the virtuous.

But for you more principled pirates that are attempting to transcend the behaviors of those less than seaworthy scalawags in Washington, we offer the following revised code of  ethics.

  • Always put your best peg-leg forward.
  • Press your pantaloons.
  • Compliment the fit and finish of your shipmate’s puffy shirt.
  • Never fly your Jolly Roger above the Stars and Stripes.
  • Buy the next round of Grog.
  • Extend your hook to one in need.
  • Stand on the side of your shipmate’s good eye.
  • Share your booty with the less fortunate.
  • And always let your parrot have the last word!

Wishing all of our fellow buccaneers a most bountiful Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Click or strike the colors to view some past musings about the day. 

Richard Worley FlagHenry Every's Flag Calico Jack Rackham's Flag


 

Aaarrr!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Good Housekeeping 101

The_Clean_Sweep

A house divided against itself cannot stand.”   Mark 3:25 – as referenced by Abraham Lincoln in his speech to the Illinois Republican State Convention June 16, 1858

To the honorable ladies and gentlemen of the 113th United States Congress,

Now that you are back home in your respective districts, and I assume fully engaged in this year’s midterm scuffle, I would like to share my thoughts on what I believe might serve as a better strategy to bring some dignity, decorum and decency back to “The People’s House” come this fall.

At the age of sixty, I am both the beneficiary, and the occasional casualty of the character of this country. The inherent opportunities and resilient nature of America has allowed me to receive a quality education, become a teacher, writer, hold elected office in the state of New Jersey, own a tavern in the shadows of where Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, and to function as a voice in public broadcasting during the last twenty-three years. But at the same time, I like so many Americans face a fairly insecure future as a direct result of the ongoing dysfunction and distrust in Washington.

So rather than spending countless sums of donor’s money on trying to defend against the pitchfork politics of those who want to dismantle our governing institutions, those politicians who truly believe in the hopes and aspirations of the Founders should rededicate themselves to the simple idea of providing bipartisan working governance—putting both people and principles before party! This is the spirit that will cause your constituents to live up to their side of the contract by returning them to the voting booth—thus restoring representation that reflects the true will and needs of the majority.

On some of those more practical political issues that will be the focus of slickly produced, half-truth sound bites in the upcoming weeks–here are my recommended responses to those carpetbagging cash cows attempting to influence the outcome of local races from afar:

  •  On Healthcare – While the President’s attempt to tackle an issue, that at  one time was agreed upon by both parties as being in need of major reform, might have its flaws, those relevant points of the legislation, such as providing care for those having preexisting conditions, should be protected. Unfortunately, there still remains too much disparity and inefficiency in our healthcare system. People will continue to die because they cannot access or afford the best treatments available today in this country. That is totally unacceptable! The mantra must be, “repair and improve” this landmark legislation.
  • On Immigration – Every American must ask themselves, what they would do if their children were faced with the conditions and violence that plague those who are crossing our southern borders, before reducing the issue to a matter of simply demanding that the government prosecute and remove legitimate refugees who are portrayed by some as part of some criminal class.

 Secondly, a comprehensive approach to immigration is extremely practical when addressing the future needs of both entitlements and the economy. Any country that has a diminishing birthrate will simply not have enough healthy, young workers fueling its economy, or paying those taxes that offset the financial requirements of those programs designed to provide a degree of well-being and income to an aging population. And in the United States, where today fewer and fewer companies are providing guaranteed security for their retirees by way of pensions and extended health benefits, our own system of Social Security and Medicare must be shored up and strengthened.

In short, our future growth and economic welfare is somewhat dependent upon those who come here from other lands in order to find a better way of life. But hasn’t that always been the American story—and one worth retelling again?

Members of the Continental Congress at the City Tavern in Philadelphia

Members of the Continental Congress at the City Tavern in Philadelphia

While I tend toward George Washington’s point of view on political parties that ultimately they would do more harm than good to the republic, I do support a worthy opposition that brings a different approach, new ideas and rational thought to the table. If enough of our elected representatives were to take the political high road (like those astute gentlemen who came together at Philadelphia’s old City Tavern after adjourning the Continental Congress) those now joining together at that table would be able to dine together, drink together, dialogue together—and yes perhaps even govern together!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

 

 

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