What Comes First–the Cover-up or the Conspiracy?

A Proper Toast with Romulan Ale

Uncork the Saurian brandy and break out the Romulan Ale–we may be on the verge of once and for all finding out whether or not we are the sole inhabitants of the universe. According to a recently published New York Times op-ed written by the former United States Senator Harry Reid, our government is perhaps ready to come clean on what it knows about U.F.O.s. A report on the matter requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee may be made public as early as this June.

As to what came first the cover-up or the conspiracy, I once believed that our government was fully aware of what was happening in the skies above and that the lack of public disclosure by the military and our elected officials stoked the fires of countless conspiracies. But after listening to the conspiratorial crap being slung about by the QAnon crowd and that twenty percent of the U.S. population buy into these very dangerous lies–I now believe that what may appear to be ill-conceived cover-ups by the government is simply just good public policy. Because based upon our inability to deal with our terrestrial truth–it might remain wise to elude those extraterrestrial possibilities a bit longer!

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Join us as we continue the discussion about those extraterrestrial possibilities on our podcast @ Sit Downs and Sessions.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Published in: on May 27, 2021 at 11:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Insurrection at the Irish Pub

“Few know it, but the Devil rewards insurrection. After all, rebellion is the original sin, and he did conceive it.” Tanya Thompson (Author of Assuming Names)

On the morning of January 6th, after the careful application of my standard risk calculus of contracting COVID, I decided to chance a bit of public space-time with friends at Cryan’s Irish Tavern in Annandale, New Jersey. I was looking forward to this early afternoon communion because it would be bringing together myself, David McBride, and Henry Bonnell–three like-minded souls that shared a common interest in colonial history and the American Revolution. Of particular interest to both David and I were Hank’s stories about his family’s nearby property, which had operated as a coach stop and tavern during the War of Independence.

In regards to the Patriots’ cause, the Bonnell Tavern, established in 1767 by Lt. Colonel Abraham Bonnell, was a hotbed of political and military activity. The area’s first contingent of “minutemen” was organized there, and the tavern also served as headquarters for the 2nd Hunterdon County Militia Regiment. But as we spent our luncheon engaged in romanticizing rebellion and revolution over pizza and pints, 200 miles south of us, thousands of so-called patriotic citizens were carrying out their perverse homespun version of Lexington and Concord on the steps of the Capitol.

It wasn’t until several patrons requested a channel change from sports to news that we all became aware of the horrific national tragedy unfolding in Washington D.C. And in keeping with our “house divided” model of getting along, there was a spirited call to turn off CNN in favor of Fox–proving once more that it’s not the feed but the filter that determines our view of reality. Or, as the late Marshall McLuhan often stated, “The medium is the message.” But unfortunately, if we continue to rely on the partisan echo chambers as our sole source for news and information, we will unwittingly accept lies as truth. And sadly, more politicians have risen to power on lies than on the truth!

So what we are to make of the chaos and violence visited upon our nation’s capital on that terrible afternoon? Nearly two weeks later, and I am still struggling to construct a proper postmortem. But first, we should consider what we know to be true. There are 74 million Americans that voted for Donald Trump. The majority of them probably voted for all the regular reasons–party loyalty, single issues, economic self-interests, dislike of the Democrats and their policies, and finally, that chemistry that attracts them to a particular candidate. But it now appears that over 70% of Trump voters believe that the election was invalid and that somehow it is not possible that 81 million people voted for Joe Biden–but the mathematical data suggests otherwise.

A recent breakdown of the electorate’s political leanings by the Gallup organization gives credence to the election results. In October of 2020, polling showed that 31% of American’s identified themselves as Democrats, 31% identified themselves as Republicans, and 36% identified themselves as independents. But further polling found a 4-5% advantage toward Democrats over Republicans once independents cast their vote. And when you factor in those Trump-leery Republicans that threw their support to Biden–the math becomes indisputable.

But what can be said about people that scream their intent to take back the country while parading Gadsden and Confederate flags through the halls of Congress? First off, the anti government right-wing extremists have been spoiling for armed conflict long before Donald Trump came into power. But with an administration that provided office space for white nationalists in the West Wing actually on the verge of vacating the premises, the time to act may have seemed to be now before those discount rates for insurrectionists at Trump’s D.C. hotel expire. By the way, those rates will not be honored after January 20th. But before I let my sarcastic tendencies overtake this post entirely, I’d like to seriously deal with the behaviors of some of my white brothers and sisters.

Historically, whenever white America seemed threatened by a period of black success or an influx of immigrants, some of whose religious beliefs conflicted with those of your average Anglo-Saxon Protestant, there have been those ready to employ violence and terrorism under the pretense of patriotism. Whether it was in response to Reconstruction or just a matter of Jackie Robinson rounding the bases, these racist malcontents have sought to prosecute a lost cause–a cause that wants to restore their misguided 1776 vision of an America that is solely the domain of white Christian privilege. While they have been very successful at maintaining white privilege–they’ve failed miserably at the Christian ethic part of the vision! Or, as that profound philosopher and rocker Alice Cooper once said,Drinking beer is easy, trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion!”

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There’s more discussion about the attack on the Capitol on our podcast at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Click here to learn more about the restoration of the Bonnell Tavern in Clinton, New Jersey.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

What I Believe

Man of the mortal world–do you believe in me or not?”Marley’s ghost

“Once we decide that anything goes, anything can come home to haunt us.”Bill Moyers

The Christmas tradition, whether it be secular or spiritual in practice, asks that we suspend our skeptical ways in favor of believing fantastic possibilities, and I have concluded that there resides within the human brain a place that allows children to believe in Santa Claus and adults to believe in the Saviour–a wonderful place that operates on simple faith and is more often than not a source of peace and comfort. But unfortunately, those same neurons and neural pathways that can foster strong beliefs without the benefit of any tangible evidence can also give rise to dangerous distortions of the facts when driven solely by fear and prejudice. So the question is, what dubious beliefs are currently under consideration?

There is, of course, that one about the hijacking of the 2020 presidential election being perpetuated by citizen-elect Trump. And with 55% of Republicans believing that the election was rigged in favor of President-elect Biden, and with 126 congressional representatives backing that belief by way of an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court, one might believe that there is some truth to this one. But as to those members of Congress that sought a judicial Hail Mary from the Court, I suspect that many of them arrived in Washington on the Tea Party Express. And while they know that Joe Biden’s ascent to the presidency is legitimate, their innate distrust of government coupled with their hopes of dismantling the Federal Bureaucracy might be reason enough for this particular group of presidential patsies to favor despotism over democracy!

Now, as to what the Republican voters that are yelling foul truly believe, admitting defeat doesn’t come easy to anyone. And when a country’s politics become as personal as an English soccer match, the hooligan contingent seldom exits the game gracefully. While that crowd is usually content just making noise, on occasion, their grievances are aired in a somewhat more aggressive fashion. But this is not Liverpool vs. Manchester United. It’s the Proud Boys and the other 1,000 hate groups now operating in America challenging the Constitution, the rule of law, and the peaceful transition of power. And when we consider the cult-like behavior exhibited by some Trump supporters, the potential for an armed response is all too real. To downplay that threat would be to deny the bloodshed and loss of innocent life caused by people believing the lies and distortions disseminated by past Svengalis, false prophets, and ruthless leaders. America can ill afford another Charlottesville–nor the world another Nuremberg!

Now, as to the matter of what I believe–I believe in love, kindness, compassion, tolerance, and that divine spark which offers to all the Scrooges of the world a shot at redemption. In short–I believe in Christmas and everything it represents–but after a year of pandemic and presidential politics–I believe I’ll have another drink! Pour me whatever the ghost of Christmas Present is having.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

To all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

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To help you celebrate the holiday season we’ve created some timely programming, including our free downloadable director’s cut version of A Christmas Carol. This Dicken’s classic features past performances originally recorded and broadcast over WDVR-FM. Click on Sit Downs and Sessions or the Podbean logo above to listen.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

A Cause for Celebration

On this past Monday evening, as a prelude to our post-election podcast, I popped open the last bottle from my 2018 stash of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA. There was certainly cause for celebration–but it was not in celebration of one man’s victory or another man’s loss–nor was it about partisan party politics. My jubilation ran much deeper!

To me, the outcome of this year’s election is not just about the resilience of American democracy–but it also about the restoration of those cherished American values that have been, as of late, lacking in the Office of the Presidency:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Dignity
  • Decorum
  • Diplomacy
  • Dedication to public service
  • Kindness
  • Class
  • Empathy

And on this Veteran’s Day, the respect and gratitude that all those who have served in our nation’s armed forces truly, deserve!

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Even though the Trump presidency has not quite given up the ghost, we decided to perform a political autopsy anyway. You can listen to the results of our post mortem at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Posted by: Chris Poh

The Unmasking of America

I find it incredibly ironic that so many of those who balk at the idea of wearing a mask because of some perceived threat to personal freedom have no problem blindly doing someone else’s bidding from under the brim of a red baseball cap or from behind the muzzle of an AR-15. Personally, I can think of no greater threat to individual liberty than following those who mask their insatiable need for power and profits behind some bogus brand of patriotism wrapped in the American flag!

If nothing else, the last four years have brought about the unmasking of the remnants of those old demons that still threaten our democracy. Thankfully that threat has been met with the unleashed energies of our better angels. But whether our country chooses a blue tsunami, another red tide, or just a bit of mixed surf during the course of this year’s election, it will be for naught unless we dedicate ourselves to national healing and bringing about social and economic justice to every citizen and immigrant that still believes in America’s promise.

In June of 1863, Robert E. Lee once again pushed his army northward in his second attempt to bring the fight to Union soil. The journey that would eventually end on the hills and fields surrounding Gettysburg would pass over some of the same ground lost during the previous year’s carnage at Antietam. The war-weary marchers would temper their rebellious tendencies as they gazed upon the unburied bleached bones without knowing if the fallen were friend or foe–no blue, no gray, no North, no South–just the unmasked remains of a house divided.

Hopefully, this time around we will choose civil discourse over civil war!

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Listen to our political prognostications and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election at Sit Downs and Sessions

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

A Proper Pint for Every Purse

Taps at McCoole's Red Lion in Quakertown, PA

My point of view as to what makes for a great pub is predicated on three things: ambiance, a good selection of beer, and most importantly, an atmosphere that makes every person that walks through the door feel welcome. Much like the former Bull and Finch in Boston, which the popular television series Cheers was based on, those praiseworthy establishments hold the postman and the patrician in equal regard–and of course, they always provide a proper pint for every purse.

One of the more disturbing themes being voiced throughout last month’s Republican National Convention was the call to save our suburbs from the violent unrest plaguing many of our nation’s urban communities. In their bid to spread fear among suburban voters, the President and his supporters are making the case that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for tear gas on the tennis court and carnage in the cabana. Republicans are counting on the fact that since most of the cities experiencing the violence are governed by Democrats, they will be able to win over those center-right voters that might be leaning toward Joe Biden’s vision for America. While the GOP may have the stats on their side, the main reason why so many of our cities favor Democrats is simply because these large urban areas are home to the majority of people that comprise this country’s racial, religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity–a diversity that the Republican party has mostly failed to embrace.

Earlier this summer, the President and his HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, co-authored an op-ed piece pledging to protect American suburbs from government-mandated low-income housing. While I believe that communities have to right to their autonomy when it comes to zoning, what we have here is just another thinly-veiled dog-whistle by the administration pitting black against white and rich against poor. This may not qualify as a blatant example of systemic racism, but it certainly reflects blatant classism–neither one moving us any closer to that ever-elusive more perfect union!

I grew up in an older sub-urbanized town on the Jersy side of the Hudson River during the 1960s–a period sadly similar in terms of the politics, race relations, and economic inequities. The white flight of that period certainly played a part in defining who we were as a community, and unfortunately, that definition included a substantial measure of intolerance and racism. But while the town of Teaneck had its shortcomings, it did provide equal access to affordable shelter, quality healthcare, public transportation, and good schools to all of its citizens. Whether you were considered underpaid or overpaid for your 40 hours away from the wife and kids, you could at least take care of the basic needs and maintain some level of human dignity. What is shocking and unforgivable is that in the year 2020, many of our nation’s poor and minorities can not make a similar claim!

A Pint from the Wharf Rat in Baltimore

So what does any of this have to do with my penchant for filtering my point of view through the bottom of a pint glass or some pub-centric metaphorical reference to a 70s sitcom? Well, while I don’t particularly want to exist in a world where everybody knows my name, I would like to at least live in a country where everybody’s glad you came!

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Click on the PodBean logo or go to Sit Downs and Sessions to hear our take on this summer’s political conventions.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Good Trouble at the Crossroads

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.” The Honorable John Lewis from the New York Times op-ed published on the day of his funeral

From that very first taste of American history taught to me by some well-intentioned, pointer wielding nun at St. Anastasia’s Grammar School, it was impressed upon me that my freedom to attend Sunday mass and the right to inhabit a small wooden desk for six hours a day were secured by the heroic deeds of brave souls unsheathing swords and squeezing triggers. Conquistadors, crusaders, and countless other combatants filled that early parochial school narrative with tales of the mostly white guys that had fought and died on my behalf. But on most days, by the time 3:15 had rolled around, my gratitude for their sacrifice was on a steep decline.

Then came my own personal awakening at the crossroads of elementary and secondary education during the summer of 1968. From the safety of my suburban oasis, I watched a country at war with itself play out on the evening news. The voices that had so justly cried out against racism, poverty, social injustice, and war were answered with batons, tear gas, and murder. To my way of thinking, a more militant response to the ills of our society seemed to be in order. That September, I began my freshman year of high school–and while I remained under the thumb of yet another Catholic institution, a new generation of clergy instilled in me the possibility of the peaceful warrior. And considering the fact that my faith was founded by a non-violent activist–the idea seemed long overdue.

I still retain much of those teachings that carried me through to adulthood. I continue to support the tradition of honoring, celebrating, and thanking those that have worn the uniforms of this nation’s armed services–but I also believe that it is equally important to recognize the work of the peaceful warrior. Men and women, who like the late John Lewis, have endured untold indignities, hardships, brutality, and martyrdom so that all Americans might share in that promise made at Philadelphia 244 years ago.

My instincts tell me that the political, societal, and natural forces that we now face have brought us once again to the crossroads–perhaps the last crossroads for America. We owe it those resolute patriots that crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 and those extraordinary citizens that crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” 1965 to chose a better road!

“So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” Congressman John Lewis

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Join us for some further political discussions plus a bit of music and timely insights from singer/songwriter Ellis Paul on our podcasts @ sitdownsandsessions.podbean.com

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Social Distancing St. Patrick’s Style

This moment of sublime male contentment was captured outside the Tir na nOg Irish pub in Trenton, New Jersey on March 17, 2009. Buried behind those smiling faces are most likely the concerns of that very difficult year in American history. Our economy was still in the grip of the “Great Recession” and the earliest cases of what would become the N1H1 global pandemic were just coming to light. But on that glorious sunny afternoon, these gentlemen took their pints to the patio in order to practice a bit of social distancing from the mass of humanity that had gathered inside the late Banjo Billy Briggs’ fabled Irish establishment.

Sadly, this year most of the pubs are shuttered, and the pipes will not be calling. Nature has demanded that we honor the spirit of Erin in gentler tones and more intimate settings. But as I look back on that St. Patrick’s Day of eleven years ago, I am reminded that we as a nation have faced similar hardships–and through the pain and the tears there has always been ample reason to raise our voices in song and our pints in celebration!

So in the hope of enhancing your housebound revelries we invite you to enjoy the music and tavern tales in this second installment of our St. Patrick’s Day podcast at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Please click on the images below to get a more in-depth read on those Irish taverns featured in this week’s episode.

Inside the Tir na nOg Pub in Trenton, NJ

On behalf of the lads at Sit Downs and Sessions and American Public House Review we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slàinte Mhaith

Just What the People Need–Another Damn Political Podcast. Welcome Once Again to Sit Downs and Sessions

Now that we are somewhat recomposed after the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election, David McBride and I have ended our self-imposed silence and are once again sharing our outlook and opinions in that ubiquitous downloadable voice of the masses known as the podcast. So why the need to add to the estimated 54 million plus episodic expressions of the human condition available worldwide? I really don’t have the answer to that one, but if it does comes to me, I will be sure to delve into it in a future episode of Sit Downs and Sessions!

As to the motivations of my partner in this effort, I cannot speak to those either. But I can attest to the care, honesty, passion, reason, intelligence, and sense of humor that David McBride brings to the countless hours of conversation that we’ve shared over our decades old association. And it is my hope that I can mirror those attributes as we bring our combined fifty years of commercial and public broadcasting experience into this internet medium.

While Dave and I are both lifelong devotees of the American political scene, we understand that there is more to life than just trying to make sense of that peculiar breed of people who inhabit the statehouse, the West Wing, or the Halls of Congress. There are serious global threats, UFOs, and that ongoing search for treasure on Oak Island–all of which have already been addressed to some degree during our fist six episodes. With such a diverse range of topics, those discussions of alien abductions, ghostly apparitions, and mythical cryptids are just simply a matter of time.

So make that morning commute, afternoon workout, or late night whiskey a little more pleasant with Sit Downs and Sessions!

https://sitdownsandsessions.podbean.com

Click the link above to download and share current episodes.

Coming soon to Sit Downs and Sessions aliens and politicians square off over the Capitol!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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