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

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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

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

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

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This Stuff Really is Self-evident

download

When you get right down to it,  like many of mankind’s  defining  (yet seldom read)  documents,  our Declaration of Independence is that perfect fusion of optimism and enlightened thought attached to our need to complain about those who hold the power. So it is no wonder that an extremely vocal segment of  society will pervert the words of  Jefferson, Franklin and Adams in order to justify their own delusional rants against some imagined ongoing tyranny. But the true measure of  American virtue will not be decided by that handful of angry voices. The realization of our founder’s aspirations lies  with those who in their own pursuits of life, liberty and happiness do nothing to limit the potential and freedom of their fellowman.  Two such fine people, Adam Price and Susan Kimani, recently paid me a visit at the Indian Rock Inn.

For me this delightful young couple represent everything that is right with America. Susan is an artist and fashion designer who found her way to New York City by way of  Kenya, East Africa. Adam’s origins are somewhat less exotic. This extremely accomplished jazz musician, and may I add fellow bartender, is from Boyertown, PA. During our brief time together, we conversed about history, travel, music and beer. And since  all of us were devotees of the American cause, we reveled in our memories of consuming the Ales of the Revolution at Philadelphia’s renowned City Tavern.

RUNA_Promo_Photo_2014So to Susan and Adam, and all the followers of American Public House Review  we wish everyone a very joyous 4th of July! And to further aid in that celebration, we’ve included an absolutely wonderful version of our nation’s anthem. Click here to listen to the work of Francis  Scott key as performed by the Celtic group–Runa.

Posted by: Chris Poh

 

Closed for Repair (Take Two)

 

Closing Time at the Indian Rock InnIt was brought to my attention by a number of readers of the last post that something might have gone terribly awry with my attempt at condensing my thoughts into a bit of poetry. I want to assure those kind folks that I was not in anyway trying to emulate the unconventional style of E.E. Cummings, nor had any of my own fragmented behaviors and tendencies now become manifest in my writings. Apparently the problem was a matter of browser perspective. In my world of Google Chrome, everything appeared as it was meant to be. But for those using other browsers and smart phones that may have not been the case. So hopefully, this change from straight text to an image file will assure everyone that I am only mildly disjointed in my thinking.

Closed for Repair

Closed for Repair_3j

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Published in: on July 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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Disharmony on the Hudson

Cannon Fire at Fort Lee“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” – The American Crisis by Thomas Paine 1776

During those disheartening days of the colonial’s cause for independence, Thomas Paine would begin to pen his inspirational patriotic plea for staying the course in the midst of a full and hasty retreat from an enemy army that was determined to put an end to this fledgling insurrection. On November 20, 1776, in the wake of having taken control of both Long island and New York City, superior British forces, under the command of General Charles Cornwallis, began their advance on the newly established American fortification on the heights overlooking  the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Realizing the need to preserve what was left of his beleaguered army, George Washington issued orders to abandon Fort Lee. The inevitable capture of this recently renamed redoubt (in honor of General Charles Lee, the army’s third-in-command who was credited with the successful defense of Charleston, South Carolina a few months earlier) would unfortunately yield an abundant amount of ammunition, artillery and stores to the English.

As for the fort’s namesake, Washington’s somewhat suspect and scheming subordinate, who had often complained to Congress about his commander’s capacity to lead,  would fall victim to his own lust for libations and the ladies. On the morning  of December 15, 1776, Charles Lee would pay dearly for the previous evening’s pleasures at the Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He would awake to the sound of the approaching horsemen of the 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons with his former comrade, and now sworn adversary, Benastre Tarleton in the lead. This once celebrated soldier, who preferred to diddle while the rest of the Continental Army was attempting to avoid annihilation, would be led back to New York in his night-clothes. For the next seventeen months, General Lee would spend a fairly comfortable detainment in the care of his former employer.  

In May of 1778, Lee was released as part of a prisoner exchange. He returned to active service, but after questionable field decisions at the Battle of Monmouth, and continued conflicts with command; he was suspended from the army at the end of that same year, and permanently dismissed in 1780. Charles Lee died in a tavern in Philadelphia on October 2, 1782–and so ends this tale of eighteenth century disloyalty and treachery in the Garden State.

For better or for worse, the overall nature of man, and the behavior of those charged with the care of the republic has not changed all that much since we decided to make our  break from the British brand of tyranny. However, there may have been at least some lessening in the lengths at which one is willing to go in order to punish their rivals. Instead of stalling aid to those trying to allude their captors while taking flight across the well-trodden pathways of New Jersey–someone is content to simply lengthen the commute home by closing down a few lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Let us just hope that we are sparred the spectacle of that particular scoundrel being spirited away in nothing more than his night-clothes. 

Thomas Paine Portrait“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” – Thomas Paine

Click here for some further insights from the Garden State.

Click here to enjoy our favorite tribute song to Thomas Paine from singer-songwriter Dick Gaughan.

Posted by Chris Poh

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One Door Closes, and Maybe, Just Maybe–Another One Opens

City Tavern - Philadelphia

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  Thomas Jefferson

Of all those doors that were shuttered as a result of the recent government shutdown, the turn of the latch that most resonated with my personal being was the one on the entrance to the City Tavern in Philadelphia. As someone who has spent many of my days and evenings on both sides of the bar, I know firsthand the plight of those that pull the pints and tend the tables. And there is no act of Congress that will replace the lost revenue of those who depend so heavily on the generosity of those from the general public that can actually get through the front door.

But beyond the fiscal concerns and hardships brought on by the current state of political paralysis in Washington, there was the irony of having to close those places that are meant to honor our past and  to further our faith in the future function of our  government. 

City Tavern SignOne does not padlock the pulpit just because there is conflict within the congregation.

While the majority of  Americans have bolstered their own patriotic passions by visiting some memorial or battlefield, I have decided that I  much prefer the reconstructed confines of that colonial era establishment to rouse my own feelings of national fervor. There are a couple of reasons for my fondness of the City Tavern. One, you can actually toast our liberties with something a bit more in keeping with what the Founders would have put in their cups. And two, other than those that succumbed to the slow poisoning brought on by an over indulgence of Blackstrap, mutton chops, and Flip, there is not the usual senseless loss of life attached to this consecrated piece of ground–truly a place where giants once roamed.      

Among those extraordinarily gifted gentlemen that attended to some portion of their corporal needs at this outstanding American public house were  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And it is in their words and insights that we can find the potential source and possible solution to our current political debacle. Like many of the nation’s founders, both men had some healthy concerns about  the future course of the new government.

In a letter to the  American people published prior to his retirement from the presidency in 1796, George Washington warned against the possible damage political parties might bring upon the republic. Having already been witness to the extreme acrimony and partisanship between Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and  Alexander Hamilton’s  Federalists, Washington was leery of political parties operating within a popularly elected government.  He feared that the competing political organizations would attempt to silence and punish legitimate opposition, promote regionalism and create undue fears and suspicions among the population.

Unfortunately, American’s have on far too many occasions throughout our history been the sorry victims of our first president’s prognostications. And like most organized groups and institution, the lofty well-intentioned principles of both Republicans and Democrats have all too often become secondary to the self-interests and survival of the party. So it should come as no surprise that a substantial segment of the nascent Congressional class has seized upon the writings of Thomas Jefferson as a source for their inspiration and rationalization for the defunding and dismantling of government. But before they consider closing some doors again, they should also consider these words from Mr. Jefferson.  

 “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

On September 17, 1787, one of the longest, and perhaps most contentious political debates  in our nation’s history came to an end with the signing of the United States Constitution. With the closing of the doors of the Pennsylvania State House after 114 days of  secret meetings, George Washington and a good number of the beleaguered and exhausted delegates found their way to the City Tavern. There they were able to put aside personal political differences, and rise above the rancor by raising a glass to the common welfare of all Americans.

Front Interior City Tavern - PhiladelphiaPerhaps, it is not so much the words of the Founders, but rather the behavior of those individuals that we should attempt to incorporate into our politics. But in order to open that door to a place where men of reason and benevolence gather for the greater good of the people, we will first have to open our minds and our hearts to that greater possibility!

Posted by: Chris Poh

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The Road to Damascus by Way of Easton, PA

 Easton, PA

It had been quite some time since David and I had the opportunity to pull off that lazy afternoon one-on-one brew and chat session. And we mutually agreed that Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, Pa would play host to our late summer tete-a-tete. By the time I embarked upon my second pint of  Rastafarye Ale from Blue Point, we had already cleared the small talk about family, friends and the circumstances of our personal being. So as it has been at other such encounters, we quickly moved the conversation into our version of progressive political and philosophical thought. Pint number three brought on the usual, easy to be heard from the other side of the room, bout of preachy pontifications. A well-mannered gentleman at the other end of the bar inquired if he might be allowed to join  the discussion.  

We welcomed Paul, whose accent and appearance suggested a Caribbean connection, into our friendly give-and-take.  After about an hour of  hashing out the current state of relations between humankind within our own borders and beyond, Paul interjected a bold pronouncement.

He declared that he would gladly give up all of his civil rights in exchange for true equality, justice and brotherhood. Once again a man of some insight had come to the conclusion that our most complex of problems would be better served if we adopted and adhered to those simpler virtues.

In that world, there would be no reason to remember December 7th and September 11th. In that world, there would be no call to take the high ground at Gettysburg and Normandy. In that world, there would be no reason to march on Washington or Tiananmen. And in that world, the road to Damascus would not be feeling the pain of the fallen, and those fleeing the ruthlessness–but only the gentle footsteps of fellow pilgrims seeking a better way to treat all of humanity.

he Bar at Two Rivers Brewing Company

Until such time, we can at least work out our differences and misperceptions over a few lazy afternoon pints!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

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