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 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

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