DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

Media
Friday
Oct132017

DONALD TRUMP, ANALYZE THIS

Exhibit 1 - July 20, 2017 Executive Order Terminating Environmental Regulations Exhibit 2 - October 12, 2017 Executive Order Defunding Affordable Care Act

Donald Trump never fails to make the news. Most often it is what he says and what he does that catches the media’s attention. This week it is Donald Trump’s state of mind that made the news. The New York Times describes the White House as “adult day care” for a Trump who is “unstable”, “losing a step” and “unraveling”, according to Vanity Fair.

In the tradition of the movie Analyze This I am going to analyze that.  Please see Exhibit 1 - Donald and his signature on July 20, 2017 and Exhibit 2 - Donald and his signature on October 12, 2017. Both are unreal, obscenely large, narcistic, detached from reality, out of proportion. The signature in Exhibit 2 is thirty -one [31%] percent larger than the one made two months earlier, a sure indication of a mind under severe stress. Need I analyze more?  

Thursday
Oct122017

THE TRUMP-PENCE KNEE JERK REACTION

Last year Colin Kaepernick, an afro sporting black professional football player protested police assaults and killings of black and brown civilians by refusing to stand during the playing of our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Several games later, rather than just sitting the anthem out, he continued his protest by kneeling on just one knee.

A good number of professional and college athletes followed his lead by “taking the knee” in solidarity, in protest of racism. These examples of expressions of freedom of speech were not well received.       

Donald Trump found this craven act of civil disobedience an insult to America, to the flag, to the brave men and women who have given their lives for their country. He demanded that the guilty be summarily fired for these despicable affronts to common decency.

Vice President Pence flew 1,800 miles to attend an Indianapolis Colts against the San Francisco 49ers football game. When a number of players “took a knee” when the anthem played the Vice President, in a remarkable act of political courage, left as the words “…Oh, say, does that spar-spangled banner yet wave? O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” still echoed in the cavernous stadium and travelled 2,000 miles to California for a fundraiser missing the game altogether.

I think the President and the Vice President were much too timorous and measured in their criticism. I bring to their attention Germany’s Nuremberg Laws of 1932, especially the one that criminalizes disrespect of national symbols:            

§ 134a. Wer öffentlich da Reich oder eines de Länder, ihre Verfassung, ihre Farben oder Flaggen oder die deutsche Wehrmacht beschimpft oder böswillig und mit Überlegung verächtlich macht, wird mit Gefängnis bestraft.

Anmerkungen: 21, Dezember 1932: §§ 9Nr 3, 12 Abs. 1 der Verordnmunbg vom 19. Dezember 1932

§ 134a. Anyone publicly abuses the Reich or one of the countries, their constitution, their colors or flags or the German military power, contemptuously and deliberately, will be punished with imprisonment.

Adopted: 21 December 1932: §§ 9Nr 3, 12 Abs 1 Laws of 19 December 1932

With the help of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell I look forward to a far more courageous knee jerk reaction from the nation’s #1 and #2 jerks.      

Saturday
Oct072017

THE ARROGANCE OF POWER

THE $300,000+ AIR FORCE ONE FLYOVER - APRIL, 2009 – PHOTO COURTESY US TAXPAYERS

“The arrogance of power”, a flaw in the body politic, was defined in Senator Bill Fulbright’s book of the same name [The Arrogance of Power, 1966] in which he “attacked the [Vietnam] war’s justification, Congress’ failure to set limits on it, and the dangerous and delusional impulses that gave rise to it”.

Whether you agree with “the elite consensus that US military intervention in Indochina was necessitated by cold war geopolitics” or the books premise that it was not, Fulbright’s aim was high. His view of politics and world affairs was Olympian, his scope worldwide. His “arrogance of power” was the flawed “presumption on the part of a nation that its power gives it the right to intervene in the affairs of less powerful nations”.

Today the “arrogance of power” has been dumbed down to its literal meaning – the ability to act with an attitude of superiority in an overbearing and presumptuous manner – the very antithesis of “Noblesse Oblige”.

The current iteration of arrogance started with the political rise of Bill Clinton [a/k/a William Blythe III], a white cracker from Hope, Arkansas. It has grown exponentially during the short tenure of Donald Trump, a short fingered vulgarian from Jamaica, Queens.

To fully appreciate today’s sad state of affairs you have to take a gander at history. After Oxford and Yale Law School, mainly on scholarships and grants, Bill Clinton, ironically once a clerk in Senator Fulbright’s Washington office, was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, at a salary, if memory serves, of $17,500. Two years later he was elected Governor serving for a total for 12 years. At no time did Bill Clinton’s salary exceed $35,000, nor his total income $46,854 dollars a year - see the Clintons’ 1991 income tax return.

Yet, as Arkansas’s chief executive he was charged with dealing with likes of Walmart, a company that employs 2.2 million people world-wide, Tyson Foods, America’s second-largest food production company and Dillard’s Department Stores with 350 retail locations throughout the United States. For tiny Arkansas Bill Clinton had an enormous presence and influence, he was flying with the local eagles notwithstanding his miserly salary and threadbare financial status. This disconnect, and his and Hillary’s resulting envy and resentment, only amplified when Bill was elected President in 1992.

With that Bill Clinton was not only flying with the eagles, he was soaring above them in Air Force One. He was no longer dealing with mere shopkeepers, Sam Walton and Bill Dillard, he was dealing with the heads of state, potentates and kings, Hollywood royalty. No longer on his radar were retail chains now he had on his screen multinational, multibillion dollar corporations, Boeing, Lockheed, Exxon Mobil, certainly not Walmart or Target.

The power that the executives of these select companies flaunted and enjoyed were commensurate with those of enjoyed by the President of the United States. Bill Clinton, and by extension Hillary, came to believe that these perks were their just due and not just the fleeting perks of office. This malady soon extended to the West Wing, then on to the rest of the Executive Branch and migrated to Congress up on Capitol Hill – only the judiciary seemed immune.

This virus destroyed the last vestiges of populism and democracy that existed in Washington and which made it the swamp of entrenched interest that Donald Trump promised to drain. Of course, this state of affairs was aided along by Richard Milhous Nixon and Ronnie Reagan but starkly in contrast to Harry Truman, who had retired to his front porch in Independence, Missouri; or Dwight Eisenhower’s rustications from a farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; or Jimmy Carter’s peace initiatives forays from rural Plains, Georgia.

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Monday
Oct022017

THE WHACK-A-MOLE INDEPENDENCE GAME

FEATURED FRONT PAGE ARTICLE EKURD DAILY [TURKEY IRAQ SYRIA] OCTOBER 3, 2017, FLAGGED ARTICLE PEĆAT [SERBIA] OCTOBER 3, 2017 AND FRONT PAGE ARTICLE BRITIĆ [UNITED KINGDOM] OCTOBER 3, 2017

The Kurds held a referendum on independence last week and the Catalans did the same this past Sunday. Time and again people vote for independence, for self-determination playing the old whack-a-mole game, a repetitious waste of time. Worse still, if you’re not careful playing the game badly, ineptly leads to bloodshed and civil war - the Catalonian referendum reportedly tallied 1,000 injured while the Kurdish effort shut down international airports, closed borders and mobilized troops proving, yet again, that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.  

For those of you ignorant of arcade games, you play “whack-a-mole” with a large box with five holes holding plastic moles that pop up and down randomly. “The object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head” with a rubber mallet. That’s it - that’s the whole point of the game - just a “repetitious and futile task”.

The game changes when you start using a steel hammer and smashing things up, then the game is played for real, for keeps.   

The problem with the game is that there are no rules. You can’t call randomly hitting a mole with a rubber mallet a rule. The same is true with the rules for forming a new secessionist independent state. There are no rules, and the unwritten ones that are in play are contradictory and cancel each other out – democratic and human rights self-determination is trumped by the self-interest of the Great Powers – the guys pulling the strings of power and influence in the Security Council of the United Nations.

Take the case of the late and not-so-lamented Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Notwithstanding its Constitution and the United Nations Charter it was allowed to disintegrate by today’s Great European Powers, the EU and NATO aided and abetted by the United States. The failure of playing the referendum game cautiously lead to a bloody year long civil war and ultimately to Bosnia and Hercegovina a new nation state.

However, keep in mind that Serbia, a former constituent republic, had a semi-autonomous province Kosovo with a predominantly Albanian Muslim population within its borders. Kosovo has declared independence which, as of now, is only partially recognized. Should Kosovo’s self-determination and independence be allowed?

No, if you apply international law.

Yes, if you follow world opinion and “Yes” if you listen to the Great Powers and “Yes”, once again, if reason prevails allowing Serbia to stop financing a failing state and leaving it to its own devices.

Spain now in the throes of its own referendum blues has refused to recognize Kosovo – its constitution like Serbia’s prohibits regional self-determination and independence. Catalonia, an autonomous region of four northeastern provinces, has been demanding independence and has repeated once again for a second time a prohibited non- binding referendum with 90% of the votes favoring independence. Should 8 million Catalans have independence?

Yes, based on self-determination and democratic principles.

No, as in Kosovo’s case, based on international law and a resounding “No” based on the European Union’s condemnation of England’s Brexit vote which endangers its very existence.

Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region of Iraq, is dominated by the Kurds, a distinct ethnic grouping which is “culturally, historically and linguistically classified as belonging to the Iranian peoples”. Many would disagree and would deem them unique but diffused and scattered in other regions as well, in Turkey, Iran and Syria.

The Kurds have had the misfortune of finding themselves geographically in the Middle and Near East subject to the nation making powers of the Great Powers since the end of the First World War. Their interests and the interests of their unique identity have always been subject to the interests of the Great Powers and of the majority populations in which they find themselves besieged. For those reasons and those reasons alone, they have failed to achieve independence and ethnic identity as a nation state.

The United States has invested heavily in Iraq. It has spent much with little if any to show for it. It is and will remain a failed state for years to come. To allow for a free and independent Kurdistan to exist would destroy all that 15+ years has failed to do – in this case, a double negative does not a positive make. So the question is again raised in this version of the whack-a-mole game: Should the 6 million Iraqi Kurds have independence?

Yes, based on self-determination and democratic principles.

No, as in Kosovo’s case, based on international law and a resounding “No” based on the international community’s [United States’] opposition and the fact that it endangers the very existence of Iraq as they would like to have it.

The questions that I have asked begs the real question: Are Catalans and Kurds willing to exchange steel hammers for the rubber mallets they have been using to play the whack-a-mole independence game and risk civil war and bloodshed for independence? 

 

Sunday
Sep242017

THE PRESIDENT DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH

I do not like Shakespeare much. I am not fond of iambic pentameter blank verse plays with actors in period costumes. If anything, my theatre taste leans towards Broadway musicals of the 50’s and 60’s, say Guys and Dolls, Damn Yankees and The Music Man. But I will grant you that Shakespeare had a special way with words, some which still resonate in our political discourse of today - “Now is the winter of our discontent”, “Cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war”, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, “We have seen better days” and of course my favorite “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

That last quote brings to mind Donald Trump’s obsession with things Russian and obstruction of justice related. He keeps saying that they are a hoax, fake news, a charade orchestrated by a cabal of evil forces dead set at discrediting his election won by millions of votes cast in his favor – as certified by the Sean Spicer and confirmed by photographs of his inauguration.

But let us tally what we know took place: on June 6, 2016 Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manaford, all key players in the Trump presidential campaign, met with Russian operatives offering to deliver evidence of Hillary Clinton’s criminal misconduct; Roger Stone, a long time Trump friend and confidante, was in contact with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange who released confidential Clinton and Democratic National Committee emails; Senator Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General Sessions, met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and after perjuring himself in his Senate confirmation hearing had to recuse from further involvement; Jared Kushner lied and committed perjury by failing to disclose numerous meetings and contacts with Russian interests, including meetings with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state owned Russian bank and concealed numerous financial assets during his security vetting; Michael Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General fired as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was hired as Trump’s National Security Advisor notwithstanding warnings of his questionable conduct [failure to disclose his ties to Russian TV and Vladimir Putin] financial irregularities and contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; Paul Manafort, a lobbyist for the likes of former President and “Putin Puppet” Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, former dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mobutu Sese Seko and Angolan guerrilla Leader Jonas Savimbi, acted as Trump Presidential Campaign Chairman March-August, 2016 fired for allegedly receiving $18 million in foreign payments; James Comey, the FBI Director who was leading a “counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of [President] Trump may have coordinated with Russia to interfere with the US presidential election” was fired for “damage[ing] the credibility of the FBI and the Justice Department” upon the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General and the Attorney General which was promptly contradicted by President Trump who told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off”; two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] orders authorized surveillance and tapping of Paul Manafort and possibly other subjects. 

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