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.






Illustration by Jorge Arévalo - Courtesy of The New Yorker It may surprise you to learn that the United States as of today has only two serving, Senate approved Ambassadors, Nikki Haley, the envoy to the United Nations and David Freedman, the Ambassador to Israel. All of the other 131 ambassadorial positions remain empty and unfilled. So, I was blindsided when Donald Trump nominated Callista Gingrich for the position of Ambassador to The Holy See, the Vatican.

Her nomination signals all that is wrong with politics as usual. Her nomination is not based on her accomplishments, which are nonexistent except that she blows, amongst other things, a mean French horn. It’s naked political payback, a quid pro quo, for Newt Gingrich’s unwavering and continued support of Donald Trump’s disastrous policies. What makes this nomination all the more odious is its sheer hypocrisy – the nomination of an open and notorious adulteress now married to a serially philandering husband to a religious city state that professes to be guided by the Ten Commandments which include the prohibition against adultery and coveting thy neighbor’s wife.

I am no beacon of moral rectitude. I have sinned mightily and I have enjoyed those sinful pleasures but never a hypocrite was I. I do not perform weekly with the Choir of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC as Callista proudly declares. I did not carry on an open and notorious affair with New Gingrich, a married man, as Callista admits, nor did I demand my married lover divorce his second wife who just happened to be dying of cancer.   

America’s long, robust history of misogyny is alive and well and resides temporarily in the White House. The current resident boasts of grabbing women by the pussy, using his fame to fuck them, groping them without consent, of doing whatever he wants. His lack of moral compass within and without his well-documented serial marriages and affairs is a matter of public record. His morals are in tune with Callista’s.

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Steve Bodner Courtesy of The Los Angeles TimesAmerican politicians are like guppies – bottom feeding fish, seemingly aimless and thoughtless, of no socially redeeming value and of little economic worth. They are fungible and little if anything sets them apart one from the other, be they Republican, Democrat or Independent.

They swim aimlessly in schools with odd sounding names: the Tea Party, Republican Liberty Caucus, the Christian Coalition, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, the Democratic Freedom Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They accomplish little if anything while on their meaningless and clueless meandering elected-to-office-to-govern rounds in the halls of Congress waiting for a photo or TV opportunity.

Yet they continue to survive election after election as voters continue to return them to Congress, notwithstanding their ineffectiveness, their cupidity, their corruptibility and their lack of moral compass.

But there come times when their survival is threatened, a time that galvanizes even gutless political guppies to action. It’s a random, totally without their control happenstance that makes them realize their vulnerability. Most often it’s another politician’s publicly eviscerated demise that catches their attention.

A visible public evisceration leaves blood in the water. The smell of blood could well make the electorate take to the streets and re-enact the French Revolution’s storming of the Bastille. Any revolution can make the loss of a House seat or a Senate office a real possibility.

The firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend and enforce President Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries was a bloodless public execution. Congress in Republican hands rallied around the flag and the President. There was no blood coloring the political waters.

After a flawed and compromised Attorney General’s recusal from the Trump/Russia investigation left a local United States Attorney free to pursue his own leads and investigations Donald Trump summarily fired Preet Bharara. After all, the Southern District of New York is where the Trump Tower is located and should be the locus of any investigation of misdeeds occurring there.

The story found little traction in the press and there was no blood on Fifth Avenue or in Foley Square. Congressional guppies were undisturbed and continued swimming without a goal or purpose in sight, marking time, creating photo ops until the next election.  

But the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the Tuesday Night Assassination, was a bloody public execution, a public evisceration that ran blood in the water. To all failed politicians of whatever stripe this was a call to arms in defense of their own sinecure.

The three political executions remind of Richard Nixon’s 1973 Saturday Night Massacre. The Watergate burglary resulted in the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate and, if necessary prosecute. With the investigation about to unearth damning evidence the President ordered his Attorney General to fire the Special Prosecutor. The AG refused and resigned in protest. His replacement, the Deputy AG followed suit and was summarily fired.

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America’s recent Presidential election demonstrates that xenophobia and racism is alive and well in the United States. Before the European Union starts congratulating and patting itself on the back let me remind you of Britain’s 2016 Brexit vote where another version of xenophobia and racism carried the day. France voted for President last Sunday and a local version of the same political malady catapulted Marine Le Pen into the run-offs. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Austria all have major political parties with the same tainted philosophy. Xenophobia and racism dwells on the Continent as well.       

At the height of the Raj, when Britannia ruled the world, it became clear to the people in control of the Empire that they were vastly outnumbered by people of a different hues and color. To remain in control the British system of class was superimposed upon the already racist Indian caste system. You had the “haves”, the white ruling class and the subservient “have nots”, the “not-quite-whites” who in their passport had “NQW” appended to their names.

The United Nations was created to maintain world peace, prevent wars and check rogue nations in 1945. The victorious nations, some with dismal colonial histories, were not ready to share command and control with the world’s not-quite-white population of other races and colors. The Security Council with its veto mechanism was the regime that assured that power and control remained where God had ordained, where God and not Allah meant it to be.    

After the war, Russia went rogue pursuing the Communist dream of world domination. In response, the other allies in need of an alternate regime to exercise political, military and economic power established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. NATO at its inception was a lily white, Christian, western alliance of like-minded states.

One has to keep in mind that NATO’s founding members, but for Italy, shared the North Atlantic. That focus was soon lost and it became an alliance that exercised military power far afield. It expanded into the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas by admitting Greece and Turkey thus controlling access to the Black Sea and denying Russia the Mediterranean.  

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Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s Iron Chancellor, instituted universal health care in 1884. Most civilized industrial nations, Canada, England, France, have universal health care that works. Others such as former Eastern bloc countries, Romania, Serbia, Croatia have universal health care that works, after a fashion. Others, many ending in “a”, Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria and India do not.

The United States has been in the throes of establishing a viable health care system, not necessarily universal, for the last two decades. This last decade has seen the passage of Obama’s Affordable Care Act and more than 60 separate votes in the House of Representatives to repeal it. Last month witnessed the defeat of the Ryan/Trump repeal and replace by the American Health Care Act fiasco.

I will not debate the merits of the two pieces of legislation:  one, Obamacare is 960 pages long with 2,000 pages of regulations appended which I have not read; the other, the proposed Ryan/Trump replacement only has the initial part on paper, with phases 2 and 3 yet to be written. It also remains unread and so I cannot compare the two.   

But I can tell you about the care I just received at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for “cervical cord compression with mysiopathy and stenosis of cervical spine with mysiopathy” or what you and I would call old age.

I am 76, retired and I collect Social Security. $273.00 is deducted from my monthly benefit for Medicare Part B coverage, adjusted for my family’s income. I have an AARP wrap-around medical insurance plan costing $230.50 a month and Silver Scrip drug coverage at $38.40 a month. The cost of medical insurance totals 41% of my Social Security benefits.

November 30, 2016: During a visit to Mount Sinai for an unrelated medical issue the examining physician noticed that my uneven walking gait. He recommended that I see a neurologist. The portion of that visit dealing with this issue had me interact with two individuals, the doctor and a nurse. The number of individual interactions [hereafter “NIIS”] was two. NIIS is 2.

December 23, 2016: Initial consultation with neurologist. Arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital campus, a multi block behemoth complex of building. Directed by receptionist/guard to neurology department. Met by receptionist who directed the completion of information forms. Examined by nurse for vital signs and other base line measurements. Examined by neurologist and nurse-practioner. Directed to blood laboratory - met by receptionist and technician. Directed to x-ray facility and received by receptionist and x-rays taken by 2 technicians. NIIS is 10

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