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.

 

 

Past Entries
Media
Thursday
Mar012012

P. S. TO "MONEY, THE NEW OLD POLITICAL POWER"

Post Script to Article Published Litchfield County Times February 23, 2012 as “Money Has Usurped Force as the Means to Achieve and Wield Power”

http://countytimes.com/articles/2012/02/23/opinion/op-ed/doc4f468282483ba127845974.txt

The European Union, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and folks of that ilk have announced that Greece will have to divest itself of and privatize, call a spade a spade just say “sell”, €2.8 billion of state assets by the end of this year.

In addition it has forced Greece to promise to sell €19 billion of state assets by the end of 2015.

My bet is that German financial and industrial interests will be first in line for this fire sale at rock bottom prices with the Saudis and Middle East's oil rich Emirates not far behind. Why else would we be paying $5 per gallon for gas at the pump? This makes me believe in a free market economy, OPEC notwithstanding.

 

Thursday
Feb232012

A LITCHFIELD SYNAGOGUE THAT ALMOST WAS AND CAN BE

Janet C. Hall, the United States District Court Judge sitting in a constitutional bubble in Bridgeport, took the easy way out in deciding Litchfield’s Chabad Lubavitch controversy. She chose to apply the “strict scrutiny” and “applicable burden of imposed neutrality” tests in reaching her decision. That is not to say she is wrong. Her decision is judiciously sound and will be sustained on appeal. However it displays judicial lack of sensitivity in its failure to discuss the dilemma that the First Amendment often imposes on well-meaning folk.

For those unfamiliar with the dispute, some background. The Borough of Litchfield boasts a Historic District that is, according to the National Park Service, “probably the finest surviving example of a typical late 18th century New England town”. The task of safe guarding this priceless gem was vested in the Historic District Commission, an unpaid volunteer body. A visit to Litchfield proves that it has performed its mission. Litchfield, as it is today, is well worth preserving and fighting for.

Chabad Lubavitch, a Jewish religious congregation, bought the Deming House, a late 1870’s Victorian on West Street, with plans to expand the 2,600 square foot footprint with a 17,000 square foot addition boasting a swimming pool and other amenities. Few if any structure in the Historic District comes close in size and bulk, except for the Center School also on West Street. The proposal was found to be out of scale; that it would defeat the “preservation of aesthetic values [which is] a legitimate government interest.” The HDC denied Chabad’s application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, frustrating its planned expansion. The denial was not absolute; it invited Chabad to resubmit the application, keeping in mind the concerns raised. 

Rather than seeking accommodation and consensus, Chabad filed suit. Judge Hall ruled last week that neutral zoning and land use principles trump First Amendment religious rights. Chabad lost, Litchfield won.

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Wednesday
Feb222012

SUNDAY'S QUOTES

         The New York Times on Sunday, February 19, 2012 reviewed Honor in The Dust, Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream by Gregg Jones [New American Library, 2012].

          The review notes that “[w]hat is striking about “Honor in the Dust”, Gregg Jones fascinating new book about the Philippine-American War, is not how much war has changed in more than a century, but how little.”

          “On every page, there is a scene that feels it could have taken place during the Bush and Obama administrations rather than those of McKinley and Roosevelt.”

          The reviewer, Candice Millard, then embarks on a litany of the horrors of that war: devastation, torture, rape, water boarding or, as it was then called, “water cure”, all with overreaching hubris. She includes two quotes worth noting:

          “There have been lies, yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous, but that was only in order for the real good might come out of apparent evil.” Mark Twain

          She concludes with:

          “You have wasted 600 millions of treasure. You have sacrificed nearly 10,000 American lives – the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit… [You have] succeeded in converting a people … into sullen and irreconcilable enemies, possessed of a hatred which centuries cannot eradicate.” Senator George Frisbie Hoar, 1902, addressing the United States Senate.

          A review, if not a book well worth reading.

           

Wednesday
Feb222012

MONEY, THE NEW OLD POLITICAL POWER

Used to be when you wanted power you used force, usually the brute force of arms. If you were unhappy with your rulers you conspired to bring on revolutions, though some call them wars of independence. If democracy displeases you or is just plain not working you stage a coup preferably with the help of the military or in some cases by the military itself. If some other country oppose your world view or otherwise gets in the way of your just cause you declare war. Force was what you used when you wanted power.

In a democratic country, up to recently, those who aspired to power used politics and the ballot box to achieve that end, not force. On both a local and national level it was election to office is what gave you power. In order to get elected you needed votes. Those votes were usually bought with ideas, platforms or hard earned accomplishments. Voters had to approve of what you promised and proposed to do.

Internationally that rule has generally prevailed. Your country achieved power by virtue of causes and rights espoused, actions undertaken. True there were and unfortunately still are countries that achieve power through force of arms. But in this day and age they are few and far between. The cost of war has escalated to a point that countries just can’t afford them. See Iraq and Afghanistan.   

All this has changed. It’s a new ball game. Money, be it municipal bonds, contributions to super PAC’s or sovereign debt, is the weapon of choice. Power is now won not by blood, sweat and tears but by the unfettered force of money. Accountants, bean counters and central bankers are the new warrior class.

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Thursday
Feb022012

A COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION RANT

I went to Yale, well not really. After flunking out of Hartford’s Trinity College in my sophomore year, I had to scramble to rack up credits to catch up with my class. I took a history course for a semester at Yale. Had a great time with a great professor and it allowed me to boast that I had gone to Yale.

In 1960 Trinity College tuition was $950 a year; that made it roughly $35 for each academic credit. Yale charged me $150 for that 3 credit course, or $50 a credit, which at the time I thought expensive since I had taken courses at UConn’s Hartford Extension for $15 a credit.

Early admission was in the news last week. Eighteen year olds and their parents obsessed with getting into the college were either elated or disappointed. Statistics for all the usual suspects, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, were analyzed including the cost of a year’s tuition. A list of 25 most expensive colleges and universities was compiled starting with Sarah Lawrence at $59,000, New York University and Columbia weighing in at $56,000 and ending with Connecticut College at $55,000. At $55,500 Trinity College was 13 on the list; while Yale didn’t make the cut, it wasn’t far behind.     

Since I am just past college and law school tuition paying age, my question is “How come and for what?”

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