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
Jan262012

THE WAR WITH THE NEWTS

“And in the name of True Newtdom. In the name of Glory and Greatness.   [Our] slogan is, it’s us or them.”

                                                                                                                                   The War with the Newts

          The hallmark of a star science fiction writer is that his prophecies come true.  Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury all accurately predicted the future. It is this gift of prophecy, of clairvoyance, that is key.

          Republican contenders for the Presidential nomination, other than Newt Gingrich,  should  read two books by Karel Čapek, the Czech 1920-30’s science fiction author, R.U.R. [Russum’s Universal Robots] [1922] and The War with the Newts [1936]  They are a blueprint for man’s rise and fall from grace. The Presidential hopefuls, especially Mitt Romney, should study them, heed their lesson and using them defeat that wily old salamander Newt, winning the coveted prize.  

          In R.U.R. Čapek used the word “robot” invented by his brother, coined the term and launched it into the world and the English language. “Robot” translates as “work” but it has a secondary meaning: indentured service, not quite a slave, more like a serf. Čapek’s robots were not clanging mechanical contraptions. They are biological entities of flesh and blood often mistaken for human, some quite beautiful and erotic, exploited by men until they rebel and destroy their masters.   

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan192012

HARLEM REVISITED

Harlem ain’t what it used to be, or what you imagine it to be.  Harlem, once a mainly black ‘hood in New York, has gone through many reincarnations but the one fixed in memory is where African-American jazz era élan sparkled with rhinestones, what the hip-hop generation now calls “bling”, reigned supreme. “It don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got that swing.” It was peopled by iconic performers and black nobility, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Waters and Josephine Baker.   

125th Street, Harlem’s Main Street, never had sparkling gems except for the famed Appollo Theatre. It never was and never will be Harlem. Yesterday’s record stores, pawnshops, bodegas and liquors store have given way to fast foods joints and down scale mass merchandisers including one called the “Gem”, which is anything but, and resembles a garage sale writ cheap and large. Peddlers hawk vile smelling incense and hip-hop cd’s. Offers to braid your hair or indulge in any number sexual activities abound. “Sons of Israel” in bedraggled costumes held up by grimy red and white sashes glower at you in front of their ramshackle Temple. You have to get off that God forsaken street to experience the real Harlem, then and now.

During the heyday of the first Harlem Renaissance of the 20’s and 30’s, putting aside the literary, artistic and theatrical achievements that have filled volumes, it was the “allure of  its enormous social fluidity” of this “urban free zone” that drew integrated crowds to Harlem and made things happen. Anything goes and went, so it’s said. Racism was constant but it was tolerated and benign. The block between Lenox and Seventh Avenues on 133rd Street teemed with the “densest aggregation of nightclubs and cabarets in New York.” Then it was called “Jungle Alley”, surely a derogatory racist slight, but used in an amiable and friendly way, not in the least mean, or so it seemed.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan132012

A SHORT QUIZ ON THE WAR ON TERROR 

When you and I were in school, an unannounced quiz struck terror in our hearts. We were unprepared, had not done our homework or even read the assigned materials. You and I were too busy having a good time, drinking beer and chasing girls. But terror has a way of remaining current and always there. So, an up to date “Terror Quiz” is in order, mark the statement either “true” or “false”, and here goes:

There are twelve million illegal aliens in the United States                                             

If you have answered “False” you have failed the quiz, do not go any further. You are lacking knowledge and intelligence to successfully deal with the rest of the quiz.  

The twelve million illegal aliens are literate, sophisticated and use these skills to enter the us                                                     

False, the so called “War on Terror” is premised on the theory that al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorists need sophisticated means to enter the United States to wreak havoc. This is a lie, proved by hundreds of thousands of poor, dumb Mexicans and Salvadorans, any other nationality, race and creed you care to mention who have successfully done so.

This lie has been used to curtail civil liberties and impose a nascent police state. Witness the Patriot Act and the on-going surreptitious electronic surveillance of our communications network.

It has allowed entrenched interests to divert billions of dollars to the military industrial complex to the detriment of the common good. We have spent $3.4 billion to partially build a fence [“Security Border Initiative” in Washington parlance] that is a-rusting and crumbling because we are unwilling to fund completion and bear the cost of an estimated $49 billion to maintain it over the next 20 years. Even the die–hard admit futility.

If al-Qaeda wishes to send terrorists to the United States all it has to do is to follow the lead of the wet-backs, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] notwithstanding.

ICE maintains border security and excludes terrorists from the United States                                    

False, see answers above. ICE has been successful in excluding terrorist because terrorists have no interest in plying their trade here. There are more fertile fields to plow elsewhere, for the time being.

Al-Qaeda’s primary goal is to attack the U. S. and kill our soldiers and civilians                                                                                  

False, al-Qaeda has no interest in fighting us domestically. It is intent in attacking the United States and killing American military personnel in countries that we have occupied or in countries that it deems to be in its sphere of influence, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. It does not want to take us over and impose its will. It just wants to be left in “peace” to conquer the countries it covets.

The 9/11 Twin Towers attack was an anomaly that has not been repeated in ten years, no thanks to the diligent efforts of ICE [see answers above]. The other incidents on US soil have been few and amateurish symptoms of deranged minds, not an organized attack.

Al-Qaeda needs sophisticated weapons to mount attacks on the United States                                                                                    

False, our home grown terrorist Tim McVeigh did nicely with just some fertilizer in Oklahoma City. What makes you think that al-Qaeda is dumber? Many are a lot smarter, some even university graduates.

Improvised Explosive Devices [IED’s] were made by “dumb” insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and responsible for some 65% of coalition casualties. That does not seem to be the work of “dumb and dumber’ guys.

Even “dumb” guys with missiles from Libya’s arsenal now for sale can be dangerous. But these guns and missiles are being deployed in “at home” games, not in “away games” on our soil.

We should abandon our anti-terrorist efforts and curtail our vigilance                                                                                      

False, once al-Qaeda [a politicized Islam] consolidates power and controls countries it covets it will confront us. It is for this threat that we should remain vigilant and prepare, not the nickel and dime bogeymen that past and current Administrations have foisted upon us. What we have to fear is terror from nascent, yet to be created terror states, not from today’s insurgent rabble. 

 

  

 

 

 

Thursday
Jan122012

LAW'S SUNSET BOULEVARD REDUX

Caveat Emptor

       In the spirit of "full" and "complete" disclosure, including but not limited to conflicts of interest, bias, prejudice, lack of sensitivity in matters big and small, I have failed to disclose that I am seventy-one [71] years old and subject to all of the infirmities, limitations and statistical findings mentioned in my earlier post. With these caveats now in place, take it for what it is.

 

Thursday
Jan122012

LAW'S SUNSET BOULEVARD

Modified version published Litchfield County Times January 12, 2012

                                                                                                                        http://www.countytimes.com/articles/2012/01/12/opinion/op-ed/doc4f0efbeab102e983943953.txt

 

Norma Desmond [Gloria Swanson], the aging Diva of the 1950 film noir “Sunset Boulevard”, was a person out of time, out of sync and out of touch with reality. “Dementia” was a kind diagnosis for her mental state which led to murder and disaster. Aging has a way of disassociating you from the here and now, from what’s happening, from what’s really going on. This state of mental health has affected a good number of our legislators who are thankfully subject to periodic election recall. But our Federal judiciary has no such constraint, having been appointed for life.

We have imposed term limits on the President and we have talked of imposing term limits on Congress. We have imposed age thresholds for both. It is time to impose age limits on the third branch of government, the judiciary, and especially on our geriatric Supreme Court.    

Article III, Section I of the Constitution established our Federal judiciary:

  “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

The operative words “hold their Offices during good Behavior”, while not explicit, have been interpreted to mean “for life”. That is the problem. We do not have statistics for life expectancy in the United States of the 1790’s, but as of 1850 life expectancy was 38.3, reaching 50 only in 1900. But statistics, as Mark Twain aptly noted “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”, need not apply. Plain common sense will do nicely. A judge’s age should be of concern. State judges sit for set terms and a mandatory retirement age, but not federal judges.

Age was never an issue when the Federal judiciary was established. Alexander Hamilton thought “a superannuated bench” to be an “imaginary danger”. But not today when we have Justice Scalia [75], Kennedy [75], Ginsberg [78] and Breyer [73] sitting on our Supreme Court. We have some 140 sitting federal district and circuit judges [12%] who are “80 years or older”, “eleven federal judges over the age of 90 …hearing cases” including one over the age of 100.   

Marbury v Madison affirmed the Federal judiciary’s power to pass upon the constitutionality of legislation and Executive actions. With “good behavior” being interpreted as life tenure, judicial independence was assured elevating the judicial branch to equal status with the other two branches of government. But no other constraints, except for the “good behavior” caveat, exist to ensure that federal judges mirror the population they serve.      

The United States has 21% of our population under the age of 14, 67% between the ages of 15-64 and only 12%, 65 and older. The federal judiciary is not meant to bow to popular consensus, but to adhere to Constitutional principles. With that said we have to recognize that the Constitution is a living document that evolves with changing times, advances in technology and ever changing perceptions.

The Dred Scott case [slavery constitutional], Plessy v Fergusson [separate but equal], Brown v Board of Education [desegregation of education], Loving v Virginia [miscegenation laws void] and Regents v Bakke [race suspect in higher education] decisions prove the point. In matters sexual Griswold v Connecticut and Roe v Wade are another example. Gideon v Wainwright [right to counsel],   Miranda v Arizona [right to remain silent] and Mapp v Ohio [illegally seized evidence suppressed] are the evolution of criminal law.

A Supreme Court Justice [Ginsberg] born when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a pup, raised in a racially and ethnically segregated society, weaned on a rotary telephone, who learned to drive a Chevy with a stick shift and who thought Laugh In was cutting edge ain’t my idea of a person that reflects today’s norms of society. I won’t even bother with the judge who is over 100 and still sitting on the bench.

On January 6, 2012 The British Medical Journal published a definitive study that men “aged 65 to 70 had a mental decline [cognitive memory, aural and visual skills and vocabulary] of 9.6 per cent, while women in the same age group had a 7.4 per cent drop.”

Do we want old Max von Mayerling [Erich von Stroheim in the movie] driving an Issota-Frachini 1929 Tipo 8A Castagna Transformable of a judicial system with America as a passenger down Sunset Boulevard? No. Federal judges, especially Supreme Court Justices, out of touch because of age, simply doddering or with undisclosed diminished mental capacity should not be tolerated. We need limits, in this case age limits, for the federal judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.

And by the way, while we’re at it, since the Court won’t establish a Code of Ethics for itself [New York Times January 6, 2012] let’s impose one on the Supremes, the old farts.