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



         West Point, America’s War Academy, makes you proud to be an American, yet at the same time it fills you with dread and loathing. The pride comes from Bastogne, the “Battle of the Bulge”, Ivo Jima, Corregidor, Bataan and Valley Forge. The dread comes from the Battle of Gettysburg, the firebombing of Dresden, the blood spilled at Shiloh and some 800,000 American dead in our Civil War. The loathing comes from Viet Nam’s Mai Lai Massacre, Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the hell hole of Andersonville’s prisoner of war camp.
That stone fortress, with its colorful flags flying high above the Hudson River, was an appropriate venue for Robert Gates, our Secretary of Defense [perhaps we should use the old moniker “Secretary of War”], to make a speech ten days ago bluntly warning:
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined’, as General MacArthur so delicately put it.” [emphasis supplied]
          I am a believer in conspiracy theories. Without a shred of evidence, a scintilla of proof, I believe that Gates was throwing the gauntlet, drawing a line in the sand, giving fair warning, cautioning those in power that starting a war with Iran is suicide, hara-kiri. Just don’t go there, or for that matter into any local conflict now inflaming the region.

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Because of who I am, I am very sensitive when it comes to name calling and ethnic slurs. My hackles bristle, wrong metaphor, try “rise”, when somebody starts talking about dumb Polacks, greedy Jews, smelly Pakis, stupid Spics, Greasers and Beaners. There are a lot more, but there is no reason to list them all.
When it comes to ethnic slurs there is one that I do not condemn. That is the universal slight of “stupid” when applied to any country or people that deserve it.
          Egyptians have just earned the Olympic Gold Medal for Stupidity, all 70 million of them. They deserve whatever the future holds for them, for they have surely screwed themselves royally even though most of them do not remember or were alive when King Farouk was sacked in ‘52. They have exhibited ignorance and stupidity. I don’t care what their IQ and SAT scores are, or those other indices of intelligence and knowledge we use to judge others. They are just plain dumb.

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          This post is going to be short, sweet and to the point, not researched, off the cuff, by the seat of my pants, shooting from the hip, blind justice, on the fly, off the top of my head, at the drop of a hat, without beating around the bush and full of clichés.
          Beware of what you wish for, especially in Cairo, North Africa, the Middle and the Far East. Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t. Because if you do: You will be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
          Any change in Egypt will put the United States between a rock and a hard place. For years we have advocated the spread of democracy in the most unlikely of places. We publicly declare that “Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destructions. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect for the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terrorism. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer –so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.” George W. Bush, State of The Union Speech, 2006. What self serving crap, and a flagrant lie to boot.

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‘tis, better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak remove all doubt
          Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has just proven Abraham Lincoln’s observation to be on point. Thomas often called the “silent” member of the Court for not having asked a question during oral arguments for at least seven years, has just spoken and removed any doubt as to his stupidity. This judge is not only a fool but may well have violated civil and criminal statutes. And by the way, he is one of the guys that are the final arbiters of the law in our country.
          Thomas is not only silent but deaf and dumb. It seems that old Clarence is married to a lady by the name of Virginia, “Ginnie” to her friends. This good woman is gainfully employed, a commendable effort on her part. Far be it for me to suggest that her employment was a perk thrown Thomas’ way. From 2003 to 2007 she was employed by the Heritage Foundation of Washington, D. C., a conservative think tank, and Hillsdale College of rural Michigan and was paid a substantial sum for her efforts, $686,589 to be exact.
          It is unclear what exactly Virginia did to earn this salary but from available sources she was the author of a number of position papers with such arresting titles as Restoring Integrity to Government with Performance, Results, and Accountability; Not More Laws – More Oversight; Time for Congress to Hold Legal Services Corporation Accountable, and Legislation without Adequate Oversight. Emphasis Supplied. She clearly stood for oversight, accountability and full disclosure. Good for her!

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          Last week the Litchfield County Times ran an Op/Ed column entitled The Sin Business Is Not for States. In the electronic version the County Times’ editors dropped “Not for States” from the title. Unlike the dumb columnist they were aware that sin is, in fact, the state’s business.
          The column was about state and local governments’ sorry forays in the sin business [gambling, sex and booze] resulting in bankruptcy or, at best, mediocre profits.  
          My advice to governments, both domestic and international, was to leave sin well enough alone and to the private sector. The “pros”, the bookies, bootleggers, pimps, madams and hookers, they know what they’re doing; after all they have been doing it for centuries. It is unseemly for government to engage in booze, gambling and prostitution. These are not proper governmental functions.  My unsolicited advice to government was to let them be, but tax the living beejesus out of them.
          Europe’s financial “pigs” [Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain] are desperately trying to stave off financial collapse and support a floundering Euro. There are rumors that the Euro is facing its demise. The cost of borrowing to keep governments afloat is soaring, now in the double digits. Soon the “pigs” will have to pay interest rates that American consumers have been coping with for years. Welcome “pigs” to the 19% interest rate on you international Visa and Master Card debt.
          The “pigs” are scrambling to find new revenues, restructure debt, cut costs and services and save the Euro as a currency. Retirement age is no longer 60 or 62, we are now talking   70. Even Europe’s non “pigs” are putting safety measures in effect. England has tripled university tuition and sharply reduced welfare benefits. France has instituted draconian pension reforms. Public sector wages have been slashed. Income taxes have risen. Because of this the Euro’s existence is threatened, so they say. 
          Holland, has sagely taken my advice. They have seen the writing on the wall and have found a new untapped source of revenue: commercial sex. Now do not be alarmed, the canny Dutch are not going to plunge headfirst into the sex business. They will leave sex to the “pros”, as in prostitutes, already toiling in the industry, and to the ladies sitting and trolling for customers in the windows of Amsterdam’s Red Light District [Rosseburt].    
          No, as a matter of fact, Holland is going to encourage the ladies of the night to do their utmost, to ramp up their efforts, to go the extra mile, or in this case millimeter, with the aid of Viagra to help their country. To become the Rosie the Riveters of the sex industry in this time of dire need. Holland will raise the much needed revenue by enforcing that uniquely New York City solution, the Parking Tax.
          For you foreigners and non New Yorkers, let me explain: You drive your car to Manhattan, a congested place and with little if no public parking. Parking is very much like sex, you got to, you need to, and so you must. And when you do, New York City slaps you with an 18.5% tax on top of the exorbitant ransom that those few minutes of parking cost. When you add the sales tax, the income tax paid by the owners and workers in the industry you have huge amount of cash, not to be sneezed at.
          That is exactly what Holland is doing. Since legalizing prostitution in 2002 Holland has taxed sex earnings as just plain income. While the sex trade is significant, generating a least $865 million in income according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, it remains substantially untaxed. Following New York’s example there is a 19% sales tax on each sexual transaction. Enforcing the tax on sex will generate millions of dollars in revenues.    
The Dutch are ahead of the curve. They are going to permit, then promote, then enhance sex and then tax the beejesus out of it, all to balance the budget. Now if the Greeks, the Portuguese and the rest of Europe would just follow their lead, austerity will be avoided, budget balanced and the Euro saved.