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


“Never be rude to an Arab, an Israeli, or Saudi, or Jew. Never be rude to an Irishman, no matter what you do” go the lyrics to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus ditty lampooning our political correctness. Yet for all its crassness and seeming insensitivity it does have a message for this New Year.


While the ditty sinks deeper in being downright offensive by hectoring us to “Never poke fun at a Nigger, a Spick, a Wop or a Kraut. And never put down….” it ends in a catastrophic explosion, “kaboom”. Keep on doing what we are now doing, denigrating all that is not “us”, and we will end up with an explosion that will destroy us all.
For all of its political incorrectness, Monty’s Circus preaches tolerance albeit with puerile humor. The Circus, so aptly named, goes on to note that “there are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists, there are Hindus and there are Mormons and then there are those that follow Mohammud [sic], but I’ve never been one of them” before staunchly proclaiming “I’m a Roman Catholic”. By explicitly naming the world’s many religions Monty Python has tacitly given them recognition and their just and proper due.
 Tolerance and understanding is what we need in this New Year. If we learn to leaven tolerance with puerile humor and remember that “the world today seems absolutely crackers, with nuclear bombs to blow us all sky high, there are fools and idiots sitting on the trigger. It’s depressing and it’s senseless, and that’s why…” we should all sing Monty Python’s Gospel of Tolerance, with all of its irreverent wit and wisdom.




Most of us take the elevator unless something prevents us, forcing us to creak up or down the stairs. In late November my offices were in the throes of renovation. The elevator landing was being sanded and painted, so you had to walk down six flights of stairs. As I meandered down the little used stairs, at some landings I was confronted by this large yellow and black “cd” sign with “fallout shelter” below with an arrow pointing to the left.
          Unwittingly I went beyond the ground floor and found myself in the basement. My building was probably built in the 20’s, well before the Second World War and its aftermath, the Cold War. Down in the basement were more “cd shelter” signs and tucked in the corner were some olive drab barrels labeled “survival supplies - drinking water”. Stacked next to them were a dozen dusty aluminum containers labeled “shelter - food”. I had stumbled upon one of the last vestiges of the cold war, a fallout shelter. 
          That brought back memories of the early 50’s when I was a kid attending Public School 22 in Flushing, New York. My teacher, Ms. Anita Tully, she who all the boys lusted after, would have us sit at our desks and when the bell started ringing, announcing the monthly civil defense drill, made us hunker down under our desks. “Duck and Cover” was what that stupid maneuver was called. The shelter of our wooden desks was supposed to shield and protect us from the blast of an exploding atomic bomb. Having survived actual bombs during the “Big War”, and having witnessed at first hand the destruction wrought, I thought then and now “Fat chance! What a crock!”

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          Frank Emi died yesterday at the age of 94. I had never heard of him until his obituary caught my eye in this Sunday’s New York Times. Then the magnitude of the crime that we perpetrated on him, and then compounded, sunk in. It made my head hang in shame, especially in light of the not as yet repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
          After Pearl Harbor, in one of the most constitutionally illegal and reprehensible Executive Orders ever, Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the detention of more than 110,000 American citizens and permanent resident in makeshift “detention centers”. To me these were nothing less than concentration camps. The only transgression that these Americans were accused of was that they were of Japanese descent, deemed “threats to national security” by that Executive Order. So much for due process and “innocent until proven guilty”. It was the purported “Champions of Justice”, the President and the Supreme Court of the United States that perpetrated the foul deed.
          One of these was Frank Emi. He was born on September 23, 1916 in Los Angeles. He was married with a kid running a food market when he was interned. Back then you couldn’t really rebel, you had no choice but to go along, get along, even though it was at the end of a fixed bayonet.

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Richard Holbrooke, a founding member of the Dead Diplomats Society, passed away yesterday. The Establishment and the media promptly canonized him and suggested a posthumous Nobel Prize. The eulogies are fraught with      hyperbole calling his role on the world stage “larger than life”. The pomp and circumstance surrounding his death make him a messianic, bold and courageous envoy of peace and stability. What pure and unadulterated bullshit. “Much Ado About Nothing”, say I, except his role was in the world’s sad tragedies, not Shakespeare’s light comedy.
Holdbrooke was the false bright and shining beacon of America’s failed diplomatic and economic disasters. His life was nothing but “A Bright Shining Lie”, starting with his service in Vietnam in 1962. He went on to Lyndon Johnson’s White House were he wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers, but didn’t do a damn thing about the lies, deception and corruption that embroiled that war.
This man’s career spanning 50 years, in public service as well as substantial stints in the private sector, involved him with every conflict and with every subsequent defeat and humiliation. He participated in every failed attempt at diplomacy from Vietnam to Afghanistan, with stops in Bosnia, Kosovo and Cyprus along the way. His diplomatic efforts lacked a moral compass. He saw no shame in dealing with dictators, despots and corrupt politicians and actively supported their financing at the tax payers’ expense. He expressed outrage only after the corrupt official was of no longer use to his Machiavellian intrigues.

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          I personally like old Charlie Rangel, the penultimate Harlem pol, duded out in pin striped suits complete with flashy ties and matching pocket hankies. It’s just too bad that today’s sartorial rules will not allow him to sport white linen spats, you know those things that go over your shoes, and saunter down the House of Representatives’ aisle with a gold headed ebony cane in hand. That would wake up that bunch of hack politicians. While I have always liked his style, I detest, despise and deplore his sleaze. I shed no tears for old Charlie.
          Old Charlie’s demise and fall has been eulogized and praised by none other than Washington Post’s David Broder, the so called “dean” of the Washington press corps. He calls him sadly, and without an iota of irony, one of the “Happy Warriors Brought Low”. You may like old Charlie like I do, but you can’t condone his depredations and hand him a get out of jail Monopoly card, all the while praising the way he played “the game”, or rather the way he gamed the play.
          Old Charlie claims that “he did not go to bed with kids” and that “he did not start a revolution against the United States of America”. Way to go Charlie, after all you have just been a Representative for 40 years. But when he claims that he “did not steal any money” and that he “did not take any bribes”, that’s where I draw the line.
          Old Charlie was given the use of at least three rent stabilized apartments, those almost impossible to find rent abated havens, in New York City by his landlord. That was either income or a reportable benefit, depending on how you look at it. He also failed to report rental income on a Dominican Republic villa while serving as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the guys who write tax legislation for you and me. He solicited donations for an educational center bearing his name from corporations that had business before his Committee. Was he to benefit upon his retirement just like Ronald Regan with his outrageous speaking honoraria in Japan? Now we have a new ethics probe, his misuse of some $400,000 in campaign funds for legal defense. All of the above should have landed him in jail. Censure was but a gentle reprimand, a “do go gently into that good night” goodbye from his fellow representatives, to their everlasting shame.
          Old Charlie shed copious crocodile tears in the well of the House, so much so that I feared that he would just float away. I also liked his predecessor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Now old Adam really had class. While the House was voting to expel him did old Adam shed crocodile tears? No. He was smiling the day away on a cabin cruiser near Bimini, the Bahamas, enjoying the rays, a drink and cigar in hand, surrounded by bikini clad lovelies, all but saying “Do what you want, you dumb white honkies!” Now that took balls and class. I met old Adam, Charlie, and you ain’t no Adam! He never shed a false tear or offered a lame excuse, No Siree, Bob!   


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