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 a Contributing Editor 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 and Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.




Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge, the President of the United States by default upon the death of Warren G. Harding, declared that the “business of America is business”. Notwithstanding President Eisenhower’s warning to prevent the industrial-military complex from becoming America’s leading industry subsequent presidents have seen to it that the business of America is not business but war.

Government is supposedly for the people and by the people. But the Supreme Court of the United States has decided in Citizens United that corporations are people too. As a result, corporations run government. Not only do they run it, they own it outright, corporations having bought and paid for their own wholly owned personal government.

In order to have a profitable well-funded business you need a product that people want and will be willing to pay for. But do not mistake “want” for “need”. To “need” something is mandated by the laws of nature as in “I need to breath”, “I need to eat” or “I need to rest”. To “want” is to desire something unnecessary say a Ferrari Testarossa, a Hermès scarf or a Ralph Lauren Ricky alligator bag for $22,500.

Most often wars are a product of “want” and not “need”. Except for World War II, a war of necessity brought on by Pearl Harbor, recent wars were wars of choice. World War I was fought to make the world “safe for democracy” and “American business interests globally”.  The Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan were also wars of choice as were the military invasions of Granada and Panama and the armed intervention in Haiti and Somalia.

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America has been sold a bill of goods: the millions and billions of dollars in fines levied on, or penalties agreed to by America’s major financial institutions for causing the financial crisis of 2008 are paid to the Federal and state governments for the benefit of us, the taxpayers.  

That is a bald faced lie, galling because it is made by our government elected to protect our interests. In fact we, the taxpayers and consumers, are paying the fines, the real facts being obscured by and with the complicity of our government: we are paying the fines and in fact being double billed.

The fines and settlement dollars just keep rolling into the Treasury. Citigroup has agreed to pay $395 million fine for fraud or misrepresentation in 3.7 million mortgages sold to Freddie Mac, after agreeing in July to pay $968 million to settle similar claims made with Fannie Mae. The Bank of America agreed to pay $3.6 billion in penalties and buy back an additional $6.75 billion of fraudulent loans.

The SEC, the weakest of the regulatory agencies that failed in its appointed task to safeguard financial markets, keeps a tally of its sorry accomplishments. As of September 1, 2013 it reports that it has charged 161 entities and individuals of which 66 are CEOs, CFOs or other senior corporate officers; that it has ordered penalties or agreed to settlements of $1.53 billion; that it has ordered disgorgements of “profits” of $800 million and obtained additional monetary relief of $400 million for a grand total as of September 1 of $2.73 billion. 

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President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are brilliant as the good cop/bad cop guys in this week’s episode of the three year old soap opera As the World Turns and Syria Burns seen this past Sunday on the TV networks and continuing this week.

Good cop Obama was tempted to flaunt constitutional law and use questionable military force in solving the Syrian crisis. He warned Syria’s President al Assad that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” not to be crossed. If that line was crossed all bets were off. Obama would do what was necessary even if that made him a bad cop, a cop willing to break the law.

Unfortunately, Obama did not just draw a line in the sand; he went and painted himself and the United States into a corner.

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New York City’s Finest, the men and women in blue, have stopped and frisked 4.4 million New Yorkers over the past 8 years. That’s more than half the City’s population of 8.2 million. This indiscriminate practice targeting minorities Hispanics and people of color was the subject of a federal civil rights complaint. On Monday a federal judge found this practice discriminatory and an unconstitutional abridgment of rights. She ordered sweeping reforms.

At issue during the two month long trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan was exactly how and why these stop and frisks took place. As in any trial the testimony of witnesses differed. The cops spun a tale of suspicious furtive behavior with guns and drugs readily apparent if not in plain view. The civilians countered that they were mere innocent passer byes on their legitimate way, albeit in high crime neighborhoods. He said, she said, who to believe?

The Court found stop and frisk an ineffective policing tool and basically pointless. The police department’s own statistics proved the point. “52% of all stops were followed by a protective frisk for weapons. A weapon was found after 1.5% of these frisks. In other words, in 98.5% of the 2.3 million frisks, no weapon was found” said the judge adding “In 9% of these searches, the felt object was in fact a weapon. 91% of the time, it was not.” 

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"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

When unpleasant truths emerge, when war crimes and abuses are revealed, when malfeasance is uncovered, when the existence of illegal surveillance is leaked, the United States Government embraces a policy of deception or when that is not possible, a calculated media campaign of deflection. The Obama administration’s decision to close and evacuate 19 embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East is a crass and blatant example of deception and deflection.

My caustic and jaundiced view of the administration’s latest gambit is founded on that old adage “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.

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