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.





Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s Iron Chancellor, instituted universal health care in 1884. Most civilized industrial nations, Canada, England, France, have universal health care that works. Others such as former Eastern bloc countries, Romania, Serbia, Croatia have universal health care that works, after a fashion. Others, many ending in “a”, Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria and India do not.

The United States has been in the throes of establishing a viable health care system, not necessarily universal, for the last two decades. This last decade has seen the passage of Obama’s Affordable Care Act and more than 60 separate votes in the House of Representatives to repeal it. Last month witnessed the defeat of the Ryan/Trump repeal and replace by the American Health Care Act fiasco.

I will not debate the merits of the two pieces of legislation:  one, Obamacare is 960 pages long with 2,000 pages of regulations appended which I have not read; the other, the proposed Ryan/Trump replacement only has the initial part on paper, with phases 2 and 3 yet to be written. It also remains unread and so I cannot compare the two.   

But I can tell you about the care I just received at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for “cervical cord compression with mysiopathy and stenosis of cervical spine with mysiopathy” or what you and I would call old age.

I am 76, retired and I collect Social Security. $273.00 is deducted from my monthly benefit for Medicare Part B coverage, adjusted for my family’s income. I have an AARP wrap-around medical insurance plan costing $230.50 a month and Silver Scrip drug coverage at $38.40 a month. The cost of medical insurance totals 41% of my Social Security benefits.

November 30, 2016: During a visit to Mount Sinai for an unrelated medical issue the examining physician noticed that my uneven walking gait. He recommended that I see a neurologist. The portion of that visit dealing with this issue had me interact with two individuals, the doctor and a nurse. The number of individual interactions [hereafter “NIIS”] was two. NIIS is 2.

December 23, 2016: Initial consultation with neurologist. Arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital campus, a multi block behemoth complex of building. Directed by receptionist/guard to neurology department. Met by receptionist who directed the completion of information forms. Examined by nurse for vital signs and other base line measurements. Examined by neurologist and nurse-practioner. Directed to blood laboratory - met by receptionist and technician. Directed to x-ray facility and received by receptionist and x-rays taken by 2 technicians. NIIS is 10

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When you talk of treason a few names come to mind: Benedict Arnold, Alger Hiss, Aldrich Ames, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The names and their misdeeds are separated by almost two hundred years of treason free history because the United States had fortuitously renamed an armed insurrection a Civil War and made glorious the exploits of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B Stewart lest our national escutcheon be besmirched.

At the height of the cold war a self-published paperback None Dare Call It Treason took the nation by storm selling 7 million copies. This was during the 1964 presidential election between a populist Lyndon Johnson against the arch conservative Barry Goldwater. John Stormer’s book did not tip the election in Goldwater’s favor but it called into question the definition of treason.

Stormer’s theory was that political beliefs are treason and should be denounced as such because treason would “prosper” only if “none dare call it treason” quoting Sir John Harrington [1561-1612].

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” [Article III, Section 3, emphasis supplied] and by definition can occur only in time of war with all else being espionage or some other crime.

I say that that ain’t so because for the past 75 years the United States has been in a perpetual state of war - the Cold War, the War on Drugs, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Iraq Bush War One, the Iraq Bush War Two, the War on Terror, the War on ISIS, the Afghan War and now Syria and Yemen. It follows that any act which adheres to and/or gives aid and comfort to our enemies is treason in this age of on-going war.      

In July, 2016 Donald Trump publicly said that “he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton’s e mails, and encouraged them to publish whatever they may have stolen, essentially urging a foreign adversary to conduct cyberespionage against a former secretary of state”.  

Trump was urging, suggesting, approving, condoning, validating violations of criminal statutes by an adverse foreign power against a candidate participating in a national election. Seems to me that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. This duck is treason, pure and simple.  

Trump was explicit adding “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find 30,000 emails that are missing … I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press”. If that ain’t “aid and comfort” and I don’t know what is.

Once elected Donald Trump appointed Michael Flynn, a retired United States Army Lieutenant General as National Security Advisor who served for all of 24 days [January 20-February 13, 2017] before being cashiered, a record I am sure will never be bested.

Flynn was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and forced to resign in 2014. In 2015 he attended and spoke at a Russian state sponsored event and sat next to Vladimir Putin eliciting a report by Politico that “at a moment of semi-hostility between the US and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled US officials”. This red flag was ignored by the Trump transition team.    

Even before Flynn’s appointment the Acting Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency alerted the incoming President and his transition team that Flynn had been in direct contact with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, that Flynn was in “a compromising position to Russia” and “might be vulnerable to blackmail”.

These heads up fell on deaf ears – I love mixed metaphors – and Flynn was appointed National Security Advisor privy to all secrets of state. I call this treason for which Donald Trump should be impeached.  

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Come Sunday mornings Bill Maher, the HBO comedy guy and I read the weddings notices in the New York Times’ Style Section. Don’t ask me why we do it, we just do – it’s the contrarian in us yearning to be free and it’s a great read with your morning coffee. Lately, many of the featured couples were brought to marital bliss by internet dating sites like OK Cupid, Tinder, Match and eHarmony. Why this is duly noted at the end of each notice is something the Times fails to explain but is in keeping with its migration to an on line digital edition.

Many of the reported ceremonies are not officiated by Priests, Ministers, Rabbis, Hindu Pandits or Muslim Imams but by just plain guys and gals whose credentials and authority were purchased on the internet from religious diploma mills such as the Universal Life Ministries, the Universal Brotherhood Ministries, Rose Ministries, the American Fellowship Church, Christian National Church, United Christian Faith Ministries, United National Ministry or the Universal Life Church.  

Over the years, I have been called many names but I have never, ever been called “Reverend” or “Minister”. So, on Monday morning I logged on to the Universal Life Ministries web site, the institution that had ordained many of the people performing these new non-traditional marriage rites. I wanted to try the moniker of “Ordained Minister” on for size and see how it fit.

I wanted to be ordained so that I would be ready, should the need arise, to step in and perform the sacred rites of marriage. You never know when that could happen. It’s good to be prepared. But I was unprepared for the cornucopia of heavenly choices that the Life Ministries offered once I logged on.

The initial menu offered ordination as a Pastor, Minister, Reverend, Officiant, Preacher or Chaplain. The description of their privileges and immunities were somewhat vague and confused but they all promised conformity with “Christian Ordination, as well as independent Baptist ordination, Catholics, Jewish, Islamic, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Episcopalians, Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians, Wiccans, Pagans, Bahá’í, and any others…” beliefs and a universal “search for enlightenment”.

Once you start the registration process only the basics are necessary: your name, address, birthdate and your credit card, American Express, Visa or MasterCard.

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Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877


Back in the days of Empire two great powers indulged in the “Great Game”, a geopolitical term made popular by Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and The Man Who Would Be King. It was yesterday’s Game of Thrones, international politics in real life, not an entertainment streaming on Netflix or a series playing on HBO – actual genocide, nation building and destruction, treason, diplomatic double dealing, greed, military adventurism and mayhem, lots of mayhem.         

Great Britain, the Empire that ruled the seas, used sea power to conquer and subjugate new territory – the Indian subcontinent, more than 1.7 million square miles, a wealth of natural resources and a population in the millions. Russia, the other player in the Great Game, then an Empire of 8.8 million square miles, of even more natural resources was dead set against England’s expansion policies.

This was the yin and yang of the Great Game: England’s dominion and control over lands it had conquered running counter to Russia’s further expansion and incursion into Asia.

Originally the playing field was Turkestan, Persia, Afghanistan, parts of India [Pakistan] and Tibet [China]. But the field of battle shifted over the decades. It migrated to Europe, Asia and the Middle East during the First and Second World Wars. Nominally Great Britain and Russia were allies but try and sell that story to Tsar Nicholas II who was deposed and assassinated after the Allies surreptitiously repatriated Lenin, dropping him off at the Finland Station in St. Petersburg, or to the Allies once Hitler was dead and Germany defeated.  

After the Second World War things changed; the Great Game’s reset button had to be pushed. Once the Game was booted up a new player, the United States was substituted for England, who was no longer the stuff of empire. Russia, now the USSR now supported by the Warsaw Pact nations was still in the game. In response, the United States countered with NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

For the next 50 years, the Great Game was an exercise in restraint and equilibrium – a series of calculated tit-for-tat moves by one side with a calibrated response by the other.  Russia got mired in a decade long Afghan war until United States provided an exit strategy. America is now bogged down in its own never ending Afghan war but Russia is noticeably absent and non-involved. America has been left twisting in the wind with the conflict remaining local and not subject to the rules and constraints of the Great Game. 

The Great Game’s pas de deux played without misstep for decades even when unexpected events threatened stability – the Hungarian Revolution, the Suez crisis, the Vietnamese War, the fall of the Berlin War, the breakup of the USSR, the invasion of Iraq did not upset the applecart.

Of late with Obama in charge a change is evident. Obama and the West became intent in expanding the NATO franchise far from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. They want NATO in the warm waters of the Black Sea, co-opting the Ukraine at the very doorstep of what is now a diminished Russia. The sandy beaches of Greece and Turkey’s Aegean Sea are not enough. This is a marked departure from the status quo.    

The obvious response - Putin’s “liberation” and annexation of the Crimea - was appropriate and expected. Both players made the appropriate bellicose statements and comments. After an exchange of shots across bows and borders the players called “time” – time to regroup and recalibrate before things got out of hand.

We have just witnessed an unexpected, dangerous, unprecedented response which is yet to be proven and documented. Vladimir Putin, fearing the continuance of the Obama worldview and NATO expansion should Hillary Clinton be elected, interfered in the 2016 American Presidential election – a serious breach of the unwritten rules of the Great Game. The extent of this intrusion into domestic elections is still classified but there is consensus amongst all United States intelligence agencies that it did in fact take place. 

The unforeseen consequence was the election of Donald Trump - an unknown, untested and possibly suicidal populist leader in the mold of Huey Long, Joe McCarthy and George Wallace. The introduction of this wild card into the Great Game should give us all pause.

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