No family ties bar to press coverage
Former first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli, who ran for vice president in 2014 using funds stolen from the Panamanian people, has been to family court. She is suing reporters and editors at La Prensa for writing about members of her family — her jailed husband, herself and her two fugitive adult sons who are wanted for laundering huge sums of Odebrecht money. This, she says, is a violation of family privacy. She actually seems to have a judge who is going along with it.
So there we have it, folks. Notwithstanding the Panamanian constitution’s ban on discrimination according to social class, some young man from the slums caught with a small amount of some illegal drug gets paraded in front of police and prosecution video cameras, but those with the proper surnames, their crimes must go unreported. The rabiblancos would have their “too inbred for public scrutiny” exception to freedom of the press.
A judge who entertains such a motion should be removed from the bench. A lawyer who brings such a motion should face fines and professional sanctions. The Martinelli family should continue to get full press coverage for their improper acts, and now that they are pulling this maneuver deserve the full attention of satirists, songwriters, caricaturists, poets, columnists, regueseros and comedians. Let the Martinellis’ arrogance become a legend of Panamanian culture that outlives us all.
Tick tock, Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, stands convicted of concealing and failing to pay taxes on the proceeds of his lobbying for pro-Putin Ukrainian politicians. Donald Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, stands convicted of violating federal campaign laws — at the direction of Donald Trump — by making payoffs to ensure that tales of the president’s escapades with prostitutes did not get told before the election and of concealing the fact that these payments were campaign expenses.
Cohen’s convictions come on a guilty plea. He will cooperate with federal prosecutors. He was Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer for many years. Aside from that — or maybe it was why Trump chose him in the first place — he has been a long-time associate of sundry mob interests, especially including Russian mobsters.
Manafort may die in prison without ever telling his story to prosecutors or anyone else. Or he may flip on Donald Trump and turn into a devastating witness. The exact relationship between Russian and allied interests and the 2016 campaign is not public knowledge and is the heart of the special prosecutor’s investigation. Manafort would probably know all or most of that stuff. So would Cohen.
Cohen’s admission is a direct accusation against Trump, that the president conspired to violate campaign laws. As bad as this matter may get for Trump, the gist of suspected “collusion” is a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws by soliciting, using and concealing foreign assets or services improperly donated to the Trump cause.
At the end of it all, the easiest case to prove against Trump is obstruction of justice. That can be made by reference to his public statements and official acts alone.
With these multiple hooks firmly embedded, how might Trump beat the rap? Impeachment by the US House could happen but conviction by two-thirds of the US Senate is extremely unlikely, even it the Republicans get crushed in November and Democrats get majorities in both houses of Congress. Trump is trying to fend off such a defeat by suppressing the votes of those likely to opt for the Democrats, especially but not only African-Americans and members of the various Hispanic minorities, while revving up his white supremacist base that’s just under one-third of the electorate. By jamming through the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court he might get an arcane procedural path to presidential impunity.
However, on the same day that Manafort was found guilty and Cohen pleaded guilty Trump suffered election setbacks as well. His endorsement of Foster Friess, a hedge fund billionaire and opponent of birth control pills whose alternative for women is to insert an aspirin tablet in their vaginas after unprotected sex, failed spectacularly in the Wyoming Republican gubernatorial primary. In Alaska there were fewer surprises, but the unpopular independent who is the incumbent governor may, by dropping out or seeing his support collapse, hand the state’s top office to former US Senator Mark Begich rather than to a Republican who closely identifies himself with Trump and mustered but 40,000 or so votes en route to winning the GOP nomination in that state of about 740,000 residents.
The bitter Tuesday gravy was the indictment of a California Republican US representative for allegedly dipping into campaign funds to support his personal lifestyle.
This very bad day for Trump also comes on the heels of other indications that his authority is waning. After it was announced the president said it was a joint decision, but the Pentagon brass told him that his plans for a Veterans Day military parade in Washington were off. The Federal Reserve chair he appointed is ignoring Trump’s commands about interest rates. His senior Justice Department appointees show no sign that they are about to end the special prosecutor’s probe as Trump wants.
What’s an alarmed and annoyed nation to do? The first thing is a matter of popular culture, ranging from the reserved to the ribald: make the president the object of public derision. The second and more important thing to do is register, vote, and send in a new Congress that will block the president’s appointments and legislative initiatives as they debate proposals for a post-Trump era.
What do YOU do, if you are a US citizen living abroad? Register and vote. You can register and order your ballot online at votefromabroad.org OR fvap.gov OR overseasvotefoundation.org. Do this now, so that if someone tries to take away your right to vote you will have some time to challenge it.
Bear in mind…
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