Editorials: Trump v Clinton; and Police purge

costs of empire
The expenses of empire, both in what is paid out and in opportunities that are cut off, add up to perhaps the most important issue facing the American people. Do not expect that it will be the subject of serious debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The US presidential race

Americans go to the polls on or before November 8 and whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump who is proclaimed the winner on the evening of the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the 11th month largely depends on how many Americans show up at the polls and who they are. Predictions are less than a dime a dozen, the pollsters and pundits have been wrong all through the primary season, there are wild cards of ethnic passions out there and there will be hundreds of thousands of people improperly disenfranchised by vote suppression tactics ranging from discriminatory state laws to outright fraud. Americans living abroad have a right to vote, generally by absentee ballot in the place where they last lived in the USA, and would be wise to exercise this right. In many countries consequences ranging from changes in consular services to anti-American riots may ultimately flow from how we decide.

The polls have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton within the margin of error of one another, Libertarian Gary Johnson at a bit more than eight percent and the Greens’ Jill Stein with about three percent. It’s going to be Clinton or Trump, but the third party protest votes may matter a great deal. A total Johnson collapse could put Trump in the White House. So could intra-Democratic faction fighting that drives some of the party’s left half to stay home or cast protest votes for Stein.

It has been and will be an ugly negative campaign. The candidate who between now and November rises above identity politics and hot button hatreds to offer the nation a compelling vision of where it should go these next four years ought to win. Or should we say, the viable candidate who does that may find the key to victory, even to greatness. There is precedent for this. In 1932 the aristocratic Franklin D. Roosevelt rode into office on a wave of revulsion and desperation after the Roaring 20s financial swindles collapsed and threw millions of innocent people into penury. The campaign visionaries were on the fringes. Roosevelt played it safe and then stole much of the Socialist Party platform and enacted it into law as part of the New Deal. Trump could do something like that, stealing Gary Johnson’s platform or David Duke’s. Once in office Hillary Clinton might pay attention to the neoconservatives, to the democratic socialists who were nearly half of this year’s Democratic primary electorate or to some of Jill Stein’s ideas.

Look for a huge gender gap in favor of Clinton, not only because she’s a woman but because Trump’s a creep. Look for the true enormity of irrationalism and white supremacy to assert itself in the Trump column. And listen for the voices of Latino communities that have always been a part of the US political landscape having their say, perhaps decisively this time.

The next phase in Panamanian law enforcement

Five police officers, mostly of higher ranks and including a commissioner and a subcommissioner, are under arrest. We had a weekend of police checkpoints along the roads, in which cops were not checking driver driver’s licenses or auto registrations but looking for other cops to arrest. By various accounts at least three more top law enforcement officials who have not been arrested are under investigation. The prison sentence for weapons offenses of former police chief and national security director Gustavo Pérez — who threatened a police coup against Ricardo Martinelli in the event of civilian review of police actions — has been upheld. With a generous raise in retirement benefits thrown in as a sweetener the bloated top ranks of the nation’s law enforcement apparatus are being substantially thinned. Martinelli had moved to put those whom he figured were loyal in key police positions, and now Juan Carlos Varela is clearing the way for a new generation of law enforcement leadership.

Mentioned in the rhetoric and lurking in the background of every part of this story is gangland infiltration of Panama, its police forces, its politics, its business sectors and its population. The War on Drugs is lost, but even once we recognize that and move on to more humane and effective ways to fight addiction, the gangsterism that all sides of it brought to our society will remain a problem. Let’s end the big money temptations that the drug underworld can wave in the faces of our police officers, prosecutors, judges and elected officials. Let’s get rid of the bad cops and promote the good ones, whatever the momentary opportunity for corruption. And let’s be honest and forthright people who deserve honest and forthright policing.

Bear in mind…

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

From time to time, there have reappeared certain indications of racism directed against specific groups in Panamanian society, due to ethnic or racial considerations. Fortunately there has always existed a group of Panamanians who have been ready to take a categorical stand in opposition to every form of racial discrimination and to demonstrate their tireless and constant decision to eliminate these plagues that attempt to deny certain people their human rights.

George Westerman

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker


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