Editorials: VP trash talk; and Russians, Nazis and the US elections

What happened to El Chorrillo tells us not to go waving machetes at or talking trash to Uncle Sam. Photo by the US Department of Defense.

The VP’s extraordinary anti-American taunt

Uh huh. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado told Panamanians and the world that what happens with US policy isn’t that important. “The world’s need to sell keeps growing every day. We don’t see how a policy change in any one country, most important as it may be, can have a significant impact on that.”

What the Americans do can’t be significant? Perhaps she doesn’t remember the economic chaos of pre-invasion US sanctions. Perhaps she has never seen any need or desire to mingle with the survivors of those burned to a crisp in El Chorrillo. Perhaps she has never visited the abandoned industrial parks of the US Rust Belt, or paid any attention to what’s happening in Greece.

The VP goes on to dismiss the Panama Papers and something that just speeded up what Panama was doing anyway, ignoring the OECD disapproval, French blacklist and increasing difficulty of Panamanian banks in finding US corresponding bank services.

A Latin American country might well find other busienss partners to minimize the US leverage over it. Honduras tried that and is now ruled by a US-aligned death squad regime. Venezuela’s woes are mostly about a collapse in oil prices and its government’s ham-handed ways of dealing with that, but US hostility has greatly added to the pressure. If China has indeed moved into many Latin American economic spaces that the Americans used to occupy, it’s still insane to literally or figuratively wave any machetes at the United States.

There are policies like the War on Drugs and the handover of Panama’s rice production to US farmers in which our government ought to part ways with the United States. These sorts of things should be done calmly and with due deliberation, not with bravado and dismissal.

One gets the impression that a Varela administration fresh out of ideas is playing a nationalist card. But would the Panamanian people rally behind the economic fantasy that the government is spinning?


Russians and Nazis in the 2016 US elections

Did the Russian government hack the Democratic National Committee’e email server and hand the data over to WikiLeaks? Perhaps. But the top four DNC officials had to resign their posts in the middle of a presidential election year not because Putin insisted that they do so but because of their own gross misconduct, which showed up in the emails but had been complained of well before those leaks.

Is there some law that says that the Nazis’ “Big Lie” technique of endlessly repeating lies until a lot of people believe them to be true is acceptable and anybody who makes the proper association of that with publications and personalities of yesteryear like Der Sturmer and Joseph Goebbels automatically loses the argument for mentioning those who perfected an American advertising technique and applied it to the racist politics of their time and place? The white supremacists say so — but what they say is enemy propaganda to be countered, not obeyed.

The truth is that Hillary Clinton and almost all of the Democratic hierarchy ran an unethical campaign in the primaries, then ran an unbelievably stupid general election campaign. They lost to a reviled candidate and took many good Democrats farther down the ticket to defeat with them. Now is not the time to start the Chelsea Clinton for Congress campaign, for Nancy Pelosi to announce a reorganization plan, nor for the current Democrats Abroad leaders to tell us that they have everything planned through 2020. It wasn’t the Russians. They just need to go. Let the Democratic Party that they tried to reduce to a fundraising list restore itself without them.


Bear in mind…


It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.
James Thurber


By their essential nature triumphs can’t be given. They must be taken, and the worse the odds and the fiercer the resistance, the greater the honor. Victories can’t be gifts.
Lois McMaster Bujold


The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.
Georges Bernanos


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