Editorials, WHICH families? and US citizens should register to vote now

         The religious right’s scorn for most Panamanian families is undisguised. One of their ads.

Save which families?

Olmedo Beluche, the leftist sociology professor at the University of Panama, took a peek at 2010 census records to shed some light on the “family values” debate, wherein religious groups argue that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry then the traditional family will be destroyed. But what traditions, and which families?

Where there are great fortunes to be inherited or perhaps litigated, it often makes sense to have relationship clearly spelled out in writing and registered with church and state. Weddings are also an important business for religious denominations, but we can only speculate about what gay and lesbian weddings might do to the business of those institutions spearheading the movement against marriage equality.

But really, what it the tradition in Panama, and across much of Latin America? It’s that for most people church weddings are too expensive. It’s that relationships will form, then last or break up, without permission of church or state.

In the 2010 census, mothers between 15 and 49 were categorized by marital status. There were 61.9 percent living in cohabiting with men with whom they were not formally married. Those formally married accounted for 18.7 percent. The next largest group were those who had either been married or in a live-in relationship but were at the time of the census separated, another 12 percent. Single mothers who had never been in a marriage or cohabitation arrangement, amounted to 6.8 percent. Divorced women were only three-tenths of a percent. Were the remaining .3 percent the widows with children of child-bearing age?

In any case, there you see it — a movement alleging to defend somebody, a relatively small minority that’s disproportionately wealthy and disproportionately fervent about religion. A movement playing hate cards and preparing to jump back into electoral politics after some years without a specific direct presence, in hope of winning a few seats in the National Assembly and playing the squalid political patronage games that minor party politics are about in Panama.


take them away
Kremlin photo.

Were there federal recall elections in the USA…

The US Constitution does not provide for a recall election in the case of an unfit federal elected official. The ordinary criminal law does apply, and there is the extraordinary option of impeachment which has never passed on the floor of the US Senate but once did force a president’s resignation to avoid it.

In the case of a party that passes tax legislation that loots the government and gives to the ultra-rich, the solution is political: throw those people out. In the case of a president who got to where he is by disloyally soliciting the intervention of a rival foreign power, with an in-family staff that has played the public positions for private financial gain from foreign governments, the solution is the same, but by two steps: hobble him by removing his supporters from the Congress, then at next opportunity vote him out of the White House. That’s how the American system works.

US citizens living abroad can generally vote by absentee ballot a the last place where they lived in the USA. By federal law voter registration by asking those places for a ballot must happen every year. There is a confusing patchwork of state voting laws, with ever more effort to suppress the votes on racial, ethnic, economic, geographic or age or other bases so as to favor Republicans. But generally American citizens living abroad can vote, and the earlier they request ballots the more time they will have to counter any vote suppression tactics.

Making it easier, there are three online services that you can go to for all the information and forms, in many states with the ability to order your ballot and register online.

The oldest, the Federal Voting Assistance Project, began as a service for military men and women overseas but now helps any American voter abroad. But then Donald Trump controls the federal government, of which FVAP is a part and that should give voters pause to consider the possibilities of manipulation. Click here to go to FVAP if that is your choice.

The second oldest, the Overseas Vote Foundation, is strictly nonpartisan, beyond the reach of the vote suppressors and also won’t share your information with any party organization. Click here to use the OVF service if that is your choice.

The other online voting service for Americans living overseas, Vote From Abroad, was founded by Democrats Abroad, the overseas branch of the Democratic Party, but will help anybody to register and vote regardless of partisan affiliation or lack thereof. To use the Vote From Abroad online service, click here.

Order your ballot and register sooner rather than later.


Bear in mind…

I want to believe in a personal god who looks after me and my loved ones and knows every sparrow that falls. But the suffering of one single child, or more likely, millions is evidence against that belief. The one question I want to ask god: how do you explain or justify the suffering of a child?
Melina Mercouri


You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.
Yitzhak Rabin


In the past, we spoke of poverty, misery only in the south. Now there is a lot of misery, a lot of bad that creates victims in the north as well. This has become manifest: the global system was not made to serve the good of all, but to serve multinational companies.
Ahmed Ben Bella


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