Editorial: Nito’s party; and Trump’s failed peace talks

A disgusting pair, Colon mayor Alex Lee and legislator Bolota Salazar. The president could deal with them traditionally, by reducing their access to funds.

Short of constitutional change…

The PRD deputies in the National Assembly are putting on an ad campaign starring themselves, with online ads promising everything from a better life to getting climate change under control with a set of constitutional amendments. That wordy document never had anything to do with those things. It was proposed by business lobbies to freeze the economic order that favors them into place and is now being modified by the legislators into more durable licenses for themselves to steal.

A fairly obvious structural change to Panama’s constitutional system would be to have more frequent elections. Perhaps the presidency should be a once in a lifetime six-year term, but to make legislators’ and local officials’ terms two or three years and stagger the elections such that every year or two years at the most people go to the polls would diminish the hubris of those like Colon’s mayor who figure that they have five years to do whatever they want. It would also cut through that desperate feature of our political culture that leads people to believe that their only recourse with an unresponsive government is to block the roads. But the only traffic about which the deputies are truly concerned is smooth running for their personal gravy train.

Their constitutional gravy train might still carry them into the unforeseeable future. They intend to spend a ton of money on slick advertising for the YES campaign only, hire a bunch of party activists whether or not their services are needed and whether or not they can do the specified job, just so long as the work on the referendum campaign and – it may still not pass. Loot the public coffers and call anyone who questions it an envious queer and you might be surprised how many people will take it out on you, your party and anything that your party proposes or supports.

If President Cortizo had any sense he would discipline party members who sneer at the public in such fashion. Maybe he will but it looks doubtful. If there is to be no constitutional salvation from a mayor giving himself a raise that makes him better paid than the president, under the present system the nation’s chief executive could just ask a rhetorical question: “You pulled that stuff and NOW you expect money from the national treasury out of me?”



The guy doesn’t know how to deal

When the end of a long, ruinous and stalemated war is being negotiated, the violence typically does not end before a deal is signed. Then, once the deal is made and the belligerent forces are each in their own countries, there is very often some violent retaliation within those countries.

En route to closing a deal, it’s fairly standard for one or both of the warring parties to launch offensives to gain bargaining advantage or just to emphasize a point. The usual thing in that case is for the other party to retaliate, maybe proportionately, maybe more than that, and then at a certain point the talks resume.

Compare and contrast what Donald Trump and the Taliban are doing.

Were there secret talks? They should have been kept that way, especially when knocked off track by a Taliban bombing. Instead Trump took that attack – an awful one but par for the course of an awful war — as an opportunity to break secrecy and announce an end to the peace process. Perhaps it was a gesture by a president who can’t and perhaps never intended to make peace to show people that he tried. His core supporters will eat it up but few others will be convinced.

The war in Afghanistan is a long-running atrocity that needs to end. The forces on the ground say that when the US and allied forces leave the Taliban will dominate the country, for better or worse.

A US government with any sense of honor and any hope of getting people in other places to work with it will take a lot of Afghans who worked with the Americans to the United States for them to avoid the postwar retaliation. Bigots, racists and xenophobes will hate it, but that’s what America should do. Looks like it will have to be a Democratic president who does it.


Bear in mind…


What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

Jane Goodall


Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.

Carl Sagan


Mothers are a biological necessity; fathers are a social invention.

Margaret Mead


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