Editorials: #VoteNo on the legislators; and A new man impresses the world

Pride parade past
They have a point, but they probably exaggerate the hatreds in our religious communities. Most Christians, Jews and Muslims here are more about love and concern than about hatred and prejudice. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Is the legislature about to bet that voters
hate queers and love corrupt politicians?

Notwithstanding the money spent on PRD publicity and consulting firms, few people with any political sense have been participating in the ongoing constitutional amendment hearings. There is no proposal to adequately deal with the current state of sneering public corruption and the National Assembly is not about to do anything so damaging to its leading members’ existence as to allow such a thing to come before the voters. To the contrary, the deputies are going to try to enhance their positions.

What public suggestions are getting attention? The foreign-inspired religious right wants to strip the Panamanian courts and elected public officials of any authority to rule against their agenda with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, abortion and sex education in the schools. There is talk about guaranteeing percentages of the national budget for education and other worthy causes.

The latter notion is aimed at a public left ignorant from more than a generation without civics education worthy of the name in the schools. Constitutional spending mandates would presume to make decisions in boom times and during recessions, when Panama has baby booms and when it has aging populations, when the national demographics and economy are reconfigured in ways that we can’t accurately predict long into the future. That stuff doesn’t belong in a constitution.

The religious zealots’ stuff? (Or more accurately, the politicians’ offerings of feigned piety?) Yeah, they want a constitutional referendum that’s about beating up queers.

But far more likely, it’s going to be a referendum on the National Assembly. If President Cortizo doesn’t distance himself, it might also be a referendum on a PRD that only got one-third of the vote this past May. #VoteNo – no on the politicians, especially when they insult everyone’s intelligence. That’s the winning ticket.


Ukrainian president
Former entertainer, now Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s first major appearance on the world stage was in an intercepted phone call during which he stood up to Donald Trump’s bullying. Ukrainian government photo.

The extraordinary Volodymyr Zelensky

Yes, Donald Trump is in trouble for seeking foreign interference in US elections again. Before, it was notoriously pleading with Russia to release material hacked from Democrats’ computers that was damaging to his opponent Hillary Clinton. Putin gave him what he wanted.

Too many Democrats counted on constituents being naive about today’s world political realities in how they characterized Trump’s relationships with the Russians. Both Democrats and Republicans, with a few brave exceptions, tend to be afraid of opening Pandora’s boxes of the machinations of Middle Eastern powers to influence US policies.

Now we learn that Trump tried to bully the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into mixing up a batch of mud for Republicans to sling at Joe Biden, by way of allegations against the former vice president’s son. It was disloyal, unconstitutional and criminal for Trump to do this but he feels so secure in his impunity that he doesn’t deny it.

Let’s also be astute about the state of the Democratic Party these days to know the extent of the blunder. Joe Biden may be leading in most of the polls but he’s on a slow and steady downward slide that already, were the convention held tomorrow, would result in him losing the nomination to either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. The Democrats’ increasing progressive majority is not going to let a representative of the policies of the past make a run up the middle and take the nomination with a third or less of party members supporting that. Bernie and Elizabeth would make a deal to thwart Joe. So in Trump’s browbeating of Zelensky we are dealing with a truly stupid crime, one that ought to get him a nomination for the Darwin Award.

Don’t forget that, but most of us already know what Trump is. Instead pay more attention to what we have learned about his counterpart in Kiev.

What was the calculation that America sponsored an anti-Russian coup back in 2013? It lef to warfare and dismemberment for the nearly half ethnic Russian at the time Ukraine. But was the intention behind the coup an inevitable Ukrainian status as a vassal of the West?

First of all, Trump and a multinational alt-right have been going way out of their way to trash the West. If the president of Ukraine has to look west for allies, it’s not one bloc anymore. He might do better to look to France and Germany than to the USA.

More importantly, Volodymyr Zelensky is not the sort of unprincipled weakling to cave to Trump’s demands. He said that so far as he is informed, the younger Biden had not committed a crime in Ukraine. He declined to violate judicial independence to gin up a charge. The president of the United States repeated his demand eight times, and Zelensky said no.

Mr. Zelensky bears watching. It seems that Ukrainians have not hired some entertainer from Central Casting. He may have made a living as a comedian, but a remarkable young man may have just stepped onto the world stage.



                              Step lightly; do not jar the inner harmonies.

Satchel Paige                                  


Bear in mind…

All judgment is relative. It may be right today and wrong tomorrow. The only thing that makes it truly right is the desire to have it constantly surprises, disappoints, and amazes me. I don’t have any problem at all, however, with reconciling religion and science, which seems to me to be the most amazing manifestation of an actual plan and intelligence in the universe (the only one, actually, because people certainly don’t give any indication of it.)

Connie Willis

If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.

Margaret Atwood

If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.



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