Editorials: Nito’s priorities; and Trump’s troll legion and the left

“Influencer” Delany Precilla. Does some 17% of the entire Panamanian population follow her day-to-day antics? Most probably, just a tiny fraction of that — and a lot of bots – tune into her. Graphic from her social media.

Where the priorities lie

Two “influencers,” an item from the Panamanian imitation of gringo “reality TV,” Paul McDonald and Delany Precilla, have been on the government payroll for a combined income of between $9,000 and $10,000 a month. So how has this “influence” been deployed to advance public policy goals? Search and you will not find. Just like you have a hard time finding any public evidence of what another “influencer” who was on the legislature’s payroll, sausage heiress Ursula Kiener Ford, did to promote any governmental purpose.

Meanwhile, more than one-third of our public school students are not attending the online classes that are being offered. Their unemployed parents lack the money to pay the monopolistic foreign-owned private telecommunications companies for data cards. Or there are more kids than cell phones or computers in their families. Or the telecom companies all along neglected their contractual obligation to provide full national coverage and this administration is not about to hold them to it.

Business groups that have the president’s ear lobbied for precisely that state of public education. They’ve also lobbied for austerity policies, lower wages and stern police repression of protests. The first two demands they have won, but we shall see how much. Health care professionals going months without pay and a Chepo water system that working at 40% with the response being water rationing instead of prompt repairs are two examples of austerity in the news lately. Employment and wages have been cut, although a challenge to that derogation of the Labor Code is now before the courts.

The cops have yet to start shooting protesters. Given the privations and dangerous jobs without proper protective gear that they have had to bear along with many of the health care workers, it may not be wise to ask them to do so.

The business executives and the tourism authority are demanding a reopening of the economy that abandons health measures. Even if they get those things economic conditions will start out depressed. Then they would worsen along with the epidemic.

Things are broken. The government, business, labor and everyone else needs to understand that. Even those who don’t believe in government but do believe in their own survival have to act in conjunction with the health decrees as a practical matter.

Panama can get past the harsh realities of the moment without a big social explosion. However, that doesn’t seem to be a priority. Things will get worse again before they get better if the president doesn’t wise up right away.


So why are social media groups like this one flooded with ‘Bernie or Bust,’ ‘Vote Green’ and ‘Don’t Vote’ messages?

The group.
The message.
The group members’ reactions to that message.

So what’s it all about, really?

Those social media groups on the left side of Democratic politics that put up with it, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Progressives — NOT a group that she controls — have in recent days been bombarded by messages that on the face of it urge votes for the Green Party that’s irrelevant on the national level, or urging write-in votes for Bernie Sanders notwithstanding his endorsement of Biden, or telling people not to vote. Many a ‘Vote for the Democrats’ discussion thread has been monopolized by personas making arguments like these for de facto abstention from this November’s presidential voting.

But look closer. In a few local races around the country, Green candidates have a chance to win. NONE of the avalanche of messages in the left groups talk about them. Nor anything in particular for which Greens stand.

Then look even closer. The personas posting such messages don’t generally show any activity more than a few months or a year old. They don’t generally feature photos of a real person who fits the professed persona. They hardly even give any information by which they can be identified.

Then look at tactics. The personas who post such stuff often work in tag teams.

Unless there have been some stupendous advances in artificial intelligence, these are not bots. They are trolls, pseudonymous or anonymous fake characters. They are deployed by or for the benefit of the Trump campaign. The nature of the trolls is a bit better hidden than were the personas that the Kremlin fielded in 2016. They still don’t withstand close inspection.

The Bernie voters are not dissolving their organizations or abandoning their principles, but almost all of them are planning to vote for Biden. Perhaps the Trump trolls will have a little better luck pushing the ‘Vote for Kanye West’ scam among younger African-American voters.

Why does the DNC remain silent in the face of this stuff? Some of it is about corporate operatives who prefer intra-Democratic faction fighting to fighting Donald Trump. Some of it is the influence of entrenched social circles who can’t and never could organize their way out of a paper bag. The failure to identify and confront such sleaze was a major failure of the 2016 campaign. By contrast, the Obama campaigns had special response teams for online low blows.

And what if it IS the Russians again? It may or may not be, and in any case the last time it wasn’t only them. If it’s them it would be a fact to bear in mind for future dealings. However, like a human body’s immune system in an asthma attack, overreaction could be more harmful than the provocation.

Some technically sophisticated opposition research ought to be deployed to find out, though. It gets to be far more than a matter of defending a candidate. The United States of America needs to be intelligently and appropriately defended against such attacks.


Kenosha, Wisconsin this past Sunday. The neighbor’s video from which this was taken got worse.

This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force. Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.

Joe Biden

Bear in mind…

It is not healthy when a nation lives within a nation, as colored Americans are living inside America. A nation cannot live confident of its tomorrow if its refugees are among its own citizens.

Pearl S. Buck

Dreams you have to fight for, so that they become less dreams and more reality.

Pepe Mujica

The climax of terror is reached when the police state begins to devour its own children, when yesterday’s executioner becomes today’s victim.

Hannah Arendt


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