Editorials: The Insufferable; and Reckonings

So, he broke with mask and social distancing rules to make a video with “influencers.” While he’s too sick to stand trial for his crimes.

It’s not just the PRD

Flaunting the exceptional privileges of being in with the in crowd. Nothing has destabilized Panama in these times of epidemic and economic misery more than that. The not especially political rich and famous have been noteworthy offenders, but worst of all have been the political caste,

If time and again high-profile PRD members have flaunted sneering privilege and tried to make it a crime for journalists to expose it, now we have the one-man crime wave, Ricardo Martinelli, getting in on the action.

But isn’t he out on bail, with criminal proceedings against him based on a doctor’s note that he’s too sick to stand trial? We need to add a fraud upon the court to the bill of particulars, and start to hold all the accomplices acountable as well. Even if those well-heeled scum call those who object to their conduct “haters” and “jealous.”

These people are inciting Panama toward a revolutionary situation. Let’s hope that when it has run its course a lot of the high and mighty will emerge with negative personal influence and everyone in Panama will have a better sense of humanity and equal justice under the law.


Rome falls to the Vandals. The Eastern Roman Empire, also in decline, hung on for a few more centuries until it fell to Muslim forces. At its height Rome had an army that could defeat any other, but got too expensive to pay. It had a Stoic philosophy of accepting the presence as unchanging nature, but climate shifts cause crop failures and new diseases ravaged its pestilential cities. Its politics were increasingly corrupt but as slaves were more than a third of the population those games became ever less relevant to those who created the luxuries of the rich. When empires collapse it’s not a pretty sight. But countries that were empires sometimes step back, readjust, and go on as prosperous and secure countries. Painting by Thomas Cole.

Reckonings in places high and low

The world is not coming to an end. However, for some 200,000 people in the United States and more than 2, 250 people in Panama, life has ended. This epidemic is also far from over.

To the “End Times” religious fanatics and other categories of delusional people it may not matter. Or maybe it does, to the extent that they want to drag everyone else down on a calculation that in the end their money or their faith wins them whatever game they style life to be.

Set aside those divorced from reality. The rest of us need to navigate our way through the wreckage, pick up the useful pieces and rebuild. There is no going back to the way things were. Especially not while this epidemic still rages, but not even afterward.

Along with the bitter economic struggles we will get into times of grand disillusionment, new ways of thinking and great enlightenments. Some of the latter are or will be mere hallucinogenic flashes.

How to take stock? How to chart good courses from here? The first thing to do is to recall how people have acted, and what they have said, during this prolonged ordeal.

Those who told us of grand conspiracies, of hoaxes, of “Plandemics,” of how it wasn’t so bad because it mainly struck areas where the detested “they” live, who cast it with racist spins, who ridiculed the sensible if annoying health protecyions – none of that should be forgotten and none of them should be allowed to influence us. Those who have said or done these things from public offices need to be driven from them at first opportunity.

Most notably, Donald Trump has had his show and now it’s time for him to go. In Panama and elsewhere there are many others who ought to be expelled from public life. In the tiny universes of expatriate and ethnic societies, there are now those whom we know should never be allowed to speak for us.

We need to make these distinctions and choices not to get back to things as they were, but to move forward to better times.


Portrait by Allen Warren.

The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

James Baldwin


Bear in mind…


A nation is a society united by delusions about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors.

William Ralph Inge


It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.

Sally Kempton


Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

Virginia Woolf


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