Editorials: We mourn; and The Democrats’ primary season gets underway

The president’s late-arriving decree. The legislators were too concerned with other things.

We mourn

But do we pick and choose among the fallen to decide who was worthy, and if so, by which criterion? 

We remember. Nobody, not even the best historian, will have perfect recall. But do we license certain points of view, and prohibit others? Do we allow those who have vandalized our historical sites to tell us which narratives are legal and which are not?

For political reasons, or for purported politeness amidst certain sorts of company, do we throw out all sense of shame — whoever we are — or filter our recognition of infamy to let shameful things go without notice?

There was plenty of infamy to go around in the 21-year dictatorship, and in the long history that led up to it, and in its more than three decades of aftermath. Do we erase the bits about the close collaboration between the US forces and generals Torrijos and Noriega, and about how and why those relationships went sour? Do we swallow the Civilista narrative whole, when it gets neither into the horrors of US intervention nor the still unfolding disaster of post-invasion Panamanian government under the dictatorship’s constitution? Do we accept the triumphalist “Just Cause” narrative that’s liberally sprinkled with lies, and which for “national security reasons” to this day conceals the bodies of some of the people who were killed? Or do we erect a legend of the glorious lost cause, a version that neglects to condemn the crime of a strongman and commanding general who deserted his post under fire?

Let’s everyone, of every nationality and of every persuasion, be humble, honest and holistic. Panama needs to recognize the whole truth about what happened back then to improve our prospects for the future.



Yes, Dems were betrayed. But don’t put it all on one guy

Should Joe Biden feel betrayed? After being strung along by Joe Manchin for all these months, to hear the guy say that he’ll vote down Build Back Better? We might question how Biden handled the situation but it would be unreasonable to deny that Manchin betrayed him.

Congress goes home having passed an infrastructure bill that didn’t come close to meeting the needs, and in particular cut out the needs of the neediest, and without any version of Build Back Better? The trio of octogenarians who are the House Democratic leadership engineered that situation, notwithstanding the warnings of the young octet that is the growing progressive Squad, who predicted rather precisely? Schumer couldn’t get VOTING RIGHTS past the Senate, despite all those years of “clearing the primary field” to fashion a Democratic caucus that he supposedly could manage to deliver?

So what next?

There may be some votes in January, but meanwhile forces are gathering for a Democratic primary season. Key allies and operatives of the Pelosi-Hoyer-Clyburn leadership are leaving the House at the end of this term. The progressive side of the party hasn’t been giving much money to the official campaign committees or the Democratic National Committee, and Joe Manchin’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s defections on key issues will make it worse. There are now parallel, alternative campaign and funding organizations, with rival strategists, ad people, pollsters and so on. 

It’s no use for the old guard to invoke old customary rules. They shattered those themselves, in a 2020 Senate race when they supported a challenger who had nothing much more than a dynastic surname against incumbent Ed Markey — and the old guard lost.

As the primary season begins to shape up, the Justice Democrats have their slate of 10 challengers whom they hope to add to the Squad next year, the first big rumble scheduled for Texas, where Jessica Cisneros is into a rematch with blue dog Henry Cisneros, whom she nearly beat last time. MoveOn, Democracy for America and other group will have their own anti-establishment target lists.

Yes, Democrats have been betrayed. Yes, centrists who went out and lost all by themselves are blaming the progressives for the centrists’ own failures. It’s not just the party, nor the left side of the party, that has been let down. The American People have been let down.

There will need to be some intra-Democratic peace talks once the primaries are over. Perhaps before the right time for those conversations comes around, the Democratic House and Senate leaders will have announced their intentions to step aside from their offices within their respective chambers of Congress.

It’s primary season, and it will be a rough one.


Salvador Allende. Photo from Chile’s Biblioteca Nacional del Congreso.

Only an organized and conscious people can bring about a different kind of society.

Salvador Allende

Bear in mind…

What is done cannot be undone but one can prevent it happening again.

Anne Frank

The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you’re not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I’m not perfect. I’m just like you. They don’t ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense.

Ann Richards

Every person shines with her own light among all the others. No two flames are the same. There are big flames and little flames, and flames of all the colors.

Eduardo Galeano


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