Editorials: Impunity; and Madame Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ricardo Martinelli on the left, Juan Carlos Varela on the right, with then US ambassador Phyllis Powers on July 4, 2011 shortly before the big falling out between Martinelli and Varela but well after the embassy knew about serious crimes that had been committed by their administration. US Embassy Photo.

Impunity’s the issue, not just here

Uncle Sam is now offering people a cut of what it can recover from Odebrecht bribery. Panama’s Electoral Tribunal purports to let one of the big offenders, Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, off of the hook – even thought his two sons, now jailed in the USA, have admitted to the scam.

It’s bad policy, which can lead to tragic results, for Panama to rely on the United States to solve Panama’s problems. That should be one of the main lessons of the 1989 invasion, even if it’s a subject that Panama’s political parties and major media generally won’t discuss.

So is Panama going to say that there is nothing to be done, that nothing happened, that we’re going to get Ricky Martinelli again in 2024 and anyone who talks about all the bribery, graft, theft and human rights violations of the last time he had the presidency will be in trouble with the law? What would likely happen is a set of ruinous international sanctions, like the ones against Ukraine and Venezuela now, and like the pre-invasion US pressures of the late 1980s.

The last thing that Panamanians should do is to wait for that to happen and the second-worst thing would be to pick another known set of crooks. The situation is messy, but we are not helpless. Impunity is not and should not be presumed to by Panama’s fate.

The next move is up to Panama’s Supreme Court. It won’t be the last recourse if they don’t act. However, the nation would be wise to keep the ultimate recourse against impunity Panamanian. We are being mocked, and we need to deal with that.

Judge Jackson, official court portrait.

GOP senators lost not only on the nomination

For many years at local and state levels, the right wing of the Republican Party has opposed any and all efforts to reduce school bullying. Let’s understand the main reason: they are for gay kids especially, and for kids from racial or class backgrounds in general, being driven from the schools. That bullying for homosexuality is a major cause of teenage suicide is all the better from their perspective.

With Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s sensationalist propaganda embedded into US media and Donald Trump’s celebration of bullying to audiences like those that cheered when Christians were fed to lions in ancient Rome, that sort of stuff is no longer a local aberration. Misrepresentation, bully tactics and general cruelty are now major features of US political discourse, on national and international stages.

Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator from Illinois, lamented what his GOP colleague did at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson:

They repeatedly interrupted and badgered Judge Jackson and accused her of vile things in front of her parents, her husband and her children. There was table-pounding – some literal – from a few of my colleagues. They repeated discredited claims about Judge Jackson’s character.

The Republicans lambasted Jackson for her failure to commit to a past in which only property-owning white males could vote. “She seemed to imply, like Justice Elena Kagan, that originalism is just one of the tools judges use — not a genuine constraint on judicial power,” Nebraska senator Ben Sasse complained.

Republicans played “gotcha” when Jackson declined to answer when Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn asked her to define what a “woman” is. That question is likely to come before the high court soon, given the waves of GOP-sponsored anti-transgender laws and policies generated ahead of this year’s midterm elections. A RESPONSIBLE judge or potential judge will want to see the arguments and proofs before passing judgment on something like that.

Using fraudulently edited sentencing guidelines, Texas senator Ted Cruz falsely accused Judge Jackson of being more lenient in child pornography cases than the law provides.

South Caronlina senator Lindsey Graham complained that Joe Biden had nominated Jackson instead of a judge that he would have nominated – as if a senator has the powers of the president of the United States.

The GOP operatives on Twitter were far worse:


The intra-Republican tweet-slinging about Judge Jackson was even worse than that:


Judge Jackson will take her place on the high court, where for the time being she will be outvoted by Republican ideologues on many issues. Just one lost ballgame to count in the standings?

Actually, the result of what the Republicans did on the Senate Judiciary Committee amounts to a self-inflicted injury that will hurt their party all through this election season.



To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.

Elvis Presley


Bear in mind…


You have to have confidence in your vision or else no one else will trust in it.

Mary Katrantzou



People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.

Harper Lee



Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time.

Haruki Murakami




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