Editorials: Patriotic pride and disgust; and The USA’s choice

Two of Panama’s elite Lince motorcycle police – two to a motorcycle rapid-response to violent crimes units – tumble on broken-up pavement during the Penonome parade. The National Police had nothing to say about whether or how badly they were injured on the poorly maintained major traffic artery. Photo from a parade watcher’s video that was widely circulated on Twitter.

Pride and disgust over the holiday weekend

Panama is a small country with many problems – like our neighbors in the region – but we have in many ways done quite well for ourselves. As a country we make our living by our wits and our work – both of which could be improved by a better educated work force and more equitable economic conditions. Still, November is a time for Panamanians to reflect with pride. The large crowds that turned out for the parades, and the many who marched, weren’t there by compulsion, nor was it all put on by people who don’t really believe it. The crowds who participate in the November patriotic festivities are not politicians’ rental multitudes. They express a genuine side of what it is to be Panamanian.

However, true love of country has a flip side. If there is patriotic pride, there also needs to be a sense of patriotic disgust to adjust to our reality and move us to a better condition. The long weekend brought us two mass shootings, in Chilibre on Independence Day and at the Xtreme Plaza on November 6. There were other individual shootings scattered around the country in those days.

Is it that we have a new generation of colonized minds, eager to copy the worst things about the USA and call it progress toward being “First World?”

Patriotism isn’t just counting our blessings. It’s also confronting our curses.

Gang violence is one of the spectacularly horrible curses, but public works maintenance on the political patronage system – which also exacts a toll of deaths and injuries in traffic accidents – is one of the others. So are the vast economic and social inequalities in this society, which manifest themselves in many ways.

Forward with the shovel and pick
To work without any more delay

That’s the patriotic spirit described in our national anthem, but in the 21st century the tasks and tools required are more varied. Let’s distinguish right from wrong, judge what’s bad and what’s good, and most importantly get to work building a better Panama.


The Republican mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 explicitly threatened the lives of Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders. When, as tomorrow’s election approached, a delusional fan of Trump propaganda attacked the Pelosi home and smashed the Speaker of the House’s husband upside the head with a hammer, Republicans joked about it and concocted defamatory lies about Paul Pelosi as he lay in a hospital bed with a fractured skull. Most of us know where today’s GOP is at. Photo by J Messerly — Wikimedia Commons.

The main choice is about violence and inflammatory lies

Yes, there are other compelling issues before the US electorate. Will a woman who has an abortion, or even uses birth control, be treated as a criminal? Will there be Social Security, Medicare or Obamacare? Or any national defense against epidemics?

America and the world are going through tough times. What the politicians do or don’t do matters, but only at the edges. A species of viruses without brains, and a Russian president’s decision to invade Ukraine, are the main causes of the bad economy. Not something that Joe Biden did, or that Nito Cortizo did.

Mr. Trump’s party has opposed all measures to address the current problems. They don’t have any alternative plan of their own. They want to exploit the world’s difficulties, not ameliorate them.

Instead they send armed vigilantes to intimidate people from voting, and spin out multiple weird conspiracy theories per day.

Democrats are not this nefarious conspiracy, but a coalition of people and factions that don’t always have the same ideas of what to do. These days, pluralist democracy means the Democrats in control of government, debating and compromising the issues that mean things to people while a Republican minority votes no. It’s GOP obstruction and destruction – often enough taken to violent extremes – or Americans under Democratic leadership finding ways to get along and move ahead.

It’s likely to be close. Vote, and encourage others to vote.


Billy Martin gets thrown out of the game on May 30, 1988. MLB video.

     I don’t throw the first punch. I throw the second four.

Billy Martin


Bear in mind…


     Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.

Elizabeth David     


     If women understood and exercised their power they      could remake the world.

Emily Taft Douglas     


     Most men are within a finger’s breadth of being mad.

Diogenes the Cynic     



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