Editorials: Nito’s report; and Trump’s unfolding downfall

Nito's report
“I would like to emphasize that these 200 public infrastructure works that I have just mentioned, which, I repeat, are not all of them, generate jobs, move the national and local economy, contributing directly to the country’s economic recovery.” President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen makes his report to the nation at the opening session of the 2023 legislative year. Photo by the Presidencia.

A detailed report, short on inspiration

President Cortizo addressed the National Assembly and the Panamanian people as scheduled, as the 2023 legislative session opened. Given all the cynicism and scurrilous personal attacks that are now the coin of the realm in discourse about public affairs, plus given that so many people are suffering and have been since even before the COVID virus hit us, he did well enough to spend nearly two hours explaining what he has been doing, what he has been trying to do and more or less where the money went. If he didn’t soothe, he well enough explained.

The presidential website didn’t promptly post his entire speech, as has been the practice in years past. Neither on video replay, nor the written text, let alone an English translation nor one in any of the indigenous or other minority languages. We got little video snippets and memes on Nito’s Twitter feed instead.

There were and are other sources, and perhaps the Presidencia will link to them, or post more definitive ones. Let’s not get into an argument among Panamanians about style.

On the other hand, what Cortizo did not do was inspire.

That he addressed a weary and divided nation, many of whose citizens are in surly moods, ought to be inspiring enough after his ordeals of the past year. It’s still not enough.

In difficult economic times when the nation really can’t afford it, can we get past the transactional politics of political patronage? Maybe Nito Cortizo can, but purchased support is a basic premise of his own party, and of all the other parties that have held the presidency since the invasion, as well as the long-standing minor parties angling for spots in a coalition that bring their members jobs and government contracts.

It’s a moral inspiration that Panama needs, maybe with overtones of a religious one. The president shows signs of probity by what he vetoes or disapproves. Yet in the moments that he reports, lectures or discusses he doesn’t rally the nation around any sorto moral revival, nor does he thunder indignation against the games that politicians – including those of his own party – are playing. Nor against the culture of juega vivo that has seeped into all levels of society. He does his job and explains what he did, but in a deeper sense neither Nito Cortizo nor anybody else is really leading the nation.



There will come a day when almost nobody will admit to having fallen for this weirdness. But the primitive hatreds and militant ignorance from whence it came will still be threads in the US social fabric. Wikimedia graphic by RootOfAllLight.

Now that the handwriting
is on the wall for Trump

The game is up, but the order of the end game is not yet set. Republicans who were groveling sycophants a short while ago are heading toward the exits.

Donald Trump might be charged in Georgia with urging that state’s top election official to falsify the 2020 presidential vote in that state. In New York all manner of state tax frauds and business frauds are under investigation, and his main company has been found guilty of tax fraud. Federal investigations in New York were paused but show signs of revival, pertaining to bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and other crimes. The illegal retention of public records, including some highly classified documents, is an open-and-shut case whenever the feds care to bring it, but there are some questions about serious aggravation – did he give or sell classified information to foreign potentates, or intend to do so? Then there is the matter of trying to corruptly overthrow the result of the 2020 election, with a couple of the major angles being the incitement, perhaps planning, of the Capitol riot; and the attempt to submit fraudulent sets of electors to Congress.

However, now that Mr. Trump’s tax returns are in public circulation, perhaps the Al Capone route is the way to go. He defrauded the tax collectors in a big way.

Perhaps, though, wire and mail fraud with respect to specific individuals rather than institutions that have been widely vilified for many years is the more politically astute case to bring. Or, as the man has been into so many frauds for so many years, it could easily be a federal racketeering case.

So will prosecutors and jurisdictions battle one another for who gets the first bite?

The best-developed, easiest to understand, most depraved case in a jurisdiction with minimal possibility of jury nullification probably ought to have priority. If justice is done the guy will be on trial for the rest of his life, already doing time on some charges and fighting yet others. As in, he will not the GOP nominee in 2024 nor in any other year.

Still, the wells of hatred, cruelty and snobbery that Trump tapped are still there and other Republicans are drawing on those wells. Just who and what Americans really are, deep down inside, is a matter to be fought out for years to come.



Zora Neale Hurston in 1938. Library of Congress
archive photo by Carl Van Vechten.

It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it.

Zora Neale Hurston

Bear in mind…

At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.

Frida Kahlo

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Endure, and keep yourselves for days of happiness.



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