Editorials: The legislature’s nonstarter; and Fox is just beginning to pay

The PRD legislator from San Miguelito gets right to the point. But “his” people are a small circle. Graphic from his Facebook page.

Uh huh

The National Assembly has its “final draft” of a civil forfeiture law, we are told by legislative committee chair Leandro Ávila. Fortunes derived from drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, sexual exploitation, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion, and contract killings could be confiscated. NOT fortunes derived from bribery, graft, nor theft by public officials of public assets.

The American Embassy has been pushing hard for Panamanian legislation to expand the civil asset forfeiture that has for years been on the books here for the proceeds of drug trafficking. They have good arguments, one of which is NOT that Panama should copy all the abuses of forfeiture laws that happen under US law in the United States.

Panama should have Panamanian legislation on this matter to protect the interests of Panama and Panamanians, above all to curb the power of hereditary criminal aristocracies.

Make it a cornerstone of how we fund our public services and we become just another backwoods US jurisdiction with an abusive sheriff. Make it a matter of exceptional discretion and we get disreputable characters like former acting attorney general Guiseppe Bonnissi tooling around in a confiscated Maserati and armed goons at the Public Ministry threatening folks like The Panama News editor who would take a picture of it in his reserved parking spot. Exempt the proceeds of public corruption and we get the worst of our political caste mocking everyone else in this country.

How do we get through this obstacle course? By in a little more than one year’s time having one of those occasional bloodbath elections in which nearly all incumbent legislators are defeated. Then start again.

Mu.rdoch media boycott
At a New York City protest where Black Lives Matter called for a boycott of Murdoch family media. Wikimedia photo by All-Nite-Images.

“The Steal” has gone the way of “The New Economy”

Will Fox News survive the humiliation? Probably.

However, let’s look at another Murdoch family property, the British tabloid The Sun, after dozens were crushed to death in a stadium entrance tunnel when the management mishandled entry to a soccer game. The Sun invented lurid stories about savage Liverpool fans and pointed its finger at them. These lies were exposed, quickly and repeatedly. The reason for them has never been truthfully given, but was it building newspaper sales? That newspaper lost nearly 80% of its sales in the Liverpool / Merseyside area and much of its sales and advertising revenue. Nearly two decades later the newspaper’s editor admitted that its reports on the soccer stadium disaster were untrue, but then cast blame on a single source, a right-wing politician who was not even there.

Was the damage limited to the Liverpool area? Did it soon blow over? Hardly. It became the subject of a popular anthem. British politicians from all regions still refuse to talk to The Sun, and it’s a still a problem for Labour members of parliament who don’t go along with the newspaper’s shunning.

The company and its acolytes will say that The Sun is there but in the US here and now there is nothing to see, so move along. But despite the lack of a spectacular trial, a certain cultural moment has arrived and there will be no return. If Donald Trump isn’t a convicted felon who is ineligible to run for public office in a number of states by this time next year, his political career is mortally wounded even if he gets the GOP nomination for a third presidential run and Fox News is a major part of that story. The far right has people like Florida’s governor to step into Trump’s shoes but their politics of primitive hatreds and their prohibitions on telling many important truths by banning books and academic discussions do not play well across the USA.

Fox is going the way of Jimmy Swaggart’s and Jim Bakker’s ministries. But what of the Republican Party that those now scorned fake prophets boosted?

Even if the bulk of the GOP is going full fascist and making foolish snake oil claims, Democrats could hand overwhelming political power to them and have done so in a number of states. Just like Democratic Party disorders handed the White House to Trump in 2016. Ruthless power plays, cynical dishonesty, ambitions that don’t pass smell tests, dependence on amoral lobbyists and donors – these don’t exist only on one side of the US political aisle. Fox will fade into irrelevance, but its fan base is still around, will find other media onto which they will fix its attention and may come into absolute power riding on Democrats’ mistakes.

Life goes on and empty spaces tend to get filled. Fox News will live on, but the Murdoch brand is forever infamous and will be an oft-cited horrible example of unethical journalism for generations to come.


           Angry people are not always wise.

Jane Austen                

Bear in mind…


When a character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.

Japanese proverb

It’s amazing how quickly nature consumes human places after we turn our backs on them. Life is a hungry thing.

Scott Westerfeld

None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.

Ferdinand Foch


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