Editorials: Time for the games to end; and Debate helps Biden and the Dems

Il Duce
All hail Il Duce, or something like that. Archive photo by the Presidencia.

At long last, can we have judgment based on the facts and the law?

“All the authorities, they just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant at arms into leaving his post”

Bob Dylan

It’s up to Judge Baloisa Marquínez now, but you never know when a prosecutor might take a dive, or what new delays might be interposed, or what appeals judges might be convinced to decide. Excuse The Panama News, and most of the Panamanian people, and the bulk of world opinion, for the skepticism.

In Panama there is no differentiation between procedural and substantive law, and if there is a clearly erroneous verdict it becomes a crime for a journalist to opine so. AND, in exchange for a bag of groceries, a large minority of Panamanians will accept a politician’s fictions as truths.

But the New Business trial begins tomorrow and the outcome should decide whether or not Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal has standing to run for president next year, and whether is political operation will have at its disposal the daily newspapers El Panama America, La Critica and Dia a Dia. This newspaper chain was allegedly bought with money kicked back from overpriced public construction contracts, then laundered through chains of companies ending with a factoring company called New Business. Martinelli and his 20 co-defendants are not in this matter directly charged with the bribery and graft, but with the laundering of the money used to buy Martinelli control of the newspapers.

The trial is scheduled to last 10 days and it will certainly start with a flurry of motions from some or all of the defendants attacking the procedure, the constitutionality of the law, or the application of the law in face of this or that claim of immunity. It would be something out of another legal system, but well justified, were the judge to summarily impose a contempt citation for any defendant or lawyer who argues that somebody’s illustrious family merits an acquittal.

Any defendant convicted could face a prison term of five to 12 years, and be disqualified from running for public office. One of the games to be played here is a strategy to delay any conviction against Martinelli from going into effect until after the December deadline when the Electoral Tribunal will certify who is and who isn’t on the May 2024 ballot.

Time for the games to end, in such a fashion that they won’t be tried again.


Marianne Williamson has important things to say, even if she has never held public office and is unlikely to be nominated for the presidency. With Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the things HE has to say would give Democrats an important opportunity to reject much of that stuff, to point out that his anti-scientific anti-vaxxer screeds got people killed. The best wisdom is to go with Joe so long as he is able to continue, but to hear all the Democrats who want to be president.

Things are on a knife’s edge, but…

More than 18 months before the next US general elections is an eternity in politics. The politician whom we most admire, or the one we most fear and loathe, may be dead by then. Events now unexpected may force themselves onto center state in the national public discourse.

Still, the trends are more or less set for 2024, and to think about it, the United States has been there before.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to keep a Democratic coalition with huge internal contradictions together. He probably would not have succeeded without his wife Eleanor’s advice. He insisted that the southern segregationists be kept in the Democratic column, but Eleanor insisted that there be no racial discrimination in the WPA and other New Deal programs. During one strike wave Franklin expressed his annoyance by declaring “a plague on both of their houses!” but Eleanor, a member of the The Newspaper Guild and close friend of the National Women’s Trade Union League and its leader Rose Schneiderman, was counted as one of labor’s friends since years before her husband was elected president.

Other than the New Deal Democrats embracing and enacting Socialist leader Norman Thomas’s Social Security as a pillar of the American economy, and supporting bipartisan legislation to make it possible for workers to organize unions, what was it that brought the firebrand labor militants into the coalition? The revulsion within the Communist Party USA at Stalin’s purges and then the Hitler-Stalin Pact broke most of its members away and left them in a search for political relevance. The eternal outsider reality of third party politics in the USA might have been tolerable to many Socialists, but at the time the specter of a truly awful far right had emerged on a world scale with the Axis of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo but also within the United States with stormtroopers like the Silver Shirts, bigoted radio demagogues like Father Coughlin and Nazi sympathizers among such captains of American industry as Henry Ford making such politics a threat within the USA as well. So the militants went into the Democratic Party, propelling Roosevelt to unprecedented third and fourth terms as president and went all out for the war effort against the fascist Axis.

History never exactly repeats, but with US Republicans going farther to the right than all previous fringes and tyrants who don’t particularly like the United States consolidating their holds on power in many countries, threats we have known again raise their heads. The GOP has not only staked out a position on the right but it and its following are getting more extreme by the minute.

Democrats need to reach out to include, to gather the forces to stop those who would make book burning a part of US culture. It’s a matter of domestic importance to thwart the foreign sympathizers of the American censorship crowd. Without buying into the neoconservative Cold War II mindset, it’s still important to keep the likes of Vladimir Putin from invading and conquering neighboring countries while meddling in US elections.

It’s time for Democrats to assemble a grand coalition, not to shrink into exclusionary little “in crowd” social circles.


Gestapo cage match against Baron Von Raschke.

A lot of people get in the ring with me – and they get hurt!

Dick The Bruiser

Bear in mind…


I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then – I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn’t luckily have to bother about that.

Agatha Christie


I am not attacking Lombana. On the contrary, I am trying to alert him by pointing out what many in Panama think but do not express out loud: if the independents do not unite they will not have a real option to win in 2024.

Rubén Blades


On a lazy Saturday morning when you’re lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, there is a space where fantasy and reality become one. Are you awake, or are you dreaming? You see people and things; some are familiar; some are strange. You talk, you feel, but you move without walking; you fly without wings. Your mind and your body exist, but on separate planes. Time stands still. For me, this is the feeling I have when ideas come.

Lynn Johnston


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