Editorials: What God’s and secular laws forbid; and Cleaning up


What’s forbidden and what ought to be

Pork is forbidden for observant Jews and Muslims.

During this month of Ramadan eating, drinking and smoking during the day are forbidden for Muslims.

Wars rage on in many places, permitted under certain circumstances by most major faiths. Demagogues, racists and bigots like to contrive arguments about the circumstances.

Wars that that turn noncombatant civilians, especially but not only children, into military targets? Those are forbidden by international law and most of its variants – by the precedents of Nuremberg, by the Muslim Sharia, by the wisest passages of the Jewish Old Testament and the Christian New Testament.

The world has not found effective and systematic ways to enforce any of these bans, and extreme measures can be worse than the misconduct. But humanity gropes its way through the smoke, stumbling over the rubble, looking for a way. And every now and then an egregious offender loses a war and is subjected to harsh justice.

Let’s understand about the offenders but not excuse the offenses. It doesn’t always work that way, but let there be a reckoning for the ongoing rampage.

Broce's campaign
Independent Panama City mayoral candidate Edison Broce and his crew are picking up on a tactic this campaign season. People running against the PRD mayor and his allied representantes are cleaning up and fixing eyesores and hazards that the incumbents have neglected. The most obnoxious – but desired by the opposition – power structure responses are of the “You can’t do that because it’s OUR turf” flavor. / Photo from Edison Broce’s Twitter / X feed.

Panamanians don’t trust the main institutions here

Polls sell newspapers, especially in a society where the dominant elites are inordinately concerned about all sorts of “rankings.” And might we start by ranking polling firms?

La Prensa is using a polling firm that exists in several countries but really wasn’t a factor the last time that Panama went to the polls, nearly five years ago. There’s a straightforward math about what’s a random sampling and how many people to question. Knowing which questions to ask, figuring out who is really likely to vote, weighting samples that don’t precisely match demographics, identifying “hot buttons” – these are important arts and sciences that also go into good polling. It’s not rocket science but pollsters have been wrong about Panama before.

La Prensa leads it March 18 edition with a poll about public confidence in seven major public institutions. Duh, now – the great majority have little or no trust in these parts of the government. They asked about the courts and the legislature – but not the presidency or local governments. They found that people trust the police more than the prosecutors or the courts, but that just over one-quarter of Panamanians trust the police. They asked about state institutions but not religious ones. The asked in late February and early March, before some events that may turn out to have been game-changers.

Widespread disbelief? Here come the snake oil vendors. Those who sell a concoction of the rendered fat of an Asian water snake with certain herbs mixed in, as something to rug on your aching muscles? Honest businesspeople, on the whole. Those who sell it as a cure for all that ails ye? Political campaign managers for our times.

We face momentous decisions with a lot of information of widely varying quality at our disposal. Common sense, decent values and multiple sources of information become indispensable for you, and for the nation. Pay attention to, but do not give too much weight to, what other people say that other people think. Do your own homework and make your own decisions.

If your Panagringo dual citizen editor gives such advice to Panamanian voters, on his US citizen side he also says that to American voters. In both Panama and the USA, the choices are too stark and the issues are too important for anybody to play the fool. VOTE.

OWH -- but NOT Old Weird Harold

The greatest act of faith is when a man understands he is not God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Bear in mind…

It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.

Queen Elizabeth II

The Palestinian people are united in their determination to achieve our rightful place among nations.

Yasser Arafat

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

Margaret Atwood


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