Editorials: #PresidentSanders, and No sport

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President Sanders for the USA
Panama will gain by that too

Donald Trump is the one who invites foreign powers to interfere in his country’s politics. Not us. The USA should run its own affairs without Russian, Ukrainian or other external interference, and Panama should likewise keep its political decisions Panamanian.

By law, only US citizens can vote and only citizens and green card holders can participate in campaigns. The Panama News urges dual US and Panamanian citizens to register and exercise their voting rights as Americans, and other Panamanians without that tie to the USA to watch what’s going on up north with the interest of those who are bound to be affected.

The United States is at a critical fork in a road that has taken the country over many years to a bad place.

Constant and ruinously expensive warfare has gotten to the point that a journalist is treated as some sort of traitor to point out just where US forces are at war. No thought is given to what victory looks like, to when would be the time to bring the troops home and do our best to help them readjust to civilian life. The troops at the Pentatgon’s disposal can surely kick most other armies’ asses. But after more than 18 years, US forces have not defeated Afghanistan’s Taliban. “Mission accomplished,” W reassured Americans years ago, and this past weekend the US embassy complex in Baghdad was hit by rocket fire. The more likely catastrophic end is not that America provokes a Battle of Armageddon and loses, but that US forces will be camped out in that general area and Uncle Sam won’t be able to pay them.

Forty years of Reaganomics have brought stagnation to most and ruin to many, here and there. First imposed across the USA and then around the world, it has meant that by 2018, just 26 individuals owned as much as the poorest half of humanity – 3.8 billion people. And everywhere the rich are demanding more.

In that scramble at the top for wealth, US industries have been exported. Critical infrastructures, communities and schools have been allowed to crumble. Water supplies have become tainted by fracking for those last drops of oil and gas or by white conservatives going out of their way to show black majority cities like Flint just where they stand. When JP Morgan et al gambled away other people’s money on a fraudulent mortgage scheme, they got a bailout and no prison time but millions lost their homes and jobs.

Around the planet rising seas and growing deserts are driving people from their homes, and that’s causing social problems, wars and mass migrations. When a 17-year-old girl from Sweden pointed out the obvious cause and solution to the moguls at Davos, leave it to a Goldman Sachs guy on loan to the White House to hurl insults at her.

The slight was a bad imitation of Trump, the reality TV fraud artist, who insults and drives away almost everyone within reach of the power. His specialty is wanton abuse of the authority with which he should never have been entrusted. The vital question for the nation and the world is for how much longer.

So what does it all have to do with Democrats’ primary choices? First of all, it means that things are too far gone, too badly damaged, for any harking back to a supposed Golden Age. Let’s be serious, not ridiculous, about the predicament. History has its useful lessons but there is no return to the past. Screen for those who live in today’s world. The nostalgia candidates are unsuitable.

Then do a second screen. Trump has demonstrated the fallacy of the notion that anyone can step in and be as good a president as anyone else. Nobody who has never held public office should be considered for a presidential nomination. (And if we want to step out of the mainstream for a moment and look back to 2016, wasn’t Jill Stein’s naïve photo op with Putin yet another example of this?) Those who have not faced the ethical and practical challenges of public office should not be considered for president, even if a Democratic president might reasonably consider some of them for appointment to this or that important post.

Then filter out the chameleons. The little lizards are charming, as are versatile actors who can play any role. But candor, consistency and demonstrated values trump identities, real or cosmetic, in this election year. This year, look at the contents of the candidates’ characters.

Yes, any Democrat still running would still be an improvement over Donald Trump. But after three basic screens, two good choices remain – Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Either of these two could beat Donald Trump. Neither of them, nor any of the other candidates, would be sure to beat Trump. But Sanders has built a massive grassroots movement embracing people of many sorts but firmly rooted in the working class from which he comes. That with his legion of small donors he has raised a lot more money than his primary opponents who have gone to the billionaires for assistance underlines the power of the movement that Bernie leads.

With Bernie and Elizabeth we are talking about human beings, complete with talents and flaws. But it’s a race for chief executive of the US government, not sainthood. And of the two of them it’s Bernie who has the executive experience, as mayor of the small city of Burlington, Vermont.

Between the two of these good choices, what puts Sanders on top is the Old Testament prophet tendency in him. All along America’s road to decline and disaster, as a citizen activist then as mayor, then starting in 1990 as a US representative and later as a senator, Bernie has been warning us. Sometimes, casting the lone vote. Sometimes, going along to get some complex package passed but with words of caution. Many times, getting the necessary amendment passed to a piece of legislation that had a lacking element that his colleagues did not at first perceive. The opponents’ image spinners may color it grumpy, but it’s astute leadership, grounded in humble wisdom, that sets Bernie Sanders apart.

Whether it’s into a neofascist brave new world with the alt-right or a journey with the progressives into a brighter future, the USA is unavoidably navigating into new territory. Americans should want and demand a leader who has seen clearly where the country was going all along, and that’s Bernie Sanders.

America should have a leader, with however many years upon which to look back, who orients toward the future. To new industries that America never had and the world’s best educated work force to build and run them. To new energy sources, a modern power grid. To new ways of getting around. To new cities rising above the rubble of the old. To country living with new and better connections with the rest of the world. To making new friends at home and abroad, and new trade arrangements with old partners. To a renewed sense of decency in the ways that we relate with one another. Those are the things to which Bernie is headed.

That advice given to American primary voters of the Democratic persuasion, what does it all mean for Panamanians?

A Bernie Sanders administration would free Panama from some debilitating dogmas imposed from without. The “War on Drugs,” neoliberal economics, covert and overt missions through Panama to force other Latin American counties into compliance with Washington’s desires — these would be expenses and embarrassments that Panama could set aside. It would not be due to new orders from the White House, but because of a new era of consultation and friendship rather than demands.

 

That stuff

The smirking thugs walk

Herrera has an amazingly good junior baseball team in this years’ tournament, and Major League Baseball scouts are on the scene. But the fans and the public interest are scarce this year.

A guy who ripped off the baseball federation more or less runs the National Assembly. A former president of the legislature, kicked out by voters, walked away all smiles with other tarnished ex-colleagues after their lawyers got a judge to decide that the investigation of the funds diverted from PANDEPORTES and its various sports federation components is not all that complex and should be over. That outrageous ruling will be appealed, and perhaps reversed. Maybe we will even see a day of accountability for Benicio Robinson’s ultra-expensive baseball bats, the $100 grand for Zulay Rodríguez’s sports organization that never was, and all the other scams by which members of the political caste looted and impoverished our sports scenes.

It may be unfair to talented youngsters, but this publication, like many Panamanian fans, is studiously ignoring Benicio’s FEDEBEIS show. Corruption is not a sport.

 

Many a time freedom has been rolled back — and always for the same sorry reason: fear.

Molly Ivins

 

Bear in mind…

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.

Marie Curie

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk.

Henry David Thoreau

 

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