'Satta' JLP, Obama, and Mark Shields
Egerton Chang, Guest Columnist
The recent Bill Johnson polls conducted for The Gleaner Company had headlines screaming 'JLP leads as PNP's problems mount', 'Jamaica's PM Portia Simpson Miller's popularity plummets', 'Jamaicans split on IMF deal', and 'Government flops: gets low ratings for job creation, crime fighting and road maintenance'.
And with 'Dump 'em! Bunting heads list of gov't ministers some J'cans want booted' and 'Shaw over Phillips: Opposition spokesman picked as better finance minister' being among the latest. The latter article by Gary Spaulding states:
"Phillips has consistently acknowledged that despite the successes, there are still some difficulties to surmount but suggested that life would have been considerably worse if the country could not pass the tests."
He has argued that prior to successfully negotiating the extended fund facility with the IMF, financing from external entities and investments was low.
Just in case the JLP is already licking its chops and getting ready to rearrange/change the furniture, my advice to them is: Careful what you ask for, you may get it. And know when to hold and when to fold. As far as I am concerned, the last election was a good one to lose.
The JLP, with its coalition (supporters), could not have carried out the heavy lifting that the IMF programme requires without a high degree of social unrest. That's a fact of life.
The PNP is better able to get away with making the people swallow the bitter medicine, and don't even mek up dem face. The JLP should just hol' its corner and 'satta' for a little longer if it knows what is good for it. Let the PNP continue to do the hard slog.
Then again, I am far from certain that the JLP could/would do a better job, especially if its last term is any yardstick to measure by.
Sure, things are not hunky-dory. But could the JLP have done better? Slightly better? Given the fact that the role of the IMF was to get us to live within our means, meaning reducing the average standard of living by at least 20 per cent (my guesstimate), there had to be great 'sufferation'. Regardless of what the politicians, including Bredda Andrew and Sista P, have been telling us.
The bad news is that a good portion of us are still living above our means. Check out the number of new SUVs on the roads and the number of upscale apartments/town houses being built (and presumably being sold).
The cost of a new two-bedroom apartment in a 'good' neighbourhood runs over $16 million. To service a 90 per cent mortgage, or $14.4-million, 30-year mortgage with monthly payment of $118,882.90 based on a JNBS 9.29 per cent per annum new-home purchase rate, requires an income of around $475,000 per month, or approximately $5.7 million per annum.
Probably I have been out of the loop too long to even have an inkling of what people are earning nowadays, but the income required still seems like a whole heap o' money.
One other thing. How can the PNP get good marks for road maintenance when the showpiece (Lady Musgrave) leading up to Vale Royal is in such a deplorable state?
Things are not all that 'nice' with Democrats in the USA either. While on simple anec-dotal evidence the Democrats would win every time if they were on the ballot in Jamaica, the news is not good in the USA. Even the most ardent supporter is giving them just a 4-in-10 chance of retaining control of the Senate.
Bear in mind that should the Republicans gain control of the Senate (while retaining control of the House), that raises the spectre of the 'I' word coming into play. I am talking about impeachment. Real honest-to-God impeachment. Not the play-play thing that they did to Bill Clinton. That impeachment did not go the full distance as the Democrats controlled the Senate at that time.
With the Republicans controlling both Houses, impeachment would be a real possibility. And unno know seh dem no like Barack from eva since. Mark you, they would need a two-thirds majority to convict, but, nevertheless, the spectacle of a black man being dragged over the coals would be relished by a lot of Americans.
And, equally important, the Republican Senate would challenge/defeat any Obama Supreme Court nominee.
As of Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight gave the Democrats only a 34 per cent chance of holding on to the Senate, while the normally more favourable Sam Yang of Princeton Election Consortium actually gives them a 45 per cent chance (+/- 15%) of retaining control. For those who need to look at the bright side, Sam Yang writes:
"The calculations all point in the same direction, a very gentle lean toward Republican control. However, everyone's using the same polls, so a polling error would make us all wrong. Ponder that!
"I'll say it again - 60 per cent is not that certain. If you flipped a coin weighted like that in favour of heads, four out of 10 times it would still come up tails. The show's not over."
Mark Shields and Justice
Following the release of all the defendants in the Washington Boulevard murder case because the DPP "has argued that it would be expensive to undertake a retrial, especially because the Government had to pay significant costs to bring in overseas witnesses for the first trial", Mark Shields, the former deputy commissioner of police, has been venting his feelings on the matter.
Some of his tweets are as follows:
October 13, 2014: Cops in Boulevard abduction and murder case walk free, for now.
October 13, 2014: Boulevard case; a huge miscarriage of justice. PC Edwards was found guilty of murdering Kemar Walters & Oliver Duncan. No apology to family.
October 13, 2014: A seven-year investigation, DPP secures a conviction for murder of 2 Jamaican citizens by police. Judge makes error - guilty constable walks free.
October 15, 2014: Jan '13 Justice Marsh wrongly discharged a police officer after jury found him guilty of murder. Oct '13 the judge was given a national award.
October 15, 2014: Boulevard murders: Judge fails to convict a police officer on a majority verdict and later same year is awarded Jamaican Order of Distinction.
And a Gleaner article of October 13, 2014 headlined 'Shields asks: Was High Court judge who 'erred' in Boulevard murder trial sanctioned?' states:
"Supreme Court judge Horace Marsh had rejected a majority guilty verdict for Paul Edwards, one of the men accused of abducting and murdering two men from a plaza on Washington Boulevard in St Andrew in 2004.
In the meantime, Shields is also expressing disappointment that more Jamaicans are not publicly expressing outrage at the decisions taken in the Boulevard case, especially since the State is accused of the murder."
I am outraged. Aren't you?