The grind-it-out side of public policy occupied me this morning, as I went to the State House to listen to a subcommittee patiently work out the language of a bill. That done, I walked outside to see what was up on the State House plaza.

And my day was made.

A collection was underway for the Red Cross, with an eye to the disaster in Puerto Rico. Pallet upon pallet of water awaited loading onto trucks. Other types of donations were being sorted, labeled, and packaged. One large “check” was on display, indicating a substantial cash donation by one of the state’s larger utilities. Kids coming off school buses for their State House tour carried armloads of things to donate to the effort.

State employees, elected officials, just plain folks, those wonderful fourth-graders: everyone on the plaza was on the same page. This was a relief effort in every sense.

The Governor was on the scene, delighting the schoolkids with a photo op, and someone said to him, “Will any of this actually get where it’s supposed to go?” He said reassuring things. I hope he’s right. Distribution: that’s the sticking point. How will this get to Puerto Rico? How will the Red Cross allocate things among the multiple disasters it’s addressing these days? I wish I knew the answers.

The people on the plaza weren’t being paralyzed by discouragement or uncertainty over what comes next. They were doing their best with what they had. They left me inspired, refreshed, challenged. That was a fine midday course correction.

Ellen is a New Hampshire pro-life activist and writer who blogs at ellenkolb.com

Buried in all the news about the NFL is a paragraph in this observer piece by Ashe Snow that perfectly encapsulates what the media don’t get about Donald Trump and twitter

Tweets mean nothing. It takes no effort at all to send one. Acting like Trump actually spent all day Monday caring about the NFL because of what he tweeted is absurd. Does the media really think all he does is tweet? It sure seems like it. They would rather write dozens of articles about every single one of the president’s tweets than look into what he’s actually doing.

That’s the real secret about Donald Trump and twitter, he understand the media mind set, he knows that with just a few tweets he can send them down a rabbit hole all day while he gets work done, or to push them in a direction they don’t want to go, or get the heat off of a project that he is dealing with or lobbying for.

A great example of this has been the reactions on WEEI on Trump that I hear when I drive in and go home from work. For some reason the libs on the station think that Trump is obsessed with the NFL, the reality is that his line at the rally last monday was a throw away applause line and once he saw the reaction it only took a few tweets to get them and the left where he wanted. I doubt he spent more than 3-4 minutes a day on it, but the media was fully committed and while they were congratulating themselves over the NFL’s “victory” over Trump and taking knees in congress Trump was getting things done in Puerto Rico without worrying about the media butting in.

Politico reported, “Rossello and other officials praised the federal government for planning its response in detail before the storm hit, a contrast with what Puerto Rico has long seen as the neglect of 3.4 million Americans living in a territory without a vote in Congress or the electoral college.”

There is only one issue I have with the piece, and that’s this line:

I’m not defending Trump’s tweets. I wish he’d stop.

Snow is dead wrong there. Trump’s tweets are a valuable weapon against the left. Via twitter he gets his message out without them forcing them to react to him rather than the other way around and putting them into battles they don’t want to fight and baiting them into positions they can’t defend. Why do you think they keep attacking his tweets every chance they get?

Tweet away Mr. President, Tweet Away.

UPDATE 9/28/17

Trump temporarily lifts Jones Act to bolster Puerto Rico relief
THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT

While the NFL self-destroys, there are 3.5 million Americans who have more immediate concerns: The ones living in Puerto Rico.

Seven days after Hurricane Maria, most of the island has no electricity, no running water, no internet. Cell phone communications  are going through the US military satellites, since the towers are gone. The storm destroyed airport radar systems. Most roads look like this,

Roads in the mountain areas are worse yet, due to landslides.

Not that you can drive too far, since gasoline can not be delivered to gas stations.

A Facebook friend’s sister described,

our town doesn’t look like a hurricane came through, it looks like a fire burned everything down.

In another town, my grandfather’s house is still standing, roof, doors and windows blown out for the first time in its 100-yr history.

Navy and Marine Corps are working around-the-clock to reopen airfields and clear debris from the main roads of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Thousands of relatives and friends are sending help, among them the rapper Pit Bull, who is sending a private jet to transport cancer patients to the States for treatment – as soon as the airports are functioning.

The governor, Ricardo Roselló, thanked the Trump administration for their prompt response, Patrick Poole lists,

  • Six commercial barges transported and delivered meals, water, generators, cots, and other commodities to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • An air bridge is established, flying three flights per day to St. Croix, each carrying approximately 33,000 meals.
  • The logistics support ship SS Wright arrived carrying more than 1.1 million meals, and nearly one million liters of freshwater.
  • Two shipping barges with 1.2 million liters of water, 31 generators, and more than 6,000 cots arrived in St. Thomas.
  • Two additional shipping barges loaded with food, water, and emergency relief supplies are en route to the Caribbean Sea from Florida.
  • Millions of additional meals are being flown to Puerto Rico from staging areas in Kentucky and Florida.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is transporting a shipment of 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico, with arrival in the coming days.

In the very short term, the best thing the Trump administration can do is to waive the Jones Act (a.k.a. Merchant Marine Act of 1920).

The law requires that goods transported between U.S. ports be shipped on vessels built, majority-owned and manned by Americans. Think of it as a legally sanctioned shakedown for U.S. shipping interests.

Puerto Ricans pay dearly for this protectionism, which reduces competition and raises costs. A 2012 Federal Reserve Bank of New York report said the Jones Act helps explain why household and commercial goods cost roughly double to ship from the East Coast to Puerto Rico than to the nearby Dominican Republic or Jamaica. Food and energy costs are far higher than on the mainland.

The Act has been suspended after Hurricane Katrina, superstorm Sandy, and after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma; but, outrageously,

the Department of Homeland Security said Monday it won’t issue a Jones Act waiver for the territory. Spokesman David Lapan explained in an email that there are “sufficient numbers of US-flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.” DHS argues that under U.S. law the agency can’t ask for a waiver unless there’s a national defense threat and there aren’t enough Jones Act-compliant ships to carry goods.

Pres. Trump is visiting PR next Tuesday. I urge you to call the White House at Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414, and email, right now urging the President to suspend the Jones Act during this emergency.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Maria blows the stars around
Sets the clouds a-flyin’
Maria makes
The mountains sound like folks was out there dyin’
Maria (Maria)
Maria (Maria)
They call
The wind
Maria

The scenes from Puerto Rico are horrific: Ruin, destruction, flooding, and no electricity, cell signals or clean water for three and a half million Americans.

More people live in Puerto Rico than in 20 states.

Consider also that many from the Lesser Antilles who were left homeless were transferred to Puerto Rico for shelter.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Adding to the anguish: not being able to hear from friends and relatives. CBS Miami has an article on How Family, Friends Can Check On People In Puerto Rico.

The complete blackout combined with the flooding is a clear  imminent threat to public health, not only to safety.

Kevin Lui explains How could a storm knock out power across the whole island?

Puerto Rico’s power grid was already in bad shape even before the 2017 hurricane season. PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old on average, reports Reuters — in contrast with the industry-wide average of 18 years.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy in July, called its own system “degraded and unsafe,” saying in a fiscal plan released this April that “years of under-investment have led to severe degradation of infrastructure,” according to Reuters.

According to Vox, PREPA also faces a manpower shortage that, even before this hurricane season, was already impeding its day-to-day maintenance.
. . .
Puerto Rican officials think that the power distribution infrastructure might be more badly damaged than power stations, the governor told CNN, adding that power could be more quickly restored if transmission lines turn out to be in better shape than thought.

Compounding the problem is Puerto Rico’s economic mess. I have posted about it for years; back to Lui’s article,

The general economic situation is also grim. Puerto Rico’s finances have been in dire straits for years. The island has yet to emerge from a decade-long recession, and unemployment stands at 11%. Its government entered a process similar to bankruptcy protection in May in a bid to restructure its debt load, currently in excess of $70 billion.

At the WSJ,

Maria and Irma hit at a time of financial strain for Puerto Rico. The island’s government and its state-owned public-power monopoly are under bankruptcy protection after years of overborrowing and a decade of economic recession. The U.S. Congress installed an oversight board last year to renegotiate roughly $73 billion in debt and to coax business interests back to the island.

More exasperating is the cell phone situation, where AT&T has exclusive rights, and companies such as FirstNet are not allowed to provide wireless services to first responders. AT&T is completely down.

Puerto Rico was on a downward spiral for years, well before Irma and Maria struck. One can only hope that this disaster becomes an opportunity to rebuild the entire island and cut down on decades’ worth of bloated, useless overspending and waste.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Both Fausta and I have written about the upcoming Puerto Rico Day Parade in which the organizers, not content to have the island in the news for fiscal bankruptcy decided to add moral bankruptcy to the list by honoring an unrepentant terrorist bombmaker involved in the killing and maiming of Americans.

Fausta noted the long list of those who had pulled out over the honoring of the Terrorist whose sentence was commuted by Obama and I added that the Manchester Bombing had augmented the list by turning on the heat for companies who, in my opinion were not so much bothered by the terrorist as but considered their association with one right after a bunch of kids getting blown up for watching a concert bad for their bottom line.

You can add Andrew Cuomo, the son of Mario the Pious, to that list as well:

“The governor’s support and long-term affection for the Puerto Rican community remains unwavering. Unfortunately, he will not be marching in this year’s parade,” Cuomo’s spokeswoman, Dani Lever, said without elaborating.

and WNBC and Telemundo too

Both WNBC and WNJU hold a long-standing commitment to the Tri-State’s Puerto Rican community, a fact exemplified through our continued support for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade’s scholarship program. Our stations have decided to limit this year’s support to the Parade’s scholarship program, and have respectfully informed the committee that we will not be participating in the 2017 Parade,” they said in a statement.

as did Univision who, like Cuomo, WNBC and Telemundo didn’t bother to give the reason why they or the others had left in their report Newsbusters tells the tale:

Univision’s newscasts hadn’t said a peep about the exodus of parade sponsors since Goya Foods first jumped ship last week and now, all of a sudden, multiple sponsors are suddenly out. Viewers are left to assume that these major sponsors just randomly abandoned the Parade, without any context whatsoever as to why…But López Rivera’s name is mentioned nowhere in the report. Embarrassingly, Univision preferred to leave that knowledge gap unfilled, rather than to admit it had made a mistake by giving so much airtime to the public rehabilitation of a convicted terrorist.

Of course in fairness to Univision and Telemundo Reuters also decided to whitewash that little old bombmaker:

Sponsors have been fleeing next month’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City since organizers decided to honor an activist recently freed after more than three decades in prison for ties to a nationalist group that carried out more than 100 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oscar Lopez Rivera, 74, was convicted in 1981 of numerous charges, along with other members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), who sought to secure Puerto Rican independence from the United States.

The Terrorist becomes a “nationalist” and rather than mention the bombmaking he is convicted of “numerous charges”

But in the end no matter how many others decide, for whatever reason, they don’t want the blood on Lopez’s hands staining them one man still stands alone in support.

Bill De Blasio

“The organization he was affiliated with did things I don’t agree with, obviously, and they were illegal,” the mayor said at a press conference this week. “I don’t agree with the way he did it. But he did serve his time,” adding that López Rivera “renounced violence.”

He did? Here is what López Rivera, quoted in yesterday’s New York Times, said upon his release from a halfway house in Puerto Rico on Wednesday: “We are a colonized people, and according to international law, that says all colonized people have a right to struggle for its independence, using all methods within reach, including force.”

And outrage by the surviving victims of Lopez’s actions notwithstanding this hasn’t hurt him and might in fact have helped him.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval rating has just ballooned to 60 percent, up 10 percent since February. The latest Quinnipiac poll also tells us he’s likely to handily trounce his opponents for re-election.

Which only goes to show that all politics is local.

Coke, The Yankees, Jet Blue, Goya, Univision and Telemundo are all national and international companies that whose business models extend far beyond the confines of New York City and can’t be openly associating themselves with a terrorist bomber no matter how popular he might be in a loud niche market in a particular city

But in the end Bill De Blasio’s ambitions for elected office, are confined to the five boroughs of NYC, so even if a million citizens, including those who keep the city safe, object strongly, they are dwarfed by the multiple millions of liberal leftists who either don’t know, don’t care or approve of Lopez’s terrorism.

No amount of public shaming will move a man with no shame.

Exit Question: Since Andrew Cuomo’s is electorally dependent on huge margins in the city can we assume that his decision to pull out means he still has national ambitions?


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Olimometer 2.52

If you are not in the position to kick in your funds we’ll always accept your prayers.

New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade continues to lose sponsors after NY City Council Speaker Melissa Viverito named unrepentant terrorist Oscar López Rivera a “National Freedom Hero” who will be honored at the June 11th parade.

First Goya Foods, the parade’s largest sponsor throughout its 60-year history, pulled its $200,000.

The NYPD Hispanic Society and the Rafael Ramos Foundation have pulled out. Also dropping out,

the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and the other police unions representing the NYPD senior ranks.

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill, while acknowledging he would likely be at the parade overseeing thousands of cops stationed there, refused to march in honor of a terrorist.

Jet Blue, AT&T, and the New York Yankees won’t be there, either,

The Yankees’ boycott particularly stings. Bronx Bombers who have graced the parade include Puerto Rican native Bernie Williams.

“The New York Yankees are not participating in this year’s Puerto Rican Day parade,” the team said in a statement.

Instead, both Jet Blue and the Yankees will continue their scholarship programs helping “Puerto Rican students in both New York and Puerto Rico” by totally bypassing the parade organizers.

Gov. Cuomo is still waffling on whether he’ll attend the parade.

Univision continues to sponsor terrorism, never mind that

it wasn’t the belief in independence that got López Rivera locked up; it was the six pounds of dynamite and four blasting caps found in López Rivera’s apartment.

The network is set to air an exclusive interview on Sunday’s edition of Al Punto where U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez compares López Rivera to George Washington.

Viverito has dug in her heels and last Monday held a “rally to defend the parade,” conflating the parade with the terrorist. Seth Baron reports (emphasis added),

When a reporter asked her why López Rivera had dynamite, blasting caps, and bomb-making diagrams in his apartment when he was arrested, Mark-Viverito said, “in regard to the specifics of that situation you are talking about, I don’t know everything that was presented in the court proceedings.”

Just for clarity’s sake: the FALN claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings, including the one at Fraunces Tavern that killed four people and injured 50. At his trial, Lopez Rivera refused to participate in his defense on the grounds that he was a combatant in an anti-colonial war against the United States and thus a prisoner of war; he demanded to be tried by an international tribunal. He was tried in open court and convicted of “seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and ammunition to aid in the commission of a felony, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.” López Rivera refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his acts, nor has he renounced violence, conceding only that other means are “more effective.” When asked about the surviving family of his victims, he told an interviewer in 2011, “If you don’t respect me, why should I reciprocate? I wasn’t there to tell them, ‘Hey, listen, I’m sorry.’ That’s not me.”

I do not exaggerate when I say that López Rivera set his apartment as a bomb-making facility.

Lopez-Rivera had been in federal prison since 1981, serving a 55-year sentence which was extended an additional 15 years following two failed attempts to escape, where

he conspired with others inside and outside his prison to kill his way to freedom, attempting to procure grenades, rifles, plastic explosives, bulletproof vests, blasting caps, and armor-piercing bullets.

Three days before leaving office, then-President Barack Obama commuted López Rivera’s 70-year sentence. López Rivera was released on May 17th.

No word on whether Obama will attend the parade.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

By John Ruberry

I hate to interrupt your day by veering away from such issues, well, issues to some, such as the Donald Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia or that nation’s reputed hacking of the 2016 presidential election, but there is something more important that the mainstream media is only nibbling at the edges of: the Great American Pension Swindle.

What is it?

Underfunded pension plans in blue states, well mostly blue states.

Here are some media headlines from just this month:

I could go on and on.

As for that last one, many bond firms rate Chicago Public Schools’ bonds as junk. The collateral for its latest loan, and that’s a generous use of the term, is money owed to CPS by the state of Illinois, the Puerto Rico of the Midwest. Illinois’ public-worker pension plans are just 29 percent funded. Chicago’s pensions are worse–at 25 percent funded, the worst among 15 large cities surveyed.

I don’t have Schadenfreude over this situation. On a personal level the spouse of a friend of mine and one of my cousins are collecting Illinois State Police pensions. They were promised these retirement plans and they didn’t pay into Social Security when they worked for the state. There was no opt-out option for them in regards to these pensions. And their union, unlike AFSCME, wasn’t showering Illinois politicians, mostly Democrats, with copious campaign contributions while the state was shortchanging and even skipping payments into pension funds.

Now what?

John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven

I suspect bankruptcies in all but name, which I wrote about earlier this month in this space, are coming to Illinois and other states who see pensions as a reward system for political sponsors such as AFSCME. Here’s another possibility: run-of-the-mill taxpayers, many of whom are just getting by financially and have no pensions of their own, nor the ability to retire in their 50s, will have to cough up even more in taxes to bail out public worker retirement funds.

This tragedy is not the fault of the Russians. Vladimir Putin didn’t hack the pension funds.  But too bad that’s not what happened. Then perhaps MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times might devote more time to the Great American Pension Swindle.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Two days before leaving office, Barack Obama commuted Oscar López Rivera’s 70-year jail sentence unconditionally, along with 208 other grants of commutation.

Oscar López Rivera was a founding member of the Marxist Puerto Rican nationalist terror group FALN (Frente Armado de Liberación Nacional). The FALN was the most organized, active, well-trained and deadly domestic terror group based in the United States, leaving six dead and hundreds wounded in over 130 attacks.

The New York Times describes:

The F.A.L.N., which waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico, was considered by the authorities to be among the most elusive and resilient terrorist groups to operate in the United States. Among its notable attacks was a bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 that killed four people.

The group was known for its tight-knit membership, fanatical zeal and hit-and-run tactics, as exemplified by the bombings of four government buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve in 1982 that seriously wounded three police officers.

López Rivera used his own apartment as a bomb-making facility.

He was sentenced to 55 years for seditious conspiracy, interstate transportation of firearms and explosives with intent to kill and injure people, vehicle theft, and other charges in 1981. In 1988 was sentenced to an additional 15 years for conspiring to escape from the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, prison.

The escape attempts were not the Shawshank Redemption:

In one of two failed attempts to escape, he conspired with others inside and outside his prison to kill his way to freedom, attempting to procure grenades, rifles, plastic explosives, bulletproof vests, blasting caps, and armor-piercing bullets. After the FBI thwarted this plan, another 15 years was added to Lopez’s original 55-year sentence

Bill Clinton offered him clemency in 1999 (in a move that was engineered by then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder), but he turned it down since it did not include all FALN members serving jail terms at that time.

Among Lopez Rivera’s numerous victims was Angel Poggi, a young NYPD officer of Puerto Rican descent who was severely maimed during the FALN’s first attack, in December 1974 – his first day on the job.

López Rivera remains unrepentant.

Under Obama’s commutation order, Lopez Rivera’s prison sentence expires on May 17.

López Rivera will be welcome with open arms by Hamilton‘s creator,

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

and by NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (the @MMViverito in the above tweet).

Next on the agenda,

Officials last week announced plans to honor unrepentant terrorist leader Oscar Lopez Rivera as their first ever “National Freedom Hero” at this year’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 11.

As a woman born and raised in Puerto Rico, I am profoundly insulted by this exultation of a Marxist terrorist whose every action has been inimical to freedom. Indeed, as Steven Hayward reminds us of Bryan Burrough’s excellent book, Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence,

In his invaluable history of the maniacal leftist terrorism of the 1970s, Bryan Burrough frankly characterizes FALN leader Oscar López Rivera as “the man behind the deadliest bombing campaign of the era.” That’s quite a distinction.

López Rivera is no hero to anyone who loves freedom.

UPDATE
Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Lake Michigan at Evanston, IL. Is Puerto Rico’s present Illinois’ future?

By John Ruberry

If you believe that states–and commonwealths–cannot declare bankruptcy, you are technically correct. But last week a commonwealth, Puerto Rico, filed for bankruptcy in all but name, utilizing the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2016.

That bill of course was written for Puerto Rico in mind, but with Republicans in control of all levels of the federal government, similar bills can be proposed for the fifty states, or just some of them, including California, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois. Those three are among the states that have fallen victim to what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dubbed the “labor-electoral complex” in his farewell address four years ago.

What’s that? It’s when public-sector unions, consisting of workers on the taxpayer payroll, cajole politicians–almost always Democratic ones–to increase their salaries or defer their pay hikes by way of generous yet unaffordable pension plans.

And of course these pols are cajoled by these unions through campaign contributions.

Puerto Rican flag flies between two abandoned Chicago homes

Many local government workers don’t pay into social security and many of them have no other pension plans. In states like Illinois, if you work for the state government, funds deducted for your retirement only go to one place–an Illinois retirement plan. So far so good–unless the politicians neglect to properly fund those pension programs.

And that has been the sad case in those blue states I mentioned earlier, as well as Kentucky.

Now that Puerto Rico has declared, well, something, investors will very likely take a closer look at sinking cash into what may be sinking ships. Puerto Rico has negative population growth. So does Illinois. That means fewer taxpayers are participating in funding these failures. And it’s the productive citizens who are leaving Illinois and Puerto Rico.

Yesterday Puerto Rico announced it was closing 184 schools and there is speculation that commonwealth retirees may suffer a 20 percent cut in their pensions. Expect much more bad news from there.

John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven

It doesn’t have to end up this way in states like Illinois–if corrective action is taken immediately. Let me define “immediately” for those politicians who may be reading this post.

Immediately means 2017, not ten years from now.

Ten years ago the financial situation in Puerto Rico wasn’t as dire.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

pasteles

Christmas in my native Puerto Rico is an extended party. It starts around Thanksgiving week and ends after the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th. Of all the countries I’ve visited, only France has more work holidays than Puerto Rico.

In-between there are a lot of parties, and an endless array of delicious foods, most of which would be banned by Mike Bloomberg for their fat, sugar, and salt content.

First, the drink of choice for the entire season is coquito, the “very yummy creamy tropical coconut eggnog made with spices and white rum.” While all the men drink their rum straight, ladies disguise it in coquito. Salud!

Most people celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge dinner: lechón asado (roast pig) or pernil (pork shoulder), which must be marinated at least 24 hours in advance; arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), red beans, tostones (fried plaintains), and pasteles.

Oh, pasteles! Delicious, but such hard work that my mom once commandeered my sister and me for a full day of preparation (which included peeling and grinding yuca, a thankless task if ever there was one), wrapping the pasteles in plantain leaves, cooking, and clean-up (you must wash down the whole kitchen afterwards because of the lingering odor). It was such hard work, mom bought them from an acquaintance for many years after. “Lesson learned!” mom said.

Some may also include bacalao, salted cod fish with tubers.

All these foods are served at the same time, and washed down with rum, beer, wine, or soda.

A couple of hours later, it’s time for dessert: The table is cleared, and out come arroz con dulce (rice pudding – I like mine with raisins), flan, plátanos en almibar (ripe plantains in syrup), tembleque, majarete, and pineapple upside-down cake, which must have a perfect maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple. Someone always brings cookies and pies, too.

Of course, high-octane fully caffeinated Puerto Rican coffee goes with the dessert, served in expresso cups.

By then it’s midnight Mass (if you go to church), and after that, you open your presents.

Merry Christmas!