30 June 2010

Problem Defined

From The Knight Center for Journalism:

Puerto Rican senator blocks journalists' access to Congress

For three days in a row, Puerto Rico's Senate President, Thomas Rivera Schatz, prohibited the press from entering the Senate floor, reported El Nuevo Día. This was an unprecedented event in the Senate's history.

Media managers and journalistic organizations, and even groups like the Puerto Rican chapter of Amnesty International and analysts, have criticized Rivera Schatz for what they consider to be an attack against press freedom and citizens' right to be informed. Professional guilds also announced they will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Rivera Schatz argued that his decision was a way to maintain order during legislative sessions, according to
Primera Hora, and in the last few days he made both reporters and photographers leave. In an editorial, El Nuevo Día questioned: “Who gave the senate president authority to dictate where a journalist's job begins or ends? What is the senate president scared of, or worried about?"

It was reported that after the illegal banning of the press (yes, illegal), none other than accused senator Hector "Corpus Delictor" Martínez was presiding over the chamber's activities, in absence of Thomas "Mad Führer" Rivera.

First, illegal. Under current senate regulations, Section 6.1(j) (scroll or find Page 13), the Mad Führer has the power to clear the chamber and facilities of the senate to "maintain order and decorum." In other words, IF and only IF there is a disruption to the NORMAL operational order and decorum of the senate, THEN and ONLY THEN can some brain-damaged douchebag jump on a high horse and clear the room(s). The press is PART of the normal operational order of the senate in its CONSTITUTIONAL function and carrying out its NORMAL duties is NOT a disruption of decorum. And in fact, the senate regulations are SUBJECT to the Constitution (Section 1.2) and cannot infringe upon it, therefore the senate president, Mad Führer or Marica 'Fogonao CANNOT bar the press from its legal functions.

Second, under the Constitutional checks and balances, everyone in the senate, particularly its president, are subject to the authority of the Courts, and the senate regulations specifically recognize this authority under Section 6.1(q). So for the Mad Führer to avoid being served a judicial order to appear before the Supreme Court in order to babble incoherently about his colonic whim barring the press is not only illegal, it is a further violation of the same senate regulations he pretends to use, specifically Section 6.1(t).

Third, the Mad Führer may claim--and he has--that he is "complying" under Section 6.1(w) with the "informing the public" requirement under the State Digital Law of 2000, which requires all senate proceedings, bills and reports to be made available on the Internet. However, that Law is in ADDITION to the Constitutional right of the public to be informed of government proceedings by the press, NOT a substitution. Strike three, Mad Dog, and because you seem the kind of guy who doesn't get it and never will, that means you have struck out.

The problem here is not the banning of the press: it is Rivera. He has acted unilaterally before, from Election Night 2008 (also known as "The Night the Shit REALLY Hit the Fan"), when he openly defied the newly-elected (non)governor and vociferated his plans for the incoming government (a close cousin to "incoming stink bomb.") He showed his (dirty) hands again and again by blocking nominations for personal reasons and at other times shoving them through without regard to parliamentary procedures and regulations be damned. He is a Mad Dog with delusions of adequacy, a rabid cur with the fuzzy intelligence and emotional maturity of a bright 4-year old. Who's been hit in the head one too many times.

The Mad Führer cultivates his image of "strong man politico" by being unpredictable and forceful. In some hands, this is a strategy. In Rivera's hands, it's merely the natural result of being below-average in brains and maturity, where "strategy" is reduced to being louder and cruder, where "smart" means being stupid enough to plunge ahead like a...mad dog.

He won't stop until he is treated like the figurative mad dog he is. The problem is defined: the solution is obvious. It's a matter of time before someone implements it...figuratively, if not literally.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

Update: 7:12 PM: A few hours after posting this, citizen groups protesting at the Capitol Building against the actions of the Mad Führer and the disgusting wreck of a government he and (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño are inflicting upon Us entered into direct confrontation with the local Police. Tear gas and beatings ensued, along with property damage of Police equipment and several people have been wounded. That the protests have gotten out of hand is a shame, but that they are happening, that they should continue to happen and so long as the damage is confined to ruining political careers rather than property or lives, then I for one urge the protesters to give 'em hell, upside the head and with malice aforethought. There's only one way to stop a Mad Dog and its pack of curs, so to coin a phrase: Yes We can.

BEST line in the ongoing blog over at endi.com (same link as above): 
5:46 p.m. - A pasos de la Constitución de Puerto Rico, el superintendente de la Policía, José Figueroa Sancha, tildó a los estudiantes de “delincuentes”.  

5:46 p.m.--Just steps from the Puerto Rico Constitution (in the Capitol Building's lobby), the Police Superintendent of Puerto Rico, José Figueroa Sancha, called the (protesting) students "delinquents."

For the record, The Jenius calls Sancha Panza a plusperfect idiot.

Update: 10:52 PM: Lest you think I only propose violence as a solution, here are 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action. And Sancha Panza is still a plusperfect idiot.

28 June 2010

One More Target

So I take some time off and in that hiatus, putrid-excuse-for-a-senator Hector "Drug Dealers Are My Friends Forever" Martínez gets charged for fraud, conspiracy and bribery. These charges stem from the mealy-mouthed mewlings of former-putrid-excuse-for-a-senator Jorge "Il Castrao" Castro, he of the hundreds of charges and pending prison sentence.

Hector the Delictor's pending case is based on his alleged--coughcoughCOUGH--collaboration with Il Castrao in scheduling and approving legislation for the benefit of businessman Jorge Bravo, a security contractor of the weasel family of protectors. Hector the Delictor, true to form, had been denying that the federal investigation had anything on him, but of course, he had to know it was a matter of time before his pecadillos were exposed, especially when his "last" line of defense was a gonad-less scarecrow.

Now here's the rub, the central issue of this new step into the corruption underbelly of Our beastly government: there's one more target. Let Me illustrate:

--One senator, Il Castrao, has the power to set the agenda for legislation and does so by accepting bribes to place bills up for discussion and voting.

--Another senator, the Corpus Delictor, has the power to get legislation discussed and approved in committee, which virtually ensures full senate approval given that the statehood party--where these two douchebags fester--have full majority in that chamber. (As for a capital letters in "senate and "senator," those are signs of respect that I omit because I have utterly none for it and them.)

--Question: Who else would have to know--either directly or by proxy--that the agenda of the senate and the bills pending approval are being manipulated, i.e., bypassing protocol and procedure? Who was in position to oversee everything--directly and by proxy--of what was going on in the senate, for whom it was the primary responsibility to do so every step of the way?

The then-president of the senate, now secretary of state Kenneth "What? Me Next?" McClintock. (And ditto on "secretary of state".)

Folks, he had to know. Even an idiot--like him--could eventually figure out that rules were being bent and broken for a reason, that what was being done was shady and that being shady, it was being done for personal gain. That Il Castrao didn't go from broke and living with his parents to owner of a $260,000+ apartment--bought in cash--in a little over a year by being a financial whiz. That Corpus Delictor didn't rise to power even in the sewage of a party they militate in by virtue of leadership skills he had never shown anywhere else, and much less from a second-tier committee.

He had to know. And the feds know that he knew. So before the year ends, the charges they will lay on Kenneth "Yeah, Me Next" McClintock will show Us that, indeed, the rest of Us will know what I and Ken-Next already know.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 June 2010

Funny, Frugal, Tasty

I loved this post over at AskReddit. Not only do I agree with the recipe (this stuff is awesome tasty and with discretion on the meat side, awesome healthy), I rolled with laughter at the tone. Here, for your edutainment, from the keyboard of Electric_Sandwich, is How to Eat As Cheaply As NYC Puerto Ricans Do:

Take a lesson from the Puerto Ricans. Millions of us have managed to survive in one of the most expensive cities on Earth with recipes like this:

Find a supermarket that has black beans on sale. Buy as much as you can. Then buy 5 or so pounds of Carolina rice, a bag of onions, a few bulbs of garlic, and a box of Goya Sazon.

Set 2 cups of water to boil

Dick around on Reddit until the water is boiling

Throw in one cup of rice, turn the heat down to simmer and lid that shit

Slice up a small onion

Smash up a clove of garlic

Throw some olive oil or butter into a HOT pan.

Throw the onions and garlic into the pan and fry them till the onion gets glassy. Throw some salt in there.

Grind some pepper in there for good luck.

Toss in half a packet of Sazon and stir till you get a paste. Now you have a ghetto

Dump in your can of beans bean juice and all.

Stir that shit up.

Add a pinch of Cayenne pepper so you remember that you have a set of

Set that shit on simmer

Your rice is done.

Throw the beans on top.


You should get at least 2 meals out of one can of beans, and if your lucky you can get black beans 2 for $1. Adding the cost of the Garlic, Sazon and a small onion and you still eat a tasty, hearty, relatively healthy meal for less than $1.

Now. You are a growing lad. You need MEAT

OK, first of all, fuck eating lips and assholes. There is a much, much tastier option that has kept millions of starving boriquas alive for generations: PORK SHOULDER.

In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, pork shoulder is 79 cents a pound. That's right. 79 cents. A package of hot dogs at $2.50 is more than double the price and has offal and all sorts of vile shit inside.

Buy yourself a nice meaty pork shoulder. 5 lbs should do nicely.

Bring that fucker home and get out a long, thin knife.

In a pilon (that's a mortar and pestle
gringo) smash up a few cloves of Garlic, some sazon, some, salt, some pepper, and some oil. Grind it up GOOD. Now you have another ghetto sofrito.

Take your knife and stab some holes in the pig. Twist the knife around so the holes get nice and wide.

Now, take some of your
sofrito and stuff it into the holes. Don't be shy blanco, ram it in there. Use the remainder to roughly coat the outside of the pig. RUB IT. CARESS IT. This pig died so that you may eat. Salt that shit all over the outside and crack some fucking pepper on there.

Set your oven for ~300 degrees

Throw the pork in skin side up and WAIT.

It's going to take like 45 minutes a pound...

A warning: The smell is going to drive you fucking INSANE. You have to wait this part out. Farm work is the best cure.

After an an hour and a half, jab it with a meat thermometer, but remember to not rest it on the bone, or you will get a bad reading.

You should be at around 150-160 degrees. Now comes the fun part. CRANK the stove up to 400 degrees. This will give you an orgasmic, crispy skin that will make your pork rinds taste like year old carboard by comparison.

At 170-ish? Pull that fucker out, but DON'T carve it up. You need to wait at least ten minutes otherwise all those sweet, sweet pig juices will dribble the fuck out. WAIT.

Congratulations. You just made
Pernil. A five pound Pernil should give you meat for at least a week. SAVOR IT BROTHER. SAVOR IT

Edit: Forgot the best and cheapest fucking recipe!!!


Fuck me. Green plaintains are usually like 5 for a fucking dollar!

Here's my mom's recipe:

Fry up some bacon. Set the bacon aside and save that lovely, glistening fat.

Take a plantain and run a knife down the side and split the skin off without breaking the plantain. This takes a bit of practice.

Slice up the plantain into ~1/3 inch thick slices. Throw them into a bowl of ice water.

You have a fry daddy? You're golden
papi. No? Pour around half an inch of oil into a frying pan. Corn oil works best, olive oil smokes too easily. Get that shit hot! Throw in your bacon grease.

Take your sliced up plantains out of the ice water and drain them or even pat them with a paper towel till they're dry.

Fry em up until they just turn golden.

Throw them in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Now, here is where you become a MAN: Get yourself a flat bottom glass and a cutting board or a plate. Throw some flour on there. Smash the plantains with the cup. You may need a spatula to get them off the board...

Fry em AGAIN until they are golden and crispy

Make all three of these things together and you have an incredibly delicious and cheap meal!

The Jenius Has Quoted.

16 June 2010

Flee Market

After a Blogger-based disaster, here's the enraged short version of My post:

Flea markets are larger (more sellers and buyers), have more services, sell big-ticket items (appliances, computers), have increased marketing processes (banners, events) and represent a more formalized process, with businesses becoming permanent and more open about being part of the informal economy.

Prediction: Brokers will appear offering home-based services (landscaping, maid services, light home repair) with guarantees. Why? Because it takes advantage of the flea market: Cash-based, no licenses, anonymous and easy. Where does the guarantee come in? The broker gets paid and pays the provider when the service is performed to specs. And flea markets will become even bigger.

Flee the market. Flee the over-regulated, overtaxed, abusive, obstructive and unfair market, created and perfected because of Our government, and look to the "formal informal economy" for the future. It's as simple to describe as "Make more money, keep more money."
And fuck Blogger. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 June 2010

Corruption 101

From Reddit Economics, this post, written by user Corruption101, edited and emphasized by Me:

A lot of stuff on Reddit misunderstands the relationships between wealth, power, and influence. For starters, all the above three are always and have always been inter-related, and probably always will be. And that might not always be a bad thing: those who have risen to high levels of wealth are often pretty smart, and surprisingly often exceptionally honest. Those who rise to high levels of influence usually have some pretty good insight and talent in their area of expertise. Those who have acquired a lot of power tend to be good at accomplishing things that lots of people want to see happen.

None of which is purely democratic, nor even purely meritocratic, but there is a certain dose of both kind of baked into the cake: stuff like wealth or family connections only gets you so far in modern, developed, and relatively open and transparent societies such as the US. And while that can be pretty far by normal standards, at some point sunlight does shine through any crack, and outright robbery or complete incompetence is difficult to sustain indefinitely.

But there is an awful lot of low-level waste, patronage, and corruption that happens both in the private and in the public sector.

Without going ideological, the private sector in a free-ish market has a more immediate system of checks and balances if only because you have to actually persuade the end users to keep buying your stuff for the price you're charging: if it's no good, or if you are grossly over-charging, your customers will tend to catch on sooner or later.

But in the public sector, the "consumer" often has little choice... so-called "market discipline" is a lot more diffuse when you have a former-schoolteacher-or-real-estate-broker-turned city councilman whose job it is to disburse a multi-million-dollar street-paving contract or whatever. And neither the schoolteacher nor the real-estate broker has any clue how to write or evaluate a road-paving contract...

Let's say that there are three credible bidders for that street-paving contract:

--Bidder 1 is "Paver Joe", a local guy with a driveway-paving company and three trucks who sees this as a big opportunity to expand his business and get the city to pay for five new trucks. He puts in a dirt-cheap bid that he wrote up himself with the help of his estate attorney. The cost to taxpayers is very low, but the certainty that he will complete it on schedule and as specified is a little iffy. Paver Joe plans to work overtime and bust his tail on the job, not for profits, but to grow his business. He's offering the taxpayers a great deal, but a slightly risky one.
[Jenius Note: This bid often wins in small towns where the Mayor/Council are the main source of jobs in town. Think "kickback."]

--Bidder 2 is "Muni Paver Inc", a company who has the experience and expertise to do the job, who knows what's involved and who has done this work before. They already have the trucks, their workers are all unionized and paid "prevailing wage", everything will be done by the book, all their EPA certifications are in place, etc... The bid is a lot more expensive than Paver Joe, but it's credible and reliable. They are offering the taxpayers a degree of certainty and confidence that Paver Joe cannot match. [Jenius Note: This is the bidder that often wins when federal funds are involved, except for mega-projects. Where's the corruption, usually? Ancillary services beyond what was in the budget.]

--Bidder 3 is me, "Corruptocorp". Instead of Paver Joe's 2-page contract with typos, or Muni-Paving's 20-page contract, I'm offering the city council a full package of videos, brochures, and a 40-page contract with a price just a tad higher than Paver Joe (my quoted price is meaningless, as we will see). Moreover, I'm inviting the city council to Corruptocorp-owned suites in a golf resort near my headquarters to give my presentation (all expenses paid, of course, and of course, bring your spouses). There the city council members will, after the first day of golf, dinner, dancing, and cocktails, see a slideshow and chorus-line of smiling multi-ethnic faces and working mothers talking about how much Corruptocorp's paving improved their town and their lives. I'll then stand up and tell a self-effacing joke about being one of those corporate guys trying to get their money, and then I'll wax a bit emotional about my small-town roots and how Corruptocorp was started by a man with a simple dream to make life better for everyone, and to do well by doing good in local communities, and that we actually plan to hire local contractors such as Joe's Paving to do the work, backed (by) our economies of scale and reliability. I'll mention that paragraph 32 subsection B of our proposal mandates twice-yearly performance reviews by the city council, to of course be held at the golf resort, at Corruptocorp's expense, ("So I hope to see you all back here every February and August!"), and of course I make sure that each of them has my "personal" cell phone and home numbers in case they have any questions...

So needless to say I get the bid, and six months later it's time for our review at the golf resort. After dinner and cocktails I step up to the podium and announce that there is both good news and bad news:

"The bad news is that our subcontractor has found over 1,000 rocks in the road. And as I'm sure you know, paragraph 339 subsection D.12 specifies that any necessary rock removal will be done at prevailing wages, currently $1,500 per rock, for a total cost overrun of $1.5 million. But the good news is (and believe me, I had to fight long and hard for this with the board of directors), Corruptocorp has agreed to remove those rocks for only $1,000 apiece! So even though there have been some cost overruns, your smart decisions have saved your taxpayers half a million dollars! Give yourselves a round of applause!"

"Now, the other situation is that there has been some 'difficult terrain' as described in subsection 238b, which I'm sure you're all familiar with. And as you know, 'difficult terrain' is not covered by the contract, which is for paving, not for turning mountains into flat roads... (wistful chuckle). Now, technically, according to the contract, we should be charging your town prevailing rates for these sections, but I've worked it so that you will be allowed to re-bid them, if you wish, since our contract doesn't specifically include terrain as described in subsection 238b."

Now the contract price has doubled, and Corruptocorp has completely sidestepped all of the difficult and costly work, taking profits only on the easy stuff. The city council members can either admit that they were duped and bought (political suicide), or can simply feed Corruptocorp's line to the voters. Which do you think will happen?
[Jenius Note: "Supertube," anyone? "Urban Train," anyone? "Stupid Convention Center," anyone? PPPs, when they happen, anyone?]

And it gets even worse on smaller scales: look up your local building or electrical inspector. Ten-to-one he is a relative, friend, or campaign donor to the mayor or city council. What's in it for him? Every single construction or home improvement project not only has to pay him a fee, it also has to pass his inspection. Guess which contractors are most likely to pass his inspection? His brothers, friends, family... or the cheapest guy who for some reason has a hard time finding work in this town? Guess how the local inspector feels about homeowner self-improvements: does he think they are a great way for regular people to improve their wealth with a little elbow grease, or does he see them as stealing work from his friends and family?

Plenty more to discuss and explore, but that would be Corruption 102, or as I call it here on My Island, your second week in local politics.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

11 June 2010

Continuous Crapfest

A friend of Mine (a conspiracy theory fanatic, but a good guy nonetheless) was absolutely stunned when I told him I didn't listen to local talk radio--at all. Never have. Very surprised, he asked Me "Then how do you know what's going on?"

I answered: "I see what's happening and think for Myself."

In earlier posts I indicated I never watch local news on TV and once or twice a week I'll glance through a newspaper or surf a local news website. In essence, I don't consume what passes for mass media here because that would be like feeding on horse shit. Or its taurine counterpart. Because it doesn't matter which segment of the barnyard you chose to wallow in, it's all crap.

My friend even asked Me "But don't you write about local politics in your blog?" and I replied "Yes, and I'm right more often than you." Even though it shows My nasty competitive side, it's not only true, it has become truer as time passes, for where once he and I could debate on equal terms, My observations and arguments have gotten sharper while his...haven't.

He said (despite acknowledging the truth of My remark) that I should be listening to "Fuego Cruzado," a radio show featuring a commonwealth supporter, a statehood supporter and a waffler between independence and socialism. Sound familiar (except for the waffler)? How about I translate "fuego cruzado" as "Crossfire"? Uh-huh. Same concept. Same passel-load of horse shit, because these shows aren't about analyzing the news, they are about preaching a viewpoint.

Aside from the fact that in Our version of the verbal crapfest Jon Stewart gutted so well has folks with the collective IQ of a cardboard box--an empty, small cardboard box--the purpose of the show is not to "Let Me know what's going on" (that's called reporting), it's not to "Help Me place the events in context" {that's called analysis), no, the purpose of the show is to "Entertain each side with bullshit they want to hear." So a statehooder tunes in to hear statehood shit, a commonwealther tunes in to hear commonwealth shit and an independentista tunes in because they've got nothing else, man, nothing else but this shit. I don't care to hear shit and I've always got better things to do.

Now "Crossfire" is gone--huzzah--because its lack of clothing was pointed out by a comedian. I doubt "Fuego Cruzado" will go away, (a) because I'm not a famous comedian and (b) We are more tolerant of hypocrisy and political bullshit than CNN and (c) the decision is not based on reasoned discourse, but on money. So long as these shows have acceptable profit margins, they will thrive.

And what makes up the basis of acceptable profit margins? People who want to hear their kind of shit, every day. And those too confused to really see what's going on.

From where I sit, these shows on My Island could last longer than the Han dynasty...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 June 2010

13 Stripes and 51 Stars...

Here----from Slate Magazine comes a mathe--haha--mathematician's program to create--heehee--star patterns in the--HAhahaha--event that the U.S. of part of A.----decides to add a 51st--hahaHA--state.

And it came about because of the--HAhaheehee--possibility of--hold it--Puerto Rico becoming that--hold it in--51st...state...



Oh I almost peed Myself there.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[P.S.  While on the subject of visualizations related to the U.S. of part of A., take a look at these: 3 Charts That Will Break Your Heart, from uncanny Reason Magazine, and 15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth and Inequality in America, from the over-pretentious SFGate. "Land of the free?" "Home of the grave (inequality)"?]

07 June 2010


When The Larva and his (non)administration made noise after flatulent noise about creating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), they did so with the spin that these hybrids of economic deficiency were--somehow--to become engines of economic progress. The rhetoric and plans were ambitious, the law was drafted and crafted for maximum (in-pocket) impact and the whole ball of (ear)wax was trumpeted at the beginning of 2010 with the crowning jewel glittering like a snake's pupil: the privatization of the International Airport for an estimated ONE. BILLION. DOLLARS.

The list of potential projects was whittled down from about 70 to 9 and these were presented as thingies that were to be signed sealed and delivered by March 30th so that they could start transforming Puerto Rico before what passes for Fall steams across Our shores.

It's June now and all We hear is...kerfuffle. Nada. A whole lot of status crap, some blithering idiocies about a strike (in and of itself a blithering idiocy) and the usual game of "political media swirlies" that typify Our dumbest national sport.

But in the meantime, the (non)governor's henchmen sit upon a little over $14 billion of bonds revenue, product of a debt-increasing spree that has pushed Us to the edge of having a national debt equal to Our annual GDP, a debt/revenue ratio that often spells bankruptcy. If the funds were to "pay down" high-interest debt--a good thing--then why hasn't that been done? (And statehooders, shut up: if The Larva and his maggots had done it, We would be fershlugging tired of hearing about it by now.) If the funds were for investing in infrastructure--a good thing--then why hasn't that been done? (Statehooders: ditto.) And if the funds were aimed at helping to structure PPPs, well then...kerfuffle.

Let's face it: (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño is the fifth deckhand on the garbage scow S.S. Fortaleza and if the brain-damaged crew he's allowed from Day One to walk over him and take over this wreck don't find an iceberg, they'll sink the ship anyway simply by letting it founder and sink under the weight of their own incompetence.

PPPs were never intended to build Our economy, We know that, but there's not even an attempt at making a go of them and trying to make a difference. No, they served their purpose  and now it's but a matter of keeping Our eyes peeled for when the pppathetic rats start abandoning the ship they've sunk.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 June 2010

Not Near The Best, Far From The Worst

Caguas Mayor Willie Miranda died today of pancreatic cancer. Like any Fool--My pejorative term for any politician--he was not on My list of people I'd invite to dinner. But if someone held a gun to My head and forced Me to invite a Fool, he would have been invited just before dessert appeared on the table.

Willie's 12+ years in Caguas were built upon the planning and vision of another well-respected Caguas mayor, Angel Berríos. But beyond safekeeping a vision, Willie provided a set of insights all his own, moving Caguas to the forefront of trend-setting municipalities in Puerto Rico with several civic and business initiatives that transformed the city. He will probably be best remembered for introducing the 1% "Willie Tax," a precursor of the much-trashed Sales Tax. As a move to enrich Fools and the stupid games they play in lieu of government, the Willie Tax was a success. For them. For Us it was the abandonment of any attempt at sober government fiscal policy in favor of squeezing more money out of Our residents in exchange for less services overall.

But Willie didn't follow that pattern too closely. He actually improved some services in Caguas and created new venues, from the Fine Arts Center (planned by Angel, but expanded as a government center by Willie) to high-value real estate projects, the kind that Angel wasn't keen on, but Willie saw the benefit of "suburbanizing" the city as an expansion of San Juan.

Before you think I'm treading lightly because he's dead, let Me point out that, in a corrupt game, the successful (long-term) player has to participate in and benefit from the corruption. Any scenario that implies that the player--Let's call him "Willie"--rises to the top of the party crony system and remains in power for 12+ years amidst a cesspool of thieves, frauds, cheats, perverts and sociopaths and remains as pure as the driven snow is nothing but the hollow babbling of an imbecile. Willie was a successful long-term player in Our political cesspool: Willie was not pure as the driven snow. He was simply better at not exposing himself too much and thus getting caught. If that makes him a hero, it says more about Us than it does about him.

Which brings Me to Willie's biggest failing in his potential quest for transcendent political fame: he wasn't white enough. (Pun and insight intended.) I've said it before and I'll point it out again: all of Our governors have been men or woman of skin far whiter than Willie's. In fact, the only gubernatorial candidate darker than Willie since the 1950s was the PPR's Rogelio Figueroa, but in his case, the more proper term would be "candidate". Or maybe "cardboard." Really thin cardboard.

But maybe it wasn't a failing. Maybe Willie never really wanted to be the governor and felt perfectly at home in his role of Caguas Mayor. As a military man, Willie would be familiar with the concept of "career NCO" or "career staff officer," men and women for whom promotion would mean leaving behind the rank and role they love and felt best in. Maybe it was the collective yearning of his supporters that pushed him in the direction of acting like a gubernatorial candidate and he played along because he was a politician and that's what politicians do: cater to the masses. In that case, his pliancy (and here I am being polite) could have done more harm than good, as he had plenty of options to turn that support into something more insightful and influential than mere "candidacy."

He may have tried, by attempting to reframe the ubiquitously noxious status debate. However, his words lacked vibrancy and consistency, undermined, fr example, by the idea of suing the U.S. of part of A. for Our agreeing to the current contract by which they own Us and by his own inability to rise above the fray and act as a (youngish) elder statesman, someone who clearly placed the nation above party and personal politics. He could have done it, but he didn't, and therein lies his epitaph with Me.

The support he has received and will receive today and for the next few days is more pity than admiration. Willie was not at the top of an objective list of great politicians, but in that underclass of Fools, he was far from a serial bottom-feeder. And so that's My epitaph for him: Not near the best, far from the worst.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 June 2010

Money Defined

Money. Basic and like so many basic things, often misunderstood. Here, from the pen of Ayn Rand in her opus Atlas Shrugged, comes a lengthy and passionately thoughtful definition of money. Rand was a crazy bitch, but she got some things very very right. This is one of them:

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor— your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth..."

"...But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality—the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

"Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth—the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Or did you say it's the LOVE of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money—and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it."

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt—and of his life, as he deserves..."

"...Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming?
Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot..."

"...When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are..."

"...Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other—and your time is running out."

The Jenius Has Quoted.