Lees and Orts

Regarding the putatively illegal contract with Whitefish to restore power to Puerto Rico:

PREPA’s decision to contract Whitefish could be a costly one.

While the Whitefish spokeswoman says it’s “not possible at this time to estimate” the cost of completing the work, the hourly wages the firm is reportedly charging for its contracted workers are eye-popping.

“Under the contract, the hourly rate was set at $330 for a site supervisor, and at $227.88 for a ‘journeyman lineman,'” The Washington Post reports. “The cost for subcontractors, which make up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, is $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish also charges nightly accommodation fees of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.”

UTIER, the electrical workers’ union of Puerto Rico, tweeted its consternation at those rates. “We need support and help, but under these conditions it is impossible and questionable. Who allowed this?”

Who, indeed?

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

Charles Blow has been killin’ it of late. Sadly, to little or no avail…

What has happened is that the ground keeps lurching more rightward beneath Flake’s feet, toward fundamentalism and fanaticism. Indeed, Flake was a Tea Party darling who got scalped by Steve Bannon-ism.

Trump-era Republicans have accepted depravity and vitriol as the price they’re willing to pay to have a person willing to fight the people and institutions they distrust and detest. Encouraging violence isn’t disqualifying. Defaming Mexicans and Muslims is not disqualifying. Bragging about sexual assault is not disqualifying. Being a pathological liar is not disqualifying. Coddling white supremacists is not disqualifying. Attacking Gold Star families is not disqualifying.

None of it is disqualifying. To the contrary, it is supremely satisfying. the Moral Majority has become the iniquitous minority.

This Republican Party is the party of Trump and Bannon, not Flake and Corker.

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

Question a four-star Marine Corps general? White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders nearly blanched at the thought.

“I think that — if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate,’’ she said in response to a relatively benign question in the latest he-said, she-said Washington drama…

…Is it appropriate to challenge a general?

If the answer to that isn’t a resounding “Yes!” to anyone having even a nodding acquaintance with history, reason has taken an extended vacation.

Remember Gen. William Westmoreland, who led our troops in the Vietnam War and kept reassuring us we were winning? If he’d have been questioned more closely by the press and his policy-making bosses, who bought his misrepresentations, we may have saved thousands of American and Vietnamese lives.

And what of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his conduct in the Korean conflict? President Harry Truman fired MacArthur because he was running wild, unchallenged by others in the government who didn’t question him enough
President John F. Kennedy acknowledged he should have been questioned more aggressively by the press and should have questioned his generals more closely before the Bay of Pigs fiasco. “I only wish the papers had done their job,” he said later…

…And let’s recall that four-star Gen. Colin Powell was among the cast of characters who led us into the Iraq War in search of weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist…

…To be sure, the officer ranks in the American military are worthy of respect and admiration. Generals don’t get those stars for nothing.

But they are mortal. They are fallible. And they need to be challenged — by the president, by the people and by the press.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board succinctly call out out the blindingly obvious what our local paper has even refused to comment on. Sad days, indeed.

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

Last May, nearly 100 demonstrators gathered around the Islamic Da’wah Center in downtown Houston, squaring off against one another in competing camps.

The “Stop Islamization of Texas” protest was, on its face, largely similar to any number of other tense, vitriolic demonstrations that percolated through 2016. On the one end: a crew carrying Confederate flags, #WhiteLivesMatter banners, and heavy weaponry. On the other: counter-protesters with signs decrying Islamophobia, calling for communal unity, and a bubble machine going at full blast.

The organizers behind the anti-Islam protesters, however, never showed. And now, over 16 months later, we know why.

As CNN reported last week, the protest was put together by the “Heart of Texas” Facebook page – a page that was revealed last month as one of the fake accounts operated out of Russia. Unlike the November anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-secession rallies the page attempted to organize across Texas, the May protest not only brought armed protesters, but a raft of counter-protesters to face down those calling for “white power!”…

…the revelations point to an even darker reality than the protest itself unveiled. Not only did the “Heart of Texas” page call – successfully – for protesters to bring firearms (“concealed or not!”) but Russian operatives were able to convince armed white supremacists to congregate in downtown Houston, facing off with dozens opposed to their message. Given recent events in Charlottesville, the fact that Russian operatives organized rifle-toting white nationalists into a confrontation with counter-protesters should give pause to politicians on both sides of the aisle – all the more as one of the comments on the “Heart of Texas” page called to “blow…up” the Islamic center.

Lees and Orts

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