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I talk to John Rachel here about U.S. foreign policy. Less than 30 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvOun9YOqwk

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Good Interview, Bill!

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 "I don’t mean this as a great revelation."

Even absent learned studies and erudite commentary, I think common sense proves the accuracy of your take about foreign policy, Bill. At least, for those who make an effort to stay informed.

But I'd posit that it was ever thus. The money-determines-policy concept dates back to historical nation-states. The Spanish expeditions to the New World certainly weren't altruistic in nature, for example. Then there was the East India Company and all the colonialism (backed by military power, of course) that resulted therefrom. Russia's centuries-long mantra of moving westward and gaining warm-water ports was also a money-making vehicle, as much as anything else (although some of the czars also wanted to European-ize their country) I'd assert that powerful merchants/moneyed interests were at least partly responsible for most of those historical trends. We know, for example, that some of the big Dutch banks were highly influential in pushing foreign policy. Then there was the U.S.-based United Fruit Company's (founded in 1899) adventures in Latin America, also backed by military power, as Smedley Butler discussed. Myriad other examples exist, of course.

All this to say that the golden rule has always been a mainstay in any foreign policy among more [and often less] powerful countries. I won't even start on the Vatican.

Perhaps we just see it more clearly in 20th and 21st century U.S., because the power is so naked and so concentrated. And even we peasants can now access some information about our government's doings, which our 15th-century predecessors largely could not. I'd also speculate that this country’s unabashed worship of the military has made it easier for the profit motive to come out of the closet.

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Jan 26, 2023Liked by Bill Astore

You ask a timely Question, Bill, and I have read today's thoughtful article plus the 12 equally thoughtful

comments from your regular readers--I agree with many but not all those replies and note that most move quickly away from the question you posed, to observations and opinions about the current

state of foreign policy decisions and practices.

May I offer one more reference to give more historical context to the development of Corporations'

intertwining with Capitalism economies:

"The Corporation" --The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan, Simon & Schuster,

New York, C. 2004, and "The New Corporation--How "Good" Corporations are Bad for Democracy"

New York, Vintage Books, 2020. Bakan is a US and Canadian citizen, Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia, author, musician, filmmaker.

I'm a retired MD, my extensive college and professional education from 1961 to 1980 did not include a lot of Economic or Political Science courses, so I, being something of an eclectic reader and autodidact, interested in American and European history and politics, found these to be enlightening.

I've subscribed to Col. Astore's Bracing Views and Tom Englehardt's TomDispatch for years, have come to endorse both these web publications with family, colleagues and friends--

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author

Thanks, Steve. When it comes to economics, finance, and big business, I have to admit my ignorance and lack of experience. For example, my economics background is exactly one college course in macroeconomics. I did well in it -- and have forgotten nearly all of what I learned 40 years ago. Sigh.

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'Russia Readies Its “Poseidon” Doomsday Weapon As The World Stumbles To The Brink Of Nuclear Conflict'

In a game of “nuclear chicken”, one of the potential outcomes is that everybody loses. We have reached a point where nuclear annihilation is just one mistake away, and that should deeply alarm all of us. But as I discussed in a previous article, most people don’t seem to care. Instead, most people just seem to assume that our leaders have everything under control and that they know exactly what they are doing. Unfortunately, the truth is that they are completely nuts. They just decided to escalate the war in Ukraine again, and they are dragging us to the brink of nuclear conflict. Of course once a nuclear war starts, the option of choosing new leaders will be gone.

This week, it is being reported that the Russians have just completed the construction of the “first batch” of Poseidon doomsday weapons…....................................

https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/russia-readies-its-poseidon-doomsday-weapon-as-the-world-stumbles-to-the-brink-of-nuclear-conflict/

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Ray, I think of starting WW3 as hitting the reset button, a possibility when one side is overwhelmingly powerful but the other side can bring down the whole tent in literally a flash so that all have to start from scratch, and perish alike.

I doubt that Germany or Japan would have hesitated had they the reset ability as the Allies closed in. Both countries wanted to remake the world to their liking. Hitler is to have said near the end that Germany had let him down (thus deserving destruction) and there were some high Japanese officials at the end who believed everyone in the homeland should take up the fight after a US invasion rather than submit.

The US actually has remade the world, economically, to its liking. But, not satisfied, wishes to press Russia to its border by proxy while remaining far from the action with nothing to lose, unless there is a reset.

When Russia first invaded Ukraine, Biden did speak of the danger of provoking nuclear war. He says nothing about it now and nothing about diplomacy. One does have to wonder if there is any sanity at the top in Washington.

The great irony is that the US used the atomic bomb to (it has said) save lives, but now pushes and pushes some more risking unprecedented loss of life including millions of Americans and, considering fallout and nuclear winter are not selective, of humanity in general including the Ukrainians we claim to be defending.

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I agree except on one point, it’s not Capitalism that is at fault, it is that what we have in the United States is corporatism, as coined by Mussolini and a essential element of the fascist ideology. If we had true Capitalism the producers wouldn’t look to government for handouts, because the government would have no power to grant them. If a State is necessary, and I do not agree that it is, then it need to be limited to a very narrow role in society. Something more on the order of the original Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution abolished. It never had any legitimate authority anyway. Read Lysander Spooner.

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author

Yes, I take your point about capitalism vs. corporatism. We have this theory of "free market" capitalism where there's a level playing field among competitors, but of course it's nonsense. Corporations don't like competition; they prefer monopoly and a rigged game. And so that's what America has.

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founding

For a very complete analysis of the difference between Capitalism and Fascism ~ especially "Fascism with an American Face," as it has been termed ~ see FASCISM VERSUS CAPITALISM, in PDF format at https://mises.org/library/fascism-versus-capitalism .

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founding

Thank You, Kit. i was about to point out the same fact:

That America is not now ~ nor has it ever been ~ "Capitalist" in any meaningful sense of the term at all. But rather that it has always been "Corporatist," an incestuous relationship between those with private economic wealth, on the one hand, and those with public political and thus legal authority and power, on the other.

Or what Bertram Gross back in 1980 termed and explored as "Friendly Fascism," in his book by that title.

And i also agree with You completely that The State [government at all levels] should have a very limited role, particularly when it come to the nation's Economy and Civil Society.

One of the primary reason the Articles of Confederation was ultimately rejected by The Federalists was because of exactly that: that the Articles limited the ability of private wealth owners to use their wealth to gain access to the legal, administrative, and regulatory power [and particularly, the spending authority] of the State to advance those private wealth owners' personal and cohort interests and agendas.

And finally, i would suggest that folks could get a much clearer and current understanding of what You are talking about here by reading Murray Rothbard, rather than Lysander Spooner. Have a Great day.

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Jan 26, 2023·edited Jan 26, 2023

Never in memory has it been so daunting to figure out what’s going on during a major international crisis as with the Ukraine affair. That sad truth owes much to the total absence of truthful reporting and honest interpretative analysis by the MSM. We are served heavy portions of falsity, fantasy and farrago crudely mixed into a narrative whose relation to reality is tenuous. The near universal swallowing of this confection is made possible by the abdication of responsibility – intellectual and political – by America’s political class, from Washington’s high & mighty down through the galaxy of unthink tanks and self-absorbed academia.

Now, the legion of scripters for this fictional story are working with renewed energy to incorporate a few fresh elements: the Biden/NATO decision to send an eclectic array of armor to buttress Ukraine’s faltering forces; and the mounting evidence of crippling, incremental dismantling of its army by Russia’s superior military. As always, that reaction turns out to be an exercise in avoidance behavior. The roughly 100 tanks slated to arrive in piecemeal fashion over the coming year will be a “game-changer.” Putin’s army is a proven “paper tiger.” “Democracy” is destined to prevail over despotic barbarism. Or so we are told in stomach-churning doses of snake-oil. I guess that we all have ways if amusing ourselves.

A systematic refutation of this mythic construction is both superfluous and futile. It has been done over the past year by able, experienced and thoughtful analysts who actually know what they are talking about: Colonel Douglas Macgregor, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Colonel Scott Ritter and a handful of others who together are relegated to obscure websites and scorned by the MSM. Attached is an acute analysis by Ritter of the actual military value of the infusion of tanks and other armor, and what that move augurs for the war’s future trajectory.

By way of introduction, I am adding my own assessment of the present strategic picture and where we are headed. It is based on inference – to some extent – as well as my reading of the conflict’s genealogy. The main points are made in blunt, declaratory sentences. That strikes me as necessary to break through the fog of fabrications (lies) and calculated distortions which obscure what should be evident.

The crisis’ starting point was in February 2014 when the Obama administration inspired and orchestrated a coup in Kyiv that usurped the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Victoria Nuland was there in Maidan Square cheer-leading and conniving together with her brother in color revolution Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. They collaborated with violent, extreme ultra-nationalist groups with whom Washington actively had been cultivating ties for a number of years. Those ultras dominate Ukraine’s security service and the government’s key policy body, the Security Council, to this day.

The Maidan coup was the culmination of the deeply rooted American objective of incorporating an anti-Russian Ukraine into the Western organizational orbit: NATO above all - as President George W. Bush sought to do as early as 2008. The picket-fencing of a Russia kept at the margins of an American directed Europe had been an objective since 1991. The emergence of a strong, highly effective leader as represented by Vladimir Putin quickened the perceived need to keep Russia weak and boxed in.

The Donbass uprising/secession, provoked by the Maiden coup attended by the coming to power of rabid elements dedicated to subjugating the country’s 10 million or so Russians, resulted in the autonomy of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as well as the integration of the Crimea (historically and demographically part of Russia) into the Russian Federation. From that moment on, the United States fashioned and executed a strategy to reverse both shifts, to put Russia back in its place and to draw a stark line of separation between it and all of Europe to its West.

Ukraine became a de facto American protectorate. Key ministries were salted with American advisers, including the key Ministry of Finance headed by an American citizen dispatched from Washington. A massive program of arming, training and generally reconstituting the Ukraine army was undertaken. (In the Obama years, the overseer of the project was Joe Biden). Washington also used its influence to undercut the Minsk II accords wherein Ukraine and Russian signed onto a formula for peaceful resolution of the Donbass issue, supposedly underwritten by Germany and France. We now know from candid public testimony that Kyiv, Berlin and Paris had no intention from the outset of implementing it. Rather, it was device to buy time for strengthening Ukraine to the point where it could retake the ‘lost’ territories by inflicting a military defeat on Russia.

Preparations were made by the Biden administration to heighten tensions to the point where an armed conflict was inescapable. The sporadic shelling of Donetsk city (where 16,000 civilians were killed between 2015 and 2002 – official estimate by UN commission) was increased several fold, Ukrainian army units assembled en masse along the demarcated boundary. Russia preempted.

The rest is history.

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Where are we now? Here, inference takes precedence.

1. The Biden administration has committed itself to escalation by the deployment of previously precluded heavy weapons systems. It has strong-armed its Western European allies to provide armaments, too. Why? The people driving policy in Wahington cannot stomach the prospect of a defeat. That is to say, a Russian crushing of the Ukrainian army, its incorporation of the claimed four provinces, and the fatuous Western narrative shown to be little more than a string of lies. Too much in the way of prestige, money, and political capital has been invested for that outcome to be tolerated.

Moreover, just as Ukraine has been used cynically as an instrument for bringing Russia to its knees, so is the denaturing of Russia as power seen as integral to the global confrontation with China that dominates all strategic thinking. The option of working out terms of co-existence and non-coercive competition with China has been rejected outright. America’s near entire political class is determined to reinforce the country’s global hegemony and is girding itself to do so. The rest of the country has yet to be informed, and it is too distracted to bother paying attention to the self-evident signs of what’s afoot. The strategic program was laid out in Paul Wolfowitz’s notorious memo of March 1991 which has become Scripture for most of the foreign policy community. (It’s contents, along with the genesis of the Neo-Cons who adopted it long ago as holy writ - and made the historic transformation from just one sect to being the semi-official doctrinal faith of the entire American imperium - is examined in a long piece that I distributed a few months ago, also attached).

The absolute failure to crash the Russian economy, thereby to open the way to political change in Moscow, and to render its supplement to Chinese power nugatory is a disappointment; but that does not faze the true believers. The United States has unified a bridled Collective West as its willing pawns who acquiesce in whatever moves Washington wants them to follow.

The signal event that punctuates that extraordinary subordination was the Germany’s agreement to allowing the United States (and associates) to blow up the Nordstrom II which successive Berlin governments had deemed essential to meeting German industry’s energy needs. One can rationalize it as the readiness of the Schulz to “take one for the team.” What team? What overriding national interest? The annals of history record no comparable instance of a sovereign state inflicting such severe damage on itself on its own volition.

An additional plus from the Ukraine affair, in the eyes of American policy-makers, is the crystallization of an international system whose foundational structure is bipolar – a “we vs they” world similar to the Cold War - is convenient insofar as it places few demands on intellectual imagination or skillful diplomacy for which they have neither aptitude nor appetite.

2. All members of the Collective West have signed on to the Biden escalation plan. So, too, - of course – the dominant factions in Zelensky’s government. There is good reason to think that the purpose of CIA Director William Burns sudden visit to Kiev a few days before the Abrams tank deployment was announced was to ensure that there would be no defectors among Zelensky’s inner circle or other senior officials who might get cold feet at the prospect of Ukraine becoming the battleground for a Russo-American war with effects similar to what it had endured from 1941 – 1944. Burns visit was followed almost immediately by a massive purge of the leadership ranks along with officials at lower levels. The official line, accepted by the ever-pliable MSM, has been that this purge represented a virtuous anti-corruption campaign – albeit in the midst of a full-scale war. We’ve been told that Burns came all that way to clear up a few minor issues (and perhaps to take the baths?) Zelensky himself had become too much of an asset as the heralded savior of Ukraine to be disposed of himself – as was Diem in Vietnam in 1963. Burns doubtless offered guarantees that he was secure – whomever else was going to be tossed overboard.

3. It is near impossible to see how the United States’ objectives can be reached in Ukraine. However, the neo-cons have no ‘reverse gear’ – to use Alexander Mercouris’ apt phrase. They have instigated a crusade aimed at securing America’s global dominance – forever and anon. Ukraine is a waystation on the road to that visionary Jerusalem. In their grand scheme, though, they have failed to bother with a coherent, feasible strategy for resolving the current crisis.

As for President Biden, he looks to be only nominally in charge. He has been entirely captured by the Neo-Cons. He hears no other voices. As a life-long, instinctive hawk, he leans in their direction. He is old, weak and perhaps suffering from early-stage Parkinson’s.

4. Before the end of the year, we all are likely to face the moment of truth. Russian forces will be on the Dnieper and, in some places, beyond it. Ukraine’s army will be on its last legs – Abrams, Leopard IIs, Challengers, Bradleys etc. notwithstanding. What does the outwitted and feckless Biden bunch do then? Anything is possible.

by Michael Brenner

mbren@pitt.edu

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founding

For an excellent summation of all the Myths, Lies, Hoaxes, Scams, and Shams being perpetrated and perpetuated about Cold War II’s first Hot War… :

WHY THE WORLD NEEDS UKRAINIAN VICTORY by Timothy Snyder 012323

~ 1. TO HALT ATROCITY. Russia’s occupation is genocidal. Wherever the Ukrainians recover territory, they save lives, and re-establish the principle that people have a right not to be tortured, deported, and murdered.

~ 2. TO PRESERVE THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ORDER. Its basis is that one country may not invade another and annex its territory, as Russia seeks to do. Russia’s war of aggression is obviously illegal, but the legal order does not defend itself.

~ 3. TO END AN ERA OF EMPIRE. This could be the last war fought on the colonial logic that another state and people do not exist. But this turning point is reached only if Russia loses.

~ 4. TO DEFEND THE PEACE PROJECT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. Russia’s war is not directed only against Ukraine, but against the larger idea that European states can peacefully cooperate. If empire prevails, integration fails.

~ 5. TO GIVE THE RULE OF LAW A CHANCE IN RUSSIA. So long as Russia fights imperial wars, it is trapped in repressive domestic politics. Coming generations of Russians could live better and freer lives, but only if Russia loses this war.

~ 6. TO WEAKEN THE PRESTIGE OF TYRANTS. In this century, the trend has been towards authoritarianism, with Putinism as a force and a model. Its defeat by a democracy reverses that trend. Fascism is about force, and is discredited by defeat.

~ 7. TO REMIND US THAT DEMOCRACY IS THE BETTER SYSTEM. Ukrainians have internalized the idea that they choose their own leaders. In taking risks to protect their democracy, they remind us that we all must act to protect ours.

~ 8. TO LIFT THE THREAT OF MAJOR WAR IN EUROPE. For decades, a confrontation with the USSR and then Russia was the scenario for regional war. A Ukrainian victory removes this scenario by making another Russian offensive implausible.

~ 9. TO LIFT THE THREAT OF MAJOR WAR IN ASIA. In recent years, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan has been the leading scenario for a global war. A Ukrainian victory teaches Beijing that such an offensive operation is costly and likely to fail.

~ 10. TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons. Russia, a nuclear power, then invaded. If Ukraine loses, countries that can build nuclear weapons will feel that they need to do so to protect themselves.

~ 11. TO REDUCE THE RISK OF NUCLEAR WAR. A Ukrainian victory makes two major war scenarios involving nuclear powers less likely, and works against nuclear proliferation generally. Nothing would reduce the risk of nuclear war more than Ukrainian victory.

~ 12. TO HEAD OFF FUTURE RESOURCE WARS. Aside from being a consistent perpetrator of war crimes, Russia’s Wagner group seizes mineral resources by violence wherever it can. This is why it is fighting in Bakhmut.

~ 13. TO GUARANTEE FOOD SUPPLIES AND PREVENT FUTURE STARVATION. Ukraine feeds much of the world. Russia threatens to use that food as a weapon. As one Russian propagandist put it, “starvation is our only hope.”

~ 14. TO ACCELERATE THE SHIFT FROM FOSSIL FUELS. Putin shows the threat that hydrocarbon oligarchy poses to the future. His weaponization of energy supplies has accelerated the turn towards renewables. This will continue, if Russia loses.

~ 15. TO AFFIRM THE VALUE OF FREEDOM. Even as they have every reason to define freedom as against something — Russian occupation – Ukrainians remind us that freedom is actually for something, the right to be the people they wish to be, in a future they can help shape.

I am a historian of political atrocity, and for me personally number 1 — defeating an ongoing genocidal project — would be more than enough reason to want Ukrainian victory. But every single one of the other fourteen is hugely significant. Each presents the kind of opportunity that generations of policy planners wish for, but almost never get. Much has been done, we have not yet seen and seized the moment.

THIS IS A ONCE-IN-LIFETIME CONJUNCTURE, NOT TO BE WASTED. THE UKRAINIANS HAVE GIVEN US A CHANCE TO TURN THIS CENTURY AROUND, A CHANCE FOR FREEDOM AND SECURITY THAT WE COULD NOT HAVE ACHIEVED BY OUR OWN EFFORTS, NO MATTER WHO WE HAPPEN TO BE. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS HELP THEM WIN.

https://attackthesystem.com/2023/01/25/why-the-world-needs-ukrainian-victory/

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THE PENTAGON’S PERPETUAL CRISIS MACHINE by Jacob G. Hornberger 012623

Given President Biden’s decision to send 31 of its top-ranked M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, it is clear that the Pentagon has decided to escalate its war against Russia. Biden’s decision was followed by Germany’s decision to deliver 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine.

I’LL GUARANTEE YOU THERE ISN’T A RUSSIAN ALIVE WHO DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT THE TIME IN THE 1940S WHEN GERMANY SENT ITS TANKS DEEP INTO RUSSIA, KILLED MILLIONS OF RUSSIANS, AND ALMOST SUCCEEDED IN CONQUERING THE COUNTRY.

If the increasing pressure that the Pentagon is putting on Russia does not result in a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, the advocates of this highly dangerous interventionist and escalatory strategy will later exclaim, “You see, we told you that there was never a risk of nuclear war.” But WHAT’S INTERESTING ABOUT THE PENTAGON’S STRATEGY IS THAT IF IT DOES RESULT IN NUCLEAR WAR, THERE WON’T BE ANYONE AROUND TO POINT OUT HOW WRONGHEADED IT WAS.

This is obviously no way to live. But this is what life is like under a national-security state form of governmental structure. THE MILITARY-INTELLIGENCE ESTABLISHMENT NEEDS A CONSTANT STREAM OF CRISES TO KEEP PEOPLE AGITATED, HYPED-UP, AFRAID, ANXIOUS, AND TENSE.

IN THAT WAY, THEY’LL LOOK TO THE MILITARY-INTELLIGENCE ESTABLISHMENT TO KEEP THEM “SAFE.” WITHOUT THE CONSTANT STREAM OF CRISES, PEOPLE MIGHT BE APT TO ASK, “WHY DO WE NEED A NATIONAL-SECURITY STATE? WHY CAN’T WE HAVE OUR LIMITED-GOVERNMENT REPUBLIC BACK?”

Moreover, a constant stream of crises ensures ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, which are the three principal components of the national-security establishment. That amount will soon reach $1 trillion per year.

I’ll guarantee you that THE MANUFACTURERS OF TANKS ARE UNCORKING THE CHAMPAGNE BOTTLES TODAY. AFTER ALL, THOSE TANKS BEING SENT TO UKRAINE HAVE TO BE REPLACED. HARD-PRESSED AMERICAN TAXPAYERS WILL PAY FOR THEM, EITHER DIRECTLY THROUGH TAXES OR INDIRECTLY THROUGH MORE FEDERAL DEBT (NOW AT $31.5 TRILLION AND CLIMBING EVERY DAY) AND INFLATION.

THAT’S WHAT THE ENTIRE COLD WAR RACKET WAS ALL ABOUT — keeping Americans agitated, hyped-up, afraid, anxious, and tense. Everyone was inculcated with the notion that the Russian Reds were coming to get us. Only the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA could save us from a communist takeover.

THE ONLY PRESIDENT WHO HAS EVER BEEN WILLING TO CONFRONT THIS SCAM WAS PRESIDENT KENNEDY, AND WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

Continued at https://www.fff.org/2023/01/26/the-pentagons-perpetual-crisis-machine/ [EMPHASES added.]

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us’ position on forcing separatist Russians in Donbas and Crimea is the exact opposite of positions taken from Korea and Vietnam thru Kurdistan and Syria.

us is out to do Russia like it did iraq and libya

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author

With respect to the Supreme Court, it's fascinating how abortion dominates the debate when the last three justices (before Biden's pick) were picked much more for their pro-business, pro-authority views.

Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett will never rule in favor of workers. The "power elite" made sure of that. It's a 6-3 court in favor of the powerful.

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