PND Commentary

The witch-hunters

November 28, 2016
posted by

Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com
by Justin Raimondo  

"Propornot's 'criteria' for inclusion on their blacklist is actually an ideological litmus test: if you hold certain views, you're in the pay of the Kremlin, or else an 'unwitting agent' -- as former CIA head Mike Morell said of Trump. If you say anything at all positive about Russia or Putin -- or a long list of entities, like China or 'radical political parties in the US or Europe' (does this include the GOP?) -- it's a dead giveaway. ... The folks at propornot are explicit about their goal: they want the government to step in. They want to close down these 'agents of influence.' In their own words, they want the FBI and the Department of Justice to launch 'formal investigations' of the sites on their blacklist .... Oh, but they say they want to 'avoid McCarthyism!' They just want to shut us down and shut us up." (11/27/16)

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/11/27/the-witch-hunters/  

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The electoral college wasn’t meant to overturn elections

November 28, 2016
posted by

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Garrett Epps  

"Today's electoral-college supporters often quote Alexander Hamilton's Federalist 68: 'the immediate election [of the president] should be made by men most capable of ana[y]zing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favourable to deliberation,' Hamilton wrote. The Federalist, brilliant as it is, isn't a definitive guide to what the Framers 'intended' -- it is a sales document .... Hamilton here is a car salesman explaining that the undercoat package might seem useless but is really worth it. Here's why the 'deliberation' idea of electors is false. Under Article II § 1 cl. 3, the electors never meet as a group. They meet 'in their respective states' ... Kept resolutely apart, they vote once and only once. If by chance, a majority of electors nationwide favor one candidate, he or she becomes president. If there's a tie, or no candidate gets a majority, then the House decides. The electors get thanked and sent home. In short, nobody in 1787-88 thought of the electors as anything but what they are today -- faceless hacks whose ideas and judgment are neither wanted nor permitted." (11/27/16)

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/the-electoral-college-shouldnt-save-us-from-trump/508817/  

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Lamenting the “end” of what never began

November 28, 2016
posted by

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson  

"At Reason, editor Nick Gillespie interviews Dan Griswold of the Mercatus Center ('Donald Trump and the End of Free Trade,' Nov. 21) on Trump's likely abandonment of TPP and his trade policies in general. Trump's views on economics, like his views on everything else, are obviously nonsense; but they're not nonsense because TPP embodies 'free trade.' If anything, Gillespie and Griswold illustrate why the right-libertarian understanding of 'free trade' is nonsense." (11/24/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/47019  

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Untrustworthy journalists left us vulnerable to fake news

November 28, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Steve Deace  

"Each January, tens of thousands of pro-lifers descend upon our nation's capitol to mark the solemn occasion of the Roe v. Wade anniversary. That's the month in 1973 the Supreme Court used a fake law to create a fake right to kill our own offspring, and a body count that has now reached well over 50 million began. Each January, this mass demonstration of conviction rarely gets more than perfunctory coverage by major U.S. newspapers, cable news networks and the nightly broadcast news. However, last weekend a few blocks away from the site of the march, the meeting of a couple hundred racists trying to rebrand themselves as the 'alt-right' received days of coverage. Type 'March for Life' into Google News and 4.6 million results come up. That's a pretty hefty number until you type in 'alt right' and see it returns more than 6 million. How come a term most of us hadn't heard of, until the just-concluded 2016 presidential election, gets more attention than a national protest that is older than Google itself? Talk about your fake news." [editor's note: Solid perspective - SAT] (11/26/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/11/23/fake-news-trump-facebook-journalism-steve-deace-column/94348136  

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Thanks, comrade!

November 28, 2016
posted by

The Power of Narrative
by Arthur Silber  

"Besides the flood of State propaganda that flows from all the major news organizations -- see my recent post for a detailed discussion of how these news organizations function as devoted adjuncts of the State -- the United States has one further card to play. In fact, the U.S. has been playing it for decades. And the U.S. doesn't hide it. To the contrary, the U.S. government proudly boasts of its actions and views its actions as entirely honorable. Because our enemies are just that bad. I'm speaking, of course, of the Voice of America. ... it's absolutely hilarious that, in this brouhaha, the U.S. government and a tawdry collection of cognitively impaired liberals mightily puff themselves up in phony moral outrage (now there's something that is undeniably fake). There isn't a thing about 'fake news' that the U.S. government doesn't know. Not only does it spend a bloody fortune on it, but it forcibly takes the required funds from its citizens to pay for the 'fake news' it disseminates. Ah, freedom!" (11/25/16)

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2016/11/thanks-comrade.html  

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How an entitled Clinton and the “politics of resentment” gave us Trump

November 28, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Theo Anderson  

"Hillary Clinton's loss has been called many things: a repudiation of progressivism, a mandate to repeal Obamacare, the failure of multiculturalism, the beginning of a GOP crackup, the shattering of the Democratic Party and so on. It’s tempting to find such deep meanings in presidential elections. So much is invested in them and so much is at stake. But the immediate lessons we draw from them are often different than history’s judgment. Consider the 1964 election, when Republicans won just six states and it looked as if the GOP, torn apart by a war between its far-right wing and the establishment, would be in the wilderness for decades. Yet Republicans won five of the next six presidential elections, including a nearly clean sweep in 1972, when the Democratic candidate won only one state." [editor's note: Noce to see one "progressive" pundit looking at the reality - SAT] (11/23/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19666/how-an-entitled-clinton-and-the-politics-of-resentment-gave-us-trump  

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Smear-mongering: A mea culpa for the age of McCarthyism 2.0

November 28, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Chris Floyd  

"OK, I guess I'd better come clean. It seems that I must be a paid agent of the Kremlin. After all, I write for CounterPunch Magazine -- for money! I used to write regularly for Truthout.org -- for money! I've contributed articles to the Baltimore Gazette. I’ve often quoted and linked to stories from the Black Agenda Report. I’ve regularly quoted and linked to articles by prize-winning AP/Newsweek reporter Robert Parry for years. According to the Washington Post, all of this makes me either a paid Kremlin propagandist or a Kremlin dupe. There is no other alternative. And who says this? A collection of completely anonymous 'experts' from a group no one has ever heard of until it materialized for the Post article." (11/25/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/25/smear-mongering-a-mea-culpa-for-the-age-of-mccarthyism-2-0/  

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Why populism challenges democracy from within

November 27, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Marc Fleurbaey  

"Populism today has four important aspects: It flourishes in democratic political systems; it represents a radical form of majoritarian action; it flourishes amid social distress and increasing economic inequality; and it presents a threat to constitutional democratic procedures and institutions. Populist movements fight over the meaning of representation in democracies. Because populist politicians present themselves as leaders above party pluralism, and because populist movements make claims in the name of the allegedly unanimous 'will of the people,' they challenge and strain constitutional procedures for elections and representative government. Such strains can open the door to regime change in the direction of tyranny or dictatorship." [editor's note: Nice to see "regime change" used to describe America for once - SAT] (11/25/16)

http://prospect.org/article/why-populism-challenges-democracy-within  

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Washington Post disgracefully promotes a McCarthyite blacklist from a new, hidden, and very shady group

November 27, 2016
posted by

The Intercept The Intercept
by Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald  

"In casting the group behind this website as 'experts,' the Post described PropOrNot simply as 'a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.' Not one individual at the organization is named. The executive director is quoted, but only on the condition of anonymity, which the Post said it was providing the group 'to avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers.' In other words, the individuals behind this newly created group are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda -- even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage -- while cowardly hiding their own identities. The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy but without the courage to attach their names to their blacklist." (11/26/16)

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/  

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Liberal response to Trump devolving into “outrage porn”

November 27, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Eric Sasson  

"The outrage over Donald Trump's election has continued unabated on social media for more than two weeks now. It has been a useful and necessary exercise, allowing many on the left to voice their concerns, fears, and anger about the results. Eventually, however, the outrage must serve a greater purpose if progressives expect to have any say in the direction of their government. There has been ample coverage of Trump's outrageous statements and lies for well over a year. Hours upon hours of airtime and thousands of articles have been devoted to declaring him a danger to the republic. Several prominent newspapers abandoned their long-held impartiality to declare him unfit for office. It didn't work. The people who supported Trump knew the things he had said and done and were aware of his temperament -- and still chose him to be leader of the free world. It is painfully clear that all our outrage didn't work. And now there's a danger of getting sucked into a vortex of what I'd like to refer to as 'outrage porn.'" (11/25/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/138996/liberal-response-trump-devolving-outrage-porn  

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The amazing immigrants who won the Revolutionary War

November 27, 2016
posted by

Cracked
by Alex Schmidt  

"Pretty much an immigrant is the only reason we have an organized military." [Flash video] (11/26/16)

http://www.cracked.com/video_20281_the-amazing-immigrants-that-won-revolutionary-war.html  

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For Trump, time to put statesmanship over showmanship

November 27, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by John Lloyd  

"People live by stories. In our age, these stories are both fashioned by them through social media and for them by the mainstream media. Facebook and Twitter provide them with galaxies of real and virtual characters; other outlets deliver emotional narratives where stories are central, the facts peripheral. The modern politician who succeeds best is the one who grasps enough of that dynamic to be able to exploit it. In the U.S. presidential election, Hillary Clinton did not grasp it. Clinton looks into things: policies, issues, problems. She knows in some detail the possibilities of a settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, just as she knows the present and future problems of the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.She could give seminars on both in a minute, without notes. And often did. Donald Trump could not construct a sensible sentence about either (or at least, has not). But like the hedgehog in the Greek parable about that slow-moving animal and the quick, bright fox, the fox knows many things while the hedgehog knows one big thing." (11/25/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lloyd-stories-commentary-idUSKBN13K271  

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The enduring importance of identity liberalism

November 23, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Lovia Gyarkye  

"In his 1962 essay 'Letter From a Region in My Mind,' James Baldwin identified the largest obstacle to progress in this country as the undying belief in American greatness. This is a myth that would have to be abandoned, he argued, if the country were to see itself as it truly is and redress its wrongs. Happily, there is at least one group in America who could see the matter with clear eyes, he wrote: 'The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace.' You would think that the election of Donald J. Trump on November 8 would, once and for all, dispel the myth of American greatness. But it continues to undergird our political conversations, including those that address how to move forward from this calamity." (11/22/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/138943/enduring-importance-identity-liberalism  

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Why we need to worry about Wilbur

November 23, 2016
posted by

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"The billionaire Wilbur Ross, the Donald Trump adviser who may well become our next U.S. secretary of commerce, loudly opposes NAFTA and other trade pacts that ship U.S. jobs abroad. Does that opposition make Wilbur Ross a corporate good guy? Not quite. Wilbur Ross has made his private equity billions the old-fashioned way -- by exploiting American workers right here in the US of A. For private equity king Wilbur Ross, pensions and benefits for workers have a nasty habit of getting in the way. Ross has been working the financial industry’s bankruptcy beat since the mid 1970s. His specialty: scouring America’s economic landscape for failing companies in down-and-out industries, buying them up cheap, and then 'flipping' them for big profits. Those profits typically come right out of the hides of workers. Ross has never shown much interest in the difficult details of turning mismanaged enterprises into companies that can operate efficiently and effectively over the long haul. His private equity empire focuses instead on cutting costs. And that cost cutting comes easy with companies in bankruptcy or about to fall into it." (11/21/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161121/why-we-need-to-worry-about-wilbur  

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Thomas Friedman’s latest book a tour through his troubled, neoliberal mind

November 23, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Chris Lehmann  

"Pity New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman: His credulous take on the frenetically wired, capital-M Market (as he likes to call it) may have earned him a world-class reputation as a plugged-in pundit and sent him trotting around the globe, but lately it’s been tuckering him out. That’s why this breathless Market savant has titled his latest doorstop-sized manifesto Thank You for Being Late -- a phrase, he explains, that he inadvertently blurted to a guest who turned up late to one of the D.C. power breakfasts he hosts for the sake of scaring up column fodder. Friedman had used the unscheduled bit of downtime to conduct an overdue inward inventory. Amid the daily crush of prestige thinkfluencing, Friedman suddenly realized, 'I needed permission to be alone with my thoughts.' If this sprawling miasma of buzzwords is any indication of what happens when Friedman is left alone with his thoughts, we’d better hope he keeps furiously breakfast-scheduling." (11/22/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19663/thomas-friedman-thank-you-for-being-late-neoliberal-new-york-times  

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Space Age comeback

November 22, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term 'space program' makes much sense in the 21st century. Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important. The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space (at least the burgeoning commercial space industry) has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes." (11/21/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/11/21/trump-obama-nasa-space-capitalism-glenn-reynolds-column/94211496  

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No common ground with Trump

November 22, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"After not quite two weeks, this is what we know about President-elect Donald Trump. He is treating the American presidency as an opportunity both for nepotism and for personal enrichment. His first appointments signal that the far-right tenor of his campaign will continue into his presidency, as well as the fact that he is way out of his depth. Against this background, some Democrats are hoping that at least there are a few points of convergence. This is a huge mistake. President Obama seems to be in what some have called 'horse-whisperer' mode, hoping that he may yet tutor Trump on the realities of the presidency. This will be the final episode of the most disappointing aspect of Obama’s administration and of this otherwise admirable man -- putting hopes for common ground over ugly realities that above all require toughness." [editor's note: So now "leftists" are being told to act just like those GOPers did the last 8 years? How "progressive" of them - SAT] (11/21/16)

http://prospect.org/article/no-common-ground-trump  

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Media stars agree to off-the-record meeting with Trump, break agreement, whine about mistreatment

November 22, 2016
posted by

Glenn Greenwald The Intercept
by Glenn Greenwald  

"A glittering array of media stars and network executives made pilgrimage on Monday to the 25th floor of Trump Tower to meet with the president-elect. They all agreed that the discussions would be 'off-the-record': meaning they would conceal from their viewers what they discussed. Shortly after the meeting ended, several of the stars violated the agreement they made, running to The New York Post and David Remnick of the New Yorker to whine about Trump's mean behavior. ... To begin with, why would journalistic organizations agree to keep their meeting with Donald Trump off-the-record? If you're a journalist, what is the point of speaking with a powerful politician if you agree in advance that it's all going to be kept secret?" (11/22/16)

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/22/media-stars-agree-to-off-the-record-meeting-with-trump-break-agreement-whine-about-mistreatment/  

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Could Trump save US Mideast policy, or just make it worse?

November 22, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Peter Apps  

"As the U.S. election results trickled in in the early hours of Nov. 9, Syrian government forces began yet another assault on Aleppo -- with humanitarian workers and medical centers again in the line of fire. When historians look back on the presidency of Barack Obama, they may well see the handling of Syria (and perhaps the wider Middle East) as his greatest single failure. Now, the future of the world’s most geopolitically tangled region is being dumped on the desk of Donald Trump. Compared to those outsiders who have tried to steer its destiny in the past (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the multiple conflicting figures of the last two administrations) Trump is clearly woefully underprepared." (11/22/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-mideast-commentary-idUSKBN13H248  

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Backward-looking “progressives”

November 22, 2016
posted by

Town Hall
by Thomas Sowell  

"People who call themselves 'progressives' claim to be forward-looking, but a remarkable amount of the things they say and do are based on looking backward. One of the maddening aspects of the thinking, or non-thinking, on the political left is their failure to understand that there is nothing they can do about the past. Whether people on the left are talking about college admissions or criminal justice, or many other decisions, they go on and on about how some people were born with lesser chances in life than other people. Whoever doubted it? But, once someone who has grown up is being judged by a college admissions committee or by a court of criminal justice, there is nothing that can be done about their childhood. Other institutions can deal with today's children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and should, but the past is irrevocable." (11/22/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2016/11/22/backwardlooking-progressives-n2248820  

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Trump’s authoritarian government of nationalism and war

November 22, 2016
posted by

OpEdNews
by Joseph Kishore  

"The Democratic Party and the media are doing everything they can to normalize the transfer of political power to Donald Trump, even as his initial appointments confirm the extreme and historically unprecedented character of the administration he will head. For attorney general, Trump has tapped Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, long known for his opposition to civil rights and his support for the most invasive forms of government spying .... For CIA director, Trump is proposing Representative Mike Pompeo, another advocate of unconstitutional spying programs, who said earlier this year that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should be prosecuted, convicted and executed. For national security advisor, Trump has selected retired general Michael Flynn, a fanatic anti-Islamic militarist who supports the removal of nominal restrictions on torture .... Other choices will follow a similar pattern. Reportedly, the top contender for secretary of defense is retired Marine General James Mattis, who led the brutal onslaught against Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 and notoriously declared a year later that 'it's fun to shoot some people.'" (11/21/16)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Trump-s-authoritarian-gove-by-Joseph-Kishore-Authoritarianism_Capitalism_Government-Lawlessness_Government-Seizure-161121-861.html  

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Red nation, pink economics

November 22, 2016
posted by

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Derek Thompson  

"Donald Trump drew support from counties where men's jobs are going away, while women's jobs are ascendant. There's nothing he can do to change it." (11/22/16)

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/11/red-nation-pink-economics/508445/  

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Why don’t we have free trade for highly paid professionals in the US?

November 22, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Dean Baker  

"Most educated people like to think of themselves as supporters of free trade. After all, everyone who has been through Economics 101 knows that tariffs and other trade barriers slow growth and encourage waste and corruption. Therefore, we should all want to see as few barriers as possible obstructing trade. While there are some issues that make the story a bit more complicated than the Econ 101 version, as a general rule we will benefit from having lower barriers to trade. This fact should cause all right-thinking people to be very upset about the protectionist barriers that artificially inflate the earnings of doctors in the United States." (11/22/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/22/why-dont-we-have-free-trade-for-highly-paid-professionals-in-the-us/  

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Let the market take care of infrastructure

November 22, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Marc Scribner  

"As the dust continues to settle from President-elect Donald Trump’s surprising victory, one idea is quickly gaining bipartisan currency in Washington: more infrastructure investment. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has pledged to 'work together' with the Trump administration to 'quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill.' The problem with politically created infrastructure jobs is that, contrary to great myth, there is little evidence that more infrastructure spending is a good way to boost the economy or promote job growth. In reality, these projects often fail to deliver on their promised gains while costs spiral out of control, leading Oxford University economic geographer Bent Flyvbjerg to propose The Iron Law of Megaproject Management: 'Over budget, over time, under benefits, over and over again.' Anyone seriously concerned about shoring up infrastructure in this country (the roads, bridges, mass transit systems and water networks people rely on) should rethink his priorities. Few of the problems with America’s infrastructure networks are the result of an alleged lack of federal spending. Instead, most are the result of political misallocations of resources." (11/21/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/11/21/trump-infrastructure-jobs-pelosi-stimulus-column/94019634  

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Trump’s “infrastructure plan” really just a privatization [sic] scam

November 22, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"In a democracy We the People pitch in and build public infrastructure that We the People all get to use equally. So when people talk about our country’s infrastructure, they usually mean our public roads, bridges, mass transit, water and sewer systems. All of these are good for all of us and our economy. We share in the investment and we share in the return on that investment. Likewise, when people think of infrastructure projects, they think of government projects hiring people, purchasing supplies and building or maintaining something. They think of lots of good, union jobs with good benefits and lots of good, local American construction companies and American suppliers getting contracts. This is what Republicans have obstructed since they got enough votes in the senate to obstruct with." [editor's note: As has been noted elsewhere, when "privatization" is merely moving to favored crony-corporatist "friends of the King's Court" it is mercantilist cartelization, not a move to free markets - SAT] (11/21/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161121/trumps-infrastructure-plan-is-really-just-a-privatization-scam  

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