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Italian President fiddles while Rome burns, vetoes Coalition nominees

His reasoning was that he didn’t fancy the political perspective that they represented

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Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, refused to give consent to the designated Prime Minister’s picks for high office.

His reasoning was that he didn’t fancy the political perspective that they represented, namely that of the Finance Minister nominee proposed by Giuseppe Conte, who has withdrawn his role as the designated Prime Minister.

Conte was designated by a coalition of the 5 Star Movement and the League, two Italian political parties on opposing sides of the political aisle, after months of back and forthing.

Yesterday, Matarella vetoed Conte’s nominees, saying that he feared that they could endanger Italy’s participation in the EU.

RT reports:

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has used a shady pretext to turn down a Euro-skeptic coalition pick for economy minister, as he seeks to mold a cabinet after own political views, an MP from the coalition told RT.

Manlio Di Stefano, an MP from the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S), which has teamed up with Lega Nord in a parliament, argued that it was Mattarella’s fault that Sunday did not bring a much-desired end to the two-month long post-election stalemate. Mattarella on Sunday rejected the candidacy of former industry minister and a distinguished economist, Paolo Savona, who was suggested by the coalition to fill the post of the minister of economy.

“I asked for a figure, who would mean not risking an exit from the euro,” Mattarella explained, citing Savona’s Euro-sceptic remarks.

Stefano argued that Mattarella has gone well beyond his powers by rejecting Savona’s candidacy based on his political views.

“You can be a problem if you have a trial, you can be a problem if you’ve been found guilty for something, but not because you have some good ideas, or, any idea in a political sense. There is a constitution defending political ideas and opinions,” Stefano said.

Mattarella’s claims that Savona is a danger to Italy’s stay in the eurozone lack any ground, Stefano argued, since Savona’s current stance is that Italy can assert its place in European economics without necessarily abandoning the euro.

“The incredible point is that Savona was the first telling us that Italy has to stay in the EU and Eurozone, but it has to be stronger institutionally to bring some points at home,” Stefano said.

Given that, Mattarella’s reasoning seems tailored to serve his own political agenda, the M5S member said.

After the coalition’s bid to form a new government failed, Mattarella summoned Carlo Cottarelli, a former senior official at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to his office. It is believed that Mattarella will ask Cottarellli to head the government.

“The incredible thing is that President Mattarella has not only stopped this government, but is trying to force the government that is the expression of his own will,” Stefano said.

In case Mattarella makes Cottarelli PM-designate, the latter “will not have any chance to create the government,” the MP said. “We will never support the kind of a different government than us,” he stressed.

Arguing that Mattarella has broken all the rules of an established European democracy, Stefano described his conduct as “something without any historic record until today.”

Mattarella’s objection to the economy minister candidacy earlier drew the ire of MS5 leader Luigi Di Maio, who called the president’s decision “incomprehensible” and called for his impeachment.

Matarella’s actions have brought some fundamental questions to the fore as he did not mask the fact that he vetoed Savona’s nomination on the basis that he did not approve of Savona’s political opinions, something that is supposed to be protected under Italy’s constitution.

In fact, Matarella seems intent on position his own candidates, having sent the Parliament’s picks down the drain, potentially leading to new elections, during which interim, his political agenda continues to realize implementation.

He precisely wants to preserve cooperation with the EU and continue the course of action that his administration has followed to date.

France24 reports:

Efforts to form a coalition government collapsed on Sunday after the Italian president rejected a eurosceptic pick for the key economy ministry, triggering a possible constitutional crisis and opening the prospect of fresh elections.

The leaders of the two parties trying to field a government, the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused President Sergio Mattarella of abusing his authority and working under the orders of European powers.

5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio, whose party won the most seats at an inconclusive March 4 vote, demanded that parliament impeach Mattarella, raising the spectre of political turmoil in the euro zone’s third biggest economy.

Financial markets tumbled last week on fears the mooted coalition would unleash a spending splurge and increase Italy’s already huge debt mountain, which is equivalent to more than 1.3 times the nation’s domestic output.

Looking to allay investor concerns, Mattarella vetoed on Sunday the choice of 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona, a vocal critic of the single currency, to the pivotal economy post.

Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte promptly abandoned his efforts to form a government.

In a sombre, televised speech, Mattarella said he had accepted all the suggested ministers bar Savona.

“I asked for that ministry an authoritative political figure from the coalition parties who was not seen as the supporter of a line that could provoke Italy’s exit from the euro,” he said.

Shortly afterwards, he summoned former International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior official Carlo Cottarelli for a Monday morning meeting — an indication he may be considering asking him to head a government of unelected technocrats.

Voter anger

Cottarelli would be a calming choice for the financial markets, but any technocrat administration would likely only be a short-term solution because the majority of parliamentarians have said they would not support such a government.

If he failed to win parliamentary backing, Cottarelli would stay in office in a caretaker capacity ahead of elections that would most likely be held in September or October.

Polls have suggested that the League, which won 17 percent of the vote in March, would see its support surge in any early ballot, while support for 5-Star remained strong.

Mainstream centre-left and centre-right parties were seen losing further ground in the face of voter anger over the sluggish economy.

League leader Matteo Salvini responded furiously to Mattarella’s refusal to rubberstamp Savona.

“If there’s not the OK of Berlin, Paris or Brussels, in Italy a government cannot be formed. It’s a folly, and I ask the Italian people to stay close to us because I want to bring democracy back to this country,” Salvini told reporters.

News of Mattarella’s veto sent a shockwave through Italy.

The leader of the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, which had an electoral pact with the League, said the head of state should be impeached, accusing him of abusing his position.

“We will ask parliament to charge Mattarella with high-treason because he has acted under foreign pressure,” Brothers of Italy chief Giorgia Meloni said on La7 television channel.

The 5-Star’s Di Maio also demanded impeachment under article 90 of the constitution. Under that clause, parliament can demand a president leave office if a simple majority of lawmakers votes in favour. The constitutional court would then be called to decide whether to impeach or not.

“After tonight, it’s truly difficult to believe in the institutions and the laws of the state,” Di Maio said.

Experience

On Friday, the closely watched gap between the Italian and German 10-year bond yields, seen as a measure of political risk in the euro zone, was at its widest in four years at 215 basis points.

After markets had closed on Friday, Moody’s said it may downgrade the country’s sovereign debt rating because of the risk that the would-be government would weaken public finances and roll back a 2011 pension reform.

Facing Mattarella’s veto, Savona tried on Sunday to allay concerns about his views in his first public statement on the matter.

“I want a different Europe, stronger, but more equal,” Savona said in a statement.

He also said his position on debt was the same as that forged by the potential coalition allies in their programme – which says it will be reduced not through austerity or tax cuts, but through targeted investments and policies that boost economic growth.

Savona has had high-level experience at the Bank of Italy, in government as industry minister in 1993-94, and with employers’ lobby Confindustria. But his critical stance on the euro has been the focus of concern.

In Sunday’s statement Savona did not mention his opinions on the euro, but more than 70 slides outlining a “plan B” for Italy’s exit from the euro, co-authored by Savona in 2015 with a dozen others, circulated on social media.

On Monday, Mattarelli is set to meet with Carlo Cottarelli over whether he will be willing to take the post, likely to be offered him by Matarelli.

Insodoing, Mattarelli will be installing someone to fill the slot without the backing of the Italian people or that of the Parliament, to serve as a technocrat during the interim space until elections can be held in autumn.

Cottarelli, as an occasional television analyst, has harshly criticized the policies represented by M5S and Lega’s coalition, indicative that his role will be to construct obstacles in the implementation of their agenda, should they eventually accommodate the Italian government.

Not the least is the fact that he represents precisely what the coalition stands united against.

AFP reports:

Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund director, will face an uphill battle should, as expected, he is tasked with forming a technocrat government for Italy in the midst of a deep political crisis and populist rage at the financial “elite”.

Cottarelli, 64, will meet with President Sergio Mattarella after talks between the head of state and populist parties on the cusp of forming a new government fell apart over the inclusion of eurosceptic Paolo Savona as economy minister.

Cottarelli’s likely appointment as prime minister has already attracted the wrath of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and nationalist League, which have denounced a “premeditated” strike from Mattarella and European “lobbies” against their proposed coalition government.

The chances of the economist gaining approval for any technocrat government are slim, as Five Star and the League boil with anger at their own coalition stumbling on the home straight.

League leader Matteo Salvini said that Cottarella was a “Mister Nobody” who “represents financial institutions”, while the head of Five Star Luigi Di Maio laughed off his chances of ever gaining the endorsement of a parliament in which his and Salvini’s parties command a majority.

“They’ve replaced a government with a majority with one that won’t obtain one,” said Di Maio to supporters at a rally near Rome.

Cottarelli first joined the IMF in 1988, following six years in the Bank of Italy’s Monetary and Financial Sector Division.

He was director of the IMF’s fiscal affairs department from 2008 to 2013 and became known as “Mr Scissors” for making cuts to public spending in Italy while charged with the revision of public spending by Enrico Letta’s short-lived centre-left government.

Looking back on his time under Letta, Cottarelli lamented the resistance of bureaucrats in Rome to help him carry out his role, claiming that “often I wasn’t even given the documents I asked for”.

In 2014 Letta’s successor, Matteo Renzi, nominated him as the IMF’s executive director for Italy, Greece and Malta before leaving the institution in October 2017.

Since then Cottarelli has worked as director of the Public Accounts Observatory at the Catholic University of Milan, and as a TV pundit he has offered a string of warnings about the economic cost of the Five Star and League’s joint government programme, which includes huge tax cuts and a ramping up of welfare spending.

Mattarella is treating this situation as if the fate of Italy’s participation in the Euro is at stake. He sees the situation in Italy from the top down, rather than the way the Italian people view it: from a bottom up.

At the ground level, Italy’s economy is fundamentally malfunctioning, and Cottarelli sees the situation from the perspective of Italy’s creditors.

The people and the government, at this moment, do not perceive a common ground. Political gains are to be made, governmental stakes are to be uprooted, and relationships shaken up. The outcome of Monday’s meeting will further show how this situation will pan out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Denmark As A Model For American Socialists?

In Denmark, everyone pays at least the 25% value-added tax (VAT) on all purchases. Income tax rates are high.

The Duran

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Authored by Lars Hedegard via The Gatestone Institute:


Here are some facts to consider before American “democratic socialists” look to Denmark for guidance, as Senator Bernie Sanders did during the 2016 presidential campaign.

First of all, Danes actually pay for their brand of socialism through heavy taxation. In Denmark, everyone pays at least the 25% value-added tax (VAT) on all purchases. Income tax rates are high. If you receive public support and are of working age and healthy enough to work, the state will require that you look for a job or it will force a job on you.

The willingness of all the Danes to pay high taxes is predicated on the country’s high degree of homogeneity and level of citizens’ trust in each other, what sociologists call “social capital.” By and large, Danes do not mind paying into the welfare state because they know that the money will go to other Danes like themselves, who share their values and because they can easily imagine themselves to be in need of help — as most of them, from time to time, will be.

Whenever politicians propose tax cuts, they are met with vehement opposition: So, you want to cut taxes? What part of the welfare state are you willing to amputate? And that ends the debate.

Danes, in contrast to American socialists gaining ground in the Democratic Party, are increasingly aware that the welfare state cannot be sustained in conditions of open immigration. A political party agitating for “no borders” could never win a Danish election. Danes do not suffer from historical guilt: they have not attacked any other country for more than two centuries and have never committed a genocide.

Moreover, there is an even deeper truth to ponder: Denmark is not really socialist but constitutes a sui generis fusion of free-market capitalism and some socialist elements. Denmark has no minimum wage mandated by law. Wages, benefits and working conditions are determined through negotiations between employers and trade unions. 67% of Danish wage-earners are members of a union, compared to 19% in Germany and 8% in France. Strikes and lockouts are common, and the government will usually stay out of labor conflicts unless the parties are unable to agree.

It is uncomplicated for enterprises to fire workers, which gives them great flexibility to adapt to shifting market conditions. To alleviate the pain, the state has in place a number of arrangements such as generous unemployment benefits and programs to retrain and upgrade redundant workers.

Danish companies must make ends meet or perish. They generally will not get handouts from the government.

Denmark is more free-market oriented than the US. According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark is number 12, ahead of the United States (number 18). Venezuela is at the bottom, one place ahead of number 180, North Korea.

Mads Lundby Hansen, chief economist of Denmark’s respected pro-free-market think tank CEPOS, comments:

“Very high taxes and the vast public sector clearly detract in the capitalism index and reduce economic freedom. But Denmark compensates by protecting property rights, by low corruption, relatively little regulation of private enterprise, open foreign trade, healthy public finances and more. This high degree of economic freedom is among the reasons for Denmark’s relatively high affluence.”
Trish Regan recently claimed on Fox Business that Danes pay a “federal tax rate” of 56% on their income. This is misleading. The 55.8% is the levied on the marginaltax for the top income bracket, only on the part of their income above DKK 498,900 ($76,500). Any income under DKK 498,900 is taxed at lower rates. And the 55.8% marginal rate does not represent a “federal” or “national” rate. It represents the total of all taxes on income: national tax, regional tax, municipal tax and labor market tax. It does not, however, include Denmark’s 25% value-added tax (VAT), paid on all purchases.

Regan also claimed that Danes pay a 180% tax on cars. While it is true that there was once a maximum tax of 180% on care in Denmark, the vehicle tax rates have been lowered in recent years. Today, the first DKK 185,100 ($28,400) of the price of a gas- or diesel-powered car is taxed at 85%, and if the car’s price is above DKK 185,100, the remaining amount is taxed at 150% — which is of course bad enough.

Denmark’s total tax burden amounts to 45.9% of GDP, the highest of all countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As pointed out in the Fox Business segment, all education for Danes is tuition-free, all the way through to a Ph.D. Not only that; the state will, within certain time constraints, pay students to study. For students at university level no longer living with their parents, the monthly cash grant comes to almost $1,000 per month. No fewer than 325,000 students out of a total population of 5.6 million benefit from this generous arrangement setting the state back to the tune of DKK 20.9 billion or 1% of GDP (latest 2018 figures just in and supplied by Mads Lundby Hansen). Denmark even pays student support to 20,000 foreign students.

Attempts by fiscal conservatives to cut down on payments to students have been successfully resisted by the vociferous and influential student organizations; at present it would appear impossible to muster anything like a parliamentary majority to limit the student handouts.

Fox Business is right that a great many Danes are on public transfer payments. Government figures from 2017 indicate that 712,300 Danes of working age (16-64) — not including recipients of student benefits — get public financial support. But Regan’s claim that most Danes do not work is ludicrous. According to Statistics Denmark, 69.9% of Danes aged 16-64 are active in the labor market.

How can Denmark pay for its comprehensive welfare state, which includes free medical care regardless of the severity of your condition? Regan claims that Denmark is “heavily in debt.” Not so. As it turns out, Denmark is among the least indebted countries in the world, even when compared to other Western countries. The Danish government’s gross debt stands at 35.9% of GDP. Compare that to, e.g., The United Kingdom (86.3 %), The United States (108%), Belgium (101%), Canada (86.6%), France (96.3%), Germany (59.8%), The Netherlands (53.5%), Italy (129.7%), Spain (96.7%) and even Switzerland (41.9%).

Comparing Denmark to the US, Madsen notes that the latter has a problem with fiscal sustainability that may necessitate tax increases. Denmark enjoys what he labels fiscal “oversustainability” (“overholdbarhed”).

At a time when socialism appears to be popular among certain sections of the American population, its proponents would do well not to cite Denmark as a model. The Danish fusion of free-market capitalism and a comprehensive welfare state has worked because Denmark is a small country with a very homogeneous population. This economic and social model rests on more than 150 years of political, social and economic compromises between peasants and landowners, business-owners and workers, and right- and left-leaning political parties. This has led to a measure of social and political stability that would be hard to emulate in much larger and more diverse counties such as the United States.


Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Speech Society, is based in Denmark.

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Ron Paul: Protectionism Abroad and Socialism at Home

One of the most insidious ways politicians expand government is by creating new programs to “solve” problems created by politicians.

Ron Paul

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Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


One of the most insidious ways politicians expand government is by creating new programs to “solve” problems created by politicians. For example, government interference in health care increased health care costs, making it difficult or even impossible for many to obtain affordable, quality care. The effects of these prior interventions were used to justify Obamacare.

Now, the failures of Obamacare are being used to justify further government intervention in health care. This does not just include the renewed push for socialized medicine. It also includes supporting new laws mandating price transparency. The lack of transparency in health care pricing is a direct result of government policies encouraging overreliance on third-party payers.

This phenomenon is also observed in foreign policy. American military interventions result in blowback that is used to justify more military intervention. The result is an ever-expanding warfare state and curtailments on our liberty in the name of security.

Another example of this is related to the reaction to President Trump’s tariffs. Many of America’s leading trading partners have imposed “retaliatory” tariffs on US goods. Many of these tariffs target agriculture exports. These tariffs could be devastating for American farmers, since exports compose as much as 20 percent of the average farmer’s income.

President Trump has responded to the hardships imposed on farmers by these retaliatory tariffs with a 12 billion dollars farm bailout program. The program has three elements: direct payments to farmers, use of federal funds to buy surplus crops and distribute them to food banks and nutrition programs, and a new federal effort to promote American agriculture overseas.

This program will not fix the problems caused by Tramp’s tariffs. For one thing, the payments are unlikely to equal the money farmers will lose from this trade war. Also, government marketing programs benefit large agribusiness but do nothing to help small farmers. In fact, by giving another advantage to large agribusiness, the program may make it more difficult for small farmers to compete in the global marketplace.

Distributing surplus food to programs serving the needy may seem like a worthwhile use of government funds. However, the federal government has neither constitutional nor moral authority to use money taken by force from taxpayers for charitable purposes. Government-funded welfare programs also crowd out much more effective and compassionate private efforts. Of course, if government regulations such as the minimum wage and occupational licensing did not destroy job opportunities, government farm programs did not increase food prices, and the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies did not continuously erode purchasing power, the demand for food aid would be much less. By increasing spending and debt, the agriculture bailout will do much more to create poverty than to help the needy.

Agriculture is hardly the only industry suffering from the new trade war. Industries — such as automobile manufacturing — that depend on imports for affordable materials are suffering along with American exporters. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (who supports tariffs) has called for bailouts of industries negatively impacted by tariffs. He is likely to be joined in his advocacy by crony capitalists seeking another government handout.

More bailouts will only add to the trade war’s economic damage by increasing government spending and hastening the welfare–warfare state’s collapse and the rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status. Instead of trying to fix tariffs-caused damage through more corporate welfare, President Trump and Congress should pursue a policy of free markets and free trade for all and bailouts for none.

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In Monsters We Trust: US Mainstream Media No Friend of the American People

Over 300 US newspapers ran editorials on the same day denouncing Trump, an event in itself that points to some high degree of collusion and groupthink.

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Over the course of his turbulent presidency, Donald Trump has accused various media companies, with special attention reserved for CNN, as being purveyors of ‘fake news.’ In one early-morning Tweet last year, he slammed the “FAKE NEWS media” as the “enemy of the people.”

This week, over 300 US newspapers ran editorials on the same day – an event in itself that points to some high degree of collusion and groupthink – denouncing Trump’s insensitive portrayal of them, as if the notion that journalists were not in the same sleaze league as lawyers, politicians and professional con artists never crossed anyone’s mind before. Even the peace-loving Mahatma Gandhi recommended “equality for everyone except reporters and photographers.”

But is the MSM really an “enemy of the people?”

First, it cannot be denied that the US media, taken in all its wholesomeness, has been overwhelmingly consistent in its ‘style’ of reporting on Donald Trump, the 45th POTUS. And by consistent I mean unprecedentedly critical, misleading and outright aggressive in its guerilla coverage of him. If one is not convinced by the gloom-and-doom Trump stories featured daily in the Yahoo News feed, then a study by the Media Research Center (MRC) should do the job. From January 1 through April 30, evening news coverage of the US leader – courtesy of ABC, CBS and NBC – were 90 percent negative, which is pretty much the same incredible average revealed by MRC one year earlier.

The study looked at every one of the 1,065 network evening news stories about Trump and his administration during the first four months of 2018. Total negative news time devoted to Trump: 1,774 minutes, or about one-third of all evening news airtime. That’s pretty much the definition of a circle jerk.

“Nearly two-fifths (39%) of the TV coverage we examined focused on Trump scandals and controversies, while 45 percent was devoted to various policy issues,” MRC wrote in its report.

Meanwhile, the farcical Russia ‘collusion’ story was consistently the main grabber — clocking in at 321 minutes, or nearly one-fifth of all Trump coverage. Of the 598 statements MRC calculated about Trump’s personal scandals, virtually all of them (579, or 97%) came out of the media wash cycle tarred and feathered.

If this represents an orchestrated attack on the Commander-in-Chief, and in light of those numbers it would be difficult to argue it isn’t, the strategy appears to be falling flat. Despite, or precisely because of, the avalanche of negative media coverage, Trump’s popularity rating smashed the 50 percent ceiling in early August and continues to remain high.

In Monsters We Trust

Although it can be safely stated that the MSM is an entrenched and relentless enemy of Donald Trump, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an “enemy of the American people,” as Trump argues it is. Let’s be a bit more diplomatic and say it isn’t our friend.

One yard stick for proving the claim is to consider the steadily mounting concentration of media holdings. In 1983, 90 percent of US media were controlled by 50 companies; today, 90 percent is controlled by the Big Six (AT&TComcastThe Walt Disney Company21st Century FoxCBS and Viacom control the spoken and printed word from sea to shining sea).Although many people are aware of the monopolistic tendencies of the US mainstream media, it’s important to understand the level of concentration. It means the vast majority of everything you see and hear on any electronic device or printed publication is ‘democratically’ controlled by six average white guys and their shareholders.

However, keeping track of who owns what these days is practically impossible since the dozens of subsidiary companies that fall under each main company are themselves fiefdoms, each with their own separate holdings. In fact, the already short ‘Big Six’ list is already dated, since National Amusements, Inc. has gobbled up both Viacom and CBS, while 21st Century Fox merged with Disney this year. As for the 350 US newspapers that penned tortured editorials decrying Trump’s critical opinion of them, many of those ‘local’ publications get their marching orders from either the Hearst Communications or the Gannett Company on the East Coast.

Now, with this sort of massive power and influence lying around like dynamite, it stands to reason, or unreason, that the corporate and political worlds will succumb to the law of attraction and gravitation, forging powerful and impregnable relationships. It’s no secret that the politicians, our so-called ‘public servants,’ are mostly in the game to make a fast buck, while the corporations, desperate for ‘democratic representation’ to control regulation and market share, have an inexhaustible source of funds to secure it. Naturally, this oligarchical system precludes any sort of democratic participation from the average person on the street, who thinks just because he remembers to yank a lever once every several years he is somehow invested in the multibillion-dollar franchise.

As far as media corporations being ‘private enterprises’ and therefore free to demolish the freedom of speech (even censoring major media players, like Infowars, simply because they whistle to a different political tune), that is quickly becoming revealed as nothing more than corporate cover for state-sponsored machinations.

“In a corporatist system of government, wherein there is no meaningful separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship,” writes Caitlin Johnstone. “Because legalized bribery in the form of corporate lobbying and campaign donations has given wealthy Americans the ability to control the US government’s policy and behavior while ordinary Americans have no effective influence whatsoever, the US unquestionably has a corporatist system of government.”

Meanwhile, it cannot be denied, from the perspective of an impartial observer, that the mainstream media is nearly always positioned to promote the government narrative on any number of significant issues. From the media’s unanimous and uncritical clamoring that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 (even the FBI has admitted it has no “hard evidence” that bin Laden carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon), to its gung-ho enthusiasm for the 2003 Iraq War, to the sycophantic cheerleading for a war in Syria, the examples of media toeing the government line are legion. And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they’re spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well.

Is it any surprise, then, that public trust in the US media is reaching all-time lows, while news consumers are increasingly looking to alternative news sites – themselves under relentless attack – to get some semblance of the elusive truth, which is the God-given right of any man? Truth is our due, and we should demand nothing less.

As Thomas Paine reminded the world in the face of a different foe: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

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