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Class War For Idiots / October 24, 2009

USA-SHOOTING/

This article was first published in Alternet.

Editor’s Note: The shocking transfer of public wealth to Wall Street’s pockets is illustrated vividly in Mark Ames’ article below, which covers some very disturbing recent events in Alabama, where billionaires and banks are squeezing the locals so hard that they’re literally going bankrupt just for flushing their toilets, where violence and the threat of violence are reaching a boiling point and where even the Posse Comitatus Act is under threat.

One of this year’s more disturbing stories that were ignored was the illegal Army occupation of Samson, Alab., in March following a shooting spree that raged across two towns by a disgruntled worker, leaving 11 people dead.

As I wrote at the time, Michael McLendon, 27, went on a killing rampage following years of relentless corporate exploitation and harassment against him, his mother (whom he mercy-killed), and the entire rural Alabama region, which suffered like so many parts of rural America at the hands of billionaire goons like chicken oligarch Bo Pilgrim of Pilgrim’s Pride notoriety.

One of the creepiest details to emerge in the shooting rampage were reports that troops from nearby Fort Rucker were brought into Samson and other surrounding areas to patrol the streets. This is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, every freedom-loving American’s worst nightmare.

And now, finally, the Army officially agrees that its occupation of the Alabama streets was illegal, according to an internal report the Associated Press got a hold of, following a Freedom of Information Act filing:

An Army investigation found that soldiers should not have been sent to man traffic stops in a small Alabama town after 11 people were killed in March during a shooting spree.An Army report released to the Associated Press on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request said the decision to dispatch military police to Samson from nearby Fort Rucker broke the law. But an Army spokesman said no charges have been filed following the Aug. 10 report.

The report from the Department of Army Inspector General found the use of military personnel in Samson violated the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal troops from performing law-enforcement actions. The names of those involved were redacted from the report.

According to the report, the officer’s “intent was to be a good Army neighbor and help local civilian authorities facing a difficult, unique tragedy affecting the local community. There were no apparent adverse collateral effects to the support provided.”

Indeed. For a lot of Americans, the sight of troops occupying their towns is their worst nightmare come true — part of the reason that America came into existence was to create a country where this sort of thing would never happen, even if the Army’s sole intent was to be a good neighbor and help old ladies cross the streets.

Strangely enough, there was almost no media coverage of the occupation — you had to rely on various right-wing outlets like CNSNews.com, whose article I blogged at the time, or the left-wing Democratic Underground.

But what even the right-wing anti-government people won’t report is the true reason why the Army was called out in the first place, something that goes right back to the cause of the shooting rampage: billionaire exploitation of the local Alabamans, not just by the chicken oligarch, but from higher up the predator food chain — Wall Street banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase.

You see, thanks to a combination of corporate-tax holidays (which reduce local revenues), billionaire greed like the sort that bankrupted Pilgrim’s Pride, and Wall Street investment-banking scams on places like Alabama that result in corrupted local officials and bankrupted municipalities, counties and states — now, there’s no money left to fund local police forces, as the U.S. Army report reveals:

The soldiers arrived in the hours after the shootings, which stretched the town’s tiny police force and county officers to the limit with several different crime scenes. The report said troops were dispatched after the Geneva County Sheriff’s Office and Samson Police requested assistance from Fort Rucker to relieve law enforcement at traffic checkpoints around the crime-scene area.

As I wrote earlier this year, Pilgrim’s Pride hooked up with Wall Street to leverage itself into bankruptcy while enriching the executives’ family and a handful of insiders at the expense of tens of thousands of Americans workers:

In 2006, Pilgrim’s Pride, then the second-largest chicken processor in the world, made a huge gamble that will seem familiar to anyone who’s been following the financial crash: the company borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars, leveraging itself well beyond its means, in order to acquire a rival company and become the nation’s No. 1 chicken processor, slaughtering 45 million chickens per week.

That might have given the executives a nice, big hard-on, but it also meant they would have to come up with more money to pay for all that debt. So the company did do what every post-Reagan company has done and gotten away with: it made the workforce pay for the executives’ bonuses.

That meant squeezing lower-middle-class workers for more work for less pay, or in Pilgrim’s case, more work for no pay: In August 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride accusing it of grossly undercompensating its employees. That same year, 10,000 Pilgrim’s Pride employees launched a class-action lawsuit demanding compensation for their work.

The damage extended well beyond Pilgrim’s Pride’s plants. With bankruptcy came huge unpaid local tax bills, leading to further layoffs and reduced services for the already-beleaguered locals:

Suwannee County could be out about $2 million if Pilgrim’s Pride doesn’t pay its property-tax bill, according to property appraiser Lamar Jenkins.

The biggest taxpayer in the county filed for bankruptcy protection Dec. 1. Now it’s not clear when — or if — the bill will be paid.

“It’s certainly going to put a hurt on the budget of the county,” Jenkins told the [Suwanee] Democrat by phone Thursday. Jenkins said the unpaid bill represents 7.4 percent of the money local schools get from property taxes; 5.3 percent of county funds from that source; and 8 percent of the money the Suwannee River Water Management District receives from local property-tax revenues.

A spokesman for Pilgrim’s did not respond to a request for comment.

Bo Pilgrim, the head of Pilgrim’s Pride, once told his Texas church that he was worth over $1 billion before the market crash, and he’s still worth hundreds of millions.  His rapacity was boundless, and in the end it was the undoing of Pilgrim’s Pride — not the Pilgrim family, mind you, which is still filthy disgusting rich, but the company is through.

Last month, 64 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride was sold to JBS, a Brazilian beef giant, making it the largest meat company in the world, topping America’s Tyson. The American cattle industry tried to block the deal, which it says could result in the destruction of the American beef industry, but the Justice Department already approved JBS’ takeover.

In the billionaires’ Third World model for America, it makes awful sense that a Brazilian meat company would take control of a bankrupt, corrupt American chicken company. For Wall Street and the billionaires, the more they destroy in America, the richer they get, consequences be damned. And anyway, it’s not like Pilgrim’s Pride was a model of corporate responsibility while under American ownership; just read some of the comments on this recent Reuters article:

Gilmer, Texas, Sep. 8, 2009working as a supervisor in mt pleasant plant use to be injoyable, but lately they expect you to work 50/70 hours for no extra pay. pilgrims pride does not care about family life just their money. Everyone is afraid to say anything, because upper management may let you go with no warnning because you voiced your oppion

robert, Carrollton, Ga.i work carrollton,ga former goldkist plant we were goldkist 1 plant now we fill like we in pure hell working for pilgrim pride these people want you to kiss there ass and work three times hard for same money no rasied in two years old chicken farmer

Doddridge, Ark.While I was raising chickens for Pilgrim’s Pride, I became friends with many lower management employees of the company. The manner in which they were terminated was just simply unmerciful. While the growers had the brunt of the financial devastion, many that were nearing retirement were left with no prospects of employment in the near future. I know some that have had to uproot their families and settle for a considerable more modest lifestyle with their retirement benefits in doubt after a number of years of employment. It is just a shame that Bo Pilgrim has pocketed the money of many hard working people. I still believe Bo needs to be in the jail cell next to Bernie Madoff.

The comments section is where you’ll find the real, unvarnished, ungrammatical rage among America’s cheated majority, because for the most part, people are too desperate and afraid to complain in public.

pilgrim-bo1

Bo Pilgrim’s statue of himself at Pilgrim’s Pride headquarters.

But here’s the rub: Selling Pilgrim’s Pride to a Brazilian meat monopoly doesn’t mean things will get better for Alabamans. Just weeks after the buyout was announced, Pilgrim’s Pride closed another plant, this one in northern Alabama. According to the AP:

A chicken-processing plant owned by Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. is shutting down this week after almost six decades, putting more than 600 people out of work and creating ripples that will be felt all over town.

The city of almost 20,000 is preparing for the end of a relationship that began in 1952 when James Beasley founded Sweet Sue Poultry, which originally ran the plant. Owners included Beatrice Foods and ConAgra before Pilgrim’s Pride purchased the business in 2003.

Which looks a lot like an even more depressing Pilgrim’s Pride story from a few months earlier, this from rural Arkansas. The town of Clinton filed a lawsuit in June against Pilgrim’s Pride, accusing it of turning the town into a “ghost town”:

“With its largest and sole remaining employer, Pilgrim’s, now evacuated, the city faces a crisis of revenue, bond payments and economic devastation, and as a result of the Pilgrim’s evacuation is threatened with becoming a modern-day ghost town,” the lawsuit filed by the city said. “This serious economic situation is, however, a direct consequence of Pilgrim’s illegal purpose in shuttering the Clinton plant and operations.”

This story is repeated all over the rural South. So guess who put together the deal that bankrupted Pilgrim’s Pride? Lehman Bros., the king of bankruptcy.

On the other side of the deal, serving Gold Kist, was Merrill Lynch, which also collapsed last year. But Merrill’s banker in the Pilgrim’s Pride acquisition is still doing well, thank you very much. In fact, he was recently hired by JPMorgan Chase as vice chairman of mergers and acquisitions.

Which makes perfect sense, because JPMorgan Chase has been laying waste to Alabama on a level that makes Pilgrim’s Pride’s destruction look downright humanitarian. JP Morgan Chase has plundered so much wealth from one county in Alabama, using a complex derivatives scheme and old-fashioned bribery, that some locals are calling it “Armageddon.” According to Bloomberg:

In its 190-year history, Jefferson County, Ala., has endured a cholera epidemic, a pounding in the Civil War, gunslingers, labor riots and terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan. Now this namesake of Thomas Jefferson, anchored by Birmingham, is staring at what one local politician calls financial “Armageddon.”

The spectacle — a tax struck down, about 1,000 county employees furloughed, a politician indicted over $3 billion in sewer debt that may lead to the largest municipal bankruptcy in history — has elbowed its way up the ladder of county lore.

“People want to kill somebody, but they don’t know who to shoot at,” says Russell Cunningham, past president of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Jefferson County’s debacle is a parable for billions of dollars lost by state and local governments from Florida to California in transactions done behind closed doors. Selling debt without requiring competition made public officials vulnerable to bankers’ sales pitches, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for borrowing gone awry.

[T]he county bet on interest-rate swaps, agreements that a representative of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. told commissioners could reduce their interest costs. Instead, the swaps — covering more than $5 billion in all — blew up during the credit crisis after ratings for the county’s bond insurers fell.

JPMorgan, through spokeswoman Christine Holevas, declined to comment for this story.

Yeah, why bother commenting to the public when you own the bastards? JPMorgan, which took $25 billion in direct bailout money and tens of billions more in backdoor subsidies and handouts, just posted a massive $3.6 billion quarterly profit, and has set aside at least $11.1 billion for management bonuses. Meanwhile, Alabamans can’t afford to flush their toilets.

This is what inequality looks like. From Wall Street, it must look extremely appealing; for the rest of America, it’s a nightmare that’s only getting worse.

So far, it’s clear that Birmingham and the entire Jefferson County are following the wretched script of a typical Third World scenario, where the Wall Street bankers corrupt the politicians and eventually bankrupt the place and then, while the corpse is still warm and the bankruptcy deals are cut, Wall Street makes sure it’s first in line to profit off the chaos it created, while its corrupt local shill (in this case Birmingham’s mayor) takes the fall for the crime of accepting the JP Morgan bribes … and the locals get screwed worst of all, paying off the bill for years or decades.

Just this week, it emerged that Goldman Sachs, employer of Brian “Inequality Is Good” Griffiths, bilked the state of New Jersey using a similar scheme involving interest-rate swaps on bonds that don’t even exist. According to Bloomberg, New Jersey is considering raising its gasoline tax to pay the $1 million a month they have to pay out to Goldman for the scam — a regressive tax that once again takes from the struggling middle class and poor, and puts in thepockets of the billionaires.

Meanwhile, over in Jefferson County, Ala., there’s so little left to steal from the impoverished locals that Wall Street has been forced to come up with a new, grotesquely evil plan to line their pockets: taxing the local residents for taking a shit:

In August, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., as trustee for owners of about $3 billion in sewer warrants, filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court seeking an appointed receiver for the sewer system. The receiver should have authority to raise rates enough to meet the debt service, the bank said in the complaint, which is pending. The sewer system is already charging customers about 300 percent more to drain bathtubs or flush toilets than a dozen years ago.

By one county estimate, average annual bills are now about $750, compared with the national average of $331, according to a 2007 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Clean Water Agencies, a coalition of utilities.

It’s impossible to boost them enough without putting them beyond the means of many residents, County CommissionerJim Carns says. “We’re like a guy making $50,000 a year with a $1 million mortgage.”

In Wall Street’s eyes, Alabamans really do shit gold.

The thing now will be to convince the locals to use their toilets rather than, say, gas to heat their homes.

As I wrote a few months ago, Jefferson County residents have become so desperate that they’re being forced to choose between water and heating, as this article shows:

As nighttime temperatures plunged in Birmingham, Ala., last October, Dora Bonner had a choice: either pay the gas bill so she could heat the home she shares with four grandchildren, or send the Birmingham Water Works a $250 check for her water and sewer bill.

Bonner, who is 73 and lives on Social Security, decided to keep the house from freezing.

“I couldn’t afford the water, so they shut it off,” she says.

Bonner’s sewer bills have risen more than fourfold in the past decade. So have those of others in Jefferson County, which has 659,000 residents and includes Birmingham, the state’s largest city.

The logical outcome of the billionaires’ plundering of Alabama is the same thing that happens all over the Third World: violence, fear and calling in the troops, the only way to secure the billionaires’ dirty profits:

In August and September … Jefferson County residents got a taste of what bankruptcy might look like. As the county began putting about 1,000 workers on leave without pay, one disgruntled employee allegedly e-mailed bomb threats to officials and was promptly arrested, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Lines soon formed outside the courthouse as such tasks as renewing driver’s licenses slowed.

A kind of legal civil war broke out when three county agencies — the sheriff’s department, an indigent-care hospital and the tax-assessor’s office — sued the county commission to stop the budget cuts on the grounds that they posed a danger to public safety.

Bettye Fine Collins, the commission president, declared the situation, “our Armageddon.”

The state’s response is right out of the Central America banana republic playbook: When there’s no money left for the people, send in the troops.

The cuts in the sheriff’s department budget were so severe that he was planning to call in the National Guard to keep order:

The sheriff in Alabama’s most populous county may call for the National Guard to help maintain order, a spokesman said Tuesday, as a judge cleared the way for cuts in the sheriff’s budget, and lawmakers reached a compromise they hope will end the budget crisis.

barbedflag1

In light of all of this, the Army’s brief, illegal occupation of a string of towns in Alabama this past spring no longer looks like a freak one-off, but rather a logical progression in the ongoing billionaire plunder of America.

It gives new meaning to what MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan is calling “corporate communism.” Not only are banking billionaires on permanent state wealthfare, but even worse, as the wealth available becomes increasingly scarce and there isn’t enough left to satisfy the billionaires’ grotesque appetites and regular citizens’ needs to flush their toilets or heat their homes, we’re heading to the point that all Third World countries come to — calling out the troops to ensure that the peasants pay their tithes to their absentee masters in New York and Connecticut and don’t get all uppity like those Europeans.

Now you can see why Alabamans are loading up on so many weapons. That makes sense. Now they need to understand who the real enemy is. Not the make-believe liberal bogeymen of their nightmares. Rather, Alabamans should focus their anger on the real-world billionaires who are making this country a living hell.

This article first appeared in Alternet. Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

Click the cover & buy the book!


44 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. Mark  |  October 24th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I’m glad that Mark stopped referring to these people as hicks. I spent a week and a half in rural Alabama a few years ago and I got to know some of these people. The black folk there still face blatant segregation and racism so I would never belittle them. The white folk are more difficult to sympathize with. I don’t know what to say about them but calling them hicks isn’t productive or progessive.

  • 2. Realist  |  October 24th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Who says military occupation is illegal? Posse Comitatus is as good as dead, replaced by provisions of the Military Comissions Act and the Presidential Directive PDD 51. This iron has been in the fire for a very long time, so dont act surprised. A declaration of emergency of any kind and you live in a formal, de iure military dictatorship. To keep you safe from terrorists, you see.

    But dont despair, not being able to heat your home is good for the “environment” and leaves some means to pay for those “carbon credits”. This will end ugly.

  • 3. Cobblers  |  October 24th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Over here in the UK, some guy has been sentenced to life for offing his boss by beating him with a pipe and then strangling him with his own tie. Dispute over wages.

    Not satisfied with that, he tried to incinerate three co-workers. Now I’m guessing that you don’t murder your boss because you THINK he owes you money; you murder him because you KNOW he owes you money. PS: “lorry” = truck.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1222501/Disgruntled-lorry-driver-killed-boss-Reservoir-Dogs-style-attack-jailed-life.html

  • 4. Patrick  |  October 24th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    That was an excellent and a needed piece of journalism. Thanks.

    A point I want to make involves explaining a few things about my country, Canada. We are similar in many ways. The communities you describe we have thousands that would be recognizable to any of you – that is, lived in by people who, for the most part, have not enjoyed lives of privilege and perks. They are people who work very hard at thankless jobs. We are not even beginning to see what you have going on there. It’s truly shocking to hear what is happening to communities like Jefferson County.

    We have felt the hit of this financial insanity but I’ve seen and been through much worse around here. As I have watched this unfold, I kept thinking to myself, this could never happen in the Canadian banking system. So far that appears to be true. Also, Canadians are known to freak out at the idea of private business, especially slick financiers, and government getting too cozy. They still do it but it is a manageable problem. I think what in fact saved us was that we have just 6 major banks and an assortment of smaller, modest financial houses. There are very heavy regulations on all of them. (Maybe it’s why Ben Bernanke keeps his money with us). The Canadian banks depend on a regular stable society for their very existence. In the United States, it appears to be the opposite. This creates the worst type of evil, as we see. And the victims, who already had enough to make life very difficult, are the ones who have to take it up the ass.

    If I have read my history correctly, it appears that the United States is about to make a transition that will be spoken of for decades to come. I hope it is remembered as the time the robber barons were brought under control. Until that happens, nothing will get better for the average American.

  • 5. Frank McG  |  October 24th, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I think this is why there’s so much misplaced anger from conservatives towards government and taxes. They get stretched thin by corporate plundering, so that any deduction from their wages really smarts.

    The taxes taken out of their check is a tangible thing to become angry about, with intangible benefits to paying their taxes (schools, social safety net). The business deals and public plundering that got them into the mess are complex things that are difficulty to get a grasp of.

    Lobbyists recognize this and further use it as leverage to convince the conservative voter base to favor slashing government spending which leads to weakened regulation. The government is ironically seen as the enemy when it’s the only institution capable of safeguarding people from huge companies, which is exactly why the billionaires want to see the beast starved.

  • 6. liberalmentald1s0rder  |  October 24th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    f8ck JP Morgan f8ck, leham bros f8ck the bailed out banks. I’m closing out my account on the bail out bank and open up a new on in a smaller more local bank.

    Oh sh1t, they are using the bailout money to buy up the smaller failing banks so even if if I did open up a new account in another bank it could still be under the control of the bailed out banks. Dammit!!!

    Time to use our 2nd Amendment, oh wait, Democrat gun laws are SOOOO restrictive as f8ck the mere possession of a firearm gets you years in jail just like the mere possession of marijuana laws. f8ggin Democrat gun laws its nearly impossible to own a firearm in Democrat land (just look at California). The right wingers on the other hand are armed to the teeth but have their guns aimed at the wrong people because of right wing media outlets tell liberals and coastal elites are the enemy.

  • 7. liberalmentald1s0rder  |  October 24th, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Hollywood movie star actor Ronald Reagan was way out of his mind when he was running California. The Black Panthers realized he was out of his mind so what do they do? they go straight to the capital building in Sacramento, CA with their rifles and firearms to demand their rights, peacefully.

    http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/images/2008/03/31/blackpanthers_2.jpg

    http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/images/bpp/wsa/black%20panthers_1968.jpg

    Afterwards that senile bastard “the Gipper” makes it illegal to posses firearms in ones vehicle and public spaces. So the racist cops start pulling over blacks and put them years behind bars for the act of possesing firearms.

    All we’re left with now is a disarmed liberal populace who are too pussy sh8t and the Black panthers today only have night sticks. Sighs……

    And meanwhile we have pig ignorant right wingers pointing their guns at the wrong people who are disarmed because right wing media outlets instruct them through their television sets in their trailor parks that the librulz (although disarmed) are the enemy and free market economy is their bestest friend in the whole wide world. Govt. is the enemy.

  • 8. Brad  |  October 24th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    “People want to kill somebody, but they don’t know who to shoot at.”

    Well, it’s not the invisible liberal bogeymen than Hannity and Glenn Beck rant mindlessly and endlessly about, but unfortunately people are too dumb to know who’s really responsible for their problems.

  • 9. Dwayne Chandler  |  October 24th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    “Who says military occupation is illegal?”
    I say it is illegal.
    I am free, freedom belongs
    to me, my life, my being,
    my manhood.
    I say it is illegal, because
    you can only fuck me for so
    long without my permission.
    “I hope it is remembered as the time the robber barons were brought under control.”
    I fanatically stroke my cock in the hopes that the coming time will be remembered for putting COLD STEEL to the capaitalists criminals and their pandering whores; arousingly running it HARD AND DEEP!

  • 10. Dwayne Chandler  |  October 24th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    “Strangely enough, there was almost no media coverage of the occupation.”
    Not strange at all Mr. Ames.
    You and many others know that in America
    the free, home of the brave, that media(coverage) is not informative and healthy journalism.
    Media is pandering and whoring propaganda, so shameless, that it makes pornstars in hotel rooms blush.

  • 11. wengler  |  October 24th, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    I really hope this period of time creates a new construct of what “value” is in people’s minds in this country. For far too long they have believed in a fairy tale- imaginary dreams financed with imaginary money. Meanwhile the real money slips through our fingers and into the hands of the greedy loan sharks that have made us their debt slaves. The only problem is that our economy is geared against production and is instead geared toward consumption of foreign goods.

    Unemployed people have the time and inclination to fight back, but will the mass of underemployed and those who hate their shitty god damn jobs but do them as debt slaves just spit or pity on those axed before them, or will they actually join them?

  • 12. Realist  |  October 25th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    In a few years, every soul in the United States will be a billionaire. Behold the miracles of monetarism.

    Buy gold, buy silver, buy bullets.

  • 13. Johnny  |  October 25th, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Explain to me how “the government” can fix anything when government – everywhere – is in the pocket of the rich bastards and they use government regulations and international treaties to cement the power of the trans-national corporations and prevent competition. How, exactly, can you prevent regulatory capture… excepting by shooting anybody who insists on regulating things for whatever reason?

  • 14. Mr. Nice  |  October 25th, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Holy shit, Ames, you’re spot on.

    Very nice work, meaning that you have all the details straight.

  • 15. Plamen Petkov  |  October 25th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    there are two distinct ways to control population: either through pleasure or fear. USA used to utilize the pleasure way, Russia was using the fear way. Now that USA cannot give its people pleasure the way it used to, it’s time for the fear.
    It’s ALL basics stuff. Fear bypasses ALL the parts of the brain: rational, educated and so on to go directly to the most primitive so called “reptilian” brain. Basic stuff Timothy Leary taught over 40 years ago.

    To start quoting some old law from who knows how long ago is silly. There is always new laws coming into effect that nullify old laws. There is so many things wrong in USA to list them all will take forever.
    I remember Shrub Jr creating “free speech” zones that were clearly illegal under the 1st Amendment law. Wasn’t ALL of USA supposed to be one big free speech zone?
    All of you clearly thinking USA people should be thinking of getting out while you still can.

  • 16. Quadrillion Dollar Man  |  October 25th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    America was the place that you used to get into when you were getting out of another collapsing country. The problem with getting out of America is that there are three hundred million Americans, and if they all try to get out, no place can take them in.

    America is the last stand. It’s where the battle of Armageddon has to be fought.

  • 17. Worker of the World  |  October 25th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    So what are you going to do about it? Complain from a privileged position? Or organize?

  • 18. Obbop  |  October 25th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    Hola Gringos,

    Have you headed back to your European cave yet?

    Us Euros are supposedly invaders upon Chicano or whatever land. We are immigrants, I hear and read.

    Well, lacking any time parameters I am aware of, ALL humans are invaders and/or immigrants.

    So… EVERYBODY, back to Africa and pick a tree to dwell in.

    A multitude of displaced critters will be enthused at the ability to roam free in a land not polluted by humans.

    Concerning pollution, compare and contrast the amount of pollution, garbage, filth, etc. created and tossed about by the culture invading from the south to the culture that created the USA.

    Rather obvious who the truly filthy one’s are, is it not?

    Then I read of Chicano gang bangers tagging rocks at Yosemite National Park.

    That should merit hanging by the neck until dead in my humble gentle non-politically correct opinion.

    I have arrived at a conclusion after decades among the invaders and years of research. Thanks to the Web a wealth of knowledge, opinions, research results, a veritable tidal wave of information is available and I took advantage of it.

    I have concluded that the USA has been in the midst of class warfare for 30-plus years.

    Warren Buffet, one of the richest Americans, agrees:

    “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    A minute minority of illegals are ousted with minimal real effort to keep the invading horde of barbarians out of the USA.

    Thus, the USA elite class wants those illegals and uses them as a weapon in class warfare.

    Divide and conquer to defeat an enemy.

    We, the People, are an enemy to our elite class.

    The elites, much of corporate America and special-interest groups want ever-more wealth and power and, ultimately, to usurp what the Founders created and replace that with an oligarchy similar to Mexico’s government.

    Oligarchy: definition: a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony. Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy. Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely reliant on public servitude to exist. Oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group. Thank you Wikipedia.

    To fight the invasion will require a fight against the enemy behind the enemy, our own elite class and its minions, lackeys, cohorts and the multitude of bureaucracies and bureaucrats created to preserve the elite’s status quo and to distance the elite class from the rest of the USA.

    I am convinced it is CLASS WAR and We, the People are losing.

  • 19. Erik  |  October 26th, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Damn, you’re good, Ames.

  • 20. Robert Hodge  |  October 26th, 2009 at 1:50 am

    5. Frank McG
    “The government is ironically seen as the enemy when it’s the only institution capable of safeguarding people from huge companies, which is exactly why the billionaires want to see the beast starved.”

    Except it was the local government who made such shit deals and now forcing the populace to pay. It was the government who gave banks the bailout money.

    Exactly what did government protect us from? Government and Wall Street are in it together. Why give them more power?

  • 21. winston smith  |  October 26th, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Plamen Petkov has it right. FEAR!!!!

  • 22. Realist  |  October 26th, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Hey, Ames!

    Did you write up the Hardin, Montana story yet? Juicy stuff and good poverty porn.

  • 23. mne  |  October 27th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Good piece.

    However, this is not “corporate communism” – it’s corporate capitalism.
    It’s ridiculous to drag in the word “communism” to try to salvage the “ideal” of capitalism whilst pointing out its “momentary” “excesses”.
    these are not excesses, BTW, but built-in tendencies of the capitalist system. when its ultimate goal and driving force, ie. profit-making, goes bust, the going gets rough.
    welcome to capitalism, real world style. (as opposed to the ayn randt-bullshit that so many proletarians sucked up to these last decades)

    you either fight back, or will suffer the consequences.

    organize!

  • 24. James  |  October 27th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I don’t undertand what you mean when you say he ‘mercy killed’ his mother. I don’t think he should be lauded for his humanitarian acts.

  • 25. Antonio Garcia  |  October 27th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    ?

  • 26. Edward Ulysses Cate  |  October 28th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Excellent commentary, Mark. Thanks for getting word out. Folks are angry, and rightfully so. It’s disgusting that countrymen sell out their fellow countrymen for a few dollars more. One thing that’s not obvious is that JP Morgan Chase is a front for Barclays of London. Look up the Major Holders of JPM, GS, C, etc. Barclays, founded in 1690, are the one who brag that they’re “Quietly conquering the world of finance.” They even had a URL quietlyconquering.com for that slogan. (They’ve redone the web site.) They’re the same type of folks who raped India in the past; and now they’re doing it to America. They finance really good men (NOT) like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and lately Castro and Chavez. It’s not that Barclays does, it’s that folks are stupid enough to do business with them. Would you knowingly do business with your neighborhood bully, provided that you were not a financial sociopath too? Sorry, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  • 27. Pieter  |  October 29th, 2009 at 1:48 am

    “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    Famous last words..I’m waiting for the day when this freeloader will be proven to-ta-lly wrong. That day will come. He set an awful example for the rest of America and the world. Living of others without working, Warren Buffet.

    It’s all very Russian. The Russian nobility took to much from the people and the revolution started.

    Are you a white cap or red cap? : I
    No, revolution will be impossible I think, the government/ army is too well organized. So probably there will be war.

  • 28. Pud  |  October 29th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Read the comments from some of the workers. Total idiots who can neither spell, nor form a coherent argument. No wonder they are working as chicken handlers.

    We’re supposed to take the word of the severely undereducated?

  • 29. Tim Ervin  |  October 29th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    My only problem with this article is exploitative way you used the so-called “occupation” of an Alabama town to draw readers into the story. The gist of this story is corporate greed and corruption, and people are pretty tired of reading or hearing about that crap. It doesn’t have emotional weight. But military occupation of a town? Well, that’s candy to babies. But what constitutes military occupation of a town? When some MPs from a nearby base post a few patrols at the request of the local police force, is that occupation? No, it’s actually not. It’s really more akin to a citizen patrol, but MPs are trained in law enforcement and are far less likely to kill someone for the wrong reason. Chances are, it was a better choice to ask the nearby MPs to help than it would be to form a local militia to secure the town. Please stop dragging people through sensational pap to get them to care about your writing. That kind of stuff is what’s been creating a bunch of screaming, irrational freaks out of the ignorant masses of America. Not helping.

  • 30. jim beam  |  October 29th, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    You know, on this one, I’m kind of inclined to think that it was just the Army being stupid and trying to “help” by cluster-fucking the situation up more. After all, stupid is a commodity that the Army, and sadly, much of the American armed forces, possess in spades. In this case- but not necessarily all others, I think that it’s fair not to ascribe to malice actions that can be attributed to ignorance and stupidity.

  • 31. Asher  |  October 30th, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Yep, the rich are greedy. And so are the poor. We live in a world where everybody wants something for nothing, the the Pilgrim family is just a manifestation of this society-wide problem.

    Any 17 year-old rutting sow can spread her legs for the nearest dealer who scores her some free week and then stick the taxpayers withe the bill for the next 18 years. Did I say 18? Hell, could be 65, given that the guy is low-ish IQ and has low impulse control, both heavily genetically heritable, which he passes on to his offspring.

    Yep, everyone’s selfish and wants something for nothing, from Bo Pilgrim to that 17 year-old rutting sow.

  • 32. Frank McG  |  October 30th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    “Except it was the local government who made such shit deals and now forcing the populace to pay. It was the government who gave banks the bailout money.

    Exactly what did government protect us from? Government and Wall Street are in it together. Why give them more power?”

    So you’re saying we should throw the baby out with the bathwater and give up on every institution that has ever been subject to graft? You’d have to abolish every organization to have ever existed in that case. Should we get rid of police because dozens of local sheriffs are caught taking bribes? Look at what you just did, associating “government” and “power” as an evil compound word. That’s exactly the kind of thought process lobbyist groups want people to have. Personally, I’d love to give the government the “power” to enforce food and drug safety as well as other publicly beneficial regulation, but they’ve drilled it into everyone’s head that government can only ever be big brother so do away with any and all regulation and let the magical hand of free market spread magical Ayn Rand pixie dust to fix everything.

    It’s a very sensationalist and cynical attitude from Ames and the comments here that government is some Illuminati front for the Rothschilds. It’s not all about money, it’s votes and organization. Money just helps campaigns get votes and organization. You know what the most successful lobby group in the country is? The AARP. Know how much they contribute? Not a red cent. Old people are easy to upset and have plenty of free time to organize. If only everyone was so capable you’d see a lot more change in the public’s favor instead of cynically casting everything down.

    Government is beholden to oversight and voters. The private sector answers only to dollars. You’re damn right I’d rather the government have power, but the mindset has been marketed that anything government is bad and the private sector is efficient and better at everything. To anyone who believes that, ask yourself if you’d rather have Blackwater patrolling your street or the police.

  • 33. RanDomino  |  October 30th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Government is only beholden to oversight and voters if they are stronger than money. Unlikely!

  • 34. Quadrillion Dollar Man  |  November 1st, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    “So you’re saying we should throw the baby out with the bathwater and give up on every institution that has ever been subject to graft?”

    This is why the anarchists are going to win this fight and not the liberals. The liberals are crippled by their own limiting beliefs in the necessity of preserving the very thing that is employed to rape them.

    The anarchists will act while everyone else will stand by and get fucked.

    P.S. The government will fuck the old people too. Social security default is already underway. And by the way, we don’t have the free time to organize and fight the oligarchy. We have to work to scrape a living together.

  • 35. Boris Nemtsov  |  November 4th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    The Huffington Post is finally covering this today (Nov. 4) Fucking tossers, what else was so important to ignore this story for so long?

  • 36. dudeman  |  November 6th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    The creepiest detail isn’t the troops. The creepiest detail is you seem to justify mass murder of innocents and a “mercy” killing of his mother as an understandable result of “corporate exploitation and harrassment.” As Nietzche once said “people see what they believe.” This is just another angry personality disordered male who made poor choices and didn’t make it very far in life. He’s blaming others just like you blame others.

  • 37. dudeman  |  November 6th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Let me see if I understand one of your other concerns. “These jobs are brutal and exploitative and there’s not enough of them (since they are closing some of the plants.” Reminds me of the joke about the lady who said “the food was terrible and the portions too small.”

  • 38. Trevor Bacon  |  November 7th, 2009 at 4:13 am

    It’s Like some kind of Story from the Third World. When all this started I thought it was just more of the same old crap but now I’m beginning to wonder. I think the only way to beat them is civil disobedience. It beat the British in India.

  • 39. Space Monkey  |  November 9th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Someone needs to fly over those hick towns and disperse some aerosol thick with pneumonic plague. Cull the herd. Like they’re doing over in the Ukraine. Oh, wait, chemtrails don’t exist, do they?

  • 40. Schumpeter's Ghost  |  November 14th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Ames, I think that you and everyone else here should read Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. As an economist, Schumpeter is by far the predicative of the current state of affairs. I believe you would love the first line of the work: “Can capitalism survive? No, I think not.”

    Wikipedia the work.

  • 41. Obbop  |  November 29th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    The elite’s government FEARS you!!!!!!

    Their fear is manifested in the laws they pass. Here is a law banning what MANY of the Founders wrote is a RIGHT of citizens when a government no longer represents them:

    Section 2385. Advocating overthrow of Government

    Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or
    teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of
    overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or
    the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession
    thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by
    force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any
    such government; or
    Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any
    such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates,
    sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed
    matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity,
    desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any
    government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts
    to do so; or
    Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society,
    group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the
    overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or
    violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any
    such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes
    thereof -
    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
    twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by
    the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five
    years next following his conviction.
    If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in
    this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned
    not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for
    employment by the United States or any department or agency
    thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
    As used in this section, the terms ”organizes” and
    ”organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of
    persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new
    units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes,
    and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.

    Corporate America is becoming increasingly more powerful and influential. Yet, according to the government of for and by the elites YOU, a citizen, have to accept whatever the government does with NO recourse other than voting…… and there is sufficient proof that shows to me voting is worthless since the entrenched power structure ensures that the emplaced elite class can not be removed.

    The Founders specifically wrote of the people’s right to abolish a government when it no longer represents them.

    Tyranny is upon is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 42. Edward Saucier  |  December 22nd, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Grow some man sacs down there and get a union.

  • 43. Niki Tag  |  April 14th, 2010 at 6:47 am

    This is a really good post and something I never thought about, but I do recall a few eatery charges on my credit card that seemed to be much higher than I recalled spending. Well I think I will make an effort to bring enuf cash for tipping from now on if possible!

  • 44. joe  |  June 24th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    does huffington and JP MORGAN make false bonds and strange appraisels of of common peoples meagar property to erase ownership-?


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