Terrorism

Folk Hero Push For Andrew Joseph Stack

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Who dreamed they saw Joe Stack last night?

It was supposed to be right-wingers, tea baggers, and militia types who were the unindicted, uninvolved, uninformed and unaffiliated co-conspirators in Stack's kamikaze attack on an Internal Revenue Service office last week. The WashPost's Jonathan Capehart is "struck by how his alienation is similar to that we're hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement." The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project hits the perfect storm of journalistic clichés by detecting a "perfect storm" of anti-government militias and "so-called Patriot groups." Daily Kos claims (without evidence) links and ties to the tea party movement.

But a strange counterforce has been developing, visible in the comment boards on lefty websites and Facebook. The left's creepy efforts to turn Stack into a club with which to hit advocates of lower taxes and smaller government keep getting met with responses, from other lefties, along these lines: "I read his manifesto, and you know, a lot of his points make sense."

Can't you just see the political meaning of this?

To reiterate, here are Stack's grievances, in order of appearance in his suicide note: failure of health care reform, banker bonuses, the Catholic church, base closings in Southern California, his own accountant, George W. Bush, tax treatment of freelance engineers, and capitalism.

These do not make Stack an excrescence of the left, the right, or the libertarians. They make him more or less representative of the garden variety complaints of Americans—many if not a majority of whom have both fantasized about blowing up the IRS and considered themselves entitled to something for nothing. And virtually none of whom have ever attacked another person.

But the left's lionization of Stack (coupled always with coy admissions that his methods may have gone too far) edges into creepiness with Rich Benjamin's analysis of the multiple murderer's "real populist grievances." Excerpt:

Deplorable though he might be, Stack is not quite a "random bad apple." His act might be uncommon, but his jumbled populism is not. His crime is in no way excusable, but it spotlights a larger problem that both political and corporate elites like to caricature or dismiss: visceral populist anger.

Stack may have suffered from mental illness, but he is also an acute symptom of this nation's neglected wounds.

The fire this time inflicted just two deaths (including Stack) and injuries to 13 victims. The fire next time may be more traumatic.

We dismiss his screed, suicide and crime as "lunatic" at our own risk.

To be fair, Benjamin does a pretty good job of tracking the jumble of Stack's politics. But that's the problem: thinking we can learn anything from the ideology of this stupid, unemployable, hate-filled loser. Any moron can inflict violence on himself and others. The excuses are completely interchangeable.

Or put it another way: Stack's crime is as compelling an indictment of the left or the right as it is an indictment of the most dangerous people in our society: bass players.

Related blast from the past: Back when the progressive media were engaging in another love fest for another mass murderer, the Unabomber's politics were given the bum's rush by Joey Anuff, a man whose methods were always wrong but who shits bigger than all of us.

NEXT: You Know the Lowlights. Here Are a Few Highlights from CPAC…Seriously

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  1. “Stack’s crime is as compelling an indictment of the left or the right as it is an indictment of the most dangerous people in our society: bass players.”

    That made me LOL

    1. Don’t laugh. Never forget that Les Claypool is a bass player.

      1. Huckabee came to my mind.

    2. I was always suspicious of the second cellist.

    3. Beat y’all to it – check out http://didnitellyou.blogspot.c…..stin.html, for a thorough analysis of the bass player threat!

  2. thinking we can learn anything from the ideology of this stupid, unemployable, hate-filled loser

    So someone with decent criticisms of shitty things occurring in this country cannot be learned from because of his actions? It’s not like the actual content of his arguments is obliterated by his horrific actions.

    1. He killed an innocent civilian and harmed others, why should we validate him by discussing his “ideas” seriously?

      1. If someone goes on a rampage and leaves a note saying that Sex in the City is a terrible, awful crime against humanity, would you still refuse to discuss their “idea”?

        1. That’s a great show you weirdo.

        2. Yes, since the discussion would have to pertain to the murderer at least contextually. Why is there a need to validate the ideas that these people use to justify murder?

          1. There were no ideas in his Manifesto, just grievances.

      2. Wait was the other person that died and ‘innocent civilian’ or an IRS employee?

        I thought it was the latter.

        1. So, IRS employee = guilty and deserving of death. You just told me everything I ever need to know about you.

          1. IRS agents are willing to surround your home with guns pointed at you, seize everything you have ever earned in your life, beat you if you resist, kill you if you resist while armed, and send you to a prison system where you will be raped and may contract AIDS.

            That you defend such looters tells us a lot about you, quisling.

        2. ‘IRS employee’ could be anyone from an auditor to a temp working a copier at just the wrong moment. Go away and don’t come back until you grow up.

          1. Yes, just as “enemy combatant” could be anyone from Hermann Goering to Sergeant Schultz.

            If you take the money, you play for the team. Those who facilitate the tyrant are also tyrants. We learned this lesson at Nuremberg, did we not?

            Stack fancied himself a revolutionary, taking revolutionary action.

            There are plenty of people who are neither stupid nor unemployable who have been victimized in much the same manner he was, so to denigrate his criticisms as invalid on that account is fallacious.

            1. Stack was obviously crazy since he thought killing himself was a solution and since he was willing to kill some temp workers who happened to be in the building.

              But probably a lot of people are close to doing what he did all the time. A settlement attorney I worked with had previously been a tax litigator working for people being wage garnished and bank levied by the IRS. She says many if not most of them have suicidal thoughts.

              Of course Stack’s actual writings, which you can find on the net, are not very focused, and attack George Bush, quote Marx, etc.

              Here is a “Randian” blog defending Stack which I think misses a few points: http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=25

              Here is a link to someone writing

  3. How is he a multiple murderer?

    1. More like a homicidal suicide(ist).

    2. Apparently, he killed two people who were in the building he crashed his plane into.

      -jcr

      1. According to the article, he was one of them. I don’t think that counts as murder.

        Did one of the injured die in the hosptial or something?

      2. Just one–he was the second victim.

  4. Saying that we shouldn’t try to learn from what Stack said before he did the terrible thing seems on a par with saying that we should dismiss what terrorists have actually said about their reasons for attacking us, simply because they attacked us.

    Blowback is blowback, folks. Learn the reasons why and do something proactive about it or expect more of it, from sources both foreign and domestic.

    Frankly, I’m sorry that Stack and McVeigh are both dead. I’ve always thought that we should do our best to analyze people who perform extreme acts such as theirs, the better to learn how to prevent similar things in the future.

    1. McVeigh had a lot of good points. Notice he didn’t sit on death row for 23 years before dying of old age.

    2. You cannot prevent people attacking government buildings unless you get rid of government buildings. Someone will always have a reason to attack them. And the bigger the government is and the more programs it has the more groups will oppose something it is doing to them.

  5. Guess what I just saw on DKos, from someone wanting to create new Democratic “memes”?

    They say the biggest investment you make in your lifetime is your house, but they’re wrong. The biggest investment you make in your lifetime is your government.

    I died a bit inside.

    1. It’s true, it’s just not a voluntary investment.

      1. It’s not an investment, because you have no chance of realizing a return on it.

        -jcr

        1. Don’t be so negative — people lose the vast majority of their investment capital quite frequently. Government is just better at this (on average) than the private sector. From that perspective, you might look at it as a refreshing change.

          1. The only capital goods government invests in that have any value are the weapons it uses to suppress tax serfs and continue to loot them and sell its “title” to the unborn tax serfs and whatever produce they will raise on the plantation to those who buy T Bills internationally.

            Of course, those capital goods are only valuable to the tax predator ruling class. Its investments in bridges, roads, schools etc are all obviously defective and less valuable than what market participants would have chosen. Even its investments in defense seem to be aimed at creating a world wide military bureaucracy, but unable to defend the Pentagon, Austin, or Manhattan against someone dropping a plane on them. It appears that government has not been protecting us since America was founded; the oceans have and government was just taking the credit.

            The poster above me at the people at DailyKOS are as delusional as Joe Stack.

    2. Just “your government”, no specific programs w/ specific costs and benefits. Just “your government” as some sort of pantheistic god.

    3. I’m on board. I just ate a bran muffin. Where do I make my deposit?

    4. Yet at the same time, they want to make sure it is 100% THEIR govt. For our own good.

  6. Not an incident should go by without a reference to Reason’s excellent piece by Jesse Walker: The Paranoid Center

    It’s a nice antidote to the Hofstadter meme when these sorts of things come up.

    1. Why would anyone need an an antidote to Hofstadter? Colonel Hogan beat him every time.

    2. Hofstadter’s lies against Herbert Spencer make taking anything he wrote seriously hard to stomach.

  7. So, are all IRS offices going to be in the basements of office buildings now?

    -jcr

    1. All buildings will be basements now. No more above ground businesses. It’s all an elaborate plot by the mole people.

    2. Drowning bureaucrats by breaking municipal government water mains, which break on their own all the time anyway, is a much more accessible procedure than flying a plane.

  8. Look, Stack did what he did in large part because he ended up on the wrong side of the IRS. Having read his statement and Mr. Benjamin’s article, I have some sympathy for him.

    The fact is that the tax code is insanely complicated, which only benefits the government. If you somehow fail to comprehend it and you make a big enough mistake, you’re screwed. The rules are arbitrary and the IRS is unaccountable (unless you count suicide missions as accountability).

    1. “The fact is that the tax code is insanely complicated, which only benefits the government.”

      Nah. The tax code benefits the wealthy, specialized interests, and corporations who hire lobbyists who know how to write code that benefits their clients at the expense of the middle class taxpayer.

      1. I stand corrected.

        Of course what you said is pretty much what Joe Stack said, too.

        1. It doesn’t make it wrong.

          1. Right. Cavanaugh doesn’t seem to think he’s worth listening to, though.

      2. +1

        The simplest tax code would be to have a flat tax on all incomes with no deduction. However, in order to add some progressiveness you could have a high standard deduction.

        However, different interest groups want to benefit from the tax code and start adding complexities to it. People think the rich should pay higher taxes, so tax brackets are created. The wealthy want lower taxes, so a special income category called capital gains is created with a very low tax rate. Different companies want different behaviors to be favored so that people a) buy their product; b) the company gets a tax break; or c) their competitor’s product is more expensive.

        Blaming the IRS for a complex tax code is like blaming the executioner while ignoring the role of the judge and the jury. Tax complexity is Congress’ fault. Of course, everyone that benefits and pushes for their pet deduction is complicit. Kill all non-standard deductions, treat all income as equal, lower the tax brackets and everyone wins (except for tax attorneys and accountants, but fuck ’em).

        1. Not so. The IRS is the judge, jury, and executioner. They may not be responsible for the code, but they’re responsible for everything after that.

        2. The concept of “progressive” tax brackets is another thing that drives me crazy.

          The stated logic is that “rich people should pay more”… OK, tell me again why we need brackets? Since when did the laws of math change where X% of 500,000 is not already a larger number than X% of 50,000?

          The only explanation is that the term “progressive” is actually intended in the political sense – confiscation and redistribution.

          1. The stated logic is that “rich people should pay more”

            Well, what they mean to say is that rich people should pay more more.

        3. IRS employees are only following orders.

          1. Funny–that excuse seemed to hold no weight for the Nazi’s at the Nuremburg war crimes trials. They punished them anyway, some by hanging. And the difference is?????????

            1. I think your Irony-O-Meter needs new batteries.

      3. How come Tom Daschle owns a $3 million house in the 2800 block of Foxhall Road NW above Georgetown that he couldn’t afford when he was a Senator? How come Rahm Emanuel became a multimillionaire between being in the Clinton White House and the current one, when his BA from Northwestern is in dance and his resume consists of being a ballerina and being a political hack?

        The tax code and regulations create a system of papal indulgences that politicians/lobbyists sell to corporations who use them to suppress competitors.

        MSNBC flak Hillary Rosen, a Hillary and then Obama campaigner, created a new lobby last year called Business Forward, which for $75,000 will get the Obama regime to smite your competitor for you with the power of the State.

    2. Here’s another person who destroyed his own home this week in Ohio, in part because the IRS had levied him: http://www.wlwt.com/news/22600154/detail.html

  9. Tim, what the hell are you doing quoting The Southern Poverty Law Center in the first place? Bad bad!

    1. Tedium Tatters forgot to write about it?

  10. Fuck you, Cavanaugh!

  11. SPLC has a strange mix of political advocacy and very successful lawsuits. And they seem to have the notion that one small deranged minuscule of radical rightists can speak for the whole conservative movement. I guess that’s how they get gullible liberals to donate their money to the cause.

  12. He is not a hero. He is a crazy man who could not handle his problems well. I come from a poor country, and people there would give anything to have a small piece of what Americans have. Andrew should have counted his blessings, no matter how small they were.

    1. On par I think Mericans are assholes unwilling to put up with oppression. It’s one of the things that made us free. I have foound some of the nicest people living in the poorest countries. Causation?

      1. oops Americans

        1. I kind of liked the misspell

    2. So because we are only house slaves as opposed to field slaves we should feel GRATITUDE????? I have no blessings to count, and numbers would fail me if I began to attempt to count the number of compromises made in our lifetime in which we have exchanged liberty for safety, comfort for freedom. Stack wasn’t a rightist or a leftist. Just a man with no illusions left, and a clear view into the injustice and arrogance that is the attitude and outcome of ANY federal government that denies it’s mandate is derived from the will of the people and the values that were sworn to upon the founding of our nation when we signed that Declaration.

  13. “The fire this time inflicted just two deaths….The fire next time may be more traumatic.”

    Lefty pundits are still saying that about the guns at last year’s rallies. The only difference being the rallies were peaceful, nobody brandished his weapon, and the only danger the president was in was the possibility (since fulfilled) that he’d be exposed as an empty suit.

  14. hitler drank tea too!

    1. And was a vegetarian. We need a program to force red meat down those leftoid gullets, before they all go postal like Amy Bishop!

  15. By saying there is nothing to learn from Stack, “Reason” commentors are being the perfect little sheep the government wants them to be.
    Not to mention mealy mouthed hypocrites.
    I wonder if they’d deny that one plus one equals two, just because Hitler knew how to add,

    @ Joseph
    That’s about as bullshit as an argument can be, which is why we frequently see it with the Left.
    So Americans have to be grateful for whatever scraps their government leaves them, just because other governments leave their people even less scraps?
    Why don’t you just come right out and declare your allegiance to the principle of totalitarianism?
    Because you certainly don’t have a fucking clue about the PRINCIPLE of liberty.

  16. If only there were some sort of rule prohibiting leaving one’s seat during the last hour of a flight, this could have been prevented.

    1. (golf clap)

  17. It’s too bad that he acted out because now people can just ignore his complaints dismissively as the “rantings of a crazy guy” and point to his criticism of the Catholic church and George Bush and all those other things as evidence that all of his other opinions were equally loony.

    I got into a message board argument over the weekend with a horribly condescending person, who claimed to be an IRS agent, who honestly tried to make the case that W2 classification of employees is a good thing because it “protects workers”. How? Because it shifts parts of the employment tax burden onto evil greedy employers, who apparently only consider as “employment expense” what they pay as wages and would otherwise pocket the difference if not for the heroic actions of FICA.

    When I pointed out that W2 classification also makes tax collections much easier, by restricting taxpayer’s consent and shifting the burden of proof from collector to payer, and enhances revenue by giving government an interest-free float, he called me “paranoid” and told me to go find a therapist.

    Thing is, if enhanced collections weren’t the case, why would Obama come out last week and announce a “crackdown” on independent contractors as a revenue enhancement strategy?

    Fact is, it’s fairly clear that this man – Joe Stack – was hounded by the IRS for most of his adult life, and whether or not he brought it on himself, the sheer amount of discretionary administrative and enforcement power that the IRS has is a legitimate concern. The income tax is fundamentally inconsistent with the founding principles of this country – 16th Amendment or not – and Congress, using the IRS as its very own special collection agency, has rigged the rules against the average American and built a regulatory system (through the despicable withholding tax, which is a specific topic Joe mentions in his note) that maximizes revenue whole cultivating as much apathy and ignorance as possible among taxpayers.

    ‘Ole Joe DID try and work peacefully through the system and he did try and work with the IRS to try and fix his problems… and was apparently given no quarter. He quite clearly was driven to such a hopeless place that he felt he had no other choice but to react violently. I’m not all saying that his actions were justified or that he made the right choice, but he does deserve at least a little more sympathy and consideration than many people are apparently willing to give him.

    Just because a vast majority of Americans don’t go out and kill IRS agents doesn’t mean that the system is just or fairly structured. There are serious problems that need to be addressed and Joe Stack, through his actions, has ruined it for the time being for those of us who care deeply about tax reform.

    1. I think the truth in your comments is that there is a “Tax Protest Movement.” Many are bat-shit insane, but you don’t have the same thing with Social Security taxes and other payroll deductions. Why? Because those deductions are relatively transparent and comprehensible. The income tax provisions are so incomprehensivle that they are begging for Da Vinci-code style conspiracy theories.

    2. Did you by any chance get the address your message board interlocuter works at?

  18. I’d get better value for my tax dollars if I threw them in the fireplace and burned them for heat.

  19. Hell, I’d pay higher taxes to get the government to stop doing most of what it does. Double their pay and tell the parasites to stay home.

    1. Actually if you paid the Obama Czars, Cabinet Secretaries, Congresscritters, and Vermin in Chief all $1 billion annually just to stay home, it would be only $600 billion, less than the TARP.

      And the country would be better off, especially if you dissolved all the agencies they allegedly are overseeing.

      It would be cheaper just to pay them tribute if they would stay off our land, rather than have them make it their plantation and enslave us.

  20. “To reiterate, here are Stack’s grievances, in order of appearance in his suicide note: failure of health care reform, banker bonuses, the Catholic church, base closings in Southern California, his own accountant, George W. Bush, tax treatment of freelance engineers, and capitalism.

    These do not make Stack an excrescence of the left, the right, or the libertarians. They make him more or less representative of the garden variety complaints of Americans” How is it representative of garden variety Americans? Next Tim article : Those KKK boys were really more representative of the boy scouts teaching blacks how to build efficient burning cross campfires.

  21. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project hits the perfect storm of journalistic clich?s by detecting a “perfect storm” of anti-government militias and “so-called Patriot groups.” Daily Kos claims (without evidence) links and ties to the tea party movement.

    ‘Bout time for the SPLC to make the regular circuit on NPR.

  22. Crazy Guy who Acted on his Crazy, Had Strong Political Ideology

    …film at 11.

    Are we saying that we now can blame the Unibomber on Al Gore?

  23. The fact is that the tax code is insanely complicated, which only benefits the government. If you somehow fail to comprehend it and you make a big enough mistake, you’re screwed.

    If you’re connected enough they make you Secretary of the Treasury.

  24. wierd I’m surprisde the building didn’t collapse like WTC7 when it wasn’t even hit by a plane.

  25. Gabe|2.22.10 @ 2:46PM|#
    wierd I’m surprisde the building didn’t collapse like WTC7 when it wasn’t even hit by a plane.

    Truthers – they’re like ticks: you think you have rooted out all of them and another pops up out of the woodwork.

  26. The man he killed served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam. Stack killed himself because some half baked tax scheme left him owing 40k in back taxes while the rest of us continue to pay our taxes. Instead of selling his plane to pay his taxes or paying his taxes instead of buying a plane he chose to do further damage to his fellow tax payers. He took the cowards way out and we have to pay to clean the mess up. What is his wife left with? The debt he refused to pay?

  27. americans are consumate whiners. I love paying my taxes, almost as much as I love driving on freeways, clean roads, having an infrastructure. Al you taxhaters should move to libya…no taxes, only minor tariffs on imports. You should probably get some offroad tires though.

    1. This is either a whole lot of sarcasm or a whole lot of stupidity. I’m having a hard time determining which one.

      The only person I’ve ever heard say they loved paying taxes was a European. Other than that, most people have the good sense to realize there’s nothing to be proud of in giving your money over to the government.

      If taxes only went toward freeways, clean roads, and infrastructure we’d be spending only a fraction of what the government takes in every year. Either that or the entire US would be an immaculately cared for parking lot.

    2. Ah yes, because it’s absolutely inconceivable that any of these things could exist without the state providing them.

      1. For that matter, all of the things he mentions are generally paid for with other types of taxes. Last I checked, this was a discussion of the IRS, not gasoline taxes or property assessments.

        Can’t get too upset though, he’s just repeating the statist talking points that they all get from time to time.

    3. Wow Lawrence. In the real world, where I live, government bridges and tunnels collapse, government schools graduate illiterates, government municipal water systems have bacteria and high lead levels, government trains and subways run off track and injure people, government streets are full of potholes that destroy tires and cars, government jails are full of people who smoked pot, and government defense services manage not to stop planes from flying into buildings in Manhattan, DC/Virginia, and Austin.

      Can you tell us where the portal is to your dimension?

  28. It would appear that the Left is doing what it has always done – justify murder if it benefits their cause.

    Remember Obama terrorist pal William Ayers? Remember how the Left turned a blind eye towards Stalin, the genocide in Southeast Asia, Castro’s Cuba?

  29. “Truthers – they’re like ticks: you think you have rooted out all of them and another pops up out of the woodwork.”

    Speaking of which – since Stack is well on his way to becoming a Hero of the Revolution, any bets on when the Left decides that Stack was framed by (pick one or more) the CIA, the FBI, FEMA, the Israel lobby, Haliburton? When will the Stack Truthers inform us that the damage to the IRS building could not have been caused by a small plane, but must have been the result of a controled detonation? Most importantly, when will Rosie O’Donnell weigh in on this issue (pun semi-intended)?

    1. I think Democratic precinct captain John Wayne Gacy was protesting anti-gay bullying in the public schools.

  30. The other day I blogged this remark:

    For those lefties who think Austin kamikaze Joseph Andrew Stack was a right-winger because of his antagonism toward paying taxes…

    Ever heard of Tim Geithner?

  31. So when Joe Stack does it, he’s a mass murderer, but when Samuel Adams did it, he was a hero? Or are you faux-libertarian jackasses here at “Reason” finally dropping the pretense and admitting that you’re all just statist scumbags to the core?

  32. Looks like a vast 4-string conspiracy.

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