Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I've Just Had Enough"


It's rare that I publish an item without offering a corresponding opinion, but I think it's important that -- before each of the echo chambers on either side of the political spectrum begins knee-jerk spinning the hell out of its supposed larger implications -- you get a look at this, unclouded, and come to a few conclusions on your own.

At the link below you'll find the written manifesto of Joseph Andrew Stack -- the man who crashed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas this morning. Stack apparently had major issues with the IRS and was specifically targeting its office. Regardless of which side of the political fence you're on, something like this is a potential gold mine: If you're on the right, you can paint Stack as a guy who'd had enough of big government intruding into our lives; if you're on the left, you might trumpet his final act as proof of the violent shitstorm being stirred up by exactly that kind of talk from the right.

But after reading through the whole thing, none of it's quite that cut and dry -- and therefore that easy to summarily dismiss or co-opt.

See for yourself.

The Smoking Gun: Plane Crash Suspect's Online Diatribe/2.18.10

(Update: I touched on this in the comment section but I think it needs to be on the main page. Just because I thought that a logical examination of Joseph Stack's "suicide note" proved that he wasn't easy to pin down politically, that doesn't mean both sides aren't already trying to do just that. There are already Facebook pages popping up from what I assume is the farthest-right lunatic fringe claiming Stack as a martyr for the cause -- pulling irresponsible crap like calling him "the first casualty in the next American revolution." Likewise, commenters at Huffington are dismissing him as just another "Tea Bagging loser" who doesn't think he should have to pay his taxes. Needless to say, both sides are dead wrong.

As much as Stack may have a good vocabulary and have made a few decent points in his final manifesto, one thing cannot be avoided: He's now a domestic terrorist. He flew a plane into a building filled with innocent people to make a political point -- that's the definition of a terrorist, as we should well know. He's an attempted mass murderer. Holding him up as some kind of patriot or excusing his act because you happen to agree with some of his views -- or even worse, hope to adopt them strictly to score political points -- is fucking inexcusable. Period.

But at the same time, it's absolutely off the mark to relegate Stack to the Bagger faux-populist pile. He apparently had issues with the IRS for decades, long before the "movement" started (his primary nemesis being a change in the tax code 24 years ago that he blames for forever altering his life); he fires his anger in all kinds of paranoid directions, going after not simply one elected official or political party but politicians in general, including George W. Bush, as well as multinational corporations, health insurance companies, the city of Austin, "Big Brother", even the Catholic Church. He doesn't go off on any kind of racist tangent and his anger doesn't seem to have peaked specifically because Barack Obama is now in office. Stack may share some of the Baggers' ideology when it comes to government intrusion but he doesn't seem to be one of them by alignment. Which won't stop the craziest on that side from canonizing him, the mainstream right-wing shit-stirrers from trying to distance themselves from him, and the usual suspects on the left from demonizing him.)

47 comments:

Alanna said...

this is sort of how I felt after I finished my taxes last week.

Brian H said...

There's a lot less crazy in that doc than I expected.

Anonymous said...

I had the same reaction when I read this. It's really dishonest for any side to score cheap points on this.

What's really scary is when you read a killer's manifesto and you nod along in agreement at some of it.

I'll bet the right -- maybe someone at CPAC -- will leap at his criticism of Bush to link him to Obama. Hope I'm wrong.

Austin said...

Having read that, hes nuts - but there's no way the Repubs (or even the tea baggers) can spin this as a right-wing martyr. This guy is blatantly anti-big business/Wall Street, far more than he is anti-government. Hell, he even slams Bush.

About the only way to present this is as a left-wing radical, but really it's just the story of a man with more problems than IQ.

Ethnic Redneck said...

Apparently, he didn't get to the part of the lesson that teaches you "Life is not fucking fair, and if you expect it to be, you are a moron." Hey asshat, how about next time, instead of leaving some whiny suicide note 'bout how the world done you wrong, you actually keep sucking air and try to change it? Yeah, it's hard as fuck to pull off and you get kicked in the balls - a lot - but if put on your big boy pants and keep dusting yourself off, you might actually make a dent in this world. Or at least not go out as some sad tagline to a joke.

Jeremy said...

Yeah. All I could think after reading his note was, "you know, he doesn't sound that crazy and he makes some valid points."

Not that I condone his actions. But I understand some of his frustrations (although, I'll never be well off enough to afford my own plane, so... I can't imagine he was in a worse situation that most of the people I know who are really struggling), but this is definitely not a black or white situation, although it will definitely be clothed as such for benefit of the culture war Svengali.

ntx said...

What Ethnic Redneck said.

This guy sounds like he was a grade A loser douchebag. All sympathies to those he hurt and condolences to his family and all....

hecubus said...

chez, that building is a mile from where i work (saw the smoke on my way to work), and im pretty positive that i saw the plane before it crashed fly over my house while i was out walking the dog this morning.....pretty crazy stuff. i just read the manifesto and you're exactly right.....there's plenty in there for either side to use in order to spin it their way.

Mart said...

Fascinating read. A populist battle cry. Won't gain any traction, those bailed out corporations will not allow any air time to the rational parts of his arguement, only the crazy. Need to keep us in our place.

hecubus said...

also, even though he made some decent points about certain things, he complains about his retirement and his pay rate here in austin....

for one thing the pay in austin is generally less than california because the cost of living is a hell of alot cheaper. the house he burned down is less than a mile from where i work, and houses in this area go for around 200K. cant do that in california....also he complains of not finding a job or having income, yet he OWNS A PLANE!? if he would've sold that plane he just destroyed he couldn've gotten back those $40,000he was bitching about.

Tony said...

I can relate to this guys somewhat. I got raked over the coals by the IRS several years ago when I didn't do my first two years of self employment taxes exactly right. I'll be paying for that mistake for another 3 years, but I don't feel compelled to hate the IRS. I just really dislike the bureaucracy that makes taxes in the country so damn difficult.

Anonymous said...

Didn't one account say that it was a stolen plane?

Chez said...

Originally yes, but apparently it wasn't.

Donal said...

But was the trip deductible?

JoSt said...

Here's a link to his entire manifesto. Sadly he made some very good arguments in it.

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/18/stack.letter.pdf?hpt=T1

Chez said...

And Donal gets the Comment of the Week.

Liz in Austin said...

I saw the smoke from my office building about 2 miles south. Oh, I could ramble on about how immature he was (thanks, Ethnic Redneck - awesome) and a prior tax risk with his two failed California companies, but all I really have to add is this:

He was once a member of a rock band here in town. Only in Austin.

Chez said...

What of course has to be pointed out is, a few decent points or not, the guy qualifies as a domestic terrorist. There's just no way around it. He didn't just kill himself -- he flew a plane into a building filled with innocent people with the intention of making a political statement. That's a terrorist.

slouchmonkey said...

Sorry. Not deductible. It was used for personal reasons, therefore, it would be considered entertainment!

slouchmonkey said...

I'm sorry. If this was his company's aircraft and he was flying for personal reasons he would be assessed tax based on an imputed amount of income calculated for the value of the flight. IRS still wins.

Che Grovera said...

Good thing there's no rush to judgment among this crowd...

I could weave a narrative of my own life that might read alarmingly like Joe Stack's (love that name, FWIW). I'm in the middle of a five-year run where I'm forking over about 40% of my gross income to the IRS to atone for mistakes/malfeasance from previous years. Did Joe make mistakes, or even commit fraud? Probably. Are we "brainwashed" (Joe's favored term) into believing that we need to be accountable and to right our wrongs? Seemingly.

Yet Joe's fundamental point still stands: it's only the "little guy" who is held to these rigorous standards without fail. Did AIG make mistakes, or even commit fraud? Absolutely. Hell, corporations are people in the eyes of our legal system in pretty much every sense EXCEPT accountability. How convenient. Yeah, what Joe did was pointless and horrific...I might even agree with Chez on calling it domestic terrorism (I had the same thought but backed off taking this screed down that path). Taxonomy aside, though, the sentient natives are getting restless over the naked hypocrisy on display in the good ol' U S of A.

I support(ed) Obama because he represented the only possibility of populist change. I still think his heart is in the right place, but he's clearly no radical...and he's turning out to be not much of a compromiser either. Our history is littered with ineffectual liberals cum progressives, and the trend line on Obama so far is not reassuring. We are at -- or possibly even past -- the point where our political mess overwhelms and buries us. I daresay we'll see more Joe Stacks in the not-too-distant future...and no, this is not my manifesto (please keep your disappointment to yourselves).

Jeremy said...

On an unrelated note, we should have a meet-up of Austin area DEM readers sometime. Seem to be a few of us here.

slouchmonkey said...

@ Che Grovera.

Very well said.

Nobody likes getting a call from me. At all. It sucks. But, sometimes I'm able to help with their tax issues. (Chez, you can delete my tax comments. They're not funny and this isn't a tax forum.)

We all just keep on keeping on, I guess.

Kevin said...

It is a fatal mistake to think that suicide bombers, terrorists, and kamakazi pilots like this are crazy. Terrorism is a seed sown in the fields of deperation.

Chez said...

Maybe. But to believe that everyone is out to get you makes you more of a paranoid psychotic than anything else. Desperation is one thing -- unfocused rage is another.

Peter L. Winkler said...

He should have called Ronnie Deutsch.

Chez said...

And Comment of the Week runner-up goes to Peter.

C.L.J. said...

Che-
It was indisputably domestic terrorism, but that won't stop radical apologists from disputing it.

I also agree with Chaz that he was chickensh*t for crashing into a building full of innocent people. Even if you buy into the claptrap that the IRS is staffed with jackbooted constitution crushers, it's also highly likely that non-IRS staff was in there - people getting audited, for example. Copier repairmen. Delivery persons. Janitors.

Nothing excuses what this miserable excuse for a human being did.

Izar Talon said...

Boohoo for the poor, poor man who must have got caught in some kind of tax fraud scheme and paid for it.

I just fucking love it how people who can afford their own planes bitch about losing 40,000 dollars. Does he know how many people will never SEE 40,000 dollars? Fuck if i ever will.

What a fucking whiny crybaby loser.

Che Grovera said...

Loving your site right about now, Chez. This kind of dialog is...fun.

@C.L.J.:
Alright, alright. Domestic terrorism it is. Frankly, it isn't as difficult a call as I might have been making it seem. If my family was in that building I wouldn't have any trouble coming up with a definition. So there.

@Izar Talon:
Really? Is that all you've got? Look, you fucking whiny crybaby loser: just because you'll never see $40,000 doesn't mean that someone who has is any more or less human than you. The trouble is, I believe you know better (based on your commenting history here, of which I'm generally a fan) so I'm willing to give you a pass on this one. As always, feel free to play me for the dupe.

Adam said...

Hey at least with all those taxes you get decent healthcare! Oh wait...

Mr_Wonkles said...

I've read through his "last correspondence with existence", for lack of a better term, twice now, trying to figure out what exactly this man was trying to accomplish from crashing a plane into an IRS building.

Clearly he's not stupid, and seems to be as lucid as someone with the capability to act on the urges he had could be.

He must have known innocents would be killed in his final middle finger to the IRS, and that this would undoubtedly taint the message he knew would finally be heard by those he sought audience with. And clearly the fallout from all of this has already begun to pile up.

I can't help but wonder though, how much of it would be different if he had called the IRS building ahead of time with a bomb threat or something along those lines, gotten the building evacuated before crashing himself into the side of it.

I realize we'll never know, but things like this keep me up at night.

MPP said...

he's much more akin to the unabomber than a tea partier.

Bill Orvis White said...

We’re talking about a patriotic, hard-working man who couldn’t take it anymore because of the massive tax burden that was inflicted upon him. Sure, he made bad decisions, but he also did patriotic things like taking a risk in business. Those are the folks we need to help besides the hard working men in far left New York who make $$ for us.

Now, this patriot in Texas just couldn’t take it any longer. I don’t condone his act, but I do understand what drove him over the edge: TOO MANY TAXE$!!!!!

Where was this man’s church? What about his gorgeous bride and daughter? What happened? Oh Lord, what happened? That’s why we need to be a God-fearing nation that respects life. I also blame Hussein Obama’s culture of disrespect for the Oval Office and life. This installed “president” is tearing at our fabric. We want our country back.

Amen,
Bill

Alanna said...

Bill...would a blowjob help? enough already.

Chez said...

Wow, Alanna. Just -- wow.

POLITICOVOTAR said...

Randal Graves: "A construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the Imperial army had to offer. I'll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers."

Dante Hicks: "Not just Imperials, is what you're getting at..."

Randal Graves: "Exactly. In order to get it built quickly and quietly they'd hire anybody who could do the job. Do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main? All they know is killing and white uniforms."

Dante Hicks: "All right, so even if independent contractors are working on the Death Star, why are you uneasy with its destruction?"

Randal Graves: "All those innocent contractors hired to do a job were killed - casualties of a war they had nothing to do with. Look, you're a roofer, and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia - this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn't ask for that. You have no personal politics. You're just trying to scrape out a living."

Austin said...

Okay, so wait - his major tax complaint related to changes in how consultants working through other companies had to be tracked. It wasn't the tax per se but how his ability to operate as self-employed while "working through" another company that seems to have been the issue.

He also complains about some tax trickery he did to "prove a point"and got caught on, not filing for one year (you always have to file, even with no income) and then for having a bad return that he admits was his accountant's doing.

None of it, from what I can read, is really anti-tax. His flying into the IRS was more "shoot the messenger" than anything.

Did I miss something? His complaint is mainly anti-corporation and the politicians who support them. He even gives pro-communist, anti-capitalist quotes at the end. Why is everyone claiming he's anti-tax?

Alanna said...

well he's fictional.

Mart said...

Re-thought (did not re-read) tbe manifesto. Didn't he more or less admit his first impass with the IRS was after he tried to avoid taxes with a fake church? Maybe the guy is just a Deutsch.

Alanna - I am fairly certain BOW would forbid anything other than the missionary position.

SteveR said...

Are we sure it was a plane?

CNNfan said...


Ooooh! Ooooh!

I wanna be fictional!




⇑ That was a joke made with respect for a pretty
    funny woman with a good sexy sense of humour.

___________________________________________________

Commentary:

Not to condone it in any way, shape or form...
Has anyone realised the suicide pilot was an American Software Developer?

The President, in The State of The Union Address, alluded to how The United States may no longer be the world leader in technology.

becky said...

it is amazing to me that anyone is unwilling to call, or unsure of this being called domestic terrorism. would you have the same internal conflict if he was brown? or muslim? no, you wouldn't! maybe he did have some good points about how shitty things in this country can be, but so do a lot of terrorists! it doesn't matter what his reasons were, he committed an act that endangered and harmed citizens of our country to try and prove a political/ideological point. terrorist.

Jerry said...

A bit late to the party I know, but remember when people were horrified by planes flying into buildings. How can either side hold this guy up as a martyr.

He screwed himself tax wise and couldn't man up. As far as I'm concerned the only way he could have pulled a larger karmaic goatse is if he crashed the plane into a building full of orphans... orphans with diseases...

NoxiousNan said...

A reasonable person would think that, Jerry, but just yesterday (2/22), Steve King (R-IA)sympathized with Stack and allowed as how it was understandable and that the IRS was unnecessary and should be abolished. The mind reels.

BTW, ThinkProgress called Stack a right wing extremist. Does that mean the right and left have come to terms on his ideology? Nincompoops. I read the manifesto, and Chez is correct. If he had to be pinned to right or left, he's closer to left.

Graphix468 said...

I'm incredibly late to this party and can't believe the rock I've been living under for the past week+!

The part I am fixated on is his poor wife (assuming she had no prior knowledge). I saw this news article:

http://www.khabrein.info/news/Austin_plane_crash__IRS_employee_widow_to_sue_pilots_wife_1267029387/

saying that the victim's wife is going to sue the pilot's wife... how on earth is THAT okay??? Not only that, Stack set fire to her house! So she's homeless and getting sued for her husband being a tool? What's up with that?

I guess it hits home that as a woman, any of us could be married to someone who loses their mind and then get punished in retrospect.

Horrible injustice...

Chez said...

Yeah, not exactly fair.