Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stack attack

KXAN TV Austin

Joseph Stack's swan dive into the Austin IRS building is unlikely to result in any change, either in the behavior of the government or people's attitudes, apart from possibly more busy-work type regulations governing recreational aircraft and their pilots, or so I imagine. He obviously understood the Marxist concept of heightening the contradictions, when he wrote,

I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are.

He also wrote, "Nothing changes unless there is a body count." One would like to think he is wrong about that-- I know I would. I read Stack's manifesto, much of which, considered apart from his actions, seems like the product of an intelligent and lucid mind. The FBI may have requested it taken down at, but it's available at numerous web sites. To me the statement Stack's ISP has posted there, telling you they complied with the FBI's request and also directing you where to see his statement, reinforces the veracity of Rob's comments here. (And yes, I was struck by the coincidence that I posted Gerald Celente's comments regarding a possible tax revolt the night before.) Anyway, I got his manifesto at the Business Insider, where (if you want another cheap irony) you'll notice that the first 20 or so comments were deleted because of complaints.

I also looked for a second-hand Piper Cherokee online, not wanting to buy one(As if! Me mucho poor.) but curious how much they go for, especially since Stack complained about how much money he was out. They seem to average in the mid 30 thousand dollar range used, although I found one that "needs work" for a quick sale for 15 grand. I suppose if all you need it for is to crash into a building you wouldn't care too much if it needed fixing up, not that I'm recommending that sort of thing. The photos also suggest that the back seat of a Cherokee is pretty cramped, so if he really did remove it to put an additional fuel tank in there it couldn't have been that large a tank. If he really was planning ahead you'd think he would have bought a different plane.

Over at ATR, Jonathan Schwarz described Stack's sentiments as "96 % left-wing", then said he was wrong, and it was "more like 76% left-wing, 15% right-wing, and 9% miscellaneous." (There's a 40 plus comments discussion about this, which is still open as I write this). I suspect that Stack's words and their relative lefty or righty-ness won't be evaluated in the wider world based on any standard intellectual criteria, but simply based on him being a middle-aged white guy and that his beef was primarily with the IRS, and those signifiers will be construed as shorthand for right-wing loon, case closed. Anyway, it's easier that way, in our increasingly tribal age. Why bother with reading, especially if its over 140 characters?

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At February 20, 2010 9:30 PM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

From what I read and heard from his manifesto, it was kind of a jumble. I've seen right-wingers take credit for Stack and other right-wingers claim that he was obsessed with Obama and was a registered Democrat.

Digby tracked some of the rhetoric about taxes and churches as fitting in with an anti-tax scam that was going on in California in the 80s. Not paying taxes is a concept pretty much owned by the right. I think the trick was to form a church and then you could operate tax-free and write off everything as part of your church's expenses, which of course did not work. Back in the sixties I sent off for a ministership in the Universal Life Church to get out of the draft. That didn't work either.

Killing innocent workers doesn't strike me as being particularly liberal.

Funny how someone with a house and a private plane thinks he has no alternatives other than a suicide attack. Thankful he didn't take out his family beforehand. That's the usual MO for these mokes.

At February 20, 2010 9:44 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

140 characters are definitely my limit. But I don’t include the title. This works rather well because whatever important facts may be in an article are usually hidden near the end well past the 140 mark. You’re probably correct about Stack being dismissed as an escapee from the loony bin. In fact, I’ve already heard people say as much. Still, it’s hard to understand why Stack’s fate doesn’t create more empathy since his story is one of many similar stories we have heard as we sit in this wreck of an economy. Wait, what am I saying? Silly me, Wall Street is doing great so we should be all happy dappy.

At February 20, 2010 11:30 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

there you go not reading my mind again! Stack seems pretty coherent to me when he's talking about the one-party corporatocracy aspect of our government. In other areas, less so.

I'll admit I gave less thought to his hostility towards religion and his grumbling about the IRS-- I probably should have discussed that. He does comes across as a tax cheat who's angered at having been caught.

And as far as his accountant not watching out for him, there's no way we can have sufficient info to tell if that was just sour grapes.(although that seems pretty likely.)

At any rate, I wasn't evaluating his actions when I said his manifesto sounded mostly intelligent and lucid, but I thought that was clear.

What he did was clearly wrong, and even though he seemed to understand the concept of heightening the contradictions, I think he failed to do that.

(I don't think that can work in the US anyway, unless large majorities regard the government as an occupying foreign power. That itself requires some pretty screwy thinking, if he thought that the rest of us looked at the government that way.)

Ultimately I doubt he was insane, although I know that somebody experiencing substantial stress can rapidly decompensate into psychosis in a matter of hours, and his mental state just one or two days earlier may have been very different.

At February 21, 2010 1:17 AM, Blogger rob payne said...

Regarding tax cheating y’all should read this by Paul Craig Roberts.

Having diverted Social Security revenues to war and Wall Street, Paulson says there is no alternative but to take the promised benefits away from those who have paid for them.

Republicans have extraordinary animosity toward the poor. In an effort to talk retirees out of their support systems, Republicans frequently describe Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and “unsustainable.” They ought to know. The phony trust fund, which they set up to hide the fact that Wall Street and the Pentagon are running off with Social Security revenues, is a Ponzi scheme. Social Security itself has been with us since the 1930s and has yet to wreck our lives and budget. But it only took Hank Paulson’s derivative Ponzi scheme and its bailout a few years to inflict irreparable damage on our lives and budget.

Who’s cheating who here? C’mon, give me a freaking break. I suppose I’m digressing from the question of left or right yet it seems to me that either/or presents life as over simplistic? Left and right is a game played by the media, the hackers of history, and politicians, the purpose of which is to divide and conquer. I think Jonathan Schwarz was most correct when he said that there isn’t all that much difference between left and right. Those of the left are just as viciously judgmental as the right because everyone is judgmental including yours truly. So can we claim to know Stack from this one piece of writing and this one rather spectacular action? What was most interesting to me was Jonathan Schwarz’ comment that conservatives blame those who they see as bad individuals while the left blames the system. That’s an interesting idea and for myself I blame the system and individuals because the system changes people yet the system is made up of individuals who have choices yet in the end the choice is almost always to let the system change you which you call maturation, an epiphany of reality, the ultimate cynicism. What this guy was or why wasn’t all that important compared to the points Jonathan was trying to make about our culture which for me is a very strange and bizarre place. And getting weirder by the day.

At February 21, 2010 8:02 AM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

Insanity is a sliding scale. Wanting to destroy everything (burn down your house, take out your family, kill your perceived enemy) while checking out is a particularly antisocial behavior. It's a means of controlling what feels to be out of control.

The same motivation was cultured and exploited by Japan with its kamikaze pilots. Of course, the pilots were being used to help a corporatist entity (Japan) gain wealth. Granted, when we look back at WWII we get distracted by nationalism, racism and the deaths of millions of people, distractions indeed, but the Japanese wars were essentially moneymaking propositions for corporate interests.

In a stroke of magnificent irony Stack's blow against one-party corporatocracy will be used by the foot soldiers of that corporatocracy (the know-nothing teabaggers, etc.) to further advance their power. On one hand his act will justify further government spying on private citizens and on the other hand will help to fuel the public anger which can be redirected to the "Obamatocracy".

The American public get played like an accordian, alternately squeezed or sucked by the big machine. One side has buttons, the other side has keys, but we end up with the same old polka.

At February 23, 2010 6:39 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

Changing the topic a bit, I find it interesting that despite his “Nothing changes unless there is a body count” comment, Stack was presumably going for a spectacular attack by crashing his plane into a building. I don’t want to be mistaken as encouraging people to go out and kill people at random in a way where they lose their own life, but if a person is going to do so, the most effective way is to get a gun and shoot people. Think of this action compared to the guy at Virginia Tech three years ago.

To put it another way, people who want to kill other people as their last hurrah tend to overthink it.

At February 23, 2010 9:39 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

I agree with this take on it:

The man did try to exempt himself from taxes by making his house into a church and ended up burining it down so he wasn't very smart.

At February 28, 2010 3:26 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Jenny, thank you for the link.


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