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Single-engine plane crash in Austin, Texas
February 18, 2010 10:53 AM   Subscribe

This morning, in Austin, Texas, a Piper Cherokee single-engine plane [was] crashed into an office building partially occupied by the IRS. It appears to be the work of an individual, but the story keeps getting weirder. The suspected person may have also burned his house down this morning.
posted by fiercecupcake (236 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dude's crazy manifesto: http://embeddedart.com/
posted by xmutex at 10:55 AM on February 18, 2010


His manifesto is still up on his website (as of the time I posted this).
posted by jefeweiss at 10:57 AM on February 18, 2010


He sure showed them!
posted by BeerFilter at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2010


His suicide note/manifesto is also transcribed here.
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2010


The manifesto is also linked in the FPP. Pay attention!
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


WAKE UP SHEEPLE! 2/18 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!
posted by arto at 11:02 AM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


People here have linked to Dubious Quality, a really nice gaming/unicycling/parenthood blog, and I have been enjoying it muchly. In a random twist, I just found out about this from the author's semi-eyewitness account.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:03 AM on February 18, 2010


I work about a mile from this building, but didn't see the plane crash.

The thing is, I'm somewhat sympathetic to anyone who complains about the IRS—and it sounds like this guy tried to shine a light on their bad practices for years. It's too almost easy to see how a nutjob becomes a nutjob.
posted by mattbucher at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just watched the press conference and apparently everyone except one individual from the building is accounted for; two were taken to the hospital.
posted by ericb at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2010


I read the remarks reproduced from his blog but I still don't get what, specifically, his complaint about the tax code was. He makes a specific code citation relating to engineering contractors, but he rambles and never really explains what his grievance with the provision is... Anybody understand what he might see as so onerous about the provision?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


The manifesto is also linked in the FPP. Pay attention!

Well, yeah, but it's a secondary source. Why not link to the original (if available)?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2010


The dude owned a plane. Sounds like financially he was doing better than a lot of us.

This sucks for pretty much everyone. The dude that snapped, his family, any victims that may have been in the building, and general aviation pilots who will no doubt have to deal with even more criticism and security restrictions in the coming weeks.
posted by bondcliff at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. "

It sounds like, in addition to some mundanely detailed recent issues with the IRS, he got himself in hot water with them by not paying taxes based on some fringe interpretation of the tax code. On one hand I feel for the guy, tax troubles are no joke and the tax system is profoundly flawed, on another hand I think you calculatedly don't pay your taxes, well, sometimes the bear eats you.

I guess I am glad that it was the work of a lone nut, instead of a group of nuts, like it was the last time a plane crashed into a building in the city I was living in.

What an awful story. Was the house fire (his house?) the one on Metric/Parmer this morning?
posted by dirtdirt at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


> I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less.

Well, +1 for not using the word "sheeple," anyway.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


yellowbinder, the pics linked from that guy's blog are fascinating and horrifying. Thanks.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:08 AM on February 18, 2010


The dude owned a plane. Sounds like financially he was doing better than a lot of us.

And a piano. Those aren't cheap.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


It sounds like, in addition to some mundanely detailed recent issues with the IRS, he got himself in hot water with them by not paying taxes based on some fringe interpretation of the tax code.

So why the hell didn't he fly his plane into the accountant's office? He even seems to acknowledge the accountant who got him into the tax mess completely threw him to the wolves.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:09 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The pen is not mightier than the small aircraft.
posted by sswiller at 11:11 AM on February 18, 2010


Keep Austin Weird!
posted by chillmost at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


His plane is N2889D. His business website is still online at http://embeddedart.com/home.htm and is also available via Wayback.
posted by Nelson at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2010


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?
posted by backseatpilot at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2010 [49 favorites]


I hope NPR runs a 92-part series about how he was radicalized in the madrassas universities of Texas, as they've been doing for Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab.
posted by lukemeister at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2010 [17 favorites]


While the guy's actions were clearly off the wall, there's a lot of stuff in his "crazy manifesto" that isn't all that crazy. For example:

"Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in."

And:

"remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution."

The sense of personal persecution in the manifesto bespeaks high levels of delusional paranoia, but the guy is not really wrong in pointing out that the rich get rich of the blood of the poor and middle class and that the system is set up to keep it that way. It's just that his solution -- attacking the IRS -- isn't very close to the right one.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2010 [32 favorites]


Interesting. I must say I mostly agree with the poor guy. For god's sake, stay away from the U.S. tax code. It will only destroy you.

Glad to see that it looks like no one was killed (or even seriously injured).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2010


You know vehicles used in domestic terrorism are tax deductible.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2010 [17 favorites]


> I guess I am glad that it was the work of a lone nut, instead of a group of nuts, like it was the last time a plane crashed into a building in the city I was living in.

Also, he was white, so it doesn't count as terrorism!

"A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said there is no reason to believe that terrorism is involved."
posted by you just lost the game at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


I prefer the Bucky Fuller solution to desperation:

"When he was 32, Buckminster Fuller's life seemed hopeless. He was bankrupt and without a job. He was grief stricken over the death of his first child and he had a wife and a newborn to support. Drinking heavily, Buckminster Fuller contemplated suicide. Instead, he decided decided that his life was not his to throw away: it belonged to the universe. Buckminster Fuller embarked on “an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity.” ...

... and the rest is a crazy geometrically-exciting history...
posted by sporb at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2010 [47 favorites]


To answer my own question (was the house fire the one on Metric/Parmer this morning?), apparently yes.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:15 AM on February 18, 2010


What happens when enough people begin to snap under the weight of their own government? Reading that manifesto and looking at the lives of people around me who face similar situations gives me an uneasy feeling.
posted by cimbrog at 11:15 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


you just lost the game: "> I guess I am glad that it was the work of a lone nut, instead of a group of nuts, like it was the last time a plane crashed into a building in the city I was living in.

Also, he was white, so it doesn't count as terrorism!

"A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said there is no reason to believe that terrorism is involved."
"

Pardon me?
posted by jefeweiss at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

Probably because he's not part of any organization (I don't think) and had no real long-term goal/cause here (aside from waking up people to the horrors of the US tax code). It seems more like a school shooting or other random mass murder attempt than a terrorist bombing. Or like that guy that lit himself on fire.

But really what they're probably saying is "he's not al-qaeda." Har.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2010


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

There is an unspoken rule in American media about not calling domestic terrorism what it is, when it is of the right-wing variety.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism.

Because he's white and probably Christian, silly. Only brown Muslims are terrorists.
posted by bondcliff at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2010


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

Because it was the IRS?
posted by clearly at 11:17 AM on February 18, 2010


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

No, it's because he's obviously not a bi-product of some fringe anti-tax political movement, but just a lone nut who coincidentally snapped and flew his plane into a federal building in the same week as the CPAC conference and the Mount Vernon signing event in which prominent Tea Party activists are loudly calling for revolution and denouncing taxation as tyranny.

But see, it's literally all just coincidence. Hume proved that.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:17 AM on February 18, 2010 [38 favorites]


He mentions a wife. I wonder where she is and what she might have to say?

He included lots of biographical details, very considerate of him so that the news-show psychologists will have something to hang their theories about him on.

How long before Fox News uses the fact that he quotes Marx to declare there's an underground socialist terror network afoot? Hell, they probably already have. Expect this to be used as a reason to ban the reading of anything but the Bible and Reagan's biography in Texas schools.
posted by emjaybee at 11:18 AM on February 18, 2010


There is an unspoken rule in American media about not calling domestic terrorism what it is, when it is of the right-wing variety.

Yup. And that's two incidents since Mr. Obama has been in office. We're really on a roll now.
posted by god hates math at 11:18 AM on February 18, 2010


Also, he was white, so it doesn't count as terrorism!

Because he's white and probably Christian, silly. Only brown Muslims are terrorists.

Um, not that I disagree with the point you guys are trying to make, but I didn't see the guy's race mentioned in any of those articles.
posted by teraflop at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2010


Also, that make, model, and year of airplane is selling for around a hundred grand right now. Can't you just sell the damn plane to pay off your debts?
posted by backseatpilot at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Pardon me?

For the government to acknowledge this as a terrorist act would enrich the persecution complex of the Teabagger Party and other anti-tax groups. It's a volatile time for this stuff, politically speaking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


MAWG, amirite?
posted by fixedgear at 11:21 AM on February 18, 2010


Ranting about corporate greed and the church and comparing capitalism unfavorably to communism = right winger?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Probably because he's not part of any organization (I don't think) and had no real long-term goal/cause here (aside from waking up people to the horrors of the US tax code). It seems more like a school shooting or other random mass murder attempt than a terrorist bombing. Or like that guy that lit himself on fire.

His own words explicitly frame this as a political act:

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. 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. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


But see, it's literally all just coincidence. Hume proved that.

You're jumping to conclusions just as bad as the person you're rebutting.
posted by smackfu at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt;

Hey.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I can't understand why he didn't just pull himself up by his bootstraps.
posted by mecran01 at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


@Blazecock Pileon--Exactly!

Remember this report?
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2010


Because he's white and probably Christian, silly.

The only mention of religion in his manifesto is a negative one. Atheist terrorism?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2010


There is an unspoken rule in American media about not calling domestic terrorism what it is, when it is of the right-wing variety.
--
No, it's because he's obviously not a bi-product of some fringe anti-tax political movement, but just a lone nut who coincidentally snapped and flew his plane into a federal building in the same week as the CPAC conference and the Mount Vernon signing event in which prominent Tea Party activists are loudly calling for revolution and denouncing taxation as tyranny.

Well, the guy's anti-taxation stand certainly evokes Tea Party rhetoric (as do his actions to some extent), but his anti-corporate sentiments are not really in line with the modern conservative movement, at least those people who really run the "grassroots" tea party. I mean, look at the last lines of his manifesto:

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.


One of the core values of the Tea Party and other right-wing extremists in vogue today (to the extent that they can be identified as having any values) is that Obama is a socialist/communist attacking our capitalist freedom. Stack's manifesto is full of contradictory sentiments, but its not too hard to see that at least one thing that was motivating him was his realization that the American dream of self-sufficiency and making your own fortune is an illusion and that most people are just cogs in the capitalist machine.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I just called the dude's number as it was listed on the actual "company" site. Was weird to hear his voice intone a totally generic "I'm not here right now, COS I'M FUCKING DEAD."
posted by xmutex at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're going to crash a building into something to make a statement, there have to be better choices than this. How about the Alamo?
posted by smackfu at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Expect this to be used as a reason to ban the reading of anything but the Bible and Reagan's biography in Texas schools.


I'll have you know that my local library has those books and the Joy of Ayn Rand... and some bass boat magazines....uhm and that's it.

TEXAS PROUD!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems more like a school shooting

Which are often acts of attempted terrorism.

What happens when enough people begin to snap under the weight of their own government?

Oh bullshit. We like to blame the triggers in these cases because fixing the real cause is too difficult.
posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2010


The dude owned a plane. Sounds like financially he was doing better than a lot of us.

I first heard about this an hour ago when my coworkers were talking about it, and one of them said basically the same thing.

Without any other (IRS related) facts to go off of, my first thought was that he mortgaged the house to buy the plane, burned the house down, and then suicided the plane with him leaving nothing of value to repossess.

And I was thinking "Damn, this guy really wanted to get even with who ever it was that lent him that money..."
posted by quin at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're going to crash a building into something to make a statement

Now, I'd pay good hard-earned money to watch a fella try to crash a building into something.
posted by xmutex at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


> How long before Fox News uses the fact that he quotes Marx to declare there's an underground socialist terror network afoot?

I'm sure they've already aired his photo, accidentally captioned "Joe Stack (D)".
posted by ardgedee at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


You're jumping to conclusions just as bad as the person you're rebutting.

No, what I said about Hume is true. He demonstrated that there's no logically sound way to demonstrate that any two set of correlated events, no matter how often they occur in correlation, represent anything more than coincidences. That's a fact, jack. All acts of terrorism are basically just coincidences, viewed through the lens of Humean skepticism. And I think that's true. It just seems funny that we apply such arbitrary double-standards when it comes to deeming events "authentic" terrorist acts.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back story on the tax provision he cites. As probably many of us are aware, the tax law differentiates between employees and independent contractors--in the case of the former, the employer has a matching tax cost equal to the FICA/FUTA withholdings (etc.) that appear on the employee's paystub. The employer does not have that responsibility for an independent contractor, who must shoulder sole responsibility for those costs.

The determination of whether someone is an EE vs IC is reviewed on the basis of a number of factors (i.e., whether the employer can control the tools and methods you use for your job etc.). Sometimes, the determination is subjective and someone is recharacterized (generally, you become an EE, rather than an IC).

The IRS stepped up enforcement of the distinction of these classes in the late 1960s, and disputes arose when people were reclassified. The 1978 act mentioned in the rant allowed a safe harbor that would not change the person's classification if the employer had consistently reported them as an IC, provided that such classification was not completely lacking in justification. The actual (d) provision he cites was added later to say that for certain classes of employees (i.e., engineers), the safe harbor would not apply. Thus, the status of engineers as employees vs. independent contractors would be tested under the multi-factor assessment.

I don't see his issue, unless he owned a business that employed engineers and was forced to go out of pocket when his "independent contractors" were reclassified as employees--but this was not really suggested in the rant. If he's just worker bee, I don't think this hurts him (and would presumably help him, because he could get refunds for the excess FICA/FUTA he paid). But maybe there's more here; this is just a few minutes' research.

I am not your lawyer/tax analyst/co-pilot. Don't go flying planes on the basis of the foregoing commentary, it ain't legal advice...
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


muddgirl: "Oh bullshit. We like to blame the triggers in these cases because fixing the real cause is too difficult."

So, uh, what's the real cause?
posted by jefeweiss at 11:30 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ranting about corporate greed and the church and comparing capitalism unfavorably to communism = right winger?

Most anti-tax groups are made up of people who hold a grab-bag of extremist right-wing economic and social views, not all consistent. His screed indicates he was a member of one.

He also indicated that he profited greatly from the military-industrial complex situated in Southern California, before the government largesse dried up. That doesn't sound too much like the job profile of someone with strong leftist convictions.

He thinks Austin has a "highly inflated sense of self-importance" which, to my eyes, reads as a veiled social criticism in the context of his prior words.

I wouldn't call him a Dominionist-style right-winger, but I would put him in the Libertarian column.

Just my own reading, of course, which I admit could be colored by my own experiences with middle-class people with right-of-center views.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't you just sell the damn plane to pay off your debts?

No way. Running and jumping into the side of a building doesn't have near the impact.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:31 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, saulgoodman, I thought you were being sarcastic in that post. I think it's my default setting on MeFi.
posted by smackfu at 11:31 AM on February 18, 2010


No, what I said about Hume is true.

Shit, I thought you were talking about Brit Hume. This makes a lot more sense now.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Read an early report that the plane was stolen. Maybe, maybe not.
posted by Senator at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2010


From the manifesto:

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind.

Yes, clearly white, male, college educated, software engineer contractors are in no way benefiting from the status quo in the US. It's amazing that any of them are able to afford and operate the expensive airplanes that they need to survive.

Interesting. I must say I mostly agree with the poor guy. For god's sake, stay away from the U.S. tax code. It will only destroy you.

He could have avoided all of the headaches around running his own small business as a private contractor by just getting a job as a full-time employee somewhere. It probably would have paid less, but with the experience and industry contacts that he no doubt accumulated over the course of his career it would have been an extremely easy option. If you are doing something tricky like running a business and don't want to end up in trouble with the IRS, then hire a good accountant. He was a complete idiot for trying to do it himself, especially considering that he got in trouble with the IRS multiple times during his career.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:34 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, uh, what's the real cause?

Our health and legal systems are terrible at identifying persons who are quietly mentally ill and on the brink of violence. We - family, friends, and doctors - regularly ignore warning signs.

Blaming the tax sustem is like blaming a cold day for revealing that your furnace doesn't work. If it hadn't been one thing, it would have been another.
posted by muddgirl at 11:34 AM on February 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm missing something. In 2010, intentionally crashing a plane into a building for the purpose of making a political statement is the very definition of "terrorism." Clearly this asswipe took his lead, if not his instructions, from Osama bin Laden.

What is Obama waiting for? He should declare everyone even remotely associated with this guy as an enemy combatant, "detain" them, and torture them until we find out what they know.
posted by three blind mice at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So he didn't like the IRS, or government and politicians in general (but he does like military bases in southern California). It seems to me that he had the mindset that government, and perhaps society in general, is an engineering problem to be solved. To me that seems dangerous, coming from the left or the right (either way, a 'central planner' model). Which leads him to, apparently, justify attempted murder.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2010


There is an unspoken rule in American media about not calling domestic terrorism what it is, when it is of the right-wing variety.

That may be the case, but there are other reasons not to call this terrorism. One definition of terrorism is "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear."

There doesn't seem to be any evidence from the manifesto that this fellow was trying to attain any goals that were political or religious or ideological in nature, or that he was trying to intimidate or coerce or instill fear. It seems to me that he wanted to harm the IRS and its employees, probably with revenge in mind, but that he did not have any larger goals than that. This is more like an attempted-murder/suicide than a terrorist attack.
posted by Slap Factory at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sometimes read threads backwards. I started with saulgoodman's 1:28pm Hume assertion. O, Metafilter!
posted by seventyfour at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2010


The fine folks over at Prison Planet are crying "false flag."
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


He clearly didn't read Protest Suicide For Dummies. It says right there in Chapter 1:

Endangering the lives of others will forfeit any claim you have to legitimacy.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:37 AM on February 18, 2010


It's not a manifesto, it's a suicide note.

It's a story of a typical middle class person who bought into the american dream and then found out that it wasn't all they were promised.

Don't get me wrong, plane crashy is not in any way an appropriate or non-insane way to resolve things, but the sentiments expressed in his note resonate with a lot of people. It's not a kczynski manifesto, it's not a 9/11 loose chance manifesto, it's the story of someone's life collapsing.

I'm curious how the left-wing and right-wing will handle it. I've seen him listed as a teabagger, anti-bush, anti catholic communist so far. I don't think he's any of those.. Just someone who felt trapped and lashed out in an extreme way.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:38 AM on February 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


America's chickens!

Are coming home...

TO ROOST!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:38 AM on February 18, 2010


oh man. i wish i knew how to link to screenshot.
i just went to foxnews for the fun of it.

top of the screen says "Live Coverage: Watch Continuing Coverage of Austin, Texas, Plane Crash" (commas included!)

the banner add right beneath that says Fantastic News!

and beneath that in the super huge letters they just love to use: DID PILOT TARGET BUILDING?


i am so glad i don't have cable so i don't have to accidentally flip thru foxnews sometimes.
posted by sio42 at 11:39 AM on February 18, 2010


From Fox: "Stack posted a suicide note to a social media Web site, ranting against the IRS, officials confirmed."

Not just a web site but a SOCIAL MEDIA web site.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2010


I think that the confusion in his manifesto and in the way we should label him (right-winger, tea-partier, libertarian, communist, etc) demonstrates the diversity of the anger felt by the American populace today. Wasn't there a post on MeFi recently where Noam Chomsky said the Tea Party movement was filled with people who should have been organized by the left? Anger over health-care; anger over the unfair taxation levied on the middle class; anger over corporate greed and govt. bailouts -- so why is it that people who feel this are going to $600 events to hear Sarah Palin talk about death panels and Obama's evil socialism or Mark Rubio talk about abolishing taxes on capital gains and inheritance? The people who run the right-wing establishment have managed to take the justified anger that the average person feels and use it to support a radically conservative social and economic movement that's just going to end up screwing people just as much as the neoliberal/neoconservative movement does, just under an even stronger guise of patriotism and religion.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


the banner add right beneath that says Fantastic News!

This very MeFi page when you're not logged in has ads for stress management at the bottom.
posted by smackfu at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our health and legal systems are terrible at identifying persons who are quietly mentally ill and on the brink of violence. We - family, friends, and doctors - regularly ignore warning signs.

This was observed to me by a friend, a college professor, who's been following the Amy Bishop case in Alabama. Far from coming out of nowhere, Bishop was basically waving her crazy arms her whole life. She killed her brother over an argument over who'll clean the shotgun when she was 18. She mailed pipe bombs to her former Harvard advisor. Two years ago she assaulted a woman at an IHOP when that woman received the last booster seat in the restaurant. I suspect there were hundreds of lesser incidents as well that would convince anyone who knew her that she was likely to go postal one day.

The problem isn't identification though, it's doing something preventative. It seems obvious in cases like these that there should be some way to intervene, to head off the crazy before it becomes really destructive. But think about your friends and family locking you up because you've had a bad time and are stressed and mentioned a gun and a solution. Down that path lies a tremendously dangerous degree of a lack of autonomy for everyone who isn't perfectly well-adjusted.
posted by fatbird at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be any evidence from the manifesto that this fellow was trying to attain any goals that were political or religious or ideological in nature

I think I might respectfully disagree a little on this point. He seems to feel like there is a long history of his personal principles being violated, which happened to align (at least partially) with a "tax-reform" group he claims to have been part of.

Even if his manifesto is all over the place, there is that definite undercurrent of mistrust and betrayal that requires a violent, public response, to demonstrate to all how serious he believes those principles to be. That seems to be a political act by its very nature, and one that seems to dovetail neatly with some views and sentiments held by right-wing extremists.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2010


sio42: Like this?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2010


On MSNBC the anchor just asked one of the reporters why this wasn't called terrorism. In a nutshell, it was 9/11 changed how terrorism is defined. Things like al queda stuff is terrorism. People blowing up post offices and the IRS are just crimes. Which is a complete bullshit answer.

Did anyone hear Rick Perry's repsonse to this? He went on about not wanting the Texas Capitol to be like going to DFW or Bush airports. Then said something about "anarchy and tyranny" and did a George W Bush style "heh heh" laugh. I haven't seen it on the web yet.
posted by birdherder at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


While, in this climate, I would never put pen to paper, (or pixels to screen) about any similar ideations I may or may not have about revenge against those who may or may not have wronged me (we're cool, unnamed blue and yellow big box store, right?) I would assert that such ideations are probably not uncommon.

That someone actually carried them out is pretty stunning and disheartening to read about.
posted by Danf at 11:48 AM on February 18, 2010


I wouldn't call him a Dominionist-style right-winger, but I would put him in the Libertarian column.

Just my own reading, of course, which I admit could be colored by my own experiences with middle-class people with right-of-center views.


Doesn't fit. Libertarians aren't anti-capitalist or anti-corporate, are wide-ranging in their views about the proper size and nature of the military, cringe at the idea of giving communism any credit, wouldn't complain about an inactive DOJ in terms of antitrust or employment enforcement, rarely subscribe to statutory (rather than constitutional) protests about the tax code, and tend to like "weird" places like parts of Austin because many of them are "weird" personally.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2010


Huh, his personal site @ embeddedart.com is now wiped:

This website has been taken offline due to the sensitive nature of the events that transpired in Texas this morning and in compliance with a request from the FBI.
posted by xmutex at 11:50 AM on February 18, 2010


I don't get how anyone sees this guy as a teabagger or a right-winger. The central point of his note is the complaint that government and industry are colluding to move wealth from the gullible masses to the corporate rich. Outside of the inticacies of the US tax code, I found myself in almost complete agreement with almost everything he wrote.
Too bad he couldn't be helped before this tragedy.
posted by rocket88 at 11:50 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This may be a stupid question -- hell, it IS a stupid question, but: Is the pilot still alive? Nobody's said he's dead, nobody's said he's been captured. Unless I am misreading something. Just curious.
posted by chinese_fashion at 11:52 AM on February 18, 2010


I think that the confusion in his manifesto and in the way we should label him (right-winger, tea-partier, libertarian, communist, etc) demonstrates the diversity of the anger felt by the American populace today.

I was going to say something very similar. Reading his manifesto/suicide note makes me sad. Whether or not all of his reasons were justified, this is someone who felt helpless and trapped. I hate to think of anyone ending their life that way.

And I'm actually a little relieved that his reasoning is a mixed bag, in the sense that it makes it harder to make the same kind of dismissive "Tea Bagger, amirite?" assumption. Real people are usually not caricatures of either the right or the left, and I think any attempts to pin this guy down - to prove beyond doubt that he belongs to either the conservative or liberal camps - is pointless and a serious waste of time.
posted by Salieri at 11:52 AM on February 18, 2010


I thought about making an FPP about this, but when I was considering it the information was changing very quickly. I've been following it pretty much all morning. First it was an accident, then the plane was stolen, etc. I figured someone else would come and do a better job, and lo and behold, it was true. Thanks fiercecupcake.

After reading the suicide note, I definitely don't feel like I understand his motives much better than I did before.
posted by malthas at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2010


The fine folks over at Prison Planet are crying "false flag."

Wow, that is one big all-you-can-eat basket of paranoia there...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The manifesto has been taken offline by the hosting company:
[title]Site Offline[/title]
This website has been taken offline due to the sensitive nature of the events that transpired in Texas this morning and in compliance with a request from the FBI.
Regards,
T35 Hosting
Given the proliferation of sites mirroring the content, the FBI can't possibly hope to remove it entirely from the internet.
posted by artlung at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2010


Is the pilot still alive?

Better question: Was he really in the plane?
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Left/right, whatever. He seems to have been just a guy like any other. Unlike the vocal denizens here, most people don't have a fully developed political ethos that they follow throughout life, they just trudge along and make on-the-spot decisions. I think his writing felt too familiar in, "I could have written something like this" way, so I'll wait out to see what the full story is.
posted by cimbrog at 11:58 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


ah yes - thank you (A)H(W)O!
posted by sio42 at 11:58 AM on February 18, 2010


Better question: Was he really in the plane?

Even better question: do we know for sure that President Barack Hussein Obama was not involved in not directly assisting with this plot?
posted by xmutex at 11:58 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cranks always seem to have a couple of things in common: a heavy interest in gold (either finding it, hoarding it and/or basing our currency on it) and taxes (the IRS specifically). Don't know if this guy was into the gold thing, but the IRS stuff is classic.

I pay an accountant to do my taxes, and April is always mildly painful around here. Still, I recognize that I pay some of the lowest taxes in the industrialized world, and would pay more gladly if we got genuine universal health care, for example. Anti-tax people are generally the ultimate "got mine, fuck you!" group.
posted by maxwelton at 11:58 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


“…of the right-wing variety”
Well, except the communism quote there.
But I don’t see any real political ideology here. Just the irrational fury.
Not to say his rant doesn’t have some coherence and even some sympathetic points. The rant itself, maybe not so crazy. But I have no sympathy for the man.

His ideas might be in complete parity with mine or completely at odds. Doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. In how he responded to his, he forfeited his humanity, for what? Ten minutes on the news?

Plenty of people making real sacrifices in time and effort, being involved in the system and making incremental change who have had their hearts broken a thousand times but keep going.
Sure it’s hard to make a real difference in the world (and God love Bucky Fuller for it, as mentioned above). That's why it matters.
If it were as easy as forfeiting spectacularly, history would have been written by the suicide bombers.

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." - Abraham Lincoln
posted by Smedleyman at 11:59 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I live about a 30 seconds' drive from this building. I started hearing sirens at about 10:00 this morning, but a large hospital is right by me so I hear sirens all the time. Then the sirens started getting louder, and as it was starting to sound like the apocalypse my mother called and told me that a plane crashed into a building right by me, and did I have power, etc. (this was at about 10:15). I went to the store on the corner, almost next door, and saw huge plumes of smoke and jetstreams from scrambled F16s. This was some serious shit. A cop getting coffee told me the guy had crashed into an IRS building, had taken out a passing car as well, and that some people were missing. Holy SHIT. I could smell smoke and fumes from my parking lot. I've lived in this area most of my life. People were calling asking if I was OK and what I could see or knew. They directed all the traffic in north Austin right past my building and I'm just now not stuck here (traffic is still slow). I've heard helicopters flying over all day. I've never experienced anything like this happening so close to me. If I'd ran out of cigarettes a bit earlier, I would have certainly seen the plane hit. This is fucked up, folks.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt.

If everyone would just follow Rule 4: The Doubletap, his point would be moot.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


And that's why I didn't link directly to the original source in the FPP. If it becomes unavailable from the Business Insider link, let me know; I saved the text/source, and perhaps someone can host it.

Does anyone have more insight on the specific tax issues Stack mentioned in the note? Admiral Haddock had an overview, but I still am not 100% clear, and I can't tell if it's because I'm not a tax professional or because the guy was Congress-Avenue-batshit insane.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2010


Terrorism now has to represent an organized group? Not a tactic? Not the use of randomized violence to make a political point?

I see.

So if a lone Muslim army doctor shoots up his base, not 50 miles north of this incident, that wasn't terrorism either, right Glen Beck?

(I tend to agree that a lone nut is not a terrorist, I just don't like the double standard. Hundreds of right wingers demanded that we call Major Malik a "terrorist" because he was Muslim, even though he was a nut.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:03 PM on February 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I pay an accountant to do my taxes, and April is always mildly painful around here. Still, I recognize that I pay some of the lowest taxes in the industrialized world, and would pay more gladly if we got genuine universal health care, for example. Anti-tax people are generally the ultimate "got mine, fuck you!" group.

My girlfriend's parents paid an accounted to do their taxes every year, too. She cheated, screwed them and the IRS doesn't give a damn so they're losing their house and going bankrupt. They were teachers.

You don't have to be anti-tax to be anti-IRS and tax code in this country.
posted by cimbrog at 12:03 PM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Danf: "While, in this climate, I would never put pen to paper, (or pixels to screen) about any similar ideations I may or may not have about revenge against those who may or may not have wronged me (we're cool, unnamed blue and yellow big box store, right?) I would assert that such ideations are probably not uncommon.

That someone actually carried them out is pretty stunning and disheartening to read about.
"

We hired a guy to oversee some major home renovations for us. And as the months dragged on and the bills piled up, we became increasingly convinced that he was screwing us. My anger festered to the point where I would shout at him during meetings - which, for someone as physically timid as myself, was a very bad sign. I fantasized about driving to his house, pouring gasoline on his truck, and setting it on fire. Finally our renovation budget was exhausted with the plans still uncompleted and we saw him no more. A few months later the local news reported that he had been arrested while drunkenly barging into his girlfirend's workplace and trying to kill her. He's currently serving what looks to be a 10 year stretch in Utah State Prison.

I can tell you that it's an odd feeling to have someone you dreamed of seeing punished receive a punishment worse than the one you would have inflicted on them yourself.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:04 PM on February 18, 2010


But I have no sympathy for the man.

Dude, that's cold. It looks like he had a lot of tough times, and it proved more than he could handle. He needed a support system and couldn't find one. There but for the grace of god etc.
I'm not happy he may have taken others with him, but this guy was broken.
posted by rocket88 at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, this guy's "crazy manifesto" doesn't come off as all that crazy to me. The only crazy thing (other than, you know, the plane-into-the-building part) was his repeated failure to treat the IRS with the respect due a pack of radioactive badgers whose fangs alternately drip acid and flesh-eating-virus... which is pretty crazy, because normal people quickly learn to give the badgers whatever they want. To be serious, I'm not anti-taxation by any means, but he's right when he says there's a huge double-standard built into the American tax system. The extent to which the poor and middle-class pay for the rich is appalling, as is the IRS' willingness to destroy their lives when they fail to comply.

The rest of it -- the eternal power of violence, the lifelong trap of capitalism, the fleecing of the poor and middle-class, the deliberate failure of our "democratic" leaders to hear the people, and the idea that the whole game is rigged from the start -- that stuff is only "crazy" because it hurts to admit how true it is.
posted by vorfeed at 12:06 PM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


which, to my eyes, reads as a veiled social criticism in the context of his prior words.

He was talking specifically about the tech industry here, how little actual engineering gets done, and the crappy hiring and wage practices, which was the one point in his crazy-ass screed I sort of agreed with.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly, it is time to finally round up the Muslims and to invade Iran.

Oh wait, the guy was a white Christian? Oh. Oh bummer.

Yeah, it can't be terrorism now.
posted by orthogonality at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2010


Shit, I thought you were talking about Brit Hume.

I confess I don't even know what Brit Hume is. Should I?

posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2010


As to the IRS issues:

Sounds like he did a major withdrawal from a 401K without paying tax on the untaxed portion or the penalty for early withdrawal. It also appears that he neglected to report about $12K of his wife's income and that the CPA fessed this up during the audit to cover his own backside.

The quoted IRC provision would relate the need to pay the "employers" half of the FICA withholding if he was working as an independent contractor, but I'm not positive about that.
posted by mygoditsbob at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2010


backseatpilot : Also, that make, model, and year of airplane is selling for around a hundred grand right now.

Not in that condition, they're not...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slap Factory: I dunno, it sounds like he is doing it as a call to action to spark an armed revolt against the government. Still not capital T terrorism, but slightly more than revenge against the tax monolith.
posted by georg_cantor at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Terrorism now has to represent an organized group? Not a tactic? Not the use of randomized violence to make a political point?

I see.


Exactly: there has to be a conspiracy for it to be terrorism. And of course, conspiracies are just a popular myth, driven by magical thinking, ergo there is no such thing as Terrorism (unless of course, there is).

What was that about the US Cold War strategy of sitting back and waiting for communism to collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions? Good thing our system doesn't have any of those...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2010


So if a lone Muslim army doctor shoots up his base, not 50 miles north of this incident, that wasn't terrorism either, right Glen Beck?

(I tend to agree that a lone nut is not a terrorist, I just don't like the double standard. Hundreds of right wingers demanded that we call Major Malik a "terrorist" because he was Muslim, even though he was a nut.)


To be fair, we're talking about the official government classification, and from what I remember, the Fort Hood thing was also classified as not terrorism.
posted by kmz at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't have to be anti-tax to be anti-IRS and tax code in this country.

Agreed. I'm about as pro-progressive taxation as you can be, but I find the US tax code to be unnecessarily complicated and seemingly designed to protect landed interests.

As "unfair" as it still would be, I think a flat tax would be "fairer" than the current system.

So if a lone Muslim army doctor shoots up his base, not 50 miles north of this incident, that wasn't terrorism either, right Glen Beck?

I am not Glen Beck, nor have I ever watched him/listened to him, but no, that's not terrorism either. If he was part of a larger plan to keep on attacking army personnel with violence until the US/Army delivered X list of demands, yeah, that's terrorism.

If this guy said, "I am not alone, and we will continue to violently attack the tax system in the US until it is changed the way we want it changed," then yeah, that's terrorism. I realize it is a semantic argument, and one that is rarely settled.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2010


You know, this guy's "crazy manifesto" doesn't come off as all that crazy to me.

Really? I've read one sentence and started to worry.
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time.
He saw a (suicidal) symbolic attack as inevitable.
Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple
This guy is really, really, really angry. Angry out of any proportion to reality.

Continuing on, notice how every change in tax law or economic downturn was devastating specifically to him? Example:
Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive.

...

The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages…
I'm not going to continue. I feel incredible sadness for this many and his family, but NOT because he was screwed over by the vast conspiracies that he saw all around him.
posted by muddgirl at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The question is: What Would Willie Do? (IRS tapes, 'member?) And I can justifiably say, I don't think this. I saw the smoke earlier (it was creepy big & black on a blue clear day), the whirlybirds were overhead, many folks I know are even closer to the area than I am. This man may or may not have had a point, but his methods are questionable. Thankful no more were hurt. In the house fire or the plane crash. Seriously, it could have been so bad.
posted by green herring at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a story of a typical middle class person who bought into the american dream and then found out that it wasn't all they were promised.

The entire manifesto was all about money, and although I don't know the details, I would be willing to bet that this guy has been making massive amounts of money for years. After the dotcom crash, when many programmers were out of work for years or gave up and switched careers, he complains that he had to take a pay cut. The whole thing reeks of entitlement.

The central point of his note is the complaint that government and industry are colluding to move wealth from the gullible masses to the corporate rich.

Who do you think hired him as a contractor other than corporations? It's not as if this guy's small business was a mom and pop store or something. He even basically says that he tried the same dubious accounting tricks that large organizations use and was shocked when he actually got in trouble for it.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2010


Our health and legal systems are terrible at identifying persons who are quietly mentally ill and on the brink of violence. We - family, friends, and doctors - regularly ignore warning signs.

You think our systems are bad in this area, you should see the systems in Saudi Arabia and Yeoman.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2010


Please stop talking about how he was a "white Christian". From his manifesto, we can clearly see that he was a libertarian-leaning computer nerd (many geeks are libertarians) who blamed the government for his own inadequacies and a crooked accountant (why didn't he fly a plane into the accountant's house?). He mentions religion once: "institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church" who are "steeling [sic] from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God". To call him a "Christian" is fucking ignorant.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2010


... the guy is not really wrong in pointing out that the rich get rich of the blood of the poor and middle class and that the system is set up to keep it that way. It's just that his solution -- attacking the IRS -- isn't very close to the right one.
If there is hope it lies in the proles...the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it. And yet—!
Clearly, it is time to finally round up the Muslims and to invade Iran.

Right on schedule: Watchdog: Iran 'may be working on nuclear warhead.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2010


you should see the systems in Saudi Arabia and Yeoman.

I don't know, Yeoman Janice Rand was pretty hot on Star Trek.

(I love iPhone correction.)
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2010


To repeat, I was playing devil's advocate. I don't think this was "terrorism" as we understood it before the Orwellian turn of recent years, any more than I think Major Malik's actions were. I think we use the word "terrorism" so casually now it's been cheapened to meaninglessness. My point is simply that those who would accuse any Muslim criminal or nutjob of representing a terrorist threat would probably not see this incident that way, unless of course they can paint the douchebag as a "leftist," of course.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2010


BTW, I think there are a whole lot of these guys out there, many in tech or engineering fields (or unemployed former members of those fields).
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't know, Yeoman Janice Rand was pretty hot on Star Trek.

oops. i meant "yeahmen," of course.

posted by saulgoodman at 12:39 PM on February 18, 2010


“There but for the grace of god etc. I'm not happy he may have taken others with him, but this guy was broken.”

Yes, if he was insane – my sympathy lay with the man he was. There’s not much one can say other than wish he had gotten the help he needed. But, barring my own insanity, no. There’s no justification for this.
And I say that, again, thinking his manifesto is not so insane in certain parts. My sympathy lay with his family and the victims here. Been a bit broken myself. Didn’t hurt anyone. So I can walk a bit what I’m talking here. If he didn’t have a choice, ok. But then, that wasn’t really him in that sense anymore was it?

“It just seems funny that we apply such arbitrary double-standards when it comes to deeming events "authentic" terrorist acts.”

The term has become so watered down and ambiguous in the public realm that leaving the toilet seat up is terrorism.
(Also Hume could out consume Schopenhauer and Hegel)

It might look as though it is under the FBI’s definition (unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives) but that’s sort of the problem.

There isn’t any real coercion or intimidation. Is this going to happen again? Sure doesn’t look like it. Anyone really think there’s any chance anyone anywhere is going to say “Hey, we better change our policy because of that dead guy who crashed the plane into our office.”
There’s just the hope that the ‘zombies’ somehow rise up after seeing this, devoid of any connection to him other than perhaps some sympathy to the ideas in his manifesto.

Yeah, good luck with that.

For purposes of law enforcement, ok, yeah, terrorist. Essentially so you can charge folks with it. Of course, this particular guy is dead now even though, ok, he’s got the qualities of a terrorist. So moot point really.

And yes, socially – all over the map depending on the political bent of whomever is speaking.
Practically speaking – the old U.N. resolutions work – a criminal act intended to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or group or the general public.
Political purposes, check. Criminal act, check.

Anyone think a state of terror is going to be the result of this tho? (Other than the state’s overreaction and exploitation of any such event whether it is genuinely terrorism or not?)
If he had, or has got confederates, maybe. If there was a genuine threat this could be repeated.

Too, the direct target(s) of the violence here were the immediate victims. He hates the IRS and the government (et.al.) in general, he crashes a plane into them. If there were some propaganda angle, if he had targeted some victims randomly to serve as message generators and had a further implied threat based communication there, it’d be a bit terror-y.

But I don’t see any real potential for manipulation. If someone else picks up the ball – they could be terrorists.
Here? Remains to be seen. But given this, I doubt it. (Not that there isn't plenty of truth to how much this will be kicked around politically. Tarred on other folks. All that. And that's a shame too.)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:40 PM on February 18, 2010


oops. i meant "yeahmen," of course.

Oh wow. I really love iPhone correction.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2010


To repeat, I was playing devil's advocate. I don't think this was "terrorism" as we understood it before the Orwellian turn of recent years, any more than I think Major Malik's actions were.

I think you're wrong. I think this kind of event is exactly what terrorism was understood to be before "The Terrorists" were transformed into infinitely cunning super villains relentlessly spinning out nefarious plots to destroy America's future.

That's why we always treated terrorism as a civilian criminal matter before. You know, back when we didn't consider civilian law an inferior redheaded stepchild compared to the awesome might of the military legal system.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


He hates the IRS and the government (et.al.) in general, he crashes a plane into them.

Sure but they were civilian government employees, so it was still indisputably an attack on civilians.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:47 PM on February 18, 2010


"I just called the dude's number as it was listed on the actual "company" site. Was weird to hear his voice intone a totally generic "I'm not here right now, COS I'M FUCKING DEAD."""

I had a similar experience some years ago. Remember when a disgruntled day trader went on a rampage and killed several people in a day trading shop?

Well, I had called that office the day before and left an inquiry for one of the employees (I think the company was Momentum, if memory serves).

I was on the road and left my home phone number for him to call. When I returned, two days later, I listened to my voicemail. The employee had called with a very pleasant and informative response to my inquiry.

He had, unfortunately, been one of the guys killed by the shooter the day before, so I was listening to a dead man's message. Very strange.
posted by lometogo at 12:50 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


This dude was probably humming along nicely hiding from the IRS. It's probably only when they came down on him like a ton of bricks that he suddenly turned into the government/corporate avenger.
posted by PenDevil at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2010


This may be a stupid question -- hell, it IS a stupid question, but: Is the pilot still alive? Nobody's said he's dead, nobody's said he's been captured. Unless I am misreading something. Just curious.

I feel kinda stupid too, but I'm also wondering this. I had assumed he was dead, but there's been no report of deaths, and these kinds of stories usually include the perpetrator in the death count.
posted by katillathehun at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2010


Oh no; it looks like he may have tried to burn his family (wife, 3 kids) in his house.

Yeah, if that's true, no sympathy here. Burn in hell buddy.
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This may be a stupid question -- hell, it IS a stupid question, but: Is the pilot still alive? Nobody's said he's dead, nobody's said he's been captured. Unless I am misreading something. Just curious.

I feel kinda stupid too, but I'm also wondering this. I had assumed he was dead, but there's been no report of deaths, and these kinds of stories usually include the perpetrator in the death count.


Listed as dead on the NYT article.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:53 PM on February 18, 2010


Whenever I hear about engineers doing things that are radical, I'm reminded of the 2006 podcast I listened to by Marc Sageman where he talks about how many among the 9/11 folks were engineers. The Anarchist movement in the early 20th century were engineers and physicians. About 15 minutes into the mp3 [MP3 link] he describes this. It echoes here because the 9/11 "falls prey to an unusual reading of the Koran" and start from first principles and ignore years of religious interpretation. The way the guy cites the tax code reminded me of that too.
posted by artlung at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I still don't exactly understand his grievance with the IRS over the independent contractor status.

He did have some legitimate grievances against: healthcare, insurance companies, the failure of the Justice Department to launch anti-trust investigations (his comments re: Austin and 4 major software contracting shops), and the bailout. Also, he discussed his formative experience talking with his college-era neighbor-- her husband had been screwed over when his company and union destroyed his retirement. But, Mr. Stark lacked a real narrative to pull all this together-- instead, he chose to throw in his lot with the anti-tax crowd. Crashing a plane into a building with an IRS office was wrong.

Many of those sentiments might not be out of place here on Metafilter, or in fact, in a thousand conversations happening at dinner tables across America. Part of the problem is that most Americans lack a narrative to make sense of the increasingly exploitive economic circumstances in which we find ourselves .

In fact, we've lacked this coherent narrative since the McCarthy era. The New Left tried at the end of the 1960s, but they were hamstrung by a combination of ridiculous Marxist dialectic and too much tweaking out on speed.

That's really the task in front of us, building that coherent narrative. Saxon Kane, you raise a good point regarding organizing the Tea Partiers. Although, I would make that point a little differently-- the Tea Party folks have managed to get some decent support _even though_ the movement as a whole comes off as a bunch of white-makes-right, racist cranks.

I am actually optimistic about the potential for real organized change. One of the few places that the New Left actually succeeded, was in creating a wider definition of what it is to be American. The fervor that surrounded Barack Obama showed that vast numbers of Americans _have_ decided to accept that we live in a multi-ethnic nation. Okay. So we've got that now.

The other problem is that many people in the self-described ''left'' are focused on trying to relive the 1960s, or safely ensconced in jobs that feed at the trough of the finance, industry, real estate sector (and I'd include people at some non-profits that are heavily foundation dependent in that group), or they still believe that making phone calls and faxing their senator will get the job done.

The fact is that we live in a time of widespread institutional failure. Any new coherent political narrative must do more than just be pretty words on a screen. It will also have to bring people together in a way that directly leads to economic power for its participants. That's a tall order, I know, but we've tried the other stuff and it didn't work.
posted by wuwei at 12:59 PM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


What bugs me about all this is the talk of "the government" and "the IRS" as if they were remote, monolithic, faceless entities. I live and work in DC, and know lots and lots of folks who work for the government and, yes, even the IRS. These are just regular joes with regular jobs, homes, kids, gutters to clean, etc. To me, that was one big take-away from the Oklahoma City bombing. Sure, there are a few politicians in there, and some bureaucrats can, indeed, be jerks, but this "government" you speak of is mostly made up of Matt and Greg and Laurie and the like.

If anyone is to blame for the bizarreness of the tax code, it's Congress. The admin assistant at the Austin IRS building isn't writing this stuff. Killing her because you think your taxes are too high is like assaulting the cashier at Safeway because you think steak is too expensive.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


emjaybe-- I just saw your links. You posted while I was still typing.

What an asshole. He tried to burn his wife and kids alive too.
posted by wuwei at 1:03 PM on February 18, 2010


"Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple"
This guy is really, really, really angry. Angry out of any proportion to reality.


Frankly, that looks squarely in proportion to reality to me. The American medical system is killing tens of thousands of people a year, and we should be really, really, really fucking angry about that.

The conspiracy stuff does seem pretty crazy, but IMHO, the crazy part is his insistence that super-wealthy capitalists are conspiring to do all this stuff specifically to him... as opposed to reality, in which super-wealthy capitalists are actually conspiring to make more money, and thus to do this to everyone.

We have a social system which occasionally devours people whole, more-or-less by design; it's quite understandable, if a bit "crazy", that those same people occasionally see deliberate menace in its undirected shamblings, much the same way they occasionally see a little face in a power plug.
posted by vorfeed at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


What an asshole. He tried to burn his wife and kids alive too.

They left last night.
posted by green herring at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2010


We have a social system which occasionally devours people whole, more-or-less by design

Devours them whole? The guy owned his own private fucking plane and could afford to pay a CPA to find as many tax loopholes as he could find on his behalf.

I only wish I could be so badly devoured whole by "the system."

Sorry if I don't have more any sympathy.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:12 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


We have a social system which occasionally devours people whole, more-or-less by design

Devours them whole? The guy owned his own private fucking plane and could afford to pay a CPA to find as many tax loopholes as he could find on his behalf.


Yes, HE was doing pretty well, so it seems. But just because he was a delusional paranoid that does not mean that some of his claims do not have validity to back them up. He saw himself as a martyr, but really, the things he complains about are very applicable to many others.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What bugs me about all this is the talk of "the government" and "the IRS" as if they were remote, monolithic, faceless entities. I live and work in DC, and know lots and lots of folks who work for the government and, yes, even the IRS.

They have a face if you live in DC. In the rest of the country they are just a nasty letter in the mailbox.
posted by smackfu at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2010


The NYTimes on the independent contractor tax issue.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2010


He saw himself as a martyr, but really, the things he complains about are very applicable to many others.

The 9-11 attackers and the Unabomber, too, had complaints that are applicable to many others and even some legitimate grievances. You could say the same thing about almost any terrorist. Why don't you?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


They have a face if you live in DC. In the rest of the country they are just a nasty letter in the mailbox.

Not to the people who knew the IRS agents in that Austin office, including the one guy who's still missing. The IRS has people all around the country too.
posted by immlass at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frankly, that looks squarely in proportion to reality to me. The American medical system is killing tens of thousands of people a year, and we should be really, really, really fucking angry about that.

Oh, I am a huge advocate for being angry, specifically, at capitalism.

...but even you were careful not to use the word "murder" when talking about the health care system. Because we're rational enough to recognize that it's NOT murder. We don't revel in our own outsized and rather gruesome descriptions of injustices.

There's rational productive anger, and then there's believing that the only logical course of action is to crash a plane into a building full of civilians.
posted by muddgirl at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


MrMoonPie: "The fine folks over at Prison Planet are crying "false flag.""

OH FFS I totally called that, I was gonna make a joke about it (not knowing until I read your comment) -- Can't those guys ever be original?

Also, I remember reading somewhere something about a tendency of engineers to be a bit on the conservative side, and easily fall towards reactionary violent thinking (i.e. a lot of Islamic Terrorists have had engineering backgrounds) -- whether this holds up as a general tendency or not, I find it interesting (though in this case, it certainly is more to do with the usual fare of disgruntled middle age white male)

Finally, he explicitly says, effectively "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!" So YES it was politically motivated. Ineffective (thank god!) but to say it wasn't is absurd. He wanted his little crash to be the "shot heard 'round the world" or something.
posted by symbioid at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2010


The 9-11 attackers and the Unabomber, too, had complaints that are applicable to many others and even some legitimate grievances. You could say the same thing about almost any terrorist. Why don't you?

Yeah, I often find myself agreeing with the opinion that the US fucked up and continues to fuck up the Middle East. But that doesn't justify terrorist jihadism. Neither does getting audited by the IRS for intentionally and knowingly fucking with your taxes.
posted by muddgirl at 1:35 PM on February 18, 2010


Too bad the guy wasnt complaining when he landed contracts paid by big brother the govt (used to work at hughes apparently.)
Conspiracy theorists worldwide are already having a ball with this.
posted by 3mendo at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2010


Devours them whole? The guy owned his own private fucking plane and could afford to pay a CPA to find as many tax loopholes as he could find on his behalf.
I only wish I could be so badly devoured whole by "the system."


I'm not just talking about this guy. Nor was he just talking about himself... unless he accidentally included a story about a woman he knew who was forced to live on catfood, that is.

And frankly: yeah, when people who can afford their own plane, house, CPA, etc. also feel that they have to kill themselves in a fireball against the IRS building downtown, our social system is eating people. I can see why you think he needed to be wearing a barrel under a bridge before his pain counts as pain... but IMHO, the very idea that money negates suffering is simply part of how the system eats people. If he hadn't bought into that lie, maybe he could have been happy. He could have sold everything, paid his debt to the IRS, and moved to some little plot of land somewhere. Instead, he just killed himself. His life, devoured, fucking whole.

If money were enough to make this kind of hurting stop, there'd be a hell of a lot more happiness and a hell of a lot fewer Cessnas.
posted by vorfeed at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


If he hadn't bought into that lie, maybe he could have been happy.

If he wasn't what Vonnegut would call a defective thinking machine, maybe he could have been happy.
posted by muddgirl at 1:43 PM on February 18, 2010


The 9-11 attackers and the Unabomber, too, had complaints that are applicable to many others and even some legitimate grievances. You could say the same thing about almost any terrorist. Why don't you?

OK, I will. Well, not literally, but you can take this as me saying the same thing about them.

But, as muddgirl just said, I don't think that justifies terrorism or murder (or attempted murder). I'm not defending this asshat (or those other asshats), just saying that it's too easy and not at all productive to write off valid grievances just because the person making them is a dickhole. The problem exists independently of the fuckwad who blows himself up complaining about it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:44 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think most can see some truth in his suicide letter, but I think we have trouble reconciling his actions with our understanding of social discourse.

None of his grievances seem particularly uncommon. How can we make this country a more equitable place? In this modern era, how can we effectively channel our anger and dissatisfaction for positive social progress? Personally, I often feel that the accepted methods of social change (protests, letter writing, elections, etc.) have been co-opted by a nebulous, poorly-defined entity (I call it "money,") whose constituents have a vested interest in ignorance and the status quo.

When a person's hope is crushed by the seeming reality of debt-slavery and inertial inequity what avenues of change are available to him? I am by no means advocating violence of any kind. I understand the feeling of helplessness in the shadow of a world gone awry. It is, in a way, Winston's choice at the climax of 1984 -- betray that which you hold dear or live a life of persecution.

I'm tired of identifying with murderers. I just want to live in a happy happy fantasy land where resources aren't constrained and property disputes are handled among the pages of pulp novellas. Sorry, this guy (and life in general obviously) is getting to me.
posted by polyhedron at 1:49 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it bad that I read about this and it reminded me to top up my RRSPs before March 1?
posted by mazola at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2010


The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed
.

Wow- that's straight out of Bioshock's Andrew Ryan. Video games are surely to blame
posted by helmutdog at 1:57 PM on February 18, 2010


In Plane Crash Coverage, Networks Use the Word ‘Terrorism’ With Care
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2010


Maybe the problem is that not enough people have been exposed directly to just how bad the IRS is. It's easy to say that this guy fucked up his own taxes and pulled some dodgy moves, but there are a lot of cases where law abiding, non-dodgy citizens trying to follow an insanely complicated financial system come out on the wrong end of the deal: wages garnished, assets seized, homeless. Maybe it needs to get worse before it gets better. It's true that independent contractors pay a disproportionate percentage of their income in taxes and usually don't self-pay into social security or medicare tax, so yes, retirement savings become more important. And it's true that a large number of US corporations are owned by shell companies incorporated in Delaware or the Cayman Islands. What can you do? Despair is one option, and the US is full of it.
posted by mattbucher at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


“the crazy part is his insistence that super-wealthy capitalists are conspiring to do all this stuff specifically to him... “

Well, that and deliberately targeting innocent people and victimizing his own family (whether or not they were in the house).
Granting that super-wealthy capitalists are conspiring to pauperize everyone.

But that makes it even worse. If the super-wealth are organized in such a way, doesn’t it make sense to organize, even clandestinely, against them? It makes it all the more imperative to continue to reach out and form connections and do the work to fix the problem.

Whatever else this is, it’s not the burning of HMS Gaspee or the Boston Tea Party. Those were acts of public rage (and I wouldn't say terrorism), but they were focused to rally support and one could defend them on principle.
That was at least civil disobedience. And people have the right to oppose their society if they’re being oppressed, and even spill blood if necessary, given that they enter another society, create a new social contract.

No matter what a given society says, the objective difference between a revolutionary, a guerrilla, or an insurgent - and a madmen and a terrorist is that the later two are part of no society. They are only involved in the negation of society. It's an abdication of responsibility and invalidates whatever truth the cause itself may contain.
Ahmana blow myself and some random innocent folks up - so YOU other people go handle all this.
Yeah, thanks guy. We're all really motivated now.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


How isn't this terrorism? He was politically motivated and used violence against a (relatively) non-violent entity. That sounds like terrorism to me.

If the right wingers don't admit that he's a terrorist, they're losing what little credibility they had with me.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:01 PM on February 18, 2010


I just don't see how anyone can argue that this isn't terrorism. He's using violence against civilians to try to affect political change. Was he a lone nut? Sure, but so was the Unabomber. Were his political aims particularly coherent or well-thought-out? No, but neither is Al Qaeda's. Even the method he used—crashing a plane into a building—is a classic terrorist method.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2010


No matter what a given society says, the objective difference between a revolutionary, a guerrilla, or an insurgent - and a madmen and a terrorist is that the later two are part of no society. They are only involved in the negation of society. It's an abdication of responsibility and invalidates whatever truth the cause itself may contain.

That's an interesting and thoughtful distinction. Thanks for that Smedleyman.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:05 PM on February 18, 2010


muddgirl: "I'm not going to continue. I feel incredible sadness for this many and his family, but NOT because he was screwed over by the vast conspiracies that he saw all around him."

Ah! But you see... Of course it's gonna look like he had a conspiratorial mind, what better way to discredit the truthtellers than a false flag operation that looks like it was perpetrated by a paranoid conspiratorial individual. Of course, "he" didn't write that, the master propagandists at the secretive Ministry of Truth and Falsehoods did.
posted by symbioid at 2:08 PM on February 18, 2010


Can we please start profiling software engineers inquiring about flying lessons and trying to board commercial airliners?
posted by nestor_makhno at 2:10 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also... Why can't these guys go out, buy a little red convertible and fuck their mistresses like every other 40-50 year old asshole out there. I mean, look, I can't stand the whole midlife crisis image thing, but jesus man, and cheating on your wife is a dick move, but it's much less dick move than mass murder.

Plus a convertible looks hella more stylish than a pile of rubble.

(I promise I'm done shitting in this thread now, sorry guys)
posted by symbioid at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2010


And frankly: yeah, when people who can afford their own plane, house, CPA, etc. also feel that they have to kill themselves in a fireball against the IRS building downtown, our social system is eating people. I can see why you think he needed to be wearing a barrel under a bridge before his pain counts as pain...

My grandfather (who raised me) worked his way up from being a poor sharecropper forced by his father's failing health to quit elementary school to work in the cotton fields and put food on the table to help feed (and in one case, send to college) his eight brothers and sisters. Despite all this, he never complained. Despite having no formal education past 4th grade and being functionally illiterate, he made himself into a successful heavy equipment mechanic and then leveraged that success to start what became in the 80s a thriving timber company of his own. Then the mill closed. He tried to pick up the pieces but fell prey to conniving business partners who ultimately worked him to death, and then, after he died, bribed or otherwise influenced a small town judge to give the title to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heavy equipment and tools my grandfather had accumulated over the years to those same business partners without any financial compensation to his estate, leaving my grandmother destitute after his death and effectively robbing me of what might have been my own future inheritance.

People do terrible things. That is not an administrative clerk at the local IRS office's fault, nor is it the fault of big bad government. Sure, one of the tools people use to screw each other sometimes are the instruments of government. People also screw each other in games of poker and in myriad other ways. But the fact remains, imperfect as it may be, government is one of the few tools we have at our disposal to protect ourselves from the awful things people left to their own devices sometimes do to each other.

This man, as far as I can tell, hasn't truly suffered a damn thing compared to many far better people I have known in life who would never once have considered lashing out at the rest of the world in such a callow, self-interested and destructive way.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


Funny how much talk there is about whether it should be called "terrorism" or not. Puts the meta in Metafilter.
posted by smackfu at 2:28 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This man, as far as I can tell, hasn't truly suffered a damn thing compared to many far better people I have known in life who would never once have considered lashing out at the rest of the world in such a callow, self-interested and destructive way.

Suffering is an internal, subjective state. It does not come only to those who meet society's notions about who "truly" suffers, nor does it come solely to those who are "better" than others, or whose reactions to it are less self-interested. That was my point; thanks for proving it.
posted by vorfeed at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2010 [17 favorites]


mattbucher: It's true that independent contractors pay a disproportionate percentage of their income in taxes and usually don't self-pay into social security or medicare tax

Wait, what? I've been self-employed most of my working life. The "disproportionate percentage" I pay is all social-security and medicare: it's the self-employment tax. And since I am self-employed, there is nobody else to pay it for me. So I don't understand what you're saying.

From the IRS website: "Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the social security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners."
posted by adamrice at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2010


The IRS Issues: Effectively, he joined a dodgy group that tried to form their own 'religion' for the specific purpose of not paying income taxes. They got caught, he went to prison. After that, the IRS apparently were constantly after him (not surprising - if you pull a dodgy stunt like purposeful tax evasion, you're going to get on the list of returns that get special scrutiny every year).

As for his political bent, I think it's safe that he's closest to the 'Tea Party' movement that doesn't consider themselves Republican. The Tea Party/Glenn Beck movement is one described with great antipathy for both corporations and the government, with the stimulus and bailouts being absolutely despised by many within them. (I remember when the bailouts were initially announced, many republicans being in an uncomfortable position, since they were being split between the interests of their grass roots and of their Wall Street interests). That being said, the depth of his opinions, like those of most actual Americans out there, are really not easy to classify.
posted by Ubiq at 3:41 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, the cliff notes version of his crazy-ass suicide note (see right column).
posted by Ubiq at 3:44 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


That cliff notes is fucking ridiculous. "I think the government should serve my interests, not the interests of a 300-million-person-strong nation." implies that the government actually serves the interests of the people. Yeah, this guy was paranoid, solipsistic, and had delusions of his own self-important, grandiose martyrdom. But that's not what he's saying.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It really IS what he's saying.

Take the paragraph about the tax break that churches receive. Instead of joining with countless other groups to protest the tax breaks, instead of writing to his senators and representatives as an atheist and businessman, he deliberately conspired to defraud the government, and then took his punishment as a sign that "there's no justice in the world".

He co-opts the language of oppression because it's effective language.
posted by muddgirl at 4:00 PM on February 18, 2010


Does anyone have more insight on the specific tax issues Stack mentioned in the note?

This is his history as presented. Decide for yourself if he was a victim of bureaucracy.

1. He got involved with a fringe anti-tax group that promoted a way to dodge taxes by forming a corporation and declaring yourself a one-person, non-profit religious organization. When the IRS caught on to this it apparently cost him $40,000.

2. Next, he started a contractor job-shop. This is a business in which he goes out and finds jobs in the tech business and then gets programmers to fill the positions. The companies pay him and he in turn pays the programmers. Instead of treating these programmers as employees, he called them independent contractors which means he doesn't have to withhold their taxes or social security. Apparently some of these contractors didn't pay their taxes so the IRS went back to him and collected them, claiming that these were really employees, not contractors. This is a rather messy part of the tax law, but it is because employers try to cut corners by not withholding taxes and the IRS just wants to get paid.

3. Then one year his business lost money so he didn't file a tax return. If you have income, even if you don't make a profit, you are still required to file a tax return. Apparently the IRS didn't find out about this until several years later. He tried to file an appeal but couldn't because of the late date. It isn't stated, but there must have been some taxes involved that he didn't think he owed or otherwise the IRS wouldn't have been on his case.

4. He got into trouble again because of $12,700 of unreported income earned by his wife. He claims this was the fault of the CPA who did his taxes. He claims that the CPA knew about this income. This last incident seems to be the recent event that pushed him over the edge, calling out the CPA by name.
posted by JackFlash at 4:19 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


The NY Times article that fiercecupcake linked to covers a planned IRS uptick in enforcement of the independent contractor rules. It was on the front page of the paper version of the NY Times this morning. I wonder if this guy had a subscription.
posted by yarrow at 4:24 PM on February 18, 2010


Also... Why can't these guys go out, buy a little red convertible...

You know, all other things aside, I think buying a little red convertible would make a lot of people happier. Sadly, that would take money that this guy apparently didn't have. Maybe a little red bicycle would have helped.
posted by davejay at 4:31 PM on February 18, 2010


The thing is, I'm somewhat sympathetic to anyone who complains about the IRS—and it sounds like this guy tried to shine a light on their bad practices for years. It's too almost easy to see how a nutjob becomes a nutjob.

Your comment reminded me of this piece: Confessions of a Man Who Almost Went Postal
posted by homunculus at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alex Jones on Russia Today: Why isn't this a case of domestic terrorism?
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2010


Beyond all the usual policy arguments we like to have at MeFi, there's the fact that this guy was a FUCKING NUTCASE. There's a lot of things that piss me off in this world politically. None of them make we want to fly planes into buildings.
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to call bullshit on the unverifiable story of the little old lady eating catfood.
I've heard about little old ladies eating catfood so many goddamn times
there wouldn't be anything for the fucking cats of the world to eat if
they were all true.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:30 PM on February 18, 2010


Instead of joining with countless other groups to protest the tax breaks, instead of writing to his senators and representatives as an atheist and businessman, he deliberately conspired to defraud the government, and then took his punishment as a sign that "there's no justice in the world".

That first part I underlined, yeah that's done absolutely jack shit for the rest of us so far.
posted by Big_B at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My little old lady's breath smells like catfood.
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on February 18, 2010


Jones was great in Waking Life.

My only reluctance in calling all politically motivated violence ‘terrorism’ is that you get the same sort of social vibe ‘anarchism’ had. And you wind up with anyone with extreme political views involved in a crime getting the whole Sacco and Vanzetti treatment.
On the other hand, the anti-immigrant (and back then anti-Italian, anti-Irish, etc. and now anti-Muslim/Arab) thing in the U.S. seems to bounce around cyclically and mostly (as pointed out here) gets laid on those folks.

Propaganda of the deed (which this is closer to given his manifesto) has always been cheek and jowl with terrorism.

But I prefer a stricter definition for, in part, the same reason I prefer terrorism be criminally prosecuted. You’re always going to have someone who wants to hoist the black flag for whatever cause. Back then it was Severino Di Giovanni. More recently it was McVeigh. (Von Brunn – debatable, Finton little more clear cut, although debatable as to means. Cromitie & co as well. Boyd and Sherifi – bit different) And to some degree calling something like this terrorism glamorizes that.
It doesn’t sound like the focus is ‘it’s terrorism and therefore criminal.’ Sounds (just sounds) more like ‘even though this guy is white - it’s spectacular, and therefore terrorism.’

But I cede there’s a lot to be said generally for criticizing the way the term is used (currently) in the U.S. And perhaps that would lead to a difference in prosecution/persecution. I dunno, I’m not a semanticist. (NOT SEMANTICIS … NOT SEMANTICSISTIST-IST…people who deal with words are alright by me, ok?) Bit too fastidious there perhaps. But I'm a slob in so many other ways...
posted by Smedleyman at 5:45 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know who else ate cat food?
Wikus van de Merwe. And he had sex with an alien.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:47 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


This performance art is excessively transgressive.

Software engineers should be required to take at least two semesters of discussion/participation based philosophy, a semester of art history, and a semester of applied art. I know a lot of software engineers who have trouble understanding that the world around them will never be as logical and organized as the computers they work with on a daily basis.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:49 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe we should also have them take a semester of Tax Law. You know, just in case.
posted by Ubiq at 5:52 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want to call bullshit on the unverifiable story of the little old lady eating catfood.

It was actually gefilte fish.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2010


I know a lot of software engineers who have trouble understanding that the world around them will never be as logical and organized as the computers they work with on a daily basis.

The engineer/crazy libertarian-Randroid connection is an interesting social phenomenon, and that's exactly the reason: they live in a bubble.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:14 PM on February 18, 2010


adamrice: I'm saying that the SE tax is in addition to income tax. Employers pay half that SS & Medicare amount for W-2 employees: "However, when an employer looks at the cost of hiring you, he considers total cost, including payroll tax. It’s arguable that your employer would pay you more if payroll taxes were less." (MSN Moneycentral)

The self-employed are much more likely to get audited and I think that the incentive for self-employed workers is to maximize their deductions, and that often leads to fudging the truth or outright tax fraud. Just my opinion.
posted by mattbucher at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2010


Suffering is an internal, subjective state.

As a justification for attempting to kill people, that alone is pretty weak.

Sadly, that would take money that this guy apparently didn't have. Maybe a little red bicycle would have helped.

I think a Cessna costs more than most convertibles.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:33 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe blew his stack.
posted by telstar at 6:49 PM on February 18, 2010


It’s arguable that your employer would pay you more if payroll taxes were less."

Yeah...arguable. Because there's nothing employers love more than giving money to their employees when they could take it for themselves.
posted by inigo2 at 6:59 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


As this and other events unfolded today, I have to confess to feeling for a moment like the shit was really hitting the fan. What a fucked up day.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:17 PM on February 18, 2010


muddgirl: OK, I'll agree with you -- he's appropriating the language of resistance. But just because HE is selfish, doesn't mean that the point he made about the government NOT serving the people does not have a lot of truth to it. He's a dead fucker/terrorist/murderer/whatever, but still.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:20 PM on February 18, 2010


All other things aside, I'm kinda pissed off at this guy for ruining a perfectly good Cessna.
posted by MuChao at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2010


Wait, just saw this link Piper? That's the THIRD different plane I've heard. (first was a Cirrus)

Nonetheless, the guy's a jackass.
posted by MuChao at 7:30 PM on February 18, 2010


There's a reason why he's so hard to pin down as right wing or left wing (or patsy)-- he's none of those things. The purpose of the note isn't to convey information, it is to convey mood, and the seemingly random and contradictory positions he takes on issues is all in an attempt to win you, the reader, over to his side. He knows for sure he is angry, he knows for sure he feels wronged, but he can't logically link the real world event to his level of anger. e.g. he didn't file because he didn't think he had to? Yet he knew enough about tax law to...

It's natural to look at this from your own perspective ("he has a point about the rich" etc) but this isn't, as someone pointed out, a manifesto, it's a suicide note. The contents of suicide notes are not reliable.

If you simply look at it as a "type", then he's a mass murderer, akin to a guy in a tower with a rifle. So the form of the note will be impotence, paranoia, displacement, a feeling of rejection/invalidation, and, of course, narcissism. In the biz, this note would be supportive of a mixed Cluster A and B personality disorder.

The reason this is important-- that you should focus on the form and of the note and ignore the content-- is that it speaks to "treatment" and prevention. If you had granted every single one of his wishes, he would still not have been satisfied, he would not have been happy, and there is every chance in the world he would still have flown his plane into something. It's already been observed that as bankrupt as he was, he still had a plane, a house to burn, a car... note also he didn't seem to care about his family he left behind. The problem isn't what happened to him in his life, it's how he viewed his life and its expectations.

I don't know if this is true for him, but often people who knew the murderer are surprised: "he was so nice, I can't believe it he did this." You're surprised because you think you knew him because of the duration of the relationship; but they never put themselves into their relationships, they just go through the motions, fake it.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:33 PM on February 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


Does that seem like a particularly large fire for a single engine plane crash? I'm thinking of a comparison to the 2002 incident in Tampa, in particular. No idea if they are similar sized planes.
posted by Mid at 7:50 PM on February 18, 2010


(And no, I don't think it was a "inside job," I'm wondering if the guy loaded the plane with an accelerant or something.)
posted by Mid at 7:51 PM on February 18, 2010


Well, unlike those of you here who don't see Stack's actions as politically motivated, the honorable freshmen Senator Brown, recently elected on a wave of skillfully misdirected populist anger to replace the late Sen. Kennedy, seems to have a slightly different take.

According to Sen. Brown, many of the same basic frustrations that sent him to Washington in the special election also sent Stack's plane into the IRS building, because that's basically what he said on the subject today in an interview with Neil Cavuto (unless you squint really hard at the words he used until they become illegible, as I'm sure some will insist on doing). Quoth the honorable senator-elect:
"Well it's certainly tragic and I feel for the families obviously being affected by it.

And I don't know if it's related, but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency, they want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:54 PM on February 18, 2010


Whether he was a terrorist is an interesting question, but I'm more surprised that he's not being referred to as a suicide bomber. I mean, what was that plane if not a huge goddamn bomb that he plunged into an IRS building?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Joseph Andrew Stack's Facebook page (via Hullabaloo).
posted by scalefree at 9:03 PM on February 18, 2010


And now it's a murder suicide. Fucking great, you hero of the people. You have really taught the man a lesson.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:28 PM on February 18, 2010


"And I don't know if it's related, but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency, they want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives."

Scott Brown is a herpes sore on the penis of our society.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Friday flash fun
posted by smackfu at 9:32 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So now, according to Scott "Dingleberry of Massachusetts" Brown, this murderer/suicider is a freedom fighter for Republican interests.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2010


The purpose of the note isn't to convey information, it is to convey mood, and the seemingly random and contradictory positions he takes on issues is all in an attempt to win you, the reader, over to his side.

"Everyone is the hero of their own story..." –anonymous

"...even if they are the villain in everyone else's" –quin
posted by quin at 9:37 PM on February 18, 2010


Scott Brown: “no one likes paying taxes”

I want to go on the record now: I not only like paying taxes--I love paying taxes. Proving yet again that this man is absolutely incapable of uttering even a single truthful or accurate word.

I love paying taxes because taxes are what make parks, roads, libraries, schools, hospitals, storm-water treatment systems, and scientific innovations and medical services that my son Ander will rely on in one form or another his entire life possible.

And anybody who begrudges me--or doubts--the pleasure I take in fulfilling my adult, civic responsibility to pay taxes, or who begrudges my son for the current and future benefits he derives from mine and other willing taxpayers' responsible behavior can come and look me in the eye and tell me "no one likes paying taxes."

Scott Brown can fuck right the fuck off.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:38 PM on February 18, 2010 [17 favorites]


Friday flash fun

Is that Apple Daily's report on this story?
posted by mazola at 9:40 PM on February 18, 2010


Scott Brown is an anti-American terrorist sympathizer.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:50 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scott Brown: “no one likes paying taxes”

Just like no one likes going to the dentist or getting a prostate or breast exam. But we do it anyway because we want working teeth, and not to die unexpectedly from cancer.

This is a simple concept, I don't understand why they don't get it.
posted by quin at 10:00 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joseph Andrew Stack's Facebook page (via Hullabaloo).

That seems to be a fan page.
posted by delmoi at 11:25 PM on February 18, 2010


No, it's because he's obviously not a bi-product of some fringe anti-tax political movement, but just a lone nut who coincidentally snapped and flew his plane into a federal building in the same week as the CPAC conference and the Mount Vernon signing event in which prominent Tea Party activists are loudly calling for revolution and denouncing taxation as tyranny.

But see, it's literally all just coincidence. Hume proved that.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:17 AM on February 18 [34 favorites +] [!]


Stand Alone Complex
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:43 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was an interesting thread untill about 25 posts in when it became a racist hand wringing "Yaaaay! A white person did it. See? See?! White people are terrorists too! Yaaaay!!" Thread.

Then the "HE WAS RIGHT WING!"... "I BETCHA FOX NEWS WILL CLAIM HE WAS LEFT WING!" morons kicked in:

Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

There is an unspoken rule in American media about not calling domestic terrorism what it is, when it is of the right-wing variety.
Blazecock Pileon [10 favorites]

How long before Fox News uses the fact that he quotes Marx to declare there's an underground socialist terror network afoot? Hell, they probably already have. Expect this to be used as a reason to ban the reading of anything but the Bible and Reagan's biography in Texas schools.
emjaybee

Major laughs. Thanks guys.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:04 AM on February 19, 2010


Digby is speculating that Stack may have fallen in with one of these anti-tax "scams" when he was in California.
posted by muddgirl at 7:35 AM on February 19, 2010


Anone heard from runcibleshaw in the last few days?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:41 AM on February 19, 2010


Do we know he owned the plane? Could he have rented it for the day? Terribly sad that he has left his family penniless. There are worse villians than the IRS that need blowing up.
posted by mecran01 at 9:07 AM on February 19, 2010


“Joe blew his stack.”
No, that’s just ice cream, I swear.

“Well, unlike those of you here who don't see Stack's actions as politically motivated, the honorable freshmen Senator Brown… seems to have a slightly different take.”

Yeah, exactly the problem I’m talking about. Not all politically motivated violence is terrorism (indeed, it’s debatable, various cogent assertions in this thread alone, whether it was really politically motivated or whether that was an excuse). That doesn’t stop it from being repackaged into a symbolic terrorist event and used.
Gosh, we all better listen to Sen. Brown otherwise there might be more attacks. (I don't know that he's a total loss, he's got some decent ideas, but that only makes it worse).

Reminds of what’s-his-face (you know the guy, that jerkoff asshat) saying ‘wrath of God’ against gays or whomever whenever there’s a natural disaster or violence completely unrelated. Same schtick.

So again, whether this really is terrorism or not (also debatable given one’s premises) it, and other events, can and have been utilized as such.
Indeed, it what infuriated me so about Bushco’s counterterrorism agenda. Not just the piss poor planning, incompetence, preeminence of military justice over civilian justice, loss of respons… ok, there’s a lot there, all that stuff aside – they essentially augmented the terror aspect of the violence and attempted to use it (somewhat successfully) to further their own agenda.

Which, for anyone who doesn’t polish chairs with their asses while fixated on materialism, is like firefighters saying “Wait! Maybe we can not put out the fires, but use them to scare people into increasing our budget!” Except that endangers the whole city, even if it doesn’t actually burn down.
Makes them as bad as the perpetrators themselves, if not worse. F’ing ghouls.

Can’t say I love paying taxes, but yeah, I don’t mind. And where I live we don’t vote down referendums that often (don’t think we’ve ever ‘no’ed the library, etc.)

I’m with quin on the dentist thing. But I’d have to add that Brown’s position sort of assumes a lack of moral rectitude and selfishness. For example – no one likes waking up in the morning. No one likes not being able to have sex with the neighbors. No one likes not having the dog lick peanut butter out of your keister on live television. No one likes not being able to murder at will people who cut you off on the highway.

Some folks enjoy civic virtue. And there are huge benefits to keeping property, services, etc. in common rather than in private possession that, typically, most folks overlook.
I mean where am I going to put half a million books? What, I don't let anyone else read them while I'm not using them?
If my yard was as big as a municipal park, I’d have to mow the damn thing. Or hire someone. Meanwhile, no one's playing in it but my kids because I'd have to make parents wave liability.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:15 AM on February 19, 2010


If my yard was as big as a municipal park, I’d have to mow the damn thing. Or hire someone. Meanwhile, no one's playing in it but my kids because I'd have to make parents wave liability.

Off-topic, but depends on where you live. I think if you neither grant permission nor prohibit use of your outdoor facilities, your liability is waived in a lot of states (unless of course you have a deadly attractive nuisance like a swimming pool or something).
posted by mrgrimm at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2010


Some more "humor" from Human Events editor Jed Babbin, introducing Grover Norquist at the CPAC conference:

"And let me just say, I'm really happy to see Grover today," said Babbin. "He was getting a little testy in the past couple of weeks. And I was just really, really glad that it was not him identified as flying that airplane into the IRS building."
posted by saulgoodman at 10:01 AM on February 19, 2010


(unless of course you have a deadly attractive nuisance like a swimming pool or something).

I've always liked the concept of a dangerous/ deadly attractive nuisance. In my head I typically picture a beautiful old carousel (attractive) blasting organ grinder music at 140db (nuisance) and if you get to close to it, you find out the horses are electrified and will kill you (deadly).

And then I think, "Hmm... how much would it cost to install one of those in my back yard?"
posted by quin at 10:13 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So a murdering scumbag flies his plane into an IRS building after posting a thought provoking manifesto on the Internet. Putting aside the fact that this guy is a self-centered asshole who found it easier to murder people than to just admit he screwed up his taxes, I find plenty in the "manifesto" to agree with.

- Our government mainly represents rich people and corporations, and only acknowledges individuals to the extent necessary to placate us into being happy worker drones. I agree with that. I think we have a shitty government. That doesn't mean we have a shitty country, I happen to like it here. But it's agreed across all political persuasions that Congress and the Administration don't represent the average people that elected them as much as they represent the few rich and powerful.

- Our tax system is so fear inducing that it resembles a shakedown by thugs. I agree. And it would be nice if everyone didn't have to pay an accountant to have any confidence they'd done their taxes properly. And as someone who was more or less self-employed for a couple years, I can assure you that taxes and accounting for people running their own business is a nightmare. I seriously doubt it has to be this way, and I'm sure corporate lobbying has something to do it.

- Violence is the only thing that will change our screwed up government. Sure, I agree. I don't think violence is the option we should go with, but I do agree it would take a violent revolution to make our government work for average voters rather than the rich and powerful. In my opinion we're just stuck with it. And even if our government is, as an aggregate, basically just a corrupt cancer of corporate shills, it is much worse in other places. Women here don't have to wear bags on their heads, the police don't rob you every chance they get, and we don't have bands of armed rapists and murderers roving across the country.

But....... None of that excuses this asshole.

His "manifesto" is basically just a suicide note that he leaves behind to justify his failures and selfishness. He is a tax cheat by his own admission, and he wants to reel us in with a sob story about eating dog food. He wants us to think that it's not his fault he's a narcissistic, murderous, irresponsible nutjob. Someone else is to blame for all of it. What a fucking loser.

And he assumes we'll buy his lie about not knowing he had to file a tax return, even though he has been obsessing over tax law for decades. That's a load of crap. He was a garden variety tax cheat. He gets all red in the face over corporations not paying their share, but he doesn't want to pay his. Then, when it comes time to pay the price, which he knew all along was coming, he decides this justifies him murdering innocent people.

Yes, poor poor poor Joe. With his quarter million dollar house, and his $60k plane, and his lovely wife, and his rock band, and his Facebook page. Clearly his only option was to blame the government for all his problems and murder people.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:13 AM on February 19, 2010


Not entirely sure why they're not calling this terrorism. Is it because he has a Western name?

Cuz he's a white texan. If texan's realized that there may be terrorists that look like Chuck Norris, all hell will break lose.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


with the stimulus and bailouts being absolutely despised by many within them

Where the fuck were all these fiscal conservatives when Bush took the all-time record surplus he inherited from Clinton and turned it into an all-time record deficit? I don't remember a lot of Tea Party protests then.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not all politically motivated violence is terrorism (indeed, it’s debatable, various cogent assertions in this thread alone, whether it was really politically motivated or whether that was an excuse). That doesn’t stop it from being repackaged into a symbolic terrorist event and used.

It's the wake-up-sheeple thing that makes it (ineffective) terrorism.

The political motivation is anti-tax stuff, not on the Republican/Democratic axis or even on the libertarian end per se. It's the anti-governmental rage and the idea that his cheating on his taxes by using various tax scams, not reporting income, or just outright not filing, is OK because the tax man is a bad guy.

There's a whole lot to unpack in the manifesto; Stack is incoherent because he's enraged. Most people don't think enough about politics to decide much more than what their hot buttons are and which party they generally agree with. That's not saying they're stupid or lazy. A deep interest in politics is an avocation that can keep you very busy if it's not already your job. So Stack has his biases but they're not coherent if you look for a recognizable party platform (Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Tea Party, whatever).

Stack has money, but he's in that section of the upper middle class/lower upper class for whom the American dream of doing that much better is rapidly becoming an illusion. We're in a time when American economic influence and prestige are declining and the gap between the really rich and the rest of us is increasing. Stack's upward trajectory, which most Americans feel is their birthright, is shaky, if not outright disrupted, plus he has these tax problems which are screwing him over on money/time/mindshare. They're of his own making, sure, but they're still a stressor.

Plus Stack is a little unhinged. People with their heads on straight generally don't fly into buildings.

I live in Austin. It's easy here, even in the People's Republic, to find anti-government tea-party-type rhetoric. He doesn't live downtown with the hipster college students and the co-ops and the remaining hippie musicians; he lives out in the burbs where they send right-wingers to Washington. The government is a bad joke or an obstacle, not something that works for you. You don't have to be Tea Party or right-wing or Republican to be anti-government, but the crazies end up clustered there because there's already a strong vein of right wing anti-government paranoia in Texas, has been for a long time, and that tends to drag people with that kind of crazy to the right. But in the end "socialist" is just a hate word for them, a word that makes the government your enemy. It doesn't mean jack about actual philosophy.

So now you have an unhinged guy with a mindset of grievances against the government, marinating in hate/contempt for the government (which is a faceless monolith, not a bunch of people we hired to make our country go) who pays taxes to the government that persecutes him, and he snaps and flies a plane into a building, which is mostly unoccupied on the floor he flies it into, for which we all thank $DEITY.

This isn't a militia-type movement and if what people are getting at when they say "it's not terrorism" is that there isn't anybody they can link to the case who they think helped Stack, or no group they can point at and arrest people who might follow Stack's example, maybe terrorism isn't the right word. But there are more people out there with the kind of anger and fear Stack had and they're marinating in that kind of hateful stew like he is. The fact that Stack's circumstances are unique and his grievance against the IRS is particular to him doesn't mean he's unique and that we won't see more like him or people citing him as an example. The only term we have is "lone nut", but if he's a lone nut, why does the US keep producing guys like him and Timothy McVeigh and so on and so forth?

Domestic terrorism is the best term we have for what Stack is. I'm willing to go with a better one if we can come up with something that the DHS or its constituent agencies will take seriously.
posted by immlass at 12:22 PM on February 19, 2010


I don't think it's terrorism because where's the terror? Is every IRS employee going to be scared to go to work tomorrow? Are they going to increase security at IRS and government agencies because of this?

It was a dramatic and destructive act but he also destroyed himself and destroyed further threat because he was (by all appearances) acting alone, and not just shot one in a barrage of organized anti-government infrastructure violent action.

If we call this terrorism, what act of violence wouldn't be terrorism? You'd have to make the definition based on what, the method? the casualty count? whether there were planes involved? No. This was a revenge-I'll-show-you/the world crime. This is more like a personal vigilante action than terrorism. I think every single hate crime better fits the definition of terrorism than this.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


“depends on where you live.”
In Illinois proof of negligence is unnecessary. Which does have its upsides.

“And then I think, "Hmm... how much would it cost to install one of those in my back yard?"
About $9400 but it’s a pain to clea… er… not that I’d know anything about it.

I don't think there's any way to completely prevent random 'lone nut' violence without even more authoritarian government which increases the risk of democide which is even more dangerous.

Less of a gap between the very wealthy and everyone else would help certainly. But I don't know that this particular guy would have been satisfied anywhere.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:23 PM on February 19, 2010


If we call this terrorism, what act of violence wouldn't be terrorism?

One that wasn't intended to be a signal to other people who were fed up with the government to repeat the action. Suicide bombers die doing what they do, too. That doesn't mean they're not terrorists.

The fact that he's a lone guy taking revenge in the IRS is not mutually exclusive with him being a terrorist and intending to set an example of violent antigovernment action for other people who share his hate for "the government" or "the IRS".

But I don't know that this particular guy would have been satisfied anywhere.

That I'm in absolute agreement with. And it looks like Stack had no obvious history other than being in a fight with the IRS, so there really would have been no way to predict him without a lot of heavy-handed investigation that nobody would tolerate. The reason guys like Stack end up in Texas is in part that we don't like people poking their nose in our business. Live and let live as long as you don't mess with other people.

But at the same time, there's a lot of lone-nut crap that dismisses that there's any relationship between one bunch of antigovernment kooks and the next lot of antigovernment kooks, as if there was no way any isolated guy like Stack wasn't listening to Alex Jones or reading some antigovernment (right OR left) web site or whatever. Like there's no interaction or no signal to be boosted and/or acted on.

There's no simple answer to the question of how we prevent guys like Stack from killing people, but pretending that there's nothing to a case like his beyond "lone nut" trivializes the problem.
posted by immlass at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2010




So an organization that doesn't target the government but a private entity, like, say, an abortion doctor, wouldn't be a terrorist?

I really think that unless it's part of a larger plan to
a) create terror
b) use that terror to make people/the government adapt according to your wishes

It's not really terrorism. At the absolute best, this was vigilante-ism with vague aspirations to terrorism. Is there even indication that he took any concrete steps to encourage others to do similar acts, even electronically if not in person?

posted by Salamandrous at 6:54 PM on February 19, 2010


Is there even indication that he took any concrete steps to encourage others to do similar acts, even electronically if not in person?

Have you read the manifesto that was on his company's web site? It's been linked all over the internet, including in this thread.

"I can only hope that the numbers get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less." (p6)

This is exactly the way the antiabortion movement works in inspiring "lone nuts" like Scott Roeder or James Charles Kopp. Inspiring "lone nuts" while disavowing their actions is part of their schtick. There's just not a well-publicized political movement, or an obvious focal point, for guys like Stack, because people who take the paranoid style in American politics to that extreme don't generally organize (groups like the militias and the Oath Keepers notwithstanding).

Here's the Southern Law Poverty Center on "antigovernment extremists" and a list of attempted attacks against the IRS in the last 15 years. You can call all those people lone nuts, crazy people with grudges, or whatever. But at a certain point you start to wonder why the lone nuts keep wanting the same things.
posted by immlass at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bleah, edit failure. SPLC, obviously.
posted by immlass at 9:29 PM on February 19, 2010


Muslim group wants government to call plane attack terrorism
posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on February 20, 2010


The government's definition of "Terrorism" requires the people to be involved with a terrorist group. So loan nuts don't count. They didn't call the Nidal Hussein thing terrorism either. But it's interesting that the Fox News nuts who were screaming about that aren't complaining that this isn't terrorism.
posted by delmoi at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2010


Facebook shuts down CNY radio host's tribute to suicide pilot
posted by maurice at 5:20 PM on February 20, 2010


As it happens, the definition of terrorism as it applies to Stack's case came up in one of the local papers today.
Amongst experts in the field, that's the word they're leaning towards. In conversation, one local foreign policy expert said, "It was a violent attack against the system of government. Of course it meets the standard." That opinion was backed today in an analysis by Austin-based risk assessment firm Stratfor. The release cited a U.S. Department of Homeland Security statement saying that they "have no reason to believe there is a nexus to terrorist activity." Stratfor responded, "[We] disagree with this assessment, and apparently so does the U.S. government." The release goes on to cite the definitions of domestic terrorism in the U.S. Patriot Act and argues that it actually fits the criteria perfectly.
The Patriot Act criteria do not exclude lone nuts like Stack from the definition of terrorism. Nor do they exclude the Ft. Hood shooter.

Stratfor is the real deal; if they say it's terrorism based on the Patriot Act criteria, they know more about it than most of the people bullshitting on Metafilter. I'd link to the report directly, but it's only available to nonsubscribers (I'm not one, although I'm acquainted with Stratfor's work from back in the days when people still "warblogged") by email. It's worth the few minutes to register and read.
posted by immlass at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2010


She says her Dad was a hero...
posted by homunculus at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the Patriot Act: Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


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