Was suicide pilot a right-wing activist?

A small aircraft has crashed into an IRS office in Austin, and authorities say it was deliberate. The pilot, identified as 53-year-old Joseph Andrew Stack, left a rambling letter on the Web that definitely looks like a suicide note. Stack says he’s had enough, and that ” by not adding my body to the count, nothing will change.”

Stack’s letter is very revealing. He doesn’t mention the Tea Party movement, but the language of his letter points to someone who would fit into the anti-government movement. He mentions that at one point, “some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions….and then began to do what the ‘big boys’ were doing.”  Stack added that this “cost me $40,000, 10 years of my life and set my retirement plans back to zero.”

Stack was an engineer who apparently suffered failure throughout his life, including the dot.com collapse. He also dwells on Section 1706 of the tax code, which seems to involve whether contract engineers should be treated as employees or contractors for tax purposes.

More details will emerge about Stack. But it appears that he was a tax protester with anger at tax exemptions for organized religion (he singled out the Catholic Church). No mention of Tea Parties or militias, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was deeply involved in radical right politics. Which doesn’t mean an organized conspiracy by the radical right, but it will be interesting to see how – not if – Stack becomes a martyr. A martyr who tried to kill innocent government employees.

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28 Responses to Was suicide pilot a right-wing activist?

  1. layla says:

    Please, Michael, tell me you are joking. Pretty thin reed to construct an argument on. As well as quite a smear to Tea Partiers. If I were one, I’d be darned offended at your implication that I would regard this cowardly murderer or would-be murderer (don’t know yet about people injured in crash) as any kind of martyr.

  2. Michael Roston says:

    Veering from calling Bush a puppet to slamming our health care system to dinging a particular part of the tax code, this guy sounds more like the sort of ‘a pox on all of their houses’ disenchanted character who drove Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in ’08 than a hardcore Tea Partier. Most of the Tea Party people these days are feeling pretty politically empowered. This guy had checked out of the political system long ago. I think it’s unfair for either political extreme to engage in blame-gaming over the terrible act that Stack committed. It’s a tragedy driven by a deeply troubled person’s sense that they could only go out in a blaze of glory. He’s no George Tiller, nor was he a Bill Ayers. Just a lonely angry old man, apparently one who knew how to fly a plane into a building.

    • Michael Peck says:

      I’m not saying this was a Tea Party plot. But I am pointing out that Mr. Stack apparently belonged to the anti-tax movement/anti-government fringe, which is the base of the Tea Party movement. Mr. Stack may have been a disturbed man who might have killed himself anyway. But I think it’s vital to ask whether a climate where some Americans are urging insurrection against their own government encouraged his act. And I will bet cash that the far right eulogizes Stack as a martyr driven by a despotic government.

    • jummy says:

      isn’t it embarrassing to you that you were on the web earlier presuming to scold conservative bloggers for pushing back against the leftwing smear job, attempting to frame stack as a rightwinger, when your own sitemates were doing just that?

      i mean, it’s convenient to find you here tucked away in the comments, but why leave peck out of the narrative you posted on your blog? where’s your scold of newshoggers, john aravosis, crooks and liars, et al? not to mention rachel maddow and the douchebag from the washington post?

      this, i’m afraid, is insufficient cya, weasel.

  3. alsyd says:

    The last two sentences of his statement:

    “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.”

    A few paras before that:

    “I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants.”

    He sounds more like a Lefty if he sounds like anything at all. I wouldn’t “go there” if I were you.

    • Michael Peck says:

      The Tea Party movement is old-fashioned American populist, which means they hit big business (capitalism) as much as they hate big government (Communism). Stack’s letter is consistent with this.

      • robin27 says:

        Let me join those who think you are reaching here. I am hardly a Tea Party supporter (I think it’s an ignorant and over-simplified movement used to drum up conservative votes by white people who feel they are disenfranchised), but this man, albeit disturbed, clearly felt he had no outlet, no voice, no one who represented him. The Right would have to ignore much of his letter to raise him up. And neither side would be so stupid, even almost 9 years later, to commend the actions of someone who flew a PLANE into a BUILDING.

      • jummy says:

        he’s not “reaching”. he doesn’t believe the substance of his “interpretation”. he’s just deliberately poisoning the well.

        for instance, the communism/capitalism quote favorably compares communism against the greed of capitalism. peck pretends that it slams both equally.

        he is a liar. that is all. the worst kind. the kind that pisses on your leg and tries to convince you it’s raining.

      • alsyd says:

        The Tea Partiers are not against big business per se (it seems to me). They took umbrage with bailouts by a collusive government that simultaneously punishes small business (Europeans mostly, who bear the brunt of “diversity” diktats). That isn’t a free market. Tea Partiers believe in God-given (Christian) freedom, I think. Therefore, the State cannot define virtue.

        Stack was incoherent. He just wanted everything his way and felt sorry for himself. Rather than swallowing his failures like most men he wanted a big drama with him in the starring role. Megalomania. Illusions of grandeur. Envy like a junkie with a bad habit.

  4. Michael Peck says:

    So you’re saying that the Tea Partiers believe in “Christian” freedom, and that the government punishes white-owned small businesses? Thanks for proving my point.

    • alsyd says:

      Not sure what your point is other than an accusation that can’t be proven. You don’t like conservatives or Christians, I guess. Whether you like them or not they, and small business, are the backbone of our culture. They have been for a long time, Michael.

    • alsyd says:

      Sorry, maybe I didn’t answer your question. I’m saying that I think the tea party wants traditional christian morality because this seems to bring freedom for everybody. If you work hard and live a decent life, that is. Stack certainly wasn’t a believer. He was a tax cheat, envy junkie, and suicide/murderer. The Christian church has always believed in separation of church and state, you know. That’s why we expose our children to religious training when young, to instill virtue. By doing so, you’ll be surprised to hear, you don’t need so many laws and regulations and bureaucrats.

      Affirmative action was supposed to be color blind. It meant that business or government could be prosecuted for not hiring someone based on race, rather than qualification. Over the years, with the growth of government, the grievance industry, and the increasing dependency of various groups in the Cult of Victimhood, the original purpose has morphed into something quite different. With “diversity” we have now turned 180 degrees. We now have government diktats that punish citizens not only by race but also by sex, and with “hate crime” laws, religion (specifically targeting Christians).

  5. sangjmoon says:

    He wasn’t anti government. He was just against our government which he viewed as helping the capitalists against the people. His ideal view was to a have a government that takes from capitalists and gives everything to the people. What leaning does that sounds like?

    • Michael Peck says:

      So Mr. Stack was really a left-winger, which is why he reportedly lost his business because he didn’t pay taxes? Lots of luck making that one stick.

      • sangjmoon says:

        He didn’t pay taxes because he felt he was poor so the government should be giving him money instead of the rich. His general theme was that of rich versus the poor. His first short is about him following the same tax laws as the rich with his church and ending up in jail for 10 years because of it. Admit it, you are just rationalizing your obvious attempt to avoid admitting this idiot was a left-winger.

      • fedup says:

        “I’m not saying this was a Tea Party plot. But I am pointing out that Mr. Stack apparently belonged to the anti-tax movement/anti-government fringe, which is the base of the Tea Party movement.”

        “Lots of luck making that one stick”

        You point out something that you merely assume as to be taken seriously? How can you state what this man “apparently belonged to” yet you have never heard about this man let alone know anything about him before today? Is that your version of objective reporting? You are nothing more than one more liberal hack out trashing anything on the right that you possibly can because APPARENTLY you are trying to make a name for yourself. About sums up your position and all based on your logic. I would suggest going back to whatever it is you do for a real living because if this is it you sir will starve.

      • Michael Peck says:

        Well, let’s see. The man loses his business because he didn’t pay taxes. Yup, that’s typical socialist behavior. In his suicide note, he says he belonged to a group that did “tax code readings and discussions.” Yup, no hint of the Tea Party or the militia movement in that one. Oh, but there’s his belief that violence is the only answer against a corrupt government. I suppose that could be the far left as well, but Stack sure sounds like the folks at gun shows preparing for the Apocalypse. Maybe you’re angry with me because you’re embarrassed at how right-wing paranoia is creating a climate of violence.

      • fedup says:

        How about digging a little deeper before you pop off what is far from the truth. Perhaps you were influenced by the very liberal media that you represent so well? Read on…

        Earlier today, a Facebook page was established for Joseph Andrew Stack. It was built with every symbol of the tea party movement you could find. It appears the site was not built by Stack, but by an instigator hoping to destroy the tea party movement named Emily Walters according to Right Pundits and Lady Libertas. Whoever Emily is, she has one mission. Mislead people into believing that Stack was a tea party, which I am sure you are hearing on Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann’s shows tonight.

        Shed’s a different light on things now doesn’t it? You better pray that Emily here is not a leftist is all I will say…but it sure is APPARENT that it isn’t a right winger now isn’t it?

        Next time do some real homework or at least wait until more info is available before you start your liberal mouth piece and get on the bandwagon with your talking points based on what the rest of the lame stream media is printing and saying.

      • alsyd says:

        In case anyone’s still interested in this thread, here’s an article in todays New York Times which seems to corroborate my statement concerning persecution by government of small businesses (in particular high-tech): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/opinion/21shulman.html

  6. leonkelly says:

    This entire discussion in a buncha fucking foolishness. Latch on your brain before you start tapping the keys.

  7. Facebook User says:

    Michael, i think the theme of “tax talk” can go both ways between parties. I don’t know too many who joyfully wake up in the morning and say “Man, I sure am glad to pay the federal government 35% of my income today…”
    People are struggling left and right to make ends meet. Frustration and failure do not know party lines.
    Personally, I support the Fair-Tax, with smaller government and a more efficiently managed and operated beaurocracy… does that make me a Tea-Party activist??
    what Stack did was wrong, immoral and un-condoneable (spelling on that?) but I am very interested to know how you would have viewed our founding fathers fighting for our Independence, had you been in their time, with our modern day views of social rights. Our country was founded because men took up arms, in violent and sometimes vicious acts to effect change. Stack did it to get back at a system he felt had wronged him. and maybe it did wrong him, but it was still wrong of him to fly a plane in to a building. Unfortunately, what will come of this incident is not a look in to how our tax system may or may not be hurting the people. Instead, it will be a look in to increased security at private airports and licensing requirements in the FAA… in other words.. more beaurocracy…

    • Michael Peck says:

      Those are good questions. For taxes, it’s true that no one likes to pay them. But Stark’s letter used phrases like “taxation without representation,” which is a theme of the Right more than the Left. If Stark had written that he was flying into the IRS building because the government hadn’t instituted national health insurance, I would have had a different interpretation.

      As for the Founding Fathers, unlike some of our Supreme Court justices, I don’t pretend to know what they would do in in our current situation. And if I could travel back to their time? I would support American independence, because we did not really have representation in a monarchy and Parliament an ocean away. But we do have representation today. We just choose not to use, partly because extremists like the Tea Party movement divide us (come and talk to me when their rallies aren’t overwhelmingly white and Christian).

      Taking up arms as Stark did confers no virtue. Taking up arms for a good cause does. Weakening the federal government and expanding the role of states just means exchanging one overlord for another. As for the Flat Tax, I would question whether its most ardent supporters are those who stand to gain the most financially from it.

      • jummy says:

        “If Stark had written that he was flying into the IRS building because the government hadn’t instituted national health insurance, I would have had a different interpretation.”

        from stack’s manifesto, which i’m presuming you’ve read:

        “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.”

        you’ve read the whole thing. you know what’s in it.

        you’re the worst kind of liar.

      • Michael Peck says:

        Stack’s letter doesn’t mention national health insurance. He cites the drug and insurance companies, which fits the populist, anti-big business tone of his letter.

        Maybe you should practice reading comprehension, instead of going to rallies wearing 18th Century costumes?

  8. fedup says:

    Yesterday after the crash a Facebook page was established for Joseph Andrew Stack. It was built with every symbol of the tea party movement you could find. It appears the site was not built by Stack, but by an instigator hoping to destroy the Tea Party movement named Emily Walters according to Right Pundits and Lady Libertas.

    Whoever Emily Walters is, she has one obvious mission. Mislead people into believing that Stack was a TEA Party member, which I am sure you heard on Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann’s shows last night.

    Leave it to the lying despicable infantile left to pull such a dastardly act and after the fact.

    America can NOT afford these left wing loons anywhere but especially near our government which has been taken over by Marxist and Communist socialists.

    http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=5608

    or

    http://ladylibertas93.com/2010/02/18/liberal-s
    pin-on-a-disaster-left-claiming-joseph-stack-is-tea-party-member/

  9. marianna01 says:

    MR. PECK: How like you as a liberal to slant the news…..I am referring to your slant about the suicide pilot…How in the H-LL do you know what his political views are? Did you get an on-site interview with the man after the crash? In case you don’t get it , I am being sarcastic!…Your article title said it all and it really spoke volumes of where your views are….Now you have the left-wing-nuts on YAHOO BUZZ buzzing like little carpenter ants-in case you aren’t familiar with them – they like to eat wood, much like a termite…You know the kind I speak of–They reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave….This guy was a nut and it doesn’t matter whether he was left or right, he just hated the IRS much like most Americans who are sick of going to work and bringing home less and less because of big government and stupid programs implemented by your President and those idiots in Congress , who by the way work for us and not for themselves…..But they seem to have forgotten that part!!!! If you want to write something truthful then write about those greedy cockroaches in congress–now that would be the TRUTH!!!!!

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