Pound of Flesh: The Joe Stack Manifesto

What follows is a direct copy of a post from Joe Stack, the guy who apparently today crashed his single engine plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas. This is apparently already getting widely spread around the internet. Though I have not yet located the origin point, I felt compelled to post this as much of what the guy says rings true of the way the IRS conducts itself today. Joe, I sure hope your sacrifice was not in vain, but I'm sorry to say I'm not holding my breath waiting for something to come from it.

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. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

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. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

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 justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report ( http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport ) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here ( http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml ).


(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


• “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

• “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

• “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. 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. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. 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… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I 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.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

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. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

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. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

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.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)


"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Feb 18, 2010 3:54 pm by Samson in: | 30 comment(s) [Closed]
Quick followup:

Found the alleged source. http://embeddedart.com/ However it seems the FBI is out in force now to have copies of the letter censored off the internet, which as you can imagine is having exactly the opposite effect with it showing up all over the place. In the event that it gets taken down here (by force mind you, the FBI can go to hell) it's been archived here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html

Conner: If you're reading this anytime soon, the text of the guy's manifesto is good material for that mailing list you're on, and it will stand a much higher chance of survival there because it will become impossible to squash completely.

A user made a hasty copy of the HTML contents of Joe Stack's original website which also contains information that the guy torched his own house prior to taking off for Austin, and witness accounts of how low the plane was flying prior to the crash. Media spin is already trying to move away from the fact that this was a deliberate act. It's going to be awfully hard for the government to suppress this entirely. And on the off chance the link in this comment goes bad, here's the additional info which apparently came out of an API report:

A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack — whose home was set on fire just before the crash — and said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence "is the only answer."

Federal law enforcement officials have said they were investigating whether the pilot, who is presumed to have died in the crash, slammed into the Austin building on purpose in an effort to blow up IRS offices. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

"Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer," the long note on Stack's Web site reads, citing past problems with the tax-collecting agency.

"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," the note, dated Thursday, reads.

At least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted for and two people were hospitalized, said Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton. She did not have any information about the pilot. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford the agency was trying to account for all of its workers.

After the plane crashed into the building, flames shot out, windows exploded and workers scrambled to safety. Thick smoke billowed out of the second and third stories hours later as fire crews battled the blaze.

"It felt like a bomb blew off," said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when the plane crashed. "The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran."

Andrew Jacobson was on the second floor when he heard a "big whoomp" and then a second explosion. He also thought a bomb exploded.

"When I went to look out the window I saw wreckage, wheels and everything. That's when I realized it was a plane," said Jacobson, whose bloody hands were bandaged.

Jacobson, also an IRS revenue officer, said about six people couldn't use the stairwell because of smoke and debris. He found metal bar to bust a window so the group could crawl out on a concrete ledge where they were rescued by the firefighters.

Earlier Thursday about five miles from the crash site, Stack's $232,000 home was engulfed in flames. Two law enforcement officials said Stack had apparently set fire to his home before the crash.

The roof of Stack's red brick home on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood was mostly caved in, and the home's windows were blown out. The garage doors were open and a big pile of debris was inside.

Elbert Hutchins, who lives one house away, said a woman and her teenage daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived.

"They both were very, very distraught," said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn't know the family well. "'That's our house!' they cried 'That's our house!'"

Red Cross spokeswoman Marty McKellips said the agency was treating two people who live in the house. She said they would not be commenting.

"They're remarkably calm but they're clearly distraught. ... They're in need of some mental health assistance and we're providing that," McKellips said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the pilot took off from nearby Georgetown but didn't file a flight plan. FAA records show that a Piper PA-28 Cherokee with the same tail number as the plane that flew into the building is registered to Joseph A. Stack.

Those who saw the plane before it slammed into the building were stunned to see it flying so low.

"It was insane," said Matt Farney, 39, who was in the parking lot of a nearby Home Depot. "It didn't look like he was out of control or anything."

Reginaldo Tiul-Tiul, a dishwasher at the nearby Sushi Sake Japanese Cuisine, said he had just gotten off a bus and was waiting to go into work when he saw the plane crash.

"I looked at my co-worker and said, 'Why is that plane so low?'" Tiul-Tiul, 30, said in Spanish. "It went straight for the building."

Sitting at her desk in another building about a half-mile from the crash, Michelle Santibanez said she felt vibrations. She and her co-workers ran to the windows, where they saw a scene that reminded them of the 9/11 attacks, she said.

"It was the same kind of scenario with window panels falling out and desks falling out and paperwork flying," said Santibanez, an accountant.

The National Transportation Safety Board said an investigator from the board's Dallas office has been dispatched to the scene of the crash. The White House also said President Barack Obama was briefed about the crash.

As a precaution, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 aircraft from Houston's Ellington Field, and is conducting an air patrol over the crash area.

According to California Secretary of State records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's Franchise Tax Board.

In 1985, he incorporated Prowess Engineering Inc. in Corona. It was suspended two years later. He started Software Systems Service Corp. in Lincoln in 1995 and that entity was suspended in 2001. Stack listed himself as chief executive officer of both companies.


Associated Press writers April Castro, Kelley Shannon and Jay Root in Austin; Devlin Barrett, Joan Lowy and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington; the AP News Research Center, Linda Stewart Ball, Danny Robbins, Jeff Carlton and John McFarland in Dallas; and Barbara Rodriguez and Melanie Coffee in Chicago contributed to this report.

One pauses to shake one's head. One also finds the celebration of the thing to be in rather poor taste, and a couple of points on that:

- I can't quite make up my mind if the guy was simply out of his mind, which is tragic and lamentable, or if he was a would-be McVeigh using the 9/11 playbook, which is evil. Either way, he took it upon himself to crash a plane into a building full of essentially innocent people, apparently severely wounding two. Another is at best guess missing, for the heinous crime of showing up for work in the morning. Plus, by torching his home, he's presumably left his wife and daughter destitute and/or in severe hardship. I find very little there to admire, whatever his causes.

- That aside, the manifesto such as it is is written by a guy who tried to game the tax system at least once, and was dumb enough to not file his taxes four times or so. Whatever he may claim, it doesn't take a lot of thought to know the probable consequences of that - they're written in plain English all over. You'll pardon me if I don't take the rant quite as seriously as you do, or agree with it in many of the particulars. I'm not really a huge fan of nihlists and revolutionaries.

I wonder whom he injured when he crashed his plane? The head corporate guys he condemns in his letter? Or the middle-class workers he identifies with?

I can feel sympathy for this guy in some ways, i too have been screwed over by the tax office and it can become so frustrating that you wanna cause them as much harm as they have caused you. In my case it was over $2500 that i owed because i made a mistake on a tax return, which because of my error the tax office said i owed $8000.

Well long story short, there was no one in the whole department who could fix my error, i was told to send in a statutory declaration explaining the error and how it should be corrected, which i did, which they lost. So i sent in a copy of the same stat dec, this time by registered mail, and they lost it again, so i faxed it in and they lost that too. I was then told to bring it into the office, to which i replied that if i come in, i will be doing so to punch the fuck out of the incompetent fucks who cannot do their jobs, so you find the documents or go fuck yourself and take me to court.

They did not fix it and i did not pay the bill. 2 years later i am in court as im being sued for recovery. I produced my documentation that they fucked up and it still did not get fixed and i was not ordered to repay it. I get a call from the tax office about the matter and i threaten to take it to the papers and tv news and current affair, 1 week later it was all fix and i was left with a $2500 bill which i owed.

In all seriousness, i was so maddened and stressed by the whole saga that if i had gone to the main office, i would have been taken out again in a police car to spend some time in jail. I can remember joking with my friends about it, how i could understand how someone could go all rambo in such situations and perfrom a mass killing. You are totally helpless and violence is the only way you can take some control back.

Thankfully i have self control most of the time and am not a psychopath, or this post would have been made from a cell in maximum security. LOL.

Samson: Duly noted and I'll see if I can basically copy this whole thread to this point to an email for that list. I'm not going to agree with either this guy's actions or motivations because i don't think he found the right solution and I do think he was partially to blame based upon his own admissions, but I do think that he's right in that the IRS is nothing more than a tool for the corrupt and useless government. I also think that if the FBI is doing everything they can to squash this story from the internet, that indicates that there is probably good reason to make it more difficult for them to do so.

Dwip: I think you're partially right, but taking too harsh a stance on this. I fully agree that, in all likelihood, he's really only hurt the very folks he's claimed he was trying to essentially defend in this action, but I think the idea behind his action may not have been so far off track.

Regina: That's exactly the issue I have as well, but it is nice to see you've returned, it's been awhile.

The_Fury: Unfortunately, in this case, self-control was a bit lacking. I can't say that I have had any experiences myself quite like yours, and certainly not nearly as bad as this guy's, with our taxation department, but I've definitely had my share of abuse from them too. I've also felt much of the sort of frustration both you and he have expressed with our government and our justice system, but I don't think violence is the answer, especially against some regional field office of an agency that is, ultimately, merely a tool of the people who are really to blame.

On the other hand, one could very easily say that this guy's real claim was that we're all to blame for allowing the government to get away all these things for so long that they're now entirely uncaring about the populace as a whole, in which case, striking out against the middle working class thusly may be exactly the sort of stimulus he had in mind. Unfortunately, the truth is that in a few months, years at most, the majority of the sheep that make up this country will have forgotten all about ths incident entrely or will have accepted the government's cover story for it which will surely be coming to light very soon and, ultimately, nothing will change except that more taxes will need to be collected to pay for the recovery from the damages that this fellow caused.

Ok. I think I may need to clarify something since Dwip seems to be of the opinion that I'm celebrating or something.

I doubt I need to really say it, but I have no great love for the current state of our government. I haven't for awhile now. Probably for good reason, since when I finally ended up needing the benefits my money has been paying for for years, they screwed me out of it based on a heap of lies put forth by my former employer. That combined with my absolute distaste for the FBI after their little visit here last year leaves me with nothing good to say about them.

What Joe Stack did was entirely the wrong way to go about getting justice. He's dead now, and the media has already spun him into a crazy lunatic and they're trying to pin the "right wing crazy" label on him as I write this. Joe, I'm sorry to say, but history will record you as the crazy guy who flew a plane into the IRS building. They're not entirely wrong either. Not a bright move, though you did at least get people talking.

That said, the FBI's efforts to censor this have become the real story throughout the blogosphere. They have been issuing takedown notices and sending out cease & desist notices most of the day. The company that hosted Joe's website already caved in like cowards and took him down, then capitalized on the story by directing people to his own discussion forum to talk about it. Other sites have received similar notices but so far I haven't found one other than T35 that's actually knuckled under. Censorship is evil, and this guy had as much right to publish his manifesto as Karl Marx did to publish the Communist Manifesto. I strongly feel the FBI is pushing this one step closer to a modern day Gestapo operation.

Dwip, I do not support nihlists in the least, and if Joe had actually murdered his family prior to committing suicide I'd have to agree with you. Reports that the family were still inside have *NOT* been confirmed by anyone that I can find. I sure as hell won't be trusting the media to tell me this. All we have confirmed so far is that he torched his house (it's his property, dumb as torching it may be) then took his plane and flew it into a building to kill himself. I wouldn't consider Joe a revolutionary, but I think you can safely say I support the need for a revolution in this country. We're long past due, and for better or worse, Joe articulated that in his manifesto well enough that I understood the message he was trying to send.

Also, it's ironic you wouldn't support revolutionaries when you live in a country that only exists because of them. Joe may not be George Washington, but his message rings just as true.

Fair enough. Celebration was a bit harsh on my end, although with the approving tone and the lack of condemnation of the act, can you see how I might have got there?

Re: the nihlists/revolutionaries thing, I'm putting that on Joe Stack, not anyone else. As I say, I'm not sure which one I want to use for him, but something like that. I don't feel like hashing out my feelings on political versus armed revolution in this country, but it's not an unreasonable thing to think that he's advocating, here.

As far as the manifesto as a whole, you know, to a certain extent I feel for the guy, having had my own share of bureaucratic battles in the past (with state gov, actually. I've always found the feds to be far more reasonable and professional). And, while I don't want to try to paint with too broad a brush without knowing all the facts, from the evidence we have it does sound like he brought a fair bit of his troubles upon himself, which sort of lessens his narrative.

As far as the wife/daughter/house thing, almost all the reports I've seen say they drove up after the house started to burn, and were understandably distraught, based on neighbors and aid workers.

The FBI thing is strange. I'd really like to know what they think they're doing there. I'm sure somebody somewhere thought there was a good and non-malicious reason for it, but, you know. Never mind the free speech stuff, do you seriously think you're going to stop stuff from getting posted to the internet?

Yes, well, as I said, you're going to find I have very little sympathy for the IRS, and I have only slightly more sympathy for those who choose to work for the devil that the IRS has become.

I do indeed think Joe Stack may have been advocating a revolution. A lot of people are. I'm one of them. I'm also not afraid to say it. This country is long past due for one because the government is well and truly out of control. Am I going to be the one to start it? Highly unlikely, but when it comes and they win (because they will) I'll be moving to their new country faster than you can piss.

The manifesto does paint quite the picture. I see the picture of a man who tried to play by the rules - the rules the IRS created - and got screwed over by the game. It's implied he spent 10 years in prison and paid a fine of $40,000 the first time around. That would be enough to make anyone angry. I'd be pretty damn pissed off about it. So once they buttfucked him for trying to play the game properly, he figured why bother, what's the worst they could do. Bad move there, because the worst was they could keep buttfucking him over and over with unconscionable fines, interest, property seizures, and the whole bit. Even once he tried to make it right, he realized nobody was going to listen, nobody cared, and he go to the point where he didn't care anymore either. None of us really has any idea what it's like to end up in Joe's situation, and I hope none of us ever need to find that out.

Yes, so far all reports I can find indicate the wife and daughter showed up after the fire started. But someone over at statesman.com has a statement from a supposed witness who claims they saw a guy running out of the house with a kid in his arms. I've not seen that confirmed elsewhere, but if the press decides to run with it then you'll know they're in full blown spin mode.

The forum for the where the topic of his page got posted has a response in there somewhere from the host's owner that the FBI asked him to take the site down to prevent it from spreading. Apparently the FBI isn't familiar with the Streisand Effect. Though the host took it down, he linked to an archive of it. It's too late to censor it now though. CNN and Fox News both have stories about the manifesto online for viewing. Though I think it's telling that CNN hasn't posted the unedited text, merely an editorial about it. Fox simply put the unedited text up.

The manifesto does paint quite the picture. I see the picture of a man who tried to play by the rules - the rules the IRS created - and got screwed over by the game.

The sad reality, in my experience is anyone who is 100% honest with government departments here in Aus is likely to be given a raw deal, while those who play the game and are somewhat dishonest will get an easy ride through the system.

A few years before the tax incident i posted above, i had another run in with them, i had not lodged a tax return for 6 years, so i put them all in at one go to get over the pain, i knew i would have a bill, not a large one, and that i would pay it as soon as i could. My best mate at the same time lodged 7 years tax, his bill was about 55K and mine 4K, his was principle tax and mine was tax and interest. Being the honest kind of person that i am, i dont want to shirt my tax responsibility, so i approached them about the bill saying i would be happy to pay the principle, but the interest is a bit harsh and would put me in financial difficulty. After going through the propper channels, i got told no, tough luck. My friend, did the same thing, lied a bunch to make his story better and the absolved him of the total debt, even tho he was earning over 200K to my 60K per year. Go figure huh, be honest and want to pay your tax and get screwed, lie and you can get out of it scott free.

I dont know any of the facts about what this guy went though, but if he was playing by the rules, you can be sure he got screwed, honesty is not always the best policy, since my run in's with the tax office, i have used a sleazy accountant and let him do the financial trickery to my tax returns, the good thing here is, he is responsible then for what happens, and the worst part for me might be a bill.

Peace out.

I can't/won't begin to argue about the evilness of the IRS itself, nor the need for a revolution, and, like Samson, I have no plans whatsoever of being the one who starts the revolution, but you can be sure I've already decided which side I'd be on when it comes.

I also agree that, regardless of how mistreated Joe felt he was this was not the right solution but as misguided as his actions appear to have been, he really wasn't as far off the mark as the media will make him sound.

I dislike censorship as much as the next person in this country, but I have come to expect it from our friends at Hoover's House.

I also agree with Dwip about the manifesto itself, it's hard not to feel at least a little sorry for Joe, but he clearly brought a lot of this on himself. Even the bit about trying to play by the IRS rules, he self-stated that he knew upfront that those particular rules were not going to apply to him because they were for big corporations and he was acting as an individual.

I must admit, I took Samson's report as sufficient (coupled with another report from a local friend of mine) without bothering to research even further and just accepted the account that the wife and daughter arrived after Joe's departure. It's already painting a bad enough picture to say that he's killed himself and destroyed his home because of all the financial issues, but then to add to it that he's left his wife and daughter homeless and destitute because of it as well.. well, we don't really need to make it even worse by assuming someone was actually left in the house when he set it on fire too, do we?

There's something unusual/telling about CNN taking the coward's approach to reporting while Fox takes the lazy approach?
I hadn't heard the term "Streisand Effect" before, but after checking your provided link, I see it's something I was already familiar with, just not it's name. No, apparently the FBI isn't familiar with it as an effect at all though.. their loss, eh? (I assume that by now you've already gotten the email I sent at your request regarding all this too, yes?)

Sorry, Fury, didn't mean to ignore your post, it appears to have hit about the same time as mine. My father was an accountant by night and auditor by day my whole life, now my wife is my accountant. I entirely understand what you're saying and just want to assure you that here our accountants are also responsible for what they put on the return forms for you. The catch, as this Joe character discovered, is that they can easily and credibly claim to have been unaware of anything they didn't include on the return forms putting the burden entirely back on you. Personally, I'm pretty honest and straight-forward about my taxes, but that certainly doesn't mean that if there are two ways I can go about reporting something I won't jump on whichever of the two benefits me more. Overall, once a year I tend to launch into a very predictable, and nearly scheduled, tirade about the unlawful amendment to our constitution that established the supposedly legality of the IRS itself. Fortunately for y'all, you guys missed it by about a month now. ;)

On the subject of Joe's CPA, Bill Ross ( it's in the manifesto ), that guy is just as much to blame for where things ended up today as anyone, and the IRS takes equal share for not (apparently) going after the accountant for knowingly filing a false return. I've never had to use a CPA, but don't they have to sign on the dotted line with the whole perjury declaration and everything? If Ross waited until the audit to go "oh, yeah, I knew about that" then why isn't he in jail for aiding a tax evader? If you really read this guy's manifesto and look past his less than ivy league education, you see the picture of a man who got hosed hardcore by not just the IRS. I honestly think the guy figured he had nothing more to lose and decided to exit the stage in a dramatic way to get people to notice. Guess what? We noticed. It's being talked about all over the internet.

Now, this whole thing about his wife and kid. It raises one inconsistency in Joe's own account of things. He says he was divorced. I don't see mention of him picking up a second wife. So it raises a question. If they were divorced, why did she still live in the house records say was his? Isn't that highly abnormal?

Conspiracy theorists might be licking their chops about now at the thought that someone missed a detail and identified the woman and child incorrectly. They might even go so far as to say on purpose. So who was the wife? Even with the manifesto we're missing something. Perhaps there's information in Joe's true original that the FBI managed to get suppressed in time?

Yes, CNN and Yahoo are both taking the cowards road. Or more likely the typical left-wing media road where they report with selective bits of the manifesto in order to further their assertions that Joe was just a deranged lunatic and nothing more. The link I provided for Fox News was just the raw manifesto, with no opinions attached. It's one component of their reportage. It isn't the entire story for them. The spin doctors are hard at work already and by next week, the world will only know about "Crazy Joe who flew his plane into a building".

@Conner: Yes, I saw the email already. Thanks for that. Virtually guaranteed to live out its days now. Who knows. One day we may read about this on Snopes and we can say "I was there when it broke."

Interesting tidbit, needs the proper context though:

This website has been taken offline due to the sensitive nature of the events that transpired in Texas. Although the customer exceeded their bandwidth limits earlier today, due to numerous requests, we have added credit to this account to keep this site live for informational purposes. To see an archived version of the original letter, please go here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html Please visit our forum if you wish to discuss anything related to this incident: Texas crash pilot left suicide note on Web site - embeddedart.com (please don't send us emails as we can't respond to all of them).

T35 Hosting - www.T35.com

Here's the interesting tidbit:

[samson@boralis: ~] host embeddedart.com
embeddedart.com has address
embeddedart.com mail is handled by 0 embeddedart.com.
[samson@boralis: ~] host www.helpingwebmasters.com
www.helpingwebmasters.com is an alias for helpingwebmasters.com.
helpingwebmasters.com has address
helpingwebmasters.com mail is handled by 0 helpingwebmasters.com.
[samson@boralis: ~]

Notice anything? The big spin in the discussion thread that's linked from this explanation was that the requests to the server were too high to sustain and that's why they took the site down. Nevermind the FBI part, you weren't supposed to notice that. Of course, while that bit of sleight of hand was going on, nobody seems to have noticed the two domains are on the same IP - which means they're on the same physical machine.

I can tell you right now from personal experience with this that if the machine is receiving an ungodly amount of traffic, EVERYONE on that machine will suffer for it. Yet this guy's help forum seemed to be running nice and zippy about 2 hours after this whole thing happened. It's still running just fine now, and I doubt the traffic load has changed much.

While the text no longer mentions that the FBI "asked" T35 to take it down, that was the first reason listed. This issue over bandwidth doesn't wash and I'm fairly convinced that the T35 administrator used it as an opportunity to gain awareness about his hosting company.

Edited by Samson on Mar 22, 2010 7:37 pm
Yknow, I've never had trouble with the IRS, or known anyone who has. Except now. Odd, that. OTOH, educational bureaucracies are fearsome things, and I could tell a couple five tales about that.

A few things.

- Re: Liberal Coward Media, Talking Points Memo copy, and the CNN copy, linked in the main story.

- Also via CNN, apparently the missing person was found dead. Which sucks.

- One or atother of the news reports suggested that he was remarried, and any case I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's not really important one way or the other except that he's now (quite literally) left them out in the cold.

- On a slightly more important note, what I got from the news was that he lost a business license either 3 or 4 times for not filing a return, and the manifesto will tell you that he attempted to game the system supposedly out of protest twice. Now, believe what you will about the system, but as I said, these are actions with consequences, consequences that are pretty obvious, which makes me a little less charitable towards his "nobody understands tax law" complaint. That said, I didn't see anywhere that he served time for this.

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

I can't say one way or the other if that meant prison or just that he flushed away 10 years being an idiot. It sure sounds like the length of time a mid-range tax evader might spend in prison though. I'm more than willing to think he got genuinely screwed on the $40K and that his subsequent attempts to "game the system" came from trying to right the injustice that was done to him already. If his manifesto is accurate, he stayed within the law as it was written but got punished twice more anyway. The last time, during the audit, his CPA turned on him. A CPA I think should be in prison right now if Joe's accounting of what happened is true.

The links: CNN cowardly linked to an offsite PDF. Their actual article was a spun summary. Talking Points Memo posted it under their own domain name and theirs nothing else really listed on the page. Not even user comments. The Fox News copy is posted with only a note at the top end that the FBI was investigating the manifesto. So yes, I stand by my comments about the retards at CNN.

Fox News currently has a caption under the picture on the front page that a second body was found. So much for the statement, the media will now proceed to paint him as nothing more than a deranged murderer and enable everyone to dismiss his ENTIRELY VALID points based on one heinous act. they're also starting the secondary story arc about some glass blower guy who saved 5 people from the site. This is what they do. Divert the public over to the non-story part of the real story. By next week I doubt anyone not on one of these blogs somewhere will have any clue what actually happened.

Joe got buttfucked by the system. He tried to dodge it twice more. Fine, got him there, ha ha, pay up or else. However, hiring a CPA indicates to me that he realized "hey, I'm a dumbfuck with money". The CPA is supposed to deal with shit like this and keep you from going to jail for evading taxes. The CPA apparently turned on him, but do you see anyone in the media hunting down that angle? I think that's ultimately what drive him over the edge. He tried to do right, and he got buttfucked by the guy he paid to protect him, and it appears as though the IRS did nothing to the CPA for lying about what he knew. I don't think that's something you can just toss aside because you think Joe's previous handling of tax issues was in error.

BTW, have you noticed how he's already got his 3 names usually attached to psychopathic serial killers? Andrew Joseph Stack? You're witnessing the evolution of how history will ultimately record him. "Andrew Joseph Stack, the terrorist who tried to blow up the IRS."

I would certainly have to agree that Mr. Ross should be paying some steep fines and/or looking at jail time because, yes, a CPA has to sign the dotted line about perjury and such when they handle your taxes for you. On the other hand, now that Joe's taken his life, we will likely never really know the full truth about that situation because even Joe said that particular instance was about his new wife's $12,700 in unreported income (note the new wife was why he turned to a CPA this time which seems to collaborate Dwip's conclusion of remarriage).

Yup, I'm sure that by next week CNN (and probably most other media outlets) will have convinced the majority of the public that he was just another nutcrack who essentially committed an act of terrorism. On the other hand, it took their spin artists almost two weeks to accomplish that with the Dr. who shot up the military base here in Texas last time...

I'm glad that email was what you had in mind, I wasn't entirely sure the best way to approach it. Yes, it would be kinda neat to see it come up on snopes and know that we had a hand in getting it there, though I wouldn't think it'll take all that long to happen given that the incident's been in the news rather lightly compared to the web coverage of the story. (I heard about from a friend who'd posted something on Facebook that my wife saw before I saw anything about it here.)

Interesting catch, Samson (regarding the IP match), but isn't it possible that, through multi-homing they could actually have the domains coming into the same firewall box IP and being routed to separate machines from there based upon the incoming domain request? (You might be right about them taking advantage of the fact that the account holder's dead and thus not likely to complain if they capitalize a bit off the FBI's "request".)

Well, Dwip, I can't say the IRS has ever audited me or given me a full dose of the trouble they've been known to give others (knock on wood!), but I have had my share of hassles with them and I know of very few people who've never had difficulties understanding their documentation and I know for a fact that if you call them directly with questions about one of their tax laws (shy of the really basic ones) multiple times you will get multiple answers to the same question. Even the IRS agents themselves will tell you to be sure to document who there you spoke with and what advice they gave you because they're supposed to be bound by that response for your return that it involved should they later audit you about it, but only if you can show through documentation that you were doing what they told you to do. I also know from my father's experiences as an auditor (he was an internal government auditor for GAO rather than an auditor for the IRS, but he also did taxes for others from home at nights) that even an audit can be very subjective based on what the person conducting the audit is most familiar with regarding the various conflicting tax rules - and if you look closely, you'll find many of the tax rules/regs do in fact conflict with one another in some very strange ways which is why folks with complex tax returns do find they need a CPA to begin with.

I will agree with Dwip that, even though he says he followed the tax laws to the letter, he also said that he was trying to game the system by using the sections of the tax code meant for religious institutions so it's not really unexpected that the IRS would've slapped him hard for it. Then, he tried a go at running a few businesses that he knew were going to have tax code issues to begin with in hopes of again trying to get the laws re-evaluated and got smacked down a few more times. Granted, finding a corrupt CPA who knew how to get away with letting his client hang in the wind without him didn't help, but most of this he tells us he brought upon himself. On the other hand, the "nobody understands tax law" complaint really isn't entirely baseless given that even within the IRS most of their agents fall squarely into the group of the populace who don't really understand it.

Nope, the wording is too vague there to really know if he means he served time for it or if he just wasted 10 years of his life on the pursuit, but the tone does indicate that he served time. That's actually something that might be able to be looked up, though here in Texas they only list folks currently incarcerated on public databases and we don't know for certain which state to even check based upon Joe's manifesto.

Yeah, I don't think you can honestly and validly argue that CNN's coverage wasn't the cowardly method, they're waiting to see what the FBI does with it before they go all out on their own, that's cowardly.

Yup, the spin'll be to discount Joe as the psychopath who flew into a building and to focus the brunt of the "story" upon the small heroes who rescued folks from the aftermath of Joe's heinous attack. It's what the media almost always does with this sort of thing, hell, to a certain extent they even did it with 9/11, though the President sort of stole a lot of their bluster on that one. *rolling his eyes*

The real problem is that so many of us get "buttfucked by the system" daily that we've become inured to it, much like hearing daily death toll numbers from the middle east (or even around our own country) makes us tend to tune it all out as more daily droll from the news rather than the outrageous reaction we should be having to people being killed.

Nope, hadn't noticed that, again was only following the story here for the most part, but it's classic media style and has been since before the days of President Lincoln's assassination too. So, should we be calling him Andrew Joseph Stack, or AJS, or Stack, or Joe, or...?

Conner - thanks for the welcome back.

Meanwhile, I'm chuckling to myself at all the IRS hate, not because I have any reason to defend the IRS, but just because my birthday's April 15th. Clearly, I should always make sure to have lots of alcohol at all future birthday parties, so that everyone in attendance can drown their sorrows at being screwed over by the system.

I thought "cost me 10 years of my life" just meant they were wasted in terms of trying for professional gain.

Also, the New York Times reported this morning that a) the wife and daughter drove up in the morning and were not in the house and b) they were returning because Stack had been getting so angry for the past few weeks his wife got scared and went with her daughter to a hotel overnight (source here).

Well, you know, while Samson, Dwip, Hanaisse, Fury, and Anonymous are plenty enough to keep the place busy, it's always refreshing to have an extra viewpoint to discuss too, besides, you'd been gone for awhile. I hope that everything has been okay for you and you were just busy with other pursuits.

Oh, I've nothing against the middle of April and rarely even notice that it's the tax deadline anymore, generally I've either finished my taxes electronically and already gotten my refund (if I'm getting one that year) by then or I've filed for my automatic extension long ago and the deadline's really not for three more months anyway. ;)

It's vague enough, given that either could be perfectly likely with our tax system, we may never know which it was. Either way, he's told us that ten years of his life were 'lost' because of it.

So there you have it, we don't have to think of him as having executed murders of anyone he didn't claim he was going to strike against, though I still posit that even if the employees of the IRS are part of the problem, the folks he actually struck out against weren't the ones who should have been his targets if he was determined in this course. In fact, the ones he should've targeted according to his statements are all in Washington, DC (at least officially even if not necessarily physically) or in large corporate headquarters scattered around the country. Frankly, given the tone of his manifesto and the eventual outcome of his decisions, his wife taking his daughter to seek safer havens for awhile was probably a good idea, though (while it's too late to test the theory now) perhaps if they'd stayed and tried to get him help instead this particular outcome could've been avoided.

Conner - Indeed, I was fine, just buried under mountains of schoolwork and other commitments. Also I have nothing to say on the Oblivion threads, so I stayed away when it was a lot of coding stuff.

Apropos of your last comment, while getting people help is always a good idea, if this woman was scared enough for the physical safety of her and her daughter (and with good reason, it now appears) to leave the house and stay elsewhere, by that point there was no help she could have gotten for him by being there that she couldn't also have gotten for him from outside.

As is often the case with folks who snap and do things like this, perhaps when they left for the motel for the night that was the final straw and he saw it as just another thing the IRS had managed to take from him?

Bah, the oblivion threads aren't coding stuff, at least not most of the time lately. Hanaisse and I have been keeping Samson and Dwip at layman's level for weeks (months?) now. ;)

I agree that typically by the time she'd left fearing for the safety of her daughter and herself it was probably beyond help given the drastic nature of his final acts, but if she'd tried to get help for him when it looked like things were beginning to get bad (rather than waiting for them to get so bad that she felt she needed to leave) and then stayed to ensure he followed through with the help she'd sought.. well, now we're on entirely hypothetical grounds anyway, but Samson may very well be right that by giving up on him she may have effectively been the straw that broke the camel's back. At the very least, it may very well be the reason he choose to torch his house before leaving it - something along the lines of 'well she's left so why should I leave the place for the government to confiscate once I'm gone' sort of mentality. Of course, this is also one of those questions we'll never be able to answer now.

Maybe it was the last straw for Stack, that they left him.

But a lesson I've learned from experience is that when someone is angry and irrational, and you care for them and you know what their triggers are, even that knowledge does not place upon you the responsibility to keep that person safe by avoiding setting off their triggers. The emotional and spiritual contortions necessary to do that can destroy your own soul without saving theirs. So I'm a little wary of the line of argument that places any real responsibility on them.

Anyway, I'm done now. Just wanted to say that.

No, no, no, I'm not blaming them, or even faulting them, for leaving the situation, especially when it got hot enough to be threatening to them if they remained. I'm just suggesting that things might have turned out differently if they'd have taken a different course of action when they first noted that things were going downhill. I don't feel that it was their responsibility to effect a change in his affect but rather that it may have been an option for them that might have had a significant impact on his course of action. For all we know, they may have sought help, or even thought they were protecting him by not doing so; likewise, even the best of help might not have been effective for him by the time he'd gotten bad enough for those around him to notice the warning signs. Oft those signs can be very subtle or masked completely and sometimes an individual in his sort of situation may have spent long enough convincing himself that his situation was hopeless with only the one solution that nothing could've changed his mind anymore. In this case, at this point, we'll never know what might have altered things enough for him to prevent this. All of this was pure speculation on my part.

Ah, ok, we're pretty well on the same page then. Glad that's sorted out.

Also, wow, you get my Copy Editor Special Award for saying "to effect a change in his affect" and using the less common senses of affect/effect not only correctly, but together. Many internet denizens have tried and failed to achieve this goal!

(I worked as a proofreader over the summer, work as an editor during the school year, and am headed into the editorial field, so this is why I give out Copy Editor Awards.)

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