Friday, February 19, 2010

"Something" Happened

I've written many times that because of inaction on financial reform and support of a bailout-related status quo that includes Bernanke and Geithner, Obama courts both electoral disaster and social unrest. A few weeks ago I posted:

If denying a furious public some scalps and going to the wall for a failed Bush appointee amplifies the impact of broader legislative impotence and provides an opening for political extremism at the national level, it may turn out to be one of the most consequential unforced errors in recent American politics.

While it appears Joe Stack crashed his plane into a government office in Texas mostly because of anger over taxes, here is part of his suicide note (full text here):

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? ...

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". ...

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

Note "business-as-usual" -- an apparent reference to the status quo/lack of reform.

Separate issue: I assume (maybe too generously) that the Tea Partiers and the Right's execrable television/radio hosts are furiously and shamelessly distancing themselves from Stack and writing him off as a "lone nut." But it's an inescapable fact that much -- not all -- of Stack's suicide note could serve as a script for their own rants. (Wouldn't it be interesting to find out which channels his cable TV and radio were tuned to?) Shortly before Stack crashed his plane into the building, I posted about the Tea Party's apocalyptic orientation:

The result is an urgent underlying need for "something" to happen, either as a distraction from somnolent reality's betrayal, as a trigger for something larger, or as an end in itself. But if in a year or two the internment camps still haven't opened or civil war gets preempted by a new season of American Idol, what happens then? Does this seem like the sort of movement that would be content to fade out or, in its own way, line up in the jungle for cups of laced punch? Or will it decide that the revolution, along with its own relevance, needs a little help?

From Stack's suicide note (note the reference to somnolence):

Nothing changes unless there is a body count...I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. ...

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.

To the extent Joe Stack's mindset mirrored the ideology of at least part of the Tea Party movement, we might already have the answer to my last question.


Anonymous KAIMU said...


Why do we need a Tea Party rant to be heard? Why would a man crash his plane into a IRS building to be heard? Hummmm ... I can't figure that out!!

2/19/2010 4:20 AM  
Blogger Rational Idealist said...

"Nothing changes unless there is a body count...I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. .."

The body count has been running fast for years now as a byproduct of America's mental bubble. Only, the bodies have mostly been non-American, and in places outside the US.

2/19/2010 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selling crazy...until someone buys it.


2/19/2010 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Oh dear lord.

"There is no polite way to put this: Obama's incompetence is getting people killed," - Liz Cheney, daughter of a vice-president who presided over the deaths of more than 3,000 people in New York City after being warned explicitly that al Qaeda was preparing a major attack on the United States.

The hypocrisy is mind numbing.

2/19/2010 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Inthon said...

I think Joe brought a lot of relevant facts to light. Let's hope this resonates with people and once TSHTF, rationalality will prevail over "parties".

2/19/2010 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Inthon said...


2/19/2010 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Lol... His greatest mistake was crashing his plane into a building of worker bees. Put fire to a couple of gated communities in the DC area and then he might have driven his point home. Our masters could care less about their foot soldiers. Just go visit a VA hospital to see that.

2/19/2010 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Film review from an ivy leaguer that is actually respectable.
Film is probably worth a look.

Essentially, the theme of the film is that the rich ruling elite have gamed the system for decades and have destroyed the middle class of this country. Government malfeasance in passing the Community Reinvestment Act, repealing Glass Steagall, and allowing 5 Investment Banks (Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley) to leverage 40 to 1 led to the crisis. When these firms converted from partnerships, with individual liability, to corporations with no personal liability, Pandora's box had been opened.

2/19/2010 2:13 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

What does George Soros know that u don't?

Putting their money where their mouths aren't

Even Rogers' Quantum Fund co-founder, George Soros, who confused and rattled investors when he called gold "the ultimate asset bubble" in Davos last month, was busily ramping up his gold exposure during the fourth quarter, increasing his hedge fund's stake in the SPDR Gold Trust by 148% to 6.5 million shares.

2/20/2010 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A paranoid, mentally-ill man flies his plane into a building as part of a deranged, suicidal protest, and you seek to link his actions to the nascent Tea Party movement? Give me a break.

These sorts of fanciful "connections" speak more to the noise and irrationality that passes as political debate these days.

Stick with substantive critiques of our politicians and our policies.

2/20/2010 2:56 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Matt Taibi...way more on target than TCR these days. The reload...perfect.

Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they've been scammed. They call it the "True Believer Syndrome." That's sort of where we are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem on Wall Street. It isn't so much that we have inadequate rules or incompetent regulators, although both of these things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn't matter what regulations are in place if the people running the economy are rip-off artists. The system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behavior and civic instinct over and above what is spelled out by the regulations. If those ethics are absent — well, this thing isn't going to work, no matter what we do. Sure, mugging old ladies is against the law, but it's also easy. To prevent it, we depend, for the most part, not on cops but on people making the conscious decision not to do it.

That's why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of the bailout," says Rep. Sherman, "was the implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating and prosecuting the insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in a giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money and guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. And what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit and bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, and looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence," says Rep. Kanjorski, "that they still don't get it."

More to the point, the fact that we haven't done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don't get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload.

2/21/2010 2:18 AM  
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2/22/2010 2:49 PM  
Anonymous rapier said...

Was Stack the victim of some horrendous injustice? He saw himself as enslaved. The victim of some terrible injustice. His freedom and possessions and family stripped away. Or some such things as he built a narrative of his life as a Don Quixote tilting against the slave masters and usurpers, from his comfortable suburban home.

Stack was a drama queen. By any measure a born to the middle class white American's life is easier and more free than most any people in human history. Yet large portions of them are partly consumed with all manner of resentments. In Stack's case he became totally consumed by his resentments. A wasted life.

It would be one thing if he was thrown into a numberless cell for speaking his mind or suffered any number of atrocities by histories powerful forces, institutions and actors as billions of people have. Instead dedicated his life to victimhood by dodging tax bills and spending much time presumably in bureaucratic battles and perhaps some low courts.

It's really very sad. Dedicating ones life to cheap emotion and resentment. Really becoming a slave to them and hate, and calling it a party.

2/24/2010 12:48 PM  
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