Revenge of the Herd

Maybe you had the impression Republicans were
"strong on defense" and that conservatives consider terrorists to
be an unappeasable threat to civilization.

Then came Joe Stack - the anti-tax, anti-government
software engineer who plane-bombed an IRS building in Texas two weeks ago,
killing two civilian employees. Frankly, I didn't pay it much mind until
Republican Congressman Steve King said he can empathize with Stack and
conservatives everywhere started lauding him as a "hero."

Is there now any doubt? When conservatives talk about
"terrorists," what they really mean are Arabs, Muslims or any other
brown or dark-skinned person who, like Joe, thinks "violence is the only

When Afghanis and Iraqis take up arms to fight a
military invasion, we call them "terrorists," even if military
targets are attacked. Yet, despite the fact that he targeted civilians - and
because he had no obvious ties to "Islamo-fascism" - Joe the Engineer
has sparked a debate over whether he should be called a terrorist. And while
the debate may not be surprising, it's still an Orwellian wonder to

Interesting to note: according to the weekly tracker at
the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the kamikaze
mission in Texas was only the fifth-biggest
story of that week; behind the economy, the Winter Olympics, Afghanistan and
the 2010 elections.

Remember the airline terror plot foiled just before
Christmas? There was no debate about what to call it, and it was the top story for the entire week,
getting almost 20 percent more news hole than Joe-sama bin Stack, even though
Joe has far more sympathizers in the U.S. than al Qaeda could ever hope
to have. Hmmmm.

But I'll give Tea Party supporter and editor of The Humble Libertarian magazine, Wesley
Messamore, credit for calling it straight.

"Joe Stack was a terrorist. Period," he
chastised his fellow anti-tax activists in a column last week.

Still, it would be a distortion to say Stack was a
typical right wing extremist. In the rant
he left
behind, you'll find criticism of "big business" and a
riff on capitalism in there. "The capitalist creed: From each according
to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

When have you ever heard anyone on the right say
anything bad about capitalism, even if it's an obvious truism? I'm
not saying Joe Stack is the new Che Guevera, I'm just sayin.

A tragic irony in all this, however, has been
left/right out of the discussion. Joe was a software engineer! For a computer
guy to be that pissed at the IRS
is more than tragic irony. It's tragic absurdity, really. And for the
anti-tax activists claiming Stack as their hero, its absurdity to the tenth

I hate to rain on a good Tea Party but without
"big government" there wouldn't be an internet. And no,
I'm not talking about Al Gore.

The internet has its technological roots in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA). Vincent Cerf and Robert Kahn - recognized "fathers of the
internet" in a field of many collaborators - are careful to point out the
non-market "dimensions that enabled the Internet to come into existence
and flourish. This aspect of the story starts with cooperation and
far-sightedness in the U.S. Government, which is often derided for lack of
foresight but is a real hero in this story."

Peter Klein - no friend of government, writing for the
right-wing think-tank The Ludwig Von Mises Institute - puts it even more
bluntly: "the role of the government in the creation of the internet is
often understated. The internet owes its very existence to the state and to
state funding."

"Free-market" rhetoric aside, the economic
system we have is: public subsidy, private profit. Hence, the Energy
Department's office of "technology transfer," which boasts
"that fully half the growth in the American economy in the last 50 years
was due to funding of scientific and technological innovation." With tax
dollars, needless to say.

So, now we know Congressman King can empathize with
terrorists like Joe Stack. But, do you think he can appreciate the irony of a
computer guy biting the hand that Fed his profession, even as millions of anti-
"big government" tax activists benefit from Uncle Sam underwriting
emerging markets with tax dollars?

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