Question of the Day

Now that a right-wing suicide terrorist has flown a plane into an IRS office, will he make a surprise appearance at the CPAC convention?

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

26 thoughts on “Question of the Day”

  1. Oh my Lord this is a vicious, evil post.

    The man in question spouted off a lot of right-wing venom in his "manifesto." But guess what? he also spouted off a lot of left-wing venom – hatred for capitalism and corporations, hatred for George W Bush, hatred for the Catholic Church specificically and opposition to the tax-exemption of religious bodies in general. Hell, even his anti-IRS feelings seem to have their origin in opposition to the tax reform act of 1986 – a thoroughly bipartisan affair.

    But you know what? None of that really matters because the GUY WAS FUCKING CRAZY. Completely, utterly, mentally ill. If a guy who wears a pink bunny mask every day and thinks that he talks to Lao Tze in the shitter happens to disagree with me on land use policy I don't pat myself on the fucking back for how sane my land use policy views are. I feel bad that he's so insane and thank the Lord that my mind is healthier than his.

    To try to score political points off of this, first by linking him to your political opponents and then by suggesting, ominously, that they maybe kind of like him, is beneath anyone with a brain and a conscience.

  2. nicely put sd. but then again, I've read enough other things on this blog site to figure out a while back that Jonathan clearly doesn't have either a brain or a conscience. If he wants to score political points off whackos like this though, then I'd have to remind him of the left-wing, Obama-loving professor from Alabama who just went on a shooting spree.

  3. Intolerable, inexcusable. The word was out hours before this post was made that the guy was a fruitcake of no discernible political persuasion and not a terrorist by any reasonable definition. (Even if he *had* been a right-winger, it would have been an ugly remark.)

  4. I don't generally agree with Bux, but this guy seemed to have nutball notions of all hues and enough hatred to go around. Though it does remind us of the dangers of violent anti-government rhetoric.

  5. Warren Tera put a toe in the pool of truth. The whaco, knee jerk anti government/ anti taxation/ pro violence rhetoric of the last half year have created a climate where this kind of act can seem justified to someone of loose mental stability and thereby makes this outcome almost an inevitability. Shouting fire in a crowded theatre is not free speech.

  6. Taxed Enough Already or TEA party = Texas tea party, was started in Austin Texas in 1997. Only the "Johnny come lately" Tea baggers are there for their hatred of Obama. The TEA BAGGERS have no party affiliation even though the Republicans have been trying to attach themselves to the TEA BAGGERS to bolster their numbers, the TEA BAGGERS are only using the Republicans as a vehicle to acquire political offices since they already have the resources and signatures in place to get on a ballot, they will use the democrats in the same way when the opportunity presents itself. I fear we have only seen the beginning of the hatred and fury of the flames fox news and certain republicans stoked up.

  7. "… . If he wants to score political points off whackos like this though, then I’d have to remind him of the left-wing, Obama-loving professor from Alabama who just went on a shooting spree."

    Any proof of that, or is it simply because you think that academic equals democrat? I would think that gun-lover equals republican.

  8. Prior commenters are missing the point of the post. It was satirical, so the real politics of the pilot are not important. The point is the second link, which is about a real criminal (one who has publicly confessed to war crimes) who made a surprise appearance at the CPAC convention. If one criminal is welcomed there, then another might be. It kind of loses something in the explaining.

  9. "A real Vice-President, who has committed acts Democrats don’t like."

    The "acts" are war crimes, and let us hope that it is not only Democrats who don't believe that it is acceptable to commit war crimes.

    To attribute opposition to Democrats is to imply that this is about politics. It is not. Democrats and others who disapprove of war crimes do so for moral reasons, not political ones. If a Democrat committed war crimes, most other Democrats would disapprove as much as they did when Bush committed them, just as they disapprove as much of Obama's imprisoning people without due process as they did of Bush's doing so. Rahm Emmanuel does not represent most Democrats.

  10. Brett Bellmore says:

    "A real Vice-President, who has committed acts Democrats don’t like."

    And yet another right-wing 'libertarian' sucks up to nasty-ass government officials,

    so long as they're right-wingers.

  11. sd nailed this up front. I find right-wing rhetoric absolutely disgusting at the moment, and have no love whatsoever of the GOP, but this lunatic was: 1) a lunatic; and 2) not clearly right or left wing. Maybe a bit more righty stuff than lefty stuff, but it's a muddle.

  12. I've had a difficult time parsing this one myself. Obviously he was a bit nuts. So was the Tiller shooter. So was the Ft. Hood shooter. While there does appear to be an obvious political dimension to their acts, they were lone wolves – not connected to a larger orchestrated plot. They were not members of Al Queda, the IRA, Hamas, etc.

    But does terrorism have to be directly connected to a parent organization? Couldn't individuals, acting with an intent that correlates with the larger stated aims of a political movement, be considered terrorists? And even if that movement had no organization yet committed to violence? Timothy Mc Veigh would fit into this category. He was obviously bred from the rhetoric of a an anti-government movement. There are still many militias that, while not quite plotting anything specific, are organized around a belief in the illegitimacy of the federal government and the prospects of armed resistance.

    The real problem seems to me not to be whether this was an act of terrorism – I think it was – but the degree to which it was inspired by inflammatory rhetoric from the right. There are certainly many principled right-wing arguments to be made. This act is in no way an indictment of them. But it is an indictment of the language used both to give a certain contemporary context for those principles, and then suggestions as to how one ought to react to them.

    I'm not aware of any pundit explicitly calling for violence. But are many examples of inflammatory rhetoric on the right that all but call for outright armed revolution. The language that many of the more radical pundits use is rife with evocations of a struggle that would seem to legitimize the use of violent force. The most popular among them, Glenn Beck, consistently refers to "tyranny", "rising up", "taking back the country", and ultimately evoking again and again the narrative of the founders revolting violently against the British, our present situation being assumedly very similar.

    This is a serious allegation, and runs the risk of delegitimizing honest political speech by casting unfair aspersions. But again, this in no way argues that right-wing critiques are necessarily incorrect. But the framing, and language used can certainly cross the line, and when it does it would not be unfair to wonder whether it might end up promoting violent behavior. This happened on the left 40 years ago. And certainly there was language and framing used during the bush years that crossed a line. But the difference is not necessarily in the language used – although I would argue that being used on the right today is often times much worse. It is in the media landscape. The radical, violent rhetoric is not limited to a radical fringe. It is coming from leading conservative figures, sometimes even members of congress.

    In the Tiller case, the shooter likely believed that Tiller was a murderer. The rhetoric on the anti-abortion right is that of mass-murder. If this is true, then armed resistance seems a reasonable response. The American revolution was a reasonable response to what was the very definition of tyranny. Were that to be the case today, then violent revolt could be justified. But of course, to reasonable people, we are experiencing nothing like tyranny.

    The language being used – one would hope – is often for dramatic effect, not to accurately describe reality. When pressed, these pundits will usually back-peddle and explain that they were merely being hyperbolic. Yet unfortunately for many, listening day in and day out and who may not get their news from any other sources, the narrative becomes the reality. This is evidenced by interviews with attendees at Sara Palin book signings and Tea party rallies, many of who hold signs parroting a literal interpretation of the "hyperbolic" language. When one of them finally decides to pick up a gun, bomb, or plane and do something, well, it shouldn't surprise us.

  13. A lot of people seem to be dismissing this guy as a simple looney. But perfectly sane people commit murder all the time. They also commit suicide. Suicide bombing terrorists are also mostly presumably sane as well.

    He managed to work in the IT industry for decades, including running his own consulting business. That's not the mark of an insane man.

    Yes, his politics are a muddle. He's all over the board using our standard (and woefully limited) left-right analysis, but if there's a common strand throughout what he wrote, it's that the federal government has been totally and completely captured and perverted by wealthy special interests and corporations. That's not an insane position to take. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, lots of people agree with him.

    He strikes me as a guy who was simply frustrated beyond words and full of despair. And it sure sounds like he had reason to be. That's why he cannot be dismissed as a simple nutjob. Dismissing him means that the underlying problem, the slide towards oligarchy that is currently rampant in this country, will never be addressed.

  14. "The American revolution was a reasonable response to what was the very definition of tyranny."

    There's tyranny and then there's tyranny. Taxation without representation (which exists in the District of Columbia today) is not the sort of tyranny worth the loss of a single life. Besides, Britain freed the slaves in its colonies decades before the Civil War, so, if we had lost the Revolutionary War, then our slaves might have been freed decades earlier. (Admittedly, if Britain had tried to free them, it might have provoked another revolutionary war.)

  15. In the case of the Fort Hood murderer, (I'm a shooter, along with something approaching half the population.) the lack of a connection to wider terrorism is far from clear. I think it's just being downplayed, to further the narrative that we're not suffering from a terrorism problem.

  16. Yup, look how the conservatives try and distance themselves from the terrorists they are breeding. First McVeigh, now this guy. Tea bagger terrorists. A violent revolution to try and foment the people? You teabaggers are just like Trotsky.

  17. Yes, sd, well put.

    But mainstream (i.e., not insane) Republicans are going to have a hard time addressing this event. Much of what Joe Stack wrote in his manifesto falls right in line with anti-big-gubmit, anti-tax, destroy-the-IRS rhetoric that conservatives have embraced (in name, if not in fact) for decades. Stack is already being praised as a hero by some on the far right fringe, so mainstream Republicans are going to be very hesitant about coming down forcefully on his actions.

    At the same time, they obviously can't endorse what would, were the perpetrator almost anyone other than a white guy with a monosyllabic last name, be considered a terrorist act.

    So what's left? Best option is to ignore it, or if you can't evade the issue altogether, minimize it and denounce his actions while expressing sympathy for his motives. Hey, we all hate taxes, right?

    This is the position newly-elected Senator Scott Brown took yesterday — it is as cowardly as it is predictable.

  18. Sorry, still stuck on the "real Vice President" comment. Is there such a thing as a "fake" Vice President? Say, one who wasn't elected fair and square? One who was maybe instal…Oh, never mind.

  19. The right has fostered a philosophic under current that violent actions solve problems and are heroic when undertaken for "freedom". Whether it is nuclear warfare, soldiers engaged in combat, execution in the name of justice, the Brooks Brothers riot to intimidate election workers or Spiro Agnew inciting hard hat workers to beat up anti war demonstrators. The right have been pedling violent fantasies to niave, frightened hot heads as their signature lynch pin (no pun intended) for decades.

    They push the idea that kicking the bad guys' butt will fix everything. Just because it never has before doesn't desuade them one bit. Also their ideas about how we tell good guys from bad guys are always pretty subjective and nebulous.

    Joe Stack, regardless of his mish mash of political ideas was almost certainly encited and largly set in motion by the hysterical ravings of an out of control camp of right wing talkers, opportunistic and cynical politicians and the scater shot hoopla of the Tea Party events. The first two groups are the Scorcerer's Apprentice waving their magic wands with little understanding of what they may be unleashing and hardly a care.

  20. It is very fitting that the administration was able to let the law pass on charging government elites with war crimes today to celebrate Mr Stacks point of contention. Its like if Himmler was from the USA we would have promoted him. Who will be held accountable for the War Crimes? no one.

  21. "Sorry, still stuck on the “real Vice President” comment. Is there such a thing as a “fake” Vice President?"

    There's such a thing as being a real Vice President, rather than a real criminal.

  22. Could Scott Roeder not get a furlough to speak to CPAC? How about Jim David Adkisson? Does Richard Poplawski have a bail set? Perhaps some CPAC nut job can bond him out. Timothy McVeigh no longer inhabits this mortal plain, and Terry Nichols is indisposed (serving 161 life sentences), but their accomplice, f/k/a Michael Fortier, is out.… Maybe he will be invited to next year's CPAC gathering.

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