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Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2010

STEVE KING'S SUSPECT SYMPATHIES.... Let's be clear at the outset: I don't think Republicans are terrorist sympathizers. I find it offensive when Republicans say they want to see their party emulate the Taliban, and I find it bizarre when Republicans inadvertently help al Qaeda's p.r. strategy, but I don't think for a second that the GOP is somehow pro-terrorism.

That said, Steve King, a right-wing congressman from Iowa, seems to have a pretty twisted worldview when it comes to these issues.

Last week, Joe Stack crashed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas. Stack, apparently a deranged man with a grudge against the government in general, and the Internal Revenue Service in specific, killed at least three people, including himself.

Lee Fang reports that Rep. King seems oddly sympathetic to Stack's motivation for murdering innocent Americans.

ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at CPAC to talk about the attack in Texas. Asked if the right-wing anti-tax rhetoric might have motivated the attack, King implicitly agreed, noting that he had been a leading opponent of the IRS for some time. He noted that although the attack was "sad," "by the same token," it was justified because once the right succeeds at abolishing the IRS, "it's going to be a happy day for America."

He sidestepped the question of the legitimacy of the terrorists' grievances, but sympathized by saying that "I've had a sense of 'why is the IRS in my kitchen.' Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back".

Asked specifically if Stack had legitimate grievances that led him to murder, King said he didn't know.

Another report indicated that King told conservative activists he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber, and encouraged his audience to "implode" other IRS offices.

For any American to talk like this is pretty radical. For a member of Congress to say things like this in public points to a truly disturbing development.

Here's the follow-up for King: if a man with grievances against the United States government flew an airplane into a building, killing innocent Americans, and his name was Ahmed instead of Joe, would you be this sympathetic in trying to understand his crime?

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Gotta disagree, Steve. I think a number of Rs would love for there to be more terrorist attacks (which is, I think, a definition of pro-terror).

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 23, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I am waiting for Steve King to reject his taxpayer subsidized salary and benefits for life and take what he can get from the private sector. When he does that I'll turn off the mute button.

Posted by: Barbara on February 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Let's be clear at the outset: I don't think Republicans are terrorist sympathizers

Why do you feel compelled to say this?

Posted by: fusion on February 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Why do we think this is strange?

There is a far right group, called the Oath Keepers, openly circulating among the Tea Party crowd organizing law enforcement and military types for armed insurrection against the US government the moment that government does something that the Oath Keepers think is "tyrannical," like say preventing Texas from leaving the Union or demanding that federal laws and civil rights protections for vulnerable citizens be enforced in places that would rather not enforce them. Once you've gotten it into your head that your political opponents are enemies and traitors and that you are being ruled by an illegitimate government no matter how fairly the election was won, then almost anything is possible, including civil war.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Most of us don't LIKE paying taxes, but we do it because we are sophisticated enough to realize they are a part of living in a functioning society.

If eliminating the IRS is one's goal, then a substitute must be put in it's place. (Steve 'one note' Forbe's Flat Tax, for example)

To promulgate the physical destruction of the IRS is against several Federal laws, and I suggest that A.G. Holder have a word with Rep. King.

Posted by: DAY on February 23, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR..as Goldwater said, "...extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..", although King may be taking this further than Goldwater intended.

Posted by: Mudge on February 23, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

A man with greivences against the US blew up a building. Tim McVey. Why doesn't someone ask that jackass congressman why he;s so ignorant to history?

This countries discourse is nauseating.

Posted by: stevio on February 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Stack's salary, paid for by us taxpayers, is $174,000.00. God knows what his benefits are worth.

So he can shut the *&#@ up.

Posted by: kc on February 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

While it may be unfair to categorize Republicans en masse as a pro-terror organiztion, in this instance King can be labeled a terrorist-sympathizer. It's "IOKIYAR" AND "It's OK If You're White." White people can't possibly be terrorists, only disgruntled patriots. Unless they join al queda or the like, and then, oh boy...

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 23, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, King will rethink his position when his dream is realized - a Spencerian America, where might is right.

The U.S. is a retrograde nation - I guess it takes monumental stupidity to accept that.

Posted by: SteinL on February 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the follow-up for King: if a man with grievances against the United States government flew an airplane into a building, killing innocent Americans, and his name was Ahmed instead of Joe, would you be this sympathetic in trying to understand his crime?

No, because that would be political suicide.

Posted by: Michael Seery on February 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, when King was out there in Western Iowa digging holes with his pet D-9, he should have used the barter system. Imagine, those meanies from the IRS demanding that he pay any tax on his labors with his bulldozer.

Only ones in Western Iowa any dumber than King are those who keep re-electing him.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 23, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Steve. I am pretty sure only one person died besides Stack.

Vernon Hunter was a Vietnam Veteran who did two tours of duty who had absolutely nothing to do with Stack's tax problems.

For all the bluster of the left about the right politicizing news events, Crooks & liars is the only site that did a write up on the victim.

Posted by: ScottW on February 23, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. Really. After years of Repugs saying the most horrible or irrational statements, why isn't ALL of America laughing as they kick these peckerheads to the curb? Honest to God, I just don't get that they can get away with their words and conduct....

Posted by: BigRenman on February 23, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Those who believe absurdities end by committing atrocities." -- Voltaire

Posted by: fradiavolo on February 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

if a man with grievances against the United States government flew an airplane into a building, killing innocent Americans, and his name was Ahmed

apparently not, as I'm not aware that Steve King sympathizes with the 9/11 attackers. And what's this about getting rid of the IRS? WTF? So is Steve King on record as saying the govt should collect NO taxes? He's in favor of NO govt services whatsoever? Is that correct? I really tire of these Republican politicians acting like fucking anarchists yet wanting to be elected and be career politicians. Fuck them.

Posted by: ckelly on February 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Only one death other than Stack himself.

As it happens, Stack flew his plane into the only floor of that building (of four) that didn't have IRS offices on it, and actually hit some empty office space that was up for lease. Had the plane struck almost any other part of the building, the casualty toll would have been much higher.

Posted by: Snarky Bastard on February 23, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

If republicans hate the government so much why do they spend millions trying to be part of it ? Would it kill a democrat to point out the party that hates the government probably should not trying to run it ?

I wonder if other countries have entire political parties that hate their own government and are hell bound on destroying it ? Talk about anti-Nationalism, they love America, yet hate everything that represents it, well except for the military.the mechanism that keeps it running.

And who exactly does King thinks collects the money to pay his salary ? Peter Pan and his lobbying firm.

Posted by: ScottW on February 23, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

"I've had a sense of 'why is the IRS in my kitchen.' Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back".

Perhaps he is inadvertently telling us something about his tax situation ---like he cheats.

Or perhaps he has no social conscience. NO sense of civic duty, of the greater good. You know, republicans claim they do not need government, but without a strong federal government they would not have enjoyed the lifestyle they had over the past century.

without the highway system, we would just be a nation cobbled together by railroads. without the massive power dams on the columbia, we would nto have been able to defeat that guy in germany in the 1940's. Without an FDA we would have mad cow disease in our food, bacteria infections all oevr the place etc because nobody would be checking the quality of our food.

WE need the federal government. It can do cool things on a mass scale that states and individuals cannot or will not do. Which is alot more than just military.

And most of it is paid through the income tax.

Posted by: Kurt on February 23, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand the squeamishness about calling a Republican pro-terrorist. Of course, they are pro-terrorist. Many Democrats are pro-terrorist. Both parties enthusiastically supported a campaign of terrorism against the people of Nicaragua in the 80s, for example, in the form of the contras. The US support for state-supported terrorism by death squads elsewhere in the region is also well-documented.

What Benen means obviously is that he's reluctant to accuse Republicans of favoring terrorism against his own countrymen, not a very high bar to meet. It would be interesting to find out whether there is even any evidence of this. What did King say, for instance about any of the assassinations of abortion providers over the years for example?

Posted by: Tresy on February 23, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

King, Cantor, Boner, and all of the other high profile politicians get ink because they are outrageous. Screaming "You Lie" gets you instant membership in the club.

The same club that has Missing Blonds and Car Chases as members.

Oh, that Wonks and Geeks were Cool. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I am certain that Republicans don't want to be called terrorist sympathizers, but when they make excuses for terrorism, they have made their bed.

Steve King is justifying the murder of government officials.

Posted by: freelunch on February 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, ScottW, for the pickup on the excellent article at Crooks and Liars about the death of Vernon Hunter. His son, Ken, put it into perspective, very well. Yes, Mr Hunter did serve two tours in Viet Nam, while Steve King played at Northwest Missouri State, without graduating, then, went off, no, not into the military, but, to play with his pet bulldozer. I don't believe everyone should have served in the military, but, King is another example of chicken-hawks squacking for more military intervention against terrorists without ever having served one day themselves.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

"I've had a sense of 'why is the IRS in my kitchen.' Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back". - Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Because the trigger finger is somewhere else? Oh, I see how this is played.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, ...
Why has big brother made swiss cheese of this right? Any comment Rep King? Anything at all? [crickets]

Posted by: Kevin on February 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone notice in Stack's rant that GW Bush and cronies were mentioned but not one mention of Obama? It also seems he had recent tax problems due to a CPA mistake when stating "So now we come to the present." Since King stated "I don’t know if his grievances were legitimate, I’ve read part of the material.", perhaps he should read all "of the material", as republicans insist they be allowed to read legislation before voting. This incident is being used by King for political against taxes, no doubt in my mind.

Posted by: Dave on February 23, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

please help prevent steve king (R-IA) from getting re-elected. please become a fan of "Steve King, US Representative from Iowa's 5th District, is a Nincompoop" at http://facebook.com/stevekingnincompoop

Posted by: glen keenan on February 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Let's be clear at the outset: I don't think Republicans are terrorist sympathizers.

However, if they were I cannot imagine what they would do differently.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on February 23, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Another report indicated that King told conservative activists he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber, and encouraged his audience to "implode" other IRS offices.

King has long been an embarrassment to humanity, but if the report cited above is true, a member of Congress has implicitly endorsed and encouraged attacks on government buildings (and the employees inside them) based on nothing but a warped ideology. That is terrorism. Why is this dumb SOB not being charged with treason? Where is the Secret Service in all this?

Although he's too much of a coward to do so, perhaps Rep. King ought to sit down with the families of the victims of Timothy McVeigh and ask them how they feel about a sitting member of Congress imploring people to "implode" government buildings.

Posted by: electrolite on February 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

No, Steve, for any American to talk like this is not "pretty radical" -- it's inciting and fomenting murder and mayhem. We have freedom of speech in this country, but we are not allowed to yell "Fire!" in a theatre unless there is one. CPAC seems batty enough; Tea Partiers are also listening. To stir up and implicitly or not so implicitly underwrite violence against people and the U.S. government before an an audience of off-balance, unhinged, far far far right racists and gun-carriers is dangerous, bad stuff. It would be called out as such by Republicans were the speaker associated with the "Democrat" (sic) party. We should understand this: there are people encouraging actual rebellion against a legally, fairly, and overwhelming elected democratic government. The sitting Republicans in House and Senate are actually enacting this attack now, by crippling the government and not allowing it to function. If this is not treason, what is? They are destroying the country and at a time of great peril overseas, at home, and even in the climate.

Posted by: SF on February 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

If King was an 18 year old Muslim living in Miami talking to an FBI informant, he would be in jail if he uttered something like 'imploding other government(IRS) offices.

Just like Cheney bragging about his role in waterboarding, which is a war crime. At some point the blame for this has to fall on the Democratic Party, which is in control right now. We are scared of them and they know it and until we start showing some spine, this isn't going to end.

Is there nothing we will not prosecute ? Bush could go on National television and admit to committing numerous crimes and go home w/o so much as an investigation IMO. That is not republicans fault, it is ours.

Posted by: ScottW on February 23, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the follow-up for King: if a man with grievances against the United States government flew an airplane into a building, killing innocent Americans, and his name was Ahmed instead of Joe, would you be this sympathetic in trying to understand his crime?

What about if his name was Bill Ayers?

Posted by: andy on February 23, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

What about if his name was Bill Ayers?

I must have missed the part where Democratic members of Congress explicitly defended the Weathermen's terrorism and encouraged others to go blow up buildings. Oh, right...it was only in your befuddled and dishonest little head.

Posted by: Allen on February 23, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

As I understand it Stack was mad because he tried to incorporate as a nonprofit religion, which the IRS rejected. He then failed to file a return on grounds he didn't have enough income, which the IRS once again rejected. Then he burns down the house his wife and stepdaughter are living in and flies his plane into a public building. In short this guy was a fruit loop, looking for ways to weasel out his taxes and then going ballistic when he was caught. He had a nice house and his own airplane and all he could think of was how unfair it all was.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on February 23, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really understand your criticism Allen - and since you don't really offer any except with personal attack and name-calling, I have to wonder...

Maybe you missed my point? All of the Republicans suddenly tripping all over themselves to rationalize away political violence when committed by a winger were all trying to tar Obama by association with someone who arguably did the same sort of thing 40 years ago. Does pointing out Republican hypocrisy bother you - or did it just go over you head? I'll try and type more slowly and louder next time for you, mmmkay?

Posted by: andy on February 23, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody was defending what Ayers did 40 yrs ago. What we were saying is that Obama was about 6yo at the time, and the Ayers that he associated with on a professional level was no longer the "terrorist" of 40yrs prior. Better strawmen please.

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 23, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

OMG - did anyone say anything about anyone defending Ayers? Why is it when Ayers on the left committed violence against the government it is labelled as "terrorism" to the point where even associating with him decades after the fact is attackable - yet when a right winger commits violence against the government suddenly its understandable and the whether or not he is an actual "terrorist" suddenly becomes a debateable point?

What does that have to do with creating strawmen? Better reading comprension please (and please god - when you grant better reading comprehension, please get rid of the self-serving snark - nothing worse than an idiot who misses the point and then is an asshole about it. thanks!)

Posted by: andy on February 23, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'll try and type more slowly and louder next time for you, mmmkay?

Just more coherently will be fine. I read it the same thing Allen and Kerby did. At 0 for 3, looks like the problem may be you.

Posted by: Dave on February 23, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

That's read it the same way Allen and Kerby did...

Posted by: Dave on February 23, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I posted this under Dave but not the two above this. Don't include me in that 3fer at 3:25PM.

Did anyone notice in Stack's rant that GW Bush and cronies were mentioned but not one mention of Obama? It also seems he had recent tax problems due to a CPA mistake when stating "So now we come to the present." Since King stated "I don’t know if his grievances were legitimate, I’ve read part of the material.", perhaps he should read all "of the material", as republicans insist they be allowed to read legislation before voting. This incident is being used by King for political against taxes, no doubt in my mind.

Posted by: Dave on February 23, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Earlier Dave. There are a lot of us around. Perhaps we all need to pick something besides "Dave" as a moniker.

Posted by: Other Dave on February 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

...once the right succeeds at abolishing the IRS, "it's going to be a happy day for America."

Since a large chunk of the federal budget goes to defense and security, Rep. King is advocating the dissolution of our military. Without a military, how long would the United States last before being consumed by a foreign government? What is this guy, some kind of Manchurian candidate? Better start learning Mandarin...

Posted by: josef on February 23, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I differ with many on labeling Joseph Stack as a terrorist. IMO, a terrorist is one who is affiliated with a larger group or respresents a group, movement or political position with many other "members." The purpose of terrorists acts is to send a message to one's enemies in an attempt to affect their actions. Stack acted on his own, apparently, and did not claim any formal affiliation with others of like mind. Killing other humans for any reason, save self-defense, is not an acceptable recourse to political or social disempowerment. What Stack did is inexcusable and King's barely veiled threat to the government or any others he thinks are persecuting him is grounds for criminal investigation, at the least. That being said, Stack makes some very valid points in his manifesto with regard to the help given to the rich and powerful and denied those who lack political or financial power. Even those who are classified as insane or seriously imbalanced often have legitimate grievances with the powers that be. To disregard all that is said is to deny the possibility that some of what they say is true.

Joseph Stack is not the first to take violent and irresponsible action in response to his perceived grievances, nor will he be the last. What he and others have signaled is that there are consequences to the blatant disregard for the welfare of human beings in need of society's help and compassion. Our prisons are filled with a mix of incorrigibles and those who are capable of rehabilitation. That we treat them all as incorrigibles is done at our peril. Could Joseph Stack have been disuaded from his violent act? We will never know. Was an attempt made to address his dysfunction? I don't know. But, I bet there are others out there who are asking for help and may turn to violence if help is not offered.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on February 23, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

It is all too obvious by now the voters in Steve King's district elected an imbecile! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 23, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, men with complaints and issues about our goverment DID fly planes into buildings..in NYC and the Pentagon. No matter who or what you are, flying planes into buildings is NOT okay and it is a form of terrorism and Mr Stack is NOT the hero his daughter makes him out to be.
I can't understant the GOP's willingness to tell people to commit violent attacks because they are angry. This is ludicrous!

Posted by: mishanti on February 23, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK
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