Government, Violence, and Bill Clinton

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In today’s New York Times, Bill Clinton once again tries to tie the Oklahoma City bombing to those of us who hold “the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them.”

Of course he sort of proves those of us who do believe such things right by continually using April 19 to tie us to a deranged murderer instead of acknowledging, taking some responsibility for, or expressing any remorse whatsoever for another anniversary we observe today: the Clinton administration’s slaughter of 76 people, including 20 children, at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. Waco gets all of a sentence in Clinton’s op-ed.

Clinton twice invokes America’s founders in the piece: He refers to George Washington’s suppression of the whiskey rebellion, and he explains that the founders “constructed a system of government so that reason could prevail over fear.” I was born on April 19, so I know a bit about today’s history. It’s not just the anniversary of Waco and Oklahoma City, it’s also the anniversary of the battles of Concord and Lexington—the first shots of the American Revolution. That would of course be an occasion of citizens rising up to violently overthrow the government that most Americans—including Clinton—tend to celebrate. And it’s probably worth noting that we threw off the yoke of the crown for violations of human freedom and dignity that were a hell of a lot less severe than what we put up with today.  (Today is also the anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw ghetto uprising—a reminder sometimes violence against those who have deemed themselves in charge is unequivocally justified.)

I don’t think Clinton is calling for censorship of people who, as he puts it, “demoniz[e] the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.” But I do think he’s trying to marginalize those of us who criticize the government—to shunt us to the fringe. And he’s laying groundwork so that the next time some idiot flies a plane into an IRS building, or some madman opens fire on a couple of cops, he can move the ball a bit more toward pinning the bodies on those of us who dare to criticize the now insurmountable federal deficit, the mass looting of the taxpayers that is the public pension system, or the panoply of drug war, criminal justice, and police militarization abuses you read about on this site—to rattle off just a few examples.

I’ve never really felt the need to distance myself from people like Tim McVeigh or Joseph Stack because I’ve never felt any affinity or kinship with them. But just for the record, let me say that taking up arms against the government is moronic and reprehensible for a host of reasons, not least of which is that there isn’t a chance in hell you’re going to win. Beyond that, atrocious as Waco was, murdering a bunch of federal workers, their children, and bystanders, none of whom had anything whatsoever to do with Waco, wasn’t just morally repugnant, it was an act of insanity and delusion (McVeigh actually thought the bombing could have sparked a revolution). And even if one were depraved enough to find some moral justification in Oklahoma City, think of what it did for McVeigh’s cause: Instead of April 19 being the day we remember and lament the Clinton’s administration’s monumental fuck-up, and possibly reflect on massive power of government to simply eliminate people it deems weird or fringe or threatening, Clinton, armed with moral rectitude provided by McVeigh, now gets to take to the pages of the New York Times to celebrate government, and to denounce and marginalize the people who dare to criticize it.

The really mendacious thing about the crap Clinton spews at about this time every year is that unlike the tortured nexus he tries to build between government critics and Timothy McVeigh, his responsibility for the charred bodies at Waco is pretty damned easy to chart. He gets to gloss over all of that now.

The thing is, Mr. Former President, if I may address you directly, is there are far too may public servants who, as you put it, “do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them.” I document them every day on this site. And so despite your admonition, I will continue to criticize them for it. And when, for example, they out and out murder innocent people in the name of a senseless, wasteful, and fundamentally illiberal policy (a policy, incidentally, that you enthusiastically support, despite your admission that you yourself have broken the country’s drug laws), I’ll go ahead and, to borrow your word, demonize them for it.

And you know what? I won’t feel the slightest tinge of guilt about doing so. Nor will I feel the least bit of responsibility for acts of anti-government violence, past or future, even when they’re committed in the name of one or more ideas I might otherwise endorse.

Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people. Until you can say the same thing, Mr. Former President (and we both know you can’t), you can spare me your goddamned lecture.

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131 Responses to “Government, Violence, and Bill Clinton”

  1. #1 |  perlhaqr | 

    Go Radley!

  2. #2 |  Elliot | 

    http://myweeklycrime.blogspot.com/2009/06/tank-vs-citizen.html

  3. #3 |  CHRISC | 

    Well said. Maybe Clinton and the rest of the liberal and state-controlled media don’t get it, but at the same time he is spouting this nonsense a poll shows 8 of 10 Americans do not trust their government. Can’t we just vote everybody out and start over?

  4. #4 |  Rhayader | 

    Hell yeah. And happy birthday.

  5. #5 |  Bunkerville | 

    Yet it was Clinton who chose to use force against 80 men women and children at Waco. He is worried about the rhetoric of the Tea Party? His Genocide spawned McVeigh.

  6. #6 |  zendingo | 

    why do you support the terrorists?

  7. #7 |  random guy | 

    Bravo, sir!

  8. #8 |  Pablo | 

    Very well written. Thank you.

    Speaking of which, here is an interesting article about how technology is finally causing more cases of police misconduct to see the light of day:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/cops-getting-caught-on-469144.html

    Have we maybe turned a corner?

  9. #9 |  J sub D | 

    The Clinton administration, most particularly Janet Reno, bear some responsibility for the disaster that was Waco.

    David Koresh, a known religious nut job responded as might have been predicted when the FBI assaulted his compound. He and his lieutenants burnt the place to the ground, martyring all of his followers and the innocent children.

    The feds blew the whole operation from the beginning and nobody should lose sight of that. Koresh regularly went into town and could have been arrested far from his insane followeres and fortified compound. They didn’t. The feds, keeping in mind the kids held hostage could have tried waiting Koresh out. They didn’t. It was FUBARed from beginning to end.

    None of this alters the fact that Koresh and his lieutenants, like Jim Jones* before him, killed everyone in the compound.

    * Somehow that tragedy in Jonestown didn’t teach the feds a goddam thing about about dealing with religious lunatics.

  10. #10 |  mb | 

    only an idiot would blame the clinton administration for the deaths at waco

  11. #11 |  Steve Horwitz | 

    Man, I love it when RB goes on a rant. Great stuff.

  12. #12 |  Joshua | 

    Well said, and happy birthday!

  13. #13 |  flukebucket | 

    I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.

    Same here my friend. And that is why my beliefs, political philosophy and policy preferences are for the most part ignored.

    Happy Birthday for damn sure!

  14. #14 |  phlinn | 

    J sub D, it’s not actually clear who started the fire. The undisclosed use of pyrotechnic devices by the FBI may have just been CYA to strengthen the case… but I sure as hell don’t trust prosecutors who hide evidence and I’m not inclined to trust the investigators here.

  15. #15 |  jppatter | 

    Hear, hear!

  16. #16 |  Peter Ramins | 

    Clinton is another entitled public servant who has forgotten that our country was founded on the principle that governments need restrictions in restricting the people, NOT the other way around.

  17. #17 |  J sub D | 

    only an idiot would blame the clinton administration for the deaths at waco

    When a cop guns down a schizophrenic naked unarmed homeless guy who won’t do as he’s told, I find it difficult to say the poor loser had it coming.* The authorities are supposed to be the adults in these situations, taking measured responses. While Koresh murdered those people, the Clinton administration, ever mindful of public opinion (the public was clamoring “get it over with already”), initiated the violence.

    * State police said the shooting happened about 12:30 a.m. after troopers responded to assist Detroit police, who had been dispatched to the bar on a disturbance call involving Williams.

    When police arrived at the scene, Williams began to walk toward troopers with his pants at his knees, and would not stop when he was told, according to Local 4 reports.

    Police said Williams was unarmed and intoxicated.

  18. #18 |  J sub D | 

    phlinn,

    I’m not inclined to discount the ability of a religious nutjob with a messiah complex to martyr his followers when the game is up.

    Either way, I think we can all agree that the DoJ screwed the pooch at Waco.

  19. #19 |  Tokin42 | 

    Very well said.

  20. #20 |  Marty | 

    Clinton’s anectdotal bullshit is skewered by a little reason and historical context!

    to quote Frank the Tank in his debate with Carville in Old School ‘That’s the way you do it! That’s the way you debate!’

  21. #21 |  ktc2 | 

    This country REALLY NEEDS something akin to a public vote of no confidence to be available for every branch of government. One national vote of no confidence and they’re out PERIOD.

  22. #22 |  Elliot | 

    Radley Balko: “Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.”

    Using reason to convince others to do something is always more ethical than aggressively using force to compel them.

    The only time that force and violence are morally justified is when they are used defensively against the specific individuals who are initiating the use (or threat) of force. The people who indiscriminately attack buildings and don’t care that they kill innocents lack this moral justification. That goes for terrorists (McVeigh or Ramzi Yousef) as well as for government (Branch Davidians, Serbian TV Station).

    If anything, Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, Madeleine Albright, et al. have more in common with the McVeighs of history than any Tea Party activist angry at government.

    “…taking up arms against the government is moronic and reprehensible for a host of reasons, not least of which is that there isn’t a chance in hell you’re going to win.”

    That may be true here right now, but as you point out by mentioning the Warsaw ghetto uprising, there are times when it isn’t reprehensible, but completely justified. And, when there is enough momentum, a popular rebellion can succeed, as Nicolae Ceauşescu discovered.

    I personally prefer civil disobedience to throwing away lives pointlessly, triggering situations in which innocents are hurt or killed, and risking an even worse group seizing power. That would be the most effective means of fighting the abuse of power right now. And, hopefully it would be sufficient to keep our government from becoming so tyrannical that a non-trivial percent of the population sees no other solution but violence.

  23. #23 |  jb | 

    Clinton has no moral authority to lecture anyone on anything, but I would wish Radley would spend similar energy lambasting the elected officials who defend, for example, Joe Stack’s attack on the IRS building. Neither Waco nor Oklahoma City was defensible, and the defenders of the former are worth condemning, but it’s not like no one’s defending the latter.

  24. #24 |  dave smith | 

    Best-Post-Ever.

  25. #25 |  Government, Violence, and Bill Clinton « Little Alex in Wonderland | 

    [...] 19 Apr 2010 | The Agitator [...]

  26. #26 |  wtflol | 

    God bless you – you rock!!!

  27. #27 |  Radley Balko | 

    Neither Waco nor Oklahoma City was defensible, and the defenders of the former are worth condemning, but it’s not like no one’s defending the latter.

    Can you point to someone even remotely respectable who has defended the Oklahoma City bombing?

    And while I’ve seen some people (right, left, and libertarian) who’ve said they sympathize with some of Stack’s rantings, I don’t know that I’ve seen any elected official defend the actual act of murdering the people in that building.

  28. #28 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Booyah!

    Death to the State!

  29. #29 |  Kristen | 

    *applause*

    Happy birthday!

  30. #30 |  James D | 

    *clap*

    Ok, so now can we get another anti-socialism rant too considering the current comrades in charge? I’ve really enjoyed some of yours in the past.

  31. #31 |  Elliot | 

    J sub D: (#9) “David Koresh…and his lieutenants burnt the place to the ground, martyring all of his followers and the innocent children. …None of this alters the fact that Koresh and his lieutenants… killed everyone in the compound.”

    Not only is there significant doubt about who started the fire, but there were women and children who died from being crushed by the tanks, not by the hand of Koresh or any “lieutenants”. Those people were murdered by the FBI, who knew they were in that underground bunker. And, even if there were no fire, the amount of gas injected by the tanks was so extremely high that it would have been fatal, especially to small children.

    The actions of law enforcement were not only reckless, but they were in no shape or form the actions that any rational person would use to save the women and children from abuse, which was the excuse for the urgency. It was all about revenge and they had no reason to expect that they would save any of those children that day when they fired up the tanks.

    So, quit declaring as “fact” what is obviously not fact.

    Perhaps the Davidians did start a fire, but considering the military approach of using tanks, the highly suspicious handling of evidence, and the blatantly unfair trial of survivors, I’m not inclined to accept the results of the official investigation as objective. Those doing the investigation had too much motive to ignore or bury anything which contradicted the dubious claims of the FBI.

  32. #32 |  J sub D | 

    Apparently I’m the only one here who believes that faced with the end of his pathetic little cult, David Koresh preferred death for himself and his followers to facing murder charges in a court of law.

    I don’t mind. I’m used to being derided for pointing out the obvious. ;-)

  33. #33 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    Reno was very clear (on Nightline, that night) that the tear-gas attack wasn’t aimed at the adults in the compound, who had gas masks, but at their children, who didn’t, as a way of forcing the adults to surrender.

    I make that out to be terrorism, and aggravated assault against the children (both felonies); and deaths resulted as a direct result of these felonies. I believe that a Texas state charge of felony murder was and is warranted against Reno and the FBI SAIC and that no official immunity applies as their actions were wholly inconsistent with their official duties.

  34. #34 |  InMd | 

    I do agree that what happened at Waco was all too familiar a tail of a heavy handed, militaristic response by the government. However it’s also important not to have any illusions about the Branch Davidians and I think characterizing them as nothing more than weird or fringe isn’t accurate. All that being said sending in the tanks was the wrong move when Koresh easily could have been arrested quietly and away from the compound.

    While I disagree with Clinton’s attempt to connect critics of government action with the acts of the violent I do think the rhetoric of the tea party crowd is counterproductive. Painting every policy debate regarding difficult trade offs as some sort of apocalyptic stand off between slavery and liberty is precisely the same emotional nonsense devoid of logic that the government uses to garner support for its most destructive policies and anyone who does it loses all credibility in my book. Clinton’s portrayal of these people as some sort of threat is unfounded as the belief that the tea party crowd is contributing serious ideas to address this country’s tax problems.

  35. #35 |  qwints | 

    Should David Koresh be condemned?
    Probably. There is pretty good evidence that he at the very least committed statutory rape and illegally modified weapons from semi to fully automatic.

    Should the government be condemned?
    Yes. The ATF raid was obviously ill advised given the fact that they had been invited to the compound to openly inspect their Davidian’s weapons. The FBI’s treatment of the Davidians during the standoff and violent raid prevented a peaceable resolution. The FBI’s stated goal was protecting children from abuse. 25 children died during their raid. Thus they failed.

    Regardless of who shot first or who started the fire, the government’s militarism unnecessarily turned a peaceful situation into a violent one. The first contact the ATF had with the Davidians was 76 armed agents storming their compound despite the Davidians’ efforts to initiate peaceful contact. Maybe not the first but certainly the worst result from civilian investigators acting like soldiers rather than public servants.

  36. #36 |  DaveG | 

    From Lew Rockwell yesterday. http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/55986.html

    This former general seems very credible, stating he believes okc was a black op

  37. #37 |  Peyton | 

    Couldn’t have said it any better–perfect.

  38. #38 |  fwb | 

    Just a minor point:

    When one reads Article I, Section 8 one should be struck by the absence of authority for the federal government to punish. It is true. The feds have no constitutional power to punish tax evasion, murder, or about 3,994 of the approximately 4,000 federal crimes. Read. Look. IF the government has blanket punishment authority, why did the Framers stick in something as simply as power to punish counterfeiting coins. IF the Framers recognized that they had to grant punishment powers for counterfieting, why DIDN’T the Framers add in power to punish in other areas. BECAUSE the police power was left to the states. The feds pass the laws, AND if the states agree that the laws are legitimate, the states pass police power laws (punishment). This is the TRUE separation of power in the US. What most people think they know are lies. And the government has committed murder in EVERY instance where the government has used these nonexistant punishment powers over the people. There is no good intentions clause in the Constitution.

    So Clinton needs to take a good look at himself BEFORE pointing the finger at us. But then he is of course a member of the “anointed”.

    Tiocfaidh ar la!

  39. #39 |  scott | 

    And in a couple of days we’ll get to celebrate AG Reno’s orders to send armed thugs into a private home to kidnap a little boy and send him off to live in Castro’s little experiment in insanity.

    Maybe we should declare this entire week National Wake The Hell Up Week…

  40. #40 |  Elliot | 

    J sub D: (#32) “Apparently I’m the only one here who believes that…David Koresh preferred death for himself and his followers to facing murder charges in a court of law.”

    Strawman. The issue is who started the fire and who caused the deaths of the people in the compound who did not die as a result of the fire.

    Suppose you confront a girl perched on a balcony, despondent because her boyfriend dumped her. You verbally berate her with every manner of cruel insult to the point that she’s hysterically crying. Then, you start shaking the railing so she’ll be forced to either go back inside or fall to her death. Are you less culpable just because she showed signs that she wanted to kill herself? And, is that any way to try to save her?

    Maybe some of the Davidians started the fire, but that’s not a proven fact. Given the actions and attitude of law enforcement–who clearly showed that they were out for revenge and not attempting to save anyone–I’m extremely skeptical of their version of what happened. Even if what they claimed was true, their actions were still indefensible.

  41. #41 |  Lucy | 

    If a mass murderer is to be believed, McVeigh was not a racist (“Turner Diaries” not withstanding.) He had a political goal and he didn’t care if there were casualties in his way — rather like every government ever.

    He knew there had been unpunished murders, and decided to bury his legitimate message by being just as bad as governments are.

    I think it was Rothbard who declared all war is terrorism. I have yet to find a very good argument to refute that. People are terrified of that attitude. They need the magical righteousness that comes with state-sanctioned killing. (Not to mention state-sanctioned theft!)

    Clinton’s got blood on his hands. He’s not even worth reading.

    Radley not feeling an affinity for folks like McVeigh is good. I always feel like a hideous cliche for pointing our Waco and Ruby Ridge as murders, but just because some insane people are insane, doesn’t mean they’re not occasionally correct.

  42. #42 |  Nick | 

    Antiwar Radio recently interviewed Jesse Trentadue, an attorney from Utah who, while investigating the murder of his brother (committed by law enforcement), uncovered a lot of information about the OKC bombing.

    The interview: They Are Lying to You About the Oklahoma City Bombing.

  43. #43 |  Pete | 

    Honestly, I’m less concerned with who started the fire than with the armed military outside shooting anyone who tried to escape.

  44. #44 |  Drew | 

    “CHRISC: Can’t we just vote everybody out and start over?”

    In practice, all this this of rhetoric leads to is Party A taking over… followed by Party B taking over 8 years later, and so on and so on.

    I’d love a solution, but this one, in practice, probably isn’t it. We have a two party system. Both parties seem about as inclined to roll back government power as the either, but most of their energy is devoted to fighting each other, a fight for which they often decide they need to increase government influence, spending, and power.

  45. #45 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Oooo! Nice last paragraph.

    I try to look at the bright side. Like, maybe all us demonizers will be sent to the same prison. We could start a club or something…

  46. #46 |  Elliot | 

    Another excellent article points out the upside-down, backwards logic of Clinton’s speech. And, he cites a Dick Morris memo which should cure anyone of their affection for the man, no matter how much he criticizes Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama.

  47. #47 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ #5 | Bunkerville |

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Most of our enemies are government created.

  48. #48 |  JThompson | 

    Happy birthday, Radley.

    I’d also like to welcome the libertarians to what the anti-authoritarian left has been dealing with for a while. It’s going to be interesting when the vast majority of the country is considered fringe lunatics. We’re still being blamed for the Weathermen doing stuff that happened before most of us were born, so if it sticks (Hopefully it won’t.) don’t look for it to die down anytime soon.

    I think a lot of the theater the MSM (Which are decidedly not liberal for the most part. I’m not sure what they actually are, but I know what they aren’t.) and politicians engage in is to keep the various libertarian leaning groups fighting amongst one another to keep them in line. Heaven forbid they start talking to one another and find out they have more common ground with one another than with the parties they tenuously identify with.

  49. #49 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Couldn’t have said it better. Thank you, Radley.

  50. #50 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    It is not surprising that King Bill supports flacid obedience to the plump, crooked heads of state.

    …anti-authoritarian left…

    I seriously have no idea what this term means.

  51. #51 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Bill Clinton says…

    …demoniz[e] the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.

    This comes up soooo often. I do not demonize the 1% of government that guarantees our freedoms and the 1% of the public servants who enforce our laws. I, and others, criticize (not demonize) the other 99%.

    Bill also says…

    But we do not have the right to resort to violence — or the threat of violence — when we don’t get our way.

    Hey! You’d have to be President (or Dicky Cheney) to do that!

    Hell, actually you just gotta have a badge.

  52. #52 |  Elliot | 

    qwints: (#35) “Should David Koresh be condemned?
    Probably. There is pretty good evidence that he at the very least committed statutory rape and illegally modified weapons from semi to fully automatic.”

    I find it amazing that they were allegedly able to find evidence of automatic weapons in the burned wreckage, but mysteriously lost the metal front door of the place, which could have confirmed (or contradicted) the BATF account of who shot first on the day of the initial raid.

    Considering the fact that they lied to a judge about a meth lab in the compound as a way to skirt the usual restrictions on military involvement (War on Drugs, gotta love it), I’m very skeptical that there was actually “good evidence” of automatic weapons. (Why do I keep getting the image of Steven Hayne testifying about bite marks and a gunshot wound on a victim indicating two people held the gun when the trigger was pulled?)

    Also, since when does the BATF handle sex offenders? Or meth labs?

    You’re absolutely right that they should have arrested him when he went to town and avoided all the paramilitary insanity.

  53. #53 |  Rhayader | 

    @JThompson #48: For what it’s worth, it’s not clear that an “anti-authoritarian left” has even existed in my lifetime (I’m 26).

    I’m sure there are plenty of self-described lefties who would fit in very well with Radley’s readership on the civil liberties front, and I’m not saying your call for solidarity in the face of this bullshit isn’t warranted (I’d like to see a lot more of that sort of thinking).

    I’m just saying that you seem to imply that libertarians have a lot to learn from progressives here, and I can’t really buy that.

  54. #54 |  Don | 

    Great rant…. I would encourage everyone to read Gore Vidals Vanity Fair column today http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2001/09/mcveigh200109?printable=true

  55. #55 |  Marty | 

    #46 | Elliot

    thanks for posting this. well done.

  56. #56 |  Rick H. | 

    ” …anti-authoritarian left… ”

    I seriously have no idea what this term means.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald

  57. #57 |  BamBam | 

    Government is just a big word for “rule by edict”. Government is implemented and supported by your family, friends, and neighbors (whether it be by verbal support or working as a Dept X paper pusher). Government never cedes power because one asks nicely, loudly, or violently. Government has silenced violent speech many times in history (Alien and Sedition Acts as a USA example). Government does not want its stranglehold on you removed because you spoke up and created a brush fire of liberty in the hearts of the people.

    Appleseed retells the history of April 19, 1775 and gives you excellent basic rifle marksmanship training. It is about lighting that fire in people’s hearts, and let people decide about how to get involved, to do SOMETHING. http://www.appleseedinfo.org

  58. #58 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Careful folks, with talk like this, we are all a short clock tick away from being arrested for daring to think independently, and NOT trusting our government. Sounds like pure subversivism to me…except for the few posters here who believe whatever the gov tells them…I guess they are safe…for the moment. Though I would guess just coming to this site got you onto a watchlist…good luck with that.

  59. #59 |  albatross | 

    The Waco raid always struck me as a large-scale parallel to a midnight no-knock SWAT team raid. It’s not that the cops are *trying* to terrorize and kill innocent people and dogs, it’s that they’ve chosen an approach that puts innocent people and dogs at great risk of harm, in order to make their own jobs safer and easier.

    I’m sure the FBI guys had no intention to kill the kids in the compound, and seriously doubt they intended to kill most of the adults. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d intended to make sure Koresh didn’t walk out of there alive, though.) But their actions were carried out with a reckless disregard for the safety of the people in the compound, led to a bunch of unarguably innocent people dying, and also led to (as far as I’ve ever read) zero consequences for anyone responsible for those decisions.

    People in confused, chaotic, scary situations are *stupid*. They shoot their own people, forget to do obvious things, take dumb risks, get hurt in ways that would never happen under ordinary circumstances, etc. Better training and equipment is the usual answer to that, but there’s a much better one available: Avoid sending armed men into confused, chaotic, scary situations, especially where there are also likely to be innocent people wandering around.

  60. #60 |  qwints | 

    @ Elliot, I took a class from Dick DeGuerin at UT Law and he said in class and has said in public that the missing door showed that most bullet holes on the missing door went in. He also said that the Davidians had modified some weapons AR-15s from semi to full automatic, describing it as a very simple procedure.

  61. #61 |  Elliot | 

    albatross: (#59) “The Waco raid always struck me as a large-scale parallel to a midnight no-knock SWAT team raid. It’s not that the cops are *trying* to terrorize and kill innocent people and dogs, it’s that they’ve chosen an approach that puts innocent people and dogs at great risk of harm, in order to make their own jobs safer and easier.”

    Some have alleged that the BATF started shooting at Davidians’ dogs (puppies, by some accounts) first. Which makes your comment a bit ironic.

    albatross: (#59) “I’m sure the FBI guys had no intention to kill the kids in the compound…”

    I see no reason to believe that. If that were the case, they would have waited them out, not driven over the underground refuge with tanks or pumped in lethal amounts of gas.

  62. #62 |  Joe | 

    Bill is not stupid. He actually knows damn well how mendacious he is being with this comment. 99.999+% of people condemn Tim McVeigh for what he did. So trying to link that criminal to people who legitimately fear expansion of government and police power is just wrong.

  63. #63 |  Kevin | 

    Happy B-day Radley.
    Good rant but I would take issue with a couple of points;
    Waco was far more than a mere fuck-up. It was calculated to win favorable funding for the ATF after decades of their fuck-ups were about to cause them to lose funding from congress. The FBI were seeking retribution for the deaths of fellow fallen federal agents (ATF) who were killed in the return fire from Davidians. So a fuck-up yes but a brutal display of force for refusing to respect the “authority” of federal LEO’s, against a confused and frightened group of mostly innocent people.

    Lou Rockwell had a good piece on Clinton and Waco today. I recommend you read it. Also see the interview Scott Horton did (3/30/10, posted at ANTI-WAR.COM) it reveals a lot of stuff that has been uncovered about McViegh and the OKC bombing…..something we will likely never know all the truth about but it smells like a black-op to me.

    In closing, I would say that hearing this from Clinton just chaps my ass. I see him as an arrogant, self serving, sanctimonious, sociopath and demagogue of the worst order. He is incapable of any sort of introspection and is unable to see his action and those of his filthy AG, butch Reno as being anyway responsible for the deaths of nearly 80 people on this day in 1993…..but didn’t you recently (much to my surprise) say you “liked Bill Clinton”?

  64. #64 |  Nick | 

    Anthony Gregory posted a Waco documentary on the LRC blog that covers some of the stuff others have mentioned in this thread.

  65. #65 |  Greg N. | 

    This is a trifling, petty observation. but has Clinton admitted to breaking U.S. drug laws? I thought he always maintained he hadn’t.

    Otherwise, bravo, as usual.

  66. #66 |  jgreene | 

    Bill Clinton, Janet Reno and the incompetents at the ATF MURDERED 80 innocent men, women and chidren who were American Citizens and had committed NO CRIME.

    The warrant was issued because Koresh hadn’t paid a $ 350 fine for one type of registration on a weapon. This matter was NOT A FEDERAL MATTER and could have easily been handled by the local police by arresting Koresh when he was on one of his frequent town trips.

    80% of the American People simple do not trust the Federal Government to do the jobs they are supposed to do. It is time that we removed ALL who have voted for these Federal Financial Monstrosities that are destroying our Liberty.

    Back to the Declaration of Independence and American Constitution. Bill Clinton can just go and suck a lemon. He has NO INTEGRITY; he was impeached for lying under oath. He lost his law license in another case for lying under oath to a Federal Judge “he had appointed to the bench”.

    Clinton, husband and wife are a corrupt duo. Just go away!

  67. #67 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.” — Radley Balko

    Welcome to anarchism, Radley. It’s about goddamn time.

    So, I trust you will not be voting anymore?

    Endorsing political candidates?

    Good for you. You are a positive example to all aspiring peace and liberty lovers.

  68. #68 |  jb | 

    I rarely disagree with you.

    Waco was a travesty–a crime. Koresh committed no crime–it was all a war of accusation. The gummint–under Reno’s idiotic command, and the same Clinton we are reading today–killed everyone in that compound when the Feds could have arrested Koresh (for God knows who what), in town a dozen times.

    This (But just for the record, let me say that taking up arms against the government is moronic and reprehensible for a host of reasons, not least of which is that there isn’t a chance in hell you’re going to win) is what the Tories said when America’s founders decided to fight the shyte.

    It’s going to come to arms against arms–in case you haven’t read your own writings. It began even before Waco.

    I don’t advocate it, but I do not deny the inevitable, either.

    I am prepared, no matter what. But I give gummint no quarter.

    None whatsoever.

  69. #69 |  weebs | 

    He also said that the Davidians had modified some weapons AR-15s from semi to full automatic, describing it as a very simple procedure.

    He was highly mistaken. Unless you have access to the necessary parts (doubtful) for a conversion, you’d need a full machine shop and a highly skilled machinist to pull it off.

  70. #70 |  supercat | 

    //Apparently I’m the only one here who believes that faced with the end of his pathetic little cult, David Koresh preferred death for himself and his followers to facing murder charges in a court of law.//

    David Koresh did not trust that, if he came out, he would live to see charges in a court of law. Whether or not the government would have actually murdered him had he come out, the government did nothing to earn his trust and much to earn his distrust.

    The FBI attacked the Davidians’ home in a fashion which could have been predicted to start a fire (such as driving an APC through a fuel tank, launching pyrotechnic grenades onto flammable surfaces, etc.) The FBI have also admitted that the tear gas grenades were designed to herd the Davidians away from the exits. I suppose it’s vaguely conceivable the FBI didn’t deliberately start the fire and murder all those people, but if that’s the case it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    BTW, on the February raid, BATF agents fired many thousands of rounds through walls, beyond which were known to be many innocent people. Agents in different parts of the building have testified that they “came under fire” when shots came through walls near them, and they responded by shooting blindly through those walls. Is there any reason to believe the agents were not shooting at each other?

  71. #71 |  Kidseven | 

    That was one ass-kicker of a column right there, Radley. That’s why I visit your site every day.

  72. #72 |  Chris Berez | 

    Anyone that hasn’t already should read The Men Who Stare At Goats. You want to talk batshit insane? Read about the crap the FBI was either using or discussing about using at Waco.

  73. #73 |  Henry Bowman | 

    A bit more information on the Warsaw ghetto uprising: the date was not selected by the residents of the ghetto, but instead by the SS. Hitler’s birthday was April 20th, and the SS wanted to give him a birthday present, figuring it would only take a day to kill off the remainder of the Jews in the ghetto. In hindsight, the SS was off by perhaps +/- 5 weeks.

  74. #74 |  Henry Bowman | 

    To qwints (#35): modifying a weapon from semi-auto to full-auto is not a crime. It is merely illegal, just as possessing marijuana in many districts is illegal (but not a crime).

  75. #75 |  Bad Science | 

    What a neat post, the only things missing is President Clinton’s impeachment and law license suspension for lying under oath. Thanks!

  76. #76 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Im not accepting negative karma right now, my inbox is full. To the coward who voted my comment down, speak up or forever eat shit and die.

  77. #77 |  Charlie | 

    The parallel is that Clinton was not listening to complaints about his abuse of power when OKC happened, and Obama is not listening to complaints about his abuse of power today. Narcissists both! “Let me just cram this undesirable policy down your throat and then you’ll shut up”.

    Yeah, right,
    Charlie

  78. #78 |  PacRim Jim | 

    Clinton merits this blue-dressing down.

  79. #79 |  Seerak | 

    Ah, the artifacts of crooked yardsticks.

    I’d also like to welcome the libertarians to what the anti-authoritarian left has been dealing with for a while.

    There is no such thing. The Left is collectivist, and so is necessarily authoritarian, delusions on the part of certain individuals and/or ephemeral sects thereof notwithstanding.

    “Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.” — Radley Balko

    Welcome to anarchism, Radley. It’s about goddamn time.

    I’m not the one who voted that comment down, but I applaud that move nonetheless.

    Non-initiation of force as an absolute is the basis of political liberty, not anarchy. Don’t be confusing the two.

    Anarchism is to politics what a vacuum is to fluid dynamics.

  80. #80 |  Ken | 

    But just for the record, let me say that taking up arms against the government is moronic and reprehensible for a host of reasons, not least of which is that there isn’t a chance in hell you’re going to win.

    That’s only partly true.

    I agree that if I get together with 100 friends of mine, declare the Independent Republic of Nevada, and take over Reno City Hall, most of us will die a rather ignominious death.

    However, if I, as a member of the Tea Party, go to a peaceful demonstration against the government, and then the government orders the military to kill us, there may very well be armed resistance. (Keep in mind that Obama himself has conceded the right of Tea Partiers to be armed–and that they have plenty of reason to be armed, in order to defend themselves against pro-government thugs).

    I wouldn’t want to bet on the military’s willingness to Tiananmen their fellow citizens.

  81. #81 |  Whim | 

    Excellent commentary, Radley.

    Only one issue with your comments:

    You used the Government Spin-Control word for the Branch Davidian Religious Commune.

    You used the word COMPOUND. Compound infers a military or fortified structure, usually surrounded by a wall.

    The Branch Davidian Religious Commune was an large, old wooden building, with no wall, merely the usual rural wire fencing on the perimeter of the property.

    From the beginning of the Federal Siege at Waco, the government spokespeople repeatedly used the word COMPOUND, over and over again.

    Maybe you noticed?

    The Branch Davidians, men, women and innocent children, were barbecued alive by Attorney General Janet Reno under Clinton White House orders for one simple reason:

    The Clinton White House feared being held hostage long-term by the Branch Davidian crisis, and feared for the aggressive agenda of his brand new Administration, and this “crisis” diverting attention from Clinton’s agenda.

  82. #82 |  jvon | 

    Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

  83. #83 |  asscore | 

    Hell, I will defend both Oklahoma City and Waco. Anybody who takes actions that results in the death of government agents is a hero in my book.

    Its time for the whole damn thing to crumble. I will be a happy man the day anarchy comes.

  84. #84 |  qwints | 

    [i]To qwints (#35): modifying a weapon from semi-auto to full-auto is not a crime. It is merely illegal, just as possessing marijuana in many districts is illegal (but not a crime).[/i]

    Things that violate state or federal criminal law are crimes. Possessing marijuana is a federal crime in the US and a state crime in many jurisdictions. If there is a criminal penalty attached it’s a crime.

    As to the difficulty of converting AR-15′s, DeGuerin said that it required adding one small part to the AR-15. He also said that possessing that part and possessing the AR-15 were both legal but inserting the part into the AR-15 was illegal.

  85. #85 |  Martin Owens | 

    Publish that picture of Elian Gonzales with an assault rifle
    in his face again. “Demonization” indeed!

  86. #86 |  M. Report | 

    Waco: I was not there, so I do not know for sure, and neither do you. :)
    However, comma, I did see the Video the ATF took while carrying out
    their Fund-Raising Photo-Op: Ninja-Walking across a roof, taking fire
    from inside, through a wall. and responding with ‘Spray-and-Pray’
    return fire, which is the _first_ thing one is taught _not_ to do, with
    women and children on the other side of the wall.

    Did the Feds learn anything from the atrocious behavior, and outcome ?

    I would like to think so, but then I hear multiple reports of Fed Agencies
    buying special short-barreled (easily concealable) riot guns, which are
    good for only one thing: Going through doors on No-Knock raids, and
    I am not so sure. :(

  87. #87 |  Ken | 

    Another thing: there is substantial evidence that Clinton was behind the Oklahoma City bombing.

    Read The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. He details how the father of one of the victims found out that Timothy McVeigh was cajoled into the bombing by a neo-Nazi group member, Andreas Strassmeyer. It turns out that Mr. Strassmeyer was also a government agent. Eventually the man traced the bombing to Strobe Talbott, Clinton’s ambassador to Russia and college roommate.

  88. #88 |  Nick | 

    “Non-initiation of force as an absolute is the basis of political liberty, not anarchy. Don’t be confusing the two.”

    I believe I read the same comment to which you are responding but I don’t see the confusion. I can’t say it any better so I’ll quote Stephan Kinsella. “To be an anarchist only means that you believe that aggression is not justified, and that states necessarily employ aggression”. Am I missing something?

  89. #89 |  Steve J. | 

    the Clinton administration’s slaughter of 76 people, including 20 children, at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1993:
    At about 9:30 a.m. agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempt to execute arrest and search warrants against David KORESH and the Branch Davidian compound. Gunfire erupts. Four ATF agents are killed and 16 are wounded.

  90. #90 |  MattinCincy | 

    That’s what I was going to say… well done Radley!

  91. #91 |  Whim | 

    Couple of other points usually missed when discussing the April 19, 1993 Branch Davidian Federal barbecue:

    1) April 19, 1993 was a very windy day, and was predicted as such, with winds of over 20 m.p.h. forecast. Yet, fire engines from the local fire department were intentionally kept miles away as the final fatal Federal Murder spree was launched.

    2) The Federal Prosecutors hid evidence of pyrotechnic rifle grenades launched into the Branch Davidian religious commune. These grenade launched tear and CS gas canisters are designed to start an incendiary fire as a useful by-product of a launch into a suspect’s structure.

    Observe carefully over time that whenever the police launch tear gas grenades into a barricaded structure, that the unit virtually ALWAYS catches fire. Burning the suspect either UP or OUT is the ancillary or even primary intent of the police tear gas grenade.

    3). From within a few hours of the shoot-out between BATF and the Branch Davidians, the FBI took over the entire crime scene, and immediately placed numerous TV remote video cameras which recorded EVERYTHING that occurred at or around the Branch Davidian Commune.

    Astonishingly, NONE of these video recordings were ever produced under compulsion of subpeona over the wrongful loss of life filed on the behalf of some of the lost family members at the Commune.

    NEVER produced. What did these recordings show that was so damaging to the Federal Government assertion that the Branch Davidians killed their own children?

    Where are they???

    Waiting.

    Waiting.

    Crickets…………

  92. #92 |  JThompson | 

    @Rhayader #53: I didn’t mean to imply libertarians had lots to learn from the left. I meant to imply we’ve all got quite a bit to learn from one another. It’s not the left or right that are the problem, it’s the bloody authoritarians that suck. ;) Unfortunately both sides seem to be rife with them. They’ll take our votes, then we’re promptly ignored as fringe when we start wondering when we’ll see some action on the civil liberties front.

    There really is a libertarian/anti-authoritarian left, we’re just completely ignored by the media and political parties. Just as the majority of the right ignores the libertarians on the right. We tend to agree with libertarians about 80% of the time. Our differences are mostly a matter of degree.

  93. #93 |  Amused Observer | 

    Clinton is carrying water for his wife’s boss at the moment. As I never tire of pointing out the major difference between McVeigh and Obama’s BFF Bill Ayers is competence. He wiggled free on technicalities, admits involvement and is unrepentant. McVeigh deserved to be executed, Ayers is equally deserving.

  94. #94 |  Kevin | 

    Whim,

    Good points. In fact, there are so many other points that conflict the testimony of fed-goons side of the story as to be quite astonishing that anyone would believe anything they said about the entire melee.

    A very good read for an inside perspective is a book by David Thibedoux (sp) A PLACE CALLED WACO. It is the story from one of the few surviving members of the Davidians. I found it compelling and truly heartbreaking on so many levels.

    No, I did not think Koresh was squeeky clean. Yes, I think this group was odd to say the least. Having said that though, I do not condone at all what the feds did there and that to me is the central issue. Have police “dynamic entry raids” become less violent and less provocative since Waco? Not at all! I dare say this was like a green light for law enforcers to become even more brazen and more violent. Had the fed-goons been rightfully chastised for their actions at Waco perhaps we might be seeing an entirely different type of law apparatus today.

  95. #95 |  Quote of the Day | Snowflakes in Hell | 

    [...] From Radley Balko: I’ve never really felt the need to distance myself from people like Tim McVeigh or Joseph Stack because I’ve never felt any affinity or kinship with them. But just for the record, let me say that taking up arms against the government is moronic and reprehensible for a host of reasons, not least of which is that there isn’t a chance in hell you’re going to win. Beyond that, atrocious as Waco was, murdering a bunch of federal workers, their children, and bystanders, none of whom had anything whatsoever to do with Waco, wasn’t just morally repugnant, it was an act of insanity and delusion (McVeigh actually thought the bombing could have sparked a revolution). And even if one were depraved enough to find some moral justification in Oklahoma City, think of what it did for McVeigh’s cause: Instead of April 19 being the day we remember and lament the Clinton’s administration’s monumental fuck-up, and possibly reflect on massive power of government to simply eliminate people it deems weird or fringe or threatening, Clinton, armed with moral rectitude provided by McVeigh, now gets to take to the pages of the New York Times to celebrate government, and to denounce and marginalize the people who dare to criticize it. [...]

  96. #96 |  lunchstealer | 

    Bravo, Radley, and Happy Birthday!

    This is one of the better defenses of the basic concepts of liberty that I’ve read in quite a while. Struck the right tone of revulsion for McVeigh, and revulsion for Lloyd Bentsen and Janet Reno’s shock troops, and just the right level of contempt for Clinton’s grandstanding.

  97. #97 |  B | 

    “DeGuerin said that it required adding one small part to the AR-15.”
    Incorrect. It is a completely different assembly that goes into the lower receiver. To convert an AR-15 to mil-spec M-16 requires a new hammer, safety selector switch, trigger, disconnector, and bolt carrier. Plus, to purchase these parts, you have to be a Class 3 dealer, own a registered National FireArms (NFA) weapon, or be a Federal Firearms Licensee with a customer’s registered NFA weapon. If you can’t provide proof of the above, no reputable dealer will sell them to you. And you need an example of these parts before you can make copies IF you’re an experienced machinist with quality equipment. This isn’t the kind of stuff you make in your kitchen with a nail file and hacksaw.

  98. #98 |  Ian | 

    well said. too bad clinton and his like will never face questioning like that from the MSM.

  99. #99 |  April 19: The odd intersection of history and government « Guns, Germs and Blogs | 

    [...] Radley Balko has a good response to the Clinton op-ed and the Sonoma County [...]

  100. #100 |  April 19: The odd intersection of history and government « Guns, Germs and Blogs | 

    [...] Radley Balko has a good response to the Clinton op-ed and the Sonoma County [...]

  101. #101 |  Elliot | 

    Cynical in CA: (#67)

    “Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.” — Radley Balko

    “Welcome to anarchism, Radley. It’s about goddamn time.”

    Nice catch. I missed that one.

    Next time I’m in OC to see the in-laws, we’ll have to have work on a secret seditious handshake in case we run into each other.

    Nick: (#88)

    “Non-initiation of force as an absolute is the basis of political liberty, not anarchy. Don’t be confusing the two.”

    “I believe I read the same comment to which you are responding but I don’t see the confusion. I can’t say it any better so I’ll quote Stephan Kinsella. “To be an anarchist only means that you believe that aggression is not justified, and that states necessarily employ aggression”. Am I missing something?”

    Nope.

    Too many people confuse anarchy (or, rather, rule of self) with chaos. Many grownups are actually capable of interacting with each other peacefully and reasonably, without resorting to force. It’s a damned shame that politicians scare people into believing that they need to surrender their self-authority for safety.

  102. #102 |  Mike S | 

    Cultists defending cultists.

  103. #103 |  JOR | 

    Taking up arms against a government is never reprehensible, but usually imprudent. Whether it’s moronic depends on just how much you, as an individual, have to lose.

  104. #104 |  Bill Clinton Reminds America of Oklahoma City, His Record and Terror | DBKP - Death By 1000 Papercuts - DBKP | 

    [...] Balko gives Clinton a dose of awesome and most-deserved HELL for his self-serving comparisons. The really mendacious thing about the crap Clinton spews at [...]

  105. #105 |  Token Conservative · Daily Briefing 04/20/10 | 

    [...] is a response properly chastising Bill Clinton for his outrageous attempts recently to link the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and the tea party movement. [...]

  106. #106 |  Kyron Huigens | 

    The Crown issued general warrants that gave colonial governments the right to enter any home at its discretion and search the entire home for anything they could deem incriminating after the fact. It also quartered troops in private homes, violating fundamental property rights. In addition to taxation without representation, these were the two most objectionable practices that led to the Revolution.

    No, there is nothing being done by the present Administration that approaches those violations of civil rights.

    The closest we have come lately to the practices of the Crown would be the Bush Administration’s assertion that it had the right to unilaterally set aside laws duly passed according to the procedure prescribed by the US Constitution — that is, by Congress. Please send me a link to your post condemning that.

    And a parallel between our situation and the Warsaw ghetto uprising? Seriously? The Obama Adminstration is a Nazi government? You are freezing and starving, packed in with four other families in a two bedroom apartment, for the sake of convenience come the time they round you all up and send you to a gas chamber? Really? Please let me know where this is happening and I’ll do all I can to rescue you.

  107. #107 |  Grantmeliberty | 

    The four atf agents who entered through the window from the roof, were followed by a concussion grenade tossed though the window by the agent still on the roof, with the curtains billowing out when it detonated. The agents were all part of a guard detail for slick willie during his campaign, perhaps witnessed things best left unreported, and were set to be offed. They realized they had been set up and started firing out at their buddy, who was spraying into the room with his sub gun.
    The israelis had been using CS gas and killing palestinians with it in closed buildings, and fed guidelines said it should be used only in the open to prevent fatalities. It is also highly flammable, and when it burns, the byproduct is CYANIDE which was found in the blood of some of the victims.
    PREMEDITATED MURDER!!!!
    If you listened to Bill Cooper back in the day, he played a copy of the audio of one of the reporters who witnessed the “execution” of McVeigh. No videos were allowed, and she said that she watched them bring him in on a gurney, draped with a sheet, he raised his head and looked at each of the 10 witnesses, they gave him the injection, and she watched him as his chest continued to rise and fall with his breathing, uninterrupted as they wheeled him away. IMHO he was an agent, and is living among us or on some tropical isle at this time. The truck bomb was the second of two explosions, the first was of charges set within and on the second floor of the building. The rubble from the building was taken away and secured with armed guards preventing forensic investigators from sampling any of the parts. I saw a copy of the seismographic from the U of O Norman, within two weeks of the bombing, and there were two distinct spikes some seconds apart.

  108. #108 |  Radley Balko | 

    Kyron Huigens:

    You get a D in reading comprehension.

  109. #109 |  Dolf Fenster | 

    And it’s probably worth noting that we threw off the yoke of the crown for violations of human freedom and dignity that were a hell of a lot less severe than what we put up with today.

    Radley, I think Kyron is reading you just fine. Sure, life in Ameica today can in no way rival the liberatarian paradise of 1880′s, but you can’t be serious that life in a British colony, with millions in bondage and millions more deprived of any sufferage whatsoever, is in any way comparable to today. I love libertarianism, but it’s hard not to laugh at libertarians.

  110. #110 |  Wish I’da Said That « Oh, My! | 

    [...] Read the whole thing. [...]

  111. #111 |  slarrow | 

    What Clinton is trying to do is the same thing that other prominent (mostly Democrat of late, but not necessarily exclusive) politicians try to do. Under the guise of calls for civility and restraint, they seek to muzzle the opposition. In truth, they don’t want a civil discussion; they want a tame electorate.

    Well, pardon me if I decline to be tame.

  112. #112 |  mtraven | 

    #93: McVeigh killed 168 people. Bill Ayers, zero. That’s another “major difference”. Yet you people who are dubious about the power of the state believe he deserves to be executed. Who do you think is going to do the executing?

  113. #113 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #79 | Seerak –

    “Because fundamentally and categorically, I repudiate the use of force and violence to impose my beliefs, political philosophy, or policy preferences on other people.” — Radley Balko

    “Welcome to anarchism, Radley. It’s about goddamn time.” — Cynical in CA

    “Non-initiation of force as an absolute is the basis of political liberty, not anarchy. Don’t be confusing the two.”

    Non-initiation of force IS anarchy. If there is an “arch,” there is force. Get it?

    “Anarchism is to politics what a vacuum is to fluid dynamics.”

    Anarchism is total political equality at the individual level, nothing more, nothing less.

  114. #114 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #88 | Nick –

    “Non-initiation of force as an absolute is the basis of political liberty, not anarchy. Don’t be confusing the two.” — Seerak

    “I believe I read the same comment to which you are responding but I don’t see the confusion. I can’t say it any better so I’ll quote Stephan Kinsella. “To be an anarchist only means that you believe that aggression is not justified, and that states necessarily employ aggression”. Am I missing something?”

    What Seerak does is the common slur of conflating anarchy with chaos. To a statist, the two terms are interchangeable — actually, it’s worse than that. Given the choice, a statist will ALWAYS use the word “anarchy” as a substitute for “chaos.” The two words are actuall antonyms.

    First rule of political subjugation is to control the language.

  115. #115 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #101 | Elliot — “Nice catch. I missed that one.”

    Thanks Elliott, in fairness, it took me several hours to realize what I had read. It’s been a long time since I read such a concise testament of anarchism, and I was not expecting it from that source. Since there has been no repudiation or qualification by Radley, I am left only to welcome him with open arms as a public anarchist. It is an honor to have such a high profile member of the libertarian community make such a public statement — maybe as a result more people will awaken to political equality and eschew the use of force in all aspects of their lives.

    Next time I’m in OC to see the in-laws, we’ll have to have work on a secret seditious handshake in case we run into each other.

  116. #116 |  Radley Balko | 

    Sure, life in Ameica today can in no way rival the liberatarian paradise of 1880’s, but you can’t be serious that life in a British colony, with millions in bondage and millions more deprived of any sufferage whatsoever, is in any way comparable to today.

    I agree with you. And that isn’t what I wrote. I wrote that the stated reasons for the Declaration of Independence were for violations of human liberty that were far less egregious than what the government gets away with today.

  117. #117 |  Invisible Finger | 

    millions more deprived of any sufferage whatsoever

    This is always a canard. (And it’s suffrage, by the way.) Even liberal polls showed that the majority of Americans were against Obamacare and it passed anyway. Like Bush’s invasion of Iraq against the majority will of the citizenry, it’s clear that the majority of Americans feel that they aren’t really getting represented.

    Regardless of whether the present suffrage is merely symbolic or not, the American Revolution was essentially a tax revolt for lack of representation. As the citizens are taxed and an increasing rate while their representation in government remains unchanged, it’s silly to say that today is so much better than before simply because the majority of colonists weren’t subject to direct taxes of any kind in the first place (until the Stamp Act).

    Add in the fact that the Stamp Act was essentially the revenue source for the crown’s own military jobs program, and compare that to the ever-growing public payrolls that are the main cause of the increased taxation. The result is that today is not very much different from yesteryear at all.

  118. #118 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Re #116: “It was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now.”–Ian Anderson

  119. #119 |  For real, yo « | 

    [...] 20, 2010 · Leave a Comment McVeigh: still a nutcase: I’ve never really felt the need to distance myself from people like Tim McVeigh or Joseph Stack [...]

  120. #120 |  nitpicker | 

    Please note: ATF agents showed up to the Branch Davidian compound to execute legally obtained search warrants–where the crazy cult leader was continually raping young girls–and were killed. Do you really think Bill Clinton was responsible for that event, which occurred roughly a month after he took office?

    I am continually shocked by those who seem to defend David Koresh, whose madness led to the tragedy. After all, if it weren’t for the fuel oil spread about the compound, there would have been no fire after all. Blaming Clinton and defending Koresh is tantamount to saying that McVeigh had a valid point to make.

  121. #121 |  phlinn | 

    Nitpicker, they came heavily armed. Who started the firefight that lead to the 10 deaths that February? Was it an accidental discharge, or was someone else trying to trigger a firefight? Assuming you are correct about the fuel, it’s also true that if they hadn’t raided the facility, there would have been no fire.

    I’m not trying to say David Koresh was a good person… but the actions of the ATF and FBI were extremely likely to cause violence. They were not blameless.

  122. #122 |  Elliot | 

    nitpicker: (#120) “ATF agents showed up to the Branch Davidian compound to execute legally obtained search warrants…”

    They lied to a judge about a meth lab in order to get military support (War on Drugs loophole). That’s illegal.

    nitpicker: (#120) “…the crazy cult leader was continually raping young girls…”

    The BATF has no business investigating sexual assault crimes. That’s the purview of Child Protective Services and the local police or sheriff.

    Anyone who wanted to take Koresh into custody had the option to arrest Koresh when he went to town and avoid the bloody situation entirely. Instead, they chose to engage in a paramilitary operation to show off their prowess. This was a way to rescue their tarnished image, in the hope of maintaining funding to their troubled bureau.

    nitpicker: (#120) “Do you really think Bill Clinton was responsible for that event, which occurred roughly a month after he took office?”

    No, and I don’t think anyone else blames Clinton for the BATF debacle. Bush 41 failed to rein in that rogue outfit.

    Clinton, Reno, and the FBI had months to handle the crisis. They chose to use psychological warfare. If, as you assert, these people were crazy, was that a wise strategy–to do your level best to make them even more unstable?

    nitpicker: (#120) “I am continually shocked by those who seem to defend David Koresh …”

    Perhaps you should pay closer attention to what people actually write. Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are supposed to follow strict rules of due process, even if the suspected offenders are dangerous lunatics. Otherwise, if the LEOs are not held to account for breaking the rules in the case of religious lunatic pedophiles with automatic weapons, why should they be held to account if they treat you likewise and cover it up with disinformation about how you skin babies alive, threaten to blow up buildings, and cut the tags off your mattresses?

    nitpicker: (#120) “After all, if it weren’t for the fuel oil spread about the compound, there would have been no fire after all.”

    You may accept that version as fact, but when I see military tanks pumping highly volatile gas into the home of civilians, creating openings in the walls which provided highly efficient ventilation on a very windy day, I have a hard time discounting the possibility that such foolish (or intentionally evil) action by the FBI was the cause of the conflagration.

    Besides, if your goal is to save the women and children, why not just wait them out? Why force the situation to become violent again, when it didn’t need to be?

    Rescuers don’t assault civilian homes with military tanks. They calm down the inhabitants and try to talk them out peacefully.

    nitpicker: (#120) “Blaming Clinton and defending Koresh is tantamount to saying that McVeigh had a valid point to make.”

    McVeigh’s actions were monstrously unethical because, for one reason, he killed innocents (including children) who had nothing to do with Waco.

    But just because that madman carried out his terrible deed two years after the FBI did their terrible deeds doesn’t negate the culpability of those who committed the Waco massacre. Nor does Koresh’s guilt make it OK for them to kill women and children.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  123. #123 |  Elliot | 

    Billy Beck points out that Bill Clinton paraphrased him. I recognized his line when I first read that part of the speech.

  124. #124 |  beejeez | 

    Look, we get it that the feds screwed up the Waco raid seven ways to Sunday. Tragically. But don’t sign me up for this crap that it was part of Bill Clinton’s master plan to destroy anti-government sentiment by deliberately killing not only Koresh, but the innocent kids inside his compound. You think that was his way of trying to drum up votes in the South? Or that we wouldn’t be crying murder if Castro didn’t see to it pronto that an American boy was returned to his father? Waco was a simple case of FUBAR, and Clinton-Reno deserve blame for not being in control of the situation, but that’s where the fault ends. I suspect they would have been more likely to handle it competently after a couple years on the job, with their trusted personnel in place. But as part of a dark conspiracy against their critics? Give me a break.

  125. #125 |  Billy Beck | 

    Dave G @ #36: Partin’s case is superficially plausible. I was very intrigued with it for a long time. Here is a bet: I am the only person in this forum with a complete set of as-built drawings of the Alfred P. Murrah building. I will only state my conclusion, after a lot of work on the matter, that there was no way that demolition explosives were set in that building (there simply wasn’t anywhere to put them without detection), and that the damage that building suffered was a chaotic freak of blast dynamics resulting from the ANFO bomb.

    I just can’t see it any other way, and you should know that I was extremistly suspicious of that event.

  126. #126 |  Elliot | 

    beejeez : (#124)
    “But don’t sign me up for this crap that it was part of Bill Clinton’s master plan to destroy anti-government sentiment by deliberately killing not only Koresh, but the innocent kids inside his compound.”

    Strawman. Who here claimed that Bill Clinton approved of or even knew of the full intent of the FBI that day? My memory may be off and I’d have to scour a lot of material from years ago, but most accounts I read suggested that even Janet Reno was kept in the dark about some aspects. For example, she gave the OK for gas to be injected in limited amounts at a time, only to be increased if there was “resistance”. The FBI claimed that the Davidians shot at the tanks, at which point they pumped in the remainder of that day’s supply in a few minutes. That seems like the FBI took advantage of her permission to escalate not being very specific and ran with it, knowing that there was no rational reason to put that amount of gas in the Davidian’s home if your intent was to rescue the women and children.

    The FBI, by their actions, demonstrated clearly that their intention was not to rescue anyone, but to massacre the people who dared to murder their fellow federal agents. They wanted to send a message to all Americans that killing a federal agent (even in self-defense when they start shooting first while serving a warrant obtained via perjury) will be punished by utter destruction.

    “Waco was a simple case of FUBAR…”

    Dozens murdered is “FUBAR”? Whoops! We just ran over a bunker full of women and children with a tank. Gosh, we screwed up! You’re awful goddamned forgiving of pre-meditated murder by the FBI Hostage Roasting Team.

    “Clinton-Reno deserve blame for not being in control of the situation, but that’s where the fault ends.”

    So if they lacked control and realized that the people they foolishly trusted to resolve the situation were murderous bastards, why is it that they didn’t prosecute, fire, or punish them after the massacre? There was no accountability. None. It was utterly evil of Clinton and Reno to cover up the FBI’s culpability, just like when police chiefs and DAs protect felonious cops from being charged (the thin blue line).

    Had Clinton and Reno handled the aftermath properly, they would have done a thorough, independent investigation (not the bullshit Congressional whitewash, since those politicians were afraid of the political consequences), prosecuted FBI and BATF agents, and revamped both bureaus entirely (like not allowing them to use military equipment against civilians, clamping down on bad warrants). They would have demonstrated to Americans that there was accountability. The many people who were justifiably angry and justifiably fearful of the federal government might have felt a bit differently. (Not that any of this absolves McVeigh. But perhaps he might not have carried out his mass murder.)

    “I suspect they would have been more likely to handle it competently after a couple years on the job, with their trusted personnel in place.”

    When you’re the “leader of the free world”, why in the bloody hell should you be given half a term (between a fourth and a half of your entire time in office) to organize your people enough that they’re not running around murdering dozens of people?

  127. #127 |  Elliot | 

    Correction: “The FBI, by their actions, demonstrated clearly that their intention was not to rescue anyone, but to massacre the people who dared to murder shoot at their fellow federal agents.”

    Whether the BATF agents were killed by bullets fired by Davidians, or by each other (shooting blindly through walls or the roof), I don’t know. But if the Davidians did shoot and kill them, it quite possibly was in self-defense.

    Read this website for particular individuals who had the misfortune of being jarred out of their sleep by intruders who happened to be police (which they didn’t find out until they had shot at them, thinking they were criminals).

  128. #128 |  supercat | 

    //and that the damage that building suffered was a chaotic freak of blast dynamics resulting from the ANFO bomb.//

    Wasn’t there an alcove underneath much of the collapsed section? IIRC the only pillar that failed that wasn’t under or on the edge of it was quite close to the bomb blast.

  129. #129 |  CF Oxtrot | 

    Rick H above cites Glenn Greenwald as “anti-authoritarian left.”

    That’s rich, Rick. Apparently you haven’t read Glenn Greenwald very closely. In the middle of the last decade, he argued with me at length about the need for the Fed Govt to be strong against “terrorism,” which Greenwald broadly painted as anyone who disagreed with Greenwald’s view of what is proper government — very much like WJB Clinton did in the piece Balko is criticizing here.

    Greenwald’s reputation (in your mind, I mean) is one thing; his positions that he has argued in exchanges with me is quite another.

    Greenwald is very authoritarian when it comes to defending Greenwald’s view of proper government. His latest drift toward tepidly criticizing the Democrats is not indicative of the arguments he’s made for over 5 years. If you have evidence that Greenwald has changed his bizarre, childish views on the Fed Govt, I’d suggest you use that evidence, instead of simply citing him by name and his pathetic sycophantic columns at Salon — a journal of foppish dandyism, not legal affairs or governmental studies.

    __________________

    To answer the question of what is anti-authoritarian left, I would point toward Arthur Silber, Kevin Carson, or Sheldon Richman as name-dropping examples. Glenn Greenwald is still trying to shake off his fond romanticism for the Democratic party, and his long-standing despising perspective toward all things Republican. He calls himself a leftist-libertarian, but his arguments made to me are quite the opposite.

    Sheesh.

  130. #130 |  A blow for liberty | Pittsburgh Alpha to Omega | 

    [...] Balko (Feliz belated cumpleaños!) used a few more words than I did to blast Clinton, made some good ancillary points, and pointed out that the [...]

  131. #131 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] Gene Healy: the five worst op-ed of 2010. I’d throw in this Bill Clinton disaster. [...]

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