25 Apr 2014

Lessons From Waco

Bundy Ranch 60 Comments

Regarding the Bundy Ranch standoff, I think everybody should review what happened at Waco. For this purpose, the summary at Wikipedia is good enough:

The Waco siege (also known as the Waco Massacre) was a siege of a compound belonging to the religious group Branch Davidians by American federal and Texas state law enforcement and military between February 28 and April 19, 1993.[4] The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and lived at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Elk, Texas,[5][6][7] nine miles (14 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. The group was suspected of weapons violations and a search and arrest warrant was obtained by the U.S. federal agency Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center and 76 men, women, and children,[8][9] including David Koresh, died.

Much dispute remains as to the actual events of the siege. A particular controversy ensued over the origin of the fire; a government investigation concluded in 2000 that sect members themselves had started the fire. The events at Waco were cited as the primary motivation for the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing that took place exactly two years later in 1995.

Say what you will, there is no doubt in my mind that when someone fights back and kills federal agents, causing them to retreat, that the gloves come off. That’s the kind of thing that happens in Colombia. If you are in charge of the federal government, you can’t have people observing that if you get a few dozen guys with heavy-duty weapons, you can make federal agencies back off.

And so, as the official media spin made it out, the federal government tried to save a bunch of kids from a religious nutjob, and in the process all the little kids got burned up. “Oh well, what’s on the TV tonight?”

Very few Americans cared about this incident because the media and government had successfully painted the Branch Davidians as a bunch of religious nutjobs who were abusing children. That’s why they could literally be burned alive and nothing happened. Not only did Janet Reno not have to resign (after taking “full responsibility”), Bill Clinton got re-elected three years later.

So yeah I was trying to be humorous with the South Park meme, but I am also deadly serious when I say Cliven Bundy should be choosing his words very carefully. And if he has a death wish (as some commenters have implied), I hope he has told that to the people driving out there to stand with him.

60 Responses to “Lessons From Waco”

  1. Tel says:

    As it turns out, the New York Times chose Bundy’s words carefully for him.


    • Andrew' says:

      Wow. I have to admit that even at this point I’m embarrassed that I didn’t assume the worst of our friends in the biased liberal media agenda mill. I am still way too uncynical.

      • Tel says:

        Actually, it caught me by surprise too.

        This may be completely unrelated, but the guy who did the research there is Bob Parks, and his main website is called Black&Right which is the following URL:


        Now, you try various things in google and see if you can get it to actually give that URL as a search result. Bob’s been using the same URL for many years, and about every 6 months I check if google will find it… nope. The guy’s face will come up in the image search, and his facebook page comes up and other websites talking about him come up… but never his main page.

        Try the same thing on Bing and enter “Bob Parks black and right” and his main website comes up top of the list. Almost like google doesn’t want to talk about that particular website. Weird huh? Probably a software thing.

        • Anonymous says:

          Google black and right and black and right website comes up as an autocompletion. The google search returns his site at the top.

          • Anonymous says:

            The Google algorithm drops words like and.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      I don’t think the video was deceptively edited at all. The rest of it doesn’t change the meaning of what he was saying. In fact, I think the rest of the video arguably makes him look even worse. Here’s the full video of the event:
      The comments that the New York Times quoted start at about the 18 minute mark, but this is what he says at the 15 minute mark, speaking about his experience in the Watts Riots:
      “And guess what I see … They was setting the world on fire. And who was setting it on fire? It wasn’t We the People, it was the Negro people themselves setting their own city on fire.”
      It sounds like he doesn’t count blacks in “We the People”.

      I think the only thing in the full video that might somewhat alter people’s opinion of Bundy is that he has positive things to say about Spanish people, but I don’t think it would change people’s assessment of how he views African Americans.

      • Andrew' says:

        No. The video completely changes the tone of what he is saying.

        I can accept that NYT fanboys would misunderstand his point, considering their zeal to intentionally misunderstand, about welfare damage with the biased edited video.

        Now I can’t.

        • Keshav Srinivasan says:

          Well, I guess we have a difference of opinion. I don’t see how the rest of the video changes in any way the meaning or tone of things like the “they never learned to pick cotton” comment or the “wondering if they’d be better off as slaves compared to being on subsidies” comment.

          • Andrew' says:

            If only we had Ken B here to also try hard to not understand the point!

            I’m not making fun of Ken B.

            He’s not talking about black people. He’s talking about the welfare state.

            • Philippe says:

              “He’s not talking about black people. He’s talking about the welfare state.”

              I guess that’s why he starts by saying “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro”.

              Because obviously what that sentence means is that he is not talking about black people.

          • Andrew' says:


            Your opinion is that more of Bundy’s words do not elucidate Bundy’s point compared to less of Bundy’s words?

            Or is your point that the news does not want a hot narrative?

            Does this help?

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              “Your opinion is that more of Bundy’s words do not elucidate Bundy’s point compared to less of Bundy’s words?” I think the average American would arguably have a worse opinion of Bundy if they saw the rest of the video, like the part I quoted at the 15 minute mark.

              • Grane Peer says:

                We would do well to not care about the opinion of the average american. I’m not sure if any of his comments were racist but if they truly are, so what. He didn’t prescribe a final solution for the negro problem. I had no favor for the Weavers or the Davidians but that certainly did not justify what happened to them. If you can’t stand with imperfect people then you will never stand with anyone.

              • Andrew' says:

                What are the terms of the wager, Keshav, and how do we do the experiment?

                But do you know how I know I’m right?

                Because the NYT did it the way they did it. If you were right, they would have done it the other way.

              • Andrew' says:

                Oops, I forgot I was banning myself. Peace.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Grane Peer wrote:

                We would do well to not care about the opinion of the average american.

                No, it is the opinion of the average American that is keeping Cliven Bundy alive, and you and me out of prison camps.

              • guest says:

                … it is the opinion of the average American that is keeping Cliven Bundy alive, and you and me out of prison camps.

                It is also the opinion of the average American that has permitted the government to gain the ability to threaten us with such things.

          • guest says:

            … or the “wondering if they’d be better off as slaves compared to being on subsidies” comment.

            Race and Economics

            Chapter 3 of “Race and Economics,” my most recent book, starts out, “Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today.”

            I can’t imagine even the most harebrained professor, civil rights leader or media “expert” arguing that there was less discrimination a century ago and that explains why there was greater black labor market participation. Racial discrimination or low skills can explain low wages but not unemployment.

            South Africa after apartheid

            The tragic fact of business is that ordinary Africans were better off under colonialism. Colonial masters never committed anything near the murder and genocide seen under black rule in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, Somalia and other countries, where millions of blacks have been slaughtered in unspeakable ways, which include: hacking to death, boiling in oil, setting on fire and dismemberment.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Tel, I have no problem believing that the NYT would be capable of inserting words, but he later talks about picking cotton, right? So in that segment, he was definitely referring to black people, not Mexicans. So what are we saying happened? He had a slip of the tongue in real life, and the NYT corrected it with the word “the Negro” instead of the less charged “black people”?

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        The New York Times didn’t insert any words at all. The whole portion they quoted was about “the Negro”. It’s only after all that that he starts talking about Spanish people.

        • Andrew' says:

          “”Negro” superseded “colored” as the most polite terminology, at a time when “black” was more offensive.[3] This usage was accepted as normal, even by people classified as Negroes, until the later Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s. One well-known example is the identification by Martin Luther King, Jr. of his own race as ‘Negro’ in his famous 1963 speech I Have a Dream.”

          Bundy was 16 in 1963.

          • Andrew' says:

            Keshav, what are your opinions on in-group and out-group jargon selection?

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              Andrew’, in my reply to Bob I just used “the Negro” as a shorthand for the part of his remarks that used that phrase, I wasn’t commenting on his use of the term.

          • Keshav Srinivasan says:

            I don’t think the use of the word Negro is the most controversial part of what he said. If he had just said “I want to say one more thing about the Negro. They’re decent, hardworking people,” his comments would probably just been dismissed as an old guy using politically incorrect terminology.

            • Andrew' says:

              HIs point is they aren’t hardworking because of the structure of the welfare state.

              Is any news outlet talking about his point?

              Or are they all using his poor choice of words as THE story?

              And what is the relevance, anyway?

      • Andrew' says:


        You have connections. Tell Cliven that I’d be happy to vet his press releases.

  2. Robert Fellner says:


    “Say what you will, there is no doubt in my mind that when someone fights back and kills federal agents, causing them to retreat, that the gloves come off. ”

    That is certainly true and a world wide/historical trend. If you aren’t already familiar with the War of Canudos it is about a group of religious people who did not want to be part of Brazil after the government claimed authority to issue marriages etc.

    They peacefully withdrew, the federal government took issue with it, and when they fought back, it led to total annihilation of every man, woman, and child in the town.


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Robert, didn’t a commission by the Brazilian government a few years later conclude that the 30,000 people had all shot themselves?

      • Eduardo Bellani says:

        You wouldn’t believe how they portrait that event on schools in Brazil.

        Let me sum up:

        * Bunch of fanatics wanted to destroy democracy.

        * Bunch of fanatics tried to destroy the army.

        * Bunch of fanatics threw themselves on bullets and cannon fire, and hid behind their children.

  3. Andrew' says:

    Under slavery, blacks had full employment.

    I don’t think that is original, and it isn’t a joke. At least not in the way most people would think I mean it.

    So, is there any dimension upon which, adjust for obvious things that liberals never adjust for, like technological progress, by which blacks might be better off under slavery than at other points in history?

    Were they better off the day before the civil war than they were the day after the civil war began…not counting hope?

    You are eventually going to concede my point, and if you see where I’m going with this, then to paraphrase Milton Friedman and George Bernard Shaw, “now we are just arguing over price.”

    • Andrew' says:

      Keeping in mind, the world is full of people who will try their darndest to misunderstand a point: Under slavery, they didn’t have freedom. Bundy says they still don’t really have freedom.

      The story here is that this has nothing to do with the price of beef…or turtles. The story is how much the media salivates over a story where they can make someone look like a racist and how much otherwise intelligent people play along…as if it has anything to do with the issues.

      I never said Bundy was my buddy.

      • Andrew' says:

        I think I’ll ban myself for a while after this.

        You can’t argue with Bundy that the black family unit isn’t “ruined” when you have people like Crooked Timber and even Interfluidity claiming that it is a feature rather than a bug.

        So we are left with an ad hominem charge of racism that isn’t even accurate. Bundy is saying…just like those esteemed bloggers, that blacks find themselves in a world of incentives. He is talking about the features of incentives, not the features of blacks.

        If this isn’t obvious to you…you are trying too hard to misunderstand him.

        • Nathan says:


          I completely agree with your assessment here. Of course we both know that some people will refuse to even try to see things objectively instead of from their biases, and with emotion. It’s a lot like the reactions to the work of Charles Murray.

          And this is all to the detriment of those who’ve been “entrapped” (not literally, and not without exception, but you know what I mean) by the welfare state. It’s all so tragic.

        • Tel says:

          Under slavery, blacks had full employment.

          Under the Keynesians we all get full employment, or keep getting stimulated until we submit.

          Look, for your average middle class American with family roots from Africa, who does have a job, and is ahead on the mortgage, and living in a decent neighbourhood… of course that guy is better off now than under slavery. A million times better off.

          But for kids growing up in bad neighbourhoods, with high crime rate, joining gangs and regularly shooting each other, very little chance of getting a job… their only hope is to become a sports hero, or battling their way to the top of the pile amongst the drug dealers, or joining the Army. Those kids are the one who never really got the freedom that they were promised.

          What percentage is that? I’m not sure exactly, but if you look at the statistics, under Obama, the people most severely hit by the rotten employment situation have been the ones listed as “black”. The abortion statistics also have a surprisingly high percentage listed as “black”. Clearly there are a significant number of people who have not been helped by government assistance.

  4. guest says:

    … a government investigation concluded in 2000 that sect members themselves had started the fire.

    Sounds familiar:

    Christopher Dorner Shootout – Cops say “Burn It Down”

    Cops torch cabin where Christopher Dorner was held up

    Very few Americans cared about this incident because the media and government had successfully painted the Branch Davidians as a bunch of religious nutjobs who were abusing children.

    … but I am also deadly serious when I say Cliven Bundy should be choosing his words very carefully.

    Then correct the misinformation.

    Your right to self defense doesn’t end just because people misunderstand you.

    And what if he was a racist? Should we then not care about his rights being violated?

    Besides, the Black Community is based on racism, in that its ideology holds that because their ancesters were made slaves by the ancestors of Whites, that by simply being born Black or White means you are associated with your ancestors in their suffering or tyranny.

    THAT’S racist.

  5. JimS says:

    Death wish? In Bundy’s case, perhaps. But there are a few people who stand on principle.

    I have been threatened by students and employees and each time I have taken them to task. Bottom line for me, I would rather be dead than live in fear of an employee or student. This is not a death wish, nor would I elevate myself to the position of principled man. I called a bluff, and even were it not a bluff, I likely would have seen it through. It is simply that being a slave can be worse than death.. Losing your principles can be worse than death.

    Compliantly marching into the ovens does not accomplish much. Some did resist and they knew the cost; this was not a death wish. But what if more had resisted? Would they have been successful or would they simply have turned the 88s and the Luftwaffe on the ghettos? Would the end result have been different.? Who knows? I know I would have been regretful going into the ovens having not done more.

    I do not sense that Bundy is all that philisophical about what he is doing. This certainly does not mean he is wrong, nor does it mean he is any less determined.

    There are ways to combat the powers that be and I am with Dr. Bob with my skepticism on the efficacy of Bundy’s tactics. (I am not advocating violence against anyone. I am a former Marine. I know what violence is. I do not think those that advocate it really do understand it or its costs.)

    • guest says:

      That’s fair. Thank you.

      But I don’t see how you combat the powers that be in the way Bob proposes, when their tactics are to piecemeal their violations:

      They Thought They Were Free

      “But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    …” and so what I’ve testified to ya’, I was in the WATTS riot, I seen the beginning fire and I seen the last fire. What I seen is civil disturbance. People are not happy, people is thinking they did not have their freedom; they didn’t have these things, and they didn’t have them.

    We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and sure don’t want to go back; we sure don’t want the colored people to go back to that point; we sure don’t want the Mexican people to go back to that point; and we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies, and do it in a peaceful way.

    Let me tell.. talk to you about the Mexicans, and these are just things I know about the negroes. I want to tell you one more thing I know about the negro.

    When I go, went, go to Las Vegas, North Las Vegas; and I would see these little government houses, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids…. and there was always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch. They didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for the kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for the young girls to do.

    And because they were basically on government subsidy – so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never, they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered are they were better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things? Or are they better off under government subsidy?

    You know they didn’t get more freedom, uh they got less freedom – they got less family life, and their happiness -you could see it in their faces- they were not happy sitting on that concrete sidewalk. Down there they was probably growing their turnips – so that’s all government, that’s not freedom.

    Now, let me talk about the Spanish people. You know I understand that they come over here against our constitution and cross our borders. But they’re here and they’re people – and I’ve worked side-by-side a lot of them.

    Don’t tell me they don’t work, and don’t tell me they don’t pay taxes. And don’t tell me they don’t have better family structure than most of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they’re together, they picnic together, they’re spending their time together, and I’ll tell you in my way of thinking they’re awful nice people.

    And we need to have those people join us and be with us…. not, not come to our party.


  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Watch Rachel Maddow last night, especially from 17:00 to the end. Who is she talking about?


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Roddis, I can’t bring myself to watch Maddow, but I gather what she was saying based on the blurbs underneath the video box.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        It’s so much better than that. I’m gonna make a little MP3 of the last few mintues for the car so I have something to wake me up when the caffeine wears off.

    • Mule Rider says:

      Rachel Maddow – who along with Bill Maher is one of the ringleaders of the Snark Industrial Complex – is simply too much for me to stomach. I’ve tried giving her a chance a few times because she, much like Krugman, is so often touted as an “intellectual heavyweight” of “The Left” and I try to expose myself to differing viewpoints, especially from the supposed best and brightest representatives of a philosophy, but I’ll gladly stay in an echo chamber than listen to any more of her propagandist, state-apologizing garbage.

  8. Grane Peer says:

    Mr. Murphy, I think we have differing of opinion on average americans. The people standing with Cliven are exceptional Americans and those who walk away because of his faults or lack of tact are utterly average.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Grane Peer, I’m continuing this discussion not to be stubborn, but it alarms me that you and I are seeing things so differently. You wrote:

      Mr. Murphy, I think we have differing of opinion on average americans. The people standing with Cliven are exceptional Americans and those who walk away because of his faults or lack of tact are utterly average.

      Do you truly believe that the federal government didn’t have the physical ability to win in Nevada?

      They could have sent an Air Force bomber and flattened the whole place, with 0 federal casualties.

      Now why wouldn’t they have even entertained such an idea? Because there were cameras there and the country was following the story. They would have gotten a lot of pushback if they did that.

      So no, you and I don’t differ on our opinion of average Americans, we differ on our opinion of government officials. Or rather, I think you are not taking your own worldview seriously, for some reason.

      • Grane Peer says:

        Congratulations Mr. Murphy, I am completely confused by your response. I will walk away from this one. I think we may have missed each others points here and I don’t endeavor to waste your time arguing about something we probably agree on.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Fair enough Mr. Peer, no hard feelings, I think we largely have the same worldview and you may not be understanding what I’m saying.

  9. skylien says:


    Guys, it really doesn’t sound like he is racist. It rather sounds like he has no speech writers and public relationship managers…

    • K.P. says:

      Does it really matter?

      • skylien says:

        For the actual issue? A lot. Because Bundy is dependend on public opinion. And this smearing campaign is used to turn public opinion against him, to make any future move against him easier.

        • K.P. says:

          He’s probably lost his public support already, even if he didn’t mean what he said at all.

          He’s a “racist”, even worse, a “pro-slavery” one, the more he has to defend himself here the worse he’s going to look.

          • skylien says:

            Sounds like Mission accomplished….

            • K.P. says:

              Just see joe’s comments in the other thread (while you can) for an example.

              • skylien says:

                I saw it. He is a troll and purposefully interprets people to conform his own bias.

                People he disagrees with are evil of course.

              • K.P. says:

                Right, a pretty decent microcosm of the media. Wouldn’t you agree?

              • skylien says:

                For the most part I guess that’s right.

  10. skylien says:


    What a racist this Bundy guy must be that he trusts a black bodyguard…

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you be prejudiced without being racist? Did prejudiced people ever hire black servants?

      • skylien says:

        You know I can’t see into peoples minds, but I know if people argue for the enslavement of other races, for the diplacement, extinction or even slightly different laws, then they are for sure racist. And I am certain such people would not trust those people they really hate. You just don’t trust them with you life, except you are really crazy! Letting them bring you your tea obviously is something completely different, isn’t it?

    • Harold says:

      This comes under the “some of my friends are black” defence. It is quite possible to be racist and still like and trust some black people.

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