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“Waco,” a Review

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I am watching Waco on Netflix. I recommend it. My view of the Branch Davidian tragedy in a nutshell: David Koresh was an evil man who broke the law and needed to be stopped. The government’s actions to stop him were breathtakingly over-the-top cowboy antics that resulted in many needless deaths , including dozens of innocent children.

I suppose I like the Netflix drama because its “no good guys” approach to the subject is similar to my own.

The initial ATF raid stands as perhaps the most colossal law enforcement blunder in the last 50 years. Before the raid, Koresh was never “holed up” in the compound, and ATF could have arrested him without incident (much less loss of life) at any time. There is no doubt they chose the outrageously disproportionate use of force as a publicity stunt, a stunt that went tragically wrong.

One of the most sobering things about the FBI’s response was their use of “psychological warfare” (the FBI negotiators’ term, not mine) in the siege. My jaw hangs agape when I contemplate that agents of the federal government were allowed to wage war on children. That the war was psychological rather than physical is a difference of degree, not of kind.

Finally, the FBI used CS gas against the compound on the final day of the siege. I learned this from Waco: Under the Chemical Weapons Convention — to which the US is a signatory — it is a war crime to use CS gas against enemy soldiers. Yet the nation stood by and watched as the FBI used it on a group of US citizens, including dozens of children. I am aware of no factor that mitigates this evil.

We should keep the lessons of Waco in mind today. One of those lessons is that a person’s status as an agent of the government does not exempt them from the human condition, including the capacity to commit evil and try to justify it as good.

@Ed George it’s obvious from correct spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure that Trump didn’t write the excuse tweet. Jim Thibodeau
JaD, the real issue is that a 4th gen civil war is undermining ability to respond sensibly and in good time to a serious threat. This includes undermining warrant through selective hyperskepticism and it includes recognising that with life on the line the media seemingly cannot help themselves. Beyond, we take the issues home: with direct observable strong trends on the table, reliably, we see a failure to recognise degree of warrant, multiplied by deep polarisation. A fortiori, the issue regarding the design inference is not strength of warrant [though it is important to recognise the warrant] but the deeply rooted indoctrination and ideological polarisation admitted by the likes of Lewontin, Crick and Monod. So, we are back to first duties and principles of reason, which we also see being sidelined and dismissed or studiously ignored. In that light it is then utterly unsurprising that there is an unwillingness to deal with the kind of roots reality must have in order to have in it morally governed, significantly free creatures. KF kairosfocus
Once again, we see “Ed George” (or whoever he really is) trying to be disruptive. I don’t enjoy, nor do I think it is very wise, getting sucked into baseless “arguments” that lead nowhere. There is big a difference between making logically valid arguments and being argumentative. Some of our regular interlocutors, like EG, have a “talent” for just being argumentative which only has the purpose of derailing, disrupting or subverting the discussion. Unfortunately, too many people on the ID side get repeatedly sucked into that kind of nonsense. As I have said here several times before:
I have my own personal standard when it comes to interacting with our regular interlocutors. I usually only engage under two conditions: First, our interlocutor must be willing to ask and answer honest questions. Second, they need make a logically valid argument, which can be stated using succinct fact based premises. Being argumentative is not the same as making a valid argument. Neither is pretension and posturing, obstruction or obfuscation. Reasonable people know how to make reasonable arguments.
https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/why-is-seeing-the-glaringly-obvious-so-hard/#comment-688055 PS Personally, I am not here to discuss politics. I thought UD was NOT a political blog. Aren’t there enough of those kind of blogs out there? john_a_designer
EG, your turnabout fails. Your underlying polarisation is manifest. KF kairosfocus
EG, I think the reasonable thing to do is to respond with benefit of the doubt,
For most people, I would agree. But Trump has been caught so many times in easily verifiable lies that he has lost that concession.
Dr Birx has given a summary that also needs to be heeded.
That headlines are often misleading and intended to capture your attention. That is nothing new. All you have to do is read many of the headlines at UD to se this (and I don't mean this as a criticism of UD other than it is prone to the same biases as all media is). But what jumps out to me in her statement is that at no time did she actually say that Trump didn't say to look at using disinfectants on people, that she took it as sarcasm or that, in this case, the media had it wrong. That speaks volumes. Ed George
EG, I think the reasonable thing to do is to respond with benefit of the doubt, e.g. Noble has a specific meaning of barons, earls etc, it would not work. You can see my warning as to where things are heading. Dr Birx has given a summary that also needs to be heeded. KF kairosfocus
From Trump's tweet
Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is...
Just like his comment about disinfectants was sarcasm. If there is anyone who believes that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. By the way, if he intentionally meant to type noble, why did he capitalize it? If he meant it as sarcasm, why didn't he put quotes around it? I had no problem with him mouthing off when he was a private citizen, and I often found it entertaining. But as the President, his words have consequences. Just look at the swings in the stock market we have seen over the last few years just because of something he tweeted. And, let's be honest, what mature adult insists on using derogatory nick-names for those who disagree with them? Other than ET, TruthFreedom and Trump, most of us grew out of that phase before our permanent teeth grew in. Ed George
JT, As a footnote, it seems Mr Trump put up a later Tweet:
Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” Does sarcasm ever work? 140K 6:54 PM - Apr 26, 2020
That seems to raise a somewhat different suggested context than you do above. In that wider context, I clip some remarks by Dr Birx in a Fox News interview also:
Dr. Birx: “Well, you know I’ve had privilege to do media all over the world. Uh, people may not have seen me before ’cause it’s primarily been in South Africa and Asia because I’ve been working on vaccines and therapeutics and pandemics around the globe for a number of years. Um, I, I think the media, is, um, very slicey and dicey about how they put sentences together in order to create headlines. I think, you know, Amer…we know for millennials and other studies that some people may only read the headlines. Um, and if there’s not a graphic they’e not gonna look any further than that. And I think, we have to be responsible about our headlines. I think often the, the reporting may be accurate in paragraph three, four and five but I’m not sure how many people actually get to paragraph three, four and five. And I think the responsibility that the press has is to really ensure that the headlines reflect the science and data that is in their piece itself.”
KF kairosfocus
JaD, so it is clear that a reasonable resolution was on the table but was pushed aside. One suspects, a court trial that would drag out the issues behind the attempted raid would have been utterly inconvenient. So, there was an institutional interest to seek destructive vengeance. The kids who died trying to find safety in a walk in refrigerator IIRC, paid the price. KF kairosfocus
JT, BA is right, doubling down. Years ago, I used to speak of the fallacy trifecta, red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere, frustrating any sound progress. I saw it first in connexion with the ID debate, but soon realised it is far more wide in its applicability, for those who are intoxicated by it become addicted to their self-justifying rage and projection of blame to the despised other. In the face of a march of folly or ship of state in the hands of mutinous incompetents, this fallacy and other linked agit prop strategies such as establishing a crooked yardstick as false standard of straight, upright and accurate . . . which locks out what is genuinely or even naturally such . . . is all too likely to be fatal. Now, I have no doubt that the USA has been tainted by racism and other sins of our civilisation. The basic corrective to which is, that we are creatures from one common Eternal Father, who made us in his image and from one blood. So, we are in core the same, despite superficial differences. In my case, I literally carry the fact of our essential unity in my veins, being tri-continental in ancestry; we are of one blood, one race, one species. However, over the span of my lifetime, I have observed that the cultural power of racism has far dwindled, it is now mostly a stigma or a scarlet brand in policy matters. Sometimes, it is used as a shield. Now, I have the advantage that a cousin was a serious potential US Presidential candidate, from the "moderate" wing of the Republicans. (I even thought at one time, would he be willing to try to take up his ancestral land's even deeper woes?) That gives me a perspective. Similarly, as my Alma Mater was a Marxism-dominated uni, and as I saw across the past thirty years how Marxism morphed in aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Bloc through defeat in the real WW3, the Cold War, I saw how cultural marxism pioneered by the Frankfurt School et al led to the dominance of so-called critical theories and oppression/identity theses and politicised research programmes. These captured the academy and are driving forces behind several key sub ideologies of so-called progressivism. Mr Obama comes straight out of that milieu. For me, the key issue was, what is a "Community Organiser" of the Alinsky, Chicago School? That question lurked, persistently unaddressed in a serious way in major media, year after year. The answer is, a trained, radical leftist agitator steeped in cultural marxism and trained to act as a subversive to overthrow what the radical left sees as the core thing wrong with the world: Western, Christianity-influenced Capitalistic, Free Enterprise oriented Civilisation. Which is precisely what he set out to do, and the pivotal, watershed issue was not race [that was a shield], it was the destruction of marriage and sexual identity rooted in the naturally evident creation order of male and female. That blow is mortal, absent a miracle of reformation. However, the focal issue is the peasant uprising, the rise of the rust belt, hinterland deplorables. The industrial and agricultural working class who for a generation have paid the price for a globalised economy living on the longsuffering chinese labour force. They felt the pain of regional depression and destabilisation. They (the people who are the core for an all volunteer military) saw the geostrategic implications of becoming increasingly industrially dependent on a hostile power. And more. That is why they have reached out looking for those who would champion their cause in one form or another. (This is why both Mr Trump and Mr Sanders have attracted attention and support.) They have seen the ferocious, ruthless and vicious reaction of the coastal urban elites and their media agit prop handmaidens. They duly note the resort to media, judicial and law enforcement lyinchings. (That was a progressivist blunder of the first magnitude. It is about to explode. When you enrage a core population that literally feeds you, that is utterly unwise.) The issue is not Mr Trump, just as it wasn't Mr Obama. It is Ac 27 and Rom 1, the former echoing the Peloponnesian War and the parable of the Ship of State. Not to mention, the warning in The Laws bk X. This pandemic brings things to a head. And things are about to go boom. KF They are now quietly, truly angry. kairosfocus
Besides Tabor it appears that Gary Noesner, “the FBI agent who led the hostage negotiations between the Branch Davidians and the U.S. government,” also believed the standoff could have been settled peacefully. According to his website, “he was an FBI hostage negotiator for 23 years of his career, retiring as the Chief of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, Critical Incident Response Group, the first person to hold that position.” http://garynoesner.com/
Although the [Netflix]series makes it appear as though [Noesner] was involved with the siege the entire time, it turns out that wasn't true. According to a 2018 interview with Time, Noesner was removed from the case 25 days into the standoff because other members of the FBI thought of him as an “impediment to those who wanted to take a more aggressive role.” Noesner also pointed out that the agency called him into headquarters on the final day to watch the tragedy on the monitors. “I watched the fire,” he told Time. “I got angry and walked out. I got more angry than I had ever been in my life.”
https://www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a32212139/gary-noesner-waco-miniseries-netflix/ In other words, the FBI totally disregarded the recommendations of one of its top crisis negotiators. One of the more sickening things about the chain of events, at least as I remember them unfolding in 1993, was that the FBI used safety of the children as pretense of taking such drastic action. That worked out well, didn’t it? john_a_designer
At 12 KF warns Jim against wading in the fever swamps of his own propaganda. At 13 Jim doubles down. Jim, your hatred for literally half the country who voted for Trump is breathtaking in its burning intensity. The irony is that as a progressive you no doubt pride yourself in being "tolerant" of other perspectives. The hate and hypocrisy radiating from your comments are almost literally nauseating. Do better. Barry Arrington
^^^^^^^^^^^^ fake whig history! bornagain77
KF, Trump was an angry racist backlash to having a black man president. I live in the Deep South and I’ve studied American politics for many decades. If you don’t understand the rural uneducated racism that propelled Trump into the office, you don’t understand what happened. It’s the last gasp of the Southern Strategy that reoriented the GOP around southern whites angry about desegregation. The Religious Right didn’t form to stop abortion. It formed in the 50’s and 60’s in opposition to desegregation. In the late 1970s, when the Falwells and the Bob Joneses admitted they lost that battle, they switched to abortion because they’d gotten a taste for political power. That’s why the same people who vote for Trump are the ones who send money to televangelists. It’s just another aspect of the same con. You’re wringing your hands about 1914 but if you want to understand Trump a big part of the answer is 1954. Jim Thibodeau
JT, if you feel moved to compare Mr Trump to a cult leader, that speaks to a degree of polarisation that I suggest you need to rethink. Mr Trump is not a cult leader, he is the focus for the moment for a peasant uprising that is much bigger than a NY Contractor and sometime reality TV star. Indeed, much the same is happening across the Atlantic in the UK, where the Remainers were yet again handed their heads by the electorate. So far, the uprising is by ballot box; but I doubt that the coastal, progressivist elites who despise Jesusland/ Flyover country realise the volcano they are sitting on. Which, has happened any number of times before. Believing and allowing oneself to be polarised by one's own propaganda is not advisable. Please, think again, before irrevocable, catastrophic mistakes are made; mistakes like 1914. KF kairosfocus
Here is the account (4/19/17) of one of the negotiators, James D. Tabor, who was called in to try help resolve the siege. Tabor, “served as Chair (2004-2014) of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, where he has taught since 1989. He is currently Professor of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Previously he held positions at the University of Notre Dame and the College of William and Mary. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981 in Ancient Mediterranean Religions.” “Next year,” he writes in his blog, “marks the 25th anniversary of Waco. As some of you know this hits home with me in a personal way since I was involved, along with Dr. Philip Arnold and lawyer Dick DeGuerin, in trying to work out an exit plan with Branch leader David Koresh and his followers.” Points 6 & 7 of Tabor’s 10 point synopsis of what went wrong IMO gets to the very heart of the matter.
6. The Exit Plan. Koresh had worked out with his lawyer Dick DeGuerin a full exit plan, even down to the order people would come out, and sent out a signed legal agreement a few days before the final assault with the tanks and CS gas. He did not trust the Federal authorities and insisted on Texas Rangers being involved. He had also worked out a plan via Drs. Arnold and Tabor for his exposition of the Seven Seals, the core of the Davidian message, to be properly presented to the world in a manuscript he would hand over to them upon exit. The final recorded conversations between Koresh and the negotiators even two days before the fire show an upbeat Koresh, openly rejoicing at the deal that had been worked out, and eagerly anticipating the exit of the group and the peaceful resolution of the crisis and standoff. 7. Janet Reno Deceived. Attorney General Janet Reno was never told of any exit plan or deal that had been worked out. She repeatedly asked the FBI officials if there was any hope, or any other way. She was told that all avenues had been exhausted,..
https://jamestabor.com/april-19-1993-waco-branch-davidian-tragedy-going-on-25-years/ Of course, what happened is what happens when you put too many wannabe Rambo’s in charge. They certainly taught that wacko from Waco, or any other would be cult leaders, a thing or two. They’re still probably bragging about it to the grandchildren. The only people that I have heard that feel at al guilty were the negotiators who, like Tabor, thought they were very close to a peaceful resolution. john_a_designer
@Pater speaking of cults, I have no idea why people blindly follow this guy:
@RealDonaldTrump When will all of the “reporters” who have received Noble Prizes for their work on Russia, Russia, Russia, only to have been proven totally wrong (and, in fact, it was the other side who committed the crimes), be turning back their cherished “Nobles” so that they can be given....
The one-eyed leading the blind, I guess. That happened early this afternoon and after multiple websites started making fun of it, he deleted it. I did get a screenshot before it got deleted, because I figured that would happen. Jim Thibodeau
BA, yes, criminal negligence. Had that been done then or even better after Ruby Ridge, much that happened since could have been averted. The emergent matters on suppression of exculpatory evidence, attempt to intimidate perjured accusations and threats holding family members hostage for a man who for decades put his life literally on the line in defence of his country speak. Speak with horrific force. KF kairosfocus
PK, your pseudo-clever remark (unsurprisingly but sadly) fails to recognise the vastly different dynamics between a manipulative cult and a great religion established on seriously and openly addressed issues of ultimate truth and on facts that did not happen in a corner. It rather reminds me of those who suggest that a navy is little more than piracy writ large, or that "justice" is little more than state oppression and revenge. Kindly, think again. KF kairosfocus
I thought then and think now, that repeatedly ramming a wooden building illuminated by fuel fired lamps with heavy armoured vehicles, especially on a highly windy day, was criminally irresponsible.
Indeed. Moreover, a point that is made at the end of the series is that the FBI knew or should have known that fire follows gas not infrequently. Yet, they made no plans to deal with the fire contingency. The FBI agent in charge of that operation should not have been charged with either murder or manslaughter. He probably did not commit either. He should have been charged with criminally negligent homicide. He should have been charged with child abuse. At the very least he should have been pilloried (metaphorically) by law enforcement. Barry Arrington
Pater An issue they actually address in the series. The context: Do we give small unpopular movements less free exercise of religion? Obviously, the answer is no. Of course that does not give Koresh a pass for statutory rape. Barry Arrington
Cult - A small, unpopular religion Religion - A large, popular cult Pater Kimbridge
BA, Waco was not by any means the first, and I fear it will not be the last. The repeated massacre of Amerindians also comes to mind. One thing we must be clear on, children are not guilty of anything their parents might be of (where, the days of the hereditary, genocidal feud are past) and another is that with innocent lives on the line, a totally different set of priorities has to obtain. KF PS: I thought then and think now, that repeatedly ramming a wooden building illuminated by fuel fired lamps with heavy armoured vehicles, especially on a highly windy day, was criminally irresponsible; whatever we may think of narratives that they decided on suicide by fire. Given that prior factor and the pattern of behaviour of the officials then and elsewhere, I frankly have serious questions on such official narratives. But then, my questions go back to the Kennedy assassination and beyond also. kairosfocus
To me, these cults or sects pose the same problem as these "sovereign citizens".
Sounds like you are making a veiled apology for the government's actions at Waco. I was certainly not trying to defend Koresh in the OP. Are you trying to defend the government's response? If not, your statement is pointless. If yes, your statement is evil. Clarification from you is in order. Barry Arrington
There was a dramatized documentary about a similar incident with Dennis Franz from NYPD Blue playing the FBI agent in charge and I can't think of the name of it. As I remember, it ended relatively peacefully with just a dog-handler being shot dead by one of the sect members. To me, these cults or sects pose the same problem as these "sovereign citizens". What do you do with people who regard themselves as not subject to the laws of the land and try to do whatever they like based on that assumption? Seversky
Barry I watched WACO over two nights with my wife, she kept looking over at me and repeatedly kept saying “How can this happen in America” Very sobering. Another must watch is the documentary “Hoaxed” I think it was originally on Amazon but they took it down. It is a must see, they even end with “Platos Cave” which all I could think of is KF. Anything that spends time talking about Platos Cave and additionally was removed from Amazon is a must see in my book. It’s not just about fake news it’s about how people process information, Barry you would love it. Vivid vividbleau

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