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December 03, 2007

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Some Thoughts on Jackbooted Thugs

Whilst idly browing the Internet, I typed "jackbooted thugs" into Google, and was amazed to see that the phrase had more than 39,000 entries, or whatever you call them. This means that it has entered the language, and since it had its origin with the misuse of guns, and police power, it might be enlightening to see how the term came to be.

A jackboot is a laceless military boot that comes almost to the knee; whose sole is studded with steel hobnails and whose heel is rimmed with steel. All this metal eliminates the need for a shoemaker, and makes a dandy racket when troops march in step. The most prominent users of jackboots have been the Germans, in World Wars I and II. 
      
"Thug" derives from an Indian cult known as thugee; its specialty was strangling travelers and then robbing them. Gradually, the word came into English meaning a dangerous criminal in general.
      
The person who put the two words together was Wayne LaPierre, the then (and current) Executive Vice President of the NRA. In 1995, in a fundraising letter, Mr. LaPierre referred to agents of the BATF and FBI as "jackbooted thugs." The resulting uproar caused some NRA members to resign, most notably the first President Bush, who was an NRA Life Member.
      
What Wayne LaPierre (or whoever actually wrote the letter) had in mind was two episodes that occurred in the early 1990s. The first was at Ruby Ridge, Idaho where the family of Randy Weaver was laid siege by the FBI. A number of people were killed on both sides (as was the Weaver's lab) but the most horrific death was that of Vicki Weaver, Randy's wife. She was standing behind a door, unarmed, holding her infant daughter in her arms, when she was shot in the head and killed by an FBI sniper named Lon Horiuchi.
      
As a result of Ruby Ridge, FBI Deputy Director Larry Potts received a letter of censure; E. Michael Kahoe, Chief of Bureau's Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Section, pleaded guilty to trying to destroy all copies of the FBI's internal report on Ruby Ridge; and overall, 12 officers were disciplined for their roles in the siege.
      
No action was taken against Lon Horiuchi.
      
The second event was the siege at Waco, Texas in 1993, in which a force of 75 ATF agents plus hundreds of other federal law-enforcement personnel equipped with armored vehicles took on a fringe religious group called the Branch Davidians. It consisted of 50-plus men and 75 women and children. The Branch Davidians were armed, although how heavily has always been under dispute.
      
At the end of 51 days, the Feds mounted a full-scale military assault against the compound, culminating in a catastrophic fire. As a result, either 74 or 79 or 85 Branch Davidians were killed. Attorney General Janet Reno, who approved the assault, accepted responsibility for the tragedy, but did not leave office. It was a case of "My bad. Sorry."
      
There are two reasons for bringing all this up. First is because we should remember. Second is, when Wayne LaPierre wrote his infamous letter, he was not attacking the ATF and FBI for no reason. He was reacting to massive failures at all levels, on a large scale, on two occasions, that resulted in the deaths of innocent American citizens.

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Comments

Steve C

IF the term "jack-booted thugs" applies, it would more appropriately be to the response of the ATF and FBI in the aftermath of Ruby Ridge and Waco. What led up to Ruby Ridge and Waco was incompetence, which I believe is a greater threat posed by those in power.

El-Wazir

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Seems to me it was a pro-gun, NRA card-carrying Democratic congressman from Michigan, John Dingle, who first used the phrase. LaPierre said so in one of his fund-raising letters around that time. Gotta read your mail, Dave...

Tommy

I frequently remind my wife when we have an argument, or she gets into it with a co-worker that "it takes two to tango". By that I mean it is very irresponsible, in most cases, to entirely blame one person or group for any human failure.

I do not know much about Ruby Ridge. I do remember Waco. I remember all the women and children.

I think it was a catastrophic human failure that neither of the 2 parties involved could find a way to get all the women and children out of harm's way in that episode. That was a dark day in our existence. On the one side - an "apparent" madman, with hoards of "apparently" brain-washed followers. On the other side - too many men with guns and an amount of patience that did not seem to matter. In the end - too many dead women and children with no "apparent" wrong-doing.

And our mighty rulers could do nothing about it.

I use "apparent" in this way because while there is evidence of the Koresh guy being wacked out, I guess since he will never face a trial, which we all deserve, we will never really know what was going on there.

buckstopper

I agree with Steve C, incompetance was the failing at Waco, leading to arrogance by those in charge. I remember a couple of decades ago when survivalist were in vogue and "Rambo" was in the theaters, a nut survivalist group calling itself "The Covenant, Arm and Sword" had a compound, simular to that of Waco, which holed up near Mt. Home in the Arkansas Ozarks. They actually built an armored car with numerous rockets and bozookas. The US attorney at the time was Asa Hutcheson, he choose to surround and wait them out, eventually after a couple of months the seige ended peacefully. Hutcheson later went on to Congress and a stint in the Bush Administration. The difference again was competance vs. incompetance.
Also, don't forget Elion Gonzales'
kidnapping by Janet Reno.

Bubba

Tommy,

Though Koresh died, there were survivors of the raid that escaped or got out days before the fire. Don't know if they were so pro-Koresh that they would not tell the truth, or just want the whole mess swept under the rug.
What little is known of Koresh is that he pretty much took control of the compound by "coup".
I'm not saying that the gov't was right or wrong. I'm saying that there is a lot that is not known about both sides and nobody seems to want to clear the air.
The Ruby Ridge incident, I understand was a little more cut and dried, with the gov't being a bit over zealous! But, then are we not a government, of the "people", by the "people", for the "people"? Aren't we as "people", human beings? Do we also not, as human beings, have failings?

Bubba

Dave in St Pete

Bubba,

I am human and have many failings but I don't remember shooting any innocent people and getting away with it.

(and I'm hoping you were being sarcastic)

Dr. Ralph

Let's see, Randy Weaver cut the barrel off a shotgun 1/2" too short for Big Brother's tastes. At the request of an undercover FBI agent let us not forget. His court papers were incorrect and so he didn't show up at the appointed time. Their appointed time, not the one they gave him... Seems reason enough to shoot his wife in the head while holding his infant child after spending over $1,000,000 of our money on surveillance. No?
David Koresh thought he was God. A bunch of people moved into his compound and treated him as such, including letting him have sex with anyone including little girls. Who are we to say he wasn't God? Freedom of religion? The BATF surrounded him and burned the compound to the ground along with everyone there. Way to save the children. Maybe if we're lucky Hillary will become president and Janet Reno will once again be attorney general. We can only pray...

Concerned_Soldier

Dave,
Could you have picked a more heated topic, maybe Abortion or the death penalty?

GUNs, GUNs, GUNs, okay Firearms for you word Nazis!! Oh sorry, bad reference timing.

How they shoot, Where to shoot them, fun stuff like that Dave.

I have heard enough of the other stuff on the news. This, that and the other thing went bad today...

Your a Vet and a writer, a good one at that, write about GUNs. Not Ruby Ridge and the Waco Cult!! Hindsight is 20/20

But then again, it is your Blog!! You fought for the right, you might as well use your 1st Admendment. Who better, then someone who has paid for it.

Which is a helluva alot more then we can say about some people.

V/R

C_S

YooperJack

Couple of thoughts:
Mrs Bill Clinton apparently personally selected Janet Reno to be the Attorney General. At no time did anyone suggest that she was the most competent person available. She fit the profile. I believe that David Koresh was ultimately the person most responsible for the Waco Massecre. However, the feds went in there with no regard for anyone's safety. While I blame Koresh, why hasn't anyone from the press asked HRC about this incident?
When I first read Dave's Post, I wondered, why now? I'm glad he put this up. These would be excellent talking points for the next debate.
The Weaver case always seemed more sinister. When I feel paranoid, I think about that. I never believed what I read about that. It almost seemed like someone in the Government had it out for Randy and was going to get him, guilty or not. Maybe Mrs. Bill Clinton could enlighten us on that case also.
YooperJack

Totalrecoil

Dave: El-Wazir is correct that it was Rep. John Dingell that had used the phrase "Jackbooted American fascists" prior to LaPierre's letters. Actually Dingell's characterization was nastier.
The NRA wrote a letter to President Bush after he resigned from the NRA which can be seen at http://www.boogieonline.com/revolution/firearms/enforce/nra_thug.html
In the end, Dingell proved to be no friend to gun owners or the NRA.

Mike Strehlow

A few days ago I was accused of near lunacy for saying that our civilization was fragile. I didn't mean that the US Govt. was going anywhere any time soon; I meant civilized behavior was fragile. This topic ties in.

It is amazing how fast riots start when a court case goes wrong. It is amazing how fast looters turn out when the big storm hits and the power goes off. Faster than you would think possible for civilized people.

It is amazing how scared Randy Weaver and the Branch Davidians got when the govt. came for them. But they are individuals or small groups of individuals. Jack booted thugs applies to government agents who are acting on behalf of the laws of this country, who have a situation completely under control, and who act like trigger happy idiots anyway. Randy Weaver wasn't going anywhere, yet Lon Horiuchi blasted his wife. The whole Branch Davidian mess was unneccessary; the govt. was essentially there to serve a search warrant. Waco residents wonder to this day why someone wearing a suit and tie didn't just walk up to the front door of their compound, ring the doorbell, and hand the warrant to Koresh personally, rather than going in shooting that first day. There is no record that there were any illegal guns in the place; the govt. changed its story to protecting the children within from child abuse well into the siege. Having killed and burned them all, I would say that the govt. was successful in keeping them from being abused by Koresh after that.

Why wasn't Janet Reno fired? Ask Bill Clinton; only the president can summarily fire an attorney general. While you are at it, ask Janet Reno why she as attorney general didn't file charges against Clinton for a dozen different crimes in office, none of them having to do with bimbos. Then add two and two.

I do not lie awake at night in fear of my country's govt.; the USA is still the best place on earth to be. In my limited experience I've seen nothing from our military but cool, appropriate responses. But when the government rouses out a couple of hundred uniformed, armed, and armored non-military types who answer to a flexible chain of command, with the idea that they are supposed to make sense of a civil situation, I say keep your heads down. Even yours, Tommy.

Mike Strehlow

A few days ago I was accused of near lunacy for saying that our civilization was fragile. I didn't mean that the US Govt. was going anywhere any time soon; I meant civilized behavior was fragile. This topic ties in.

It is amazing how fast riots start when a court case goes wrong. It is amazing how fast looters turn out when the big storm hits and the power goes off. Faster than you would think possible for civilized people.

It is amazing how scared Randy Weaver and the Branch Davidians got when the govt. came for them. But they are individuals or small groups of individuals. Jack booted thugs applies to government agents who are acting on behalf of the laws of this country, who have a situation completely under control, and who act like trigger happy idiots anyway. Randy Weaver wasn't going anywhere, yet Lon Horiuchi blasted his wife. The whole Branch Davidian mess was unneccessary; the govt. was essentially there to serve a search warrant. Waco residents wonder to this day why someone wearing a suit and tie didn't just walk up to the front door of their compound, ring the doorbell, and hand the warrant to Koresh personally, rather than going in shooting that first day. There is no record that there were any illegal guns in the place; the govt. changed its story to protecting the children within from child abuse well into the siege. Having killed and burned them all, I would say that the govt. was successful in keeping them from being abused by Koresh after that.

Why wasn't Janet Reno fired? Ask Bill Clinton; only the president can summarily fire an attorney general. While you are at it, ask Janet Reno why she as attorney general didn't file charges against Clinton for a dozen different crimes in office, none of them having to do with bimbos. Then add two and two.

I do not lie awake at night in fear of my country's govt.; the USA is still the best place on earth to be. In my limited experience I've seen nothing from our military but cool, appropriate responses. But when the government rouses out a couple of hundred uniformed, armed, and armored non-military types who answer to a flexible chain of command, with the idea that they are supposed to make sense of a civil situation, I say keep your heads down. Even yours, Tommy.

John

This government, like every single other government of the world, commits attrocities against its own people and against those of other countries, and gets away with it scott free 99.9999% of the time. And that will never, ever stop. And we should never, ever stop pointing it out and trying to do something about it.

Eldon  Dickens

Koresh was seriously mentally ill. In this country, mental illness is a defense against prosecution, if the illness is serious enough. A conviction might have been difficult, certainly would have been problematic. And then there was the issue of protecting the innocent people who had come to share Koresh's insanity. However, this was not on BATFE's agenda. Apparently, by some coincidence, gun control legislation concerning .50 rifles and "machine guns" was coming up in Congress -- and the Davidians were rumored to have such deadly weapons against which BATFE probably though there should be even more laws. A fellow by the name of David T. Hardy has written about BATFE abuses and also I believe Waco. His books are hard to find, but interlibrary loans can usually get them. He also has a blog, Of Arms and the Law.

The NRA ad in question was a very big, bad mistake. It resulted in a great deal of very negative publicity, none of which neither the NRA nor we needed. If your opponent is playing the "extremist" card, the last thing you want to do is pull a Goldwater and do what you can to reinforce the accusations. Instead, you want to look rational and sound factual and logical. Namecalling is always a dangerous game. Calling peace officers names, even those such as produced by BATFE, is never going to be a winning strategem. The NRA ad consultants not only made the NRA look foolish, but anti-law and order -- which is also one of the gun control lobby tactics.

Take a look at the crowd who responds to this blog. There's a bunch who, despite being dyed-in-the-wool gun nuts (that including me.), a whole bunch don't support the NRA (I'm a Life member). Maybe half of them think the NRA is too extreme, never compromises, and rigidly opposes gun control not matter how reasonable it sounds. The other half thinks the NRA isn't exreme enough, compromises our rights too much, and actually likes and supports gun control. They can't both be right. (Neither are.) If you own guns and believe in the Second Amendment, what's your excuse for not supporting the NRA? Of course, you don't have any friends except those who agree with you 100%. You never go to church because the pastor always preaches some kind of baloney theology. You've divorced a dozen wives because they never cook the way you want them to -- and they're expensive. So, you've got a similarly good excuse for not being an NRA member, right?

Totalrecoil's comment about John Dingell surprises me. Dingell was for a long time a membe of the NRA board of directors. He often defied his party bosses to oppose gun control and support hunting. For a long time he had an A+ rating from the ILA. What's behind your negative comments, Total?

Emmanuel

The abuses of power and astounding failures that David is talking about didn't end at Waco. They're still happening.

Take the case of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old Atlanta woman who lived in a bad neighborhood and kept a pistol on hand for defense. A little more than a year ago, corrupt and incompetent police officers attempted to raid her house, serving a "no knock" warrant and looking for drugs. Here's how the Atlanta Journal Constitution tells it:

"A fearful Johnston apparently thought the police were criminals and brought out an old gun to stop the intruders. She fired one shot and missed. Police fired 39 times, fatally injuring her and wounding other officers.

They handcuffed Johnston as she lay dying, and then several officers attempted to plant marijuana in the house to cover up the mistake.

They falsified reports to make it look as though drug dealing had occurred in the house.

The fiasco caused national headlines and led to a federal investigation of Atlanta police, and an almost yearlong hiatus on police efforts to shut down drug houses. The city's reborn narcotics unit, made up of entirely new officers, began investigating drug houses in October."

The peace officers I've known personally were decent and honest men doing work they believed in. They would never have fired a weapon unless it was absolutely necessary to protect their own lives or the lives of others.

But among any ranks there will inevitably be some jackbooted thugs. And some of those thugs are issued guns. On top of that, the people charged with prosecuting the thugs when the thugs mess up and kill innocent people answer to the same boss as the thugs.

Blessedly, these situations don't happen often. But when they do, there are two options: You can be armed or unarmed. The people who wrote our Constitution preferred the former to the latter.

To Eldon,

My excuse for not joining the NRA is that I'm a member of the media. For rank-and-file newspaper reporters, joining any political group is a swift and sure way to end your career prospects amid accusations of "bias" from all sides.

Instead of joining the NRA, I'm often the lone voice in the newsroom raising hell when something inaccurate or misleading is written about firearms. I'm also the one constantly advocating for fair coverage of the folks who enjoy them.

Anon

Emmanuel

Here's a thought.
I am a gun nut!
I support the NRA!
I do not belong to the NRA!
Why? If the powers that be decided they wanted to grab firearms, who would have the largest list of known gun owners?
Would the NRA ever give up such a list? I don't know, but it's a chance I just really don't want to take. Once a year, I send the NRA the price of a one year membership, no name or address attached.

Anon

YooperJack

Anon made some good points. I don't know a lot about computers, Internet, etc. Did Anon (and all of the rest of us) cede the privacy that he or she cherishes by posting that comment? I'm asking because I honestly don't know. Gman, are you out there?

YooperJack

GREG

You get any group of people together you get some bad seeds. As far as law enforcement goes, I wouldnt take there job for any amount of money. There will be some that abuse their power.For the 99% of them it is a job they love, actually helping their community. We can pick out bad preachers, teachers and grandmothers. There also will be bad cops.

Mark-1

Some thoughts that may or may not be interrelated. I’ve made a considerable personal investment to my country and government. I support and depend upon my government, but I’ve learned through observation and experience to trust my government as far as I can toss one of my horses. There’s always unfriendly policies changes.

My Theory of any government is they are all bureaucracies that will attack any action, person, and group that threaten its existence. The minute a “Weaver” and Waco situation, an 1840 Mormon-type group, Indian tribal type situation, or a 911 event raises its head the Bureaucracy will crush the challenge to protect its existence.

Something to remember when you pick a fight with Government.

GREG

I think Iknow who you are Anon. Am I Right?

Tommy

Bubba. The writing style is too identical.

GREG

What do you think about cops Tommy?

Tommy

All I can say from the above posts, is that it is a bit comforting to know that many citizens, in positions of varying degrees of importance; from the likes of writers, retired military and police, lawyers and even laborers, keep their eyes open in regards to that they ultimately support.

Whether you are in any of the aforementioned professions, you do support the government that governs you by your role in society, the job you perform, the taxes you pay.

And the guilt we swallow at times.

GREG

By the way I live in jefferson county AR. Someone burned the Sheriff', under construction, house down last night.

Tommy

Most police officers I have met in my life were great people. As has been posted above, there are bad seeds in any arena.

What is the nature of your question Greg?




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