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July 2012

July 28 in U.S. military history

1779: 40 Continental Marines and Massachusetts Militia, including their leader, Marine Capt. John Welsh, are killed in an unsuccessful assault on Britain’s Fort George at Penobscot Bay, Maine.

1914: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, beginning World War I. Nearly 20 million military and civilians will be dead by conflict’s end four years later.

1915: 340 Marines and sailors land at Port au Prince, Hayti, beginning an occupation that would last until 1934.

1918: Brig. Gen. John A. Lejeune assumes command of the 2d U.S. Army Division in France – becoming the second Marine to command an Army Division (Brig. Gen. Charles A. Doyen was the first).

1932: Following an unsuccessful attempt to remove “Bonus Army” marchers from the nation’s capital by Washington, D.C. police, President Herbert Hoover orders Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur, to evict the protestors by force.

1943: Eight square miles of Hamburg, Germany and 42,000 citizens are consumed in a firestorm caused by thousands of British incendiary bombs.

1945: A B-25 Mitchell bomber, flying through thick fog over New York City, slams into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing the plane’s three crewmembers, 11 occupants and igniting a four-story blaze.

1965: Pres. Lyndon Johnson sends 50,000 troops to Vietnam, bringing the number to 125,000. To meet the requirements, monthly draft calls are increased from 17,000 to 35,000 – the highest since the Korean War.

Today's photo: Legendary Marines John Lejeune and Smedley Butler in Mexico, 1914

United: Kicking Veteran's Service Dogs?

Okay, time for all of us to break out our best "Bust Their Chops" waffle stompers.  I have not ridden United in more than a year.  Lots of good reasons, beyond their breaking guitars and Gina's heart.  Their customer service seems to be non-existant, and when you think it can't get worse, guess what:

"(He) kicked her so hard on the rib cage, that she flew into my lap… He said he was afraid of dogs," Staneck said.

Go read about how United employees treated a veteran and his service dog.  Then, join in the effort to contact United leadership about getting their employees some training (and I personally want those involved fired).  Contact info below:

Continue reading "United: Kicking Veteran's Service Dogs? " »

Alyona leaves RT for Huffington Post

I have been a regular guest on RT's The Alyona Show for several years now (A playlist of many of the bits here). Arguing with her and riffing on the news has been a lot of fun and hopefully some entertainment in the process. Now she and her producer Jenny Churchill are loading up the truck and moving to Beverly, Hills that is. They will be doing a show for the Huffington Post's new online Live offering and once they are up and running I will be joining them via the internets from time to time. It sounds like an interesting format where they will engage with commenters and other online entities which is right in my sweet spot.

My favorite take on the move is this one noting that Huff Po has hired a Kremlin propagandist.Obviously RT is Russian state-owned and I even had some fun a while back by submitting a show idea to the producers where I would serve as the Ombudsman and Om-Buddy of Vlad on Putin TV. Shockingly they didn't pick it up.

I disagree w/ Alyona on all kinds of very important things, as a look at any of the segments will certainly show. But she is a smart and talented advocate and I respect and like her personally. Plus arguing with pretty women wins over ugly dudes any time. So good luck to her and Jenny and I anxiously await a chance to enage the open-minded and tolerant Huff Po audience. Here is my last appearance on Happy Hour from last night.

Godspeed Sgt. Eric Williams

A milblogger and flight medic has gone to the Green.  He was killed on his way home, and his last post describes his thoughts and feelings at going home.  Warning:  the post is dusty, and the comments -- including one from his wife -- tend to stir the dust. 

Godspeed Sgt. WIlliams, thoughts and prayers go out for your family and all those you leave behind. 


Soldiers's Angels responds to Mike "Surplus" Yon's Slurs

As many of you have pointed out, Mike "Surplus" Yon has been attacking me and Mark Seavey (quite possibly the best guy I have ever known) because he hates Soldiers' Angels and Mark and I are on the board.

Go here for the real reason why Mike "Surplus" Yon hates Soldiers' Angels:  Mudville Gazette: REVEALED

So, Soldiers' Angels has responded to the allegations of impropriety by Surplus. It is long, but it spells out why the Charity Navigator rating can be difficult to grasp sometimes - especially for "Surplus." SA gets 70/70 on transparency, but where it is rated lower is in the financial section, and that is because it chooses to hire veterans (which counts as overhead) rather than pay an outside firm which would be a "program cost." In terms of units sent overseas and veterans helped with jobs, Soldiers' Angels way is significantly better, but Charity Navigator assigns a lower rating. And Soldiers' Angels does not hold on to donations meant to go to programs and packages for the troops.  Other organizations may keep millions on hand, but SA believes that your donations should go to the troops as soon as possible.  Anyway, please read and repost/send/share as much as possible. The angels that I volunteer with are among the best people on this planet.

Here is the response from the Chairman of the Audit Committee for Soldiers' Angels:

It has come to the attention of Soldiers' Angels Board of Trustees that allegations have been raised by Michael Yon regarding the stability of our organization.  We understand that some of our volunteers and supporters are disheartened by these charges, and we would like to take the opportunity to respond to them.  We would also like to take this time to explain the ratings that were given to Soldiers' Angels by Gloria Wise/Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Charity Navigator, two independent rating organizations.

First, let me address organizational stability.  Mr. Yon’s allegations are baseless at best.  Soldiers' Angels has worked with over 400,000 highly-motivated volunteers since in its inception.  In any organization of this size there will always be interpersonal conflicts and hard feelings between some of the volunteers; that is only normal.  As our charity evolves in its mission to support service members and their families, organizational priorities change and some individuals may feel that their particular program isn’t being given the proper amount of attention.  Rest assured, the Board weighs every issue and does its level best to make sure that everyone is accommodated, but our focus is on delivering the maximum benefit to those who are serving or have served in harm’s way.  While most of our volunteers understand and support this concept, a handful of them have opted to air their grievances publicly, which has created fodder for Mr. Yon, who in turn has elevated concern among our other volunteers...

Continue reading "Soldiers's Angels responds to Mike "Surplus" Yon's Slurs" »

Douchebaggery In The News

I was actually in a good humor earlier today, but two well-known people in the media have raised the blood pressure with pure unadulterated douchebaggery. 

The first doesn't surprise me, as it was O'Reilly -- of whom I've not been a fan for many years now.  A screaming bully who talks over rather than let someone make a valid point or point out a fact that runs counter to his rant of the day.  The only reason I've tuned in at all was to catch the portion (and only the portion) when the Hammer was on.  Last night, he went off on the need for gun control and showed his abysmal ignorance of guns, ammo, and weapons law.  In fact, he pretty much got everything flat out wrong, which was not a surprise.  Check out Gateway Pundit for a takedown, as well as this thread on Calguns.  Also, go read this piece and this piece at the Castle (meant to link these earlier, got distracted). I'm sure there are others out there shooting the tuna in a teacup that was this ignorant screed, feel free to leave links to them in the comments, and rather than scream at the screamer, join me in laughing at him and his showcasing his ignorance in such grand fashion. 

The second disappoints me tremendously, and makes me want to seriously violate the family-friendly code here -- as well as hope that the three ladies in question slap the **** out of the perpetrator.  James Taranto has done an excellent job overall with his Best of the Web column at the Wall Street Journal.  However, he went very far off the rails yesterday with a tweet about the women saved by their boyfriends in Aurora:

I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice.

How. Dare. You.  It is not your place to question that or the decision made by those men.  THEY chose to give their lives to save them, and THEY felt them worthy of that sacrifice.  You clearly demonstrate an overweening arrogance and ignorance; a lack of familiarity with "no greater love"; and a lack of understanding or sacrifice, courage, risk, or honor.  Your mea-culpa is perhaps the best example of the "I'm sorry you were not intelligent enough to understand what I said" I've ever seen.  It is not sufficient, though on some level I do appreciate your explanation of how you came to write such an ill-considered and disgusting thing, which was far more than errant.  The fact is, you were wrong.  You f****d up on so many levels it is not funny.  Man up, and do an honest apology to the women, and most of all to the men, who showed that they were indeed men in every sense of the word. 

Several years ago, a reporter wrote something that was incredibly stupid, and in so doing led to my first embed in Iraq.  To give him full credit, he manned up immediately and the next day his column started out 'Boy, did I screw up yesterday.' Mister Taranto, you would do well to take a page from that reporter and give a real, full, and honest apology.  It can be short and sweet like his, or it can be a bit longer.  It can acknowledge your failing, the insult to the women and men in question, and that you are sincerely sorry.  Or, you can stick with what you've done and continue with the royal "we" on everything.  Seriously, dude, man up and say "I screwed up, I'm sorry."  Until then, you deserve condemnation and shunned by all Men, be they male or female.


This Ain't Hell's Stolen Valor Tournament - Justice Sotomayor Regional Round Two

Go vote in The Farm Team's next round in the Sotomayor Regional of Stolen Valor Tourney. Here's a preview:

SCHAFFER: You might remember Schaffer from the classic “I contracted for sex with Bar Rafaeli and ended up with Betty White” debacle. Not that I’m in any way implying that dirty dirty Betty isn’t a monster in the sack, but probably less so than Schaffer’s current cellmate in prison. Which is good, because this dirtbag deserves every pounding the Queens can give him at Shawshank.

WILSON: I have to admit, I like this guy’s power move. He’s sort of saying “sure, I listen to cutter music (Morrissey, The Smiths) and wear eyeliner, but that doesn’t mean I can’t throw on an Army uniform with the tape on the wrong side.” Just a power move. Like taking a ham sandwich to a pig roast, or a date to the Playboy mansion. Dare I say it, I like the cut of this man’s jib! And his eyeliner by Mabeline.

Go and vote.

Also, note that the boys at TAH are asking to support a great organization Defenders of Freedom...

Support Defenders of Freedom: Lost in the debacle that was the Tim Poe affair is the fact that he actually did serve honorably in Afghanistan, and really was injured there. The stories after that were his and only his. But Defenders of Freedom should not bear the fault for Poe expanding on his record, and they won’t again. This week I will be honoring DoF, starting off with a meager $10 to help their mission. DoF sends support boxes to our men and women in uniform, support wounded Soldiers with emergency financial assistance, supports the families of wounded Soldiers and support the USO at DFW Airport (which helped at least one blogger get married.) So, I hope you will join me and give them a few dollars. Don’t let the fakers define who we are.

Cyber War and Cyber Defeat

Thunderstruck Iranians?  Personally, I love the idea of this (even thought the RT news site is not exactly my first source for accurate info) - ACDC's Thunderstruck playing on volume 11 on the computers at an Iranian nuke facility on boot up.  About five years ago, one of the guys that worked for me changed our building automation system to kick off Darth Vader's theme when ever my badge keyed open a door.  It was funny the first time...

Next, did the NSA know about Holmes in Aurora, Colorado.  An interesting piece in the WSJ:

Would Total Information Awareness have stopped James Eagan Holmes?

You perhaps remember the fuss. That program by the Defense Department was curtailed when the Senate voted to revoke funding amid a privacy furor in 2003. The project had been aimed partly at automatically collecting vast amounts of data and looking for patterns detectable only by computers...

Because of Holmes presence on the net and being able to coorelate data related to that presence, could the NSA have alerted LE in time...?

I'm sure our resident cyber expert LTSO might have an opinion here.

Book Review: Hard Target by Alan Jacobson

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews in the Books category or by clicking here:

Jacobson180351700Alan Jacobson’s latest book, Hard Target, ventures away from FBI behavioral analyst Karen Vail.  Although she makes a cameo appearance, other characters in the book play a predominate role.  There are a number of themes in this book: from when to follow orders, a search for life’s meaning, how a personal loss affects one’s life, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and a discussion of the Second Amendment.

The main character is FBI Agent Aaron Uziel, better known as Uzi.  While working for Mossad he lost his wife and daughter in a terrorist attack. He moves back to America and lands a job with the FBI.  In this book he works closely with Hector DeSantos, an operative with the Department of Defense.  Together they try to find those responsible for an assassination attempt on the president-elect.  This is where the reader gets exposed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conspiracy theory involving the Second Amendment.

Although Jacobson commented that he does not see this book “involving a conspiracy theory because that has bigger connotations.  Those that believe in it many times latch on to theories and facts, weaving them together into some fantastical, bizarre, illogical explanation of what has happened.”

The plot leans towards those supporting gun control, perhaps because he consulted with the general counsel of an organization that believes the Second Amendment does not provide citizens the right to bear arms.  Jacobson told BlackFive that he did research with this group but he achieved a balance by having quotes in the book, such as “don’t blame the weapon, blame the handler.”

As with all of his books he tries to get into the mind of the antagonist.  He made an interesting point in the novel, that bomb makers like serial killers have a signature.  Commenting directly, “Part of the behavioral analysis unit profiles and analyzes bombers.  The BAU approaches the bomber, in a sense, from a similar perspective: their work is studied as well as the way they execute these attacks.”

Will his next book be another in the Karen Vail series or will it involve Uzi?  He told BlackFive that Karen Vail will return in the novel, which will be set in England.  The story starts out with her in Madrid to educate the Spanish law enforcement about serial killers.  While in Spain she gets involved in helping to apprehend an offender.  This gets her in a bit of hot water and the FBI needs to send its legal attaché to extradite her.  However, instead of coming home she is ordered to head to London to assist with a bombing threat assessment.  In this next book, Hector DeSantos will also return to work with Vail and Scotland Yard.

In an interesting side note, he commented that he had to give his wife a tip of his cap since she gave him the idea of Hard Target before going to sleep.  “Three hours later I woke up and started writing the first fifteen pages which became the outline for the book.”

Ice-T on the right to bear arms

Nicely said Ice.

"I'll give up my guns when everybody else does.....I mean if there were guns here, would you want to be the only one without one."

Now he also says that the 2nd Amendment is the last protection against tyranny, and says thar means protecting yourself from the police. So take the good with the bad.