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June 2013

Slate & Bloomberg gun victims list includes Boston Bomber

These people are beyond parody, they are post-Onion, they are f**ing idiots.

At a demonstration Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire organized by Michael Bloomberg’s advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, participants tried to rally support for gun control by spending several hours reading aloud from a list of gun violence victims who have been killed since the Newtown shooting...

Already, the Bloomberg group was forced to apologize Tuesday after the New Hampshire Union-Leader reported Tuesday that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was named among the victims.

But the list also included a number of other criminal suspects who were killed by police after allegedly committing acts of violence themselves. Slate editor Dan Kois told The Atlantic Wire that the list from which demonstrators were reading was not meant to include solely innocent victims, and that it “doesn’t differentiate between good guys and bad guys.”

They also had a bunch of other murderous clowns killed by police, and then you can figure that 60+% of the others are suicides and then you can get back to doing something worthwhile.

The only thing I can't understand is how bin Laden missed making the list. I mean he got shot in the eye, how could they have missed that heinous act? They seem to miss the point that some people are just absolutely perfectly deserving of a little extra high velocity ventilation. It is a public service.


The Guns At Longues, A Real Life Guns of Navarone

A view of the surviving guns

The situation is critical, and ships must come in.  On the cliffs above and between two key beaches is a major enemy position, the heart of which are four 150mm naval guns that can sink any ship afloat.  They are well protected by anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, and more.  The forward observation bunker has two levels, so that if the top one goes, the bottom one can survive and continue. 

In this case, it is not a movie and there is no plucky band that includes David Niven to attack from behind/inside.  What you have are the guns at Longues, and they commanded the sea from the heights between Omaha and Gold.  Attempts to silence the guns via bombing failed, with the bombing doing surprisingly little damage to the huge gun emplacements.  Bombardment by ships including the American battleship Arkansas and the French cruiser Georges Leygues failed to silence the battery -- and shelling from the guns forced the flagship HMS Bulolo to retreat. 


The observation and range-finding bunker, a few hundred meters forward of the guns

Finally, the British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut closed to point-blank range and engaged in a gun duel with the battery. 



The remains of the one gun


As best anyone can reconstruct, a shell from one of the cruisers struck the one gun and penetrated its splinter shield just after it had fired and while it was being reloaded.  The best guess is that the magazine door was open for that process, and the resultant explosion did what bombs had failed to do, and destroyed the bunker and the gun.  If you walk behind,you will find a 20-plus-ton chunk of the bunker tossed several meters away. 


All that remains of the gun


Eventually, three of the four guns were taken out by the cruisers. 


Another gun, shield penetrated by fire from a cruiser

And another


The remaining gun continued to fire on an intermittent basis until about 7 pm that evening.


Still defiant


After that, the battery fell silent and surrendered to the 231st Infantry Brigade the following day.  Many visitors fail to appreciate the extent of the complex, as fields cover or mask many of the surviving bunkers.  If you study the vegetation and the fields, you can still see where the trench network ran.  I do have many more shots, and hope to do a photographic study over at Laughing Wolf soon.  I also have a different shot from the day posted there as well


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  Normandy coverage also made possible by Enterprise Rent A Car Caen Railway Office.   My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe

Arromanches, And A Key To Campaign Victory

Arromanches is no stranger to battle

There is an old saw about amateurs discuss tactics while professionals discuss logistics.  Arromanches sur Mer is an example of why both are needed.   From a tactical standpoint, the shallow-draft port town sits in a valley surrounded by steep bluffs and cliffs, which provided excellent fighting and defensive strong-points for the Germans.  Up on top of the bluffs was also a radar station, which could warn of attack.  Nearby were the large gun batteries at Longues sur Mer, which could attack and sink ships miles out to sea.  More on them soon.


An overview of Arromanches


 Yet, Arromanches was critical to a successful campaign.  It was a given that the Germans would wreck any deep water ports before giving them up, and do a very good job of it.  They had demonstrated before that they could and would do so.  This meant that even if Cherbourg and Le Havre could be taken quickly, it was highly unlikely that they would be taken in a usable condition.  There was no way to bring in all the supplies needed for a successful campaign by air, so how do you bring in the hundreds/thousands of shiploads of cargo needed? 

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Book Review - Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame

While this isn't normally the kind of book we review here, it is an interesting read and it's about SPORTS.  The following book review is a special for Blackfive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.

9781455516131_p0_v1_s260x420Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame is a collection of essays compiled and edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy of The New Republic magazine. It’s a portrait of fifty Jewish individuals and the role that they played in sports. This compilation is about Jews from different areas of the world, and playing different sports, that also include executives and coaches.

Tracy commented, “Franklin Foer and I are big sports fans who identify with our Jewishness, and are also fans of good writing. There was the realization that this book could be a way to gather great writers, most who were Jewish, but were not professional sports writers; yet, loved sports. I am talking about big names such as: David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, Simon Schama, a superstar English historian who wrote about the boxer Daniel Mendoza, Mark Leiborvich, of the New York Times, and Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, who wrote about Harold Solomon, the tennis player.”

The athletes chosen included a range of players from Bobby Fischer to Sandy Koufax. Fischer was born and raised Jewish; yet, later in his life he hated his own people by becoming an Anti-Semite. There was also the discussion about Sid Luckman and Benny Friedman, who pioneered the game of football while playing for their respective teams, the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. They revolutionized football with the forward pass, and having the quarterback as the superstar. Rich Cohen stated in the essay about these two players, “It was the birth of the quarterback as we know him: the general who calmly leads his team down the field.”

The most powerful part of the book was the discussion of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Tracy noted, Lipstadt fabulously pointed out how these athletes came to Germany to compete in peace and instead were murdered. The Munich massacre maybe showed what we write in our introduction, that Jewish athleticism originally comes out of the instinct for self-defense. How Zionism sprung from the violence against Jews. This is also emphasized in the essay by Shalom Auslander who wrote about an older Jewish man, confronted by two black kids, on a New York subway, “And he turned around and pushed them back-hard-and they fell back down in the seat…And he said, ‘We’re Jews, we won this war, we beat our enemies, we don’t take this stuff anymore.”

Another interesting point is how Mark Spitz and Shep Messing responded differently to this horrific event in Jewish history. Messing, a soccer player for the US team reunited with David Berger, an Israeli weightlifter with whom he had become close friends. While being sequestered along with other Jewish athletes he learned that a group of Palestinian terrorists had taken eleven members of the Israeli team hostage, killing his friend Berger. He was described as being overcome with grief and rage, that “a Jewish wire in him that even he hadn’t known existed had been tripped.” Compare that to Mark Spitz who was described as ignoring questions about his feelings and was more bitter about being hustled out of Munich, not for the Israeli athletes who died, but “that he never got to stop at the Mercedes-Benz factory and pick up the 450 SL he had been promised.”

Tracy described Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame as the story of the “Jews in sports is a microcosm to the story of sports in America. The story of Jews in sports is the story of sports. From Al Davis who was a path breaker by integrating the NFL for head coaches to Hank Greenberg who, as the general manager of the Indians, mistreated one of his players, Al Rosen, solely because he did not want to be seen as playing favorites to one of his own, another Jewish slugger.” This book is an interesting read for both Jew and non-Jew alike since it involves interesting facts and tidbits about some of the most important athletes in sports history.

Which Do You Like Best?

Do Not PO A Redhead

I had an unexpected treat last night, when a friend came in from out of town.  Better yet, he brought his studio lights so we went to a semi-regularly scheduled photo seminar and shoot.  We shot.  They shot.  Fun was had.  Problem is, however, that I have two versions of a photo and can't decide which I like better.  Go over to Laughing Wolf and let me know which you prefer.  Comments are open. 


I Guess If General Dempsey Says So...

I didn't retire to insult General Officers, it seems to be a perk of the status though, and this is the dumbest thing I have EVER heard any General say:

Earlier this year, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said the sexual assaults might be linked to the longstanding ban on women serving in combat because the disparity between the roles of men and women creates separate classes of personnel — male "warriors" versus the rest of the force.

So you think they will be sexually assaulted LESS OFTEN if we train them to be Army Rangers and Navy SEALS and forward deploy them?  FFS!  Is there no one in on his staff that has the sense or courage to tell him what an asinine thing to say that is?  Or even have the courage to tell the nation and the Administration what an asinine idea this is.

Women may be able to start training as Army Rangers by mid-2015 and as Navy SEALs a year later under plans set to be announced by the Pentagon that would slowly bring women into thousands of combat jobs, including those in elite special operations forces

If you are new to this argument, you can review what some of us think here and here, here and I spoke about it here. 

I am going to try to keep this as PG as possible, but this is what we are talking about.

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Defense Budget - Feathering fighter bird nests?

The defense budget for 2014 is starting to take shape and we are going to be taking a good look at some of the items in it. Money is obviously tight, so we need to make certain that it is spent wisely and for the right reasons. All too often politics, lobbying and factors that have nothing to do with national security push programs and spending. In an era of austerity we simply can’t afford this.

The Chairman’s mark of the Defense Authorization Act is out and there are many good things in there. Rep. Buck McKeon is a solid advocate for a strong defense and this is his chance to comment on priorities and goals for defense funding. Most of the relatively short document relates to policy and has some requirements for explanations of debacles like Benghazi. But there are also some funding items that don’t make much sense.

One of these is a requirement to buy F-18 aircraft, which is a bit of a head scratcher. We cancelled the F-22 program before we bought anywhere near as many true air superiority fighters as we should have. We have cut back severely the number of F-35s that we plan to buy, but somehow we can find the money to buy a completely different and significantly less capable bird. That smells distressingly like some corporate welfare for Boeing, who makes the F-18.

I am unaware of any purely tactical or strategic military argument for splitting the funding for our fighter aircraft. There was a time back in the day where we had the F-14, 15 & 16 birds with different mission profiles and we let Northrop, Boeing and Lockheed duke it out to see how many of each we were going to buy. But we came to the logical conclusion that too often led to a contest between retired generals to feather their own company’s nest.

Now we have gone to an up front competitive model, where the mission profiles required are determined and then the contractors compete to see who can build the best bird. You can question whether this limits the strength of our defense industrial base with a winner takes almost all approach, but it makes more sense than trying to build, field and support multiple platforms that all require separate design, manufacture and support infrastructures.

We had a competition for the Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing lost. I am sure that was a very sad day in Washington state, but that is the way the game is played. The question then is why we are buying another of their older and nowhere near as survivable aircraft, the F-18. Fielding two birds with essentially the same mission means we have to train two sets of maintenance folks, build two separate supply chains and take resources away from the aircraft we are counting on to keep us in control of the skies. Maybe Sen. Durbin can shed some light on that.

The Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee is bringing in two service chiefs and the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer to testify on the F-35 program next week.
The panel, chaired by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), announced the hearing on Friday.

Running a defense company is complicated and damned hard, but that doesn’t mean tax payers should be on the hook for keeping it afloat. Boeing has tens of billions of dollars in contracts and paid less than zero dollars in taxes. They actually got a $124M refund in 2010. Seriously?

 If someone can articulate an actual case for why we need these birds, I will listen. But corporate welfare for a company that seems to be able to avoid paying any taxes doesn’t seem like one to me. The Russians are sending some pretty advanced surface to air missiles to Syria and have basically told us a no fly zone is a no go for them. We can’t assume that we will have unopposed air superiority anywhere we decide to fly. That means we need to be spending our money on the most effective aircraft to achieve that mission.

Juno, and the Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre

Today we arrive at Courseulles-sur-Mer and Juno Beach, and what I regard as the single best museum on all the beaches -- the Juno Beach Centre


A tank with a difference


Arriving under a grey sky (if you don't like the weather in Normandy, wait an hour), a tank caught my eye.  Now, there are lots of tanks on display up and down the beaches, but this one is different. 


Land or sea drive


This was one of the few surviving amphibious tanks from the landing.  The idea was to add in a propeller propulsion system, an inflatable skirt, and have the tanks sail in to the landing on their own.  Once they hit sand, the propellers could be disengaged, and the skirts cast off as they moved forward.  It was a great idea -- on paper.  In practice, the sad truth is that many (if not most) sank on the way in. 

Continue reading "Juno, and the Juno Beach Centre" »

Russia resets on Syria

Our dear friends the Russians are pushing the reset button on plans to help out the rebels in Syria. I guess someone missed the fact that they happen to be very good friends w/ Mr. Assad.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.

"I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario," Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.

I wonder how they will feel when we are arming the folks fighting their allies? My guess is they will not be tickled.