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Pictures from the Bovington Tank Museum: German Tanks

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

I hope you like tanks.

Here’s the first batch of pictures taken at the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, which I visited on Saturday as a gift to my inner 12-year old. (There are few prospects more pleasing to the preadolescent male mind than being encased in a 30 ton metal killing machine.) The first batch is all German tanks and tank destroyers from World War II. Let’s face it, the Germans had far and away the best tanks, and shortly after the allies managed to catch up, Germany would be about ready to introduce something better. Germany’s problem (as compared to America or the Soviet Union) was an inability to manufacture enough of them. (Good thing for us.) They had an enormous array of German tanks, and probably the best collection outside Germany’s own tank museum in Munster.

The first picture of the first of two King Tigers (AKA Tiger II, AKA Königstiger, Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B) they had on display. The mosty powerful tank Germany produced during the war, its 88mm main gun could destroy any tank on the battlefield. It didn’t get on the battlefield until 1944, and Germany produced less than 500 of them.

The other Tiger II they had there.

Here you can see the Zimmerite anti-magnetic mine coating the Germans used.

Selfie, with tank.

The first of several tank destroyers.

This is a German tank destroyer that ended up in Finland. Stalin thought he could walk all over Finand, but the Finns tore the Soviets nine different new assholes in the Winter War, though this tank destroyer obviously post-dates 1940.

Alternate barrel used for the Sturmtiger close assault variant.

Here’s an early Panzer Mark I command tank. It’s amazing to realize that the initial German blitzkrieg was carried out with relatively slow, under-armed, and underpowered Mark I and Mark IIs, that, with Heinz Guderian’s new tactics of mechanized warfare, were simply Good Enough.

A Mark II.

I think this is the Mark III, would would be the mainstay of the Wehrmacht armored divisions through the end of the war.

A muzzle-eye view.

Armoured car.

An 88mm field canon.

Israel Picks Perfect Time to Kick Hamas’ Ass

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Just a quick note to compliment Israel on a perfect sense of timing in picking this week to kick Hamas’ incompetent ass (yet again) in Operation Protective Edge:

  • No one cares about Hamas’ propaganda bullshit anymore:

    Hamas has done more harm to the Palestinian movement in the past two decades, than any opponent of the Palestinians could have done. It has sabotaged relations with a sympathetic media through muddled press conferences and moronic bombastic statements about “opening the gates of hell.” It has driven out international supporters, managed to decrease the support it did have among various “free Gaza” committees and “shot its bolt” in its various ill-conceived wars with Israel.

    Snip.

    It gained a respite with the election of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt in 2012. But like Morsi, it over-reached and overestimated its military chances against Israel. It must have gained hope from Turkey’s Islamist government AK party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strong messages of support. But the Gaza flotilla incident of 2010 seems like a high point of Turkish resolve. Hamas’ other erstwhile friends in Iran and Hezbollah; although Shi’ite extremists, seemed like they might bolster the organization. The 2006 Lebanon War, which was roundly seen as a blunder for Israel, was a by-product of Hamas’ own kidnapping of Gilad Schalit that year. But Hezbollah and Iran were drawn into the Syrian quagmire and Hamas was left alone. The overthrow of Morsi by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt put another nail in the blockade around Gaza as Sisi sought to root out terror in Sinai. Pro-Gaza activists from the West were roughed up routinely in Egypt.

    Whereas Hamas could once propagate stories about flour or electricity shortages in Gaza, the international media and activists began to shrug their shoulders. Another perennial sewage problem? In June of 2014 Reuters noted, “sewage at the beach, piles of garbage mar Gaza’s summer.” Various alarmist UN statements, such as a 2008 claim that the “blockage [by Israel and Egypt] is putting Gaza at risk of starvation” were met with a yawn. Hamas’ Gaza policy, with its need for international attention, has been marred particularly by the mass atrocities that have been taking place throughout the Middle East. Media outlets like the BBC caught on to the fact that images from Syria are routinely passed off as being from Gaza and there is less international outrage at Israel than in previous years as the European public is inured to suffering in the region.

    This latest round of violence is indicative. Al-Jazeera cobbled together various world leaders’ reactions to the conflict. The usual suspects were there – but were markedly tepid in their criticism of Israel.

  • Indeed, with much of the region embroiled in the ongoing merged Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, both sides of the nascent Sunni/Shia civil war are too preoccupied with possible existential issues to bother with any but the most perfunctory denunciations of Israel. Sure, they’d still like to wipe Jews off the face of the earth, but they have more pressing concerns right now. And with all the other atrocities going on, the usual “Hey, look at these horrible pictures of dead children because we just happened to put our rocket launchers in their preschool” photos just don’t pack the same punch.
  • Likewise, with ISIS making mischief on their own border, Iran may be in no mood to buy Hamas another round of missiles for them to waste launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Israel in the mostly vain hope one might manage to kill a Jew or two. (Iron Dome seems to be working pretty well.)
  • As the War Nerd pointed out, the World Cup slaughters jihad porn in the viewer ratings derby. By launching Protective Edge during the final week of the World Cup, Israel insured that all the regions casual jihad sympathizers were too busy watching people kick a ball on TV to go through the motions of pretending they cared what happens to Palestinians.
  • All that said, I bet we go through the whole thing again another two years from now…

    Happy Independence Day!

    Friday, July 4th, 2014

    In celebration of America’s birthday, here are some compilations of fireworks gone wrong (some repetition):

    There’s a special place in my heart for the 2012 San Diego display where they accidentally fired everything up at once:

    And finally: Fireworks factory explosions:

    Let’s be careful out there. At least wear some eye protection…

    Iraq/Syria/ISIS Update

    Thursday, June 26th, 2014

    Since Iraq and Syria are now all part of the same greater Sunni/Shia conflict, let’s take a look at recent developments in the broader theater:

    The War Nerd pinpoints the biggest reason for ISIS’s rapid Iraq advance: the flat geography of the area they’ve taken: “It’s the Bonneville Salt Flats of insurgency, the place you go to set new speed records.” He also thinks the Kurdish Pesh Merga will slaughter them if ISIS is foolish enough to make a big push into the northern hill country.

    Michael Totten has a depressing interview with Lee Smith, the author of The Consequences of Syria:

  • For all Obama’s talk of arming Syrian rebels, no arms seem to have actually made it there. Indeed, the whole thing seems to have been a disinformation campaign the press lapped up. “This White House has been bad for the press, and the readership’s faith in our press, but it seems most journalists don’t much care.”
  • “The administration feared that helping topple Assad, an ally of Iran, might have angered the Iranians and pushed them away from the negotiating table, and getting a deal with Iran was the White House’s chief goal in the Middle East.” So the goal of the Obama Administration isn’t a free Middle East, or a stable Middle East, but signing a piece of paper with the ayatollahs.
  • Since Obama’s serial retreats have put us in a situation of such profound weakness, they won’t even be getting that: “What we’re seeing [is] a United States in retreat in the Middle East. So I don’t see what the accommodation would look like. It’s not a grand bargain with Iran, but an American fire sale, with the US virtually giving away its assets. The US is retreating from the region and leaving it in Iranian hands.”
  • “What we’re seeing in cities like Mosul is a Sunni rebellion against Maliki and the Iranians. In addition to ISIS, there are also former Baath party figures, like one of Saddam’s deputies, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, as well as Sunni tribes. ISIS would appear to be playing the role of Sunni shock troops, who are dispatched to the fronts to terrorize and create havoc. Behind them are the Baathis and the tribes.”
  • Reason for ISIS’ rapid advance? Maliki’s brutal sectarian incompetence. “What Maliki and the Iranians have done is unite the tribes and ISIS through their anti-Sunni policies.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    A look a Syria’s Christians, who are getting it from both sides.

    Here’s a piece that suggests that moderate Sunnis are just using ISIS to get Maliki out. (Well, what are a few Shia mass graves anyway?) Yeah, not buying it. It’s the guys with guns who use “moderates,” not the other way around. Also argues for a de jour rather than merely de facto partition of Iraq.

    1,000 Veterans Dead Through Neglect?

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    A new report released Tuesday by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., claims more than a thousand veterans may have died between 2001 and 2011 as the result of misconduct and a ‘culture of mismanagement’ at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

    Obama didn’t make this mess, which was a long time in coming. But he promised to fix it and hasn’t, and in fcat it’s gotten considerably worse on his watch.

    Here’s the actual report, which I haven’t had a chance to read all of yet.

    The Bergdahl Blunder

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

    If you want to see how quickly consensus wisdom can change as the facts come to light, take a look at the 180º turn in opinion on the five Taliban leaders for Bowe Bergdahl exchange.

    First “President Obama hailed Bergdahl’s recovery as a triumph of years of high-wire diplomatic efforts” in a Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents.

    UN Ambassador Susan Rice also hailed the exchange, saying that Bergdahl’s poor health was a factor in making the swap and that he had “served the United States with honor and distinction.”

    All in all, it seemed like the perfect media event to distract public attention from the VA scandal. Republicans were criticized for complaining that swapping five high value Taliban commanders for one soldier was a mistake.

    Then it came to light that Bergdahl was not universally loved among his comrades in arms, to put in mildly. “Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”

    The revelation of Bergdahl’s desertion seemed to blindside the Obama Administration. It shouldn’t have. Never mind that it should have been able to find that out before the swap from its own internal military reports. (If not, then there’s a “thermocline of truth” in the chain of command even more serious than previously suspected.) For an Administration that claims it first learns of its own scandals from the media, it should have learned about Bergdahl’s desertion no later than June 7, 2012, when Rolling Stone published an extensive profile on Bergdahl and his status as a prisoner of war:

    Bowe Bergdahl had a different response. He decided to walk away.

    In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment?

    Yes, his team leader responded – if you took your rifle and night-vision goggles, that would cause problems.

    Bowe returned to his barracks, a roughly built bunker of plywood and sandbags. He gathered up water, a knife, his digital camera and his diary. Then he slipped off the outpost.

    Even those notorious right-swing shills at The New York Times report that Bergdahl “slipped away from his outpost.”

    Soldiers say that after Bergdahl was captured, “over the next couple of months, all the attacks were far more directed.”

    Now stories have come to light that soldier’s in Bergdahl’s unit were instructed to lie about how he came into the Taliban’s hands.

    No wonder there was such an outrage among our troops over the exchange.

    Team Obama and its base cannot comprehend the values still cherished by those young Americans “so dumb” they joined the Army instead of going to prep school and then to Harvard. Values such as duty, honor, country, physical courage, and loyalty to your brothers and sisters in arms have no place in Obama World. (Military people don’t necessarily all like each other, but they know they can depend on each other in battle — the sacred trust Bergdahl violated.)

    As for Rice, Ralph Peters noted “At least she didn’t blame Bergdahl’s desertion on a video.”

    Then footage emerged of the Taliban handing over Bergdahl, which did not seem to indicate he was in particularly frail physical health. (Mentally? Well, Blinky McDeserter obviously has some issues…)

    Even Obama’s usual defenders in the media are questioning the exchange:

    Now Obama’s State Department (and liberal Administration defenders) are saying that “there are a ton of conflicting reports”. This is such a general purpose cop-out I’m surprised we don’t hear it from the Obama Administration more often. “Did the IRS target conservative groups?” “There are a ton of conflicting reports…”

    The fact that liberal opinion has swung from “This was a triumph for Obama and Republicans look petty for raining on his parade” to “we don’t have enough information to judge yet” tells you all you need to know about the optics…

    Also: Oh, nice job Mad:

    Charles Krauthammer on the VA Scandal

    Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

    The scandal of veterans dying while waiting for care, and the wait lists being manipulated, continues to grow.

    Here’s Charles Krauthammer on the scandal and what it tells us about government-run healthcare and Obama’s competence:

    Humane Society USA Agrees To Pay Ringling Brothers $16 Million

    Thursday, May 15th, 2014

    Today it was announced that the Humane Society of the United States and other “animal rights” groups had agreed to pay Feld Entertainment, the corporate entity that own Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus would pay $16 million to settle “a 14-year legal battle initiated over unproven allegations of mistreated elephants.”

    That is in addition to a $9 million settlement paid by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Among things both groups did was pay money to the chief plaintiff, a former Ringling employee, who “gave conflicting answers and was repeatedly impeached on the witness stand.”

    This is, in fact, good news.

    “But wait!” you say. “Doesn’t the Humane Society rescue adorable puppies and kittens?”

    Oh, that’s what they used to do, but not so much anymore. HSUSA is now run by militant left-wing vegetarian “animal rights” activists opposed to meat, industrial farming, and even people owning pets.

    I haven’t heard that the ASPCA has gone full animal rights wackjob yet, but supporting the inistial frivilous lawsuit certainly didn’t cover them in glory.

    Administrative Note: Blog Back Up

    Thursday, May 15th, 2014

    This week I’ve been having some fairly heinous performance issues with the blog, as in “takes 30 second to a minute to load the dashboard” heinous. After some song and dance from BlueHost support (“CPU throttling! Chinese hackers!”), they took the server (and thus my blog) offline to resolve the issue.

    Both server and blog are now back up, and things are generally better performance-wise (if still not exactly snappy).

    Administrative Note: Amazon Widgets Temporarily Disabled

    Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

    I’ve temporarily disabled the Amazon widgets in the right sidebar since one was automatically redirecting the entire page to Amazon upon load. What the hell, Amazon?

    My apologies if anyone ran into this problem.