Monthly Archives: June 2016

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trains

20070705-railroadtracksYou know when you were a kid, and your friends told you, “Go play on the train tracks”?

They weren’t your friends.

A 26-year-old man has died after being struck by an MBTA commuter rail train on Saturday afternoon in Franklin.

Transit Police say the man was trespassing when he was hit by an outbound train on the Forge Park line around 4:20 p.m. Franklin police officers and firefighters also responded to the scene near Fisher Street railroad crossing.

The man has not been identified by police. Foul play is not suspected, police say.

via Man Dies After Being Hit By MBTA Commuter Rail Train « CBS Boston.

Fun facts about trains. In 2014 (the last year for which we have FBI homicide data) 768 people were killed by trains. (Just accept the defaults and click to make the table). But 248 people were victims of homicide by rifle.

Some subset of those rifles were Dread Assault Rifles®, so obviously we need to ban those rifles.

Righteous Read: Romesha, Red Platoon.

Red PlatoonWhy would you read a book about a fight that you’d already read one excellent book about? The Battle of Camp Keating, also called the Battle of Kamdesh, has been the subject of an excellent New York Times best-selling book by TV reporter Jake Tapper, and Tapper’s book, The Outpost, is as good as any military story written by a journalist can be — up there with the field’s previous standard-bearer, Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down. Surely any other book would be, as an incendiary Mohammedan prince said of the Library of Alexandria, either duplicative of The Outpost, and thus redundant; or contradictory, and thus heretical.

This is not the case. While it can be read in conjunction with Tapper’s account — there is little overlap between the books. Tapper tells a journalist’s story, with a great deal of framework-building “context” and with on-the-ground source and fact subordinated to a didactic Narrative (even though he is one of the most even-handed reporters working today). Clint Romesha, on the other hand, tells the story of Combat Out Post (COP) Keating as only an NCO who was deeply involved in its defense can.

The placement of COP Keating, named after Lt. Ben Keating who died in a truck mishap on the dangerous roads to the remote camp, was typical of the kinds of tactical decisions that began to be made as generals like Stanley McCrystal pursued personal celebrity and issued big-picture orders to subordinates who seemed disinclined to ask questions; none of these officers seems to have had the least regard for the men their orders sent to these modern Little Big Horns. Romesha writes that the position of COP Keating was selected, not by an experienced combat arms officer or soldier, but by tactically naive intelligence analysts. As a result, they wound up with the sort of defensive position that Bradley Manning might have chosen: Keating was surrounded 360º by high ground held by the enemy. Someone had “checked the box” by providing an OP (Observation Post) on higher ground, but so sited that the terrain between meant that neither the COP nor its OP could provide the other with observation or direct fire. (The COP was staffed by a company minus, the OP by a platoon).

While this was arguably an infantry mission, the men on the COP were from a cavalry scout unit.  Their “troop” or company-sized unit had three platoons, imaginatively labeled Red, White and Blue. Red was Clint Romesha’s platoon.

A chart showing where the 7 slain and 1 mortally wounded scouts fell. The photo is from before the attack, though.

A declassified chart showing where the 7 slain and 1 mortally wounded scouts fell. The photo is from before the attack, though. The police at the ANP station surrendered to the Taliban, and were summarily executed.

What use is an observation post that can neither observe nor be observed? Only this: it “checks the box” for some inept leader working off a checklist with no real comprehension of what he’s doing. No one from lieutenant colonel on up seemed to really grasp the weakness of the position; but the weakness was clear to two elements:

  1. The junior officers, NCOs, and soldiers of the outposts; and,
  2. The enemy.

The enemy’s presence was evident from the beginning, and attacks became a daily occurrence. What Romesha did not understand at the time, but came to realize later, was that these attacks were probes designed to tickle the Keating defenses and observe the defenders’ reactions. In the weeks before the big attack, patrols found numerous signs of enemy surveillance.

The attack launched on 3 October 2009 (yes, the anniversary of Mogadishu. Probably a coincidence — remember that the enemy here use the Moslem lunar calendar). It showed that the enemy had made great use of its surveillance logs; they first sent in a tsunami of withering fire, and followed it up with a storm surge of men.

After the withdrawal, the explosive charges failed to fire, and the remaining rubble was further destroyed by a B-1 bomber.

After the withdrawal, the explosive charges failed to fire, and the remaining rubble was further destroyed by a B-1 bomber.

By the time the wave hits, Romesha has introduced you to the key players in the defense of Keating (with a heavy dose of foreshadowing for those of his friends and platoon mates for whom this was the last battle). You also have met the supporting players, like the helicopter crews, and you’ve gotten — as, after the battle, Romesha got — a better perspective on some of the things that perplexed him as a low-ranking NCO. His even-handedness, good nature, and curiosity served him well when researching this book. This excerpt is a small example of the even-handedness that so impressed us. He is discussing how it seemed to the men at Keating that the supporting helicopter unit abandoned them; they had no way to know the choppers were being tasked to save the Afghan town of Bargi Matal from being overrun, and supporting five strikes a night on targets associated with the search for deserter Bowe Bergdahl. Sure, the war was under-resourced, but Romesha resists finger-pointing:

One could say that this boiled down to a cause-and-effect chain of lousy ideas, poor decisions, and flawed thinking. When it’s laid out that way, the logic of this argument seems to hold water. But most soldiers who have experienced combat understand that armchair quarterbacking is shallow and often misguided. It’s easy to second-guess decisions based on their ramifications, and then to assign blame. Considerably harder is excepting that in combat, things can and will often go wrong not because of bad decisions, but despite even the best decisions. That is the nature of war.

The book is frank, fair and sufficiently intense that we had to put it down from time to time and go do something else, anything else. It is an excellent corrective to those of us who read Tapper’s The Outpost and thought we understood this fight. Understanding might be one cognitive leap too far, but Red Platoon will inform you of the ends to which our young men are sometimes put, and the character with which they meet such challenges.

The very best parts of the book are the ones where Romesha shares with you clear word portraits of the other men he served with; we were especially moved by his description of Eric Snell, a soldier he’d served with — and lost to a sniper — on an earlier tour in Iraq. At the end of Red Platoon, you know the men who died, warts and all. And you mourn them and regret you never got to meet them. You also know, and you recognize the sheer guts and skill of, the survivors.

U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division pose for a photo after a mission in Afghanistan in 2009. Standing, Left to right: Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, Spc. Thomas Rasmussen, Sgt. Brad Larson, 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann, Pfc. Christopher Jones, Spc. Kugler and Spc. Knight. Kneeling, left to right: Sgt. Armando Avalos, Jr., Spc. Zach Koppes, Spc. Gregory, Pfc. Davidson. (U.S. Army Courtesy photo/Released)

U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division pose for a photo after a mission in Afghanistan in 2009. Standing, Left to right: Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, Spc. Thomas Rasmussen, Sgt. Brad Larson, 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann, Pfc. Christopher Jones, Spc. Kugler and Spc. Knight. Kneeling, left to right: Sgt. Armando Avalos, Jr., Spc. Zach Koppes, Spc. Gregory, Pfc. Davidson. (U.S. Army photo).

Is there anything about the book we’d change? We’d like to see better maps. The endpapers contain a commercial artist’s sketch map of COP Keating, but it really can’t show the relief, and it’s too small to show the relation of the min COP to OP Fritsche, the mutually-non-supporting Observation Post. As a soldier, these things are easy to follow from Romesha’s written description, but we worry that civilian readers might miss these aspects of just how incredibly bad, tactically, these siting decisions were. Then again, the topographical maps that make the nightmare terrain clear to a military reader may be Greek to the average civilian.

Many of those heroes of the fight who distinguished themselves, like Romesha himself and his platoon leader, Andrew Bundermann, left the Army subsequently. Bundermann, says Romesha, blames himself for the loss of eight men of his platoon. Romesha and the other survivors disagree vehemently; from the command post, Bundermann marshaled supporting fires like a great conductor animates his strings and woodwinds; without those fires, there would have been no survivors, and the post would not have been held. Still, he feels guilty that his name was not among the dead.

Every combat vet understands.

The Book

Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor was published in May by Dutton, an imprint of one of the big New York publishers. It is available in hardcover (Amazon link) and in an overpriced Kindle e-book. Expect trade and mass-market paperbacks in due course.

Many thanks to OTR for recommending this book. -Ed.

For More Information:

Compare the Battle of Wanat, another badly sited post defended by off-the-charts valor:

The Big Lie About Wanat (COP Kahler), Part 1 of 2 (long)

A good post on the battle of COP Keating:

http://plbirnamwood.blogspot.com/2013/02/medal-of-honor-ssg-clinton-romesha-cop.html

Keating, the Medical Story (by the deployed Physician’s Assistant; scroll to p.21 of this .pdf):

http://www.sapa.org/MAYNewsletterSAPA2011.pdf

(Note that Spc Ty Carter, mentioned in this article, has also received the Medal of Honor for his conduct in the battle).

The 5.7 OG

Mel Johnson holding a sporting Spitfire with his rifles and MGs displayed.

Mel Johnson holding a sporting Spitfire with his rifles and MGs displayed.

Long before FN differentiated their small .22 caliber centerfire pistol round by calling it the 5.7, another 5.7 launched in a big media splash and went nowhere — even though it’s father was one of the most distinguished firearms designers of the 20th Century.

The 5.7 Original Gangsta round is often called the 5.7 Spitfire, although its official name was actually the 5.7 MMJ, after the initials of its inventor: Melvin M. Johnson of Johnson Rifle and LMG fame. Johnson began working on a 5.7 x 33 necked version of the US .30 Carbine cartridge in 1961, and introduced the cartridge in his own M1 Carbine version, the 5.7 Spitfire, in 1963. While he always intended the round to be a light, handy, high-velocity carbine round, he did round development in a bolt-action with a custom Sako barrel, achieving MOA accuracy. In the Spitfire carbine, 3″ groups at 100 yards was more standard, but Johnson did make a 2.25″ 5 shot group in 5 seconds from the carbine once, in 1962.

He had initially hoped for 3,000 fps but…

… this raises the pressures over the 40,000 PSI mark (.30 carbine standard) which, as Johnson says, “Is not so good for the M1 carbine extractor.”1

57 vs 30 carbine ammoyFinal performance was about 2,800 fps with a 40-grain full metal jacket bullet.

The Spitfire wasn’t just a rebarreled carbine. Rakusan noted that…

The carbine itself undergoes considerable change to accept this new cartridge. The barrel is relined and rechambered. The gas port is altered, giving twice the operating gas compression ratio of the original .30 carbine and about 20% more power in the driving spring, this plus cartridge design assuring positive feeding. With the 18″ barrel (Johnson also has a military version with a 12″ barrel) the overall length of the new carving is 35″, 27 1/2″ with the stock folded, 1 1/2″ longer than the requirements of the Federal Firearms Act. This short, handy length is achieved by a folding wire stock which also acts as an optional fore-end grip.

In 1964, Johnson would sell you a Spitfire from his New Haven business address for $130, or convert your M1 Carbine for $73. In addition, a shorty military/NFA version was available which, with the folding stock, was a mere 21″ long folded thanks to a 12″ barrel. In addition to the military Spitfires, some were finely finished sporting arms (NRA image below):

sporting_johnson_spitfire

While most modern articles about the 5.7 MMJ and 5.7 Spitfire seem to talk it up as a military gun, the 1964 Shotgun News article stresses sporting applications: “short-range varmint hunting.”

Mel Johnson writes that he was impressed by George Lindsay’s remarks in “The Hornet’s Big Enough,” published in the 17th edition of the Gun Digest, which stated, “Even out West, fences are going up. People are closing in– and somebody is sitting on my rock.”

For too many varmint hunters the days of wide open ranges are gone, and most of the hunting must be done in semi- populated areas. Here is where the 5.7 spitfire will shine– remember, it was designed primarily as a short-to-medium-range varminter.3

Johnson was still promoting the Spitfire and seeking investors when he passed away of an unexpected heart attack on a business trip to Boston. He was 55 years old, and without him, the light went out of the project, although family tried to continue it. Periodically someone tries to resurrect the project, notably IAI in the early 90s.

The 5.7 Spitfire was tested informally by SF in Vietnam (where some carried carbines because that’s what most of their CIDG carried). No one really knows how many Spirfires were made and converted; they’re rare today, but seem to draw little collector interest, perhaps because of the wildcat round. Making the ammo is not as onerous as people think, and custom-loaded (and 5.7 Johnson headstamped) ammo is available, at a price. A Spitfire would be a nice addition to a Johnson collection.

Sources

Canfield, Bruce N. (with Robert  L. Lamoureaux and Edward R. Johnson). Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns: The Story of Melvin Maynard Johnson, Jr., and His Guns. Lincoln, RI: Adrew Mowbray Publishers, 2002.

Rakusan, J. 5.7 Spitfire, in Amber, John T. (Ed.). Gun Digest, 1964. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1964. p. 166.

Notes

  1. Rakusan, J. 5.7 Spitfire, in Amber, John T. (Ed.). Gun Digest, 1964. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1964. p. 166.
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Ibid. 

A Petition for Veterans

vets_in_support_2aIf you oppose further gun bans consider this petition by USAF and SOF JAG vet David “Bo” Bolgiano. Bo was one of the rare ones who actually used his legal powers for good, not evil. He was looking for 1,000 signatures for a petition to counteract the misrepresentation by certain politically partisan retired officers (whom he calls out by name, as you’ll see below) who support applying gun bans

Whereas, certain former military officers – specifically Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrysal and Commander Scott Kelly – have recently formed an anti-Second Amendment, pro-gun control group to fund and support efforts to strip their fellow citizens of their inherent right to keep and bear arms; and,

And, since Bo is a lawyer, there’s a metric crapton of more “whereases” in there, and it winds up:

NOW THEREFORE, the following current and former members of the Armed Forces of the United States hereby Petition all in government and positions of power to stand firmly behind their oath to defend and protect the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, which includes that sacred document’s acknowledgment of the Individual Citizen’s inherent Right to Bear Arms; and,

We formally denounce the actions of those people – including misguided brethren veterans – who wish to disarm law-abiding Americans.

Or, hey, you can go with Petraeus who lost to the Islamists, but conquered a floozie (who went on to write the Authorized Biography of General Dreamboat).

The petition is online at ipetitions.com. That site is fairly ate up; if your name contains punctuation (like, say, the period after your middle initial?) the code can’t handle it. And once you have stripped your name of offending symbology, and signed, it tries to get you to give ’em money.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Levels

Erick Cross MugshotYou know, a level, like somebody uses at a construction site.

Except, this crankypants clown used it at a construction site for a somewhat non-standard purpose: to beat the living Jesus out of his boss. Busted his skull, in fact.

Turns out, the Level Avenger is a two-time level assault loser already, not to mention a whole bunch of other rap sheet filler — you could say he’s a man of conviction, plural.

Gee, it’s almost as if the mystery causative factor in crime is criminals or something simple like that. How can that be?

DEBARY — A construction worker on a Wal-Mart job site known as “Poke Chop” was arrested after authorities say he buried his boss in dirt using a front-end loader and critically injured the man by hitting him with a level.

A Volusia County Sheriff’s incident report states that 57-year-old Perry Byrd of Orlando suffered bleeding on the brain as well as a fractured skull after investigators said Erick Cox, 32, of Sanford buried him in dirt with a front end loader then repeatedly struck Byrd over the head with a 6-foot aluminum level from the construction site both were working at earlier this week.

A level appears to be a weapon of choice for Cox who was accused of using one in a 2003 beating.

A 9-1-1 call captures the urgency of Wednesday’s construction site incident.

“Please hurry, someone come out here, he just hit him with a level,” a man told a 9-1-1 dispatcher. ” ‘Bout to kill him.”

Amazing. You should probably Read The Whole Thing™ but we have to excerpt a little more for flavor:

In the other level beating, on Nov. 20, 2003 in Seminole County, Kevin Dillard said Cox hit him several times with a steel level, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.  Cox and Dillard were brothers-in-law. Prosecutors did not file charges.

Yeah, this guy is now a two-time loser for assaults with a deadly level. Maybe construction is not what God really intends him to do.

Cox has also had other arrests in violent crimes including one Aug. 30 when he was accused of repeatedly punching his twin sister, Ericka Cox, in the face, leaving her bruised with a bloody nose, according to a charging affidavit from the Sanford Police Department. He was charged with battery domestic violence but she later said she did not wish to proceed with charges, and no charges were filed. Erick Cox reportedly got angry after his sister argued with his wife, the report said.

In another incident in Sanford in 2012, Erick Cox was charged with felony battery, battery and hit-and-run. In that case, Erick Cox was accused of punching a woman multiple times and then getting a bat from his truck. When a man intervened, Erick Cox hit him with the bat, according to a report. The man took the bat from him and Erick Cox got in his truck and and tried to run over the woman but instead hit the man’s car. Then Erick Cox sped away.  He was adjudicated guilty to two counts of battery and one count of criminal mischief and sentenced to 60 days-time served.

That’s how the “bat” got into the word “battery,” we figure.

You might want to think twice about hiring this guy, or just generally being around him.

 

Even When They Hire Vets, VA Still Screws Up

Duckworth celebrates buying off VA whistleblowers on Friday

Duckworth celebrates buying off VA whistleblowers on Friday

Even when they hire veterans, the VA screws up. Illinois politician Tammy Duckworth is definitely a vet, but all she did at VA was squander money.

Item: $5.2 Million to Crony Firm for PR

The Senate confirmed Duckworth as assistant secretary of the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (OPIA) at the VA April 22, 2009. She served from April to June, 2011, when she resigned to run for a House seat.

After Duckworth left, the inspector general produced a report in 2014 that found OPIA blew $5.2 million on a contract for “services that lacked a specific connection to VA’s strategic outreach objectives,” and despite OPIA’s best efforts, the office could not prove that Woodpile’s outreach campaigns “yielded any increases in the use of VA healthcare, benefits, or services by veterans.”

During Duckworth’s tenure, a memo from Jan. 11, 2010, stated that OPIA needed a contractor to take on the task of a rebranding campaign, as no one on staff had the ability or expertise. In July of that same year, OPIA handed Woodpile a $5.2 million contract for “outreach campaigns,” but the inspector general report found numerous invoices that did not “clearly link to accomplishment of VA outreach goals.”

OPIA did not implement any performance metrics to assess the effectiveness of Woodpile’s work.

via Under Tammy Duckworth, VA Wasted $5.2 Million In Single Deal | The Daily Caller.

Ever seen a contract without any specific deliverables? The “connected” firm that connected themselves with this opportunity did.

Nice work if you can get it, as the old song says.

ITEM: Whistleblower Retaliation, Take I

That wasn’t all. She’s been credibly accused of joining VA officials in retaliating against whistleblowers:

Veterans Affairs whistleblowers Germaine Clarno and Dr. Lisa Nee claimed that Rep. Tammy Duckworth did little to respond to their claims of mistreatment of veterans and corruption within the Hines VA.

According to their allegations, Duckworth was largely unresponsive to evidence related to veteran mistreatment and inadequate investigations conducted by the VA’s inspector general.

Clarno claimed that, although she approached Duckworth “many” times, the congresswoman did little to respond to her claims.
“I never felt that [Duckworth] wanted to hear exactly what was going on,” Clarno said. “I really thought going to Tammy Duckworth, that she would be the one who would stand up and say this has got to stop.”

But hey, anybody who works for VA gets one accusation of wrongdoing these days… it’s not like there’s a pattern of ab–  oh, wait:

ITEM: Whistleblower Retaliation, Take II

Duckworth also faces charges of retaliation against two employees at the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The employees filed complaints alleging mistreatment and abuse of veterans at IDVA facilities during Duckworth’s tenure. Trial is set to begin on April 4.

The trial was rescheduled, and would have run just before this fall’s election, in which Duckworth, currently in the House, is hoping to unseat liberal Republican Mark Kirk from a Senate seat. For gun voters, it’s a nearly meaningless election because Kirk and Duckworth are identically hostile to gun owners and identically committed to sweeping gun bans. Indeed, Kirk, a nominal Republican, more usually votes with Democrats, but the Republicans want to re-elect him for the sake of retaining their Senate majority.

But there isn’t going to be a trial, because Duckworth and her lawyers folded on Friday — after blowing some $2 million of the State of Illinois’s money covering her legal flanks — dumping money on the plaintiffs to buy a gag order in the settlement paperwork, and to avoid having to testify under oath:

Embattled Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) settled on Friday a years-long legal dispute surrounding allegations the lawmaker wrongly retaliated against employees during her tenure as the head of Illinois’ Department of Veterans Affairs.

Duckworth, who is battling to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) this November, was accused of silencing state whistleblowers by humiliating them, giving them poor performance reviews, and eventually terminating the employees.

Duckworth’s legal fees may have cost taxpayers nearly $2 million, according to a FOIA response from Illinois’ attorney general.

Kirk’s camp accused Duckworth of settling the case to avoid incriminating herself at trial.

The Chicongo Trib writes:

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, representing Duckworth in the case, said in a statement that during a pre-trial settlement conference in Downstate Union County “it became clear that we could resolve this matter… for nuisance value — saving the state the costs of lawyers preparing for and trying the case.”

Lisa Madigan is the career pol daughter of career pol and uber-fixer Mike Madigan. She’s a close ally of Duckworth, as is BOP Inmate Number 40892-424 at the Federal Correctional Institute, Englewood Colorado. From the same Trib story:

Duckworth had been appointed to head the state’s veteran’s agency by now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich following an unsuccessful run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton in 2006.

The Blagojevich connection, and allegations raised in the lawsuit, had prompted Kirk to accuse her of hiring “goombahs” at the former governor’s direction, and he questioned whether she wanted to avoid testifying. Duckworth has said she wanted to get all the facts out but was prevented from speaking about the case while it was being litigated.

She wanted to get all the facts out, until she had everyone else muzzled by court order. Well played, we must admit.

The Trib also dances around the root of the problem in Illinois: the pervasive, bipartisan culture of corruption, the so-called Chicago Way. (Remember how Inmate Number 40892-424 got to Englewood? He more or less held an auction for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama on his ascension to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Presidency).

Duckworth [tried] to fire 22-year state employee Christine Butler from her administrative job …. Duckworth later reversed that decision after being told that she first had to follow written disciplinary procedures and instead issued a reprimand with a paid suspension against Butler.

Human resources secretary Denise Goins alleged complaints about her boss were ignored and led to an unfavorable performance review that prevented her from receiving a raise. Goins had said Duckworth urged her to “do your job and keep your mouth shut.”

Goins and Butler, who both continue to work at a veterans home, also say they were punished for speaking out after Patricia Simms, the acting administrator, allowed unauthorized people to care for a resident. The two state workers had originally sought compensation of at least $50,000, as well as other financial penalties.

Simms was and is a Duckworth/Blagojevich/Madigan ally. Note that this is a whole other case from her retaliation against Clarno and Nee.

It looks as if Madigan paid 100% of Goins’ and Butler’s legal fees, no questions asked, cutting the deal with the attorneys behind their nominal clients’ backs. Hey, it’s the Chicago Way.

If you’re a vet, or one of the VA docs who treats ’em, what do you think matters more to Duckworth: veterans’ health and lives, or her own career?

Who knows what heights she’ll ascend to by the time her old sponsor gets sprung from Englewood (currently scheduled for 2024)?

 

Yeah, We Won a Few Lots at the Auction

So, about that strategy of bidding seriously on a couple of gotta-have-it items, and lowballing a bunch of others? The strategy that had us put in a record, for us, 12 bids?

We won five of them, most of them just barely, showing we weren’t too far off in our estimates. The five lots include 14 pistols, of which we want to keep 6 or 7. That means we’ll be disposing 7 or 8 firearms, including some rarities and some pretty common dogs, in the days ahead.

The One that Got Away

In one very embarrassing case, we were sure we’d bid on a lot (2575: “Two Czechoslovakian Semi-Automatic Pistols -A) CZ Model 1924 Pistol with Military Markings B) Praga Zbrovka Model 1921 Folding Trigger Pistol”) and even entered the lot and our bid in our auction tracker spreadsheet. But we never entered the bid. We really wanted the Praga and we’ll be bummed if it was under our planned-but-never-executed $1300 bid. Here’s what those guns looked like:

Cz 22 and Praga 2 Cz 22 and Praga

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger pistol is an early vz. 24, the Czechoslovak military’s first domestic standard service pistol. The oddball Praga is one of only two designs produced by the short-lived Zbrojovka Praha; it has a notch in the top of the slide to allow index-finger cocking, and when cocked, the trigger (visible in the photos) drops down.

In three cases, our winning bid (not including buyers’ premium) was under the low and high estimates. That’s good pickin’; in our opinion, all the auction houses set their estimates at the low end of a reasonable range. We presume they do this to encourage bidding, because many lots then get plenty of bidding action “down low,” and that may incite other buyers to join in.

In another case, our winning bid was right within the predicted range — higher than the predicted minimum, lower than the predicted max — and in the last one, we paid $400 more than the predicted minimum, and $100 more than the predicted max.

One lot where we’re keeping both guns for sure is #4257, “Two Cezska Zbrojovka Semi-Automatic Pistols with Holsters.” The two pistols are a rare Vz 22, that was only made for a very short period and is transitional between the Mauser Pistole N prototypes and the mass-produced Vz 24, and a rarer Cz 36 made in 1939, supposedly both with holsters although only one holster shows in the photos:

CZ 22 and CZ 36 L CZ 22 and CZ 36 R

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pistole N was an evolution of the Mauser 1910/14 with a locked breech (most of the Mauser prototypes are in 9 x 19 mm) and a hammer instead of the 1910/14’s striker. The unusual safety design of the pistol came directly from earlier Mauser designs, and it’s unclear whether it was Josef Nickl’s, or the creation of one of the Feederle brothers. There are two safety controls on the Vz 22 (the upper pistol in those pictures). The upper of the two safety controls visible on the left side, behind the trigger, applies the safety when it’s flicked downward; the push-button that looks like it might be a magazine release is actually a safety release. It’s easy to use and easy to adapt to, actually, although nobody will carry one of these relics as a practical firearm ever again.

This particular Vz 22 (not VZ1922, which is a different gun entirely; that’s a rare error in Rock Island’s labeling) bears unit marks identifying it as property of the Desatý Dělostrelecký Pluk — 10th Artillery Regiment — gun number 178.

The CZ 36 is also interesting. The gun was produced in four major variations over its history; this is the first one. It’s a very early DAO pistol, and this example, like most CZ 36s, has a safety. (The safety was dispensed with on the next version, the CZ 45). There was also an American clone; some parts interchange among all variants. Perhaps some time we’ll do a story on these little CZs.

 

 

Sunday Spray-n-Pray

The prayer was brief, if heartfelt.

The spraying involves wing skins and primer, and if it’s successful we can finally finish the jeezly wings and move on to the center section. Yesterday we washed and etched the skins… the collapsible gazebo thing we usually use to hang these parts from spent the winter in the garden shed with the slumbering lawn machinery, which seems to have been a bad idea, as rodents ate some holes in it and relieved themselves all over the rest.

Mouse ordure has a very distinctive smell. Perhaps you can wash it off, but one notices the Blogbrother’s family cat was unusually interested in Your Humble Blogger last night. Standing out in the weather for a few nights has had a salutary effect upon the gazebo. Next winter it’s going in the mausrein basement.

In any event, today we will either get the skins primed, or learn something.

At the Auction, we have won, so far, thee lots containing eleven pistols, including some rarities. We’re out $4k so far (roughly) and we really only want four of those pistols. We may reconsign the rest to RIA, or take delivery and offer them in a blog post here for a limited time, before putting them on GunBroker and sending them on to someone who will love them.

The heavier stuff is up today, starting at 0900, and we have about $8200 in further bids in place.  All of these are keepers, if we win them, so we’ll probably release a few other things from the collection to keep the accounts in balance.

Tally-ho! The Blogbrother is here. Time to go make airplane parts safe from corrosion.

Update:

Brother was on time. New sprayer worked well enough. By 0900 all the wing skins were corrosion-protected with Stewart Systems primer. Some look a little runny, some look perfect, hell with it, nobody will see them once the wing is closed, eh. Mission accomplished!

Now for the auction, which kicks off at 0900 Central… maybe we’re not going to watch that like a lobster kettle. We’ll just open it at the appointed time and see how things cooked up.

Saturday Matinee 2016 25: Soldier of Orange (Dutch, 1977)

This is the movie that made Dutch director Paul Verhoeven a “name” in Hollywood and led to his subsequent career in the American movie industry. (He continues to work in his native Netherlands, too, occasionally returning to wartime stories). It is the story of several young friends and their disparate experiences in World War II Holland, including the brief shooting war of 1940, occupation, resistance, collaboration, exile, and liberation.

Scenes set in Holland are subtitled in English. Scenes set in England are not.

Scenes set in Holland are subtitled in English. Scenes set in England are not.

As the movie opens the protagonist, Eric Lanshof (Rutger Hauer), and his friends are undergoing the horrifying experience of a fraternity hazing, unaware of the real nightmares that lie right ahead. The friendships forged here are tested in various ways.

Several of the boys join the resistance: some boldly, some timidly. One is turned by threats against a third party — throughout, the Nazi counterintelligence operation is portrayed as ruthless and competent. One is torn by his mixed Dutch/German ancestry. One will be buried in an unmarked grave in the Dutch barrier dunes; another, executed in a horrifying way in a concentration camp. One winds up in the Dutch SS and becomes, for a time, a hero of the new Europe. And one just stays in school until it, too, is forced underground by the Occupation — and manages to keep studying.

Eric himself is not looking to be a hero, which makes him all the more convincing one. At one level, this movie is a gripping (if complicated) adventure story of resistance against an implacable and evil empire. At another, it’s an exposition of the techniques and countertechniques of resistance and repression. And overall, it is a great arching human tragedy of chances, choices, circumstances and consequences.

It can be difficult to see here in North America; it was posted to YouTube in sections, but at least one has been taken down by the copyright lawyers determined to score valuable points by keeping their clients’ art unseen. (Lawyers. Is there any question but that most of them would flock to the  ranks of the collaborators, were they to face the choices of these film characters?)

Acting and Production

The movie was quite expensive for a continental European production, with the best Dutch talent in front of and behind the talent, and some talented Germans brought in just to creep the audience out — the avuncular CI chief will stick in your mind, as will his gutter-minded assistant.

Rutger Hauer is powerful as Eric. He is perfectly cast as a big Dutchman (after all, he is a good-sized Dutchman). One other actor familiar to Anglosphere audiences is Edward Fox, typecast as usual as a British officer. The other actors, mostly Dutch,

Accuracy and Weapons

Someone worked hard on accuracy for this film. The 1940 Dutch Army is painstakingly equipped with appropriate guns, like Dutch Mannlichers and Browning 1922 pistols.

soldier_of_orange_02

Resistance guys have Stens, Webleys, and other British hardware. Dutchmen in exile train with Lee-Enfields. This is all more or less correct.

A couple of incidents involve a revolver (possibly a Webley) and a small .25. The Germans are armed appropriately, with German weapons, although they have an MG42 in 1940.

soldier_of_orange_01

Some of the bigger stuff works, some doesn’t. The “British” floatplane that comes to pick up a courier is a postwar DeHavilland Canada product; “German” tanks are Leopards. But a Russian RGD-33 grenade, a nearly forgotten frag grenade that would be just right for the tax in which it’s employed.

A lot of small, unexpected little details are accurate; some of the Morse radio calls and prosigns are those actually used: messages begin QRA DE (“any station receiving, this is…”) and then lapse into

The security check and duress check signals that the SOE and SIS used in 1940 are simplified, but the radio procedure is close.

Explosions are, unfortunately, Hollywood fireballs (one is excusable, as it is a gasoline FOOM).

Eric’s many roles in the war — Resistance man, pilot, aide to Queen Wilhelmina — seem to make him a Dutch Forrest Gump (or Zelig, if you prefer characters crafted by famous Hollywood pervs). But the character is actually based on a real Soldier of Orange, who filled all the roles.

The bottom line

Soldier of Orange is one of the best resistance films made in the last fifty years. (Hmmm… that would be a good list to make, wouldn’t it?)

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film. We watched it on a movie channel, where it occasionally shows up.

  • Amazon.com DVD page (yikes. Expensive DVD).

https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Orange-Rutger-Hauer/dp/B000X03BBM/

  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076734/

  • IMFDB page:

http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Soldier_of_Orange

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page (a rare 100% Fresh rating):

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/soldier_of_orange/

  • Wikipedia  page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_of_Orange

  • History vs. Hollywood Page. (none).

Notes

none

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Cages

kededrique boyd mugshotDreadlocked, scowling Kededrique Boyd was a career criminal. But even he topped himself when he blew up at his girlfriend and threw her puppy — still in her cage — off an apartment balcony in Evansville, Indiana.

Being a product of the narcissistic Worldstar Hiphop generation, he filmed the whole thing, which makes proving the animal cruelty charges kind of simple and boring for the DA’s office.

Video:
Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

An Evansville man is in jail accused of doing the unthinkable to a puppy. 23-year old Kededrique Boyd was arrested Thursday night and faced a judge Friday on several felony animal cruelty charges.

Officers said it started with a fight between Boyd and his girlfriend, that lasted most of the day until she left for work. Police told 14 NEWS, while she was at work, Boyd filmed himself throwing her black lab puppy, in its cage, over their balcony Thursday night.

“When I seen the police, I suspected something else. That was the last thing I expected to hear, it’s pretty terrible,” said a neighbor who asked to not be identified.

EPD said on Thursday Boyd and his girlfriend argued over ownership of property and child custody and that argument, officers said, escalated to them breaking up.

Officers told us when Boyd’s girlfriend left for work, he shot this video on his cell phone, The video is graphic, and we’ve chosen not to show the cage hitting the ground.

“I just don’t know what this world is coming to, to throw a puppy or a dog or anything, it’s cruelty to animals,” said the neighbor. “I just think it’s awful.”

“We do a lot of family violence, domestic disputes, and arguments between couples and we also do a lot of animal cruelty runs,” said Lt. Scott Doan with Evansville Police. “But it’s very rare for us to see something where an animal is used as a ploy or a tactic for one person to get back at another.”

The 10 week-old black lab puppy, named “baby” is doing much better now.

In addition to Friday’s felony animal cruelty charges, Boyd already had an outstanding warrant out of Jackson County, Indiana. His bond is $25,000, or $2,500 cash. He’ll be back in court next week.

Animal control said the girlfriend signed over ownership of that puppy to them Thursday night. She’s with animal control now, and will be available for adoption in the next few days.

via Evansville man throws girlfriend’s 10 week-old puppy in its cage – Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV.

If you skimmed that and didn’t see what happened to the dog, she survived, she’s ok, and Kededrique’s (presumably ex-) girlfriend gave her up to a shelter, whence she’ll be going to a slightly less, shall we say, kinetic, household.

Kededrique? He’s probably going to prison. Be nice if someone could drop his cage off a high perch.