Good Guys 1: Idiot 0

One of the most important things you learn in Minnesota carry permit training is that having that permit doesn’t make you a junior lawman. Find me a legal carry permit holder who believes that their permit entitles them to wade into disputes, gun drawn, like Dwight Schrute, and I’ll show you someone who should probably have their permit re-examined.

But it’s hard to find those examples – because carry permit holders almost never do anything quite that stupid. Are there examples? I’m sure there are, somewhere – there are likely several million carry permitees nationwide, and in a group that large, you’re going to have someone who screws up, sometime. I just can’t think of any recent examples right now. I doubt you can either.

Now, if you follow any of the “Gun Grabber” chat rooms and Facebook pages you’ll find all sorts of bellicose talk from anti civil rights people; claims that they’ll raise a commotion if they see someone with a permitted firearm, or even make up crimes and call the police.

Few of them (outside the media) have done anything about it so far.

Until this week, anyway:

.According to the sheriff’s office, Michael Foster, 43, saw Clarence Daniels, 62, in the Walmart parking lot with a gun holstered under his coat.

Foster followed Daniels into the store, put him in a choke-hold and brought him to the ground, the sheriff’s office said. He then started yelling that Daniels had a gun.

Mr. Foster is being charged with battery. I hope Mr. Daniels presses charges with vigor and glee.

Further proof, really, the biggest danger involved with the law-abiding carry of firearms is the ninnies who oppose it.

UPDATE:  Oh, yeah – there’s a racial angle.  The attacker was a white guy.  The innocent carrier, black.

Racist.  Just like every single gun control law.

Extreme

How debased is the English language, as it relates to politics in the US today?

The Democrats are chanting in unison that a bill regulating abortion is “extreme”.

No shock there.

What’s “extreme” is that it would ban abortion of fetuses after the 20th week of gestation.

20 weeks.  Five months.  Over halfway there.

More importantly, long after pain is known to register with the “fetuses” – and exactly two weeks earlier than children have survived premature delivery.

Two weeks.

When the “fetus” is fully formed in every particular; just not developed quite enough to survive on its own yet; 22 weeks involves working medical miracles; 24 weeks is difficult as hell and touch and go – but doable.

Note to infanticide supporters; say what you will about a “woman’s right to choose” – but when the “choice” involves something that is physically as well as morally indistinguishable from “a baby”, you’re not making any friends outside your echo chamber, provided they know what the actual story is.  Barring abortion of a “fetus” that is two weeks away from being a viable human being is not extreme.  Allowing it certainly is.

 

 

Indistinguishable

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Got this fundraising e-mail today. I think there’s a flaw in the proposal but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

***

Dear Friend

Our country is in trouble and we need your help in a big way. The rich are cheating this country of a Billion Dollars of tax revenue EVERY MINUTE.

Right now, federal tax law supported by Republicans is costing the government at least 50 cents – and in some cases as much as 72 cents – out of every dollar earned. By closing the payroll tax loophole, Democrats in Congress could fully fund every vital program to invest in infrastructure, eliminate racial inequality and prepare our children for the future.

All it would take is one simple fix in the payroll tax laws, setting the amount of withholding equal to total wages earned. And it would affect only a small number of Americans – fewer of them every day – but the Evil Republicans backed by the Koch Brothers are blocking this common sense reform.

Tell Republicans to Give Congress Back its Money! Tell Republicans to Close the Payroll Tax Loophole!

And please help us spread this urgent message by contributing $100, $50 or even $25 today. Your contribution could make the difference between saving the country and letting the terrorists win.

***

Joe Doakes

it’s so hard to tell truth from parody these days…

Petition

Senate File 32, as proposed by Senator Branden Petersen in the current session, would basically reiterate the Fourth Amendment…

…which is good, because the last couple of Presidents, going back to Clinton, have put the Fourth Amendment on life support.

The bill would require law enforcement and prosecutors to show legitimate probably cause before doing any electronic eavesdropping.

Senator Ron Latz, of course, controls the Senate Judiciary Committee.  And he apparently believes that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Please sign this petition urging Senator Latz to bring the bill up in committee for an up or down vote.

Because it would be good to know where our Senators stand on privacy and, y’know, freedom.

 

Distinctions And Differences

I missed the State of the Union last night – I was actually busy interviewing a guest for this Saturday’s Northern Alliance broadcast – but I heard some of National Public Radio’s post speech wrap up.

The hosts discussed the conversation about the Keystone XL pipeline; the NPR “analysts” were careful to note that “the number of permanent jobs is actually quite small”; they’d be mostly temporary construction jobs.

Which is true, and all that.

I’m just trying to remember any similar commentary about Pres. Obama’s “Shovel Ready Jobs” six years ago.

I Have A Dog Whistle

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This is why I was careful not to eat some my favorite foods on Martin Luther King Day: I didn’t want to offend anybody.

I intentionally skipped Quaker Instant Grits for breakfast, passed up Kentucky Fried Chicken with fried okra and orange pop for lunch, and made certain to avoid Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Q Ribs and corn bread for dinner.

Fifty years of “civil rights” has transformed American into a place where menu choices made to honor Dr. King’s name are twisted into proof of hatred of his memory. I wonder if this is the kind of tolerant, diverse, color-blind society he was hoping for when he said “I have a dream?”

Joe Doakes

in the future, it will be considered “racist” to point out that Michael Jordan could dunk.

A Limit Too Far

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Paul Mirengoff, writing at Powerline, says we need the government to spy on us now, more than ever.

He echoes Speaker of the House John Boehner’s reasoning that people don’t need to be secure in their persons, papers and effects: if they’re innocent, they have nothing to hide.

That whole Fourth Amendment thing was just a big mistake.

You can trust the government to spy on you responsibly.

Totally.

Joe Doakes

Thats something some conservatives get terribly, terribly wrong.

How To Get Ahead In Minnesota Politics

So late last week, Governor Dayton appointed 34 year old Adam Duininck to head the Met Council – the unelected, unaccountable body that has dictatorial control over metro-area land, transit and growth policy.

Duininck is taking the job as the Legislature prepares to increase its scrutiny of the Met Council, which in 2015 has an operating budget is $936 million.

But he said his top priority will be to define the role of the Met Council to local government officials.

Over the next few weeks, Duininck intends to visit with citizens and local elected officials across the metro area aiming to allay their concerns that the Met Council isn’t listening to them.

Actually, I suspect the best way to do this would be to actually listen to citizens and local elected officials.

But this post isn’t about the Met Council, per se.  It’s about the workings of the DFL machine.  Emphasis added:

Duininck 34, has represented Minneapolis on the 17-member Met Council since 2011, and largely focused transportation issues. He also has a career in DFL politics, serving as executive director for Win Minnesota, which raises money to help elect Democrats.

Let’s be clear:  ”Win Minnesota” is the fundraising arm of the MNDFL’s noise machine; it collects money from the usual DFL suspects – public employee unions, plutocrats and the like – and distributes it to the likes of the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, the DFL’s attack-PR wing.

Oh, yeah:

Duininck also is married to Jaime Tincher, Dayton’s Chief of Staff.

Which is, of course, becoming a bit of a Dayton Administration tradition; one of Dayton’s previous chiefs of staff was married to the boss of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

This bit made me laugh:

Dayton said he considered Duininck’s political and family ties before making the appointment.

Oh, I just bet he did.

And to make it even worse? 

But the governor said Duininck was endorsed by plenty of people — including current Met Council members, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, several state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minnesota’s 5th District…He was the overwhelming recommendation,” Dayton said. “So he got selected by me despite some other issues that I knew would be raised and are going to be raised — because he’s the best person for the job.”

Of course he was.

When the DFL says “jump”, he’ll say “off what?”

So In Other Words…

…our semi-retired President is going to propose paying for “free” communithy college for everyone…

…by taxing peoples’ savings to put their own kids through college?

Two points, here.

Face Value:  If we take the  President at his (ostensible) word, that means the nation’s community college system will inherit the worst of both worlds; the government control that’s made the public school system such a sclerotic disaster, and the financial firehose that’s led to the “higher education bubble”.  And let’s not even concern ourselves just now with the deepening ideological conformity that this would impose on the higher ed system?

What could possibly go wrong?

Shelf Life:  But fear not.  As with everything else in Obama’s presidency, it’s not about educating young people.  It’s about trying to demigogue the education issue, to give the Democrat Party a chanting point in the next election.   Republicans who vote against taxing people who saved for education to benefit those who didn’t is an ideal demogogueing point.

And that’s really all there is to Obama’s “free community college” proposal.

Pick Your Staging

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Why wasn’t President Obama in the photo of world leaders at the massive Paris march protesting the Charlie Hebdo killings?

Maybe he was at the REAL march and missed the fake photo staged at a completely different place?

No, he wasn’t, but I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t have blown off a golf game to fly over for a lame photo op, either.

It’s all Potemkin Villages with these people, nothing is ever what it seems.

Joe Doakes

Potemkin it’s not just a battleship anymore.

The Mountaintop

One of the great tragedies of our age is that “Oratory” is nearly a lost art.

It’s an age when Barack Obama is considered a “great speaker”.

But Martin Luther King was one of the great orators of modern times; to listen to his great speeches is to hear one of the summits of what was once one of the great western traditions.

And he gave few speeches better than “I Have Seen The Mountaintop”.

Let’s Get Ready To Lobbbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Next Monday – January 26 – will be the first annual MInnesota Gun Owners Lobby Day (MNGOLD).

It’ll start with a rally in front of the Capitol.

After that, we – you, me, all of us – will do something that normally only highly-paid union stooges get to do; lobby the legislature. We’ll go inside, and politely, fairly and civilly meet with every single legislator, and let them know face to face that we’re watching, and that we vote.

Arrange your time off now! I am!

More details from the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (Web, Facebook, Twitter) and the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee (Web, Facebook, Twitter).

Nothing To Hide

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If we’re going to let government ignore the law in favor of inquisitive gossip, here are a few questions I’d like to see:

Have you ever protested official US government policy such as the War in Vietnam or the War in Iraq? [anti-government sentiments]

Are you, or any member of your extended family in this country or abroad, a member of the Muslim faith? [possible terrorist]

Are you gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered? [potential depressive, possible suicide]

Do you live in a predominantly Black, Hispanic or Asian neighborhood? [may tend to violence]

Are you a single mother? [poor judge of character]

When you were in High School, did the Cool Girls Clique snub you? [bitter, resentful]

Do you have a visible means of support upon which you pay state income tax? [shiftless, no-account, lazy]

Have you ever consulted a mental health professional or counsellor, at any time, for any reason? [nuts]

Have you, or any member of your household, ever used, possessed or sold marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, or other illegal drugs? [doper]

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of an organization committed to the overthrow of the American Way of Life, i.e. the Democrat party? [self-explanatory]

I can’t see why anyone would object to telling Law Enforcement these personal details before being allowed to exercise Fundamental Constitutional Rights. Put them on the Application to Register to Vote, the Application for Welfare and the Application To Have An Abortion, too. What’s the problem?

Joe Doakes

As long as you’re following the rules…

(Bombed) Houses of the Holy

 

“In all previous forms of war, both by land and sea, the losing side was speedily unable to raid its antagonist’s territory and the communications. One fought on a “front,” and behind that front the winner’s supplies and resources, his towns and factories and capital, the peace of his country, were secure… In aerial war the stronger side, even supposing it destroyed the main battle fleet of the weaker, had then either to patrol and watch or destroy every possible point at which he might produce another and perhaps a novel and more deadly form of flyer. It meant darkening his air with airships. It meant building them by the thousand and making aeronauts by the hundred thousand…

And in the air are no streets, no channels, no point where one can say of an antagonist, “If he wants to reach my capital he must come by here.” In the air all directions lead everywhere.”

–HG Wells ’The War in the Air’, 1907

On the night of January 19th, 1915 Great Yarmouth, England seemed a world way from the bloody carnage of the trenches in Flanders where hundreds of thousands of young Englishmen were fighting and dying.  The fishing village 20 miles to the east of Norwich was hardly a military target, housing neither significant industries nor a population worth striking.  And really, how could the town be struck, anyhow?  The German Navy remained bottled up in port.  The U-boat campaign, which would soon dominate British concerns, had barely begun.

The soft droning noise in the night air told a different story.  Emerging from the darkness, two massive German Zeppelins dropped their payloads on Great Yarmouth, and several nearby towns.  The cost in lives was minimal – 4 dead and 16 wounded.  But the cost to public morale was astronomical.  Wells’ fictional aerial apocalypse was now all too real – the Great War had come to the skies.

A British Army recruiting poster from 1915. Not exactly a winning argument – die in the trenches to avoid dying at home. Around 1,400 people were killed in almost 90 air raids in Britain during World War I

The process had been replayed many times already – initial hopes that the War would not escalate; would not consume some new front or turn some new technology into a means to kill or destroy, were constantly dashed, only to see the War expand further still.  Why should the air be any different?

The attack on Great Yarmouth was hardly the first aerial assault in the Great War.  From the war’s very beginning, Germany had assembled the “Ostend Carrier Pigeon Detachment” – a code-named unit for conducting Zeppelin raids on Entente targets.  A few bombings had occurred at the start of the Belgian campaign.   Liège and Antwerp were both hit in August and early September, causing very little damage and few civilian casualties.  A more consistent bombing campaign by German byplanes had hit Paris in the opening weeks of the war, but the destruction was minimal and the German demands (dropped in leaflet form by the planes) of immediate surrender struck Parisians as more comical than threatening.  An accidental bombing near the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the start of trench warfare, combined to seemingly end the German fascination with aerial bombardment before it even really began.

The remains of a British home in Suffolk of April 1915

If air bombardment was seeking an advocate in the German leadership, it wasn’t Kaiser Wilhelm II.  While German Naval Commander Alfred von Tirpitz lobbied vigorously for attacking Britain through the air (perhaps in part because his fleet was being kept out of combat and any air campaign would be under the Naval office), Wilhelm was concerned that attacking Britain would mean attacking his English relatives – most of the houses of Europe were literally related.  But as the hopes of a quick resolution to the war were dashed and 1914 became 1915, Wilhelm relented to his Admiral’s advice: ”The measure of the success will lie not only in the injury which will be caused to the enemy, but also in the significant effect it will have in diminishing the enemy’s determination to prosecute the war,” Tirpitz claimed.

Britain would now experience it’s first “blitz.”  “Nowadays there is no such animal as a non-combatant,” justified German Zeppelin corps commander Peter Strasser, “modern warfare is total warfare.”

Peter Strasser – head of Germany’s Zeppelin Corps. Strasser advocated the Zeppelin as a tool of “total war” against civilian populations

While today, the Zeppelin looks as an ungangily and vulnerable weapon of war, Zeppelins could travel up to 85 miles an hour and drop two tons of explosives on their targets below.  With such destructive capabilities, Germany hoped that by bombing Britain, it would spark such fear that it would force the country out of the war.  The military ramped up Zeppelin production to the point that Germany ceased production of sausage because the intestinal linings of cows that were used as sausage skins were required to fashion the skins of the Zeppelins’ leak-proof hydrogen chambers (A quarter-million cows were needed to build one Zeppelin).
A combination of government fear and technological limitations gave Britons few protections from the early Zeppelin raids.  The persistent bombing campaigns against British targets may have led to the creation of the RAF (then, the Royal Flying Corps or RFC), but few planes could fly high enough to challenge them.  Nor did the planes’ machine-gun fire have much effect, between the armored-plating of the Zeppelin and the difficultly of directing fire.  Given such limited options for defense, London thought it best not to warn their citizens until the Zeppelins were directly above.  Such moves minimized panic but probably maximized casualties as few civilians had time to seek cover once alerted to the Zeppelin threat.

Know Thy Enemy – and thy Friend, apparently.

This wasn’t to suggest Germany’s Zeppelin crews were either effective or having an easy time striking Britain.  Zeppelins were frequently lost to bad weather, and few Zeppelins ever reached their intended targets.  Indiscriminate bombing of civilians targets may have caused initial fear in the civilian populace, but fear quickly turned to rage.  The Zeppelins were deemed “baby-killers,” and a tactic only worthy of the barbaric “Hun.”  Instead of driving British public opinion to pull out of the War, the Zeppelin only deepened the English commitment to the fight.
The German response was to double-down on the bombing campaign and start targeting London; Wilhelm had long since gotten over his fear that an errant bomb might kill a distant relative.  On September 8, 1915, the shadow of a Zeppelin passed over the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and unloaded a three-ton bomb, the largest ever dropped at the time, on the city’s financial hub. The attack caused massive damage and killed 22 civilians, including six children. The Zeppelin raid would be the worst of the war on London.  Britain immediately instituted blackouts and installed searchlights.  Anti-aircraft defenses were diverted from the front lines in France and positioned around the capital.  Authorities drained the lake in St. James’s Park to prevent its nighttime glitter from directing Zeppelins to nearby Buckingham Palace.  And to build morale, Charlie Chaplin filmed a propaganda short in which he brought down a Zeppelin.  Like Churchill would say a generation later, the British “could take it.”

A Zeppelin bomb crater in Paris

Technology was catching up to the Zeppelin crews.  By 1916, the British had developed higher flying planes shooting explosive bullets designed to light the Zeppelin’s hydrogen interior on fire.  Anti-aircraft gun targeting had improved and Zeppelin losses were increasing.  77 of the 115 Zeppelins used by the Germans were destroyed in action by the end of the war.  Strasser ordered his fleet to fly at higher altitudes, but crews began to suffer from the frigid temperatures and became incapacitated from oxygen deprivation.  Zeppelin effectiveness was further reduced.
By 1917, the Zeppelin had been made obsolete.  But Germany’s belief that a sustained bombing campaign could force Britain to its knees hadn’t wavered.  Operation Türkenkreuz saw the renewal of the German aerial assault, only this time with fixed-wing Gotha G.IV planes.  With a crew of three, room for up to 4 machine-guns and capable of carrying a payload of a half-ton in explosives, the Gotha was the first German heavy bomber, and more than able to defend itself against Entente fighters.

The German Gotha G.IV. – the first “heavy bomber” of the Great War. Only around 230 were built (as were several hundred of similar Gotha models). Initially, the Gothas were the Great War’s equivalent of a B-29 Superfortress – capable of carrying both a massive payload and multiple machine guns

The Gothas attacked during the day, a far cry from the usual nighttime Zeppelin raids.  A June 13, 1917 daytime raid on London killed 162 and wounded another 432 without the loss of a single Gotha.  As frightening as the initial Zeppelin raids had been, they were nothing compared to the German Gothas.  The Royal Flying Corps commander Lionel Charlton understood the long-term consequences of the raid, calling it “the beginning of a new epoch in the history of warfare.”
The British defense against the Gothas was even worse than their efforts against the Zeppelins.  A July 1917 Gotha raid against London killed another 57 civilians and wounded 193.  Over 100 sorties were launched against the Gotha formation, succeeding in shooting down one to the loss of two RFC planes.  It wasn’t until August of 1917 that British air defenses could coordinate their counterattacks.  The loss of three Gothas during an August raid convinced the Germans they had to switch to nighttime attacks as only 30 Gothas had originally been produced.

The Royal Flying Corps – the RFC would eventually become the RAF in 1918, but not before surviving horrendous casualty rates, including over 700 killed in 1917 alone (a large percentage of the RFC’s active pilots). Most of these pilots served in France, not in Britain

Worse for the Germans, the Royal Flying Corps finally decided to be proactive and target the Gothas on the ground.  Sorties at St. Denis-Westrem and Gontrode in Belgium, the home of the Gotha airfields, forced the Germans to further push back their bases of operation.  With even greater distances to travel, many Gotha formations missed their targets, dropping bombs on rural locations or even in the ocean.
By 1918, the Germans were desperate enough to press the Zeppelin and Gotha attacks regardless of the losses.  Gothas were dropping like flies – a May 1918 squadron of over 40 planes lost 7 in an attack against London.  The high rate of losses prompted Peter Strasser to personally direct an assault against London aboard one of his beloved Zeppelins.  Leading a raiding party of four Zeppelins in early August 1918, British air defenses managed to shoot down Strasser’s Zeppelin, killing him and his entire crew.  The remaining Zeppelins, leaderless, crashed either in England or at sea.  It was the last Zeppelin raid of the Great War.

The remains of a Zeppelin. By the end of the war, the Zeppelin were little more than ineffective death traps for their German crews

By any definition, the German aerial campaign against Britain was a failure.  Despite killing nearly 1,400 civilians and wounding another 3,300, the material damage to the British cause was only around 3 million pounds (47 million in 2014 pounds).  The prime objective – knocking Britain out of the war – never came close to materializing.  Throughout the Great War, Germany would adopt tactics that successfully struck at Britain’s ability to continue the fight.  The unrestricted submarine warfare nearly starved Britain and the “Spring Offensive” of 1918, targeting the British Fifth Army, were both terrible blows to British morale.  But Germany rarely committed to these campaigns except in fits and starts, and Germany never attempted to try them all at once.  One can only imagine a Britain pressed by U-boats, bombed heavily by Zeppelins or byplanes and suffering major losses in France all at the same time.  The German strategy of separating Britain from its French ally might have succeeded.
Nevertheless, the campaign had forever changed the nature of war.  As Wells had predicted, the concept of a “front” at which all the fighting was done was now a 19th Century concept.  Civilians were as much a target as soldiers in the field, if not more so as those civilians provided the material and political support necessary to maintain the war effort.  Strasser was sadly correct – modern warfare was now total warfare.  Strasser prided himself on his air ships being called “baby-killers.”  In his mind, it only proved how effective his tactics had become.

British propaganda on the Zeppelin raids – dubbed “baby-killers,” the raids only deepened the British commitment to fight

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George promised to repay Germany for its air raids “with compound interest,” leading to the development of the four-engined Handley Page V/1500 bomber, designed to drop 7,500 lbs on Berlin.  The Handley never saw action, and relatively few British bombs hit German territory.  The few that did prompted German retribution – against French cities.  Thus the French demanded that their British allies stop.
Berlin saw only one air raid during the War.  In 1916 a French plane flew over Berlin and dropped not bombs but leaflets.  For in the words of the translated leaflet, “Paris did not make war on women and children.”

She Was There One Minute, And Then She Was NARN The Next…

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – is on the air! I will be on from 1-3PM today!

Today on the show:

  • Andrew Rothman will join me to talk about “MN-GOLD” – Minnesota Gun Owners Lobbying Day – which is coming up in a little over a week.

Don’t forget - King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1570, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 1-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

The Sick Man Strikes

In tattered clothes, on frostbit feet, what remained of the Ottoman 3rd Army lumbered down from the mountains around Sarikamish in the Russian Caucuses.  150,000 men had launched the Ottoman Empire’s first offensive of the Great War.  An estimated 42,000 had returned, defeated by a combination of Russians, Armenains, frigid temperatures, disease, and overwhelming hubris by their commander.  The final death throes of the 3rd Amry on January 17, 1915 would linger for months – even the commanding General of the Ottoman forces in the Caucuses would die, having contracted typhus while touring the battle’s front line.

The “sick man of Europe,” as Tsar Nicholas I had referred to the Ottoman Empire 62 years earlier, had coughed.

The Central Powers – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany; Kaiser and King Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary; Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire; Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria.

Sultan Mehmed V hadn’t wanted to join the Central Powers.  In fact, he didn’t want to the join Europe’s war at all.

But the supposed supreme leader of the Ottoman Empire had little say in the matter.  The Sultan’s role had significantly shrunk as near centuries of malaise prompted the “Young Turk” revolution of 1908, restoring the Turkish Constitution and Parliament.  And the Empire’s repeated defeats in the Balkan Wars just years prior to the Great War, which cost the Ottomans most of their remaining European territory, had prompted yet another coup in 1913 which brought to power a triumvirate of civilian leaders known as “the three Pashas.”  Mehmed V was now an afterthought, and after 30 years of semi-solitary confinement in Topkapı Palace, Mehmed hadn’t exactly been groomed to be a political leader.  He preferred writing poetry to drafting legislation.

An Ottoman machine-gun unit in the Allahüekber Mountains

Enver Pasha was more than happy to fill the void.  One-third of the “three Pashas,” Enver saw the burgeoning conflict in Europe as a chance to regain lost territories and glories for the Ottoman Empire.  Like Germany’s Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Enver hid behind the thin pretext of only being the Empire’s Minister of War while orchestrating an Ottoman entry on the side of the Central Powers.  Diplomats elsewhere knew better, half-jokingly referring to the Empire as “Enverland.”

There had been little doubt which side the Ottomans would chose if a war broke out.  An Ottoman alliance with the Entente was all but impossible.  Russia had been the Ottoman’s implacable enemy for over 340 years – the two empires had already fought 11 wars, one as recently as 1878.  Britain had eyed the Ottoman possessions in the Middle East greedily, hoping to expand upon their Egyptian protectorate or at least counter Russian ambitions in Persia.  Meanwhile Germany had provided economic and military support to the Ottomans and assisted with the expansion of the famed Orient Express, which connected southern Germany to markets in the Middle East and India.

A victorious Entente would, by Ottoman calculations, eventually divide up the Empire whether Turkey fought with or against them.  A victorious Germany, however, might help preserve the Empire from foreign pressures long often for needed reforms to be enacted.  The Ottomans signed a secret treaty with Germany (without the Sultan’s signature, prompting some speculation that the treaty was invalid) to declare war on Russia in early August.  By October of 1914, the Ottoman navy was shelling Russian ports.

Enver Pasha – the Minister of War, and de facto Commander-in-Chief of the Empire.  Enver was part of a triumvirate that came to be called “the three Pashas”

The problem for the Sarikamish Offensive was not the target itself. The province, centered on the chief city and capital of the same name, had been part of the Ottoman Empire for 344 years before Russia annexed it in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.  The problems were more fundamental – starting with Enver’s expectations for what an offensive would unlease.  Enver envisioned leading a rebellion of Turkic peoples against the Russians.  It wasn’t the first time Enver thought in such grandiose terms; he had the Sultan issue a jihad against the Entente at the start of the war, which was largely ignored.

But the Turks faced even more formidable obstacles, beginning with the terrain itself.  The Ottoman 3rd Army would have to attack the Russian Caucasus Army across the Allahüekber Mountains, towering over 9,000 feet, which meant traversing high-altitude valleys cut by steep gorges over primitive roads in winter conditions. To make matters worse, Enver was planning a complex battle of encirclement, with three Turkish army corps approaching the Russians simultaneously from different directions, calling for carefully coordinated movements despite almost nonexistent communications.

Enver claimed his plan was drawn from the best inspirations of Napoleonic and German military thinking.  That Germany’s chief military adviser Otto Liman von Sanders insisted the operation was fruitless didn’t matter.  Even the Ottoman commander in charge of the Caucuses, Hasan İzzet, opposed the plan, knowing the difficultly of getting through mountainous passes in winter with troops ill-equipped for such conditions.  For his frankness, Izzet was removed just a week before the offensive would commence.  Enver would be leading the operation at Sarikamish.

Russian troops in their trenches at Sarikamish

Despite the hurdles, the Ottoman attack made good initial progress. On December 22, 1914 the Ottoman 3rd Army’s 150,000 men hit the Russian Caucasian Army’s 65,000 troops, still bloodied from their November fiasco.  The Ottoman XI Corps pinned down the Russian front line as the IX Corps and the X Corps made their way around the Russian Army’s flanks.  Within the first three days of the Sarikamish Offensive, the Turks had progressed 50 miles into Russian territory – remarkable considering how few Ottoman troops were dressed for the conditions – and were now turning the Russian flanks.  The Russian Caucasian Army looked to soon be surrounded.

Enver’s wildly ambitious plan had met early success – a tremendous credit to his troops.  But the cost of marching in the frigid mountains sapped his men’s strength quickly.  Recognizing the limits of the XI Corps’ endurance, Ottoman commanders halted the offensive to give their men time to rest.  No longer pressed on the front lines, the Russians immediately retreated to Sarikamish itself, joined by reinforcements who had just arrived by rail.  The encirclement had failed and now the Russians were at near parity with the Ottomans in terms of the number of troops engaged.

Kurdish Cavalry recruited by the Ottomans

By the start of 1915, the Russians struck at the individual Ottoman wings as the XI Corps, at the center of the front line, struggled to keep up, leaving the IX and X Corps exposed.  Harassed by local Armenian guerrillas recruited by the Russians, Ottoman troops found themselves unable to get reinforcements or even communicate between the three Corps of the 3rd Army.  Col. Hafiz Hakki, Enver’s brother-in-law and one of the Corps commanders, knew by January 2nd that the offensive had failed and that the entire 3rd Army was now in danger.  But Enver refused to acknowledge his error, wiring Hakki that ”the offensive is to go on at full strength.”

By January 6th, the 3rd Army’s headquarters was under attack.  Three entire Ottoman divisions had surrendered.  The reinforcements that the 3rd Army had been counting on did arrive from Constantinople on the Black Sea, but the troop transports were promptly sunk by Russian warships.  Hakki, finding himself one of the few high level officers still alive or not captured, ordered a general retreat.  In reality, the retreat had already occurred, with the surviving troops crossing the border to find Enver and his German advisers awaiting them.  If Enver was upset by these losses, he concealed it well; Lewis Einstein, an American diplomat in Constantinople, later recalled, “Even when he returned from the Caucasus, where an entire army had been lost by his fault, he seemed perfectly happy, and went the same evening to a concert.”

Russian Armenian volunteers

The scale of the defeat horrified the rest of the Central Powers.  Ottoman casualties were difficult to pin down, with estimates as high as 90,000 killed and 50,000 taken prisoner – many of the survivors were 3rd Army reinforcements and not part of the original invasion force.  Col. Hafiz Hakki was promoted to General and given the command of the entire Ottoman Caucuses – and died just weeks later from typhus, which had already claimed the lives of thousands of Ottoman soldiers.

The Russians, reeling just weeks earlier, lost perhaps as few as 16,000 men (one estimate had the number as high as 30,000).  Nevertheless, as one German officer attached to the army wrote later, the Ottoman 3rd Army had “suffered a disaster which for rapidity and completeness is without parallel in military history.”

Still, if defeat concerned the Central Powers, victory hadn’t allayed the fears of the Entente.  The Allies had assumed the Ottomans weren’t capable of offensive action.  Coupled with a failed Ottoman attack against the Suez Canal just weeks after Sarikamish, the Entente now believed the Ottomans needed to be driven out of the war.  Defeating the Turks would lessen the pressure on the Russians, open up the Straits and allow the Tsar’s troops to be easily supplied, plus possibly bring in Bulgaria and Greece on the side of the Entente (both were former Ottoman territories) and open up a southern front against Germany and Austria.  The ashes of Sarikamish proved fertile soil for the seeds of Gallipoli.

The forgotten genocide: the exact scale of the Armenian genocide is unknown, with estimates from 1-1.5 million. Pasha blamed Russian success in recruiting Armenians to fight for the Tsar for the defeat at Sarikamish, resulting in part of the Ottoman policy that led to so many deaths

Sarikamish would have another lasting impact on the Great War.  Enver blamed the defeat on the Armenian volunteer troops that fought for the Russians; increasing Ottoman fears that the Empire’s own Armenian population might rise up in revolt.  The Armenians had been simmering for decades following several massacres during the 1890s, and a proposed peace summit in July of 1914 had only served to push the Armenians towards a policy of alliance with Russia in hopes of annexation.  Defeat at Sarikamish provoked an immediate Ottoman crackdown.

Within months, the Armenian genocide would begin.

Discredited

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Star Tribune finally deigns to report that Department of Public Safety altered the Application to Carry a Pistol form, to include more than a dozen illegal questions. Heather Martens is fine with that.
Heather Martens . . . said some of the questions on the form reveal information that may not turn up in a background check. Further, she said, where 80 percent of the state’s gun deaths are by suicide, even the simplest questions may get honest answers. “I could say that some of those questions are very important questions, and there’s no downside to asking them,” she said. “I wish they asked everybody who is buying a gun, ‘Are you planning on killing somebody with this?’ and a certain number of people are going to say yes. That’s just the way it is

First, it’s not 80%, it’s less than 70%. Still tragic, but let’s be honest about the numbers.

Second, the percentage doesn’t matter; the questions weren’t asked on an Application to Commit Suicide. Suicides don’t get permits.
Third, as Rep. Tony Cornish pointed out, the questions are irrelevant because only information law enforcement needs is exactly what turns up in a background check.

Fourth, notice the smooth slide away from the subject at hand – Permit to Carry – over to her pet peeve – Permit to Purchase. Too bad the reporter doesn’t have a clue about gun rights, so she doesn’t notice she’s being lied to by misdirection.

Joe Doakes

Dear reporters here in Minnesota; why do you keep going to Heather Martens for information on firearms issues?

If you had a source in any other area who always give you false information, and always made your reporting wrong, would you keep going back to them?

There really isn’t any excuse for this, anymore.

Trulbert! Part XXV – Dandelion Tea

9:57PM, November 5, 2015 – the Hendrickson Residence, South Minneapolis, MN

Paul Hendrickson sat in the family room.  He was nursing a cough; he still felt chilled from his morning in the minivan.  He sipped a cup of acorn coffee – the houseful of guests had exhausted the family’s small stockpile of Caribou beans, and even old can of Folgers they’d overlooked in the back of the cupboard.

Continue reading

They Call The Wave Maria

It’s Mr. Dilettante’s daughter’s birthday today.  And he’s written a wonderful post on the subject, which I think pretty much any parent can identify with.

I have mostly left my kids out of the blog in recent years – mostly because I didn’t want the small minority of creepy stalkers that plague my public life to slop over onto them.

And there are times I resent that.

But until the creeps finally dissolve in their own bile, Mr. D’s piece will certainly suffice.

Sense And Insensibility

Barack Obama is highly unpopular in the military.

And yet many of his policies are going over just fine among the troops:

The long-term effects of Obama’s social policies on the military remain unknown. But one thing is clear: He is a deeper unpopular commander in chief among the troops.

According to a Military Times survey of almost 2,300 active-duty service members, Obama’s popularity — never high to begin with — has crumbled, falling from 35 percent in 2009 to just 15 percent this year, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55 percent from 40 percent over that time.

And before someone chimes in “it’s just anti-gay bigotry in the military, angry over the lifting of the sanction against gay troops”…:

A Military Times poll in 2009 found 35 percent of troops felt that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in uniform. Five years later, that figure has jumped to 60 percent.

Similarly, open opposition to homosexuality in the military has collapsed. In 2009, 49 percent of troops felt gays, lesbians and bisexuals should not be allowed to serve. In 2014, such disapproval fell to just 19 percent. 

Or against women in combat?

From 2011 to 2014, the percentage of survey respondents who felt that all jobs in combat arms units should be opened to women remained unchanged at 24 percent.

But the percentage of troops who felt some combat-arms jobs should be opened up to women — while allowing the military to continue to place some jobs off-limits — increased from 34 percent to 41 percent, while the percentage of respondents who felt the military should not change its policies excluding women from combat arms units fell from 43 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2014.

I’m going to suggest that while his policies may not be unpopular among the military, the fact that he’s a terrible leader is.