Steyn gets it right again:

Speaking to the subject of Bill Clinton's new version of "Peter and the Wolf," in which the wolf is set free with a friendly apology:
A significant chunk of the American people think the Democratic candidates feel the same way about the war on terror as Bill Clinton does about Peter's wolf and the New York Times does about Jessie's shark. And they reckon they know how that usually winds up. A couple of years back, a cougar killed a dog near the home of Frances Frost in Canmore, Alberta. Frost, an ''environmentalist dancer'' with impeccable pro-cougar credentials, objected strenuously to suggestions that the predator be tracked and put down. A month later, she was killed in broad daylight by a cougar who'd been methodically stalking her.

''I can't believe it happened,'' wailed a fellow environmentalist. But why not? Cougars prey on species they're not afraid of.
Poetry in the Corner:

Asks Peter Robinson, "But how does one insist that poetry remains, even at this late date, a fit topic for discussion, without seeming a trifle...sniffy?"

By Thunder, man! One recites:

Seven spears, and the seventh
Was wrought as the faerie blades,
And given to Elf the minstrel
By the monstrous water-maids;

By them that dwell where luridly
Lost waters of the Rhine
Move among the roots of nations
Being sunken for a sign.

Under all graves they murmur,
They murmur and rebel
Down to the buried kingdoms creep,
And like a lost rain roar and weep
O'er the red heavens of hell.

Thrice drowned was Elf the minstrel
And washed as dead on sand
And the third time men found him
The spear was in his hand.

Seven spears went about Eldred,
Like stays about a mast;
But there was sorrow by the sea
For the driving of the last.

Six spears thrust upon Eldred
Were splintered while he laughed;
One spear thrust into Eldred
Three feet of blade and shaft.

And from the great heart grievously
Came forth the shaft and blade
And he stood with the face of a dead man,
Stood a little, and swayed--

Then fell, as falls a battle-tower,
On smashed and struggling spears,
Cast down from some unconquered town
That, rushing earthward, carries down
Loads of live men of all renown--
Archers and engineers.

And a great clamour of Christian men
Went up in agony,
Crying, "Fallen is the tower of Wessex
That stood beside the sea."

Center and right the Wessex guard
Grew pale for doubt and fear,
And the flank failed at the advance,
For the death-light on the wizard lance--
The star of the evil spear.

"Stand like an oak," cried Marcus,
"Stand like a Roman wall!
Eldred the Good is fallen--
Are you too good to fall?

"When we were wan and bloodless
He gave you ale enow;
The pirates deal with him as dung,
God! are you bloodless now?"

"Grip, Wulf and Gorlias, grip the ash!
Slaves, and I make you free!
Stamp, Hildred hard on English land,
Stand Gurth, stand Gorlias, Gawen stand!
Hold, Halfgar, with the other hand,
Halmer, hold up the knee!

"The lamps are dying in your homes,
The fruits upon your bough;
Even now your old thatch smoulders, Gurth,
Now is the judgment of the earth,
Now is the death-grip, now!"

For thunder of the Captain,
Not less the Wessex line,
Leaned back and reeled a space to rear
As Elf charged with the Rhine maids' spear,
And roaring like the Rhine. . . .

The Wessex crescent backwards
Crushed, as with bloody spear
Went Elf roaring and routing,
And Mark against Elf yet shouting,
Shocked, in his mid-career.

Right on the Roman shield and sword
Did spear of the Rhine maids run;
But the shield shifted never,
The sword rang down to sever,
The great Rhine sang for ever,
And the songs of Elf were done.

Thus G. K. Chesterton, from The Ballad of the White Horse. If there is a man born to the English tongue who can hear that thunder, today or any day, and not tremble to his bones--he is no man at all.
Still More New Links:

I'd like to announce the addition of three new links: Blaster's Blog, an explosives-oriented fellow, and two blogs who have linked to me: Free Speech, and Tobacco Road Fogey. Welcome to the roll.

This links thing is an ongoing project. I'm still planning to add a section on sites about history and mythology. I'll let you know when it's ready.


The Boston Globe has a piece today on the danger of a resurgent Taliban. You, dear readers, knew of the danger on the 8th of August, and on Friday, you knew it was a particularly brilliant trap, a point which will perhaps elude the Boston Globe's readers for a month or so yet. Isn't it nice to be ahead of the curve?

In reference to yesterday's post, here's an article on a new phase of Israel/Morocco cooperation:
The al-Qaeda terror bombings in Casablanca last May jolted Moroccan
officials and forced them to revisit Morocco's limited diplomatic agenda.
Morocco recognized the need to improve security measures and cooperation with other countries in combating terror. It was reported that the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency visited Morocco as part of the bombing investigation.
Now, Israel and Morocco have gotten along pretty well in the past, all things considered. Still yet, the Mossad is hated and feared across the region. To invite them for consultations on your security under those circumstances is no small step.
Another new link:

Kim du Toit, to the right and down, under "Other Halls." It's good to see a fellow rifleman around--sorry it took so long to notice.
Freeing Iraqi Generals:

I've been asked to mention that Chief Wiggles wants your prayers for the freeing of the Iraqi generals who ordered their troops to stand down during the Iraq war. They're still held POW by the Coalition. The Chief feels they deserve better, and maybe they do. Go read his blog, and decide for yourself.

If you do decide to act, you might want to know the following, which the Chief doesn't seem to have online. Donald Rumsfeld can be contacted here:

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Your prayers, of course, should be addressed as usual.
The Post gets it wrong:

Here is an update on al Qaeda's war, focused on Iraq. The Post is being a little defeatist about the whole thing. If al Qaeda thinks that Iraq is the perfect place to fight us, they're screwing up in a big way.

AQ can't really hurt the US in Iraq. They can kill some of our soldiers in ambushes and suicide bombings, but probably not as many as they think. Meanwhile, our economic interests in Iraq are minimal--really, the cost of rebuilding and, to a far lesser degree, the market price of oil are the only things they can manipulate. When AQ was fighting an economic war against us, targeting air traffic, airports, and so forth, they had a real chance of beating the US--particularly if they got nuclear/radiological weapons. It appears they've been drawn into a military conflict, and they're not going to win one of those with us.

Meanwhile, the Post misstates two critical points, and leaves out a third. The first is that the bombing in Saudi Arabia didn't just cause a crackdown--it brought into the open a war that's been going on there for more than a year. Those gunbattles they mention are frequent. Saudi security services are no longer feeling like they need to keep things in the shadows, as the people of Arabia were outraged by the bombings there. Meanwhile, the Saudi government is forcing clerics inside Arabia to adopt a new, less militant line, or else.

The point the Post leaves out is that the exact same thing has happened in Morocco. After Casablanca, the media of the country turned anti-terrorist. They are wrapped up in the prosecution and punishment of those involved, and in hunting out their networks both in Morocco and abroad. This has been a source of humiliation for the UK, as London has often been a hub of such groups.

Every time AQ sets off a bomb inside a Muslim country, they poison their own wells. And that gets to the second point that the Post misstates: the Caliphate.

Yes, the Arabs are annoyed with us for occupying the historic seat of the Caliphate. However, not every Muslim is actually interested in the Caliphate. It is particularly the Shi'ites who are concerned with the Caliphate. How many Shi'ites love al Qaeda? Few to start with, since Wahabbis don't consider them real Muslims, nor even one of the protected "children of the book" faiths, but polytheists who should be killed (the reason is that the Wahabbis believe that equating the word of the Caliph with that of Allah is essentially to create a second god). That number has shrunk further since al Qaeda set off a car bomb near the Shrine of Ali. Those foreign fighters that the Post makes so much of are now looking at a reincarnated Badr Brigade which, however much it may be irritated at the Coalition, will delight in killing "Arab foreigners." One more 'victory' like Najaf, and the Badr Brigades will probably just start shooting them on sight.

We've got a rough patch ahead in Iraq, to be sure. The US isn't going to be badly hurt by it, though, as we don't really have anything at stake there. The worst we can do is fail, which would mean some humiliation, additional creeping of that evil thing called International Law, and the deaths of a lot of good men. That's bad--but our society, our economic infrastructure, the largest part of our military might would not be damaged.

Al Qaeda, by constrast, is now committing heavily to trying to fight a military conflict for which it is unsuited; while carrying out bombings that are poisoning its wells; while choosing ground on which to fight where the populace hates them with a passion, is increasingly well armed, and lusting for vengence.
The Advocate:

I am now going to occupy a position that is, ironically in this case, called the Devil's Advocate. I'm doing this in order to see that an honorable opponent is fairly treated, though I strongly disagree with the case he is making. Those of you who are no longer interested in the subject of Roy Moore or the Ten Commandments monument may skip on to other things. Those who are, but wonder what my actual position on the matter is, can find it starting here and finishing here.

With that said, I'm now going to treat Sovay McKnight's discourse on the Ten Commandments. She has a pretty good roundup of the legal reasoning behind the current Supreme Court thinking on religious symbols. She winds up:

The Alabama district court was right to rule the way it did. Any way you look at it, the law prohibits Roy Moore's Ten Commandments from being placed in the Alabama State Judicial Building in their present form. Now, you're welcome to try and repeal the Fourteenth or First Amendments, it's a free country after all, but until that's done, the courts are going to keep on ruling against Moore.
Now, I am all for repealing the Fourteenth Amendment, or rather, recognizing that it was never legally ratified in the first place. It has no place in the Constitution, having been put there illegally and improperly, and it is incompatible with the Classical Liberal foundations of this country. Unfortunately, though all of that is true, to date the people who have argued on behalf of that truth have been doing so for dishonorable reasons, with the result that the argument has become tarnished by their participation in it. Nevertheless, someday the 14th will face organized opposition from honorable men, and we will bring it down.

However, the repeal of neither the First nor the Fourteenth Amendments are necessary to Justice Moore's position. All that is necessary is a different understanding of them--and it happens that the different understanding of them is the proper understanding. I will demonstrate why, and then I will argue against her conception of Justice Moore himself, which I think is both unfair to the man, and also underestimates the danger his case poses.

First, it should be said that Justice Moore disagrees not merely with the Lemon test, but with the entire legal tradition that supports it. His challenge isn't to the US Supreme Court, but to Jefferson, as he himself says:

They have trotted out before the public using words never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, like "separation of church and state," to advocate, not the legitimate jurisdictional separation between the church and state, but the illegitimate separation of God and state.
"Separation of Church and State" is, we all know, taken from one of Jefferson's letters on his understanding of what ought to be the way the government functioned. It is not in the Constitution, as Justice Moore correctly points out. Furthermore, it was far from a unified position among the Founders, many--perhaps even most--of whom felt that religion was not separable from government. The 1st Amendment's statement that Congress would "make no law respecting the establishment of religion" meant to most of the Founders that Congress could not establish an official state Church, the way that England, Scotland, Ireland, and generally every other nation of the day had done. It was intended to allow for the "free exercise" of all religions. Jefferson's formula, which has become our own, was unusual and has only the force of intellectual argument to defend it, not Constitutional standing. A future Supreme Court could simply decide to hold that the First Amendment means what the other Founders thought it meant; the repeal of the First is not necessary.

When Justice Moore makes his argument that the First Amendment prevents only Congressional action, and that he "is not Congress, and no law has been passed," he is invoking that alternative understanding. It has as long a history and as respectable a pedigree as the one that forms the basis of the Supreme Court's current understanding. There is, honestly, nothing except the composition of the US Supreme Court to prevent it from becoming the new law of the land. Keep that point in mind--we will return to it.

The second point has to do with Justice Moore's invocation of the Alabama Constitution:

We must acknowledge God in the public sector because the state constitution explicitly requires us to do so. The Alabama Constitution specifically invokes "the favor and guidance of Almighty God" as the basis for our laws and justice system. As the chief justice of the state's supreme court I am entrusted with the sacred duty to uphold the state's constitution. I have taken an oath before God and man to do such[.]
Here the argument against Moore is, essentially, that the Alabama Constitution doesn't count. That argument follows this form:

1. The First Amendment prevents any Federal government action from including religious content.
2. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that state government actions comply with that prohibition as well.
3. Therefore, the Alabama Constitution can't invoke God.

On first inspection, the argument against the Alabama Constitution's language seems stronger even than the argument against Justice Moore's monument. The Alabama Constitution is a law, after all, even if the Justice is not. But a Constitution isn't a law like other laws. The First Amendment can't apply to Constitutions, as it lacks the standing to tell the People what they can do; it can only apply to the people's representatives. A Constitution draws its authority directly from the people, who ratify it as the basic law of the land. It is through that process that the limits of government authority are drawn, and it is through that process that they are changed. The Alabama Constitution has been ratified by the people of Alabama, not created by the legislature of Alabama. The First Amendment speaks to Congress; even if you accept the 14th Amendment, it speaks to legislatures.

No Constitution, though, can set limits on the People. Constitutions lack the standing: all government lacks the standing. No governmental body--not a legislature, not an executive, not a court, not the Supreme Court--can tell the People what they can and can't put in a Constitution. No Constitution can set limits on future constitutions. This is because all government power is descended from the will of the People. Constitutions are only the codification of the more permanent parts of that will. The right of the People, acting as a whole, to set the powers and limits of government is the very basis of Classical Liberalism. It is the basis of the United States of America and the American way.

That is to say: if the People wish, they can invoke God in their Constitution, and no governmental body can tell them otherwise. All such bodies are bound by the fact that they are themselves creatures of the will of the People. They are not superior to the will of the People, and they can set no limits on it. A government can, and does constantly, tell an individual person what that person can do or is forbidden from doing. No government can legitimately tell the People what they can do, or are forbidden from doing. That is Classical Liberalism in "sixteen words," if you like.

Sovay says that Roy Moore is acting out of a desire for personal glory and power. I think she terribly misreads him. I think Justice Moore is acting out of a deep personal belief that the founding principles of this country are being ignored, and that his pursuit of power is a means to the end of correcting the course of American government as a whole. Yes, he has set up this Ten Commandments battle precisely in order to have a fight. The fight he wants to have, though, is not about the presence or absence of a monument, but about the nature of government itself.

I will recall the reader's mind to the statement that only the composition of the Supreme Court, not the 1st or 14th Amendments, stood between us and a reading of the law that permits Justice Moore's ideas from being accepted as right and proper. That is where this is all going. Justice Moore is positioning himself to build and lead a movement to return America to an understanding of government that he thinks is the correct one. It is not going to stop with any court ruling, and it isn't going to stop in Alabama. What you are seeing is the beginning of a groundswell that will command attention far beyond the borders of the Old South. If it is to be combatted in the long run, you can't simply tell people what the Supreme Court says the Constitution says. They know already. They disagree, and they are prepared to do what it takes to change it. If you're going to win the war of ideas, you need to be prepared to defend the Jeffersonian tradition on the merits. Remember that their tradition is just as old, and if anything had more support among the Founders than does the Jeffersonian tradition that we defend. They can't be dismissed as quacks or gloryhounds: the power and depth of their argument demand a full reply.

Furthermore, remember that their understanding of the limits of government power is not only defensible, it is correct. The government has greatly overstepped its bounds, and is therefore off balance. When this groundswell has built to the point that it is ready to challenge the orthodox reading of the First Amendment on a national scale, it is going to be very hard to combat. Much of its power will come from the fact that previous defenders of Jefferson's reading have overstretched, ignored the right and proper limits on government power, and otherwise acted against the vision of what our Republic was founded to defend: that vision of a government which draws its power from the People, and is created and in thrall to them. When these angry men come in their regiments, to challenge in Congress and from the statehouses and benches that orthodox reading, they will be powerful because, on very many questions, they will be right.


On the day when Jihad Unspun first announced that the Taliban had recaptured Zabul province, I speculated:
What does this mean for the coalition? One thing it could mean is that we are seeing a large-scale trap on the lines of Operation Anaconda. In Anaconda, an area in Taliban control was left safe while guerrillas gathered, then surrounded and brutally wiped out. Allowing them a province as a rallying point could cause a draining away of pro-Taliban forces elsewhere. The appearance of success could also cause the supporting ISI members to overplay their hands, making them easier to identify.
It appears that was precisely the case. Having been allowed to gather undisturbed in Zabul, the Taliban now find themselves hunted through the passes. Escape is denied them by a massive Pakistan-US joint operation to close the border. Their supporters in the Pakistani Army--and perhaps the ISI as well?--are being arrested in an FBI-Pakistan joint operation.

To the Princes who planned this operation: I salute you. It was manfully done.

Sweet and Proper:

A sign from outside a Southern military base. This demonstrates two things that I think are worth demonstrating: first and least important, that there need to be answers to these conflict-of-interest questions regarding the Iraqi reconstruction; and second, but most important, that military men are far more intelligent, thoughtful, and well-educated than is commonly understood. "We don't pay you to think" is perhaps the most common cliche in the media's depiction of the military lifestyle. Well, whether or not they're paid to think, they still do. Many of them are more properly grounded in classical education than their supposed betters in Academia.

Hat tip to the Agonist, who I've just added to the links section. This site has noted him before, often enough that it seems right to include him.


This is a topic we've all heard about lately. But what is the test for whether someone is or isn't a neocon? Well, if that question has come to you from time to time in the last year, here is the answer: The official Christian Science Monitor "Are you a Neoconservative" Quiz.

This page is not, of course, given over to neoconservatism, or conservatism generally. This is a Classical Liberal page, which only appears conservative to many readers because it is Classical Liberalism that is the foundation of our American society, and it is therefore Classical Liberalism that most American conservatives are trying to conserve. If you are interested in how your correspondant ranked according to the quiz, however, here:



*Are guided more by practical considerations than ideological vision
*Believe US power is crucial to successful diplomacy - and vice versa
*Don't want US policy options unduly limited by world opinion or ethical considerations
*Believe strong alliances are important to US interests
*Weigh the political costs of foreign action
*Believe foreign intervention must be dictated by compelling national interest

*Historical realist: President Dwight D. Eisenhower

*Modern realist: Secretary of State Colin Powell
Of course there was no category for Classical Liberal, just as there never is for Southern Democrat. We are a forgotten minority, albeit a well-armed one.
Afghan war:

There continue to be interesting reports from southeastern Afghanistan. One of them, at least, is almost certainly false: that Talibani beheaded six American fighters. That report is from Jihad Unspun, a pro-al-Qaeda site that normally produces falsehoods. As I note below, JUS rather remarkably scooped the rest of the world in reporting the Taliban uprising and reconquest of parts of Zabul province. It's nice to see them returning to form.

Meanwhile, Coalition forces have resumed hunting in the mountains of Zabul province, which border the tribal regions of Pakistan. Interestingly, Pakistan is making moves on the southern side of the same ridges:

Separately, at least 24 Pakistani military helicopters swooped in low over the tribal regions that border Afghanistan in a renewed hunt for fleeing al-Qaida and Taliban, witnesses said Thursday.

Government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several of the helicopters carried "foreign" forces, an apparent reference to U.S. troops.

The U.S. military earlier deployed an unknown number of special forces into Pakistan's rugged tribal regions[.]
DPA reports (no link):
Pakistan rushed extra troops to Afghan border on Wednesday amid speculation that a ``get Osama bin Laden'' operation was about to be launched, a news report said on Thursday.
Pakistan's foreign minister spoke to this issue yesterday, denying reports that bin Laden was in Pakistan, but saying that he felt that: "To me, time, space and options are becoming limited by the day for Osama and all those linked to him." We will see if that proves to be more than bluster. Again today, it looks like Zabul remains the most interesting place on Earth.
State Dept. Whistles Past Graveyard:

The Kansas City Star has a report from the talks on the DPRK's weapons program, entitled "US Optimistic on North Korea Talks." An excerpt:
The State Department said Tuesday a strong consensus emerged at last week's six-nation meeting in China that North Korea should end its nuclear weapons program and that more multilateral talks were needed to bring about that goal.

Spokesman Richard Boucher said Secretary of State Colin Powell was not surprised by a "belligerent" North Korean attitude at the discussions.
Now, I suppose if you're a diplomat, it's bad form to say after the first day of talks that there is no hope and the talks have failed. Couldn't we, though, at least restrain ourselves to "cautious optimism," given the DPRK's response?
North Korea has said it has no choice but to increase its nuclear deterrent following multilateral talks in Beijing.

The statement, made by a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, also said Pyongyang is not interested in holding any more talks on the future of its controversial nuclear programme.

James Taranto has this today:
Our Friends the Saudis
In a report on Gerald Posner's new book, "Why America Slept," Time magazine relates this anecdote about Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda terrorist who has been in U.S. custody since March 2002:

When questioning stalled, according to Posner, CIA men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where "two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces," pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid.

As we noted last year, Aziz died at 43, a few months after Zubaydah's capture, part of a curious string of deaths of youngish Saudi princes.
You, good reader, got this bit of analysis on Sunday. Of course, Taranto has been on vacation, so there was a bit of a handicap. Still, it's good to get out in front sometimes.
More on Zabul:

Zabul must be the most interesting place on Earth just now. Some of this is probably true, but it's getting very hard to tell which parts:

Taliban Reinforces Fighters. This is from Reuters Asia.

Afghan Gov't Enters Separate Negotiations with Taliban. This is from the Afghan Islamic Press, but has been carried in both Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi version is the most complete, and says that the Zabul negotiations may include an amnesty for Taliban. Al Jazeera, on the other hand, has the government denying such talks.

FBI Arrests Pakistani Army Officers in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. A big story if it's true. Also from al Jazeera.

Bin Laden holds Terror Summit in Afghanistan. This report is from the Scotsman, which is an uneven source. When they do original reporting by their own writers, they tend to be highly accurate and detailed. Many of their stories are just wire-stories, though, so the fact that something appears in the Scotsman doesn't make it so. This report appears to be drawing on other sources, but it is worth reading.


Pro-al-Qaeda website Jihad Unspun has a report from Zabul province. JUS is a very suspicious source, and indeed, mostly they report lies or outright inventions. However, they were the first to get the fall of Zabul to a resurgent Taliban, well before any mainstream news agency. Keep those two facts in mind as you read their take.

Michael Ledeen writes in today's NRO about the Najaf bombing. He agrees with the CNN report that put Mugniyah in Iraq, which posits a Hezbollah-Qaeda union in Iraq. But he goes beyond that report, and places the blame for Najaf squarely on Moqtada al-Sadr, who is, he says, the head of Hezbollah in Iraq.

My sense of al-Sadr has been that he is the Jesse Jackson Jr. of Iraq, using his father's name and some semi-bogus religious "leadership" to shakedown the CPA with threats of a Shi'a uprising. It is certainly true that Najaf put al-Sadr in the #1 spot among vocal Iraqi Shi'ites. I'm not ready to condemn him yet, but there are some serious questions here he'll need to answer. It would be nice if some of those in the newly independent Iraqi press started to ask them.

From Yemen?

Via InstaPundit, two car-bomb attacks have been prevented by Iraqi police. Details are sparse, but there is one very interesting point: the drivers of yesterday's car were said to be from Yemen. That makes them exactly the kind of non-Iraqi "Arab nationals" under threat by the Najaf militia.
...and a Georgia Overdrive:

Some poetry in honor of Labor Day:
I.C.C. is a-checking on down the line.
Well, I'm a little overweight and my log books way behind.
But nothing bothers me tonight, I can dodge all the scales all right,
Six days on the road, I'm gonna make it home tonight.

Well, my rig's a little old, but that don't mean she's slow.
There's a flame from her stack and the smoke's blowing black as coal.
My hometown's coming in sight, if you think I'm happy, you're right,
Six days on the road, now I'm gonna make it home tonight.
Six days on the road, now I'm gonna make it home tonight.
The Taliban Regroup:

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the regrouping of the Taliban in Pakistan. Last week more than eighty were killed in fighting in and around Zabul province, the one that the Taliban claim to control.