Grim's Hall

Did Bush Do Enough?

OK. We all know that my position on the 9/11 hearings is that the attempt to assign political blame for 9/11 is more harmful than most of the good likely to come out of the hearings. I hope that the initial bi-partisan report will be taken seriously by all parties, and the attempt to find some American to blame--Bush, Ms. Rice, Freeh, Clarke, whoever--will end.

That said, I think the evidence we've seen clears the President of any wrongdoing. What he did wasn't enough to prevent 9/11, obviously. It was, however, everything we should ask of a President.

Imagine that you're the President, and that it's now 2001. You've got no background in law enforcement; you're interested in intelligence and understand how it works, thanks to your father, but you haven't been in intelligence yourself. You're informed that the biggest threat facing this country is from a group called al Qaeda, which has been the focus of counterterror efforts for some time.

"Well, what are we doing about them?" you ask.

You're informed that there are 70 full field investigations by the FBI into their activities inside the United States. There are also ongoing intelligence activities directed against them by various three-letter agencies, and coordinated by the NSC. The professionals are at work.

So, you decide to:

1) Retain Clinton's chosen head of the FBI, [Matter of public record]
2) Retain Clinton's chosen head of the CIA, [Likewise]
3) Retain Clinton's entire counterterrorism staff, [Rice's testimony]
4) Reverse Clinton's policy of never meeting with the CIA, instead meeting daily with CIA advisors, both in the White House and when abroad [R. Kessler's CIA-authorized book, The CIA at War]
5) Have your National Security Advisor meet almost daily with the head of the CIA, [Rice's testimony]
6) Direct regular questions at the NSC and CIA about al Qaeda, [Rice's testimony: "[T]he president received at these daily meetings more than 40 briefing items on al Qaeda, and 13 of those were in response to questions he or his top advisers posed."] and,
7) Order the head of counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, to develop a comprehensive plan to destroy al Qaeda rather than 'fly swatting.' [Clarke]

It wasn't enough--we know that because the Towers fell. Still, given Bush's particular qualifications and personality, it was a good approach. Bush didn't try to micromanage the FBI or CIA, recognizing that he wasn't an expert. He didn't put the usual political patronage above national security--I am sure that there are a lot of Republicans who could have filled those jobs, but Bush chose continuity of expertise over patronage.

He said, in effect, "I want you to start figuring out how to take al Qaeda down rather than trying to restrain this or that plot. You're the experts, and since you've been on this for years, you know more about it than I do myself. This is important enough that I'm not going to replace you with friends or political allies. I'll trust you. Keep me informed."

It turns out that most of the failings were structural problems inside the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies. What really needed to be done, we know with hindsight, was not to trust the professionals, but to clean house. Clarke's book suggests that the professionals weren't that impressive:

In March 1995, a wacko Japanese religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway, killing 12, injuring more than 1,000 and prompting Mr. Clarke--a Xanax commercial if ever there was one--to worry about Aum pulling the same stunt on the I.R.T. The F.B.I. told him to relax: They didn't have a file on Aum, ergo, they don't exist. Not convinced, Mr. Clarke had a chat with his new bureau liaison, John O'Neill.

"'How can you be so sure there are no Aum here, John, just because you don't have an FBI file on them? Did you look them up in the Manhattan phone book to see if they're there?'

'You serious?' O'Neill asked, not sure whether I was being funny. When I assured him that I meant it, he directed his deputy to leave the conference room and call FBI New York. A while later the FBI agent returned to the room and handed O'Neill a note.

"O'Neill glanced at it and said, 'Fuck. They're in the phone book, on East 48th Street at Fifth.'"

What ensues is not cause for comfort. First, the chemical-weapons geniuses at the Pentagon said they don't want to muddy their HazMat suits, which are in a locker four hours down I-95 anyway. So off trotted a helpful somebody from the U.S. Attorney's office posing as a city fire marshal to inspect the building. He reported that Aum was furiously loading up a rental van with boxes of God-knows-what--news that produced, at long last, an F.B.I. surveillance car. You can guess what happened: They lost the van in traffic.

In retrospect, we needed a top-down shakeup even before Bush came into office--the above happened in 1995. We didn't get it when Clinton was in office, and we didn't get it with Bush. Yet, as a new president with little experience in such matters, Bush was probably wise not to try it--he wouldn't have known just what to shake, and the destruction of the continuity of expertise could have allowed 9/11 to happen just as much as the bungling of the experts did.

I know there are things that the government should have done it didn't do. I agree that it's possible that 9/11 might have been prevented if things had been done right. I thank the commission for helping to highlight the errors and problems, which I hope we will repair for the future.

All that said, 9/11 was not Bush's fault. What he did wasn't enough, but it should have been. If the experts in their agencies and bureaus had been kept shipshape, Bush's approach would have been exactly the right one.

Power Line: World War II Memorial to Open


Most of you will have seen this at the Sage of Knoxville's site, but some of you--I know--don't go there. You should take a moment to look at the World War II Memorial. You should also read the comments relating it to the war in Iraq:

Look at the single column of stars closest to you. That single column of stars represents well over twice the number of American servicemen killed in Iraq in the past year.

That single column of stars represents the number of casualties we suffered roughly every six days -- week in, week out, for almost four years -- during WII. At the casualty rate we have suffered in Iraq over the past year, it would take well over 600 years to fill this wall with stars.

In your mind, line 62 of these walls up, end to end (that's somewhere close to a mile long). That's roughly the number of people who live in Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas. That's the number of people that are no longer ruled over by Saddam Hussein.

For the benefit of the esteemed Mr. Blix, that wall could also represent the estimated number of Iraqi citizens that Saddam Hussein put into mass graves in the past 10 or 15 years.

Anticipatory Retaliation:

A.R. has moved. You can now find the master of the silos at his address in an undisclosed location. - Afghan city falls despite troop dispatch

News from Out East:

Uzbeks allied to General Abdul Dostum have taken one of Afghanistan's provincial captials, in defiance of the US-backed government in Kabul. The city, Faryab, fell to the Uzbek militia in spite of reinforcements from the central government.

Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe reports that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is still operating in Afghanistan, although the only dispatches mentioning it or its known members place it in Waziristan. The AP had an interview with a surrendered member, granted amnesty by the government of Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is something to watch. We've been hearing a lot more out of them for a while now. Hizb ut Tahrir has been on a publicity campaign for months, and now there are signs of life among Uzbek radicals. Those of you who love Google News might start punching "Uzbek" or "Tahrir" in now and again, to see what comes across your screen.

Ammo Red

Ammo Situation Red:

All that below being proper and true, it's worth remembering that it doesn't look that way to the PBIs: even if she isn't in the infantry. If it's hard to see the big picture when you're running low on ammo and not getting the evac you've been yelling for all night, it's surely hard to see it when you're just a journalist with no training, no gun, and no sense of the military arts at all. Some of this bias-toward-fear is to be expected, and can only be educated out with time and experience.

Carry On:

Carrying On:

Blackfive has an article on American media bias against the military in Iraq. He saw, on his commute, this Chicago newspaper misrepresenting a grieving Marine for a shell-shocked one. The UK papers ran the same picture, but got it right:

A STUNNED Marine wiped a tear from his eye after hearing a pal in his platoon had been shot during fighting in Iraq yesterday.

But the American soldier bravely regained his composure and went to join the combat.

I agree with Blackfive that this represents a kind of bias, but I don't think it's a conscious one. It arises from a complete failure to understand the military, its culture or its science. I was listening to NPR last night, and the same theme carried across. The war in Iraq was "hopeless," according to one commenter who was given several minutes--I didn't hear who he was. He said, though, that it was 'just like 1968, and you get the call from the President, and he says the Tet offensive is on. What do you tell him? I don't know. We are without any hope of victory.'

The truth is that, from a military perspective, the Tet Offensive was a complete victory for US and South Vietnamese forces:

The Communist offensive was decisively repulsed. There was no general uprising in favor of the North. The South Vietnamese army did not buckle, though operating at 50% strength because of imprudent holiday leaves. The indigenous Viet Cong were destroyed, leaving the rest of the war to be conducted by troops recruited in the North.
This kind of fight is exactly what our forces are trained to do. This is the kind of fight we should be glad to have. There is nothing more we can ask of Iraq than that the enemies of stability should be out in the field, engaged in battle with us. They are now a clear military problem, one for which the officers in the field have studied and the men in the field have trained. They are engaged in a stand-up fight with us. They can't hope to prevail, and in fact are breaking: witness today's shift on the part of al-Sadr's forces to hostage taking. Having gotten them into the field, we shall clear the field. Iraq will enter its successor government with a whole lot fewer insurgents, and witnessed memories of the abject failure of insurgency against US forces.

To those who report without understanding, however, this looks like bad news. It's scary, like the Tet Offensive was scary; there are fires and angry men with guns who hate us. The news crawl startles them--US forces engaged in fourteen cities across Iraq! What they forget, or rather never knew, is that the US forces were designed for simultaneous engagement on up to three continents. The instability won't last. The wave will break, the Coalition will bind these insurgents in fourteen rings of steel, like the one cast already around Fallujah. In a few days those who have not been captured or killed will be hiding in fear. We will be flush with victory, and in possession of a great deal of new intelligence information on who is backing these groups--whether it is official government aid from regional powers, or factional aid from folks like al-Sadr's cousin, the leader of Hezbollah. Then we can tailor the next phase of action, to take the fight to those who hoped to bring the fight to us.

No hope? Despair is the worst thing, and encouraging it is no fit use of the talents of an educated man such as NPR prefers to consult. There is always hope, even in darkness: but there is never better reason to hope for victory than while the United States Marines are still deployed in the field. The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is a very sign of hope, hope for victory, and for liberty.

Cogicophony: A Zoo of Thoughts: The Terrorist Threat

Terror Types:

KGC at Cogicophony has an interesting debate about types of terrorism. At issue is which forms require state support, and which do not, and how each can be fought. It follows this post, where the debate begins.

U.S. Forces Fire Missiles at Mosque in Fallujah (

The Rules Have Changed:

Today's news shows that the Rules of Engagement have loosened under USMC authority. Marines destroyed a mosque in Fallujah using missiles, after taking fire from inside of it. During the war, we were forbidden to strike at mosques for any cause--the 101st Airborne was required not to return fire when assailants hid inside the Shrine of Ali.

This strike still required approval at the regimental level. The Shrine of Ali is probably still off limits, as it's not just any mosque. The gloves haven't come off, in other words--but we may have slipped a pair of brass knuckles on underneath them.

Pulling out the stops

Pulling Out the Stops:

Well, al-Sadr proves to be braver than I expected. When he withdrew to Najaf, it looked to me like he was responding to the elders by going to negotiate. It appears, instead, he's decided to adopt Muhammed's own strategy, which is to come to conqueor.

He's reported to have taken control of the Shrine of Ali, as well as several government buildings. It's a bold play: US forces have in the past been forbidden from striking the Shrine, and probably will continue to be forbidden to do so to avoid inflaming Shi'a sentiment. It therefore makes an excellent headquarters. Furthermore, to the Shi'ite Moqtada al-Sadr's revolt must look rather like the end of the Hijira and the conquest of Mecca.

The big question is the Ramadi attacks. Fox is reporting that the forces are "thought to be" loyal to al-Sadr. That seems unlikely on its face. Ramadi is upriver from Fallujah, toward the Syrian border. It's in the Sunni Triangle and, when in 1999 Moqtada's father was killed by assassins, it's the place Saddam shipped captured dissidents to be held and questioned pending execution. Shi'ites loyal to the al-Sadr family are in short supply there.

That's something to watch, then--if the reports prove true, it's a big problem because it means either that (a) al-Sadr has succeeded in unifying, to some degree, Sunni and Shi'ite opposition to the Coalition, or (b) that the Sunni opposition is willing to allow his fighters to move freely in their region for some other cause. The first is unlikely, as al-Sadr hasn't proven popular even among most Shi'ites. The second, though, is not entirely unlikely. The most likely "other" cause is this: that Iran and Syria have come to agreement on the need to derail a free Iraq. They could be using their proxy forces, both Shi'ite and Sunni, to attack the Coalition in concert. These attacks "to the rear" have been expected, to relieve the insurgents trapped in Fallujah, but the scope of them is surprising.

If the reports prove false, the possibility of an overaching alliance of our enemies in Iraq lessens somewhat. Nevertheless, the scale of the uprising, and the surprise with which it was achieved, are worth noting. A serious response is needed, to crush the enemy forces in the field. More, however, we need to try to capture what leaders and documents we can, to see if this is indicative of a foreign alliance. If it's that, we've got some other work to do--either convincing Syria and Iran that their interests require them getting out of Iraq, or making them do so.


Samizdata reports that a chemical warfare attack has been averted, in London.

Sadr II

Al-Sadr Update:

Things are looking bad for Moqtada al-Sadr. Yesterday it proved that al-Sadr had been told to stand down by the Shi'ite elders in Iraq, including Grand Ayatollah Sistani. He refused in public, but appears to have abandoned his stronghold and decamped to the holy city of Najaf. Najaf is the seat of the Shi'a elders, and al-Sadr has little support among Shi'ites there. One may reasonably hope that the elders of the faith will bring him to heel, especially if they believe the accusations in the warrant issued by the Iraqi judge that he murdered one of their number.

Try to ignore the sense of fear that seems to be permeating the news today. Drudge is showing two-day old photos on his frontpage as of this writing, which would lead you to believe that there has been a lasting insurgency, whereas it seems to have collapsed--as the Belmot Club predicted, I might add--in about 48 hours. The situation is remarkably better than it was twelve hours ago.

Meanwhile, I have to say that this story is particularly foolish: "Line between militias, civilians blurred in Iraq." There is no line between civilians and militias. A militiaman is precisely a civilian with a rifle. This is true in the United States as well as in Iraq, so there's no excuse for getting it wrong. The United States Code says plainly, "The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard."


Tartan Day:

Welcome to Tartan Day, 2004! The "tartan" is a kind of plaid, one that is symmetrical. It is most famously associated with the Scottish clans, thanks in large part to the British military, which adopted it as a regular uniform for the Scottish regiments. You can read a bit of the later history here. However, the wearing of woven plaids as mantles or cloaks dates at least the period when the Scot Gaels were still just Gaels on Eire isle. In the early period these mantles took the form of a square of cloth, called a "brat," which was worn thrown across the shoulders and secured with a brooch. The use of this kind of cloak seems to have migrated to what we now call Scotland during the kingdom of Dal Riada ("Riada's share"), and spread across Scotland sometime after Kenneth MacAlpin destroyed the last of the Pictish nobles in the 9th century, establishing Gaelic rule.

I mentioned the clans I belong to below, but what isn't as well known is that there are tartans which don't pertain to clans. Some of these are called "district" tartans, which can be worn by the natives of a place. The state of Georgia has one, in recognition of the importance of the Jacobites of the Clan McIntosh in defending the colony against the Spanish, particularly at the Battle of Bloody Marsh. There are also tartans called "corporate" tartans, which can be worn by any member of an organization. The United States Marine Corps has one, called the Leatherneck. There are also "universal" tartans, which can be worn by anyone, and "trade" tartans, which are--I gather--copyrighted designs of particular weavers.

Wearing the short, or "military," kilt is properly done according to uniform regulations. The great kilt, which in Gaelic is called the Breacan Feile, is not worn in a uniform way. It permits a great deal of artistry and individualism. You can find a guide to it at the Wild Highlander's site.

Celebrating the 1745 rising, Sir Walter Scott wrote this song, which was used in his novel Waverly to rouse the clans to battle:

There is mist on the mountain, and night on the vale,
But more dark is the sleep of the sons of the Gael.
A stranger commanded--it sunk on the land;
It has frozen each heart, and benumbed every hand!
The dirk and the target lie sordid with dust;
The bloodless claymore is but reddened with rust;
On the hill or the glen if a gun should appear,
It is only to war with the heath-cock or deer.

The deeds of our sires if our bards should rehearse,
Let a blush or a blow be the meed of their verse!
Be mute every string, and be hushed every tone,
That shall bid us remember the fame that is flown!

But the dark hours of night and of slumber are past;
The morn on our mountains is dawning at last;
Glenaladale's peaks are illumed with the rays,
And the streams of Glenfinnan leap bright in the blaze.

[The young and daring adventurer, Charles Edward, landed at Glenaladale, in Moidart, and displayed his standard in the valley of Glenfinnan, mustering around it the Mac-Donalds, the Camerons, and other less numerous clans, whom he had prevailed on to join him. There is a monument erected on the spot, with a Latin inscription by the late Dr. Gregory.]

O high-minded Moray!--the exiled--the dear!--
In the blush of the dawning the STANDARD uprear!
Wide, wide on the winds of the north let it fly,
Like the sun's latest flash when the tempest is nigh!

[The Marquis of Tullibardine's elder brother, who, long exiled, returned to Scotland with Charles Edward in 1745]

Ye sons of the strong, when that dawning shall break,
Need the harp of the aged remind you to wake?
That dawn never beamed on your forefathers' eye,
But it roused each high chieftain to vanquish or die.
O! sprung from the kings who in Islay kept state,
Proud chiefs of Clan Ranald, Glengarry, and Sleat!
Combine like three streams from one mountain of snow,
And resistless in union rush down on the foe!
True son of Sir Even, undaunted Lochiel,
Place thy targe on thy shoulder and burnish thy steel!

Rough Keppoch, give breath to thy bugle's bold swell,
Till far Coryarrick resound to the knell!
Stern son of Lord Kenneth, high chief of Kinntail,
Let the stag in thy standard bound wild in the gale!
May the race of Clan Gillean, the fearless and free,
Remember Glenlivat, Harlaw, and Dundee!

Let the clan of grey Fingon, whose offspring has given
Such heroes to earth, and such martyrs to heaven,
Unite with the race of renowned Rorri More,
To launch the long galley, and stretch to the oar.
How Mac-Shimei will joy when their chief shall display
The ewe-crested bonnet o'er tresses of grey!
How the race of wronged Alpine and murdered Glencoe
Shall shout for revenge when they pour on the foe!

Ye sons of brown Dermid, who slew the wild boar,
Resume the pure faith of the great Callum-More!
Mac-Neil of the Islands, and Moy of the Lake,
For honour, for freedom, for vengeance awake!

After the collapse of the Highland army at Culloden in 1746, the victorious Lowland Scots and their British allies banned the wearing of the kilt for a time. But it was resurrected in their service, when the Highlanders went forth wearing it to tame the world for them.

UPDATE: I see that most other bloggers participating in Tartan Day mention the Declaration of Arbroath. Grim's Hall mentions it from time to time, although as a living piece of the political arts rather than simple history. See here and here for two examples.


Operation Valiant Resolve:

In addition to the fighting around Sadr City, Operation Valiant Resolve has begun in and around Fallujah. US Marines are taking mortar fire as they begin the evacuation of the city. Scroll down for some words on the situation for Spanish and Salvadoran troops, who are also engaged, although--unlike the American forces--not by choice.

The American engagements are necessary for the stability of the successor government, which takes power at the end of June. If al-Sadr is the murderer he's rumored to be, having him at the head of a private army on the outskirts of Baghdad is unhealthy. That there should be a militia in Sadr city is reasonable--it's a Shi'ite area in a heavily Sunni region of Iraq. As in the Edict of Nantes, the possession of arms guards them from similar oppression to that which they suffered during Saddam's regime. That a murderous gamesman should lead that militia, however, is intolerable.

Fallujah is an obvious weak point, and the actions of First Marine will be the key in handing over a stable province to the successor government. The Spanish troops, though, are a problem. As the Belmont Club correctly points out, the fact that everyone knows they are pulling out means that they are in danger of being routed. There is no alternative but to reinforce them with forces that are plainly not going to withdraw, and that means Iraqi forces.

Telegraph | News | 34 killed after Shia call to revolt

Al-Sadr Gets Scared:

Muqtader (also Moqtada) al-Sadr, always called a "firebrand" by whoever is writing about him, has inherited a lot of followers from his father's fame. He's a politician as much as a cleric--the fellow has worked every angle he's come across since the invasion began. There are also lingering rumors that the assassinations of a number of Shi'ite clerics in Iraq have been done at his orders, to solidify control of Iraq's Shia muslims under his voice.

Last week, the Coalition arrested one of his aides in connection to one of these killings, that of Abdul Majid al-Khoei, who was stabbed to death inside the Tomb of Ali in Najaf. In response, al Sadr has called the Shia to revolt. Thirty-four are dead already.

My reading of this is that al Sadr is playing for his life. He's got a number of loyal followers, but a lot of other followers who are partisans of his father's, but who wouldn't approve of an assassination inside the Tomb of Ali. Al-Sadr can't afford to become associated with that in any sort of authoritative way. He needs the Coalition to release his man, and stand down from claims that might suggest al-Sadr was guilty by association. Not only might he lose a lot of his power base, but he might open himself up to revenge from the broader Shia community.

Al-Khoei isn't the only cleric al-Sadr is rumored to have had killed. At the time of the Najaf bombing over the summer, in which Baqir al-Hakim was killed, there were rumors that it was part of al-Sadr's attempt to take over. There were even rumors that the Coalition might arrest him.

Of course, there are rumors about everything in Iraq. Almost none of them prove to be true. There is a tipping point on these things, though, and al-Sadr knows it. This arrest is going to read like a confirmation in the minds of many Iraqis. Al-Sadr has to change the subject, and make the Coalition afraid to touch him or his people. His life depends on it, and he knows it. As a consequence, we see the risk of a real battle developing in this conflict between him and the Coalition. He'll pull out all the stops because, if he doesn't, this could be the endgame for him.

UPDATE: The morning proves that things are worse for al-Sadr than thought. An Iraqi judge has issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of al-Khoei. Although the report says this was done months ago, it's only been made public today. Meanwhile, Ambassador Bremer, head of the CPA, has branded al-Sadr an "outlaw," and US gunships are over Sadr City. Enforcing that warrant will be one of the hardest pieces of postwar Iraq.

Mecenaries, Redux

Mercenaries II:

Those of you who slogged all the way through the comments on the "KOS" post, below, will have come across a polite exchange between myself and Mike M. Mike was writing to challenge the use of the term "mercenary" to describe the Blackwater men killed in Iraq. I explained why I thought the term might apply.

It turns out that the lads at Southern Appeal know something that I didn't know, which is that there's a legal definition of "mercenary" in the Geneva Conventions:

Article 47.-Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

2. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

(b) Does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

(c) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

(d) Is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

(f) Has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

Under this definition, as SA's Owen explains, the men killed in Fallujah were not mercenaries. I gladly conceed the point. My use of the term wasn't formal--as I said, I didn't even know there was a legal definition. I've quite a few military and former-military friends who toss it around cheerfully at me. Some of these folks I've known since childhood, and others I've met since 9/11. I adopted the term in that spirit: as a kind of nickname, like "Grunts" or "Squids" or "Devil Dogs." It has the same kind of swagger to it. It won't surprise you to learn that someone whose first adult act was to join the Marines might find that appealing. Being ignorant of the legal issues, I had no reason to think there was anything wrong with it.

Nevertheless, Mike M. turns out to be perfectly correct. As Owen points out, KOS and others use the term "mercenary" as "a pejorative, one employed by those who would like to denigrate the dead." I certainly am not among that crowd, as I hope is clear from what I wrote below. Grim's Hall will abandon the term henceforth, and I apologize to any--as Mike--I've offended by accident.

Absinthe & Cookies (a little bit bitter, a little bit sweet): Tartan Day

Tartan Day:

Tuesday is Tartan Day! Absinthe and Cookies is holding a celebration. I'm a member of the Clan Donnachaidh, which is "Duncan" in the English. I'm also in Alex Cameron's clan, if any of you get out to the Stone Mountain, or Grandfather games--or pretty much any other games around the South. Fine fellow, Alex. His is always the best ceilidh--by which I mean, of course, the very worst one.