It’s also National Chicken-Fried Steak Day (an American treat!), National Mule Day, National Mincemeat Day, National Tennessee Day, Austrian National Day (celebrating the day Austraia accepted its Constitution in 1968, and Intersex Awareness Day.
Here’s a huge chicken-fried steak that I devoured in Texas in 2005 (I can’t remember where). The best chicken-fried steaks are big, and note the quart Mason jar of sweet tea on the the side. This is a perfect meal:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 26 Wikipedia page.
*Another day, another mass shooting in America. A gunman in Lewiston, Maine killed at least seven people in at least two shootings. The death toll has dropped from yesterday’s NYT report, which was 22, as I recall, but it’s still horrible. (I suspect the total will grow.) The city is on lockdown, and they have a suspect, who is still at large.
Residents of multiple towns in southern Maine were under shelter-in-place orders early Thursday as the police continued an overnight hunt for a man suspected of killing at least seven people in shootings at a bowling alley and a bar.
The gunman walked into the bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday evening and fatally shot at least seven people before moving on to a nearby bar, according to Sheriff Eric Samson of Androscoggin County. The total number of people killed and wounded was unclear. Mr. Samson said he did not know the number of casualties from the shooting at the bar.
Law enforcement officials said early Thursday that the gunman was still at large, and they released information about a man they described as a “person of interest.” They said they were searching for Robert R. Card, 40, of Bowdoin, Maine. On social media, law enforcement agencies said Mr. Card “should be considered armed and dangerous” and posted a photo of a man in a brown, hooded sweatshirt carrying a military-style semiautomatic rifle.
Of course no gun control legislation is in the offing. . . . . More from the article:
Maine’s gun laws are relatively lenient, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group founded by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. Maine, the group said, has no independent background check system, no red flag law to identify those at extreme risk for gun violence, no requirement that convicted domestic abusers turn in their guns and no permit requirements for concealed weapons.
*Every day I report on a new Republican candidate for Speaker of the House, which I write during the previous evening, only to find when these posts to up that that candidate has been ditched. So all I’ll say is that as of Wednesday evening, the latest candidate appears to actually have been elected speaker.
Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana won election on Wednesday as the 56th speaker of the House of Representatives, putting an end to three weeks of chaos that left the chamber without a leader and put Republican divisions on display.
Republicans elevated Mr. Johnson, 51, a little-known and deeply conservative lawmaker after a tumultuous fight that began after the hard right ousted then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and raged on as the divided House G.O.P. nominated and then quickly discarded three other candidates to succeed him.
Worn down by a brutal stretch of infighting that unleashed a barrage of recriminations and violent threats against lawmakers, both the hard-right flank of the party and mainstream Republicans united to elect Mr. Johnson in a 220-209 vote. Republicans jumped to their feet and applauded when after Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, the interim speaker, declared Mr. Johnson the “duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives.”
The vote put a socially conservative lawyer who opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and who played a leading role in congressional efforts to overturn the 2020 election, second in line to the presidency.
In a statement released just minutes after he was elected, Mr. Johnson acknowledged “an arduous few weeks,” calling the brutal stretch “a reminder that the House is as complicated and diverse as the people we represent.”
“We will restore trust in this body,” Mr. Johnson said. “We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden administration, and support our allies abroad.”
Restore trust? A “socially conservative” and “deeply conservative” Republican? How will that work? Check out his political positions. He doesn’t even approve of standing law on same-sex marriage, which has been declared law by the Supreme Court:
Johnson is a strong supporter of traditional Christian views on marriage and an opponent of LGBT rights. He has compared same-sex sexual conduct to bestiality and pedophilia, and has also argued that its toleration would lead to these things.
In 2003, he argued in favor of criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships through sodomy laws and was a self-described advocate of “discrimination” by the state, saying:
Proscriptions against sodomy have deep roots in religion, politics and law.
And he’s a young-earth creationist to boot! Shoot me now!
*In an “exclusive” story, the Wall Street Journal reports that, before the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Hamas soldiers had trained in Iran.
In the weeks leading up to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, hundreds of the Palestinian Islamist militant group’s fighters received specialized combat training in Iran, according to people familiar with intelligence related to the assault.
Roughly 500 militants from Hamas and an allied group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, participated in the exercises in September, which were led by officers of the Quds Force, the foreign-operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the people said.
Senior Palestinian officials and Iranian Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, the head of Quds Force, also attended, they said.
. . . U.S. officials said Iran has regularly trained militants in Iran and elsewhere, but they have no indications of a mass training right before the attack. U.S. officials and the people familiar with the intelligence said they had no information to suggest Iran conducted training specifically to prepare for the events of Oct. 7.
. . . But, with the specter of a wider war looming, the U.S. has said it has no evidence that Iran was directly involved in planning or approving the Oct. 7 attack.
The Wall Street Journal, citing senior Hamas and Hezbollah officials, has reported that the Quds Force helped plan the attack and agreed that it could go ahead at a meeting in Beirut on Oct. 2 with leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. An adviser to the Syrian government and a European official gave the same account of Iran’s involvement.
The evidence, then, suggests that while Iran supports, funds, and trains Hamas terrorists, it didn’t train those involved in the October 7 attack in Israel, and didn’t even seem to know it was going to happen. But what’s important is that Hamas (and Hezbollah) are supported and funded by Iran, and we should not be making nice with a country that not only fosters terrorism in the Middle East, but is building a nuclear weapon with the intent of threatening Israel. In this sense Biden and Obama have both made big mistakes in foreign policy. Iran should be regarded as our enemy–not a country to fight with, but not a country to make nice with, either.
*Out of respect for the families of those killed and kidnapped by Hamas, the IDF didn’t broadcast the Hamas videos that the terrorists took themselves. But the IDF, saying that they want to level the moral playing field, broadcast the videos to a group of about 100 journalists. Here’s Graeme Wood of the Atlantic, who saw the 43-minute comparison. Here’s an 8½-minute video of Wood’s reaction. The YouTube notes are below (the IDF video was 43 minutes long):
Israeli Defence Forces held a special briefing for foreign journalists, which included never-before-seen footage from the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Graeme Wood, a Canadian journalist with The Atlantic, witnessed the briefing and said the videos show ‘pure predatory sadism, and no effort to spare those who pose no threat.’
I have heard that BBC reporters wouldn’t attend the showing, but it was on a website I can’t recall and can’t find it again. If anyone can confirm or deny this claim, let me know.
*Unlike the befuddled Nick Kristof, whose moral compass is fogged by his desperate attempt to be “nice” and “evenhanded,” Bret Stephens tells it as it is, at least with respect to the war. See his latest NYT column, “The Palestinian Republic of fear and misinformation“. Stephens begins with an anecdote about his Palestinian “fixer”: a local journalist who would help him get information and meetings when Stephens worked for the WSJ. But the Palestinian Authority (not Hamas) wanted Stephens to take down a story he wrote about Palestine, and Stephens wouldn’t do it. The result:”It was never safe for us to work together again. This part was sparked by the media’s misreporting of the explosion at the Gazan hospital, misreporting that, he says, “sparked violent protests throughout the Middle East.” Stephens:
I’ll leave the media criticism to others. But Western audiences will never grasp the nature of the current conflict until they internalize one central fact. In Israel, as in every other democracy, political and military officials sometimes lie — but journalists hold them to account, tell the stories they want to tell, and don’t live in fear of midnight knocks on the door.
The Palestinian territories, by contrast, are republics of fear — fear of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and of Hamas in Gaza. Palestinians are neither more nor less honest than people elsewhere. But, as in any tyrannical or fanatical regime, those who stray from the approved line put themselves at serious risk.
This is a truth that only rarely slips out — but when it does, it’s revealing.
. . .During the first major Israel-Hamas war, in 2008 and 2009, Palestinian groups claimed the death toll was mostly civilian, with roughly 1,400 people killed. But a Palestinian doctor working in Gaza’s Shifa hospital told a different story. “The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600,” he said. “Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter,” he said. Tellingly, according to the Israeli news site YNet, “the doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.”
. . . Human rights organizations occasionally take a break from their incessant criticism of Israel to pay attention to this kind of atrocious repression. But only rarely do Western audiences understand the full extent to which information emerging from Gaza is suspect — at least until it has been extensively and independently corroborated by journalists who aren’t living in fear of Hamas, and don’t need to protect someone who is. Readers who wouldn’t normally be inclined to believe man-in-the-street interviews in, say, Pyongyang, or regime pronouncements coming out of the Kremlin, should be equally skeptical about the phrase “Palestinian officials say.”
That is all ye need to know about the truthiness of Hamas reports. But despite that, “progressive” leftists believe what Hamas says (of course other Arab countries do, too). It’s one more instance of “head in the sand syndrome” that afflicts so many progressives. I am still amazed that feminist organizations support repressive Middle Eastern countries like Palestine and Afghanistan. (Or at least they don’t criticize them.)
*John McWhorter writes an essay at the Free Press: “The ultimate condescension toward the Palestinians“. He makes an argument similar to ones he’s used about “the soft bigotry of low expectations” towards African Americans:
Some leftists are framing Hamas’s killing of 1,400 Israelis and abduction of 222 more as “decolonization,” believing they’re championing the cause of oppressed Palestinians. In reality, these leftists are condescending to them.
Mass murder, these leftists suggest, is the understandable consequence of Jewish “colonization.” Such a perspective is deeply insulting to Palestinian humanity. It implies that Palestinians are so controlled by circumstance that they lack agency. It implies that Palestinians cannot be expected to behave according to the same ethical standards of those who refrain from mass murder.
The argument that terrorism is an understandable or justifiable reaction to an insidious root cause is nothing new. Just days after 9/11, Susan Sontag infamously criticized public figures and TV commentators for feeding the American people “self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions” about the terrorist attacks. Far from a “cowardly” attack on “civilization” or “liberty,” she argued that the attack that killed nearly 3,000 civilians was in fact a strike against “the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions.”
The implication, not unique to Sontag but prevalent among some on the left, is that the act of killing thousands of civilians en masse and unawares is “understandable” if the perpetrators are Arab. There is a kind of patronizing racism in the idea that slaughtering innocent people equates to noble freedom fighting, as if this were the only way to respond to oppression.
. . .The “root cause” reasoning we learn in sociology class has, or should have, limits. Barbarism is not progress.
Few of those who celebrate savagery in theory would do so when faced with its reality. How many of the people cheering on Hamas as noble freedom fighters could seriously imagine pumping their fists while watching the men on their way to murder Jewish teenagers at a music festival? The abstract, scholarly, Latinate air of the word decolonization is a kind of fig leaf, functioning to—in the parlance of the hard left—distract from actions that are inexcusable in any sane person’s mind.
I wish the videos taken by Hamas could be more widely available because McWhorter is right. Just see the video of Graeme Wood above. I know the IDF is withholding them out of respect for the families, but there’s a case to be made that the families don’t have to watch them, but they should be available for everyone else. I truly agree with McWhorter that you can’t fully grasp this kind of behavior unless you see it in action.
*The Writer’s Guild of America, a labor organization representing “writers in film, television, radio, and online media,” has been widely criticized for remaining silent in the Gaza war, especially Hamas’s butchery on October 7. Now it has explained this silence, but the explanation is unconvincing and, to me, a bit offensive.
Facing mounting pressure from more than 300 Hollywood screenwriters questioning why it had not publicly condemned the Hamas attack on Israel this month, the Writers Guild of America West sent a letter to its members on Tuesday that sought to explain its silence while also calling the attack “an abomination.”
The letter, signed by the guild’s leadership and viewed by The New York Times, said the reason the union had not issued a statement after the attack on Oct. 7 was not “because we are paralyzed by factionalism or masking hateful views” but rather because “we are American labor leaders, aware of our limitations and humbled by the magnitude of this conflict.”
This would be okay (in fact, preferable) if the guild was institutionally neutral, as it should be. But if it makes other political statements, then they’re more or less obliged (if they have any moral bone in their body) to condemn Hamas. And, indeed, they’ve made political statements before:
On Oct. 15, a group of screenwriters sent an open letter to the guild asking why it had not publicly denounced the attack on Israel, noting the union had made public statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the #MeToo reckoning. They also noted that other major Hollywood unions had issued statements condemning the attack.
Uh oh. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t look good if you habitually make pubic political, ideological, or moral statements, but suddenly decide to become politically “neutral” just when it looks as if you should defend the Jews!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is seeking refuge from all the bad news in the world:
Hili: Are you going to read a detective novel?A: Whatever, just to forget for a moment about reality.”
Hili: Będziesz czytał kryminał?Ja: Cokolwiek, byle oderwać się na chwilę od rzeczywistości.
Catshaming from Divy:
From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe:
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0. I guess they mean “no wings.”
Elham Modaresi was one of the women arrested and tortured during the #WomanLifeFreedom revolution. She is now facing severe health issues in Turkey. We must rally behind these women and advocate for safe Western countries to grant them visas for protection. Be a voice for Elham. https://t.co/fUwl8x2dhq
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 25, 2023
Ricky Gervais displays his beloved cat Pickle:
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) October 25, 2023
From Jez, who adds, “A powerful guest, despite the presenter’s attempts to interrupt”:
My friend Mohammad Kabiya, a Muslim soldier in the Israeli army, tells it how it is on Arabic TV. The presenter desperately tries to defend Hamas, looks stupid. Reader: this is the *BBC* Arabic service. pic.twitter.com/kifvP0Cfuo
— Jake Wallis Simons (@JakeWSimons) October 24, 2023
From Barry, a cat keeps its cool:
Nothing happened.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/Qw4WmbXAkZ
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) October 24, 2023
I haven’t read this paper yet, but it may be worth a look:
A paper in Science claimed to show parity in hunting behavior between ancient Andean men and women based on the finding of eleven women's corpses being buried with hunting tools.
But two of the girls were clearly not hunters, because they were infants. pic.twitter.com/iaidJKocCx
— Crémieux (@cremieuxrecueil) October 22, 2023
From Simon, who comments, “Another one bites the dust.”
BREAKING: There are now more former GOP Speaker of the House candidates than guys who've played Batman.
— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) October 24, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a survival story that I retweeted:
A mother and child (the child was born in Auschwitz) both managed to survive. https://t.co/rhWiseDEte
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) October 26, 2023
Only one tweet from Dr. Cobb today, and soon we’ll be down to none. Oy vey!
But this one is a rare sight indeed:
— Jack Ashby (@JackDAshby) September 21, 2023