by Max Brantley
The line is open. A couple of closing notes:
I got my answer today, finally: YES.
No line at noon. Good service. Great carnitas tacos, with every little detail from the small corn tortillas to meltingly rich shredded pork to the tiny flavor add-ons (cotija cheese and cilantro) was perfect. Drunken beans? A three-star facsimile of a classic bean dish, frijoles borrachos, I've made for years from Diane Kennedy's essential Mexican cookbook. The salsas were intriguing and iconoclastic, but the pulpy and modestly fiery tomatillo salsa was the best. Black bean tacos with guacamole? Great. Same for the jalapeno slaw and the lime-cilantro rice. The pickled vegetables — green onions, carrots, jalapeño — were one of those little things that made it for me. They were all that pickleholic could dream of, just the thing to cut the richness of pork.
I am sharing no secrets nor revelations. Everybody else in town has been there already. I've seen no bad reviews, but a few have been lukewarm, at least in the context of the hype and the blue ribbon-resume of the creators (Boulevard, Za Za, Big Orange). Still. A $25 lunch for two — against $11 at Taqueria Samantha — struck me as a good deal, given the careful consideration of ingredients and presentation, preparation and delivery. And I thought I'd say so. Three stars. But I'll still visit Samantha.
* EARLY WARNING: By tomorrow, I hope to share a little item about a recent exchange between the new Little Rock school superintendent, Dexter Suggs, and the president of the Little Rock Education Association, Cathy Koehler. Whether it's an isolated flareup or a sign of things to come, I can't say. Time will tell.
* WORTHWHILE READING: One of my most reliable readers sends along a piece by Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic about "The Unprecedented, Contemptible GOP Quest to Sabotage Obamacare."
When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable — unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better — not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people. They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation — which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil — is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate — even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists — takes one's breath away.
* TWO SHOT AT GUN SHOW: Fox 16 reports two wounded in accidental shooting at Hot Springs gun show.