Weekend Links

Actual tortillas made by the author’s actual wife.

We invited one of the students in my adult class and her husband over for dinner tonight. This student, who goes by the English name Dana, is really impressive in her dedication to learning English. She teaches full time at a local high school. This year, Dana is the lead teacher for a class of high school seniors who are preparing for university. Since during this academic year the students focus relentlessly on the gaokao, China’s high-stakes university entrance exam, Dana often has to report to school on Saturdays and Sundays in order to help and coach her students as they prepare for the grueling exam. Faced with six and seven day work weeks, she still somehow makes the time to come to my class that meets from 7 to 9 pm on Mondays and Fridays. She always does her homework, and manages to study and practice her English nearly every day. Students like Dana really make teaching rewarding.

We ended up making a southwestern style pulled chicken in our slow cooker, served with flour tortillas, tortilla chips made from some of those tortillas, salsa, and a side salad. Our guests seemed to like the meal, though they probably wouldn’t have told me the chicken was a little overcooked even if they thought it (it was).

Anyway, this is a good excuse to link to the tortilla recipe we use. My wife made them this time, and they turned out very well as usual. This recipe is adapted from some other person’s recipe, which is a topic I wrote about here recently.

Some links for the weekend:

  • Charlie Pierce on Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. For an asinine take, go read the Washington Post editorial board’s piece. This opinion manages to hit all of the both-sides-do-it sweet spots while somehow managing to miss the real story: people of different political persuasions working together to kill a dumb, short-sighted project. The Post is too caught up in its Democrats-are-just-as-much-to-blame-as-are-Republicans narrative to see that the fight over this pipeline was not only about climate change, but also about midwestern farmers who didn’t want their lands seized under eminent domain or their water supply poisoned. Five minutes searching online and I’m better informed than the Washington Post editorial board.
  • I wrote about Ben Carson this week. Josh Marshall walks us through the latest developments in the Ben Carson-is-a-lying-liar saga with a series of posts here, here, and here. Marshall also links to a (subscription required) hit piece in the Wall Street Journal. The appearance of this article means that Carson’s rise to the top of the polls is inviting backlash from his opponents and the Republican establishment. It will be interesting to see if his poll numbers suffer. So far, similar oppo research pieces have not seemed to hurt Carson’s chief competitor for frontrunner status, Donald Trump.
  • My wife pointed me to her friend Daniel Denvir’s piece in Salon about Hillary Clinton’s past support for welfare reform. I guess this piece has generated a bit of backlash. Denvir argues that Clinton’s camp is accusing Bernie Sanders’ camp of sexism in order to deflect criticism of her own (bad) record. He raises good points about Clinton’s record and where she stands now, but he doesn’t do himself any favors by dismissing accusations of sexism out of hand, or by labelling Clinton’s past policy preferences “sexist” and “racist.” I honestly don’t know what to say here, since it’s true that Clinton’s past record is problematic, and it’s also true that Clinton is often the victim of sexist remarks. Both Clinton and Sanders, or Martin O’Malley for that matter, are infinitely preferable to any Republican on almost every issue. I’d prefer to see their campaigns and their surrogates refrain from mudslinging. But politics ain’t beanbag.

Enjoy the weekend!


Morning Coffee in China Links

Taken from my back porch, around 8:30 am.

Working for an English training school in China means teaching on Saturday and Sunday, so my weekend is actually Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a gorgeous day here, as you can see, but I’ve come down with a cold. Better take it easy and catch up on my internets.

  • Like Josh Marshall, I really like Vice President Joe Biden. I also agree that his running for the presidency would only make sense if Hillary Clinton’s campaign somehow implodes, most likely due to scandal, and now it’s looking less and less likely that will happen.
  • Paul Ryan may walk the plank yet. It looks like he’s got enough support now (math explained here in a previous post) to become Speaker with only Republican votes. But the Freedom Caucus won’t go quietly, and I really don’t see how Ryan becomes anything other than Boehner 2.0 as Speaker. If the Freedom Caucus continues to demand government shutdowns and default on US debt in order to achieve its goals, then we’re right back where we started: the Speaker needs Democratic votes to pass clean budgets and clean authorization to pay US debts, will look weak for it, and conservatives will call him a RINO (Republican-in-name-only, i.e. no better than a Democrat) and kill his career… And now I see some conservative groups are already calling Ryan a RINO.
  • A writer I don’t like, David Brooks, is caught yet again peddling his “Oh, where have all the reasonable conservatives gone” bullshit. Corey Robin lets this tired lament hang from its own rope. But if you really want to understand what Robin is getting at, read his lengthy post, or better yet, his book. Conservatism, going all the way back to one of its revered founders, Edmund Burke, has always been about resistance to democratic government and its potential to change the status quo.
  • When will these tragedies ever end? I look forward to the NRA explaining that this 4-year-old would still be alive today if only she had been packing as well.
  • The fight against our country’s sick fascination with firearms and the consequences of said fascination is going to be long and uphill, but Erik Loomis finds some interesting strategies that could make a difference. One interesting idea already introduced in the House is to make all gun owners carry insurance. If done well, this could make the kind of guns most likely to result in harm or death prohibitively expensive for the average gun nut. The prospect of confiscating guns newly made illegal by such a law, however, is fraught with danger.
  • Erik Loomis again, this time about the idea of relative poverty. Here he is previously on the backlash – weirdly enough in some otherwise progressive spheres – against reporting that reveals, shockingly, that poor Americans are poor.
  • Ok, it’s my “Sunday” so I’m going to make some comfort food for brunch. Here are some good recipes I’ve used many times before for biscuits and bacon gravy.