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December 24th, 2017:

Weekend link dump for December 24

Some rules and observations for Christmas music, which I endorse.

“While Republicans in the political class will no doubt cite [Roy] Moore’s loss as proof that their party needs to nominate stronger, more mainstream candidates next year, it’s far from certain that primary voters on the ground will heed such pleas from the swamp.”

The science of Star Wars, or why you’re probably not getting a light saber for Christmas.

“Why Anakin Skywalker should’ve been removed from the Jedi Order for sexual harassment”.

“But what those critics don’t recognize is that the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism.”

How’s that War on Christmas going?

“In hindsight, the Climategate hack, clearly timed to disrupt the Copenhagen negotiations, looks like a precursor to the hack that helped shape the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Meet Kirsten Karbach, the only female baseball play-by-play person working for a professional affiliated club. For now, at least.

“So a bitcoin is just a share of this system. It’s like stock in a newer-and-not-improved PayPal. Although that might be selling it a bit short. It’s more like a time machine that exclusively takes you back to 1999, the peak of the dot-com mania.”

“So I think some of the white evangelical celebration following Trump’s Jerusalem is a sense of relief and of renewed hope that Rapture Christianity might stage a comeback. Rapture Christians have now been given a pretext for resetting the clock and restarting their perpetual countdown. Never mind 1948. The clock starts now — with God’s chosen people (America) officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump just gave them a fresh set of downs — another 40 years in which to revive their message of an urgently imminent Rapture.”

RIP, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of three women to play baseball in the old Negro League.

The Disney “Hall of Presidents” attraction will never be the same.

“The Trump presidency is a huge political fact. Donald Trump may not be the leader of American conservatism, but he is its most spectacular and vulnerable asset. The project of defending him against his coming political travails—or at least of assailing those who doubt and oppose him—is already changing what it means to be a conservative. The word conservative will of course continue in use. But its meaning is being rewritten each day by the actions of those who lay claim to the word. It is their commitment to Trump that etches Trumpism into them. And while Trump may indeed pass, that self-etching will not soon be effaced.”

“So stand up. Speak out. Our country needs all of us to raise our collective voices in support of our democratic ideals and institutions. That is what we stand for. That is who we are. And with a shared commitment to our founding principles, that is who we will remain.”

RIP, Heather North, longtime voice of Daphne in Scooby Doo cartoons.

“Young children believe aging is directly tied to celebration, and it is the act of attending your birthday party that makes you age another year. Without the cake and candles, according to a number of the study’s subjects, a kid could stay 3 forever.”

$1.5 trillion could buy a lot of truly useful things instead of lining the pockets of rich people.

RIP, Dick Enberg, Hall of Fame sportscaster.

RIP, Clifford Irving, author of the infamous hoax biography of Howard Hughes.

RIP, Bruce McCandless, first astronaut to float untethered in space.

Diana Davila sues over ballot rejection

There’s one of these every cycle.

Diana Davila

Diana Davila said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in state district court that her application to run for justice of the peace Precinct 6, Place 2 in the March primary election was inappropriately rejected by the Democratic Party.

The lawsuit states that Davila had submitted a petition containing 310 signatures that would qualify her to be on the ballot, but had omitted printing the name of the person circulating the petition on one line in the petition.

The name appeared elsewhere on the page and the petition was signed and notarized.

“The only thing that’s important is that this person signed their name before a notary,” said Davila’s attorney Keith Gross.

The lawsuit states that despite that omission, Davila should be allowed to run in the primary. She would face one challenger in the primary election, Angela Rodriguez.

In a statement, the Harris County Democratic Party stated that Rodriguez filed a complaint with the party about Davila’s paperwork. The party then followed up on the complaint and rejected Davila’s application because “the challenge appeared to be well founded.”

I don’t have a dog in this fight. The reason for the rejection may seem persnickety, but ballot applications have been rejected for reasons like this before. That doesn’t mean Davila won’t prevail in her lawsuit, just that the HCDP – which consulted with the Secretary of State’s office before making their decision – had a valid reason for rejecting her filing. We’ll see what the court makes of it.

The Republican primary for Ag Commissioner is now about barbecue

Because of course it is.

Sid Miller

Sid Miller

“Barbecue might be America’s most political food,” wrote the New Yorker earlier this year. The claim certainly applies to the 2018 race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Instead of farming or ranching issues, it’s Sid Miller’s recent history on barbecue that his Republican primary opponent, Trey Blocker, is using against him.

For some brief background, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) launched a program called Operation Maverick in 2015 to enforce, among other things, the requirement that barbecue joint scales be certified and registered, a rule that hadn’t been enforced in the past. Backlash from small business owners resulted in House Bill 2029, aka the “Barbecue Bill,” during this year’s legislative session. The bill, which exempted barbecue joints (and yogurt shops) from the regulation, easily passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June. The TDA then revised the wording of the bill—which had exempted “food sold for immediate consumption”—by adding “on the premises” in the rewritten regulation. Those three new words meant that any barbecue joint selling food to-go was no longer exempt. The Texas Restaurant Association cried foul, and the TDA asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for a ruling that is forthcoming. This has all become fuel in a food fight between the candidates.

The first shot came a few weeks ago from Miller, who mocked Blocker for holding a fundraiser at a restaurant that served Nutella crepes. Miller acted as if he didn’t know what Nutella was, despite only seeing the “tella” portion of the word on the blackboard sign behind Blocker in a photo from the event (which, for the record, was held at the Old German Bakery & Restaurant in Fredericksburg).

Blocker fired back with a fundraising email that described Miller’s stance as a “war on Texas BBQ.” Now, calling a Texan anti-barbecue is about on par with calling them un-Texan, but Blocker didn’t stop there. Over the weekend, he followed up with two campaign videos focused squarely on barbecue.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t see anything wrong with what Miller did. I get why the TRA didn’t care for it, but I’m all for consumer protections, and that’s how I see this. All that said, this primary is already making us all stupider. Just vote for Kim Olson in November and all of this can be naught but a bad memory. The Chron and Texas Public Radio have more.