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October 18th, 2002:

Federal judge to rule in Burdine case

Federal judge David Hittner will decide by next week whether or not Calvin Burdine should be represented by his appeals attorney in his murder retrial, or if he should let stand Judge Joan Hoffman’s ruling that Burdine should be represented by an appointed attorney. It’s highly unusual for a federal judge to intervene in a case that is still in progress. Hittner is actually ruling on whether or not he has the authority to intervene, which is just a tad bit convoluted to me, but whatever. For sure if he rules that he can step in, he will rule that Burdine should get the lawyer of his choice, as anything else would make the whole exercise pointless. Time to set a precedent, Your Honor…

Enron canary prepares to sing

Former Enron energy trader Tim Belden, who just pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, is preparing to give prosecuters an earful regarding the company’s malfeasance and general naughtiness during the California energy crisis last year.

While at Enron, Belden headed the trading operation in Portland, Ore. He reported to then-Enron executives John Lavorato, Greg Whalley and Mark Frevert, who in turn answered to Enron’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling.

Do you hear footsteps behind you, Jeff Skilling? Doesn’t matter if you look back or not, something is indeed gaining on you. Sleep tight, bubbelah.

GOP activist says “Don’t vote straight”

Local GOP activist Dave Wilson is sending an automated telephone message to Republican voters urging them not to vote a straight ticket because a down-ballot GOP candidate is (shudder) gay.

The target of Wilson’s attack is Alex Wathen, a Republican candidate for justice of the peace, who is president of the Houston chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans — the party’s leading gay and lesbian advocacy group.

“I’m asking you to vote principles over party politics,” Wilson said in his message to Republican voters in JP Precinct 1.

I really never cease to be amazed at how venal and smallminded the local GOP leaders can be. And it just gets better:

Wilson’s campaign surprised Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, who wasn’t happy about the effort to split the party’s ticket.

Woodfill said he worries that without straight Republican voting, the party could lose its local dominance because voters often don’t vote in down-ballot races unless they cast a straight ticket.

Republicans now hold all countywide elected offices.

“Why would Dave do this?” Woodfill said. “I mean, I agree with him on the homosexual issue, and the party position on that is clear.”

“But it is wrong for Republicans to send the message not to vote straight ticket,” he said. “The straight ticket helps all of our judicial races in Harris County.”

So, to summarize Jared Woodfill’s position, the state GOP doesn’t like homos, but they do like their votes. I find Dave Wilson’s position to be the more honest of the two.

There’s been a war brewing in the state GOP for some time now to enforce ideological purity, which can only be good for the rest of us. With all due respect to Alex Wathen, who’s running in a precint that’s got a substantial homosexual population and is thus a viable candidate, I hope Dave Wilson is successful in his crusade. The Democratic Party will thank you later.

At least Alex Wathen has kept his sense of humor throughout this ordeal:

Log Cabin Republicans have had a series of battles with others in their party in Texas. Besides adopting its anti-gay platform, the party has denied the Log Cabin Republicans booths at recent Texas GOP conventions.

Wathen said he has “not been bothered too much” by such party positions.

“I believe that most Republicans don’t worry about those things,” Wathen said. “After all, the platform also says the United States should get out of the United Nations.”

Yes, we all know of the high regard for the United Nations that is prevalent among the Republican Party rank and file.