The week (April 28th): Nobody asked me, but…

With my customary nod to Jimmy Cannon (who after all, invented the phrase), nobody asked me, but….

"THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER" is nigh impossible to sing in English, let alone Spanish.

JAMES WEBB, the Reagan Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia, is showing what a loyal opposition to the Iraqi war should look like. Webb notes his 2002 public questioning of the Bush Administration policies on Iraq, but wears combat boots on the campaign trail to signify his support for the military (his son, a Marine, may end up in Iraq). Webb, former Secretary of the Navy and a decorated Marine veteran, couples his criticism of the war effort with a reasoned response to questions of what to do next. The Washington Post quotes him as saying: "We got in precipitously. We have to get out carefully."

PERHAPS TOM WOLFE isn't the author whose work best captures the Duke lacrosse scandal, as I suggested recently. Instead, how about Lewis Carroll of "Alice in Wonderland" fame? This alleged rape case becomes stranger and stranger, heading down the proverbial rabbit hole. The accuser apparently has made rape accusations before; the District Attorney is reportedly looking to squeeze Blue Devils players who attended the party by pressing old charges against them; and we seem no closer to a resolution of the sordid mess.

DO TODAY'S PLAGIARISTS secretly want to get caught? With Google searches, and encouraging readers to "search inside" books, "borrowing" a particularly memorable passage, or series of passages, that you didn't create is asking to be caught. But Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, whose book "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" is being withdrawn from stores because of plagiarism charges, shouldn't despair. Her second act can come after the obligatory mea culpa, a period of "rehab" and then a triumphant return to the spotlight. Celebrity trumps integrity?

RABBI MARC GELLMAN's column in Newsweek "Trying to Understand Angry Atheists; Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?" could be Exhibit A for professors of rhetorics looking for examples of the "straw man" fallacy. Angry atheists? Are there really that many worked up nonbelievers bothering the good rabbi? Is his email full of atheistic rants from Web eccentrics? I'm skeptical: This is the most religious society in the world, where it's very hard to find any one who admits to being an agnostic, let alone an atheist. So unless Rabbi Gellman can be a bit more specific about these "angry atheists" I'm afraid his arguments need to be filed in the logical fallacy bin.

A SAD END to the life of Steve Howe, former major league pitcher tormented by addiction. Howe died at the age of 48 when his pick-up truck overturned in California just before six o'clock in the morning. The news made me think of Bruce Springsteen's song, "Glory Days" with its image of the washed-up pitcher in a roadside bar, clinging to his "glory days."

DO YOU THINK the designers who choose the colors and patterns for the bikers' Spandex outfits suffer from color blindness?

BULLY FOR JOE KLEIN of Time magazine for admitting that "while bloviating" he spoke too casually in raising the possibility of using nuclear weapons against a recalcitrant Iran. To his credit he admitted his mistake. Klein, who by all accounts is a decent, thoughtful journalist of moderate views, was savaged by the Lefty Lords of the Blogosphere, enough so that he lamented the loss of "a public atmosphere of civility, humanity and compromise." Klein deserves better.

AMANDA WILKINSON may not equal her fellow Canadian Shania Twain's country music success, but she has a great voice. Her self-named debut album is getting noticed by country fans in the Great White North. Will the U.S. be next?

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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