The week (May 26th): Nobody asked me, but…

With apologies to Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

WHAT IS IT ABOUT NEW CIA DIRECTOR Michael V. Hayden that makes me think of the slippery national security advisor (played by Harris Yulin) in the movie Clear and Present Danger. Is it that Hayden always seems to have a handy explanation, even when he is confronted with contradictory statements? Or is it that, despite the uniform, he seems the consummate CYA bureaucrat?

WHILE DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE NIFONG's case against the three Duke lacrosse players accused of rape appears shakier and shakier, all of the evidence in the case hasn't been revealed. A motion filed by defense attorneys for David Evans, the third Blue Devils player charged with raping an exotic dancer at an off-campus party in March, claims that the alleged victim did not identify Evans in a first photo lineup eight days after the party (only selecting him in a later lineup); the lawyers are asking for "narrative reports" on the lineups.

While legal journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr. says in the National Journal that based on what is known now, he is "about 85 percent confident that the three members who have been indicted on rape charges are innocent and that the accusation is a lie," it's much too early to put this case in the Tawana Brawley hoax category.

Meanwhile, the local Durham paper, the Herald-Sun, has reported that the state NAACP will seek a gag order in the case. Al McSurely, an attorney who chairs the North Carolina NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, told the Herald-Sun that his organization would "try to intervene in the case to file a 'quiet zone/let's let justice work' motion." McSurely argued that defense lawyers "are violating the State Bar's rules of professional conduct that discourage comments outside court that are likely to prejudice a case" and the alleged victim's rights to a fair trial might be jeopardized.

Forget the gag order. Here's a better solution: an expedited trial. Rather than waiting until spring 2007 for a trial, Nifong should push for the earliest possible court date. If anything, you would think the prosecution would want to move quickly before witnesses' memories grow hazy.

THANKS TO A FRIEND WHO FORWARDED THE CITE, I have a better understanding of why fire spread so quickly in World Trade Center 7, apparently leading to the building's dramatic collapse after the 9/11 attack. In January, a judge threw out a civil suit brought by Con Ed and insurance companies against the City of New York alleging "that the city had improperly designed and installed a fuel system for the backup electrical system that supported its Office of Emergency Management on the Manhattan building's 23rd floor."According to the Associated Press, the plaintiffs argued that "the city maintained large tanks of diesel fuel in the building and…the tanks caused the fires to grow out of control." Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the suit on the grounds that the city's actions were "a good faith effort" to "facilitate civil defense.'"

As I recently reported in Neither Red nor Blue, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will release its draft report on the WTC 7 collapse this fall.

ONE OF THE STRANGEST HOME RUNS in memory came the other night when Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees lofted a Tim Wakefield knuckleball pitch into the seats above the Green Monster at Fenway Park. A-Rod had no idea where he had hit the ball–he initially looked straight up and then back over his shoulder, trying to locate the ball. That's one reason why knuckleball pitchers provide such great entertainment; perhaps Major League Baseball should mandate every team has to have one knuckler as a starter (and you could argue that would represent less of a rules change than the designated hitter for the American League).

SO NOW THE FRENCH are preaching about how American women use too much make-up (according to the New York Times). The Times quotes one French social commentator as describing the American "painted doll" look as "vulgaire." To give the story a bit of quantitative backing, the newspaper quoted a 2004 poll that claimed "64 percent of American women said they sometimes use foundation, compared with 47 percent of French women; 81 percent of Americans use lipstick compared with 70 percent of French women."

But aren't there more fresh-faced beauties in the state of California (population of some 36 million) than in all of France (60 million population)? As the Beach Boys once told us:

I been all around this great big world
And I seen all kinds of girls
Yeah, but I couldn't wait to get back in the States
Back to the cutest girls in the world

I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls

SPEAKING OF EUROPEAN SENSIBILITIES, Christopher Hitchens has another brilliant column in Slate on the shameful treatment by the authorities in Holland of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian ("Dutch Courage: Holland's latest insult to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.") If what Hitchens describes isn't appeasement, this time of Islamo-facism, then what is it? Three cheers for the American Enterprise Institute, which has offered Hirsi Ali a job in the U.S. if she must leave the Netherlands.

MY PICKS for the NCAA Division One lacrosse championship this weekend in Philadelphia: top-seed Virginia will defeat Syracuse and Maryland will beat UMass in Saturday's semifinals, leading to an all-ACC final on Monday. Look for Virginia to remain undefeated, defeating the Terrapins for the third time (a tough feat) and winning the national championship.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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