The week (June 16th): Nobody asked me, but…

With a nod to New York's own Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

YOU CAN ADMIRE AN INDIVIDUAL's integrity and consistency, even when you disagree with their world view. Take, for example, conservative North Carolinian John Hood of the John Locke Foundation who has been criticized by some on the Right for not rushing to defend the three Duke lacrosse players charged with raping an exotic dancer. A National Review Online column by K.C. Johnson argued that "a monumental miscarriage of justice is unfolding in Durham" and that Hood should join in defending the players. The Durham Herald-Sun quotes Hood as having characterized the lacrosse players "poorly supervised, irresponsible louts."

Johnson's NRO piece further maintained that colleges should focus on educating students, not overseeing their behavior, and criticized Hood for having written that Duke should be stressing "the life of the mind, not the life of the party."

Hood's somewhat tart response to the Herald-Sun: "he never thought the university experience is supposed to be 'a journey of self-discovery punctuated by vomit.'"

Hood also told the newspaper that the courtroom was the correct place to decide the case, and he was not willing to draw conclusions based on leaks and defense attorney statements. Fox commentators Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have been leading the charge for the case to be dropped.

Hood added that college athletes are privileged and "have a special responsibility to conduct themselves as young men and not young boys. Why observing that is inconsistent with me being a conservative, I can't understand."

CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST PEGGY NOONAN cheap shotted former Navy Secretary James Webb, winner of the Virginia Democratic Senatorial primary on Tuesday, as "Nancy Pelosi with medals" in the Wall Street Journal's Noonan is exercised because Webb has been a critic of the Iraqi war from Day One and is a libertarian on social issues, and he may unseat the new darling of the Hard Right, Senator George Allen, in the general election.

It is passing strange to see Noonan sneer about medals and attack a former Reagan official and decorated Marine war hero, especially when the architects of the Iraqi war somehow all managed to avoid collecting any of those medals. It is particularly unfair to distort Webb's views on Iraq and call him a "standard-issue Democrat," when Webb is arguing for caution on the question of any U.S. troop withdrawals.

US SOCCER COACH BRUCE ARENA arrived in Germany as a bona fide soccer genius, his squad rated fourth in the world (yes, I know it was inflated), looking to make a mark in the World Cup. After a 3-0 opening game drubbing by the Czechs, criticism from some team members and the press, and a meeting with soccer power Italy tomorrow, look for Arena's reputation to return to earth.

CREEPIEST COMMERCIALS ON TELEVISION have to be the Citibank identity theft ads, with strange-looking people lip synching as they take on the voice of the gloating thief who stole their credit card number. The emotion evoked is repulsion, not any desire to sign up for Citibank's protections.

DICK MORRIS of Triangulation fame is predicting the Democrats will win back Congress in 2006…or is he? His latest piece in The Hill is, well, Clintonian in its ability to argue several different, and contradictory positions. His real conclusion: it's too early to say.

FARHAD MANJOO is a gutsy, independent journalist: his Salon piece "Was the 2004 election stolen? No" decimates Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Rolling Stone reportage ("Was the 2004 Election Stolen?') Manjoo doesn't pander to the left-of-center Salon readership; he shows that RFK Jr.'s analysis is selective, his facts shaky on the question of exit polls, and his central premise ("Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted–enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.") doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

What is clear, however, is that there were Republican attempts to disenfranchise Democratic voters in Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire by hard ball tactics (most narrowly legal, but not very appetizing nor in keeping with the democratic spirit).

MORE AGING ROCKERS are looking to extend their careers in Nashville. Bon Jovi crosses over by enlisting Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland to sing on a country version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home;" Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant and brother Donnie of .38 Special are performing as the Van Zants; and Kid Rock keeps collaborating with country singers. The trend is touching even the young: pop singer Michelle Branch is part of The Wreckers (along with Jessica Harp) and the duo is opening for Rascal Flats.

FLORIDA POLITICS delight all those who wonder at the bizarre. Last month a Florida minister revealed that God had told him in a dream two years ago that Charlie Crist (the Republican Attorney General) would be Florida's next governor. Crist is running against Tom Gallagher in the Republican primary, set for September, and some polls give him a double-digit lead. As to the dream, I'm not sure quite what to say, except that if Crist doesn't win, there be some 'splaining to do.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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