- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

‘Brangelina’

“Our incessant hurries, combined with the rushed media culture and a need to save valuable space in newspapers, magazines and Web sites, are why it’s becoming quite the pop-culture fad to combine names.

“It all started innocently enough when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez hooked up. Since ‘Ben and Jennifer’ obviously takes up way too much valuable headline space in the entertainment rags and promotional time on ‘Inside Edition,’ ‘Bennifer’ was born. …

“The fusion of names is in full avalanche now that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are together. ‘Brangelina’ is now the space-saving mantra for any celebrity journalist.

“Frankly, I’m shocked that the penchant for combining names of those closely associated with one another hasn’t yet caught on outside the culture of Hollywood. …

“First off, George and Laura Bush should be shortened to ‘Leorge’ or ‘Gaura.’ …

“Democrat congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would become ‘Repel.’”

Doug Powers, writing on “Bennifer to Brangelina,” Thursday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Political swamp

“Richard Leche, who was elected governor [of Louisiana] the year after [Huey] Long’s death, once reportedly said, ‘When I took the oath of office, I didn’t take any vow of poverty’; he was convicted on federal mail-fraud charges and spent five years in prison. Long’s younger brother, Earl, was elected governor in 1948 and again in 1956; at one point, after Earl delivered an obscenity-laced speech on statewide TV, his wife, Blanche, had him committed to a state hospital for the insane. … Between 1972 and 1996, Edwin Edwards served an unprecedented four full terms as Louisiana’s governor. … Edwards favored pretty women, fast living, and high-stakes gambling. He also seems to have been fond of extortion, and three times was tried on federal racketeering charges. …

“Such slackness has many well-documented costs; Louisiana routinely ranks at or near the bottom on measures like high-school graduation rates, and near the top when it comes to measures like infant-mortality and murder rates. Hurricane Katrina, certainly, has turned out to be almost as much a political as a natural disaster. … Perhaps out of this wreckage the state will reinvent its political culture, but at this point it’s hard to see how.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, writing on “The Big Sleazy,” in the June 12 issue of the New Yorker

‘Excellent’

“The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is excellent news in its own right and even more excellent if, as U.S. sources in Iraq are claiming, it resulted from information that derived from people who were or had been close to him. …

“Zarqawi … chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad … almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shi’ite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Karbala. …

“Not bad for a semiliterate goon and former jailhouse enforcer from a Bedouin clan in Jordan. …

“If we had withdrawn from Iraq already, as the ‘peace’ movement has been demanding, then one of the most revolting criminals of all time would have been able to claim that he forced us to do it. … As it is, the man is ignominiously dead and his dirty connections a lot closer to being fully exposed. This seems like a good day’s work to me.”

Christopher Hitchens, writing on “A Good Day’s Work,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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