- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
I’m sad to see that John Murtha, the Pennsylvania congressman and defense spending cardinal, has died after a long and productive life in government.
Whatever your views on Murtha — and as someone who grew up in southwest Pennsylvania, I certainly have my own opinions — this is very bad news for Johnstown, the main town in the district he represented for nearly 36 years. Because if there’s one thing Murtha did, it was bring home the bacon. Millions of dollars of it.
There was the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute, the John P. Murtha Regional Cancer Center, the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center, the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, and of course the John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security, to name but a few of the places, not to mention a number of defense contractors, kept afloat thanks to the congressman’s mastery of the earmark system.The loss of a patron in Washington will be devastating.
Maybe, though, Johnstown will ultimately be better off without Murtha’s largesse. The town was crushed by the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, and never really recovered. Murtha’s projects, along with some telemarketing and retail business, were about the only source of employment the town of 24,000 had to offer. Yet household income is about half the national average, and the area school system is abysmal. Now, Johnstown will have to attract industry on the region’s own merits, rather than relying on its powerful friend on Capitol Hill. It’s going to be painful for a while, but I hope this hard-luck town will emerge stronger for it.