Jason Zengerle
Senior Editor

September 01, 2009

Congressman John Murtha passed away today. Below, you'll find a recent magazine feature that we ran on him--and the town he represented for 36 years. One night last August, John Murtha, the U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania’s Twelfth Congressional District, paid a visit to the LBK Game Ranch, a private hunting camp in the hills above his home city of Johnstown. About 60 people had gathered in the ranch’s lodge--a luxury five-bedroom log cabin decorated with deer antlers and flat-screen televisions--to raise money for his 2008 campaign. There were two odd things about the event.

Last Post on Guns. Promise.
August 28, 2009

I've fallen victim to one of the classic blunders, right after never going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, which is: don't get into an argument with a libertarian about anything, really, but especially about guns.

His Father's Son
August 28, 2009

Of all the politicians I’ve encountered in the course of doing my job, there have been some that I’ve admired and some that I’ve loathed. But there’s only one politician I’ve ever pitied, and that’s Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy. I met Kennedy three summers ago when I was reporting a profile of Newt Gingrich and both politicians were giving speeches to a business conference in Newport, Rhode Island. Although I was there to hear Gingrich’s talk, it was Kennedy’s that made the bigger impression, if only because it was so bad.

The Return of the Duke
August 27, 2009

Marc Ambinder and others are reporting that Michael Dukakis is the most likely placeholder Senator should the Massachusetts legislature grant Deval Patrick the power to make a temporary appointment until a special election can be held for Ted Kennedy's seat. That makes sense to me. Ambinder, however, raises the possibility that Patrick might pick an up-and-coming Democratic pol for the job and thus give him or her a major leg up in the special election.

One More Round on Guns
August 27, 2009

Megan McArdle has responded to my earlier post criticizing her for her stand on guns at presidential events, although I think we may be talking past one another.

My Favorite Kennedy Reminiscence . . .
August 26, 2009

. . .  comes from "Steve in Chestnut Hill," who called in with this story to the Boston radio show "On Point": This is a day full of special memories for me. It happens, coincidentally, that exactly twelve years ago today, my late wife Francesca, who was a lifelong passionate supporter of Ted Kennedy, also died of brain cancer. And I remember the day we met Ted Kennedy. We had been working on his Senate campaign in the 80s and a party was given for the supporters. . . .

There Are Stupid Questions
August 26, 2009

Megan McArdle asks, "Are Guns at Protests Really Dangerous?" in order to argue that they aren't: I think carrying guns to protests is entirely counterproductive.  Indeed, I'm not sold on the general virtues of protesting, which worked for Gandhi and the civil rights marcher, but has a dismal track record on other concerns.  But I think people have a perfect right to do it, including with guns, though I also think the secret service is within its rights to ensure that they don't have a sight line on the president. But the hysteria about them has been even more ludicrous.  Numerous peo

Do GOP Senators Dream of Electric Sheep?
August 25, 2009

At the risk of extending a ghoulish conversation, I think Noam might be overestimating the humanity of Republican Senators when he concludes that it was a tactical mistake for Ted Kennedy to try to guarantee that his seat isn’t vacant for any period of time should he die in office:   If Kennedy were to pass away in the next few months, the Senate math on any health care vote would almost certainly get easier, not harder.

Did Holder Have a Choice?
August 25, 2009

Marc Ambinder makes a smart point about Eric Holder's decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogators: There was so much information in the public domain--and so much information that would eventually be released--that the attorney general could no longer argue that no specific instances of lawbreaking had been brought to his attention.

Panetta's Kabuki?
August 24, 2009

ABC is reporting that Leon Panetta threatened to quit as CIA director: A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com.  A White House spokesman calls the report "inaccurate"; a CIA spokesman goes even further calling it "wrong, inaccurate, bogus and false." That said, don't these sorts of reports actually help Pan