Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

THE STRATEGIC CHALLENGE OF AFHGANISTAN.

There's a growing cottage industry of skepticism about recommitting military and development resources to Afghanistan, as both Presidential contenders plan to do. The Taliban has reconstituted itself relatively effectively from its base in Western Pakistan, and as this article points out, presents a serious problem -- the linkages between Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence are deepening, all while Al Qaeda makes a haven in the same area. Especially given Pakistan's status as a nuclear power, maintaining security and stability in the region becomes a huge priority. And then there's this: The objectives of the war have become increasingly uncertain in a conflict where Taliban leaders say they do not feel the need to control territory, at least for now, or to outfight American and NATO forces to defeat them — only to outlast them in a region that is in any case their home. But before we figure out our objectives, we need to know...

POWER UP, GO NEGATIVE!

Various Dems and observers have been getting nervous of late that Obama hasn't been fighting back hard enough against the various attacks from the McCain campaign. Presumably, this straightforwardly negative ad, coming as part of Obama's energy policy roll-out, will be greeted with a sigh of relief: The McCain campaign already has Mitt Romney out protesting that oil companies give to Obama as well, but a quick look at the FEC data shows, unsurprisingly, that McCain gets oodles more. It's also a little shady for the ad to suggest that McCain's tax breaks for the oil sector are targeted; they are, of course, part of his plan to give huge tax breaks to all corporations. On the whole, like most attack ads, there is some exaggeration here, but not much. As for the contrast proposal in the ad, I'm skeptical of windfall profit taxes in general because they seem arbitrary -- it's one thing to have a progressive income tax that goes across the board, it's another to target particularly...

TELL ME, O MUSE, OF THAT INGENIOUS HERO.

The Washington Post summons forth a huge psychopolitical profile of John McCain today, which manages to simultaneously trot out nearly every cliche about the man, from adviser Mark Salter to hero Robert Jordan , while actually challenging him on the issues. One small insight: Salter is quoted saying that "things go on inside McCain's head that rarely or never come out." Uh, if these are examples of what comes out, then no one should know what stays in. Oh, and is the circumlocution "McCain also seems to enjoy extracting information from individuals" an allusion to torture? But these are cheap shots. The reporter, Robert Kaiser , really deserves credit for demanding this McCain introspection on Iraq: But [McCain] has not defined victory in Iraq, and many wars have ended ambiguously. ...."We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting, and because we limited the tools at our disposal," McCain has said, implying...

THE GREAT GAME.

The Great Game was what they used to call geopolitical intrigue in the Hindu Kush , and once again it returns to the news. Reports confirm that Pakistan's military intelligence agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was involved in bombing the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 54. People in the know saw this coming , and the great books about U.S. involvement in the region establish the ISI as a notoriously problematic, semi-sovereign player. ISI's decision to bring the simmering India-Pakistan conflict in Afghanistan into the open reflects the serious instability in Pakistan's government, and presents the U.S. with difficult decisions about how much to trust in their partnership. It certainly raises questions about this F-16 deal , and the two presidential candidates differing views on targeted strikes against terrorist leaders in Pakistan without permission of the central government. On a similar note, Brian Katulis released a smart brief on...

HOUSING BILL UPSIDE.

For all his analytical failings, David Broder is a great reporter. Today's column highlights one of the best parts of the recent housing bill, a trust fund to develop more low-income housing by siphoning money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sheila Crowley , an affordable housing advocate, notes that this is the first expansion of affordable housing Congress has passed since 1990 and the first targeting low-income people since 1974. I pointed out yesterday that affordable housing need has reached its highest level since 1990, so this is a great time for Congress to put what looks like a steady, long-term stream of funding towards the problem. Two caveats: $300 million a year is a lot of money to you and me, but it is a drop in the bucket in terms of the development and subsidization needed on a national scale. Second, one oft-overlooked problem with public and affordable housing is maintenance funding, which often times results in large housing projects with numerous uninhabitable...

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