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.
Dylan flagged an interesting op-ed in the Times today by economist sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh (recall him from Freakonomics, he was the guy who hung out with gangsters!). His argument that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is outmoded and unresponsive to the housing crisis is a pretty accurate one, but he's got a few things wrong. The piece offers a lot of criticism of HOPE VI, the program that demolished segregated housing projects and replaced them with mixed-income developments and vouchers.
Reuters reports that a coalition of pro-choice Catholic groups has published an open letter to the Pope, calling on him to lift the ban on Catholic use of contraception. (Letter here). Nearly all sexually active Catholics use birth control and 75 percent of Catholics already think that it's possible to be a good Catholic and disobey Church teachings on the matter, which were created over the objections of many high officials forty years ago.
One thing I noticed about Obama's speechin Berlin was how good he is at bringing up the topics his hosts would rather were left unsaid. He did it was his Father's Day speech, and at various education unions. But to bring up, in Germany, where anti-Muslim sentiment and xenophobia are prevalent, how "the walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand" is impressive.
A key part of each Presidential candidate's foreign policy is recommitting to the conflict in Afghanistan. That's good at first glance because of the area's key strategic importance and the humanitarian problems there. But the conflict Afghanistan is worryingly reminiscent of Iraq, and we shouldn't forget about the terrible quagmire the Soviets found there in the late seventies and early eighties -- see Juan Cole via Andrew, or this piece.
Yesterday John McCain took the whole vocabulary people use to talk about the War on Iraq and threw it out the window, all in order to explain away his claim that the Anbar Awakening was a consequence of the Surge even though it actually predated President Bush's announcement of the escalation. Read Ilan (and watch the amazing video) for the details: McCain is now claiming that 'surge' means 'counterinsurgency,' even though the entire country knows differently. It's long past time for any idea that McCain has more or better knowledge about Iraq to be discarded.