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

HOW'S THIS FOR A COMPROMISE?

Ezra's take on Obama's drilling compromise is smart. Two thoughts come to mind: Remember when Obama was being taken to task for his lack of "courageous" bipartisan action? At the time, I wrote that Obama was very good at co-opting conservatives into supporting liberal ideas -- in this case accepting drilling in exchange for a big step forward on energy policy. Predictably, though the deal essentially gives the GOP what they want, it seems like McCain is going to turn it down because, at the end of the day, his policy advisers know that drilling won't affect domestic oil prices for at least five to ten years, and barely affect them at all even then. This is just a political issue for them. Which brings up the second point: I spoke recently with a well-connected Republican operative who stressed that conservatives see energy, and drilling in particular, as their big advantage over the Democrats in this cycle -- the only thing that let them stand out from the crowd. If McCain was to...

ECONOMIC WHOAS.

I just got off the phone with the folks from the progressive standard-bearers Campaign for America's Future. Robert Borosage , Celinda Lake (it's definitely Celinda Lake Day at TAPPED), and Drew Westen announced a new economic policy war room that will be doing progressive messaging for the rest of the election. Lake's polls show that the economy is the number one issue among a majority of voters, and it is particularly resonant with Independent voters, blue collar voters and women. 47 percent of voters say the economy is not being talked about enough. 75 percent said the economy is in a recession -- Lake joked that "every single demographic group except Presidential economic advisers" thinks this is the case. Obama has big leads over McCain on most economic issues -- jobs, healthcare, taxes, etc., and voters most focused on the economy support him by 16 points. A majority of Americans agree that "the economy is in recession and Washington is doing nothing." Of course, CAF has an...

WHERE'S THE BIG LEAD?

Obama's lead, or lack thereof, has been a topic of concern in the blogosphere of late: Given the favorable environment for Democrats, why isn't he leading by more than single digits in the polls? Marc Ambinder's take seems pretty spot on to me, especially his last point about people paying attention: Despite all the hype about Obama and McCain, it's still relatively early in the election season. Congressional primaries are only beginning to happen around the country, but you'll see more attention to the Presidential races when local and state-wide races pick up. When September and October roll around, after the conventions and into the debate season, we'll have a much more accurate assessment of where the race stands as more people start to tune in to politics in general. One error that I do see in Ambinder's post: He says Obama isn't much of a counterpuncher. What? Say what you will about conventional wisdom, the popular view that Obama is better reacting than attacking seems true...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A MURDEROUS DICTATOR?

A new powersharing agreement may be approved soon in Zimbabwe. The plan gives Morgan Tsvangirai most of the control over the government as Prime Minister while allowing Robert Mugabe to serve in an honorary role. The deal includes amnesty for Mugabe, whose rule has seen numerous human rights abuses in past years, most recently in the deployment of violent intimidation to force Tsvangirai out of the last election. But the international community doesn't recognize the new government and has pressured the two leaders toward this agreement, facilitated by South African President Thabo Mbeki . The hardest to swallow part of the agreement is the general amnesty given to Mugabe and his supporters who committed war crimes and human rights violations during his rule. It's not a great precedent to give authoritarian leaders and their lackeys a free pass on their crimes, but on the other hand it may be the only way to see peace and progress in Zimbabwe without further violence -- South Africa's...

OF COURSE IRAQI MONEY IS IN NEW YORK.

The news that Iraq has a $79 billion budget surplus due to the rising cost of oil, and that most of it is in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, is fascinating. At the same time, very little of that money is being spent on reconstruction and development, or even on maintenance for previously completed reconstruction projects. Part of the problem, of course, is the difficulty of disbursing massive sums for a developing nation. The story points out that you could take the money as a sign that Iraq is ready to be more independent and manage its own development, or the money's stagnation as a sign that the country really requires U.S. overlords to hand out bags of cash. Here's the thing: That last argument is nonsense; the U.S. can barely disburse money effectively in Iraq. Since 2004 audits have unearthed billions of dollars in misplaced funds, not to mention corruption or maintenance problems or the shoddy work of contractors who are often overpaid anyways. Given all that, I'm ready...

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