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


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. Though the program has come under fire recently (see this Hannah Rosin article in the Atlantic), almost all housing experts think it's a good program . It's main problem is that it has been underfunded the point of nonexistence in recent years. But Venkatesh is right that we need to consider Urban and Housing problems in a more holistic way, realizing that the cities -- urbanized regions, really -- of today are different from the cities of the fifties and sixties. That may...


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. If you're not Catholic or just a committed secularist, you may not care, but you ought to: Lifting the ban would have great positive consequences for HIV/AIDS prevention, ending poverty and empowering women not just in the U.S. but especially in developing countries. While liberals typically make our milieu the government and policy world, it's important to remember that older cultural institutions often have just as much effect on the same challenges. The organizations that had that letter published deserve credit for being a liberal voice for...


One thing I noticed about Obama 's speech in 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. Even better was when the senator observed "that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe." As the crowd applauded that sentiment, Ezra Klein observed in real-time that he "just got them to clap for the Iraq war." That, my friends, is public diplomacy. --Tim Fernholz


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. I e-mailed Caroline Wadhams , an Afghanistan expert, and asked her why escalation in Afghanistan would be different from Iraq or the Soviet experience. One factor that jumped out at me is the polling [PDF] -- 65 percent of Afghans still view the U.S. favorably, even as the increase in Taliban strength has led to a decline in our popularity there. Wadhams also points out that this is a much more international effort and is perceived as such. Further, many programs are Afghan driven, from the National Solidarity Program to the Afghanistan National...


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. It's even worse that McCain is subverting the national discourse on the most important foreign policy issue for this election -- this, from the candidate who "believes it is essential to be honest with the American people about the opportunities and risks that lie ahead." --Tim Fernholz