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


A former State Department official writes in the Times today about an underappreciated issue, human trafficking and forced prostitution in America. Apparently, the Justice Department isn't interested in doing much about it, rejecting nearly every provision in a bill that would increase prosecution and penalties. The disagreement creates some interesting bedfellows: In this case, the feminist, religious and secular groups that help sex-trafficking survivors are on one side. And on the other are the department’s lawyers (most of them male), the Erotic Service Providers Union and the American Civil Liberties Union -- this side believes that vast numbers of women engage in prostitution as a “profession,” by choice. I recall this debate coming up during Spitzergate, but I'm surprised to hear about DoJ lawyers falling into the profession camp. You'd think that a Department that mainly and illegally hires conservatives would be able to follow the President's policy...


This post has been updated. Ezra recommends this conversation between Matt Yglesias and Peter Beinart , and their speculation about conservative attempts to make China and Russia, like Iraq, out to be foreign enemies, thus giving the Right an excuse to stand in the way of a multipolar world. What is the left's response to this forthcoming debate? I think thus far we have no coherent strategy for dealing with China and Russia effectively. Both countries feel free to act with impunity, violating human rights and international norms within their countries and protecting their client states when they do the same. Bill Schulz at CAP summarizes the problem nicely: Formal diplomatic entreaties usually yield shallow results. Trying to isolate the world’s most populous country is not an option. Economic sanctions that worked against apartheid South Africa and maintain at least nominal pressure on countries such as Burma and Zimbabwe would be fruitless against the world’s second-...


Conservatives have lately developed a new genre : making Barack Obama out to be the third coming of George W. Bush . They're kidding, right? The goal may be to associate Obama with Bush in the eyes of the public (unlikely to stick) or just to make him seem like a pandering flip-flopper (more likely) but it won't work when the conservative candidate is accurately described as a third Bush term. Do I even need to point out how wrong these arguments are? Yes, Obama supported the imperfect FISA bill, but whatever you think of that decision, the new legislation is still more than the Bush administration wanted and better than the alternative bill already passed in the Senate, as Mort Halperin argues here . Every other argument these conservatives are making -- that Obama is going to change his position on Iraq (he hasn't), that he is wildly pro-gun (ask the NRA what they think), etc. -- is laughable. It may be a side effect of Obama's ability to communicate well with conservatives, but it...


This article is just an excuse to mention the first thing that came to mind two days ago, when I read David Plouffe's mass-emailed announcement that Obama would leave the convention hall and move to "a huge, free, open-air event and deliver his acceptance speech to the American people." Is Obama going to be live at Red Rocks ?* * No, he'll be at Mile High Stadium. --Tim Fernholz


Here's a piece analyzing some writing by Arab journalists disappointed by the supposed adjustments to Barack Obama 's Middle East policy. While the senator could improve America's image in the region with his Muslim background and his opposition to the Iraq war, Arab intellectuals are still concerned about his outreach to AIPAC and Israel. I get the sense that some of these Arab writers aren't being fair to Obama (just like their American counterparts who are trying to argue that there is no difference between the two presidential candidates' Iraq policies). Despite his need to make grand gestures towards Israel, Obama's foreign policy instincts are much, much more balanced than either GWB 's or McCain 's. Seeking more clarity, I e-mailed Marc Lynch , an expert on Arab media, who confirms the backlash but suggests that Arab media are confused by both candidates' positions on Iraq. One potentially telling fact: Lynch breaks down the op-eds he tracks into "roughly 75% Obama-focused, 25...