Ben Adler

Ben Adler writes on national politics and domestic policy. Ben has been a staff writer for Politico and an editor at Newsweek and the Center for American Progress. His writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, The Guardian and Next American City among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Recent Articles


PRIUS PUNDITRY: Robert Samuelson has achieved the impossible. As an anti-sprawl crusader who staunchly advocates higher gasoline taxes, I never thought I'd read a column arguing for a $1-2 per gallon increase in the gas tax that is totally obnoxious and illogical. And yet, the Washington Post 's Samuelson did just that in his most recent piece . Samuelson devotes seven paragraphs to attacking Prius drivers as self-righteous show-offs. He has no empirical data to support his nasty assumption such as a poll of Prius drivers as to why they buy those cars. But he does indulge in some perverse sleight of hand when he argues: The Prius is, I think, a parable for the broader politics of global warming. Prius politics is mostly about showing off, not curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Politicians pander to "green" constituents who want to feel good about themselves. Grandiose goals are declared. But measures to achieve them are deferred -- or don't exist. This makes absolutely no sense...


UNIONS OUTSOURCING: The Washington Post had an interesting front page story yesterday on the carpenters union's habit of using unemployed people, typically pulled from homeless shelters or SROs and paid around $8 per hour, to picket outside buildings that use non-union construction labor. I tend to side with critics of this practice. I think that for passersby to see sometimes disheveled or unenthusiastic picketers doesn't create a very positive image of the labor movement. Also paying people just a couple bucks more than minimum wage with no benefits seems hypocritical. I'd urge unions to instead hire a few full-time grassroots activists to whom they pay a living wage plus benefits and can present their message more effectively. --Ben Adler


GIULIANI THE PANDERER UPDATE. The New York Times ran a very long piece Sunday on Rudy Giuliani 's complicated history with racial politics. Most of the information was not new to people familiar with recent New York history. One tidbit I hadn't known, though, and found quite striking was that Giuliani initially attempted in his 1989 mayoral run to position himself to the left of Democratic incumbent Ed Koch on racial issues. Giuliani hoped to pull a significant portion of the black vote away from Koch, but when David Dinkins beat Koch in the Democratic primary Giuliani instantly shifted to rightward, labeling Dinkins a " Jesse Jackson Democrat." This reinforces a suspicion I've long had about Giuliani: not that he's a racist, but that he's a soulless panderer. I disagree, though, with those who think this makes him even more frightening as a potential president than a true-believing social conservative like Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback . Since most of the country isn't as...


THE DEBATE AND FRIVOLOUS ISSUES: Although I found the questions and answers on marriage equality last night to be very interesting (particularly Bill Richardson 's shrewd answer that he'd get the lesbian couple from Brooklyn "everything I think is politically feasible" thus hinting that he has no problem with full marriage equality but avoiding taking the political risk of saying so outright), I thought all the time spent on it was sort of a waste. Of all the important issues facing the next president, gay marriage simply isn't one of them. That's not to say it isn't an important issue. I think full marriage equality is a crucial civil right that no one should be denied. But since I've been following its progression I'm well aware of the fact that marriage laws are set by the states, and the conflicts between state laws will mostly be adjudicated in the courts. The one major national proposal on gay marriage is a constitutional amendment to ban it which stands no chance of passing,...


CALI VERSUS NY ON ECO-FRIENDLINESS? NO CONTEST. On a separate angle of the demise of congestion pricing , suburban triumphalist blogger Brian Beutler is crowing about New York's minor, and hopefully temporary, environmental setback. He sneers , "Mark my words, California, land of big cars and suburbs beyond the horizon, will someday have a more impressive environmental record on a per capita basis than your precious, much vaunted boroughs." That's cute. But that doesn't make it so. While California has every right to brag about its smart steps on raising auto emissions standards, New York, by virtue of its density, walkabiilty, and extensive mass transit system, will stay way below California in emissions per capita, whether or not New York ever passes Bloomberg 's congestion pricing proposal. And do you think congestion pricing is coming to L.A. any time soon? Somehow I doubt it. --Ben Adler