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

Crashing the Party System

Why does Thomas Friedman want to help a Republican win the White House?

(Flickr/stu_spivack)
Of all the rites of American politics that attend the presidential election, none is more irritating than the inevitable third-party bubble. Around this time four years ago, a coalition of irrelevant old politicos -- former Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford officials and a former governor of Maine -- formed a group called Unity '08 to create a bipartisan presidential ticket. They had big dreams of holding online primaries and recruiting candidates like New York City's independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The effort sputtered, then pooped out . But the repeated failure of the centrist third-party movement has not discouraged its promoters. The just-launched "Americans Elect" effort promises to be "the first ever open presidential nominating process" through an online convention. "We will attract millions of registered voters," the group claims on its website. "We will attract serious, qualified presidential candidates." Both are unlikely to happen -- so far the group has signed up about 17...

Sugar in the Tank

Transportation spending, like pretty much everything else, is totally screwed.

(Flickr/epSos. de)
When Representative John Mica, a Republican from Florida and chair of the House Transportation Committee released his proposal for the overdue Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill earlier this month, liberals condemned the plan's lack of investment in infrastructure. They missed, however, a bigger failing: Transportation spending is not just underfunded in this country; it's broken, and we can't afford to wait another six years to fix it. House Republicans, though, haven't proposed sensible transportation policy changes, even ones conservatives should support. Smart-growth advocates, unions, and environmentalists had been excited by President Barack Obama's $556 billion proposal for the six-year transportation bill, but Mica's plan offers a mere $230 billion because Republicans are unwilling to raise the gasoline tax, which pays for federal transportation spending. They are also unwilling to create new sources of funding such as a tax on vehicle miles traveled (this would be...

Thou Shalt Not Pollute

What happened to those evangelicals who cared about the environment?

(Flickr/Dano)
It was just three short years ago that most Republicans with Blue State or national ambitions believed we had to address climate change. Today, the list of Republicans who once tried to woo Democrats and Independents just happens to overlap with the list of Republicans who have recently decided -- in the face of consistently worsening extreme weather, no less -- that climate change isn't happening after all: John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, Scott Brown, Chris Christie, even Sarah Palin. Pawlenty's evangelical pastor, Leith Anderson, has publicly endorsed taking action to reduce carbon emissions, and Pawlenty even went so far as to apologize for once agreeing with his spiritual mentor. Pawlenty's about-face begs the question: what happened to the rising tide of evangelical environmentalists who were supposed to be the Earth's salvation? In 2005, the Washington Post and The New York Times both ran long features introducing their readers to this new ideology of "...

The Forgotten Ice Age

Conservative politicians dream up global cooling.

C ampaigning in Manchester, New Hampshire, last week, Newt Gingrich told an oft-repeated story to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Responding to a voter who cited the National Academy of Sciences' warnings about anthropogenic global warming, Gingrich said : "In the mid-1970's there was a cover of Newsweek and Time that says we're in the age of a brand new glacial period and they had a cover of the Earth covered in ice. This is the 1970's. Now many of those scientists are still alive and they were absolutely convinced. I mean, if Al Gore were able to in the 1970's we would build huge furnaces to warm the planet against this inevitable coming Ice Age." Climate change deniers have been in love with this anecdote for years. In their imagined histories, one cover story of Time and one short inside article in Newsweek transmogrified into a mass hysteria once swept the country. (Of course, everyone who was alive then seems to have forgotten it.) Even the Time cover used...

Anti-Arctica

Why does Obama wanna kill Shamu?

(Flickr/Clinton McGintus)
Seizing on high gasoline prices as an excuse, the Republican House majority passed three bills this month that would dramatically expand oil companies' access to every possible oil reserve on land and at sea. Their colleagues in the Senate, who are attempting to move those bills in the upper chamber, voted Monday to preserve subsidies for the wildly profitable oil industry, arguing that the tax breaks aid production and thus will help lower prices for consumers. While President Barack Obama supports expanded oil drilling with reasonable restrictions, Republicans oppose any restrictions. And these bills show the dangers of Obama's centrist, "all of the above" approach to energy policy in which expanded fossil-fuel exploration and clean energy are discussed as equal parts of a whole solution. Drilling is bad for the environment and often the economy, and it gives us very little in return. Obama has criticized the House's drilling resolutions but hasn't threatened them with a veto; the...

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