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


STOP SUCKING UP TO THE GENERALS: Back in November I argued in TAP that progressives would be well-advised to stop trumpeting every general who opposes the Iraq War, as it subverts civilian control of the military, and sets a precedent we may one day regret. In the new Washington Monthly , Iraq veteran Melissa Tryon makes a similar argument for a different reason. She says that Democrats fail to realize that the overwhelming majority of military members view the generals as out of touch. Seeing the errors so many of generals have made in this war only reinforces their disdain. And so the Democrats' fetishization of the generals' opinions does nothing to help them win converts in the enlisted corps. All the more reason that Democrats should show they can be tough by taking strong stands, not by surrounding themselves with high-ranking officers. --Ben Adler


A MINOR VICTORY: An important, but oft-neglected, frontier in the fight for civil rights is disability issues. But as the New York Times reported yesterday, Monday's Supreme Court decision to allow the families of students with disabilities to represent themselves when challenging their school district's plan for educating their child is a major step forward. In the past courts have often held that parents cannot challenge a school district's plan without a lawyer. Naturally this has the effect of preventing poor families, or sometimes families in remote rural areas, from being able to mount a challenge at all, since they cannot access legal representation. The Court, by a 7-2 margin, interpreted the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act as allowing parents to attempt to ensure that their child's education meets his or her needs. Who could possibly oppose that? Scalia and Thomas, natch. At least " Scalito " isn't proving to be as bad as his namesake thus far. --Ben Adler


BOLDLY GOING WHERE NO CANDIDATE HAS GONE BEFORE. A little late on this, but I hadn't seen it mentioned on TAPPED and I think it's important. Gov. Bill Richardson has put out the most aggressive climate change policy of any presidential candidates so far. Stepping into the void left by Tom Vilsack dropping out (at least until Al Gore gets in), Richardson released an ambitious plan last week -- with higher increases in fuel efficiency and bigger cuts in oil use than any other proposal. Grist has the details . But Matt zeroed in on what really distinguishes Richardson from the other candidates: his forthright admission that land-use planning and mass transit must play an important role. That is to say, Americans cannot continue to build sprawling suburbs and drive ever longer distances. To say this when you have to win in rural and suburban areas takes a lot of courage. Maybe Richardson figures he's such a long shot he needs to take risks, or maybe its a real stand on principle. Either...


AWESOME RIGHT-WING COMPARISON OF THE DAY. For those of you not fortunate enough to have been watching CNN late yesterday afternoon, Think Progress has the video of J.C. Watts equating Rudy Giuliani's position on abortion with someone who opposed slavery personally, but supported others' rights to own slaves. Yes, you read that correctly. And when Wolf Blitzer did him a huge favor by following up with a request that he clarify "because people are going to criticize you" he simply repeated it. The good news for liberals though, came in the same segment, when Blitzer asked Watts if he would support Giuliani should he become the eventual nominee. Watts totally dodged by just saying that Giuliani's nomination would increase the likelihood of a third party challenge from the right. It seems to me that if a former member of the House Republican leadership won't say that he'll support the nominee, then Giuliani might be a less fearsome candidate to face in the general election than I had...


DENSITY ADDENDUM: Matt provides a useful addition to my post on congestion pricing. He notes, "It's absolutely impossible to discuss transportation or planning issues in the Greater Washington area without pointing out that it would be a really, really good idea to facilitate higher-density construction in the District." Absolutely. While increasing density would not necessarily mitigate congestion on its own, it would make mass transit a more viable alternative. And, for a variety of reasons , higher density is more energy efficent and causes less environmental damage. It also seems to be good for economic development (hence all the high-rises springing up across the river in Arlington.) While not every city is bound by D.C.'s height restrictions, many have zoned for lower-density by instituting parking requirements and such. Changing this would be at least as valuable in reducing harmful emissions and the stress of long drives as introducing congestion pricing. --Ben Adler