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


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...

It's All About the Swagger

The perception that Republicans are better on national security was never about their actual record.

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
With the death of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama has found and killed the most wanted terrorist in history. After the successful operation, with no American casualties, you might think that the public's well-established tendency to trust Republicans more than Democrats on national security will finally be reversed. But it won't be. Here's why: The image of Republicans as tougher than Democrats on America's enemies doesn't spring from either of the parties' record on foreign affairs but from identity politics. Last month, a Rasmussen poll showed Republicans enjoying their biggest advantage in voter trust of any issue on national security, a 19-point spread. This comes despite their harboring of the isolationist wing of American politics and the fact that historically, the biggest cuts to defense spending have come under Republican presidents (Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush). White swing voters perceive Republicans as stronger on defense because it is just one...

The Senate's Debt-Ceiling Wild Cards

The usual suspects in the Senate are ready to tie a debt-ceiling vote in knots.

Sen. Joe Manchin (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia cast his lot with Republicans in the debt-ceiling fight. He said he would only support raising the debt ceiling if such action were coupled with a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and the proposal by Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Claire McCaskill of Missouri to cap government spending at 20.6 percent of gross domestic product. "The truth is, raising the debt ceiling without a real budget fix would be the definition of irresponsibility," Manchin said in a statement. His support for the GOP's nonsensical rhetoric on the debt ceiling should come as no surprise. Despite being a popular governor and running against an unimpressive, inexperienced opponent, Manchin found himself in a close contest during November's special election to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd. To win, Manchin touted a centrist platform that advocated gun rights and partial repeal of health-care reform and opposed cap-and-trade legislation. But he is up...

A Broad-Based Solution to Our Energy Problem

The real solution to our oil-consumption problem won't be solved by energy policy.

An oil derrick explodes in a fireball. (Flickr/Garlic, Barley)
With instability in the Arab world causing oil prices to surge, and Republicans proposing, with typical venality and idiocy, to solve the problem through either rampant domestic oil drilling or stealing the oil in Iraq and Libya , President Barack Obama is striking a more reasoned tone. In a recent speech at Georgetown University, the president proposed reducing America's foreign oil imports by one-third by 2025. In itself, this sounds like a worthy goal, but given the breadth of the environmental and economic problems that our oil consumption causes, it's unambitious at best. Part of the problem is that Obama's approach is entirely conventional. He calls for reductions in oil use through boosting alternative-energy sources like natural gas and biofuels and increasing domestic oil production. This shows a fatal flaw in Obama's conception of the problem. He views our massive oil consumption as an issue that should be solved through energy policy. In fact, the real solutions to our...

Tales From the Stoop

A new book on the history of Brownstone Brooklyn busts the myths that lure gentrifiers in.

(Flickr/Ann Althouse)
Gentrifiers in my native Park Slope, Brooklyn, often boast of having lived there "before it was trendy." Invariably, these braggarts moved to the Slope in the 1990s. I arrived as an infant in 1981. No one -- from New York's Lower East Side to Chicago's Wicker Park -- should indulge the fantasy that he got there first and that the neighborhood was "authentic" until They came. It may have been rougher, cheaper, and more diverse, but it wasn't born that way, either. Suleiman Osman, author of The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn and an American studies professor at George Washington University who grew up in Park Slope, sheds new light on the history of the Brownstone belt and how it began to convey the charm and authenticity gentrifiers admire so much. Although the story Suleiman tells is specific to the Western quadrant of one New York borough, the lesson is universal. The invention of Brownstone Brooklyn predates even the tales of early pioneers from 1960s Brooklyn Heights -- ground...