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Having lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for most of the last generation, I have been impressed with the growing gap between the political and economic realities that confront policymakers and the fantasy worlds that are home to many political activists, ideologues, and pundits.

In domestic policy and foreign policy alike, things change slowly and it is often very hard to enact even minor changes of policy. Even in foreign policy, dramatic events like the implosion of the Soviet Union and 9/11 and the Arab Spring tend to punctuate less visible, longer-term shifts in relative wealth and power, like the gradual rise of China. In domestic politics, incumbent interests are almost always stronger than insurgents, making even minor changes, of course, difficult to achieve, even in societies with fewer constitutional veto points than the U.S. More… “The Fantasy Worlds of Politics”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.
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How about, don't drive?

“I don’t hear birdsongs in the morning, like I did when I was a kid,” said Jim Stone, executive director at Walk San Diego. “They’re slowly going away. Things in our lives change, but because they change in slow increments over a long period of time, we become accustomed to what’s new.”

Stone and I weren’t actually talking about birds. We were talking about walking and walkability in America. About how our access to places on foot alters subtly from one generation to the next, almost imperceptibly. “What we witness and what we encounter becomes the new status quo, the new benchmark in how we make assessments,” Stone said. “If people would remember a time when they could walk freely, they could make a comparison. The problem is, that time is getting further away from us.”

The great state of Arizona, by changing the gun law (we don’t even have to have a special permit to carry a concealed weapon) earlier this year, embraced the Second Amendment.  However, with its recent immigration bill, the state is trashing our freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, which is also guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  I’m furious. I’ve lived in Arizona all my life and now I’m thinking about moving.   Is there a poem out there that will help me reconcile this ugly hypocrisy?  What would a poet do in this situation?

— Love, Mom

I don’t know, Mom. When poets perceive an injustice, they might attend rallies, write letters to the editor, or donate what they can to an entity committed to ending a policy. They’d probably write poems (or columns) and channel their frustration into something constructive.

What has helped me reconcile the sad truth behind… More…

From the Iowa Judicial Branch Building.

 

The last week has been good for homosexuals. Most recently, the Vermont legislature overrode Governor James Douglas’s veto of a bill legalizing gay marriage. The vote was pretty lopsided in favor of gay marriage. Just four days before that, the Iowa Supreme Court came down with a decision making it illegal for the state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The Iowa decision was a big deal, primarily because it came from the “heartland,” hitherto the bastion of “traditional values.”

The Iowa court’s decision is important for another less tangible reason. What is extraordinary about the document, the text of the ruling, is its lack of bullshit. Once all the legal mumbo jumbo is dispensed with, it gets right to the core of the issue. Are these homos human beings or not? If they are, then… More…