New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


One Bad Apple?

March 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Challenging the Military’s Reason for Being

by Robert C. Koehler

So it turns out that mass-murder suspect Robert Bales once used a bad word in a Facebook conversation.

This is one of the more bizarre details of his life that has come breathlessly to light in the media, along with his big smile, arrest record and disastrous financial dealings. The word was “hadji” (misspelled “hagi”), which is the racial slur of choice among U.S. troops to denigrate Iraqis; and stories where I have read about his use of it fixate on it judgmentally, as though to suggest it might explain something: the tiny flaw that reveals a propensity for massacring children.

Something had to be wrong with him, right? As always, the mainstream media’s unquestioning assumption is that the atrocity is the work of an individual nut . . . a flawed patriot, a bad apple. Oh so quietly ignored is the possibility that there’s something wrong with the military system and culture that produced him. (more…)

Inside This Place

March 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Politics, Victoria Law

Oral History Collection Gives Voice to Incarcerated Women

by Victoria Law

The new book Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons (McSweeney’s, 2011), edited by Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman, delves into injustices inside women’s prisons through firsthand accounts from the women themselves. These are painful stories. Many are tales of violence and abuse, most often from family and loved ones. Some are stories of parents who, at best, were not emotionally present for their children; at worst, they not only abused their daughters but allowed others to abuse them in exchange for drugs. There are stories of addiction. These stories are intense and, even though I am well-acquainted with prison horror stories, I needed to put the book down, several times. And then there are the stories from within the prison, which often repeats and exacerbates the horrors the women encountered before their arrests.

These stories illustrate the myriad ways that prisons attempt to erase their personhood: One woman entered prison while pregnant; because her due date fell on a holiday weekend, medical staff forced her into a Caesarean section. She was handcuffed throughout the surgery; she held her newborn for the first time while in cuffs. Another woman was given a hysterectomy without her knowledge or consent. Others discuss the lack of medical care, ranging from the lack of a diabetic diet to staff withholding necessary medications. Women’s humanity is assaulted in other ways as well: In 2010, Colorado prison staff instituted a demeaning search procedure known as the “labia lift” (p. 158): “We had to spread our labia and staff would make us cough while they were looking.” (more…)

Iraq Syndrome

November 03, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Finding Hope in the Failure of War

by Robert C. Koehler

This won’t be Vietnam, exactly. No helicopter whisking the last remaining Americans off the roof of the embassy. A contingent of 16,000 State Department contract employees — over 5,000 of them armed mercenaries — will be staying on, running what’s left of the American operation in Iraq.

But there’s little doubt we lost this war — by every rational measure. Everyone lost, except those who profited from (and continue to profit from) the trillions we bled into the invasion and occupation; and those who planned it, most of whom remain in positions to plan or at least promote the wars we’re still fighting and the wars to come. (more…)