New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Lowest Common Denominator?

January 17, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Firmin DeBrabander, Politics

It’s Baked into Democracy’s Design

by Firmin DeBrabander

The Tr$mp victory, and the general disaster for Democrats this year, was the victory of ignorance, critics moan. Writing in Foreign Policy, Georgetown University’s Jason Brennan called it “the dance of the dunces” and wrote that “Tr$mp owes his victory to the uninformed.”

New York Times columnist Neil Irwin noted the unprecedented list of inexperts and political novices filling out Tr$mp’s administration. These include Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts as deputy secretary of the Commerce Department. Irwin observes that “the Tr$mp transition’s news release announcing the appointment cites the Ricketts family’s success in building the Cubs into a World Series winner.” This has led to a steady stream of apocalyptic warnings from Irwin’s colleague, the esteemed economist Paul Krugman, who, among other things, has declared that this is “How Republics End.” (more…)

Graduating from the Electoral College

December 16, 2016 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

“Don’t Know Much About History…”

by Randall Amster

It’s understandable why some are viewing the Electoral College as the last bastion of democracy right now, even as this is also ironic given its ostensibly anti-democratic nature. Without delving into the historical debates, including the potentially gendered and racial roots of the system, it is generally accepted that the framers “feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power” and thus “did not trust the population to make the right choice” every time. The genesis, then, was apparently the quite undemocratic notion of limiting the electoral power of the people.

Of course, this is also a republic, and the Electoral College reflects that reality. We can debate endlessly whether it’s a fair system, whether it skews power to smaller states or a handful of swing states, whether it decreases incentives for turnout, whether it reflects elitism, and more — but that won’t help us in the here and now. Instead, we might consider the paradox of how this structure applies to the present situation, one in which the “will of the people” actually “elected” the “losing” candidate by nearly a three million vote margin. As such, the call is being made for the Electoral College not to override the consensus of the majority, but actually to uphold it. (more…)

Saving Seeds

October 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Politics

Free-Market Fundamentalism versus Food Democracy

by Devon G. Peña

People frequently ask me why I save seeds. I reply, “Because I want my corn to dance.”

When I am not teaching at the University of Washington, I work on a 200-acre flood-irrigated farm that also serves as the home for my family’s foundation, The Acequia Institute. We run the farm as an almunyah, which is essentially a private, non-profit “agricultural experiment station”. We serve acequia farmers who are among the oldest family farms in the United States, dating back to well before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1598.

As an experiment station we take our business of preserving and protecting plant genetic resources very seriously. Without the diversity of seeds developed by native farmers, the traditions of sustainable agriculture as we know it today would not exist. (more…)

Fascinating Hypocrisy

July 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Missy Beattie, Politics

Like Love Notes from a Charlatan…

by Missy Beattie

I should unsubscribe to Organizing for Action (OFA) — a group supporting the election of Democrats, but I won’t, because I’m mining data from the obscenely insincere. The emails open with a clever ploy, use of the familiar, my given name. It’s almost intimate. Some are signed “Barack”. Here’s one, minus a few sentences:

Missy –

My administration is taking steps to cut carbon pollution, prepare our nation for the unavoidable impact of climate change, and put America’s best and brightest to work to solve this issue on a global scale.

One thing we know is we’ll face a well-organized and well-financed opposition by the special interests that profit from keeping things the way they are — and there are members of Congress who fundamentally deny the science on this issue.

I need to know you’ll fight alongside me. Say you will. [Subliminal, using the title of a love song.] (more…)

Right Before Christmas

December 24, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Pat LaMarche, Politics

The Tenor of the Times in Verse 

by Pat LaMarche 

‘Twas right before Christmas and all through the house
The Fiscal Cliff proved Congress an unfaithful spouse
The elections were but a few weeks gone by
Leaving lame duck politicians unwilling to try
 
In a nation where children sleep without beds
And political hacks argue the sex of who weds
Stories of straight generals betraying their wives
Captures more front pages then these children’s lives.
 
Meanwhile in Pakistan amidst drones’ late night clatter
One lone college kid tweets the facts that do matter
He noted the incidence of each deadly strike
Showing the world what true terrorists are like.
 
(more…)

Christmas Past

December 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

After Sorrow Comes Happiness…

by Jerry Elmer 

Today, December 18, 2012, is the fortieth anniversary of the notorious “Christmas bombing” of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), pejoratively (and inaccurately) referred to at the time by U.S. leaders (and the U.S. media) as “North Vietnam.” This coming January 27, 2013, will be the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement that ended direct U.S. involvement in the war; I will be in Vietnam observing and participating in the commemoration of that anniversary. But today it is time to remember the Christmas bombing that started on this date in 1972.

First, a word about the context. The 1972 presidential election was a race between peace candidate Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) and the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, who had continued and escalated the Vietnam War throughout his first four years in office. (more…)