New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


The Ultimate Wish

August 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Taking Steps Toward a Nuclear-Free World

by David Swanson

We’ve managed to outgrow or to come within sight of outgrowing cannibalism, slavery, blood feuds, duels, capital punishment, child labor, tar and feathering, the stocks and pillory, wives as chattel, the punishment of homosexuality, and listening to Rush Limbaugh.  To various degrees, these practices — and many others — have been eliminated or reduced and stigmatized.

While the stupidest practice ever created — the mass killing known as war — remains, we’ve seen most of the world ban poison gas, land mines, cluster bombs, biological weapons, depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous, and other disgusting weaponry.  But the worst weapon of all remains, and the treaty requiring its reduction and elimination is completely ignored.

We’ve begun learning to avoid long-lasting environmental damage.  We try not to poison our fruit trees or our grass or our rivers.  But when it comes to damage that lasts longer than humanity has existed, we go right on producing it. (more…)

Anti-War Blockbuster

June 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

An Antidote to the Dominance of Pro-War Films

by David Swanson

There’s no end to the pro-war movies we’re subjected to: countless celebrations of bombs, guns, and torture.  They come in the form of cartoons, science fiction, historical fiction, dramas, and reenactments pre-censored by the CIA.  Movies show us the excitement without the suffering.  War in our theaters resembles almost anything else more than it resembles war.

Journalists appear in our movies too, usually as comic figures, talking-head air-heads, numskulls, and sycophants.  In this case, the depiction is much more accurate, at least of much of what passes for journalism.

But, starting in June, a remarkable anti-war/pro-journalism film will be showing — even more remarkably — in big mainstream movie theaters.  Dirty Wars (I’ve read the book and seen the movie and highly recommend both) may be one of the best educational outreach opportunities the peace movement has had in a long time.  The film, starring Jeremy Scahill, is about secretive aspects of U.S. wars: imprisonment, torture, night raids, drone kills. (more…)

Unlikely Friends

April 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer, Family

When Victims and Perpetrators Meet

by Diane Lefer

A few years back, after I spent an evening at a halfway house for men on parole, Sister Mary Sean Hodges challenged me. She has worked tirelessly through the Office of Restorative Justice, LA Archdiocese, on behalf of incarcerated men and women and those seeking to reenter society. She liked what I’d done advocating for gang members, prisoners, and criminal justice reform, but in her view I had fallen short. “You have to meet the victims, too,” she said.

I did, and soon felt overwhelmed and helpless in the face of so much pain and rage. I wished there could be another way — a better way — to cope with such grief, but when I heard of other ways, I was cynical. I loved Reginald Denny for forgiving the teens who beat him unconscious during LA’s civil unrest, but, hey, with his head injury, he remembered nothing of the attack and I figured that made it easier to forgive. As for other cases I heard about, seriously, would you open your heart to your child’s murderer? I wanted to admire such compassion but it seemed more like delusional naïveté. You’d have to be a saint — or crazy. (more…)

The Original Abolitionists

March 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Lessons from a Movement for Rights and Dignity 

by David Swanson

If you’re like me, there are some things you would like to abolish.  My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post.  I could go on.  I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we’d be better off without.

All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire.  I highly recommend watching a film about them called “Amazing Grace.”  If you like it, you’ll love a book called Bury the Chains. (more…)

A World Like That…

March 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Reflections on Poverty and Possibility from the 2013 EPIC Journey

by Pat LaMarche

When Diane Nilan and I first met several years ago in a campground in South Central Pennsylvania, I had no idea that we’d team up to try and change the hearts and minds of people who don’t know much about homelessness. I sought her out simply because I was writing a weekly column for Maine’s largest daily newspaper, The Bangor Daily News. Tiger Woods had just smashed up his car and blown up his career and I was looking for a real hero — I wanted folks to see the difference.

I stumbled upon this little-known woman who had, at that time, been ramming the roads in an RV for five years. Her mission was to create documentaries that allowed folks to learn the truth about homeless kids and their families. She has many films to her credit; My Own Four Walls is my personal favorite. All you see and hear (with the exception of a few encouraging tones from Diane) are children. Children tell their story. And if you’ve got a dry eye after that movie, it’s time for an EKG. Her second film, a feature-length ditty, tells the story of seven women and their kids. You may not need a hanky at the end of that show, but you’ll definitely know that something’s terribly wrong with the way we treat the poor. (You can get info on Diane’s films and watch trailers, etc. at her website.) (more…)

5 Broken Cameras

February 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Christine Baniewicz, Culture, Politics

‘We Know How to Live’

by Christine Baniewicz

Cinema 2 of the New Parkway Theatre in Oakland is deserted. I take a seat against the arm of a cushy brown couch on the third tier up from the floor. The place is lousy with sofas and retro red vinyl chairs. They’re flung about the room, clustered around off beat end tables like so many hipsters in a beer garden.

Two more folks enter, separately. We smile thin greetings at one another before they choose their seats in distant corners according to that awkward geometry of strangers. A fourth patron glides in. I recognize him from solidarity demonstrations in the city. I wave him over.

I remind him of my name and he apologizes for forgetting it. We fidget. The lights go down and I calculate: New Parkway is making $24 dollars in ticket sales from this matinee. I’m flooded with gratitude for this brave indie cinema and her clutch of pretty furniture and the (financial, political) courage it takes to screen films about Palestine in the United States. The opening credits roll. (more…)

Waking Up in Tehran

January 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

War Is Not an Option…

by David Swanson

According to one theory, U.S.-Iranian relations began around November 1979 when a crowd of irrational religious nutcases violently seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, took the employees hostage, tortured them, and held them until scared into freeing them by the arrival of a new sheriff in Washington, a man named Ronald Reagan.  From that day to this, according to this popular theory, Iran has been run by a bunch of subhuman lunatics with whom rational people couldn’t really talk if they wanted to.  These monsters only understand force.  And they have been moments away from developing and using nuclear weapons against us for decades now.  Moments away, I tell you!

According to another theory — a quaint little notion that I like to refer to as “verifiable history” — the CIA, operating out of that U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1953, maliciously and illegally overthrew a relatively democratic and liberal parliamentary government, and with it the 1951 Time magazine man of the year Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because Mossadegh insisted that Iran’s oil wealth enrich Iranians rather than foreign corporations.  The CIA installed a dictatorship run by the Shah of Iran who quickly became a major source of profits for U.S. weapons makers, and his nation a testing ground for surveillance techniques and human rights abuses.  The U.S. government encouraged the Shah’s development of a nuclear energy program. (more…)