New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Spectator Wars

August 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Something Has to Give in the ‘Great American Consensus’

by Robert C. Koehler

“Pakistani authorities have long denounced the strikes, out of concern that civilian deaths caused by drone strikes inflame the local population, bolster militant groups and violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.” — CNN, July 26

“Analysts said the administration was still grappling with the fact that drones remained the crucial instrument for going after terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan — yet speaking about them publicly could generate a backlash in those countries because of issues like civilian casualties.” — New York Times, Aug. 2

Oh, the serious news! I read it with ever-fresh incredulity. It’s written for gamers. It reduces us to gamers as it updates us on the latest bends and twists in the geopolitical scene. We’re still playing War on Terror, the aim of which is to kill as many insurgents as possible; when they’re all dead, we win (apparently). The trick is to avoid inflaming the locals, who then transition out of passive irrelevance and join the insurgency. They get inflamed when we kill civilians, such as their children. (more…)

A Clear Choice

August 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Peter G. Cohen, Politics

Time for a Convention to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

by Peter G. Cohen

We now know that nuclear winter, ozone layer destruction, phytoplankton reduction and other effects of a nuclear exchange would massively impact health and life everywhere on Earth. How can we respond to something so overwhelming, so huge, so threatening that there is nowhere to hide except in denial? We’ve been trying that for almost 70 years. The numbers of weapons are down, their accuracy and lethality are up. It is time to try something new.

After the disaster of Fukushima, several nations, including Germany, abandoned nuclear generation because of its dangers. But 13 nations are now constructing new power reactors. The problem is that the refinement of nuclear reactor fuel, if carried further, becomes weapons grade highly enriched uranium. The operation of nuclear plants results in the byproduct of plutonium, which also can be used to make a bomb. (more…)

Reverence for Garbage

August 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Let’s Discard Exploitation and Make Music Instead

by Robert C. Koehler

“My life would be worthless without music,” the girl said.

And the music came, up from the garbage, through her hands and heart and out to the world. My god, she was playing a violin made out of an old can. A boy was playing a cello crafted with more love and ingenuity than I can imagine, from a used oil drum, old wool and tossed-out beef-tenderizing tools.

The brief YouTube video, precursor to a documentary film to be released in January, is called Landfill Harmonic (Preview); it’s about a children’s orchestra in a Paraguayan village — a slum — called Cateura, which is built on a landfill. Reclaiming and reselling the trash that arrives every day is the residents’ means of survival. Real violins are not to be found in such a place; they’re worth more than a family’s home. (more…)

A Meaningful Future

July 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Bacon, Economy, Politics

What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like

by David Bacon

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious last weekend in Fresno.  At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House.  It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible.  Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights. (more…)

Facing the Children

June 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Achieving a Future Without War

by Robert C. Koehler

We can end war.

Please, before you read on, let those four words float in silence for half a minute, until you actually hear them — until they come alive with meaning as insistent as a hatching egg. War is not inevitable, no matter how cluelessly enthusiastic the media may be to promote it, no matter how thoroughly it runs the global economy and dominates almost every government.

We can shut down this system of self-perpetuating violence and geopolitical chicken. We can dismantle the glory machine and redefine patriotism. We can curtail the most toxic enterprise on the planet. We can end war. (more…)

If Not Now, When?

May 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

Playing Hardball with the Fossil Fuel Industry

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Bittersweet sadness filled me as I read an excerpt at Women’s E-News from Eve Ensler’s new memoir, In the Body of the World, about her long, determined, agonizing battle with uterine cancer.

Her TED talk, “Suddenly, My Body” is one that I have returned to watch several times over, and have recommended to many friends as a pulsating, powerful performance that makes perfectly clear what many of us are coming to realize: that there is no separation between our bodies and the world around us.

Not only is it true, as Joanna Macy and Brian Swimme tell us, that we are the most recent emanations of the stardust that created the life on our planet eons ago, it is also true that our fragile bodies are porous and open, made of the air, earth and water that we move through each day. (more…)

Stuck in the Pipeline

April 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Reclaiming the Future for Young People … and Us All

by Robert C. Koehler

Are the bad ideas dead yet? You know, the ones that have been hollowing out the country’s soul for the last 30 years.

In Atlanta, they just indicted 35 teachers, principals and administrators, including a former superintendent, for routinely altering their students’ standardized test results — and in all likelihood this massive fraud is an aberration only because the cheaters got caught.

Everything is at stake in these tests, so perhaps it’s dawning on us that fraud — by adults — is inevitable, but there’s a bigger issue here that continues to escape public outrage: The tests are stupid. They measure virtually nothing that matters, but monopolize the classroom politically. Teachers, under enormous pressure, are forced to teach to the tests rather than, you know, teach critical thinking or creative expression; and education is reduced to something rote, linear, and boring. (more…)