New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Speak Up

October 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

A New Kind of War Is Being Waged

by David Swanson

There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways.  When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law.  On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.

Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you.  Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal.  The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself.  Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up. (more…)

Making Peace with War

October 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

The Time Has Come…

by Robert C. Koehler

What if we had politicians who believed in the abolition of war with as much passion as the Republican right believes in the abolition of taxes?

For me, the question that immediately follows is: What kind of politics draws power from resources other than the deep pockets of billionaires? Just because the world is sick of war, how will that ever translate into serious political action to defund standing armies and ongoing weapons research? How will it ever cohere into a consensus that has political traction? Does Washington, D.C. only have room for one consensus?

For the Democrats to stand moderately tough against GOP right-wing zealots in defense of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Social Security, there’s no way they could also — even if they wanted to — stand tough on, let us say, nuclear disarmament or a movement toward demilitarization. Such concepts aren’t on or anywhere near the fabled “table” of national debate; they’re as marginalized as segregated restrooms. This is a deep problem from the point of view of anyone looking clear-eyed into the future. (more…)

Rationality Shutdown

October 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Power Flows with Daunting Slowness…

by Robert C. Koehler

In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.

Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that’s at war. “Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status,” the President said. “The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue.”

As I once observed, there’s no such thing as a relaxed nation. It can shut down what it does right, if clumsily, like feeding people, educating them and helping them through difficulty, but it will only shut down its predatory sense of identity in a state of total defeat by a bigger predator. Not letting that happen is its endless obsession. (more…)

Bon Appétit

October 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Food Service Workers Without Healthcare

by Pat LaMarche

This week — in the midst of the government shut down over the Affordable Care Act — the New York Times ran a number of graphs and tables that explained where the poor and those lacking health insurance live and work.

Now if you don’t like math or if you intend to eat out tonight, you might not want to read any further.

See, it turns out that cooks and waiters/waitresses make up 33% of the uninsured. That doesn’t mean that 33% of them are uninsured, it means that they make up 33% of the 48 million uninsured in the nation. Cashiers are another 19%. That means that more than half the uninsured in our nation are those people that probably just handled your food.

So now let’s draw on that high school math you learned. Remember studying exponential growth and graphing a resulting number based on what we multiplied and added to a beginning number? We used the X and Y axes to represent these points. If your head’s starting to hurt, stop thinking of numbers and picture a beautiful sky with a sliver of a moon. That moon shape is kind of what this graph will look like. It’s starts out slowly moving to the right and then sweeps upward rather quickly. (more…)

Food Mosaics

October 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

UN Appeals for Urgent Agricultural Reform

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I remember going to one of the preparatory meetings on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development at the State Department. It was late 1978 and I represented Congressman Clarence Long (D-Md.).

There must have been at least forty federal bureaucrats around a huge wooden table in a large conference room. I asked them how many peasants they or the United Nations had invited to address the 1979 Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Conference in Rome. After all, who knows more about the pain of the peasants than peasants themselves?

The icy silence that followed my question was a reminder that this conference had nothing to do with food and agriculture or agrarian reform. It was rather a forum for the amusement of men and women from the North and the South who guarded the world’s food and agriculture. (more…)

Discussing Disarmament

September 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Lawrence Wittner, Politics

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons as Important as Eliminating Chemical Ones

by Lawrence S. Wittner

The apparent employment of chemical weapons in Syria should remind us that, while weapons of mass destruction exist, there is a serious danger that they will be used.

That danger is highlighted by an article in the September/October 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Written by two leading nuclear weapons specialists, Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists, the article provides important information about nuclear weapons that should alarm everyone concerned about the future of the planet.

At present, the article reports, more than 17,000 nuclear warheads remain in the possession of nine nations (the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea). Over 90 percent of that inventory consists of U.S. and Russian warheads. (more…)

Imagining Syria

September 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Missy Beattie, Politics

Making Sense of the Senseless… 

by Missy Beattie

After Charles died, I tried to convince friends and acquaintances that complaining — squandering even a minute of happiness — is an extravagance they’d regret. Eventually I realized that death of a spouse or loved one couldn’t be understood until it’s experienced. Maybe that’s protection, insulation. Really, how could we approach each day if we knew at the molecular level the agony of bereavement?

I think of this now when I hear the blustering of men devoid of empathy. Of women barren of compassion. Those too blind to see.

This morning when I ran, I passed a sign in front of an enclave of alley shops. It said, “Who’s Next”. Syria. Syria is next, I thought.

A few weeks ago, when running, I heard a man on a phone, a pay phone. “This is the United States of America and this is my son I’m talking about.” I’ve noticed him before, with several bags, asleep on a bench, wrapped in a blanket despite the heat. I’ve thought about him, wanting to know more. Wanting to know what he meant when he said, “This is the United States of America . . .” (more…)