New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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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…)

Seeing Through War

September 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Resistance Opens Possibilities for Conflict Transformation

by Robert C. Koehler

“Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them.”

Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders?

On Tuesday night — hallelujah — he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government’s single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war.

The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one’s own behavior, and in our ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in our determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil. (more…)

My Fellow Americans

September 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Buy President Obama a History Book

by Pat LaMarche

“My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements — it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.”

Of the thousands of words the president said in Tuesday night’s televised speech to the nation on Syria, these 75 words are the most important. No man with such a fundamental misunderstanding of modern American history should be deciding the fate of a new group of civilians.

In this one paragraph the president rolled the clock back to 1943, claiming in that particular lifetime of U.S. actions on global security, our killings have been more righteous and had better outcomes than the anticipated actions of others. And with this distorted view of the consequences, President Obama hopes once again to use bombs to set things right.

Even if we shave two years off his timetable and move him past the long debated use of nuclear weapons — on not one but two civilian targets in Japan — the United States cannot claim to have made the world a better place. (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…)

It’s Up to Us…

September 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Stopping a War Before It Starts

by Robert C. Koehler

Who’s up for stopping a war?

This is the time, as the next war strains to be born, amid the same old lies as last time, amid the same urgency and pseudo-debate and pretensions of seriousness:

The government of Syria has crossed a “red line.” It has used poison gas, killing hundreds of innocent people and committing a heinous war crime. And suddenly, clear as a bell, we have good vs. evil. Our only course of action, President Obama and his spokespersons tell us, is to “carry out a punitive strike against the Syrian government.”

This is the abstraction of warspeak, which summons a deeply satisfying mythology of righteous vengeance while making the action sound so clear and logical. (more…)

Love Crowds Out Fear

August 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

On Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman Verdict

by Valerie Elverton Dixon

I waited. My tears waited…

In March 2012 when the story of Trayvon Martin’s murder became national news, I waited to comment. Like those who took to the streets in hoodies, I could not understand how George Zimmerman could shoot and kill an unarmed teenager who was simply walking home from the store, be taken into custody by the police, and then go home to sleep in his own bed the same night without being charged with a crime.  Zimmerman told the police that he acted in self defense, and that was enough. Trayvon Martin’s family had to hire a lawyer and the lawyers had to contact national civil rights leaders before a prosecutor brought charges. I did not comment.

Trayvon Martin’s parents said they had faith in the criminal justice system. They wanted a trial. The trial happened and a jury of six women found their son’s killer not guilty. When I learned of the verdict on Sunday morning, July 14, my delayed praying tears ended their wait. I wept. I grieved for Trayvon Martin and for all the teenagers whose lives are lost to gun violence, and I grieved for our criminal justice system and for our nation. (more…)

Empty Vessel

July 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Missy Beattie, Politics

The Liar Negates His Own Existence

by Missy Beattie

“The liar negates his own existence.” I researched this quote, determined to find its source after e-pal, musician, and fellow writer Jeff Costello sent it in response to something I told him. I found plenty of interesting websites, one generating a precious memory and something else, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

On another, I bumped into Jean Paul Sartre and spent almost an hour with him — and Prof. Bob Zunjic’s analysis of Being and Nothingness. Here’s a sip to stimulate your thirst:

“In contrast to the conscious intention to distort something Sartre points out that ‘a man does not lie about what he is Ignorant of; he does not lie when he spreads an error of which he himself is the dupe; he does not lie when he is mistaken.’ This is a strong indication that there is a difference between a lie and a mistake.

After that detour, I continued to excavate, substituting the words “reality” for “existence” and “deceiver” for “liar” — but was unsuccessful. So this week, I wrote Jeff and asked him. He replied that it’s an original and gave me permission to use it. I had already, many times, just not in an article. (more…)