New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


How Fragile We Are…

July 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Nothing Is Guaranteed, Lest We Forget

by Randall Amster

Once again, events conspire to remind us how fragile is our existence and how vulnerable we really are. A young man whose goal in life might have been “helping others” winds up hunting them instead, ruthlessly mowing them down in a bizarre public spectacle in which it is not life but rather death that mirrors art. Chillingly, a neighbor describes the gunman as a “typical American kid” who “kept to himself [and] didn’t seem to have many friends.” In the postmortem analysis, fingers will be pointed and political positions staked, but the essential issues will again likely go unaddressed as we forge ahead to the next reel in the film, without noticing that the entire narrative itself is deadening by its very nature.

There are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in this veritable societal shooting gallery that places all of us in the crosshairs. Some people simply break, while some seek to break others, but both are responses to a society that places alienation, dependency, and casual brutality at its cultural core. We might blame a specific organ when it contracts cancer or treat the disease like an individual pathology, all the while neglecting to address the obvious socio-environmental roots of the condition. To do the latter would require us to ask hard questions about the society we have created, the one we participate in and benefit from — yet if we do not, the issue will likely soon become moot as the patient expires. (more…)

Politics of Learning

July 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Harry Targ, Politics

Universities Will Remain Sites of Contestation and Struggle

by Harry Targ

Since Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement almost every institution in American life — financial, corporate, political party, media, military, and religious — has appropriately become subject to scrutiny and evaluation. In each case analysts and activists have begun to raise questions about what these institutions look like, whose interests they serve, and how they contribute to the well-being of society. Until recently colleges and universities have been largely above reproach. Research and education have been seen as the cornerstone of American democracy and economic development. The appointment of Governor Mitch Daniels as the new president of Purdue University and the firing and rehiring of the University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan provides the occasion for a reexamination of higher education. (more…)

Nuclear Truths

July 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Peter G. Cohen, Politics

To Be, or Not To Be…

by Peter G. Cohen

It is time to tell the truth about nuclear weapons. They are not a deterrent to terrorists, whom security experts regard as the greatest danger to our nation. They do not deter attacks from other nations, because very few want to attack us, and our overwhelming conventional forces are more than enough for our defense.

What nuclear weapons actually do is cost us a great deal of money. Just to maintain the warheads will cost us $7.6 billion next year and $2.5 billion more to prevent proliferation. As we trim our federal budget other urgently needed programs will be cut, while nuclear weapons funds are defended in the name of National Security and for the benefit of senators and representatives who have facilities in their districts. Some Congress people hope to spend at least $100 billion in the next decade on “modernizing” the planes, missiles and submarines that are ready to deliver the warheads to an unidentified “enemy.” (more…)

Twilight of the Elites

June 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Ecology, Economy, Politics

Can We Get Along Without Authorities?

by David Swanson

Some years ago, I watched a screening of a film about Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the Pentagon Papers.  The film was shown in the U.S. Capitol, and Ellsberg was present, along with others, to discuss the movie and take questions afterwards.

I’ve just read Chris Hayes’ new book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (Crown, 2012), and am reminded of the question that progressive blogger and then-Congressman Alan Grayson staffer Matt Stoller asked Ellsberg.

What, Stoller wanted to know, should one do when (following the 2003 invasion of Iraq) one has come to the realization that the New York Times cannot be trusted?

The first thing I thought to myself upon hearing this was, of course, “Holy f—, why would anyone have ever trusted the New York Times“?  In fact I had already asked a question about the distance we’d traveled from 1971, when the New York Times had worried about the potential shame of having failed to publish a story, to 2005 when the New York Times publicly explained that it had sat on a major story (about warrantless spying) out of fear of the shame of publishing it. (more…)

Continuing the Conversation

June 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

On God, Money, and Planet Earth

by Robert C. Koehler

Earth hovers on the brink of ecological catastrophe — actually, 20 years closer to the brink than it was at the first global climate summit, in 1992.

“Deserts continue to expand. The loss of plant and animal species has accelerated…. And greenhouse gases have continued to build up in the atmosphere,” the Los Angeles Times explains. No matter that, 20 years ago, most nations of the world “signed off on a long list of goals and agreements” designed to ensure a different future. Nothing came of it.

And my sense is that no one expects the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, a.k.a.  Rio+20, which began last week, with representatives from 190 countries attending, to make any difference in our disastrous drift ever more deeply into unsustainability … because nothing can make a difference. We’re stuck, apparently, in a system that won’t be constrained by international goals and agreements, which are already compromises to that system. No matter that this is a life-devouring system that serves the interests of the very few — and at best serves them temporarily. No matter that more and more people see the insanity of this system. There seems to be no escape from it. (more…)

Waking Life

March 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Randall Amster

You Don’t Need a Clock to Know What Time It Is

by Randall Amster

With each passing day, the news grows increasingly grim. In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen women’s rights under assault as reactionary forces seek to turn the clock back by decades. Half a world away in Afghanistan, corpses are defiled and more are brutally created, without even their ages or innocence sufficient to protect them. Meanwhile, back at home, Congress passes and President Obama signs a new law that further restricts the ability of “we the people” to say or do anything that might stem the tide of the insanity. It’s all such a familiar tune, one that plays out with flawless precision in nearly every turn of the news cycle.

Meanwhile, the blogosphere buzzes along, chronicling the morass and the madness with vigor. The headlines read like an excruciating autopsy of democracy and justice in the late, great United States — and a horrifying blueprint for how to decimate that portion of the planet’s inhabitants who have the misfortune of living atop, amid, or around something that we covet. Naked fascism here and wanton destruction there, with each solidifying the other in our hearts and minds as the gears of consumer culture blithely grind about their business with clocklike precision. Tick: the Dow Jones goes up! Tock: another celebrity melts down! And hardly anyone seems to really know what time it is… (more…)

Women’s History, and Present

March 19, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Was it coincidence that on International Women’s Day 2012, Earth was bombarded by one of the most intense solar flares ever? Could it be that the Sun was urging us on, sending us the pulse of a solar storm to motivate us to action?

March is Women’s History Month, and always prompts me to reflect on where we’ve come in the past year, and where we need to go as women, and as a society.

For one thing, I am tired of women being held hostage on the basis of their reproductive capabilities.

Yes, we are the ones who bear the babies after sex.

Sex happens and we love it.

Babies happen, too.

If a woman doesn’t want to bear the baby that takes root after sex, she has every right to decide what to do about it. (more…)