New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Give Peace a Chance

November 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Patrick T. Hiller, Politics

‘Big Stick’ Ideology Becoming Irrelevant in Light of Peace Science

by Patrick T. Hiller

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far” was a trademark description of Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy. To no surprise the recent electoral season turned politicians into stick-carrying hunters, only now it doesn’t seem necessary to speak softly.

In political and even in broader public discourse we are discussing strategies of war when talking about peace. Strength can only be conveyed through military might. Presidential candidate Romney’s ideas for a “peaceful planet” require us to be strong, to have a strong military, second to none in the world with its terrific soldiers and extraordinary technology and intelligence and to have growing influence in the world. Similarly, President Obama states that America remains the one indispensable nation, that the world needs a strong America, that military spending has gone up every single year he’s been in office, and that the United States spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined. In fact, the research of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute proves that our spending is more than the next 15 countries combined — not that it matters. Without overemphasizing the presidential debates, my point should be clear. (more…)

Now What?

November 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

An America Yet to Be Born…

by Robert C. Koehler

Legalization of pot (in Colorado and Washington state), a big hurray for gay marriage (in Maine), lots of progressive women in the Senate, and resounding defeat for the champions of “legitimate rape” (Akin, Mourdock) — oh my! Election Day 2012 went better than I thought it would.

And Barack Obama, the designated Lesser Evil, clobbered Mitt Romney in the swing states, despite Republican efforts to keep likely Democrats from voting there. I went to bed last night feeling an irrational joy, an enormous inner cry of relief, that the neocons and right-wing crazies were held at bay for four more years.

Now what?

In the dawn’s early light, the joy is ebbing. Last night’s victory high is wearing off, especially as I read the banal analyses and balanced blather in the mainstream media and realize that all the crucial issues that were off the table during the election season — drone assassination, the military budget, climate change, corporate hegemony, GOP vote suppression tactics — are still off the table. Not that I’m surprised or anything, but it reminds me that the presidential election is mostly spectacle.

As Laura Flanders said on election night on Democracy Now!, “The only thing that has ever brought about change in this country is social movements.” (more…)

The People Have Spoken

November 08, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Erin Niemela, Politics

Voting? Done. Democracy? Just Begun.

by Erin Niemela

Election night is finally over.  Television can resume its originally broadcast programs and Facebook can return to cat memes and photos of our dinner.  We can go back to talking about our personal lives at work and our work lives at home.  Relatives can begin to pick up the pieces of their divided relationships, while children can find some relief from the incessant blaring of talk radio on the drive to school. The people have spoken, they are tired, and they want at least a couple of years to nap, politically.

We may think our work here is done, at least for another two-four years, yet civic duty does not cease the moment you turn in your ballot. Voting every couple of years in the mass-distributed reality TV show we call “the election” neither constitutes a democracy nor mandates genuine change.  Direct action by an engaged citizenry creates and sustains democracy, and such direct democracy must be performed year-round.  While our elected officials seem keen on exporting democracy around the world, we should be developing democracy at home, as well. (more…)

The Future of Politics

November 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

The Pragmatics and Challenges of ‘Lesser Evilism’

by Robert C. Koehler 

“I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan.”

I listen to these words with fresh awe, 40 years later. They pierce the soul. Once upon a time, presidential politics was this open, this responsive to moral concerns. The speaker, of course, was George McGovern. The words, delivered during the Democratic National Convention in 1972 — and the campaign that followed — represent the political high-water mark of the social change movements of the 1960s.

“And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day.” (more…)

Changing Landscapes

November 05, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Ecology, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Candidate Will Keep Running Until He Wins or Dies Trying

by Pat LaMarche

West Virginia Mountain Party’s Jesse Johnson says he’ll keep running for Governor of the Mountain State until he wins or until he dies trying. He just hopes there are still some mountains left by the time he gets his chance to govern. Johnson, 53, who declared his most recent of three campaigns for governor in August, was born in Charleston when Appalachia had roughly five hundred more mountains than it does today.

Since the late 1950s, coal mining has changed immensely. Rather than men crawling through tunnels and harvesting veins of the fossil fuel, vast amounts of ordinance is used to blow the mountains to smithereens along with every living thing that’s on them at the time of the explosion. (more…)

Irrational Voting

November 01, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

Resisting the Tendency Toward Lesser-Evilism

by David Swanson

When I was a philosophy grad student in the ancient times at the University of Virginia, some over-smart logician pointed out to me that voting is not rational, since a single vote is never decisive. It’s all the other stuff that’s rational: appearing to have voted, applying a sticker to your bumper, registering voters, making phone calls — because all of that stuff has the potential to spread sufficiently to make a difference in the election, or perhaps in a future election or in other forms of civic engagement.

But, of course, unlike the model “persons” in philosophical or economic mental experiments, actual people tend not to be sociopaths. Pretending to vote without voting is far more work than actually voting, which — while it may be irrational — does no harm. And so, good citizens tend to vote even understanding its irrationality, and even when there are no candidates worth voting for.

Some smart friends of mine argue for a particular type of quasi-rational voting in such situations. (more…)

Campaign Supernova

October 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Blinded by the Light of an Electoral ‘Reality Show’

by Randall Amster

Coming up next on ‘The Oval Office’: sparks fly as the final two contestants go head-to-head on live TV, while a dramatic surprise will soon be revealed that could change everything — and YOU get to make the call on who wins the grand prize and who gets voted off the show. Stay tuned…

One can almost hear the narrator’s voiceover as the news is reported and the debate is joined. Presidential politics, and media-age elections in general, more closely resemble an illusory ‘reality show’ than any substantive engagement with the critical issues of the day. If the Association of National Advertisers could select Barack Obama as ‘Marketer of the Year’ for 2008, then perhaps this year will bring another level of media acknowledgment. Joe Biden for an Emmy, anyone? (more…)