Harry C. Blaney

Yes, the Republicans in Congress are doing more harm to American national security and standing than the combination of North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia. None of the latter have been able to shut down the U.S. government or do as much destruction to America’s economy, financial standing, and world leadership. Now this group of “crazies” have undermined democracy by the government shutdown which along with the debt ceiling brings into question the “full faith and credit” of America.

Since my last post on this topic, my hope was that good sense might prevail, but no, the attack on America by the Tea Party (a.k.a. the Republicans since this extreme group now runs the entire Congressional party along with the far right big money people like the Koch brothers) continues. It becomes even more absurd and dangerous. Also every major American institution including mainline business and financial groups, and now the World Bank and European leaders have expressed alarm over the potential (even the likelihood) that American government will fail to carry out its most basic role and our bonds that are the “gold standard” of world credit will fall into default.

Our military and our diplomatic capacity has been eroded in serious ways. Key units are degraded in DOD, and in the Department of State and the CIA, key desks and functions are left with less than adequate staffing and capacity to respond to crises around the world. So much for the Republican false and hypocritical claim to be for a strong American defense and support our role as a global leader.

A key element of American power abroad is the respect of American purpose, values, and capacity and the soundness and growth of our economy. All of these are now threatened by both the shutdown and the looming default on our debt which is held around the world as a key reserve by many countries. They are also held by pensions funds, banks, and other key institutions at home and it is likely that the low interest rates that now prevail will be history if we default and the consequence will be what the Republican said they do not want…namely the increase in our debt levels as we pay much high rates for future bond offerings. We will all be poorer because of their blind “slash and burn” tactics. Stupid right! And cruel too!

As many commentators have said the President should and can not for the sake of our democracy give in those these extortions. He won the election, Americans voted for a Democratic Senate, and the truth is that more Democrats voted for members of the House of Representatives than Republicans. Only conniving redistricting of Congressional districts at the State legislative level gave them a majority, not the American people.

Already the Republicans have lied and violated their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution…namely the 14th Amendment that holds no one should question the U.S. debt, which includes the Congress. So they all don’t think the Constitution means anything against their narrow ideology and “dark money” money from the far right billionaires that support them. This is all being done in the name of preventing up to 30 million of our uninsured citizens having access to affordable health care!

We have become a near dysfunctional nation due to these few crazies. And those abroad wonder how this could have happen and they rightly fear its impact on the globe. Already the Russians and the Chinese mock us as unstable or unreliable.

President Obama has too often in the past made serious compromises with the Republicans….witness the sequester and their ugly and mindless cuts to good programs…..but always the GOP want more; to in effect disband and ruin our government and especially its capacity to help the “least among us” and our middle class which has lost ground, and to tear down our international responsibilities and capacity to defend our interests.


This is an historic testing time for America, as it was at the time of the Civil War. Can America remain a strong and powerful and good nation at home and abroad? It is also each citizen’s responsibility to understand the implications and to act to redress our madness.

The answer hopefully is that at some point a resolution will take place as the consequences for American society and economy will soon become apparent to a vast majority of our citizens and the Republicans will likely have to permit a vote in the House for a clean CR and even raise the debt level, hopefully until past the 2014 elections. The president needs to articulate even more strongly the consequences as do each of us as citizens.

We welcome your comments!

The Unbelievable and the Irresponsible: National Security and the Shutdown of Government


The Unbelievable and the Irresponsible: National Security and the Shutdown of Government


Harry C. Blaney III

Likely, within hours the Republicans in the House without some divine intervention or good sense will force the shutdown of government. This act will have severe impact on the American economy and far beyond. Its reach will include the international standing of our nation and our national security.

Our public servants will not be doing their good work and they will not be paid. Many key government services will ceased or curtailed. All this to prevent millions of Americans without insurance and therefore access to decent health care from having such access which every advanced nation on this earth affords.

There is a certain level of morals and good sense that any civilized nation and especially the “leader of the free world” should uphold to the world. But we are presenting the face of a spiteful, greedy, and dysfunctional party in control of the House of Representatives. It is one major political party which has gone crazy and mindless. It seems to want to damage in one act of crass hate our democratic government, our economy, and our national security.

Other nations are watching this madness. Our friends and allies are despairing and incredulous on how far we are falling. Our enemies and adversaries revel in and taking advantage of our self-induced wounding. Already the sequester has cost real jobs and ending it means adding over a million and half new jobs. But the Republicans have no interest in increasing employment or helping those without health care or are destitute.

The question must be asked who will do more damage to our nation and its security, the Republicans in the House and their anti-government financial backers and far right Tea Party anarchists or the likes of Iran, Russia, or China? None of the latter has been able to bring the American government down. But the House Republicans are about to do just that and do major damage to our nation simply by their mindless obstruction and ignoring their pledge to our Constitution, i.e. no one should question the full faith and credit of our nation.

We welcome your comments!

Science, Technology, and Social Science Research Underpins American Prosperity and National Security – Why Then Is It Under Attack?

Obama remarks at National Academy of SciencesAs everyone knows the sequester has been a disaster for American growth, its modernization, and its built and social infrastructure. It has killed needed jobs. It has made the poor poorer, and it has made the middle class languish. Let’s be clear, this is the doing of the Republicans in Congress….not the Democrats and not the President.  It can be repealed by a single sentence in a new law and a bit of common sense, decency, and patriotism by the Republicans and a very few conservative Democrats. It has especially impacted our scientific and technological base.  Don’t hold you breath however.  But remember it has huge implications for our national security and our ability to play a constructive role in world affairs. 

A subset of this madness is some recent acts by House Republicans to attack, not “socialism” or “Obama,” but quality academic science and technology. Yes, sadly there are some of this group that are “flat earth” types, who think the world was formed 10,000 or so years ago, some even, according to polls, think the sun goes around the earth, and many more think that global change is not happening or like a recent failed presidential candidate that humans have had no role in the warming of the earth or build up of CO2 and that we should not do anything about it!

Let’s look at a couple of recent examples via actions in Congress by GOP members. The first is legislation being worked on by Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the new chair of the House of Representatives Committee of Science. Its aim is to destroy the professional peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF). It would replace a system that has worked for decades and brought us superb research with new skewed funding criteria chosen politically by the right wingers in Congress. Further, it would also aim to establish a process to determine whether the same criteria should be adopted by other federal science agencies. Their attack is especially aimed at social sciences including economics; a field they clearly know nothing about based on their pushing for policies that would draw us into a deep depression. 

The second insanity is led by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) who last month successfully (where were the Democrats?) attached language to the 2013 spending bill that prohibits NSF from funding any science research for the rest of the fiscal year unless its director certifies that it pertains to economic development or national security.

The proposed bill would force NSF to adopt three criteria in judging every grant. It would require the NSF director to post on NSF’s Web site, prior to any award, a declaration that certifies the research is:

1) “… in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science”

2) “… the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large”

3) “… not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.”

NSF’s existing guidelines ask peer reviewers to consider the “intellectual merit” of a proposed research project as well as its “broader impacts” on the scientific community and society.

As another pernicious act Smith’s bill requires NSF’s oversight body, the National Science Board, to monitor the director’s actions and issue a report in a year. It also asks Presidential Science Advisor Holdren’s office to tell Congress how the principles laid down in the legislation “may be implemented in other Federal science agencies.”

The top Democrat on the science committee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), according to ScienceInsider, sent a strong message to Smith:

“In the history of this committee, no chairman has ever put themselves forward as an expert in the science that underlies specific grant proposals funded by NSF,” Johnson wrote in a letter obtained by ScienceInsider. “I have never seen a chairman decide to go after specific grants simply because the chairman does not believe them to be of high value.”

Johnson warns Smith that “the moment you compromise both the merit review process and the basic research mission of NSF is the moment you undo everything that has enabled NSF to contribute so profoundly to our national health, prosperity, and welfare.” She asks him to “withdraw” his letter and offers to work with him “to identify a less destructive, but more effective, effort” to make sure NSF is meeting that mission.

Into this fray President Obama made a speech to the National Academy of Science (link to speech) defending the integrity of the scientific method and noting the importance of ensuring its resources, its independence, and taking on those that would insert their partisan ideology into our intellectual research and methods. 

When one thinks you have seen just about every crazy action one can imagine, the Republicans in Congress add to the foolishness and now aim to hurt our nation’s efforts to advance our knowledge, gain key insights, and encourage unbiased science and research. Our national security is based on our economic strength and on our advanced and growing Science & Technology research. Playing with it and aiming to thwart the non-political unbiased intellectual development of our society is dangerous and shortsighted.

Sequester and National Security: Will We Ever Learn?

National_Security_Agency_sealBattleships and other assets at sea, Air Force planes overseas, Marines on land and sea, and not least, diplomats abroad, many in dangerous posts, trying to ensure peace and security, American interests and our citizen’s well-being, along with aid workers helping to save children in danger and distress; you all now have less to work with in a still dangerous and unpredictable world. 

For the Department of State does it mean less security at Embassies? The Republicans in Congress were all over the administration about the attacks on Benghazi, but happy it seems, to put our entire diplomatic missions at threat because of possible cuts in security, intelligence gathering, and other security related programs? Hypocrisy by the crazy GOP in Congress is on high, at the cost of endangering our service people and diplomats abroad. So much for real moral acts and responsibility!

For the Department of defense it means a cut of some $46 billion and some 9.4% in FY 2013, but really an average of 13% excluding the protected military pay, over the next seven months. It also means likely unpaid furloughs for as many as 800,000 civilian workers due to no fault of their own.  Also delayed are deployments of our forces and a decreased maintenance on ships, planes and armor. Many experts think that this kind of cut is possible in our over funded military budget, but this is NOT the way to do it…….a scalpel to unneeded programs yes, not a meat clever to all despite their importance or need. As the Financial Times said today, “It is hardly an ideal moment to become a US defense secretary.”  Its editorial headline included the comment: “Chuck Hagel’s biggest problem will be Congress,” and I would concur with this insight. The FT calls for Congress to give discretion over where the cuts fall. To this I concur.

Congress left town yesterday and will hold an uneventful White House meeting after House Speaker Boehner made it clear that there would be no compromise on raising revenues. His Tea Party base was very happy to see the draconian cuts to our national security, diplomatic, and discretionary domestic budget that helps our poor and unemployed, so that the rich could enjoy their wealth even more fully.

In a larger perspective, it hurts our national security. This silly action by the Republicans has made both our friends and allies as well as our competitors and opponents wonder about our resilience, wisdom, and commitment. This is NOT good. At the moment when Secretary Kerry is trying abroad to solve or, at least improve numerous challenges in “danger” spots and to confront very intractable conflicts many, which require added resources, when there is much less in our “tool box” and less respect for our word and leadership, even while the U.S. undertakes new initiatives to solve, with our allies and friends, the key issues of the day.

Finally, the impact on domestic growth, unemployment, investment in science and technology, health care, and infrastructure will impact the fundamental basis of our national security, especially if the sequester continues for more than a few weeks.  So, hold your hats and reflect on the meaning of all of this.  

After reading this article, be sure to look at our Student National Security-Foreign Policy Solutions Essay Contest page to submit your essay today!