Founder Elbridge Gerry declared that “A standing army ... it’s an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure.” His insight led to the delegation to Congress of responsibility: “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” The limitation of two year appropriations has been ignored since 1904.

Today, Congress regularly violates this clause and authorizes annual defense budgets equal to nearly 3.4 percent of the gross domestic product and commits to decades long acquisition budgets.

This allows for the maintenance of 11 super carriers. Three more have been ordered, each costing in excess of $13 billion dollars to build and $2 billion to maintain annually. One super carrier built and maintained for four years would pay for the Ike Dike. Mostly the behemoths have, as Gerry forecast, been used for foreign adventures from the Middle East to Sudan.

They haven’t served as a deterrent to our most likely adversaries, terrorists.

We maintain an Air Force of the most sophisticated bombers and fighters. The F-35 fighter program will cost $1.5 trillion dollars. Thousands of these fighters will be built to fight no significant adversary. The Russians spend $47 billion to maintain 4,000 aging aircraft and the Chinese $151 billion to maintain a similar fleet.

Our defense budget of $647 billion maintains 13,000 aircraft. Our principal active adversaries, terrorists, have only drones and tactical missiles.

Our Army maintains an armada of about 10,000 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks at a purchase price of about $90 billion. None are deployed in defense of our Canadian or Mexican border. Most sit in Europe or Asia waiting for the unlikely outbreak of war. They mostly are used in foreign adventures.

The Constitution requires Congress approve all spending, but they have abrogated that responsibility and allowed presidents to shift funds to programs whether they’re approved or even disapproved by Congress. Recently, the current president shifted billions from defense to provide for the partial construction of a border wall.

He promised that Mexico would pay for it. When they declined, he asked the American taxpayer for the money, the Congress declined. Under a theory known as the Unitary Executive, he simply took the money away from the Defense Department to build the wall. Among the projects affected were: hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, defense of Eastern Europe against Russian threats, cyber security programs, ship maintenance programs, and, ironically, new middle schools for the children of active duty personnel.

Canceling one extra super carrier would have paid for a finished wall, as if that would be useful against terrorists. Canceling another would protect the oil and natural gas facilities in Texas City. Reducing the F-35 program by half would protect most of Manhattan from the next super storm. It’s his choice to follow the instructions of Congress or to allow our defenses against climate to continue to deteriorate.

Dan Freeman is an occasional columnist for The Daily News.

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(72) comments

Carlos Ponce

Military budgets should be scrutinized but the need for a military is something specified in the Constitution and the military was decimated during the last administration. Don't build another carrier? While China is building up their navy with new modern carriers based on stolen US tech? Bad idea.

"Recently, the current president shifted billions from defense to provide for the partial construction of a border wall." Which was legal under Congressional authority signed by a previous president (10 USC 284). The Supreme Court also ruled this was legal in Trump v Sierra Club.

"He promised that Mexico would pay for it." Mexico is aiding the United States by sending troops to its own southern border to stop immigrants from Central and South America and also Asia, Africa and the Middle East. They have also agreed to keep immigrants already there on their side of the border. Many give up and return home. Put a monetary value on what Mexico has done.

Wall construction has curbed illegal entry from immigrants, human smugglers (especially smuggling of children used in sex trafficking), and drug traffickers. The walls have been constructed at the more popular "crossings" but there are still many gaps to fill. Money is needed to build more barriers. Now Mexico needs more conviction to stop the drug cartels. The problem is that drug money from the United States is often the chief source of income for many communities in Mexico so locals are reluctant to cooperate. Americans can help by not purchasing these illegal drugs. But stupid is as stupid does and taking these dangerous drugs is definitely stupid. Their use exacts a toll on job productivity, human lives and place a burden on emergency rooms.

Jim Forsythe

The federal government can legally invoke eminent domain, but if Trump tries to do so for the border wall, he could very well face a fight. Landowners could sue, as they did after Bush’s order, to keep the government from taking their land. Those lawsuits could last for a long time Of the 334 eminent domain lawsuits that were filed in South Texas under the Bush administration, about 70 of them are still pending. These numbers will swell, if eminent domain is used this time.

One likely source of resistance will be the people who own land along the US-Mexico border where Trump wants the wall to be built. Taking a Texans land without a fight,will not happen.

What are the landowners doing to prepare to fight eminent domain ?

Landowners are conducting their own fight as some are selling shares of their border land to groups. As in one has 150+ owners on its deed. This is how you stop eminent domain. This has worked in the UK—dividing up ancient historic estates into 1ft sq blocks sold around the world to keep it safe from developers who would destroy it.

Carlos Ponce

"Landowners could sue, as they did after Bush’s order, to keep the government from taking their land." They can sue for the amount of remuneration but not to keep the property in question.

Jim Forsythe

Of the 334 eminent domain lawsuits that were filed in South Texas under the Bush administration, about 70 of them are still pending.

Carlos Ponce

That information was posted by WAPO in January 10, 2019 based on information through December 2018. But like the article states, "mostly regarding payouts". Many have been resolved in over 10 months of litigation. In the meantime, construction continues "building with permission from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, before negotiating how much it would pay for the land under the fence."

https://www.mintpressnews.com/despite-budget-shortfall-for-wall-government-buying-up-south-texas-land/229081/

Carlos Ponce

"NPR looked at the more than 300 fence cases in Hanen's court. Two-thirds of them have been resolved. Most of them took about 3 1/2 years, and most were under an acre. The median settlement works out to $12,600. On the high end, the Nature Conservancy got $1.1 million for 8 acres.

Elisa Tamez (professor UT Rio Grande) (81) - "Her case — United States of America v. .26 Acres of Land — dragged on in Hanen's court for seven years. She knew how it would end. In federal condemnation cases, whether for dams, highways or national parks, the government almost always wins."

https://www.npr.org/2017/02/23/516895052/landowners-likely-to-bring-more-lawsuits-as-trump-moves-on-border-wall

Dan Freeman

I do not usually comment on columns I have written. However, Mr. Ponce raises the issue of the Chinese navy. Currently it has one active carrier the Liaoning. It is a conventional carrier based on a Russian design. They have only one nuclear carrier planned but not yet launched. It is of unknown capabilities.

We have 10 conventional carriers, 11 active nuclear carriers and 3 under construction.

Carlos Ponce

"China is on schedule to have four carriers by 2025." "Chinese shipbuilders have also begun the construction of three amphibious assault ships — 40,000 ton warships approximately the same size as the French carrier Charles De Gaulle. The warships are highly similar to the U.S. Navy’s America and Wasp class amphibious assault ships, almost identical in size and appearance."

ttps://thediplomat.com/2018/06/will-china-have-7-aircraft-carriers-by-2025/

Both the America (LHA-6) and the Wasp (LHD-1) are amphibious assault ships that handle aircraft. To the average person they look like small aircraft carriers.

Carlos Ponce

https://thediplomat.com/2018/06/will-china-have-7-aircraft-carriers-by-2025/

Gary Miller

Carlos> Our 3.5 % of GDP spent on defense is a bargan compared with what other countries spend. NK spends over 30% of GDP, Russia and China 15 + %, Iran over 20%. One rule of nations is weakness invites invasion. If they can't protect themselves they must have friends who will protect them. Our 3.5 % of GDP protects us and a lot of friends.

Emile Pope

As usual, what you wrote is totally false...

Bailey Jones

What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road? The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated. The worst is atomic war.

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty.

It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

- some old dead white guy

Carlos Ponce

Sounds like the same arguments made by those who sought to keep us out of World War II. Then we were attacked on December 7, 1941. Peace would be nice. Just convince the rest of the world. Unilateral disarmament is an open invitation to be attacked.

Bailey Jones

Yeah, well - what does Eisenhower know about war anyway?

(BTW - you entirely missed his point.)

Carlos Ponce

Let me repeat since you missed my point, " Peace would be nice. Just convince the rest of the world. Unilateral disarmament is an open invitation to be attacked."

Carlos Ponce

By the way, you left out much of Ike's speech for brevity like "No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow nations." That sounds similar to what I posted.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones> All due respect those pretty, descriptive, references concerning the welfare of people and mankind itself are admirable. However sir, need I remind you that we do not....DO NOT...live and exist in a utopian society where everything is lovely, prosperous, where love is practiced by all men, and daisy flowers are passed out with a smile!!! Like I said, pretty analogies you presented to be sure, but unreasonable under the situations and circumstances, temptations, and tribulations which people of the world are required to live with due to a mankind being corrupted many, many years ago. We live in a world where a common enemy to all nations goes about DAILY, as a roaring lion, seeking those he might corrupt or kill. My point, we need a military, and we need one being the best and with better equipment than any in the world, and we need all mighty GOD, HIS POWER, AND HIS WORD, to come out as the winner in our struggles! Your Honor,....The Defense Rests!!!!!

Ray Taft

President Trump is doing a great job for America. Trump is fulfilling his promises, despite the Democrats unreasonable opposition to anything Trump. Trump is showing America that the things the establishment said could not be done; can be done. Trump is making the establishment look like the clowns they are.

Trump wants to bring our troops home along with all our military hardware. We may need them here in America.

One reason we need a strong military is because of the coup treasonous Democrats and the treasonous deep state are waging against President Trump and America. We may need internal military action to counter the corrupt FBI, DOJ, State Department and the other treasonous government workers in our government.

Hopefully, patriots in our government will step up to bring the corrupt criminals in their midst to justice, and America will vote out all Democrats everywhere. America must drain the deep state swamp and oust treasonous Democrats before military action becomes necessary to secure our Republic.

Craig Mason

Are you seriously advocating using the US Military against its own people??? Our Sons and daughters who so bravely serve being made to police and or possibly kill their own people??? We live in the greatest democracy in the world because of the rights we possess as citizens. I am not sure what color Kool Aid you are drinking but I strongly disagree with the notion of military action against citizens of the USA!

Paul Hyatt

Actually we live in a Republic, not a democracy....There is a difference....

Carlos Ponce

The topic came up in a 6th grade Social Studies class. Republic or Democracy? The answer to the inquiry was found in the Pledge: "....and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands...."

Curtiss Brown

Lame old saw. Yes, we live in a Republic but so do the North Koreans. The difference is democratic principles. Russia is a Republic, Botswana is a Republic, Mexico is a Republic, Saudia Arabia is a Monarchy, so what. The democratic principles is what makes this Republic great.

Carlos Ponce

North Korea - socialist state and a totalitarian dictatorship

Curtiss Brown

Carlos, that is your personal assessment and not reality. You can call North Korea a Water Buffalo if you wish, but it is still a republic. North Korea calls itself a republic. You know it is not a monarchy. It’s a nasty place, yes, but that is the point. Calling the United States a republic is like saying the sun shines on the land. Republics are everywhere. What makes them different is the level of democratic principles. Korea has few or even no democratic principles but it is still a republic. Thank goodness for our country’s democratic principles and democratic institutions. That is what makes this republic great.

Carlos Ponce

Craig posts, "Are you seriously advocating using the US Military against its own people??? Our Sons and daughters who so bravely serve being made to police and or possibly kill their own people???" This has already happened in 1861. Are you suggesting President Lincoln should not have sent troops to "kill their own people"? Brother against brother, father against son. It happened. It wasn't pretty. But many believed - necessary. The Civil War was fought to put an end to the rebellion in the South. There is an attempted "coup" going on as advocated by the so called "whistleblower's" attorney. Mark Zaid: "#coup has started. As one falls, two more will take their place. #rebellion #impeachment". The modern day "rebels" have aligned themselves with some military brass and the deep state. But the majority of military troops remain loyal to the president. You will find an overwhelming number of active duty and retired military who will vote Trump in 2020 - just like they did in 2016. GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS!

Craig are you a "rebel" or a patriot?

Gary Scoggin

What’s going on is not a coup by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a constitutional process.

Carlos Ponce

Then Why, Gary Scoggin is the anti-Trump Left calling it a "coup"?

Craig Mason

Apples and Oranges Carlos.

Carlos Ponce

Apples and oranges? Somebody give Craig a fruit salad!

The Anti-Trump Left is calling it a coup, that's a FACT! No fruit involved.

Bailey Jones

It's that orange colored KoolAid.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Let us hope it is the same Kool-Aide that gave us the original cliche'; that which the late members of the People's Church drank in Guiana. Mr. Taft and Carlos have finally demonstrated something that I have not understood for over 40 years: who were the people that were cheering on the National Guardsmen at Kent State?

Sharon Stratman

Whoa.

Charles Douglas

Wait!! Wait!! Are we talking war? Gorilla, Revolutionary, Urban, or Straight Up Ghetto? [beam]

Gary Miller

Ray> I've kept a list of the "criminals" trying to overthrow the Trump administration. My list has over 100 Democrats who have violated felonies by their own admission or discovery by investigators. This 100 is I suspect less than half the number of Democrats involved. I also suspect less than half will be held to account. Why so few. They are lawyers who follow the Clinton way of preparing a cover up before breaking the law. They use the law to break the law. Buying the loyalty, with money or position of power, of all who might investigate them is a second Clinton policy. Which is the greatest danger? The law breaker or he who looks away.

Bailey Jones

This is a great thread - it so perfectly illustrates political discourse in the Age of Trump.

The US military budget is larger than the next 6 largest military budgets in the world, COMBINED. (Or larger than the next 10 combined, depending on whose numbers you use.) We spend more than 2.5X what our largest competitor, China, spends (or more, depending on whose numbers you use). We spend 10X what Russia spends. (Number 3 after the US and China is Saudi Arabia.)

So, it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask the question, "are we maybe spending a little too much on our military?"

But when that question is asked, conservative responses range from the absurd, "NO UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT!!!", to the insane, "Trump needs the army to vanquish his political enemies!!!"

Ray Taft

President Trump does not need the army to vanquish his political enemies. Trump vanquished the do-nothing Democrats all by himself. Trump got elected president fair and square and is doing what he said he was going to do and what the establishment said couldn’t be done.

The Democrats and their cronies have misused the FBI, DOJ, CIA, State Department and Congress to run a coup on President Trump and America. Unless patriots in our government bring Democrats to justice, then America might need the army to stop the coup.

The never ending impeachment hoax being run by the Democrats is so full of Schiff and nothing else!

Charles Douglas

[thumbup][thumbup]

Gary Scoggin

It’s not a coup. That’s just silly talk.

Jim Forsythe

Gary, it's a chicken coup.

" Unless patriots in our government bring Democrats to justice" and these patriots would be?

What was Trump "going to do and what the establishment said couldn’t be done."?

"The never ending impeachment hoax" TV coverage starts next week for all to see, at that time all will be able to hear what happened. If a person agrees that Trump did wrong, they will be able to use this to help decide if they are going to vote for him.

Part of what will happen is it will make it clear that it did happen. A hoax is a falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth. One may not think is not bad enough for Trump to be impeached, but that does not make it a hoax.

Gary Scoggin

Jim.. you make too much sense for the zealots. They prefer to stick with a convoluted conspiracy that can’t be explained in less than a thousand words.

Carlos Ponce

Not a coup? Then why is the anti-Trump Left calling it a "coup".

Carlos Ponce

"chicken coup" (SIC) Chicken have coops, not coups. I wonder if Jim has a coupe. "She's my Little deuce coupe, you don't know what I got..."

Gary Scoggin

If the “anti-Trump left” (whomever that is) are calling it a coup, then they are wrong to. When the military marches into the Oval Office, arrests the President, and instills an unelected leader -all without Constitutional processes - then we will have had a coup. Until then, it’s silly talk.

Jim Forsythe

Gary, the “anti-Trump left” is anyone that does not agree with everything that Trump does!

Carlos Ponce

"If the 'anti-Trump left' (whomever that is) are calling it a coup, then they are wrong to." Agreed! I suggest any civic minded Liberals all tell them to cease and desist.

Jim Forsythe

As Gary said, "When the military marches into the Oval Office, arrests the President, and instills an unelected leader -all without Constitutional processes - then we will have had a coup. Until then, it’s silly talk."

Carlos Ponce

What Jim and Jerry describe is a MILITARY COUP. Not all coups are military. This is more of a DEEP STATE COUP run by upper echelons of the Obama administration - Comey, Brennan, Lynch, etc.

Jim Forsythe

Which is it, a bloody MILITARY COUP or a COUP ran by people not in office, former President Obama, CIA chief John Brennan. former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI director Comey. It's amazing that you think that these people out of office, could do what you suggest.

When we started with a flawed candidate that many voted for because they did not want to vote for Clinton. Then add in all that Trump has done, we end up with a impeachment proceeding. If you were surprised, why?

Ray said, " One reason we need a strong military is because of the coup treasonous Democrats and the treasonous deep state are waging against President Trump and America. We may need internal military action to counter the corrupt FBI, DOJ, State Department and the other treasonous government workers in our government" Sounds like a bloody MILITARY COUP.

Carlos Ponce

SEEP STATE COUP, Jim. " It's amazing that you think that these people out of office, could do what you suggest." Amazing but true.

Jim Forsythe

I forgot that you are still waiting on the indictments. These people are no longer in office, and nothing has happened to them. What's the delay? Could it be lack of evidence? If the people you listed are doing wrong, why have they not been charged?

Two more days until the impeachment process is on TV. When are these people trials going to be in TV, to hold them accountable for whatever you think they did?

Actions are taking place against Trump, when will the actions against them happen?

Carlos Ponce

"What's the delay? " Be patient, Jim. They're coming.

Jim Forsythe

It does not take that long for indictments! How many years have they not been in the Government? We are almost in Trumps 4th year, and some are still blaming stuff on the group you are talking about. Is this group responsible for the call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky?

Carlos Ponce

"It does not take that long for indictments!" posts a man who has never worked to formulate an indictment. [rolleyes]

Jim Forsythe

How long has it been since this group did whatever you think they did?

The Statute of Limitations for a federal crime (other than a capital offense) is 5 years from the date of the event, or if it is a conspiracy, 5 years from the last act in furtherance thereof.

What is reality on the length of time it normally takes for an indictment to be issued?

All things being equal, the state will normally move reasonably quickly to issue a warrant or indictment. The farther away from the alleged crime that the indictment comes, usually the worse for the government. That's because witnesses move, forget details, lose interest in the case, etc. Since the government has the burden of proving its case, it would want to maximize its chances at winning. That means that they will normally act pretty quickly to issue an indictment.

Sometimes the government WILL wait, but usually not for long. Further investigation may need to be done, including witness interviews, forensics testing, etc. Sometimes a witness is injured or unavailable to testify, so the government will wait. But, absent these sorts of factors, an indictment will usually come out pretty soon after the alleged crime is discovered.

Carlos Ponce

"How long has it been since this group did whatever you think they did? The Statute of Limitations for a federal crime (other than a capital offense) is 5 years..."

2016. Let me do the math for you, Jim. 2016 + 5 = 2021.

Jim Forsythe

You are saying whatever you think they did, happened at the end of 2016? When did they do, what you think they did?Most indictments would have been issued within this period of time. Weak cases tend to be issued at the last minute or not at all.

Carlos Ponce

When it comes out, sit down with your favorite beverage, open your mind, evaluate the information. It looks like you are going to reject their investigation before you've heard anything.

Jim Forsythe

How can I reject anything, when I have no idea what is being investigated. Wednesday,make sure you, sit down with your favorite beverage, open your mind, evaluate the information.

Carlos Ponce

"How can I reject anything, when I have no idea what is being investigated." We all want to know.

About Wednesday, do you REALLY want to watch that rerun (William Taylor)? I'd rather see reruns of JAG on KPRC-2. They're coaching Marie Yovanovitch to cry during her testimony. I wonder if she will. Bets are being taken as to the time she will cry. Do you think Bill Taylor will cry also?

Jim Forsythe

"How can I reject anything, when I have no idea what is being investigated." and as I said, that until I know what the investigation facts are, I have no way of evaluating the facts.

Of all days, Veterans Day, attacking a veteran.

Two Americans that have spent their adult life in the service of the USA. As Marie weeps for our country, we should all be grateful for her. for taking the steps she has, to help sort out the truth.

Carlos Ponce

"Of all days, Veterans Day, attacking a veteran." No one is attacking a veteran. That's only in your mind. You want to see someone attacking a veteran? Re-read Jim Forsythe's attacks on General Michael Flynn. Now THAT'S an attack!

Jim Forsythe

Big difference in the two. Flynn is a convicted felon, for crimes against the USA, and William Taylor is not.

After Taylor graduated from West Point, he served in the infantry for six years, including tours of duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and 18 months with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. Taylor was a rifle company commander in the 506th Infantry Regiment (United States) of the 101st Airborne. He earned a Bronze Star Medal, and Air Medal with 'V' for VALOR for heroism. Later, he was an aero-rifle commander in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (United States) in Germany.

Flynn would hold the job less than a month, resigning from the post after he misled Pence and then-chief of staff Reince Priebus about his conversations with Kislyak in which they discussed US sanctions against Russia.

Flynn communicated with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak after being asked by a senior Trump transition official to find out how foreign governments stood on a coming UN Security Council resolution about Israel.

Flynn told the judge he has not been coerced to plead guilty or been promised a specific sentence.

In a statement, Flynn said he acknowledged that his actions "were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

Carlos Ponce

Jim continues his attack on a recognized hero, a US veteran. He only plead guilty to protect his son and because the trial left him broke. Even the FBI agents who interviewed him said HE DID NOT LIE. This is not over.

Carlos Ponce

And what veteran do you allege I attacked?

Carlos Ponce

The statement, "no unilateral disarmament" is not absurd. The enemies of the United States would love us to unilaterally disarm. The only thing that keeps our enemies at bay is the idea that if they do anything to us we will retaliate swiftly with reciprocal force.

Bailey Jones

It's a straw man, Carlos. A logical fallacy. And it's nonsense. No one - but you - mentioned disarmament.

Charles Douglas

Disarmament!!!!! Dems want all our guns! Not just the 15s and Aks. Recipe for another fight ....

Bailey Jones

OK, you and Charles.

Charles Douglas

LSU by 10!!! Bama has a problem Mr Gray! Better get your diet coke and M&Ms ready. Get that coke in the cans, not the bottles! [offtopic]

Gary Scoggin

I hope you’re right, Charles.

Charles Douglas

Yea we took Alabama, and..and we are not dodging anyone. If the Cowboys and Dak want some, then let the come on down to the SWAMP! We not dodging anyone!!! We do need to improve on our tackling a little bit ....and our pass rush, before we take on Tom Brady, and New England, but other than that...we are good to go![beam][offtopic]

Gary Scoggin

An exciting game to watch! I was happy to see LSU beat Alabama. But then again, I’m happy to see anyone beat Alabama.

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