Thursday Numbers

If you have to hurt other people to feel powerful, you are an extremely weak individual. – Bobby Mattingly

Welcome to “Thursday Numbers!” In case you’re a first-time visitor, this is the weekly column where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary sometimes sprinkled with sarcasm and humor.

This week’s topics include Trump fundraising, unemployment, Sturgis super spreader, USA coronavirus deaths, Afghanistan & Iraq troop cuts, 2020 Census, Trump’s disapproval rating, Bob Woodward’s new book, NFL Kickoff 2020 – Texans vs Chiefs, VP coming to Montana, and much more!

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Rep. Steve Daines: Montana’s Skies Are Closed

Since July 2008 I have been writing about the proposed Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) that would extend into southeastern Montana. The expanded training area would be used by B-1 and B-52 airplanes from Minot and Ellsworth Air Force Bases in North and South Dakota. Of course other planes from other bases could use the area, too. It would expand to about 28,000 square miles from the current 8,300 square miles.

I have supported the expansion from the beginning.

Unfortunately, the Montana congressional delegation has not supported the expansion for trivial reasons. Who knows, maybe some big donors live in the area and this is their ultimate reason for not supporting the expansion.

Since 2008, elected officials in Montana have basically told anyone and everyone that Montana’s skies are closed. Their backward thinking may have even caused the Montana Air National Guard to lose their jet fighter mission – plus hurt the chances of Malmstrom AFB (near Great Falls) from ever getting another flying mission – or getting an aerospace contractor to relocate to Montana to use Malmstrom’s closed runway.

The Associated Press yesterday reported that freshman Congressman Steve Daines has “asked the Air Force to remove from its plans a vast swath of airspace above southeast Montana, northwest South Dakota and southwest North Dakota.”

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Caught My Eye…

The holidays are quickly approaching – it’s about 43 DAYS until Christmas. OMG!

Since it is Friday and you’re looking for something to do, don’t panic: I have come up with another edition of “Caught My Eye…”

Faithful readers know this is the almost award-winning weekly column where I take a look at some of the stories that I did not have time to comment about during the week. Sometimes I even add a little sarcasm! Psst…It’s a lot more exciting than the Great Falls Tribune’s “The Edge” column on Saturdays…

In this issue, you can find out how your favorite sports star leans in the political world, find out about a new App, see where they found a mouse, try out Google Maps, and much more.

So get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy! Continue reading

Montana: Our Skies Are Closed

As many of my faithful readers know, I am a big supporter of the military. With several years of active duty service under my belt, I follow military and defense issues closely.

Readers may remember my commentaries about the plans to expand the Powder River Training Complex (training airspace) into southeastern Montana. If not, you can catch them HERE and HERE.

To catch you up, the Air Force proposal would stretch south of Interstate 94 from a few miles west of Bismarck, North Dakota, to east of Billings, Montana, and north of Interstate 90. It’s a great area in which our military pilots could train – with plenty of open airspace and low population. Here’s a MAP(PDF).

According to a press release (PDF)  from the Air Combat Command:

The following locations have the potential of being affected by the proposal’s overhead training airspace: Montana–Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations and the counties of Big Horn, Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, Treasure, and Yellowstone.

I am 100% in favor of this plan and believe that it could pay big dividends down the road for future military aircraft missions in Montana, be it from the military or from a defense company looking for a place to train. South Dakota’s leaders, led by Senator John Thune, are all on-board supporting the expansion.

Montana’s leaders are not supporting the expansion and, in my opinion, have all but screwed the state in ever getting a flying mission (or maybe even keeping the one they have). Continue reading