Thursday Numbers

Thanks for stopping by The Western Word for another great edition of “Thursday Numbers!”

If you are a new visitor, this column is where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary (sometimes laced with just a little sarcasm).

PLEASE NOTE: By reading this column you may be able to use the information to impress your family, friends, and co-workers. Consider this your warning.

This week I write about debt, immigration reform, unemployment, Democratic and Republican Twitter followers, 564th missile squadron, Montana Democratic Party convention, Pioneer Baseball League, prescription drug use, F-15s, political party unfavorable ratings, Tony Soprano, Game 7, U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, and much more!

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Politics 2012: Polls, START, Trump, & Spelling

We made it to Wednesday, congratulations!  This afternoon it’s officially acceptable to start thinking about and planning your weekend!

Today on The Western Word (TWW), I talk about the latest poll results, the START Treaty debate, Independent Candidates getting a small break, Clinching, the Trump factor, the Polish issue, spelling, and much more!

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Start Treaty: Senate Should Delay the Vote

The United States Senate (the lame-duck version) will probably vote on the new Start Treaty sometime this week (It will need two-thirds of the Senators present voting for it to pass, which is normally 67 Senators). Supposedly this would be a first as no major treaty has ever been ratified during a lame-duck session.

It appears Montana’s two U.S. Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, will vote for it.

It’s easy to say that a vote for the new Start Treaty by Senators Baucus and Tester is basically a vote against the future of Malmstrom AFB, but on a much bigger scale, it is a vote against the future security of our Nation.

The Treaty needs more debate and there are several questions that need answered.

It appears we have given up the farm in these negotiations. President Obama’s goal is to do away with nuclear weapons. This New Start Treaty gets the ball rolling, first by cutting the number of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) from the present 450 ICBMs to 420, and maybe even less – maybe even a whole base or two will get the ax.

Currently, there are three ICBM bases left (Minot in North Dakota, F.E. Warren in Wyoming, and Malmstrom in Montana). They have 150 ICBMs each, which totals 450. In 2007, Tester and Baucus allowed 50 missiles to be taken from Malmstrom to bring the base down to its current level of 150. Local military supporters basically turned the other cheek.

ICBMs are an important leg of the strategic triad that works.

Since the 1960s, ICBM missile sites have dotted the landscape across these states. They are relatively cheap to maintain. These missiles are a deterrent to an attack from Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, or any other nation who feels the need.

Some people who follow this issue believe the New Start Treaty actually allows Russia to increase their nuclear stockpile while the United States will be required to reduce theirs. Some people believe it prevents the United States from deploying a missile defense (why are defensive weapons even being considered in this Treaty?) Others believe the verification portion of the treaty is harmful to the United States.

There are just too many issues with the New Start Treaty for the Obama Administration to push it through the lame-duck Senate the week before Christmas.

Instead of trying to ram this through like they did the healthcare bill, it would be in the United States best interest if they would hold off on this vote until questions are answered and most everyone feels it actually is in the best interest of the United States.

We’re All Alright?

I’ve been traveling the last few days and hadn’t had a chance to comment on some of the stories in the news. But I am back now and ready to offer some commentary.

First up are a couple of defense stories I read:

According to a recent story in the Great Falls Tribune, local and Federal officials who follow Malmstrom AFB apparently believe they will only lose a few missiles under the new START Treaty. Supposedly, each of the three missile bases will lose 10 missiles. Supposedly.

Of course, Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are taking credit for Malmstrom only losing a few missiles, which have not been removed, yet. I guess we should give them credit for that and for allowing the DoD to take the 50 missiles in 2007 (and about 500 jobs). So, good job guys!

The other story that caught my attention was the Montana Air National Guard becoming “operation capable” with their F-15s. I love to hear the F-15s flying overhead (day or night), although our delegation does not seem to want to open up the Montana skies for training.

Congratulations to the members of the Montana Air National Guard, their leadership, former Senator Conrad Burns and others who made this day possible.

But, the most important part of the story was about the plans of the National Guard Bureau to “shift Montana’s F-15 planes to a California Air National Guard unit as early as October 2011.”

Will our “powerful” senators be able to stop it?

450 to 420 to ?

Last week I happened to read an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates regarding the New START Treaty. Gates tells us that the “treaty has the unanimous support of America’s military leadership.”

That’s good to know, but they don’t get to vote on it.

The Obama Administration also plans to throw some incentives (around $180 billion) at the Senate to pass the treaty. The Senate starts working on the Treaty this week in the Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Senator John Kerry. It requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senators present and voting (a quorum being present) to pass.

After reading about six paragraphs into his opinion, I found this nugget of information interesting:

Based on recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we plan to meet the Treaty’s limits by retaining a triad of up to 420 ICBMs, 14 submarines carrying up to 240 SLBMs, and up to 60 nuclear-capable heavy bombers.

As with most people who follow the military, especially those who follow the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) missions, that paragraph raised an eyebrow.

A Washington Post story tells us that “the administration will reduce the 450 ICBMs now deployed with single warheads to 420, and perhaps fewer.”

Currently, there are three ICBM bases left (Minot in North Dakota, F.E. Warren in Wyoming, and Malmstrom in Montana). They have 150 ICBMs each, which totals 450. Continue reading