Montana’s Three Stooges

When I was young, I remember my dad and I watching the Three Stooges on a black and white TV. We’d laugh so hard we almost cried watching their shenanigans.

The stooges “soitenly” did silly things that made us shake our heads.

I was thinking of the Three Stooges the other day, and I think we may have the Three Stooges currently serving in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House representing Montana – I’m talking about U.S. Senators Jon Tester (Moe) and Steve Daines (Larry), and the new kid, U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (Curly).

All three are funny and frustrating in a Three Stooges sort of way.

The stooges have come out against the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) which, in case you have not heard, would extend into southeastern Montana an air training area that would be used by B-1 and B-52 airplanes from Minot and Ellsworth Air Force Bases in North and South Dakota. It would expand to about 28,000 square miles from the current 8,300 square miles that is used for training.

The PRTC has been in the planning stages with officials holding several open meetings and comment periods for the better part of the last decade. On Friday the U.S. Air Force approved it which was like an open-handed Three-Stooges-type slap across the face of the delegation, and then a pull on the nose! This was after several sessions listening to whining and whimpering of Tester and Daines and, before that, former Senator Max Baucus and former Rep. Denny Rehberg. None of those four ever served in the military.

Then along came Zinke – a highly-decorated retired Navy SEAL who based his whole campaign on his military service. Being a fellow veteran, I had high hopes for Zinke.

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Powder River Training Complex: A Hail Mary?

Back in July 2008 I first wrote about the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) and the proposal to expand it 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. 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 been in favor of the PRTC since the beginning.

PRTC will save millions of tax dollars because crews will train closer to home. If the area had been approved in 2013, the Air Force estimates it would have saved $21 million. (Source)

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.

Just last week, the Montana Congressional delegation attempted a “Hail Mary” type blitz. The Associated Press (AP) reported, “Montana U.S. Sens. Tester and John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines told Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a Friday letter that the proposal would stifle economic development and threaten safety in the region.”

That’s absurd.

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Thursday Numbers

Welcome to “Thursday Numbers” which means we are one day closer to the weekend!

If you are a first-time visitor, “Thursday Numbers” is the column where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary (sometimes spiked with a little sarcasm) just to make you smile or to make you shake your head.

This week I write about Hyundai, Montana Cash, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the USAF and Godzilla, unemployment, Turkey, the Preakness Stakes, John Conyers, Casey Kasem, Clinton v. Rove, George Brett, Joran van der Sloot, Big Sky Sampler, and much more!

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Update – USAF/Risch: Dropping the Ball

Back in July (2013), I wrote about the death of Airman 1st Class (A1C) Kelsey Sue Anderson of Idaho, who died at Andersen AFB, Guam, on June 9, 2011. You can read that commentary HERE.

The family of A1C Anderson was getting the runaround from the United States Air Force (USAF) and very little assistance from their United States Senator, Jim Risch.

The family decided to file a lawsuit against the Air Force to find out more about their daughter’s death. The Air Force finally provided them with the requested information. The Associated Press also received information a few months later through a records request.

The AP reported that A1C Anderson “was stripped of her service revolver over mental health concerns, but her weapons privileges had been restored about a month before she used the gun to kill herself.”

A1C Anderson’s chain of command dropped the ball.  Continue reading

USAF/Risch: Dropping the Ball

“She was the light and energy of her family, and she will be greatly missed, especially her beautiful smile.”  Obituary of 19-year-old Kelsey Sue Anderson

Many readers may never experience the heartbreak of losing a child. I can’t imagine the grief that families go through when dealing with the tragedy of a child dying so young. To add to the heartache, the family of Airman 1st Class Kelsey Sue Anderson of Idaho is getting the runaround from the United States Air Force (USAF) and very little assistance from their United States Senator, Jim Risch.

Airman Anderson was a member of the USAF and was assigned duties with Security Forces on the beautiful island of Guam. She had been there about five months before her death on June 9, 2011.

The USAF says that Airman Anderson was “the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from her own service weapon” according to a story from the Associated Press.

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