Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SILLY SEASON ARRIVES SIX MONTHS EARLY....IS IT GLOBAL WARMING?....The continuing flap over Nancy Pelosi's military jet accomodations is so knuckle-draggingly stupid that I can hardly stand to open the newspaper these days for fear of reading about it. But open the paper I did this morning, and it spurs a question. Here's the dope on the larger military plane that everyone is complaining about:

Air Force officials say at least 21 people can theoretically request to use the C-40s....Those who can ask for the planes include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Cabinet secretaries and seven commanders who oversee military operations around the world.

Now, Pelosi claims that she doesn't need a C-40. She just wants something that can get her to California without refueling. But riddle me this: why is it that these supposedly luxurious aircraft are almost exclusively for the use of the executive branch? Is there some reason that the Secretary of Commerce needs the foldout bed and the communications suite but the Speaker of the House doesn't? Why? Ditto for the Joint Chiefs. Seems to me that the top brass in Congress rate these perks every bit as much as the top brass in the executive branch. Maybe we should ditch these things and make everyone squeeze into long-range Gulfstreams.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

Maybe they should all fly commercial. Southwest is fine for everyone where I work, not to mention all my neighbors and family. Help them understand what the real world is like.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 8, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I can't answer your questions Kevin...

Bush just asked for 150,000,000,000 more dollars to waste in Iraq.

How many C-40s is that?

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on February 8, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe they should all fly commercial. Southwest is fine for everyone where I work, not to mention all my neighbors and family. Help them understand what the real world is like."

Word.

But that's only when the budget is balanced.
When it's not? Greyhound.

Posted by: cazart on February 8, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think the perqs more easily flow to those who are appointed instead of those who are elected.

Elected officials have to worry about how things look to the public, at least to some degree.

Posted by: Tripp on February 8, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

She just wants something that can get her to California without refueling.

And why should she have that? Ordinary Joes like me and you have to sit on planes all the time that require refueling. Why should she get the special preference of being in a plane that doesn't require it? It is abuse of power and unethical for her to ask for it.

Posted by: Al on February 8, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Cranky. Screw 'em and their private jets. They're not too good to fly commercial. I also want them to have to take off *their* shoes and have *their* bags searched by clumsy fools.

My!

Funny tho, I don't remember this degree of high dugeon when the Republicans were in charge.

Posted by: pdq on February 8, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

um, the JCS have a pretty credible claim to the communications suite. ditto for the Secs of Defense and State.

I agree though re: the rest of the cabinet.

Posted by: Nathan on February 8, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Through odd quirks of fate I found myself on a plane that was also carrying the Sec. of Education under President Clinton, Richard Riley...twice...both times in coach. Spoke with him both times. Nice guy. Anyway, not all Cabinet secretaries are out there jetting around on military jets.
And that this story about Pelosi is still out there making the rounds should tell everyone just how scared & lost Republicans are these days.

Posted by: Nathan64 on February 8, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: The continuing flap over Nancy Pelosi's military jet accomodations is so knuckle-draggingly stupid that I can hardly stand to open the newspaper these days for fear of reading about it.

Then why are you writing about it? You are only feeding it more energy by doing so.

Keep up your posts about global warming instead. It is the biggest issue facing humanity, it is closely linked to the Middle Eastern oil wars (e.g. Iraq) and energy policy, and there is a whole lot of action going on around it in the Senate and the House and in private industry (e.g. the US Climate Action Partnership), not to mention the usual skullduggery of the Bush administration, for you to blog about.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 8, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
And why should she have that? Ordinary Joes like me and you have to sit on planes all the time that require refueling.

After 9/11, the Speaker has been given military transport for security reasons (Hastert flew commercial before that, as I understand.)

Ordinary Joes can arrange non-stop coast-to-coast (or even intercontinental) flights quite readily. If the security situation is such that the Speaker of the House needs to have military transport, I see no reason why that should mean sacrificing the access to their district that they would have if they were, as before 9/11, flying commercial.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Hastert also given NASA diapers as well?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 8, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

If 21 officials have access to these planes, it would be inordinately odd that the Speaker of the House would not be one of them. She is, after all, third in line to the presidency.

It's strange that no one in the media ever complained about Rod Paige getting use of top-of-the-line military aircraft whenever he wanted it. I wonder why that is.

Posted by: Boots Day on February 8, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Pdq-- Your memory appears to be faulty.

Well, isn't my face red! I just looked back and found dozens of posts by American Hawk, Grumpy and Al that decried, in no uncertain terms, the unconscionable waste of taxpayers dollars by Speaker Hastert by his insistence, nay demand, to be ferried to and fro in his own personal military jet.

I stand humbly corrected.

Posted by: pdq on February 8, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Security" is such a BS excuse for needing specialized transportation. Our political system and government are either designed to or tolerate quite readily the loss of individuals. So long as less than a handful are subject to a systemic failure/attack at any given instant, security is just a waste of insane amounts of money (consider for example, just the cost of maintaining the president's fleet of helicopters).

Posted by: MLE on February 8, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

it's not a flap it is all part of the mighty wurlitzer noise machine smearing pelosi and the corporate whore in the MSM and their willingness to help them.

Posted by: klyde on February 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Given the Speaker of the House's position in the succession to President (3rd, right?), I would think it prudent to make sure that any Speaker is travelling in a secure craft with excellent commms. We can bitch all we want about coddled bureucrats -- and some of them surely are -- but this case is different in kind.

Posted by: eSteve on February 8, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that all of the government owned gulfstreams are already employed on rendition assignment. So they're unavailable.

Posted by: john on February 8, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I have to echo eSxteve. The last thing we want is for the speaker of the house to fly commercial. I don't care about any of the other representatives or senators, but the Speaker is a constitutional office holder right behind the VP in the line of succession. That is why I was never upset about Denny Hastart's use of a military jet. It is completely appropriate.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 8, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Hastert was given use of a C-20, a military version of the Gulfstream III.

Its range, given in this reference, is at least 4,250 miles.

Posted by: Ein on February 8, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

If I were Speaker of the House, I'd want my own jet too. So would American Hawk and Al. It just goes with the territory.

Posted by: tomeck on February 8, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are working really hard to set this into conventional wisdom where it can be referenced by late-night comedians. It's how they're fighting back against their November loss and it's in this area of defining wit that we need to react against them as strong and fast as possible.

It's important to keep track of who writes this kind of story and where it appears, every one of them a Republican stooge whose personal interest is nothing but treason.

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed with several above. The HUD Secr can get the fancy plane, but the person who is two heart beats away from the Presidency cannot?

Whoever is SOTH should have Air Force Three. Period.

Posted by: Disputo on February 8, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

She can stop for gas.

Better yet: the Speaker should be chosen from an original state never in rebellion: NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, DE, MD or WV (since they're the loyal part of an original state).

If you think this is bad, wait until we get a Speaker from Hawaii.

Posted by: alex on February 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's important to keep track of who writes this kind of story and where it appears, every one of them a Republican stooge whose personal interest is nothing but treason.

Moreover, we need to establish our own lines of attack.

Posted by: Disputo on February 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I don't quite understand her gripe about having to stop to refuel. Wouldn't take long, and it would probably happen at a military airfield - Buckley, maybe - so what's the hassle?

Posted by: Susan Paxton on February 8, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

For those lacking the mental acuity or personal integrity to follow the story and comment on it accurately, Nancy Pelosi and her aides have stated that:

1) The size of the plane is not the issue, just the range without refueling. She was informed by the Pentagon that Hastert's plane would not always be able to make it to San Franciso from Washington without refueling.

2) Nancy Pelosi has flown non-stop on commercial flights for years.

3) Nancy Pelosi has said that she will resume flying commercially if that is her only nonstop option -- because as Speaker of the House, she shouldn't have fewer options than a) everyday travelers, and b) those in the executive branch and military who have no restrictions on the type of plane they use when travelling.

This would be in sharp contrast to her predecessor, who in flagrant violation of the ethics rules used the planes to manage personal/political business in addition to official business.

Posted by: trex on February 8, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with the argument supra regarding the posiioning of the Speaker as 3rd in line.

Can envision Speaker Pelosi "squeezing" into an Allen Paulsen Gulfstream - However, wouldn't a C-130 have been more comfortable for Hastert, NASA diapers and all?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 8, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK
Hastert was given use of a C-20, a military version of the Gulfstream III.

Its range, given in this reference, is at least 4,250 miles.

I think its safe to assume that the cited "long range" range for either version is significantly longer than the range without refueling in normal use with usual loads and safety margins.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Man, that word "treason" sure pops off the tongue easily when your guys are the ones in the hot seat.

Face it, the Democrats are settling in to the perks and loot of power as happily as the Republicans did, and it just pisses you off to know that you fell for their election bullshit.

K Street been shut down yet? I'll wait.

Posted by: monkeybone on February 8, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think its safe to assume that the cited "long range" range for either version is significantly longer than the range without refueling in normal use with usual loads and safety margins.

...and head winds.

Posted by: Disputo on February 8, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I read a while back that Dick Cheney's neighbors in Jackson Hole know when Dick is coming, because a C-130 flies in the day before with an antiaircraft missle battery to defend him in case of Al Qaeda attacks. If true, this seems like a way bigger waste of money than flying Hastert or Pelosi to their districts.

Posted by: fafner1 on February 8, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Face it, the Democrats are settling in to the perks and loot of power as happily as the Republicans did, and it just pisses you off to know that you fell for their election bullshit.

LMAO. The last argument available to the wingnut is to concede that their pals are crooks, but insist that so are the other guys.

Posted by: Disputo on February 8, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Say what you will, it's clear that Dems are actually less ethical than the Republicans. Nothing like this happenened with Hastert. This is just another example of a California liberal expecting taxpayers supprt her luxurious lifestyle. Fly commercial or resign Pelosi.

Posted by: Rock on February 8, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Treason rolls off my tongue in reference to Republicans on most days.

The only reason the Republican party exists is to subvert our government and pervert society. That is the only reason it has ever existed, it was created to do that. The present generation of Republicans are the first not to realize this is wrong and the first not to care if they do realize it.

They achieved the presidency through outright criminality twice and have done everything they can to undermine the basis of our social contract and destroy whatever we have achieved culturally and politically in the world.

Republicans are the antithesis of everything it means to be an American. Their interest is only to wallow in the last ditch of selfishness and whatever cheap gimmick, like exploiting religious quackery, can help them to this end they like to call 'tradition'.

And that's why the word treason occurs so naturally in association with Republicans.

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The White House thinks this is silly, too.

Posted by: harry on February 8, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ditch the treating of government servants as VIP's. They can fly coach like the rest of the citizenry or they can become private corporate big shots and screw over stock holders, but they should not abuse taxpayers as stock holders.

Posted by: Brojo on February 8, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of treason, what is this, if not purposely undermining society?

A study of reported federal investigations of elected officials and candidates shows that the Bush administration’s Justice Department pursues Democrats far more than Republicans. 79 percent of elected officials and candidates who’ve faced a federal investigation (a total of 379) between 2001 and 2006 were Democrats, the study found – only 18 percent were Republicans. During that period, Democrats made up 50 percent of elected officeholders and office seekers during the time period, and 41 percent were Republicans during that period, according to the study.

"The chance of such a heavy Democratic-Republican imbalance occurring at random is 1 in 10,000," according to the study's authors.

You might say this is exactly the way Republicans would expect to be treated if it were the other way around. Except they have no reason to expect that based on any prior history. Their expectation of this kind of treatment has only to do with the way they understand themselves in relation to everyone else.

And that's treason.

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

So, although the Secretary of Commerce is also taking assets away from our men and women in uniform and is only the 10th person in the line of succession to the president, the GOP focuses outrage on the person 2nd in line, and deliberately misrepresents the situation at that.

Well, just goes to show once again that lying and false outrage is SOP for the GOP.

Posted by: Google_This on February 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, while we're on the "treat our public servants just like ordinary joes", why the heck does the President get special treatment with all that Secret Service protection? Why can't he just walk down the street like the rest of us? I don't see why he should be specially privileged to have tax-paid bodyguards.

Lose the secret service or resign, Bush and Cheney...

Posted by: SMurph on February 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK
... why the heck does the President get special treatment ...

Because it's cheaper than running a new election everytime a nut job shoots a top official? We elect officials, and discourage assassinations ... I suppose it's a different sort of campaign reform you're looking for ;)

Posted by: royalblue_tom on February 8, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky nails it uptop as does AHawk

If "they" can`t experience what average/normal citizens have to put up with day to day then "they" don`t deserve to be in their positions.

Grow up !

"Envy is thin because it bites but never eats." - Spanish proverb

Posted by: daCascadian on February 8, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK
Because it's cheaper than running a new election everytime a nut job shoots a top official?

Which might be a remotely reasonable argument if our Constitutional succession procedures called for a new election in that event.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

Unless that study has a similar one done during the Clinton years as a control, it doesn't mean anything.

Of course, it could also just mean Democrats need investigation a lot more than Republicans do...

Posted by: libby on February 8, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

But Nancy, that money you are spending on a new plane could be used to buy us universal health care.

Oh well, guess we will all have to move in with John Edwards so we can put rent money toward paying for our health insurance payment.

I wonder when the Democratic party will have REAL people running the party instead of the wealthy.

Posted by: Orwell on February 8, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm ROTFLMAO watching the wingnuts on here pretend as if the last seven years never occurred.

Posted by: Disputo on February 8, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK
But Nancy, that money you are spending on a new plane could be used to buy us universal health care.

Who said anything about a new plane?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky nails it uptop as does AHawk

If "they" can`t experience what average/normal citizens have to put up with day to day then "they" don`t deserve to be in their positions.

Ummm... Pelosi says if the only option palatable to the delicate sensibilities of the Republicans is for her to have to stop and refuel, she'd rather take commercial:

"(CBS/AP) Addressing a swarm of reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the controversy over her desire to fly in an Air Force transport plane by saying that she would have no problem flying commercially if a secure military plane is not offered.

"I have told them that I will travel cross-country, non-stop commercially as I have done and always done probably — how many times — a thousand times since I've been in Congress, so this will be nothing new to me," Pelosi said.

Looks like she's already "grown up", daCascadien.

Can we anticipate Dick Cheney, and all cabinet members, announcing the same shortly? Or is commercial flight just for Democrats?

Posted by: pdq on February 8, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

This is really a question about efficient aircraft allocation, not whether or not Speaker Pelosi deserves or needs the airlift.

All through the 1990s, the DOD was buffeted by Congressional demands to justify the large fleet of Operational Support Aircraft (OSA) owned by the various military Services. Hundreds of these aircraft were used for various purposes, including travel to non-commercial locations, delivery of spare parts and classified items, even delivery of reconnaissance film for processing, as well as classified transportation of personnel. Decades ago, I myself flew two types of OSA aircraft on various missions. One routine mission was carrying general officers to/from the west coast and Offutt AFB so the generals could rotate manning on SAC Looking Glass missions (the airborne command post). Flying in Europe, I carried the American Ambassador to Berlin twice and once carried the luggage (28 separate bags!) for a European Princess (I won't mention the name) while she flew in a more comfortable aircraft. I also flew scores of missions simply carrying military personnel, not all high ranking officers, to many locations unreachable by commercial travel. Sometimes the passengers were carrying arms and were definitely not on a junket. I also recall that Congresswoman Pat Schroeder took her family on an annual summer trip to the south of France via military aircraft, no doubt to study our military cooperation with the French. Most of these regular Service OSA aircraft aren't really plush, though we always tried to give everyone VIP service - even the Lady in Waiting who accompanied the Princess' bags!

Over the past twelve years, these fleets have been reduced substantially. My office twice participated in Joint Staff studies to determine the minimum number of such aircraft needed for wartime use. In one case, the Army had to give away new aircraft straight from the production line to the Forest Service in order to meet our findings.

A few months ago, I heard that Congress was once again questioning the size of the OSA fleets and demanding cuts. I've got a different job now and some other office got the job of studying the issue this time. Believe me, the Services are sensitive to the issue of VIP travel, especially when being told to get rid of aircraft for Service use.

I should point out that the 89th Wing at Andrews is generally exempted from these studies, largely because most of their business is CODEL, meaning Congress, the White House, or cabinet level VIPs. Still, the Air Force tries to keep the number of 89th Wing aircraft down to a reasonable number and there is a strict priority system for honoring requests for travel. VIPs get out-prioritized all the time and are forced to change their plans, use smaller aircraft, or go commercial. I suspect this particular tempest in a teacup was the result of how the Speaker's people worded the request. If they asked for exclusive use of a C-40, that would essentially make one of four unavailable for anyone else, You can't send one on other missions, lest it break while away and not be available when she needs one and the others are already taken. That would start a mad scramble of CODELs and VIPS getting successively bumped down or non-supported - something the Air Force is intent to avoid, lest they piss someone off.

I suspect that the Speaker might get offered the use of a C-37, Gulfstream V, which can make the trip non-stop. DOD has a small fleet of C-37s for use by the various geograghical commanders. One is in Europe, one at Hickam AFB, HI, and I believe four are based in Florida. They'll probably move one up to Andrews and attach it to the 89th Wing for as long as Ms. Pelosi is Speaker. In the end, they'd rather some four-star go without, than put up with repeated Congressional tantrums.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

libby,

Do you really think that if the Clinton administration had tried to intentionally target Republicans like this Ken Starr wouldn't have been all over it, that it wouldn't have been a central point in the impeachment hearings?

It's only the Republican party that actually has an ideology to corrupt the government.

Posted by: cld on February 8, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

As an aside, I should also mention that regular Air Force transports - C-17s, C-130s, C-5s and the like, are also used by Congress and the White House. This VIP business takes up a not insignificant portion of our airlift allocated to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we try to put these aircraft to dual use and carry military supplies and such along with the VIPs, often that is not possible and the Congress critters get the aircraft all for themselves.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Couple of weeks ago, the Prez took Air Force One from the WH to Wilmington, Delaware (108 miles by road)...for a speech about saving energy. Guess the SS (which calls the shots -- oops, block that metaphor) wanted to avoid IED's on I-95.

Posted by: mle.inside8 on February 8, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another idea that might help the situation with Speaker Pelosi. If two of the C-40 aircraft are owned by the Air National Guard, then they are not always available for CODEL tasking. Under current rules, the ANG aircraft are only available when ANG says they are, not when the Air Force wants them. That means the VIP scheduling office can only count on two C-40s being available at all time, plus whatever sortie availability the ANG offers.

This can all be changed if the ANG unit owning the two C-40s was called into federal service. Then the aircraft would switch ownership to the 89th Wing and could be tasked for missions every day. Of course, we can only keep the ANG unit activated in federal service for two years, but that would give Congress time to appropriate money to buy a couple more aircraft.

I don't think the ANG personnel would particularly like that solution, though.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that the top brass in Congress rate these perks every bit as much as the top brass in the executive branch.

I am not sure that "Congress should be more wasteful than they already are" is the right way to go. Also, did you feel that way when the top brass in Congress were Republicans?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 8, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Couple of weeks ago, the Prez took Air Force One from the WH to Wilmington, Delaware (108 miles by road)...for a speech about saving energy. Guess the SS (which calls the shots -- oops, block that metaphor) wanted to avoid IED's on I-95."
_______________________

More like avoiding small aircraft and the MANPAD threat. 108 miles is a long helicopter flight at low altitude. What with sanitized buffer zones being cleared in front of any Presidential flight, it would disrupt normal traffic in the area for quite some time. Then too, the 89th's B-747 aircraft have better defenses than any helicopter.

Besides, helicopters don't really fly, they rise by beating the air into submission. Any sensible person would use such contraptions only in the most dire of circumstances.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

SILLY SEASON ARRIVES SIX MONTHS EARLY....IS IT GLOBAL WARMING?

Fair enough, but I do so enjoy the jokes. Is there really any good reason why all those fuel guzzling enviro-celebrites can't plant the trees to sequester CO2 in the amount that they generate, instead of nagging those of us who use less fuel than they do? There are logged forests all over the world and workers nearby ready to get to work on reforestation, and the enviro-celebrities have the money and organization to put them to work. Shouldn't they do so? I think they should.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 8, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

If 21 officials have access to these planes, it would be inordinately odd that the Speaker of the House would not be one of them. She is, after all, third in line to the presidency.

It is, in fact, a reasonable request by Pelosi.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 8, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
. I suspect this particular tempest in a teacup was the result of how the Speaker's people worded the request. If they asked for exclusive use of a C-40, that would essentially make one of four unavailable for anyone else

The Speaker's office didn't ask for a C-40, they simply notified the House Sergeant-at-Arms that the speaker would fly commercial if the military transport she was assigned couldn't make the flight non-stop; the Sergeant-at-Arms office urged the Speaker to take military transport as Hastert had, and has been in discussions with the USAF over the availability of some aircraft that could fly nonstop. The discussion of possibilities of particular aircraft was solely between the USAF and the Sergeant-at-Arms office, as has been confirmed by all parties, including the White House.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"The discussion of possibilities of particular aircraft was solely between the USAF and the Sergeant-at-Arms office, as has been confirmed by all parties, including the White House."
____________________

Well, the same things apply, no matter who submitted the request. I can almost guarantee that the Air Force conern is not aimed at Speaker Pelosi personally. Having scheduled limited numbers of OSA aircraft, I can just imagine the action officers' reaction:

"They want what? How often? Exclusive use? Boss, there's no friggin way!"

After the boss agrees that it's a mess, they'd be told to figure something out for the short term. In the long term, some planning office will be tasked to come up with a permanent solution.

Meanwhile, somebody with a big mouth and a contact in the press sticks his or her oar in the water and the crap hits the fan.

And people wonder why nobody wants to get stationed in Washington. Anyone who's served a tour there would rather be deployed in a combat zone.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Among the people who currently are authorized to use Air Force Three is the First Lady. Are our Republican friends really arguing that Laura Bush should have better accomodations than the Speaker?

And Al, if you always have to change planes when flying cross country, you need a new travel agent. Do you really think most people flying DC to San Fran don't fly non-stop?

Where are all the people who always complain about the liberal media when a story like this happens? This story is entirely based on pliant reporters taking down whatever bullshit line the Republicans hand them, and refusing to ask the two or three questions that would put this story to bed. Why are the lead quotes in these stories from Republican congressmen? Roy Blunt is quoted as saying he "heard" that Pelosi demanded a plane with a bedroom. He heard it on Lou Dobbs, for Christ sake.. Why is he even being quoted? I hear stuff on TV all the time. How come no one wants to use me as a source?

Posted by: ChrisO on February 8, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

The final word on this matter from the House Sergeant at Arms:

February 8, 2007

As the Sergeant at Arms, I have the responsibility to ensure the security of the members of the House of Representatives, to include the Speaker of the House. The Speaker requires additional precautions due to her responsibilities as the leader of the House and her Constitutional position as second in the line of succession to the presidency.

In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker Hastert and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi. The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable. This will ensure communications capabilities and also enhance security. I made the recommendation to use military aircraft based upon the need to provide necessary levels of security for ranking national leaders, such as the Speaker.

I regret that an issue that is exclusively considered and decided in a security context has evolved into a political issue.

Posted by: trex on February 8, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

As I see it, it's the hypocrysy of Pelosi. If she
believes in global warming then she should be setting an example for us and using the most fuel efficient aircraft.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on February 8, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever and big whoop. After three months, the crews will be referring to it as the Speaker Express and trading days off for the chance to spend a weekend in San Fransisco. And pols will be kissing ass to catch a ride.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 8, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

How about the temper tantrum Henry Paulsen recently pitched when he discovered that he was expected to fly commercial? Go about the people's business without an taxpayer provided executive jet at his disposal? Why the very idea! He was livid.


'US politics turns on the fortune of some 20-25% of its population; the other 75% are window dressing.'
Chris Sanders. 'The Fortunate Fifth'
http://www.sandersresearch.com/index.php?option
=com_content&task=view&id=1110

Posted by: MsNThrope on February 9, 2007 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, having a fleet of executive jets isn't really necessary. Not that it matters while we're building dozens of F-22s at over $100 million a plane, but for government travelers who don't require Chain of Command communcations suite, it would be cheaper if the government just bought time through Netjets or one of the other fractional jet ownership companies. Of course, if they don't require the communications suite that allows to give military orders-- and its probably wise for the Speaker as 2nd in line to the presidency to have that available-- they could just fly commercial (really if the British Prime Minister can fly commercial when he goes to Miami with his family, its silly that cabinet secretaries or congressmen take an AF 757 to visit Europe).

If you've read Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, after 9/11, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil got back from Asia on the only jet available, an AF C-17 cargo plane. Nothing luxurious about that, if its configured like a C-130 (only cargo plane I've been on) its lined with webbed jump seats, not every comfortable. Endearingly, what stood out to O'Neil (the former chairman of Alcoa) about the flight was the type of alloy used for the cargo pallets.

Posted by: beowulf on February 9, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

secularanimist gets pwned in today's dailyhowler.

keep up the good work, kevin!

Posted by: marc h. on February 9, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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