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February 1, 2010
The Jet SetBy Greyhawk
For those aircraft aficionados out there, thought you might appreciate a look at part of Nancy Pelosi's fleet:
Okay, actually it's yours - she just gets to use it. To fly her family around. On official government business. Anyhow, the little one is a C37 (a Gulfstream V for you civilians) and the bigger one is a C40 - a military version of the Boeing 737-700.
And time flies whether you do or not - witness this story is from three years ago today:
The sources, who include those in Congress and in the administration, said the Democrat is seeking regular military flights not only for herself and her staff, but also for relatives and for other members of the California delegation. A knowledgeable source called the request "carte blanche for an aircraft any time."
And this one was from one week after:
To sort this out a bit, the Speaker's argument, as I understand it, is that there's a terrorist threat ("It has nothing to do with family and friends and everything to do with security," Pelosi said) if she is forced to travel in a smaller aircraft that would have to refuel at any of the red dots along the pink line on this map:
...but her political opponents claimed she was actually just trying to score a bigger aircraft so she could transport her family (and anyone else she wanted) free of charge. Pelosi countered that as far as family travel went, the only reason they had asked about that at all was to make sure they weren't breaking any rules if the Speaker brought her kids along for the ride. (You know, as long as they're using one of those great big airplanes anyway because of the security threat, and all that extra space was just going to waste...)
In the end, Jack Murtha was able to resolve the issue by accusing the Air Force of being behind the "leaks" regarding Pelosi's "travel plans," and warning them they had best shut up if they knew what was good for them:
While apparently aimed at the military, Murtha's unsubtle reminder of just who held the purse strings controlling all that taxpayer money was heard loud and clear outside the Pentagon, too.
But apparently over the intervening years someone either figured out that the rules did allow Pelosi's children and grandchildren to fly, or they (or she) simply re-wrote the rules.
Rules can be changed, after all. For instance, at that time, military dependents were forbidden to travel on military aircraft (even if space was available) within the United States (unfair government competition with domestic airlines was the explanation I recall), but a late-2007 rule change allowed it if the military member was deployed.
Update - ah, here's the rule:
Members of the speaker's family cannot fly unless the speaker makes a request in writing. The Pelosi family has to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of a coach ticket per person for the travel, as well as for any food.
The question is: are taxpayers okay with that?
Next: DoD re-writes Congressional Travel Rules
Posted by Greyhawk / February 1, 2010 1:22 PM | Permalink
No, you can not have a fee ride home. No, you can't bring the kids. While accepting their newly-acquired role as "shuttle service" for the Speaker of the House, the Department of Defense is attempting to draw a line in the sand regarding congressional ... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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