Monday, February 1, 2010

Sayonara, Madame


Remember the House Bank?

The House Bank was literally that, a bank set up for the sole use of members of the House Of Representatives. It was a cozy little place, where all the tellers knew your name--if that name began with "Congressman," that is. In fact it was so cozy, the bank wouldn't even bother you if you happened to bounce a check every once in a while... or even if you bounced several hundred of them, as was the case for a number of mostly-Democratic then-members.

Revelations of abusive check-writing at the House Bank were a major factor in the 1994 wipeout of the four-decade congressional Democrat majority. As many observers noted at the time, congressional abuses tended to be convoluted and obscure from the perspective of average voters--but everybody could understand writing bad checks, and not much of anybody could defend the practice of a government-owned bank letting Congresscritters abuse their privileges.

And speaking (pun intended) of abuse of privileges, here's another scandal that absolutely everybody can easily understand:

Since Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker in 2006, she's rung up millions in military travel expenses to commute between San Francisco and Washington.

Worse still, she also appears to have requisitioned entire flights for the personal use of her children and grandchildren. That is, unaccompanied by any member of Congress, her kids, in-laws and grandchildren are utilizing entire military passenger jets for their routine travel needs.

Check out Doug Ross's full post here, complete with damning documentation. He's got the goods on Madame, and then some. If Pelosi were a Republican and Doug worked for a print newspaper, he could go ahead and make space on his wall for a Pulitzer.

This is a blockbuster story--or at least it deserves to be. It's also a big test for the national media. If they ignore it or try to cover for Madame, that'll be the very end of any residual credibility for the American major media, and an admission that they've devolved into nothing more than mouthpieces for the Democratic Party.

Personally, I expect them to cover for her. But we'll see.

UPDATE: Leftie* blog BLRag quotes DOD directive 4515.12R, notably this section:

C10.5.2.2. Dependents of members of the Congress and employees of the Congress, to permit them to accompany their principal in the 50 United States when essential to the proper accomplishment of the mission, desirable because of diplomatic or public relations, or necessary for the health of the individuals concerned. When reimbursement is appropriate, it shall be at the same rate as applicable to the principal.

... and contends,

That seems pretty clear to me; if it's good PR/diplomacy to have the Congresscritter's family with them, they can fly military air.

Well, if we were talking about Pelosi's husband, I suppose I'd agree.

But we aren't. Besides husband Paul, Pelosi, age 69, has no other legal dependents. Her five children are all well over 21, and grandchildren are not considered dependents of their grandparents except in rare cases (e.g., if they've been orphaned). Claiming adult children or grandchildren as "dependents" on your tax return will get you a nice visit from an auditor, at the very least, and doing so to sneak a relative on a military flight would get a senior (or junior) officer court-martialed. Makes it kind of funny that BLRag closes its post by sneering, "Do some fact-checking, guys."

While Doug Ross has issued a correction to his original post, noting that Pelosi herself was probably present on flights including these family members, Madame is still very clearly abusing her office by having the U.S. Air Force act as the Pelosi family airline. There are legitimate security reasons for the Speaker of the House, her immediate family, and some staff to fly military, but there's no good reason to speak of for the Air Force to be ferrying around every Californian with the name "Pelosi" somewhere in their pedigrees.

A footnote: This is hardly the first time Madame has treated military airlift as her own personal taxi service. When Pelosi visited Iraq a few years ago, she commandeered two Blackhawk helicopters for her "tour." One UH-60 was for Madame and her entourage; the other was to carry all the crap Pelosi bought for herself in the souk.

*On further review, I'm not sure what the heck BLRag's politics are. This is the first time I've ever read there, so the "Leftie" descriptor is stricken until further notice.

12 comments:

  1. they'll be forced to cover it - look for Fox, Drudge, Limbaugh etc. to jump on this story very soon.

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  2. The only way they'll cover it is to cover for Pelosi.

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  3. I'm about the biggest un-fan of Rep Pelosi as there is, but I have a couple of questions. Family of military and most federal employees are entitled to space available ("Space-A") travel on military passenger jets, especially going to and from overseas bases. Does that extend to congressmen's families, and if so, were they simply riding the military airlift command? I hate to come out in her defense, but that could be the issue.

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  4. "... [F]amily of military and most federal employees are entitled to space available ..." Wow. 25+ year DoD civilian and no one's ever told me about that; love to avail myself of the opportunities, can you document?

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  5. Pelosi is entitled to it, as was Denny Hastert after 9/11. It was originally set up as a security measure for high government officials. So, in and of itself, it's fine.

    But she seems to have taken it too far, by allowing her relatives to fly without her present, and by insisting on a 200-passenger plane over a more economical bizjet that can handle the apparent limited number of people traveling with her. It also seems she has attempted to reserve flights just for the sake of holding it, rather than only as truly needed.

    No, these trips weren't "space A", they were set up specifically for travel to and from San Franciso and were not regularly scheduled AMC flights.

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  6. As I understand it, this is not Space-A travel. I believe the Speaker has been requisitioning whole flights for the sole use of her family -- or at least, that is the accusation.

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  7. Corruption, thy name is Pelosi.

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  8. Everytime some leftie tells me that I should cut my consumption, I reply that I am doing just fine, since I consume far less than Obama or Pelosi - and since those two are my heroes, I believe I am doing more than enough for the environment.

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  9. It's like she's part of a, oh I don't know, let's just call it a "culture of corruption." Maybe it's time to "drain the swamp" and get rid of her.

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  10. When did Madame split from Wayland Flowers?

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  11. This looks very bad for Her Highness, indeed.

    One thing I don't get: According to the docs posted on Mr. Ross' website, Pelosi's family apparently were traveling on "official business." Yet, they also had to reimburse the military at the regular coach rate for their flights (coach fare being a small fraction of the actual cost to operate these planes). My question is, if this was truly official govt business, why would they have to reimburse the military at all? And if it wasn't official business, how can they justify letting them on the plane, period?

    I would also be curious to know how efficient the military is in actually collecting these token fares from the Pelosi klan. It would not surprise me if, like in the House bank scandal, the clerks who are ostensibly in charge of collecting the Congress-critters' money are perhaps allowing the Pelosis to nominally incur air fares but not insisting on payment in the strict, consistent way that any commercial carrier obviously would. (This is speculation on my part, but I really wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be another deplorable aspect of the story.)

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  12. Space A travel is only available to military dependents outside of the US. One exception: dependents of POW/MIAS. Pelosi should be skewered for this abuse of power.

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