Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!
On Thursday, I asked my assistant — who is in law school and leaving in two weeks — to take my new assistant to the U.S. Capitol (search) and shoot some "behind the scenes" video for today's GretaWire. To watch the video, click on the link in the video box above.
The U.S. Capitol is getting ready for the thousands expected next week for President Bush's second inauguration and I thought you might want to see the preparations. As you might imagine, there are huge issues of security as well as how to accommodate personal needs of thousands who will attend. The preparation is no simple organizational task. You can watch FOX on inauguration and see the thousands of people ... click on our video and see what the Capitol grounds looked like yesterday. Since I did not shoot the video, I will also click on the icon when the blog gets posted. (Incidentally, before you start sending me e-mails that it is good she is going to law school and not film school, this was her first time with the handy-cam! I have no idea her video talents, but will learn just as you do!) On another video note, if you watched the show last night, you will also know that KFI radio's Laura Ingle sent us some video from the mudslide (search). She bought her camera yesterday, shot the video — her first time — and then "fed" it to us from our satellite truck.
The mudslide continues to create heartache — loss of life and, lesser important, loss of property. Last night we had Diane Hart on from her hospital bed. She got very banged up — broken ribs, vertabrae, arm, etc. She said that her cat, Casper, deserves a bit of the credit for saving her life since he acted "odd" before the mudslide thus giving her some notice that something might be amiss. Many of you have asked me if Casper survived the mudslide (it was also the topic of discussion in our studio after the segment and during the commercial break.) I had my New York line producer ask her and she said that Casper has not been seen. While that is disappointing to Diane, cats are very resilient and you never know ... Casper could show up at his old home (what's left of it) in a week or two.
After Speaker Newt Gingrich's (search) segment on his new book, we agreed to meet and have lunch and talk about lawyers, tort reform, etc. Stay tuned. And, why was Dr. Henry Kissinger in Washington, D.C. on the set with me rather than in New York where he usually is? He was in D.C. for a funeral.
Here are some e-mails. The first ones are about the interview I did two nights ago with Lt. Blanke who has done two assignments in Iraq:
E-mail No. 1
Your interview with Lt. Blanke was riveting. There are not enough superlatives to describe that young man. I could have listened to him for the entire hour.
E-mail No. 2
I don’t know where FOX found that former Marine Officer who had enough time to collect all that positive feedback from Iraqi civilians, but I can tell you that my two grandsons would give you a spirited rebuttal to his comments.
My grandkids are both fourth generation U.S. Marines. One is in Iraq serving as an infantry officer with the 7th Marines and the other is back in the states trying to get his life back together after being shot in the pelvis last year. He is 19 years old and will be crippled for life.
I have absolutely zero interest in knowing that we are doing a good job of winning the hearts and minds of any one or a million Iraqis. U.S. Marines have never been trained to paint the walls of classrooms and should not be humiliated by this sort of duty.
I don’t know what your interviewee did in the Marine Corps, but it could not have been much more than the president of the United States did when he was in uniform. The only thing he did on your show was to disgrace his, and my, uniform. I am glad that he has left the Corps and would have been very upset had I served under him at any time or in any place. After nearly 30 years of loyal service in the U.S. Marine Corps you have presented me with in interview of what appears to be another Armstrong Williams.
You should be ashamed of yourself and go back to the law.
E-mail No. 3
Just wanted to mention something I heard on a newscast recently. While our government pays millions and MILLIONS of dollars for this in Inaugural party (which I don't believe was OK'd by the taxpayers), it doesn't seem to think the life of a lost soldier is worth more than $12,000?
Is this correct? When a soldier loses his/her life in battle, their family is compensated a paltry $12,000? Do we not OWE their children an education? A home? Clothes, food? What is to become of a young bride with small children, who's lost her husband?
If I were President Bush, Congress, or whoever it is that decided it's OK to spend all this money on something as silly as swearing in the president, I'd be ashamed. What about the people that are keeping our President safe, so HE can even BE our President? Are they not worth more than a party?
Greta, please tell me I'm wrong with these figures, and if I'm right, heaven help us all.
E-mail No. 4
I am a whistleblower at United Airlines. I have been fired doing my job. I am now back to work at United Airlines.
United has done everything possible to keep mechanics away from the aircraft. They now have ramp personnel receiving and dispatching the aircraft from the gates. They now have the ramp personnel doing "walk arounds" on the aircraft — this is a maintenance function.
The qualification for a ramp person is a 10th grade education. No drug and alcohol testing is done on these people. A matter of fact, just the other day a mechanic reported to the supervisors that some ramp people were stealing liquor from liquor carts on the aircraft and drinking them in the gatehouse.
As said earlier the company does not want mechanics near the aircraft. This is so we don't find maintenance problems. Although 90 percent of mechanics will not walk around an aircraft unless called out to do so, I continue to walk around aircraft at every arrival. I am well known for finding maintenance problems.
Another issue is the outsourced maintenance to 3rd party stations such as Timco. We have been getting aircraft back with many problems that United mechanics have to correct. I personally seen a B767 come in where an engines boroscope plugs were laying on the inside of the engine cowl. This aircraft flew many flights before this was found. This could of been catastrophic. That aircraft just came out of a 3rd party maintenance station.
If you are not aware, Aircraft mechanics are required to have a license to work on aircraft. All 3rd party stations hire employees that have no aircraft experience. They have one A&P mechanic supervise 10 to 15 non-experienced and sometimes non-English speaking employees who do the maintenance. There are former United mechanics who tried working at these places and don't last a week because of the pressure to do bad maintenance.
I hope I didn't scare you too much, but the truth is the truth. You could probably get a lot of documented info from our union, AMFA. Just go to AMFA8.org That is our local here in Denver. Good Luck with your research.
E-mail No. 5
When are you and Allred going back to CNN? Soon I hope.
Gene and Ruth Duty
E-mail No. 6
Please don't call what Prince Harry did a "fashion faux pas" ... this makes it sound as if wearing a swastika was something he did by mistake, or by accident, when in reality it's exactly what he intended to do.
Instead of asking, "how can he overcome this fashion faux pas," ask, "how can he overcome having made this Nazi-sympathizing statement?"
E-mail No. 7
I work for American Airlines as a mechanic and I can assure you that the airplane is in excellent condition to fly safely. I'm guessing that you were on an evening flight, judging by the condition of the seat, and also that the plane was full. The flight attendant did not know the seat was broken until you pointed it out. What normally happens is that seat is taken out of service or "blocked out" until it is repaired. You probably discovered it was broken as you were being pushed back from the gate. The flight attendants were probably on the last leg of their long day and were a wee bit tired. All the airlines use what is called a minimum equipment list (MEL), that lists all the things that can be wrong with the airplane and still be flown safely. All of the discrepancies are listed in a "log book" and are either deferred to "overnight maintenance" or repaired before the next flight. Minor maintenance items are usually deferred until it can be repaired that night. Just like your car has numerous things wrong with it, it can still be driven safely. It's the only way "all" the airlines can compete in today's airline industry with all the low fares. You get what you pay for. The low cost carriers are the ones to watch out for as they are scratching for every dollar. Trust me, the pilots wouldn't take the airplane if it wasn't safe to fly.
American is one of the few airlines now that does all of their own maintenance "in house", a lot of the other carriers are now farming the maintenance out to overseas companies. These overseas companies do not have the oversight by the FAA that we have. I would be a lot more concerned about the low cost carriers than American Airlines.
Due to my work hours I rarely get to see your show, but am an avid reader of your blogs on the FOX Web site.
Send your thoughts and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET