RUSH: I am watching something and, for some reason, I find this just amazing. I’ve asked Joe up at the audio booth here to get me some audio. The president is announcing federal government plans to deal with the flight delays, the overcrowded planes and so forth, and to listen to him go through it and look at the facial expressions that he’s using. I’m going to have trouble… I’m not laughing. I’m just amazed at this on a number of levels. It’s good and he’s telling the airlines what-for:
The president of the United States is telling the air system how the hell it’s going to run! People are fed up with this. They are totally fed up with it. I hear complaints constantly, and I know that you experience them. Snerdley experiences them. Thanksgiving is what’s driving all of this, the expected number of travelers. Another thing that they’re going to do is order the FAA to open unused military airspace to commercial flights. That will help reduce delays caused by weather and holiday congestion. Have you ever wondered why — maybe you’ve never even cared — let’s say you’re on your airline flight, and you’re either 33 or 35 or 37 and maybe 39,000 feet, you’re never at 32, you’re never at 34. Some of that is military space and they require a thousand feet between flights that are intersecting. It’s east to west and west to east, they determine altitudes, but the even numbered altitudes — somebody that’s an expert will probably correct me on this if I’m wrong — but I think even numbered altitudes are reserved for noncommercial use, military and that sort of thing. Plus certain low altitudes as well are reserved for military, and of course the commercials don’t want to go down there, think you burn up too much fuel flying low. You need to get up there where the air is thin, burn less fuel and cause less global warming because it takes less energy to go through thin air, to fly through thin air.
But it was just fascinating to me to listen to this, the detail with which the president is taking over this system that is out of control. Now, I understand the problem but I have another take on this — or an additional take, not an opposite take. Having to fly anywhere these days is not glamorous like it used to be, it’s not fun. The stress, of course, is heading to the airport, not even knowing if your plane’s going to be there, not even knowing if it’s going to leave on time — oh, that’s another thing. They’re setting up a website. I want to see this work. The federal government setting up a website, the president read off the website. The feds are going to have a website that anybody can go to to determine whether their flight is on time. It’s www.fly.FAA.gov. That’s what it is: fly.faa.gov (interruption) No, can’t crash a federal government server. But people are going to go there and I want to see that work.
If the federal government can keep a website with flight delays updated nationwide, I have to see this happen. The airlines in their own individual websites where you can check and see if a flight’s on time, and sometimes you don’t trust what you see there because you don’t know how often it’s being updated. I want to see this work. But, however, you know, me, folks, I try to find the positive in this as much as I can. We’re heading into the holidays here and we’ve got the usual Drive-By hysteria about safety and congestion, and it’s the biggest travel day of the year. But the fact of the matter is, why is all that a factor? It is a factor because people are spending the money to fly places! People have the money to do that, and they have and are taking the time. People want to go places, they want to see their family or friends, or in some cases get away from their family and friends, but regardless they’re on the move. People are not fearful. They just want the system to work.
So this is a testament here to the growing economy, the fact that the people want to use the air traffic system to get where they’re going and have the money to do it, is what is creating some of this. And, by the way, I think you give the Bush administration some credit for this. Why are so many people flying without fear? Because there haven’t been any more hijackings since 9/11. You gotta put up with a lot of grief when you go check in and so forth, and it’s kind of embarrassing to watch some 80-year-old grandmother get strip-searched, but, you know, it is what it is.
RUSH: I want you to hear these audio sound bites from President Bush today that happened about an hour ago announcing all these new things to try to ease the traffic crunch over Thanksgiving. We have two bites. Here is the first.
THE PRESIDENT: One of the reasons we have a sense of urgency about this issue is that these problems that we’ve been discussing are clear to anybody who has been traveling. Airports are very crowded, travelers are being stranded, and flights are delayed, sometimes with a full load of passengers sitting on the runway for hours. These failures carry some real costs for the country, not just in the inconvenience they cause, but in the business they obstruct and family gatherings they cause people to miss. We can do better. We can have an aviation system that is improved, and that’s what we’re talking about.
RUSH: I think one of the things that amazed me about this was here’s the president standing in the White House today just waiving a magic wand, we’re going to fix this, I’m fed up with all this, I’m fed up with delays, I’m having all these complaints, I’m tired of the news with these people stranded on airplanes on runways for four and five hours; I’m just going to fix it. I will be eager to see it. I hope it does get fixed. Here’s a list of some of the improvements or things that they’re going to change.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to announce a series of preliminary actions to help address the epidemic of aviation delays. First, the military will make available some of its airspace over the East Coast for use by civilian airliners this Thanksgiving. These new routes will help relieve air congestion from Maine to Florida for nearly five full days surrounding the holiday. Second, the FAA is taking new measures to head off delays, a holiday moratorium on all nonessential projects so that the FAA can focus its personnel and equipment exclusively on keeping flights on time. The FAA is also partnering with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to reduce bottlenecks in the New York metro area, which is the source of most chronic delays. Third, the Department of Transportation and the FAA are encouraging airlines to take their own measures to prevent delays. Airlines have agreed to make more staff available to expedite check-in and boarding, to set aside extra seats and even extra planes to help accommodate passengers affected by cancellations and delays. They agreed to bring in additional ticket kiosks and baggage handling gear, as well as rolling staircases. Fourth, the federal government is using the Internet to provide real time updates on flight delays. People in America have gotta know there’s a website called fly.FAA.gov. It’s where the FAA transmits information on airport backups directly to passengers and their families.
RUSH: He also made a big point about the airlines facing consequences if they don’t get people where they’re headed on time. Right now if you miss a flight and you’re bumped off a flight because you’re oversold, they oversold the plane, it’s two hours before you get your next flight, you are compensated with $400. They’re going to double that. The proposal is to double that to $800. Of course, we’re going to get more skycaps. We’re going to get more skycaps, we’re going to have to more ticket kiosks, more baggage handlers. Of course. I’m still trying to get my arms around my reaction to this, to be able to express it to you. Because the problem’s been around for a long, long time and people have been complaining about it for a long, long time. Nobody’s really done anything about it. So here is the president of the United States — this is the equivalent, folks, of fixing potholes in terms of what his job is. But you know what they say about mayors who get the potholes repaired, they get reelected.
I think that if Bush actually pulls this off, if he is able to alleviate all this travel crunch because this really bothers people, if he’s able to get out in front of this and make this work this Thanksgiving, this is the kind of real, applied, visible government success that people want to see. If this works — I know he’s not on the ballot, don’t misunderstand — but it’s going to help in a lot of ways. I know there’s some other things that those who travel a lot commercially and go through these terminals would like to have that the president didn’t mention. Better seats in the airport lounges, more sockets for laptops, charging stations for mobile phones, soundproof rooms for screaming kids so you can get them the hell out of there, but they can only do so much. This is not about comfort in the terminal, because the idea is to get you in and out of the terminal as quick as possible, get you on your airplane, get your airplane to where you’re going as quick as possible, and if they succeed in doing this, mark my words, this is going to foster more goodwill with people than a lot of these nameless, faceless programs that get discussed on a daily basis.
RUSH: All right, back to the phones, to San Francisco, this is John. You’re next on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Good morning, Rush.
RUSH: Hi, John.
CALLER: Or good San Francisco morning to you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Rush, are you familiar with a movie called Oklahoma Crude? It was released back in the 1960s. [sic – 1973]
RUSH: No, I’m not.
CALLER: Okay, there was a great line in there which I think describes Senator Clinton perfectly. Jack Palance says to her, ‘That’s just like a woman. She wants to be treated like one of the boys, and when she is, she cries.’
RUSH: (laughter) See, it’s movie lines like that that gave us Eleanor Squeal and Gloria Steinem and started the feminist movement.
CALLER: Be that as it may, I think it describes Senator Clinton perfectly.
RUSH: Wants to be treated like one of the boys, and when she is, she cries.
RUSH: (laughter) Who else was in this movie? Do you recall?
CALLER: Yeah, Faye Dunaway and Jack Palance and George C. Scott.
RUSH: Wow, what a cast. What’s the name of this again?
CALLER: Oklahoma Crude.
RUSH: Oklahoma Crude — was it a good movie?
CALLER: Fairly good. I think maybe it rates about two and a half or three stars.
RUSH: Any oil spills in it?
CALLER: Yeah, actually —
RUSH: Good, good.
CALLER: — there was. Faye Dunaway’s oil well struck oil, but it was just a pocket and then petered out. She was trying to be driven off her land by the big, bad oil barons which were represented by Jack Palance, and that line came up when they were physically abusing her.
RUSH: Physically abusing her in a movie —
RUSH: — in 1960?
CALLER: And that’s why she began crying.
RUSH: Well, now, wait a second.
RUSH: Now, wait — no woman wants to be physically abused. That’s not what being one of the boys is.
CALLER: Well, back in 1905 when this was supposed to take place, you know, things like that are going to happen. It’s unfortunate, but it does.
CALLER: Or did.
RUSH: Well, no, it still does, but we don’t define that as being one of the boys.
CALLER: Well, they did it to the boys, too.
RUSH: Yeah, but the boys didn’t cry, is the point.
CALLER: No, the boys didn’t cry.
RUSH: And her poor little oil well petered out. (laughter) I gotta get this movie. I gotta find out.
CALLER: You have to. It’s really very entertaining.
RUSH: John, thanks for the call.
CALLER: You’re welcome. Thank you very much, Rush.
RUSH: We’ll be back after this. I’m heading to the website here to see if I can find Oklahoma Crude.
RUSH: I just got a note from a friend who has a whole different take on Bush trying to fix the travel system over the Thanksgiving holidays. ‘This is a gift to Democrats, Rush. You don’t get it. Every time a flight’s late it’s going to be Bush’s fault now, since he’s put himself on the line to fix it. It’s something new to blame on him if they don’t have anything left. Every time Jerrold Nadler now gets a bag of stale peanuts on a Delta shuttle from New York to Washington he’ll want Henry Waxman to launch an investigation into Halliburton and if Boeing or American Airlines gave Bush any money to do this.’ Over a bag of stale peanuts on a Delta shuttle. (laughing)
Dick in Kuttawa, Kentucky, I hope I’m pronouncing that right, welcome to the program.
CALLER: It’s Kuttawa, Kentucky, Rush, and thanks for taking my call. We’re just downriver from your hometown.
RUSH: Okay, so you’re not far from Paducah, then.
CALLER: That’s 35 miles southeast.
RUSH: Yeah, okay.
CALLER: All right. I’m a retired air traffic controller.
RUSH: Which means you still have your sanity.
CALLER: (laughing) Oh, it was a fun job, I’ll tell you. I had 35 years of fun going to work. I wanted to explain to you how the altitudes are assigned above 18,000. A thousand feet of separation up to flight level two-nine-zero. Above that it’s 2,000 feet of separation.
RUSH: Oh, it is? I thought they’d lowered it to a thousand. Maybe they’re trying to upgrade the system so they can do that.
CALLER: Well, I went to work for a contractor after I retired in 1989, and just before I retired from them, they were testing going to a thousand feet of separation.
RUSH: Yeah. What is it now, flight level one-eight-zero, what’s the separation?
CALLER: A thousand feet up to flight level two-nine-zero.
CALLER: And then from there it’s 2,000 feet of separation. The reason being, everybody has to use the standard altimeter, 2992.
CALLER: And so at the speeds they’re traveling, they’re traveling over areas where there’s a wide variance of the local altimeter, so their altitude is actually fluctuating. They’re not flying exactly level at, say, flight level three-one-zero.
RUSH: Well, because of the terrain.
CALLER: Well, no, it’s the local altimeter that’s affecting them.
RUSH: Oh, you mean so they’re actually — those guys, like sine curve, they’re actually going up-and-coming down within a 2,000-foot range?
CALLER: Yeah, well, see, they never get closer, say, than 1800 feet, but there’s a fluctuation because they’re all on altimeter 2992.
RUSH: All right, gotcha. Now, a minor correction, that was a minor mistake of mine.
RUSH: Nothing really to —
CALLER: No, we can’t send you to jail for that.
RUSH: No, but explain to people who owns the even-numbered altitudes.
CALLER: Well, nobody. Well, the FAA owns them in FAA-controlled airspace. It’s just not used.
RUSH: They don’t assign anybody? Well, one of the things they’re going to do on the East Coast is open up military airspace to commercial for five days. What’s military airspace?
CALLER: Well, there are a couple of military operating areas along the coast. In fact, one of the facilities I worked at, I worked down in Norfolk, Virginia, and also Washington air route air traffic control center. There are, from Virginia down, a number of military operating areas that civil aircraft cannot go into.
RUSH: Are you talking about airspace?
CALLER: Yes, airspace.
RUSH: Okay. So they’re going to relax that?
RUSH: I gotcha. Okay.
CALLER: And in some cases it causes dog legs or they have to go out of their way to get where they’re going.
RUSH: Yeah, it’s like you can’t flay over Cape Canaveral days before or after a launch.
CALLER: That’s correct.
RUSH: Yeah. All right, look, I appreciate that, Dick. Thanks much for the phone call. I appreciate it.
CALLER: I listen to you every day.
RUSH: Well, I appreciate it. That makes my day. Thank you so much.
CALLER: Yes, sir.
RUSH: All right.