Two days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush stated: “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden.” He added: “It is our No. 1 priority and we will not rest until we find him.”
Six months later, on March 13, 2002, in an interview with CNN, Bush stated: “Well, deep in my heart, I know the man’s on the run if he’s alive at all. And I — you know, who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not? We hadn’t heard from him in a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don’t know where he is. I’ll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him. “
In 2008, during a presidential debate, Barack Obama stated: “And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden.”
In response, Republican presidential candidate John McCain stated: “Sen. Obama likes to talk loudly. In fact, he said he wants to announce that he’s going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable. And by working and coordinating our efforts together, not threatening to attack them, but working with them, and, where necessary, use force, but talk softly, carry a big stick.”
On June 2, 2009, just more than four months into his presidency, President Obama sent a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta directing him to provide, within 30 days, a detailed operational plan for locating bin Laden and bringing him to justice.
On May 2, 2011, less than two years later, Osama bin Laden was found and killed.
The point of this letter is one party talks, argues and stops progress, while the other party does what needs to be done, and will continue to get the job done when the other party does not interfere.
Watch those scales
Travelers beware. My husband and I were recently traveling from the Caribbean to Hilo, via Honolulu. In Honolulu, we had to collect our bags and check in with Hawaiian Airlines.
On weighing our bags in Honolulu, the scale registered 57 pounds, resulting in us having to pay the $25 excess baggage fee. This was curious because when we left the Caribbean, the bag weighed 43 pounds.
When we asked an employee what the baggage allowance was, we were told 50 pounds, but were advised to watch out for the scales as “there is a glitch in the system.” We were told to reweigh on different scales until we got the correct weight — which we did, and lo and behold, our bag now weighed 43 pounds again.
So, if you are flying on Hawaiian, and the scale shows your bag weight to be more than 50 pounds, ask to have it weighed again and again in case you are a victim of the “glitch in the system.” I wonder just how many people have paid out $25 to Hawaiian Airlines for no reason?
Another example of Hawaiian Airlines’ poor customer service.
Bugs in the machine
In his column (on Feb. 4), David Brooks painted a somewhat rosy prediction, adding to many we have read during the past several decades, of the way computers will soon improve our lives by taking over seemingly routine, repetitive tasks.
But I think we are still quite a ways away from that particular nirvana.
Case in point: during recent travel to the East Coast, I became stranded in Houston because my connecting airport in Dallas was experiencing icy conditions. Upon my flights progressively being canceled, the airline reservations system, seemingly under the control of sophisticated software, would rebook me for a later flight. Problem was it kept routing me further and further into the developing storm (first through Chicago, then New York, etc.).
It was only when I stood in line to see a human being about the problem that I was given a direct flight out of Houston to my destination.
On the return trip to Hawaii, I dutifully checked in online the evening before my flight and showed up at the baggage check two hours before my flight as instructed.
However, the desk agent was unable to convince the computer to issue me boarding passes and baggage tags. Despite a 90-minute effort and call after call to more experienced personnel, the appropriate combination of “magic words” could not be found to convince the computer to allow me on board.
The agent would not (or perhaps could not) issue a manual boarding pass for the gate, and so I missed my flight.
My entire return itinerary had to be manually reconstructed and I finally arrived in Hawaii several hours late.
Now we are told computers will soon be able to safely and efficiently take over control of our vehicles on the road.
Call me “old as dirt,” but no thanks; to take over my vehicle they will have to pry my cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel!