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w.heinlein 97 posts  |  Last Activity: 3 hours ago Member since: Oct 8, 2007
  • w.heinlein w.heinlein 3 hours ago Flag

    Ok I am breaking the promise I made myself never to respond to one of your emails but here goes: Desert Storm was a success precisely because it had a limited, defined objective: maintain the status quo and force Saddam to give up his effort to conquer Kuwait. More than 90 nations backed that objective and a UN force headed by the US but including significant contributions from other countries accomplished the objective and left. Iraqi Freedom failed because it was an open-ended, misguided, badly mal-administered attempt at nation building in which politicians ignored the advice of the military and sold this pointless war to the US public under the guise of fighting terrorism. As a parting gift to Obama, Bush left him the chore of implementing a "Status of Forces" agreement that the Iraqis would never accept because it immunized US troops and contractors from Iraqi justice. The whole calamity would have occurred even sooner had it not been for the ingenuity of Gen. Petraeus in weaning influential Sunni sheiks away from Al Qaeda, something the Bush administration opposed when he initiated it and then took credit for when it succeeded. Former Senator James Webb got it exactly right: the invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy blunder in American history.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein 10 hours ago Flag

    It was in the Reagan years that the so-called Laffer curve became popular in GOP circles.
    The idea Is that when taxes are too high, they actually suppress tax collection because people avoid engaging in highly taxed activities. It isn't entirely idiotic though it might seem that way at first blush. For instance, cutting the capital gains rate might produce a one-time increase in tax collections as people sell stocks to take advantage of the new lower rates. But the general proposition that you can increase tax revenues by decreasing tax rates is demonstrably false. That didn't stop Republican governors like Walker and Brownback from implementing those lower rates, with predictable consequences for infrastructure, education and their state budgets.

    To your point about Walker's record, I don't think he wins the Presidency with the slogan "I'll do to the United States what I did to Wisconsin."

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein 10 hours ago Flag

    It's hard to believe that anyone looking at the history of the middle east for the past 50 years would conclude that America can assert its military will in the region without suffering enormous losses and exposing the country to massive domestic threats. From the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the American invasion of Iraq, efforts by Western powers to control events in the middle east by military means have met with disaster. And those wars of invasion have led directly to the creation of Islamic resistance movements, starting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan (friends of the US at the time, enemies of the US later when they re-named themselves the Taliban) and ending with ISIS.

    And why pick Iran as a target? The Iranians have not been involved in any terrorist attacks on western interests. Unlike the Saudis, the most corrupt government on earth not located in sub-Saharan Africa, who have financed Al Qaeda to the tune of billions of dollars, in effect paying protection money to AQ, money that AQ used to plan and finance the 9/11 attack on the USA. Iran is the only locally effective counterweight to ISIS . Without the involvement of Iran, ISIS would already control most of Iraq and Syria.

    The middle east presents the west with a series of unpalatable choices. Take Syria, for example: Should we support the bloody tyrant Assad or the equally bloody ISIS? We're facing the same kinds of bad choices throughout the region.

    Most of all, we are facing the limits of American military power to win political and religious wars half a world away. What would Scott Walker do that Bush and Obama haven't already tried? Send half a million American troops into Iran? Nuke Tehran? To as the question is to answer it: there is no military option that Walker could think of that we either haven't tried already on a much smaller, much less organized state (Iraq) or on a a guerrilla movement (Al Qaeda).

  • Reply to

    The Meaning of Donald Trump

    by w.heinlein Jul 23, 2015 5:46 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 23, 2015 7:28 PM Flag

    You are at least partially right. What Trump supporters see is A MAN who can stand up to the fearful bogeyman of leftist politically correct conspirators who are undermining The American Way. What other people see is a bigoted schoolyard bully who is used to getting his way by shouting and shoving aside people who don't buy his brand of baloney, a wealthier version of Bill O'Reilly, who accumulated a large part of his wealth by doing deals that bankrupted his partners or shoved his losses onto the public while keeping the profits for himself. Now I grant you, Trump never held a gun to anyone's head and said, "Do this deal with me or I'll shoot you" and the people who invested in his bankrupt casinos and resorts presumably went into the deals with their eyes wide open. No, they were seduced by their own greed that he played on like a violin. And the public who are enamored of Trump are being seduced by their own resentments that he masterfully exploits.

  • Why should we pay attention to Donald Trump? He isn't going to be the GOP nominee. He isn't going to be President. Writing about him simply gratifies his already massive ego.

    Legitimate points all, but let me suggest that dismissing Trump as a richer and homelier version of Kim Kardashian misses the importance of the man. There is an ugly racist strain in American politics that's never far below the surface. Every now and then it boils up in the form of explicit action such as the Charleston church massacre. But for the most part it is excluded from public debate. Trump celebrates and brags about the racism that others feel but keep concealed. It is not, as Springer would have you believe, a majority of Americans who harbor those feelings, it's more like a minority of a minority. But they are encouraged when Trump bashes Mexicans just as they were encouraged a few years back when he led the "birther" movement, with its not-very-subtle portrait of Obama as an black Muslim interloper somehow smuggled into white Christian America. Because Trump is rich enough to run for President without the endorsement of the GOP establishment, and because he might decide to self-finance a third party run, the other Republican Presidential wanna-bees can't ignore him. And because his personal base of support is large, ardent and enthusiastic, they can't stake out positions too far from his without running the risk of losing any chance of getting the nomination. How afraid are they? Even after Trump slandered John McCain, a man who spent 5 1/2 years as a POW, the others don't have the cojones to un-invite him from their candidate debates. Trump drags them all toward his positions because they are afraid to tell him to #$%$, however ardently they might want to. So the Trump wagon train rolls on and will keep rolling until he gets bored and looks for some other way to amuse himself.

  • Reply to

    Simple No Wall Immigration Solution

    by trueallday Jul 22, 2015 10:52 AM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 23, 2015 12:18 PM Flag

    The "solution" is for the USA to have 1930's style depression while Mexico enjoys an economic boom. The Mexicans will all stay home and Americans will sneak into Mexico to get jobs as day laborers etc.

    Kinda like Will Rogers' solution to the problem of submarine warfare in WWI: bring the ocean to a boil.

    To be serious for a minute, as I wrote in another thread, the demographics of the American population render any proposed solution that involves eliminating the undocumented population doubtful. America has a shortage of native born young people to meet the demand for hard physical labor in such areas as construction and farming. Mexico has a surplus of such people. The result is predictable. Unemployed Mexican young men sneak across the border to get jobs and American employers who desperately need their labor turn a blind eye. Representatives and Senators make pretty speeches but refrain from taking harsh action against the employers who are also campaign contributors and voters. Fantasies like the one I started this note with aside, there is no easy solution.

  • Reply to

    One Million Fewer Illegals 2007-2012

    by trueallday Jul 22, 2015 11:09 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 23, 2015 10:22 AM Flag

    I half agree with you. Illegal immigration is sharply down as the Pew study indicates. And, something you didn't mention, deportations are way, way up. But employer sanctions are not going to work as long as there are millions of jobs available in the USA for those willing to cross the border to get them. The statistics you cite demonstrate the point. Illegal immigrants hold roughly one-third of the jobs in drywall, roofing and painting. It is already illegal to hire them. But the drywall, roofing and painting contractors have no other choice except to go out of business. So they hire the workforce that's available and lobby their representatives in Congress not to pass stronger employer sanctions.

    The unspoken truth is that America depends on the work of the undocumented. The American population, minus the undocumented, is getting older fast. For non-immigrants, birth rates are at or below replacement level. These kinds of jobs are physically demanding and require younger workers. So the illegal immigrants fill the hole in the demographic distribution, providing a young workforce to do these tough jobs. The same point can be made about farming and garment making, two other areas heavily dependent on immigrants, legal and illegal.

    If Mexico experiences any kind of sustained economic growth, the problem in the USA will get worse, as Mexicans will find it unnecessary to cross the border to get decent jobs. It's a difficult problem and I for one don't see an easy solution.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 22, 2015 9:52 AM Flag

    I think Trump serves the GOP well. His craziness makes the rest of the pack look relatively sane. The nominating process is (as we all know) dominated by the base voters, but you win Presidential elections by attracting the moderates. No matter who the nominee turns out to be, he will look Presidential standing next to The Donald. Trump is an amusing side show who diverts voter attention from the rest of the pack and, at this point anyway, they are all secretly grateful to him I mean, they can all say something like, "Hey, I may be as nutty as a jar of almonds but at least I'm not Donald Trump."

  • w.heinlein by w.heinlein Jul 21, 2015 3:03 PM Flag

    I've said before that the President Obama most closely resembles is Nixon, another brilliant, thin-skinned lawyer with liberal leanings on domestic issues and a fondness for international Realpolitik. Both men, it seems to me, are interested in the long game, that is, in making policy changes that would shape the future for decades note merely win elections today. In Nixon's those changes included the trio of environmental laws, (Clean Air Act, CleanWater Act, Environmental Protection Act), getting out of Vietnam and opening relations with China. In Obama's case, they include Obamacare, getting out of Iraq, and opening relations with Cuba and Iran.

    Both men sacrificed current popularity for long run change. Nixon blemished his legacy with Watergate, but I believe the future will regard him as one of America's more influential Presidents. Ditto Obama.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 20, 2015 2:22 PM Flag

    OOPS...I meant "GOP base voters". "Bass voters" is an interesting concept, tho; Imagine a rally with thousands of rods and reels raised in salute to Trump....

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 20, 2015 2:20 PM Flag

    Trump is a little like Jesse Ventura was 25 years ago. He says what he thinks. In Trump's case, "think" might not be the correct verb, but no matter: a significant number of GOP bass voters are energized by his willingness to lend his voice to their fears and resentments. Most pols instinctively shun controversy; Trump seeks controversy or, perhaps more accurately, publicity. And he provides entertainment for the rest of us. God knows it's more fun to listen to his verbal bombs than the mind-numbing banalities of Hillary Clinton.

    I don't think Trump has a snowball's chance in Hades of getting the GOP nomination but his presence in the race forces the other guys to define themselves in relation to the issues he raises. For example, his plan to deal with illegal immigration may be nonsense, but at least he has a plan. What do the other guys have? Nada. His attack on McCain underscores the fact that McCain has ridden his "war hero" horse all the way to a Presidential nomination without ever standing for much of anything. Trump is the living definition of a loose cannon; and if you think about that metaphor a minute, you see how accurate it is. Trump is like that big, dangerous weapon rolling uncontrolled around the deck of a ship, smashing anything that gets in its way.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 20, 2015 1:04 PM Flag

    I give up. There is no possibility of a rational conversation with you. If you can't understand the difference between reading your weight on a scale and explaining why you are gaining weight, further discussion is pointless.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 20, 2015 12:06 PM Flag

    How long are you going to keep denying the obvious: over the past half century, the average global temperature has been steadily increasing. Forget about what is causing it. Forget about politics. You can have whatever opinions you want about those topics. But to deny the reality of a warming planet is, well, literally insane.

    Obviously it is important to understand why the world is getting warmer. But even without agreement on the explanation, we are dealing right now the consequences. There are close to a million climate change refugees already in the world from low-lying areas that are no longer habitable in places like Bangladesh and various Pacific islands. Those numbers are going to swell. Animal populations are losing or changing habitats with serious implications for the world's food supply. Deserts are growing in, among other places, the American southwest. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. A fifth of the world's population depends on the great rivers of Asia which are fed by melting snow in the Himalayas where there is less snow and ice seemingly every year. As a species, we human beings are vulnerable, especially if we keep sticking our collective fingers in our ears, covering our eyes, and pretending that nothing is happening.

  • Reply to

    Global Warming Evidence Avalanche

    by trueallday Jul 19, 2015 12:55 AM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 19, 2015 3:26 PM Flag

    One of the most definitive demonstrations of global warming is species habitat relocation. North American and European bumble bees, for example, have lost the southern-most 150 miles of their habitat to increased temperature. Hundreds of species of fish, insects, mammal and plants are moving northward in the northern hemisphere and southward in the southern hemisphere as their former habitats become inhospitable.

  • Reply to

    US Only Sanctions Not Worth A Penny

    by trueallday Jul 17, 2015 3:16 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 18, 2015 8:04 PM Flag

    You have asked a profound question. Our news media are incredibly lazy. Instead of interviewing the heads of state of Britain, France and Germany, all of whom support the deal, they waste our time and theirs seeking the views of Bibi Netanyahu and Republican gasbags in Congress. Why are the views of the prime minister of a nation of 8 million people more important that the views of people like Cameron, Merkel and Hollande? Why are the totally predictable knee-jerk reactions of Congressmen and Senators who haven't read the document--and in all probability will never read it--worth anything? It's no surprise that Obama treats Congress with disdain. Contempt would be even more appropriate.

  • Reply to

    GOP Has No Alternate Plan for Iran

    by trueallday Jul 15, 2015 1:45 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 18, 2015 7:56 PM Flag

    The benefit the world has gotten from China effectively abandoning Communism in all but name in favor of becoming a one-party mercantilist state is immeasurable. Instead of fighting with the Chinese as we did in Korea we are trading with them, as is the rest of the western world. I'll take peace and mutual prosperity over war and mutual destruction every time.

  • Reply to

    US Only Sanctions Not Worth A Penny

    by trueallday Jul 17, 2015 3:16 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 17, 2015 6:26 PM Flag

    Bingo!

    Europe is ready to normalize relations with Iran. If the United States should back out of the agreement, the Europeans will go ahead anyway, but US firms that would otherwise benefit will be frozen out. I think that's part of the reason the GOP loudmouths are so vocal: they know the agreement is going to go into effect so they can oppose it without wrecking it. American companies who are willing to take the risk will get around US sanctions legislation by dealing through third countries.

    The Republicans know that they don't have the votes to override a veto so its a free pass for them to mouth off. It also puts Democrats who are supportive of Israel on the defensive, since Netanyahu is making their votes on the Iran deal a test of loyalty.

    Something the GOP blabbermouths don't want to admit is that working with Iran is our best hope of defeating ISIS. There is already a de facto partnership between US and Iran in Iraq and that's the main reason that ISIS is now losing territory it had earlier taken.

  • Reply to

    GOP Has No Alternate Plan for Iran

    by trueallday Jul 15, 2015 1:45 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 17, 2015 12:28 PM Flag

    Did Nixon negotiate with Mao, a man who murdered 25 million of his own people? (BTW, if that's not evil, what is?) Did Reagan negotiate with Gorbachev, the head of our most feared and heavily armed enemy? And on the other side of that ledger, did Reagan negotiate with the Nicaraguan contras and other south american assassination squads? Did he use CIA planes to ferry coke into the USA for the benefit of the narcos? (Answer: yes, he did).

    As for the Saudis, I will take the Iranians 8 days a week ahead of the Saudis who (among other things) have bankrolled Al Qaeda and supplied 17 of the 19 people who attacked us on 9/11. Although there are individual Saudis who are admirable people, the government is and has been utterly cynical about bankrolling the spread of radical Islamic madrasas throughout the world in exchange for the radicals leaving the Kingdom alone. And just for the record, the Kingdom is one of the few places left on earth that still practices slavery and routinely uses maiming and beheading as punishment. (Where do you think ISIS got the idea?)

  • Reply to

    Political Actions Have Consequences

    by w.heinlein Jul 15, 2015 3:09 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 16, 2015 4:05 PM Flag

    You always have to consider the alternative when you're trying to evaluate something like this. Getting Iran to abandon its nuclear program entirely was never on the table. So the alternative to this deal was not a better deal but no deal. No deal means the Iranians are free to pursue development of a nuclear weapon without any restrictions. No deal means the Iranian hardliners win and the reformers lose. Unless you are prepared to have the United States go to war with Iran to prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon, you have to look for a diplomatic alternative.

    This deal accomplishes one modest goal: it delays for 10 years Iranian development of a nuclear weapon. It doesn't change Iran's foreign policy, it doesn't replace the Iranian government with a pro-western government, it doesn't remove the 10,000 or so rockets that Hizbollah has in Lebanon for shooting into Israel, etc etc. But no deal wouldn't do any of those things either, and would leave the Iranians free to develop a nuke.

    If you think the deal is bad, you have to demonstrate either that (a) there was a better deal available or (b) no deal was better than this deal. Go for it.

  • Reply to

    Death Knell for the GOP

    by trueallday Jul 16, 2015 3:29 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Jul 16, 2015 3:54 PM Flag

    The Univision poll was of Hispanic VOTERS. You know, like, American citizens. People like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, the mayor of Los Angeles....

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