Articles filed under Harrop, Froma

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  • Can Hillary Clinton pace herself? Jan 16, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Hillary Clinton didn't have to become the spinning top that put her in a sick bed. Even there, she noted — not without pride — her difficulty in becoming a "compliant patient." If Clinton does run for president, she must show more dedication to self-preservation. Martyrs don't necessarily make great managers.

  • The wrong Republicans Jan 10, 2013 5:01 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Consumer confidence has crumbled, as Republicans insist progress can't be made except when wrestling Democrats on an outcropping over an abyss. The problem isn't Republicans, exactly, but the wrong kind of Republicans — those who won't let the good kind negotiate absent a terrifying threat to everyone's well-being.

  • Left should know, Obama did good Jan 7, 2013 5:00 AM
    By Froma Harrop: President Obama did cave or compromise (pick your term) on his earlier resolve to let Bush tax cuts expire for households earning over $250,000. But by putting off dramatic cuts in spending and raising taxes only on the most cushioned Americans, Obama has avoided what made the fiscal cliff so scary — the specter of draining over $500 billion from a still-weak economy.

  • Getting more for less in health care Jan 2, 2013 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Sad, sad, sad that in talking about budget cuts, we use painful words like "extracting billions from Medicare" or "slashing the Medicare entitlement." Has it ever occurred to the gladiators that improving the quality of health care can also save money

  • The politics of threat Dec 28, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: The Fiscal Cliff is a phony crisis dropped on us by the politics of threat. Rather than further their goals through the normal process, so-called conservatives are using threats against the economy to get what they want.

  • Online and in your face Dec 21, 2012 10:06 AM
    They don’t like the crowds, the traffic, the parking chaos. They dislike the sameness — the same mall chain stores piping in the same holiday music and selling the same made-in-China sweaters, whether in Spokane, Indianapolis or Raleigh. They stress out when waiting for someone to take their payment. Small wonder that 45 percent of consumers are doing at least some holiday shopping this year via the Internet, according to the Deloitte consulting firm. But if you think Internet shopping is a hassle-free environment overseen by invariably polite computers, you probably haven’t done much of it. No one escapes. Online merchants have mastered the science of getting in your face. Case in point, I looked at a shoulder bag on Amazon. Checking the dimensions and color, that’s all. Now when I do a Google search, up comes an ad for the bag. I look for amusing quotes by Theodore Roosevelt, and there’s the bag. I check out some items on eBay, and the bag’s there. Two questions: When do they give up, and how can you make them go away? The answer to the first is, “I don’t know.” The answer to the second is, “You can’t.” Google, Facebook and the rest shadow your wanderings online, gathering information to sell tailored ads beamed back at you. Very scientific and a bit creepy to those who haven’t totally surrendered yet on matters of privacy. Buy undies at Victoria’s Secret, and the salesperson asks for your email address. Your inbox fills with intimations that the store has your number on lingerie. Look at a Lego V-wing Starfighter online, and some computer assumes that you buy presents for a boy between the ages of 7 and 12. Email messages now wave hysterical discounts in your face — 40 percent, 50 percent, 65 percent — with the proviso that you perform certain tricks. You may have to spend $250 by 11:30 p.m. tonight, Central time. Meanwhile, actual shopping on Internet sites, like through catalogs of yore, is not without its glitches. If the scarf bought in a romantically lit department store doesn’t look so hot in the cold daylight, you can lug it back. Online sellers have more sophisticated means to make cheesy merchandise look amazing. And your web browser’s idea of the color “forest heather” may not match your ideal. Of course, you can ship stuff back. The good online merchants make that as easy as possible, but you still have to put the item back into the container, reseal it, put a sticker on and, in many cases, bring the package to a post office or other shipper, where the lines may be even worse than at the department store. Meanwhile, if there’s a problem with the order that requires human contact, good luck to you. For many, shopping remains an entertainment, and the holiday crowds add to the joy. Understanding this, some strictly online retailers are beginning to open physical shops so that people can touch, see and try on the wares. Bonobos is an example. Once so militantly cyber that its founder gave a speech predicting the end of apparel stores, Bonobos now concedes that a guy other than the male model on the webpage might want to check its cotton chinos for size. He might also like to see how orange “burnt ochre” really is. The unpleasant aspects of Internet shopping may not bother you, and let me say in honesty that I find the online assault more amusing than irritating. But anyone who promotes online shopping as the cure for holiday stress must have greater skill in disposing of Styrofoam packing materials than I do. © 2012, Creators Syndicate Inc.

  • Real “realism” on gun control Dec 21, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: As the shock of Newtown, Conn., mellows, the new theme of gun-rights absolutists is coming together: The problem is not widely sold assault weapons with magazines capable of carrying 30 rounds. It's crazy people who get their hands on them.

  • Crashing federal hypocrisy on pot Dec 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: The successful ballot measures in Colorado and Washington give the Obama administration another opportunity to find its bearings and stop throwing billions down the hole of marijuana prohibition. That money could be put elsewhere, so we're told.

  • Feds subsidize risk on farms as well as beaches Dec 11, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: The agriculture committee leaders are proposing to add another layer of federal spending — a whole new generation of farm subsidies that pick up a larger share of the deductible on federally subsidized crop insurance. Both the House and Senate versions include three such deals, tailored to specific crops. These new revenue subsidies would add between $25 billion and $35 billion to the $90 billion.

  • Meet the undressed: Newswomen on TV Dec 7, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: I'm not the first woman to be astounded by the dolls on daytime cable news, their overall impression being arms, legs and lip gloss. Why anyone would think "sex sells" on information-oriented news shows is beyond me.

  • Elder lobby should back off on Medicare Dec 3, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Like the $10,000 handbag that's become a status symbol because it costs so much, America's extravagant medical system has been sold on the notion that the more you pay, the more you get. In health care, that's not necessarily so. In some cases, the opposite is true.

  • How to kill Social Security, with a smile Nov 29, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: If conservatives think rich people should pay more, they can simply let marginal tax rates (and the capital gains tax rate) rise. Complicating Social Security with more means-testing and ending the tax dedicated to keeping it afloat would kill the program

  • Health coverage a ‘gift’ to ourselves Nov 25, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: The whole idea of employer-sponsored health coverage is a historical oddity from the wage and price controls of World War II. Obamacare offers a step away from that irrational link.

  • They led us to the cliff but can’t make us jump Nov 16, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Many GOP leaders blame Tea Party antics for their recent electoral defeats. Now they must deal with the "fiscal cliff" and are going to need all the reality-based supporters they can get.

  • Polls that make no sense Nov 13, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Here's a question from a recent national exit poll: "Which is closer to your view? Government should do more. (Or) government is doing too much." Has anyone noticed through all this that the question is meaningless? Government should do more of what?

  • Republicans need to take their party back Nov 8, 2012 12:10 PM
    Americans wanted to keep the country they know, and said so Tuesday. Now it’s time for responsible Republicans to take their party back from the fringe that loses them elections. It’s not true that Republicans needed better candidates. They had excellent contenders. The problem was that the electable ones couldn’t leap the lunacy barrier erected by the right wing. They couldn’t clinch nominations. Or they withdrew from races in the face of the party base’s social nastiness, scientific ignorance and fiscal irresponsibility. In Indiana, Republicans had the superb Sen. Richard Lugar — a sure shot for re-election. Lugar was a statesman who refused to transform himself into a right-wing gargoyle during the primary. The party replaced him with a tea-party favorite, who like the Republican loser in the Missouri Senate race, made weird comments about rape during the campaign. In Connecticut, the totally unacceptable Linda McMahon lost her second quest for a U.S. Senate seat after spending $91 million of her own money — but not before having managed to defeat two plausible Republican moderates this year and in 2010. In this round’s Republican primary, the wrestling magnate with a yacht named “Sexy Bitch” swept away the much-respected former Rep. Chris Shays on a tide of cash. Another admired Republican, Jon Huntsman, withdrew from the race for the presidential nomination rather than debase himself with arguments that the Earth was formed 5,000 years ago. The former conservative governor of Utah provided the most noble tweet of the campaign: “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” You knew he couldn’t survive the sort of primary race that included threats against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. (“We would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually said.) By catering to this mentality but seeming just a bit saner than the others, Mitt Romney won the nomination and lost the election. The morning after, Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist turned MSNBC commentator, minced no words: “We have given away five U.S. Senate seats over two election cycles by nominating loons. I mean, people who are fundamentally, manifestly unqualified to be in the United States Senate.” Lest we forget, Republicans put out some very strange senatorial candidates two years ago. In Delaware, Christine (“I’m not a witch) O’Donnell lost to the Democrat — after defeating the revered Republican Rep. Mike Castle in the primary. In Nevada, Sharron Angle (“Sharia law” has taken over Dearborn, Mich.) lost to a struggling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. So entranced was the right wing by its own propaganda that it persisted in framing Republican Sen. Scott Brown’s surprising 2010 win in Massachusetts as local hostility to Obamacare. Brown got away with promising to help defeat the Affordable Care Act only because the electorate already had a state version of it. His luck ran out on Tuesday. In olden days, when moderate Republicans freely roamed New England, Brown would have enjoyed stronger odds for re-election. And in nearby Maine, Republican survivor Olympia Snowe would have probably gone back to the Senate had she not retired, exhausted by attacks from the right. The Tea Party didn’t build this alone. It had help from the punditry-industrial-complex — the radio mouths and book-peddling professionals who make a fine living telling the troops that they’re always right and they’re always winning. Republican analyst Schmidt also said on Wednesday that the likes of Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh need to be “shut down.” What he undoubtedly means is that mature Republican leaders should stop trying to ingratiate themselves with the publicity bottom feeders. Conscientious Republicans do want their party back. May they get it. © 2012, Creators Syndicate Inc.

  • The Romney myth about helping Detroit Nov 3, 2012 10:59 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: Of Mitt Romney's many costume changes, the new Superman outfit portraying him as the would-be savior of the American auto industry wins for most imaginative. Understood: His infamous "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed has proved a great inconvenience to winning votes in the industrial Midwest. But continually insisting that one didn't say what one said is severely not honest.

  • ‘Access’ to birth control doesn’t count Oct 29, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: To obtain the pill, a woman must first visit a doctor and get a prescription. Organized women do what they must. Disorganized women don't get around to it.

  • The weird political war between the generations Oct 21, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist Froma Harrop: A weird war between the generations is growing, and the Republican candidates are the mongers. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both accuse President Obama of taking money out of Medicare to help younger Americans get health care — while they blame government spending (Medicare is a big item) for burdening "our grandkids" with debt.

  • Leave the driving to it Oct 12, 2012 9:22 AM
    Driverless cars are on the horizon, and we can all start feeling ancient now. The youngest among us will remember the days when we had to keep our hands on the steering wheel and foot near the brake. Joining “icebox” and “fire stable” will be such terms as “behind the wheel,” “pedal to the metal” and “in the driver’s seat.” Hipsters yet to be born will laugh at worried talk of “blind spots” and complaints of “back seat drivers.” Windshields with suction-cup marks from primitive GPS devices may become wall art, just as those old blue-glass Delco batteries now hold sunflowers. I can’t wait. The notion of dropping into some soft leather seat, saying, “Take me to the movie theater” (if there still are movie theaters), then pouring a nice glass of cabernet is most appealing. There will be no such thing anymore as drunken drivers because there will be no drivers. Drunken passengers, sure. Radar will detect objects, including pedestrians and brick walls. Cameras will record lane lines, and infrared versions will see better at night than a raccoon. Some of the newer driverless models go 70 miles an hour. There will be fewer traffic jams because the computer-run cars will know not to smash into their neighbors. Most accidents are caused by human error, explains traffic expert Tom Vanderbilt in Wired magazine. The driverless car’s computer “is better than human in every way.” Driverless cars will reduce the need for new pavement. Did you know that vehicles take up only 5 percent of the road surface on even the most congested highways? “Hyperalert and algorithmically optimized” cars should be able to safely cruise bumper to bumper, according to Vanderbilt. I keep using the future tense, but actually, some driverless cars are already on the roads. A fleet of Google driverless cars now ply the byways of the San Francisco Bay Area. They have signs on them saying “self-driving car,” lest a shocked driver think he’s encountered a vehicular headless horseman. California recently legalized driverless cars, following the lead of Nevada and Florida. Bear in mind that driverless cars were never officially banned — for obvious reasons. A legal question for the 21st century: If your driverless car does get in an accident, whom is to blame, you or the software developer? A philosophical question: Are driverless cars computerized vehicles or computers on wheels? Clearly, Google believes in the latter. But the auto industry is hard at work making its case. Traditional cars are already highly computerized. Some advanced features, such as automatic parallel parking, involve driverless movement. Several major carmakers have research centers in Silicon Valley. So go forth, motorists: Write text messages till your thumbs turn blue. Gesticulate wildly as you argue on the phone. Play around with your 2,000 stations. Neck in the back seat — or the front seat, for that matter. You are no longer in charge, which means the driving time is all yours. Oooh. But what’s going to happen to that time? The utopian side says the hours our eyes were glued to the road will be spent in leisure or intellectual pursuits. The dystopian side says that the effort the technology saves us will create more time for work. Have smartphones freed up your day? The possibilities are endless. Children will take themselves to clarinet lessons. The elderly will no longer worry about losing their ability to drive. On a sour note, computer hackers will be able to commit crimes against passengers yet unimagined. But this part of our future is inevitable: Everyone will have a chauffeur and leave the driving to it. © 2012, Creators Syndicate Inc.

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