Tribune News Service

Op-Ed Budget for Friday, February 14, 2020

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET (0930 UTC)

This budget is now available on the Web at www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^Commentary: China's secrecy has made the coronavirus crisis much worse<

^CORONAVIRUS-CHINA-COMMENTARY:TB—<For eight years, China's President Xi Jinping has trumpeted his country's increasingly authoritarian system as a grand model for other developing countries to follow. No doubt, China has seen an extraordinary period of economic growth, which has benefited hundreds of millions in China and around the world. But authoritarianism has also come at great costs, as the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus underscores.

In two months, the virus has spread throughout China and beyond. More than 60,000 people have been reported infected, and nearly 1,400 have died as a consequence of the disease. These numbers are likely to vastly understate the true extent of its spread and impact. The numbers inside China are bound to be much higher, and the lack of reports from Africa, the Middle East and South America are more likely due to faltering health care systems rather than its absence altogether.

850 by Ivo Daalder. MOVED


^Commentary: Trump keeps focusing on the economy, but what about the deficit?<

^DEFICIT-COMMENTARY:BZ—<By now, many are aware that our federal government ended last year with a deficit that surpassed $1 trillion and a national debt of more than $23 trillion.

During his campaign for the presidency, President Donald Trump's inconsistent boasts about our fiscal affairs ranged all the way from asserting that he would "pay off the entire national debt" to calling himself "The King of Debt, " apparently a reference to his aggressive use of leverage in his real estate investments. It's now clear that the latter prevailed.

850 by Alexander R.M. Boyle. MOVED


^Commentary: Lil Nas X, Caitlyn Jenner and Carlos Beltran: People who deserve the Medal of Freedom more than Rush Limbaugh<

^LIMBAUGH-COMMENTARY:NY—<Darth Vader, Rosanne Barr, Sammy Sosa and Lil Nas X. Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials, RuPaul, Spider-Man and Pete the Cat.

There it is: My list of people more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Rush Limbaugh.

The most racist man on the radio was back on the air Wednesday, and in rare form, which isn't all that noteworthy, except for the fact that the most racist man on the radio was back on the air and in rare form with a Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck.

500 by Leonard Greene. MOVED


^Commentary: As suicides increase, more psychiatric beds needed to treat people<

^SUICIDE-PREVENTION-COMMENTARY:BZ—<The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released their annual mortality report that showed, once again, an increase over the prior year in the number of suicides by Americans.

The data shows that 132 Americans die by suicide, half by firearms, every single day. That is a 35% increase in the age-adjusted suicide rate since 1999, the highest since World War II.

We could be doing more as a country to help people with thoughts of taking their lives — and those who actually attempt to do so. But a shortage in psychiatric beds is proving a huge hurdle in getting people treatment.

750 by Elizabeth Hancq and Steven Sharfstein. MOVED


^Commentary: Get Big Agriculture out of cannabis farming in California<

^CALIF-CANNABIS-COMMENTARY:LA—<California cannabis farmers are at a crossroads. Will cannabis go the way of Big Agriculture, or can we develop an industry that supports a multitude of farmers, communities and the environment?

The path that agriculture in the United States took has resulted in a highly consolidated industry that is debt-financed, built on underpaid labor and dependent on exemptions to environmental protections, such as the Clean Water Act. The result? Declining rural populations with lower life expectancies, higher rates of poverty and a mode of agriculture that drives climate change and biodiversity loss.

Rarely do we get a chance to construct an agricultural system anew.

800 by Michael Polson. MOVED


^Commentary: How sex education can save lives<

^SEXEDUCATION-PROGRESSIVE-COMMENTARY:MCT—<When Abba M. learned that a sexual partner had exposed her to the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, she did "a bunch of Googling." The 21-year-old Alabama resident knew very little about it.

Turning to her friends proved unhelpful. Most, like Abba, had never learned about the virus in school. "HPV isn't really a thing," a friend told her. "You have it, but you don't have it, so don't worry about it."

To the contrary, HPV is something people, especially girls and women, ought to worry about.

600 by Annerieke Daniel. MOVED



^Virginia Heffernan: William Barr and Trump have officially massacred the independence of the Justice Department<

^HEFFERNAN-COLUMN:LA—<Any bloodshed this week during the so-called Tuesday Afternoon Massacre at the Justice Department was, of course, metaphorical. But the casualties were real.

And while President Trump and his redhats like to cry "coup" and "treason," and recklessly threaten Civil War II, the bigfoot move by Attorney General William P. Barr's Department of Justice, on behalf of Roger Stone, may have done more damage to the republic than all the war whoops combined.

900 by Virginia Heffernan. MOVED


^Diane Bell: Life in China under the coronavirus threat<

^BELL-COLUMN:SD—<"This city of 21 million looks like a ghost town. No one goes out. Or very few. And it has been like that for three weeks." With those words Jim Healy began a Facebook post Sunday evening from Beijing, China. It's one of his series of posts that bring home the jolting reality of the current depth of human suffering in China — with no end in sight.

From 1989-2009, Healy was a copy editor, and occasional music reviewer, for the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2014, he started working in Beijing for China's official English-language newspaper, the China Daily, where he edits Page One of the global edition. Healy is close to the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic, which seems to observe no boundaries, even though his city is more than 700 miles north of Wuhan, the disease epicenter. This column is devoted to his posts on Facebook and his answers to my messaged questions, beginning with his Sunday evening post.

1400 by Diane Bell. MOVED


^Will Bunch: Trump's banana republic: Police state for the poor, free pass for president's pals and the rich<

^BUNCH-COLUMN:PH—<It was the kind of thing that made you want to call the cops as soon as you saw it. Here was the head of a heavily armed group with some 13,000 members, making a credible threat against the mayor of America's largest city — a vow that his forces "are declaring war on you," insisting that New York City's leader had become a tool of "vile creatures."

Except you couldn't call the police because these were the police. Last Sunday's incendiary tweet came from the keyboard of Edward D. Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, one of New York's major police unions. His declaration of a "war" on Mayor Bill de Blasio came on an emotional weekend — a gunman had wounded a city police officer in an assassination attempt and separately fired shots into a Bronx station house — but most public officials were quick to condemn the overheated rhetoric.

Except, of course, for one.

1300 by Will Bunch. MOVED


^Martin Schram: America, if you are listening — let's fix our elections<

^SCHRAM-COLUMN:MCT—<Today we're going to propose a new, commonsense way to fix our elections.

In case you haven't noticed, the breaking news about our system for choosing presidential nominees is that our system is way beyond broken. It is also senseless to the point of being borderline bizarre. And the way it begins is just about as undemocratic as anything any democracy has ever willfully inflicted upon itself.

800 by Martin Schram. MOVED


^Trudy Rubin: Trump interference in Roger Stone case: A pattern of undermining rule of law<

^RUBIN-COLUMN:PH—<Russians have a great phrase to describe what can happen when the Kremlin or a senior bureaucrat takes a personal interest in a court case.

They call it "telephone justice." That means the official picks up a phone and tells the judge what verdict to deliver. It's a phrase that dates back to Soviet Union days, when the Communist party always dictated outcomes to the judge.

Under President Trump, we haven't quite reached the "telephone justice" phase yet. Not quite.

900 by Trudy Rubin. MOVED


^Andres Oppenheimer: Applaud Uruguay's president-elect. Dictators are not welcome at his inauguration<

^OPPENHEIMER-COLUMN:MI—<At a time when growing numbers of democratically elected leaders are mingling with tyrants in the name of pragmatism, the president-elect of Uruguay has decided not to invite any dictator to his March 1 inauguration ceremony.


750 by Andres Oppenheimer. MOVED



^Jonah Goldberg: Democrats, Republicans have undergone a role reversal<

^GOLDBERG-COLUMN:MCT—<For most of my life the rule of thumb was that the GOP was the ideological party and the Democratic Party was the coalitional party.

This always was an overgeneralization. Democrats had an ideological perspective, and Republicans had coalitional interests. But from the New Deal to around the end of the Bush years, it was generally true. I used to think it had to do with the superiority of conservative ideas, but I'm coming around to the view that it has more to do with the way political power works.

900 by Jonah Goldberg. MOVED

^John Kass: Oh, for the love of Mike. The fear of Bernie has pushed Democratic bosses over the edge<

^KASS-COLUMN:TB—<Bernie Sanders' victory in New Hampshire has driven the Democratic Party establishment into mass hysterics.

Now they rush to embrace multibillionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, to save them from President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg is buying this thing.

1000 by John Kass. MOVED

^Rex Huppke: Garbage-human Rush Limbaugh says manly Trump will 'have fun' with spouse-smoocher Pete Buttigieg<

^HUPPKE-COLUMN:TB—<Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who daily demonstrates what would happen if a landfill learned to vent its decomposition gases into a microphone, has smartly weighed in on Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg: "America's still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage."

America's most-recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient makes an excellent point. There's simply no way this country is ready for the kind of disgusting, hardcore monogamy Buttigieg has been demonstrating.

What politician would dare to publicly show affection toward his or her spouse, aside from literally every politician ever? It's an absolute outrage.

700 by Rex Huppke. MOVED

^Leonard Pitts Jr.: Vote blue, no matter who?<

^PITTS-COLUMN-ADV16:MI—<Vote blue, no matter who.

That's the fall election mantra of Democrats desperate to cleanse the White House of its current occupant. But here's the question some African Americans are now asking: What if the "who" is Michael Bloomberg? What if the former New York City mayor is the man chosen to contend against Donald Trump? Shall we vote blue if all it offers is the chance to replace a stupid racist with a smarter one?

800 by Leonard Pitts Jr.. MOVED



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^Editorial: Did the Justice Department cave to Trump in the Roger Stone case? We need to know<

^STONE-JUSTICEDEPARTMENT-EDITORIAL:LA—<It isn't yet clear whether improper political influence led the Justice Department to ask for a more lenient sentence for Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, than the one originally proposed by federal prosecutors. But Trump's outrageous comments about the original sentence recommendation — and his history of interfering in the administration of justice — require that the decision be investigated.

Trump's disdain for the rule of law and his refusal to be constrained to the ordinary rules that govern presidential behavior are well known. But he must not be encouraged and emboldened in them just because he was acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial.

450 by The Times Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: ERA ratification likely dead on arrival in the Senate<

^ERA-EDITORIAL:BZ—<Lawmakers appeared to breathe new life into the 97-year-old Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, when 227 House Democrats and five Republicans voted to remove a 1982 deadline for its passage.

The move opens the door for the issue to be taken up in the U.S. Senate, where Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have introduced a similar resolution. If passed, Virginia's ratification of the amendment last month — decades after it was first sent to the states in 1972 — could be counted as the 38th and final approval necessary to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution.

But don't hold your breath.

700 by Baltimore Sun Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: Deep breaths, Democrats: There's time to pick a strong challenger to Trump<

^DEMOCRATS-EDITORIAL:NY—<With Tuesday's narrow New Hampshire victory, Bernie Sanders has pulled off the rare feat of notching popular vote wins in the first two nominating contests — a one-two punch that would traditionally make him the clear front-runner. Such a prospect rightly has significant parts of the Democratic Party worried that a self-avowed socialist atop the ticket spells doom in November.

Stay calm.

250 by Daily News Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: Data for Mike: Let's get some facts straight on race and crime<

^BLOOMBERG-EDITORIAL:NY—<We like Mike Bloomberg. And we've been tough on him on stop and frisk, a bad policy we once supported, then disavowed.

Speaking of evidence, back in 2015, Bloomberg made comments on race and crime that have recently come to light. President Trump, in I'm-rubber-you're-glue mode, said they expose the former mayor as "A TOTAL RACIST." At least one prominent liberal commentator says they are so outrageous they should disqualify him for president.

250 by Daily News Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: A free society cannot function without a vibrant professional press<

^MCCLATCHY-EDITORIAL:SL—<A free society cannot function without vibrant professional newspapers. In light of that truism, the latest dire news for the news business — that McClatchy newspapers, publisher of The Kansas City Star and almost 30 other newspapers in 14 states across America, is filing for bankruptcy — should worry every American who cares about our democracy. In this era of politicians who too often see accurate information as the enemy, real journalism needs all the public support it can get.

The good news is that McClatchy, a 163-year-old family-owned company that also publishes The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and a host of other legacy newspapers, says the bankruptcy won't immediately affect its newsrooms. The bad news is, recent history indicates that will be a difficult promise to keep.

450 by The Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: Act in the public interest: Protect the integrity of the .org domain<

^ORG-DOMAIN-EDITORIAL:PG—<Nonprofits and organizations using a .org domain should have concerns over an impending sale that could threaten the stability of their digital operations.

The concerns are significant enough that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers should exercise its authority to intervene.

550 The Editorial Board. MOVED




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