Tribune News Service

Op-Ed Budget for Friday, October 16, 2020

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET (0830 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: Judge Barrett is an originalist. Should we be afraid?<

^SCOTUS-BARRETT-ORIGINALIST-COMMENTARY:LA—<Originalism, the judicial philosophy of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, and her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is once again the subject of intense interest and public debate.

Originalists believe that judges are bound by the constitutional text and that its words should be read as the public would have understood them at the time each provision was written.

Why would anyone object to this commonsense idea? One worry is that originalist justices will overrule modern decisions that Americans hold dear.

1100 by Lawrence B. Solum. MOVED


^Commentary: The New York Post puts Twitter and Facebook in a no-win position<

^SOCIALMEDIA-CONTENT-COMMENTARY:LA—<The New York Post published a story Wednesday about Joe Biden and his son Hunter that read suspiciously like disinformation. More important, the piece included images of Hunter Biden and emails obtained almost certainly without his permission, supposedly from a laptop purportedly abandoned at a Delaware repair shop.

The hacked material is what got the Post story into trouble with Twitter, which has a policy against publishing links to such content. Meanwhile, Facebook had already slowed the piece's redistribution out of concern that it might violate its policy against "misinformation."

These moves drew a chorus of boos from Republicans, along with a demand for a federal investigation.

1050 by Jon Healey. MOVED


^Commentary: The biggest threats to American democracy? White nationalists and politicians who embrace them<

^EXTREMISTS-GOP-COMMENTARY:LA—<The plot by militia members to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is only the latest example of the threat posed by far-right extremists. Social media posts of the accused showed that they drew from multiple far-right movements, including the Boogaloo Boys.

Their intention of starting a civil war "leading to societal collapse" has long been a goal of white supremacists and terrorists. Just as in the Whitmer plot, white nationalists and far-right actors have one primary aim: undermining multiracial democracy.

950 by Sophie Bjork-James. MOVED


^Commentary: Students in Big Ten states could be key to the election<

^ELECTION-BIGTEN-STUDENTS-COMMENTARY:TB—<This year's presidential election might come down to students. More than other large voting blocs, their turnout varies enormously from election to election, and some of the most important swing states have lots of students.

The Big Ten schools alone — in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio — will almost certainly influence who sits in the Oval Office in a few months. Same goes for universities in both Arizona and Florida.

But during this pandemic year, with so many students not where they expected to be, they face unique challenges in casting their ballots. If they don't turn out in sizable numbers, Donald Trump could once again defy the pollsters.

950 by David Dodson. MOVED


^Commentary: How the Medicare Advantage program is breaking records<

^MEDICARE-ADVANTAGE-HERITAGE-COMMENTARY:MCT—<Medicare Advantage, a program of competing private health plans for Medicare beneficiaries, is breaking records for enrollment, health plan choice and competition, and cost savings for America's senior and disabled citizens. Naturally, self-styled congressional "progressives" intend to abolish it.

Created in 2003, the Medicare Advantage was designed as an alternative to the traditional Medicare program. MA's private health plans offer comprehensive health benefits, including vision and hearing services, as well affordable drug coverage and protection from the financial devastation of catastrophic illness.

800 by Robert E. Moffit. MOVED


^Commentary: Our democracy is a boxing match. It will take more than one election to make it a foot race again<

^POLITICS-BOXINGMATCH-COMMENTARY:MCT—<The consensus is that the first presidential debate was a hot mess. The consensus is correct. President Donald Trump in particular seemed woefully uninterested in actually discussing and debating the pressing issues in American public life. He seemed more focused on repeatedly interrupting former Vice President Joe Biden and engaging in ad hominem attacks.

While the debate was surely unique in its eminently poor quality — and may never to be precisely replicated, with Thursday's altercation canceled and next week's format up in the air — what's important to remember is this: What happened on Sept. 29 was not exactly an outlier from the contemporary American political scene.

Instead, it simply highlighted an important, depressing fact regarding American politics: These days, they can best be conceptualized as a boxing match rather than a foot race.

1000 by Thomas Koenig. MOVED



^Trudy Rubin: New York Post 'bombshell' echoes false Kremlin propaganda about Joe and Hunter Biden<

^RUBIN-COLUMN:PH—<The "bombshell" New York Post cover story this week on Joe Biden and alleged secret emails to Ukraine — a tale that has Trumpworld in a tizzy — reads as if it came straight from Russian propaganda playbook 101.

Unsourced, based on unverified emails off a mysterious laptop that was left unclaimed at a Delaware repair shop, the tale repeats a verifiably false charge about Biden's Ukraine involvement, a charge that has been disproved over and over. This supposed "bombshell' is so content-free it doesn't even provide smoke, let alone fire.

What it does do is spread a fake conspiracy theory about Joe and Hunter Biden and Ukraine that has long been promoted by President Donald Trump and his consigliere Rudy Giuliani. It is also promoted by Russian agents and corrupt Ukrainian pols who fed this theory to Giuliani in Kyiv.

900 by Trudy Rubin. MOVED


^Eli Lake: The unmasking scandal, like Russiagate, is fizzling out<

^LAKE-COLUMN:BLO—<The past couple years have been tough for both believers and nonbelievers in Russiagate. First the investigation into Russian influence over President Donald Trump's campaign fizzled out. Now one aspect of the investigation of the investigation seems to be, too.

What was hyped in 2017 as the greatest scandal in U.S. history ended in mid-2019 after Special Counsel Robert Mueller said he could not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. That investigation itself is still being investigated by the Justice Department, with the president and his supporters promising the greatest scandal in U.S. history. On Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported that one part of this investigation did not turn up "substantive wrongdoing."

800 by Eli Lake. MOVED


^Tyler Cowen: A dangerous libertarian strategy for herd immunity<

^COWEN-COLUMN:BLO—<It would be bad enough if the Great Barrington Declaration, an eight-paragraph manifesto which is shaping White House policy on COVID-19, was simply misguided. But the statement, which now has more than 9,000 signatories, represents a potentially dangerous way of thinking — about not only pandemics but also human nature.

Debate over the declaration has centered on the concept of "herd immunity," but that discussion has become so emotional that it is better to focus first on the concrete. The declaration stresses the notion of protecting the vulnerable, such as the elderly, and giving everyone else maximum possible freedom. That sounds good, but the declaration fails to deliver on the details.

1400 by Tyler Cowen. MOVED


^Will Bunch: 12-hour voting lines give me hope, even as America looks like a banana republic<

^BUNCH-COLUMN:PH—<Like most Americans, Stacy Bogan — a headshot and wedding photographer who lives in the sprawling Texas exurb of Mansfield, south of Dallas-Fort Worth — has had a rough 2020. While working to keep her studio afloat, her husband lost her job at the business services giant Cintas, which she blames on the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mostly, the couple shelters at home — but not when Texas opened polling stations for early voting on Tuesday.

Bogan was hardly alone in venturing out to vote at the very first opportunity. Standing in a line that wrapped all the way around a local courthouse in Mansfield, she ultimately waited five-and-a-half long hours before she could cast her vote for Joe Biden and down-ballot Democrats — and she doesn't regret one minute of it.

The remarkable thing about what Bogan did this week was how unremarkable it was.

1450 by Will Bunch. MOVED


^Andres Oppenheimer: Polls show Biden will win, but they said the same thing about Hillary<

^OPPENHEIMER-COLUMN:MI—<When Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, refuting the forecasts of virtually all the pollsters, I promised never to trust polls again. But I interviewed several leading pollsters recently to ask why we should trust them this time, and they offered several good reasons not to dismiss their findings.

They say they have learned from their 2016 mistakes and are pretty confident in their forecasts for the 2020 race.

800 by Andres Oppenheimer. MOVED


^Erika D. Smith: We need more than Megan Thee Stallion to save this 'forgotten population' in California<

^ERIKA-SMITH-COLUMN:LA—<I couldn't help but notice all of the high-minded speechifying on Capitol Hill this week, particularly the male senators who felt the need to make grand proclamations about women's rights and how far my gender has come in America.

Their proof, of course, was Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the white woman from Indiana waiting to take her seat on the Supreme Court.

Maybe so. But his words, spoken with such insufferably blind gusto, were also a reminder of the persistent political disinterest in acknowledging — much less fixing — the racial inequities that make it harder for most women who look like me to succeed in even close to the same way in America.

1200 by Erika D. Smith. MOVED



^Jonah Goldberg: Barrett's 'originalist' stance is the only one that makes sense<

^GOLDBERG-COLUMN:MCT—<Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, is an "originalist." Given that originalism is a term coined by lawyers, it shouldn't surprise anyone that there are many different flavors of originalism. But, as Barrett explained in her confirmation hearings, they all share the basic idea that the meaning of the Constitution can be found in the Constitution.

"So in English," she explained, "that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn't change over time. And it's not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it."

I don't understand why this should be a difficult concept to understand. And yet for some people, it remains not only incomprehensible but utterly contemptible.

850 by Jonah Goldberg. MOVED

^Leonard Pitts Jr.: Living in an era where misinformation is weaponized<

^PITTS-COLUMN-ADV18:MI—<"Jared Kushner is under federal investigation for diverting money to terrorist organizations according to a guy I met at the gas station who told me he works for the FBI" is something I would never be allowed to publish.

"Donald Trump Jr. has an escalating cocaine dependency problem according to a woman I ran into at the supermarket who told me she's his dealer" is another sentence my editor would flag.

There is, you see, this thing in the news business called judgment. You may or may not have ever heard of it, though it is supposed to be one of the foundation stones of journalism.

800 by Leonard Pitts Jr. MOVED



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^Editorial: Trump is not to be trusted on preexisting conditions<

^TRUMP-HEALTHCARE-EDITORIAL:BLO—<President Donald Trump keeps on saying he'll protect people with preexisting health conditions even if he succeeds in killing the Affordable Care Act — and, oddly enough, quite a few people appear to believe him. Yet he has no plan for an alternative to the ACA, and he hasn't said how he means to keep his promise to protect those at risk.

Safeguarding people with preexisting conditions demands more than vague pledges. It requires laws that both regulate and support the health insurance system — just as the ACA has done for several years. It also involves an inescapable trade-off, because protecting the most vulnerable means higher costs. The president refuses to address the issue seriously. As on many other matters, he is not to be trusted.

750 by The Editors. MOVED


^Editorial: But his emails: On Twitter and Facebook's treatment of a dubious expose<

^SOCIALMEDIA-CONTENT-EDITORIAL:NY—<There are huge credibility questions swirling around a series of reports by the tabloid across town, all of which emanate from a laptop, said to be Hunter Biden's, supposedly left behind at a Delaware repair shop. On that computer, says the New York Post, is a 2015 email suggesting Joe Biden's son tried to arrange for a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm to meet with his father.

What concerns us is the way two major conduits by which Americans get their news online, Twitter and Facebook, have all but disappeared the Post's reports as they undertake efforts to verify them.

350 by Daily News Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: We need to make voting easier, not harder<

^TEXAS-MAILVOTING-EDITORIAL:DA—<Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is right.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Texas can limit counties to one mail ballot drop-off site. The ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting drop-off sites was proper because Texans have other ways to cast their votes.

Indeed, Texans have other ways to vote. Eligible voters can early vote in person or by mail, or show up at the polls on Election Day. But in a year when COVID-19, voting rights and the ballot integrity are top of mind to many voters, the governor's decision to limit counties to a single drop-off location unnecessarily complicates an already chaotic voting cycle.

500 by Dallas Morning News Editorial. MOVED


^Editorial: Don't get 'Berned' by sleazy slate mailers<

^CAMPAIGN-CALIF-MAILERS-EDITORIAL:LA—<Amid the campaign season avalanche of political mailings, there have been a few doozies lately. Take, for example, the "Feel the Bern, Progressive Voter Guide," which purports to give a lefty lift to a host of candidates and ballot measures.

The mailer includes an endorsement of Proposition 22, the Uber- and Lyft-backed ballot initiative to exempt drivers for app-based services from a new state law that classifies gig workers as employees entitled to state labor protections.

The mailer raised eyebrows for a number of reasons.

450 by The Times Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: Shocking new rates for homeowners insurance threaten Florida's economy<

^REAL-FLA-INSURANCE-EDITORIAL:FL—<Florida homeowners, already facing an anxious few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, face a new threat — the prospect of major cost increases for property insurance.

As the Sun Sentinel reported Sunday, the increases could range from 30% to 40%. They would come just as Gov. Ron DeSantis has ended the moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. It also seems likely that Senate Republicans won't pass a second COVID-19 stimulus bill that could help laid-off homeowners pay their insurance premiums.

How will the Florida Legislature respond? If history is a guide, the priority will be to please the insurance industry, not policyholders.

900 by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. MOVED


^Editorial: Hypocrites United: In the spirit of Citizens United, documentarians release 'Totally Under Control'; more power to them<

^MOVIE-TOTALLY-UNDER-CONTROL-EDITORIAL:NY—<In 2008, a conservative nonprofit organization, Citizens United, tried releasing its anti-Hillary Clinton documentary "Hillary: The Movie." It was set to air as video on demand close to a key Democratic presidential primary — except that was banned under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, usually called McCain-Feingold, as "electioneering communication."

In a 5-4 decision in 2010, the Supreme Court would hold that no law could constitutionally prevent Citizens United from airing its documentary or advertising it. The First Amendment's protections of free speech were a higher value, even if that speech came from a nonprofit or (gasp!) a corporation.

300 by Daily News Editorial Board. MOVED




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