Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Paul Krugman: Democrats for Family Values

Elizabeth Warren has another very good proposal.

For millions of Americans with children, life is a constant, desperate balancing act. They must work during the day, either because they’re single parents or because decades of wage stagnation mean that both parents must take jobs to make ends meet. Yet quality child care is unavailable or unaffordable.

And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Other wealthy countries either have national child care systems or subsidize care to put it in everyone’s reach. It doesn’t even cost all that much. While other advanced countries spend, on average, about three times as much as we do helping families — so much for our vaunted “family values” — it’s still a relatively small part of their budgets. In particular, taking care of children is much cheaper than providing health care and retirement income to seniors, which even America does.

Furthermore, caring for children doesn’t just help them grow up to be productive adults. It also has immediate economic benefits, making it easier for parents to stay in the work force.

Adam Schiff: An open letter to my Republican colleagues

This is a moment of great peril for our democracy. Our country is deeply divided. Our national discourse has become coarse, indeed, poisonous. Disunity and dysfunction have paralyzed Congress.

And while our attention is focused inward, the world spins on, new authoritarian regimes are born, old rivals spread their pernicious ideologies, and the space for freedom-loving peoples begins to contract violently. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, the prevailing sentiment among our closest allies is that the United States can no longer be counted on to champion liberal democracy or defend the world order we built.

For the past two years, we have examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its attempts to influence the 2018 midterms. Moscow’s effort to undermine our democracy was spectacularly successful in inflaming racial, ethnic and other divides in our society and turning American against American.

But the attack on our democracy had its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not lead us to distrust our own intelligence agencies or the FBI. He could not cause us to view our own free press as an enemy of the people. He could not undermine the independence of the Justice Department or denigrate judges. Only we could do that to ourselves. Although many forces have contributed to the decline in public confidence in our institutions, one force stands out as an accelerant, like gas on a fire. And try as some of us might to avoid invoking the arsonist’s name, we must say it.

I speak, of course, of our president, Donald Trump.

Eugene Robinson: Jussie Smollett’s alleged lies will bring great harm to innocent victims

I hope actor Jussie Smollett gets the psychological help he apparently needs. And I hope authorities in Chicago throw the book at him, because the lies he is accused of telling will likely bring great harm to innocent victims.

Smollett’s arrest Thursday for allegedly filing a false police report came as no surprise. His improbable tale — he said he was accosted last month by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, beat him up, put a noose around his neck and doused him with bleach, with one of the men saying, “This is [Make America Great Again] country” — sounded like a page from the first draft of a rejected screenplay.

Real life doesn’t happen that way. Actual white supremacists and homophobes don’t stroll through the streets of Chicago on a bitterly cold night, carrying a hate-crimes kit of rope and Clorox, hoping to chance upon someone who is black, gay and modestly famous. They don’t hurl perfectly scripted insults. They don’t vanish without a trace.

The minute I heard Smollett’s story, I suspected it would eventually fall apart — and I feared the potential consequences for genuine victims of genuine hate crimes.

Catherine Rampell: President Tariff Man may be learning all the wrong lessons from his trade wars

President Tariff Man may be learning all the wrong lessons from his trade wars. Specifically: that higher tariffs work.

U.S. and Chinese officials are meeting in Washington this week for another round of trade negotiations. If recent reporting proves correct, the talks look likely to result in a commitment to . . . keep talking. Also possibly a series of vague, unenforceable “memorandums of understanding.”

If that’s what ends up happening, markets are likely to celebrate. Not because this will represent progress, necessarily. Mostly because it might signal a reprieve from a highly feared scenario: that President Trump would follow through with threats to ratchet up tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from his already destructive rate of 10 percent to a possibly disastrous 25 percent after March 1.

To be fair, it would be fabulous if these talks actually lead China to respect intellectual property rights; end forced technology transfer, cybertheft and huge market-distorting subsidies; and commit to enforcement mechanisms and accountability measures for all these objectives.

But this outcome seems highly unlikely at present.

Jill Filipovic: Elizabeth Warren’s life story proves she’s right to put childcare first

Want to see a stark example of why having women in positions of power matters? Look no further than Elizabeth Warren, who is leading her campaign with an ambitious plan to provide affordable childcare for all American families.

In announcing her proposal, Warren got personal, telling the story of her own childcare struggles. Unable to figure out who would watch her kids while she worked, Warren was about to quit her job as a law professor in Houston when her Aunt Bee offered to come lend a hand – and didn’t leave for 16 years. Consider the power in that: Warren’s moved up the ranks at University of Houston Law Center to become an associate dean, which led to various teaching stints at top-tier law schools, which led to a job at Harvard. As one of the nation’s top professors, she was tapped by various government agencies to help draft, oversee and implement legislation intended to protect consumers and stabilize the economy. Her foot in the political door – and surely realizing she had a talent for it – Warren ran for US Senate and won, and is now one of the leading contenders for the presidency.

Imagine the potential that would have been wasted had Warren not been able to cobble together care for her kids. Consider the enormous potential that is wasted because so many American women don’t have an Aunt Bee.