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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Eugene Robinson: To get sensible gun control, Democrats must take the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and the Republican Party might not have pulled the triggers, but they still bear some responsibility for the weekend’s atrocities. The only way to keep military-style weapons of war out of the clutches of would-be mass killers is to take away McConnell’s power — which means electing a Democratic majority in the Senate next year.

It is also necessary, of course, for a Democrat to defeat President Trump, whose racist rhetoric gives aid and comfort to white supremacists such as the gunman who allegedly killed 22 innocent people at a Walmart and shopping center in El Paso. But even with Trump gone, McConnell will continue using his power over the Senate’s agenda to keep sensible gun-control measures from even being considered.

The Republican Party’s absurd “analysis” of the weekend’s double horror — first El Paso and then, just hours later, the killing of nine men and women in Dayton, Ohio, by a young gunman — would be laughable if this were a moment for laughter. Trump blamed the carnage on the Internet, violent video games and mental illness, in that order. But all of these phenomena are present in every other industrialized country, yet none suffers the kind of horrific gun violence we routinely experience in the United States. Japan, where a culture of violent video gaming is deeply rooted, has essentially no gun violence at all.

The difference? Our nation is awash in guns, and anyone can obtain one. In Sydney or Seoul or Stockholm, a delusional racist bent on a killing spree cannot easily, quickly and legally get his hands on an AK-47-style assault rifle. Here, no problem.

Paul Krugman: Trump’s China Shock

What the heck is going on?

I didn’t know that the Dow was going to drop 750 points, so my latest column is El Paso-related. Probably the right choice anyway, because US-China is moving so fast that anything in the print paper would be out of date.

But it does look as if I should try to explain (a) what I think is happening (b) why the markets are going so nuts. By the way, given Mnuchin’s declaration just a few minutes ago that China is a currency manipulator, tomorrow’s market action should be … interesting.

So here’s the thing: neither Trump’s tariff announcement last week nor, especially, the depreciation of China’s currency today should objectively be that big a deal. Trump slapped 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports, which is a tax hike of 0.1 percent of US GDP and 0.15 percent of Chinese GDP.

In response, China let its currency drop by about 2 percent. For comparison, the British pound has dropped around 9 percent since May, when it became clear that a no-deal Brexit was likely.

So why are these smallish numbers such a big deal? Mostly because we’ve learned things about the protagonists in this trade conflict, things that make a bigger, longer trade war seem a lot more likely than it did even a few days ago.

Frank Figliuzzi: I Predicted More Hate-Based Violence. El Paso Won’t Be the End of It.

President Trump has yet to apologize for painting people of color as outsiders and invaders.

Three days before a mass shooting that killed at least 21 people in El Paso, I predicted in these pages that we were on the path to a frightening uptick in white nationalistic hate violence. The El Paso terrorist appears to have been motivated by a racist ideology that cited other mass shootings, including in Christchurch, New Zealand. The F.B.I. has labeled it domestic terrorism and the governor of Texas has suggested that it be prosecuted as a hate crime. I have never felt so badly about being so right.

I made that prediction because I learned from 25 years in the F.B.I., including during a stint as head of counterintelligence, to trust my gut when I saw a threat unfolding. Now, my instinct and experience tell me that El Paso will not be the end of it, and that we are headed for more hate-based violence potentially stoked by a divisive president. (The motive for a second mass shooting on Sunday in Dayton is less clear.)

Yes, President Trump has fallen short of calling for violence against minorities and immigrants. And yes, he condemned racist violence and white supremacy on Monday. But he has yet to apologize for painting people of color as outsiders and invaders, for calling for them to be sent back to where they came from, and for asserting that no humans would want to live in certain American cities. As a consequence, he has given license to those who feel compelled to eradicate what Mr. Trump himself has called an infestation.

George T. Conway III and Neal Katyal: It’s time to debate gun control on its merits

The senseless shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, should lead every American to contemplate what to do about guns. Policymakers have largely been paralyzed, partly because the public debate has been dominated by extremes. The loudest voices on the political left seek to take away as many firearms as it can, of all kinds, and to overturn Supreme Court decisions recognizing the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms. The loudest voices on the political right, for their part, oppose virtually all gun regulation, both on policy and constitutional grounds, fearing that a slippery slope will lead to the abolition of firearms.

But both are wrong, because of one simple reality. And acknowledging that reality opens up the space for sensible regulation of firearms, regulation that both owners and non-owners of guns should embrace.

The reality is, guns in America aren’t going away. That’s because the Constitution actually does protect an individual right to keep and bear them. Certainly there was an argument to be made that the Second Amendment didn’t vest individuals with any rights at all, given its reference to a “well regulated Militia.” But as the Supreme Court explained in two landmark decisions, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the weight of the evidence — including the Second Amendment’s textual structure and its historical context — makes clear that the right to keep and bear arms wasn’t meant to be confined to members of militias.

Moustafa Bayoumi: Trump’s response to the weekend massacres show he is an ethical black hole

Donald Trump continues to play his cynical game of dodging responsibility, shifting blame and exploiting tragedy. In a press conference called to address the horrors of two mass shootings in the United States over the past weekend, the president said nothing about his pivotal role in stoking fear and racism among certain segments of the population, said nothing about the fact that five of the 10 deadliest shootings in American history have happened since 2016, the fact that he has become a figurehead in the dark underground of the global white nationalist movement.

Instead, Trump blamed the internet, blamed video games, blamed Congress and blamed “mental health issues”. By tying legislation for tougher gun laws to immigration reform, as he tweeted earlier, Trump also and by extension blamed immigrants, who themselves are the victims of the very racism that has been unleashed by this president.

With this ethical black hole of leadership and narcissistic exploitation of other people’s tragedy, Trump proves once again – as if we needed any more proof – that he is unfit for the office he occupies. But the tragedy is larger than his job. It’s also what he’s doing to our country.

How are we, the ordinary people of this country, supposed to go about our daily lives in this country any more? The victims in Ohio were doing nothing but enjoying themselves before they were gunned down. The killed and wounded in El Paso were doing nothing but back-to-school shopping.