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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Tammy Duckworth: I’m a combat veteran. We cannot allow our country to be turned into a war zone.

Josephine Gay loved to spend her summers running her own lemonade stand.

Siretha White’s mother called her “Nugget” because she brought her family more joy than a nugget of gold.

Peter Wang had his heart set on serving his country in uniform one day.

Josephine was 7 when she was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Siretha was 10 when she was gunned down at her birthday party in Chicago. Peter was 15 when he sacrificed his own life to help his classmates escape a shooter at a Parkland, Fla., high school.

This past week, as we mourned the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, I couldn’t help but think about who these kids would’ve become if they’d been allowed to grow up — if they hadn’t lost their lives to gun violence before they’d even really started living.

Imagine your own little girl or boy being forced to stare down the barrel of a semiautomatic. Then imagine knowing that their death was preventable — if only it weren’t so easy for anyone to get their hands on weapons of war, including the AR-15s used in most mass shootings in recent memory.

I come from a long line of combat veterans who have taken up arms to defend this nation since before George Washington crossed the Delaware, and I spent decades in the military myself. So I understand why these kinds of weapons exist.

But what I don’t get is why semiautomatics that U.S. service members carry around Fallujah are being sold to teenagers at the corner gun store.

Catherine Rampell: After Shock

The vital signs aren’t good. The S&P 500 has fallen more than 10 percent since its September peak, which technically puts us in “correction” territory. In the past few weeks, markets whipsawed over whether we do or do not have a trade deal with China (we don’t) and whether President Trump will further jack up tariffs on Chinese-made goods (still unclear).

Stock wobbles alone don’t necessarily imply an immediate downturn, of course. (They “forecast nine of the last five recessions,” Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson once quipped.) But consumers also report rising pessimism to pollsters. The Treasury yield curve — which shows interest rates for bonds at different maturity dates — has partially inverted, which can signal that traders think the Federal Reserve will have to slash rates to goose the economy. Virtually every independent forecaster foresees a slowdown once the sugar rush of Trump’s tax cuts wears off in the next year or so. And in a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal, more than half predicted that we’d have a full-blown recession by 2020.

Statistically speaking, given how long the economy has been growing, it’s overdue — and the eventual collapse may bear Trump’s fingerprints. After all, his new trade barriers have lifted manufacturing costs, closed off markets and clouded the future for American firms with global supply chains. Economists say Trump’s trade war is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy in 2019. In loonier moments, the president has also threatened to default on our debt, ramp up the printing press, reinstate the gold standard or deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants. Some of those policies would ignite not just a recession but an immediate, global financial crisis.

Charles M. Blow: It Is So Much Worse Than I Thought

I will be going on book leave soon — today is my last column for a while because of the holiday schedule — to write what I believe to be the most important thing that I’ve ever written.

No, it’s not about Donald Trump, just in case you were wondering.

But since I have written almost exclusively about Trump for more than two years, please allow me this parting assessment: It is so much worse than I thought.

My original objections to Trump, the things that pushed me into the Resistance, were his immorality, dishonesty, fraudulence and grift.

I freely admit now that I was seeing only the pointy edge of an enormous machine. I had no idea how immoral Trump actually is.

Bryce Covert: Sexual Harassment Is Illegal, but It May Not Get You Fired

Activists who have protested CBS’s handling of sexual harassment likely breathed a sigh of relief this week: the television network’s former chief executive, Les Moonves, will not get a golden parachute as he exits the company after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

It’s a small sliver of justice for the women who say he harassed them and then ruined their careers when they rebuffed him. But the fact that he stood to gain any money at all exposes the preposterous way that corporate America has treated sexual harassment.

It’s worth noting what should be obvious: Sexual harassment is illegal. That has been the case ever since Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, a 1986 Supreme Court decision that said that sexual harassment violates laws prohibiting workplace sex discrimination. And yet companies that catch an executive engaging in this illegal act can’t always fire him for cause. Even more typically, they turn a blind eye to such conduct. It bears repeating: This behavior violates the law.

Linda Greenhouse: A Supreme Court Divided. On the Right.

Last week, after the Supreme Court turned down appeals by two states that had tried to terminate Planned Parenthood’s status as a Medicaid provider, much of the commentary understandably centered on the implications of the court’s action for the future of abortion rights. My interest here is the implication for the future of the Roberts court.

The Supreme Court’s docket-setting process, by which it selects less than 1 percent of the appeals that reach it every year, is a black box. The justices almost never explain at the time why they agree to hear one appeal or turn down another. But in the case of the efforts by Louisiana and Kansas to “defund” Planned Parenthood — shorthand for disqualifying a health care provider from reimbursement eligibility under a state-administered Medicaid program for low-income individuals — the court’s three most conservative justices did us a great favor.