Recent opinion items of interest:
William Saletan, Slate‘s most knee-jerk contrarian, thinks Pakistan is weird for asking the CIA to stop waging warfare with drones in its sovereign territory after the Raymond Davis debacle. After all, says Saletan, fewer drones will inevitably mean more ex-S.F. thugs with car trunks full of weapons and theatrical makeup. Apparently the idea that Pakistan, our nominal ally, should have the right to ask the U.S. to simply stop sending agents of any kind (mechanical or human) to kill people within its borders, is just absurd. Duly noted.
Alyssa Battistoni writes intriguingly in Salon about the political difficulty in raising taxes on the wealthy. The main problem, says Battistoni, is that Americans tend to view taxation as redistributing money from one class to another, rather than as paying for services that you will one day partake of. She also argues that structural factors that contribute to our staggering income inequality make the tax burden fall hardest on the wealthy because no one else can afford to pay: “[P]rogressives can [agree] with the right that the rich pay proportionately too much tax — because the rich make too much in proportion to the rest of the country. Don’t get me wrong — we should insist upon higher tax rates for the wealthy, and our tax system should remain strongly progressive. Yet at the same time, we must seriously confront the task of broadening the tax base — that is, of building a stronger, more egalitarian, more just economy.”
Via Glenn Greenwald, Alan Kuperman claims in the Boston Globe that the Obama administration took slim, ill-founded evidence of Qaddafi’s intent to massacre civilians in Benghazi as an excuse to gin up a regime-change war. “It is hard to know whether the White House was duped by the rebels or conspired with them to pursue regime-change on bogus humanitarian grounds. In either case, intervention quickly exceeded the UN mandate of civilian protection….” Quite. I can’t help observing, not without admiration, that Obama has done the same thing the Bush administration did — get the U.S. into an unnecessary war in the Middle East on extremely dubious grounds — in a much slicker way: less expensive, more effective, with international cooperation, and all while maintaining an approval rating “in the 80 percent range” among self-described liberals. Hats off, sir.