His latest column is on the infighting over control of the libertarian Cato Institute:
The Koch brothers’ motive seems clear, to the extent there’s clarity in human motivation. They want to rid the Oval Office of a pest and Congress of the pestilence’s plague-carriers. In their battle against statist disease, the Kochs seem to regard Cato’s individualism as too individualistic. They want a more collective effort to cure collectivism.
Current Cato board chairman Bob Levy met with David Koch and some of Koch’s political advisers last November. According to Levy, “They said that a principal goal was to defeat Barack Obama. The way David put it was, ‘We would like you to provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations.’ AFP and others would apply Cato’s work to advance their electoral goals.”
Of course, if David Koch had bothered to read the Cato trove of books, articles, policy analysis, and research on the Obama administration’s bunk and boners, he would have found six-shooter ammunition enough to burst through the swinging doors of the Electoral Goals Saloon and make every sarsaparilla-drinking tenderfoot in the Democratic party dance.
[. . .]
And Cato couldn’t be involved in partisan politics. Everyone there is a libertarian. You might as well command your cat to bring you your pajamas as tell a bunch of libertarians to get on the same political platform. I know these people. Ron Paul is a bien-pensant by comparison. Cato scholars prize contentious thought. Get in a debate with one and you’ll find out he doesn’t even agree with himself.
[. . .]
It can be said, with some justice, that libertarians apply only one measure to every issue. But what a sublime yardstick it is. Libertarians ask, about each thing they encounter in public life, “Does this promote the liberty, responsibility, and dignity of the individual?” Libertarianism can have political implications, but politics is, by definition, mass action. And libertarians don’t believe in the masses. They believe in the individuals huddled in those masses. A pure libertarian is opposed to politics down to the soles of his shoes (or, libertarians being libertarians, down to the bottom of his sandals worn with socks). Libertarianism is contra-political, an emetic dose to be given to politics. As we’ve seen lately, all politics needs one sometimes.
H/T to Walter Olson for the link.
Brad DeLong rounds up some of what’s being said about the attempt by Charles Koch to take control of the Cato Institute:
Ed Crane on the Koch Brothers:
Charles G. Koch has filed a lawsuit as part of an effort to gain control of the Cato Institute, which he co-founded with me in 1977. While Mr. Koch and entities controlled by him have supported the Cato Institute financially since that time, Mr. Koch and his affiliates have exercised no significant influence over the direction or management of the Cato Institute, or the work done here. Mr. Koch’s actions in Kansas court yesterday represent an effort by him to transform Cato from an independent, nonpartisan research organization into a political entity that might better support his partisan agenda. We view Mr. Koch’s actions as an attempt at a hostile takeover, and intend to fight it vehemently in order to continue as an independent research organization, advocating for Individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.
Jonathan Adler on the Koch Brothers:
The Volokh Conspiracy » Koch v. Cato: Cato’s Crane and Cato Chairman Bob Levy charge the [Kochs’ law]suit is about transforming Cato into a less independent and more political (if not also more partisan) institution…. Many libertarian-leaning organizations receive money from the Kochs and their foundations and are attacked on this basis. Such attacks can be deflected, as financial support is not the same thing as control. But if the Koch brothers themselves represent the controlling majority of an organization’s board, that organization is, by definition, a Koch-run enterprise…. They will forevermore characterize the Cato Institute as “Koch-controlled” — and, as a legal matter, they will be correct…. [A]ny benefit from whatever changes they could make will be outweighed to the permanent damage to Cato’s reputation caused by turning it into a de facto Koch subsidiary. In short, they will have destroyed the Cato Institute to save it.
Update: Jason Kuznicki on the internal side of the debate at Cato:
When I learned that the Kochs were suing Cato, I’m sorry to say that one of the first things I felt was vindication. I’d been saying for years that Cato was essentially an independent shop. The suit makes no sense unless I was right all along.
I’ve worked at Cato for five and a half years. In that time I have never seen a single decision made in consideration of the Koch brothers’ wishes. Cato has always appeared to be run by two people: its president, Ed Crane, and its executive vice president, David Boaz. It was like that when I was hired, and it’s like that now.
Even they don’t call all the shots, either; plenty of things get published that they actually disagree with, including some of my stuff. The people who spin elaborate fantasies about the Kochs acting as our puppet masters were, and are, dead wrong. They’ve been wrong since at least the early 90s, if not earlier. I’ve been saying so for years. Now the whole Cato Institute is in open revolt against the Kochs, a revolt that grew up with astonishing speed.
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Techdirt reports on the work done by Julian Sanchez at the Cato Institute to actually scrutinize the “loss” numbers used by the MPAA:
One of the things we’ve noticed in the debate over SOPA and PIPA is just how the other side is really lying with statistics. We’ve done a thorough debunking of the stats used by the US Chamber of Commerce to support both bills, as well as highlighted the misleading-to-bogus stats used by Lamar Smith in his support of the bill.
But every day, more bogus stats are rolled out. Julian Sanchez, over at the Cato Institute, has decided to dig into one specific bogus number, the supposed claim of $58 billion in “losses,” and to show how the numbers don’t hold up to any scrutiny. In fact, using the details of where the numbers came from, Sanchez makes the case that SOPA won’t save a single net job for the US economy. Read on to find out how.
First off, the $58 billion comes from an absolutely laughable report for the Institute for Policy Innovation, done every year by Stephen Siwek at a firm called Economists Incorporated. We’ve challenged this ridiculous number in the past, but not to the level of detail that Sanchez has here. He starts out by bringing up (as we have many times), Tim Lee’s excellent debunking of the ridiculous “ripple effects” that Siwek/IPI always use, despite them being a trick to double, triple, quadruple, etc count the same dollars [. . .]
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“epistemicfail” is trying to rally liberal and progressive forces to recognize and combat the evil that is embodied in the Koch brothers:
The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That’s small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren’t enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:
1. decriminalize drugs,
2. legalize gay marriage,
3. repeal the Patriot Act,
4. end the police state,
5. cut defense spending.
Who hates the police? Only the criminals using drugs, amirite? We need the Patriot Act to allow government to go through our emails and tap our phones to catch people who smoke marijuana and put them in prison. Oh, it’s also good for terrorists.
Wikipedia shows Koch Family Foundations supporting causes like:
1. CATO Institute
2. Reason Foundation
3. cancer research ($150 million to M.I.T. – STOP THEM! KEEP CANCER ALIVE!)
4. ballet (because seriously: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.)
The Kochs basically give a TON of money (millions of dollars) to the CATO Institute. Scott Walker, $40K? HAH! These CATO people are the REAL problem. They want to end the War on Drugs. Insane, right? We know that the War on Drugs keeps us SAFE from Mexicans and keeps all that violence on their side of the fence. More than 30,000 Mexicans killed as of December! Thank God Mexican lives don’t count as human lives. Our government is doing a good, no, a great job protecting us and seriously, who cares about brown people or should I say non-people? HAHAHA! Public unions are good, government is good, and government protects us from drugs and brown people. The Kochs want to end all that. Look, as far back as 1989 CATO has been trying to decriminalize drugs. Don’t worry, nobody listens to them because they are INSANE.
Let’s hope they heed his call.
The Cato Institute provides an interactive map of paramilitary police raids:
View Original Map and Database
Click on each marker on the map for a description of the incident and sources. Markers are precise in cases where the address of an incident was reported. Where media reports indicate only a town or neighborhood, markers are located at the closest post office, city hall, or landmark. Incident descriptions and outcomes are kept as current as possible.
Other map features:
– Using the “plus” and “minus” buttons in the map’s upper left-hand corner, users can zoom in on the map to street-level, as well as switch between street map and satellite views. In some large metropolitan areas, there are so many incidents in such close proximity that they tend to overlap unless viewed on a small scale (try zooming in on New York City, for example).
– Users may isolate the incidents by type by clicking on the colored markers in the key (see only “death of an innocent” markers, for example).
– The search function just below the map produces printable descriptions of the raids plotted on the map, and is sortable by state, year, and type of incident.
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