Monday, March 19, 2012

P.J. O'Rourke on Cato's "Family Feud"

From the Weekly Standard:

"Cato has aided me with almost everything I’ve written about politics. Maybe saying so will lower the institution’s prestige enough that the Koch brothers will leave it alone. If they prevail they’ll lose Cato’s H.L. Mencken Research Fellow. (The position—unpaid and worth it—was conferred on me by Crane back when the insensitive language in Mencken’s diary was shocking the kind of people who’d later forget to be shocked by Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.)

More to the point, the Koch brothers will lose the think tank’s impressive roster of thinkers and scholars. I haven’t polled them as to who would stay and who would go under a Koch regime. But, as I said, I know libertarians. If the Kochs win the pot, they’ll have to piss in it. It will be empty otherwise."

HT: Fred Dent

18 Comments:

At 3/19/2012 1:37 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Ideological snits and quarrels are the rightful province of feckless leftists

But libertarians do this just as masterfully as the left.

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.

Yes sure. The bastion if individualism that is CATO, sending "experts" every night to talk shows on Russia Today, and writing "hard hitting" articles on how, really, if you think about it, Georgia got what it deserved in 2008.

Get in a debate with one and you’ll find out he doesn’t even agree with himself.

Which is, of course, a sure way of becoming instantly irrelevant.

Libertarianism is of great worth even to those who consider Atlas Shrugged useful mainly as dead weight to keep the tarp on the above-ground pool from blowing away.

It sure is. I'm not sure that CATO authors, however, are the best representative of such thought.

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?”

I'll play that game. Does appearing on RT and getting paid by a petty little nasty dictator in Russia, promote liberty, responsibility and dignity of the individual?

There’s no point in vilifying the Kochs.

You just did, by implying that they must be against all of what you mentioned above.

All this does not, however, in the case of the Cato Institute, keep them from being fools.

So his argument is "hey man, we're a bunch of free spirits and junk man! We're all groovy man! We just wanna chillax and write groovy music and poems and let our spirits guide us. Just give us money man, but don't be runinin' our vibe man. That's not cool dude. Not cool."

 
At 3/19/2012 1:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well aig, there's just no pleasing you liberals is there?

 
At 3/19/2012 1:59 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I got to admit, as a sponsor of CATO, I am finding this very public power-struggle a little unnerving. I've been sponsoring CATO since my college days and, if the Koch brothers (who I have no ill-will towards) win, I may have to stop giving.

 
At 3/19/2012 2:16 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Well aig, there's just no pleasing you liberals is there?

I am very easily pleased. Just stop being tools of Comrade Putin. And stop acting like a bunch of hippies.

 
At 3/19/2012 2:57 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Forgive me, AIG, but I do not recall any CATO scholars justifying the invasion of Georgia. Is there a particular article or video you are referencing?

 
At 3/19/2012 3:20 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I wonder how many realized the history and connection between the Koch Brothers and Cato?

will more widespread knowledge of this ...tarnish Cato in the eyes of those who may lean towards libertarianism but are not hard core?

this "sounds" like CATO may have parted company with the Koch boys are some issues.

Knowing that CATO = Koch Brothers probably will not be a plus.

 
At 3/19/2012 3:27 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Larry,

Most people who read and follow CATO know the Koch's helped found it and own about 15% of it. But they have always just been that, a minority owner. I don't think the Koch being involved in CATO is a surprise to anyone.

What is a surprise and pissing a lot of the hard-core intellectual libertarians, such as my self, off is this sudden strong-arm tactic to seize the board. CATO has always largely been out of political frays (meaning they aren't for hire and didn't do work specifically for politicians, like Heritage). The intellectuals fear the Kochs may try to turn CATO into a policy-based think tank as opposed to an issue-based one.

 
At 3/19/2012 5:08 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Forgive me, AIG, but I do not recall any CATO scholars justifying the invasion of Georgia. Is there a particular article or video you are referencing?

Yes

Most people who read and follow CATO know the Koch's helped found it and own about 15% of it. But they have always just been that, a minority owner.

They own 50%. They are not a minority shareholder.

is this sudden strong-arm tactic to seize the board.

They have a legal argument for taking over the shares. CATO clearly must know that the Koch brothers are in the right, which is why they are making so much noise.

They're like the teenage kid making noise in their parent's house because the parents don't let them do everything they want. Hey, my roof, my rules. The Kochs aren't doing anything different.

The intellectuals fear the Kochs may try to turn CATO into a policy-based think tank as opposed to an issue-based one.

I'm sorry, but calling oneself an "intellectual" doesn't elevate one to some magical level of unaccountability. It certainly doesn't elevate them above the level of being lackeys for the Kremlin ;) , evidently.

CATO has become an "issue-based" organization. But if I wanted to hear their "opinions" on some of those issues, I'd go listen to a Socialist Worker Rally against the War. So I won't shed any tears for certain CATO "intellectuals"

 
At 3/19/2012 5:42 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Forgive me, AIG, but I do not recall any CATO scholars justifying the invasion of Georgia. Is there a particular article or video you are referencing?

Yes


Ok, what's the article?

They own 50%. They are not a minority shareholder.

Yeah, no. That's just wrong.

They have a legal argument for taking over the shares. CATO clearly must know that the Koch brothers are in the right, which is why they are making so much noise.

They're like the teenage kid making noise in their parent's house because the parents don't let them do everything they want. Hey, my roof, my rules. The Kochs aren't doing anything different.


Yeah, no. If that were the case, then this would not be going to court. The shareholder agreement says the shares are the property of the owner. The Kochs are arguing they are the property of the corporation.

I'm sorry, but calling oneself an "intellectual" doesn't elevate one to some magical level of unaccountability. It certainly doesn't elevate them above the level of being lackeys for the Kremlin ;) , evidently.

Um...I didn't say that. When I say they are intellectuals, I merely mean that is all they do; they are academics. Academics do not like authority messing with their research. That's what they are afraid will happen.

C'mon, AIG, you're usually not like this, but what you are spouting is is stupidity, and what's worse, is I suspect you know it.

 
At 3/19/2012 8:18 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Academics do not like authority messing with their research

These are the "researchers" who publish yearly a status of American infrastructure based entirely on the results of ASCE publications. Yep, crack research.

Ok, what's the article?

CATO "crack academic researchers" have said several times in various articles that Georgia started the war and Russia only acted in self-defense. Oops.

Yeah, no. That's just wrong.

I'm going by what O'Rourke mentions in his article: "Half the shares are owned by the Kochs, a quarter are owned by Cato president Ed Crane, and, until his death last October, the remaining shares were owned by Cato board chairman William Niskanen"

 
At 3/19/2012 8:21 PM, Blogger AIG said...

C'mon, AIG, you're usually not like this, but what you are spouting is is stupidity, and what's worse, is I suspect you know it.

I enjoy CATO discussion panels from time to time, but that's because they invite people from outside the organisation. The regulars and core members of that group have, in my opinion, become far to extreme in the last few years over issues which are increasingly marginal.

That, and their relationship with RT. That really p**es me off.

 
At 3/19/2012 10:37 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

AIG: "CATO "crack academic researchers" have said several times in various articles that Georgia started the war and Russia only acted in self-defense. Oops. "

I too would be interested in such an article. can you be any more specific than "crack academic researchers" and "several times"? A quick search didn't turn up anything I thought fit the description, and I don't want to spend a lot of time searching for something, when I don't know it exists, or what it looks like.

 
At 3/19/2012 11:34 PM, Blogger StVIS said...

AIG,

It's interesting you bring up Russia. In reality, the Kochs' family fortune was kick started by the USSR: in the 1920s, the brothers' father, Fred, invented a cracking process that obtained more gasoline from crude oil, but was muscled out of the US market by the large oil companies through the courts. (Fred eventually won, but not until the 1940s). Looking for money, he turned to Joseph Stalin, who contracted him to build oil refineries for $5 million.

Starting with Fred, the Koch family has a long history of dispensing large sums of money to influence government affairs. They're about as libertarian as Pope John Paul II was a warmonger.

 
At 3/19/2012 11:56 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I've been sponsoring CATO since my college days and, if the Koch brothers (who I have no ill-will towards) win, I may have to stop giving"...

I too have been a Cato since '81 and though I'm also Koch brothers fan I don't want Cato to end up being their megaphone...

 
At 3/19/2012 11:58 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I am very easily pleased. Just stop being tools of Comrade Putin. And stop acting like a bunch of hippies"...

I'm guessing that might've made sense to someone aig but its further indication to me at least that your tethering to reality is questionable...

 
At 3/20/2012 12:00 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"CATO "crack academic researchers" have said several times in various articles that Georgia started the war and Russia only acted in self-defense. Oops"...

Got something credible to back that statemenjt up aig, it definitely be worth reading...

 
At 3/20/2012 7:42 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I got to admit, as a sponsor of CATO, I am finding this very public power-struggle a little unnerving. I've been sponsoring CATO since my college days and, if the Koch brothers (who I have no ill-will towards) win, I may have to stop giving.

I have news for you. Cato abandoned the principles on which it was founded more than 30 years ago. And let me remind you that we have all seen this story before. Crane and the Koch brothers gave up libertarian principles when they chose to try to take over the Libertarian Party. The current debate is all about gaining more influence over the Republican Party. And that road leads to oblivion for any principled individual who cares about justice and liberty.

 
At 3/20/2012 7:44 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Forgive me, AIG, but I do not recall any CATO scholars justifying the invasion of Georgia. Is there a particular article or video you are referencing?

AIG is confused. Most of the Cato scholars are just as pro-war as he is. They backed Bush to the hilt and seem to be happy with the foreign policy prescriptions of the neoconservatives who have been so instrumental in the Clinton/Bush/Obama administrations.

 

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