Libertarians vs the Kochtopus

A lawsuit by the Koch brothers threatens the Cato Institute’s reputation for independence

When scholars at the libertarian Cato Institute came out against the Gulf War, Olin Foundation president William E Simon was outraged. The foundation ended up withdrawing its support and, according to Brian Doherty in his book Radicals for Capitalism, Cato ended up losing nearly $1 million in funding as a result. Cato’s opposition to the war on drugs and its support for civil liberties have also led to tension with the mainstream conservative movement.

Since the 1950s, America’s conservative movement has allied conservatives with libertarians. Almost anyone who opposed liberals was welcome — even ex-Trotskyite neoconservatives. While think tanks like the Heritage Foundation attempt to fuse conservative and libertarian ideas, Cato has always been a libertarian think tank. But now a lawsuit may threaten Cato’s independence and draw it into the mainstream conservative effort to unseat Barack Obama.

Brothers Charles and David Koch have filed a lawsuit for control of the Washington based think tank but Cato president Ed Crane and his supporters are fighting back. The Institute has created a ‘Save Cato’ web page and supporters have created a ‘Save Cato’ Facebook page and are tweeting using the #savecato hashtag.

Cato has always relied on the Kochs for financial support and Charles Koch is one of the think tank’s founders.But as Cato research fellow Julian Sanchez writes: "after years of benign neglect, the Kochs have suddenly decided to use their existing shares in the Institute to attempt to pack the board with loyalists, several of whom are straight-up GOP operatives."

Former Cato vice president for research, Brink Lindsey writes:

Regardless of their intentions, the Kochs cannot take over Cato without destroying it. The mere act of converting Cato into a legally Koch-controlled entity – through a highly public and hotly contested legal proceeding, no less – would change Cato’s fundamental character in a way that would fatally compromise its hard-earned reputation for intellectual independence.

Even liberals are buying into the debate. At the Washington Post Ezra Klein declares that Cato is: "among a handful of think tanks whose work I regularly read and trust." It is not part party political the way the Heritage Foundation is, says Klein. Cato advocates libertarian principles "when Democrats are in power, and when Republicans are in power."

At Salon, Alex Pareene writes: "Cato is mostly antiwar, decidedly anti-drug war, and sponsors a lot of good work on civil liberties. That … is basically what the Kochs don’t like about them, because white papers on decriminalization don’t help Republicans get elected."

Ever since Friedrich Hayek advised Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) founder Anthony Fisher to focus on intellectuals and ideas rather than on politicians and elections, free market think tanks have taken a long term view of political change. In his book, Brian Doherty cites one longtime Koch lieutenant’s view of the original Koch strategy::

Politicians, ultimately, are just actors playing out a script. The idea is, one gets better and quicker results aiming not at the actors but at the scriptwriters, to help supply the themes and words for the scripts — to try to influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks (p 410).

But in a endnote he acknowledges that more recently the Kochs have changed tack, funding Republican candidates like George W Bush as well as libertarian intellectual work. Applied to Cato’s work, this partisan political approach would steer scholars away from ideas and policies that are unacceptable to the conservative mainstream and Republican candidates.

In particular, some Cato scholars worry that a more politically focused Cato Institute may abandon its principled libertarian stance on foreign policy and the war on drugs. And as Cato research fellow Jason Kuznicki writes: "A socially conservative, hawkish Cato wouldn’t be Cato anymore. It would be the west annex of the Heritage Foundation."

The lawsuit

On 1 March 2012 Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit for control of the Cato Institute. Cato is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit but unlike most nonprofits, it is a corporation controlled by a small number of shareholders. Until recently, the shareholders were Charles Koch, David Koch, Ed Crane and William Niskanen. Each held 25 per cent of the stock. The trouble began when William Niskanen in died October last year.

As the Washington Post’s TW Farnam explains, Cato, shareholders cannot sell or otherwise dispose of their shares without first offering to sell them to the corporation for the price they paid (Niskanen paid $1 for each of his 16 shares). The Koch brothers claim that the agreement obliges Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, to offer to sell her husband’s shares to the corporation.

If the Charles and David Koch succeed, they will end up with the majority of shares. This will enable them to stack the board with their own supporters and control the organisation.

Control of the board

The Koch’s critics claim they are trying to remove Ed Crane from the board and his position as president. According to Cato senior fellow Jerry Taylor, the struggle for control began last year:

Last year, they used their shares to place two of their operatives – Kevin Gentry and Nancy Pfotenhauer – on our board against the wishes of every single board member save for David Koch. Last Thursday, they used their shares to force another four new board members on us (the most that their shares would allow at any given meeting); Charles Koch, Ted Olson (hired council for Koch Industries), Preston Marshall (the largest shareholder of Koch Industries save for Charles and David), and Andrew Napolitano (a frequent speaker at Koch-sponsored events). Those four – who had not previously been involved with Cato either financially or organizationally – were likewise opposed by every member of our board save for Gentry, Pfotenhauer, and David Koch. To make room for these Koch operatives, we were forced to remove four long-time, active board members, two of whom were our biggest donors. At this moment, the Kochs now control seven of our 16 board seats, two short of outright control.

Tension between Charles Koch and Ed Crane dates back to the early 1990s when Koch left the board of directors. According to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, Crane may have "had been insufficiently respectful of Charles’s management philosophy".

What’s at stake?

According to Cato research fellow Julian Sanchez the Koch brothers want to change the think tank’s direction:

There’s every indication that they (and their proxies on the board) think Cato would be more useful if it were integrated more tightly into the Koch portfolio of advocacy groups—Americans for Prosperity, etc.—for which it could serve as a source of intellectual ammunition in the ongoing struggle to defeat Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

Sanchez says he will resign if the Kochs take control: "I can’t imagine being able to what I do unless I’m confident my work is being judged on the quality of the arguments it makes, not its political utility—or even, ultimately, ideological purity."

Cato’s director of foreign policy studies, Justin Logan and senior fellow Jerry Taylor are worried about the influence of new board members, particularly John Hinderaker. Hinderaker supported George W Bush’s policies in the Middle East and is often described as a neoconservative (Tony Woodlieff, one of the Koch’s nominees to the board, claims that Taylor has misrepresented his views).

Cato’s director of health policy studies, Michael Cannon says the Koch takeover poses an “existential threat” to the institution while former Cato vice president for research, Brink Lindsey argues that the takeover: "would change Cato’s fundamental character in a way that would fatally compromise its hard-earned reputation for intellectual independence."

But not everyone is so worried about the takeover. Former Cato research fellow Will Wilkinson writes: "I do suspect that a Koch-controlled Cato would work more closely with the Republican Party, which I don’t at all like. Yet I’ve seen very little evidence that a Koch-controlled Cato would look a lot different ideologically than Cato does currently."

Other members of the think tank community worry about Ed Crane’s strategy. The Manhattan Institute’s Ted Frank argues that Cato’s litigation position: "seems to be calculated to maximize the benefit to Ed Crane (either as head of Cato or head of a future hypothetical Cato-in-Exile), rather than Cato and the libertarian movement."

Meanwhile, Cato grows weaker the longer the dispute goes on. According Skip Oliva’s interview with Cato chairman Robert Levy, some of the think tank’s large donors have refused to contribute as long as there’s a possibility that the Koch’s will take control.

The Kochtopus

As the Hungry Beast video below explains, the Koch brothers wide ranging involvement in conservative and libertarian causes has seen their network dubbed the ‘Kochtopus’. Libertarians have constantly ridiculed the idea that the Koch’s control Cato. As Jason Kuznicki writes: "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."

But as Alex Pareene writes in Salon : "One mildly amusing side effect of all this has been a bunch of pro-Cato libertarians continuing to mock liberals for imagining the Kochs to be powerful and nefarious while … bemoaning their insidious plot to destroy Cato from the inside."

96 thoughts on “Libertarians vs the Kochtopus

  1. This little episode is yet more evidence, not that any is needed, that America is a democracy with “plutocratic characteristics”. Does anyone seriously believe any more that you can have a genuine democracy when 0.001% of the population has virtually infinite wealth and the power to manipulate, coerce and influence others that comes with such wealth?

  2. If all “plutocrats” were like the Koch brothers then the world would be a much better place. Nobody has done more in the last 10 years to advance the cause of human liberty than Charles and David Koch.

    Apparently though they are the most evil people in the world because they don’t support Earth Hour.

  3. Yobbo has a valid point, if Koch Bros Inc could gobble up all the libertarian/faux libertarian organisations the world would be a better place.

    • Koch are not aiming at just Libertarian targets — they aim to control every state from within / each state has their internal web aimed at overtaking each state. In New Jersey, Chris Christie was their BOY – a would be 21c Adolph – a personality with a dictatorial bent. Take a look at the You Tube Koch video; it’s revealing. Going back to their relatives who controlled Buchenwald down the line to C&D — the zeitgeist remains the same. They are also buying up universities to twist minds of young who are mostly democratic thinkers, not right wing / libertarians.

  4. Julian Sanchez writes:

    At a purely practical level, I write a lot about civil liberties issues where I’m often in agreement with Democrats and progressives. In my time here, I’ve invited Sen. Ron Wyden in to speak about government location tracking, been invited to testify on the Patriot Act by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, and written pieces for venues like The Nation and The American Prospect. That sort of thing gets a lot harder if we’re perceived as an overtly partisan shop.

    I wonder how Julian thinks this has worked out under the current president who has broad powers under Homeland Security/presidential prerogatives to reduce some of the most clear breaches of civil liberties. Does he feel he’s been taken for a ride by these Dems? I’m not seeing the fog clearing on here.

  5. Including funding the Reason Foundation and donating 20 million to the ACLU to help fight the Bush administration’s Patriot Act. What evil criminal masterminds.

  6. And donating money to 150 odd colleges and universities on the condition they can hire and fire staff and insert and delete content from the curriculum. That’s plutocracy, folks.

    Yobbo @6: “Yes, Don. Apparently they are also evil for donating money to political candidates.”

    Do the “donations” come with strings attached? Are the Koch’s buying influence?

  7. Public relations front/intellectual cover for entrenched power faces hostile takeover by slightly different configuration of entrenched power. Remaining vestiges of relevance and intellectual precision circling the drain. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch. Yawn.

  8. Mel:

    I think what you may be talking about is chairs at universities and in that case the position are (I’d guess) dependent on the terms and conditions set out in the agreement between the donor and the college or university. In order to see if there may be undue influence you also need take a harder look because simple eyeballing isn’t really enough. Lots of foundations with a strong left bias also fund positions too. There is also pretty decent disclosure too… at least at the most reputable places.

    ——

    The Koch brothers are not conservatives they are Libertarian types and it’s good to see them involved. If they are attempting to influence the GOP it would be to take them in the the Libertarian direction. I hope the succeed.

    Don:

    Was that vid you linked to made by Soros Foundation or their astroturf operations? The reason I’m asking is because Van Jones appeared in it and he is aligned with one of Soros’ astroturfs if memory serves me. It’s also worth noting he was fired by the Obama Administration for his extremism.

    I found it quite ironic that the Vid had the usual smoking chimneys in it to give the impression of what big polluters the Koch’s are.

    It would be worth looking at the latest Soros fund stock holdings as I think his investment portfolio of 110 stocks at the end of 2011 (according to SEC disclosure) would be more emission intensive. Of course you don’t get that contrast in the video.

  9. And donating money to 150 odd colleges and universities on the condition they can hire and fire staff and insert and delete content from the curriculum. That’s plutocracy, folks.

    You retards are just getting more ridiculous every day, everything is a conspiracy. Peace out.

  10. Mel @ 9

    Yes and so what is your point, until in Australia’s case we can remove compulsory unionism (it may not legally be compulsory but in effect it is in some places) which has compulsory donations to the ALP incorperated I don ‘t see what your problem can be with those on the other side. So if you happen to support the ALP clean them up first before you start throwing stones. Even the Labour Party in England is better because union members can choose whether or not they want to donate to the party.

  11. Pingback: Koch vs. Cato Bibliography at Under Penalty of Catapult

  12. What does Cato say that no other think tank says? Militarism is not the foreign policy best suited to the free market. In fact, it’s the worst foreign policy for a free market. The War on Drugs is not only unnecessary in a free market, but ending it would be a straightforward implementation of free market principles. And the freedom to buy and sell is a sick joke without robust civil liberties for all. Conversely, most people want their civil liberties partly so that they can earn a living and enjoy economic opportunities.

    That is what Cato is about. That is also apparently why the Kochs are trying to destroy it.

    Link

  13. I don’t believe the Koch brothers are evil. However I think some righties are being a little too dismissive of the concerns which are in fact being expressed by *current* Cato people who cannot be dismissed as lefty conspiracy theorists. Some of these people do think that the Koch brothers want Cato to be more directly involved in partisan campaigns and be more visibly pro-Republican. If so I think this would be a very bad strategy – think tanks to work have to be somewhat above the fray of grubby party politics.

  14. Remarkably Jason is being quite sensible.

    Cato has been a fine think-tank. You might not agree with all its stuff but you wanted to read it all.

    You do not get people merely writing for team Republican in their publications at present.

    It would be a shame if Cato became like say Heritage for example.

    That is what is likely to happen under the Koch brothers.

  15. Hi Jason

    But it’s not as though the Koch Bros haven’t been involved with CATO. One of them has been sitting on the board for about 20 years or so.

    I think people like Brink Lindsay are just stirring up trouble. Brink is an okay guy, but he also says some really stupid things at times. Brink left Cato after he came out with the horrendously lame idea of a left/libertarian fusion. That date lasted 35 seconds as other libertarians realized the girl hadn’t ever shaved her legs. Brink obviously wasn’t wearing his contacts at the time.

    I think Don wrote about it when Brink was making this suggestion and I told him there was never going to be marriage and if there were it was going to end up in divorce court at light speed.

    Remarkably Jason is being quite sensible.

    It’s always advisable to check and recheck what you’ve posted if you get a thumbs up from the Homester.

  16. Not really, Paul. The IPA doesn’t command any respect, so a hostile takeover would be like raping the least reputable whore in town; it might stink but hardly anyone would pay much attention.

  17. And donating money to 150 odd colleges and universities on the condition they can hire and fire staff and insert and delete content from the curriculum. That’s plutocracy, folks.

    The Jewish Man’s Burden to the US

  18. some people have no brains at all.

    There is a vast difference between sitting on the board and being the piper.

    The Koch bros have a just reputation for being political players.

    Cato would completely change. It would simply become another player for team republican moreover one that lives in another world where adopting policies that blow out the deficit would magically reduce it would be one current example

    Bill Niskanen must be squirming in his grave

  19. Yea Homer… Cato of course has been one of the leading proponents of massive deficit spending. Oh hang on, no they haven’t. It’s all happening in your head.

    Bill Niskanen must be squirming in his grave

    Stop the name dropping.

    He’s a Zombie? Who is he Homes?

  20. Gosh JC here is another example of you being unable to understand simple english.

    Become means …..

    Showing your true ignorance if you do not know who Bill Niskanen was.
    In Fact it does show you simply are not a conservative at all!

  21. Mel:

    And donating money to 150 odd colleges and universities on the condition they can hire and fire staff and insert and delete content from the curriculum. That’s plutocracy, folks.

    I suppose a National Curriculum that spans all schools across an entire country, with a single, central point of control, and practically no public discussion, must be even worse, huh? While on the subject of Yes Minister style publications, here’s cut-an-paste from the information sheet:

    Why have an Australian Curriculum?

    An Australian Curriculum in the 21st century needs to acknowledge the changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future. Education plays a critical role in shaping the lives of the nation’s citizens and to maintaining Australia’s productivity and quality of life. To play this role effectively, the intellectual, personal, social and educational needs of young Australians must be addressed at a time when ideas about the goals of education are changing and will continue to evolve.

    Australia’s education ministers have identified contemporary views of education over the period 1989-2008 and documented those most recently in the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. The Melbourne Declaration commits to supporting all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens, and promotes equity and excellence in education.

    Developing an Australian Curriculum means that:

    1. School and curriculum authorities can collaborate to ensure high quality teaching and learning materials are available for all schools.

    2. Greater attention can be devoted to equipping young Australians with those skills, knowledge and capabilities necessary to enable them to effectively engage with and prosper in society, compete in a globalised world and thrive in the information-rich workplaces of the future.

    3. There will be greater consistency for the country’s increasingly mobile student and teacher population.

    If you are playing wank word bingo then you are onto a winner with that lot, but if you wanted an answer to the question asked, hmmm, maybe point [3] is half an answer, but I dispute that too. They say, travel broadens the mind, but the intent of point [3] is to prevent that happening — a backwards step IMHO. Diversity is a desirable thing. Localised decision-making is a good thing.

    So, John Howard got a bit of mileage pushing his own version of history into the schools, and since the ALP have very few ideas of their own, they figured might as well do what he did. That’s what this is really about isn’t it?

  22. Actually this thread is a good example of the dittohead nature of right libertarianism (with the honourable exception of a certain beautician from the Gold Coast).

  23. Tel @29:

    “I suppose a National Curriculum that spans all schools across an entire country, with a single, central point of control, and practically no public discussion, must be even worse, huh?”

    What are you babbling about? Seven elected legislatures had to agree on the National Curriculum, public comment was sought, hundreds of articles were written on it and various changes were made as a result of feedback. Moreover any state can pull out of the NC if it likes.

    “So, John Howard got a bit of mileage pushing his own version of history into the schools, and since the ALP have very few ideas of their own, they figured might as well do what he did. That’s what this is really about isn’t it?”

    Use your brain. Don’t waste my time with stupid comments.

    Oh, I almost forgot, you’re the clown who wants to throw the economy back into the 19th century by banning limited liability corporations because of something the knucklehead Lew Rockwell wrote. Chuckle.

  24. Tel: in fact, FFS. I typed “Finnish model” into Google and got the link I posted as the fourth hit and another very relevant one as the third hit. I also got some Finnish models but given that your blather was about about decentralised schooling I would have thought you could put two and two together.

    C-
    See me.

  25. I’m a bit surprised at the US media sympathy being expressed to Cato, when a key feature of the think tank has been the long term residence of Patrick Michaels, the much discredited climate change skeptic.

    There is no doubt that long term effects of climate change and its influence on energy policy is a major international issue that requires serious political effort to address. So what has Libertarianism, with its love of free markets, done in terms of the issue?: gone out of its way to discourage belief in the reality of the problem in both politicians and the public.

    This is a disgrace, and the any think tank that has taken this tactical approach to the issue – including the IPA here – deserves no respect at all.

  26. Steve,

    As much as I think libertarianism is for children of all ages, I’m fairly sure Reason’s editorial line is that it does exist, it is a problem, and should be dealth with via a market-based mechanism.

  27. Jim Powell (Cato) has a piece in Forbes lamenting the takeover and citing various historical events to support the independence of Cato from the partisan Koch bros.

    There is an inherent weakness to their argument; Cato’s support of free and unregulated markets is at odds with their claim that politics is corrupt.

  28. JC at #18 – Yes, I remember an earlier discussion where you used an even more bizarre political-alliance-as-sexual-relationships metaphor.

    Yea Don, I recall, which is why I used a variation of it in respect of that truly bizarre idea. You thought it could work unless I’m mistaken.

  29. Mel:

    Oh, I almost forgot, you’re the clown who wants to throw the economy back into the 19th century by banning limited liability corporations because of something the knucklehead Lew Rockwell wrote. Chuckle.

    Just to make one tiny correction where you seem to have got into a muddle, I’m pretty sure I provided quotes by a man named “Smith”, not “Rockwell”. It’s from an obscure text about nations and wealth and a bunch of stuff you probably aren’t much interested in. Come to think of it, with such well articulated and logical arguments (name calling, going off topic with irrelevant material, complete misrepresentation, etc) I doubt there a whole lot this Smith character could teach you.

    Just to show that I’m open minded on the issue, I’d love to read what Lew Rockwell has written about it if you could be so kind as to provide that URL.

  30. Don’t be defensive, JC. Surely you realise how frequently you insert aggressive and vivid sexual themes into your comments. For example:

    “[Poster} is my carbon slave and he ins’t allowed to speak with fellow lefties unless he receives my formal approval. Don’t tempt him as he invariably gets severely punished if he breaks the rules.”

    “Make sure you’re fit…I’ve already bought a pair of satin shorts with my own logo.”

    Nothing wrong with a healthy interest in sex, of course. It’s just the psychosexual repression seeping out that’s a worry. It leads to the sort of carnival we’re seeing in the run-up to the US election, where the Right is certain that with two wars going on, a recession to recover from and the gradual decline of global American influence, the single most important issue in politics is ensuring women are punished for having sex.

  31. Sanchez:
    Defensive? Lol

    On an annoying Friday afternoon with that infernal racket from the silly F1 races one can’t escape from, I get an email with your name featured prominently on the Troppo alert. Great, this is turning out well. Do you realize how that makes me feel?

    So let me see what you’re doing here. You’re tying up my reference to the preposterous hope of a left/libertarian “fusion” sorta appearing like a Crying Game incident and the other reference to whipping Metro-Mick, my carbon slave, into shape as a result of his many transgressions like not turning off his fridge when I wanted the heating, thereby allowing me to claim a carbon credit…. And you’re suggesting the last has sexual connotations? Are you always this absurd? Yes, is my answer.

    I don’t really give a toss about other people’s sexual orientations. I’m pretty much at ease with my own, however I find it amusing seeing this unseemly passive aggressive gotcha kinda of thing.

    You obviously lifted the quote from The Cat. What ought to be a little concerning is how there are so many “disaffecteds” like you and others that come here spend their time whining and squealing about The Cat like big babies. Grow up Sanchez, you’re batter than that. I know you are.

  32. You didn’t come even close to a point there, JC, but it’s interesting to watch the way you hastily grab whatever tangential subject matter jumps into your head, stuff it all together into a lumpy strawman, then victoriously conclude that you got everything wrapped up.

    Beating slaves and monogrammed underpants. Another day on the internet with the conservative fringe.

    As a proud Catallaxy malcontent, I’d be happy to make my comments there, but dear old Sinclair has banned me because speech is only free if it supports Right-wing talking points. The way you regard examination of your own statements as an attack on the entire Catallaxy website pretty much sums up the divergence of opinion allowed there.

    It would be fascinating to explore exactly why discussions of media regulation cause you to describe your underwear while challenging strangers to fistfights over the internet, or why the subject drives you to make passionate declarations that sound lifted from S&M erotica, but it would derail a lovely thread about the Cato Institute.

    Take it to an open thread if you like.

  33. You’re not just a malcontent, Sanchez. They banned you for the same sort of insanity you’re exhibiting here.

    But keep talking about the Cat and continue making other point point.

  34. SO, a few questions for those who follow such things.

    1) Why has CATO been a long-time helper for tobacco companies?
    See Fake science…:

    p.39 Philip Morris funding 1991-2001, from tobacco archives. Of 39 thinktanks, CATO is #3 with $965K, after WLF and ATR.

    p.40-41: what the thinktanks did for their tobacco money.
    It’s too bad the archives effectively stop after that.

    Does anyone know if they still are helpers?
    Is it a Libertarian value to help tobacco companies addict children?

    2) Can anyone figure out why getting money for such things qualifies as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt?

    3) Does anyone know if IPA does also? And how are charity rules in Oz?

  35. It’s pretty easy to figure out Mashey, CATO is a tax exempt organisation because it’s non-profit and literary. You don’t have to be a charity to qualify for tax exemption.

    Who they receive their funding from is, as always, completely irrelevant. But it’s extremely typical of the left to attack the funding source since they long ago lost the ability to challenge their actual arguments.

  36. “Who they receive their funding from is, as always, completely irrelevant.”

    Yeah – the battle of ideas and the beneficiaries of those selfsame ideas are entirely separate things.

  37. Thanks for the reassurance! I was worried that donors to a particular institution might have chosen those particular institutions to donate to because they wanted that agenda propogated. More fool me! Crazy coincidence with those tobacco industry-funded tobacco health impact study null results, huh? But nonetheless I’ll sleep easy tonight.

  38. Jumped the shark a bit there, Yobbo. There’s not much point bothering to formulate a response to such an absurd statement.

    Please don’t stop making claims like that, though. As a leftist I appreciate your assistance in trashing whatever reputation for rationality or honesty the right has remaining.

  39. What on earth do you mean? Attacking arguments is how debate works.

    This isn’t something complex that needs a lot of attention. You not only claimed that where think tanks get their money is unrelated to the work they produce, but did it in a discussion of a notably independent think tank that is being openly hijacked for use as a factory for partisan ideological propaganda to benefit its donors.

    Again, I strongly encourage you to repeat this argument as often as possible.

  40. Frankly I don’t think the argument from authority is respected enough these days. Hence you get unqualified barrow-pushers like Monckton getting airtime like actual qualified people do, to the detriment of the public debate.

    As you might have surmised from the above, the argument from authority has an idiot cousin, which I’ll call the non-argument from non-authority, which is where think-tanks funded by plutocrats to arrive at pre-determined conclusions come in.

  41. It seems to me that a libertarian think tank could only end up tangled in contradiction by arguing against the current situation in which Cato finds itself.

    It’s all about freedom of capital and speech, see? And the Kotchtopus has the financial wherewithal (and the freedom to use capital) to control Cato.

    The end result of libertarian arguments? No more libertarianism.

  42. Yobbo @48

    “But it’s extremely typical of the left to attack the funding source since they long ago lost the ability to challenge their actual arguments.”

    God you’re boring.

    To use one example- any number number of conservative/libertarian conspiracy theorists make the link between mainstream ocean acidification and climate change science and the funding of same by vested interests and government. Characters like Bolt, Nova and Monckton do this all the time and the drone bees at Catallaxy etc pick up the argument and run with it.

  43. To use one example- any number number of conservative/libertarian conspiracy theorists make the link between mainstream ocean acidification and climate change science and the funding of same by vested interests and government.

    I think it’s a little different though. I don’t think say the Koch’s would be going to Cato if they thought they their views wouldn’t get a hearing. It’s not like they’re funding a left wing think tank hoping to corrupt their message. There’s no corruption as Cato would essentially be funded for what Cato believes anyway. In other words it’s pushing political opinion.

    Government funding and grants etc. is generally recognized to be funding non-politicized stuff and that puts things in an entirely different perspective.

    Now the left’s argument is that people respond to incentives. However they think it ends at the campus gates. That fundamentally doesn’t pass muster.

    I think that people do respond to incentives, but I don’t think any think tank, left or right is peddling anything they themselves don’t believe in. In fact they’re happy to write what they do.

  44. JC: your analysis doesn’t square with what the Cato whistleblowers themselves are saying. On their account, you’re plain wrong. Cato are libertarians, the Kochs are libertarians when useful, but usually just conservatives.

  45. Dan:

    How libertarian are Brink Lindsay and Sanchez (no,not you) when the Koch’s are expressing basic private property rights through an interest in the share acquisition? And to top it off how libertarian are they..that if they think the Kochs will damage the brand and things stay the same. Wouldn’t basic pro-market philosophy suggest that if they devalued the name, good writers and readers would simply go elsewhere? It’s not as though they think a destruction of Cato would reduce the number of writers and readership.

    Finally the Kochs aren’t conservatives. They’re libertarian. They too rich and too old to be fucking around trying to delude people. There’s far too much of a provenance to suggest otherwise. They could have ties to some GOP’ers but those would be the ones that lean towards libertarian philosophy. One of the brothers actually ran against Reagan in the 80 election for the Libertarian party.

  46. Pingback: Club Troppo » Had enough of Koch vs Cato?

  47. Ah. So the Kochs are libertarian, which they demonstrate by donating huge amounts of money toward the Republican party above all others, buying out the Tea Party movement to remove any grassroots influence, and carrying out hostile takeovers of party-independent think tanks with the open intention of forcing them to produce material convenient to the Republican party.

    As for “there’s no corruption as Cato would essentially be funded for what Cato believes anyway”, you didn’t actually read a word of what was quoted above from current Cato members, did you?

  48. Yes, Sanchez there’s another conspiracy you can work on. Your opus of course was that climate science sceptics were all 6,000 year old earth creationists.

    The Koch’s have openly supported the following causes and still do. Which one is a GOP policy, or at least one that any of the primary candidates are carrying. One example of tying any of these to the GOP will do fine. Now focus on answering this now and stop wondering off like you normally do.

    decriminalize drugs,
    legalize gay marriage,
    repeal the Patriot Act,
    end the police state,
    cut defense spending.

    Lastly, why would you care if Cato is wrecked? In fact I would have thought you’d be pleased.

  49. There are plenty of minor parties and independents the Kochs could fund if they were libertarian, but they don’t. Instead they fund the Republican Party which currently holds restricting contraception for women and introducing religion into school curricula as its most urgent policy goals.

    Before complaining about wandering off, how about you try to reconcile what Cato affiliates are quoted as saying in the article with your claim that a Koch takeover won’t change anything. Then you can explain why the Kochs would bother to seize Cato at all if they didn’t want it to produce different arguments.

    As usual, you’re treating the main topic as an aside so that you can Gish gallop away from your own statements.

    And why would you think I’d like Cato wrecked?

  50. There are plenty of minor parties and independents the Kochs could fund if they were libertarian

    The US is a 2 party system with no preferential voting. As much I’m sure you wish that libertarians would help draw votes away from republicans, voting for or funding republicans does not make them less libertarian.

    Especially the ones who spend tens of million dollars funding libertarian think tanks.

  51. There are plenty of minor parties and independents the Kochs could fund if they were libertarian, but they don’t.

    They do support like minded candidates, but I would be very surprised they give money to the GOP as in giving money to the party structure. They may have had affiliations earlier on, but their opposition to the Iraqi war would have burnt that bridge a long time ago.

    Look, they may be giving money to people like say Ron and Rand Paul. They could be and it wouldn’t surprise. However I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about, Sanchez.

    They give money to the libertarian party and they help fund things like Reason Magazine.

    Lets be honest here, they see the current administration as equal to the devil with wings and want to see the end of it. That’s what they believe as against say Warren (Mr. Integrity) Buffet thinks its great and is donating money to that cause.

    Instead they fund the Republican Party which currently holds restricting contraception for women and introducing religion into school curricula as its most urgent policy goals.

    Bullshit. That’s what I mean about wondering off. Stay focused.

    Then you can explain why the Kochs would bother to seize Cato at all if they didn’t want it to produce different arguments.

    You have to ask them. Have they said?

    In any event I have two hunches. They don’t want to see a repetition of Lindsay’s ridiculous left/libertarian fusion crapola, as they would have thought it was daft like most people on that side with an ounce of sanity. In fact even after so many years I’m still gravely offended by that suggestion.

    Secondly, I actually think that they do want to influence and make a difference. Let’s be frank, they aren’t spending so much money because they like their names in the paper. They are committed to their political philosophies and want to make a difference. Cato could provide them with that. I’m reading their strategy as being one that will attempt move the GOP towards the more libertarian end of the spectrum by getting to the Cato readership and widening the net.

    And why would you think I’d like Cato wrecked?

    Think the opposite. Why would you even want it to survive? You criticize libertarians all the time, you despise conservatives. Why would you even want it to survive? Don’t tell me you like reading contrary opinion as I’m not reading you that way.

  52. The Republican Party vigorously pursues the war on drugs, foreign military intervention, the blending of church and state, and all manner of tariffs and excises to protect unviable business sectors, while opposing homosexuality, women’s rights and racial equality.

    You believe that supporting such a party isn’t in conflict with claiming to be libertarian?

    Really, I thought you wouldn’t be able to outdo yourself in this thread.

  53. Sanchez,

    Are you able to focus on the conversation or not? I was hoping that you may have been able to, as it’s an opportune time of the day. That small window….

    We’re not talking about the GOP. Leave that alone as a stand alone point of discussion.

    We’re talking about the Koch’s and Cato.

    You believe that supporting such a party isn’t in conflict with claiming to be libertarian?

    The US system is far looser than ours. Ron and Rand Paul are nominal Republicans but really libertarian. Gary Johnson ran in the GOP primaries but didn’t take and is now running as the Libertarian party candidate for prez. You can support the individual over there more so than here as party affiliation is simply not as deep. It’s not as deep and far more regionalized too. The north East Republican is different from a southerner for example and they are different to a westerner.

    Really, I thought you wouldn’t be able to outdo yourself in this thread.

    Stay focused please.

  54. Terribly weak, JC. When you fall back on statements like “you’d have to ask them” you sound like Nate the Neoconservative. You simply don’t have any plausible reason for why else the Kochs would want to grab Cato if it’s already doing what they want it to.

    Like Yobbo’s comedy about think tank funding above, the burden of proof is on you, because what you’re claiming is ridiculously unlikely.

    You know exactly what I’m talking about, because I put in writing upthread. Construct all the strawmen you like, but please try to eventually get round to explaining why people who are ostensibly libertarian donate primarily to the Republican Party.

    Oh, and when every single speech, debate and media appearance by the Republican frontrunners becomes an opportunity to promise even harsher treatment of women, mixed with complaints that there isn’t enough religion in politics, you have to come up with something a bit more convincing than “bullshit”.

    And you’ve totally misread my attitudes to libertarians. I criticise the people in Australia who call themselves “libertarian” because they’re just the same old right-wing extremists as ever. Liking pot or hookers or gay sex hasn’t removed the monarchism, obedience to an aristocrat class, near-psychopathic self-entitlement and utter loathing of minorities and women that has always characterised the right.

    In Australia, “libertarian” simply means “hipster conservative”.

  55. Not everything is directed at you, JC. Yobbo can post crazy, reality-defying responses without your help. As we’ve seen.

    Though I do appreciate these comments that libertarians can support the Republicans and remain libertarian. Every time you say it, it helps remind us that libertarians are just conservatives.

  56. Terribly weak, JC. When you fall back on statements like “you’d have to ask them” you sound like Nate the Neoconservative. You simply don’t have any plausible reason for why else the Kochs would want to grab Cato if it’s already doing what they want it to.

    I gave you some reasons, but you chose to ignore them. They want to project influence and they think Cato would be able to do it for them. That’s the basic reason.

    Like Yobbo’s comedy about think tank funding above, the burden of proof is on you, because what you’re claiming is ridiculously unlikely.

    What is? What are you talking about?

    You know exactly what I’m talking about(no I don’t), because I put in writing upthread. Construct all the strawmen you like, but please try to eventually get round to explaining why people who are ostensibly libertarian donate primarily to the Republican Party.

    I did explain it, but it doesn’t sink in. I’m not going to repeat it, Sanchez. If you had done what i told you to do and focused for a few minutes it may have sunk in.

    Oh, and when every single speech, debate and media appearance by the Republican frontrunners becomes an opportunity to promise even harsher treatment of women, mixed with complaints that there isn’t enough religion in politics, you have to come up with something a bit more convincing than “bullshit”.

    It is bullshit and I’m not getting into this argument.

    And you’ve totally misread my attitudes to libertarians. I criticise the people in Australia who call themselves “libertarian” because they’re just the same old right-wing extremists as ever. Liking pot or hookers or gay sex hasn’t removed the monarchism, obedience to an aristocrat class, near-psychopathic self-entitlement and utter loathing of minorities and women that has always characterised the right.

    1. Really? I don’t really care much for pot as I had a really bad trip with bhuda grass (that’s what it was called) when I was a kid and I never tried coke as I knew I’d like it too much. I have no problem other people doing this shit. I don’t need hookers but more power to those that do and the gals that perform such a necessary service. And people can have sex with whomever they want.

    2. Right wing extremist in what sense?

    3. We need to be really careful in how we dismantle the monarchism, Sanchez. This is one of the oldest functioning and successful democracies in the world. I would never vote for a presidential system where the fucking parliament decides the presidency. No one is going to run for that office of any worth unless they think they can make a difference. So what powers is the prez going to have? What happens when he doesn’t don’t want to sign legislation? Who operates the executive? What is parliament’s position (review or executive)? It was clear in the last election that people don’t want parliament to decide and I’m perfectly happy with that.

    4. What self entitled aristocratic class? It no longer exists. Up to the Hawke opening of the economy there may have been 50 families that ran things. They no longer exist in influence except for the inbred idiot in Victoria who is currently premier and seems like the last vestige. Globalization and the opening of the economy has seen to those types quietly exit.

    5. What loathing of minorities? If you think it’s bad here then please tell me anywhere in the world it’s better. The intermarriage rate is 75% according to a Monash academic. IT doesn’t get better then this.

    6. Who hates women?

    In Australia, “libertarian” simply means “hipster conservative”.

    That’s really silly.

    Though I do appreciate these comments that libertarians can support the Republicans and remain libertarian.

    It’s a looser system than ours. You don’t get that, do you?

  57. The Republican Party vigorously pursues the war on drugs, foreign military intervention, the blending of church and state, and all manner of tariffs and excises to protect unviable business sectors, while opposing homosexuality, women’s rights and racial equality.

    The democrats approve of all the same things, Sancho. The difference between democrats and republicans is that the republican party also contains a lot of libertarians who would like to change those policies, while the democrats do not.

  58. So there we have it: “They want to project influence and they think Cato would be able to do it for them. That’s the basic reason.” Directly contradicting your earlier statement that “Cato would essentially be funded for what Cato believes anyway”.

    You’re either confused about this or don’t actually care what the facts are.

    Then you go right ahead and validate what I’m saying: self-styled libertarians are the same old monarchist conservatives we know and love. You’ve replaced the landed aristocracy with corporate CEOs and media magnates, but otherwise traditional conservatism is humming along with a shiny new name.

    Particularly odd is the trumpeting of interracial marriage statistics, when the darling of the current reinvented right is Ron Paul, who built his career on demonising blacks and Jews.

    And go ahead and Google “Catallaxy” with the terms “niggers” or “gay marriage” to see just far removed from the angry extreme right the so-called libertarians are.

    We’ve done this often enough that I know statements like “you’d have to ask them” and “it is bullshit and I’m not getting into this argument” are JC-speak for “I don’t have anything remotely like a coherent or rational argument to make here, and I don’t want to be openly hypocritical, so I’ll avoid the topic altogether”.

    Again, if you think you can make a case for the Republican Party being libertarian in any way, or having any developed agenda beyond “less women’s rights and more religion”, then try it in an open thread. Everyone knows you won’t.

  59. What the Democratic Party supports is completely unrelated to the Republicans’ libertarian credentials, Yobbo. Tell us how that Republican platform can be supported by anyone who is genuinely libertarian.

    Also, did you really just say that the Republicans are more in favour of ending drug prohibition and wars of choice than the Democrats, and that the Dems are equally keen on restricting contraception and thrusting the bible into government?

  60. One republican candidate in this year’s leadup already said he wanted to end the drug war. No democrat candidate has ever said that in history.

  61. Sancho @75:

    “And go ahead and Google “Catallaxy” with the terms “niggers” or “gay marriage” to see just far removed from the angry extreme right the so-called libertarians are.”

    Angry, white and in many cases perverted, I should think.

    I remember when John Winston Howard wanted to subject all indigenous children in Intervention areas to compulsory genital and anal probes, purportedly to determine if they had ever been sexually abused. The only prominent Oz bloggers who supported Howard’s medicalised child rape initiative (thankfully black-balled by the medical profession) were the libertarian Rafe Champion at Catallaxy and the right wing Catholic and now permanent Catallaxy troll, the Currency Lad.

  62. Again, if you think you can make a case for the Republican Party being libertarian in any way, or having any developed agenda beyond “less women’s rights and more religion”, then try it in an open thread.

    You’re making preposterous claims as usual, Sanchez. First of the GOP is not a libertarian party. However seeing it’s a two party system you may want to choose which party is the least worst. That’s basically the choice and out of the two…which is the least objectionable to libertarians.

    You drone on again demonstrating ignorance by suggesting the GOP is monolithic yet when the case of say Ron Paul or his son is presented, you head off in a tangent wanting to discuss other things and implying the GOP is like the Taliban.

    I’ve told you several times already that I don’t have a desire to discuss the GOP platform and you continue to bring it up. Is this your latest jihad?

    So there we have it: “They want to project influence and they think Cato would be able to do it for them. That’s the basic reason.” Directly contradicting your earlier statement that “Cato would essentially be funded for what Cato believes anyway”.

    You’re either confused about this or don’t actually care what the facts are.

    Those statements don’t contradict each other and if you thought about it for a second you would realize that. I know it’s hard for you but do try.

    Then you go right ahead and validate what I’m saying: self-styled libertarians are the same old monarchist conservatives we know and love. You’ve replaced the landed aristocracy with corporate CEOs and media magnates, but otherwise traditional conservatism is humming along with a shiny new name.

    So you’re starting another conspiracy theory are you? Don’t make laugh.

    Particularly odd is the trumpeting of interracial marriage statistics, when the darling of the current reinvented right is Ron Paul, who built his career on demonising blacks and Jews.

    I’ve said before I don’t support Ron Paul, but he does espouse what are essentially libertarian principles. You’re suggesting he’s lying about those, yea? You have information that shows he doesn’t believe any of those things?

    And go ahead and Google “Catallaxy” with the terms “niggers” or “gay marriage” to see just far removed from the angry extreme right the so-called libertarians are.

    Look, I know this place has become a venue for the Catallaxy discontenteds and the like who come here thinking they will get a good hearing about that sort of thing. If you think that is supposed to embarrass me or concern me, then get it right out of your head as I’m not in the least concerned.

    We’ve done this often enough that I know statements like “you’d have to ask them” and “it is bullshit and I’m not getting into this argument” are JC-speak for “I don’t have anything remotely like a coherent or rational argument to make here, and I don’t want to be openly hypocritical, so I’ll avoid the topic altogether”.

    That’s ridiculous, Sanchez, because we can only speculate what is going on in the Kochs heads. Unlike you I can’t read minds, so I can only speculate. Do you use tarot cards?

    Again, if you think you can make a case for the Republican Party being libertarian in any way, or having any developed agenda beyond “less women’s rights and more religion”, then try it in an open thread. Everyone knows you won’t.

    See what I mean about being unable to focus on anything. You’re all over the place as usual.

    Now, start again, why are the Kochs bad for Cato, why do you really care and how exactly are those opposing their further influence espousing libertarian principles? GO!

  63. I’m still not sure what Libertarians believe, esp w.r.t. entities like Heartland or CATO and again, I return to the simplest case, which avoids the various legitimate arguments on the size and shape of government.
    See #47 for backup.

    1) Smoking tobacco is not an adult-choice issue, since almost all adult smokers started as children, most would like to stop, but cannot. Tobacco companies have known this for decades, hence things like Joe Camel, TwistaLine and the cleverest marketeering in the world. Joe Camel campaign was 1987-1997.

    2) Addicting children seems like taking away their liberty and freedoms. Since about half will die of it sooner or later, that seems like taking away their lives, although to be fair, tobacco companies would prefer their customers live as long as possible once they are addicted.

    3) I haven’t yet had a chance to study CATO’s support of tobacco companies in the detail done already for Heartland, but CATO was certainly one of the leading thinktank receivers of tobacco money for the time when we have good records.

    4) A quick search for “Cato Institute” in the tobacco archives gives 2700+ hits.

    #1 is from RJ Reynolds (the Joe Camel folks) saying IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO BE ABLE TO SUPPORT THE WORK THAT IS BEING DONE BY THE CATO INSTITUTE.

    #7 was from 1995, by a fellow named Edward .H. Crane to RJ Reynolds, Just a note to add my thanks to those of Bob Borens for the generous $50,000 contribution from RJ Reynolds…. The whole letter is:

    ‘Just a note to add my thanks to those of Bob Borens for the generous $50,000 contribution from RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in support of the Cato Institute’s Regulatory Rollback and Reform project . We are delighted to have RJ Reynolds as a significant corporate supporter of the Institute and look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead .
    For now, I’ve enclosed a copy of a piece I had in the Washington Post last week along with information on our upcoming Benefactor Summit, which we’d be delighted to have you attend . Let’s get together for lunch on one of your upcoming trips to Washington . Thank you again for your support and best wishes for the New Year.’

    5)SO:
    a) Is it a Libertarian value to help tobacco companies kill children slowly?

    b) Is it not a Libertarian value, but for some reason a CATO value?
    (Of course, Heartland’s Joseph bast was even more noisy, but then he may have been getting less money and needed to work harder.)

    c) Is it neither Libertarian nor CATO, but they were just doing it for the money?

    Note that in 1995, Joe Camel was still running.

    d) We know know that Heartland is still getting tobacco money (more than in 2001), but don’t know about CATO. If they are still getting it, and Koch gets control, would he make them stop?

  64. John Mashey,

    You’re more than a little obsessed with tabacci, no? You’re talking about an issue that is nothing to do with public health, it’s about private behavior and in the case of children, parents supervision (you should have tried it)

    I once smoked and enjoyed it. I don’t harbor any personal grudge against big tobacci.

    John, since you left Silicon Graphics you’ve really become immersed in these conspiracy theories. Have you thought of taking up golf, as you could play it all year round even in Northern Cal.

    I hope you’re just spending your time with other old timers from the Valley and talking about this stuff.

  65. Mashey

    I’ve heard all the bullshit about tobacci. Look dude, it comes to this. I know you won’t like hearing it because it impacts on your Northern Cal sense of “ public caring”. But here goes.

    People smoke because it’s a bloody good habit. It’s a wonderful feeling to get the hit in the lungs and nicotine is a great drug for calming and other stuff. If it were something equal to inhaling dog turd in terms of the effect on the senses people wouldn’t smoke. It’s also a legal product!

    You know as I do that the law states tobacci can’t be sold to anyone under the age of 21 in the US. At least I think it’s the same age as alcohol. So it’s illegal to sell to minors. That’s the law Mashey.

    Now I don’t know what you’re driving at. Are you suggesting prohibition? How did it work out in the 20’s and 30’s in the US? How is the war on drugs working out too for that matter?

    Illicit drugs in the US are illegal. That what illicit means in case you didn’t know and highly, so with the prisons tragically full of non-violent prisoners in the clink for drug related offenses. How are keeping drugs out of the hands of minors working out there?

    Lastly if the think tanks are taking money from the cigarette companies, more power to them. They are conducting themselves legally and have nothing to fear.

    If your crusade is a moral one, which appears to be, well we see wowsers all the time and unfortunately the US is full of them… more coming from the left these days.

    Frankly I really don’t understand your problem and obsession.

  66. Lefties don’t want to ban tobacco, they just want to nationalise it like everything else.

    What really gets to them is that someone, somewhere, is making a profit.

  67. So here’s where we’re at:

    1. It’s amazing how “libertarians” can always find a way to define traditional conservative politics as libertarian.

    Yobbo and JC have both stated that despite the existence of many libertarian independents and parties in the USA, libertarians should support the Republicans because, despite its overwhelmingly restrictive and anti-libertarian policy platform, which has stood essentially unchanged for over a century, it contains a handful of representatives who could qualify as libertarian.

    Strong principles, guys. No doubt the libertarian Republicans will get around to ending the drug war, encouraging freedom for gays, blacks and women, and speaking up for the separation of church and state, oh, any millenium now.

    2. JC is certain that the Kochs don’t want to change anything about the Cato Institute but is equally sure they want it to directly serve their interests, which the people at Cato say they don’t want to do.

    Despite the numerous quotes from Cato affiliates describing the situation, the very public hijacking of Cato by the Kochs, and the Koch brothers’ unbroken and well-documented history of white-anting politically influential organizations for their own gain, JC believes it’s impossible to discern what the Kochs want from Cato and won’t speculate on their motives without a direct statement from the Kochs themselves.

    Disingenuous (adj.): not candid or sincere, typically by pretending one knows less about something than one really does.

    3. In this thread, Yobbo has stated that think tanks operate completely independently of their donors’ wishes, that the US Republican Party is more strongly opposed to Christian theocracy, the drug war, and discrimination against gays and racial minorities than the Democratic Party is, and that directly addressing the falsehood of these statements is an invalid form of debate.

    All of that, combined with the customary verbal abuse, red herrings, strawmen and profound reluctance to address direct questions. (A particular favourite is JC’s constant complaining about criticism of Catallaxy away from Catallaxy, when he is well aware that the moderators quickly ban dissenters from commenting there).

    As I’ve said before, guys, its’s not me or Dan or John you have to convince. No one in this conversation is going to radically alter their views.

    The whole purpose of online debate is to test ideas and create a body of work that might go some way toward altering the opinions of the broader public, which is largely disengaged from these subjects. So how do you think you’ll go with the vicious personal attacks and obvious lies?

    You freak right out when the majority of people in the developed world indicate that they support the Occupy Wall Street movement, or public health, or the possibility that science isn’t a vast communist plot hatched during the Enlightenment to undermine capitalism and the bible, but seem unable to articulate any honest or even civil arguments for an opposing case.

    Have you considered that you’re simply wrong, and are just plugging away for the same old stale conservatism that societies routinely discard in favor of progress?

    To be fair, I’m sure you honestly think of yourselves as libertarian, but try taking a step back and looking at what you actually support in practice, then considere why your influence is limited to screaming at people in blog comments.

  68. So here’s where we’re at:
    It’s amazing how “libertarians” can always find a way to define traditional conservative politics as libertarian.

    Again, just the usual empty rhetoric from you, Sanchez. Claims don’t amount to substance.

    Yobbo and JC have both stated that despite the existence of many libertarian independents and parties in the USA, libertarians should support the Republicans because, despite its overwhelmingly restrictive and anti-libertarian policy platform, which has stood essentially unchanged for over a century, it contains a handful of representatives who could qualify as libertarian.

    I’m nothing of the sort. I explained to you that there are libertarians in the GOP and that it’s not a monolithic party. Ron and Rand Paul are standout examples. There’s the unfortunately named Floyd Flake. There are also many, many others. This seems to go right over your head, Sanchez. It’s like hitting the wall.
    Is the GOP disappointing to libertarians? Of course it is. It doesn’t justify the other side though.

    Strong principles, guys. No doubt the libertarian Republicans will get around to ending the drug war, encouraging freedom for gays, blacks and women, and speaking up for the separation of church and state, oh, any millenium now.

    This is starting to sound like a version of your 6,000-year-old earth theory. Is this where we’re heading? Have we taken that long fork in the road?

    2. JC is certain that the Kochs don’t want to change anything about the Cato Institute but is equally sure they want it to directly serve their interests, which the people at Cato say they don’t want to do.

    You know what I really think? I really think you don’t and shouldn’t care what happens to Cato in the same way I couldn’t give a toss what happened to the left wing “tin tanks”. They don’t interest me, as nothing interesting ever comes out, so why are you obsessed with Cato?

    Despite the numerous quotes from Cato affiliates describing the situation, the very public hijacking of Cato by the Kochs, and the Koch brothers’ unbroken and well-documented history of white-anting politically influential organizations for their own gain, JC believes it’s impossible to discern what the Kochs want from Cato and won’t speculate on their motives without a direct statement from the Kochs themselves.

    What you seem to miss, is what I said. I suggested that the people whining about it aren’t practicing what they preach in libertarian terms. If Kochs took over Cato and screwed it up they would begin losing good researchers and readership to their competitors. This line of thinking should be pretty standard to a libertarian. However, I can understand your difficulty though as you don’t believe competition works. It’s also offensive in a way. They are suggesting that people/libertarians are too stupid to know when they’ve been had.

    Disingenuous (adj.): not candid or sincere, typically by pretending one knows less about something than one really does.

    Ya lost me again.

    2. In this thread, Yobbo has stated that think tanks operate completely independently of their donors’ wishes, that the US Republican Party is more strongly opposed to Christian theocracy, the drug war, and discrimination against gays and racial minorities than the Democratic Party is, and that directly addressing the falsehood of these statements is an invalid form of debate.

    Reality check. He never said that at all. You’re just making shit up.

    All of that, combined with the customary verbal abuse, red herrings, strawmen and profound reluctance to address direct questions. (A particular favourite is JC’s constant complaining about criticism of Catallaxy away from Catallaxy, when he is well aware that the moderators quickly ban dissenters from commenting there).

    Sanchez, you were likely banned from Catallaxy for reasons to do with generalized insanity displayed by your seeming obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Unless I’m mistaken you were even emailing the owners all the time with points of order. Cut it out. I’m speculating they don’t want to hear from you and most probably don’t like that much either.

    As I’ve said before, guys, its’s not me or Dan or John you have to convince. No one in this conversation is going to radically alter their views.

    Then why the long rambling missive?

    The whole purpose of online debate is to test ideas and create a body of work that might go some way toward altering the opinions of the broader public, which is largely disengaged from these subjects. So how do you think you’ll go with the vicious personal attacks and obvious lies?

    What attacks are were making or lying about here?

    You freak right out when the majority of people in the developed world indicate that they support the Occupy Wall Street movement, or public health, or the possibility that science isn’t a vast communist plot hatched during the Enlightenment to undermine capitalism and the bible, but seem unable to articulate any honest or even civil arguments for an opposing case.

    Dude, little freaks me out except snakes. I can assure you the Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t do it for me.

    Have you considered that you’re simply wrong, and are just plugging away for the same old stale conservatism that societies routinely discard in favor of progress?

    No, not really. When did you ever think about being wrong? Sanchez you’re a fine one to take this line of unreason. You couldn’t even admit you posted a particular comment when even the comment number was pointed out to you. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that level of self delusion.

    To be fair, I’m sure you honestly think of yourselves as libertarian, but try taking a step back and looking at what you actually support in practice, then considere why your influence is limited to screaming at people in blog comments.

    You’re mistaken. And you can’t scream at people by written word. You’re being a drama queen as usual.

  69. 2. In this thread, Yobbo has stated that think tanks operate completely independently of their donors’ wishes[...]

    Reality check. He never said that at all. You’re just making shit up.

    Not that I care about the argument, but actually, he did; I quoted him @49:

    “Who they receive their funding from is, as always, completely irrelevant.”

    Yeah – the battle of ideas and the beneficiaries of those selfsame ideas are entirely separate things.

    To which he said, @50:

    Yes, Dan. They are.

    And I responded @51.

  70. You still don’t get it Dan.

    Whether or not donors affect the output of think tanks, addressing the arguments they put forth is still different than attacking them by association. This is what you and most of the left seem to have forgotten in the bubble of increasing stupidity that has been the left since 9/11.

  71. Here’s a quick illustration for Dimwits like Dan to make it simpler:

    Person A: The world hasn’t got hotter in the last 5 years, here’s my data showing that.
    Reasonable response: Well I disagree, these figures are not statistically significant and contain numerous rounding errors.
    Idiot Response: YOU USED TO WORK FOR MONSANTO SO YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY A SHILL AND EVERYONE SHOULD IGNORE YOU OR POSSIBLY THROW YOU IN JAIL!!!111!1ONE

  72. Whether or not donors affect the output of think tanks, addressing the arguments they put forth is still different than attacking them by association. This is what you and most of the left seem to have forgotten in the bubble of increasing stupidity that has been the left since 9/11.

    It’s nice of you to describe and then demonstrate the fallacy in the one breath.

  73. The way you handle these debates is already the subject of satire, JC.

    Here’s my question again:

    The Republican Party is committed to the war on drugs, rolling back women’s rights, increasing the influence of religion in government, marginalising racial minorities and homosexuals, and continuing foreign military interventions. All of those positions are, by definition, anti-libertarian. How can someone support the Republicans with that agenda, and still qualify as libertarian, especially when there are many independents and parties on the US electoral roll who genuinely stick their stated principles?

    Here’s the answer you’ve given:

    Some Republicans hold libertarian views.

    JC, imagine you met a fundamentalist Christian who says they hate gays, want Christianity to be a condition of holding public office, believe women shouldn’t vote, and wants assistance for Israel to be Australia’s highest foreign policy priority, then says they vote for the Greens because some Greens candidates aren’t very strident about their views. Could you take that person seriously?

    I also note that neither JC nor Yobbo want to revisit the comedic claim at post #74 that the Republicans are stronger on supporting drug legalisation, secularism and social equality than the Democrats. After all, if the opposite were true, libertarians would have to support the Dems over the Reps according to JC and Yobbo’s rationale.

    All of this supports my view that the people in Australia who call themselves libertarian are merely the same old conservatives who’ve been with us since one caveman said to another that fire and the wheel were created by the devil to destroy freedom.

    What we see in this thread is that when you point out the clear contradiction between what “libertarians” claim to believe and what they actually support, the cognitive dissonance drives them into this alternate universe where right-wing establishment politicians are fighting for drug legalisation and gay marriage against the atavistic liberal progressives who want the world stuck permanently in the 1950s, while billionaire industrialists stage difficult hostile takeovers of independent think tanks in order to make absolutely no changes to them.

    I’m just pointing this out, guys, but it’s very obvious. Keep that in mind the next time you’re dumbfounded that Australians aren’t embracing your libertarian vision for the future that transcends right and left.

    Yobbo, you don’t appear to understand how ad hominem works. Screaming names at someone doesn’t invalidate their point, but it’s perfectly legitimate to question the sincerity and motives of someone who spent a career working for corporate lobbies in fields unrelated to climate science, and now wants to offer scientific criticism that contradicts what 97% of the world’s relevant scientists agree on.

    The worse problem is that once that former Monsanto lobbyist has made such a claim, neither you nor any other “skeptic” will ever assess whether it’s true, and will instead run around forever screaming “Rounding errors! Rounding errors!”, just as no denialist has ever questioned that the sun is made of iron and people like Rafe Champion are still holding up the Oregon Petition as a legitimate and persuasive argument against the work of scientists who aren’t Geri Halliwell or characters from M.A.S.H.

    JC is welcome to play follow-the-money with funding for activist groups. It just leads to the problem of trying to explain why George Soros would support a Marxist plot to destroy the economy he relies on for his wealth, while we don’t need any explanation at all of why the Kochs would want to combat action on climate change which will surely lower their share value.

    A couple of extra notes for JC:

    – You’re very hung up on the similarities between creationists and denialists. I’ll try to address it an open thread on the weekend. The constant attempts to build a strawman out of the topic suggests that you’ve twigged to how little fundamental difference there is between the Ken Hams and Christopher Moncktons.

    – If the claim that I ever emailed anyone at Catallaxy originated somewhere other your head, then it surprises even me that a little bit of dissent causes so much distress that the Catallaxians must invent a fictional version of the terrifying Sancho, who must be driven away by any means. “He’s twelve feet tall! And breathes fire! And must have harassed the site owners, because Sinclair would never censor a critic!“.

  74. Here’s my question again:

    Yes I’m aware of your question, Sanchez. You think you’ve still got the rabbit in the trap. You’re boiling the potatoes for the stew, but the varmint took off days ago.

    JC, imagine you met a fundamentalist Christian who says they hate gays, want Christianity to be a condition of holding public office, believe women shouldn’t vote, and wants assistance for Israel to be Australia’s highest foreign policy priority, then says they vote for the Greens because some Greens candidates aren’t very strident about their views. Could you take that person seriously?

    Okay, so people like Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson, the unfortunately named Floyd Flake and even the social conservative Pat Robertson (no he’s not a libertarian) to name a few have come out against the drug war saying it’s a failed policy and needs to be dismantled but you suggest they are lying and that I should believe you, Sanchez. I should believe you because of your super human ability to read minds from half way across the world? Okey Dokey, but no, I’m not.

    I’ve explained to you numerous times now that the political parties in the US are not monolithic and have for looser arrangements than we do. Reps constantly cross the floor there and vote in opposition to bills against their party’s position. Over here, the ALP would expel a person who did this for instance. This factor doesn’t seem to fire up a certain part of your brain to be able to understand this.

    If the Greens party ever exhibited looser party affiliation then the silly example you gave would be more credible. However the current reality doesn’t suggest that is possible.

    The other thing to consider is the principle of trade offs, which I’m sure you’ve never really thought about much.

    I also note that neither JC nor Yobbo want to revisit the comedic claim at post #74 that the Republicans are stronger on supporting drug legalisation, secularism and social equality than the Democrats. After all, if the opposite were true, libertarians would have to support the Dems over the Reps according to JC and Yobbo’s rationale.

    So far it’s true. More people under the GOP banner in influential positions have come out against the drug war. Hurts yea?
    (Interesting how you can locate numbered comments now but one time you were refusing to admit a comment that contradicted your later one was actually yours. Did you correct that horizontal vision problem with laser treatment?).

    All of this supports my view that the people in Australia who call themselves libertarian are merely the same old conservatives who’ve been with us since one caveman said to another that fire and the wheel were created by the devil to destroy freedom.

    So we’ve now taken that same fork in the road leading to your opus connecting 6,000-year-old earthers to AGW skepticism. You’re such a renaissance man Sanchez.

    What we see in this thread is that when you point out the clear contradiction between what “libertarians” claim to believe and what they actually support, the cognitive dissonance drives them into this alternate universe where right-wing establishment politicians are fighting for drug legalisation and gay marriage against the atavistic liberal progressives who want the world stuck permanently in the 1950s, while billionaire industrialists stage difficult hostile takeovers of independent think tanks in order to make absolutely no changes to them.

    We’ve seen nothing of the sort. What we’ve seen is you going hog wild with spurious claims that 1 + 2 = 34.73 and nothing to support the new math. In other words you’re an empty suit as always.

    The worse problem is that once that former Monsanto lobbyist has made such a claim, neither you nor any other “skeptic” will ever assess whether it’s true, and will instead run around forever screaming “Rounding errors! Rounding errors!”, just as no denialist has ever questioned that the sun is made of iron and people like Rafe Champion are still holding up the Oregon Petition as a legitimate and persuasive argument against the work of scientists who aren’t Geri Halliwell or characters from M.A.S.H.

    Chap 8 of Sanchez’s book tying all sceptics to young earth creationism.

    JC is welcome to play follow-the-money with funding for activist groups. It just leads to the problem of trying to explain why George Soros would support a Marxist plot to destroy the economy he relies on for his wealth, while we don’t need any explanation at all of why the Kochs would want to combat action on climate change which will surely lower their share value.

    I actually think uncle George believes everything he says in that the economic philosophy he espouses is solid. But it’s not. It’s pure bunk tied in with more bunk. Try and read his book, The Alchemy of Finance (go on I dare you) and any person with a half idea on economics would laugh themselves into a fit. In fact George has hired people who rubbed his ego and said they understood it. It true by the way, he has. They were lying of course as no sane person could. Uncle George is a trader, not an economist and he ought to stick to his core competency.

    What evidence do you have the Kochs don’t believe in their skepticism and just lying? They are worth $20 billion each. They are in the autumn years of their life and have more money than God. You think they are motivated by even more money?

    And furthermore they don’t have a “share value”, sanchez. Their ownership is unlisted as they own private companies. You really talk crap.

    You’re very hung up on the similarities between creationists and denialists. I’ll try to address it an open thread on the weekend. (No, please don’t. I’ve had enough of it and you can’t subject us to more. The constant attempts to build a strawman out of the topic suggests that you’ve twigged to how little fundamental difference there is between the Ken Hams and Christopher Moncktons.

    Lol.. Sanchez, I find it amusing how obsessed you were about this scientifically derived theory of yours. It’s all you posted about that the Cat. It was your “Theory on Everything“ in fact. You were tying in basic living habits such as drinking a cup of coffee with your creationism bunk.

    If the claim that I ever emailed anyone at Catallaxy originated somewhere other your head, then it surprises even me that a little bit of dissent causes so much distress that the Catallaxians must invent a fictional version of the terrifying Sancho, who must be driven away by any means. “He’s twelve feet tall! And breathes fire! And must have harassed the site owners, because Sinclair would never censor a critic!“.

    I said I wasn’t sure if you were emailing them. If you weren’t emailing, you were leaving comments caught in the moderation bucket. But whatever you did, you really annoyed the shit out of them. Dude, there are lots of intelligent lefties over there that are well liked. Tillman/Less is one example.

    You seem to have an over-inflated self-image and can’t get around the idea that others may not think the same way. Look, Sanchez you have to come to terms with the fact that they just may not like you. But always know this. I do. I always did even, though I find you grossly annoying at times… well most times.

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