Something else that’s been going on while we’ve been making merry over Rushbo (who is down nine advertisers now) — the Koch Brothers have gone to court to gain control of Cato Institute. The Kochs have lavished big bucks on Cato over the years, and now they want to collect. Jane Mayer writes,
Clearly, many libertarians who have long been funded by the Kochs genuinely believe that their cause is about promoting individual liberty and peace by reducing the role of the governmentâ€”in other words, lofty, laudable goals, not just some hackish partisan political agenda. Suddenly, however, they are confronted with the news that the Koch brothers, who control half the seats on Catoâ€™s board, have, as the Cato Chairman Bob Levy told the Washington Post, been choosing â€œKoch operatives,â€ their goal being to align the institute more closely with the Republican Party.
Indeed, several eye-opening insider accounts appeared over the weekend, suggesting that what Charles Koch, the C.E.O. of Koch Industries, essentially wants is to transform Cato into an â€œammoâ€ shop, manufacturing whatever ordnance it takes stop President Obama from getting re-elected next November.
The Kochs have sued for the right to buy the shares in Cato held by the widow of co-founder William Niskanen. Their aim is basically to make Cato into another arm of their explicitly partisan messaging machine, along with Americans for Prosperity. To that end, they have already attempted to install some ridiculous Republican Party hacks on Catoâ€™s board of directors â€” hacks like John â€œHind Rocketâ€ Hinderacker, the attorney and â€œPowerlineâ€ blogger with no history of support for â€œlibertyâ€ to speak of. Current Cato peopleAle are upset. Some have preemptively resigned, even. (Well, announced an intention to resign upon the completion of the Koch takeover, anyway.)
Alex Pareene argues that we should care about this development, because in the past Cato has sometimes broken with the Republican Party line on some issues. That may be, but they are also the institution that is still hosting a policy paper on insurance insurance. And Krugman remembers,
Cato is, among other things, a place that had something called the Project on Social Security Privatization, which it renamed the Project on Social Security Choice when it turned out that â€œprivatizationâ€ polled badly â€” and tried to purge its records, to make it look as if they had never used the word privatization.
I say let ’em take over Cato, and Reason magazine as well, and any other “libertarian” institution they’ve been keeping afloat with their money all these years. Go ahead and strip away the veneer of “independence” that was a sham, anyway. Libertarianism has been little but a mouthpiece for the plutocracy for years. It’s time to flush them out in the open and reveal them to be the tools that they are.