Friday, May 3, 2013

Meanwhile, back on Ferenginar...

Robert Levy, the Grand Nagus of the Cato Empire, is sticking to his guns in a quest to regulate yours. Why, might you ask?

Let's turn to the Rules of Acquisition for elucidation:

Rule # 57. Good customers are as rare as latinum—treasure them.

Political customers included. But is that the only motive?

Rule # 76. Every once in a while, declare confuses the hell out of your enemies

And confused they are, though the Nagus has also attempted this strategy before. So perhaps it's...

Rule # 177. Know your enemies...but do business with them always.

Ah, yes. Except that invites the scorn of friends. Or at least those willing to criticize a potential source of income. Which leads us to the applicable clause:

Rule # 37. You can always buy back a lost reputation.

Just like you can buy your way into the graces of a politician.

Or in other parlance and to be absolutely clear about what's really going on in here:

Robert Levy of the Cato Institute is polishing the lump of dung that is the Obama-backed gun control bill because it's a personal favor to his longtime customer and pet political project Sen. Patrick Toomey, the bill's sponsor.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cato Campaign Cash & the Pat Toomey Gun Control Connection

The Cato Institute's Chairman, Robert "We can't be perceived as a mouthpiece of special interests" Levy is on a crusade for increased gun control, and quite a few libertarians are none too happy about it. Others are baffled, and a slim few - mostly other Cato Stato flaks - are stepping in to give him some cover. But there's something anomalous to this story, for the bill that Levy supports was already voted on...and lost.

So why this particular push, why Levy/Cato, and why now?

It may not surprise you, dear reader, that Mr. Levy is politically active. He has given over $100,000 since 2008 to partisan political causes.

It also may not surprise you that Mr. Levy enjoys a cushy relationship with one Sen. Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania and co-sponsor of the Obama-backed Toomey-Manchin background check bill. Toomey even wrote the cover quote for Levy's book on bad Supreme Court decisions.

Would you be surprised to know though that 100% of Levy's $100,000 in giving has gone to bankroll Pat Toomey himself, or to the Club For Growth, a Republican Political Action Committee of which Toomey was president from 2005 to 2010?

LEVY, ROBERT NAPLES,FL 34108 CATO INSTITUTE 7/14/10 $90,200 Club for Growth Advocacy

LEVY, ROBERT NAPLES,FL 34108 CATO INSTITUTE 10/19/09 $5,000 Club for Growth

LEVY, ROBERT NAPLES,FL 34108 CATO INSTITUTE 7/1/08 $5,000 Club for Growth

LEVY, ROBERT MR NAPLES,FL 34108 CATO INSTITUTE 12/30/09 $4,800 Toomey, Pat (R)

LEVY, ROBERT MR NAPLES,FL 34108 CATO INSTITUTE 12/30/09 $2,400 Toomey, Pat (R)

And one of those - specifically the $90,200 check - was effectively a pass-through when Club for Growth was financing Toomey's bid for the United States Senate.

So if you're baffled by this latest stunt from a prominent leader in a "libertarian" organization, don't be. Levy's newfound love for gun control is just another incident in a long line of donations to Pat Toomey's Republican Party political career.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kirchick's Kreepy Kompanions

James Kirchick is back in the news in the Daily Beast, sliming Ron Paul again for the supposed "bigots" on the advisory board of his new think tank.

Which is all strange.

Because Kirchick also now works for a very different think tank. A think tank with its own advisory board of right wing uber-bigots.

Very, very strange.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Kicking and Screaming"

After hints of an impending transition, Ed Crane makes an abrupt - and evidently involuntary - departure from Cato. Whispers around the Beltway intimate high-level indiscretions on his watch as the instigator.

I'll let Dandy Don take it from here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

They apparently used PowerPoint in the mid 1980s

And the Cato Institute consciously avoids Washington political struggles in favor of influencing "ideas," even though it proudly touts itself as the primary architect of "President George W. Bush’s unsuccessful effort to privatize Social Security."

Also, Ed Crane apparently hates elected officials, even though he donates thousands of dollars to their campaigns and invites them to keynote Cato events at politically opportune times for their Vice Presidential aspirations.

Furthermore, Cato is all about the "long term strategy" of changing "public opinion" over generations rather than influencing policy battles now, even though it does next-to-nothing to educate the public at large about libertarianism and virtually all of its "public" events are suit-and-tie lobbyist sessions and "Capitol Hill Briefings" for Washington, D.C. insiders.

And the Cato shareholder's agreement was a dormant non-entity that nobody really thought about between 1981 and Bill Niskanen's death last year, even though Ed Crane was badgering the Koch Brothers to dissolve it to no avail as early as 1993.

Also, when the Kochs added Nancy Pfotenhauer and Kevin Gentry to the Cato board in 2010 it was a drastic departure from the usual die-hard libertarians of the purest form who sit on that venerable body.

These are just a few of the self-contradictory absurdities one must accept in order to make it through the lightly veiled pro-Crane puff piece that appeared in the Washingtonian magazine this week. Regardless of where you stand with the Brothers Koch, the whole thing seems designed to make Boss Crane seem...well...less prickly than he actually is.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chris Christie, Neocon King of the Cato Prom

Here are the choice quotes from Cato's Neocon shindig last Friday, featuring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I knew it would be awful. I did not expect it would be 9/11-pandering, American exceptionalism, conquer-the-world-for-democracy, nation-building, hackish Republican Party hoo-rah, Rudy Giuliani-if-he-weighed-300-pounds and had an obsession with Jersey Shore awful. But it was.

"I hope that in the future, it will become a moment where we come together as a country, things fall for the courage of seal team 6 and the continued sacrifice of our soldiers. It is a day that I think can strengthen our resolve, a day to reaffirm our commitment to combating terrorism. I spent seven years of my life committed to that cause. was the first united states attorney in new jersey in the post-September 11th era."
"I say we must keep our resolve committed, and I mean we must keep our resolve committed to make sure that we pay honor to those families and their loved ones who gave their lives on September 11. So I hope that this day of may will help us to continue to remember that sometimes justice is slow, but we should always be resolved to making sure that justice is certain."

"We no longer have the luxury of believing that domestic matters have no consequences beyond our borders. If anything, the path of the United States has taken over the last decade has proven that who we are at home primarily defined our role and our significance in the world."
"But there is also a foreign policy price to pay. To begin with we diminish our ability to influence the thinking and ultimately the behavior of others."

"We have to care because around the world in Asia, in Africa, and Latin America people are debating their own economic future is right now. They are looking for inspiration right now. And we have a stake in the outcome of their debates."

"A Middle East that could become largely democratic and at peace, will be a Middle East that accepts Israel, rejects terrorism, and becomes a dependable source of energy for the entire world."

"When there is a crisis in the world, America found a way to help our allies."

"When there's a crisis at home, we put aside parochialism and put the public interest first. And in our system we did it through strong leadership by strong leaders."

"Without the authority that comes from exceptionalism, earned, earned American exceptionalism, we cannot do good for other countries. We cannot become the beacon the world aspires to."
But remember - Cato is an unwavering, non-partisan, and principled voice of "libertarianism." They just define it the same way Ed Crane defines the word "sober."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

If Cato is the standard bearer of "libertarian principle"...

...then why is Chris Christie, the rabidly pro-war neoconservative "centrist" Governor of New Jersey and all around GOP hack, the keynote speaker at its black tie Milton Friedman Prize dinner this Friday?

It's an issue large enough to overshadow whether the Koch representatives will have a presence at the same event.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When John Yoo came to Cato

Cato's "principles" were on full display back in 2005...when they welcomed Bush Admin torture fetishist John Yoo to a forum at the Hayek Theatre in the Glass Cube. The same stage hosted Ben Bernanke two years later.

And yes, they also featured him with glowing approval in the Cato newsletter that month.

One interesting and hypocritical aside: a post by Chris Preble on the Crane Operative blog is currently testing the tactic of attacking the Koch Brothers for financing a conference at AEI featuring speakers of far lesser Neocon pedigree than their own John Yoo.

As a matter of curiosity, Cato donors might also consider asking how much Ed Crane & Co. paid to put on the John Yoo event.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crane Operative Orchestration

I suppose this shouldn't be much of a shock to anyone, but there's an increasingly blurry line between Cato's "official" response to the lawsuit and what the Crane Operatives do on their own time in support of the same position.

Take for example the "unofficial" Catoite group blog about the lawsuit.

It's currently borrowing bandwidth from multiple images stored at Cato-At-Liberty, the "official" policy blog of the Cato Institute. Moreover, these images appear to have been specifically created for the technically unaffiliated KochvCato group blog.

Examples here and here.

It's enough to make you wonder who's paying for the "unofficial" Crane blog, and something that current Cato donors should probably ponder.