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Police Misconduct Project Gets New Home

For the past couple years I’ve been on a mailing list for the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, which was a one-man operation run by David Packman. This is how I’ve found many of the stories of police brutality that I regularly report on. The project just got to be too much for Packman, so he sought someone who could take it over and had many offers. After allowing people on the list to vote on it, he handed it over to the Cato Institute, who have given the project its own website and will continue to support it. I highly recommend bookmarking it.

Comments

  1. Michael Heath says

    A plus mark for the Cato Institute.

    I’d argue it’s a plus mark for Cato only when their financial backers and the Institute start to effectively lobby for policies and politicians who support authentic law enforcement reform. Right now my money is on those monied interests successfully expanding the private prison industry along with the attendant cronyism and corruption necessary within law enforcement to expand their market share.

    Pointing to mere arguments is not equivalent to effecting public policy changes. Cato is a master of the former and when it comes to anti-conservative objectives, a disaster on the latter.

  2. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Is there a reason for this endless credulity toward that right-wing react tank?

  3. calebt says

    Thanks for the suggestion, Brayton.

    Whether you agree with the Cato Institute or not, this is extremely helpful in the cause against police misconduct, so I thank them for their effort.

    Down with corrupt cops and the veil of secrecy they have used to protect their thuggish activities.

  4. calebt says

    By the way, a commenter over at Hit & Run has been keeping up with the recent anti-libertarian derangement coming from the comments section on Dispatches. Might I ask, when did Myer’s crowd make the switch over here?

    Oh, well, at least Brayton doesn’t reduce himself to anti-libertarian fallacies like Myers does. In fact, I don’t even think Myers knows people like Radley Balko even exist.

  5. Didaktylos says

    I’m afraid I don’t have much trust in the pro-liberty credentials of an organisation that names itself after the man who was the archetype and origin of censoriousness.

  6. calebt says

    @Didaktylos,

    “Cato” refers to the Cato Letters, which in turn refers to the Roman statesman, Cato the Younger.

    You’re thinking of Cato the Elder.

  7. says

    Azkyroth wrote:

    Is there a reason for this endless credulity toward that right-wing react tank?

    Perhaps you could quote me saying that something that displays “credulity” toward Cato. Good luck with that. I’ve criticized them when they’re wrong and praised them when they’re right. Unlike a lot of others, though, I don’t automatically dismiss those scholars at Cato who have done excellent work on important issues like executive power, privacy, warrantless wiretaps, torture, police brutality, the death penalty, and other issues just because they take issues I don’t like on some issues. That isn’t credulity, it’s rationality. It’s refusing to dismiss good scholarship merely because you and others attach the label of “right wing” to it. Cato is a large group of scholars working on dozens of different issues. A rational person would hardly be shocked to find out that some of them do good work and others do not.

    Michael Heath wrote:

    I’d argue it’s a plus mark for Cato only when their financial backers and the Institute start to effectively lobby for policies and politicians who support authentic law enforcement reform. Right now my money is on those monied interests successfully expanding the private prison industry along with the attendant cronyism and corruption necessary within law enforcement to expand their market share.

    Pointing to mere arguments is not equivalent to effecting public policy changes.

    This strikes me as a very strange objection. Cato does not do lobbying; indeed, I don’t believe they can do so under their non-profit designation. But how is your objection any less applicable to me? I write about many of the same issues and take identical positions, yet I haven’t been able to “effectively lobby” for change on any of them. And like you, I believe the moneyed interests have far more influence than I or Balko or anyone else on the right side of these issues will ever have. But I don’t see how that is an argument against doing good advocacy on those issues, as I do and as Cato often does.

    akkonor wrote:

    Gullible fools like Brayton will always be taken in by Cato and the like.

    Seriously, go fuck yourself.

    calebt wrote:

    By the way, a commenter over at Hit & Run has been keeping up with the recent anti-libertarian derangement coming from the comments section on Dispatches.

    Can you give me a link to that? I’d like to read it.

  8. calebt says

    By the way, Brayton, you’ve done some excellent work at Dispatches. Don’t let some of these people grind your down. Keep up the good work!

  9. Didaktylos says

    Calebt – scion of the same poisonous tree. Cato the Younger was, if anything an even more reprehensible character. He may have been uncorrupt, personally – but when push came to shove he stood with the corrupt reactionaries.

  10. KG says

    It’s refusing to dismiss good scholarship merely because you and others attach the label of “right wing” to it. Cato is a large group of scholars working on dozens of different issues. – Ed

    That’s not the reason: it’s that all those scholars have chosen to associate themselves with a coterie of barefaced liars – and liars over the most important issue of our time, anthropogenic climate change. If a scholar does that to the extent of working for the same organisation as such a coterie, I don’t trust anything they say on any issue.

  11. KG says

    Daniel Kolle,
    You may think lying for money over the defining issue of our time is compatible with freethought; I disagree.

  12. calebt says

    @KG,

    I can assure you that this country has a big problem with police corruption and under-reporting.

  13. harold says

    I don’t like or trust the Cato Institute.

    I’ll grant that they probably don’t like the cops. After all, we mainly here about law enforcement when they do something obnoxious. But it’s also a hard, useful, unionized job that is quite open to women and minorities. So bile-ridden Ebeneezer Scrooges wannabes at Cato may well dislike the cops for those reasons.

    Cato could undermine anti-police brutality efforts by hijacking the issue and taking a “we’re the ‘true’ police brutality detectors folks, and we don’t see any brutality here, move along…” position whenever said brutality involves environmentalists, OWS, union organizers, or anybody else that Cato might not be entirely sincerely in favor of “liberating”.

    Actually, they could do that, while selectively attacking cops who are active in trying to preserve their union benefits, or who support other unions, by “finding” evidence of brutality against such cops.

    Am I saying Cato might ignore the right wing authoritarian cop who brutalizes a Cato-despised SEIU organizer or whatever, while using their ostensible “anti-brutality” chops to unfairly hassle a cop who stands up for something they don’t like? Why, yes, I am. But I could be wrong. I’m willing to wait and see.

    Is there a reason for this endless credulity toward that right-wing react tank?

    Gullible fools like Brayton will always be taken in by Cato and the like.

    I think Ed did a good job of justifying his position, but I’m going to have to split the difference here – I trust Cato overall less than Ed does.

    Ed Brayton said –

    This strikes me as a very strange objection. Cato does not do lobbying; indeed, I don’t believe they can do so under their non-profit designation. But how is your objection any less applicable to me?

    I don’t agree that it would equally apply to Ed Brayton. Ed Brayton doesn’t seem to be sitting on a pot of inherited wealth, and seems to have a talent for putting up a well-organized, well-written blog that highlights things that the mainstream media tends to ignore. Other people can’t write well, but have money.

    I’ll have to agree with Michael Heath overall. Yes, Cato does have some good positions, but money given to them is also used for their bad positions, not to mention wasted on overhead for fancy buildings and what are probably a lot of excessive salaries for do-virtually-nothing jobs. People who want to support the good things that Cato claims to agree with would still be better off giving their money to someone else, who supports the good stuff more effectively, and doesn’t have Cato’s baggage.

    Whether you agree with the Cato Institute or not, this is extremely helpful in the cause against police misconduct, so I thank them for their effort.

    As always when I wax mildly cynical, I hope that I will be proven wrong.

    If the Cato Institute does a great job working against all police misconduct, including police misconduct against people Cato doesn’t like, and if they never make unfair selective use of “misconduct” claims to sabotage police officers who are fighting for decent labor conditions, for themselves or anyone else, I will gladly admit that my suspicions were wrong, and anyone can feel free to remind me that I said so.

    Now let’s see how this plays out.

  14. calebt says

    @Harold,

    Dude, come on. Radley Balko, one of Cato’s most celebrated former analysts, reported the holy hell out of OWS-related police brutality.

    Get your facts straight.

  15. harold says

    Dude, come on. Radley Balko, one of Cato’s most celebrated former analysts, reported the holy hell out of OWS-related police brutality.

    He does do good stuff, but a key word in this sentence is “former”.

    Also, I mentioned above that Cato does take positions I strongly agree with on some things.

    Get your facts straight.

    Neither of us has any facts yet. Cato has just taken up this baton.

    I expressed some worries, but I said above and will say again here, I could be wrong.

    Or not.

    Time will tell.

  16. timpayne says

    Hey Ed – Back in the 90’s, the Washington Times got it right about Marion Barry being a real creep. Do you also “highly recommend” we bookmark their website? The Cato Institute is a collection of Koch family lickspittles – who cares if they occasionally say something that’s accurate?

  17. says

    timpayne wrote:

    Hey Ed – Back in the 90′s, the Washington Times got it right about Marion Barry being a real creep. Do you also “highly recommend” we bookmark their website?

    Of course not. Being right about one thing in a huge sea of wrong is not the same thing as being write on a whole range of things — I cited a partial list above — and also wrong on a bunch of things. You also don’t seem to comprehend that each person attached to Cato works independently on issues on which they are expert. Scholar A may say completely wrongheaded things about global warming while Scholar B may do absolutely great work against warrantless wiretaps or the death penalty. And if Scholar B’s work is good, that’s all that matters when evaluating that work.

    The Cato Institute is a collection of Koch family lickspittles – who cares if they occasionally say something that’s accurate?

    Are you completely unaware that a huge portion of Cato scholars are now threatening to leave that organization, and some already have, if the Kochs win their battle for control of the organization? They’re actually going to court to fight this; that hardly seems like a bunch of lickspittles to me.

    Everyone else in this thread, I suggest looking up the genetic fallacy. Yes, some scholars at Cato take terribly wrong positions on some issues. No one disputes that. But others do incredibly important work on other very important issues. That work should be read and disseminated and applauded regardless of what others in the organization might say about unrelated issues. This is pure political tribalism, you have defined them as your enemy so anyone who associates with them must be tainted — even if you don’t even attempt to show that anything they’ve said on the subject they work on is wrong. Is Gene Healy’s work on executive power rendered inaccurate by another Cato scholar’s rejection of AGW? Does all their work against prosecutorial immunity, the death penalty, racist policing and a dozen other subject just get negated if they don’t agree with you on subject fill-in-the-blank? Of course not. If their advocacy is right on a given issue, then praise it; if it’s wrong on a different issue, criticize it. This is what rational people do. Just like I can criticize Christopher Hitchens for his support of the Iraq war or his distortions on Thomas Jefferson while praising his support for secularism and free speech. Being wrong on one subject does not make you wrong on every subject. Offer praise and criticism whenever they are warranted when discussing the ideas someone espouse, not the ideas that someone you associate with them espouses on an entirely different issue.

  18. harold says

    Everyone else in this thread, I suggest looking up the genetic fallacy. Yes, some scholars at Cato take terribly wrong positions on some issues. No one disputes that. But others do incredibly important work on other very important issues. That work should be read and disseminated and applauded regardless of what others in the organization might say about unrelated issues.

    Agreed.

    However, other people also do work on those issues. I therefore agree with Michael Heath. I’m against abuses of “eminent domain” and so is the Cato Institute, but if I’m in a position of giving money to fight abuses of “eminent domain”, I’ll give to someone else, who also opposes such abuses, without a truckload of climate change denial, public education sabotage, union bashing, anti-enviornmentalism, etc, baggage in tow.

    From the genetic fallacy link.

    A Genetic Fallacy is a line of “reasoning” in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself.

    This fallacy, which is frequently used by climate change denialists at Cato and elsewhere (“we can discount it because it came from ‘biased’ climatologists”), is not relevant to what I am saying.

    If I am in the supermarket, and I can buy a package containing a dozen fresh eggs, or a package containing six fresh eggs and six rotten eggs, I choose the package with a dozen fresh eggs. No logical fallacy is involved.

    However, on a note of agreement, good stuff coming out of Cato should, of course, be recognized as good stuff.

  19. harold says

    Also with regard to the genetic fallacy…

    It’s not quite as much of a fallacy if the genesis of the thing was intended to achieve a certain result.

    If it were actually true that climate scientists were conspiring to fake all their results, then it would not be a fallacy to suspect their results, merely based on the source.

    Clearly, the Koch brothers did not get quite the pliant lickspittles that they hoped for in the long run.

    However, events also make it clear that the Koch brothers expected that employees of the Cato institute would permanently behave as lickspittles.

    Even a lickspittle can only be pushed so far, it would seem (see also “Henry VIII and Thomas More” or the similarly named duo “Henry II and Thomas a Beckett”).

  20. says

    I therefore agree with Michael Heath. I’m against abuses of “eminent domain” and so is the Cato Institute, but if I’m in a position of giving money to fight abuses of “eminent domain”, I’ll give to someone else, who also opposes such abuses, without a truckload of climate change denial, public education sabotage, union bashing, anti-enviornmentalism, etc, baggage in tow.

    Who’s asking you to support Cato monetarily? I don’t see where Ed or anyone else in this thread has suggested that.

  21. Chris from Europe says

    calebt,

    while I’m pretty sure that the people at Pharyngula don’t object to Balko’s good work, I doubt that they like his other positions. For example, there would be (revisionist) statements about the First World War, the Fed, Progressivism, International Labour Day/May Day etc.

    And regarding Penn Jilette, I believe it was made clear in the comments (by Gretchen and others) why a sane libertarian wouldn’t be too happy about him.

  22. 'Tis Himself says

    My only objection to the Cato Institute is they’re a bunch of libertarians. Since I loathe, despise, and detest libertarians with a white hot flame, I’m not too impressed by the Cato Institute. They might have done some good work by mistake and not actually intending to. Maybe one or two of their members aren’t completely wacko, selfish assholes like the vast majority of libertarians (and yes, Ed, I’m not too fucking impressed by some of your stances), but I wouldn’t be willing to bet any money on it. Now that the Koch brothers are trying to take the Cato Institute over, whatever good they might have done will not likely to be repeated.

    But I could be wrong. And maybe I’ll win the Powerball even though I haven’t bought any tickets.

  23. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Of course, it’s not just that they’re “wrong,” it’s that they’re systematically dishonest in a way congruent to antiprinciples from which it’s clear that they will fuck over anyone and ignore anything if it benefits entrenched wealth, but let’s just ignore that…

  24. KG says

    Yes, some scholars at Cato take terribly wrong positions on some issues. No one disputes that. But others do incredibly important work on other very important issues. – Ed

    They have chosen to associate themselves with a gang of lying scumbags; so nothing they do or say can be trusted, because they have made clear by their actions that they do not care about truth or honesty. If you think it is “tribalism” to object to people voluntarily associating their work with that of professional liars and slanderers, then I’ll wear the tribalist badge you hand out with pride.

    @KG,

    I can assure you that this country has a big problem with police corruption and under-reporting. – calebt

    Maybe you’d like to point out where I suggested the contrary.

  25. KG says

    Ed,

    I’m interested to see where you think the boundaries of acceptability lie. Suppose some CATO scholars were pushing holocaust revisionism, would you still say we should simply judge the work of other CATO scholars on its own merits, and it’s “tribalism” to disagree? Or HIV-AIDS denialism, which has probably cost hundreds of thousands of lives?

  26. Michael Heath says

    I wrote earlier:

    I’d argue it’s a plus mark for Cato only when their financial backers and the Institute start to effectively lobby for policies and politicians who support authentic law enforcement reform. Right now my money is on those monied interests successfully expanding the private prison industry along with the attendant cronyism and corruption necessary within law enforcement to expand their market share.

    Pointing to mere arguments is not equivalent to effecting public policy changes.

    Ed responds:

    This strikes me as a very strange objection. Cato does not do lobbying; indeed, I don’t believe they can do so under their non-profit designation. But how is your objection any less applicable to me? I write about many of the same issues and take identical positions, yet I haven’t been able to “effectively lobby” for change on any of them.

    Cato is an active and powerfully influential participant in the lobbying effort where I’m using the term in the broader sense while you respond by referencing the term in its narrowest sense. Cato’s Patrick Michaels publishes an annual paper on the state of the climate science which he submits to Congress. Republicans in Congress depend upon that document to deny what climate science understands. In addition Michaels and the people he cites are regularly invited by Republicans to committee hearings when the science of climate change is a topic. Those people falsely convey the state of the science and falsely portray doubt and controversy within the scientific community which is shared only by a tiny share who are also all incompetents and cranks, e.g., Lindzen, McIntyre, and Curry.

  27. Michael Heath says

    Ed’s continual objection to those of us who condemn Cato Institute overall:

    Everyone else in this thread, I suggest looking up the genetic fallacy. Yes, some scholars at Cato take terribly wrong positions on some issues. No one disputes that. But others do incredibly important work on other very important issues. That work should be read and disseminated and applauded regardless of what others in the organization might say about unrelated issues. This is pure political tribalism, you have defined them as your enemy so anyone who associates with them must be tainted — even if you don’t even attempt to show that anything they’ve said on the subject they work on is wrong.

    I think you have an arguable point worthy of consideration. I’ve always thought that; but I disagree my position is a genetic fallacy or that a competing conclusion condemning Cato doesn’t exist; that your framing is the only valid framing.

    I think in terms of systems, processes and probably results – not individual results which may or may not be representative of the population as a whole. You mostly do the opposite, taking each individual as they come without demonstrating much desire to make an overall systemic argument regarding that individual’s relation to the norm. I think this is why David Heddle can tolerate your criticisms since they’re individuals he dismisses as ‘no true Scotsman’ while he gags on mine; because I mostly argue those individuals are representative of the type of thinking which is an attribute of conservative Christianity.

    If Cato’s scholars who promote laudable liberty positions were actually influential in terms of changing the minds of legislators and voters while their bad actors efforts remained, than my position would not be arguable and yours would win the day. I also wouldn’t hold my current position. I don’t see that as likely because I generally accept the truism that culture starts at the top of an organization with few outlier results – at least in the long run.

    I perceive Cato actually effecting policy positions and voting patterns where they are making both dishonest arguments and keeping Republican legislators and voters in line with the monied interests of both Cato and the Republican party. So from my perspective the good people you note are merely useful foils tolerated within Cato. Perhaps but not necessarily because they provide those monied interests cover to do the bidding of the real power behind their organization. That would be consistent with how one of the Koch brothers partly funds the TV shows Nature and Nova on PBS, though he also gains the benefit of those shows self-censoring their reporting on the state of the climate which they rarely do. I have confidence that if those good Cato analysts’ arguments became persuasive enough their arguments were considered by voters and legislators which diluted the central caucus of the Republican party power to maintain fealty to their monied interests, we’d see those Cato libertarians discarded or the party aligning itself with a more loyal tribal organization. In fact it appears their monied interests are preemptively attempting to get a more consistent voice out now as you point out regarding the Koch brothers attempts to better control the organization.

    So if we were to predict how the overall libertarian movement’s net efforts will continue to play out regarding incarceration rates, the quality of law enforcement, and prisoners’ rights, I’m on the side their efforts to increase the privatization of incarceration will continue to be far more effective than their efforts to end the Drug War. If the Drug War is to be ended, it’ll be by Democrats and moderate Republicans, the former who currently remain too cowardly to do what most of them concede is the right thing to do where the latter appears to be extinct.

    Cato certainly has a voice calling to end the Drug War, but that voice has been largely impotent. For the libertarians who have power and money, that does not appear to me to be a coincidence. To engage that fight would split voting patterns and weaken the GOP just when libertarians are gaining a voice in a politically powerful affiliation – the Republican party. So just like conservative Christians’ leaders and therefore their sheep-like congregants slavishly deny global warming in order to increase their movements’ power within the GOP, so too will Cato’s influence authentically effect only those planks which favor increased power for Republicans.

  28. says

    I think in terms of systems, processes and probably results – not individual results which may or may not be representative of the population as a whole. You mostly do the opposite, taking each individual as they come without demonstrating much desire to make an overall systemic argument regarding that individual’s relation to the norm.

    This is fine for a valuation of Cato as an institution, and I doubt that Ed would dispute your prerogative to do so. But it’s the reverse error that Ed’s highlighting here: assuming that some person or project is inherently suspect because of its association with Cato.

    If Cato’s scholars who promote laudable liberty positions were actually influential in terms of changing the minds of legislators and voters while their bad actors efforts remained, than my position would not be arguable and yours would win the day.

    This strikes me as a very odd criticism. The dishonest ones at Cato are more effective; therefore, the honest ones deserve to be criticized? Could you perhaps explain exactly why this is such a problem for you?

  29. Michael Heath says

    TCC and Ed argue the criticism condemning Cato is a genetic fallacy . . .

    For that to be true we’d have to avoid or deny the fact that some Cato published articles aren’t worthy of consideration. That is not true, instead we’re arguing those articles don’t define Cato’s effective influence so this perspective is defective. That Cato’s influence is instead effectively based on how they swing votes in Congress and with voters and therefore we shouldn’t judge them on the volume of articles considered individually, but instead based on how Cato actually influences policy and the public square.

    In addition, to directly confront those of us who condemn Cato, I think Ed needs to confront the organization at the top end and its effective influence like we do. As I stated earlier, Ed has a respectable argument worthy of consideration; I don’t think those of us who criticize Cato can argue we have the only worthy argument. My argument condemning Cato is not based on a supremely confident conclusion given the positions and people Ed references but instead held somewhat tentatively. So while I do attempt to make a compelling argument in light of and directly confronting those laudable Cato scholars and fellows, I think Ed should do the same and confront Cato’s effective influence and my assertion. That their influence is not widely varied but instead narrowly tailored to favor the conservative political agenda played out almost wholly within the GOP.

  30. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    If Cato’s scholars who promote laudable liberty positions were actually influential in terms of changing the minds of legislators and voters while their bad actors efforts remained, than my position would not be arguable and yours would win the day.

    TCC responds:

    This strikes me as a very odd criticism. The dishonest ones at Cato are more effective; therefore, the honest ones deserve to be criticized? Could you perhaps explain exactly why this is such a problem for you?

    Well I’m not criticizing the good guys, I’m criticizing Cato the organization. A criticism could be made in the long-run that the good guys/gals work for a repugnant organization where the fact people need income to live perhaps excuses some in the short-run. But I didn’t even address that point and don’t see it as all that important except to point out it provides convenient cover for Cato the organization as illustrated by Ed’s argument here and in the past.

    I’m also not claiming that the effective individuals are more successful influencing others because of some defect in the good guys’ arguments. Instead I’m arguing the bad actors are successful while the good actors aren’t because the bad actors are supporting the primary objectives of Cato, its financiers, and the entities they serve.

    As an analogy to illustrate, consider how bad General Moters was at building reliable autos back in the 1980s relative to best in class. This didn’t mean GM had only bad engineers, it did mean GM’s management hadn’t been committed to building optimally reliable cars but instead focused on other competing objectives, in spite of having some credible engineers who argued otherwise.

    One of those competing arguments was planned obsolescence in order to maintain a certain revenue stream from individuals – they wanted them to buy a car every four years so their previous car became operationally unacceptable. Another competing argument wasn’t in spite of being perceived as such; GM back then perceived world-class quality as too expensive.

    In fact GM’s competitors and the manufacturing sector in general falsified that view, that a world-class quality management system actually reduced overall costs and increased profitability. I was fortunate to be a participant in the transformation of manufacturing’s mindset from one which rejected continual improvement to embracing it. So I didn’t have to blindly embrace the modern way of thinking but was able to gauge it relative to the past way of thinking. I found the skill set I developed learning how to operate within this new environment helpful in assessing politics, arguments, and of course sectors other than manufacturing who’ve yet to embrace this mindset – like government, many unions, and education.

  31. KG says

    But it’s the reverse error that Ed’s highlighting here: assuming that some person or project is inherently suspect because of its association with Cato. – TCC

    Neither you nor he have attempted to explain what is wrong with concluding that those who choose to associate with professional liars are thereby suspect.

  32. harold says

    TCC –

    You are, of course, guilty of the exact logical fallacies that you project onto others.

    Skepticism toward the Cato Institute is highly reasonable, based on the evident priorities of Cato, its association with science denial, its record of purges of anyone not right wing enough (arguably including what is going on right now), and its funding sources.

    By arguing against reasonable and valid skepticism, you implicitly argue that association with the Cato institute makes projects immune from criticism. This is basically the same logical error as the genesis fallacy – an excessively strong conclusion drawn on the basis of an association.

    Subjectively, I have noted that the following type of “logic” is so common among libertarians that I would be astonished not to see it –

    “I misconstrue your critique of me as some kind of ‘logical fallacy’, therefore your critique is invalid, therefore all critique of me is invalid and unfair”.

    In fact, that’s basically one of three arguments I have ever seen libertarians use. The other two are –

    “You agree that words like ‘theft’ or ‘coercion’ sound bad, therefore I will simply label anything I don’t like ‘theft’ or ‘coercion'; however, you don’t have the same privilege, arbitrarily, only I get to do the magic trick of using the words ‘theft’ and ‘coercion’ to label anything I don’t like (and therefore by extension, the real definition of ‘any word that sounds bad’ is ‘whatever Little Timmy Libertarian doesn’t like’)”

    and of course, the ultimate stand-by –

    “You have unfairly criticized me because you tried to fairly paraphrase my argument and I claim that I don’t believe exactly what your paraphrase says; however, I won’t tell you exactly what I believe, I’ll just keep saying that any negative-sounding thing you ascribe to me, however logically it may follow from my previous statements, isn’t exactly what I believe”.

  33. Michael Heath says

    TCC writes to me:

    it’s the reverse error that Ed’s highlighting here: assuming that some person or project is inherently suspect because of its association with Cato.

    Except I never did that. If you think otherwise please blockquote where I did.

  34. says

    KG:

    Neither you nor he have attempted to explain what is wrong with concluding that those who choose to associate with professional liars are thereby suspect.

    You missed where Ed and I each cited (entirely independently) the genetic fallacy?

    You are, of course, guilty of the exact logical fallacies that you project onto others.

    [citation needed]

    By arguing against reasonable and valid skepticism, you implicitly argue that association with the Cato institute makes projects immune from criticism.

    Come on, are you really going to make such a dishonest claim? I have never, never said or even remotely implied that “association with the Cato institute makes projects immune from criticism.” That is patently false. Frankly, I’m amazed that you, an otherwise reasonable commenter, would even argue this point, as there is no way anyone could reasonably draw that conclusion from what I’ve said.

    By the way, I’m not a libertarian (and never have been), nor do I particularly care for Cato. I’m just honest enough to know that anything published by Cato will succeed or fail on its merits, not because of any inherent credibility or lack thereof.

    Michael Heath:

    it’s the reverse error that Ed’s highlighting here: assuming that some person or project is inherently suspect because of its association with Cato.

    Except I never did that.

    Feeling a touch of Carly Simon, MH? No one has claimed that you specifically did, as far as I can see; others, however, have done so in these comments.

  35. Michael Heath says

    TCC:

    Feeling a touch of Carly Simon, MH? No one has claimed that you specifically did, as far as I can see; others, however, have done so in these comments.

    Well actually you specifically did. You blockquoted something I wrote and then immediately wrote after that:

    it’s the reverse error that Ed’s highlighting here: assuming that some person or project is inherently suspect because of its association with Cato.

    Sheesh.

  36. says

    I really feel like I’m on Bizarro Dispatches. Michael, that’s not specifically claiming that you were guilty of such a thing. I quoted you because I was responding to your criticism.

    Seriously, what the hell is up with people on this issue? (Oh, right, we’re talking about libertarians. Keep your knees in the fully extended position, ladies and gents.)

  37. KG says

    You missed where Ed and I each cited (entirely independently) the genetic fallacy? – TCC

    No, I didn’t, but it very obviously does not meet my argument. Your own link says:

    It should be noted that there are some cases in which the origin of a claim is relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim. For example, a claim that comes from a reliable expert is likely to be true (provided it is in her area of expertise).

    Conversely, anything coming out of a known factory of lies is reasonably judged highly suspect by reason of its source; and those who willingly associate themselves with professional liars must be assumed not to value truth or honesty. I’ll ask you a version of what I asked Ed: would you ever cite or otherwise rely on anything coming out of the Institute for Historical Review? Just repeating “genetic fallacy” like a mantra does not impress me.

  38. Ichthyic says

    the issue of writing positive things about something going on at Cato, is NOT an issue of support for a specific stance or not.

    In fact, the underlying issue is the same as that for the templeton foundation:

    -what is the actual, underlying goal of the institution?

    if you don’t understand what Cato’s is by this point, you shouldn’t be commenting on it.

    surely everyone understands what Templeton’s is, right?

    so, the issue here is a simple one:

    ANY positive press for an organization whose principle agenda is suspect, will inevitably be twisted to grant that same organization credibility with the public, and thus, politically.

    this is why, while on the surface it might seem to someone like Ed to be fair and equitable to credit someone working for Cato with some good work, in the end, this WILL inevitably grant the overall agency just that much more credibility, that, given its historic mission, is not warranted.

    so, sorry, it’s best that if someone from cato wants to do good works, they should, just like if someone was working for templeton, strictly DIVORCE any unrelated work to an independent venture, untied to the organization.

    this saves both the trouble of journalists wanting to support good work, but NOT give Cato undeserved credibility, as well as removing any instance of genetic fallacy Ed is referring to.

    this is the only way to move forward.

    Cato is a dinosaur that should be imploded and something better take its place, period.

    Just like you will never be able to revamp the Templeton Foundation into something that can escape what its primary mission is, you will likewise never be able to do that with Cato, either.

  39. says

    KG, the exceptions to the genetic fallacy are few and far between; even appeals to authority (which is the exception mentioned in the quoted section) can themselves be fallacious.

    Conversely, anything coming out of a known factory of lies is reasonably judged highly suspect by reason of its source; and those who willingly associate themselves with professional liars must be assumed not to value truth or honesty.

    I shouldn’t have to point out to you that 1) this makes a hell of an assumption about associations and 2) it’s plainly guilt by association. Those are not the trademarks of a rational thinker.

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