The killings in Aurora, Colorado are literally sickening. I've been a little sick about it all day. And I find myself with the urge to say that this sort of horrifying mass murder is "senseless," that it defies comprehension, though it's not clear to me why I want to say that. I guess some part of me wishes it were senseless. But it isn't. We can make sense of hopelessness, anger, violent nihilism, bloodlust. It's not really so hard to see why someone might want to punish the world, or to make life intensely vivid for a few fleeting moments by killing a roomful of screaming people. We recoil from such gruesome inner scenes, but only because imagination is so capable of calling them forth. I wouldn't go so far as Terence and say "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto." People do plenty that simply does not compute. But Aurora, I guess I'm sorry to say, is not one of those things. What's truly terrifying to me is not that that this sort of thing is impossible to understand, but that it is so easy to imagine from the perspective both of the murdered and the murderer, and then, having imagined it, finding that I cannot quite fathom why it doesn't happen all the time. It is our safety that's mysterious.
So Cato Institute president Ed Crane is taking an "early retirement" and megabucks former BB&T CEO John Allison is set to take his place. It's easy to see why Allison makes sense as a peacemaking Crane replacement. He's a High Church Randian -- indeed, he's on the board of the Ayn Rand Institute -- which puts him in a theological camp apart from the Kochs and most Catoites. Additionally, he's extremely rich and thus unlikely to be too intimidated by the titanic combined Koch fortune. Indeed, I'm told that during his introductory chat with the Cato staff, Allison made of point being a one-percenter who owes nothing to the Kochs. But isn't the fact that Allison sits on the board of ARI more than a little worrying? As my former Cato colleague Jeremy Lott writes: