Monday, June 30, 2014

Mideast Peace Envoy Returns to Brookings

Martin Indyk, US Special Envoy for Israel-Palestinian Negotiations, will return to his previous post at the Brookings Institution as Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy after announcing his resignation from the State Department post after about one year.

Indyk will re-assume his duties at Brookings on July 1, 2014.  He had taken a leave of absence from the think tank after being appointed last year by Secretary of State John Kerry to be the special envoy.  Ted Piccone, currently the Acting Vice President and Director of of the Foreign Policy Program, will become a full-time Senior Fellow.

It sounds like a return to think tank land will be a piece of cake for Indyk, who was admittedly battered by tough Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the past nine months.

In the other direction of the revolving door, Brookings scholar Karen Dynan will be going to the Treasury Department after being recently confirmed by the Senate for a top economist slot.

Update: The New York Times reports that Indyk still has a chance of returning to the position he just stepped down from, even though he is returning to think tank land.  Mr. Indyk reportedly has filled out forms that will allow him to hold on to his security clearance and continue advising the administration, even while at Brookings.

AEI Courting Spiritual Leaders; Changing Think Tank Model

Is the traditional think tank model of a panel consisting of five guys in suits being upended?

First it was His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the winter, and now it is Hindu spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the summer.

What will the next season bring for conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and its President Arthur Brooks, who has been attracting some very unique figures to his policy shop.

Shankar came to AEI on June 24 to continue the conversation on human flourishing that started in February when the Dalai Lama visited the think tank.  A video and transcript of the Shankar event can be found here.
Newsweek said in an article titled "Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Drops by the American Enterprise Institute" that the Shankar event was "not your typical" Washington, DC summit.  Here is more from Newsweek:
Most think tank leaders try to push their ideas with spreadsheets and reports—and so does AEI—but Brooks also likes to shake things up sometimes. So on Tuesday, Brooks hosted Shankar, whose Art of Living Foundation has centers in 152 countries, in a discussion about one of Brooks’s favorite subjects: the intersection of capitalism and happiness. The event sold out quickly, and 350 crowded into the AEI’s offices to watch Brooks and the Guru discuss spirituality and economics. One AEI employee remarked that she had never seen the room so crowded.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about the Dalai Lama event and how this fascinating stew of think tanks, happiness, free enterprise, and spirituality all got started.  Here are some of the best tweets from that event.

The Daily Beast has a piece titled "DC's Conservative Guru Finds His Inner Hippie" which asks if Arthur Brooks is going through a mid-life crisis.  It also says that there were "more turbans and saris among the suits and ties than usual" at AEI during Shankar's visit.

So what is next for AEI?  A giant meditation retreat to Nepal?  A visit by Pope Francis?  A pow-wow with Deepak Chopra?  Please send your recommendations to Think Tank Watch and we will plan to publish the results in the near future.

So, does spirituality bring any money to the think tank?  Hard to say, but don't worry, Arthur Brooks has a strong connection to the billionaire Kochs.  But who needs money when you have happiness, right?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Women in Think Tanks

Today the German Marshall Fund (GMF) co-hosted an event titled "Advancing Women in the Think Tank Sector" along with the other nine members of the Think Tank Diversity Consortium (TTDC).

Besides GMF, the other founding members of TTDC are: Aspen Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), CNA Corporation, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies, Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), UN Foundation, and the Urban Institute.

Gender diversity has become a hot topic among the think tank community, as 42 of the top 50 think tanks in the US are headed by men.  Women leadership among TTDC members is stronger.

Here is a short video discussing more about TTDC's goals.  The founder of TTDC is Lois Rice of the Brookings Institution.

In related news on women in think tanks, Karen Donfried, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC), started her new job as President of GMF in April.  The GMF Board of Trustee announced in February that it has unanimously elected Donfried to be GMF's next president.

Donfried is no stranger to GMF.  She first joined the think tank in 2001.  Her second term of service at GMF was 2005 to 2010, first as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.  A reception was held in May to honor her new appointment.  This week, there was a welcome reception for Donfried at GMF's new Berlin office.

Former GMF president Craig Kennedy stepped down March 31, 2014 after 18 years at the helm of the think tank.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brookings Scholar Confirmed for Top Treasury Post

Brookings scholar Karen Dynan has finally been confirmed to serve as the Treasury Department's chief economist.

Dynan worked at Brookings from 2009 to 2013 as Vice President and Co-Director of the Economic Studies Program.  Prior to joining Brookings, she served on the staff of the Federal Reserve Board for 17 years.

Dynan's husband is Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  He was a Senior Fellow at Brookings from 2007 to 2009 and was the Director of the think tank's Hamilton Project.

Strength of a Think Tank Measured by Its Free Food?

Is the strength and influence of a think tank measured by its free food?  The argument goes that if a think tank has lots of power, it is able to get lots of funding/donations, and thus, it has the ability to purchase good food for events.

Some, such as The Washington Post, have recently argued that food equals strength in powerful institutions, such as Congress.  Here is more from a Post article on Rep. Steve Scalise's (R-LA) win to be House Majority Whip:
On Wednesday night, Scalise had hosted 40 allies at Acadiana, an upscale Louisiana Creole restaurant in the District. Even in a powerful institution like the House, the strength of a candidacy is measured by its free food. And Scalise’s food was solid.

One could also argue that if a think tank is weak, it needs to have good food in order to attract more people to its events and work.

Talking about think tank food, Think Tank Watch has been wondering what happened to the mysterious "Think Tank Crasher" - an anonymous blogger who last year was documenting his quest to get free meals at think tanks.  Here is an exclusive interview that Think Tank Watch had with the "panel crasher."

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the best food experience at a think tank.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Don't Think Tanks Study Peace?

Today Jon Temin in Foreign Policy asks "why don't the policymakers and practitioners looking to end the world's deadliest wars spend more time studying peace?"  He says that much time and resources are spent understanding sources of violence, without making nearly as much effort understand why certain places and people resist violence.

Here is more:
So why do the building blocks of peace get so little attention? Part of the problem is that there is little incentive to study peace. The day-to-day excitement and drama of conflict zones is attractive, and conflict-focused donors rarely fund analyses of peaceful places. Think tanks and policy institutes are not often inclined to support such work either -- and good luck getting the media to pay attention. There may be more focus on the ingredients of peace in academia, but the stubborn divide between academics and practitioners persists, and those making difficult policy decisions or implementing programs rarely consume relevant work done in the Ivory Tower.

One of his conclusions is that peacebuilders need to rethink the balance between studying violence and peace.  He also says that donors should provide consistent funding for analyses of places and people who are not in conflict.

Mr. Temin is the Director of the Africa Programs at the US Institute of Peace (USIP).

World Resources Institute Ranked Among Top Places to Work

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has just been ranked by The Washington Post as one of the "top workplaces" in the Washington, DC area.  Mores specifically, it was ranked 43rd among "mid-size" companies/organizations.  It was the only think tank of the list.

The Post notes that WRI, which does research on climate, energy, food, forests, water, cities, and transporation, has offices in China, Brazil, and India, although more than half of its 500 employees work in Washington, DC.

As for one of the big perks of working for the think tank, the Post notes that employees can take sabbaticals in addition to paid time off.  For those sabbatical seekers, you can look at WRI job openings here.

Here is a WRI press release about the ranking.

Employees were encouraged to nominate their companies as "top workplaces," and the sole requirement was that the organization employs at least 50 people in the greater Washington area.  Here is more about the rankings methodology.

Other think tanks should not fret for not making the list.  After all, you can already nominate your think tank for the upcoming year.

Last month, WRI received a massive gift - $30.5 million - to "galvanize action that will help cities grow smarter and more sustainably in developing countries around the world."  The gift from Stephen M. Ross was the largest-ever single donation to WRI and will be used to establish the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

AEI President Gets Cozy With the Kochs

Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), can be considered the king of "happiness" of the think tank world.  He has written and spoken extensively about the subject over the years.  In fact, he even convinced the Dalai Lama to come discuss happiness at the think tank this year.  Here is more from Slate:
In February, Brooks even managed to pull off the unthinkable: He got the Dalai Lama, a self-described socialist, to visit the American Enterprise Institute, which decries socialism. The title of the panel discussion featuring the Tibetan leader: “Happiness, free enterprise, and human flourishing.”

His happiness kick appears infectious.  In fact, Brooks was recently tapped to serve on the advisory board of the Charles Koch Institute's Well-Being Initiative, a project to foster the conversation about well-being and how people can improve their lives.

As Slate points out today, billionaire Charles Koch informally introduced the Well-Being Initiative in a January blog post titled, "The Importance of Well-Being."

It is worth noting that AEI, along with a number of other conservative and libertarian think tanks, receives funding from the Kochs.  Charles Koch was a co-founder of the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, and his family has donated more than $30 to it over the years.

And readers of Think Tank Watch will not forget the lawsuit that Charles and David Koch brought against Cato in 2012 in an attempt to gain greater control of the think tank's board.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#127)

  • Top Chinese think tank accused of collusion with foreign forces.
  • "Mr. Think Tank" (aka, James McGann) speaks at Wilson Center on how think tanks shape social development policies.
  • US military plan against China outlined in think tank report.
  • What really happened at that Benghazi think tank event at Heritage: Dylan Byers vs. Dana Milbank.
  • Don Abelson on the impact of think tanks and how impact can be quantified.
  • Daniel Drezner responding to Steve Walt: Foreign policy conferences aren't as useless as they seem.
  • NYMag: The conservative think tank behind this week's sexist headaches.
  • Brookings and the Robert Bosch Stiftung name Constance Stelzenmuller as Inaugural Robert Bosch Senior Fellow.
  • Catherine Brown, former top domestic policy advisor for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, will join CAP as Vice President for Education Policy; former Obama Administration official Danielle Gray joins CAP as a Senior Fellow.
  • Kennan Institute at Wilson Center celebrates 40th anniversary.
  • New CSIS study pegs cybercrime cost at $445 billion.

Hoover Institution Scholar Fouad Ajami Dies

Fouad Ajami, a Middle East scholar and Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution think tank died on June 22 from cancer.

He was also on the Board of Directors at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and sat on the editorial board of Middle East Quarterly, a publication of the think tank Middle East Forum.

The Hoover Institution has curated some of Dr. Ajami's best work on its website.

Monday, June 23, 2014

White House Seeks Input from Think Tanks on Iraq; CAP Wants Airstrikes

Top Obama Administration officials have reportedly been calling various Washington think tanks over the past few weeks in order to solicit advice and consultation on how to handle the worsening situation in Iraq.

The liberal Center for American Progress, a think tank that is extremely close to the Obama Administration, has come out in support of preparing for limited US airstrikes against Iraq.  You can read more from Josh Rogin at Daily Beast.  Here is the CAP report titled "On the Brink: Managing the ISIS Threat in Iraq."

More specifically, the CAP report says that the US should prepare for limited use of US - and if possible allied - air power on ISIS targets to degrade their ability to further destabilize Iraq and to protect US interests.

Here is more on Iraq from think tank land:
  • Frank Verrastro and Sarah Ladislaw of CSIS on Iraq and global oil markets.
  • CSIS's Nathan Freier on the crisis in Iraq and military options.
  • Kenneth Pollack of Brookings with questions about the deployment of American advisors to Iraq; and a blog post on oil and the Iraqi civil war.
  • Bruce Riedel of Brookings says Iran is the big winner in the Iraqi debacle.
  • Video from June 19 Brookings event "Iraq in Crisis: What Options Does Washington Have?"
  • Heritage Foundation on what you need to know about ISIS in Iraq and the Iraq meltdown.
  • John Bolton of AEI evaluating US options in Iraq.
  • CFR's Meghan O'Sullivan on Obama's two terrible choices in Iraq.
  • CFR's Leslie Gelb on a US playbook for Iraq and Syria.
  • CFR's Max Boot on what the US can do about Iraq.
  • Cato's Benjamin Friedman tells America to stay out of Iraq. 
  • Cato's Christopher Preble: GOP needs to stop being "stupid and proud of it" on Iraq. 
  • Bilal Saab of Atlantic Council: the hard questions on Iraq.
  • Barry Pavel of Atlantic Council: A strategy for Syria and Iraq.
  • Nora Bensahel of CNAS on why Maliki isn't the problem in Iraq, but oil is
  • Sirwan Kajjo on CEIP on the rise of ISIS - a golden opportunity for Iraq's Kurds. 
  • Judy Dempsey of CEIP asks: Is ISIS in Iraq bigger than Putin in Ukraine? 
  • Brian Michael Jenkins of RAND Corp. on Iraq observations.
  • Karl Mueller of RAND: Would US air power work in Iraq?
  • Patrick Johnston and Benjamin Bahney of RAND on Obama's Iraq dilemma.
  • Elie Abouaoun on USIP: Will politics deliver more after military response this time?
  • Robin Wright on Wilson Center: Iraq's House of Cards - The Primary Mission.
  • Aaron David Miller of Wilson Center: Who lost Iraq?
  • Jane Harman of Wilson Center: Don't let ISIS distract from al Qaeda threat.

But let us remember that think tanks do not always have all the right answers.  After all, Think Tank Watch can think of not one think tanker who publicly predicted the current chaos in Iraq.  Here is Richard Leiby of The Washington Post describing how think tankers were among those who had heard urgent warning about the situation in Iraq earlier in the year, but essentially ignored (or did not comprehend) those warnings.
In mid-January, a taciturn, chain-smoking Iraqi politician came to Washington to meet with powerful members of Congress, White House advisers and think-tankers and convey an urgent warning. Iraq is about to explode, he said, and the United States needs to pay attention.
He described a country poisoned by sectarianism, beset by a virulent Islamist insurgency and hampered by a divisive prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim who had marginalized the Sunni sect, creating dangerous resentments.
But the visitor, Saleh al-Mutlak, Iraq’s deputy prime minister and a rare Sunni officeholder, soon realized that in official Washington, Iraq was old news, settled business. Mutlak says his takeaway after a week of discussion with U.S. foreign-policy makers was, “Good luck, you’re on your own.”
Well surprise, surprise.

The article quotes several think tankers, including Seth Jones of RAND Corp. who said that the lack of good predictions about Iraq is because "the world is very complicated."  Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council said that the intelligence community missed this because "they have no imagination."  How about the imagination of the think tank community?

Perhaps Think Tank Watch should emulate Chris Cillizza's "Worst Week in Washington" column and give the award to think tank land...Congrats, or something.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Think Tank Defends DC Yoga Tax

Attention all yoga wonks.

A think tank established in 2001 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is defending the so-called "gym tax," a 5.75% tax on health club services.

That think tank is DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI), a "state-level" think tank which focuses on budget and tax issues, with a particular emphasis on issues that affect low- and moderate-income residents.

Here is more from Roll Call.  And here is what The Washington Post has to say about the "yoga tax," which is also known as the "gym tax" or "fitness tax."

Q&A Question Sparks Heritage Foundation Eruption

Think Tank Watch is the first to admit that think tank panels are often dull. 

But if you were at Heritage Foundation's 4-hour Benghazi event yesterday, you were in for a real treat.  It all started with an American University student in the back of the think tank's Allison Auditorium...

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post does a good job of explaining the outburst of emotions at the Heritage Foundation yesterday.  Here are some excerpts:
...Then Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, stood in the back of the room and asked a question in a soft voice. “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” she told them. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.”
Panelist Brigitte Gabriel of a group called ACT! for America pounced. She said “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.” She told Ahmed that the “peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and she drew a Hitler comparison: “Most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million died.”
“Are you an American?” Gabriel demanded of Ahmed, after accusing her of taking “the limelight” and before informing her that her “political correctness” belongs “in the garbage.”
“Where are the others speaking out?” Ahmed was asked. This drew an extended standing ovation from the nearly 150 people in the room, complete with cheers.
The panel’s moderator, conservative radio host Chris Plante, grinned and joined in the assault. “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” he demanded of Ahmed.
“Yeah,” audience members taunted, “yeah.”

Here is a video of how it all went down.

Scholar Sacked From Think Tank for Climate Stance

A scholar at a liberal think tank was recently fired from his position following a May 4, 2014 op-ed he penned for The Wall Street Journal in which he called man-made global warming an "unproved science."

Here is more:
Dr. Caleb Rossiter was “terminated” via email as an “Associate Fellow” from the progressive group Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), following his May 4th, 2014 Wall Street Journal OpEd titled “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change,” in which he called man-made global warming an “unproved science.” Rossiter also championed the expansion of carbon based energy in Africa.  Dr.  Rossiter is an adjunct professor at American University. Rossiter holds a PhD in policy analysis and a masters degree in mathematics.

Dr. Rossiter reportedly had a 23-year relationship with the Institute for Policy Studies.  He was most recently an Associate Fellow at the think tank.

Here is a copy of IPS's termination letter to Dr. Rossiter:
We would like to inform you that we are terminating your position as an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. As you know, Associate Fellows at IPS are sponsored by an IPS project director or by the director. In your case, both of us sponsored your Fellowship. Unfortunately, we now feel that your views on key issues, including climate science, climate justice, and many aspects of U.S. policy to Africa, diverge so significantly from ours that a productive working relationship is untenable. The other project directors of IPS feel the same.
I (John) have worked with you on and off for two decades and I admire the project you did on Demilitarization and Democracy through IPS. I also admire the work you did on Capitol Hill with Rep. Delahunt. Both of us have worked with you in other capacities over the years with strong mutual respect. We thank you for that work and wish you the best in your future endeavors.
If you would like to meet with us in person, we are available. John will be in Berlin from Thursday afternoon through Monday evening, but could meet after that. Emira is here over the next week if you’d like to meet sooner.
Here is a link to Dr. Rossiter's op-ed.  Many more details can be found at Climate Depot.

IPS bills itself as Washington's first progressive, multi-issue think tank.  It was founded in 1963, and last year celebrated its 50th year in existence.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Former Australian Prime Minister Joins CSIS

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) announced today that former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will join the think tank as a "Distinguished Statesman."

Mr. Rudd will not be the only Distinguished Statesman at the top foreign policy think tank.  For example, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany's former Minister of Defense and Minister of Economics & Technology, joined CSIS in 2011 as a Distinguished Statesman.

Bringing on high-profile officials from other countries in nothing new for think tanks.  Think Tank Watch has compiled a list of examples of foreign influence at think tanks.

CSIS was recently ranked as the 4th best think tank in the world by the annual university of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, and as the world's top defense and national security think tank.

Stephen Walt on Large Think Tank Conferences

Harvard professor Stephen Walt is not a big fan of boring think tank conferences.  He thinks that more outside-the-box thinkers should be put on think tank panels to spice things up and provide fresh thinking on foreign policy challenges.

In a Foreign Policy article this week titled "Take 2 Ambien and Call Me When It's Over: I'd Rather Spoon My Own Eye Out Than Sit Through This Year's Think-Tank-a-Palooza," Walt bashes the predictable lineup of speakers at the annual conferences at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and New America Foundation (NAF).

Here are some of Walt's excerpts:
I've been looking over the programs for these three gatherings, and my first impulse is to yawn. Instead of a diverse array of speakers offering fresh ideas, or a clash of divergent world-views and policy prescriptions, the programs for all these events are heavily populated by the usual suspects: prominent foreign-policy practitioners, policy wonks, and public figures whose views are already familiar to anyone who's been paying attention to the travails of U.S. foreign policy.
...It's easy to understand why conference organizers stick with familiar faces: putting a bunch of established foreign policy VIPs on the program helps guarantee a big turn-out and highlights the organization's "convening power." And in our celebrity-mad world, many people would happy to catch a glimpse of somebody like McCain or Clinton, even if neither says anything new or thought-provoking. Sticking to establishment figures also avoids controversy: you don't have to worry about donors getting upset about the program or government officials refusing to appear on the same dais with someone they regard as radioactive.
But given the widespread dissatisfaction with the state of U.S. foreign policy, is this really the best we can do? Wouldn't it be more interesting, and more importantly, more useful for these organizations to cast the net more widely, and include people whose ideas on foreign policy were serious, well-informed, yet outside the current consensus? I'm not suggesting that CFR or CNAS invite a Taliban spokesman to participate (though lord knows that could be very revealing)...
Walt goes on to provide some speakers he think would add some energy and excitement to think tank conferences, such as Edward Snowden, Andrew Sullivan, Jeremy Scahill, Dana Priest, William Arkin, Jane Mayer, Gareth Porter, Rashid Khalidi, Chas Freeman, Flynt and Hillary Leverett, Stephen Cohen, Robert Kaplan, and Hugh White.

Here is a link to the CNAS annual conference for 2014; here is a link to NAF's annual conference, called "Big Ideas for a New America"; more about CFR's annual conference on June 12-13 can be found here.

Think Tank Watch should also point out that Walt was a Resident Associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, and a consultant for various defense think tanks.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#126)

  • Asia think tanks aim to make mark in easing regional tensions.
  • UK think tanks and economic freedom.
  • Could a think tank start a war? (via ECFR).
  • Jeremy Shapiro of Brookings on what happens when think tankers meet government officials.
  •  India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi: "Sadly, role of think tanks has not increased to provide critical inputs to policy making."  Here is more Modi on think tanks.
  • New African study on links between think tanks and universities.
  • China's top science think tank (Chinese Academy of Sciences) has 743 members.
  • What is the one very strange feature in Washington's meandering think tank geography?  They try to reinvent maps of the world.
  • Dr. Charles Mensa: More think tanks needed in Ghana.
  • Brookings announces new trustees - largely from banks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Heritage Launches New News Site Called Daily Signal

Think tank journalism is hot.  Today the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation is launching a news website called Daily Signal in part to highlight unreported or under-reported stories.

Here are some more details from Washington Post:
The Signal will have a small staff — 12 journalists to start — and a relatively small budget of $1 million a year. The site does not accept advertising.
The Signal’s precursor — a Heritage blog called the Foundry - will disappear with the advent of the Daily Signal, but its following — some 2.6 million unique visitors last month — are likely to gravitate to its replacement.
Most of the staff is drawn from news organizations with conservative leanings.  So far, the Signal’s news agenda doesn’t stray very far from Heritage’s policy agenda.

Here is more from the Heritage Foundation.  Here is what The Wall Street Journal has to say about the new site.  Here is what Poynter has to say.  Here is what The Nation had to say.

And here is the new Daily Signal site.

Jeb Bush's Favorite Think Tanks

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a policy geek, and thus, it is fitting that he has embraced a variety of think tanks.  Here is more from The New York Times:
A self-described nerd, he is known to travel with policy journals and send all-hours inquiries to think tanks. (A sample Bush question: What are the top five ways to achieve 4 percent economic growth?)
These days, Mr. Bush peppers his speeches with statistics, academic-sounding references to “quintiles” and self-deprecating jokes about his own geekiness. A few weeks ago, he boasted to a crowd of Republican donors that he was “nerdy enough” to read City Journal, an obscure policy magazine published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, then recited the names of his favorite writers at the publication.
...Inspired by Bill Gates, he sent out a request to current and former staff members for bold new ideas, serious or whimsical, and took the resulting stack of proposals with him on vacation for “think week.”
Not everyone was impressed. Democratic-leaning outsiders groused that his administration had been co-opted by conservative think tanks, like the Hoover, Cato and Manhattan institutes, whose proposals Mr. Bush openly borrowed.

Last month, Jeb spoke at the Manhattan Institute think tank awards dinner. His speech can be viewed here.

Jeb Bush joined the Board of Trustees at the Heritage Foundation in late 1995 (although he is no longer a board member), and Richard McAdams, the Heritage Foundation's Manager of Major Gifts (Florida), used to work for Jeb Bush.  In November 2012, Heritage hosted a breakfast with Jeb Bush.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on Hillary Clinton's embrace of think tanks.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Canadian Politician Bashed For "Secret" US Think Tank Meetings

Here is the story from The Globe and Mail:
Tim Hudak turned to leading lights on the American right – from Tea Party-linked think tanks to anti-tax crusaders – in his effort to craft an unabashedly small-government platform.
In the week after Easter, 2012, when the Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader was revamping his agenda after an unexpected election loss to the Liberals the year before, he visited Washington and met with a half-dozen top conservative thinkers.
The Liberals, who on Sunday released an itinerary of the trip, dubbed it a “secret” series of meetings with “right-wing radicals.”
The itinerary, previously obtained separately by The Globe, lists meetings with Chris Edwards, director of fiscal policy at the libertarian Cato Institute; and labour expert James Sherk at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank led by a former Tea Party senator. Mr. Hudak also dined at the home of David Frum, the Canadian author and former George W. Bush speechwriter, the schedule says. [Frum worked at AEI and is now at the think tank R Street Institute.]
Mr. Hudak is also listed as having met a policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. Earlier this year, the Tories hired AEI economist Benjamin Zycher to estimate the number of jobs some of their current platform planks would create. But Mr. Hudak had to distance himself from the economist’s political views after it turned out Mr. Zycher had once accused Princeton of only granting Michelle Obama a degree because of her skin colour, and has questioned the existence of global warming.
Mr. Hudak said the Washington sit-downs were organized by Mr. Frum, whom he counts as an adviser.

This story notes that Mr. Hudak also met with scholars from the Brookings Institution, but does not mention that Brookings is not exactly a bastion of conservative thinking...

Of course, some think tanks in the US have a bit of a fascination with Canada.

In case you were wondering, Canada has 96 think tanks, and the US has 1,828 think tanks, according to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  In other words, the US has nearly twenty times the number of think tanks as Canada.