Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Think Tank Quickies (#236)

  • Vox: Almost no prominent people at think tanks or professors who are supporting Donald Trump.
  • Showers are the ultimate think tanks.
  • Think tank Center for Security Policy expressed concern over Qatari role in CityCenterDC.
  • Massachusetts Ave. Meeting of the Minds: Brookings welcomes AEI to the block; scholars spotted debating secular stagnation over sundaes.
  • Economic Freedom of the World report put together every year by a consortium of 70 think tanks.
  • Think tanks pouring resources into new ways to fight against violent propaganda washing over the internet from Islamist groups and far-right radicals.
  • Should think tankers "pre-suade" before talking or sending out reports?
  • MSNBC holds annual WHCA after-party at USIP. 
  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson speak at CSIS event on Sept. 22. 
  • Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at Wilson Center to promote TPP.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lawyer Pens Heritage Doc Calling for End to Obama's Lobbying Ban

Gregory Walden, a non-staff member of The Heritage Foundation, and a Senior Counsel with law/lobby powerhouse Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, has just written a piece for the think tank arguing that restrictions on lobbyists in the administration discourages good candidates from serving and proposing reversing President Obama's lobbying ban.

The full paper, which was presented at a September 26 event at Heritage, can be read here.  Mr. Walden is a former Associate Counsel to President George H.W. Bush.

The Tiny Office Writing the Future of America

The Huffington Post has a piece entitled "The Future of America is Being Written in This Tiny Office," which highlights the work of the Hillary Clinton campaign's Brooklyn headquarters office, a team that is collecting and synthesizing all the pro-Clinton think tank policy papers into actual policy as she strives to become the next US president.

Here is an excerpt:
This summer, I stopped by Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, where the policy team occupies prime real estate. The three senior advisors—Jake Sullivan, Maya Harris and Jacob Leibenluft—share an office steps away from those of campaign manager Robby Mook and chairman John Podesta. (O’Leary is now leading the official transition operation in Washington.) About a dozen more policy aides occupy nearby cubicles, below a sign that says “Nerds” and “Wonks for the Win.” This team manages more than 30 outside working groups that include academic heavyweights, think tank experts and trusted advisers like Sperling and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. It’s an impressive crew, but perhaps over-qualified when it comes to some of the matters that have convulsed this particular election, like the size of Trump’s hands or the semiotics of Pepe the Frog. “It’s not exactly clear what to do with all of that horsepower,” says a person familiar with the process. “There is just this mismatch between capabilities they have and what’s actually required in this campaign.”

Among the think tanks that are heavily advising Mrs. Clinton are Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Roosevelt Institute (as we recently wrote about here).

Former CFR Scholar Axed From Trump Campaign

Here is more from Newsmax:
A foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump is reportedly stepping down from the campaign – and pushing back on allegations he had private communications with top Russian officials.
Carter Page called the allegations "just complete garbage" in an interview with the Washington Post, but said was taking a leave of absence because they were causing a "distraction."

U.S. intelligence officials were looking into whether Carter had met privately with Kremlin-aligned Russian figures while on a trip to Moscow in July, Yahoo News reported last Friday.

Carter Page was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the director of the think tank's online roundtable of the Caspian Sea Region.  After his stint at CFR, he spoke at the think tank on several occasions.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Billionaire Chinese Donor to US Think Tanks Caught in Scandal

A billionaire Chinese donor to US think tanks has been expelled from China's top legislature after being caught up in a widespread cash-for-votes scheme, according to the Washington Post.

The donor, Wang Wenliang, Chairman of privately-held construction firm Rilin Enterprises, has given to think tanks such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as well as various schools such as Harvard University and New York University.

In 2014, CSIS created the Brzezinski Institute of Geostrategy, which was funded by Mr. Wenliang's company.  Here is more from a CSIS press release:
The launching grant for the Institute came from Rilin Enterprises, Ltd., a global construction and logistics firm based in Hong Kong with offices in New York, Beijing, and Dandong, China. Mr. Wenliang Wang serves as chairman of Rilin Enterprises. Mr. Mark Fung, who serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, is the firm’s general counsel and in the 1990s was Dr. Brzezinski’s student and then seminar assistant at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Here is a New Republic piece written by John Judis in 2014 questioning Mr. Wang's donation to CSIS.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of billionaires (both foreign and domestic) giving donations to US think tanks.

Think Tank Quickies (#235)

  • Phyllis Schlafly, who came to Washington for a year to do research for what is now AEI, dies at 92.
  • Center for American Progress (CAP) starts US-China Rising Scholar Strategic Dialogue.
  • Panel, which wrote stinging indictment of America's security apparatus, organized by Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former Dick Cheney adviser who now works at the Hudson Institute.
  • Brookings book event (Cuba) had reception with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. 
  • Congress renews debate on avoidance of local tax by colleges, think tanks. 
  • Will Brexit lead to brain-drain of UK think tanks?
  • For a think tank head to succeed, it helps not to look the part.
  • Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo warns on sea ruling at gathering of Chinese and US think tank officials.
  • Heritage Action hosts Conservative Leadership Awards. 
  • CAP publishes major new security paper offering new approach to US foreign policy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Billionaire's Daughter Throwing Big Money at Think Tanks

In the think tank world, it pays to be friends with billionaires.  The latest example comes from The Washington Post:
Mitt Romney had just lost the 2012 presidential election, and a group of wealthy donors assembled in New York's University Club was trying to figure out what had gone wrong.  Suddenly, a young woman stood up before the largely male crowd and delivered an unsparing critique of the Republican's technology and canvassing operations.
Thomas Saunders III, chairman of the Heritage Foundation's Board of Trustees, was impressed.  "Who is that?" he asked the man next to him.
Soon, there would be few in conservative policy and political circles who did not know the name Rebekah Mercer.
Galvanized in part by the Republicans' 2012 White House loss, the middle daughter of billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer has rattled the status quo by directing her family's resources into an array of investments on the right.  In the past six years, the Mercers have poured tens of millions into Republican super PACs, Washington think tanks, state policy shops, a film-production company, a data analytics operation and one of the country's most provocative online conservative news outlets.

The article goes on to note that Rebekah Mercer jointed the board of the Goldwater Institute and her family foundation gave nearly $1 million to the think tank between 2011 and 2014.  The family foundation have nearly $35 million to conservative think tanks and policy groups between 2009 and 2014.  And she is now on the board of trustees of the Heritage Foundation.

The Hill also notes that Mercer has been a big supporter of the libertarian Cato Institute.

Think Tank Watch recently wrote about a new trend of billionaires starting their own think tanks.  Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the favorite think tank of billionaires.

PR/Lobby Firms Lawyer Up After Entanglements With EU Think Tank

Here is more from Politico:
K Street powerhouses Mercury and the Podesta Group recently hired outside lawyers after the Associated Press reported that their work for a European think tank was secretly overseen by [Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul] Manafort and one of his associates working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Manafort and his company never registered their activities under FARA.

The IG report noted ambiguity about whether exemptions apply to representing foreign entities like college campus groups and think thanks that receive government funding but claim to act independently.
FARA registrations peaked in 1987 and fell sharply since the 1990s, probably because people started registering under the 1995 domestic lobbying law instead, which requires less detailed disclosures.

The "think tank" mentioned above is European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), based in Brussels, Belgium.  Here is more about that organization, which was founded in 2012.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Atlantic Council Faulted for Awarding African "Dictator"

This is from a Foreign Policy opinion piece by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein (both of the Human Rights Foundation) entitled "Why Did the Atlantic Council Even Consider Giving African Dictator Ali Bongo Ondimba a Global Citizen Award?":
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba was scheduled to attend a swanky gala on Monday hosted by the Atlantic Council, a well-known Washington-based think tank, to accept an award for “his life of public service and efforts to improve the lives of the people of Gabon.” Unfortunately for the dictator, he was forced to cancel at the last moment because of mounting unrest in his country — the bloody fallout from a likely stolen election on Aug. 27.
Days of violent protests followed. At least 50 people were killed, and more than 1,000 were arrested by security forces, according to the opposition. Gabon remains under a 12-hour-a-day curfew, but the Atlantic Council has not officially rescinded the award, which it previously bestowed on the likes of Robert De Niro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. In a letter to Human Rights Foundation, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe said his organization respects Bongo’s “decision to forgo receiving his Global Citizen Award this year due to the overriding priorities he has in his country.”
Yet it’s not clear how Bongo was ever considered a worthy candidate for the award in the first place. The notoriously corrupt leader has ruled Gabon since 2009, when he succeeded his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, in a fraudulent election.
By recognizing him with a Global Citizen Award, the Atlantic Council is helping Bongo shed his image as an outrageously corrupt autocrat. The democratically elected leaders of Japan and Italy, Shinzo Abe and Matteo Renzi, respectively, will receive their awards on Monday as scheduled at a gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Had Bongo not been busy putting down a protest movement opposed to his rule, he would have been able to present himself as a similarly legitimate leader. And since the Atlantic Council hasn’t revoked the award, he may still be able to do so at a later date.
The Atlantic Council has long trumpeted its objectivity and independence, but feting Bongo is just the latest in a series of troubling developments at the think tank that raise questions about its commitment to transparency and ability to keep business interests separate from its research and policy operations. Gabon is not the only dictatorship the Atlantic Council has cozied up to: The Kingdom of Bahrain is listed on the organization’s website as a six-figure donor, and it has received financial support from the governments of Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan. Alexander Mirtchev, one of the directors of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund, sits on the executive committee of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors and is listed as a six-figure donor.

The piece goes on to note that it is "difficult to discern the precise nature" of the Atlantic Council's relationship with the Bongo regime, and questions if someone from the government (or someone on behalf of the government) has donated money to Atlantic Council.  The authors say that until these questions are answered, the "credibility of one of Washington's most venerated think tanks will remain in question, and its Global Citizens Award will remain a joke."

In what appears to be pushback from the think tank, Foreign Policy issued a correction at the end of the article saying that a previous version of the article noted that the Atlantic Council does not publicly disclose all of its funders, or the size of their donations (found here).  However, many think tanks say that they publicly disclose all of their donors, when it practice, many do not.

The Telegraph also wrote about this issue on September 11.

Here is an Atlantic Council statement on President Ali Bongo Ondimba not being able to accept the award this year.

But the Gabonese President was able to make it to the think tank earlier in 2016 for a breakfast to honor him.  And he also gave a keynote speech at the think tank in 2011.

Here is a Human Rights Foundation (HRF) letter sent to Atlantic Council saying that HRF is "unaware" of the qualification of a Global Citizen Award but "unless kleptocracy, nepotism, and repression are given high marks," giving the award to Ali Bongo is a "monumental mistake."

Think Tank Watch should note that it is not illegal for think tanks to take money from (most) dictators, although some may consider it ethically questionable.  And as previously reported, Gabon funds US think tanks.

Update: Here is another piece from Mr. Halvorssen.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Think Tank Quickies (#234)

  • Video by Renard Moreau: What are think tanks and can they be trusted?
  • NAF head Anne-Marie Slaughter's 5-minute survey on what a 21st-century think tank should be doing to affect change.
  • Think Tank Hub: A space for think tanks worldwide.
  • The Solomon Islands paper and the role of think tanks, by Elsina Wainwright.
  • Video: EastWest Institute (EWI) much more than your usual think tank?
  • Brookings's role in the Marshall Plan.
  • New think tank in Japan offers tips on LGBT awareness, market potential.
  • US think tanks focusing on studying China.
  • How and why we network Asian think tanks.
  • John Avlon of Daily Beast was senior fellow at conservative Manhattan Institute.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Think Tank Heads Get Paid big Money for Speeches

Think Tank Watch has long documented the generous pay that many top think tank officials take home, but a new trend is arising that makes their salaries look like chump change.

More and more think tank heads are joining the paid speaking circuit, bringing in tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplemental income each year.

One example is New America head Anne-Marie Slaughter, who gets between $30,000 and $50,000 per speech, according to Foreign Policy.

Another is Arthur Brooks, President of American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who has a booking fee of $20,000 to $30,000, according to All American Speakers Bureau.

Strobe Talbott, head of the Brookings Institution, has a booking fee between $10,000 to $20,000, according to All American Speakers Bureau.

Speakerpedia, a directory of professional speakers, lists dozens of current and former think tankers seeking paid gigs.  Examples include:

  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Norm Ornstein, AEI
  • Michael Barone, AEI
  • Peter Singer, New America
  • Robert Kagan, Brookings
  • Scott Aughenbaugh, CSIS
  • Aaron David Miller, Wilson Center
  • Stephen Moore, Heritage Foundation
  • Kenneth Pollack, Brookings
  • Sebastian Mallaby, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  • Uri Dadush, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Patrick Michaels, Cato Institute
  • David Wessel, Brookings
  • Peter Wallison, AEI
  • Gene Healy, Cato Institute
  • Edward Crane, Cato
  • Kevin Hassett, AEI
  • Ted Piccone, Brookings
  • Marina Ottaway, Wilson Center
  • Fiona Hill, Brookings
  • Dan Ikenson, Cato
  • Ryan Radia, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
  • Michael Tanner, Cato
  • Thomas Sanderson, CSIS
  • Peter Goettler, Cato
  • Daniel Pearson, Cato
  • Frederick Hess, AEI
  • Neal McCluskey, Cato
  • Matthew Feeney, Cato
  • Marc Scribner, CEI
  • Angela Maria Kelley, CAP
  • Emma Ashford, Cato
  • Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Cato
  • Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato
  • Emily Ekins, Cato
  • Michael Strain, AEI
  • Anisha Singh, CAP
  • Adam Bates, Cato
  • Nicole Kaeding, Cato
  • Christopher Preble, Cato
  • Katherine Zimmerman, AEI
  • William Niskanen, Cato
  • Roger Noriega, AEI
  • Genevieve Wood, Heritage Foundation
  • Daniel Griswold, Cato
  • Stephen Slivinski, Cato
  • Mark Moller, Cato
  • Todd Harrison, CSIS
  • Timothy Lynch, Cato
  • Linda Killian, Wilson Center

While select think tank heads typically can command high fees, those lower on the think tank totem pole get significantly less.  But even the highest paid think tankers get peanuts compared to the most in-demand speakers.

One of the few exceptions is former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Brookings, who pulls down a nice six-figure fee per speech.

In recent months think tanks have been tightening their rules on outside work by scholars, particularly in light of the New York Times expose last month on pay-for-play at major think tanks.  But the speaking circuit generally does not fall under the purview of most think tank policies on outside engagements.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Taiwanese Think Tanks Take Washington by Storm

Think tanking in Washington, DC is getting more crowded by the day.  To wit: This week a well-funded Taiwanese think tank, said to be the largest US-based think tank focusing on Taiwan, will open its doors in Washington, DC.

Here is more from the Taipei Times:
The Global Taiwan Institute (GTI), opening on September 14, has access to more than US$20 million and has paid US$3 million for its Dupont Circle, Washington, office, sources said, adding that the institute is to be made up of people from the US, Taiwan, Japan and Europe.
US Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Grace Meng, institute honorary chairman Wu Rong-i and Formosa TV chairman Kou Pei-hung are to attend a founding event for the institute, they said.
The institute has received funding and support from influential figures, sources said, adding that its establishment is noteworthy at a time when Taiwanese independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming has announced the suspension of his Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust, which is expected to join the Ketagalan Foundation, an organization owned and operated by supporters of former president Chen Shui-bien.
Former president Lee Teng-hui is to serve as the institute’s chief adviser and Wu as its honorary chairman, while 37 people are to serve as cofounders, including former Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission chairwoman Chang Fu-mei (張富美).
Each cofounder has contributed US$100,000 to the institute.
The institute’s board of advisers has 14 members and includes former American Institute in Taiwan director William Stanton, University of Miami professor of political science June Dreyer, University of Pennsylvania professor of history Arthur Waldron and former Congressional Research Service researcher Shirley Kan, the institute said.

Here is a link to the think tank's new website.

Another think tank, The Institute for Taiwan-American Studies (ITAS), opened in 2015.  Here is a link to its website.

In related news, Foreign Policy recently published a piece on China's sole Washington, DC think tank.

According to the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, tiny Washington, DC has the most think tanks of any place in the United States, at 397.

Update: GTI held a reception on September 14 to celebrate its opening.  Attendees including more than 100 prominent Asia scholars as well as lawmakers and Obama Administration officials.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Think Tankers Jockeying for Key Posts in Clinton Administration

Scholars at some of Washington, DC's top think tanks are jockeying for attention and power as they vie for  key posts in a possible Hillary Clinton Administration.

Reporting from Politico shows that a number of high-level think tankers are in the running for key posts within a Clinton Administration.  Examples include:

  • Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP), will likely be some type of "senior adviser" to Mrs. Clinton, and possibly the domestic policy adviser.
  • William Burns, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, could be the next secretary of state.
  • Wendy Sherman, a non-resident Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center, is also in the running for secretary of state.
  • Nick Burns, who is on the Board of Directors at Harvard's Belfer Center, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Atlantic Council, is another possibility for secretary of state.
  • Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution, is also being talked about as a possible secretary of state.
  • Kurt Campbell, Co-founder and former CEO of Center for a New American Security (CNAS), could also become secretary of state.
  • Michele Flournoy, Co-founder and CEO of CNAS is a possible secretary of defense.
  • Lael Brainard, formerly at Brookings, is a possibility for treasury secretary.
  • John Podesta, Co-founder of the Center for American Progress (CAP), could possibly become the next energy secretary.

In related news, Think Tank Watch has just reported that scholars from the Roosevelt Institute are drafting a list of key people that want in a Clinton Administration.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Roosevelt Institute Becoming Clinton's Go-To Think Tank?

The liberal think tank Roosevelt Institute has gained enormous influence during the past year as more and more are taking their work seriously amid an increased focuses on inequality and progressive politics.

Here is more from the New York Times Magazine:
Felicia Joy Wong runs the Roosevelt Institute, a small think tank (for lack of a better term) that originated in trusts established to promote the legacies of Franklin and Eleanor.  Its chief economist, the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, indirectly coined the Occupy movement's enduring slogan ("We are the 99 percent"), and Stiglitz and Wong each saw the election as an opportunity to channel Occupy energy into national politics.
...Unlike the myriad other white papers that each week were drafted, edited, somnolently received at other think tanks and shelved without fanfare, this report [Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy] had captured wide and consequential attention.  In the months leading up to its publication, the Roosevelt team was in close touch with Clinton's speechwriters and advisers, and in subsequent rallies the candidate continued to draw upon the report, even at the level of explicit language; calls to "rewrite the rules" found their way into more of her addresses.  The many news reports that linked the speech to Wong's organization consistently and erroneously relocated her team to Washington.  (Their headquarters are in Midtown Manhattan, in an Art Deco tower in the shadow of the Citigroup Center.)
Roosevelt is a 501(c)(3), and though it does maintain a political-action arm, it does not work to elect specific candidates.  Still, various representatives from Clinton's speechwriting and policy teams regularly solicit the organization's input.  Roosevelt in turn has redoubled its efforts not only on advancing the ideas in "Rewriting the Rules" but also in recruiting the personnel necessary to carry them out, in the form of a methodical effort to find suitable candidates for economic positions in a future presidential administration.

Here is more about Ms. Wong:
[Felicia Joy] Wong really does seem like an improbable person to preside over a think tank.  She grew up in Silicon Valley, studies poetry at Stanford, got a Ph.D. in political science at Berkeley, worked as a high-school teacher and then at a valley start-up and then happened into a job at the Democracy Alliance, a semi-secretive club of progressive donors.  She can barely bring herself to utter the phrase "think tank," much less "policy shop."  Late one evening in Washington, we walked by a thickset monolith that glowed with cold marmoreal light, as if James Turrell had built a fortress for some paranoid ice king.  The front read CSIS: the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Wong rolled her eyes, theatrically shuddered and tucked her runaway hair behind her ear.  "Now that's a think tank."

On Roosevelt Institute vs. Center for American Progress:
On the left, there are lots of small organizations in Washington that publish granular research on specific economic trends.  But the most significant liberal think tank in recent years has been the Center for American Progress, founded in 2003 by former Bill Clinton chief of staff (and current Hillary Clinton campaign chair) John Podesta as his party's answer to the conservative Heritage Foundation.  CAP has done a lot of innovative policy work, especially on universal preschool and health care, but it was always less of a research organization than a shadow government for an opposition in exile.  When Obama was elected, roughly a third of CAP's staff went into his administration.  (Today, CAP's economic ideas are more in line with those of Roosevelt, and in 2015 it released a report on short-termism that anticipated part of "Rewriting the Rules.")

On How Roosevelt Institute has changed in the Obama era:
In 2009, a political scientist named Andrew Rich, known for writing about the "war of ideas," was drafted to reinvent the Roosevelt Institute as a place for the radical thinking that postcrisis politics seemed to require.  Roosevelt at the time was an ad hoc collection of spare progressive parts, including the upkeep of the F.D.R. Library in Hyde Park, N.Y.  Rich believed that if you weren't in Washington, and you weren't beholden to the party apparatus, and if you got the right people - people who were too idiosyncratic or rough-hewn for academia, or academics who wanted to be politically relevant bu needed help with finding an audience for their work - you could crate a new kind of institution on a looser, livelier model.  Rich brought on [Joseph] Stiglitz and Mike Konczal, who pseudonymous financial-crisis blog had a cult following among progressives

On Roosevelt Institute ties to Elizabeth Warren:
Elizabeth Warren is a key Roosevelt ally.  While Warren worked on the TARP oversight panel, she needed somewhere to park her aide-decamp, Dan Geldon, to help draft the details on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was being set up on the basis of her ideas.  He served as a fellow, and he and Warren maintain close ties to Roosevelt.

On the think tank's recruitment efforts & "Rewriting the Rules":
When Wong took over in 2012, she continued to recruit staff members and fellows who were at once nonaligned and well connected: to the A.F.T. and S.E.I.U., Demos, MoveOn, the Clintons.  By January 2015, Wong had decided, along with her communications director, Marcus Mrowka, and her vice president of research and policy, Nell Abernathy, to prepare for the coming election by creating a full-dress economic agenda that would be there for the candidates' taking.  "Rewriting the Rules" got funding from the Ford Foundation, whose decision last year to refocus around the issues of inequality was influenced by Roosevelt...While written by Stiglitz, the paper was worked out in consultation with labor officials, academics, congressional staff members and - unusually for a think tank - advocates from places like Color for Change, Naral and the Black Civic Engagement Fund.

On Roosevelt Institute vs. Heritage Foundation:
In July, The Boston Globe reported that Roosevelt had been leading a campaign to help staff the economic-policy positions in future presidential administrations.  Since the 1970s, movement conservatism has consistently outperformed progressives in laying a talent conduit.  Heritage identifies young candidates and grooms them for a smooth climb through the system; adjacent to its headquarters is a library-dorm for its interns, replete with piles of free Hayek.  Roosevelt's project, likewise, is about finding people with the economic, legal and regulatory experience to change the country's balance of power.

The report "Rewriting the Rules" can be found here.  And here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on how the think tank has been trying to influence Clinton's cabinet picks.

Also, here is a Politico article on how the think tank in helping draft a blacklist of prospective Clinton hires.  Among those already on the blacklist include Tom Nides (now Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Wilson Center) and Lael Brainard (formerly of Brookings).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Think Tank Quickies (#233)

  • Asymmetric polarization: Brookings moving right to stay in the center?
  • How conservative think tanks helped create the age of Trump; Trump supporter Michael Flynn speaks at Heritage.
  • New film (Starving the Beast) explores the influence of think tanks and lobbyists on America's public colleges and universities.
  • Max Abrahms: Under-studied research question is why think tanks are generally so much more supportive of regime change than the academics. 
  • Think tanks and advocacy groups fighting FDA ECig rule have something in common: Altria money.
  • Grizzly Bear Institute of Canada: best think tank name ever?
  • Video: Think tanks - what are they good for?  Conversation with Rohinton Medhora. 
  • Two new Taiwanese think tanks in DC.
  • ECFR: A hundred think tanks bloom in China.
  • The Onion: "Encouraging Report From Radical Extremist Think Tank Finds America No Safer Since 9/11."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DC Think Tank Hires Former al-Qaeda Recruiter

Here is more from the Washington Post:
A former Islamist extremist who supported al-Qaeda and exhorted others to follow Osama bin Laden has joined George Washington University as a research fellow.
Jesse Morton, who was born in Pennsylvania and said he became a Muslim at age 20 after reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” while in prison for a drug offense, argues that he can offer an insider’s perspective on Islamist radicalization — and how to counter that threat.
Morton is the first former extremist in the United States to join an academic program, Lorenzo Vidino, director of GW’s Program on Extremism, said, although there are some working similar capacities in Europe.

The article goes on to note that Mr. Morton will be working at GWU's off-campus think tank (launched June 2015 to study both violent and non-violent extremism) and he will not be interacting with students.

Interestingly, the article does not even mention the think tank's name, which is the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security (CCHS).  Mr. Morton's think tank biography can be found here; he is listed as a research fellow.

Here is an interview with Lorenzo Vidino, the think tank's director, who discusses the hiring of Mr. Morton.

CCHS is believed to be the first think tank to hire a former Islamic extremist.

Among those on CCHS's board of directors include Michael Chertoff (former Secretary of Homeland Security), Cathy Lanier (Chief of DC police), and Tom Ridge (former Secretary of Homeland Security).