Friday, May 31, 2019

More Details on Papadopoulos's Connection to Think Tanks

Here is more from the Washington Post about George Papadopoulos, a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign:

Papadopoulos was an agreeable young man who’d often worked alongside Hudson Institute fellow Seth Cropsey. But most offered no response. Cropsey ignored multiple emails and eventually passed me on to the Hudson Institute press office, which offered careful and uninteresting replies.
George [Papadopoulos]...had been quick to pull up articles he’d written with Cropsey (claiming to have done most or all of the writing) and a photo of himself and Cropsey in a meeting with the president of Cyprus, to prove that he had played a crucial role at the Hudson Institute. But I was still waiting to see emails backing up other claims about his career there.

The article also notes that Papadopoulos exchanged emails with Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council, a "prominent Moscow think tank."

Here is a link to the biography of Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Seapower at Hudson.

Did Papadopoulos lie about his think tank experience?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cato Institute Closes Its Climate Shop

Here is more from E&E News:

The Cato Institute quietly shut down a program that for years sought to raise uncertainty about climate science, leaving the libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch without an office dedicated to global warming.
The move came after Pat Michaels, a climate scientist who rejects mainstream researchers' concerns about rising temperatures, left Cato earlier this year amid disagreements with officials in the organization.
"They informed me that they didn't think their vision of a think tank was in the science business, and so I said, 'OK, bye,'" Michaels said in an interview yesterday. "There had been some controversy going around the building for some time, so things got to a situation where they didn't work out."
A spokeswoman said Cato's shuttering of the Center for the Study of Science does not represent a shift in the institute's position on human-caused climate change. But the think tank moved decisively to close down the science wing that was overseen by Michaels. Ryan Maue, a meteorologist and former adjunct scholar, also left the center.
Cato also is no longer affiliated with Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has long been critical of established climate science. Lindzen was a distinguished fellow at the think tank.

A week ago, Jerry Taylor, President and Co-founder of the think tank Niskanen Center who used to work at Cato, penned a piece entitled "What Changed My Mind About Climate Change?"

As Dr. Janne Korhonen recently pointed out, in the context of climate change, 92% of environmentally skeptical books published between 1972 and 2005 were linked to conservative think tanks.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Think Tank Quickies (#349)

  • A $30,000+ prize for debut non-fiction proposals, open to think tankers.
  • PhRMA spends millions on conservative think tanks.
  • UK thinks tanks being tarnished by secretive right-wingers?
  • New spokesman for Saudi embassy works the think tank circuit.
  • British think tank that counters Russian information operations has been hacked
  • Ilhan Tanir: "I wonder if this new awakening re FARA registration will ever reach to some of Washington's think tanks' lobbying by any other name."
  • On China's investment in think tanks.
  • Talking Galleries: "Think tank for [art] galleries."
  • Pic: Food trucks visit think tanks.
  • Peter Mendelsund turns a homage to "The Magic Mountain" into a clever metafictional send-up of artists' retreats and tech-industry think tanks.

    Tuesday, May 21, 2019

    Top 3 Conservative Think Tanks Collectively Larger than Combined Budget of CRS & CBO

    Here is more from E.J. Fagan:

    Congress is more polarized and has less capacity to process complex information than ever. These trends are related. As Congress cut the budgets of its own internal think tanks – CRS and CBO – it began to rely more heavily on  party-aligned think tanks. This change makes it more difficult for members and leadership to build consensus and solve policy problems for their constituents.
    My work examines the congressional activities of the six largest (by expenditures) party-aligned think tanks. On the right, these include the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and Cato Institute. On the left, they are the Center for American Progress, New America, and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Collectively, these six institutions have grown to a massive size, while Congress’s internal think tanks, the CBO and CRS, are slowly shrinking. The below figure shows how rapidly these six think tanks have grown since 2001. The three conservative think tanks are collectively larger than the combined budget of the CBO and CRS. The three progressive think tanks, which began the 2000s as tiny blips on the screen, now spend over $100 million collectively.
    As they have grown, these party-aligned think tanks have become more influential in Congressional debates. One way that I measure the changing influence of think tanks over time is to observe how frequently they testify in hearings. The figure below charts the number of witnesses from the six think tanks per hearing against the staff witnesses from the CBO, CRS, and OTA. The two trends are mirror images of each other. When Congress cut the budgets of its analytical organizations in the mid-90s, there was a subsequent explosion in think tank witnesses. While this explosion subsided after the 104th Congress, a new equilibrium was established for much of the late-90s and early 2000s. Finally, the series accelerates again in the mid-2000s, as the analytical organization budgets suffered further cuts.

    E.J. Fagan is a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Think Tank Watch should note that the RAND Corporation by itself has a budget that is much larger than the CBO and CRS combined.

    Monday, May 20, 2019

    Democratic-Aligned Think Tank Knocks Bernie Sanders for Iran Vote

    Here is more from The Intercept:

    A mainstream, Democratic Party-aligned foreign policy think tank is knocking Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for voting against new sanctions on Iran in 2017 — though the think tank itself and many members of its board oppose new Iran sanctions.
    Sanders has been an outspoken supporter of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and said at the time that he voted against the measure in order to preserve the deal. Sanctions, he argued, would have jeopardized the landmark agreement. But the sanctions were part of a package that also imposed restrictions on Russia and North Korea, which is why the think tank, Foreign Policy for America, supported the package.
    Foreign Policy for America’s knock came in a score card that rated politicians on their votes in Congress. The group, also known as FP4A, released its new score card at the end of April, ranking members of Congress from the 115th session on a variety of foreign policy issues. The relatively new advocacy group gives Sanders a positive score in all but two of 13 categories — one of which was the bill that sanctioned Iran and Russia.
    Among the members of the Foreign Policy for America’s boards are foreign policy experts who were instrumental in fighting to make the Iran deal happen. Some of those figures have expressed concerns over the choice to penalize Sanders for taking the position he did.
    Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff and a Foreign Policy for America advisory board member said the scoring of the vote that included the Iran sanctions, along with a few other disagreements, had caused him to reconsider his involvement with Foreign Policy for America.

    Here is a link to FP4A.  Here is a link to the group's board of directors and advisory board.

    The liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) has also been tussling with Sanders.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Think Tank Quickies (#348)

    • Reihan Salam to run Manhattan Institute.
    • Matthew Sears proposal: "All think tanks should have a warning label at the top of their websites and attached to every article they publish, stating by whom they're funded.  Like cigarette warning labels..."
    • Are India's think tanks promoting conflict with Pakistan?
    • Think tank bearing McCain's name releases "fact sheet" rebutting Trump's criticisms.
    • Hudson Institute was first major think tank to have a woman as its president, Gail Potter Neale.
    • FT: EU think tanks strengthen their defenses after Russian attacks.
    • In tweet, President Trump praises new book by Hoover Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson.
    • Family put in Chinese concentration camp for speaking up at Hudson Institute?
    • DC think tanks continue to push for US-Taiwan FTA.
    • Turkish lawmakers visit DC's think tank land; Saudi foreign minister meets with think tankers.
    • Pic: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace gives great gifts to its guest speakers.

    Monday, May 13, 2019

    Images Released by Think Tank Provide First Look at New Chinese Aircraft Carrier

    Here is more from CNN:

    New satellite images published by a US think tank may provide the world's first look at China's next aircraft carrier, as construction progresses on a mysterious large vessel in a shipyard outside Shanghai.
    Significant new activity at the Jiangnan Shipyard was captured in satellite images from April, published by Washington-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
    According to CSIS, they show a massive bow and main hull section of a large vessel under construction. At points, the hull section is as wide as 40 meters (131 feet). 
    Experts said while it was difficult to be sure, the size and scale of the new vessel strongly suggested China's much-anticipated new aircraft carrier, referred to as Type 002.
    Rumors that the Chinese military was constructing a third, more modern aircraft carrier have been circling for more than a year. It was only in November that state media Xinhua first hinted at a new vessel.

    Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about CSIS using satellite intelligence to track various Asian island disputes.

    Thursday, May 9, 2019

    New Report: Government More Trusted Than Think Tanks

    Here is more from Associations Now:

    Even in an era when congressional staffers are hearing a lot of arguments about the issues of the day from all directions, more traditional advocacy voices are still finding room in the conversation.
    That’s a key finding of “Surround Sound,” a new report from the Public Affairs Council in partnership with the research firm Morning Consult.
    In results from an online survey of 173 congressional staffers and federal employees, 8 in 10 respondents stated that they trusted political information from trade associations, and nearly the same amount (79 percent) said they trusted think tanks. The report found that associations and think tanks were generally more trusted than individual businesses (59 percent), lobbyists (61 percent), and online sources unaffiliated with the media (55 percent).
    However, associations and think tanks don’t top the chart of most trusted sources by staffers—those generally tend to be official government sources, such as the Government Accountability Office (90 percent), the Congressional Research Service (88 percent), and federal agencies (86 percent).

    When asked to compare the effectiveness of different advocacy techniques, congressional staff rate personal visits to Washington, DC (83%) or district offices (81%), and think tank reports (81%) at the top of the list.

    Monday, May 6, 2019

    Think Tank Quickies (#347)

    • Mayor Pete Buttigieg threat to conservative think tanks: "They've got their own institutions, they've got their own think tanks...and we're going to have to poke those bubbles."
    • Job opportunity at the only trade think tank in Brussels (i.e., ECIPE).
    • Flashback: Influence of Turkish money at US think tanks. 
    • Spring pic: The story of the cherry tree in front of Brookings.
    • Cato Institute hosts new art exhibition open to the public.
    • Nancy Pelosi trying to recruit DC think tanks to undermine Medicare for All?
    • Ola Salem and Hassan Hassan in FP: Arab regimes spend millions of dollars on think tanks in part to advance Islamophobia.
    • Pic: Only recently did I discover that think tanks do not holding meetings in actual tanks.
    • New film Blood Money deals with how Qatar funds think tanks to advance its agenda.
    • Pic: When you bring a baby to a think tank...

    Friday, May 3, 2019

    Milken to Open Closest Think Tank to the White House

    Think Tank Watch has spotted a notice from real estate firm Akridge which shows that a California-based think tank founded by Michael Milken will be opening a swanky outpost just a stone's throw from the White House.  In fact, it will be the closest think tank to the White House.

    Here is more:
    Located on the prominent corner of Fifteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, across from the US Treasury Building and the White House, the Milken Museum and Conference Center will be the new home for the Milken Institute as well as the Center for the American Dream. The development is comprised of three historical addresses, including 1501 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 1503-1505 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, and 730 Fifteenth Street, NW. All three of these buildings contribute to Washington, DC's Financial Historic District and Lafayette Square. The mixed-use development will offer a combination of traditional office space as well as a conference center and museum, located within the main halls of the historic bank buildings.

    Here is more from CNN.

    The Milken Institute, formed in 1991, is an economic think tank currently headquartered in Santa Monica, California.

    At this year's Milken Institute Global Conference, more than 4,000 people from 60 countries attended, including three presidential hopefuls who gave speeches, Sesame Street's Elmo, and Ivanka Trump.  Twenty years ago, barely 1,000 people attended the gathering.

    Quartz put together a quiz to help determine if your think tank event is a "Very Important Global Conference."

    Wednesday, May 1, 2019

    Atlantic Council Fetes at the Ritz

    Here is more from Politico:

    The Atlantic Council held its 2019 Distinguished Leadership Awards at the Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday night. The event honored NATO, whose award was received by Rose Gottemoeller from retired Gen. Jim Jones; Adrienne Arsht, whose award was presented by Alonzo Mourning; Christine Lagarde, whose award was presented by Ivanka Trump; and Fred Smith, whose award was presented by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
    ALSO SPOTTED: Wolf Blitzer, Bret and Amy Baier, Colin and Alma Powell, Marillyn Hewson, Dina Powell and David McCormick, John F.W. Rogers (the incoming chairman of the board), Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Clemons, Niki Christoff, Mitch Landrieu, John Waldron, Nicole and Dave Nason, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and wife Lourdes, Sharon Rockefeller,Julie and Wynn Radford, Fred Kempe, Josh and Ali Rogin, Morgan Ortagus and Jonathan Weinberger, Stuart and Gwen Holiday, Franco Nuschese, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Wesley Clark, Anita McBride, Capricia Marshall, Sam Vinograd and many ambassadors.

    Here is more about this year's Distinguished Leadership Awards, which were presented to NATO, philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and FedEx Chairman Frederick Smith.