Thursday, February 27, 2020

Heartland Institute Hires "Anti-Greta" to Promote "Climate Realism"

American think tanks often offer positions to scholars from overseas, but now a US think tank has probably set the record for the youngest think tank hire ever.  So far, it also happens to be the most controversial think tank hire of 2020...

Here is more from the Washington Post:

For climate skeptics, it’s hard to compete with the youthful appeal of global phenomenon Greta Thunberg. But one U.S. think tank hopes it’s found an answer: the anti-Greta.
Naomi Seibt is a 19-year-old German who, like Greta, is blond, eloquent and European. But Naomi denounces “climate alarmism,” calls climate consciousness “a despicably anti-human ideology,” and has even deployed Greta’s now famous “How dare you?” line to take on the mainstream German media.
“She’s a fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism,” said James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, an influential libertarian think tank in suburban Chicago that has the ear of the Trump administration.
In December, Heartland headlined Naomi at its forum at the UN climate conference in Madrid, where Taylor described her as “the star” of the show. Last month, Heartland hired Naomi as the young face of its campaign to question the scientific consensus that human activity is causing dangerous global warming.
Her path to Heartland began in November with a speech at EIKE, a Munich think tank whose vice president is a prominent AfD politician. By then, Naomi was already active on YouTube, producing videos on topics ranging from migration to feminism to climate change. In the audience was Heartland’s Taylor. He said he immediately recognized her potential and approached her about working with Heartland.

Here is more from Think Tank Watch about the Heartland Institute, which has been extremely influential within the Trump Administration.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#371)

  • What makes a good (or bad) DC policy event?
  • Think tanks face two challenges: Growing distrust of experts and the rise of China. 
  • Chinese Embassy hires BLJ International to target US think tanks.
  • ProPublica: A think tank that pushes the big Trump tax break accused of omissions.
  • US think tanks play major role in South Korea arms acquisitions. 
  • Experts from four think tanks share what to expect from the global economy in 2020.
  • RAND Corp. trustee Paul Volcker dies.
  • A "bogus" police think tank?
  • Pic: DC think tanks now establishing colonial outposts in Southern Indian strip malls.
  • Pic: Wonky lunch sign spotted at AEI.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Think Tanker Becomes Queen of the Antitrust Movement

Here is more from the New York Times:

Ms. [Sarah] Miller has been central in making the issue prominent. From her onetime seat as the deputy director of the Open Markets Institute, a research and advocacy group focused on antitrust, she spent three years as a thorn in Silicon Valley’s side, guiding a coalition of liberal groups that demanded federal officials break up Facebook.
Now there’s opportunity to ratchet up the pressure on policymakers even more, Ms. Miller said. So she left Open Markets at the beginning of this year to lead the American Economic Liberties Project, a new organization dedicated to pushing government to confront corporate concentration.
The organization is aiming to spend $3 million in its first year, funded by philanthropic organizations including the Omidyar Network, linked to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Her political education began before the crisis, on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. After Mrs. Clinton dropped out of the race, Ms. Miller was hired by John Podesta, the Democratic power broker who was leading the Center for American Progress, one of Washington’s most influential progressive groups.
There, she met her eventual husband, Faiz Shakir, who was running the organization’s blog, ThinkProgress. Mr. Podesta officiated at their wedding. Mr. Shakir now manages the Democratic presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here is a link to the American Economic Liberties Project, which is currently hiring a director of government relations as well as a communications/program associate.  The new entity says it does not receive any corporate funding (although it appears to do so indirectly).

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Atlantic Council Scholar Targeting Russian Bots & Disinformation

The New York Times recently wrote a piece on Ben Nimmo, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).  Here are some teasers:

In August 2017, Ben Nimmo was declared dead by 13,000 Russian bots on Twitter.
“Our beloved friend and colleague Ben Nimmo passed away this morning,” read the epitaph, which was manipulated to look as if it were from a co-worker’s Twitter account. “Ben, we will never forget you.”
The message was immediately shared thousands of times by the network of automated accounts. Notes began pouring in from worried friends and colleagues — even though Mr. Nimmo was very much alive.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Nimmo, who helped pioneer investigations into online disinformation, to figure out what was going on: He had been targeted by a shadowy group after reporting, along with others, that American far-right groups had adopted pro-Kremlin messages on social media about Ukraine. His fake death notice was a sinister attempt at disinformation, which is the spreading of falsehoods with the deliberate intent to mislead.
For the last five years, Mr. Nimmo, a founder of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, has been a leader of a small but growing community of online sleuths. 

Here is a link to DFRLab, which says on its "Digital Sherlocks" page that it is "building the world's leading hub of digital forensic analysts tracking events in governance, technology, security, and where each intersect as they occur."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Nikki Haley Hires Chief of Heritage Foundation's Lobbying Arm

Here is more from Philip Wegmann at Real Clear Politics:

If personnel is indeed policy, as the Heritage Foundation likes to argue, an imminent staffing change at the think tank could have significant repercussions for the conservative movement and the future of Republican presidential politics.
As RealClearPolitics first reported, Tim Chapman, the executive director of Heritage Action, will soon join the team of Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a possible contender for the presidency post-Trump.
Chapman will serve as executive director of Stand for America, Haley’s conservative policy group. Details remain unknown, as Heritage, Heritage Action, and Stand for America did not return requests for comment.
Since its founding in 2010, Heritage Action has served as the lobbying arm of Heritage, pushing lawmakers to embrace their vision of conservative policy. Chapman was there since the beginning, marshalling a grassroots army from across the country to lobby Congress.

Here is more from Heritage's Daily Signal.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#370)

  • World Bank official attacks CGD staffer at event.
  • Pic: Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets think tank officials.
  • Thinking foreign policy in Russia: think tanks and grand narratives.
  • Heritage Foundation president invites Kanye West to her think tank.
  • Still missing: The woman wonks.
  • Orville Schell and Larry Diamond: China infiltrating think tanks.
  • Samantha Power interned at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • Pic: Denmark partners with Hudson Institute.
  • Think Tank Diplomacy, via AIIA. 
  • Founded by Chinese publishing entrepreneur: US-China New Perspectives Foundation (UCNPF).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Koch Giving $10 Million in New Grants to Several Think Tanks

Here is more from Politico:

Libertarian business tycoon Charles Koch is handing out $10 million in new grants to promote voices of military restraint at American think tanks, part of a growing effort by Koch to change the U.S. foreign policy conversation.
The grants, details of which were shared exclusively with POLITICO, are being split among four institutions: the Atlantic Council; the Center for the National Interest; the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and the RAND Corporation.
Each institution is using the funds in different ways. But, broadly speaking, the money will pay for scholarly positions and activities that explore various aspects of U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on testing widely held assumptions about the use of U.S. military force.
Around $4.5 million will go to the Atlantic Council, which will use it to establish what it is calling the New American Engagement Initiative. The grant will support five scholars and activities related in part to how the U.S. balances its use of diplomacy, international alliances and the military. 
RAND is receiving $2.9 million over five years to support a new center focused on the concept of grand strategy. The initiative, called the Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy, will be led by scholar Miranda Priebe.

Koch, who helped co-found the libertarian Cato Institute, recently helped fund the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new anti-war think tank based in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Conservative Think Tank Opens Shop in DC

Here is more from the Washington Post:

Oren Cass believes conservatives have blundered by outsourcing GOP economic policymaking to libertarian “fundamentalists” who see the free market as an end unto itself, rather than as a means for improving quality of life to strengthen families and communities. The former domestic policy director on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign quit his job as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute to launch a new group called American Compass that aims to reorient the right. He previewed their plans in an exclusive interview on Monday afternoon.
Joining him on the board of directors will be Sen. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff Mike Needham, the former chief executive of Heritage Action for America; Julius Krein, the editor of American Affairs, a quarterly political journal; and David Azerrad, a Hillsdale College professor who was formerly a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Wells King will be the research director. Until last week, the former McKinsey consultant was a policy adviser to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on the Joint Economic Committee.
Here is more from Oren Cass, who is the executive director on the new think tank.

Here is what Brad Polumbo of the Washington Examiner had to say about the new think tank.

Here is what the National Review says.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Chinese Think Tank Monitoring US Governors, Says Pompeo

Here is more from Politico:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a stark message for the governors gathered in Washington this weekend: The Chinese government is watching them, and other state government officials, more closely than they think.
Pompeo told some 44 governors at the National Governors Association winter meeting that they are being individually analyzed by at least one Chinese government-backed think-tank on how malleable they are, and how prone to cooperate with China. And he warned governors to be cautious on everything from business deals to pension funds to the D.C. metro system.
“They’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous,” he said, describing a report put out by the think tank last year. “I’ll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed, in the report are referenced by name.”

The Chinese think tank that rated the governors was not named by Pompeo.

Update: Axios has just written a piece on how the Beijing-based policy shop, D&C Think Tank, has rated all the governors (report here).

Monday, February 3, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#369)

  • Judge rules against think tanker at CGD who lost her job over transgender tweets.
  • Men praise their own research more than women.
  • Washington think tanks: Legalized corruption and the exercise of power.
  • Bruegel to host event on Jan. 30 on the future of think tanks and policy advice.
  • Dr. Alina Polyakova named President and CEO of CEPA.
  • France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs helping French think tanks. 
  • French researchers from SciencesPo Center for International Studies held by Iran.
  • "Wes Anderson should make a movie about China experts and think tanks."
  • Calls for think tanks to boycott Qatar.
  • Game to name US and UK think tanks.