Mercatus Update: Academic Freedom

Philadelphia DFA has taken up the cause of trying to convince Democratic Congressional Staffers from attending the Mercatus Center Retreat that I have discussed in the past (more info here). We also plan to "attend" the retreat ourselves, albeit in a slightly different fashion. (Hopefully, the D.C. area DFA will follow suit).

So far, I have received some emails on the subject, including a message from a Mercatus Center prof who vigorously protested to being classified as part of the Republican Noise Machine. A colleague of mine has contacted some staffers who were angry at our attempts to stifle "academic freedom," or something to that effect. And, quite clearly, Roemer staffers have not appreciated the characterization of the Mercatus Center I have put forth.

In elliptical fashion, I would like to deal with all of these protests by first addressing the notion of "academic freedom" as it relates to Mercatus.

Quite frankly, when dealing with think tanks, I do not see how the notion of "academic freedom" applies. Conservative think tanks do not exist for the purpose of furthering unimpeded intellectual pursuit. Instead, they are quite clearly influence peddlers that seek to shift national policy and the national discourse in favor of conservatives. Here is the actual purpose of right-wing think tanks, as described by David Brock in The Republican Noise Machine: Heritage is the mother of all think tanks in its single-minded focus on co-opting the media, and its methods have been followed by hundreds of right-wing think tanks. According to the book Do Think Tanks Matter? by Donald E. Abelson, "In 1998 Heritage spent close to $8 million, or 18 percent of its budget, on media and government relations." Heritage's public relations program, Abelson reported, is based on a single premise put forth by the foundation: "Make sure journalists never have a reason for not quoting at least one conservative expert--or for not giving the conservative `spin' in their stories."

According to its highly trafficked Web site, Heritage has eight employees doing p.r. work full-time, runs a 365-day-per-year, twenty-four-hour-per-day media hot line, disseminates to the pres a weekly "hot sheet," has its own TV and radio studios in its Capitol Hill offices, and syndicates op-eds through the Knight-Ridder wire service. When Heritage is mentioned in a major publication like the Washington Post, it blast-faces and e-mails the piece to hundreds of smaller newspapers, op-ed editors, syndicated columnists, and talk show producers. An examination of the Web site in spring 2003 showed that Heritage was gaining about forty mentions in just the major print press alone per week. (58)

And this influence shows in its domination of the news:The center-right slant in media citations of think tanks continued in 2002, with conservative groups receiving 47 percent of last year's citations, centrists 41 percent and progressives 12 percent--the least representation for the left since 1998.Its getting worse:Even as media reliance on think tanks increased in 2003, the slant in coverage toward conservative groups and away from progressives held steady. While mainstream media citations of the top 25 think tanks increased 13 percent from 2002 to 2003, right-leaning institutions received 47 percent of last year's citations, with centrists getting 39 percent and 13 percent going to groups that leaned to the left.(...)

Conservative think tanks, buoyed by their appearances on cable news outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC, received 52 percent of electronic citations. Centrists garnered 37 percent of citations in the electronic media, while progressives received only 11 percent of such mentions.

This all came from huge donors, and is well coordinated (again quoting from Brock): In addition to the Olin and Coors family foundations, run by two brothers who own a huge oil and natural gas firm, Kock Industries, founded by their father, Fred Koch, a charter member of the John Birch society.... The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, founded by automotive parts manufacturer Harry Bradley, also an active member of the John Birch Society; and Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a major Goldwater and Nixon supporter.... Along with the Smith Richardson Foundation, funded by the Vicks VapoRub empire, Olin, Bradley, and Scaife are known with the movement as the "Four Sisters."

Run by neocon ideologues, these foundations provide the crucial seed money, and sustained general operating funds, that are critical to successful institution building. Their multimillions are then matched by donations from top corporate foundations, including the Amoco and Alcoa foundations, the JM Foundation, the Rockwell International Corporation Trusts, and the Ford Motor Company Fund. The funding strategies of the donors are coordinated by a directorate of top conservative leaders who sit on the Philanthropy Roundtable, while the overall agenda of the movement is loosely set by shadowy organizations of top conservative activists and Far Right politicians, such as the Council for National Policy (a secretive organization of leaders with a religious Right bent) and the Library Court group0 (named after a small street in the nation's capital and convened biweekly by Paul Weyrich).

Another important coordinating function is performed by conservative activist and New Gingrich protégé Grover Norquist, president of an anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform. (79)

And these donors are exactly the same donors who fund the Mercatus Center. Exactly the same.

Now, I know that Democratic congressional staffers are not idiots who will be easily brainwashed by right-wing ideology. Further, since Mercatus is not a think tank in the pure sense of the term (it is nominally affiliated with an actual academic institution, George Mason University), it is not surprising that not everyone who works with the Mercatus Center is a right-wing ideologue of the sort that would be found at, say, Heritage. However, this does not change the structural underpinnings of Mercatus as an institution, which is nearly identical to the structural underpinnings of all other right wing think tanks. And I think we can all agree that institutions have functions and power that easily supercede the disparate intentions of their individual members.

If someone wishes to disagree with my characterization of the Mercatus Center, fine. However, when they do so, they need to answer

  • If the Mercatus Center is not at least intended to be part of the Republican Noise Machine, why is the funding of the Mercatus Center identical to the funding of virtually every right-wing think tank?

  • If the Mercatus Center is not achieving its desired function as a part of the Republican Noise Machine, then why do these same donors continue to provide tremendous financial support to it?

  • If the Mercatus Center is not trying to influence national policy in favor of conservatism, then what is it doing inviting Democratic congressional staffers to attend a lavish retreat that includes seminars whose very titles contain conservative talking points on topics such as Social Security?
Whatever the individual intentions and actions of its constituent members, the purpose of Mercatus as an institution seems eminently clear. Now, there is no guarantee that the staffers who attend the "retreat" will do anything except eat a lot of expensive meals and scan the rooms at the panels they attend trying to decide who to hit on at the bar later that night. However, there is absolutely nothing good that can come from Democratic staffers attending this retreat, since the very purpose of the Mercatus Center is to shift national policy in favor of conservatism. They should not be spending their weekends listening to a time-share reeducation pitch: they should be coordinating with people who are actively trying to save Social Security and otherwise oppose the Bush agenda.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you are a Democratic congressional staffer, do not attend the Mercatus retreat. If you have already reserved a place, cancel it. If you are not going, tell other staffers why. If you are going, I promise that you will be hearing from the netroots on this matter, and not just between now and February 5th. Stay away from the Republican Noise Machine. Take the red pill. Talk to the grassroots, not to conservative influence peddlers.

Tags: Activism (all tags)

Comments

47 Comments

Same donors
that also fund Rosenberg's NDN...
by Parker 2005-01-26 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors
Do you have a source for this?
by Jenny Greenleaf 2005-01-26 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors
Please provide links/evidence before you go around making such accusations. It is common courtesy. Thanks.
by manyoso 2005-01-26 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors
With a cast like this, how can you question who these people are? Go to Nexis, or to Mercatur site, or Freedom of Information. It's all there, and more. This is heavy metal.
by morris1030 2005-01-26 12:58PM | 0 recs
by Parker 2005-01-26 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors [link]
Nice try.

They share a grand total of one donor from the list Chris provided.

One. Single. Donor.

Tim

by Tim Tagaris 2005-01-26 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors [link]
I you considered Koch Industries non-threatening then this party is in graver damage than I thought.

A little more research will pull up more neo-con ties even if they are not tied to Mercatus...where there is smoke there is fire.

Instead of making excuses for Rosenberg why aren't you doing an indepth investigation like Chris did on Mercatus?

How can you think that this is tolerable?

by Parker 2005-01-26 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors [link]
They had one donation from one foundation on that list covering a grand total of $75,000 dollars. They were 29th on the list of NDN contributors. This compared with the grand total of well over $10,000,000 dollars by countless other institutions? This? This, is how you say they are equivalent? NDN gets one payment that is 29th on the list. Mercatus top contributors are ALL from the Right Wing Noise Machine. It is astonishing that you would try to make such a comparison.
by manyoso 2005-01-26 11:16AM | 0 recs
The point is...
You made the claim that the donors were the same.  And that was downright false.  If you are going to have a discussion, have a discussion.

And your comeback about Koch industries has absolutely nothting to do with your original post.  I am not going to do any more research prompted by you when I already bit once and was misled.

If you do the DD, and lay it out, I will look.  But I am not chasing any of your leads.

Thanks,

Tim

by Tim Tagaris 2005-01-26 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The point is...
troll rating was not necessary.

You don't have to look far, here are just two NDN donors who are heavily funding Republicans:


Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America
SOFT MONEY DONATIONS: 2001-2002
(2000 DATA) (1998 DATA) ALSO AVAILABLE

NOTE: The donations listed may be made by individuals associated with the organization as well as by the organizationitself.

    To Democrats:     $133,000     (4%)
    To Republicans:     $3,269,287     (96%)
    Total:     $3,402,287

Roche Group
SOFT MONEY DONATIONS: 2001-2002

NOTE: The donations listed may be made by individuals associated with the organization as well as by the organizationitself.

    To Democrats:     $50,000     (31%)
    To Republicans:     $109,015     (69%)
    Total:     $159,015

by Parker 2005-01-26 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The point is...
"that also fund Rosenberg's NDN..."

And niether of those you listed above have given to Mercatus.  Here is your link to every Mercatus donor

The point is that your original argument was that most (if not an implied all) the same people that fund Mercatus fund NDN.  That is not true.

Now go down the top 50 list at NDN and tell my how many names appear on the Mercatus donor list.

Your original post was worth the troll rate.  Any argument you have made since post 1 has nothing to do with supporting your original argument.

by Tim Tagaris 2005-01-26 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The point is...
Koch appears but you seem to find that acceptable
by Parker 2005-01-26 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The point is...
"Same donors"

There is an 's' on the end of donors.  Walking in off the street and reading Chris's post then your comment, one would think the lists were identical.  Which was undoubtedly your intention.

Unless your intention was to note that one, maybe two or three of the top 50 donors to NDN were identical to Mercatus.  If that was the case, I shall remove the '1'

But I think we all know that was not your intent.

Tim

by Tim Tagaris 2005-01-26 01:51PM | 0 recs
This is exactly right. nt
by manyoso 2005-01-26 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The point is...
Correction: Same donor (no "s")

Now can you comment on the fact that Rosenberg accepts funding for NDN from a known neo-con donor the same as Mercatus and other tradionally Republican donons as well?

Or would you prefer to keep this a grammar exercise?

by Parker 2005-01-27 03:38AM | 0 recs
You know better
You know what you were trying to insinuate. And you kept trying to do it right until the very end.

Tim

by Tim Tagaris 2005-01-27 04:05AM | 0 recs
Re: You know better
still no comment on Rosenbergs wingnut funding...
by Parker 2005-01-27 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Same donors [link]
Actually, I don't even think they share that. The only one that comes remotely close is from "Koch Industries" I'm not sure that is the same as the Koch foundation that funds Mercatus. Either way, Parker is full of it.
by manyoso 2005-01-26 11:08AM | 0 recs
Hoover Institute At Stanford Is Another Example
I'm not familiar with its financing, but the Hoover Insitute at Stanford is a much older example of an ideological institute associated with a genuine academic institution. The blurring was much better done by Hoover, but it has always been understood by the cognoscenti that Hoover is an ideological hot-house, not a center of academic freedom.  

Mercatus takes all of Hoover's subtlety and throws it out the window.

(I grew up in the Bay Area, so I was aware of this from an early age.)

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-01-26 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Hoover Institute At Stanford Is Another Exampl
Isn't this where Condi got her edjumacation?
by Parker 2005-01-26 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Hoover Institute At Stanford Is Another Exampl
Rice is a tenured Professor at Stanford University. She served as Provost of Stanford University from 1993 to 1999.
by KimPossible 2005-01-26 10:01AM | 0 recs
But Stanford (at large) is liberal
Right?  My sister went there, and the difference between it and Berkeley (for example) was minimal, so say the least.
by Geotpf 2005-01-26 10:15AM | 0 recs
Difference
How many pompous 18 year old prep school kids do you see zooming around Berkeley in BMW Z3s?  Plenty of libruls at Stanford, yes, but also a golf-playing country-club contingent entirely absent from Berkeley.
by Winger 2005-01-26 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference
You forgot about the country club liberals -- those rebelling against their parents and their prep school and running around without clothes at synergy.  

The grad students at Stanford out number undergrads 2 to 1 and are pretty much typical grad students -- foreign students and folks from public universities.  Of course that excludes the school of business.  

by Lystrosaurus 2005-01-26 11:26AM | 0 recs
Stanford Gard/Undergrad Ratio ~ 1/1
Stanford University
Undergraduate students: 6,731
Graduate students: 6,586
Total Student FTE: 13,317
Updated 12/23/2002

This is pretty damn close to what it was back in the late 60s when I was looking around at where to go. The figures I remember then were 6k/6k, obviously just a round number.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-01-26 11:49AM | 0 recs
In some ways, Mercatus is even worse
In some ways, institutions like Mercatus are even worse than the Heritage Foundation.  At least with Heritage, you know what you're getting; it's clearly a spin room.  Mercatus's association with GMU gives it something Heritage lacks: legitimacy.

Association with a university gives an institution instant credibility.  The university's name and reputation is an imprimatur for the institution.  The institution can then use that name and reputation to help mainstream fringe ideas.

by kenfair 2005-01-26 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: In some ways, Mercatus is even worse
"Mercatus's association with GMU gives it something Heritage lacks: legitimacy."

Ken - I would suggest that you're underestimating the legitimacy that Heritage has accrued (through deception, of course) in the minds of most people. Not us, clearly, but I suspect I would get very queasy, very quickly, looking at the numbers of Democrats who consider Heritage legit, due to its ubiquitousness.

by jkdism 2005-01-26 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: In some ways, Mercatus is even worse
Mercatus' association with GMU provides them with at least one strawman defense: academic freedom.

We've already seen it invoked in this case according to Chris. (Some GMU prof is complaining that MyDD and Kos are stifling academic freedom.)

This is the kind of topsy-turvy propaganda that the reactionary right loves to sling around when they're complaining about liberal "political correctness."

Of course they never mention the lockstep Stalinistic "political correctness" mandated by the rightwing and enforced by the likes of Grover Norquist.

by Southern Patriot 2005-01-27 08:35AM | 0 recs
Getting to the Root of the Matter
--thanks Chris.  You and others are doing a very necessary and not an unrisky thing to bring the light of day on some of the workings of our national power structure.  The Democrats have been neutered in recent years by the associations like the one you are presenting here with Mercatus.  There are other more silent and deadly affiliations that unless detected and aired will be even MORE destructive.

I deeply believe that we are on a precipice of unparalleled danger and urgency for our party and the nation.  I am not sure that most people acknowledge this and so the danger is even more profound.  We can talk about how this happened but we really don't have the time to waste.  Better question is - what are WE - each of us going to do and what are we going to push the Democrats or what they become to do? Open question right now but the sooner that we understand the urgency, the better, in my opinion. In mountaineering, the best time to arrest a bad slide on a steep slope is quickly and firmly at the beginning.  Once you build up a head of steam...well.....

by SwimmereToFreedom05 2005-01-26 10:48AM | 0 recs
Good post, but two flaws
1.Parker is right that there's some overlap in funding commitments between funding in the Republican noise machine and Mr. Rosenberg's NDN... these are mostly the corporations I believe, and NOT the "four sister"-type funders. And I've read some pretty friendly writing about the NDN and Rosenberg here on MyDD.

2."If the Mercatus Center is not trying to influence national policy in favor of conservatism, then what is it doing inviting Democratic congressional staffers to attend a lavish retreat that includes seminars whose very titles contain conservative talking points on topics such as Social Security?"

I think "conservatism" is the wrong word here. Does the merkatus center -- or dozens of other "four sister" and corporate funded groups  for that matter -- really push a politically conservative philosophy? No. They push for "free markets," and greater power for corporations. That's a radical ideology of the market, and there's nothing typically conservative about it. Just because the GOP is singing the praises of the free market so loud doesn't make it conservative. Why, if you dig a little bit around the NDN, or its parent, the DLC, you'll hear the same songs, the only difference is that they're sung in a minor key.

by janfrel 2005-01-26 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Good post, but two flaws
"...here's nothing typically conservative about it. Just because the GOP is singing the praises of the free market so loud doesn't make it conservative."

Don't play this game - the GOP and conservatives, and the GOP's policies and modern conservatism, are synonymous.

"Why, if you dig a little bit around the NDN, or its parent, the DLC, you'll hear the same songs, the only difference is that they're sung in a minor key."

There's a big difference between the NDN and DLC, and it's that Simon is, first and foremost, a partisan, while Al From, Bruce Reed, et. al., are first and foremost idealogues (Ed Kilgore, Marshall Wittman, and other good-minded people at the DLC are not, but the boys in charge are).

The DLC is a highly problematic organization, and one that I could rant about for days, but don't construct these multiple bridge of moral equivalency between groups that are quite clearly trying to undermine Democratic policies and ideals - Mercatus with Social Security - and those that are, in a real way, trying to provide some partisan backbone within the Democratic Party (i.e., Simon and NDN - and even, in the case of Social Security, the DLC).

by jkdism 2005-01-26 11:14AM | 0 recs
Two "don'ts"
Jkdism gives me two don'ts. "don't play that game." "don't construct these multiple bridge[s?} of moral equivalency..."

That's weak broth.

Also:
--"the GOP and conservatives, and the GOP's policies and modern conservatism, are synonymous."

All you did there was say that something was so... and you slipped the word "modern" in there. I guess the point of departure for us is a working definition of conservatism -- modern or not -- as a political philosophy.

by janfrel 2005-01-26 11:40AM | 0 recs
Which is exactly the problem
Whether you label it a conservative economic philosophy or a free market utopian economic philosophy it is cut from the same cloth. It is the DLC pandering to and accepting contributions from free market corporate ideologues that is a direct conflict with the working class kitchen table issues that used to be the core beliefs of the Democratic party.

The Democratic party has to make a choice between two fundamentally opposed economic belief systems. Any Democratic staffer or Congressperson who attends Mercatus events is signaling that they have made their choice in favor of corporate economic ideology and against the interests of the middle class and working class.

The labels don't matter, the intent does. The effor to privatize Social Security is only the tip of the iceberg of the class warfare being waged against working Americans.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-26 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Which is exactly the problem
I defenitely agree that we need to destroy the idea that freemarket fundementalism has any place within progressive politics, but I think it's wise to realize that just about anyone who has had some economic training will have been indoctrinated with this Freidman garbage. How many non-freemarket (or non neo-classical) economics professors do you think you'll find at the major econ universities in this country? I would venture to guess that it wouldn't be more than a slight handful, even at the most liberal of colleges.

If we are going to remove the neo-classical economists from power we're going to have to offer up our own economic vision of the future. Until we are able to craete an alternative to the Friedman BS, we're going to have a hard time convincing any economics trained politician to move away from the free-market ideology.

Anyone know of any prominant neo-Keynesian, or demand-side, economists at any of the major econ universities?

by Reverend AlX 2005-01-27 05:57AM | 0 recs
Background on Mercatus
If you can find it, check out "Bull Market," a Washington Citypaper story on the Mercatus Center written in March 2002 discussing its funding and its politics. You can purchase a copy here.
by Patience 2005-01-26 12:46PM | 0 recs
by davej 2005-01-26 05:09PM | 0 recs
Game, set, match.
While the list of funders is a strong---but not definitive---indicator, this article nails the Mercatus Institute to the wall. It's a rightwing noise machine all right.

Roemer ought to be ashamed. He's either a corrupt quisling or an idiot. Neither should be DNCC.

Here's another thought: why doesn't he either meet with Chris/Kos or, at the very  least, send an explanatory statement?

by Southern Patriot 2005-01-27 05:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Roemer did set up a meeting.

According to Bob Brigham (he wrote a MyDD diary right after the Sacramento DNC Caucus), the Roemer camp set up a meeting with him and Roemer at the Caucus.

Unfortunately, Bob Brigham wrote that he chose to blow off the meeting instead of hearing Roemer's argument (please see "2 unacceptable, 2 also-rans...DNC Chair" by Bob Brigham).

From what I can tell, Bob had a press pass and was representing the blogosphere.  Nothing wrong with that.  Heck, I think it was great!  

But blowing off a meeting and writing/laughing about it over the blogosphere?  WRONG.

So, to answer your question: I would hope that  Roemer has attempted to address the bloggers.  At the very least, Roemer made a personal commitment to meet.

So, why doesn't Chris or Jerome try to contact the Roemer camp?  Are they so elit that others most come to them?  Probably not, but it seems there is resistance for people to pick up the phone!!  

Or is it that MyDD prefers to bring Roemer down in order to enhance the Deaniac agenda?  All this effort to discredit Mercatus, but not one documented attempt from MyDD to contact Roemer for his comments?  I must be wrong about this, right?

by Bill70 2005-01-27 07:02AM | 0 recs
I agree with you about blowing off the meeting but
I don't think that ANYONE can "represent" the blogosphere.

No matter how much Roemer may not like it, Kos and Chris represent a sizeable faction of Dems AND a media channel to them (and others).

I am not a Deaniac. I think that he's been good for the party and can continue to be good for the party--- just not as DNCC.

Roemer is the one asking for votes. While it would be nice if Chris or Kos tried to get Roemer's version I don't think that it's mandatory. Neither are objective journalists who are obligated to be "fair and balanced."

If Roemer thinks that he's being slammed unfairly then he needs to step up to the plate and get his side on record. After all, that's what the DNCC is going to have to do with an increasingly  antagonistic press.

So far Roemer seems to have failed that test, too.

by Southern Patriot 2005-01-27 08:28AM | 0 recs
Mercatus Right Wingwers Host Dems
It takes a  certain kind of hubris [which the right wing has in abundance], to object on the grounds of academic freedom, and other blather. This obvious attempt to seduce underpaid [and possibly overly ambitious ]democratic staffers to a steak,wine, and goodies retreat while being "solicited" for GOP on Social Security [ or anything they can get], is recipe for disaster. If Democrats embraced the unity and loyalty that right wingers and GOP demand [of all their staffers], absolutely no Democrat would permit this kind of outrageous pandering and political seduction.   Where are the Democrats that these staffers work for?  Where's the outrage?  Were any of these staffers working for me, I would object,object,object, and------then give them a lesson in political realities.loyalties.duty, and responsibility to those they represent. We give the Democratic Party money and support, time and loyalty.  For this, we are entitled to Democrats  and their staffs to remain uncorrupted, loyal, and hard at work spreading the morality and wisdom of progressive ideals.  We do NOT expect them to go to RIGHT WING FREEBIES that are funded and led by the extreme right wing. Is this a new kind of brothel?
by morris1030 2005-01-26 12:51PM | 0 recs
fuck these assholes
If you want to be a prof at a right-wing hack job, fuck you.
by CentrismIsForLosers 2005-01-26 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: fuck these assholes
Thanks CentrismIsForLosers.  Way to take a pretty interesting discussion and bring it down with a high school "chat room" statement.  Boring.

As much as I disagree with several of the comments on Mercatus, I enjoy reading people's viewpoints that are different from my own.    

Don't you have anything constructive to say?  Or is destructive your mantra?  

by Bill70 2005-01-26 04:27PM | 0 recs
There are too many right wing think tanks
We need to remember how effective the right wing think tank campaign has been.  The Manhattan Institute, Mercatur, Heritage, Hoover, American Enterprise Institute, etc.  are quoted a lot, don't do much real academic work, and are funding overwhelming by right wing philanthropists.  

No real academic work - how can I possibly prove that?  A few ways: 1) Do they discipline people who cheat on data?  If they don't they are clearly breaking academic rules - and they don't.  2) Are they ever quoted seriously outside the US?  And they're not - non-Americans quote them as loonies - not serious researchers - because well they are loonies in the main. 3) Is the majority of their budget put into research or press stuff?  If it's press stuff - well that's pretty clear.

And does it work?  Sure as heck does, the opinion pages of the leading papers in the US are crawling with people funded by these groups.  But we shouldn't hesitate to call them on it.  

But, on one hand it would be fun to have a few rabble rousers to go and ask lots of embarrassing questions - and eat tons for tasty free food!

by Samuel H Knight 2005-01-27 05:20AM | 0 recs
Terrifyingly effective.
These "think tanks" have taken moth-eaten reactionary doctrine and wrapped it in a shiny, new, attractive coat.

Worst of all the progressive movement has slept for 30 years--- a generation. During that generation they've infiltrated academia. Their retrograde ideas (and goals) have been spoon fed to impressionable undergrads. Now some of those undergrads have gone on to begin dictating the intellectual underpinings of rightwing policy proposals.

I laughed when pundits suggested that the "youth vote" would save Kerry's candidacy. They're living in the past. Probably half the youth vote today is trending rightwing because that's what they've been inculcated with. (A good portion of the remainder are apolitical. They go where the best looking women hang and what seems to be best for their careers. Guess who has both assets these days.)

It's analogous to the U.S. maintaining absolute isolationism and looking inward until the Nazis had taken over or co-opted everything including Canada and Mexico. Not to mention letting a burgeoning Bundesbond movement flourish at home.

We've got to ring the warning bell and slap around   Dems like Roemer who claim to be progressive but help further the rightwing agenda.

by Southern Patriot 2005-01-27 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Terrifyingly effective.
I laughed when pundits suggested that the "youth vote" would save Kerry's candidacy. They're living in the past. Probably half the youth vote today is trending rightwing because that's what they've been inculcated with. (A good portion of the remainder are apolitical. They go where the best looking women hang and what seems to be best for their careers. Guess who has both assets these days.)

Uhh... Sorry, bro, get your facts straight.

As my man Josh, over at Music for America, put it:

People under the age of 30 turned out at the highest rate in more than 30 years, and we voted for change. In battlegrounds -- where my organization and a host of others did the bulk of their work -- turnout was above 60%, and broke for Kerry by an average of almost 20 points.
...
Our generation did it's part and then some, and most of us will stick with it. If it were up to us, it would be Kerry by a landslide. The future belongs to us, not the moral minority.

I can't go into the science now behind why what you're saying is so deadly wrong for the future of the party but I will be posting somethign on it soon- if I can get off my lazy ass for long enough. Hint: it has to do with the fact that our identities solidify by the time we're 28, and with it a large chunk of our memories- see the reminisence bump phenomenon, as well as Schuman's studies on collective memory of political events.
Why do you think that this election centered so much around Vietnam? Because, to a large degree, our minds solidify at the time of our early adulthood, and every experienc in later life is related back to that critical period. Thus, if you really want to create a progressive majority, you MUST start with the youth, who proved in this election that they could be brought out to vote, and could be convinced to vote progressive.

by Alex Urevick 2005-01-27 01:36PM | 0 recs
Deadly wrong?
I think that you've misunderestimated what I said if you think that it's "deadly wrong" for the party.

I don't need volumes of social science research to confirm that political experience prior to age 29 largely determines political attitudes later. Simple observation suffices.

My point is that the reactionary rightwing is attempting to brainwash the young by hijacking curriculums and infiltrating wingnuts into the faculties of educational institutions--- plus, creating new think tanks, schools etc. for further brainwashing etc.

"Josh" is looking at a very selective sample: probably about ten states. Overall, Kerry won 54% of the youth vote vs. Bush's 44%. You may want to crow about THAT but I think that it's simply indicative of a trend towards more rightwing-minded youth.

We agree that political experience under age 29 is  indicative of post age 29 actions. The problem is that close to HALF of those voting in 2004 (and it was a bigger turnout percentage-wise than since, at least, 1992) voted the WRONG way.

This doesn't bode well for progressives in the future.

I don't advocate writing off any voting block. I advocate rejuvenation/building anew a progressive infrastructure to maintain our current voters, recruit new ones, and groom potential voters.

We're starting out decades behind the competition and need to work overtime to catch up.

by Southern Patriot 2005-01-28 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Deadly wrong?
"Josh" is looking at a very selective sample: probably about ten states. Overall, Kerry won 54% of the youth vote vs. Bush's 44%. You may want to crow about THAT but I think that it's simply indicative of a trend towards more rightwing-minded youth.

What exactlly were you reading? Here, do me a favor before you start throwing around THATs, why don't you go look at the original poll. Now, since you're so big on common sense, why don't you rectify your sense of a "rightward shift" amongst youth with the fact that there was a large LEFTWARD shift in this election. While it's true that there was a rightward shift from Clinton to Bush, a large part of the shift was erased in this election (%6 more youth voted for Kerry than Gore).

This doesn't bode well for progressives in the future.
So, since we're in the capitalization mood, stick this in your pipe and smoke it: YOU ARE WRONG. I just hope that those with power and money aren't as off base as you seem to be. (sorry for the cliche, but...) The youth aer the future of progerssive politics, ignore them now and you almost garuntee that they will ignore you tomorrow. But like I said, if we capitalize on the gains we made with youth in this election, than the future does indeed look bright. However, if we go with common "sense", at least your "sense", we're in a whole lotta trouble for a very long time.

The problem is that close to HALF of those voting in 2004 (and it was a bigger turnout percentage-wise than since, at least, 1992) voted the WRONG way.

So let me get this straight- the youth voted 54-46 for Kerry, turned out in record numbers, and they are the problem. Dude, I don't know what generation you are in, but if you're over 28 than YOU and your generation are the problem, not the youth.

We're starting out decades behind the competition and need to work overtime to catch up

No argument with this- we need to invest heavily in youth outreach if we're going to have a progressive majority in the next 10 years.

by Alex Urevick 2005-01-28 12:10PM | 0 recs

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