I think Dana Milbank has grasped a greater truth than he was reaching for: is thinking out-of-date? Passé? Shouldn't medical researchers, for example, focus on selling cures rather than improving on them? Is our art a carefully calibrated concoction created to make a sale in a certain market? Are hot-dogs waste of time unless they have the chemical power to make us support meat industry subsidies?
Does a think thank think?
Jim De Mint, says Milbank, is the perfect choice for the "post-thought" think tank -- the Heritage Foundation.
There is less thinking going on in much of the Washington think-tank world these days: Following the trend in politics generally, these idea factories have turned away from idea production in favor of promoting well-worn policy prescriptions. The task is less to come up with new solutions than to win the argument with epithets, labels and caricatures.
The trend goes beyond Heritage. The Family Research Council has joined the shift from wonks to gladiators. The liberal Center for American Progress was created as a conscious imitation of Heritage — more political and aggressive, less bookish. Indeed, researchers there have done extensive opposition research into . . . Jim DeMint. ...Milbank, WaPo
Milbank runs through a bunch of DeMint's "thoughts" over recent years and concludes that thinking isn't one of the about-to-be-former senator's strong points.
If DeMint is the right man to be running this prestigious policy shop, perhaps the resident scholars at Heritage should be researching this question: Is thought dead? ...Milbank, WaPo
Policy shop. Sofa art. Persuasive wieners. Snake oil cures. Yeah. You could say thought is dead.
There's another, um, "think tank"/policy shop out there doing its usual damage but, so far, the searchlights have not been turned on it. They should be. It's hard at work taking over the workplace.
I'm talking about ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- and the no good it's up to in Michigan.
Today in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP controlled lame-duck legislature pulled a fast one, introducing and then ramming through the House and the Senate so-called "right to work" legislation. The bill was introduced at 11 a.m., passed the House at 5 p.m. by a narrow margin and the Senate at around 6:00 p.m. When the process is complete and the bill is signed, Michigan will become the 24th right to work state.
Why the rush? The GOP majority felt it might not have the votes once the newly elected legislature was seated in January. The bill is designed so it cannot be repealed by popular referendum ...
...Standing tall behind the measure was David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group, the non-profit organization that bankrolled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to strip the state's public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. AFP ran a multi-million dollar ad campaign trying to convince Wisconsinites that unions were their enemy, sponsoring rallies and backing Walker to the hilt when he later faced recall over the measure.
The crowing began early this morning. "Michigan passage of right-to-work legislation will be the shot heard around the world for workplace freedom. A victory over forced unionization in a union stronghold like Michigan would be an unprecedented win on par with Wisconsin that would pave the way for right to work in states across our nation," said Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan director of AFP in a statement.
Look at the source of that quote. Mainstream media seem to have a taken a pledge to avoid linking ALEC to outrages like the "fast one" pulled by the Michigan legislature. That fast one -- that subversive right-to-work legislation -- didn't originate in Michigan. It came from ALEC, a radical-right policy shop owned and funded by people who want to pare the American worker's rights to the barest minimum.
ALEC doesn't much like publicity. The media have a little habit of avoiding mention of ALEC in its local news as media watchers like the Center for Media and Democracy and Media Matters have noted. Even as the damage was being done in Michigan, ALEC managed to stay out of Ohio's papers.
Top Ohio newspapers failed to adequately highlight the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) influence on recent asbestos legislation in the state.
On December 4, the Ohio Senate passed an ALEC-inspired bill that curbs the ability of asbestos victims to file lawsuits for damages. ...
...The Dayton Daily News and Cincinnati Enquirer both failed to link the harmful asbestos bill to ALEC in their original reporting, despite it being covered in other states and nationally. Only the Columbus Dispatch ran an original story that noted the piece of legislation was an ALEC model bill, while the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Dayton Daily News published AP versions of the story that briefly mentioned ALEC. None of the stories highlighted the several legislators who supported the bill who are also known members of ALEC. ...Media Matters
The anti-thought people who fund both Heritage and ALEC are the same: the Koch brothers. The anti-education, anti-working class, anti-thinking brothers each of whom has a net worth of $25 billion.
Oh, I'm sorry. That's grown to $31 billion each over the past year or so. You can buy a lot of minds with that.