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Weigel (Slate) and Kroll (MoJo): The Right-Wing Network in the States - and Behind the War on Unions

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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 02:57 PM
Original message
Weigel (Slate) and Kroll (MoJo): The Right-Wing Network in the States - and Behind the War on Unions
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 02:59 PM by highplainsdem
Two related articles, each well worth reading in its entirety.

The first, from Dave Weigel at Slate, quotes the second:

The Right-Wing Network in the States
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 1:03 PM | By David Weigel

Watching progressive writers figure out how the conservative movement works is like watching someone unstack a Matryoshka doll. First, in March, University of Wisconsin professor William Cronon wrote blog posts and op-eds about the American Legislative Exchange Council, the none-too-secretive but not very well known conservative organization that introduces legislators to libertarian ideas and helps draft model legislation. Later, the Wisconsin GOP asked the college for his e-mails. And after that, Michigan's Mackinac Center, a conservative think tank, asked state colleges for records from its labor departments.

-snipping paragraphs about Andy Kroll's article in Mother Jones on the State Policy Network (more on that below) -

A liberal might ask: "Hey, how come my lame movement doesn't do this?" The answer is that these think tanks were created and funded to answer the strong, if weakening, liberal institutions that inform Democratic politics -- universities and unions. (For an example of what conservatives see themselves up against, go here.) Second question: "Well, why the hell haven't I heard about them before?" In the old media infrastructure, these organizations really only made impacts if they got local coverage or made as experts at hearings. In the new media, they can rocket onto Fox News -- Kroll cites the success the Tennessee Center for Policy Research had with a cheap shot report on Al Gore's home power usage -- and spread reports for free online.

I don't think liberals quite appreciate how broad the conservative networks are in the states. One example: the famous Wednesday meeting run by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform has been copied by conservatives in 46 states. They're often run by local think tank heads who can play the roles of micro-Norquists, and get legislators and think tankers on message about what needs to move through committees, what's working in other states. Norquist and ATR spend a good amount of time cultivating these meetings. And one little-known fact about the first Washington, D.C. Tea Party, in February 2009, was that it was planned by a couple of attendees right before the Wednesday meeting. (The meeting is off the record, but one of the planners, John O'Hara, has written about this in his book about the movement.) The grassroots Tea Party movement in the states had some amount of help from the networks that had already been set up, for decades.

From Andy Kroll at Mother Jones:

The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions
Inspired by Ronald Reagan and funded by the right's richest donors, a web of free-market think tanks has fueled the nationwide attack on workers' rights.
By Andy Kroll
Mon Apr. 25, 2011 12:01 AM PDT

From New Hampshire to Alaska, Republican lawmakers are waging war on organized labor. They're pushing bills to curb, if not eliminate, collective bargaining for public workers; make it harder for unions to collect member dues; and, in some states, allow workers to opt out of joining unions entirely but still enjoy union-won benefits. All told, it's one of the largest assaults on American unions in recent history.

Behind the onslaught is a well-funded network of conservative think tanks that you've probably never heard of. Conceived by the same conservative ideologues who helped found the Heritage Foundation, the State Policy Network (SPN) is a little-known umbrella group with deep ties to the national conservative movement. Its mission is simple: to back a constellation of state-level think tanks loosely modeled after Heritage that promote free-market principles and rail against unions, regulation, and tax increases. By blasting out policy recommendations and shaping lawmakers' positions through briefings and private meetings, these think tanks cultivate cozy relationships with GOP politicians. And there's a long tradition of revolving door relationships between SPN staffers and state governments. While they bill themselves as independent think tanks, SPN's members frequently gather to swap ideas. "We're all comrades in arms," the network's board chairman told the National Review in 2007.

Occasionally, SPN think tanks boast of their clout. Such was the case when the Tennessee Center for Policy Research bragged on its website recently that it "leads the charge against teachers' union" and "laid the groundwork" for the bills now in the Tennessee legislature to restrict, and possibly eradicate, bargaining for public school teachers. More often, though, the fingerprints of SPN's members are less apparent.

Founded in 1992 by businessman and Reagan administration insider Thomas Roewho also served on the Heritage Foundation's board of trustees for two decadesthe group has grown to include 59 "freedom centers," or affiliated think tanks, in all 50 states. SPN's board includes officials from Heritage and right-wing charities such as the Adolph Coors and Jacqueline Hume foundations. Likewise, its deep-pocketed donors include all the usual heavy-hitting conservative benefactors: the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation, which funds the Cato Institute and Heritage; the Castle Rock Foundation, a charity started with money from the conservative Coors Foundation; and the Bradley Foundation, a $540 million charity devoted to funding conservative causes. SPN uses their contributions to dole out annual grants to member groups, ranging from a few thousand dollars to $260,000, according to 2009 records.


I hope you'll read both pages of this article.

These state-level think tanks also mesh with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). See the long compilation topic the link in the last sentence goes to. Reply 127 there (which follows reply 38) is about ALEC and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, or TPPF, which is mentioned on page 2 of this Mother Jones article. And the subthread starting with reply 140 concerns Michigan's Mackinac Center and ALEC.
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:16 PM
Response to Original message
1. I was amused by Weigel comparing progressives trying to figure out the conservative movement to
someone taking a nesting doll apart. It has felt that way at times.

It isn't just progressives, though. I've discovered, asking around, that conservative Republicans, even those somewhat active in the party, are often unaware of this right-wing network. They have little or no idea how organized this is and how centrally controlled.
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. kick
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. Kicking again -- this is going to be discussed on The Ed Show.
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Ed's guest was Andy Kroll, as I'd expected. And it was an interesting discussion,
but neither mentioned ALEC, which seemed to leave an odd gap in the conversation when they talked about bills being introduced across the country. Even the Washington Post finally connected ALEC to this wave of legislation recently. And Kroll is aware of ALEC:
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