President Bannon Vs IQ Clusters... And, Yes, He Does Need Senate Confirmation
A NY Times editorial last night was entitled President Bannon and just blasted Trump's top advisor, neo-Nazi Steve Bannon. "[W]e’ve never witnessed a political aide move as brazenly to consolidate power as Stephen Bannon," they wrote-- "nor have we seen one do quite so much damage so quickly to his putative boss’s popular standing or pretenses of competence." And it's probably going to get much, much worse. Unless... well, according to section (a)(6) of federal statute 50 U.S. Code 3021, a civilian like Bannon actually does need to go through Senate confirmation in order to serve on the National Security Council because he doesn't fit into any of the five listed pre-approved categories for membership. That obscure law, which has remained obscure because no president has ever tried to put a political hack on the NSC until now, was dug up by Jonathan Alter late night. A well-placed Senate staffer on the Republican side of the aisle I talk to regularly told me this morning that the chances of Bannon being confirmed by the Senate are zero. "Everyone hates him; it wouldn't even be close."
But a new executive order, politicizing the process for national security decisions, suggests Mr. Bannon is positioning himself not merely as a Svengali but as the de facto president.Bannon is widely seen as the hand behind Trump's hated and unconstitutional executive order to ban Muslim refugees, an order that stirred up exactly the kind of anxiety and strife Bannon was aiming for. Bannon isn't interested in "IQ magnets." (Watch the short video below.) Republicans want more Betsy DeVos policies to dumb-down the country, making people susceptible to demagogues like Trump. A few days ago we mentioned that when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty and delineated urbanologist Richard Florida's views about how Trump's anti-refugee and anti-immigrant stances will be catastrophic for the economic well-being of the nation. Yesterday, writing for The Atlantic, Florida's piece, How Trump Threatens America's Talent Edge went into far greater detail and is worth considering. Right from the twitter storm we considered a few days ago, Florida starts out reminding his readers that "Trump's executive order on immigration threatens what goes to the very core of America's innovative edge: the ability to attract global talent. Even if the ban is lifted, the damage has been done. Global talent has been put on alert."
In that new order, issued on Saturday, Mr. Trump took the unprecedented step of naming Mr. Bannon to the National Security Council, along with the secretaries of state and defense and certain other top officials. President George W. Bush’s last chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, was so concerned about separating politics from national security that he barred Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush’s political adviser, from N.S.C. meetings. To the annoyance of experienced foreign policy aides, David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s political adviser, sat in on some N.S.C. meetings, but he was not a permanent member of the council.
More telling still, Mr. Trump appointed Mr. Bannon to the N.S.C. “principals’ committee,” which includes most of those same top officials and meets far more frequently. At the same time, President Trump downgraded two senior national security officials — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a role now held by Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., and the director of national intelligence, the job that Dan Coats, a former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and former ambassador to Germany, has been nominated to fill... In giving Mr. Bannon an official role in national security policy making, Mr. Trump has not simply broken with tradition but has embraced the risk of politicizing national security, or giving the impression of doing so.
...As his first week in office amply demonstrated, Mr. Trump has no grounding in national security decision making, no sophistication in governance and little apparent grasp of what it takes to lead a great diverse nation. He needs to hear from experienced officials, like General Dunford. But Mr. Bannon has positioned himself, along with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as the president’s most trusted aide, shutting out other voices that might offer alternative views. He is now reportedly eclipsing the national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
While Mr. Trump long ago embraced Mr. Bannon’s politics, he would be wise to reconsider allowing him to run his White House, particularly after the fiasco over the weekend of the risible Muslim ban. Mr. Bannon helped push that order through without consulting Mr. Trump’s own experts at the Department of Homeland Security or even seeking deliberation by the N.S.C. itself. The administration’s subsequent modifications, the courtroom reversals and the international furor have made the president look not bold and decisive but simply incompetent.
America’s science and tech edge has long been fueled by the talented immigrants it attracts from across the world. Immigrants have played an incredibly important role in America’s high-technology competitiveness. Foreign talent makes up a huge share of America’s science and technology workforce, and from a third to half of the founding teams of significant U.S. technology startups.
The reality is that high-skilled immigrants can choose where to go. For decades, they’ve picked the United States and those choices have benefitted us. But they can just as easily pick other places. More than a decade ago, in my book The Flight of the Creative Class, I pointed out that efforts to restrict the flow of immigrants to the United States would have serious economic consequences. This was a smaller threat a decade or two ago, when global competitors were less established. The U.S. could rest on its “talent laurels."
But today, there are a handful of countries and dozens of global cities with great universities that can effectively compete for high-skill immigrants. Countries like Canada and Australia have come to understand the economic advantages of attracting immigrants and have upped their efforts to attract top talent from around the globe.
A recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, Çaǧlar Özden, and Christopher Parsons drives this point home. They outline how the U.S. has fallen behind in attracting immigrants and how much it benefits from their dense clustering in knowledge-based cities and metros like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Boston-New York-Washington Corridor.
An especially worrying trend the study points out: Even before Trump, the U.S. has been losing the competition for talent. The chart below is a bit wonky but it tells the tale. It compares the share of immigrants with high school educations in 1990 to the share in 2010 across a whole bunch of countries.
The countries that are above the line—like Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway and yes, even Mexico, have grown their share of more highly educated immigrants. The U.S. is the big dot that sits below the line; its share of more educated immigrants has fallen relative to other nations. Trump’s immigration crackdown comes at the worst possible time for America’s ability to attract global talent.
The map below shows the extreme clustering across the Bos-Wash Corridor, along the West Coast from Los Angeles and Southern California to the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest as well as Chicago, Miami, and the border areas of Texas and Arizona. The darkly shaded places in the interior of the country are largely college towns, which have long functioned as key immigrant gateways, in effect comprising the Ellis Islands of our time. Immigrants not only cluster geographically, but by occupation and industry-- for example computer scientists and software engineers in the Bay Area or mathematical finance whizzes in Manhattan, magnifying their positive impacts, as the study notes.
As the authors point out, immigrants to the United States haven take home larger shares of Nobel Prizes; they’ve won half of the nation’s Fields Medals for outstanding achievements in mathematics and a third of its Man Booker prizes for literature. And of course, America’s science and tech workforce broadly depends on the considerable numbers of highly educated foreign students it attracts in fields computer science, software engineering, math, and other science and engineering fields.
Indeed, by declaring war on sanctuary cities, Donald Trump has effectively declared war on half the U.S. economy. Cutting of federal funding would hurt these cities drastically. But harming their economic output could even more disastrous for the U.S. economy writ large.
The metro areas encompassed by the fifteen sanctuary cities below make up 45 percent of the entire U.S. economy, according to data put together by my colleague Steven Pedigo, who heads up the Urban Lab at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
Immigrants benefit the U.S. enormously-- but they no longer need to come here. Global talent is already heading to cities and nations outside the United States. The Trump administration’s moves to limit immigration pose a deep threat to America’s ability to attract global talent, to its innovative prowess, and ultimately, to the living standards of its people.