Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

David Weinberger has a theory:

My conspiracy theory: The purported dossier on Trump says the Russians have been cultivating him for five years. Suppose they were pressuring him to run. As a true patriot, Trump knew how disastrous it would be to have a Russian puppet as President. So, Trump did everything he could as a candidate to make himself unelectable: in his announcement speech he called Mexicans rapists, he made fun of the disabled, he called McCain a loser for being captured. He just kept upping the ante. And then we elected him.

Put differently, let me pitch a movie idea to you. It’s The Manchurian Candidate meets The Producers

Made me laugh, at least.

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The New Tilt Against China

Surely someone has noted by now that the first corollary of a putative Trump tilt towards Putin’s Russia is a tilt against China?  For just as Kissinger and Nixon opened relations with China as a counterweight to the USSR, so today is a tilt towards Russia a way to push against China.  In that context SecState nominee Rex Tillerson’s scary and bellicose words about denying China access to the islands it has built up in the South China Sea not only have a simple logic, they seem almost predictable.

If Vietnam gets a kind word, we’ll know for sure this is the strategy.

It is both crazy and not.  The South China sea situation is perhaps the nastiest and likeliest to blow flashpoint in the US political-diplomatic landscape, with only the perennial middle east giving it competition.  Yes, even Pakistan and North Korea are less scary right now.   So if you think think China is problem #1 — ie that Putin will be satisfied with Crimea, or in any case can be deterred from Poland and the Baltic states, then allying with Russia to leash China might seem to make crude sense.  Doubly so if you are thinking trade war.

If, that is, you are trigger happy.

Time to ratchet up the worry meter to ….

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Foreign-Born Americans

I live in a place where 51.7% of the population was born in another country. But I know that is not typical. I had in fact vaguely imagined that in much of the rest of the US the overall fraction of the population that was was foreign-born was shrinking. According to this interesting chart (p.3 of the presentation), that seems not to be the case.

It seems I vastly over-estimated the immigrant population in the 60s and 70s — perhaps because everyone my grandmother knew in New York seemed to have been born abroad. Indeed, if one assumes that the charted trends depicted above continued for six more years to 2016, then for the bulk of the population alive today the percentage of immigrants around them is at a lifetime high, even if it has not yet reached its late 19th century/early 20th century modern peak.

Being first generation, and generally pro-immigration, I’m more than fine with this, but it does perhaps help explain why anti-immigration policies have had some traction — just like they did in the 1920s. Last time around that animus led to the Immigration Act of 1924, setting up strict quotas on immigrants, and basically barring Asians.  (In addition to its many many other defects, that statute, as amended, would later come to bite my father when he sought to regularize his visa status in the wake of the Chinese Revolution and his loss of a student visa caused by successfully defending a PhD.)

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Oy Vey

Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him – CNNPolitics.com

Speculative. But surely only a matter of time?

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Annals of Donalds in US History


via Twitter

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Happy New Year?

I cannot think of any year I have looked forward to with more anxiety and gloom than 2017. But maybe low expectations is the secret to getting through it.

Meanwhile, here’s the Miami New Times’s list of The Weirdest 2016 WTF Florida Stories, including “Malachi Love-Robinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Florida Alligators Galore!”

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