Archive for February, 2017

February 19, 2017

Trump Score Feb 19 2017 – No Score Change This Week

I’m composing today from lovely Galiano Island, in British Colombia, Canada. It seemed like a good idea to go experience a bit of relaxed island living in a country I like a lot, especially given that Monday celebrates US Presidents.

I’ll get right to the score: I didn’t see anything this week that makes my up my risk level any. Lots of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). But no action that changes the score.


(This is a simple, non-weighted score – 11 items, each with a possible score of 0-10)


Worrisome Things:

EPA Appointment

The new EPA chief and his actions don’t align at all with mine. I’m trying to better understand how “good for the environment, good for local, national and global health” seem to equal “bad for business”.

Sure – doing things right costs more. But doing things wrong costs even more. If you are my age or older, go ahead and leave a comment here about how you used to change the oil in your car. While you’re at it, comment on if your car had a seat-belt or not, if your window sills and walls had lead paint, if it was allowable to install asbestos without wearing a mask and a protection suit, if cigarettes were good for you or not.

(Hey! This is fun! What else has happened in your lifetime due to government regulation that has made you and yours safer?)

Sure. I bet Dow Chemical wasn’t super pleased about not being able to dump their shit into the nearest open body of water. And the tobacco industry hated the idea that their money making product was poison.

So here’s the question: what gives a profit making business the right to earn at the expense of everyone else?

So that’s it: we get rhetoric about “job killing regulation”. But without it, we have “people killing profit for the rich”.

I don’t think this is a zero sum game: Smart business leaders and job creators and entrepreneurs can make a ton of money – while also protecting our health.

Immigration Executive Order

Thinking about the “extreme vetting” stuff and the immigration ban that my Attorney General blocked. (Go, Washington State!).

No one has said what MORE is going to be done. I’d like to pose a question to the folks in favour – goes like this:

“What numbering scheme are you going to use to keep track of immigrants, and where will you put the tattoo?”

That sound horrible, right? Because it is. But short of a tattoo or an RFID chip – hard to imagine what else might be done to keep track of people. Already doing a 1-3 year review process which includes numerous in person interviews, fingerprints, retina scans and more. What gets added to that list that makes it more extreme?

And then the last note about the ban, which reminds me of the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. It’s as if we think that ANY restrictions, bans, vetting, interrogation and so on will give us 100% assurance that we’ll be safe. It simply isn’t true, and we all know it at some level – accidents happen. People change their mind. Tools and systems age and fail. I’d love to find a way to shift this conversation to one that discusses the appropriate level of review. Are there things we can do differently?

My day job is managing projects. And we do risk assessments all of the time. But having a risk, without weighting it, is silly. You need to know three things:

  • What is the risk?
  • How likely is it to occur?
  • What is the severity if it does?

If you start and stop at the top item – you don’t have anything actionable – every fear is equal.

Finally –  the irony! God forbid that we legislate clean water, but by all means, let’s legislate huge government bureaucracy for immigration review!


My friend Miguel pointed out that the 13th amendment didn’t abolish slavery, as I was taught:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

That clause in there is super important, those words between the first set of commas. Because it didn’t take long for me to remember that white people were super good at creating laws that targeted black men and women that would in fact allow you to put someone in jail and on a work crew. Different words, same thing. Slavery.

Which begs the question of Guantanamo Bay, doesn’t it? Our jurisdiction. Hmm, go figure.

Trump Score Additions:

My friend Dan wonders if adding another item to the tracking list makes sense.

-Deploying US troops against an ally, such as against Mexico, as Mr Trump has threatened

Shall we add? What else should I keep track of?


February 19, 2017


February 12, 2017

Trump Score Feb 12 2017 – Still Less Than One!

Updating my score card based on the activity from last week. Thankfully – although I’ve shifted a couple of the numbers, the overall score remains the same – well under the “get out of Dodge” score of 7-10 points:


So. The judicial branch stepped up. Fantastic – that’s why we have three branches of government.

And we have a Supreme Court nominee, too. I can’t discern yet if he’s playing along with the President by sending signals that he’d be an independent thinker, or if he really is independent. But he bends towards strict constructionism, which I find worrying.

I fundamentally disagree with the idea that interpreting the Constitution in light of current events is a mistake. Especially considering some of the things actually enshrined in the Constitution. There’s a long list, but a few things that stand out include:

  • The right of women to vote. And I’ll note that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that the 14th amendment did NOT give women the right to vote. Unbelievable.
  • Slavery was legal until the 13th amendment was passed.
  • And it took the Supreme Court until 1967 to overturn anti-miscegenation laws preventing differently colored people from marrying each other.
  • The “three-fifths” compromise that said that “all other persons” were counted at a rate of three fifths when using population counts to apportion seats in the House of Representatives. Here’s the copy:

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

So the idea that we have to stick to the constitution, thick and thin or enact an amendment doesn’t ring true. It cedes judgement and wisdom to a bunch of rich white mean from 250 years ago, and while they got the country off to a good start, they couldn’t see into the future.

I’ve had a couple of friends ask me about countries not yet on the list, namely New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Chile. Great question.

The first answer is because I’ve yet to visit any of those spots. The deeper answer goes back to expectations: If I leave the United States because it isn’t safe, do I want to land somewhere where my values are more fully aligned with the government? Or do I just want to be safe?

If I just want to be safe there are a lot of poorly run countries that I like. If I want to both be safe and feel aligned – I think we’re talking Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway. Probably a few others.

Write or comment. How are you holding up?


February 12 2017







February 4, 2017

Leaving Score: Feb 4 2017

A couple of weeks in for the new administration, and I’m checking my list. I’m not great with charts and graphs, but I thought I could at least do some basic counting.

Each item on my “if this happens, I should consider leaving” list is worth 10 points. No weighting, to make it easier, although you can imagine that beer drinking might reasonably be weighed a little higher!


Feb 4 2017 Leaving Score

A few people have asked where I might go. I started my list like this:

What placed have I already visited that I like?

Thailand: Fantastic food, welcoming people, lovely climate. And yet . . . now under the control of a military coup. There is a lot of nuance here – but leaving here includes having hopes for arriving somewhere better. And not just better for me, but better for everyone. I think a well-functioning democracy is the start of that, and Thailand is missing that right now.

Thailand does not make the list.

Turkey: Fantastic food, welcoming people, lovely climate. Since my visit there in 2007 though, there has been an alarming shift to an authoritarian government. Teachers and journalists have been locked up en masse. And the current president is consolidating his powers and changing the constitution. Turkey isn’t a well-functioning democracy right now.

Turkey does not make the list.

Germany: Hmm. Lots of friends there. Currently holding tight to the center. Speaking out for democratic institutions. There is a growing neo-conservative movement there, but thus far – I think Germany is doing quite well.

Germany stays on the list.

Austria: An unsettling level of neo-conservative stuff going on right now.

Austria does not make the list.

London: Brexit? Theresa May? Boris Johnson? I’d have to start my list again over there, plus learn how Parliment works.

London makes the list, but barely.

Ireland: Hmm. See London, above. A bit nervous about the agitation in the North. But common language, lots of culture, friendly people.

Ireland stays on the list.

Netherlands: Gert Wilders.

Netherlands does not make the list.

France: Marine Le Pen.

France does not make the list.

Hungary: Victor Orban.

Hungary does not make the list.

Canada: I have family there. Seems trite, yes? The “we’ll all go to Canada!” line. Lots to like, especially with their current prime minister, their immigration policy their participation in trade, and much more.

Canada stays on the list.

I’ll note that I haven’t thought much about the “how” of it all. One of my friends mentioned that an aspect of a successful move for her would include not paying taxes in the US, which would mean earning an income elsewhere. I appreciate that sentiment and also think – wow. That makes a departure much harder.

But it also begs the question of a temporary or a permanent move. Haven’t thought that far ahead yet.  Maybe I need to adjust my scoring mechanism to include learning a new language. And other locations to follow!

Patrick Shaw, Feb 4 2017