Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

April 30, 2017

Trump Score April 30 2017

I admit that my scoring is far from scientifically sound. And it’s after the fact – I’m scoring based on what has happened thus far, and am intentionally avoiding the “what might happen”.

So after 100 days – my math has the score at less than a point. And the “taking action to split town” score is at least 5.

The score, and then some notes:

trump score april 30 2017

trump-score-metric

Okay. Most of the scores are still a zero.

  • Citizens have to register? Nope. Travel ban wishing aside – this is still a wish for the administration.
  • Judicial Branch subverted? Not yet. The administration would like to breakup the 9th Circuit because they disagree, but they don’t have the capacity to actually do that – that requires an act of Congress.
  • Military deployed? Nope.
  • Term limits? No change
  • Separation of church and state? No better or worse.
  • FOIA requests denied? Not that I can tell.
  • Peaceably assemble? BANG! Happening all of the time, and I’m not seeing even a hint of “you can’t do that”. Lots of “we don’t like it”, but that’s exactly the point, right?

    Take Berkeley for the moment. Ann Coulter has the right to say what she wants. And those that disagree and wish she would shut her gob have that same right.

  • Safe in my own home? As much as ever.
  • Speedy trial? Same as it ever was.
  • I just tapped a new IPA. Yep, still making and drinking beer here at home
  • Still able to get a travel visa? Yep. Some hints that a few countries want to retaliate for the travel ban, but since that ban isn’t happening yet – nothing going on here

So – I’m some comforted that our systems are holding. I still don’t like all of the things the administration WANTS to accomplish. But am some heartened by their inability.

There are troubling things, to be sure – but they fall into the category of “I don’t agree” which I treat differently. Things like:

  1. Rolling back net neutrality
  2. Budget cuts to USAID
  3. Loose language regarding North Korea
  4. An alarming lack of filled administrative positions
  5. A clear desire to make our water and air less clean

I’m not cavalier about these – but want to be super careful about the difference between subverting the constitution and things I just don’t like. I can see that some of these might, in total, rise to the level of subverting the spirit of the constitution. I’m  note sure yet how to measure those, but I’ll keep my eye out!

What worries you these days? How do you measure if those worries are founded? I’m interested, so drop me a note!

Patrick

 

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April 2, 2017

Trump Score April 2 2017

Ten weeks in and wow, what a show. I’m glad I’m keeping score still, because the sheer volume of things that might happen could keep me hugely agitated if I didn’t have a fallback.

But I do, and at the moment – as they used to say in Texas, the Trump effort is “all hat, no cattle“.

So the score remains unchanged. Per my metric – we’re still less than a point, and the danger zone is a 5.

Leave Score April 2

Still – things could change quickly. Which reminds me, it’s time to write another letter to my elected officials.

Patrick

March 5, 2017

Trump Score March 5 2017 – Slight Uptick

No burying the lede here: Score rises a bit this week to .45

(If you don’t recall – each line item is worth up to 10 points. So I’m adding all of them up, and dividing by line item to get the score).

trump-score-march-5-2017

trump-score-metric

The good news:

Not much is actually happening. Texans used to say “all hat, no cattle” to imply that just because you had a hat, it didn’t mean you knew how to be a rancher. At the moment – despite the horrible accusations and the sheer incompetence – not much is happening. I’ll take as much of that as I can get.

The bad news:

There are a few things happening that are worrisome, even if they don’t impact my scoring sheet.

  1. The incompetence itself threatens our country. What happens in case of a national emergency? I’m not confident that we have filled needed positions, and even less confident that if we had that those individuals know what they are doing.
  2. The executive order rolling back water rules is super troubling. I’m baffled that ensuring clean water is controversial. Sure – it’s cheaper and faster to pump your chemical stew into a river. Remember the Cuyahoga River? The one that caught fire? Well – 48 years later, it is far more safe.  Closer to home, Lake Washington is also a success story. When I first moved here, anyone in the know would tell me not to swim in it. The cleanup of Lake Washington started 1n 1963, and has been a thumping success.
  3. The use of private prisons, curtailed under the Obama administration, is back. Plenty to get upset about here, too.

Populism, the ends and the means

I’m reading “all the kings men” right now, a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. The author says it’s not about Huey Long, a populist governor and senator in the 1930’s.

The word “populism” has been tossed about a lot lately, to describe politicians of all sorts. The irony here is that President Trump is no populist, although he’s certainly using those tactics.

In short, populism is a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.

The thing about populism in the flavor we get from Donald Trump is that it isn’t actually doing anything at all to help people with less privilege.

Back to Huey Long. If Wikipedia is to be believed, here are some of the things he accomplished. In other words, the “ends”:

  1. Free textbooks for school children
  2. Night courses for adult literacy, which taught 100,000 adjults to read
  3. Established LSU Medical School
  4. Elimination of the poll tax (you had to pay to vote)
  5. Paved highways and other transport related infrastructure (9,700 miles worth)
  6. Statewide public health initiatives reduced the death rate, and increased the immunization rate

The list goes on. Rich companies and individuals paid for those things, by the way, until the time that the previously poor also started to contribute to the tax base.

And the means?

Not so great. Documented items that violate norms, if not actual laws, include:

  1. Fired hundreds of opponents upon taking the governorship
  2. State employees had to pay a portion of their salary into his re-election funds
  3. Fired the relatives of opponents
  4. Founded his own newspaper and if you wanted state funding you had to advertise in his paper

That list goes on, too. I’m left feeling I wholly support the ends, but not the means.

The thing is, I want both ends that support every person, and means that increase civic participation, make it more democratic and less prone to the influence of the already rich and moneyed (both individuals and corporations).

How to make that happen? That’s tough to answer. The “what” seems more straightforward:

  1. Get rid of the electoral college
  2. Remove gerrymandering at all levels of government
  3. Changing corporate personhood, especially the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling

Some non political good news

Don’t despair, people! Did you listen to either Barack or Michelle Obama talk about hope?  I think they are right; we won’t make it (no matter who is in the White House) without it. It might be in short supply unless you go look for it. So go look! You really can see the hope and the despair, and you should. But don’t get caught looking only at one or the other.

Here’s a small thing, about men and women experiencing homelesness. A local nonprofit (Low Incone Housing Institute) has had startling success with their Tiny house program. In 2016, LIHI case managers moved 157 people into housing, helped 103 people obtain employment and helped 30 people reunite with relatives or friends.

What is your, tiny good news?

Patrick

March 5 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:

trump-score-feb-12-2017

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?

Patrick

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!

trump-leave-score-2-4-17

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

 

 

January 16, 2017

Leaving the Land

Back in the day I used to play a lot of Irish music. One of my favorite songs was “leaving the land“, sung by Mary Black:

“Leaving the land, leaving the land. Leaving all I’ve ever had, and everything I am. Leaving the land.”

I’ve been thinking about that tune lately, because I want to know if and when I should leave this land, right here, my home. Seattle.

I don’t mean to be alarmist. But I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a bit, and I’ve been to a pair of countries that were torn apart by failed governments, and one that was just emerging from repression. And two that could go either way.

It Happened There

What was it that alerted some of the German diaspora to pick up and leave? Hindsight being so clear – super easy to second guess those who stayed behind, thinking “this is as bad as it gets, it won’t get any worse”. And yet it did. So there was something that some Germans figured out.

There’s also something to be said for the courage of those who did stay, those who both saw what was happening and were determined to stick around and see if they could prevent it from happening. But they probably saw the same things that led others to leave.

And then there were the significant majority that had far less choice: circumstance, money, education, time. It’s super easy to say that you always have a choice, but choice is easier if you have those things to start.

Of course, that happened before I was born. But when I was a kid, many of the Vietnamese Diaspora settled in California. In the years leading up to and especially after the fall of Hanoi, millions of Vietnamese left their land. Their government had fallen and they left.

But it started much sooner than that, with Independence from France and the rise of a repressive government, religious persecution, and more.

Here, Too – But They Recovered

I’ve also visited the Czech Republic, but back then it was still Czechoslovakia, but barely: The Velvet Resolution had taken place 1n 1989, and I was there 6 months later, the same month that Czechoslovakia held their first democratic elections since 1946.

Jury Is Out

Turkey in 2007 was remarkable for its food, architecture, natural beauty, its welcome. Ten years later, its increasingly autocratic and barely democratic. Ironically, the man who shepherded Turkey through needed economic reforms has become alarmingly authoritarian, with an abrupt consolidation of power.

And Thailand, another country of incredible welcome, natural beauty – also tipping uncomfortably into authoritarianism. Between 2001-2008, Thailand held their most open and corruption free elections in their history. It wasn’t all rosy for Thailand, but when I was there in 2012 it seemed like there was a good chance that Thailand could continue to move towards democratic institutions. A coup in 2014 has dampened that hope.

So. What might I learn from those 5 countries?

I’ll lead with the hopeful: The arc of justice and freedom bends upward. Who would have imagined that Germany would be the anchor of democratic institutions in Europe, that Vietnam would continue to embrace an open economy, and that the Czech Republic would emerge from a repressive government that relied heavily on censorship and fake trials to control its people?

And the less hopeful:

It would be naive to think that “it can’t happen here”.  Our country already suffers from massive income inequality. Add in a bit (okay, a lot) of racism, a growing division between those with more education, money and economic opportunity and those without, and a growing intolerance of anyone that seems “other”.

Leaving This Land

Subversion of our Rule of Law. This is hard, because I don’t mean “just the rules with which I agree”. In short though, it means that every citizen is subject to the law, including lawmakers themselves. This is harder to parse than it appears, especially when you consider that in the history of the United States:

  • Slavery was legal
  • Women couldn’t vote
  • We imprisoned citizens during the 2nd World War
  • People couldn’t marry as they wished

(All of those things contravene our founding documents, but we did them anyway)

So – this sort of goes back to the boiling frog thing. How do I form a fact based opinion on how our rule of law is holding up? Here’s a few things that ladder up:

  1. Any citizen has to register because of race, color, creed, ethnicity, country of origin.
  2. Our judiciary system is subverted: appointments without confirmation hearings, etc.
  3. Our military are deployed within our borders for reasons besides national disaster.
  4. Clear and long lasting legal principles and practice are subverted. For example, allowing a president to serve more than two terms without a Constitutional amendment.
  5. Religious belief becomes the rule of law. For example, mandatory prayer in schools.
  6. Freedom of Information requests are denied en masse. (I’ll note here that President Reagan signed an executive order limiting access to information. President Clinton restored those limits. President George W Bush curtailed access to information and President Obama restored them).
  7. Everything in the Bill of Rights holds, these in particular:
    • The right to peaceably assemble is diluted. This doesn’t mean “I can trash downtown Seattle because I disagree”.  The part in that article that mentions “apply to the Government for redress of grievances” is particularly important.
    • The right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and so on, and against unreasonable search.
    • The right to a speedy trial. And trial by jury.
  8. I am no longer allowed to make or drink beer. I’m not really being funny here; this is a super concrete example of something that seems annoyingly trivial but might also be an opening salvo in curtailing my rights.
  9. Countries that currently allow me to visit them turn me away due to my citizenship

This seems like a long enough list. And I think it takes only one; no weighting required here, no “three out of nine required”.

-Patrick Shaw

January 16, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2015

Day Zero Plus

Travel day. Not there yet most of the way there. We are in Taipei, having coffee-stopped here on our way to Bangkok a couple of years ago.

Flight was interesting; a young man was agitated and hurt himself, and a trio of medical professionals leapt to the rescue. Bandaged him up, and with permission from his guardian, taped him into a seat. And then sat with him for the next 6 hours, trying (pretty successfully) to keep him calm. Flight crew (Eva Air) was also terrific.

Next stop: Hanoi!

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March 15, 2015

March 15–Day 330–Mile Only

With just over a month to go – am starting to be conservative so I get to my running streak of 365 days in a row.

  • Miles: 1.0
  • Pace: 7.49
December 15, 2014

December 15–Day 241–DC Treadmill

Some people talk about being on the treadmill in DC. I was. Had to keep my streak alive and it was dark and I didn’t want to get lost!

  • Miles: 3.0
  • Pace: 7.37
June 2, 2012

Yes, I Can See Clearly Now

If you ask most people about the clarity of their vision, I suspect that they’d either talk about their practical eyesight (near, far, astigmatism, something else), or they’d talk about their dreams. I don’t think the two are disconnected at all, and here’s why:

I’m seeing far more clearly than ever before. Some of that is because the great doctors at NW Eye Surgeons fixed my eyesight. Between January and April, I had a set of surgeries to replace my crappy, natural lenses with what I affectionately describe as my bionic lenses: they are lenses with hinges on them. That means that with practice, I can bend them, just like a natural lens, so I can see both near and far. (I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it).

I’ve been a contact lens or eye glasses wearer since I was 7. And for most of that time, I didn’t really care – either was fine. Swimming and running and cycling (three things I enjoy) were off and on challenging. And traveling was a bit of a pain in the ass, too. But overall – as both eye glasses and contact lenses became better, I cared less and less. I could work around having to carry them, clean them, put them in.

 

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It didn’t happen overnight – my practical vision was on a gradual slide. And in some ways, that made me more introspective. If I couldn’t literally see what was happening around me – then I was inclined to pay attention to the stuff that didn’t require great eye sight. The result of those changes have been a lot like the decline in my eyesight: slow, gradual changes.

 

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But a couple of years ago, nothing was able to keep up. It was like having a great set of eyeglasses, smeared with petroleum jelly. No amount of increase in power helped me see better, and things like driving or running at night began to feel less safe. So I had my bionic lenses inserted – and wow! What a difference! I’m seeing better than perhaps ever, in my entire life. And the stuff I can see with my eyes, and the things I can see by way of reflection are different.

For instance – I’ve fairly well quit organized religion. It’s not like I’ve quit caring about values, or faith, or the things that go with those things: compassion, redemption, hope, justice, to name a few. But the organized religions I’ve been a part of are far apart from those things, especially on a macro level. Sure, it’s easy to find a local community that does a great job living out some of the values that we might attribute to a religion. But on a macro level? Religion still seems to hate women, gay people, folks who divorce, are a different color or culture, and so on. But here’s the deal: I’m connected to terrific people, that care about me (and whom I care about) – and we don’t go to the same church, or work at the same place, or live in the same neighborhood. In many instances, we’re not even that alike. I used to think that a great community had to be connected in some way to an organized system. And now I see that that isn’t so, not at all. If you want to belong, you can. Unless, of course, your community is about exclusion.

(That, by the way, is what I see better than ever: I don’t want to be a part of any community that defines itself by who can’t join. And increasingly – it’s impossible for me to reconcile any organized religion with that very practical notion that most of them practice exclusion. On purpose.)

 

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And I’ve left the nonprofit sector, my home since college. Again – it’s not that nonprofits (especially on a micro level) don’t do very important and meaningful work. But I’ve yet to work for one that didn’t suffer from poor leadership, especially over time. (Don’t get me wrong here – I’m far from becoming a for profit/capitalism will save the world booster. It’s just that in my admittedly short for profit experience – I’ve seen things that have been delightful. Such as firing incompetent workers. Trying new tactics when the old ones failed. Hiring based on skill set instead of faith tradition. I’ve seen plenty of warts, too, particularly around allocation of cash. For profits can certainly learn a lot about doing more with fewer resources. But overall – I’m pleased: I like my co-workers and colleagues. We have (mostly) a shared sense of vision, regarding what we are trying to accomplish, and how.)

So – we’ll “see” what happens next. Can’t wait.