Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trouble When Even Merle is Agin' You

Republicnas, we are in trouble when even Merle Haggard is again' ya.

His newest video and song is classic Merle Haggard beuatiful, simple, and direct.

Again, this is trouble if the Republicans can't keep a patriot like Haggard in line with with the classic "America. Love it or Leave it." line.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Complaint kicked upstairs to the AG

On December 28, 2007, I re-filed my 5.08 complaint against Washington County Clerk, Brenda Jaszewski, with the Wisconsin State Attorney General.

The haeart of this dispute is the failure to create backups of the data found on the memory cards used in various pieces of election equipment within the county

As of last week the official word is that the matter is "under review". The AG has 45 business days (March 6, 2008) in which to make a decision on the merits of the complaint.

Waiting to see what J.B. Van Hollen will do or not do.

Self-Incrimination in the US

h/t to Declan at PoliTech

In a previous post, Self Incrimination in the UK, I spoke of the how an untested part of the fifth amendment is how the protection against self incrimination extended to encryption keys.

Well the fifth amendment issue of compelling a person to utter his encryption key is settled. In Vermont at least, your PGP encryption key is testimony if you are required to type it or utter it in order for the police to obtain access to the files it protects. Here is an article on the case. The defendant is unattractive because he is accused of trafficking in child porn. The charge is based on what the customs agents saw on a laptop drive that they can no longer access.

The current status of the case seems to be two pronged. On prong is an attempt to brute the PGP key. The second is to develop the case without the Z: drive. The brute force effort will fail. PGP is modest when it calls itself Pretty Good Privacy. It is Very Good Privacy. So when the case stalls without the contents of the Z: drive, the denial of the subpoena by Judge Niedermeier will be appealed. The government will try to subpoena Sebastien Boucher to provide "any passwords" used with his Alienware laptop. At that point this case will go to the Supreme Court.

Here is the ruling by Judge Niedermeier, a discussion of the ruling, and a 12 year old law article that is looking very prescient now.

I light of this, here are my three suggestions.

Use PasswordSafe. It is an excellent product. You remember one long pass phrase (notice I did not say pass word). I would recommend a pass phrase of at least three words. Longer is better; e.g. my pass phrase is about 31 characters long. Memorable is important though. The passphrase is used to temporarily decrypt a small data file which has your user names, passwords and URL's organized in a simple tree view. If you want (and I recommend you do), you can let the password safe generate strong passwords for you (e.g. eight characters of mixed case and digits). It will remember the tough password and, for short periods of time, the password safe will transfer the strong passwords to the clipboard so you can paste in the password. If the program is inactive for about 5 minutes, the unencrypted version of the file is purge from memory, virtual memory, and the clipboard. You will need to re-enter the pass phrase to transfer a password to the clipboard.

Never write the pass phrase down on paper. As long as the passphrase is in your mind alone, it is testimony. The paper though is evidence which can be seized.

Don't traffic in child porn. What is the attraction here? And no I do not want to understand. This was a rhetorical question.

But, even law abiding citizens need and deserve privacy so recommendations one and two still apply.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Texas Emails Posted

The first batch of files recieved from the Office of the Governor of Texas in response to November 6, 2007 Public Information Act Request are now posted on Box.net in the TXGovEmails-20071106PIR folder.

I am sure Watchdog will find most of it drivel and dross, but others can now look for themselves and see if there is any "paydirt" in this chaotic, mash-up of data.

The files are posts as recieved no alterations have been made. The files were delivered on a single CD-ROM and all with in a single directory of that CD-ROM.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Texas EMails are in

Yesterday I recieved the first CD-ROM of the emails of the Governors Office responsive to my November 6, 2007 PIR, which have not been appealed to the Texas Attorney General for exemption.

This certified letter like all the others from the Office of the Governor arrived inspite of the fact that the envelopes do not contain a street address. I would like to personally thank my local postmaster and postal carrier

There were 1993 files occupying 233 MB. My first question is where are the other 3,000 to 6,000 emails the $568 dolars was supposedly paying for? The Governor's office estimated the emails for Friday November 2, 2007 to Monday, November 5, 2007 numbered between 5,000 and 8,000. Either the estimating process faulty or the Governor's office sent 3-6 thousand emails to the Office of the Attorney General for review as per this letter.

I am currently sorting through the files to see if they are responsive and, if not, why not.

My inital impression is that the set is not very responsive because email attachments were stripped even though attachments were part of the PIR. Also this was considered an email and responsive. Yes, you saw correctly. A screen shot of various .MSG icons was considered the same as providing the emails contained in those .MSG files.

The most charitable description I can give is that these files (most are PDF versions of email text cut and pasted into an MS Word doc) is that the organization is chaotic.

Working on the inventory at this time.

Election Records Reprieve

The City of Milwaukee Election Commission met yesterday. Two related items of the agenda were of interest to me. One item was the status of the final report of the Joint Task Force investigation allegations of election fraud during the November 2, 2004 election. The second was the destruction of the extant, original election records from the November 2, 2004 election.

On the first matter (the final report from the Joint Task Force), the Executive Director, Susan Edman, reported to the commissioners that her contact in the Milwaukee Police Department believes the publication of the final report to be imminent. The detective related to Ms. Edman that his understanding is that completed reported is at the District Attorney's office and is awaiting sign off from the US Attorney, Steven Biskupic, and DA Chisholm. After that the FBI will also review the report prior to publication.

I personally have heard the report will be published "any day now" since December 2006. I will curb my enthusiasm regarding this agenda item, until the final report is actually published. But, is nice to know at least someone other than be would be interested in knowing what Biskupic, McCann, the MPD, and the FBI discovered.

On the second matter, I hd written previously to Ms. Edman and Commissioner Spindell that it would be good public policy to not destroy the original records which are the subject of the Joint Task Force report until after the report is published. Commissioner Spindell agreed and had this question added to the meeting agenda. At the meeting he argued for the retention of the original records and ballots. With the friendly amendment, from Chairman Campos, the commissioners unanimously agreed to retain the election records and original ballots of the November 2, 2004 election for a minimum of six months following the publication of the final report of the Joint Task Force.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Who Sounds Like Ronald Reagan?

The search in the Republican primary is to find the candidate who will be "just like Reagan".

Here is Reagan in his own words as he campaigned for Barry Goldwater.

After seeing this ask yourself:
Which of the current GOP candidates sounds like Ronald Reagan, the most mainstream of mainstream Republicans?

The Rudy Guiliani? No
John McCain? No.
Mitt Romney No.
Mike Huckabee. No.
Fred Thompson? Sometimes; except on foriegn policy.

The candid, truthful answer is that Ronald Reagan sounds like Ron Paul. The reson for this is straight-forward. Both men share the same philosophical underpinning of their politics: Freedom at home, sound money, sound fiscal policy, and a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Election Records are Declared Open Records

Last week between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary the coalition of a citizen group, AUDIT-AZ, and the the Democratic Party of Pima County (with the help and support of the Republican and libertarian parties of the county) won a stunning open records victory.

The details of this can be found a Blog For Arizona, but here is the synopsis.

Back on May 16, 2006, Pima County Arizona had a controversial tax referendum proposed by the Regional Transit Authority. The irregularities uncovered by AUDIT-AZ prompted the local Democratic party to join in a open records request to release the election databases which produced these anomalous log entries to the three parties of standing in Pima County: Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian.

For two years they slogged while Diebold (now Premier) and the Pima county election staff stated election data was a trade secret or that releasing the election data posed a national security risk.

In the interum, there was a questionable

The Judge in a very conservative decision ruled otherwise. He order the release of only the databases subject to the matter directly before him and made no sweeping statement about the other databases from other elections asked for in other legal actions.

After much passionate discussion (see video here)the day, the Pima County Board of Elections over-ruled their staff and directed than not only the court ordered database be released to the three political parties, but all databases requested over the last two years should be released as well. This effecteively ended all of the open records lawsuits pending before the Board of Elections.

The transfer of data was completed Friday, January 11, 2008. The next step is for academics and interested parties from around the country to study the data. I look forward to see the contents of the wiki proposed as the organizational structure presented and available to the general public.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Why are the Texas emails important?

This is response to Watchdog who thinks me and the donors who paid $611 dollars for emails "wasted" the money and are wasting the time of the Governor's staff.

Until I started this lark in November of 2007, the only scandal I knew of from Texas was the TYC scandal. This scandal is where the the boys incarcerated by the Texas Youth Commision (TYC) were routinely raped and assaulted by organized ring of pederasts which ran the TYC from 2003 until early 2007. I did not know my email project and the systematic abuse at the TYC were related. But, it turns out the two stories were deeply intertwined.

In early 2007, Office of the Governor lied about when he got emails from the Texas Rangers on the the raping of young boys. Those TYC emails have gone down the "memory hole".

The Governor's response is "find the emails I deleted". The position of Governor Perry's spokesman is: No emails means there is no proof the Governor's office knew about the rapes at the TYC earlier than March 2007. Pay no attention to that Texas Ranger, Burzynski, behind the curtain.

Watchdog, aren't you as a Texan just a little bit curious what else the Governor's office has stuffed down the memory hole?

Here are two possibilities now that I have found from skimmed recent Texas articles.
  • Emails between the Governor's Office and the contractor(s) renovating the mansion?
  • Emails between the Governor's office and Cintra? The Cintra deal for 50 years worth of tolls from Texas roads makes "Diamond" Jim's casino deal look cheap in comparison
Policy and how it is formed matters. Email is the correspondence of the 21st cnetury and the means by which policy is shaped and crafted. Emails of government officials (not just those of Governor Perry) are important policy documents and important historical records.

Records the public has right and duty to examine.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Saturday ABC Debates

I am watching the tape of the debate from earlier this evening. Blunders and Brilliance

World View
Q: What are the world view, ethics, and philosophy which do and will guide your politics and presidency?
A: The six non-conservatives: The Constitution.
    As long as they don't have to listen to it or be inconvenienced by the actual words of the Constitution. Fred Thompson was the worst hypocrite here by quoting Madison’s enumerated powers argument. He knows full well this is an argument which has not been followed since 1819 with McCulloch v Maryland.
A:Ron Paul: Lip service is worthless. We [candidates and office holders] should all be bound down by the Constitution. I think Paul came off well on this exchange because, other than Thompson, he sounded like someone who routinely reads the Constitution.

Health Care
Romney: I like mandates. (blunder)
Thompson: You like mandates?
Romney: I will tell you the mandates I agree with.
Thompson: The one you come up with."

I was unfair to state Fred Thompson needs better, Law-and-Order caliber writers. If this was ad hoc as it looked, Fred Thompson has a quick wit, because that was a brilliant riposte.

And then Huckabee following up that Smoke Free America is the answer because the power of the Federal government should prevent "unhealthy" choice. Oh, and by the way the federal run health care system should be economic magic: affordable or free, high quality, and universally accessible. Ignore the laws of economics means you can find Huckabee's wellness care "system" right next to herds of unicorn grazing on grass of Glaukos.

Head to Head on Obama
For us Republicans, this is the question. Who will best defend, champion, and prevail on the Republican principles of small government, taxes, victim disarmament, securing the border, eroding the democratic base by getting "Reagan Democrats" back.
Thompson: Windfall tax? No. (Brilliant. This should be an ad in production tomorrow and on the air in SC by Wednesday. Short, unequivocal answers play well IF you believe the answer is from the heart.)

My predictions for 2008:
McCain/Lieberman ticket will be the independent run not Ron Paul. Should Ron Paul not get the nomination during the Minneapolis convention, he will run for Governor Texas as the Republican he is and not as President as a non-Republican.

To Jim

Life is distractions and tragedy. Sorting and prioritizing those events are what shape us.

With that I would like to take this opportunity to eulogize my cousin Jim Washburn who died this last month. Jim was struck in the head with a tree branch as he was burning carbon from the spark plugs of his new sled (snowmobile). This happened at half moon "island" at the mouth of the Fox river of Pistakee Lake as he was heading to Fox Lake. He died sometime between 11:00 pm and 1:30 am of the night of Tuesday, December 19, 2007.

The Washburn family of Gurnee, Illinois is close knit. Jim and I grew up together even after my family moved to Piehl in 1974. His sister is the god-mother of my daughter. There is a Jim-shaped hole in our family and my life.

I miss Jim’s smiling face and his joy of living. At his funeral in the many pictures of him on his various Artic Cats there was a lot of air under the ski's; not this much air, but only because the opportunity never presented itself. That zest for living is what I will most.

My blog is small, but, what meager stage I have, I give to you, Jim.
Kin, Cousin, and Friend.

I miss you and will continue to miss you. But, I know from the promise of our Savior this separation, while hard, is temporary.

If God wills, maybe we can zoom the clouds as we zoomed snow in the woods and on the lakes of Three Lakes, Eagle River, and Da UP.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ron Paul blimp is in the air for January

The Liberty Political Advertising, LLC (the Ron Paul blimp) has enough supporters to fly for the month of January. Again, this is an endevor completely unconnected to the Ron Paul campaign.

The combination of a blog, online flight plan and real time tracking allows the morbidly curious to track the Ron Paul air force.

It is amazing what free thinking individuals can accomplish when left to their own creative devices.

Update – Messin’ with Texas

Thanks to the people who generously donated $530 in response to Blegging for Records I was able to pay the Office of the Governor of Texas $611.00 for two sets of emails and email headers. $568 dollars went to pay for copies of the complete emails sent or received by the office of the Governor for the four days of November 2, 2007 through November 5, 2007. These would be the records responsive to my two PIA requests dated November 6, 2007. $40 dollars went to pay for the email headers and complete emails sent or received by the office of the Governor for the three days of November 20, 2007 through November 22, 2007. These would be the records responsive to my four PIA requests dated November 23, 2007.

The reason for the difference in costs is that the Governor’s office failed to respond to the November 23, 2007 within ten business days as required by law. Under the Governor’s own interpretation of the Texas Public Information Act, this failure to respond means the Governor’s office has forfeited the option of presenting a itemization of charges which exceeds $40. I believe this is a misreading of the Texas PIA, but for this request I will stipulate the Governor’s construction of the statute is correct. It saves me $528 after all.

To date: Messin’ with Texas has consisted of 9 emails to publicrecords@governor.state.tx.us which contained 32 PIA requests among them. The emails sent on November 6, 2007, November 9, 2007, November 13, 2007, November 16, 2007, November 20, 2007, November 23, 2007, November 27, 2007, November 30, 2007, and December 4, 2007 can be found by linking through.

On December 7, 2007, attorney Joe Larsen sent a tenth public information act request on my behalf. The Office of the Governor claims it has a written policy which is used to review emails prior to their destruction by the electronic shredders. This tenth PIA request asked for a copy of this written policy. To date there has been no response at all to this tenth PIA request; not even a late one response as was the case for the November 23, 2007 requests.

At this point the ball is in the Governor’s court. By their own interpretation of the PIA statutes the Governor’s Office has ten days to produce the records, take the matter up with the Office of the AG, or take the matter to court.

Slowly developing.