Friday, November 21, 2014

CitizenFour at the Limelight: "The Age of Surveillance" , "No Place to Hide" , "Spies for Hire"

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. " Thomas Jefferson, 1st Inaugural Address (March 1801)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"Ultimately what concerned me...was the deception of government officials... We do have to know the bare and broad outlines of the powers that our government is claiming broadly and how they affect us... Because if we don't, we are no longer citizens. We no longer have leaders. We're subjects and we have rulers. Democracy is about participation. And if we are denied the information that we need in order to vote about the policies we want...and the boundaries of our rights... We're no longer really free. We are beginning a descent into a less free, less liberal, more authoritarian society. And when that descent begins, it is very difficult to reverse."
The Virtual Interview: Edward Snowden - The New Yorker Festival
Update: CitizenFour will open at the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, WA November 21st: -Thanks RMF

On Veteran's Day I went to see CitizenFour at the SIFF Cinema Uptown in the Queen Anne District. It was clearly worth the $12 and the drive to Seattle. Every American should see this film.  Anyone even thinking about dedicating their lives to service for their country should see this film. And, of course, every activist should see this film.  Laura Poitras  is probably the best filmmaker in America today.  This film may be the most revolutionary film to appear across America in recent years. CitizenFour will open at the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, WA November 21st:

Citizen Four has an extraordinary feel to those of us who have kept abreast of the Snowden disclosures. This is not so much a documentary as it is "reality film".  Only, these aren't just aspiring actors or hapless citizens stuck on some island. In one room with one very heroic, principled, intelligent 29 year old are two of the greatest risk taking journalists in recent American history. What they document, discuss and reveal is far more than a surveillance state.

When you read the documents for the Snowden disclosures, an astute reader is impressed with the scope of the NSA's surveillance mechanisms.  Through Edward Joseph Snowden's words, CitizenFour makes this scope breathtakingly real for the viewer. "This is not science fiction," Snowden says at one point. "Those surveillance nodes are capable of 1 Tb/second."  In another moment he discusses how his hotel VOIP phone has a microphone inside that can be turned on remotely as needed. "Not sure why I didn't think of that before," Snowden comments as he unplugs what looks like a CAT V cable from back of the phone.  Poitras' film reveals the NSA's surveillance efforts to be a massive international effort. At one point in the film, we watch the Guardian (censors) editors black out 'MIT' in a slide.  But it is not the technical revelations or political intrigue that mesmerized me as I watched this film.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

11.07. Matchbacks and Challenges from 2012, 2013 and 2014 General Elections: "Curing" your invalid signature ballot

Below I have included 2012,2013, and 2014 (to date) General Election Challenge number summaries. To date:

  • 2012 711
  • 2013 634
  • 2014 1118
Some instructive text from Election Desk Administrator Jesse Smiley is included below the yearly Challenge summaries. If you are one of this year's 811 voters who have their ballot challenged on the basis of signature ("No Signature","No Signature Match","Wrong Voter's Signature"), then you should receive a letter giving you the chance to "cure" your ballot sometime before the  11/24/2014 Canvas Board certification. I am working on a web database where you can check if you are one of these.

Friday, November 7, 2014

.Fwd: We're still fighting (Please Donate to WA Dems in these tight races...)

Dear Reader: 

I usually don't personally sanction donation requests. But this one is important. Signature checks can be subjective and can deny challenged voters their franchise. In these tight races, the Democrats are working to address these issues.  After Whatcom County (and other) dismal results, I know you (like me)  are a tired, depressed (or angry) Democrat or Democrat supporter. But please consider Karen Deal's pitch for funding below the break. Here's a chance to follow through on post election efforts to keep the WA state house Democratic and support the integrity of the vote!!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Matchbacks 11.06.14: Votes left on the table...

Editor's Note 4:49 PM 11/7/2014: This data included both Active and Inactive Voters for the 42nd.
Click on these charts to enlarge. See table below the break. Checked all this data as best I could. Final tallies (not much left) will change it little.
Above: LD 42nd: Participation Rates to date for 119 precints. See table below the break.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

MatchBacks for 11.05.2014

Tonight's returns have the Democrats still 5K - 8K behind despite an increase to 65,446 ballots counted. Matchbacks have 74,881 ballots that have been accepted as good ready to count in the courthouse. Signature Challenges continue to grow (799 total):
  • 156 No Signature
  • 581 No Signature Match
  • 62 Wrong Voter's Signature
69% (52025) of the accepted ballots hail from the 42nd
25354 from the 100 Series of the 42 LD
13413 from the 200 Series of the 42 LD
13258 from the 300 - 801 Series of the 42 LD

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Night Matchbacks 11/04/2014

The Dems are down in the 42nd by about 7K votes in each of three races (Senate, representative(2)). 66,056 Ballots are returned Good. It's not clear how many ballots are out. What is clear is that this turnout will be strong and has a very high signature challenge rate:

  AVReturnStatus  freq
1     Challenged   640
2           Good 66056
3  Undeliverable  2090

         AVReturnChallenge  freq
1                          66056
2               Electronic     3
3              ID Required    10
4                No Ballot     5
5             No Signature   116
6       No Signature Match   449
7        Power of Attorney     1
8   Second Ballot Received     4
9            Undeliverable  2090
10 Wrong Voter's Signature    51
11            Z - Deceased     1

LAST CALL!!! What Happens If YOU DON'T VOTE!!

Calling all Democrats and Friend of Democrat Voters:
Whatcom County Drop Boxes and Election Office in Whatcom County are open to 8:00  PM tonight!

Okay, it 6:00 PM.  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 on the troubled Planet Earth, an M class planet of seven billion people spiraling out of control somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy.

And now you have to ask yourself, "What kind of voter am I?"

  • Are you the kind of voter that just doesn't care about whether you vote or not but will cry hot dimes when the Republicans cut your support programs?
  • Are you the kind of voter that waited to the last minute and are now just too tired to spend 15 minutes on that ballot and drive downtown?
  • Are you the worn out parent who just hasn't had the time?
Well. Here's the deal. In a parallel future running beside the one where you drag your tired *ss off your dinner seat, finish up YOUR ENTIRE BALLOT and VOTE, here's what happens:

Why I'm voting for Satpal Sidhu

"...50,000 people fall into poverty every year in our state. This is what income inequality looks like. The top 10 percent are getting the economic recovery. 90% are falling behind...People working 60 or 70 hours a week can not make it. It's not the policy, it's income inequality."  Satpal Sidhu  from 2014 Human Services Debate from COB Youtube 
How often do you get the chance to vote for a Fullbright Scholar in Whatcom County? How often do you get the chance to vote for a Fullbright Scholar in any event? But Satpal Sidhu is far more than this. He is an engineer, businessman, educator, and long time Whatcom County resident. What I like most about him is the way he combines discussions of social equality with business growth and the promotion of education.  It's a troika of issues that are less and less promoted together as important policy objectives as national politics have become more polarized.

Monday, November 3, 2014

MatchBacks to 11/03/2014

About 10,000 ballots were logged as returned this weekend today.  47,415  out of 127, 211 registered voters have successfully had their ballots marked as good to date.  If you are one of the 2,090 that haven't received your ballot because you moved and didn't update your address at,  you can still walk in to Whatcom County Courthouse (Election Desk) and find a way to vote.  (Yes, I checked on this today!) Please talk to helpful election desk. Tomorrow is your last day to do this.

Please  Keep Voting....

  AVReturnStatus  freq
1     Challenged   379
2           Good 47415
3  Undeliverable  2090
         AVReturnChallenge  freq
1                          47415
2               Electronic     3
3              ID Required     1
4                No Ballot     4
5             No Signature    89
6       No Signature Match   241
7        Power of Attorney     1
8   Second Ballot Received     4
9            Undeliverable  2090
10 Wrong Voter's Signature    35
11            Z - Deceased     1

Why I'm supporting Bob Burr for Public Utilities District

Q: "Why has the PUD already awarded a thirty year contract to Gateway Terminal for almost two billion gallons [per year] for water." [LVW moderator]
A: "Why did they ? Beats the heck out of me! This contract was inherited or bought from Pacific International Terminals. It was set to expire in 2015. It was renewable on a year to year basis and there was no need whatsoever to extend that for thirty years. We have potential water shortage problems in this county,   We certainly have problems with water rights and to commit two billion gallons a year for thirty years was nonsensical and nearly evil." PUD #1 Candidate Bob Burr from COB Youtube video starting here
Baring some miracle of new energy, the next twenty years of Whatcom County's economic history will bring increasing involvement with the carbon club. As if two oil refineries, expanded natural gas and oil pipelines, and the nations's planned largest coal terminal were not enough, we can expect our nearby location to Vancouver, B.C. (where they are now not just shipping coal but Albertan oil) will intertwine our two urban economies with the energy economy.   This counts as a bittersweet economic development even if you are not an environmentalist or allergic asthmatic. Extra tax monies from the mountains of profit generated by the carbon club doesn't necessarily go to the population nearby the resource economies locale. Good examples of this are West Virginia and most of the Middle East. But there are other "carbon club" communities singularly impoverished here on the West coast of America. The California cities of Richmond and Carson don't ever make those "top ten places to retire" lists.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How (and why) I filled out my ballot

Tools I used  for marking my 2014 WA state mail in  ballot: Hard Surface (Clipboard), Ball Point Pen, Small Metal Ruler and the  Internet. Note that there are no soft drinks, food, or blood anywhere near my ballot. Note that I tore off the stub (upper left) and tested my ball point on it before using my small metal ruler to draw straight lines on my ballot placed on the hard clipboard surface.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Seth Fleetwood vs. Doug Ericksen Flyers Compared (Or why I am voting for Seth Fleetwood)

Below are montages (click to enlarge)  of the collected 30 placard flyers we have received from those people who support Seth Fleetwood and those people who do not support Seth Fleetwood (e.g. probably support Doug Ericksen) for state Senator in WA 42 LD. This district of 85K voters will have well over a  $1M spent on just these two men's campaigns by the time this is over. You will notice that the thirteen pro Seth Fleetwood flyers I receive are almost all positive in tone. They generally involve not only interest groups I know, but community members I know as well. The woman with the quote "My kids safety is my number one priority" is the owner (Arlene Mantha) of 250 Flora, arguably one of the better lunch experiences in Bellingham, WA.  I know for certain that she cares about children, because she feeds my son Rory every time we visit the Whatcom Children's Museum.   "All these years of being involved with the PTA at my children's school", she said almost apologetically to me one lunch. "It leads you to become involved on a political level".   Of course it does. Public schools need funding and parents need political champions to fund their schools. As a voter, I can readily believe a Democrat like Seth Fleetwood will champion education and social services.

Now let us look at the truly scary and (as far as I am concerned)  mostly defamatory seventeen pieces of flack that have been delivered to my mail box from the people who ostensibly support Senator Doug Ericksen. I say ostensibly because there is little in any of these advertisements that actually tells me what Doug Ericksen has done in all his years in the Senate. There are a lot of nasty pictures of Seth: Seth as the flake, Seth as hungover, Seth as the tax increaser, Seth as the carpetbagger, Seth as Pinocchio for heaven's sake.... Almost every placard is dagger of character assassination with scant proof for the assertions; assertions which I can recognize as created from dubious logical conclusions to begin with. For example, all politicians are forced to raise taxes in an inflationary driven economy, otherwise good people would simply stop training to become cops, firemen and teachers!  No, Seth Fleetwood (as a state Senator) will not be able to control, in any meaningful way, the price of heating oil or gasoline. Energy is a fungible worldwide economy whose price is controlled but it is really improbable that anybody who helps control the price of energy will ever run for state senator!  Your state senator is your "go to" person to help your community fund its development, downtown, waterfront, industry,agriculture, tourism, retail, schools, emergency services,etc. I simply have no idea from these advertisements how Senator Ericksen has ever done this for me.  All I know from these advertisements is that the people who support Senator Ericksen detest Seth Fleetwood.

It might well be that Senator Ericksen has been far more effective and more bipartisan than he has been portrayed by Democrats and their interest groups. But how am I supposed to know this? I'm voting for Seth Fleetwood not just because I distrust most Republicans these days, but because people I know believe in him.  Please remember to vote!

Accumulated MatchBack Data from 9/20 through 10/31

Picked up my first matchbacks on Thursday. First round is cumulative.  To date we have

  AVReturnStatus  freq
1     Challenged   270
2           Good 36897
3  Undeliverable  2027

        AVReturnChallenge  freq
1                         36897
2               No Ballot     3
3            No Signature    71
4      No Signature Match   160
5       Power of Attorney     1
6  Second Ballot Received     4
7           Undeliverable  2027
8 Wrong Voter's Signature    30
9            Z - Deceased     1

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ballotcounted dispositions (null, 0, 1) mapped per precinct for GE 2012 and GE2013 elections.

Here are three 'BallotCounted_' dispositions (null, 0, 1) mapped each per precinct for the last two general elections in WA LD42nd and the difference for each disposition between the two. SQL code here.  

BallotCounted_ = '' 
This is null; In general the voter was not or is not registered for the election counted. In an active voter list, this also refers to successfully challenged votes. Newly active voters for 2014 will also be null until they vote.
BallotCounted =  '0' 
Mail Ballot Issued but not returned. Vote not successfully cast.
BallotCounted = '1'
Mail Ballot Issued and Returne. Vote successfully cast. 

For some reason, one of the smaller precincts is missing. Data is from 10/29/2014 voterdb for Whatcom County.To look at this data you may want to paste it into a spreadsheet or in notepad use one of the Courier fonts to maintain appropriate spacing.