Leave Us Alone!

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Two years ago, I had occasion to attend a street fair in downtown Cleveland, sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. When I got there, I saw that attendees were required to go through a metal detector. At the time, I thought this was ridiculous. I mean, who puts metal detectors at a street fair?

Well, after reading about this horrible crime, perpetrated Friday in Seattle by a self-proclaimed "Muslim American, angry at Israel," I find the JCF's security concerns to be a lot more understandable.

I still think the metal detectors were ridiculous. The lines of unarmed people waiting to go through the metal detectors would have provided a target-rich environment for anyone looking to kill Jews. Still, I now think the JCF's security concerns were perfectly understandable.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Races of the Week

The streak is over. My selections both finished out of the money last week. Lemons Forever ran fourth in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Live Life finished sixth in the John C. Mabee Handicap. I'll try to rebound this weekend.

The Daily Racing Form's races of the week are the Jim Dandy Stakes, scheduled for today at Saratoga and the Bing Crosby Handicap, scheduled for tomorrow at Del Mar. The Jim Dandy is also Equibase's race of the week.

In the Jim Dandy, I think I'll go with Sunriver. Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez, who train and ride Sunriver, teamed up to win two stakes races at Saratoga last weekend. Preakness winner Bernardini will probably be the heavy favorite, and he certainly looks formidable, but the three consecutive improvements in his Beyer speed figure indicate that he'll probably regress off of the 113 he ran in the Preakness. Also, Bernardini's connections are likely looking ahead to the Travers Stakes in a few weeks, and using the Jim Dandy as a prep. The Form provides free past performances.

My selection in the Crosby is Carthage. Carthage and Bordonaro are both coming into this race off of long wining streaks. Bordonaro will likely be the favorite, but I think Carthage will hold on for the win. The DRF provides free past performances.

Quick Links

At Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal, Mr. Totten has a heartbreaking post on the situation in Lebanon.

Former DNC Press Secretary Terry Michael has a good column in The Washington Times calling for an end to the drug war. You can read more from Mr. Michael at TerryMichael.net.

Overkill, Radley Balko's paper on paramilitary police raids, is available for sale at the Cato Institute's site. It is also available as a free download. Mr. Balko also has put together an interactive map showing the locations of botched paramilitary raids on American homes and businesses.

At Reason, Ron Bailey tells of an appalling invasion of medical privacy by the New York Department of Health and Mental hygiene:
In January 2006, the city's health bureaucrats began implementing a surveillance program that will eventually include nearly all of the city's 530,000 diabetics. In the current issue of Science, Columbia University professor of sociomedical studies Amy Fairchild, writes, "If New York comes to serve as a model, public health surveillance will take on a radical new form, entailing a reconfiguration of the relation between public health and medicine."

New York's radical new surveillance system requires mandatory electronic reporting of the glycosylated hemoglobin A1c values of all diabetics tested by all city laboratories to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH).
(entire article here, link via Hit & Run)

Jennifer, one of my favorite commenters at Hit & Run and Grylliade, finally has her own blog, Ravings of a Feral Genius.

Finally, I don't know what's funnier, this satirical editorial from The Onion, or the fact that an uptight anti-choicer took it seriously. (link via Hit & Run)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Races of the Week

I couldn't have done much better last weekend. I had three winners from three selections. Go Between won the Virginia Derby, paying $8.60 to win, $4.20 to place, and $3.60 to show. Deputy Glitters won the Ohio Derby, paying $10.20 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. Silver Train won the Tom Fool Handicap, paying $3.60 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Meanwhile, in the Princess Rooney Handicap, Dubai Escapade showed why I don't bet 1-5 shots.

This week, The Daily Racing Form's races of the week are the John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar and the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont, both to be run today. The Mabee is also Equibase's race of the week. I'll try to keep my three-race winning streak and eight-race in-the-money streak going.

None of the fillies in the Coaching Club American Oaks has gone a mile and a quarter before, so, as in the Kentucky Derby and the Queen's Plate, I'll have to look at the Tomlinson ratings and pedigrees and hope for the best. I think I'll go with Lemons Forever. Teammate and Sugar Shake will put a lot of pressure on each other, setting a fast pace. Lemons Forever showed that she can close, coming from last place to win the Kentucky Oaks in May. She's a daughter of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, so distance shouldn't be a problem. The Form provides free past performances for the Coaching Club American Oaks.

In the Mabee, I think I'll pick Live Life. Live Life finished second to Memorette in last month's Beverly Hills Handicap. Memorette is also in this race, but I think the pace will be more favorable for Live Life today. The Form provides free past performances for the John C. Mabee Handicap.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vive le Sterling Heights Libre

How often have you thought that what your hometown needs are language police like they have in Québec? Believe it or not, that's what at least one council member in Sterling Heights, Michigan is advocating. The Detroit News reports:
In May, Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko asked the city's attorney to prepare an ordinance that would require businesses with foreign language signs to have identifiers such as "bakery" or "grocery" included. Fire Department officials were working on a similar requirement at the time, and the city now plans to address the issue through an amendment to the fire code.

Ziarko and Fire Chief John Childs said their concern was public safety.

People passing by the site of a fire or other emergency are better able to inform dispatchers about the location if they can read the signs, they argued.

Almost immediately, critics raised concerns that the proposal was racist and inflammatory during a time of national debate over immigration.

Childs said he has grown frustrated by the perception that the issue has anything to do with race.

"This is about response time," he said.

(entire article here)

I'm skeptical of the public-safety argument. If the address is clearly marked, response time doesn't seem like it should be affected. If foreign signs affect response time, insurance companies would charge higher premia to businesses without English signs, thus incentivizing businesses to include English on their signs without the heavy hand of government.

Aside from the free speech and property rights issues, I can think of a few other problems that this ordinance could cause. Would cafeterias and cantinas have to be re-branded as "coffee shops" and "taverns?" What's the English word for pizzeria? Would Tim Hortons have to put the apostrophe (which it removed to satisfy the Québec language police) back into its logo?

The ACLU of Michigan is urging Sterling Heights to reject the ordinance.

And more importantly, at The Petition Spot, you can sign a petition to put the apostrophe back into Tim Hortons.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Races of the Week

Last week, Relaxed Gesture finished third in the United Nations Stakes, paying $2.60 to show. Starting with Malakoff in the Queen's Plate, I've had five consecutive selections finish in the money. In retrospect that would have been a nice show parlay, but wagering decisions are not made in retrospect.

This week, the Daily Racing Form's races of the week are the Princess Rooney Handicap, to be run today at Calder, and the Tom Fool Handicap, to be run tomorrow at Belmont Park. Equibase's race of the week is the Virginia Derby, to be run today at Colonial Downs.

Dubai Escapade looks like the prohibitive favorite in the Princess Rooney. She'll probably win, but at too short a price to bet her. I'll pass that race. The Form provides free past performances for the Princess Rooney.

In the Virginia Derby, I'll bet Go Between. Last month in the Colonial Turf Cup, Kip Deville got an uncontested lead, but was passed in the stretch by Showing Up. Go Between closed to within 3/4 length of Kip Deville for third. Today, they'll go 1/16 mile farther. I think that will be enough for Go Between to catch Kip Deville. Steppenwolfer is the morning line favorite, but was unimpressive in his only start on the turf. The Form provides free past performances for the Virginia Derby.

My selection in the Tom Fool is Silver Train. Silver Train likes Belmont Park and has tactical speed. The Form provides free past performances for the Tom Fool Handicap.

At the Tim Woolley Racing site, Alex continues to provide updates on Barbaro's condition. Everyone is hoping for a miracle.

Today is also Ohio Derby day at Thistledown. In the Ohio Derby, I'll bet Deputy Glitters. Thistledown provides free past performances for all Ohio Derby nominees, though only six colts were entered. There are three other stakes races on the undercard, and the Ohio Numbers Racket Lottery Commission is giving free t-shirts to the first 5000 patrons. Maybe I'll see you there.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Operation Iraqi Freedom, Part VIII

You might have heard or read a story like this one, from CNN, about Iraqis using fake identification cards to avoid sectarian violence:

"I got a fake ID card to protect myself from the Shiite militias who are deploying in Baghdad and hunt Sunnis at fake checkpoints," said Omar Abdul Rahman, a 22-year-old university student. He refused to give the name on his fake ID.

The growing use of fake IDs reflects the spike in violence between Sunnis and Shiites since the February 22 bombing of a revered Shiite mosque in Samarra. The attack triggered reprisal killings of Sunnis and pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

(entire article here, link via Wolfesblog)

At Wolfesblog, Claire Wolfe makes a good point about the fake ID story:

ONCE AGAIN, GOVERNMENT ID CARDS AID KILLERS. It happened in Rwanda, where tribal classifications on government-issued cards enabled Hutus single out Tutsis for slaughter. Now, in Iraq, Shiites are identifying Sunnis by the names on their mandatory government IDs and singling them out for death. Sunnis have done the same in reverse.


The linked article (sent by Jon Ford of Paladin Press, my new editor) never even mentions the word "mandatory," never even asks the basic question: Why are people carrying any document that might get them murdered? Do we take it so much for granted now that everyone on earth must carry government ID?

So the new, "free" Iraqi government forces its citizens to carry identification, even if it could get them killed. Yep, freedom is on the march!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Urgent - H.R. 4777 Update

Click here to take action against H.R. 4777.

Kate Phillips of the New York Times reports that H.R. 4777, which would crack down on internet gambling, will come to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives this summer:
Gambling opponents are pushing for bills to put teeth into enforcement. In the House, proponents of a crackdown merged two bills. The majority leader, Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, announced a few days ago that the measure would be voted on this summer as part of what the Republicans call their American Values Agenda.

The odds of a bill's becoming law this year appear long. Beyond that, nearly everyone agrees that online betting may be unstoppable because of the reach of the Internet and the difficulty in regulating its activity.

David O. Stewart, an analyst and a lawyer who produced a study of online gambling for the American Gaming Association, a client of his firm, paraphrased an adage used by the Supreme Court in a campaign finance case, saying: "Money, like water, will find its way. And I really think that applies to this. The money will find a way to get to the offshore sites."

(entire article here)

At The Agitator, Radley Balko writes:
Because the bill effectively deputizes banks to sniff out and eradicate gambling among their customers (the creepy privacy implications there ought to kill this bill by themselves), it amounts to a piece of blatantly protectionist legislation, in that its practical effect will be to shield a domestic company (PayPal, which is owned by eBay) from foreign competitors like FirePay and Netteller.

Mr. Balko has more about the privacy and trade implications of a ban on internet gambling here.

At To the People, Cicero calls for a boycott of EBay until it reverses its position on H.R. 4777.

The Poker Players Alliance makes it easy to contact your members of Congress regarding H.R. 4777, providing a sample letter. Go here to take action. You can also join the Poker Players Alliance. Your $20 membership fee gets you a lapel pin and a t-shirt.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Races of the Week

Last week, all three of my selections finished in the money. Invasor won the Suburban Handicap, paying $4.50 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.50 to show. Three Hour Nap finished second in the Cornhusker Handicap, paying $12.20 to place and $9.40 to show. Ready to Please finished third in the New York Handicap, paying $3.30 to show. A flat $2 across-the-board bet on all three of my selections would have yielded a net profit of $17.00. However, a flat $ 2 win bet on all three selections would have yielded a net $1.50 loss.

This week, the Daily Racing Form's races of the week are the Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park and the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Hollywod Gold Cup is also Equibase's race of the week.

I don't see how they can beat Lava Man in the Gold Cup. However, I also don't see how he can go off higher than 3 to 5. At such a short price, I think I'll pass the race. The DRF provides free past performances for the Gold Cup.

Fortunately, Governor Corzine and the New Jersey legislature reached a budget compromise in time for the U.N. Stakes. My selection in the U.N. is Relaxed Gesture. Cacique, Relaxed Gesture, and English Channel are all coming out of the Manhattan Handicap, in which they finished first, second, and fourth, respectively, all within a half length of each other. Relaxed Gesture was hurt by a very slow pace in the Manhattan, but managed to close to within a head of Cacique. I think Relaxed Gesture should benefit from a faster pace Saturday, and the extra eighth of a mile won't hurt either. The DRF provides free past performances for the U.N. Stakes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More Legislative (and Regulatory) Alerts

Here are a few more alerts about actions that you can take to preserve your personal freedom. They are all quick and easy, requiring only a few clicks of your mouse. To demand that the FCC investigate the NSA's latest domestic spying scandal, click here. To tell your congressman to vote against H.R. 1415, which threatens your privacy and the gun rights of millions of Americans, go here, then click on the link to the McCarthy Bill. To sign an on-line petition demanding more protection of your medical privacy, click here. For more information, read on.

Domestic Spying

According to the ACLU:
It's illegal and un-American for your phone company to hand your call records to the government without a warrant. But that's just what they're doing, violating the privacy and rights of millions of innocent Americans in the process.

The FCC has the authority and the obligation to investigate the NSA spying scandal, despite their wrong-headed refusal to act. Add your name to the public record and support our formal demand using the form below. If you live in a state where we are filing a complaint with local regulators, we will also add your name to our local demand for action.

The ACLU's Action Center makes it easy to add your voice to the list of citizens demanding that the FCC investigate the NSA's snooping into your phone records.

H.R. 1415

The Gun Owners of America warn about H.R. 1415, which should be of concern not only to gun-rights supporters, but also to those who care about individual privacy and the rights of veterans. According to the GOA, H.R. 1415, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) would require states to "make electronically available to the Attorney General records relevant to a determination of whether a person is disqualified from possessing or receiving a firearm under [federal law]" [Section 102(c)(1)(A)].

The GOA's action alert further states:
Obviously, this starts with a huge computer network of felonies and misdemeanors -- with the FBI trolling through records of bar fights or domestic disputes to determine if you spanked your kids or yelled at your husband and are therefore disqualified from owning a gun under the Lautenberg amendment. Congress should be repealing the Lautenberg gun ban, not extending it to disable even more people from owning guns.

But the problem goes much broader than that:

* Federal law prohibits illegal aliens from owning guns [18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)]. But, in order to identify illegal aliens, "relevant" records could mean that the FBI would demand state tax returns of ALL American citizens, employment records, or even library records -- all in the name of making sure that you're not an illegal.

* And did you know that veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder have been deemed as mentally "incompetent" and are prohibited from owning guns under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4)? Records of those instances certainly exist; and, in 1999, the Department of Veterans Administration turned over 90,000 names of veterans to the FBI for inclusion into the NICS background check system.

It is unconscionable that veterans who experience mental distress as a result of their service to our country would be deprived of their Second Amendment rights when they return to civilian life, but it appears that they sometimes are. H.R. 1415 would further threaten the rights of these veterans.

H.R. 1415 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. You can find the full text of the bill here.

The GOA's Legislative Action Center makes it easy to find your representative's contact information, and provides a sample message. Just go here, then click on the link to the McCarthy Bill.

Medical Privacy

Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks warns that the government can access your medical records under the guise of fighting terrorism:
Ever seen a guidance counselor in elementary or secondary school? How about college? What about an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)? Ever done more dedicated research into who you are and why you are the way you are with a mental health clinician of any sort?

Well, remember that, if we let the argument that AT&T's business purpose includes helping the United States government protect the U.S.A from terrorism and therefore can provide without a subpoena any and all information generated as a result of their relationship with customers stand, why not use this argument for any health care entity that deals in mental health?

(entire post here)

Ms. Zimon links to the Electronic Privacy Information Center's medical privacy page, which links to this on-line petition to demand greater control of your medical records.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, Part VII

ThinkingMeat points to this story, from The Independent, which details the deplorable state of women's rights in the new, "free" Iraq:
The women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women's secular freedoms - once the envy of women across the Middle East - have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.

Across Iraq, a bloody and relentless oppression of women has taken hold. Many women had their heads shaved for refusing to wear a scarf or have been stoned in the street for wearing make-up. Others have been kidnapped and murdered for crimes that are being labelled simply as "inappropriate behaviour". The insurrection against the fragile and barely functioning state has left the country prey to extremists whose notion of freedom does not extend to women.

(entire story, available to Independent subscribers, here)

Cindy Zawadzki of HeightsMom points to an official report of the U.S. Embassy, which tells of an Iraqi woman who works at the embassy, and was advised "...to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. Indeed, she said, some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative."

Finally, at Unqualified Offerings, Jim Henley points to this Associated Press report (via Forbes.com):
Iraq's new prime minister promised Tuesday to show "no mercy" to terrorists and said before President Bush arrived for a surprise visit that a long-awaited security plan for Baghdad will include a curfew and a ban on personal weapons.

So, the new, "free" Iraq is implementing a curfew, banning guns, and oppressing women. Yep, freedom is on the march!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Legislative Alerts

I dropped the ball on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment by not posting the action alert before Wednesday's vote, but it's not too late to take action on these other legislative items that affect personal freedom.

H.R. 5295

At the DARE Generation Diary, Tom Angell reports that H.R. 5295, introduced by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky), would make it easier for school employees to invade students' privacy:
Currently, in order for a teacher to search a student’s locker they need to have “reasonable suspicion” that the student is in possession of illegal drugs. H.R. 5295 would change the standard needed for a search to “colorable suspicion,” a term that has been made up entirely for this bill. Essentially, a teacher would need nothing more than a hunch in order to search a student’s locker or possessions.

This bill is nothing more than another attack on the constitutional rights of young people by the federal government. Students should never have to check their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.

H.R. 5295 is currently in the Education Reform Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. You can find the full text of the bill here.
The Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Youth Policy Action Center make it easy to contact your U.S. Representative, providing a sample letter here. Please tell your U.S. Representative to vote NO on H.R. 5295

H.R. 4777

At To the People, Cicero warns about a bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.):

[H.R. 4777] would ban most online gambling, including bets on sporting events and games of chance such as poker. The bill would also force banking and credit card executives to become law enforcement officers by compelling them to monitor their customers' activities and block transactions related to online gambling. Most disturbingly, it would give federal agencies the power to force Internet service providers to remove or disable links to gambling sites, which is government censorship on par with what China and other totalitarian countries do.
The bill was recently reported out of the House Judiciary Committee. You can find the full text of the bill here.

Cicero also reports that on-line auction company EBay is supporting the bill:
...it is simply unacceptable for an Internet company to support legislation that infringes on the rights of Internet companies and their customers. Internet companies should be united on net freedom, and those who break ranks and work with politicians to destroy what makes the Internet so great should be criticized and boycotted.

The Poker Players Alliance provides a sample letter and makes it easy to find your U.S. representative's and senators' contact information. Please tell your members of Congress to vote NO on H.R. 4777.

This Independence Day weekend, please take a few minutes to help preserve the freedom that makes America great by telling your members of Congress to vote against these two bills. Remember, go here to tell your representative to vote no on H.R. 5295 and here to tell your members of Congress to vote no on H.R. 4777.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Races of the Week

This week, the Daily Racing Form's races of the week are the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park and the Cornhusker Breeders Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

My selection in the Cornhusker is Three Hour Nap, a colt who is undefeated at today's distance of a mile and an eighth. I think the pace will set up well for him. The Form provides free past performances for the Cornhusker.

In the Mother Goose, I think I'll go with Ready to Please, who is 3 for 4 this year. The pace looks like it will set up well for her. She hasn't gone a mile and an eighth before, but her Tomlinson rating indicates she's bred for the distance. The Form provides free past performances for the Mother Goose.

Equibases's race of the week is the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park. My selection in the Suburban is Invasor. Remember when I said that Invasor could be one to watch? Well, it turns out that was a bit of an understatement. In the Pimlico Special Handicap, Invasor looked like he was finished, but made an impressive move to come back and win. The Uruguayan champion makes his second North American start today in the Suburban. He'll go off at a very short price, but I can't bet against him. The Form provides free past performances for the Suburban here. Equibase provides analysis of the Suburban here.