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‘Prohibition II’

I’ve really been out of the loop lately on national news, but the recent effective ban on online poker is the latest in a long list of despicable, bipartisan actions on the part of the 109th Congress and President Bush. Anyway, I’ll allow a far better writer than myself explain what a horrendous piece of legislation this is. From old school (read: actual) conservative George F. Will:

It is an iron law: When government uses laws, tariffs and regulations to restrict the choices of Americans, ostensibly for their own good, someone is going to make money from the paternalism. One of the big winners from the government’s action against online gambling will be the state governments that are America’s most relentless promoters of gambling. Forty-eight states (all but Hawaii and Utah) have some form of legalized gambling. Forty-two states have lottery monopolies. Thirty-four states rake in part of the take from casino gambling, slot machines or video poker.

The new law actually legalizes online betting on horse racing, Internet state lotteries and some fantasy sports. The horse-racing industry is a powerful interest. The solidarity of the political class prevents the federal officials from interfering with state officials’ lucrative gambling. And woe unto the politicians who get between a sports fan and his fun.


Prohibition I was a porous wall between Americans and their martinis, giving rise to bad gin supplied by bad people. Prohibition II will provoke imaginative evasions as the market supplies what gamblers will demand—payment methods beyond the reach of Congress.

But governments and sundry busybodies seem affronted by the Internet, as they are by any unregulated sphere of life. The speech police are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse. And now, by banning a particular behavior—the entertainment some people choose, using their own money—government has advanced its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet.

And now the superb Radley Balko on potential political fallout:

At risk of falling victim to the pundit’s fallacy, I think this is going to come back to bite Frist and the GOP. Think about it. Over the last week, some 10-15 million Americans who play online poker logged on to their favorite poker sites, only to get a message telling them that, thanks to the U.S. Congress, they’re no longer allowed to play. The GOP just politicized a rather large group of people who heretofore were rather apolitical. And they skew rather wealthy.

Of course, we run into the same old problem: Are the Democrats any better? They ought to be. If they were smart, they’d carry this issue into the home stretch, holding it out as an example of a Republican Party that doesn’t give a damn about indidual rights, and has nothing but contempt for the “leaves us alone” crowd. And they’d position themselves as an alternative, at least when it comes to matters of “what you do in your own home is your own business.” It’s a winner. The people who passionately believe in an online gambling ban weren’t going to vote for them any way. And in any case, it’s a rather small group of people to begin with. Most conservatives are opposed to this bill.

Here are a list of House votes on the bill. The Oregon representatives who voted aye were Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley, Greg Walden, and David Wu. Vote accordingly.

  1. Dustin says:

    As of right now I’m supporting Huckabee in 08′.

  2. Dustin says:

    This legislation has significantly altered my life plan. I come a little(lot) unhinged when I try to figure out what the fuck is going on in this country.

    Its tough to say it better than George Will. For now I’ll just say I feel betrayed by the Republican Party.

    I wish there could be some political fallout but its like I’ve been telling Ted for years the Democrats offer me absolutely no alternative. I don’t know whats worse having to homeschool my soon to be born daughter because I can’t send her to the liberal schools, or having to fear that I could be sent to prison because I have offended somebodies morality.

    I’m overwhelmed with all the stupidity in the world, specifically my own.

  3. Olly says:

    He ain’t just superb, he also now has our dream job

  4. Timothy says:

    I once pissed on the DeFazio bridge, precisely because I hate that obnoxious little gnome that much.

  5. niedermeyer says:

    This critique of the Democrats strategy gets to the heart of why they aren’t going to do as well as they think they deserve to untill ’08, if at all. There are gaping cracks in the Republican coalition which are overripe for exploitation, and yet all the D’s seem to focus on is the vocal minority (sorry guys) of people who are livid about the Iraq misadventure and Bushs personality (or lack thereof). This was tried people, it was called 2004… remember how well that worked out?

    The Democrats unwillingness to actually stand up for individual rights (such as in the gambling example, ) prove that they aren’t interested in actually standing up to the legislation of morality, even when it might be electorally beneficial. As such, they present no obvious alternative to the Republicans except that they swear they won’t rape any pages.

    On the whole though, it’s perfectly understandable why both sides of the aisle flocked to this one. The do-nothing congress has pushed out a bill at the 11th hour which makes everyone look like a moral crusader struggling valiantly in the cesspool that is Washington DC. The kicker is the fact that Balkos political backlash scenario is unlikely to materialize untill after the election: the regulatory process will likely not conclude untill after the election, and even then their are few ways to prevent the Paypal or snail mail financial transfers which largely fund the industry, resulting in a toothless bill. Unless of course there’s a national security angle to all this…

    More on this in Dustins upcoming Gambling Column, stay tuned…

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