Third Party & Independents Archives

Crossing The Line

Recently the Republican controlled government, with the help of many of the Democrats who say that they should be counted on to counter the Republican’s advances, passed and signed into law a Port Security bill. Unfortunately, in an example of big government politics they also added a rider to the bill that had absolutely nothing to do with Port Security and has crossed a line in policing the Internet that opens the door to turning us more into China and Germany than we ever thought possible.

Freedom is a scarce commodity in this day and age in America. Every year the government passes more and more laws that restrict our freedom of choice, of making our own decisions about our lives and taking private property from us. In the latest example of this is the Internet Gambling Act, added to the Port Security Bill signed into law a few weeks ago. And not only is it a further restriction on the rights of Americans but examining the details of the are even more mind-boggling.

Amazingly, it doesn't outlaw Internet gambling. Why? Well, it could have something to do with a law doing that being considered unconstitutional. Also, most gambling sites are not in the US so it is hard to make a law stating that you can not use a web site or service that is run outside of the United States (though attempts are in place to counter this including an international treaty to enforce other country's laws on US citizens). No, instead of coming out and outlawing Internet gambling a much more 'political' tact was taken.

First, it is now illegal for US banks or any 3rd party financial institution (like Firepay) to transfer money to or from these sites. By doing this the government now makes it very hard for Americans to use the gambling sites or extract any winnings that they might earn. But it is not impossible, using banks in other countries to get around this law will start occurring and it is not incumbent upon the banks to ensure that the funds are not being transferred this way. All it apparently does it create a nuisance on the US gambler.

Second, and this is the one that concerns me the most, ISPs are now instructed by law to block access from their clients to these gambling sites. Never before has the government done such a thing, even for child pornography sites. Now, we go the way of China and Germany, blocking access to parts of the global community called the Internet. And not to fight pornography, hate speech, propaganda, etc. No, it's to stop the insidious use of money by US citizens to play poker, craps, blackjack, etc. Games of both chance and skill. There is a legal difference between the two and by including poker they have lumped the two different types of games into one group.

But, of course, there is a problem here. If they block access to ALL Internet gambling then the government run lotteries might take a hit. We can't have that. And the Indian Gambling might suffer as well. Our guilt prevents us from taking away something that really does help the Indian people. So what to do? Why, we just put in qualifiers into the law!

Yes, that's right, lotteries (the stupid tax and a game of chance), horse track betting and Indian gambling sites are exempt from the law.

Of course, we now know that 74 percent of Americans do not want a ban on Internet Poker. We also know that instead of regulating Internet gambling, ensuring that the games are run honestly and taxed to help those who do end up with gambling problems, this law ensures that those who want to gamble on the Internet will be pushed underground, to sites that may not be as scrupulous and has no incentive not to cheat if they think they can get away with it.

But, that's the mindset of a party that feels that it should legislate the morality of its citizens. It doesn't matter if most people are against it or that it will only push people to more dangerous uses. Only that those who think that they know better than everyone else can make a law to ensure that we aren't allowed to do what they don't want us to do.

And now, the question is, what ELSE will the government use this newfound power to block Internet sites for?

Posted by Rhinehold at October 30, 2006 9:27 PM
Comments
Comment #191675

Rhinehold, was this a party line vote are are the Dems in the legislate morality business also?

Posted by: j2t2 at October 30, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #191695

I wonder which party supports line item Veto?
I wonder wich party was in power for 40 years and essentially wrote the book on campagin fraud, re-drawing of voting districts, and pork.
If you are wondering which party to support, choose one that isnt a bunch of Jack asses.

Posted by: Ross at October 31, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #191705

j2t2,

It was supported and voted for by a large number of democrats. The vote can be seen here:

http://www.pokerplayersalliance.org/alerts/HR4411_Votes.pdf

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 31, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #191736
Unfortunately, in an example of big government politics they also added a rider to the bill that had absolutely nothing to do with Port Security and has crossed a line in policing the Internet that opens the door to turning us more into China and Germany than we ever thought possible.

+ nerd mode

Tsss, it’s indeed related to Port Security. You just fail to figure out it is the security of Transport Control Protocol & User Datagram Protocol ports security, not harbors ones.

;-)

- nerd mode

BTW, Germany censure is not comparable to China one. Quite unfair to put them on same level.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2006 5:09 AM
Comment #191747
Second, and this is the one that concerns me the most, ISPs are now instructed by law to block access from their clients to these gambling sites. Never before has the government done such a thing, even for child pornography sites.

Pretty telling example. Since kiddie porn is illegal, there is no legit industry trying to keep out the foreign competition. It’s all about the Benjamins…

Posted by: Woody Mena at October 31, 2006 7:02 AM
Comment #191870

Just another example of Big Government injecting themselves into our everyday life and making this the “home of the brave and the land of the not-so free.”

Posted by: Jim T at October 31, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #191886

So, when do we all get angry enough about the theft of our freedom to DO SOMETHING about it? Or, shall we simply be happy that now Osama has nothing to hate us for?

Posted by: me at October 31, 2006 2:40 PM
Comment #191911

“So, when do we all get angry enough about the theft of our freedom to DO SOMETHING about it?”

Never.
People are too busy excusing, ignoring and justifying their own mistakes while blaming everything on the other side.

Posted by: kctim at October 31, 2006 3:52 PM
Comment #191947

me,

So long as individuals feel they have a great degree of control over their lives they tend to be satisfied with their “rights.” The “theft of our freedom” is in reality only felt immediately by a handful of individuals which is why it is easy to ignore. Not that this is good, but if you are holding out for some nation-wide epiphany you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Posted by: Zeek at October 31, 2006 5:19 PM
Comment #191958

Very good article, Rhinehold. Thank you for bringing this up.

I need to go on a tangent though because I have problems with the implications of the link in your comment. The link lists the supporters of an act that only created a commission to investigate the issue. (I’m addicted to checking what I find against the congressional record itself)

The bill that actually introduced the credit card idea was HR 4411 and the one to “modernize prohibitions” was HR4777

The insidious part about this current law (to me) is the way it was attached to Port Security Bill (HR4954) since it couldn’t be passed on its own. The original bill had 2 dissenters on May 5. The Senate added some environmental amendments (S9734), then the House moved the bill to committee on Sept 28. The committee attached Section 801 (Internet Gambling) on Sept 29.

I couldn’t find details of exactly how this happened, but pg H8022 has the protesting comments of Representative Berkley from Nevada.

On Wednesday morning I came to the floor of the House to protest the fact that the Republican leadership was holding up the Department of Defense bill because they wanted to attach a ban on Internet gaming. It was more important to the Republican leadership to keep people from playing poker on their computers in their homes than passing a defense bill that would help protect our troops serving this Nation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the world. So the last bill that we pass before we adjourn on the vital and important issue of port security contains the ban on Internet gaming.

What does a ban on Internet gaming have to do with port security? Absolutely nothing.

This section was added to the bill in an attempt to fire up the far-right anti-gaming element of the Republican Party in time for this year’s election. They could not sneak it into the defense bill, so they put it into the port security bill.

What does banning Internet gaming have to do with port security? I cannot think of a single thing.

To ensure that this provision stayed in, they actually prevented the conferees from meeting and offering amendments. That is taking partisanship to a new low even in this Congress where partisanship is the rule rather than the exception.

That explains this action I found that happened 7 minutes after the bill was read:

9/29/2006 9:39pm: All points of order against the conference report and against its consideration are waived. The conference report shall be considered as read.

I know maneuvering like this is just part of the process - the environmental amendments were also unrelated - but it makes me sick.

Sorry to have a tangent here, but these advocacy group lists hide the complexity of what really goes on.

Christine

Posted by: Christine at October 31, 2006 5:40 PM
Comment #192007

So let me get this straight, by voting for the port security bill you were forced to vote for this intrusion into the lives of the citizens of this Country. If you voted against this bill you were “helping the terrorist” . So repubs what do you say about those big govt conservatives now?

Posted by: j2t2 at October 31, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #192463

I agree with you, Rhinehold, this is a gross intrusion into private affairs. It is driven by the right-wing as a win-win because it serves their religious right camp and their bricks-and-mortar gambling lobbyists. The Repubs could ram it through because they have the majority in both houses and aren’t afraid to run roughshod over the process when they want to.

Sucks, man.

Posted by: mental wimp at November 1, 2006 8:05 PM
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