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By J. Austin Bennett

This article was written in response to an email I received. An informed public is essential for the preservation of our individual liberty. I hope this gives you, the reader, pause for thought. It's not always (or even often) the way the politicians tell it.
I registered to vote at age 21 as a Republican. After reading Barry Goldwater's book, THE CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE, I believed that the Republican Party represented individual liberty, economic freedom and the values that I as an American hold dear.

Today, I see a Congress that has been under GOP control for twelve years. During that time, our budget deficit has risen by 3 Trillion dollars, bridges are being built over nothing more than an expanse of uninhabited land and contracts totaling billions are awarded without competitive bidding to cronies of those in power.

A recent act by the Republican leadership has enraged approximately 8 million Americans and galvanized them to the polls in eight days. These were mostly registered Republicans who will be voting Democratic or Libertarian. This will ensure the defeat of a party that has betrayed its principles (if it ever had any).

The action to which I refer is the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (UIGPA). This law does not criminalize players but is aimed at the banks and financial institutions. It will compel the banks to monitor every financial transaction done by any American. This will include the paying of your light bill or rent. The other section of this law will compel Internet service providers (ISP's) to block access to any website that may have ties to a poker or gambling site.

Regardless of how you feel personally about playing in poker tournaments on the Internet, the Bible does not contain any prohibition against gambling. This is one of the made up fallacies promoted by men with their own (often sinister) agenda.
I think everyone is intelligent enough to realize that when the politicians in Washington can control your finances and access to the Internet, the next corner will be a very different turn than what they publicly promoted.

In 1970, Robert Blakely wrote the RICO Act (Racketeering Influenced Organized Crime Act). He was a Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. RICO was designed, so they said, to combat the rise of organized crime and cut the mob's tentacles into legitimate business. Blakely never dreamed it would be used twenty years later to put Catholic nuns in prison for fifteen years for the heinous crime of protesting an abortion clinic.

The Representatives in Congress who passed the UIGPA were Goodlatte of Virginia and Leach of Iowa. Their excuse for this infringement of an individual's right to play poker in his own home on a computer was to protect problem gamblers and kids. The law contains exceptions though for betting on horse racing and state lotteries.

When Representative Shelley Berkley, who opposed this bill because of its infringement of individual liberty, attempted to amend it to prohibit any form of Internet gambling, that amendment was defeated by these same self-appointed guardians of the public's morals. I guess it is sinful to bet on football games or play poker on the Internet, but it is a good thing for minors to bet on horse racing. The fact that Leach's home state, Iowa, has more casinos per capita than any state in the country including Nevada as well as horse racing and dog tracks couldn't have been a consideration. Virginia along with Iowa has horse racing and both states have various other forms of gambling including lotteries.

In the Senate, the bill was secretly attached to the Safe Ports Act, an important piece of homeland security legislation, thirty-five minutes before Congress adjourned. This bill was passed with no debate and no roll call vote, only a voice vote. Most of the Senate didn't even know what they were voting for. This open and above-board move was the principled action of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He wants to run for President in 2008 and he thought this would endear him to the religious right wing of the party.

Frist has major interests in Harrah's, a huge gambling conglomerate. He along with Goodlatte and Leach are all awash in enormous sums of cash from gambling interests including the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The underhanded manner in which this act was passed only underscores the hypocrisy and corruption rampant in Washington and the Republican Party. We can take a lesson from two British historians who lived over two hundred years ago.

Lord Acton wrote, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

More disturbing is the observation by James Tyler who penned these words.
"Any group of people ultimately receive the kind of government they deserve."

Don't be fooled. It's time for a change.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.



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