November 2, 2006
On Friday the 13th of October 2006, President Bush signed into law the Safe Port Act, a bill to tighten port security and make our country a safer place from terrorists. Attached to this bill was the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIEGA). Bill Frist, Tennessee Senator, US Senate Majority Leader and future 2008 presidential candidate hopeful, decided to trade away millions of American’s rights to accommodate the wishes of special interest groups by attaching UIEGA to a bill guaranteed to be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President. His reasoning probably included the fact that the Christian Coalition has a proven ability to motivate their voting membership. Pit that ability against the general apathy displayed by the average American citizen and ‘bingo’, the decision to cater to the special interest group was made. But first, Frist made sure there was ‘safe harbor’ in the legislation for several special gambling interests that contributed heavily to his campaign. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act specifically exempts online horse racing and state lotteries from the legislation. Surely these industries were very grateful.
A peaceful protest march in Washington DC has been organized and is scheduled for November 3rd and 4th. Organizer Debbie Richardson said several press outlets such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have expressed interest. So far, the rally has a confirmed attendance of approximately 250 with the promise of more groups joining.
The march will start at 9 am each morning at the Washington Monument. From there, the marchers will move towards the White House and set up in the park on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House. Poker will be played as a form of protest during the demonstration.
Bill Frist plays a dangerous game; His ante is American rights and he’s betting that no one will call. There are over 12,000,000 angry online gambling players in the United States. Surely half of these are registered voters. When asked about possible repercussions, Carolyn Weyforth, spokesperson for Senator Frist stated “I doubt its passage will hurt the GOP or depress Republican turnout.” In other words, they’re betting that the benefits of the action taken by Senator Frist to ensure the support of the Christian groups will far outweigh the affects (if any) on the GOP in general and his bid for the 2008 Presidency in particular.
If you can attend the march, be there. If you are a registered voter, vote. If you aren’t a registered voter, make sure you register in time for the next election. Don’t wait for someone else to do something. I’ll be voting Democrat for the first time in my long, never missed a vote, Republican voting life. My daddy will be rolling over in his grave. But maybe not. He always told me ‘never, ever lose any of your rights just for security’s sake.’ But he got that line from another great American, Ben Franklin, who said “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety.”
Bill Frist is playing with IOU’s and he’s betting that the American public will validate them. I’m betting he’s wrong.