When John McCain won the Republican nomination several months back, there was some hope in the online betting community that he could move the party in a different direction concerning online gambling. McCain clearly has never favored online gambling: he has voted regularly against it, and in fact, it was reported that he couldn't even use the internet until recently.
The religious right were working hard to defeat McCain in favor of Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney because they deemed McCain not religious enough to further their causes. McCain is seen as an internationalist and free trader, and consequently with the religious factions not ruling the party policies, there was hope that McCain's dislike of internet gambling would be trumped by his commitment to trade agreements. The hope was that he would realize that the current regime's decision to rewrite its WTO commitments and thumb its nose at the WTO was not in the best interest of the country. In fact, for a brief moment there was even more speculation that he was moving in that direction when the online gambling rhetoric disappeared from the party policy statement, but the wording reappeared shortly thereafter.
McCain's true colors, however, came to light when he chose his running mate. In an effort to woo Hillary Clinton supporters and win over some of the religious zealots, McCain chose Sarah Palin as his VP running mate, despite her lack of credentials and her puritan beliefs. Palin is relatively young, female and pro life and in the end that was all John McCain seemed to care about. It really didn't matter about all the other baggage attached to Palin. In fact, it is becoming quite evident that neither he nor the GOP did much vetting of her before Palin was chosen as his running mate.
Palin, like Larry Craig and many other fellow Republicans, is a hypocrite. She says one thing and does another. Worst of all, she uses her power, position and influence to get her own way. It has been widely reported that as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska she wanted to ban a number of books from the local library that she deemed unacceptable, and she threatened to fire the librarian if she did not comply. When accused of censorship she backed off. She also implemented a policy that department heads had to get her approval before talking to the media. As governor of Alaska it has also been reported that she attempted to have her soon-to-be ex-brother in law fired as a state trooper for personal reasons and then dismissed the state's public safety commissioner when he refused to do so. This matter is still under investigation. This type of chicanery and underhandedness was seen by the online gambling community when Bill Frist attached the UIGEA to an unrelated piece of legislation. He and other Republicans wanted that bill passed, but they knew it couldn't be done by legitimate methods so a paper clip to the Safe Port Bill accomplished the goal. Perhaps the best example of underhandedness was when George W. Bush himself managed to convince a few countries to support the Iraqi war by posting pictures of trucks and claiming that the pictures were unquestionable proof that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, when in fact they weren't.
Since being named as McCain's running mate there has been much focus on Palin's family. It has been widely reported, and confirmed by the Palins, that their 17 year old unmarried daughter Bristol is pregnant and will marry the father in due course and keep the child. While that story in itself is not major news since teenage pregnancy is not unusual these days, what is concerning is the fact that Palin preaches motherhood and family values first, yet has decided to pursue the VP position despite her daughter's pregnancy, her son's imminent deployment to Iraq and the care of a very young child with downs syndrome. Without question, if this were any other mother leaving her children to pursue a highly public career Palin would be one of the first to reprimand the mother for her choice. As one mother who considers herself fairly religious and conservative said to me, "any mother worth a salt would never leave their family when they clearly need her now more than ever. If Palin had any decency she would have thanked John McCain for his offer, but replied that with a son going to Iraq, a special needs baby that requires attention and a teenage pregnant daughter, now is not the time to abandon them and bring them all into the spotlight for the media and other parties to pick apart in the political circus of a presidential campaign." Furthermore, blogs have been posted saying the father of Bristol's child has stated he really doesn't want a baby, leading to much speculation that the marriage of Bristol and Levi is a shotgun wedding perpetrated by a woman with a big shotgun.
As for her son being deployed to the Middle East: has anyone considered the wisdom of splashing this young man's face in the media? When the press revealed that Prince Harry was in Iraq he had to return immediately to Britain, not only for his own welfare but for the safety of the troops that served with him. His famous presence created a distraction for everyone and made a target of all of them. Track Palin is now going to Iraq with his face plastered everywhere in the media, possibly putting him and any troops he serves with in extra danger. As a mother is it worth it? Political campaigns can be nasty. Palin's role as VP would normally be inconsequential since the vice president rarely plays much of a role in government, but with McCain's health and age it is certainly not inconceivable that Palin could some day take over as President of the country before McCain's term is over. In fact, actuaries have determined that McCain has a 30% chance of dying during his term in office.
One thing that can't be overlooked, however, which clearly makes McCain a no go for anyone that has made online betting a major issue in determining who to vote for, is that McCain has shown from his actions thus far that he will let others rule the roost. It has been widely reported that the two picks McCain really wanted as VP were Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman. His party essentially overruled him because of their more moderate social stances. Consequently he was effectively ordered to choose a more neo-conservative VP. As well, McCain's chief economic advisor is Phil Gramm, who favors financial deregulation and was somewhat responsible for the current economic crisis. He clearly will not give the banks any breaks in terms of implementing UIGEA regulations. By all accounts McCain's main interest right now is the war in the Middle East, maybe it's his background on that issue. He seems prepared to leave social issues to others in the government so that he can focus on winning that war. And as we know, almost all Republicans are against online gambling in any way, shape or form.
On the Democrat side, Barack Obama has really given no indication one way or another of how he feels about internet gambling, and clearly it's a minor issue for him. But unlike McCain who decisively opposes internet wagering, there is a chance that with a young, current, open-minded Democratic President there is hope to overturn the narrow mindedness of the Republicans. Every bill introduced so far to revoke the UIGEA, regulate online wagering, or at least study the issue, was introduced by Democrats. There is indisputable proof that regulating online gambling in the U.S. would bring billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and would create multitudes of new jobs. Hilton Hotels, Station Casino and others have indicated that they are ready to move forward with online gambling as soon as the opportunity presents itself and have presented business plans that show how they will address the reasons given by Republicans for why online gambling must stay illegal: i.e. underage betting, compulsive gambling and the fairness of games. Many sceptics, of course, don't buy the rhetoric and believe that the only reason those opposed to online gambling want it kept illegal is to protect the interests of horse racing, lotteries and local casinos who don't want the competition from online wagering. However, the concerns previously mentioned are the reasons given by John Kyl, Robert Goodlatte, etc. for refusing to consider online gambling, so we can only take their word that they are being honest in that regard.
It's almost a certainty that the Democrats will increase their lead in congress this election, which provides another reason to vote for Obama. To date any bills related to online gambling following the passage of the UIGEA have been defeated down party lines. More importantly, it was made fairly clear that if a bill looking at legalizing or regulating online gambling made it through to the President, George W. Bush was prepared to veto it. He was not interested in reasoning, and in fact gave England the proverbial finger when they asked him to come to a meeting to discuss the topic of regulated internet wagering. Plus, the UIGEA regulations were only seriously addressed when Focus on the Family wrote a scathing article stating the Republicans were falling down on the job for not having anything written yet. Obama, on the other hand, does not appear to be in bed with the evangelicals the way Bush has been, and McCain surely would be. Conversely, many of Obama's stated beliefs oppose those of the religious zealots. Consequently, it's a safe assumption that if a bill does come to Obama's desk written by the likes of Barney Frank, Robert Wexler or even a Republican that asks the President to at least look at the merits of online gambling, Obama won't be waiting for it with the veto stamp in hand.
David Stalcup, Editor-in-Chief of MajorWager, responded thusly when asked who he will vote for in the upcoming election:
"In McCain Americans have a craps playing candidate that believes that Americans shouldn't wager on sports because there is no way to know if a contest is legitimate. McCain would like to see all gambling on college sports halted to protect the 'integrity' of the sports and to save gamblers from themselves. In Obama Americans have a poker playing candidate that understands the need to not 'overegulate' individuals' rights to choose how they spend their entertainment dollar. Obama has stated that he is open to the idea of studying regulation of internet gambling; but it's apparent that online gambling is not a top priority for him. At the very least I believe that Obama will not allow the DOJ to continue its ridiculous crusade against online operators and that should be enough action at this time. It is clear that the better choice for online bettors and operators alike in the upcoming election is Obama."
This election is the most crucial presidential election for online gambling to date. If the tactics of the current government are allowed to continue unabated then internet gambling in the United States will become a thing of the past. In the process, Americans' freedom to spend their own money in a way they want to within the privacy of their own homes will be gone, and unquestionably the concerns of organizations like iMEGA (that is worried that more personal freedoms will be taken away, as well) will come to fruition. Naturally, online gambling can't be the only issue to consider when voting, but if it ranks high on your list of priorities then MajorWager strongly urges you to vote for the Democrats in November.
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