If a pollster stopped you on the street and asked: "Which is a greater danger to America: Terrorists attacking rail and mass transport or online gambling?", which would you answer?
I'll give you a minute or three to ponder your response. I know that it's a difficult one.
Well, apparently it was a difficult decision for the Senate, and they managed to get it wrong in the process. Via Ed Brayton, I learned that we are now to be safe from (most) forms of online gambling, through an ammendment added to a Port Security bill. You know, something to allocate monies to help keep us safe from all of the nasties out there? In the Senate, they snuck it in without debate because they knew that this bill would make it to the President's desk with little trouble -- ammending the bill is a near guarantee that the ammendment will be enacted, even if it has little (or no) relation to the parent bill.
To make things even worse, the ban only addresses some online gambling -- the kind that doesn't make money for the government. Lotteries and other government-run betting are exempted as is betting on horse races (can you say "vested interest?" -- I knew you could.) Gambling in (or between) Indian reservations is likewise exempted.
So, is the government trying to protect us from the evils of gambling? Are they trying to help those poor souls caught up in gambling addictions? Clearly not. They are trying to protect certain special interests while attacking others.
I'm not a gambler -- I lack the risk-taking nature necessary. I can think of many, many other ways to spend my money for entertainment. But I find the steady erosion of my rights through actions like this to be terribly frightening. Even more frightening that the real risk of (quite likely domestic) terrorist attacks on our rail and transport systems.
Ed has a more complete analysis of why this ammendment won't pass constitutional muster. My prediction: When it does fail, we will hear the usual chorus of "Activist judge!" and "New law!" and "Not respecting the will of the peeeeeepul!" Argh!