May 2, 2011
Obama's Illegal Lottery
Has President Obama read Sun Tzu along with his Alinsky?
Sun Tzu's Art of War says that victory is certain if one defends something the enemy cannot conquer. A good way to do this is to convey the illusion that the other side can win if only it dedicates even more soldiers, equipment, time, and money to a futile enterprise. This denies the enemy those resources every bit as effectively as the resources' destruction in combat would, but without the associated risks and reciprocal losses.
Barack Obama similarly strung his opponents along on the issue of whether he is a natural born citizen. Only after he allowed them to collectively waste millions of hours on this false trail did he produce his Hawaii birth certificate to make them all look like Wile E. Coyote after an unsuccessful encounter with the Road Runner. Obama therefore followed the adage that one should not interrupt an enemy while he is making a mistake.
Sun Tzu also wrote, however, that victory is certain if one attacks something the enemy cannot defend. Obama's documented use of internet gambling to raise money for his 2008 campaign can therefore end his presidency at the convenience of any member of Congress who turns it into An Issue That Won't Go Away.
A Google search on "Dinner with Barack" and "Backstage with Barack" will yield ample evidence that during 2007 and 2008, the Obama campaign sent out numerous promotions that involved the following proposition. In exchange for a donation of $5 or more, the donor would gain the chance to be selected to have an expenses-paid trip to have dinner with Barack Obama or go backstage with Obama at the Democratic National Convention. There is a YouTube video in which Obama himself says, "We want to have four people who donate money this week to sit down and have dinner with me [...] We'll fly you in, I'll pay for dinner." There is another in which he makes a similar pitch for the Democratic National Convention, and he says explicitly that one must donate $5 or more.
These promotions therefore contained the three elements that define a lottery or raffle: (1) mandatory payment of consideration, in this case $5 or more; (2) an element of chance; and (3) something of value as a prize. Unlicensed gambling is against the laws of almost every state, while participation in an internet gambling operation got Wilkes-Barre bar owner Patrick Patte home confinement, probation, and forfeiture of $100,000 to save his sports bar from confiscation.
As reported by WorldNetDaily ("Obama camp's illegal lottery modified"), "Doug Forsman, a special agent with Minnesota's Department of Public Safety, had confirmed the illegality of the [Obama campaign's] promotion." The Center for Competitive Politics meanwhile quoted Jessica Robinson, associate general counsel at AFSCME, on the use of raffles for political fundraising in general:
It is legally impossible to conduct a nationwide raffle, whether the funds are being used for political purposes or not. This, of course, is of great importance, because running an interstate gambling operation that does not comply with the laws in each state in which it is being conducted subjects you to both criminal and civil penalties under the Federal RICO statute. The trick that keeps you out jail is to offer an 'alternative method of entry' that does not require payment of consideration.
The Obama campaign added "the trick that keeps you out of jail" only after a law enforcement agency said very explicitly that the promotion in question was illegal. The fact that the Minnesota Department of Safety let the Obama campaign off with a warning does not, however, oblige Congress to do the same. A strong argument could be made that a president who has personally violated the law even as a candidate cannot credibly supervise the Justice Department, appoint judges and Supreme Court justices, or otherwise carry out his responsibilities effectively. In addition, the campaign ran three similar promotions in 2007 that did not provide the "alternative method of entry" described above.
Mr. Obama also forgot a basic corollary of the Eleventh Commandment. "Thou Shalt Not Get Caught" encompasses "Do it but don't tell me about it." In other words, if your organization is going to do something unethical or illegal, make sure nobody can prove that you know about it. Mr. Obama instead signed his name to at least one of the lottery promotions in question, and he also appeared in the two videos described above. This proves not only that he knew that his campaign was running an allegedly illegal gambling operation, but also that he participated personally.
If this issue were to come to trial in the Senate, the most ardent Obama supporters would find themselves hard-pressed to defend him. Richard Nixon found himself out the door shortly after he acted as if he was above the law because he knew the Senate's Republicans would not stand behind his untenable position.
The birthers now claim to have evidence that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, e.g. because it can be broken down into layers in Photoshop. This might or might not lead somewhere, but no good chess player pursues a multiple-move combination when checkmate in one move is readily available. Obama's fundraising methods allow checkmate in one move by the first representative who steps up to demand impeachment. Then Obama will have unlimited time for golf, appearances on various television programs, and everything else he likes to do. We wish him a long and happy retirement with plenty of time for his family and leisure activities, and the sooner that retirement begins, the longer and happier it will be for both him and the nation.