I was thinking about how confusing it is to understand the conservatives in the US right now. From half way around the world, the Loud Right Wing (aka the Tea Party) seems to be screaming that the government needs to get out of people's lives and stop spending tax money on things that are not absolutely essential.
And yet it seems that these same people want the government to spend tax dollars and get involved in people's lives if those people want to smoke the leaves of a plant they can grow in their backyard. Or marry the person they love if they are both of the same sex. Or play poker with other people.
Sometimes I think the Loud Right Wing's motto should really be "Less government interference in my life but more in the lives of the people who aren't like me." Which isn't, I suppose, dramatically different from the Loud Left Wing that wants the government to get out of their bedroom and backyard but please give us more consumer protection and environmental policing.
It's not so much illogical as a contrary way of thinking that is very definitely strong in America.
But enough politics. What started this rant is, of course, the decision yesterday for the US government to spend taxpayer dollars to indict lots of people who run the biggest online poker websites - Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker. With all that is going on with US government budget cuts, I am hard pressed to figure out why someone thought this was a good way to spend tax dollars, but my reaction has little to do with that and lots to do with the possibility that I may eventually lose one of my favorite pastimes if the anti-gambling conservatives in Washington continue to have their way.
I do play lots of online poker lately. Mostly because I am getting into low-entry tournaments and have reached the point where I tend to survive in them for several hours.
I did get a sense of how this looks to people when Jason told me last night that he and Lora had been watching a cooking competition show on TV where couples have to prepare restaurant-quality meals for a panel of judges.
"We imagined if you and Mom were on the show," Jay said. "She'd be in the kitchen working up a storm making the dishes and you'd be sitting there playing online poker."
That's really not fair, although it's not exactly unfair. For one thing, I tend to be the breakfast and lunch guy in the family (as well as making macarons, don't forget). So it's not like I don't do my stint at the stove.
Secondly, I have mastered quite well the art of bringing my laptop to the counters and playing poker while making a meal. In fact, there are only two things to worry about: splashing liquid on the keyboard and going all-in when you meant to hit the button to fold.
(I won't even mention the care you need to take when nature calls and you have to take your poker tournament into the smallest room in the house. LK says that's her favorite of my poker moments. I tell her it helps motivate me that my competitors don't know what I'm doing at the time. It's also curious how often I get a flush when I am there.)
The poker sites are still open today, and there are plenty of Americans playing at them. But I have a hunch those numbers will dwindle dramatically as they use up their current bankroll and find they cannot deposit any more money into the site. And once the Americans go away, the sites will be fighting for a very small share of the rest of the world's players.
Of course, if the Americans go away it is likely that the players typing mean-spirited and insulting comments will also go away since those are mostly Yanks, as well. It would be nice not to be called a fish, a donkey and several curiously misspelled variants of just about every dirty word you can think of.
Of course, the Yanks only tend to call me a bad player when I've beaten them. So maybe I would miss that, as well. At least it reminds me of how hard it can be to understand that contrary tendency in American thinking.