Another monopolist 

Yet another proposal for casino gambling in Arkansas has been put forth, and it is defective in the way that all the others have been, or at least all the ones we can think of : It is anti-competitive.

The latest scheme comes from a Gainesville, Texas, businessman named Michael Wasserman, who desires that the state of Arkansas hand over to Michael Wasserman something that would make Michael Wasserman very rich. We can understand the proposition’s appeal to Michael Wasserman. From the state of Arkansas’s vantage point, the deal is not nearly so attractive.

Under the Wasserman plan, Arkansans would vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would give exclusive rights to casino gambling in Arkansas to a corporation headed by Wasserman. If approved by voters statewide, the amendment would allow the corporation to establish one casino in each of seven counties — Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian — without the hassle of holding local-option elections in the counties themselves. Oaklawn, which already has a monopoly on horse racing in Arkansas, made a similar monopolistic proposal for casino gambling a few years back. It was unsuccessful.

If Arkansas is ever going to allow casino gambling, it should be done only if there is some sort of competitive-bidding process that would allow the state to make as much as it can off the sale — not the gift — of this hugely valuable franchise. There are other disadvantages to casino gambling, which the traditional anti-gambling forces will always bring up. But any casino proposal that delivers a free monopoly to some clever entrepreneur fails to clear the very first hurdle.

Scalia’s best

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told University of Connecticut law students that he stands by his 2004 decision not to recuse from a case involving his close friend Vice President Dick Cheney. “I think the proudest thing I have done on the bench is not allow myself to be chased off that case,” Scalia said.

Holding on to the opportunity to do judicial favors for a crony is Scalia’s proudest moment on the Court? Wow, is that scary, and it might even be true. After all, what else has he done? Stolen a presidential election from the people. Labored mightily to demolish the wall of separation between church and state. A little help for Dick Cheney seems almost inoffensive by comparison.

With U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay retiring from the field, the Republican Party will need someone else to serve as its official enforcer, and there’s no reason he can’t be in the judicial branch instead of the legislative. Scalia certainly seems mean enough and unprincipled enough for the job. He may well inherit DeLay’s old title, The Hammer. In recognition of his position, they could change it to The Gavel.


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