Sunday, December 09, 2007

Drew Carey and the Texas S.W.A.T. Raids

Remember all those VFW posts in Dallas that were raided a few months back, busting up small-time poker games? Dan and the Pokerati gang covered those busts in depth, detailing the extreme, paramilitary way in which the raids went down.

Once upon a time, police were generally viewed as society's friends. The Dallas raids are one of ten thousand examples of the way the relationship between police and the country's citizens have changed in this modern day.

What's odd, though, is not that poker raids like these became a minor cause celebre, but rather that it took so long to happen. Comedian/TV host Drew Carey recently drew upon the incidents as an example of authority carried to the extreme in a video blog post at, as the fourth episode in his ongoing "Drew Carey Project".

And yet, and yet... I'm not sure Drew or the person who wrote the introduction to the video on the site understands where true north is in the battle over semi-private gambling. Here's how that introduction reads:

In his latest video for, Drew Carey goes all in to report how Dallas cops carried out a paramilitary-style raid on a poker game at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1837, which has now been forced to close its doors.

The raid is part of a broader move by local police to shut down poker games, arrest players, and seize property - even in low stakes games benefiting charity, like at the VFW. And it's emblematic of the government's misguided war on gambling, such as the recently enacted federal ban on Internet wagering. In most jurisdictions throughout the country, consenting adults are banned from gambling -- unless of course they want to bet on low-odds games run by the government. State lotteries, that is.

Texas Close 'Em is Episode 4 of the Drew Carey Project on

It's all true, of course, but it misses one key point: Such raids are almost always triggered by someone from the holier-than-thou, who believes it is his or her right to implement his will over your soul. Its granted that a faction of similar beliefs-driven folks are some small part of the enforcement infrastructure, which may indeed influence the strength of the response.

Understanding that is is a bit tongue in cheek, perhaps fighting fire with fire is called for, to combat this what's-mine-is-mine-and-what's-yours-is-mine attitude. I know that one of the local churches here persists in banging on my door every few weeks to try to recruit me, despite the fact that I've told them repeatedly not to bother. It's not that I'm anti-church, far from it; I graduated from a four-year religious school. But I admit to being very curious as to what would happen if I swore out a harassment complaint against said church after the eighth or fifteenth time they've come a-knockin' at my door. Think the police would take similar action? Think they'd take any action at all?

Yes, frustration abounds. I'm likely kidding, too, even if it's true that no one can affect societal change without stepping on a toe or two at some point. Checking out of the bully pulpit... and good night.

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