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Don't know much about history


Dana Milbank catches Dick Armey talking some nonsense about Alexander Hamilton:

A member of the audience passed a question to the moderator, who read it to Armey: How can the Federalist Papers be an inspiration for the tea party, when their principal author, Alexander Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"?

Historian Armey was flummoxed by this new information. "Widely regarded by whom?" he challenged, suspiciously. "Today's modern ill-informed political science professors? ... I just doubt that was the case in fact about Hamilton."

Alas, for Armey, it was the case. Hamilton favored a national bank, presidents and senators who served for life and state governors appointed by the president.

As a historian, Armey was all hat and no cattle. But at least he had a good hat -- a "downright stylish and manly" Stetson 200X beaver, which he donned for the audience. He also continued his practice of dropping the names of country-western songs, this time saying that Jesse Ventura makes him think of the song "My Heart Just Cannot Take Another You."

Photo credit: Eugene Tanner/AP

By Ezra Klein  |  March 16, 2010; 4:07 PM ET
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I'd be happy to have an America, per Alexander Hamilton, than what we have today.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

someone said that Dick Armey is a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like

Posted by: bdballard | March 16, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"Dana Milbank catches Dick Armey talking some nonsense"

Not so hard. Whenever you see his mouth moving.

Posted by: ostap666 | March 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Man, he didn't even have the presence of mind to pivot into the "yeah, but Madison wrote a good chunk of them too, and he was mostly a small gov't sort of guy" dodge?

Though it could be worse -- when I first glanced at this, I though he was resisting Hamilton being the primary author.

Posted by: Mike_Russo | March 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Yeah that was mighty unfortunate of Dick Armey.

Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, and Newt Gingrich... the minority leadership doesn't have these personalities that's for sure...

Posted by: RandomWalk1 | March 16, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

JakeD2, its true, most of your opinions are relevant to the 18th century. I am sure you especially like:

Hamilton favored...presidents and senators who served for life and state governors appointed by the president.

For present times, not so much...

Posted by: srw3 | March 16, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'll pass on the Hamiltonian government. I think I'd prefer Jeffersonian government, although a country entirely made up of gentlemen farmers might not be that practical in these modern, go-go times.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 16, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

200X beaver seems a blooper. Resistol's best are 20X. I think beaver fur has become so expensive that vintage 20X hats in good shape are carefully being treated as irreplaceable.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 16, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I take that back. Resistol's best is 100X, meaning 100 percent beaver.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 16, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse


Do you think that someone like Obama gets elected President for life under a Hamilton scheme? Regardless, I also said on the earlier thead that I would also be comfortable going back to just 1972.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

While Hamilton certainy was on the "big-government" side of the contunium relative to the anti-federalists of the day, things have changed since then and it is impossible to say he would be a left winger today.

The reason is that big-government entered a whole new realm with the creation of social insurance in 1935 and accelerating to today. You just can't pull a person out of a completely different historical context and say he would be for something based on what he was for in that entirely different context.

I believe Alexander Hamilton would be much closer to Hank Paulson than to Barack Obama, but that is nothing but my belief. After all, I could not know for sure.

Posted by: lancediverson | March 16, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

1972? Cool. Then you would probably have approved of Nixon's health care reform plan?

Posted by: luko | March 16, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Wage and price controls? I don't recall hearing how Nixon was a Marxist...but then I was younger.

Posted by: luko | March 16, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I would agree though, to all of that if abortion were illegal again.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

JakeDuh2, I would be happy not having you live on these boards weighing in with your daily inane opinions, but I guess we are both destined to be disappointed

Posted by: LABC | March 16, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

@ JakeD2: Ah so you would be happy with tricky dick, Jon Mitchell, G Gordon liddy, et al. running the show. Interesting...

At least Nixon had a more progressive health care plan than the current HCR (as bad as it is, I still support it as a start), so that is a positive. He also started the EPA. I also wouldn't mind the tax rates from the nixon administration, but with way fewer loopholes.

The using the FBI and CIA to spy on political opponents, break into doctor's offices for medical records, give bags of cash to operatives to break into your opponents offices, secretly bombing a neutral country next to a country your predecessor started, ignore your own commission on what to do about pot, bargain with N. Vietnam while claiming that you have a "secret plan" to end the war...not so much. I could go on but you get the picture.

Posted by: srw3 | March 16, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse


Life's a bit@h, ain't it?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

oh crap this is bad.

My daughter's studying the Federalists now and Ezra and Dana are right.

Maybe he meant the Democratic Republicans??

and Ezra you're a little young to be quoting that song in the title there, no.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 16, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

JakeD2 wants to go back to the days of back alley abortions for poor women (of course wealthy women could go to canada or somewhere else to have their pregnancies terminated safely). This is really beyond the pale. Maybe you were too young to remember those days...I'm not.

Posted by: srw3 | March 16, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm not too young to remember those days (more women are dying TODAY from "safe" abortions than did in 1972 back alleys). Establishing exactly how many women died due to botched illegal abortions is obviously impossible, since many of these deaths likely weren't reported as such. However, even a generous reading of the statistics we do have indicates that [Ellen Goodman's 10,000 per year] is off by at least a factor of ten; a stickler might say she blew it by a ratio of 250 to 1. It's not like this is a news flash, either. A reasonable approximation of the annual total in the 60s has been public knowledge for 35 years.

To be fair, the number Goodman uses is consistent with estimates that were widely cited prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. But some say those numbers were knowingly inflated by proponents of abortion rights. The star witness for this claim is Bernard Nathanson, a former abortion clinic doctor who in 1969 cofounded the group now called NARAL Pro-Choice America (the letters originally stood for National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). Since Roe, though, he's turned against his former comrades — he made the highly controversial 1984 anti-abortion film "The Silent Scream" and has authored several books describing his conversion on this issue and critiquing the abortion-rights movement.

In Aborting America (1979) Nathanson writes: "In NARAL we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always '5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.' I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the 'morality' of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?" (Emphasis is his.)

Better late than never, right? For 1972, the last full year before Roe, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died due to illegal abortion. (The death total for all abortions, including legal ones, was 88.) That figure is low, thanks to underreporting, but in any case the number of deaths had been dropping sharply for the previous few years. A statistic perhaps more typical of the pre-Roe era was reported in a 1969 Scientific American article cowritten by Christopher Tietze, a senior fellow with the Population Council: "The National Center for Health Statistics listed 235 deaths from abortion in 1965. Total mortality from illegal abortions was undoubtedly larger than that figure, but in all likelihood it was under 1,000."

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

President for life is not one of Hamilton's better ideas (I think he might have backpedaled on it later, if only because it was extremely unpopular), but I think that in a world where the President was elected for life, a Prime Minister-type position would have inevitably arisen, and it would've worked out in the end.

Posted by: usergoogol | March 16, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

People who don't understand DC, might make the mistake of thinking that Armey's wealth is a by-product of his intelligence.

The truth is: If Armey had a little more native intelligence, he would be a lot less valuable to the people who hire him.

Hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil is the natural state of brain as primitive and undeveloped as Armey's.

Posted by: JPRS | March 16, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse


Many more women are dying TODAY from automobile accidents than did in 1972 back alley abortions, time to ban the car!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Nice cut and paste Jake.

So it is okay if 1,000 women die of botched abortions, but not okay if 10,000 die?

The bottome line, in my opinion, is that prohibition of most anything, be it abortion or booze, won't work in a free society.

You may not like abortion, but outlawing it won't make it go away any more than outlawing marijuana has made marijuana go away.

I've always thought it was odd that the party that demands smaller government and rails against government interference also demands the government restrict our control over our own bodies. Be it anti-drug or anti-abortion, the Republicans love to micro-manage our most personal decisions.

PS - My distaste for "prohibition" of most things is one of the reasons I'm a HUGE supporter of the second ammendment. Making guns illegal will NOT make them go away.

Posted by: nisleib | March 16, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Yes, just like making "real" murder illegal didn't make that "go away" either. Small government (except to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

@JD2 it always amazes me that anti-abortion men believe that pregnancy and childbirth should be the punishment for unprotected sex. 1972 is too recent. You belong in the middle ages.

Posted by: srw3 | March 16, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

BTW: wasn't pResident Obama's latest "deadline" March 18th?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Regardless, srw3, Obama "promised" that no federal funds will go to abortion. I guess that he simply wants to punish women for having sex too ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

@JD2: he is not pining for the days of back alley abortions like you are. I happen to disagree with his stand on this as with many other issues, but at least I feel that he understands the issues and has thought about them, unlike the codpiece resident select.

Posted by: srw3 | March 16, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

The "codpiece resident select" being George W. Bush? Why bring him into the discussion? Since you did, are you aware that 44% of Americans would prefer GWB back as President (and that was in December, probably more than 44% by now)?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't "understand" this issue, or he is cynically lying about it. He claims that answering the question (at what point does a baby get human rights) with specificity is "above my pay grade"! I mean COME ON.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 16, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

@jd2:, are you aware that 44% of Americans would prefer GWB back as President

Need a link to believe this sh*t. Even American's aren't stupid enough to want the village idiot to drive the economy into the ditch again and mismanage 2 wars.

As for Obama's stand on abortion. I personally don't care when he thinks a fetus has human rights, as long as he isn't putting his beliefs on women's bodies, as you feel you have the right to.

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Would you like a little cyanide with your tea?

It's not the ones who are "catapulting the propaganda" that are disconnected from reality - they know damned well what they are doing - it's all those pathetic white people who are swallowing this garbage whole! And let's face some sobering truths, shall we? Other than a small handful of blubbering Uncle Toms, they're almost entirely white. The disconnect between reality and delusion in this country is widespread and appalling. That would partially explain the political careers of people like Jeff Sessions and Michele Bachmann. People like them are only able to advance because of the stampeding ignorance of their constituents. In the land of the brain-dead, the half-wit is king.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY

Posted by: tomdeganfrontiernetnet | March 17, 2010 5:41 AM | Report abuse


I'd be more than happy to provide a link, just as soon as you answer my already-pending questions to you:

1) The "codpiece resident select" being George W. Bush?

2) Why bring him into the discussion?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 17, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Alexander Hamilton was against everything Reagan stood for.

Modern day conservatives have come under the foolish notion, mostly due to Reagan, that the secret to the USA's economic success has nothing to do with gvmt and everything to do with lassez faire economics. How wrong they are. Rather, the secret to our success has been a strong relationship between gvmt and business.

Alexander Hamilton designed our industrial society, and guess what, it was working pretty good until Reagan and successive admins (including Clinton's) started dismantling it.

Here's some info that ignorant people like Dick Armey (and many here) need to read up on.

"Government, Hamilton held, shouldn’t just be the igniter of an industrial state. Indeed, it would be impossible to try and successfully build an industrial nation without the help of government."

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 17, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

JakeD2: "I would agree though, to all of that if abortion were illegal again."

Abortion was not "illegal" prior to Roe v. Wade; it was just not subjected to federal constitutional protection. States could do what they wanted, and they set their own rules.

Posted by: dasimon | March 17, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

@jd2: Yes I was referring to the shrub. I brought him up because Obama looks like a combination of Einstein, Washington and Ghandi if one compares their intellect, honesty, and compassion. You brought up presidents and their qualities not me.

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@jd2: My comment about Obama came as a response to this "Obama doesn't "understand" this issue, or he is cynically lying about it."

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@ dasimon: Do you think that state by state abortion laws really meets the equal protection under the law standard? Why should a medical procedure be legal in one state and a crime in another?

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse


You are assuming that Obama is even legally President of the United States. Thanks for answering my questions though. Here's the link:


Some States still outlawed abortion when Roe v. Wade was handed down. My hypothetical however assumes that we completely ban elective abortions.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 17, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

@JD2: You should do comedy! You're a birther???? really???

For all the women in the world, "Keep your f*cking laws off our bodies!"

So just for the record:
Nixon style HCR?
Wage/price controls?
Illegal bombing?
Using CIA/FBI for domestic spying on political enemies?
covering up official misconduct?

Or do you want to just pick and choose?

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Armey should try reading up on Alexander Hamilton before speaking. I'd recommend conservative, Republican Ron Chernow's book, hailed as a landmark biography of Hamilton.

Before the political labels became so screwed up, it was possible to say Hamilton was a conservative. He believed in business as well as a strong central government...and set up the first Central Bank to insure foreign creditors were paid and thus create the country's credit worthiness and financial strength. Jefferson, on the other hand, would have been called a liberal as he distrusted business - especially the banks and manufacturers of New York. He wanted protections from big business for the common man, his "country of gentlemen farmers."

I'm constantly surprised by the ignorance of both our public leaders and the populace. Armey's pronouncements only prove the case for reading more and talking less.

Posted by: valkayec | March 17, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

srw3: "Do you think that state by state abortion laws really meets the equal protection under the law standard? Why should a medical procedure be legal in one state and a crime in another?"

I was just commenting that there was not a time, contrary to what JakeD2 seemed to be asserting, when abortion was "illegal" in this country. And if your equal protection argument applied, then all states would have to have all the same laws (absent some federal preemption), which is clearly not the case. States have all sorts of different regulations, including in the medical field. I'm not arguing that it makes sense, only the state of the law prior to Roe.

JakeD2: "My hypothetical however assumes that we completely ban elective abortions."

But you didn't write it as a hypothetical. The implication to me was that there was a time when abortion was completely "illegal" in this country. There have always been places where it was legal, and anyone could travel to those places.

Posted by: dasimon | March 17, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Abortion was "legal" IN THE UNITED STATES in the 1900's?! LOL!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 17, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't even legalized in CALIFORNIA until 1967.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 17, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"Abortion was "legal" IN THE UNITED STATES in the 1900's?!?"

I thought you wanted to go back to 1972, before it was a protected constitutional right, not to 1901. After all, you were referring to Richard Nixon, not William McKinley

Yes, it was largely illegal by 1900. But it was largely legal in the 1800s (

How far back would you like to go? Or do you pick your time frame according to your own convenience?

Posted by: dasimon | March 18, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse


As I said, I would be happy to just get 1972 restrictions on abortion and overturning Roe v. Wade. Someone else asked if I would also be willing to accept all of Nixon's "liberal" proposals (that was the hypothetical). Let me know if you have any more questions.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 18, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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