David Brooks' Dishonest Invocation of Alexander Hamilton

In his column today, David Brooks invokes Alexander Hamilton in a completely dishonest way. Brooks writes:

[T]he federal role has historically been sharply limited. The man who initiated that role, Alexander Hamilton, was a nationalist. His primary goal was to enhance national power and eminence, not to make individuals rich or equal.

[... T]his nationalism meant that policy emphasized dynamism, and opportunity more than security, equality and comfort. While European governments in the 19th and early 20th centuries focused on protecting producers and workers, the U.S. government focused more on innovation and education.


Because of these priorities, and these restrictions on the federal role, the government could be energetic without ever becoming gigantic. Through the 19th century, the federal government consumed about 4 percent of the national gross domestic product in peacetime. Even through the New Deal, it consumed less than 10 percent.

[...] But this Hamiltonian approach has been largely abandoned. The abandonment came in three phases. First, the progressive era. The progressives were right to increase regulations to protect workers and consumers. But the late progressives had excessive faith in the power of government planners to rationalize national life. This was antithetical to the Hamiltonian tradition, which was much more skeptical about how much we can know and much more respectful toward the complexity of the world.

When Alexander Hamilton is invoked to support, in essence Herbert Spencer's Social Statics and Lochnerisim, as Brooks does today, it is an act of dishonesty. The reason is we think of Alexander Hamilton as the most important voice in defining the power of the national government as embodied by the Constitution. While Hamilton may have had policy views that mirror Brooks' embrace of Social Statics and Lochnerism, he was wise enough to help create a federal government that had wide power to address national problems in a manner which the national government deemed fit.

To invoke Hamilton in support of limited government, knowing his critical role as a Founding Father, is to write dishonestly. Brooks is dishonest here because his clear implication is that the Constitution itself reflects Brooks' Lochnerian constitutional views. It does not and Hamilton would no doubt be the person most surprised to see himself used as "a champion" of a limited national government. Consider Sandy Levinson's piece, also in today's New York Times. Levinson writes:

Advocating the adoption of the new Constitution drafted in Philadelphia, the authors of “The Federalist Papers” mocked the “imbecility” of the weak central government created by the Articles of Confederation.

Instead of being an advocate of a "limited" national government, as Brooks claims, Hamilton was THE champion of a strong national government. Brooks dishonest invocation of Hamilton for support of his vision of a Lochnerian relationship of government to the People is belied by two of the most famous passages in the judicial history of our country.

First, in McCulloch v. Maryland, John Marshall, who knew much better what Alexander Hamilton thought than David Brooks ever will, wrote:

There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States similar to the Articles of Confederation, which exclude incidental or implied powers. If the end be legitimate, and within the scope of the Constitution, all the means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, and which are not prohibited, may constitutionally be employed to carry it into effect.

Hardly an argument for the "limited" government Brooks claims Hamilton helped to create. The other quote is from Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his dissent in Lochner:

The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics.

David Brooks has every right to advocate for a return to Lochnerism. But he should do so honestly and on the merits, not by dishonestly invoking Alexander Hamilton in support of his pernicious project.

Speaking for me only

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    It's also wrong ... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:00:22 PM EST
    to use those GNP percentages.  They really don't suggest a growth in government but rather a relative shrinking of the private economy.

    And this view is more credible as the time period reflects the shrinking role of the U.S. as an exporter of raw materials and durable goods.

    He also, unsurprisingly, ignores the growth of defense and intelligence spending.

    Next time John Boehner (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:08:22 PM EST
    and the House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling and care less about what happens next, I guess we can await David Brooks to scold them for not adhering to Hamiltonian principles. As Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton insisted on paying, in full,  foreign and domestic debt so that the U.S. would establish future credit for industrial development, commercial activity and the operation of government.  The public economy and effective government were intrinsic parts of his economic plan.

    This isn't true (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:15:43 PM EST
    He actually took on state debt as Federal debt.  Because he understood that debt can generate wealth. (One of the reasons the fiscal conservatives have a hard-on for Hamilton.)  He raised interest rates and created bonds to leverage this, slow repayment and so on.  All familiar stuff to us now.

    Madison objected.  He believed in payment in full.


    "lowered interest rates" ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:17:21 PM EST
    I meant.

    Hamilton did assume (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 29, 2012 at 02:21:26 PM EST
    state debts as federal debt, but that was not without controversy since some states had paid down on their debt more so than others.  And, those states with less debt were not thrilled to have to pay once again for the federal debt.  My understanding is that Madison and Hamilton had a strong difference of opinion on what constituted paying in full; Hamilton wanted to lower interest rates and go slow on payment, whereas, Madison did not consider this to be full payment.  The conservatives do cherry pick their Hamilton, in my view, as you point out in debt for wealth creation by some.

    I'm blaming derivatives on Hamilton :) (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:25:58 PM EST
    Why not! (none / 0) (#44)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:30:13 PM EST
    Because in a way you can.  And it's certainly more credible Brooks said.  And more fun!



    on the contrary (none / 0) (#53)
    by Fietsbode on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:35:19 PM EST
    Hamilton said of Aaron Burr's bank, now Chase Manhattan, that "in its principles it is a perfect monster."

    Heh ... (none / 0) (#58)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:35:33 PM EST
    he was, of course, just referring to Burr.

    Actually, I believe that ... (none / 0) (#66)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:56:13 PM EST
    ... Chase Manhattan has since further morphed into the even more monstrous J.P. Morgan Chase.

    Worse (none / 0) (#70)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:46:58 PM EST
    it's JPMorgan Chase.

    ...and some of the Founders and/or endsorsed (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by christinep on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:12:48 PM EST
    slavery. Who knows, at bottom, where Hamilton would alight today (tho I tend to think that it would not be in the constrained land of Lochnerisms?) What I do think is that Brooks is at it again with his either twisted or naive version of Original Theory. "Original Theory" not in terms of the Constitution but in terms of trying to superimpose his beliefs on the human founders of almost 250 years ago.

    Brooks is playing games again.  He does that...to justify where he draws the lines in federalism.

    Hamilton was for abolition of slavery (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:20:17 PM EST
    He also believed ... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:29:02 PM EST
    America could become an interracial society when many abolitionists favored the forced emigration of slaves.

    Sorry...I did not mean to imply otherwise (none / 0) (#31)
    by christinep on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:26:50 PM EST
    My point in referencing what were widely-held opinions in an earlier time was to semi-mock Brooks. That is, the argument that we can know how expansive (or not) a Founder's view would be now is really an exercise in talking about our own views, mayhaps.

    Oops. Above title should read (none / 0) (#5)
    by christinep on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:14:10 PM EST
    "Some of the founders had and/or endorsed...."

    I've read the Brooks piece now about (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Anne on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:14:06 PM EST
    three times, some passages more than that, and I really don't think there's an honest point in it; he can't escape the truth of the good that FDR and LBJ did through the power of government, but whatever token kind words he feels he has to offer are just the prelude to damning with faint praise.

    It frankly just made me snort out loud when he said that Republicans became excessively anti-government because of the excessive overreaching of "government" - not Democratic government or Republican government, just "government."  

    The question I have for Brooks is why is it that he and others of his ilk so want to restrict the power of government in some areas - most of them having to do with making money for the elite - but not in others.  Why does government that doesn't belong in business or the boardroom or the bank belong in the bedroom?  Why is he comfortable with a "government" that uses "national security" to infringe on and abrogate the rights it is supposed to be protecting?

    We see this kind of nonsense from Brooks all the time, which just goes to show that whether it's the short run or the long, we still know BS when we see/hear/smell it...and Brooks never fails to deliver loads of it.

    Now Anne (1.33 / 3) (#28)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:23:56 PM EST
    You bring up a good point.
    The modern "conservatives" are indeed hypocrites about that as are people like Big Tent Democrat. They want to limit the Feds in a few ways they like, and unleash them for only their own purposes. But it doesn't work like that. A power granted to a Democratic President can be abused by a Republican one, and vice-versa.

    In fact, for the Feds to legally do half of what they currently do (and this is ignoring crap like Executive Orders and things of that nature ) we probably would need a new Constitution. Right now the US is run by power and the Constitution is a mere dressing, hypocritically used by both the left and the right when they have political use for it. It doesn't really constrain much of anything anymore.

    Government can do much good and much evil. When you don't have an overall philosophy of government, but instead merely empower it depending on what party gets to power, you enable all sorts of abuses.


    Yoiks, slayersrezo... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by christinep on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:19:06 PM EST
    The statement you made about the federal government not being able to do half what they do, etc., under your version of the Constitution is breathtaking...in that it took my breath away by the breadth of its conclusion without any noticeable backing.  We all make conclusionary statements from time to time, but the above statement that you authored did leave my head shaking from wonderment about how it could have been made.  Based upon???

    Based upon my knowledge of the Federalist papers (1.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:36:40 PM EST
    And of history.
    I shouldn't have to spell things out for you.
    Most of the New Deal is unconstitutional by any traditional understanding of the Constitution. So is parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, most of our modern Kangaroo (er courts of "equity", er "Family Courts") courts, so are the current "Wars", so are the "Military Tribunals", so are parts of the NDAA and etc. I could go on.

    It is a bad joke that we live under a Constitutional Republic. This is no longer the case.


    Well then, slayersrezo (none / 0) (#75)
    by christinep on Wed May 30, 2012 at 08:38:06 AM EST
    Let me spell something out for you:  the definition of what is  Constitutional in our republic does not depend upon what you define as "traditional"; rather, the determination of constitutionality--per the Constitution--ultimately gets to be resolved by the Supreme Court.  Whether that meets one's definition of "traditional" or not, that is the way it is.

    So...you may want to check the various SCt cases following the Lochner era wherein those determinations do not align with what your worldview appears to be.


    You are so cute christine (none / 0) (#78)
    by Slayersrezo on Wed May 30, 2012 at 11:39:44 AM EST
    I could merely rephrase what you said to be "power comes out of the barrel of a gun" and I'd be truly accurate.

    Yes, the SCOTUS in some ways can SAY whatever it wants to SAY about what the Constitution means. It can ignore precedent, history, past legal opinions, past societal understandings and it can say that Blue is Red if it wants.

    If I don't like it:
    A. I'm free to try to move to another country if they will have me -because unlike what is pushed on this site the vast majority of countries of this world (including, ironically, Mexico as many a Guatamalian will tell you) still believe they can limit their citizenship to people they want
    B. I can try to gather the millions or billions needed to get my own party or politicians who agree with me into office, so that eventually the could change the makeup of the court. Needless to say this is unlikely and very nearly impossible for someone not rich and not politically connected.
    C. I could become a lawyer and after 15 years at the Bar I might finally appear before the SCOTUS where I could argue my case directly. Maybe. Remember the SCOTUS chooses what cases it will take.
    D. I could try civil disobedience if I found a particular law unconstitutional. I could end up in jail, or maybe these days end up on the wrong end of a drone strike.
    E. I could try to overthrow the government via violent resistence.

    Those are my options and they mostly boil down to : we will do things our way and don't you dare complain too much and don't you dare disobey us.


    Oh I agree (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:23:09 PM EST
    It was his trotting out of Hamilton that got my goat.

    It's just too bad that the same (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by Anne on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:15:26 PM EST
    sensibilities that have permeated the Zimmerman threads are making their way into the political ones; I had been kind of hoping those playing over there would stay there.



    I now declar a moratorium (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:24:55 PM EST
    on ALL insults from anyone to anyone.

    Further insults from anyone will be deleted.

    Save for David Brooks, I hope... (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Addison on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:06:27 PM EST
    Always (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:31:20 PM EST
    As a policy maker and ... (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:31:29 PM EST
    ... intellectual, Alexander Hamilton had very few equals in his time. As a human being, he enjoyed a less-than-stellar reputation among a not-insignificant number of his peers for being a real cad and weasel, especially when it came to his personal life.

    In real life, Hamilton was a rather petty and petulant man who was subject to nursing personal grudges for the longest time, and whose well-publicized vendetta against then-Vice President Aaron Burr culminated in their infamous "interview" at Weehawken, NJ on July 11, 1804 -- a pistol duel that cost him his life.

    While he served Treasury Secretary under President Washington, the married Hamilton had engaged in an affair with a married woman, Maria Reynolds, whose husband later attempted to blackmail Hamilton. But for our purposes, I'll confine the rest of my comment to Hamilton's rather scurrilous personal practice of politics. Because I can assure you, if you think our country's politics is bad now, well, we ain't seen nothin' like it was back in Hamilton's times.

    During the presidential election campaign of 1800, Hamilton willingly smeared President John Adams in in a political pamphlet, Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., which Adams' opponents published in a successful effort to cripple the incumbent's candidacy.

    When the Electoral College subsequently found itself tied at 73 votes apiece between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, Hamilton used his influence among his friends in the Federalist-controlled U.S. House of Representatives to throw their formal support behind his old rival Jefferson, whereupon Burr was relegated to the vice presidency.

    In the winter of 1804, Hamilton then freely engaged in rumor-mongering about Vice President Burr, who was then running for governor of New York, implying to strategically positioned "friends" that Burr (a widower) was actively engaged in an incestuous sexual relationship with his own daughter Theodocia.

    These rumors, which had been anonymously sourced at the time, made the rounds amongst the electorate as planned, and probably cost Burr his election as governor that April.

    But unfortunately for Hamilton, his once-private allegations about Burr were subsequently published after the 1804 election in the Albany Register in a letter by one Mr. Charles D. Cooper, who cited Hamilton's stated opposition to Burr during a New York dinner party hosted by Cooper. This included a thinly-veiled reference that Hamilton had expressed "a still more despicable opinion about Mr. Burr" that "can not (sic) be repeated in polite company."

    For his part, Burr quite rightly complained that Hamilton had deliberately impugned his integrity and and maligned his personal reputation with a malicious falsehood, and publicly demanded that he apologize for the spurious allegations.

    Taken aback by Burr's rather ferocious response, and realizing that his own checkered reputation was now possibly again at issue, Hamilton pleaded in a series of non-denial denial letters to Burr that while he "could not recall having made such statements" at Cooper's dinner party, Burr could rest assured that he (Hamilton) no longer held such personal opinions.

    For his part, the now-furious Burr formally called out his political nemesis by labeling him both a liar and a coward, and by sending a messenger to Hamilton to extend a formal invitation for "an interview, whereby we might endeavour to resolve our personal differences to our mutual satisfaction."

    As it was common at the time, the use of the term "interview" in this manner was actually a euphemism for a personal duel, because the practice of dueling had by 1804 been officially outlawed in New York and several other states.

    However, it was not illegal in New Jersey, hence their agreement to meet in Weehawken, across the Hudson River from New York City -- ironically, at the exact same site where Hamilton's son Philip had been killed in a similar duel only three years earlier.

    Even given the eyewitness accounts from that day, the exact circumstances regarding who fired first are still in dispute. Therefore, suffice to say that Burr's shot mortally wounded Hamilton, who was ferried by his friends back across the Hudson to Greenwich Village, where he died the next day.

    Aaron Burr was later charged by a New York grand jury with murder, but because the duel had taken place in New Jersey and not New York, the charges were eventually dismissed.

    Nevertheless, Burr's political career was effectively ruined by the scandal, and he was free to pursue his interests elsewhere -- which led to even more personal notoriety three years later, when he was arrested for and charged with treason against the United States. But that's another tale of intrigue for another time.


    To Donald (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Fietsbode on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:31:16 PM EST
    As a scholar who does serious research I am deeply annoyed to see you circulate this canard about Hamilton's supposed slander of Burr and his daughter. First of all, there is no contemporary evidence for this, nothing in writing by anyone of the period. Second, Washington and Jefferson also disliked and distrusted Burr; Jefferson even pressured the Supreme Court to convict him of treason. Third, what Hamilton did say about Burr, in his correspondence and at dinner was that he was a "dangerous man," that he had "no theory" or principles, and that Hamilton suspected him of believing in "simple despotism" with himself as "chief."

    As Freeman explains, these particular attacks were described in a letter written by one of Hamilton's dinner companion, that letter was opened and its contents printed in the newspaper (a common hazard in those days) and Burr was thus forced by social customs to challenge Hamilton.  In my own view, his fatal shot was an error; Burr surely would have known that killing Hamilton would be fatal to his own career.

    The daughter story is circulated in a work of fiction, Gore Vidal's novel Burr. I believe that Freeman remarks that 20th-century readers couldn't grasp the customs of the time, so they had to up the ante on Hamilton's insult.  

    Here, Donald, is a brief reading list for you:

    Joanne Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic


    Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton


    Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers (opening chapter concerns the Hamilton-Burr duel in all its nuances)


    Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment


    Seriously, Donald, it's too bad that the Internet is such a rumor mill, when at the same time, with five minutes of research anyone can find good and reliable sources to confirm or deny their views.


    I have to agree with you that ... (none / 0) (#62)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:44:03 PM EST
    ... Aaron Burr's fatal shot at Weehaawken was fired in error. I mean, it was a really foolish thing to do, and Burr by nature was not a foolish man. But I think it's also safe to say that his political career was pretty much foreclosed by his loss in New York. the interview at Weehawken merely served as its gravestone.

    As I noted, it's hard to surmise from contemporaneous accounts as to what actually happened at Weehawken that morning, particularly since the witnesses themselves were friends of either one or the other, and probably inclined to portray events in the most favorable light to their man.

    I've even read a more contemporary account that suggested that Hamilton's gun was outfitted with a hair trigger which would have enabled him to get off a shot quickly, but I'm skeptical of that, given that Hamilton himself suggested in writing prior to the duel that he had no intention of killing Burr. Personally, I think that the Burr-Hamilton duel serves only to highlight the towering yet surprisingly fragile egos of both men.

    I also studied Burr's life and career extensively in college, and there is no question that Burr and his daughter Theodosia enjoyed an extraordinarily close and affectionate relationship, and she had served as her father's hostess after the death of her mother. There is contemporaneous primary evidence of scurrilous rumors surrounding them, and some of them were sexual.

    But in all honestly, Burr had an awful lot of political enemies, not just Hamilton and Jefferson, and that type of rumormongering was standard political practice of the times. As a politician, Hamilton wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. I agree with you that he distrusted Burr immensely and thought him to be a destabilizing influence, but Hamilton was also a somewhat reckless individual who was not above rumormongering if it served his purpose. He was not a saint.

    Anyway, by the time of the 1804 duel, Theodosia had already been married for three years to Joseph Alston, so I'd surmise that the only ones to believe such nonsense were probably those who were already inclined to hate Burr in the first place. When Theodosia was later lost at sea in 1812, possibly in a shipwreck or at the hands of local Carolina pirates, her father was clearly heartbroken.

    I've also never seen any evidence that Burr conspired to commit treason in 1806-07. However, there is a letter in Mexico City's archives from the Spanish colonial government, identifying Gen. Jonas Wilkinson -- then governor of Orleans territory -- as being in the paid employ of the Spanish.

    It was Wilkinson who intially arrested Burr and claimed that he was conspiring to separate the western territories from the rest of the united States. I would surmise that he did so to cover his own questionable acts, reporting to Spanish authorities in St. Augustine, Havana and Mexico City regarding American designs on Spanish territory.

    Thank you for your links and book recommendations, because I've not read Ellis or any of the others. Freeman's book is apparently out of print, but Ellis sounds intriguing because I suspect that he may share some of my suspicions about Thomas Jefferson, particularly regarding his eagerness to see Burr convicted in 1807.

    What I've also found interesting is the apparent animosity Jefferson harbored toward the federal judiciary, and in particular toward Chief Justice John Marshall, who presided over Burr's trial in Richmond. It was Marshall, after all, who thwarted Jefferson in Marbury v. Madison back in 1801, and who in the Richmond trial tailored such a narrow legal definition of what constitutes treason that to this day no one has been tried and convicted of the charge. As a scholar, are you aware of any literature that sheds more light on that relationship?

    Anyway, thank you again for the feedback as a professional historian. I'm an amateur historian with only a B.A. in the subject, and I wrote my account just off the top of my head, from what I remembered from college, which was nearly 30 years ago. I really do appreciate your input, and so will remember to not so readily conflate fictional work with non-fictional accounts without first reviewing and confirming my various contentions.

    Take care. Aloha.


    Brooks is no historian (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Fietsbode on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:05:22 PM EST
    I agree with you that David Brooks is misusing Hamilton here. I suspect that Brooks likes the romance of Hamilton's life story wants to adopt him, but has to distort Hamilton's vision to do so. Notice that Books did not quote Hamilton once. Prolific though Hamilton was, he wrote nothing that Brooks can use.

    There are two standard explanations of Hamilton's nationalism: first, that he himself was an immigrant and didn't have engrained loyalties to one particular section of the country (although he chose to live in New York City, which made him suspicious to previous generations of conservatives); and two, as Washington's aide, he could not get cooperation from the Continental Congress-the various states did not want to provide sufficient funding for the revolutionary army--causing Hamilton AND Washington to believe in a strong federal government that could override petty squabbles between the states.

    As for the Hawaii commentator--what you write is just an ad-hominem attack, the reverse of blind hero worship.  Although Hamilton had political enemies, he also formed many long and enduring friendships with men such as Lafayette, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Troup, Judge Kent, Edward Stevens, and (once he was no longer ordered about by him) Washington himself.

    Jefferson was also cunning and conniving in his political behavior, at one point writing friendly letters to John Adams while arranging attacks on Adams in the press. The same can never be said of Hamilton, who wore his heart on his sleeve--one reason many people loved him.

    He's only recently begun to get credit for his opposition to slavery, although Lincoln noticed it enough to include AH in his list of the (three) "leading anti-slavery men" of the Founding era.

    His affair with Mrs. Reynolds was his only documented adultery.

    You do Hamilton many injustices in your attack.

    I'm curious. How did you discover this (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by oculus on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:40:19 PM EST

    A casual google of Brooks + dishonest? (none / 0) (#80)
    by ruffian on Wed May 30, 2012 at 11:50:15 AM EST
    While I appreciate Hamilton as scholar, ... (none / 0) (#67)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:16:45 PM EST
    ... I try to separate that from my assessment of him as a politican. Sometimes, academics engage in biographical hagiography, which tends to turn me off.

    We're talking about real people here, not political demigods. So frankly, I just don't think too highly of Hamilton the pol, who was taciturn, judgmental and somewhat ruthless. But as a complete human being, warts and all, I'd say that he probably had more virtue to offer than vice, and was a positive influence on the country.

    And for that matter, while I have great respect for Thomas Jefferson the political philosopher / educator, I'm not a big fan of Jefferson as the president. But then, I think it's important for us to assess these guys' accomplishments or demerits in toto, and not by their individual life's chapters. Perhaps one of these times on an open thread, if you return, we can discuss Jefferson, too. I'd be intrigued to hear what you as an historian have to say about him.



    The title of the post unfairly assumes facts (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by scribe on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:53:07 PM EST
    not in evidence:  (1) that Brooks has any honesty in him and (2) that he would be capable of recogizing it when it smacked him across the snout.  Turn someone like him loose with a keyboard and ... well, it's less related to reality than a million monkeys typing a million years could cough up.

    if hamilton had been in favor of a (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by cpinva on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:09:00 PM EST
    limited federal gov't, he'd never have supported the constitution of 1789, which is precisely the opposite. they already had the articles of confederation, which provided for about as limited a central gov't as you could get, and still actually have a central gov't. so brooks is not only dishonest, he has to ignore the period of an entire decade of extremely limited central gov't, in order to accomplish his task. in his american history, the "second revolution" never happened.

    however, what brooks has going for him is american history text books, through high school. unless they've changed dramatically (possible, i haven't looked at one in years), the articles of confederation barely rate a single sentence's mention, if mentioned at all. they go right from the treaty of paris to the constitution. apparently, the country was in stasis for the intervening years.

    Are you sure this is dishonesty (none / 0) (#1)
    by me only on Tue May 29, 2012 at 12:54:00 PM EST
    and not just ignorance?  Many people seem to think the federalists were in favor of limited government.

    Well, they do say... (none / 0) (#11)
    by unitron on Tue May 29, 2012 at 02:37:56 PM EST
    ...never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.



    On a blog ... (none / 0) (#40)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:01:28 PM EST
    ALWAYS attribute malice.



    He's not a blogger (none / 0) (#69)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:44:38 PM EST
    he's a columnist for the NY Times.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#76)
    by Robot Porter on Wed May 30, 2012 at 09:18:07 AM EST
    It was just a humorous aside.  

    But the "attribution of malice" couldn't come from the person writing the original piece.  

    Keep up.


    Don't remind me.... (none / 0) (#79)
    by ruffian on Wed May 30, 2012 at 11:48:49 AM EST
    but while we're at it...that man is a millionaire! There is no justice.

    Oculus has a link (none / 0) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:12:18 PM EST
    Put up in this Dkos diary that links to the Federalist papers that Hamilton authored if you are serious about knowing how small government he was.  IMO, he was anything but small government as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson all fought him outright against having a big government standing Army.

    Jefferson and Madison fought him about establishing a National bank.


    "Federalist" (none / 0) (#52)
    by Fietsbode on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:34:06 PM EST
    That's because of the ambiguity of the word "federalist." But "federalist" in the 1790s meant strong pro:federal government, not "states' rights."

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#65)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:54:38 PM EST
    It was President John Adams, a Federalist, who first argued for establishing a stronger U.S. naval presence in the Atlantic, and aggressively pursued an undeclared naval war with revolutionary France in the late 1790s. The Federalists were hardly small-goverment isolationists.

    Conversely, I believe it was President Jefferson and the Democratic Republicans who later pursued the Embargo Act of 1807, a "pox on both houses" attitude toward Britain and France that backfired and plunged the country into an economic depression.


    The founders were for a limited government (none / 0) (#12)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 02:53:43 PM EST
    The big disagreement among the founding generation was in terms of the power of the Federal Government vis-a-vis the state governments, not the Federal government verus the individual. The founders were, almost to a man, near libertarians when it came to individual rights and liberties which is why I find Big Tent Democrats contention here so dishonest. Like it or not, they were not in favor of a social welfare state, and they would not recognize the twisting the Commerce Clause done by the court done by the Roosevelt court in the 1930's.

    Then again, I regard the last 2 Presidential administrations Constitutionally illegitimate, but since no one cares anymore, I know it doesn't matter.

    The USA is dead, long live the USA. The only real question is what will replace the current polity and when that will happen.

    Your comment is (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:02:04 PM EST
    simply incorrect.

    The Bill of Rights was a concession from the Federalists to the Anti-Federalists to gain consensus support for the Constitution.

    You are simply utterly incorrect in what you write.


    Oh, dear (1.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:04:38 PM EST
    I would LOVE for you to prove that I am incorrect about the founders political philosophy.

    As I said, I find you dishonest, so I doubt you'll even try.


    I just did (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:06:32 PM EST
    Read Hamilton.

    As to proving anything to people who choose to be ill informed, well, that is an impossibility.

    Your stupidity makes the task impossible.


    Sure thing, cutie (1.00 / 6) (#17)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:09:51 PM EST
    Maybe you could explain the tenth Amendment then.

    Now load up a few more of your insults or decide to ban me from your threads as you simply are too intellectually dishonest to stand the slightest disagreements in your threads.


    As I wrote (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:19:01 PM EST
    We attempt to keep the comments at Talk Left civil. Surely you do not accuse me of initiating the insult battle here?

    Hell, I ignored your first insult. But you persisted.

    But let's see about that Tenth Amendment. It says:

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    Which particular power do you believe was not delegated to the United States that was exercised in The New Deal?

    Perhaps "Commerce" is the word you quibble with. So your argument is with the Founder John Marshall I think.

    Or perhaps "Necessary and Proper" are words you do not like?

    The funny thing about The New Deal is there is no real originalist argument against it.  

    The better argument is regarding application of the Commerce power to non-economic activity - say, the federal criminal laws.

    But there you may have to fight it out with Scalia, Roberts and Alito. (Thomas, to his credit, dissented in Raich.)

    Here's a question, do you have any idea what I am talking about? I bet you do not. Too much Fox on the brain.


    I don't watch Fox except (none / 0) (#33)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:45:47 PM EST
    If someone links to it on the internet in a thread I'm reading.
    It like 99 percent of the MSM is just agitprop.

    My opinion on the current SCOTUS?
    Political all the way (and shows the reason why I'm not sure the Institution should have been set up).
    Even when I agree with the court (like with the Second Amendment cases so far) I know that the Justices who vote for that are mostly doing so in opposition to other cases they've done. Most of the "conservatives" on the court are all about increasing governmental police power, as are most of the "liberals". They just disagree over which powers to increase and which to hold in check. In practice because there are so many 5-4 decisions the current court rarely checks the government in anything.

    As for the commerce clause? Please don't think I haven't read your posts on it before. But I know how it was actually USED and the use made of it (as well as the "necessary and proper" clause) over most of the first 150 years pretty much convinces me that the Federal Government has no real authority over most of the things its currently calling commerce. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn
    This is when it went off the track as far as I am concerned.


    You need to read Gibbons v. Ogden (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:06:14 PM EST
    Link (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:10:02 PM EST

    This instrument contains an enumeration of powers expressly granted by the people to their government. It has been said that these powers ought to be construed strictly. But why ought they to be so construed? Is there one sentence in the Constitution which gives countenance to this rule? In the last of the enumerated powers, that which grants expressly the means for carrying all others into execution, Congress is authorized "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" for the purpose. But this limitation on the means which may be used is not extended to the powers which are conferred, nor is there one sentence in [p188] the Constitution which has been pointed out by the gentlemen of the bar or which we have been able to discern that prescribes this rule. We do not, therefore, think ourselves justified in adopting it. What do gentlemen mean by a "strict construction?" If they contend only against that enlarged construction, which would extend words beyond their natural and obvious import, we might question the application of the term, but should not controvert the principle. If they contend for that narrow construction which, in support or some theory not to be found in the Constitution, would deny to the government those powers which the words of the grant, as usually understood, import, and which are consistent with the general views and objects of the instrument; for that narrow construction which would cripple the government and render it unequal to the object for which it is declared to be instituted, and to which the powers given, as fairly understood, render it competent; then we cannot perceive the propriety of this strict construction, nor adopt it as the rule by which the Constitution is to be expounded. As men whose intentions require no concealment generally employ the words which most directly and aptly express the ideas they intend to convey, the enlightened patriots who framed our Constitution, and the people who adopted it, must be understood to have employed words in their natural sense, and to have intended what they have said. If, from the imperfection of human language, there should be serious doubts respecting the extent of any given power, it is a well settled rule that the objects [p189] for which it was given, especially when those objects are expressed in the instrument itself, should have great influence in the construction. We know of no reason for excluding this rule from the present case. The grant does not convey power which might be beneficial to the grantor if retained by himself, or which can enure solely to the benefit of the grantee, but is an investment of power for the general advantage, in the hands of agents selected for that purpose, which power can never be exercised by the people themselves, but must be placed in the hands of agents or lie dormant. We know of no rule for construing the extent of such powers other than is given by the language of the instrument which confers them, taken in connexion with the purposes for which they were conferred.

    The words are, "Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes."

    The subject to be regulated is commerce, and our Constitution being, as was aptly said at the bar, one of enumeration, and not of definition, to ascertain the extent of the power, it becomes necessary to settle the meaning of the word. The counsel for the appellee would limit it to traffic, to buying and selling, or the interchange of commodities, and do not admit that it comprehends navigation. This would restrict a general term, applicable to many objects, to one of its significations. Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more: it is intercourse. It describes the commercial [p190] intercourse between nations, and parts of nations, in all its branches, and is regulated by prescribing rules for carrying on that intercourse. The mind can scarcely conceive a system for regulating commerce between nations which shall exclude all laws concerning navigation, which shall be silent on the admission of the vessels of the one nation into the ports of the other, and be confined to prescribing rules for the conduct of individuals in the actual employment of buying and selling or of barter.

    The case was decided in 1824. So you might want to rethink when you think the Court went "astray"
    asto the Commerce power.


    Forgot about this part, didn't you? (none / 0) (#60)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:28:47 PM EST
    "The genius and character of the whole government seem to be that its action is to be applied to all the external concerns of the nation, and to those internal concerns which affect the States generally, but not to those which are completely within a particular State, which do not affect other States, and with which it is not necessary to interfere for the purpose of executing some of the general powers of the government. The completely internal commerce of a State, then, may be considered as reserved for the State itself."

    My argument was about Wickard and it applies ONLY to the act of growing food for ONESELF and ONES FAMILY. IF he is not selling it, he is NOT engaging in COMMERCE.

    I first encountered Gibbons when reading a book about Steamships. The only thing arguably even new in the opinion was asserting that selling a SERVICE was part of "commerce", something I would take to be self evident, so I don't even buy that argument (that the court was enlarging Congresses power to regulate commerce) in the first place.

    But when you aren't selling ANYTHING..well, that's a step too far. So no, I don't think Gibbons saves you, and I think Wickard is an abomination ripe for abuse - and it has been abused. The government should have no right to compel anyone to engage in commerce, unless absolute necessity can be proven (think of medical care - this would be such a case)and regardless it should never put under the term "commerce" acts which don't even comply with the normal meaning of the term. Gibbons agrees with this.

    Please don't misunderstand me. I think Roosevelt had to do at least some of what he did. I just contend we should be more honest about it than we currently are.

    Think of it this way: Lincoln never denied he was violating Habeas Corpus - he claimed necessity, and when that necessity was done, he restored the right. Same with the Civil War income tax. For 50 years after the war nothing much was heard in the land about such a thing. When Lincoln needed to "borrow" a power he gave it back.
    Arguably the government today -both Repubs and Dems - doesn't do this any longer. Today, we'd just find some cute legal justification to pretend we weren't violating Habeas Corpus after all.


    I just love it when wingnut wannabes show up (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by scribe on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:47:48 PM EST
    with a pocket Constitution in hand, and start reciting it with no knowledge of the 220+ years of interpretive case law surrounding and informing that document.

    Their usual objective being, of course, the enactment of the Rethuglican agenda du jour.  And the creation of a sort of police state dictatorship where only the right sort of people (in the twits' fantasy lives, people like themselves) have any rights, women are in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant, and the only black man in the Oval Office is bringing the coffee and saying "yes, massa."  Unfortunately for these twits, they don't want to accept the one of the deeper truths of the matter, which is that the likes of George W. Bush would never have a beer - alcoholic or non - with one of these twits because, darlings, they are of a much lower class than he and always will be.

    And then they get cheesed when they get called on their aggressive ignorance.


    As for the federal power (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:05:36 PM EST
    Hqamilton made his views quite clear see his letter to Washington on the First Bank of the United States.

    FYI, Jefferson was not a "Founder" - he was in France during the Constitutional Convention.


    In case you are too stupid to (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:10:14 PM EST
    know how to click a link -

    "Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.

    This principle, in its application to government in general, would be admitted as an axiom; and it will be incumbent upon those who may incline to deny it, to prove a distinction, and to show that a rule which, in the general system of things, is essential to the preservation of the social order, is inapplicable to the United States."

    The words of Alexander Hamilton.

    Later of course to be paraphrased in McCulloch v. Maryland, written by ANOTHER Founder, John Marshall.

    Perhaps these clear words will penetrate your skull.

    Note to other commenters - I feel privileged to insult this person in that he chose to call me dishonest.

    I suppose cite rules required me to delete his comment, but I preferred to leave his stupidity, so emblematic of the conservative movement these days, on display.


    Since I never spoke of Jefferson (none / 0) (#20)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:12:36 PM EST
    I don't know what your point of bringing him up was.

    I will say that trying to remove any meaningful limits from the Constitution (without even bothering to amend it and totally in disregard of how it was interpreted in the past) is something only a fool unconcerned with the implications of actual power would do.

    As for Hamilton and the National Bank controversy I've been aware of that for twenty years at least.


    Aware of (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:19:39 PM EST
    but you seem not to understand it.

    minor history lesson (none / 0) (#19)
    by CST on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:11:16 PM EST
    One of the first conflicts that the founding fathers had to deal with was about the rights of an individual vs. the rights of the state.

    "The rural farming population was generally unable to meet the demands being laid on them by the merchants or by the civil authorities, and individuals began to lose their land and other possessions when they were unable to fulfill their debt and tax obligations. This led to resentment against the tax collectors (who were responsible for collecting taxes owed) and the justice system, where creditors obtained and enforced judgments against debtors, and where tax collectors obtained judgments for the taking of property"

    "At the time of the rebellion, the weaknesses of the federal government as constituted under the Articles of Confederation were apparent to many. A vigorous debate was going on throughout the states on the need for a stronger central government, with Federalists argued for the idea, and anti-Federalists opposing them. Historical opinion is divided on what sort of role the rebellion played in the formation and later ratification of the United States Constitution, although most scholars agree it played some role, at least temporarily drawing some anti-Federalists to the strong government side."



    Sayes Rebellion (2.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:16:42 PM EST
    Was years after the ratification of the Constitution.

    I'm not going to argue that the Federal government was ever perfect in following the Constitution. Indeed, Lincoln , for instance had a good reason to act as he did during the Civil War, and Jefferson Davis likewise. Wars and emergencies are exceptions to all but the most diehard libertarian.


    What? (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by CST on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:21:40 PM EST
    No it wasn't.  It happened from 1786 to 1787.

    The Constitution was written in 1787 and went into effect in 1789.


    Your problem is (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:22:10 PM EST
    you seem to believe the Founders were libertarians, which is one of the most absurd propositions ever put forward.

    Also to, how does a libertarian support States rights anyway as you seem to?

    Why would a libertarian not be offended by State government action that limits individual rights while at the same time being offended by federal government action that does the same?

    You are as coherent as most so called "libertarians," which is to say, not at all.


    OMG, BTD, the libertarians, oy! (5.00 / 6) (#48)
    by Dr Molly on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:41:47 PM EST
    The other night I was a at dinner party that included a couple of libertarians, and political discussion ensued.

    I swear to Dog, ... this has been building for a while now.... I think I have even more contempt for libertarians than I do for the republicans at this point.

    Not only is libertarianism incoherent, it is simply the most childish, simplistic, self-absorbed worldview, I can't even believe it.  


    You swear to Dog, but kdog (none / 0) (#54)
    by oculus on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:35:38 PM EST
    isn't here to defend his views!

    I never said the Founders were all libertarians (none / 0) (#32)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:32:22 PM EST
    Or that they agreed on everything. The Constitution itself was a compromise.

    All I've basically said was the big argument at the time was the limits of "federalism" versus the State governments.

    What I've also claimed is that most of the founders WOULD be very libertarian leaning (using todays political terminology) on many issues.

    I'm not a libertarian or a conservative. I'm not "progressive" and I don't like either of the current two parties that are the big ones in our current political system.

    Just call me Mr. Marginalized if you want. Regardless, I'm not shilling for anything or anybody I just think it's ridiculous to argue a totally unconstrained version of the Constitution, which is basically all you ever do. You should just admit you don't like the thing, and be done with it. But you are at heart a partisan and that doesn't look good so you try to imagine that Alexander Hamilton would back you on most of your policy prescriptions.

    I find that laughable.
    Let me agree: we need a new Constitution. The current one doesn't let the Feds do what they should to create a stable political polity (we desperately need some social benefits and economic reforms) without so many people talking out of both sides of their mouths and out their asses to try to cloak themselves in it while they violate it with impunity.

    My favorite part of that was that years ago I read some of the Income Tax cases. Watching the SCOTUS reverse itself completely within just a few years was both sad and hilarious.


    that's just not true (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by CST on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:47:30 PM EST
    they were also very clearly afraid of mob rule and the "people" having too much influence over government.  That's why we have the electoral college, and the senate, etc...

    Those all took power away from the individual.

    I think you are trying to oversimplify something  that isn't that simple.


    And this is a good post and a good point BUT (none / 0) (#63)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:46:09 PM EST
    At least in part the reason they limited "mob rule" (i.e "direct democracy") was in part to protect unpopular people's rights. While I would argue the German people never "elected" the Concentration (or Death) camps, they did elect a party they knew would make things very tough legally and socially for those of Jewish descent.

    Crap like that is partly why we are nominally a republic and not a democracy.


    If you can point to one occasion (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:04:31 PM EST
    I have ever argued for a "totally unconstrained Constitution" I'd be please if you could point it out to me.

    I've spent a great deal of time on the originalism vs. Living issue at this blog and elsewhere and my words are there for anyone to read.

    They are there for anyone to read.


    There's a very good reason ... (4.20 / 5) (#39)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:41:28 PM EST
    ... why you're marginalized. You've no one to blame for your isolation other than your own self. Increasingly, your posts often sound like they're being written by a nasty drunk. You should apologize to BTD for your insulting remarks.

    I know you'd find me ok Donald (none / 0) (#64)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:47:41 PM EST
    If I put a (D) behind my name.
    It's very, very, very , hard to take you seriously about much of anything outside of your personal life of which, believe it or not, I wish you and your loved ones well.

    FYI, there are plenty of people ... (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:31:36 PM EST
    ... with a (D) behind their names that I don't much care for. I've never denied that we have our fair share of Bozos over here. But then, our clowns aren't in charge of the circus.

    You, OTOH, seem to have a rather well-inflated opinion of your own personal views, which explains the belittling attitude you hold for those people who don't necessarily agree with you.

    The difference between you and BTD is that as a distinguished litigator, he can support his contentions with evidence and facts, whereas you tend to support yours with a lot of fertilizer and methane.


    BTD (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Slayersrezo on Wed May 30, 2012 at 12:05:08 AM EST
    Is a litigator, true, but I hold lawyers a step above politicians in terms of my esteem at this particular point in time, though, alas, there are far too many crossovers.
    Being a litigator, however, doesn't make him an expert on Constitutional history or Constitutional law, which, last I heard, he never majored in.

    But hmmm...he has that "D" behind his name and in his online title. I'm sure that to you, he walks on water.


    "D" (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by cal1942 on Wed May 30, 2012 at 02:43:36 AM EST
    It would be difficult to name a Democratic officeholder who hasn't been criticized on this site.

    Your comments are so much like one of my nephews who's ignorant of history, economics and civics but never fails to spew nonsense in support of his Conservative views.

    You and my nephew sound like a non-stop right-wing chain email.


    Ironically (none / 0) (#77)
    by Slayersrezo on Wed May 30, 2012 at 11:30:04 AM EST
    I was the only kid in my entire school to get a perfect score in my class when we did the civics test (Maryland in the 1980's), but keep fooling yourself that I'm a wingnut who watches/reads Rush or Hannity and watches Fox.

    As for history, I doubt you could hold my jockstrap. I've probably read thousands of hours of it over the past 10 years alone. Simply because I don't come to your conclusions doesn't make me ignorant. It might make you stupid though.


    Look pal (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by cal1942 on Wed May 30, 2012 at 04:22:47 PM EST
    you have zero to teach anyone on this site.

    Your boastfulness is comic.  Your whole high school eh?  You really don't know how much you revealed about yourself in that comment.


    Con law seems to be an intensive (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Wed May 30, 2012 at 12:08:16 AM EST

    furthermore (none / 0) (#29)
    by CST on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:24:53 PM EST
    it's a clear example of the founding fathers preference for federalism over the rights of the individual and is partially responsible for the fact that there IS a constitution because the articles of confederation weren't strong enough.

    Huh! (none / 0) (#74)
    by cal1942 on Wed May 30, 2012 at 03:10:25 AM EST
    Which Supreme Court in the 1930s are you talking about?

    When you say Founders, who are you talking about?

    'Libertarians when it came to individual rights.'  Why were the first 10 amendments promised to get the Constitution ratified?  The work coming out of Philadelphia and submitted to the states for ratification was absent the Bill of Rights.  

    Social Welfare State?  From the minds of men in the 18th century. Really.

    Does the base of your knowledge come from right-wing emails?


    Hi (none / 0) (#81)
    by Slayersrezo on Wed May 30, 2012 at 12:47:02 PM EST
    You may be familiar with the argument that the Bill of Rights wasn't necessary and might have even been counterproductive because government might take it as meaning that ONLY those rights that were specifically enumerated in it where real rights. To show that this wasn't the case, is the purpose of the Tenth Amendment.

    You can thank me for the history lesson.


    You really think (3.00 / 2) (#82)
    by cal1942 on Wed May 30, 2012 at 04:15:31 PM EST
    you have something to teach?



    WHAT?! (none / 0) (#45)
    by Addison on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:06:02 PM EST
    I don't think you've gone far enough in ridiculing Brooks on the extent of his idiocy here.

    Hamilton was often for more government intervention and management of the economy. Hamilton wanted the federal government to take on massive debt to lessen the burden on the states. Hamilton pushed for government tariffs to steer and encourage American industry. Hamilton famously developed the idea of a centralized bank. He sought to raise federal taxation to pay off debt instead of cutting government spending.

    Compare Brooks:

    From the dawn of the republic, the federal government has played a vital role in American economic life. Government promoted industrial development in the 18th century, transportation in the 19th, communications in the 20th and biotechnology today. But the federal role has historically been sharply limited. The man who initiated that role, Alexander Hamilton, was a nationalist.

    With someone who knows what they are talking about:

    [Hamilton] was not confident that [industrialization] would emerge naturally. In a 1782 essay he asserted that trade was not self-regulating and self-correcting, and in July 1783 he argued for deliberate government management of trade so that "injurious branches of commerce might be discouraged, favourable branches  encouraged, [and] useful products and manufactures promoted." This conviction that economic experts, equipped with knowledge, good intentions, and enough political force, can shape a more prosperous future than could the natural incentives of a free market, is known as industrial policy.


    There are of course ways in which Hamilton's economic and governance ideas differ from modern-day progressives, modern-day libertarians, modern-day centrists. The "policy sets" weren't the same back then. But pretty much everything Brooks says is 180 degrees off! As in: Hamilton said and did the exact opposite. It's like he's somehow mixed up Hamilton and Jefferson -- THIS IS VERY HARD TO DO. It's amazing that Brooks still gets to scribble where he does. (Note that I'm not saying surprising).