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Jenny Woo Interviews Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Dec/08/2008
Dick Armey

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking with former Congressman Dick Armey.  As we spoke, Jenny realized that not all politicians are up tight and boring.  He's a man with an awesome sense of humor as we both had a few laughs throughout the interview.  However, (with all joking aside) we did cover some key issues like Internet Freedom, the government bailout and the Republican Party.  Check out FreedomWorks.org, an organization led by Armey and learn more of what he's been up to.

JENNY:  Hi Congressman.  First I want to say thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

ARMEY:  No problem.  Let me tell you that I have a donkey named Jenny.  And the last time she was running away from me, I yelled out "Jenny whoa". 

JENNY:  (Haha) Well then I'll take that as a compliment.

ARMEY:  Well I love my donkey.  She's a beautiful animal.  I know that that's not the reason you called.  But the reason we have a donkey is the donkey protects our goats from the coyotes. 

JENNY:  A donkey does that?  I've never heard of that.

ARMEY:  Oh yeah, coyotes are deathly afraid of donkeys.  She's like a mother with her little goats.  Even my sister's dogs are afraid of her; she'll run them off.  Donkeys are very protective.  Jenny's just a sweetheart.  She doesn't like being petted much, but if you put a handful of kisses out there then she'll let you hug on her a little.

JENNY:  (Haha) Well that's good to know.  If I ever plan on buying a donkey then I'll know who to go to.

ARMEY:  Here's another tip - If they ever throw you in jail, have somebody send you a goat cause a goat will show you the way out.  (Haha) But anyway, you didn't call for that.

JENNY:  (Haha) I hope I won't be in that situation, but I will definitely keep that in mind should I be in that situation.

JENNY:  Before we begin, how do you prefer to be called - Congressman, chairman, mister?

ARMEY:  Well they still call me "Leader" and it still tickles me; I'm still kid enough to enjoy it.  (Haha) But then I remind myself that that's what Bob Dole named his dog.

JENNY:  (Haha) Well then Leader Armey - Let's get started.

JENNY:  FreedomWorks is an organization led by you; and it states on the website (Freedomworks.org) that it's mission is to fight for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.  It also states that, "FreedomWorks drives policy change by training and mobilizing grassroots Americans to engage their fellow citizens and encourage their political representatives to act in defense of individual freedom and economic opportunity."  Does "individual freedom" include internet freedom as well as online gaming?  And what is your stance on Internet Freedom?

ARMEY:  Why yes it does.  I believe that personal liberty is a gift given to mankind by God almighty and it's the duty of government to protect it.  Especially on the internet I describe myself and I think the organization would accept the description of cyber-libertarians.  We think the internet, the electronic economy is the driving engine of the world economy; we're very wary of misguided government policies screwing it up or loading it up and tying it down with red tape.  Yes we believe in internet gambling.  I personally do not gamble.  But we believe that internet gambling is just another right; another freedom you should have. 

JENNY:  Do you believe online gaming can bring some relief to the taxpayers and the economy if it were taxed and regulated here in the U.S.?

ARMEY:  I'm very wary about taxing and regulating it.  I have to tell you - I think the greatest scams are gambling scams in America is the state sponsored lotteries.    Governments who fully advertise and by the way - who's lottery results are posted daily in the sports pages of America right next to NFL statistics and the current odds for the point spreads and so forth.  But when the government actually sponsors gambling, I think that is the only gambling sponsorship that I have ever objected to.

JENNY:  Speaking of the NFL - The NFL is paying top dollar to Washington lobbyists to ensure online gambling remains outlawed.  What is your opinion on big corporate (or in this case, a big professional sports league) having such an influence over Washington politicians?

ARMEY:  Of course everybody has the right to petition Congress.  It's guaranteed to us in the Constitution; it's one of the clear rights.  So of course they have every right to hire lobbyists; I don't know whom they've hired but my biggest problem with that is that their lobbyist's don't seem to have real commitment to what I would say acceptable quality work standards.  The regulations that they're trying to impose now are wrong in an effort that's inconsistent with the law that authorizes it; the law says that the regulations should be jointly issued by Treasury and The Federal Reserve - especially as it requires those requirements for enforcement on banks.  The Federal Reserve has not offered any and Treasury did not want to interface these regulations.  So we had a midnight set of regulations forced to reactance of Treasury and with the non-participation of Federal Reserve and over the objections of the committee chairman of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives; and it's sloppy work.  I think I'd at least have enough sense of self-respect to require that the lobbyists be sponsors of a decent work product. 

JENNY:  What are your thoughts on the Republican platform insisting on having online gambling prohibition as part of its election platform?

ARMEY:  I don't think it should be in the platform.  Again, I understand that this is the stuff that they send through the Christian right.  I happen to be in the evangelical priesthood, but my position has been - when you live a righteous life as an example before others, you win; if you try to use the power of the state to impose a righteous life, you lose.  This is a pet project for Dobson; I think he has a good and healthy financial relationship with the NFL and the platform committee hasn't put it in there as a stop to Dobson.   I think Dobson's wrong to push the power of the state in this way and I think the Republican Party's wrong to tackle the rest of it.

JENNY:  What has gone wrong with the Republican Party and what can be done to get things back on track?

 

ARMEY:  Well that's exactly the problem with the Republican Party whether it be "Earmark" spending that's using the public purse string to bring home a project to assist in reelection effort or it be using the power of the state to impose standard in behavior in such things as internet gambling or the Terri Schiavo case or any number of other areas.  The Republican Party is a party that stands in restraint to big government, not in promotional big government.

JENNY:  I've noticed that FreedomWorks is against the government bailout.  In your opinion, what are the alternatives to the government bailout?

ARMEY:  Other alternatives exist.  If you engage in bad business practices, the market will punish you.  It's called "creative destruction".  The fact is that the myth behind all this bailout nonsense is that if a large bank cannot fulfill its obligations and has to claim bankruptcy that there's going to be a big hole.  Basically, there'll be a big share in the market that will now be available to responsible bankers who will engage in good banking practices.  So the fact is that the bailout will infuse the market's ability to clean up a mess that's caused by irresponsible banking practices.  And I'll put it this way - I don't gamble for two reasons, it's very risky and I'm not good at it.  But I guarantee you, if the government's going to cover my butt then I'll bet the house on a pair of deuces.  So when they do the bill, what they're saying to people is "go ahead and be careless and irresponsible in your business practices and when you can't handle your obligations we'll bail you out."  If you gave that lesson to your kids, you'd have a bunch of irresponsible children. 

JENNY:  I just recently asked Congressman Ron Paul a similar questions and he responded, "just getting out of the way and allowing the market to work".  Do you agree?

ARMEY:  Absolutely.  That's what I'm saying.  The market would clean this mess up in short order.  The government will drag it out.  Now instead of me having to live with the mess for two or three months, my children probably get to live with the mess and my grandchildren will probably get to pay for it.  Look, six months ago, a year ago, maybe two years ago we had the big dot-come shakedown, everybody got into the easy money business in the dot-com markets, it had to get shaken up.

JENNY:  We're almost done with two more questions.  I'm sure you have to go as I hear a phone ringing in the background. 

ARMEY:  Don't worry.  It's my wife calling.  I don't answer it when she's calling. 

JENNY:  (Haha)

JENNY:  You have made "off the wall" comments - Example, when asked about the Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal, you replied, "If I were in the President's place I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, 'How do I reload this damn thing?"  I personally along with many others got a good laugh from that.  Do you think people are more drawn to you because of the humorous yet honest remarks that you make such as that?

ARMEY:  Mrs. Armey is in fact a better shot with a handgun then I am.  And I out shot two of my four security people when we went to the range together. 

JENNY:  (Haha) Well I do love to hear about powerful women.

ARMEY:  I do think the fact is that I try to make a point.  Years ago I wrote a very difficult textbook and one of the reviewers said, "Humor with relevance can be instructive".  So I like there to be a point to it.

One reporter said to me, "the reason she liked me was because I had such spiffy comments".  And I said, "yeah, but the people I pick on don't like them".  (Haha)

JENNY:  (Haha) Yeah I would have to agree on that.  However, they are funny. 

I've noticed that people are drawn to you because of the fact that you make point with humor but it's an honest point. 

ARMEY:  Of course the world of country music helps me out so much.

JENNY:  Is there anything specific that we should expect from FreedomWorks in the near future?

ARMEY:  Obviously we anticipate a big load of heavy lifting with the new Democrat majority.  And that probably starts with "card check" which is denying work to men and women.  These guys crack me up.  My daddy use to say, "A gentleman is a man that protects a lady from everyone but himself".  So here you have members of Congress saying, "we're going to protect working men and women from a secret ballot" and then question whether or not they unionize.  Can you imagine protecting workers by denying them the right to a secret ballot?  That's probably one of the first things we'll be fighting.  We like to advocate good policy when we have a chance.  But we think there's going to be a lot of bad stuff to put up a good fight against. 

JENNY:  I look forward in seeing that.  This has been an honor Leader Armey.  (Haha)

ARMEY:  (Haha) It's been a privilege. e in the U.S.?

----

Jenny Woo, Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent

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