Free Range Report Contributor
“We are at the beginning of great troubles.”
President Obama’s consideration of designating the 1.9 million acre Bears Ears National Monument begs the follow-up question: “If the President can unilaterally designate this Monument, despite opposition from every level of government, local, State, and federal, what can’t the President do?” It is not so much a matter of doing the right thing or the wrong thing as it is about having authority to do the thing at all. From whence cometh this presumed authority? Certainly not from the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. These documents, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederacy, were a practical and well organized set of internal controls designed specifically to guard against unrestrained power. So while we argue the pros and cons of a monument, we lose the much more important discussion dealing with those controls.
Ron Chernow, in his book Hamilton, writes about the young Alexander Hamilton learning “the useful lesson that people who manipulate the law wield the real power in society.” It is not adherence to the law that brings power but manipulation of the law. I have observed that schemers are always ten steps ahead of people of goodwill. Manipulators, spoilers, liars, accusers; these are the ones who wield the power in our society. It is nothing new, in fact Saul Alinsky appropriately acknowledged Lucifer as being the first master of manipulation, and recognized the effectiveness of the tactics.
Incidentally, my copy of Hamilton is important to me because it bears my name and inmate number on the spine. I read it while incarcerated in the Purgatory Correctional Facility, and I made notes in the margins with a golf pencil I borrowed from my cell-mate.
What is lost when internal controls are corrupted – when the law is manipulated? Freedom. When the very laws which were put in place to protect property rights and to define the limitations on government, are turned upside down to imprison ranchers, and county commissioners, and reporters who contend, not even with federal agencies, but with environmental special interest groups, you may rest assured that, as Edmond Burke said, “we are the beginning of great troubles.”
“If the President can unilaterally designate this Monument, despite opposition from every level of government, local, State, and federal, what can’t the President do?”
We could engage in endless debate about the Bears Ears monument proposal – The distorted claims of artifact looting; the matter of whether a National Monument would protect or endanger the archaeology of the area; the merits of a tourist based economy which excludes minerals extraction activities; the historical record; etc., etc. But those issues serve only to decoy the mind. They tend to stupefy rather than inform.
And it is no wonder that people seem confused; we are dealing with organizations who have studied the art of confusion. Groups like SUWA, The Wilderness Society, The Pew Trust, The Conservation Lands Foundation, all of them are dedicated to a business model that flourishes on misinformation. Unfortunately these spin doctors have found willing partners in Friends of Cedar Mesa, Dine Bikeyah, Crow Canyon School, and other local groups willing to support their ideology in exchange for money.
Again, this is nothing new, and it is nothing that was not predicted by the Framers of America’s organizing contracts. They put controls in place knowing that conspiring people would work to undermine those controls. Ultimately the only limit to usurpation is the tolerance of the people affected by it.
Phil Lyman is a county commissioner from San Juan County, Utah