Phil Lyman was sentenced to prison by a federal court on a number of charges for joining in a 2014 'Freedom Ride' on a disputed county road in Sam Juan County
Phil Lyman was sentenced to prison by a federal court on a number of charges for joining in a 2014 ‘Freedom Ride’ on a disputed county road in San Juan County

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


  1. This hits at the very core of State and County land controversies — where Freedom and democracy are pitted against the manipulation and deceit of powerful lobby groups who continue to throw their expansive causes into the President’s lap. Thank you for telling it like it is.

  2. As usual Phil hits the nail on the head. The country needs more elected officials like him.

      1. You didn’t follow the court proceedings very well, or you’d know they did not allow full evidence in this trial. The first judge was close friends with enviromentalist lobbyist, and had to be recused. Use of this “road” was determined some years ago, Qualifying as RS 2477. That designation was never rescinded as far as I know. And that county road called Recapture had been used since the late 1800’s. He is not a disgrade to Utah or other elected officials. You need to get better informed if you’re going to run for county commissioner.

      2. How do you know he doesn’t represent the people of Southern Utah? He has been elected by us, and he works for us. We love him! last time I checked that meant he was our representative.

        Your statements are dishonest and ignorant. The founding fathers created a government with three separate branches of government in order to create checks and balances. We were supposed to have an elected legislator to create laws and an elected executive to enforce the laws, then a jury of our peers when facing a trial. It no longer works that way! We have BLM and Forrest service agencies that usurped ownership of 92% of our land. They do not have a single elected official. They create laws like a king, and enforce them the same. when we are accused of breaking their make believe laws we are hauled to federal court far away from our homes and given a trial by crooked judges and a jury not of our peers but foreigners. In such a trial evidence is not presented but hidden….and then people like you say good riddance and throw more of us in jail. It was people like you that hailed tyrants like Hitler, cheered as they arrested political dissidents and allowed the destruction of freedom and goodness.

        A German Pastor, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) wrote a poem about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power that seems relevant to you and your philosophies…
        “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

        1. Carl, I’ve thought often of that very quote by Martin Niemoller as this battle over land has evolved. Those who weren’t concerned at first, because it didn’t directly touch their lives, didn’t get involved. I have to admit, I was that way when the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument was deceitfully designated, without any thought to lives, economy, freedoms, or land rights. I didn’t live there, nor did I know anyone who did. But then I met two different people who grew up there, with families who had multi-generations of investment in the land. They shared their stories with me and I started to realize the aftermath of such Executive decisions.

          Through research I learned that presidents use the Antiquities Act for “pseudo” support in such designations, and do so because of pressure from wealthy environmental lobbies. This is how the Conservation Lands Foundation sees the Niemoller’s truism playing out in state after state: The “Monument Men” come with promises “that all is well you won’t be affected” , then they destroy logging businesses (mining, oil, coal, etc), then they reduce the AUMs for cattle, then they decimated small local businesses (which happened in Garfield county), which in turn affects school enrollment, and families are driven away from the rural life style they and their ancestors loved and worked for all their lives. For like Hitler the CLF has a vision of what life should be; but unlike Germany’s despot who tried to create the “perfect race,” their perfect world is devoid of people — except in large cities, of course, which would be the ultimate punishment for most of us who love rural Utah.

      3. He’s a better county commissioner than you would ever be Phil at least has a back bone to stand for what he believes in . Go to San Juan and see what it is like to get the land taken away.

      4. Josh, your comments are so ignorant, its hard to imagine you as a county commissioner. So suffice it to say I wont be voting for you. Josh, why do you and people like you insist on and actually encourage the government to trample, tread on and usurp your rights and liberties? Our federal government is out of control and you want to imprison those who are intelligent enough to realize this. Josh, I lived in San Juan county for over 50 years. Phil Lyman was my neighbor, bishop, friend and relation. I consider him a true patriot and I stand with him in his efforts to put the brakes on a tyrannical federal government. And Josh I stand against you. It is scary to imagine someone as dumb as you being a county commissioner. By the way. No Bears Ears monument. No land grab. No more federal intrusion. End of discussion. Michael Nielson Lyman.

  3. Having lived in Utah my whole life, watching the encroachment of the Feds over 68% of the land here, I can tell you that Utah’s state government has to wake up. They must nullify this and all unconstitutional acts by the Feds. The legislature HAS TO draft a nullification resolution saying, no, to this. And then be willing to back it up by not allowing the Feds to place federal officers and employees in the area. It’s time to be tough. Jefferson and Madison called nullification the “rightful remedy.” It’s time to employ it as opposed to tough talk and federal lawsuits!

  4. Exactly correct. It is all about obeying law and defending constitutional principles. “Pure power corrupts perfectly!”
    The power needs to be returned to the people following the inspired model left to us by our founding fathers. If e do not follow that blue print we will lose our freedom.

  5. Exactly. Phil is right. What’s next? If an elected government official, a county commissioner, can knowingly break federal and state laws and receive $10,000 from the governor to pay for his legal defense, despite opposition from every level of government, local, State, and federal, what can’t a county commissioner do? From whence commeth his presumed authority?

    1. His authority comes from the state, the county, and the citizens which elected him, which is much greater and more encompassing than the authorities given to the federal government by the states.

  6. From my perspective we were “at the beginning of great troubles” when we allowed the BLM and FBI SS troops to use entrapment as basis to drag citizens out of their bed, use Gestapo tactics to harass and ultimately cost the life of a good Doctor. When we allowed Clinton to set aside 1.8 million acres with out Utah involvement at all. When our Federal Representatives, State Government, County Government, and local government did nothing in response to any of this , it is way past the beginning. When Lavoy can be gunned down under a pretext of “reaching for a stolen gun”, when whites of environmental group can set up a tent for Jewel while pretending to be representing local Natives, when 15 blacks can pull one white out of their car and stomp them in Minnesota and other people just watch – We are now up to our armpits in trouble and have lost our values and freedom as we knew it. We are walking down the same dangerous road as Germans and Jews did in Germany under Hitler and allowing evil to have power.
    Thank you Phil, and Monte for paying the price of trying to do something.

  7. Those who say that what Obama is doing as president is Constitutional because he once taught the Constitution and therefore respects it receive some of my deepest scorn. Satan knows God’s word very well, but it doesn’t mean he respects it. On the contrary, he uses his knowledge to manipulate the Word and twist it into meanings exactly opposite of God’s will. Obama is exactly the same with the Constitution, and this is just the latest proof of his deviltry.

  8. When are you going to stop crying about being in jail for a few days for inciting idiots? We’ve got bigger problems to worry about. Get over yourself.

    1. First of all meh meh meh, you don’t even have the guts to state your real name. So your dumb comments aren’t at all relevant and have no meaning whatsoever. Nice try though. No Bears Ears Monument. No land grab. No more federal intrusion. End of discussion. Michael Nielson Lyman.

Comments are closed.