L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 62, December 31, 1999
The Emperor Bill Seizes Another Million Acres
by Vin Suprynowicz
Special to TLE
You have to hand one thing to Bill Clinton: He thinks big.
Back in 1996, this president staged a televised press conference at
the south rim of the Grand Canyon to announce he was waving his
"executive order" magic wand and declaring off limits to further
commercial development or productive use -- without the consultation,
consent, or approval of Congress or the Legislature of the state in
question -- a huge hunk of southern Utah now designated the "Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument."
The Grand Canyon is a different national park entirely, of course. It
was apparently just judged a more suitable photogenic backdrop for
the network TV crews than the area actually being set aside by the
president for eternal preservation, much of that land being, well ...
(Did I mention the Utahans had been planning to mine low-sulfur coal
from the land thus ruled off limits for any American hoping to earn a
living? Did I mention the world's other largest untapped
reserve of such low-sulfur coal belongs to James Riady's Indonesian
Lippo Group, which now faces far less competition? Did I mention the
Riadys and Lippo have been among the largest contributors -- legal or
otherwise -- to President Clinton's election campaigns?)
Anyway, having seen the president blithely bypass a Congress which
has curiously balked at barring American ranchers, miners, lumbermen,
and plain old hunters and fishermen from making any productive use of
swatches of this nation's countryside larger than many a European
principality, the kind of eco-nuts who live in big cities and think
they can tell Westerners how to manage their coyotes and ravens
apparently got to thinking: Why stop there?
So this March, federal Secretary of Land Seizures Bruce Babbitt
traveled to Arizona to attend a public meeting at which the federals
discussed a new proposed sweep of Mr. Clinton's magic wand, this time
to rule off limits to productive use another 300,000 to 600,000 acres
on the north rim of the Grand Canyon -- to be referred to as the
Shivwits Plateau National Monument, or the Grand Canyon-Parashant
National Monument, or the Grand Canyon-Mount Charleston National
Monument ... something like that.
Sure enough, President Clinton announced Dec. 14 he plans to do it
again -- but not for a mere piker's 600,000 acres. No, no, the new
plan is to set aside by executive decree another million acres
-- the north rim of the Grand Canyon right up to the Nevada border
... plus another 8,000 acres near San Francisco if his mapmakers can
find the way to San Jose; 71,000 acres for a new "Agua Fria National
Monument" in the black-rock barrens north of Phoenix, Ariz.; and ...
what else, Bruce? ... heck, throw in a couple of islands off the
At least, that's it for now. Tomorrow's another day.
Nevada senators Harry Reid and Richard Bryan, contacted for comments,
expressed no major concerns. Sen. Reid said "That's Arizona's
problem." Sen. Bryan only asked that such bold power grabs be dressed
up in future with the proper trappings of "sufficient public input,"
while acknowledging the president is probably asserting himself so
recklessly because the Republican-led Congress (now conveniently on
holiday recess) has proven hostile to additional "public land
"Protection" from what? Most of the lands in question are already
administered by the BLM, which has been progressively closing down
access roads and running off the local peasants for some years now.
No one was planning to pave this arid real estate and erect a chain
of massive new Toys 'R Us franchises.
As for the notion that the president is somehow justified to thus act
unilaterally when the Congress drags its feet: This violates nothing
less than the two most important underlying precepts of the very
Constitution which William Jefferson Clinton twice swore a sacred
oath to protect and defend.
The Founding Fathers warned us repeatedly that 1) the way to avoid
tyranny is to allow government not to do any thing it believes a
"good idea," but rather to allow it to do only those things for which
it has been delegated specific powers; and 2) that those powers have
been divided among the three branches of government not in hopes they
would "work smoothly together," but just the opposite -- in the
specific hope and expectation that one branch or another could always
be relied upon to properly "drag its feet" should another branch (the
executive being by far the greatest concern) take it into its head to
rule by decree ... you know, like a dictator.
This failure of Nevada's two weak-hearted senators to rise up here
and jealously guard their legislative prerogative is very
discouraging. One wonders if their keepers still allow them solid
At least U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., the only member of the Nevada
delegation who seems to have re-read the Constitution recently,
declared: "These types of decisions should not be made in the secrecy
of the White House."
He said a mouthful.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. His new book,
Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998,
is available at $24.95 postpaid
from Mountain Media, P.O. Box 271122, Las Vegas, Nev. 89127; by
dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site
GOVERNMENT SCHOOL KILLERS
"Stepping back from the bloodshed, we can see that Columbine
demonstrates that all of the claims of government are lies. It said
it would provide a moral example; instead its wars have taught a
generation that killing innocents is fine. It said it would educate
the kids; instead it created monsters without remorse. It said it
would create schools; instead it set up a situation that led to the
equivalent of a prison riot. It said it would protect the children;
but it disarmed the teachers and administrators, leaving them
vulnerable to attack. It said it would stamp out criminality; instead
it let the criminals run free to kill others."
-- Jeffrey Tucker <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
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