America's Narrow Escape
All networks broke into their scheduled programs on Tuesday, July
28, to tell us about Monica Lewinsky's immunity package and the
President's deal with the Grand Jury. Yet, unbeknownst to most of
our fellow citizens, the narrowest escape on that day belonged to
the United States of America.
Meeting under the chairmanship of Rep. David M. McIntosh (R-IN),
a subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
heard witnesses offer their views of Executive Order 13083, and
proceeded to force its immediate suspension. And none too soon.
E.O. 13083 was to become the law of the land tomorrow - August 12,
1998, ninety days after it had been signed by the president.
E.O. 13083 bears the innocuous title "Federalism." But
embedded in an orgy of misleading verbiage, it establishes the grounds
for "Federal action," overriding the rights of states
and changing the constitutional order established here between the
years of 1787 and 1791. In other words, it dismantles that which
had taken humanity most of its existence to achieve: a self-governing
E.O. 13083 lists nine conditions under which the president may
assume unlimited powers, for that is the real meaning of "Federal
action." Any number of them may be employed to invoke the order
at a moment's notice. If I now focus on No.8, it is because it shed
sudden light on a similar device already deployed.
What the president calls the "Heritage Rivers Initiative"
has impressed me from the beginning as an ingenious way to gain
control of land owned by millions of Americans in the Eastern half
of the country.
Whereas in the West, the federal government already owns much of
the land - in Nevada, for example, close to 80 per cent - in the
East, the extent of federal ownership is negligible. Trying to gain
control of land piece by piece is an arduous process. But land is
useless without water, so the "Initiative" was developed
to control the major waterways and everything around them. As we
speak, commissars - called "river navigators" - are being
appointed to govern these regions, and thirteen federal agencies
have been designated to render ownership of land increasingly academic
in the long term.
However, when we connect "Heritage Rivers" and E.O. 13083,
a much more immediate design emerges. Condition No.8 will trigger
"Federal action" - "When the matter [?] relates to
Federally owned or managed property or natural resource, trust obligations,
or international obligations."
The web thus woven covers all 50 states of the union by adding
"Federally managed natural resources" to the land federally
owned. Possible gaps in the president's ability to assume dictatorial
powers were closed through the inclusion of "international
obligations," since large chunks of American soil have been
transferred already to the United Nations.
Anyone familiar with our American ways would assume that such a
sweeping alteration of our American ways would have been preceded
by passionate speeches in both chambers of Congress, heated exchanges
on the talking head networks, anchorpersons taking sides, finally
the president addressing the nation on behalf of his proposal and
subsequently producing polling results of overwhelming popular endorsement.
Instead, the president quietly signed E.O. 13083 on May 14, 1998,
in Birmingham. Not the one in Alabama. The one in England.
The last time documents of a similar nature were signed in England,
the calendar showed 1776. They were promptly described as "usurpations"
and addressed in a treatise known as the Declaration of Independence.
Not in 1998. True, David Broder wrote a piece for the Washington
Post. But he was at pains to avoid both an expression of his views
- so unambiguous and incisive when he reports on Republicans - and
any reference to the actual Executive Order by number, date, or
content. Also, Mr. Broder managed to close the article with the
customary "they all do it" - the preferred vehicle of
journalists when they abandon their constitutional role. As for
the television networks, the whole affair might as well have happened
in Outer Mongolia.
Mr. Clinton stands accused daily of being at odds with truth. In
this instance, however, his critics may examine their own willingness
to listen. In his second inaugural address, he issued a clear call
for a "new government for the new century." No one protested,
even though the only other such call in our history occurred in
1776. Having just been reelected after his equally clear intention
to install the defunct soviet healthcare system in America, he had
every reason to believe that his preference for socialism over America's
founding principles had been endorsed by the electorate, even if
the healthcare proposal failed.
Mr. Clinton's announcement on September 17, 1997, that he would
now proceed to "change the behavior of the people" was
the next clear departure from the constitutional constraints imposed
on American presidents. Again, no one protested. Why would he stop
now? Why are we reluctant to register that, in important matters,
he is consistent?
President Clinton's warmth toward communist China is a natural
extension of young Bill Clinton's tender feelings toward the Soviet
Union. He and most of his associates genuinely believe that socialism,
far from being a threat, is superior to American principles. 58
members of the U.S. House of Representatives, called the "Progressive
Caucus," now openly say so. This is a free country. Socialists
are entitled to that freedom just like the rest of us. And if they
are elected to office, they have earned a legitimate pulpit for
For those willing to listen, the president has been truthful when
it mattered. The rest of us simply won't admit to ourselves that
we ended up with a socialist administration, and that socialists
have acquired key positions in the cabinet, in our legislatures
and courthouses - as well as in the colleges, universities, radio
and television networks, and Hollywood.
Let us not blame them. They are only pursuing their beliefs.
America's socialists know how to work together. Are the rest of
us prepared to do the same, or do we entrust our future to more
narrow escapes? Are we ready to line up behind America's principles,
or do we continue to blame the other side for doing what they believe
Executive Order 13083 is likely to keep coming back in as many
guises as it will take to get it through, unless The People serve
notice that the Constitution is still the law of the land, and retire
from government those who think otherwise.