creeping tyranny (or tyrannous creeps)

Anton Sherwood (
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 21:01:05 -0800 (PST)


by Claire Wolfe

Let me run by you a brief list of items that are "the law" in
America today. As you read, consider what all these have in

1. A national database of employed people.

2. 100 pages of new "health care crimes," for which the penalty is
(among other things) seizure of assets from both doctors and

3. Confiscation of assets from any American who establishes
foreign citizenship.

4. The largest gun confiscation act in U.S. history - which is also
an unconstitutional ex postfacto law and the first law ever to
remove people's constitutional rights for committing a

5. A law banning guns in ill-defined school zones; random
roadblocks may be used for enforcement; gun-bearing residents
could become federal criminals just by stepping outside their doors
or getting into vehicles.

6. Increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms, an agency infamous for its brutality, dishonesty and

7. A law enabling the executive branch to declare various groups
"Terrorists" - without stating any reason and without the
possibility of appeal. Once a group has been so declared, its
mailing and membership lists must be turned over to the

8. A law authorizing secret trials with secret evidence for certain
classes of people.

9. A law requiring that all states begin issuing drivers licenses
carrying Social Security numbers and "security features" (such as
magnetically coded fingerprints and personal records) by October
1, 2000. By October 1, 2006, "Neither the Social Security
Administration or the Passport Office or any other Federal agency
or any State or local government agency may accept for any
evidentiary purpose a State driver's license or identification
document in a form other than [one issued with a verified Social
Security number and 'security features']."

10. And my personal favorite - a national database, now being
constructed, that will contain every exchange and observation that
takes place in your doctor's office. This includes records of your
prescriptions, your hemorrhoids and your mental illness. It also
includes - by law - any statements you make ("Doc, I'm worried
my kid may be on drugs...... Doc, I've been so stressed out lately I
feel about ready to go postal.") and any observations your doctor
makes about your mental or physical condition, whether accurate
or not, whether made with your knowledge or not. For the time
being, there will be zero (count 'em, zero) privacy safeguards on
this data. But don't worry, your government will protect you with
some undefined "privacy standards" in a few years.

All of the above items are the law of the land. Federal law.
What else do they have in common?

Well, when I ask this question to audiences, I usually get
the answer, "They're all unconstitutional."


My favorite answer came from an eloquent college student
who blurted, "They all SUUUCK!" Also true.

But the saddest and most telling answer is: They were all
the product of the 104th Congress. Every one of the horrors above
was imposed upon you by the Congress of the Republican-
Revolution -- the Congress that pledged to "get government off
your back."


All of the above became law by being buried in larger bills.
In many cases, they are hidden sneak attacks upon individual
liberties that were neither debated on the floor of Congress nor
reported in the media. For instance, three of the most horrific
items (the health care database, asset confiscation for foreign
residency and the 100 pages of health care crimes) were hidden in
the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (HR 3103).

You didn't hear about them at the time because the media
was too busy celebrating this moderate, compromise bill that
"simply" ensured that no American would ever lose insurance
coverage due to a job change or a Pre-existing condition.

Your legislator may not have heard about them, either.
Because he or she didn't care enough to do so. The fact is, most
legislators don't even read the laws they inflict upon the public.
They read the title of the bill (which may be something like "The
Save the Sweet Widdle Babies from Gun Violence by Drooling
Drug Fiends Act of 1984"). They read summaries, which are often
prepared by the very agencies or groups pushing the bill. And
they vote according to various deals or pressures.

It also sometimes happens that the most horrible provisions
are sneaked into bills during conference committee negotiations,
after both House and Senate have voted on their separate versions
of the bills. The conference committee process is supposed
simply to reconcile differences between two versions of a bill.
But power brokers use it for purposes of their own, adding what
they wish. Then members of the House and Senate vote on the
final, unified version of the bill, often in a great rush, and often
without even having the amended text available for review.

I have even heard (though I cannot verify) that stealth
provisions were written into some bills after all the voting has
taken place. Someone with a hidden agenda simply edits them in
to suit his or her own purposes. So these time bombs become
"law" without ever having been voted on by anybody.

And who's to know? If congress people don't even read
legislation before they vote on it, why would they bother reading it
afterward? Are power brokers capable of such chicanery? Do we
even need to ask? Is the computer system in which bills are stored
vulnerable to tampering by people within or outside of Congress?
We certainly should ask. Whether your legislators were ignorant
of the infamy they were perpetrating, or whether they knew, one
thing is absolutely certain:

The Constitution, your legislator's oath to it, and your
inalienable rights (which precede the Constitution) never entered
into anyone's consideration. Ironically, you may recall that one of
the early pledges of Newt Gingrich and Company was to stop
these stealth attacks. Very early in the 104th Congress, the
Republican leadership declared that, henceforth, all bills would
deal only with the subject matter named in the title of the bill.
When, at the beginning of the first session of the 104th, pro-gun
Republicans attempted to attach a repeal of the "assault weapons"
ban to another bill, House leaders dismissed their amendment as
not being "germane." After that self-righteous and successful
attempt to prevent pro-freedom stealth legislation, Congress people
turned right around and got back to the dirty old business of
practicing all the anti-freedom stealth they were capable of.


Three other items on my list (ATF funding, gun
confiscation and school zone roadblocks) were also buried in a big
bill - HR 3610, the budget appropriation passed near the end of the
second session of the 104th Congress. No legislator can claim to
have been unaware of these three because they were brought to
public attention by gun-rights groups and hotly debated in both
Congress and the media. Yet some 90 percent of all congress
people voted for them including many who claim to be ardent
protectors of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Well, in the case of my wrapped-in-the-flag, allegedly pro-
gun, Republican congressperson: "Bill Clinton made me do it!"

Okay, I paraphrase. What she actually said was more like,
"It was part of a budget appropriations package. The public got
mad at us for shutting the government down in 1994. If we hadn't
voted for this budget bill, they might have elected a Democratic
legislature in 1996 - and you wouldn't want THAT, would you?"
Oh heavens, no I'd much rather be enslaved by people who spell
their name with an R than people who spell their name with a D.
Makes all the difference in the world!


The Republicans are fond of claiming that Bill Clinton
"forced" them to pass certain legislation by threatening to veto
anything they sent to the White House that didn't meet his specs.
In other cases (as with the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill), they proudly
proclaim their misdeeds in the name of bipartisanship - while
carefully forgetting to mention the true nature of what they're
doing. In still others, they trumpet their triumph over the evil
Democrats and claim the mantle of limited government while
sticking it to us and to the Constitution. The national database of
workers was in the welfare reform bill they "forced" Clinton to
accept. The requirement for SS numbers and ominous "security"
devices on drivers licenses originated in their very own
Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996,
HR 2202. Another common trick, called to my attention by
Redmon Barbry, publisher of the electronic magazine Fratricide, is
to hide duplicate or near-duplicate provisions in several bills.
Then, when the Supreme Court declares Section A of Law Z to be
unconstitutional, its kissing cousin, Section B of Law Y, remains
to rule us.

Sometimes this particular form of trickery is done even
more brazenly; when the Supreme Court, in its Lopez decision,
declared federal-level school zone gun bans unconstitutional
because Congress demonstrated no jurisdiction, Congress brassily
changed a few words. They claimed that school zones fell under
the heading of "interstate commerce." Then they sneaked the
provision into HR 3610, where it became "law" once again. When
angry voters upbraid congress people about some Big Brotherish
horror they've inflicted upon the country by stealth, they claim lack
of knowledge, lack of time, party pressure, public pressure, or they
justify themselves by claiming that the rest of the bill was "good".

The simple fact is that, regardless of what reasons
legislators may claim, the U.S. Congress has passed more Big
Brother legislation in the last two years - more laws to enable
tracking, spying and controlling - than any Democratic congress
ever passed. And they have done it, in large part, in secret.
Redmon Barbry put it best: "We the people have the right to expect
our elected representatives to read, comprehend and master the
bills they vote on. If this means Congress passes only 50 bills per
session instead of 5,000, so be it. As far as I am concerned,
whoever subverts this process is committing treason." By
whatever means the deed is done, there is no acceptable excuse for
voting against the Constitution, voting for tyranny. And I would
add to Redmon's comments: Those who do read the bills, then
knowingly vote to ravage our liberties, are doubly guilty. But
when do the treason trials begin?


The truth is that these tiny, buried provisions are often the
real intent of the law, and that the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
pages that surround them are sometimes nothing more than
elaborate window dressing. These tiny time bombs are placed
there at the behest of federal police agencies or other power groups
whose agenda is not clearly visible to us. And their impact is felt
long after the outward intent of the bill has been forgotten.

Civil forfeiture - now one of the plagues of the nation was
first introduced in the 1970s as one of those buried, almost
unnoticed provisions of a larger law. One wonders why on earth a
"health care bill" carried a provision to confiscate the assets of
people who become frightened or discouraged enough to leave the
country. (In fact, the entire bill was an amendment to the Internal
Revenue Code. Go figure.)

I think we all realize by now that that database of mployed
people will still be around enabling government to track our
locations (and heaven knows what else. about us, as the database is
enhanced and expanded) long after the touted benefits of "welfare
reform" have failed to materialize.

And most grimly of all, our drivers licenses will be our de
facto national ID card long after immigrants have ceased to want to
come to this Land of the Once Free.


It matters not one whit whether the people controlling you
call themselves R's or D's, liberals or conservatives, socialists or
even (I hate to admit it) libertarians. It doesn't matter whether they
vote for these horrors because they're not paying attention or
because they actually like such things.

What matters is that the pace of totalitarianism is
increasing. And it is coming closer to our daily lives all the time.
Once your state passes the enabling legislation (under threat of
losing "federal welfare dollars"), it is YOUR name and Social
Security number that will be entered in that employee database the
moment you go to work for a new employer. It is YOU who will
be unable to cash a check, board an airplane, get a passport or be
allowed any dealings with any government agency if you refuse to
give your SS number to the drivers license bureau. It is YOU who
will be endangered by driving "illegally" if you refuse to submit to
Big Brother's procedures. It is YOU whose psoriasis, manic
depression or prostate troubles will soon be the reading matter of
any bureaucrat with a computer. It is YOU who could be declared
a member of a "foreign terrorist" organization just because you
bought a book or concert tickets from some group the government
doesn't like. It is YOU who could lose your home, bank account
and reputation because you made a mistake on a health insurance
form. Finally, when you become truly desperate for freedom, it is
YOU whose assets will be seized if you try to flee this
increasingly insane country.

As Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged, "There's no way to
rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to
crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough
criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a
crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking

It's time to drop any pretense: We are no longer law-
abiding citizens. We have lost our law-abiding status. There are
simply too many laws to abide. And because of increasingly
draconian penalties and electronic tracking mechanisms, our
"lawbreaking" places us and our families in greater jeopardy every


The question is: What are we going to do about it? Write a.
nice, polite letter to your congressperson? Hey, if you think that'll
help, I've got a bridge you might be interested in buying. (And it
isn't your "bridge to the future," either.)

Vote "better people, into office? Oh yeah, that's what we
thought we were doing in 1994. Work to fight one bad bill or
another? Okay. What will you do about the 10 or 20 or 100
equally horrible bills that will be passed behind your back while
you were fighting that little battle? And let's say you defeat a
nightmare bill this year. What, are you going to do when they
sneak it back in, at the very last minute, in some "omnibus
legislation" next year? And what about the horrors you don't even
learn about until two or three years after they become law? Should
you try fighting these laws in the courts? Where do you find the
resources? Where do you find a judge who doesn't have a vested
interest in bigger, more powerful government? And again, for
every one case decided in favor of freedom, what do you do about
the 10, 20 or 100 in which the courts decide against the Bill of

Perhaps you'd consider trying to stop the onrush of these
horrors with a constitutional amendment - maybe one that bans
"omnibus" bills, requires that every law meet a constitutional test
or requires all congress people to sign statements that they've read
and understood every aspect of every bill on which they vote.
Good luck! Good luck, first, on getting such an amendment
passed. Then good luck getting our Constitution-scorning
"leaders" to obey it.

It is true that the price of liberty is
eternal vigilance, and part of that vigilance has been, traditionally,
keeping a watchful eye on laws and on lawbreaking lawmakers.

But given the current pace of law spewing and
unconstitutional regulation-writing, you could watch, plead and
struggle "within the system" 24 hours a day for your entire life and
end up infinitely less free than when you begin. Why throw your
life away on a futile effort?

Face it. If "working within the system" could halt tyranny,
the tyrants would outlaw it. Why do you think they encourage
you to vote, to write letters, to talk to them in public forums? It's
to divert your energies. To keep you tame. 'The system" as it
presently exists is nothing but a rat maze. You run around thinking
you're getting somewhere. Your masters occasionally reward you
with a little pellet that encourages you to believe you're
accomplishing something. And in the meantime, you are as much
their property and their pawn as if you were a slave. In the effort
of fighting them on their terms and with their authorized and
approved tools, you have given your life's energy to them as surely
as if you were toiling in their cotton fields, under the lash of their
overseer. The only way we're going to get off this road to Hell is if
we jump off. If we, personally, as individuals, refuse to cooperate
with evil. How we do that is up to each of us. I can't decide for
you, nor you for me.

(Unlike congress people, who think they can decide for
everybody.) But this totalitarian runaway truck is never going to
stop unless we stop it, in any way we can. Stopping it might
include any number of things: tax resistance; public civil
disobedience; wide-scale, silent non-cooperation; highly noisy
non-cooperation; boycotts; secession efforts; monkey wrenching;
computer hacking; dirty tricks against government agents; public
shunning of employees of abusive government agencies;
alternative, self-sufficient communities that provide their own
medical care and utilities.

There are thousands of avenues to take, and this is
something most of us still need to give more thought to before we
can build an effective resistance. We will each choose the courses
that are right for our own circumstances, personalities and beliefs.

Whatever we do, though, we must remember that we are
all, already, outlaws. Not one of us can be certain of going through
a single day without violating some law or regulation we've never
even heard of. We are all guilty in the eyes of today's law. If
someone in power chooses to target us, we can all, already, be
prosecuted for something. And I'm sure you know that your claims
of "good intentions" won't protect you, as the similar claims of
politicians protect them. Politicians are above the law. YOU are
under it. Crushed under it. When you look at it that way, we have
little left to lose by breaking laws creatively and purposefully.
Yes, some of us will suffer horrible consequences for our
lawbreaking. It is very risky to actively resist unbridled power. It
is especially risky to go public with resistance (unless hundreds of
thousands publicly join us), and it becomes riskier the closer we
get to tyranny. For that reason, among many others, I would never
recommend any particular course of action to anyone - and I hope
you'll think twice before taking "advice" from anybody about
things that could jeopardize your life or well-being. But if we
don't resist in the best ways we know how and if a good number of
us don't resist loudly and publicly - all of us will suffer the much
worse consequences of living under total oppression. And
whatever courses of action we choose, we must remember that this
legislative "revolution" against We the People will not be stopped
by politeness. It will not be stopped by requests. It will not be
stopped by "working within a system" governed by those who
regard us as nothing but cattle. It will not be stopped by pleading
for justice from those who will resort to any degree of trickery or
violence to rule us.

It will not be stopped unless we are willing to risk our lives,
our fortunes and our sacred honors to stop it. I think of the words
of Winston Churchill: "If you will not fight for the right when you
can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your
victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the
moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you
and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse
case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory,
because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

NOTES on the laws listed above:

1. (employee database) Welfare Reform Bill, HR 3734; became
public law 104-193 on 8/22196; see section 453A.

2. (health care crimes) Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191
on 8/21/96.

3. (asset confiscation for citizenship change) Same law as #2; see;
sections 511-513.

4., 5., and 6. (anti-gun laws) Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR
3610; became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96.

7. and 8. (terrorism & secret trials) Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act of 1996; S 735; became public law 104-132 on
4/24/96; see all of Title III, specifically sections 302 and 219; also
see all of Tide IV, specifically sections 401, 501, 502 and 503.

9. (de facto national ID card) Began life in the Immigration
Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, sections III, II
8, 119, 127 and 133; was eventually folded into the Omnibus
Appropriations Act, HR 3610 (which was itself formerly called the
Defense Appropriations Act - but we wouldn't want to confuse
anyone, here, would we?); became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96;
see sections 656 and 657 among others.

10. (health care database) Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191
on 8/21/96; see sections 262, 263 and 264, among others. The
various provisions that make up the full horror of this database are
scattered throughout the bill and may take hours to track down;
this one is stealth legislation at its utmost sneakiest.

And one final, final note: Although I spent aggravating hours
verifying the specifics of these bills (a task I swear I will never
waste my life on again!), the original list of bills at the top of this
article was NOT the result of extensive research. It was simply
what came off the top of my head when I thought of Big
Brotherish bills from the 104th Congress. For all I know,
Congress has passed 10 times more of that sort of thing. In fact,
the worst "law" in the list -- #9, the de facto national ID card -- just
came to my attention as I was writing this essay, thanks to the
enormous efforts of Jackie - Juntti and Ed Lyon and others, who
researched the law. Think of it: Thanks to congressional stealth
tactics, we had the long-dreaded national ID card legislation for five
months, without a whisper of discussion, before freedom activists began
to find out about it. Makes you wonder what else might be lurking out
there, doesn't it?
And on that cheery note - THE END.

Copyrighted by Claire Wolfe. Permission to reprint freely granted,
provided the article is reprinted in full and that any reprint is
accompanied by this copyright statement

Claire Wolfe is the author of _101 Things To Do 'Til The Revolution
(Loompanics, 1996),

available from the International Society for Individual Liberty, 836-B
Southampton Rd., #299, Benicia, CA 94510, Tel: 707-746-8796, Fax:
707-746-8797, e-mail:, Website:

and Laissez Faire Books (Toll free) 800-326-0996.

"If a man doesn't keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however
measured or far away."

-- Henry David Thoreau, 1854