I'm sitting here at my desk searching for an appropriate topic for this week's column. Usually I write about what's uppermost in my thoughts, an observation, a bit of humor, and strive to put forth something positive. What is on my mind today, however, is troubling, and I'm not sure how to express it or if I even should. Unlike my son, Dennis, author of the Atlantic Highland's Herald column, The Populist Approach, I do not write political pieces (unless lampooning Michelle Obama occasionally is considered political) and often joke that Dennis writes timely, informed political commentary while I pen “fluff.” My view of the world does not always blend well with Dennis' civil libertarian view, and I rarely stray into his world of politics, but today I can think of nothing else.
Admittedly, prior to Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) historic filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, I paid little attention to President Obama's controversial drone program. Senator Paul made me sit up and take notice. What, I wondered, so impassioned a man that he stood on the Senate floor talking for thirteen straight hours?
"I will speak until I can no longer speak," Senator Paul warned as he launched his filibuster aimed at, among other issues, President Obama's policies on civil liberties, including the drone program. An outspoken libertarian, Rand Paul addressed Obama's alleged abuse of executive power, specifically the assertion that the U.S. Government has the legal authority to kill a U.S. citizen on American soil. Predictably, Americans are divided in their response to Senator Paul's filibuster, some hailing him a hero, others calling him a wimp. I guess one's opinion of Senator Rand Paul (and President Obama) depends upon one's personal politics, but the facts about this new drone program should be pretty clear to opposing parties. Obama's lawyers in the Department of Justice have issued a memo, however loosely written, granting legal justification for the President to order the drone assassination of American citizens.
I don't understand. Where is due process? Where is this new power sanctioned in federal law or the United States Constitution? Since when does America, land of the free, home of the brave, grant absolute power to one man? Where is democracy? When President George W. Bush launched an invasion of Iraq in 2003 without a congressional Declaration, Americans quickly lambasted him for seizing sovereign power and behaving like a dictator. Apparently, President Obama is seizing sovereign power, too, reserving the right to decide which Americans live or die. Since when is the American president more powerful than the people he serves?
While Obama's drone program sounds like science fiction, sadly, it's not. It's tyranny! It's terrorism!This is our America? Again, I don't understand! My father is a World War II vet who risked his life in defense of democracy and the preservation of human rights. This America is not what he fought for. It is not what he handed down to me. It is not what I want for my sons.
President Obama likens himself to President Abraham Lincoln. Granted, there are many similarities between the two; however, there is one mighty difference. President Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address in 1863, resolved that Americans would not die in vain and heralded our nation's new birth of freedom, stating “that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Obviously, President Obama is not like President Lincoln after-all.