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Austin R. Cooper

COMMENTARY: Old Soldiers Never Die

The nation mourns the passing of another giant, Sen. John McCain. McCain died nine years to the day when America lost another icon, Sen. Ted Kennedy, to the same form of brain cancer. Both men were considered “Lions of the Senate” and deservedly so.

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Austin R. Cooper is the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

By Austin R. Cooper, NNPA Newswire Consultant

“Old soldiers never die” is an English language catchphrase taken from a stanza of the soldiers’ folklore, Old Soldiers Never Die:

“Old soldiers never die,
Never die, never die,
Old soldiers never die
They simply fade away.”

The phrase gained popularity after General Douglas MacArthur uttered it in his April 1951 farewell address to Congress. Today, the nation mourns the passing of another giant, Sen. John McCain. McCain died nine years to the day when America lost another icon, Sen. Ted Kennedy, to the same form of brain cancer. Both men were considered “Lions of the Senate” and deservedly so.

McCain was an unabashed conservative who relished the opportunity to battle his more liberal Democratic colleagues. He was also a skillful legislator, unafraid to buck his party in order to achieve a legislative victory. As Kennedy’s widow, Vickie Reggie Kennedy stated, he was “an uncompromising patriot and man of immeasurable courage.” Despite being of opposite political parties, McCain and Kennedy were the best of friends.

I am a life-long Democrat, and therefore, had numerous differences with McCain. For example, then-Congressman McCain voted against making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. However, to his credit, on the 40thanniversary of King’s assassination, McCain said his vote was wrong:

“We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong, and eventually realized it in time to give full support for a state holiday in my home state of Arizona. I’d remind you that we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing and Dr. King realized this about his fellow Americans.”

In addition, McCain was one of the deciding votes in helping then-President George H.W. Bush sustain a veto against the Civil Rights Act of 1990. His vote helped Bush to become the first president ever to successfully veto a civil rights measure: Andrew Johnson and Ronald Reagan both had vetoes overridden, in 1866 and 1988, respectively. To my knowledge, he never expressed any regret for that vote.

Yet, despite political differences on these two votes, in addition to naming unqualified former Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, in a misguided attempt to secure the votes of women, I still admired John McCain. The man, the Maverick.

Who can deny that he was a real-life, true and genuine American war hero? On October 26, 1967, McCain’s Skyhawk jet was shot over North Vietnam by a barrage of surface-to-air missiles. He ejected from the plane, but suffered serious injuries, breaking both arms and his right leg.

He spent the next five and a half years in captivity as a prisoner of war, tortured almost every day while in captivity. The fact that he was shot down and captured only diminished him in the eyes of one individual, the current Commander-in-Chief, who successfully avoided Vietnam military service with a mysterious heel spur. To the rest of Americans, though, he was and will always remain an American hero. McCain went on to become Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

However, what will always stand out to me was his 2008 defense of Barack Obama from a racist supporter. At the time, in addition to being a fellow American, Obama was also a Senate colleague and political opponent for the White House:

“I cannot trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, um, he’s an Arab,” a woman said to McCain during a town hall meeting in Lakeville, Minnesota. The senator grabbed the microphone and cut the woman off, saying, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not Arab.”

McCain’s response was met with boos from the audience and no doubt, he lost votes that evening. But that did not matter to him. Indeed, it is a true testament of his character that he asked George W Bush and Barack Obama to eulogize him, the two very men who denied him the presidency.

His passing leaves a vacuum of honor, valor and integrity, on frankly, both sides of the political spectrum and especially in the White House. Who amongst our elected officials will fill his shoes? He only asked to be remembered as, “This guy, who served his country. I hope we could add, honorably.” You will be, Senator McCain.

“Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.”

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Austin R. Cooper

COMMENTARY: White Privilege and Sexism Merge at the U.S. Supreme Court

NNPA NEWSWIRE — As I sat in my hotel room in West Africa watching Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, I was reminded of what several Africans have said to me since the election of President Donald Trump: “So my American friend, how does it feel to live under a dictator? Welcome to the African way.”

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Conformation of the now current Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court
Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

By Austin R. Cooper, NNPA Newswire Contributor

As I sat in my hotel room in West Africa watching Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, I was reminded of what several Africans have said to me since the election of President Donald Trump: “So my American friend, how does it feel to live under a dictator? Welcome to the African way.”

On the afternoon of September 27th, I posted on Facebook: “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is not only poised, but also credible. Without a doubt, she is being truthful. The Brett Kavanaugh nomination is dead.” Clearly, I was wrong.

Later I wrote, “Sen. Lindsey Graham’s conscience died last month. Referencing the passing of Sen. John McCain, I was right.

The following morning, I said, “The president, prior to shaming him into not running for re-election, often referred to Sen. Jeff Flake as flaky.” The president and I remain in agreement on that assessment.

Senator Flake’s request to delay a committee vote in order to give the FBI one additional week to explore other allegations of sexual misconduct, was nothing but a fleeting display of political courage. If it was ever genuine to begin with.

Numerous individuals who wanted to share their stories with the FBI were ignored. The investigation was a sham at the implicit direction of the White House.

A former boss used to remark, “When I come back in another life, I want to be a White man. It’s just too difficult being Black in America.” I always laughed at his comment, despite the deep realization that it is a true statement.

I also find truthful humor in the comedienne Chris Rock’s routine as he reflects on White complaints of reverse discrimination: “Oh, we’re losing everything we worked for. We’re losing…. White people ain’t losing shit. If you all are losing, who’s winning? It ain’t us. Shit, there ain’t a White man in this room who would trade places with me. And I’m rich.”

White male privilege allowed Justice Kavanaugh to comfortably display a complete lack of judicial temperament, respect and regard for members of the very government body that would decide his fate, without repercussion.

It allowed him to yell at senators in the minority, while those in the majority sat silently. Serena Williams was held to a higher standard and suffered more consequences for her outbursts at the last US Open than was Justice Kavanaugh.

It allowed the Senate majority to cower behind prosecutor Rachel Mitchell as she posed questions on their behalf to Dr. Ford – lest they lose their cool and show themselves for who they really are on national television – then publicly sideline her and return to their comfort zone with a soothing questioning of Justice Kavanaugh.

An insensitive president, who himself has been accused of offensive behavior to women, was suddenly empowered to ridicule and attack Dr. Ford to the delight of many, some of whom in their ignorant splendor, shouted “Lock her up!”

It offered Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Grassley the opportunity to deny Judge Merrick Garland even the basic courtesy of member meetings and a committee vote.

Such privilege offered Justice Kavanaugh protection to lie under oath and deny ever drinking obsessively in college, despite the contrary observations of several former buddies who drank with him.

It grants political cover under oath, you express an intent to extract political retribution to those whom you feel have wronged you – “what goes around comes around” – once on the Court.

Remarkably, it can even transfer power to White women and permit, for example, Sen. Susan Collins and others to argue that Dr. Ford was assaulted, just not by the person she identified with “one hundred percent” certainty as her assailant.

We all have behavior in our past which would be embarrassing if it ever came under media scrutiny. However, we also each have an obligation and responsibility to acknowledge and own our past. Both the good and bad.

To those who doubt the truthfulness of Dr. Ford’s testimony, I ask: How would you have voted had the accuser been a loved one of yours? Your mother, wife, daughter or sister? Would you be comfortable with the scope of the FBI investigation? Would you laugh as the president mocked her?

There is nothing that Justice Kavanaugh could have said to convinced me to support his nomination. After all, he was nominated by a president who does not represent my interests and will be as useless to me as Justice Clarence Thomas.

As Chairman Grassley sped Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination to a vote, he declared the Senate was approaching “rock bottom” and needed to right itself. He was correct.

Voters in general, and women in particular, can begin righting this ship by voting in November. Certainly, after this newest addition to the Supreme Court, everyone should realize that elections matter.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

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Austin R. Cooper

COMMENTARY: The Sin, Hypocrisy and Racism of White Privilege

Had Senator Hillary Clinton won in 2008 and served two terms, the GOP would have nominated, and possibly elected, former Governor Jeb Bush or Governor John Kasich or even Senator Ted Cruz in 2016. But not Donald Trump. He would have been laughed off the stage as an illiterate, racist and unqualified joke.

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Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

By Austin R. Cooper, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

The U.S. Constitution gives three eligibility requirements to be president: one must be 35 years of age, a resident within the United States for fourteen years and a natural born citizen. The term “natural born citizen” is not defined.

Based on these criteria, I cannot argue that President Donald Trump does not meet the basic criteria to hold office. At least on paper.

However, here is what I know: If former President Barack Obama had not been elected in 2008, America would have never sunk as low as she did in 2016 and elected someone of such low character, humanity and intelligence, to the highest office in the land, as the current occupant.

Had Senator Hillary Clinton won in 2008 and served two terms, the GOP would have nominated, and possibly elected, former Governor Jeb Bush or Governor John Kasich or even Senator Ted Cruz in 2016. But not Donald Trump. He would have been laughed off the stage as an illiterate, racist and unqualified joke.

Even the most faithful and uneducated white viewers of The Apprentice, residing in the poorest areas of the country, would have said, “Oh hell no” to a Trump candidacy. And rightfully so.

Are a majority of the president’s supporters racist? After all, the president won because he did a much more effective job of appealing to the economic concerns of struggling low and middle-income Americans. Nor can anyone argue that Russians prevented Secretary Clinton from campaigning in Wisconsin or too few Democrats from going to the polls and voting in key battle ground states.

Regardless, there is evidence that far too many supporters of President Trump are, indeed, hypocritical racists. How else can one explain his popularity in the GOP and simultaneous appeal to white supremacists? Why are racists not openlycomfortable in the Democratic Party? Not that my party is perfect. Far from it.

But, how else to explain the president’s policy of separating immigrant children from their mothers? Or calling African-American NFL players “sons of bitches” for choosing to protest police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem?

Name one white athlete who has been the subject to such abuse? Does anyone believe that had Charlie McAvoy or Blake Wheeler chosen to kneel at professional hockey games to protest the president’s tax cuts for the rich, that the president would have publicly insulted them, as well as their mothers, in such an offensive manner?

Many of us have heard John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon cursing in private on released White House tapes. Yet, America now has a president who shamelessly curses at rallies in front of children.

How low class for any president!

Some might very well ask, “What does any of this have to do with white privilege? If you are white and asked that question, you are a benefactor of white privilege.

I ask, would you have:

  • Been offended had President Obama seen “good on both sides” of an anti-white rally in Charlottesville?
  • Considered it un-American had President Obama cozied up to President Vladimir Putin?
  • Remained supportive of President Obama had any of his inner circle consistently referred to him as an “idiot” and “mentally unstable?”
  • Continued supporting the 44thpresident, despite an inability to remain on point and coherent when speaking, with no apparent grasp anycomplex policy issues?
  • Been silent while close to 3,000 white American citizens in Alabama died after a hurricane due to a slow and poorly coordinated response from Washington?
  • Approved of President Obama calling Fox News “enemies of the people,” in a democracy?
  • Even considered voting for Senator Obama had he launched his campaign by stating, “Whites are bringing their drugs, crime and rapists into our communities?”

If President Obama had committed even one of the above actions, he would correctlybeen labeled an incompetent racist and traitor. And, Impeachment proceedings would have promptly begun against him, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia.

The hypocrisy and double standard for this particular presidency should be shameful for all Americans!

I agreed with President Obama when he said, “Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongfully, fearful of change. More often, it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical, because that helps them maintain the status quo. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.”

President Trump has single-handedly undignified the office of the presidency. In November, Democrats have the opportunity to begin righting this ship by voting in historic numbers. If we do not, it will not be the president’s fault. Just ours.

White privilege and its cousins, sin, hypocrisy and racism, must be permanently eliminated, for the good of the country.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

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