What GOP can learn from Cochran’s use of blacks to win

First published July 1, 2014 on cnn.com

(CNN) — Black voters allowed themselves to be used by Sen. Thad Cochran to win the Republican primary runoff for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seat.

Cochran beat state Sen. Chris McDaniel by targeting black Democrats and getting them to vote for him in a tight race. It was a brilliant political strategy in a state that allows open primaries, where voters can cross party lines to vote. It also showed blacks — and the Republican Party that ignores them — that black voters can wield political influence.

Cochran won the runoff by a little over 6,000 votes. The runoff was triggered because no candidate garnered 50% of the vote in the first primary, which Cochran lost to McDaniel by some 1,000 votes.

But make no mistake, Cochran appealed to black Democratic voters out of desperation. When was the last time we heard Cochran reaching out to ask for the black vote in the last six terms he’s served as senator?

Cochran’s campaign suggested McDaniel was a tea party radical. The tea party has become code for “racist” among many black Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Black Democratic voters allowed themselves to be exploited by Cochran’s boogeyman — the tea party nonsense — without looking into the policies and records of each candidate.

McDaniel was a conservative candidate opposed to illegal immigration, which harms black Americans. The black unemployment rate has been higher than the national average for the past five years and blacks often compete for the same jobs as undocumented workers.

Refusing to concede the election, McDaniel and other conservatives said Cochran played dirty politics by reaching out to black Democrats to win. It’s true these same voters will likely vote for the Democratic nominee in the fall. But I suspect McDaniel is just angry he didn’t think of the idea first.

It was distasteful to see conservatives like Laura Ingraham accuse Cochran of race-baiting because he decided to ask black Democrats to vote for him. How is asking blacks to cast a vote for you race-baiting?

While I don’t agree with how Cochran won and wish blacks were more informed about their vote, Cochran bothered to ask blacks to vote for him, something that apparently makes some Republicans cringe.

Even the Democrat-dominated Congressional Black Caucus has now applauded his use of blacks to win. Go figure.

Many blacks would say the Republican Party only works in earnest for the white vote. Presidential nominee Mitt Romney did a good job of winning the majority of the white vote (60%) in 2012, but he lost the election because he ignored the minority and woman voters — that is, he hardly bothered to ask for their votes.

This Mississippi primary race is a harbinger of what can happen to the GOP in future national elections if Republicans continue to ignore the black vote.

They will lose.

Instead of allowing themselves to vote solely based on misleading headlines and misinformation, blacks need to be voting based upon candidates’ positions on issues and how they affect them.

Come November, I doubt Cochran will really care about earning the black vote and taking the Republican message of equal opportunity and economic empowerment to blacks. Blacks just believed the hype about McDaniel being a racist and didn’t dig any deeper.

Cochran will run in the general election ignoring black voters, just as the GOP has done for the past 40 years. This isn’t a watershed moment. It’s another example of blacks throwing away their political influence — as they have on the Democratic Party since 1964 — and getting nothing in return.

Cochran demonstrates what many black conservatives already know: GOP candidates will only reach out to black voters, kicking and screaming, as a last resort to win.

This isn’t the path to future Republican victories in truly competitive national races in a country where census data show the white population declining while minorities are growing.

The big takeaway from the Cochran win is that Republicans had better get serious.

Hillary’s Book Tour Previews a Rusty, Rich, Career Politician

For all the flirtation Hillary Clinton has done with the news media over whether she intends to run for president in 2016, you’d think she would have performed better on her book tour/campaign dress rehearsal. Before the tour and the bad reviews that “Hard Choices” was news-less settled in, Hillary, former First Lady and Secretary of State, sat down with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer for an interview.

During her chat with Sawyer, Hillary came off as anything but seasoned. She looked like a celebrity out of touch with the American people and a politician ill prepared to take responsibility to lead.

When Sawyer asked if she thought being paid $200,000 for a speech—six times the salary of the average American was too much, Hillary said she and Bill have worked hard and left the White House “dead broke.” I’m certain millions of Americans struggling to find work today would love to live Hillary’s version of dead broke. Now Hillary and Bill are comfortably ensconced in the echelons of America’s 1% club. Their net worth is about $50 million. Hillary reportedly was paid $14 million for her 600-page tome. Then there’s Chelsea Clinton, who earned $600,000 a year working for NBC News as a special correspondent. Oh, the life of the rich and Clintons!

What’s going to be Hillary’s 2016 campaign message? That she’s a man of people, fighting hard for the little guy to get ahead in a jobless economy where people like her haven’t struggled? When Sawyer asked Hillary if she would have done anything differently in handling the Benghazi attack, in which four Americans were killed due to poor security at the consulate, Hillary coolly replied, “No.” Sounding like Marie Antoinette, she told Sawyer her job wasn’t to review blueprints for all US embassies and posts and “decide what should be done.”

As Victoria Toensing points out in the Wall Street Journal, in 1999 Accountability Review Boards were conducted for the 1998 twin embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Both ARB reports recommended, “first and foremost, the Secretary should take a personal and active role in carrying out the responsibility of ensuring the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad.”

The 1999 Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act included those recommendations and mandates the Secretary of State is the only person who can waiver security requirements at US posts abroad. But according to Hillary, the security at “270 posts abroad” just wasn’t her job. In fact, she told Sawyer, “it would have been a mistake” for her to concern herself with such trivial details.

Another priceless moment was when Sawyer asked Hillary if she ever thought about Monica Lewinsky with whom President Clinton had a very infamous affair. Hillary said she never thinks of Monica. If Hillary plans to run to become the Democrat nominee for president in 2016 and run on a platform that’s dedicated to women’s issues, she better come up with a more believable answer than that. Hillary stood by her philandering husband all these years so she could seize political power. A potential Ready for Hillary presidential campaign sends the message to women that you need a man to gain status and power in life. And even if he’s a cheater you stick with him.

Moving onto other interviews, Hillary became the pit-bull we remember from her husband’s presidency. She attacked NPR’s Terry Gross, who questioned her flip-flop in her position on gay marriage, kinda like her flip in support of the Iraq war, which she was for before she was against. How dare Gross have the nerve to conduct an objective interview with Queen Bee Clinton, heir, in her own mind, to America’s presidential crown? Hillary got indignant like she did in the 1990s, only this time she looked like an angry old lady.

Former Democrat governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell described Hillary’s performance on her book tour as being “a little rusty” and unable to “say all the right things” like her husband. After spending over 30 years working in politics and running for president in 2008, Hillary shouldn’t be rusty at politicking.

She told Sawyer she knows the job of president very well! But Hillary didn’t come off like she’s anywhere close to being capable of assuming it. What Hillary’s book tour revealed is a hackneyed politician who’s run past her expiration date.

 

Bergdahl Release Reveals Presidency Out of Control

As the news media cranked up the heat on the White House’s disastrous handling of the Veterans Affairs scandal, President Barack Obama decided it was time to change the subject and make the news about him again. So, what does he do? Obama finalizes the release of five top Taliban commanders from Guantanamo in exchange for the Taliban’s release of one American soldier.

Not just any soldier but “a high value” soldier Sargent Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his duty in 2009 when he walked off his base in Afghanistan right into the enemy hands of the Taliban. And Bergdahl caused the death of six of soldiers who joined other soldiers in a massive search for him.

Did Obama really think he was going to receive accolades for this noble act from anyone but Bergdahl’s parents or was it a deliberate move to further harm America and our credibility on the world stage? Many Americans were aghast not to mention both Democrat and Republican members of Congress because Obama broke the law with the exchange.

First, America isn’t supposed to negotiate with terrorist for the release of hostages. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the United States didn’t “directly” negotiate with the Taliban but had Qatar do it as its proxy. Whether direct or indirect the Obama administration negotiated for hostages. Second, Obama refused to notify Congress 30 days before releasing the five detainees from Guantanamo, as mandated by law.

Nevertheless, all week the news has been about the president and whether he thinks he’s above the law. Frankly, Obama doesn’t seem to care about our laws or what people at home or abroad think about him or his presidency. He appears to be determined to transform America from within and without into a weakened nation.

Prior to the release of Bergdahl, this president supported his Attorney General Eric Holder’s efforts to hold civilian trials for terrorists in New York City, a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center. This is the same president who also refuses to use the mighty stick of American diplomacy abroad, which has made America look like a super punk rather than a super power.

Obama rented out our foreign policy to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who brokered a flimsy chemical weapons ban with Syria’s President Bashar Assad. No wonder Putin invaded Ukraine. He knows America wasn’t going to stop him. And this is the same President of the United States who eased sanctions on Iran believing in earnest the mullahs will disarm their nuclear program. Of course, this is like believing members of the Taliban, whom Obama released back into freedom, won’t plot against us, which is exactly what they’ve already vowed to do.

Even people in Afghanistan can’t understand why Obama would want to free “some of the most dangerous militants” within the Taliban, especially at a time when the US plans to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. To further emphasize the president’s empathy for terrorists, administration officials said the president will continue to pursue his pledge to close Guantanamo. Why all these bad moves?

Dinesh D’Souza writes in The Roots of Obama’s Rage that “While one might expect a president to be mostly concerned with protecting the American people from terrorist attack, Obama’s primary concern seems to be with protecting captured terrorists from the American people.”

From day one of his presidency, Obama viewed America as a nation in need of transformation, one too big for its britches, waging wars and shoving its principles onto the rest of the world. Obama considered America’s policies of freedom, liberty and decency “polices bad for America and bad for the world,” writes D’Souza.

After five years, there’s no doubt Obama’s policies are not serving the interest of America or her people. The release of Bergdhal highlights the failings of a presidency out of control and it’s high time Congress intervenes and does something about it.

Obama Accepts VA Secretary’s Resignation but None of the Blame

 

CNN described President Barack Obama’s announcement of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation “dramatic.” I would call it a dramatic disgrace to our veterans and another example of the president not holding his Cabinet Secretaries and other high level people in his administration accountable. The IRS’s Lois Lerner, director of the Exempt Organizations Division, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius were allowed to resign amid scandals when they got good and ready.

Last week, Obama stood in the same White House briefing room and defended Shinseki, refusing to utter the word resignation. What changed in nine days? The Veterans Affairs scandal start stinking to high heaven. Congressional Democrats demanded Obama get rid of Shinseki and even the usually fawning liberal media criticized his failure to deal with the problem when reports of long patient wait times surfaced almost two months ago.

If “responsibility for things always rests ultimately with me, as the President and Commander-in-Chief,” as Obama declared last week, why didn’t he immediately call for Shinseki’s resignation? Why wait, especially since as Senator and candidate in 2008, Obama was seized with the issue of improving access to care for veterans at the VA, which has been a decades long problem?

Mounting evidence, from the GAO’s testimony before Congress in April to allegations 40 veterans possibly died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, indicated the scandal was only going to get worse not better. Indeed it did. This week an Inspector General’s report of multiple VA medical facilities revealed “inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic” and the average appointment wait time at the Phoenix VA was 115 days not 24 days as the hospital reported.

“What I said to Ric today is let’s not wait for the report retrospectively to reach out immediately to veterans who are currently waiting for appointments, to make sure that they are getting better service,” Obama said last week. Well, if the president wasn’t going to wait for a report to help veterans in dire need of care, why would he wait a week to get rid of Shinseki, who has been head of the VA for the past five years and was appointed to clean it up?

Obama said “there’s a need for a change in culture at VA” in his remarks about Secretary Shinseki’s resignation. This is true. I would argue there’s a need for change in the culture of this administration. Over and over again, whether it’s the VA, the IRS targeting conservatives, or failures of the Obamacare rollout, Obama claims he wasn’t aware any of these problems occurring at the agencies under his command. It begs the question what does Obama, as president, concern himself with ?

In the face of what can only be described as a colossal embarrassment for his administration, Obama took a lecturing tone with reporters, telling them the problems at the VA have gone on a “very long time” but he’s increased funding to the agency. The VA doesn’t need more money and Obama pledged to fix these problems as a priority in his first term. The problem of is one of accountability, starting at the top.

“As I’ve said before, this is my administration; I always take responsibility for whatever happens. And this is an area that I have a particular concern with,” said Obama. Then why haven’t we heard Obama say “I take responsibility for the problems happening at the VA?” There is a crisis of confidence in Obama’s presidency and Shinseki is just another example of it.

 

Two tragedies, two reactions: So what took Obama so long?

First published May 23, 2014 on cnn.com

Not even a week after the ruling in the Trayvon Martin trial, President Barack Obama couldn’t wait to stand before the White House press corps and “speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention,” as he said last July.

Yet it took Obama more than a month to address the crisis where 40 veterans allegedly died while waiting months for treatment at a Phoenix Veterans Administration hospital.

Congress has held hearings on the grave matter since April and called Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki among other witnesses to testify. But Obama just got around to holding a press conference Wednesday on the topic.

“So when I heard allegations of misconduct — any misconduct, whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books — I will not stand for it, not as commander in chief, but also not as an American,” Obama declared.

If Obama is as outraged and “mad as hell” as he professes, why did it take him over a month to say anything substantive about vets dying because of months waiting for care? Prior to his long overdue press conference about the VA controversy, Obama only mentioned what has now become another White House scandal in a response to a question from a reporter on April 28 during his Asia trip.

During his press conference, Obama said he wasn’t going to jump to any conclusions or call for any resignations until “the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened” at the VA. He added, “we have to find out, first of all, what exactly happened.”

In contrast, Obama couldn’t wait to jump to conclusions and comment on the shooting of the black teen Martin by George Zimmerman before any investigation or trial happened. Obama made extensive comments on the shooting in March 2012 in the Rose Garden.

“You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. All of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves,” he said.

Well we certainly didn’t hear the president say, if he had served in the military, “I could have been one of those veterans who died.” Apparently, veterans, who put their lives at risk defending our country then died at the hands of incompetent VA employees aren’t worthy of the same attention and “seriousness” as Trayvon Martin?

Even more indicative of the Obama White House’s misplaced priorities is the White House issued a statement from the president on the day of the Tryavon Martin trial verdict last July. No White House statement was issued about the VA allegations.

But clearly a statement on the Martin trial wasn’t enough. A few days later, Obama held a press conference about the verdict. “I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit,” Obama noted.

Martin’s death, though tragic, had nothing to do with national security or government malfeasance and didn’t warrant attention from the president of the United States. But Obama felt it was very important to comment on the death of a young black man shot by a “white Hispanic” to appease race hucksters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who helped elect him.

Stammering throughout his VA press conference Wednesday, Obama told reporters “responsibility for things always rests ultimately with me, as the President and commander in chief.”

At the same time Obama claims he didn’t know how big the problems were with the VA. How can a president be responsible for problems occurring at agencies if he’s not aware of the problems?

This sounds like the all-too-familiar refrain the White House uses. It didn’t know about the IRS scandal or the Department of Health and Human Services’ disastrous rollout of Obamacare.

Again, Obama promised, “there is going to be accountability.” “Listen, if somebody has mismanaged or engaged in misconduct, not only do I not want them getting bonuses, I want them punished,” he said from the White House briefing room.

Hopefully this time, the President means what he says because in past scandals he has held no one accountable. IRS division director Lois Lerner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius both were allowed to resign without accountability. Shinseki eventually will do the same.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, at minimum our veterans deserve the same attention to their deaths as Obama gave Trayvon.

Lies, Politics and the White House Benghazi Cover Up

For two years, the Obama White House has been adamant it never lied about what caused the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi. Over and over again, despite CIA and State Department officials’ Congressional testimony the attack was never caused by a video but was a planned terrorist attack, the White House insisted it was working off real time intelligence that suggested otherwise.

But new information reveals all “Rhodes” lead back to a White House engaged in a Benghazi cover up for political gain.

In a September 14, 2012 email about a prep call with UN Ambassador Susan Rice to senior White House officials, White House Deputy Strategic Communications Advisor Ben Rhodes takes great pains in warning recipients:

“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” Rhodes further writes the need “[T]o reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

The email was part of 41 new Benghazi related documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed June 21, 2013 against the State Department. Rhodes’ directive seems to confirm in no uncertain terms what CIA deputy director Michael Morell and some State Department officials testified before Congress that real time intelligence never suggested a video caused the attack but concluded immediately it was a planned by terrorists.

Lots of high level White House communications folks were on the receiving end of Rhodes’ email: “White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist David Plouffe.”

This same cast of characters along with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted to the public the attack on Benghazi was caused by an anti-Islamic video not a re-surging al Qaeda. Admitting (telling the truth) the attack was planned by terrorists would destroy Obama’s narrative “Osama bin Laden was dead and the war on terror was over.” And harmed his 2012 re-election campaign against Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Rhodes further urges White House officials to blame the attack, which killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, on a video in order to make Obama look “statesmanlike.” In so many words, Rhodes’ email told officials to lie and distort the truth to the American people about the president’s war on terror.

Told you so, as Republicans in Congress have been saying for the past two years.

Yet in the face of all the evidence, the White House denied this truth for weeks and continues to stand by its defense it worked off the intelligence it had at the time. UN Ambassador Susan Rice was trotted out as the chief spokesperson for the Benghazi affair, telling the morning talk shows the same meme repeated by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that an anti-Islamic video led to a spontaneous protest, etc.

The White House’s bungled Benghazi response looks even messier with the revelation of Rhodes’ email. It seems Obama was more concerned with getting re-elected by any means necessary than uncovering the truth about four dead Americans.

Senator Lindsay Graham proposed the House create a Joint Select Committee to investigate Benghazi. House Speaker John Boehner finally agreed to do just. Two years later, after numerous Congressional hearings that didn’t result in any accountability from the White House or the State Department, Congress also needs to appoint an independent counsel.

Many unanswered questions linger over Benghazi like the stench in Hamlet’s Denmark. The most obvious being why Hillary Clinton didn’t face the media to answer questions about the attack? The State Department overseas US embassies and its staff not America’s UN Ambassador. Could it be Clinton was already calculating her 2016 presidential run and didn’t want to be caught on video telling the American people a bold face lie?