Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What’s Next--Muslim Only Lines at Airports?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Are Muslim only lines at airports next? The thought is offensive, disgusting, and blatantly unconstitutional. But it’s hardly far-fetched. Three years before suspected Nigerian airline terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was hauled off a Northwest airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with a powder and liquid explosive device stuffed in his underwear, British Department of Transportation officials openly discussed corralling men of Asian or Middle Eastern appearance at airports for intense questioning, checks and searches. The plan outraged Muslim leaders and British officials backed off the systematic profiling of Muslims. However, single men of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance were still subject to intense checks and searches. Britain was not alone. France and the Netherlands had already imposed de facto profiling of Muslim appearing young men and families at airports since the September, 2001 terror attacks. Polls showed that a substantial majority of Europeans agreed that racial profiling was not repugnant if it made airline travel safer and thwarted a possible terror attack. The clamor for a racial crackdown was first heard in the U.S. following the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1996,

Then President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno had the good sense not rush to judgment and scapegoat Muslims. The swift arrest of Timothy McVeigh squelched the building mob hysteria against them. But it didn't squelch public suspicions that all Muslims were potential terrorists. The federal building bombing propelled Clinton's 1996 Antiterrorism Act through Congress. Civil rights and civil liberties groups had waged a protracted battle against the bill. The law gave the FBI broad power to infiltrate groups, quash fundraising by foreigners, monitor airline travel, and seize motel and hotel records and trash due process by permitting the admission of secret evidence to expel immigrants. The implication was that present and future attacks would likely be launched by those with an Arab name and face rather than by men like McVeigh.

President Bush, as Clinton, took the high ground after the 911 attack. He did not reflexively finger-point Muslims. The Bush administration publicly assured that profiling was reprehensible and violated legal and constitutional principles, and that it would not be done. But the attack stirred tremors among Muslims that they would routinely be targeted, subject to search and surveillance, and profiled at airports.

The profiling alarm bells went off again after a soldier with a Muslim name shot up the military base at Ft. Hood back in November. The Council on American-Islamic Relations wasted no time and issued a loud and vigorous denunciation of the mass killing. The Council didn't know at that moment whether Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged shooter, was a Muslim by birth, a converted Muslim, or even a Muslim at all. The name and the horrific murder spree was enough to drive the group to quickly distance itself from the rampage. Other Muslim organizations instantly followed suit and issued their own equally strong disavowal of Hasan.

This didn’t stop the pack of Fox Network commentators, conservative radio talk show hosts, writers, and some officials from again openly shouting for even tighter scrutiny of Muslim groups. Terror suspect Abdulmutallab has simply raised the decibel level on their call for transportation officials to openly profile Muslims at airports, train stations, and even on the open highways.

Some elected officials have even jumped on the profiling bandwagon. Congressman Peter King, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, predictably loudly called for the profiling of Muslims. Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind went further and announced he’d reintroduce the bill he first introduced in 2005 to let police stop and search anyone they deem to be suspicious. Hikind didn’t specifically finger Muslims, but the intent of the bill was unmistakable, namely to target Muslims.

The New York Assembly will reject Hikind’s bill again. But the rejection isn’t likely to be unanimous. Legislators read the papers and the polls. Informal on line polls taken immediately after Abdulmutallab’s failed terror attempt found that a majority of Americans are ready to turn a blind eye to law, the constitution and just plain human decency to target Muslims, any Muslim, for special scrutiny. No matter that a potential terrorist can come in any shape, size, color, gender, and disguise. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights noted that convicted terrorists John Walker Lindh were white, and Richard Reid was Jamaican and British. Abdulmutallab is Nigerian, but from all appearances he could just as easily be mistaken for a young African-American hip hop artist.

Broad-based ethnic profiling creates in turn panic and the false sense of security that airlines are actually preventing terrorist attacks. It also causes law enforcement resources to be squandered chasing the wrong targets. Worse, it’s a witch-hunt against a group based solely on their religion and ethnicity. This fuels even greater racial division, fear and hysteria. The public whispers and the right wing’s open talk of Muslim only airport lines do the same.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Something Special for Everyone from Obama, But Not for Blacks

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama’s repeat lecture to black critics that blacks shouldn’t expect anything special from him is disingenuous at best, and an insult at worst. Here are two quick political reality checks. He would not have won the White House if he had not won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina. Three out of these four states gave Bush his crucial margin of victory over Al Gore and John Kerry. Obama won these four states because black voters turned his election into a holy crusade and stormed the polls on Election Day. The voting percentage and numbers in every other state that Obama won was equally off the charts.

The unrequited political love black voters showed for Obama didn’t stop with them giving him a top heavy vote with no strings attached. For practically his entire first year in office they’ve also given him their mute silence. This despite chronic double digit unemployment among blacks and 1930s Great Depression joblessness among young African-American males, higher percentages of homelessness, home foreclosures, school drop out rates, incarceration rates, and higher incidences of every major medical maladies among blacks than any other group in the country. African-Americans are still the prime victims of hate crimes, housing, employment and business loan discrimination than any other group.
Special interests, be they lobbyists, big money campaign contributors, corporate, labor, and political interest and ethnic groups, are the key to election victories. No politician, and I mean no politician, has a prayer of winning a major political office in America without their money, power, influence, and support. All politicians make promises to special interest groups to pocket their money and votes, and if they don’t keep them, or displease them, they will hear about it either through loud vocal protest, or their greater threat to fold up the check book, and their votes.

Obama knows this. His campaign war chest bulged with millions from the Wall Street financial houses, banking interest groups and their CEOs, as well as insurance industry and pharmaceutical groups. Wall Street has been amply rewarded with billions of taxpayer bailout money. Big Pharma and private insurers have been rewarded with the dump of the public option, guaranteed mandates, with government subsidies, to private insurers, and no effective caps on drug costs in the health care reform bill.

Labor, environmentalists, and gay groups were rewarded with a guarantee to fight for Employee Free Choice Act to do away with private-ballot union elections in the workplace, reduction of greenhouse emissions, and ramped up green investment spending, the scrapping of don’t ask don’t tell, passage of the expansion of the hate crimes law, and support of gay marriage. Even religious fundamentalists who Obama had absolutely no hope of winning any substantial support from even got a small payoff from him when he pledged not to scrap Bush’s Faith Based Initiative.
Obama took umbrage at the light handslap from the Congressional Black Caucus to do a little more for the black unemployed and dire cash strapped black businesses and broadcasters, while making the ridiculous claim that the poorest and neediest will be helped by him helping everyone else. He should just level with them. And tell them that he can’t and won’t do anything special for blacks, because he’s scared stiff he’ll be even more shrilly race baited by the GOP and Sarah Palin and the tea bagger ultraconservatives as a stealth Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the White House.

He ran for and won the White House with the mantra that any real or perceived tilt toward blacks by a black presidential candidate, let alone a black president, would be tantamount to committing political suicide with white voters. The majority of them did not vote for him, and if polls are any indication, still wouldn’t vote for him. Expect more calls from the black critics for Obama to do more for blacks, and expect more lectures from him why he won’t.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Obama Again Reminds He’s Not Black President Obama

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The Congressional Black Caucus got another painful reminder that President Obama is not black President Obama. In a press interview Obama bluntly said that he would not propose any special initiatives for blacks. Obama’s sharp retort was in direct response to questions about how he’d solve a glaring problem and a glaring demand from the Caucus. The problem is the astronomical high unemployment rate for blacks, especially young black males. Latest job figures show joblessness for young black males matches and in some parts of the country tops the unemployment rate at the height of the 1930s Great Depression.

The Congressional Black Caucus demanded that Obama specifically shell out more money and formulate more programs to help the black jobless and to aid cash strapped minority broadcasters and minority businesses. The Caucus lightly saber rattled Obama with the threat of delaying or even opposing his financial regulation plan if he didn’t play ball. The Caucus is about as likely to buck Obama on the financial legislation when the final House vote is taken as the American Bankers Association is to back it. But the Caucus made its point. And so did Obama when he reiterated that he won’t propose any new programs for blacks.

Obama set that in stone from the first day of his presidential campaign. In his candidate declaration speech in Springfield, Illinois in February 2007, he made only the barest mention of race. The focus was on change, change for everyone. He had little choice. The institution of the presidency, and what it takes to get it, demands that racial typecasting be scrapped. Obama would have had no hope of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, let alone the presidency, if there had been any hint that he embraced the race-tinged politics of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. His campaign would have been marginalized and compartmentalized as merely the politics of racial symbolism. The month after he got in the White House he mildly chided Attorney General Eric Holder for calling Americans cowards for not candidly talking about race.

Obama got a bitter taste of the misery that race can cause a president him when in an unscripted moment he spoke his mind and blasted a Cambridge cop for cuffing and manhandling Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. The loud squeals that he was a bigot, racist and anti police for siding with Gates bounced off the Oval Office walls. A chagrined Obama back pedaled fast and asked all for forgiveness. There would no White House repeat of the Gates fiasco.

Obama has clung tightly to the centrist blueprint Bill Clinton laid out for a Democratic presidential candidate to win elections, and to govern after he won. The blueprint required that the Democratic presidential candidate tout a strong defense, the war against terrorism, a vague plan for winding down the Iraq War, tepid proposals to control greenhouse emissions, mild tax reform for the middle class, a cautious plan for affordable health care, pro business solutions to joblessness, and make only the most genteel reproach of Wall Street.

The Clinton blueprint also required a Democratic presidential candidate to formulate a moderate agenda on civil rights, poverty, failing inner city public schools, the HIV-AIDS crisis, and the racially skewed criminal justice system in written policy statements. And then say virtually nothing about any of these things on the campaign trail. Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry followed the Clinton blueprint to the letter during their campaign and if either had won, the likelihood is they would not made these problems priority items in their White House.

Obama is tugged hard by corporate and defense industry lobbyists, the oil and nuclear power industry, government regulators, environmental watchdog groups, conservative family values groups, conservative GOP senators and house members, foreign diplomats and leaders. They all have their priorities and agendas and all vie hard to get White House support for their pet legislation, or to kill or cripple legislation that threatens their interests. The health care reform battle and the decision to escalate in Afghanistan or near textbook examples of this. The two dozen back door meetings Obama had with the major pharmaceuticals and private insurers at the White House in February virtually guaranteed that a big chunk of the health care reform package would reflect the interests and the wishes of the health care industry. This is the price to be paid to get their backing.

It’s the same with Afghanistan. The Pentagon wanted and demanded a huge ramp up in American ground forces in the country. Given the pressure to win the war, and the power of the military and the defense industry, Obama was in no real position to say no.

Obama’s no to the Congressional Black Caucus on black joblessness and a beef up of minority businesses has everything to do with the price of White House governance. That price is a cautious, conciliatory, and above all, a race neutral presidency.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tiger Beatdown

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Beat em' when they're down and beat em' again for good measure before they can get up. The beat down supposedly is not the American way of dealing with those who are down. The ground rules radically changed the moment Tiger Woods did life threatening damage to a tree and a fire hydrant. With that the beat down started with a vengeance. No matter that the only body damage done was to Woods. There was no allegation or hint of drugs or alcohol. No matter that the law did not compel Woods to talk to police just to provide his license, registration and proof on insurance. No matter that he publicly accepted responsibility for whatever damage he caused, called the gossip “malicious,” and pleaded for the media and public to respect his privacy.
None of this has mattered. It’s irrelevant not because a sex, celebrity gossip, rumor and innuendo starved and obsessed mainstream media salivates at the prospect of scandal and titillation at the mishaps of celebrities. Nor have Woods’ pleadings that the accident is a non-issue been sloughed off because he is one of the sports world’s most bankable, best known noblesse oblige goody two shoes role model for the sporting world.
The truth is that the Tiger Woods beatdown began ages ago. The whispers, innuendoes, and back biting began the instant that he exploded on the golf scene. He wasn’t black enough. He was too black. He was too arrogant. He was too aloof. He was too selfish. The more green Masters Tournament winners jackets that he donned and world class tournaments he won, and the fatter his bank account grew, the undertow of carping about him continued unabated. There have even been personal and race tinged digs and cracks that golfer Fuzzy Zoeller (“fried chicken”) and Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman (“lynch him”) made about him.
Woods graciously and diplomatically shrugged off the inanities and kept doing what he does best and that’s win tournaments. It didn’t stop the gossip mongers. Woods was simply too big, too good, and too rich for the tastes of a wide swath of the public and the celebrity crazed media.

Despite Woods careful and cautious downplay of race, for another swath of the public he was still a black sports icon who dominated what for decades was a gentlemanly, high brow, near sport of kings, white man’s game. The price a black sports icon pays for resting on that high perch can be steep. One misstep and he or she can become the instant poster child for all that's allegedly wrong with celebriity, sport and society.
There are two reasons for that. When Woods tore up the greens he became the gatekeeper for the storehouse of fantasies and delusions of a sports crazed public as well as advertisers, sportswriters, and TV executives in desperate need of vicarious escape, titillation, excitement, and profits. Woods was the ultimate in the sports hero who fulfilled that empty need.
He was expected to move in the rarified air above the fray of human problems while raising society's expectation of what's good and wholesome. He’s been handsomely rewarded for fulfilling that fantasy even though as he admitted in his statement about the accident on his website, he is only human. He reminded the world the obvious. He has the same flaws and foibles as anyone else, and that certainly includes sports icons.
The other reason for the Woods beat down is his fame and fortune. Black super stars cause much media and public hurt when they supposedly betray the collective self delusion of sport as pure and pristine. That stirs even greater jealousy and resentment. That's evident in the constant fan and sportswriter carping about how spoiled, pampered and over paid Woods and black athletes supposedly are. The first hint of any bad behavior by them ignites a torrent of self-righteous columns and commentary on the supposed arrogant, above the law black athlete.

Woods has not had nor will he have a day in court. He hasn’t done anything to warrant one. But he squirms on the hook in the other court, the court of public opinion. Many in that court have tried, convicted and sentenced him. His sentence is cruel. That is having to cancel golf tournaments, hearing whispers from sponsors and ad persons about his image, and of course, the drumbeat tabloid gossip. But given who he is the sentence is not unusual. It's called the Tiger beat down.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It’s Official: Afghanistan Is Now Obama’s Baby

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There was never doubt the moment General Stanley McChrystal flatly told President Obama last summer that the US must deploy up to 45,000 more troops in Afghanistan that’d he heed his command. The Pentagon had officially spoken through McChrystal. With the rare exception of JFK’s pushback against the generals during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Pentagon speaks presidents listen. It’s been a costly listen. Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, and now Afghanistan has cost countless America lives, squandered billions, frayed relations with the European allies, and reinforced the US’s global reputation as a swaggering, bombs and bullets first bully. Afghanistan is no exception.

The apparent tussle between Obama and the Pentagon over a massive new troop build-up was never anything more than a game of political timing and numbers. It was simply bad politics to dump nearly 50,000 more troops in the country at a time when polls showed the American public has overwhelmingly soured on the war, and the majority of his base, liberal Democrats and progressives, scream for a withdrawal. With the GOP counterinsurgency gathering a head of steam Obama also cast a nervous eye on the recent off year elections. There was too much uncertainty about how Democrats would fare in state elections A double down on troops at a cost of billions more, and the almost certainty of bigger casualties demanded delay.

But there was no doubt that Obama would up the Afghan ante. This has as much to do with the Pentagon’s relentless demand to escalate as with his unshakeable belief that the war can actually be won, no matter the cost.

Obama was willing to stake the credibility of his administration on that even before taking office. In his August 2009 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention, Obama sounded his it’s the right time, right place and right war mantra line. “This is not a war of choice. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again.”

There are of course better options to fight terrorism than a big, costly, and controversial Afghan occupation. Vice President Joe Biden for one urged a drastic scale back of the troop commitment in the country and to concentrate on targeted attacks against Al Qaeda wherever it was found. Biden’s pitch for a less costly, more rationale approach to achieving Obama’s aims was for the most part ignored.
Obama’s buzz words are reforms, and anti-corruption measures, exit strategies, Afghan government, tight afghan security forces, and NATO partnerships. This is part fawn hope and part political script to sell the massive troop build-up to fight an unpopular war. The US hasn’t come anywhere close to achieving any of these goals. Pouring 30 to 50,000 more troops in the country won’t change that.

Aghanistan is a near impossible war to wage let alone win for reasons that go beyond simply finding a democratic government and shoring up a stable, corruption free governnment. It blends religious fanaticism, medieval beliefs, territorial imperative, and deeply flawed political assumptions about terrorism into a nightmare cauldron. Afghans, whether fighting the British a century ago and later the Russians, waged the wars spurred by a rigid, uncompromising Islamic fundamentalism that reached way beyond the tenets of traditional Islam. God was always on their side.

Even if there were any validity to the fantasy that Afghanistan could be cleared of the Taliban by military action alone, that would hardly end the threat of terrorist attacks. Terrorist groups can easily regroup in a host of other safe havens in places such as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, the Sudan, Lebanon, and Iran and continue to receive financial backing through drugs, illicit arms sales, and covert state government backing. Then there are the terror targets themselves.

A study of suicide attacks by Robert Pape of the Chicago Project in 2005, found that almost all terror attacks and targets are aimed at getting the occupying forces to pull their troops out of a disputed territory whether it’s Iraq, the West Bank, Israel, or Afghanistan. A bigger US occupation far from diminishing the prospect of more terror attacks assures that there will be more of them with US forces being in the terrorist bulls eye.

Military analysts seem genuinely surprised that the US build-up hadn’t achieved the goal of reducing the influence and numbers of Taliban fighters and supporters within Afghanistan and Pakistan and by extension diminishing the threat of more terror attacks. Yet, there is a direct inverse correlation between the military ramp up in rural areas and the ramp up in support for the radicals. The obvious conclusion is that thousands more US troops will stir even greater resistance.

Obama declares that he will finish the job in Afghanistan. But thirty thousand more troops won’t guarantee a finish, just a bigger bill, more lives at risk, and a potential political disaster. No matter, Obama’s made it official, Afghanistan is now his baby.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

America Must Join the Civilized World on Teen Life Sentences

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court took a huge step toward joining nearly all nations on the globe when it banned teen executions. But it was only a step. The U.S. still locks up more juveniles for life without the possibility of parole than all nations combined. The High Court will rule on two Florida cases where juvenile offenders got no-parole life sentences. In those cases as well as tens of others, the juvenile offenders received life without parole sentences for crimes that did not involve murder. The offenders ranged in age from 13 to 16 years old. There are about 100 juvenile offenders incarcerated for life in eight states with no chance for parole. Nineteen states in all still have no-parole sentences for juveniles on their books.
The 100 offenders who are serving the draconian no-parole sentences though are only the tip of a more terrifying iceberg. A year ago Human Rights Watch found that more than 2,000 juvenile offenders are serving life without possibility of parole sentences. A significant number of the juveniles sentenced to no-parole sentences did not actually commit murder but were participants in a robbery or were at the scene of the crime when the death occurred. The majority of the teens slapped with the sentence had no prior convictions, and a substantial number were age 15 or under.

The stock argument against a blanket ban on no-parole sentences is that violence is violence no matter the age of the perpetrator, and that punishment must be severe to deter crime. Prosecutors and courts in the states that convict and impose no-parole life sentences on juvenile offenders have vigorously rejected challenges that teen no-parole sentences are a violation of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Hollywood movie sensationalism and media-driven myths about rampaging youth not to mention the very real horror stories of gang violence and young persons who do commit horrendous crimes also reinforce the popular notion that juveniles are violent predators. This has done much to damp down public sentiment that juvenile offenders can be helped with treatment and rehabilitation and deserve a second chance rather than a prison cell for life.
This is not to minimize the pain, suffering and trauma, juvenile offenders cause to their victims and their loved ones with their crimes. However, a society that slaps the irrevocable punishment of life without parole on juvenile offenders sends the terrible message that it has thrown in the towel on turning the lives of young offenders around. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Kennedy hinted at just that in his majority opinion that scrapped teen executions. Kennedy noted that, "the punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is itself a severe sanction, in particular for a young person."

Kennedy acknowledged, as have legions of child violence experts, that juveniles don't have the same maturity, judgment, or emotional development as adults. Child experts agree that children are not natural-born predators and that if given proper treatment, counseling, skills training and education, most juvenile offenders can be turned into productive adults.
In a report on juveniles and the death penalty, Amnesty International found that a number of child offenders sentenced to death suffered severe physical or sexual abuse. Many others were alcohol or drug impaired, or suffered from acute mental illness or brain damage. Nearly all were below average intelligence. Some of the juvenile offenders were goaded, intimidated, or threatened with violence by adults who committed their violent crimes and forced them to be their accomplices.

Then there’s the issue of race. The no-parole sentences are hardly race neutral. Black teens are 10 times more likely to receive a no-parole life sentence than white youths. They are even more likely to get those sentences when their victims are white. This was the case in the two Florida cases the Supreme Court will look at. They are often tried by all-white or mostly-white juries. Those same juries seldom consider their age as a mitigating factor. The racial gap between black and white juvenile offenders is vast and troubling. The rush to toss the key on black juveniles has had terrible consequences in black communities. It has increased poverty, fractured families, and further criminalized a generation of young black men.
The Supreme Court in its decision to ban juvenile executions recognized that a civilized nation can’t call itself that if it executes its very young. The Supreme Court should recognize that a nation that locks up its very young and tosses the key away on them also can’t be called a civilized nation. It should scrap the no-parole life sentences for juveniles.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Pentagon’s Hasan Nightmare

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The following item that appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of Army Times was about as routine as can be when it comes to Army business. It read “Orders authorizing May promotions for the following active-component commissioned officers and warrant officers have been issued by Human Resources Command.” The name buried among the dozens who got promotions was newly commissioned Major Nidal Malik Hasan. From the promotion, it seemed that Hasan was moving up the army food chain.
So the always tormenting question in the aftermath of a murder rampage is why did the alleged shooter snap? The question is even more tormenting when the alleged shooter is an officer and an educated professional who to all outward purposes seemed to have found a stable home in the army. The one answer so far is that Hasan didn’t like American war involvement and was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan.

The war opposition and the prospect of being dumped on a battleground thousands of miles away may well have triggered Hasan’s alleged violent, deranged, whacked out moment of mass murder. His alleged mass murder spree is a deadly aberration. The stress that may have ignited it isn’t. US Army men and women are killing themselves at a skyrocketing rate.

At Ft. Hood, seventy five service persons have killed themselves since the Iraq war began in 2003. This year nine so far have killed themselves. In 2008 the military suicide numbers went through the roof. More soldiers killed themselves than at any time since the Pentagon began tracking suicide deaths nearly thirty years ago. The twenty plus suicides of soldiers last January topped the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan that month.

The single greatest factor in the mounting self-induced soldier body count is the wars, and the stress of either fighting them, the prospect of fighting them, and the miserable lack of support service personnel often receive before and after their tour of duty. The military brass has only belatedly recognized the problem of stress related violence as a deadly problem that can wreck the morale of fighting men and women and pose a deadly threat to other service personnel. The Army’s answer is to shoot or pump the legions of on edge service personnel with pills, shots, scatter shot counseling and therapy, and piece meal officer training. The Army is in the midst of a five year study with the revealing label, Battlemind to identify factors that affect the mental and behavioral well being of soldiers. None of the Pentagon’s efforts has stemmed the rising tide of soldiers murdering themselves. And now as Hasan has allegedly shown, an off the edge soldier murdering other American soldiers. The army’s main concern as always is to keep the bodies moving as quickly as possible to bases, new assignments, deployments, and, of course, the battlefields. Hasan was one of those bodies.

The most frightening thing about his alleged rampage is that he was not an army enlistee in his late teens or early twenties. He was a trained medical officer, a specialist, and a career officer. He’s now a frightening example of the army’s miserable failure to get a handle on the nightmare stress related violence that has claimed so many of its own. Add to the lengthening list of casualties the dozen killed and thirty or more wounded at Ft. Hood.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Bernice King Should Publicly Renounce Her Anti-Gay Bigotry

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Bernice King can make history in two ways. She made it first by becoming the first woman in the fifty two year history of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to take the organization’s reins. Now she can make history in another way. She should renounce the anti-gay bigotry of her recent past. That bigotry was on shameful and insulting display in December 2004 when she and thousands of marchers stood at the gravesite of her father, Martin Luther King, Jr., and denounced gay marriage. The implication was that King might well have stood with her and them in their protest against gay rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth. King’s fight against bigotry and discrimination, all bigotry and discrimination, was relentless and uncompromising. If anything that day, King would have been across the street from his gravesite with the hundred or so other counter-demonstrators. They loudly shouted that what Bernice and the marchers were doing at her father’s gravesite and in his name, was a travesty and a disgrace. King sullied her father’s name to show her enmity to gay marriage. She also sullied her mother’s too. A few years before Bernice’s gravesite antic, Coretta Scott King issued a public statement forcefully denouncing anti-gay bigotry and made it perfectly clear that her husband would be a champion of gay rights if he were alive.

Bernice King is an outspoken evangelical, and she and other black evangelicals have marched, protested, wrote letters and circulated petitions denouncing gay marriage. This is (?) her belief and she certainly has the right to express it. That is she has the right as a minister, evangelical, religious fundamentalist, and private citizen. Her anti-gay bias swims forcefully in the main current of conservative evangelical belief, thought, and expression. A significant number of blacks, and a majority of black evangelicals, like her also oppose gay marriage and even gay rights. They rail at the notion that the battle for gay marriage should in any way be called a civil rights fight. And certainly in King's day gay rights was invisible on America's public policy radarscope, and homosexuality, among blacks and whites, was hushed up. There's not a word in any of his speeches or writings about homosexuality or whether he believed the civil rights struggle was inclusive of gays. That’s only because it was not a visible and compelling issue of discrimination then. It is today. And Bernice King now heads up the organization, with her father’s name and stamp all over it, that was founded to fight against discrimination.

ML King, and the ministers, and many of the thousands who fervently believed in and marched with him in support of the ideals of the SCLC would without missing a beat march against gay marriage bans, the hate crime murders and assaults on gays, cheered Congress for ending its years of stalls, dodges, and foot drags to pass the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. The bill adds gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, to existing hate crimes laws. President Obama quickly signed it into law. King would have cheered loudly at its passage too. In fact, the SCC leadership, pre-King’s election as President, also lobbied for it and cheered its passage.

King almost certainly would have vigorously denounced California’s anti gay marriage amendment, Proposition 8, and all other similar initiatives and legislative acts that have encoded anti-gay marriage bans into law. He would have applauded court and state rulings that have upheld gay marriage. He would have pushed SCLC, including those doubting, wavering, and tradition bound ministers in the organization to do the same. This is not revisionism or after the decades fact speculation. King refused to buckle to FBI, and White House pressure, and the pressure from conservatives inside SCLC to dump his chief aid and the architect of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin. He was avowedly gay. It took courage to resist their efforts to oust Rustin. But King deeply believed that embodied in the civil rights cause was a person's right to be whom and what he was. King may have even praised his daughter for having the courage and conviction to march for her beliefs, but that would not have changed his unyielding belief that bigotry is still bigotry, whether it's racial or sexual preference, and must be uncompromisingly opposed.
On its website SCLC clearly says “its mission is to challenge all people of good will, of every persuasion, who believe in the principles espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. to join us.” Presumably that’s the mission of its new president. She can prove it is by publicly renouncing her anti-gay bigotry.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Public Option is dead as a Doornail

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a parade of House and Senate Democrats should get academy awards for their play act on the public heath care option. It’s as dead as a doornail. Yet, the principal players still tease the public with their talk about it. The public option epitaph was written months ago during the more than two dozen secret meetings that Obama and his aides had with the insurance industry and pharmaceutical bigwigs.
The deal went like this. The major insurers and the pharmaceuticals would drop their seven decade opposition to health care reform if the Obama administration did four things. It must guarantee that the estimated 45 to 50 million uninsured would buy insurance from the private health insurers with penalties for non-compliance. The mandate would guarantee the insurers a monopoly on a product that would make the old 19th Century Robber Barons green with envy. The government (taxpayers) after delivering them would then pay the cost to cover many of them with billions in subsidies. This is a treasure trove of untold riches for the insurers. Minimal (or no) checks on what private insurers charge and no real way to compel them not to dump those they deem to sick, too poor and too undesirable to insure.
The elimination of the public option, though, sealed the deal. Obama could pay lip service to the public option but not fight for it. The lip service was important solely to keep labor unions, progressives, and liberal Democrats in tow. They were the ones who turned the presidential campaign into a holy crusade to put him in the White House. With 2010 midterm elections near any hint that the White House had cut a deal to scrap the public option will stir wholesale revolt by the left side of the Democratic Party. All factions have made it clear that a health care bill without a public option is a sham. They speak for the majority of Americans. Every poll and survey including a mid October Washington Post poll has found that the public solidly backs a public option.

The double cross by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the private health insurer’s industry group, which commissioned a study that claimed that private insurers would have to jack up prices and families would pay through the nose for health care if the reform bill passed didn’t change the deal. It actually strengthened it. A few days after the industry’s blatant blackmail, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel again reiterated that a public option was not ”the defining piece of health care.” This was a wink and nod to the industry that the White House would keep its part of the bargain no matter the trickery, skullduggery, or lies from the industry.

The fall guy for the play acting has been Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. He’s been hectored, cat called, finger pointed, and raked over the coals for supposedly single-handedly torpedoing the public option. Baucus just took his cue from the White House. When the deal was cut, he had the green light to craft a reform bill that is firmly within the parameters of the industry guidelines the White House rubber stamped months earlier. There can be no deviation from that. As agreed, the public option was nowhere to be found in his plan. It was never a part of the round-the-clock negotiations the key players on the finance committee engaged in to nail down the fine points of the bill.

Only the most hopelessly naïve can be surprised by the White House and Capitol Hill play acting. Obama desperately needs to knock down a win on health care reform, no matter how much of an industry giveaway it is. He’s heard the loud grumbles from progressives and liberal Democrats that he is way too quick to make nice with the GOP on comprehensive heath care reform. His soft shoe of the public option is their single biggest point of displeasure with him.
Some progressives will scream sell-out and flip-flopper at him when he signs the final bill sans a public option.

It won’t much matter. Their criticism will be buried in the avalanche of media publicity, a blitz of laudatory industry accolades, and congressional back patting when Obama signs the gutted final bill and declares it the greatest victory for health care reform since LBJ inked Medicare into law four decades ago.
The major provisions of the reform bill won’t kick in for years down the line. In that time, memories will have long since faded as millions remain uninsured, private insurers continue to rake in their grotesque profits, and the promised cost savings from reform never materialize. A true public option was the obvious answer to this. But when the insurers, pharmaceuticals and the White House agreed to play act on it it was dead as a doornail.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Insurers Royally Played Obama

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

In the months after President Obama’s inauguration, he and other administration officials held more than two dozen secret meetings with top insurers and the major pharmaceutical groups. He met with registered lobbyist Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the major private insurer’s industry group, on March 5, 6 and 11, May 11 and June 30.
The meeting with AHIP and the other industry bigwigs was followed by a much public and much ballyhooed pledge by the private insurers and the pharmaceuticals to plough tens of millions of dollars into an ad and PR blitz to back Obama’s health care reform plan. They solemnly and very publicly assured that they’d work closely with Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus and his five other gang of five cohorts on the Committee to not be the hard headed obstructionists they’d been for the past six decades to getting health care reform passed. Obama bought their pledge, back patted them for their spirit of cooperation, and publicly hailed them for promising to break down the final barrier, namely themselves, to providing affordable health care to all Americans.
The insurers hustled, conned and lied to Obama. They cynically played upon his political naiveté about them. Worse, they didn’t even try to mask their play of him. AHIP brazenly fired off to the press a study it commissioned that claimed that Obama’s health care reform plan would hike the cost of insurance for families by thousands. The insurers insisted that private employers would get hit even harder with the increased fees, taxes, and add-on costs in the reform plan. They swore that would cause many employers to reduce or even eliminate coverage for their employees. The insurers doubled down on their play of Obama by threatening to spend a fortune on an ad campaign to kill his plan.

The worst part of the insurers con game is that they had already squeezed a guaranteed profit bonanza out of the White House and the Senate Finance Committee—no public option, government enforced mandates complete with penalties, taxpayer subsidies of the poor and middle class uninsured, forced employer mandated plans, and best of all absolutely no meaningful government hammer over them to make sure that they don’t raise prices or figure out ways to dump those who private insurers label “high risk” or less charitably, “undesirables” at the first chance they get. Those are the millions who suffer chronic and major diseases—cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease. The overwhelming majority of them are blacks and Latinos and the poor.
Covering them was supposed to be the reason that Obama and congress battled for reform in the first place. The issue for private insurers even as they made nice with the White House and deceived Obama into thinking that he had a deal with them has never changed. It’s still their endemic fear of any smattering of government control of medical care.
The hint that insurers would double cross the White House the first chance they got was Obama’s mere mention that he’d impose higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for coverage of the uninsured. This stirred terror among insurers and medical industry groups of deficit soaring taxes and socialized medicine. The even bigger hint was the even more terrifying to them thought that congress might actually impose cost containment measures into whatever reform package that finally emerged from congress. This would directly threaten what insurers regard as their absolute right to make and keep the kings ransom in profits they’ve raked in seemingly forever. This drove them to the barricades the past six decades even faster than their phony, self-serving scare shout that health care reform is socialized medicine.
Obama learned an age old and bitter lesson from the insurer’s double cross. When you try to buy your enemies affection you can never be rich enough. The insurers royally played Obama.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Is a Huge Stretch

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Publicly President Obama said all the right things when he got word that the Nobel committee awarded him its jewel in the crown peace prize. But privately I have to think that Obama had to scratch his head and wonder why me? With all due respect to the president, while we can applaud his admirable effort to mildly reverse Bush’s kick butt, my way or the highway, foreign adventurism policy that ticked off the European allies, enraged the Muslim world, and blew off Latin America, awarding him the Nobel peace prize this early in his White House tenure is a huge stretch.

The three other presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter that won the prize had done more than barely warm the Oval Office seat when they got their award. The most recent, Carter, worked tirelessly to bring the warring Palestinian and Israelis to the peace table and because of his efforts actually obtained a break in the hostilities. This was a tangible, measurable and singular accomplishment, and he deserved the prize for not his efforts at peace and reconciliation but the actual attainment of a degree of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Even worse, Obama has done his bit of war waging. He has not damped down the American war machine in Iraq, and threatens to ramp up the war machine in Afghanistan. That’s hardly an example of peace making at its best.

The Nobel Prize winners in science, medicine and literature were mostly unknowns who spent years laboring in the shadows to produce milestone achievements in their respective fields. The award was not given to them because of their public popularity, mediagenic appeal, or their title (president), they got the prize for their long, and hard work that produced measurable, tangible and specific results.
Obama in the ridiculously short length of time he’s been in the White House has not gotten Iran’s leaders to firmly commit to hold talks on their nuclear testing program. He has not gotten North Korea to stand down in its nuclear weapons program. He has not brokered a lasting peace treaty between the warring factions in the Congo. He has not gotten Pakistan to seal its porous borders with Afghanistan that would choke off stop support, supply and the safe haven for the Taliban insurgents. He has not hectored the Israeli government to crackdown on settlement expansion on the West Bank and Gaza. He has not even pushed Congress to scrap the most repressive, loathful and patently unconstitutional features of the Bush’s anti-terrorist policies.

Any one of these singular and very measurable accomplishments would be considered major breakthroughs on the peace front. If he had obtained one or more of them, he would have richly deserved the peace prize for the accomplishment.
In the years to come Obama may well accomplish one or more of these stellar achievements. But he hasn’t yet. Simply awarding a young president, with lots of time left in his White House tenure to do truly great things in the battle for world peace, a prize for his mostly verbal efforts on the peace front, is not a stretch, but a huge stretch.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chicago Beating Death Shocks White House—But Now What?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There’s an outsized map of Chicago on the wall of the office of the Black Star Project. In the center of the map there’s the letter "A". The letter is the Chicago home of the Obamas. The “A” is surrounded by yellow stickers that make the map look like the bullseye of a dart board. The analogy is deadly fitting because each one of the stickers represents a child under age 18 who was murdered.
The victims were all African-American, and outside of their grieving families and friends, a brief mention in the local press, and the pleas from a handful of local activists to do something about the carnage, their deaths drew barely a ripple of media and public attention. The yellow stickers circling Obama’s home are no aberration. In the past year more than 40 young persons have beeen murdered in Chicago, many within a stone’s throw of the President’s home. A three year study of murders in the city found that young black males in the most impoverished parts of the city were 30 times more likely to be murdered than young white males living in white areas.

It took the cell phone video of 16 year-old Derrion Albert being bludgeoned to death on a Chicago street to momentarily at least change that. Obama will deplore the violence, Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will propose ramped up spending on education youth education and violence prevention programs and anti-gang violence initiatives, and with much media fanfare there’ll be a round-up or two of alleged gang members.

But as in the past the flashy, new initiatives, unveiled after much public anguish over a particular heinous killing, may again fizzle out due to lack of money, lack of political will to push them through, or lack of practicality. Increased dollars alone, Holder’s and Duncan’s inner-city treks, and moral finger wag, will do little to stop the killing. Many of the young men that tuck guns in their waistbands and shoot-up their neighborhoods or beat to death an honors student feel that no one cares whether they live or die. Their belief that their lives are devalued fosters disrespect for the law and forces them to internalize anger and displace aggression onto others.

Many of them, mostly young black and Latino males, have become especially adept at acting out their frustrations at white society's denial of their "manhood" by adopting an exaggerated "tough guy" role. They swagger, boast, curse, fight and commit violent self-destructive acts. The accessibility of drugs, and guns, and the influence of misogynist, violent-laced rap songs also reinforce the deep feeling among many youth that life is cheap and easy to take, and there will be minimal consequences for their action as long as their victims are other young blacks or Latinos. And as long as the attackers regard their victims, such as Albert, as weak, vulnerable, and easy pickings they will continue to kill and maim with impunity.
The other powerful ingredient in the deadly mix of youth violence is the drug plague. Drug trafficking not only provides illicit profits but also makes the violence even more widespread. The innocent victims that are caught in gang shoot-outs thus further fortifying the conviction that inner city streets are depraved war zones.

It's not just drugs and hopelessness that drive young men, especially young black men to kill. The huge state and federal cutbacks in job training and skills programs, the brutal competition for low and semi skilled service and retail jobs from immigrants, and the refusal of many employers to hire those with criminal records have sledge hammered black communities. The unemployment rate of young black males is double and in some parts of the country, triple that of white males. The high number of miserably failing inner-city public schools also fuels the unemployment crisis. They have turned thousands of blacks into educational cripples. These students are desperately unequipped to handle the rapidly evolving and demanding technical and professional skills in the public sector and the business world of the 21st Century. The educational meltdown has seeped into the colleges. According to an American Council of Education report, in the past decade Latino, Asian, and black female student enrollment has soared while black male enrollment has plunged.

There's no magic formula to stop the violence. Federal and state officials must drastically increase funds for violence prevention and gang intervention programs. They must call on educators, health professionals, drug counselors, and gang intervention activists to devise and provide the crucial resources for more programs to keep at risk youth off the streets. The Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Democrats must continue to challenge the Obama administration and corporations to do more to end discrimination and create more job and training opportunities for young blacks.
It took the shock and horror of Derrion’s murder to shake up a president and a nation. The real test is when the shock passes will the White House continue to do what needs to be done to prevent other Derrion Albert’s from meeting the same fate.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Obama Can’t Talk About Race Even If He Wants To

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The bitter truth is that President Obama can’t talk about race even if he wants to. This has absolutely nothing to do with his mixed racial upbringing, or his straddle of many worlds. It has everything to do with politics.
If Obama spoke out on race he’d confirm the deep suspicions of the right that he’s a closet racial panderer, ala Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. He’d also get creamed as a Democrat who tilts to minorities. Democratic presidents and candidates Clinton, Gore, and Kerry in four presidential elections avoided that tag like the plague. It was deemed a political kiss of death. Obama followed the same script to the letter during the presidential campaign. He talked race only when he was shoved to the wall forced to denounce his former pastor Jeremiah Wright. That was the price to save his campaign.

Obama well knows that the GOP lost an election, but it still packs a wallop. It can disrupt, obstruct, and create chaos for his administration, his political agenda, and him personally. And it does it not only because that’s the warfare that Republicans wage against Democrats anyway, but because the GOP has masterfully reignited its populist base against Obama. The base is rock solid conservative, lower income white male loyalists, with a heavy mix of hard line Christian fundamentalists. Despite the GOP’s wailing that racism has nothing to do with the white fury at Obama, the final presidential vote gave ample warning that many white voters do not and will not accept a black president. Contrary to popular belief, McCain (not Obama) won a slim majority of the vote of white independents in the final tally. Obama bombed badly among Southern and Heartland America white voters. They gave McCain nearly 60 percent of the overall white vote. The percentage he got was even higher among white males.

McCain would not have been competitive in the presidential campaign without their vote. The flip side is that Obama would not have been competitive if African-American voters had not turned his election into a virtual holy crusade and gave him a record percentage and record number of their vote. Hispanic, Asian, young voters, and a significant percentage of independents, and progressives also gave him overwhelming support.
It's true that blue collar white voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation's voters in the past decade to less than forty percent in national elections. This hardly means that the GOP's white vote strategy is doomed to fail. Elections are usually won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. White males, particularly older white males, vote consistently and faithfully. And they vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks have in most elections.

Blue collar white male voters can be easily aroused to vote on the emotional wedge issues; abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and rights, and tax cuts. GOP presidents and aspiring presidents, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and W. Bush, and McCain and legions of GOP governors, senators and congresspersons banked on these voters for victory and to seize and maintain regional and national political dominance. It didn’t work for the GOP in 2008 only because of Bush. His mangle of the war and the economy, and the terrible stench of GOP corruption and sex scandals, was too much even for legions of traditional GOP voters to stomach. Their vote for Obama or more likely their decision not to vote at all was more a personal and visceral reaction to their horror of the mess Bush and the GOP made of things. The GOP may well be an insular party of Deep South and narrow Heartland, rural and, non-college educated blue collar whites. But this isn’t a demographic to sneer at. Their numbers are still huge.
The recent straw poll among religious conservatives which put former Arkansas Deep South, religious fundamentalist governor Mike Huckabee at the top of their vote heap as their presidential pick in 2012 should not be laughed off or ridiculed. Huckabee’s base will be the same conservative white voters who turned out in record numbers to put Bush over the top twice in 2000 and 2004. They haven’t gone away. And race always lurks just underneath the surface to add an ugly but potent color to their vote and national politics.

If Obama ran around and talked candidly about race or tried to spark a dialogue on race as some clamor it would turn his administration into a referendum on race. This would set the GOP counterinsurgency on fire. Obama can’t talk about race even if he wants to.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Censure“You lie” Wilson! Democrats should give him a Merit Plaque

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Forget censuring Congressman Joe “You lie” Wilson. The Democrats should give him a merit plaque. His two blasphemous words was a dream for the Democrats. Rivers of cash instantly flowed into the Democratic National Committee coffers. It quickly made his almost sure to be beaten re-election campaign Democratic opponent Rob Miller, a serious competitor.

“You lie” Wilson did as much as the nearly 45 minutes of Obama’s reasoned and measured pitch for a compromised health care plan to help him win momentarily at least a big chunk of the public back to his side. His double digit overnight bump up in approval ratings was a bigger and faster reversal in political fortune than Truman’s presidential upset shock of Dewey in 1948. Two days before his make or break health care speech, things looked gloomy for Obama. His approval ratings had taken the biggest and fastest nosedive of any president in recent memory.
“You lie” Wilson for the moment at least brought out a rally round the president war hoop from the bickering, rapidly fracturing, groping Democrats. “You lied” also again for the moment put the brakes on the fast accelerating GOP’s counterinsurgency against Obama. In prior weeks, the insurgency had won hands down the public opinion and propaganda war against the administration. “You lied” Wilson even forced talk show anti-Obama ringmaster Rush Limbaugh to take momentary pause in his diesel speed Obama assault and attack Republicans for groveling to Obama. Limbaugh was apoplectic that congressional Republicans forced Wilson to apologize for his loose tongue.
“You lie’s” outburst was manna from heaven for the Democrats. It came at the right time, in the right place, with the right audience (millions viewed nationally) and against the right target the President.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that “you lied” had a check in the back pocket from the DNC to loose his lips when he did. But that would be giving way too much credit to the DNC and too little to the GOP. The GOP’s long history of shoot from the lip racist and homophobic slurs, gaffes, digs, and insults, always followed by the kind of wink and nod apology of the kind that Wilson gave to Obama was just the latest in the string of patented insults. The GOP has amply proved that it’s more than capable of shooting itself in both its feet and torso at the same time.
“You lie” for the moment did one more thing for the Democrats that they seem utterly terrified to do and that’s talk back to the GOP. The Democrats tottered on the verge of being widely written off in disgust as the party that badly squandered the political capital it banked from its trounce of the GOP in November. “You lied” instantly changed all that.
“You lie” even after the national firestorm is still doing yeoman service for the Democrats. Check his website His apology notwithstanding, “You lied” doesn’t miss a beat on it, “ I am not sorry for fighting back against the dangerous policies of liberal Democrats. I will not back down. Will you stand with me today and help me fight back against liberal attacks by making a donation to my campaign?”
“You lie” is a Hollywood casting dream for the Democrats. Censure “You lied” Wilson. Heck no, the Dems if they’re smart will polish up a shiny plaque for him.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obvama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Afghanistan is Obama’s Vietnam

Earl Ofari Hutchinson
In August 2007 Senator Barack Obama fresh on the presidential campaign trail made an impassioned promise at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to wage what he dubbed the war that has to be won. The war is the war in Afghanistan. He promised to quickly get out of Iraq, corral America’s allies in a partnership to wipe out the terrorists and their mass destructive weapons, end corruption, hold free elections, and insure a stable government in Afghanistan.
Two years later and a shell out of $230 billion dollars, and more than 700 US dead, not one of these goals have been met. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the request of $65 billion more which is an amount bigger than the amount budgeted for Iraq; and the 17,000 more troops which will bring troop deployment in Afghanistan close to the number in Iraq that Obama will be any closer to attaining the goal of zapping Al Qaeda and installing a corruption free, democratic government there. Military analysts, Pentagon insiders, and the Joints Chiefs, agree that to attain anything faintly close to Obama’s goals in Afghanistan will take a long hard slog that will cost billions more and take thousands more American troops (with increased casualties).

From his early speeches and now administration war policy set in stone Obama is doggedly convinced that the Afghan war can be won, no matter the cost. And he’s willing to stake the credibility of his administration on that, no matter the price. The price is high. A mid-August Washington Post-ABC News poll found that more Americans than ever say the war is pure folly. A majority of Obama’s most fervent backers say the same. These are the supporters who Obama will need to beat back the mounting GOP counterinsurgency against him, make gains or at least cut potential Democratic losses in the mid-term elections in 2010, and to vigorously pump his shaky health care reform package. With the grumbles from liberal Democrats and progressives getting louder about Obama’s betrayal and backsliding on his campaign promises, Afghanistan looms even larger as Obama and the Democratic Party’s Vietnam.

Vietnam is the dreaded word that presidents Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Bush heard about Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq. It’s still the poster war for a failed, flawed, and hopelessly unwinnable war. The word has been a political tipping point for presidents. It soured public opinion, drained the economy, fueled public dismay and anger, hampered passage of their domestic programs, fractured their party, and stirred big losses in Congress.

Public shell shock over unpopular wars always redounds to the advantage of an incumbent challenging a president whose name is linked to the war. In 1952, Eisenhower ran on the pledge to visit Korea if elected. Though Ike never directly promised to bring the troops home if elected, the implicit commitment was that if elected he’d do that. He really didn’t have to make that promise; public weariness over the war was so great that Ike’s generic oath to visit the troops was enough to help sink Truman. In the public’s mind the Korean War had become Truman’s war, or more accurately Truman’s failure to win the war.

Similarly, Nixon learned from Ike. During the presidential campaign against Democratic Vice-President Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Nixon dropped careful politically calculated hints of a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War if elected. Like Ike, he didn’t spell out in any real detail just what his secret plan was. And like Ike, he didn’t really have to. Public revulsion over Vietnam, as in Korea, was so great that even the scintilla of a suggestion that Nixon could end the war aroused voter optimism for him and even greater fury against Humphrey who was widely seen as the caretaker of Johnson’s war (Johnson saw the handwriting on the wall and declined to run).
These two unpopular wars did in Truman and the Democrats in 1952, and President Johnson and the Democrats in 1968. They also had a tsunami effect on Democratic elected officials. In both election years, the Democrats had a decisive edge over the Republicans in Congress, a wide body of public support, and political prestige. Eisenhower, and later Nixon, painted Korea and Vietnam as a hopeless muddle that Truman and Humphrey (in tandem with Johnson) made a mess of. The two Democratic presidents paid dearly for it, and Bush and the Republicans paid just as dearly for the Iraq quagmire.
Obama knows this history well. He embedded that history into his presidential campaign and continually reminded voters of the history of the Iraq war failure. Financially draining wars take a huge toll on the economy, drag down public morale, and cause a steep plunge in American prestige internationally. It also whips up greater anti-American sentiment.
Three failed and flawed wars and the public’s distaste for those wars helped topple two sitting Democratic presidents, and hopelessly discredited a Republican president. The same public distaste for the Afghanistan war can easily make it Obama’s Vietnam. History has served notice on Obama of this peril.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Friday, August 21, 2009

President Obama’s One Term Nightmare

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

In an interview on NBC's Today Show two weeks after he was sworn in President Obama was blunt. He said that if he didn't deliver he'd be "a one term proposition." Put this in the category of what did he know and when did he know it. The it is that he was under the white hot glare of the public to deliver the goods, or be quickly dumped in the presidential has been bin. Polls back up this hard political reality about Obama. A mid August Washington Post-ABC News survey found that his approval ratings continue to plunge. Part of that can be chalked up to inevitability.
New presidents always ride into office on the crest of both voter hopes and euphoria about the prospect of change and disgust at and voter fatigue with the former seat warmer in the White House. And new presidents just as quickly see their approval ratings dip or freefall. It’s easy to see why. They try to do too much to soon, promise not to do political business in the old ways, try to make too drastic legislative changes, or quickly reverse the bad old policies of their predecessor. It’s the fabled man on the white horse coming to the rescue. This is, of course, just that fable. Real politics and an impatient public knock that storybook notion for a loop.

In Obama’s case, he gambled that his presidency would be a crowning success if he could beat back the fine tuned, well-oiled, and well-endowed health care industry juggernaut and get health care reform, that’s real health care reform, through Congress and into law. Only one president has been able to do and that was Lyndon Johnson. He arm twisted, browbeat, and out smarted Congress and the health care industry to get Medicare. Johnson had won a landslide election victory in 1964, had fine tuned, hard nosed political skills, had the reform spirit of the civil rights movement and a solid Democratic party behind him. And he had the well spring of public sympathy after JFK’s murder. Obama is not LBJ, politically. And he has neither the times or Johnson’s massive mandate for change going for him.

Above everything else, the voters put Obama in the White House to make the economy right, reign in the Wall Street greed merchants, save jobs and homes, and get the credit pipeline to businesses open. That hasn’t happened. Instead they’ve gotten a raucous, and contentious health care reform fight that’s given a badly fractured and reeling, GOP, the butt of scorn and jokes, something that it never dreamed in its wildest dreams in mid November could happen. That’s the weapon to get back in the political hunt. If anyone had dared say a month ago that the percent of voters who blame Obama for making a mess of health care reform was in striking distance of the number of voters who blame the GOP for the mess, they’d have been measured for a straightjacket. A mid-August Pew Research survey found just that.

Obama eventually will get a health care bill to sign. But it will be a bill that will satisfy few. Progressives will scream even louder that the bill sans a public option, and deal laden with big Pharma giveaways, is smoke and mirrors, a sham reform, and another infuriating betrayal of his campaign pledge of hope and change. The Fox Network, Limbaugh, and the GOP attack hounds will scream even louder that the bill and Obama are taking the country down a sink hole. The bill will leave the majority of voters confused, perplexed, and even more uneasy about what Obama is really up to, and his seeming inability to be the tough, decisive leader that millions took a chance on and backed.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama has plenty of time to get things right. Here’s the problem. Health care and the economy are signature markers for a successful Obama first term, and the justification for a second one. Doubts, unease, or his real or perceived failure will be hard to unhinge from voter thinking. Blacks, Hispanics, young and progressive voters will still back him. But will they crusade for him as they did in 2008? That means again turning out in big and impassioned numbers. This won’t happen if they feel Obama waffled or reneged on his key promises. Meanwhile, the GOP will sow more fear, pound away on the doubts, unease and perceived failures of Obama. It will dump its bizarre Palin fascinaton, will have a fat campaign chest, and will groom a fresh new GOP face, (just like the Dems did with Obama).

Worse, Obama won’t have the gargantuan trump card he had in 2012. That was the Bush bogeyman to scare, shock, and rev up voters. This doesn’t spell defeat in 2012. It does spell an Obama nightmare about a one term presidency.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Race is Not The only Reason for Jump in Assassination Threats to Obama

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama has gotten more death threats in a shorter period of time than any other president in US history. The legion of right side talk radio gabbers, the GOP induced professional mobsters who commit orchestrated mayhem at health care townhalls, the birthers, the countless websites and chatrooms that c
rackle with anti Obama venom, and the endless montage of race baiting cartoons, characterizations and depictions of Obama and First Lady Michelle have created a viperous climate of hate and that knows no bounds.
The stock assumption is that race is the reason that Obama is a bigger target than any other president. That’s a huge factor. The mere sight of a black man at the helm is more than enough to drive countless loose screw unreconstructed KKK, Aryan Nation, Skinhead, and the just plain wacky fringe into a froth. But anti-black hate is only one reason for the record number of death threats against him. Threats against Presidents often come fast and furious immediately after their election. The reasons are varied; many are the chronic cranks and nut cases, others hate the views of the president, fear change, or just get a titilation from making the threat.

But the GOP strategists and their stealth talk radio and blog allies are playing for much bigger stakes than just bashing a black president. The stakes are a rework of the GOP to take back power. A full throttle destabilization of the Obama administration on everything from the economy to health care is the obvious attack point. The GOP and their surrogates have snatched a page from the playbook used against every Democratic presidential candidate and president by the GOP since Nixon. That’s create havoc through charater assassination, rumor mongering, fear, intimidation, and emotionally charged code words. The operative tag they’ve slapped on Obama is socialist. That sets off a Pavlovian drool; reason quickly goes out the window and the red flags run up the mental flagpoles of countless Americans.
Obama’s message of hope and change feeds into rightist paranoia. He has drawn an instant global throng of admirers who see in him the embodiment of change and a fresh direction for US policy on the war and the easing of global tensions. He's also seen as a potential president who can put a diverse, humane face on American foreign policy.
These are the exact qualities that stir the deep fury, hatred and resentment among a steadily growing frenetic number of malcontents and hate mongers. The thick list of fringe and hate groups as well as the hordes of unbalanced violence prone individuals running free in America can fill a telephone book. The long history of hate violence in America is more than enough to raise the antenna on the danger of violence against prominent political figures.

The gun culture of the nation, adds even more fuel and danger to the mix. Gun and ammo sales have gun through the roof since Obama’s election, with many openly bragging that they are ready for a war to win back the country. Whether it’s the wholesale wipeout of families, gunning down police officers, or the shoot up of a women’s fitness center, the police invariably find that the cracked shooter has made some rant about guns and spouted wacky extremist views.
Obama, of course, has been the target of unbounded hate from the moment that he announced that he was a presidential candidate in February 2007. The personal death threats began flooding in to his campaign. Obama had the dubious distinction of being the earliest presidential contender to be assigned Secret Service protection on the campaign trail. As the crowds grew bigger at Obama rallies and his public visibility grew even greater, the Secret Service increased the number of agents assigned to guard him.
Obama campaign aides and volunteers continued to report occasional racial taunts and jibes when they passed out literature and pitched Obama in some areas. This further increased the jitters that Obama was at risk. As the showdown with John McCain heated up in the general election, the flood of crank, crackpot, and screwball threats that promise murder and mayhem toward Obama continued to pour in. This prompted the Secret Service to tighten security and take even more elaborate measures to insure his safety.
The troubling question though is how tight can the Secret Service clamp the security shield around Obama as president. The same report that there’s been a four hundred percent leap in death threats against Obama also noted that the Secret Service in underagented and under resourced. That’s not very comforting. But threats come with the presidential turf, a turf that Obama stands firmly on, and for some that’s just to much to stomach.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Birther Movement Won’t Go Away, and for Good Reason

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got it right when he bluntly said that the deal is that the legions who are adamant that President Obama is an illegal alien and should be dumped from the White House will never go away. Not only won’t they go away but in recent weeks they’ve gained even more steam, and they’ve got it ironically with the unintended help of birther opponents. Every newspaper, magazine, talk show host that damns the birthers as a bunch of wacky, paranoid, Obama haters stirs the pot even more. They do it simply by acknowledging the issue with a column or a show. The birthers revel in that, and they should because there’s a canny, calculated,and politically cynical motive behind their Obama birth certificate agitation.

The clamor for Obama to produce his original birth document gained a noisy following long before the final presidential vote tally was in last November. It started the instant that he declared his presidential candidacy in February 2007. Take your pick: He was too black. He was not patriotic enough. He was too liberal, too effete, too untested. He was a Muslim, terrorist fellow traveler, and a closet black radical. The shock of an Obama in the White House was simply too much for many to bear. Obama defied the stereotypical textbook look and definition of what an American president was supposed to look like, and be like; namely a wooden image middle-aged, or older, white male.

Obama inadvertently gave ammunition to the incipient birthers during a campaign stop in late July 2007 when he quipped that he did not look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills. Obama got torched for saying the obvious and that was that his candidacy was different. Obama later admitted that it was a racial reference. The off the cuff remark simply reinforced the point that he and his candidacy marked a turning point in U.S. presidential politics and by extension race relations.

The Obama birth certificate hounders kicked their rumor mongering campaign against him into even higher gear when some mainstream papers found the birth certificate controversy good copy and grist to get the tongues wagging. The birthers spotted the opening and crudely cloaked themselves in the mantle of public spirited citizens and legal experts with no personal, political, let alone racial, ax to grind with Obama. Their sole goal they claimed was to insure electoral truth and accuracy, to make sure that all the legal requirements for holding a presidential office are met, and to head off a constitutional crisis. They even promised that they would put the matter to rest if Obama simply produced the original.

That was a lie. The birthers with an open boost from GOP ultra conservatives led by House Rep John Campbell and other House members who are pushing a bill that requires all future presidential candidates to produce their original birth certificates. That, of course, would apply to Obama as well when he presumably runs for reelection in 2012. The real value of the Birther movement is that it’s a tailored back door movement that can be used to destabilize, or at the least keep the Obama administration off balance on policy initiatives he’s pushing on health care, the economy, and a softer foreign policy outreach. They are fierce opponents of them.

Since Obama’s inauguration dozens of You Tube clips have been churned out on the controversy, legions of websites continue to recycle the rumor line about his certificate, and a mountain size stack of articles rehash the issue of whether the birth certificate that Hawaii produced is legit. More than two dozen lawsuits or petitions have been filed in various state courts contesting Obama’s U.S. citizenship (one of them was filed by political gadfly Alan Keyes). The Supreme’s Court’s refusal to demand that Obama pony up his birth certificate has done absolutely nothing to take any steam out of the movement. If anything, it probably added some vapor to it, by convincing more that the Courts or in cahoots with the Obama White House to keep the real “truth” about his imagined foreign birth secret from the American people.

The worst thing about the controversy over Obama’s birth certificate is not that CNN’s Lou Dobbs has latched onto the issue for ratings and to make mischief against Obama. Or that others in the media have even dignified the controversy by treating it as if it’s a legitimate issue. The worst thing is that none have connected the dots and seen the birthers as the shock troops to torpedo Obama’s political agenda. Their hope is that by sowing enough conspiracy paranoia about him they can do just that.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dr. Conrad Murray: Patsy or Perpetrator? Pt. 1

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Dr. Conrad Murray did two things the fateful day that the King of Pop died. He rushed to the hospital with paramedics in the fawn hope of saving Jackson. And he rushed to get an attorney. Murray knew that there would be questions, lots of questions, about what did he know, when did he know it, and what did he do or not do to save Michael Jackson. These are questions that well could eventually land Murray in a court room docket. Investigators made no secret that they raided Murray’s Houston office and Las Vegas home and office to find evidence that might bolster a manslaughter charge against the doctor. That’s the reason Murray rushed to an attorney’s office. L.A. County District Attorney, LAPD Robbery-Homicide, The Drug Enforcement Administration, and the California Attorney General are investigating Jackson’s death.

Murray’s possible legal woes pose another question and dilemma. From the porous leaks from the investigations, Murray may not be the only culprit in Jackson’s demise. There are five other doctors who investigators are taking a hard look at to see just what they either gave Jackson or whether they aided and abetted him in obtaining either over or under the table. If Jackson was addicted to the assorted pain killer drugs, there were others that helped him in his drug induced downhill slide.

They shouldn’t be hard to track down since all California doctors and pharmacies are required to report to the California Department of Justice every prescription written for any drug that has high risk potential. The drug that Jackson took certainly fit that category. Though home use of the suspect drug Propofol that Jackson reportedly took to get to sleep is rare, there’s no law that prohibits it. Yet, in almost all cases a doctor must be present to inject a patient with the drug.
So once the doctors who were complicit in Jackson’s addiction are named, the logical question then is why is the only legal finger solely pointed at Murray? Is it pointed at him only because he is strongly suspected of being the perpetrator of Jackson’s end? Or is Murray the ideal patsy to take the fall for Jackson’s death. He’s probably both.

The instant that Murray’s name leaked as Jackson’s last doctor of record, the finger of blame quickly was rammed in his face. He’s been pilloried on scores of websites and in chat rooms as “Michael’s Killer.” His training at Meharry Medical College School of Medicine, one of the oldest and most renowned black medical training facilities in Nashville, Tennessee, his internships, his years of experience and work as a cardiologist, and the stack of liens and lawsuits against him were all now fair game for attack. In the public’s mind, Murray was a shady, incompetent, money grubbing doctor. And he is African-American. This added a special venom to the public assault on Murray. In a Google search of various print and blog sites, this writer found a barrage of outlandish, and provocative racist slurs of Murray. So outrageous that some editors implored readers not to make racially charged references to Murray and Jackson’s death.

Murray read the tea leaves and saw that the sentiment was overwhelming that an African-American doctor with a checkered history and publicly reviled as the man who killed Jackson had better move fast and say and do as little as possible and assemble a crack legal team around him. He would need it.

With so much clamor to pin the blame for Jackson’s death on someone, the someone being Murray, a prosecution seemed inevitable. Now that that possibility looms larger by the day, there’s little chance that a Murray prosecution will draw the kind of racial line in the sand that has been drawn when African-American notables are charged with crimes or harangued for bad behavior. Jackson was just too universally loved by African-Americans, and indeed by fans across all racial lines, for that to happen. There was the strong and early hint by Jesse Jackson that Jackson may have been the victim of foul play. The outspoken rage from Jackson family members that backed Jesse Jackson’s charge up has insured that Murray’s circle of defenders will not likely include many African-Americans.

The gnawing question, though, still stands. And that’s since so many other doctors were involved in Jackson’s grotesque descent into fatal drug dependency should Murray be the only one of them to take the fall? This is not to absolve Murray of wrongdoing. If he did what prosecutors may charge him with than he should and must pay the price? He’ll just carry two crushing burdens when he does; that of patsy and perpetrator in the death of the Pop King.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama’s Gates Trainwreck

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The stock basketball one liner came to mind when I heard President Obama utter his now infamous “acting stupid” line referring to the cuffing of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. The star player takes a wild shot and the livid coach screams “no,” “no” “no” and then when the improbable happens and the ball swishes through the net, the coach’s livid “no,” “no,” “no” instantly becomes a fist in the air shaking “yes,” “yes,” “yes.”
My response was the same only in reverse. I said an instant and visceral fist shaking yes, yes, yes to Obama’s Gates quip. After all, the president spoke boldly and unhesitatingly on the always contentious, divisive and painful issue of racial profiling. But then just as quickly I said “no,” “no,” “no.” No, not because I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, and no not because I didn’t think he didn’t have the right to give an opinion, and it was just that an opinion on a touchy issue.

All presidents weigh in with their personal views, opinions, and thoughts, no matter how ill informed, at unscripted White House press conferences, and in countless network TV interviews on every subject under the sun. And certainly I didn’t say no because Obama shouldn’t toss racial matters and racial profiling out on the nation’s table. No apology necessary for that. The no, was because I knew that Obama would take a monster hit for piping up on a racial case that’s a ticking time bomb that could explode in his face. President’s can and do recover from ill chosen words on emotion charged issues.
In this case, though, his words came at the worst possible time; a time when the president needs to squeeze and squeeze hard every ounce of the considerable personal and political capital that he’s painstakingly built up over the past few months to get an ever growing number of push back Democrats, dogged obstructionist Republicans, and the recalcitrant powerhouse trio of insurers, medical professionals, and pharmaceuticals who flatly oppose or are waffling on Obama’s public option component of health care reform. This is the centerpiece of the reform package, without it reform is a meaningless exercise in political gamesmanship.

Two new presidential approval polls from Rasmussen and Zogby, confirmed my “no,” “no,” “no” shout. The Rasmussen is an absolute number’s nightmare for Obama. His disapproval rating has soared to nearly 40 percent among voters. Those that strongly approve of his performance sunk to 29 percent. That wasn’t the worst of the bad news. A bare 25 percent of voters thought his answer was good. More than 60 sixty percent thought it was fair or lousy. Even more ominous was the voter breakdown. The crack in Obama’s hitherto impregnable black vote support was glaring. Nearly 30 percent of black voters broke ranks with Obama on his Gates’ answer.
Among Obama’s two other huge breakthrough groups, independents, and young voters, the blowback was even more disastrous. Nearly 70 percent of Independents and nearly 50 percent of young persons rated his answer “fair” or “poor.”

This is just the opening that the usual suspect Obama foes need to pound the president, and by extension his policies on health care, the stimulus, on foreign policy overtures. All are suddenly back in play and in question as set hit pieces for the Obama mashers; but especially health care reform. The issue is no longer the standard knock that it is too costly and a gross case of too much government interference in health care. Obama is now anti-police and an out of the closet race inflamer whose judgment can’t and shouldn’t be trusted on the crucial issue of health care reform.
The more charitable don’t go that far, but instead firmly declare that the presidential honeymoon is officially over. The only good news is that Obama’s popularity outside the U.S. is still off the charts. But foreigners can’t vote for or elect the congresspersons and senators who make and decide major policy decisions, health care reform being front and center the most pressing.
Even Obama’s still high personal popularity ratings don’t mean much. Popular ratings are just that, over-hyped numbers that measure a president's likeability, not his leadership effectiveness.

The true test for a president and how the public rates him is the quality of his leadership. A foreign crisis, a souring economy, out of control partisan battles with Congress, fights with major labor and industry groups, and prolonged military adventures are the things that inflict mortal wounds on presidents. The same is true for real or perceived gaffes, slips, and shoot from the lip comments.
President Obama spoke from the heart and said would needed to be said about the thorny issue of racial profiling. Again, no apology needed for that. He just said it in the wrong case and at the wrong time. Gates was the trainwreck waiting to happen, in other words, “no,” “no,” “no.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on