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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: barack obama

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October 20, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Dave Chappelle’s status as racial commentator-in-chief reflects loss of faith in leaders and institutions

There was a time when Barack Obama was the go-to figure in conversations about race for most of white America.

As a 2008 presidential candidate, he riveted the populous with an exploration of the nation’s “racial stalemate.”

Those days are over, thanks largely to the popularity loss that comes with being a two-term president. And Obama hasn’t helped his own case as the nation’s racial healer-in-chief.

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, cdc, congress

October 6, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Hey Mr. President! Washington state has two good candidates for U.S. Attorney General

Rumblings from within the Beltway suggest that Washington State is getting short shrift as President Obama ruminates over who will replace Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general. Politico reported last week that Obama has narrowed the pool to former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. But that shortlist…

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Comments | Topics: attorney general, barack obama, christine gregoire

August 21, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Should Obama go to Ferguson?

Whether President Barack Obama goes to Ferguson, Mo. in the wake of the police shooting of an unarmed black teen has become the question du jour among American politicos.

Obama’s liberal base and a righteously raw black community have clamored for the nation’s first black president to get directly involved in the latest episode of deadly violence meted out upon a defenseless black youth.

[do action="custom_iframe" url="http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2014/missouri-police-shooting/?SITE=wasee" width="630" height="600" scrolling=""/]

But visiting Ferguson would not only be a risky move for a president bogged down in political immobility, it would more likely inflame tensions than quell them.
And given his track record dealing with issues of race, it’s probably better that Obama maintain some distance while demonstrating an empathetic engagement.

His presidential performance in two previous race storms – the Henry Louis Gates racial profiling and Trayvon Martin shooting incidents – didn’t live up to his 2008 “More Perfect Union” campaign speech on race, or the country’s subsequent and wildly unrealistic expectation that he single-handedly improve America’s racial climate.

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Comments | Topics: african american, barack obama, race

November 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Poll: Weighing the JPMorgan Chase bank settlement

In 2010, former Washington Mutual bank executives spoke at U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on high-risk loans. The bank was later bought by JPMorgan Chase which has just settled litigation brought by the federal government for $13 billion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In 2010, former Washington Mutual bank executives spoke at a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on high-risk loans. The bank was later bought by JPMorgan Chase, which has just settled litigation brought by the federal government for $13 billion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay $13 billion, including $4 billion for consumer relief and $6 billion to investors who lost big during the bank’s risky mortgage securities schemes. This settlement with the U.S. government is larger than any other Wall Street settlement and is roughly equivalent to half the bank’s annual profit. JPMorgan also agreed to a statement of facts, in which the bank admitted to key failures in buying toxic mortgage securities from 2005 to 2008. This NPR report offers a breakdown of the settlement and who gets the money.

A number of institutions will receive money in the settlement. Investors in JPMorgan appeared positive about the settlement. Shares of the New York-based bank rose 41 cents, or 0.7%, to $56.15 on Tuesday, as major U.S. stock indexes edged lower. This Los Angeles Times story offers more investor details.

I’m glad JPMorgan gave up trying to argue that it should not be held culpable for problems that came from the banks it acquired, including investment bank Bear Stearns and thrift Washington Mutual. But this does not end the anger and emotion surrounding the bank. Critics of the settlement call it a sweetheart deal engineered by a Wall Street-friendly Obama administration. Defenders call it precedent-setting, comparing it to the $4.5 billion in fines and penalties paid by British Petroleum over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. A Seattle Times editorial welcomed the BP settlement.

The JPMorgan settlement could become a template the federal government would use to guide future action against other banks. If so, is the settlement letting JPMorgan off too lightly or is it in proportion to the bank’s transgressions? Take this poll.

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, economy, housing

October 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Another school shooting shifts the conversation to gun control, but for how long?

UPDATE: One of the two people killed in the Nevada middle school shooting was a teacher who stepped in to protect his students. This Huffington Post story has the details. The teacher’s death may renew ridiculous suggestions by the National Rifle Association that teachers should be allowed to carry a gun or at least have one handy in…

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, democrats

October 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Catch mental health problems early

  In the vast arena of public education, the part least understood or addressed well is mental health. Think about it. Schools remain vigilant about ensuring students perform well academically. Immunizations are legally required and periodic check-ups for hearing and vision remain even as school systems have cut back in many areas. These things are appropriate because they directly impact students in the classroom. Mental health…

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, congress

October 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Civil Disagreement: Obamacare and the government shutdown

Civil Disagreement is an occasional feature of the Seattle Times editorial board. Here Bruce Ramsey and Lynne K. Varner offer dramatically different takes on the federal budget battle and the government shutdown. This interactive includes a poll about American sentiment toward the political standoff. [do action="custom_iframe" url="http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2013/us-budget-2013/?SITE=wasee" width="630" height="500" scrolling=""/]

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Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: 2013 elections, Affordable Care Act, barack obama

September 14, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Should The New York Times have run Vladimir Putin’s op-ed? Yes

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexi Nikolsky / AP Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin
(Alexi Nikolsky / AP Photo)

A retired colleague took umbrage at the op-ed piece in The New York Times by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The piece was an argument against an attack by the U.S. government on Syria and for using the United Nations instead. It also criticized the American idea that we are an “exceptional” nation.

Said my retired colleague: “This is an obvious propaganda piece by Putin and The New York Times fell for it. It shouldn’t have run it.”

Of course it is a propaganda piece. It’s what the Russian government wants Americans to believe. But is an article by Obama, or a member of Congress, or a newspaper columnist any different in that respect? Each is making an argument. In each case the reader is invited to consider the argument and the biases of the person making it.

Should we ban the Russian argument? Why? If we were at war with them, sure. But we’re not. Why not hear him out?

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, russia

August 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Reconsider President Obama, summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin

[do action="custom_iframe" url="http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2013/us-russia/" width="630" height="500" scrolling=""/]Diplomacy is variously described as saying nice doggie, while groping for a rock, or the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way they look forward to the trip. The point is to keep talking because of what might be accomplished. One cannot predict results, so keep…

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Comments | Topics: barack obama, Edward Snowden, Vladimir Putin

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