Posts Tagged: George W. Bush

What the Bush Ed Dept Got Right

National scores on standardized reading tests continue to stagnate, but a Bush administration program helped students who previously performed the worst on these tests. (more…)

Discrimination on the Farm

The Washington Post’s Carrie Johnson reports that the Agriculture and Justice Departments have reached a $1.25 billion settlement in a class action lawsuit by black farmers who claim that the Ag. Dept. discriminated against black farmers in providing federal loans and subsidies. Johnson reports that black farmers first sued the federal government in 1997 and that some of these farmers were compensated in a $1 billion settlement with the Bill Clinton administration back in 1999.

There have been no subsequent settlements until now which raises the question of whether the Bush administration ignored the issue. In defense of the Bush administration, they continued the Clinton administration practice of having a civil rights director at the Ag. Dept. But it’s strange that 11 years went by before the next settlement — especially since Hispanic, Native American and women farmers issued lawsuits of their own in the Bush administration.

Year in Review: What Will Become of Dawn Johnsen?

Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen

The U.S. Senate concluded its 2009 session last week passing historic health care reform legislation. At the same time, however, the Senate effectively rejected six of Barack Obama’s nominations for administration leadership posts. By not approving these nominees in this year’s legislative session, Obama must either re-nominate the candidates next year — or choose to nominate a different candidate for their respective positions.

One such nominee is Dawn Johnsen, a constitutional law professor at Indiana University, whom Obama picked last January to head the Justice Dept’s Office of Legal Counsel. (more…)

The Meteoric Rise In Sex Offender Prosecutions

The Washington Post’s Jerry Markon has an unsettling piece about law enforcement officer’s failure to stop sex offenders from repeating their crimes even with the recent proliferation of state sex offender registries and tracking devices.  These problems derive from the astonishing rise in federal resources to prosecute sex offenders: (more…)

FDA Inspectors Not Eating Cheerios To Lower Their Cholesterol

The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports on the under-covered topic of what the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission have been up to in the Obama administration. George W. Bush and a Republican Congress eviscerated funding for both regulatory agencies and Bush appointed members to FDA and CPSC that were often from industry and often against the regulation of food, drugs and consumer products.

Obama has appointed more pro-regulatory leaders and so far they have enacted small but significant changes. Take the FDA’s regulation of Cheerios:

In their first few months on the job, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg and deputy Joshua M. Sharfstein — both with backgrounds running public health agencies — notified General Mills that it was violating the law with its two-year-old marketing campaign that said Cheerios can lower cholesterol by 4 percent. The FDA said the company was essentially making a drug claim, which would require clinical studies and agency approval before a product is put on the market. The food giant has removed that claim from its Web site and a spokeswoman said it is in discussions with the FDA.

FDA regulates products that make up a 1/4 of the economy, including prescription drugs and medical devices like heart catheters, so they better be dealing with bigger issues than Cheerios. But this is the kind of role the federal government should play — General Mills shouldn’t be able to make some unsubstantiated health claim about Cheerios. That deceives consumers and distorts the market. It’s up to FDA, and CPSC, to keep companies honest.


Andrew von Eschenbach, the last Bush administration Food and Drug Agency Commissioner, and four New Jersey members of Congress inappropriately pressured FDA scientists to approve a patch for injured knees back in December, reports the New York Times’ Gardiner Harris and David M. Halfbinger. Here’s the good news: the FDA internally blew the whistle on this and is pulling the knee patch off the market. The Times reports that FDA has “never before publicly questioned the process behind one of its approvals, never admitted that a regulatory decision was influenced by politics, and never accused a former commissioner of questionable conduct.” FDA has also let the Institute of Medicine review the entire process by which it approve medical devices.

In other words, the Obama FDA is correcting problems that took place in the Bush FDA. The Times piece focuses most on the quid pro-quo of the N.J. lawmakers who got money from ReGen Biologics and then pushed FDA to approve ReGen’s knee-patch. But the most unsettling and mysterious part is why Andrew von Eschenbach — in the twilight of his beleaguered tenure — pushed for approval. Ten months after the Bush administration, here is another example of a Bush federal agency head acting against the very mission of his agency.


By Matthew Blake

Chicago, August 11 — “Your typical president has two to three big problems,” Obama said at the April press conference marking his first 100 days in office. “I’ve got seven to eight big problems.” That might be an understatement. Obama inherited the worst economy since possibly the Great Depression, two wars, a war on terror that includes unprecedented questions of executive powers, a political crisis in Iran, a drug war in Mexico that could spill into the U.S., a crisis in food safety, a broken system of immigration laws, a deeply flawed – if not broken – health care system, a trillion-dollar deficit, and – oh yeah – the problem of the world melting in a few decades.

It’s now the dog days of summer with Congress, the Supreme Court, and, soon, a vacationing Obama, deserting Washington. Obama has now been president for 200 days (the anniversary came and went Saturday). The slow news cycle of the August recess will surely be dominated by Congress’s major focus this summer—the debate over health care reform. Obama has made health care reform the early priority of his presidency, with a cap-and-trade energy bill and rigorous education standards also at the top of his agenda. Whether our health care, energy and education policy are changed to the president’s liking will in many ways determine his political success and reflect whether the Obama presidency is able to follow through on pledges from the memorable Obama presidential campaign.

But Obama doesn’t have the luxury of just being judged by issues that he and his advisers seem most invested in. He also has to persevere over enormous economy and national security problems George W. Bush left behind – the war on terror, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the economic crisis on both Wall Street and Main Street. Has Obama started to break away here from the largely discredited policies of his predecessor?

War on Terror Dead, Long Live The War On Terror

In late March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the war on terror is over – at least rhetorically. “The administration has stopped using the phrase,” Clinton said. “And I think that speaks for itself.” Whatever it speaks for, it doesn’t say very much. (more…)


Michael Crowley of The New Republic has a nice thing to say about Obama’s foreign policy:

From the start, Obama has played the role of global leader with a certain relish. On his first trip overseas, an April visit to nato’s annual summit in Strasbourg, Obama confronted an unexpected diplomatic snafu. Turkey was blocking the choice of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to become nato secretary general. Obama sprang into action, conducting unscripted meetings with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and, then, later brought Gul and Rasmussen together. His intervention, coupled with a promise that Rasmussen would appoint a Turkish deputy, broke the deadlock. At a similar point in his presidency, George W. Bush may still have been relying on flashcards to learn foreign leaders’ names. "This is just something he’s naturally good at," Jones told me.

In other words, Obama is interested in the world and knows a lot about it. That would be a really banal point to make except these attributes greatly helped Bill Clinton and damaged Bush. One consequence is that the world no longer loathes America.-MB


No, persuasively reports the New York Times’ Charlie Savage. The slightly longer answer is that Obama’s policies are different than Bush’s policies circa 2002-04. But it’s the same "war on terror" that has been conducted the past three years, including military commissions and modified domestic eavesdropping.-MB