Jan 202004
Authors: Colleen Buhrer, Shandra Jordan

Some good, some bad. On a happy note, we were impressed that

President Bush actually went out on a limb on some subjects in his

2004 State of the Union address. Of course a good chunk of the

speech was unarguable; few liked Saddam Hussein or say they don’t

support our troops, etc.

But for a president in an election year he actually took a

stance on issues, which is not something you commonly see with

politicians. He took a stance on prisons, the No Child Left Behind

Act, the PATRIOT Act and gay marriage, among other things. It is

kind of refreshing to see a politician in an election year actually

have an opinion someone can disagree with.

As to our feelings on those commendable stances, there was some

good, some bad. Let’s start with the bad.

There were a lot of things Bush said with which we don’t


On big one was his statement about the PATRIOT Act. “Key

provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year. The

terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law

enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens,

you need to renew the PATRIOT Act.”

Sure, the PATRIOT Act supposedly does help federal law

enforcement do some positive things, but it also helps them invade

your privacy. Basically, at a whim it gives federal law enforcement

access to things about each United States citizen that they

shouldn’t have access to.

The Fort Collins City Council has shown it agrees that this act

violates citizen’s rights by making the city a PATRIOT Act-free


The second issue comes with the No Child Left Behind Act. For

several reasons we disagree with this act, but space does not allow

us to go into all of them. One stems from what Bush sees as the

necessary testing of students to determine their abilities.

“Testing is the only way to identify and help students who are

falling behind,” Bush said.

As students, we all know that we have taken tests that do not

necessarily show our abilities. There are several extraneous

factors that can affect how a student does on a test that have

nothing to do with his or her abilities. Thus tests should not be

the only determining factor of how smart a student is, how much

they have learned or how good a school is at teaching its


Stances Bush Jr. took with which we agree include our need to be

less dependent of foreign sources of energy and the $300 million

prisoner re-entry program.

“Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to

make our economy run so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize

our electricity system, promote conservation and make America less

dependent on foreign sources of energy,” Bush said.

This is good. We will find ourselves less likely to go to war

over oil issues if we have more of our own sources of energy.

Toward the end of the speech, Bush addressed America’s role as a

place of second chances.

“This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison

back into society. We know from long experience that if they can’t

find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit

more crimes and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a

four-year, $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative to expand job

training and placement services, to provide transitional housing

and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from

faith-based groups.”

We think this is a positive initiative. As a way to reduce

overcrowding in our prisons, and help a hopefully rehabilitated

part of our population, this initiative will hopefully help get

prisoners on their feet. By helping former inmates get jobs, we are

helping them learn to be productive citizens, abiding by our laws

and supporting themselves.

On a closing note, we just have one question: What were Vice

President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert doing

in the same room as President Bush? Should a disaster have

occurred, we thought at least somebody was supposed to be in a

different place.

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