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
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