The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

EDITORIAL: President Bush’s first actions bad sign of things to come

I was wrong. I thought our new president would be as incompetent as he was in the elections. Instead, he surprised me by asserting my deepest fears by asserting his own personal values to overturn years of progress made by previous administrations, and in the ruthlessly efficient manner that most republican organizations are known for.

His first bold strike against progress was the repeal of the last minute Clinton initiatives. The most notable of the changes that Clinton proposed as he left office was one that would protect over 1 million acres of U.S. land from industry. This will be eliminated within Bush’s first few days. With the confirmation of Gale Norton as the Secretary of the Interior we will soon see other proposals favoring the logging and oil industries. Another of Bush and Norton’s plans on the horizon is to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Her beliefs include the idea that companies should be in charge of evaluating their environmental responsibility, and not a federal watchdog group. She often backs up her views with the defense that the federal government has no say in environmental issues. The really scary part is that this woman is now in charge of protecting endangered species and managing federal lands.

Destroying the previous president’s changes is just the beginning. With the announcements of the past few weeks it is clear that Bush hopes to begin changes that will bring some American ideals to their knees.

Many of George W’s fans want him to start a rampage of conservative legislation almost completely opposite to what Clinton did in his beginning days.

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This is the awful strategy that appeals to the Americans who were completely disgusted with some of the character flaws with the previous president’s personal life. Many have hinted that morals that were absent in Clinton’s personal life were related in some twisted way to the operation of the government. As a response to this Bush now believes that he shouldn’t be a president, but more like a pastor. Excuse me, but I am not sure I could ever hold a modern day politician as a moral authority on anything and the least of all George W.

First Amendment violated

The most egregious violations to be launched against the First Amendment occurred in the first two weeks of the Bush presidency. Both involve the indirect federal funding of religion as stated unconstitutional in the First Amendment.

It specifically states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

These words are the basis for the separation of church and state. However, with his recent plans, George doesn’t seem to read the constitution all that much. He probably got to a really tough word and had to quit in the Preamble.

Bad news for schools

His education policy was unleashed upon the United States in week one. Apparently this policy will work for every educational and social problem that confronts every school district in the nation. The problem with this logic is that every district has weak points and struggles that are unique. A national plan is not the answer to the so-called education crisis facing the nation. Solutions could be much better made at the state and local levels of government by people who actually live in the affected area, and not by a politician hundreds of miles away.

A key component of his education plan is what truly violates our First Amendment rights. Private school vouchers will divert funds from public schools despite what George W says. He calls it encouraging competition, but when even a casual analysis of the situation is allowed, it would be more sensible to locate the problems in the schools and address them. Some problems are due to a lack of funding, and by diverting funds these problems will not only remain, but they will grow. The Bush education plan abandons public schools in favor of private, mostly religious schools.

Simply sending some of the students into a private school never actually solves the problem. Come to think of it, why couldn’t Bush explore why private schools seem to have a higher rate of success compared to public schools? If there is some secret that private schools have, why couldn’t public schools be given this knowledge to get better results? Bush is very eager to abandon government institutions in favor of using the private sector. We are sure to have to endure this trend from him in the next four years.

Bad religion

After the education proposal was announced it only took a week before Bush let religion intercede into government once again. In his second week in power, Bush made an executive order creating a White House office focused solely on helping religious or “faith-based” groups obtain federal tax dollars. After hearing this, I became further enraged in the disrespect that our new president shows our First Amendment.

While yes, I cannot deny that these groups have helped many people, there are comparable programs that don’t involve any aspect of religion, and in accordance with the constitution only these groups should receive federal funding. The very idea of making a tax-funded office with the purpose of giving religious organizations alone is a violation of our rights.

This office has insight by some very prominent members of the religious community. Bush met with upstanding members of the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish organizations to discuss matters before he announced the creation of the new office. Bush is quoted as saying, “These are people who lead with their hearts.”

I am all for being compassionate, except when it comes to distributing tax dollars. When it comes to federal grants, I want cold rational thought to be the basis of wise financial decisions.

Why do we have to turn to these faith-based groups do you ask? According to the White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, “There are so many people in need that the federal government is not getting the job done.”

To that I say, do a better job, and don’t run to someone else for the answers to the problems that Washington is too inept or corrupt to solve.

These first two weeks point to a disturbing four years of dodging constitutional principles and shady politics that we may have to all endure. Coupled with the rocky cabinet appointments, this looks to be a troublesome administration that no one completely approved of, but we are stuck with.

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