Tale of Two Students, Part Five

(The first post in this series is here. All the other posts are linked from there)
I’ve been posting some thoughts and experiences related to public education. Previously we talked about a public education proponent who told me that teachers could not be held responsible when a child failed to learn. The buck, she said, begins and ends with the students themselves. I’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences that lead me to a different conclusion. Here’s another:

My high school supposedly had a policy in place that three unexcused absences in a
class would automatically drop your grade a full letter grade. I passed all my classes even though I had 45 unexcused absences in three different classes in one 90-day semester. I made sure I attended class on test days. Because I happen to be gifted with incredible short-term memory and a knack for test taking I received 2 A’s and a B in those three classes (I got a D or two in classes I attended faithfully). I learned nothing, or rather, nothing worthwhile or helpful.

Is it anybody’s fault but mine that as a teen ager I was goofing off with my deadbeat friends when I could have been learning? No. My high school did not have a closed campus, and certainly, by my teen years certainly a goodly portion of the responsibility for my choices was my own burden. I made a deliberately poor and irresponsible choice, and I do not in the least hold my teachers responsible for that. I do hold them responsible for passing me anyway. Based on the rules in place at the school, rules I was fully aware of, my teachers had no business giving me passing grades, and that is entirely their responsibility.

I was 15 years old- not old enough to drive, not old enough to sign a contract, not even old enough to date by my family’s rules- but still, I knew better than to make the choices I was making, and I made them anyway. That is only my fault. But if we are going to hold a minor child responsible for her stupidities, how can we absolve the adults acting in loco parentis of their responsibilities? My teachers were all presumably responsible adults in a position of authority. I do not know why they let me off so easily, but it really wasn’t doing me any favors.

They violated the school’s policy (it wasn’t a huge school- they knew I was gone), and failed in their responsibilities. Had they been as dedicated as most of the teachers whose blogs I read they would have flunked my errant self immediately, and probably called my parents- who would have been very upset with me. It never occurred to my parents that a kid could be cutting so many classes without a responsible adult in charge of their child willing to notify the parents when that child was absent for the equivalent of half of the semester. Does the buck really only begin and end with me in this case? Do we only blame minor children for breaking school rules, but let adult teachers abdicate their responsibility?

I had parents who valued education and who respected authority, even if I didn’t, so I am not sure how much long term damage this did me (although I wish I had learned Spanish better). But what sort of message did this send my friends and classmates? Not all of them had parents who valued education, or who could keep track of their kids at school (my high school was seventy percent Hispanic and number of the parents spoke only Spanish). These are the very kids public education is supposed to serve. How well are these kids served when the teachers let at least some students miss 15 times the permitted number of absences and still receive decent grades? Do you suppose my friends and I thought much of any of our grades in that school? Did we feel that grades were something to be proud of, something we ‘earned?’ Who taught us that it did not really matter what we did, in spite of the rules we were going to pass?

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Child’s Calendar Beautiful, 2nd Year, October

THE STAR.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star;
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the glorious sun is set,
When the grass with dew is wet,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep;
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

~Jane Taylor

From Child’s Calendar Beautiful, arranged by R. Katharine Beeson, 1908, “a collection of poems and prose selections to be memorized by children,’ arranged by year and month.

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The Twenty-Third Post

Firefly at Bioluminescence has tagged me to play this one:

  1. Search your blog archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post.
  3. Find the fifth sentence (this is meant to say something about you).
  4. Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Tag five people to do the same.

Hmm. This is more complicated than it seems. On a family blog should I pick the 23rd item that *I* posted, or just the 23rd post. I choose the 23rd Common Room post.

Ah, yes, a classic. Blogging on the Bog- about the DHM beaching the Great White Whale, otherwise known as our van, in a verdant green bog in our driveway.

I note that the author of that post could stand a grammar lesson, as her second sentence is no sentence at all, but rather a sentence fragment. We are seriously annoyed. Who is that language criminal? Let us check the authorship. Ah, well, never mind. We are inclined to be generous. A slavish consistency to the rules of grammar is a hobgoblin of a little mind.

Generously counting that fragment as a sentence, we come to this item as our fifth sentence:

“Then, if you like, you can make a circle, so that you can park facing the road rather than backing out. “

If this says something about me, I don’t think it’s very nice. I seem to be a waffling, indecisive sort of a person. Or perhaps I circle my arguments, consider all sides of a question, and then face the issues head on? It seems rather too zen for us.

We are to tag somebody. We wish to tag somebody outside our usual circle of links, to alter the schedule, so to speak (we are feeling very DHM this evening, and we shall take it kindly if you would pronounce schedule in the British fashion, ‘Shedule’).

We link often to her mother, but we have not linked to Spunky Junior before. She’s a feisty one, like our Equuschick, another homeschooled teen like our JennyAnyDots and Pipsqueak.

We’re tagging Andrea at A Typical Life because we are utterly charmed by this post.

We’re tagging Mrs. Happy Housewife even though we have linked her before because she has a new domain and we still haven’t fixed it in our links. =)

We tag Kate at Heart Speaks to Heart, even though we found ourselves completely unable to swallow while reading her post about the tiny coffin. Or maybe because we could not swallow.

Martha, over at Artyomenko Family- because she’s such a sweetie.

And Athena in a Minivan, even though she’s not very new to us, either, because we like her and she has such a cool name.

Whew. That was hard work.

Note, Kate has already played. This is the problem with tagging somebody whose blog is fairly new to me. However, I am doing it again. Joanne? Would you like to play?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

524th Fighter Squadron

“I just can’t wait to get my hands on the aircraft, Just let me at the plane!
I always was an enthusiastic little guy.

This was one of my first comment as I was inprocessing my very first Air Force unit, the 524th Fighter Squadron.

As with many things “familiarity breeds contempt” it was very exciting for the first couple of years. However it was amazing how engineers could hang an air to water heat exchanger and then build an entire aircraft around it!

I worked on the flightline for about a year, spent some time renting boats, and then worked at the Maintenance Operational Control Center (MOCC).

Couple of my favorite memories are:

Standing under an the aircraft engine while 200 feet of fire (afterburner) (see bottom of page) blows out the back end.

Or then there was the time I was “walking a wing” for the very first time. I was told to watch that wing (while the aircraft was being towed). No one told me to watch the horizontal stabilizer! It hit a mule ( a large portable hydraulic unit). It was then that I learned how to take a urinalysis!

Plus
–More of the 524th experience to come, now to the 961st AWACS!

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Random Common Room Conversations

(from a January personal journal entry, hence the alka seltzer)

Mother: There comes a point when this stops looking pretty and starts to look weird…there are chunks that make it look more like something you eat rather than drink. It’s like detritis. And flotsam and jetsam. Things that you eat and things that you drink should not be in the same receptacle.
The HeadGirl: What is she talking about?
Equuschick: Her Alka-Seltzer Plus… Mom, why don’t you just drink it? I like Alka Seltzer Plus, except when you get it in the orange flavor. That’s just wrong.
Mom: It’s like when you think you’re getting a cup of milk and getting Maalox instead.

~~
Equuschick: I honestly did not mean to read the whole Far Side book. I was only going to read it while I ate supper and kept going. It can go on my book list, and I’m sure it’s Charlotte Mason. It’s very cultured.
Mother: Not all cultures are equal.
The HeadGirl: Yes, every savage can dance.
Mother: And you can grow a culture by growing mold.

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The Twenty-Third Post

Firefly at Bioluminescence has tagged me to play this one:

  1. Search your blog archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post.
  3. Find the fifth sentence (this is meant to say something about you).
  4. Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Tag five people to do the same.

Hmm. This is more complicated than it seems. On a family blog should I pick the 23rd item that *I* posted, or just the 23rd post. I choose the 23rd Common Room post.

Ah, yes, a classic. Blogging on the Bog- about the DHM beaching the Great White Whale, otherwise known as our van, in a verdant green bog in our driveway.

I note that the author of that post could stand a grammar lesson, as her second sentence is no sentence at all, but rather a sentence fragment. We are seriously annoyed. Who is that language criminal? Let us check the authorship. Ah, well, never mind. We are inclined to be generous. A slavish consistency to the rules of grammar is a hobgoblin of a little mind.

Generously counting that fragment as a sentence, we come to this item as our fifth sentence:

“Then, if you like, you can make a circle, so that you can park facing the road rather than backing out. “

If this says something about me, I don’t think it’s very nice. I seem to be a waffling, indecisive sort of a person. Or perhaps I circle my arguments, consider all sides of a question, and then face the issues head on? It seems rather too zen for us.

We are to tag somebody. We wish to tag somebody outside our usual circle of links, to alter the schedule, so to speak (we are feeling very DHM this evening, and we shall take it kindly if you would pronounce schedule in the British fashion, ‘Shedule’).

We link often to her mother, but we have not linked to Spunky Junior before. She’s a feisty one, like our Equuschick, another homeschooled teen like our JennyAnyDots and Pipsqueak.

We’re tagging Andrea at A Typical Life because we are utterly charmed by this post.

We’re tagging Mrs. Happy Housewife even though we have linked her before because she has a new domain and we still haven’t fixed it in our links. =)

We tag Kate at Heart Speaks to Heart, even though we found ourselves completely unable to swallow while reading her post about the tiny coffin. Or maybe because we could not swallow.

Martha, over at Artyomenko Family- because she’s such a sweetie.

And Athena in a Minivan, even though she’s not very new to us, either, because we like her and she has such a cool name.

Whew. That was hard work.

Note, Kate has already played. This is the problem with tagging somebody whose blog is fairly new to me. However, I am doing it again. Joanne? Would you like to play?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What He Said…

My political beliefs have classically been called liberalism. Only in American within the last hundred years (perhaps the last fifty years) have they been called conservative and the word liberal highjacked to mean leftwing fascism. I believe in the liberalism that F. A. Hayek describes as being based on the “fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society and resort as little as possible to coercion…” What he said.

And I agree with Professor Bainbridge:

“So I’ll say it again. I believe in a few basic principles of government: Government should be small, mostly leave people alone, balance its books, and defend life (whether born or not).

Has government gotten smaller on George Bush’s watch? No.
Has government balanced its books on George Bush’s watch? No.
Are the unborn or those at the end of life better protected on George Bush’s watch? Maybe at the margins, but he hasn’t effected major legal change.
Does government leave us alone? No. In the name of the war on terror, government has become more intrusive on our daily lives.”

(there’s more, and it’s great stuff, check it out). What he said, too.

Over at NRO Mark Levin points out that really, we lost the the Supreme Court back when McCain traded us for a mess of pottage and refused to work on a change to the SEnate rules allowing filibusters of Supreme Court nominees:

The fact is that this Gang of 14 moderates, led by Senator John McCain, did make it much more difficult for the president to win an ideological battle over a Supreme Court nominee. The Democrats did, in fact, send warnings that they were prepared to filibuster the second nominee. And under such circumstances, the president would have needed 60 votes to confirm his candidate, not 51.

Lest we forget, Majority Leader Bill Frist and the overwhelming majority of his Republican colleagues were poised to defeat the unprecedented and frequently used (or threatened) filibuster tactics that had been unleashed against President Bush by the Democrats to weaken his appointment power. The big media editorialized against it. George Will wrote at length (albeit unpersuasively) against it (see here and my response to him here). And Bill Kristol’s favorite presidential candidate in 2000, John McCain, the leader of the Gang of 14, was all over the media making clear he would torpedo such an effort. And that’s exactly what he did. This in no way excuses the president’s blunder in choosing Miers. But the ideological confrontation with the likes of Senator Charles Schumer and the Democrat left that many of us believe is essential, including Will and Kristol, was made much more difficult thanks to the likes of McCain and the unwillingness to change the rule before any Supreme Court vacancy arose. This president has been poorly served by his Republican “allies” in this regard. Bush is the first president who has had to deal with an assault of this kind on his constitutional authority. And unless and until the filibuster rule is changed, a liberal minority in the Senate will have the upper hand.

There’s more to that link, too, and you should read it all (Mark Levin wrote Men in Black, a book about the Surpreme Court). What he said, too.

And I’ve already quoted Patterico
on the connection between the filibuster and the current weak nomination.

And what Patterico says here, too:

I voted for George W. Bush in large part because I expected him to nominate genuine judicial conservatives to the federal bench — especially the Supreme Court. Last election season, he said he favored Justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s as important as “Read my lips.” Maybe judges aren’t that important to you — and that’s fine. But to me, it’s a top issue.

And if you’re talking judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, Michael Luttig fits the bill. I have no idea whether Miers does.

It’s a double question of 1) qualifications and 2) commitment to judicial conservatism. And these two are connected. Judicial conservatism means knowing the law, inside and out. It’s easy to simply choose a result and build an opinion around it. But to come to the right decision, based on rigorous legal knowledge and backed by a powerful intellect capable of authoring irrefutable judicial opinions — that’s hard.

It’s not enough to be “plenty smart.” It’s not enough to be a solid B+ pick. You have to be at the top of the game, or you will inevitably turn into someone like Lewis Powell, or Harry Blackmun, or Sandra Day O’Connor — in other words, someone who issues decisions that split the baby. And in the abortion context, that’s not just figurative language. O’Connor’s decisions didn’t just split the baby — they stabbed the baby’s skull with a pair of scissors, and sucked out its brains with a suction catheter.

So: George Bush made a promise, and we don’t know whether he has kept it — and by the time we find out, it will be too late.

That’s unacceptable.

As Patterico points out, we got an O’Connor because Ronald Reagan thought it would be best to nominate her first and Bork later. We had a Republican majority when he nominated O’Connor. We no longer had one for Bork. It’s just too sickening to think about. Click on the link to read more of Patterico’s smarts, and he gets extra points from me for the Neville Chamberlain analogy.

And like him, I do not find it persuasive or winsome or convincing in any way to be told by the likes of Lindsay Graham to shut up, or to be told by the likes of Ed Gillespie that these grave reservations about Mier are prompted by elitism and sexism, or to be told I’m splitting the Reublican party because Bush tells me ‘trust me,’ and I say, “You’ve overdrawn your account.” I’m not the one who overdrew his account, and I’m not a Republican. I only voted that way so he could pursue the war on terror, keep spending down, and nominate strongly Constitutional judges. One out of three is bad.

Posted in government | 11 Comments

Zeus and his bone

The Equuschick bought Zeus a new bone yesterday, which is far bigger than any other bone she has bought him (and there have been some large ones). The first time he picked it up last night, he took the end of it, and so was walking around with his head hanging sideways. He is very proud and protective of it, as you can see.

DHM’s note: It might help with perspective if we tell you that the bone is 21 inches long, and the chair behind Zeuss is 27 inches wide. And you might wonder why we think he is such a smart dog when last night he had the bone in his mouth by the end and found himself unable to sit down because the other end of the bone kept him wedged firmly upright.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Prejudices of Children

Earlier this week I recommended this article from the Education Carnival. Scott Elliot writes about race and young children. He refers to a study by Ron Katsuyama, a professor at the University of Dayton.
According to his study, kindergarten teachers assumed that their children were colorblind, but based on their reaction to picturs of children of different races, he found that they did show distinct preferences for one race over another. However, if the children attended integrated schools, this was less likely to happen. This seems to me to add some support to the notion that a lack of familiarity contributes to prejudices. Mr. Elliot says that Mr. Katsuyama also concluded that

“… some cultural or racial tension is natural. Programs like Reaching Our Children aim to impart skills to children to deal with others when tension arises.

“Some conflict may be inevitable when people of diverse backgrounds interact,” he said. “It’s the working through conflict that leads to greater understanding and appreciation of differences.”

Scott Elliot draws some conclusions I agree with, and some I don’t. I think diversity is important and it’s good for kids to be around people who look and act differently from what they are used to. Scott says this proves diverse schools are important. I don’t think the government should make it their business to bus kids from one district into another one, for several reasons. Scott also says “—It’s up to us, as adults, to create change. Your kids, even your very young kids, observe you much more closely than you might notice. They internalize your preferences and make them their own. They want to be like you.” This is true as far as it goes, of course, but it doesn’t go as far as most people think it does. Observation of adult behavior is not the only reason children might engage in biased behavior. They are perfectly capable of developing their own prejudices without any help from us. They do need our help to grow beyond them.

Most of our readers know that we have a child with multiple disabilities. For our new friends, let me quickly give a bit of background. She has cerebral palsy and is profoundly retarded. She does not speak, cannot run or climb, does love music and babbling her own little tunes, loves to eat, hates to do her therapies or work in any way, and is, like the rest of us, alternately charming and adorable or cranky and evil-tempered. You can read more about her here and here.

She is small for her age, and when she was much younger it was not immediately apparent that she was severely disabled. She didn’t have the distinguishing marks of a Down Syndrome child, for instance. There are other subtle cues, though, and when she wearing size 4T clothes at age 7, the fact that she sucked her thumb didn’t immediately indicate the discrepancy between her mental and her physical age as it does now that she’s wearing smaller women’s sizes. Even when she was smaller, after a few minutes with her it would become obvious something wasn’t right, but it wasn’t always clear to strangers what was wrong- putting interchanges with her sometimes off kilter and making people feel just a little uncomfortable. Adults would look at me for guidance. Children, depending on their ages, would either ignore it and talk to her anyway, or angrily push her away.

Before we had the Cherub it was my belief, because it was one of the cultural assumptions I’d grown up with, that all prejudice is taught. To say I ‘believed’ this isn’t right, because it was so ingrained that it couldn’t even be called a belief. That would be like saying I ‘believed’ that rain was wet. I simply understood it as one of the underlying laws of the Universe. I understood that if I saw a child exhibit prejudice, fear, or dislike towards a disabled person or a person of color that the child had learned that somehow at home.

Then we adopted the Cherub and entered an entirely new world, the world of life with a different child. I noticed something strange, something as unsettling to my understanding of the universe as if I walked in the rain and found that it dried me off instead of soaking me to the skin.
What I noticed is that an astonishing number of children didn’t like my little girl. They were afraid of her, and uncomfortable around her. At first I put this down to some hidden bigotries within the home, and I was dismayed to discover this about my friends. Sometimes their poor parents put it down to some hidden bigotries within their own hearts, and they were dismayed.

As time went on, I noticed something that broadened my understanding (and revised my judgment). Some of these children had been happily playing with the Cherub since babyhood. She loves babies, and smiles and coos at them. She likes to hand them toys (and hug them too hard, so we must be careful). The babies love her back. But at some point, as the babies grow into toddlers and preschoolers, nearly every one of them we have ever known will reach a point where they are afraid of her. I can only guess at why from my own personal observations, and that’s not conclusive, but I think I’m right. Here’s what I think happens- at some point the babies grow up enough to have a certain understanding of how the world works and how people act and what they are supposed to do, what is familiar and what is not- and at about that stage in their development they notice that the Cherub does not act like everybody else, she does not respond to them like everybody else, they do not know why, but she’s very different- and it makes them uncomfortable, nervous, frightened, or just strongly unsettled. They don’t like this, so they avoid the Cherub and want her to leave them alone. This happened, btw, even with the Cherub’s own baby brother and sister, who were born years after the Cherub joined the family and had never known of life without the Cherub in it. They both reached a stage of development where they just reacted badly to the Cherub (around two years of age for them, though I’ve seen it at 3 or 4 in some of our friends’ children). Because they were our children and it was our home, we were able to educate them into a better understanding and behavior within a very short time. We made it clear that we were displeased by the behavior and that there was no reason for it. For those who do not live with a Cherub, it might take a month or so, barring other disabilities on the part of the child who is suddenly showing signs of discomfort and displeasure around people who are ‘different.’

Based on our experiences, I rethought my assumptions about prejudices being only learned behavior, and I thought of two common circumstances that ought to have told me that my assumptions were false. What happens when most children see a clown or a person dressed as Santa Clause for the first time? They react in fear and distress. They have not learned that clowns are funny, so they assume they are horrors and probably dangerous to boot. Nobody teaches our children to be afraid of clowns and department store Santas. That is not learned behavior. It comes naturally to them. Seeing clowns and department store Santa Clauses as funny, friendly, acceptable variations on the human form is the learned behavior.

Let’s return to the Cherub to see what this looks like from my point of view. Some parents see their children respond to the Cherub with fear and dislike, and they are dismayed and not happy with the situation. They think this is something that can and should be overcome. They worry about what they’ve done wrong (and I assure them that they haven’t created the problem, this isn’t learned, it comes naturally), and then they work to help their children learn proper behavior. They coax the child to be nice, they encourage the child to reach out to the Cherub in small ways, they do not permit pushing or rejection of the Cherub. They engage with the Cherub themselves, demonstrating that there is nothing to fear or dislike. They help their children feel comfortable again with the Cherub, and they help their children think of others rather than themselves.

But some parents (including some of our own relatives) do not do this. If we are standing in a circle to pray together and their child refuses to hold the Cherub’s hand and moves away so she doesn’t have to be near the Cherub, they shrug their shoulders and let it be. They think it is understandable that children will be uncomfortable around the retarded- and it is- but they mistake ‘understandable’ with ‘perfectly acceptable and there’s nothing we can or should do about it.’ If their child does not want to play with the Cherub and is ugly about it, they shrug that off, too, and allow the child pleasant alternatives. If we are all playing a game and we include the Cherub and their child objects, some parents will ‘help’ by offering to go play a private game away from the Cherub so that the child is not upset. These and similar behaviors will not help the child overcome his prejudices, but will reinforce them.

(Because this will probably come up in the comments, let me say I do not think the right way to handle a child who refuses to hold my daughter’s hand during a prayer is to force a child into the clearly distasteful-to-her task of holding my daughter’s hand right that second. It would be appropriate to have your child come and hold *your* hand and excuse yourself immediately after the prayer to go have a private talk with your child. It would be appropriate to go hold the Cherub’s hand yourself, making it clear to your child that you are not afraid or uncomfortable, and that you are a little concerned that she is. It would be appropriate to recognize that while this is not necessarily learned behavior your response as a parent will either reinforce the child’s prejudices or gently deconstruct them)

Unfortunately, there are a number of unpleasant and unacceptable behaviors that ‘come naturally’ to our children and to us. It is part of the human condition. Fortunately we are made in God’s image, and by His grace we have the ability and the mandate to grow in wisdom and maturity.

Based on our experiences, I think I can safely say that prejudice is not always a learned behavior, that children do come naturally by some dislikes and fears of the ‘other,’ whether that ‘other’ be a matter of disability, skin color, or unfamiliarity.

However, based on our experiences, I think it is also safe to say that some parents neglect their responsibility to help their children overcome these prejudices, perhaps because they themselves share them, they don’t want to take the time and trouble, or they mistakenly assume it will resolve itself over time. I no longer assume a child who doesn’t like our Cherub necessarily learned that dislike at home, but if the child is more than four or five years old, I generally presume that no steps have been taken at home to overcome that prejudice, and my experiences and observations thus far bear me out. it may well be that this cultural assumption we have that all prejudice in children is something they learned at home is itself part of the problem. A parent who accepts that point of view as certain fact may very well be absolutely certain that he has never taught that sort of prejudice in his home- and he will be right. But that disconnect may itself lead him to believe that there since he didn’t do anything to teach it, and his child rejects the different anyway, that there is nothing he can do to teach the child out of the behavior, either.

Posted in Cherub, disabilities | 16 Comments

What He Said…

My political beliefs have classically been called liberalism. Only in American within the last hundred years (perhaps the last fifty years) have they been called conservative and the word liberal highjacked to mean leftwing fascism. I believe in the liberalism that F. A. Hayek describes as being based on the “fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society and resort as little as possible to coercion…” What he said.

And I agree with Professor Bainbridge:

“So I’ll say it again. I believe in a few basic principles of government: Government should be small, mostly leave people alone, balance its books, and defend life (whether born or not).

Has government gotten smaller on George Bush’s watch? No.
Has government balanced its books on George Bush’s watch? No.
Are the unborn or those at the end of life better protected on George Bush’s watch? Maybe at the margins, but he hasn’t effected major legal change.
Does government leave us alone? No. In the name of the war on terror, government has become more intrusive on our daily lives.”

(there’s more, and it’s great stuff, check it out). What he said, too.

Over at NRO Mark Levin points out that really, we lost the the Supreme Court back when McCain traded us for a mess of pottage and refused to work on a change to the SEnate rules allowing filibusters of Supreme Court nominees:

The fact is that this Gang of 14 moderates, led by Senator John McCain, did make it much more difficult for the president to win an ideological battle over a Supreme Court nominee. The Democrats did, in fact, send warnings that they were prepared to filibuster the second nominee. And under such circumstances, the president would have needed 60 votes to confirm his candidate, not 51.

Lest we forget, Majority Leader Bill Frist and the overwhelming majority of his Republican colleagues were poised to defeat the unprecedented and frequently used (or threatened) filibuster tactics that had been unleashed against President Bush by the Democrats to weaken his appointment power. The big media editorialized against it. George Will wrote at length (albeit unpersuasively) against it (see here and my response to him here). And Bill Kristol’s favorite presidential candidate in 2000, John McCain, the leader of the Gang of 14, was all over the media making clear he would torpedo such an effort. And that’s exactly what he did. This in no way excuses the president’s blunder in choosing Miers. But the ideological confrontation with the likes of Senator Charles Schumer and the Democrat left that many of us believe is essential, including Will and Kristol, was made much more difficult thanks to the likes of McCain and the unwillingness to change the rule before any Supreme Court vacancy arose. This president has been poorly served by his Republican “allies” in this regard. Bush is the first president who has had to deal with an assault of this kind on his constitutional authority. And unless and until the filibuster rule is changed, a liberal minority in the Senate will have the upper hand.

There’s more to that link, too, and you should read it all (Mark Levin wrote Men in Black, a book about the Surpreme Court). What he said, too.

And I’ve already quoted Patterico
on the connection between the filibuster and the current weak nomination.

And what Patterico says here, too:

I voted for George W. Bush in large part because I expected him to nominate genuine judicial conservatives to the federal bench — especially the Supreme Court. Last election season, he said he favored Justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s as important as “Read my lips.” Maybe judges aren’t that important to you — and that’s fine. But to me, it’s a top issue.

And if you’re talking judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, Michael Luttig fits the bill. I have no idea whether Miers does.

It’s a double question of 1) qualifications and 2) commitment to judicial conservatism. And these two are connected. Judicial conservatism means knowing the law, inside and out. It’s easy to simply choose a result and build an opinion around it. But to come to the right decision, based on rigorous legal knowledge and backed by a powerful intellect capable of authoring irrefutable judicial opinions — that’s hard.

It’s not enough to be “plenty smart.” It’s not enough to be a solid B+ pick. You have to be at the top of the game, or you will inevitably turn into someone like Lewis Powell, or Harry Blackmun, or Sandra Day O’Connor — in other words, someone who issues decisions that split the baby. And in the abortion context, that’s not just figurative language. O’Connor’s decisions didn’t just split the baby — they stabbed the baby’s skull with a pair of scissors, and sucked out its brains with a suction catheter.

So: George Bush made a promise, and we don’t know whether he has kept it — and by the time we find out, it will be too late.

That’s unacceptable.

As Patterico points out, we got an O’Connor because Ronald Reagan thought it would be best to nominate her first and Bork later. We had a Republican majority when he nominated O’Connor. We no longer had one for Bork. It’s just too sickening to think about. Click on the link to read more of Patterico’s smarts, and he gets extra points from me for the Neville Chamberlain analogy.

And like him, I do not find it persuasive or winsome or convincing in any way to be told by the likes of Lindsay Graham to shut up, or to be told by the likes of Ed Gillespie that these grave reservations about Mier are prompted by elitism and sexism, or to be told I’m splitting the Reublican party because Bush tells me ‘trust me,’ and I say, “You’ve overdrawn your account.” I’m not the one who overdrew his account, and I’m not a Republican. I only voted that way so he could pursue the war on terror, keep spending down, and nominate strongly Constitutional judges. One out of three is bad.

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