Every now and then, I have several things on my mind, but none major enough to fill an entire post. When that happens, I write a post like this … just a compilation of bits of this and scraps of that. Such is the case tonight. I am currently at work on a couple of longer posts, but not able to focus enough to finish them tonight, so … here are some of the bits ‘n pieces from the corners of my mind.
Filosofa falls out of favour with the White House …
I think I am no longer a ‘friend’ of the White House. Back in January, shortly after the inauguration, I wanted to share one of my posts with Donald Trump. In the past, before he took the oath of office, I frequently posted a link to some of my posts that I thought he should see on his Twitter feed, but now that he was in office, I really wanted to ensure that he would read every word, so I tried to send it through the usual channel of ‘whitehouse.gov’. But I received a message back saying that was no longer an option, and giving me another site on which I could send a letter to him. Well, that became problematic because it would only allow about half the word count of my post, so I started trimming excess verbage and cut it down to size.
The next day I began receiving daily updates via email from the White House. They went to my spam folder, which was fine by me, since all they were was propaganda about all the “wonderful” things going on in the administration, and other sickening ‘alternative facts’. But every now and then, I would read one, especially if I was feeling a bit too good and needed to become nauseous. Then one day, about two weeks ago, there was an email asking me to take a short survey. Well, I’m not into “short” surveys, partly because they are rarely short and most always annoying, and because my time is valuable. But this time, I thought I would just check it out. I did not keep a copy, but have found it replicated online. There are only two questions, and I think you can still submit the online form at this address, though I am not sure. In addition to the two ‘select all that apply’ questions, there is a box to ‘share your ideas to make America great again’. This is where I took the opportunity to share a piece of my mind. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know that it included comments about racial and religious equality, valuing our immigrants, tolerance, and the usual things I tend to go on about. I no longer receive daily emails from the White House. Gee … was it something I said?
The mystery of why Carson was chosen to lead HUD is solved … maybe …
In regards to Trump’s cabinet picks … with the first announcements of who he was planning to nominate, long before he took the oath on January 20th, I wondered if he just sought the person least qualified for the job in order to show us that he could, or if there was some devious method to his madness. Once I became convinced of the power Steve Bannon holds, I became more and more convinced that his choices were not just random poor choices, but poor choices with intent. This evening’s headline further convinced me.
Two days ago, I wrote a post titled Idiot of the Week – Dr. Ben Carson. I noted that Carson is severely under-qualified for the job, but being by now somewhat inured to Trump’s really bad choices, I failed to ask the question: why? Why Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development? Even had I asked that question, I likely would have concluded that either, a) he is to be the token black, or b) it is repayment for Carson selling his integrity by endorsing Trump last March.
Today, however, I am convinced there is another reason. The Washington Post headline reads:
Trump Administration Considers $6 Billion Cut to HUD Budget
Trump plans to cut the $47 billion dollar HUD budget by $6 billion, or 13%. Another person, a person of integrity and knowledge of the department and its functions, would fight hard against a cut of 13%, but don’t look for Dr. Ben Carson to raise so much as a soft-spoken, polite objection. Dr. Ben Carson was put into that position to not make waves, but to sit back, accept his nearly $200,000 a year salary, and do what ‘big daddy’ tells him to do. He is a highly paid yes-man. As with other areas, the cuts will hurt those in lower income brackets. It is still early, and while there is speculation about where the cuts would take place, I will not engage in such speculation, but merely remind the reader that HUD is responsible for providing rental assistance, overseeing public housing and community development, insuring mortgages of more than 20% of all homeowners, and enforcing fair housing laws that bar racial discrimination by lenders and landlords. Whichever of these programs get short-sheeted, it will hurt the poor and lower income people. But let us not lose sight of the “greater purpose” … to increase a military budget that already far exceeds that of any other nation on the globe.
Is Harvard Law School lowering their standards?
There has always been a certain level of prestige in a Harvard Law School degree. Harvard has always been known for its strict standards, but that may be changing. For 70 years, students wishing to be accepted into Harvard Law were required to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), designed to gauge students’ ability to learn the law. Beginning this fall, Harvard Law School will allow applicants to submit their scores from either the LSAT or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). While both are stringent tests, the LSAT is geared more toward law students, more a test of your reasoning skills than your subject knowledge (in math and verbal).
Perhaps this is a minor change, in the grand scheme of law school requirements, but in my mind, it is yet another step in the “dumbing down of America”. The change is said to be part of a broader strategy at the school to expand access. I am all for expanding access to higher education, but my fear is that the next steps may be to lower the standards by which a student may graduate, law degree in hand.
As reported by U.S. News and World Report last May, there has been the significant drop in the number of law school applicants. The number of applicants dropped from 87,900 for fall 2010 admission to 54,500 for fall 2015. Presumably this is the driving force behind Harvard Law’s decision, but what will be the next step? The U.S. has fallen woefully behind in the quality of education as compared to other industrialized nations … is this the first step toward dropping our standards even lower?
Thus concludes the little things that were bouncing around in my webby mind. Perhaps now I can focus on some of the bigger issues!