Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Join us saturday for a discussion on Dukes v. Wal-Mart

The Shared Sacrifice podcast Saturday morning at 9AM (archived thereafter) will feature a discussion with Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project, concerning the setback to workers and women from the recent Supreme Court decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart. Don't miss it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Clarence Thomas, meet Abe Fortas

Think Progress has this on lockdown. Justice Thomas, who has at least three ethically problematic issues weighing him down, brings to mind Abe Fortas, who resigned from the high court in disgrace in 1969 for actions at least comparable, and maybe less severe, than those of Thomas:

Fortas’ questionable gifts first came out when President Johnson nominated him for a promotion to Chief Justice of the United States in 1968. Fortas had accepted $15,000 to lead seminars at American University — far more than the university normally paid for such services — and the payments were bankrolled by the leaders of frequent corporate litigants including the vice president of Phillip Morris. Fortas survived this revelation, although his nomination for the Chief Justiceship was filibustered into oblivion.
Just a year later, the country learned that Fortas took another highly questionable gift. In 1966, one year after Fortas joined the Court, stock speculator Louis E. Wolfson’s foundation began paying Fortas an annual retainer of $20,000 per year for consulting services. Fortas’ actions were legal, and he eventually returned the money after Wolfson was convicted of securities violations and recused himself from Wolfson’s case, but the damage to Fortas — and the potential harm to the Supreme Court’s reputation — were too great. Fortas resigned in disgrace.
It is difficult to distinguish Fortas’ scandal from Thomas’. Like Fortas, Thomas accepted several very valuable gifts from parties who are frequently interested in the outcome of federal court cases. One of Thomas’ benefactors has even filed briefs in his Court since giving Thomas a $15,000 gift, and Thomas has not recused himself from each of these cases.
Today's generation of conservative Justices, however, play in an entirely different key.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Huntsman Can't Win, Here's Why

So Jon Huntsman is officially running. But there's a problem:

Presidential candidates need to be physically attractive in this day and age. Huntsman will never win because he has the face of a weasel. Or a ferret. People will call him "ol' ferret face."

I don't make the rules.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Peter Bach and Robert Kocher: make medical school free but charge specialists for their training

Peter B. Bach of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and former special assistant to President Obama on health care and economic policy Robert Kocher, both MDs, have laid out a cogent, persuasive case for government-paid general practitioner training, with specialties coming at a cost. Among the claimed benefits: more general practitioners, avoidance of personal debt as a driving force behind the excessive pursuit of specialties at the expense of the public good, and the program would pay for itself by charging doctors for specialty training. Incremental versions of some of this are already happening:
Many states have loan forgiveness programs for doctors entering primary care. The health care reform law contains incentive programs that will include bonuses for primary care doctors who treat Medicare patients, and help finance a small increase in primary care training positions.
Free education would also increase the quality of applicants, the doctors claim, and would reflect the already symbiotic relationship between medical training and taxpayer money.
Critics might object to providing free medical education when students have to pay for most other types of advanced training. But the process of training doctors is unlike any other, and much of the costs are already borne by others. Hospitals that house medical residents and specialist trainees receive payments from the taxpayer, through Medicare. Patients give of their time and of their bodies in our nation’s teaching hospitals so that doctors in training can become skilled practitioners.
Some letters to the editor expressed skepticism that this would encourage more medical students to become general practitioners when people could just borrow money to become specialists, but I can see how at least some low-to-medium income students would choose the general path and avoid the debt. It might also encourage people, say, in their 20s to pursue new careers in medicine after they see how bleak a lot of other options are right now.

Friday, June 03, 2011

truth can be tragic, but lies are dangerous

It may be too late to undo some of the damage created by this story, but it's definitely worth posting that it wasn't true.
The headlines were nothing short of chilling.

"Aspiring 'Miss Ukraine' Killed Under Shari'a Laws In Crimea" warned Ukrainian online newspaper "Gazeta Po-Kievski."
"Radical Islamists Murder Young Girl In Crimea," screamed Russia's "Svobodnaya Pressa."
"Muslim Girl,19, Stoned To Death After Taking Part In Beauty Contest," was the headline on Britain's "Mail Online," the "Daily Mail" website.
The circumstances around the death of Kateryna Korin, a 19-year-old Ukrainian student on the Crimean peninsula, appeared to point to a made-for-tabloid tragedy: a young beauty-pageant contestant brutally killed by her admirer, a radical Islamist who chose to stone her to death under an unforgiving interpretation of Islamic law.
There was just one small problem: They weren't true.
Instead, the suspect doesn't appear to be very religious at all, and the inferences of fundamentalism appear to be baseless according to the available evidence. Rather than "stoning" Kateryna, the suspect appears to have strangled her and struck her on the head--with a stone.

Fundamentalism is dangerous. So is ginning up stories designed to incite hatred.