HuffPost Live’s Alicia Menendez hosted Heineman, Dr. Erin Martin, Dr. Steven Nissen and Joe Graedon Monday for a discussion of the broken healthcare system.

Graedon, a pharmacologist whose mother died following medical mistakes, blamed overworked doctors for his mother’s death.

“They wanted to put in a stent, she may or may not have needed it, but it led to her death,” he said of his mother. “It led to her death because of a series of mistakes because people were in a hurry.”

Graedon argued that doctors should make a salary rather than be compensated based on how many procedures they do.

“If you think back to the industrial revolution, we had sweat shops and we did away with them because we realized that piecework was inhumane. But that’s what we’re doing to our doctors and our nurses today. It’s piecework,” he said. “They’re getting rewarded for the more they do. If you give children a dollar for every pinecone they pick up, they’ll pick up a lot of pinecones. If you give an interventional cardiologist hundreds of dollars for every stent that he or she puts in, they will do a lot of stents. Doctors need to be paid a salary rather than piecework.”

Affirmative action

This will probably not end well:

WASHINGTON — Nine years after the Supreme Court said colleges and universities can use race in their quest for diverse student bodies, the justices have put this divisive social issue back on their agenda in the middle of a presidential election campaign.

Nine years is a blink of the eye on a court where justices can look back two centuries for legal precedents. But with an ascendant conservative majority, the high court in arguments Wednesday will weigh whether to limit or even rule out taking race into account in college admissions.

The justices will be looking at the University of Texas program that is used to help fill the last quarter or so of its incoming freshman classes. Race is one of many factors considered by admissions officers. The rest of the roughly 7,100 freshman spots automatically go to Texans who graduated in the top 8 percent of their high school classes.

A white Texan, Abigail Fisher, sued the university after she was denied a spot in 2008.

The simplest explanation for why affirmative action is back on the court’s calendar so soon after its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger is that the author of that opinion, Sandra Day O’Connor, has retired. Her successor, Justice Samuel Alito, has been highly skeptical of any use of racial preference.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in the 2003 decision, probably holds the deciding vote, and he, too, has never voted in favor of racial preference.

In an interview with Dahlia Lithwick, who’s covered SCOTUS for many years:

If you had to write a help-wanted ad for the position of Supreme Court justice, what would you include in the job description?

It would start with: Those who went to Harvard or Yale Law School need not apply. Every sitting justice went to Harvard or Yale. That tells you something about the very narrow bandwidth from which the members of the court are coming. And it’s not just the law school they went to – more and more nominees worked for the executive branch. Everybody who is on the court right now, with the exception of Justice Elena Kagan, came off the bench. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only one on the court who was a civil rights attorney. Back in the day, we used to have people like Sandra Day O’Connor and Earl Warren, who served in elected office. Now none of those people could get confirmed. There is a narrowing in the backgrounds of nominees when what we need is diversity – diversity of voice, of belief, of career and of experience.

Beyond that, I think empathy got a bad rap. During Sonia Sotomayor’s hearings, the suggestion that Barack Obama should select someone who exhibits empathy was shot down as an unspeakable idea. Empathy shouldn’t be confused with sympathy and it shouldn’t be confused with bias. It means the ability to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes. That may be the single most important quality going into a court where once you are seated you never walk anywhere in anyone else’s shoes. You are exposed to an extremely narrow range of people, you just think and write.

Fighting military suicides with… smoothies?

Henry Rollins talks about military suicides.

Isn’t this a little… sad? I mean, veterans have so much working against them. Hell, counselors aren’t even allowed to ask the veterans they counsel if they have guns (because the NRA doesn’t approve). They have trouble getting jobs, many of them lost their homes while they were in the Middle East, a lot of them have PTSD and the military suicides now outnumber those killed in action.

Maybe keeping people in an insane war has something to do with it, too. Because if you recognize the insanity, and you can’t leave, suicide might seem like a reasonable option.

And smoothies are going to help? Maybe if we stop sending people off for extended tours in insane wars, they wouldn’t have so many problems:

The military might have a new weapon in its battle against suicide: smoothies, spiked with omega-3 fatty acids.

The Associated Press reports the study, being conducted by the Veterans Administration, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and the National Institutes of Health, on behalf of the Army, will build on previous research that proved people with low omega-3 levels face more mental disorders.

Nearly 350 servicemembers have already taken their own lives this year, a number the VA says is almost double the civilian population.

Some veterans already receiving mental health care will get smoothies high in omega-3s, while others will receive placebos. If the effect proves to be strong enough, the military may consider giving all soldiers supplements of the fatty acids to ward off depression.

The old days

Why, I remember how excited I was the day I got my 56K modem and could keep up with the rest of the kids on the Undernet!

Skew The Vote

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Yes, the same kind of people who got themselves worked into an angry froth about two members of the New Black Panther Party standing in front of a polling place in Philadelphia have decided to show the Dems how it’s really done — with Tea Party thuggery!

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has launched an investigation into the Texas-based polling place-watching organization True the Vote, which he says is involved in what is “clearly a case of voter suppression.”

Speaking Monday evening on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation,” with host Rev. Al Sharpton, Cummings said that the investigation will be looking into what sort of information True the Vote was using to challenge the legality of certain voters, and whether or not those challenges fell on specific geographical areas.

“It would be interesting to see whether those are in suburban areas, are they in urban areas? We would suggest that most of them are in urban areas,” Cummings said. “They have made it their business to claim that they are trying to keep the voting process legitimate when in fact they’re suppressing the vote.” True the Vote’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht, has already agreed to provide documentation and testimony, Cummings said.

True the Vote has responded already to Rep. Cummings’ on its website with a statement and open letter, calling his allegations “factually bankrupt.” Engelbrecht offered to meet with Cummings in his Washington, D.C. office in order to “brief [Rep. Cummings and his] staff about our program and help dispel any misconceptions you may have.”

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