Why I am not a member of the AMA

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Recently a subspecialty medical organization to which I belong tried to get me to join the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA touts itself as an umbrella organization to which other organizations are members, but allows them to the table only if 35% of the other organization’s members are also members of the AMA. The AMA has threatened to kick my organization out because the AMA membership in my organization is about that of the physician population at large (around 28% according the questionable statistics of the AMA itself). It’s a bit ironic, though not surprising, that the AMA’s approach to being inclusive is to use threat and intimidation.

I quit the AMA many years ago when it became clear that the political agenda of the organization is antithetical to individual liberty. The AMA at the time was a bit self-contradictory. On one hand, it played the rather conservative hand of representing the interests of thousands of small businessmen. On the other hand, it fully embraced the socialization of medicine — running with the idea that it would be better to be inside the regulatory tent pissing out than outside pissing in. It’s the policy of embracing the Dark Side of the Force as a way of making it a little less dark. As the years have passed, the leadership has become increasingly radicalized and less and less representative of the membership.

And, thus, the AMA has decided to take on all sorts of political issues under the guise that anything that affects health in any way needs a position paper and a federal solution. The AMA has *no* respect for individual liberty and has embraced the so-called “tyranny of health” with gusto. It despises the first amendment if free speech means saying something the AMA considers unhealthy. Of course, there is no greater opponent of Second Amendment freedoms than the AMA. And it continues. You name it, the AMA wants to ban it or regulate it. Boxing? Ban it! Football? Off with their heads! There is *no* liberty that cannot be abrogated in the name of regulating your health. Who needs freedom when you have a physician to use the force of law to tell you how to live? And, of course, the AMA jumps into the fray in the areas of nuclear testing, yada yada yada. The AMA is only slightly behind the social activism of the UK physicians who want to outlaw kitchen cutlery. In a recent discussion with a person active in the AMA, he was proud of efforts the AMA was taking to ban cigarettes altogether, regulate what people eat in order to fight obesity, and on and on and on. It’s not so much that the AMA is left or right as much as it is simply statist and authoritarian.

Some years ago, the American Medical Association proposed banning boxing. I wrote a letter stating that while I was not a fan of boxing, there are benefits to individual liberty that transcend the immediate effects of regulating all aspects of a person’s life in the name of health. The response was to accuse me of supporting street gunfighting.

Membership in the AMA has been declining since the 1960s, with good reason. Less than 30% of physicians belong (and I have heard numbers as low as 20%), though the AMA has the hubris to pretend to represent us all. As long as the leadership continues to move towards a statist, authoriatrian agenda that holds the individual in contempt, it will continue to lose membership.

Attempting to bully other organizations is not the way to reverse that trend. If the AMA wants to be the meeting place for specialty organizations, it should open its doors and be inclusive, not engage in the same authoritarian tactics that have alienated the vast majority of physicians in the United States. They don’t get it, because getting it would require flipping their entire world view. The AMA is trying a new ad campaign to increase membership. What they don’t understand is that neither physicians nor the general populace are as stupid as they think, and we are not sheep. The AMA puts great hopes in the student AMAs in medical schools across the country, but the Student AMAs are much more radicalized than even the adult AMA. It’s a little like the Democrats deciding that the real future of the party is not with the great unwashed, but instead with Michaael Moore. But, like the Democrats, as long as they embrace their anti-liberty, radical authoritarian fringe, they will never gain significant ground.

And they will not have my membership as long as they despise individual liberty, no matter how much they threaten me or the organizations to which I belong.

What general are you?

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OK, I don’t usually do these, but I thought the questions were fun. This is from OKCupid. Hat tip to Blogs4God

You are King Edward I!

You scored 72 Wisdom, 62 Tactics, 55 Guts, and 59 Ruthlessness!

Or rather, King Edward the Longshanks if you’ve seen Braveheart. You, like Edward, are incredibly smart and shrewd, but you win at any costs…. William Wallace died at his hands after a fierce Scottish rebellion against his reign. Despite his reputation though, Longshanks had the best interests of his people at heart. But God help you if you got on his bad side.

Book Review: When I Lay My Isaac Down

When I lay my Isaac down
Author: Carol Kent
Hardcover: 195 pages
Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group (June, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN: 1576834743

I wasn’t going to read this book, but my wife told me it was great. She was right. The author is the mother of a successful young man — married, Naval Academy graduate, Christian — who finds that this perfect son is a murderer. Her son shot his wife’s ex-husband three times in the back, is convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

There is a little exploration of how and why the crime happened, but it is tangential to the book. The book is about the collapse of this woman’s world and her spiritual journey in coming to terms with it. The theme is that of Christian surrender. Many Christian texts make vague promises that things will somehow turn out OK if you put your trust in God. This book points out that things may not turn out well at all. Bad things happen, and there’s no way to sugar coat it. The test of a Christian, then is whether or not one can surrender to God and trust in His will even though it means the ruin of your life.

Hence the reference to Isaac. It hearkens to the story of Abraham taking his son Isaac up Mount Moriah to sacrifice him. The author notes the cost this meant to Abraham — to kill his son at the behest of God. Of course, as most know, God stayed Abraham’s hand and provided a ram in a thicket as a substitute. But sometimes there isn’t a ram in the bushes, and sometimes there is no avoiding that cost. It is a true test of faith to choose to follow a God that allows the destruction of your life.

Many people do not. There are those who believe in God and hate Him for his cruelty. I recently read an interesting article on Holocaust Apologetics that quotes theologian Jakob Jocz as saying “Auschwitz casts a black pall upon the civilized world. Not only… man’s humanity.. but God himself stands accused. Jews are asking incessantly: Where was God when our brothers and sisters were dragged to the gas ovens? …Faith in the God of Israel … is .. a challenge, but after Auschwitz it is an agonizing venture for every thinking Jew.” Elie Weisel, who survived the death camps, notes that the traditional Jewish relationship with God allows protest against God, with examples from Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Job, David, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk, but these “must come from within the covenant context, not from without. Specifically [Weisel stated], ‘The Jew… may rise against God, provided that he remains within God.’ ” (1) The Christian, in contrast, is obligated to believe not merely in the existence of God, but reject any idea of impassability to believe in His goodness.

The same is true on an individual basis. Like Job, it’s through no fault of their own, just a matter of seeming capricious cruelty on the part of the Almighty. Your life is destroyed because of a celestial bar bet. A mature Christian will accept that destruction and surrender gladly to the seeming malevolence of God. We know that life is one small part of our eternal relationship with God, and thus the loss we suffer is small in that larger sense, and we trust the greater plan of God, even if it requires sacrifice on our part.

This book discusses why.

I am not sure I am that strong of a Christian. But the author was, and this book provides an amazing account of how she arrived at a position that allowed her to retain her faith in the love of God even in the face of stunning tragedy.

Check it out!

(1) Barry R. Leventhal, “Undoing the Death of God: Holocaust Aplogetics” Christianity Research Journal 28(4):12-21,2005

Small towns can be nice

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Tonight, after work, my wife and I decided to go out to dinner at a local restaurant. While there, we ran into a couple we know and decided to all eat dinner together. While eating, another couple we know came in and we spent some time together. After dinner, my wife and I went shopping at a local store and ran into two other people we know.

That’s a nice thing about small towns. Everywhere you go, you run into people you know, and every event becomes a social one. I lived in the DC suburbs for 12 years; during that time I ran into one of my friends as a matter of happenstance exactly 0nce. Sure, we had friends, but the bottom line is that in the suburbs your friends are often not your neighbors. Of the folk living on my street in Montgomery County, Maryland, I knew only one of my neighbors well enough to consider them friends, and only one other family that I felt I knew much at all. Everybody else was a stranger.

I miss the restaurants, the shopping, the theater, etc. But I don’t miss the lack of community. Frankly, I’m happy to give up the $65 plate of finger foods at the Kennedy Center in trade for happening on friends at a local eatery and spending the evening in fellowship with them. There are worse things than community theater.

Life is good when there are friends near.

Why does this not surprise me?

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I think this is the definition of pyrrhic victory. There’s a bad joke in here, but it mostly just seems sad. Two women fight a will, and spend $450,000 in lawyers fees to recover $360,000. Having just gone through probate myself, and spending a gazillion bucks in order to deal with an uncontested will in which my relatives have bent over backwards to *help* me, not hinder, this doesn’t seem a bit surprising.

The MSM discovers men

So, now we have all this stuff about “ubersexuals,” which is, as far as I can tell, what we used to call “men.” Of course, on the left, manhood is a dirty word, so I guess it’s OK that they have come up with a nice euphemism.

It won’t last, of course. The one thing the pop left can’t handle are men of principle, and the list that has been circulating the blogs has pretty much avoided issues of character. Bill Clinton? Please. Eventually, they will realize that the attraction they see has to do with character and principle and they’ll be running back to Boy George as soon as they figure out that real men, er “ubersexuals” don’t look to them to find out what is right and wrong.

We used to know what being a man meant, and took it for granted. Now real men are an odd species. Of course, real men have always been around; they were just ignored and despised by the pop left. And they will be again, because the left despises anything that stinks of character.

What a hoot.

About me

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I recently read an interesting list of “top ten blogging mistakes.” The number one mistake, apparently, is not having a short bio. So, OK. here’s one.

I am a forensic pathologist and computer scientist living in North Carolina. My MD is from Vanderbilt, my MS in Computer Science is from U North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I did my residency and fellowship at North Carolina, I have a BS in Microbiology from Oklahoma University, and a Master of Public Administration (Justice Administration) from Columbus State University. I am board certified in Anatomic, Clinical, and Forensic Pathology. My primary professional interests are in computer vision and image processing applications in forensic pathology with an emphasis on interpretation of patterned injury of the skin. I am a veteran, having spent 8 years in the Army Medical Corps and an additional 4 years as a DoD civilian. While with the DoD, I was involved with the evaluation of imagery in a number of cases of national interest, including the beating of Rodney King, the shootings at Ruby Ridge, the OJ Simpson case, and issues surrounding events in the middle east and the US involvement there. I was also involved in research involving force protection during our engagements in the middle east and the evaluation of the Pentagon attack on 9/11.  Following federal service, I was Regional Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for four years. I was elected as one of Federal Computer Week’s 100 most influential IT professionals in the mid 1990s (don’t have the plaque handy), and was a Berry Prize finalist for excellence in military medicine while in the military. I am was a GIAC-certified incident handler (GCIH) UPDATE:expired in 2008. I am on the executive committee for the Applied Imagery Pattern Recognition Workshop held annually at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

I am a member of the core bioterrorism committee of the National Association of Medical Examiners and co-author of the CDC bioterrorism manual for Coroners and MEs. I am involved in a national standards organization writing guidelines for the use of digital imaging technologies in law enforcement. I am a co-author of the DoJ position paper on the use of electromechanical disruption devices (e.g. TASER-like devices) by law enforcement. I am on the editorial board of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and am a reviewer for a number of forensic journals.

I am a Christian, though not particularly adept, with a particular interest in mystical Christianity.

I am married, and am deeply in love with my wife.

My interests are medicine, death investigation, software engineering, image processing, theology, woodworking, gardening,writing, graphics, music (I play the folk harp badly), Appalacia, and the Chesapeake.

UPDATE: Someone asked me why I didn’t mention where I work now. The reason, of course, is that my employer has nothing to do with my site, nothing to do with my opinions, nothing to do with my writing, and as far as I know, does not read this site. Yet, if I write who my employer is, there is always some buffoon (invariably a liberal) who will try either to a) pretend that I represent my employer’s opinion, or 2) tries to use threats of complaining to my employer to control my expression. This kind of threat is the pinnacle of liberal “tolerance.” My employer has nothing to do with this site or the opinions expressed. Nothing. Nada. Get another bone to chew.

This article last updated 12/5/2009