A senior American military adviser in Baghdad, whose memo arguing that the U.S. should leave Iraq is currently the top story on the New York Times website, is also the author of an unhinged online screed against health-care reform.
The health-care post, by Colonel Timothy Reese, sketches far-fetched scenarios about forced abortions and accuses President Obama of being “deceitful” in telling Americans they can keep their doctor under his plan. Its harsh tone raises questions about an active duty officer inserting himself into the political arena. And it suggests that that his widely-publicized military advice — which was posted on the same blog as the health-care post — should perhaps be treated more skeptically than is currently being done.
The military memo being trumpeted by the Times, was written by Reese in early July and sent to a limited audience of commanders. It identifies problems with Iraqi forces, but nonetheless argues that they’re strong enough to maintain basic stability, and that keeping U.S. troops in Iraq past 2010 will fuel growing resentment among Iraqis. It’s time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home,” it argues.
The Times notes that Reese posted an earlier version of his memo — since removed but preserved here — on a blog called “The Enchanter’s Corner,” under the byline Tim the Enchanter. The blog is affiliated with the right-wing Townhall site, though the Times leaves that out. A bio describes Tim the Enchanter as “a member of the US Army on active duty for almost 30 years … currently serving in Iraq as an advisor to the Iraq security forces” and someone who is “passionate about political issues.”
A reader tip pointed TPMmuckraker to the health-care post, which was posted on The Enchanter’s Corner the very same day, July 20, as the military memo. (It’s since been removed as well, but you can see it here.) It appeared under the same byline of Tim the Enchanter, making clear that the two posts are by the same author.
Entitled “The Camel’s Nose of Health Care,” Reese’s post takes an alarmist, paranoid, view of the president’s plan to reform health care, and rehashes many of the most far-fetched, misinformed, and flatly false fears about reform that currently circulate on right-wing blogs and email lists.
Reese warns that “the inexorable logic of government health care costs will drive big brother to intrude ever more deeply into your life in the vain hope of making it work by making you work to change your life.” He adds: “[M]any in government will seize this as the opportunity to shape your lives in their image of the new dependent class.”
Later, he warns that health-care reform will bring on rationing so extreme that a future couple will be forced by the government to abort a damaged foetus:
More Orwellian will be this, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones, while we appreciate your desire to give birth to your fetus, but its deformity / disease / syndrome exceeds allowable limits over its expected lifespan.”
Reese also invokes future “restrictions on your lifestyle,” again imagining a conversation between a government bureaucrat and a patient:
Mr. Smith, I see you have failed to lose the 25 lbs we have been talking about during your last three required checkups. I’m afraid we are going to raise your premiums 25% until you lose the weight. Or you could join the walking club at the government health club next door; as long as you walk every day with them we’ll keep your cost share as it is now. But smoking is right out - give it up in 30 days or be denied care.
And Reese suggests that the government will use food vouchers to force people to eat healthier foods, thereby reducing medical costs:
Mrs. Brown, here is your new food voucher for the month. It has been encoded to allow the purchase of balanced combination of food items specially tailored to maintain a healthy, “low health care cost you,” based on your medical history and condition. It can be used at any government approved grocery or supermarket, just buy the correct number of each type of item as shown on the attached printout. If you try to purchase an item that doesn’t have the ObamaCare stamp on the label, the cashier will simply remove it from your basket.
You can read the whole thing here.
Of course, Reese’s views on health care don’t necessarily reflect on his credentials as a military strategist. Having been on active duty for almost 30 years, it would hardly be surprising if he were better informed about our mission in Iraq than about health care.
But if nothing else, it’s worth knowing a bit more about him, and about his approach to thinking about important issues of the day.