May 25, 2007

War and Marriage and Bush

As President Bush pushed for a time-table-less stay in Iraq, subtle manipulations of evidence were taking place to convince the public of the mess in Iraq. TIME reporter Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, reports on "More Bad Intelligence on Iran and Iraq":
This week the White House made a big show of declassifying intelligence alleging that in 2005 al-Qaeda considered using Iraq as a base to launch terrorist attacks on the United States. The White House didn't bother to mask the reason for the disclosure — to put pressure on the Democrats to stop trying to impose a date for a withdrawal from Iraq. Meanwhile, ABC News reported that the White House recently ordered the CIA to destabilize the Iranian regime.
Both cases show how the Administration is still trying to manipulate intelligence to further its strategic goals. ABC says that Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams is behind the covert action against Iran, which reportedly stems from a "nonlethal presidential finding" signed by Bush to launch a plan that "includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions" ...
If the Bush Administration continues to feed the American people the same dog's breakfast of bad intelligence, we'll be in Iraq until Bush leaves office. And while we're at it, just maybe in a war with Iran.

President Bush has dabbled some in domestic policy (something he should stick to)-- the institution of marriage. The Economist speculates that marriage is causing a widening gap of inequality (the haves and the have-nots divide into the rich and the poor). President Bush has begun to offer incentives for marriage.
Marriage itself is "a wealth-generating institution", according to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, who run the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. Those who marry "till death do us part" end up, on average, four times richer than those who never marry...
And some politicians want the state to draw attention to benefits of marriage, as it does to the perils of smoking. George Bush is one. Since last year, his administration has been handing out grants to promote healthy marriages...
budget for boosting marriage is tiny: $100m a year, or about what the Defence Department spends every two hours. Some of it funds research into what makes a relationship work well and whether outsiders can help. Most of the rest goes to groups that try to help couples get along better, some of which are religiously-inspired. The first 124 grants were disbursed only last September, so it is too early to say whether any of this will work. But certain approaches look hopeful.
One is "marriage education". This is not the same as marriage therapy or counselling. Rather than waiting till a couple is in trouble and then having them sit down with a specialist to catalogue each other's faults, the administration favours offering relationship tips to large classes.
The army already does this. About 35,000 soldiers this year will get a 12-hour course on how to communicate better with their partners, and how to resolve disputes without throwing plates. It costs about $300 per family. Given that it costs $50,000 to recruit and train a rifleman, and that marital problems are a big reason why soldiers quit, you don't have to save many marriages for this to be cost-effective, says Peter Frederich, the chaplain in charge.

Bush wants to see conflict-free marriages, but continued conflict with Iran and Iraq.

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