The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

“Alpha Dems” Neuter Themselves

It shouldn’t be a surprise, really. I mean, we know based on the example of Harvey Fierstein in the previous post and the queens who fought at Stonewall that often times a guy can have bigger cajones than the most obstreperous, chest-pounding male loudly demonstrating or defending his masculinity at any and every opportunity. So why should anyone be shocked that the Democratic Congress, and its “Macho” “Alpha Dems” have already rolled over for Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Not once, but twice now. Once on Iraq. And now again on abstinence-only “education,” of all things. I ask you, why doesn’t the DNC just write a check to the RNC and have done with it? (Or perhaps it’s a matter of the RNC leaving a $20 on the dresser?). At least then, my tax dollars would be left out of it because I don’t have to give money to the Democrats, after all.

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After making noise about finally ending “abstinence-only” funding just weeks ago, after recently voting to continue funding “abstinence-only” the Democrats have proved they’re all bark and no bite.

While yesterday the House Foreign Operations subcommittee approved legislation that enables global HIV prevention programs to determine at the country level the most effective and relevant mix of services needed by individuals there, the word is that the House Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittee is planning on spending $27 million more than last year (a total of $150 million) on abstinence-only programs (specifically for CBAE–Community Based Abstinence Education program–as early as tomorrow). Yes, the same programs that time and again have been proven to have NO impact on changing the sexual behaviors of young people–but can create increased risk because they are refused a breadth of knowledge on the subject.

It is unconscionable for the Democratic leadership to play into the politics of abstinence only programming, rather than paying attention to the public health evidence. Even more disturbing–in a time of limited resources for public health programs–that the United States think about throwing good money after bad by adding funding to these programs. Just take a look at the states–coast to coast and parts in between–that are rejecting this kind of programming. So why spend more money?

Where to begin? The only thing more nauseating than the Democrats decision to continue funding an ineffective and actually harmful strategy is why they did it according to Congressional Quarterly.

Lawmakers say the olive branch extended to Republicans increases the likelihood that the bill will pass the House with a veto-proof majority. It also sends a strong signal that Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., will avoid controversial social policy changes this year in the interest of moving bills.

Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, a former chairman of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said Obey “balanced that [funding] out with an equal amount to Planned Parenthood.”

The administration has said the president will veto spending bills that exceed his request, but Bush may not have the votes in Congress to back up his threat. “When it leaves the House, it may leave with insufficient ‘no’ votes to sustain a veto,” said subcommittee member Dave Weldon, R-Fla., who supports abstinence-only education.

The abstinence program money could also provide political cover to centrist Democrats made vulnerable to conservatives’ attacks by their leadership’s decision to let the mandatory pool dry up. Liberal Democrats said they could live with compromising on abstinence-only education, which they generally oppose, if it means paving the way for more spending on domestic programs they favor.

“That’s a reasonable concession in light of the more than $10 billion” the bill contains in excess of Bush’s budget request, said Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill.

I’m almost to tired to even try to take on that bit of political rationalizing. I’ve written over and over again about the failure of “abstinence-only education,” the devastating effect it’s had and continues to have in Africa, and the hypocrisy of those who promote it and who apparently don’t care about the harm it causes. These are the people the Dems want to cut deals with, even knowing that the stuff their supporting not only doesn’t work but may actually do harm. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t matter to them if it doesn’t work, so long they stay on the government gravy train.

Beyond that I can only add what I said in my letter to my congressman and the Democrats on the committee.

It is beyond unconscionable to continue funding a brand of pseudo “education” that is not only ineffective but actually harmful, because the combination of incomplete information and propaganda actually doesn’t stop young people form having sex but makes them less likely to use a condom.

I spent years in college as an HIV/AIDS educator and I know that only talking about abstinence or only talking about condoms is irresponsible because it only gives people half the information they need to make an informed decision. I talked about abstinence, but I also talked about how people could reduce their risk if they chose to be sexually active. People deserve accurate information. Accurate information saves lives. Inaccurate information puts lives at risk. Perpetuating the latter, for political purposes is complicity in the endangerment of human lives.

By the way, Advocates for Youth has an Action Center where you can send your own message on this. If you haven’t already, please do so.

The greatest irony here is that a good bit of that money goes right into the pockets of the Bush administrations evangelical supporters. ththat means, as James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth put it:

And consider this second irony. The Democrats will now become one of the largest funders of an ultra-conservative network that is clearly hostile to its policies and candidates (See an in-depth article in The Nation.)

The funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs represents the worst of cynical, “inside-the-beltway” deal-making. Whose interests were protected at the expense of young people’s health and lives? Whose politics were advanced by including this “sweetener” for conservatives in an appropriations bill threatened with a Presidential veto? Inquiring minds would like to know

In hopes of gaining support for their other domestic parties, the Democrats have voted to shovel money at the very people opposed to those parties. The logic there approaching Bush-like proportions.

And, thanks to all those who educated us on the necessity of electing “centrist” Dems for bringing us this moment. They have they’re cover, and the right will continue to get tax dollars to evangelize the world.

The day that Howard Dean sat down with Pat Robertson, I said that the ultimate victory of the Republican Revolution may turn out to be a more conservative Democratic party. I’m not convinced that we’re not headed that way. Especially now that the party has taken another step rightward.

One Comment

  1. There is no question: abstinence education is an attempt to insert religious ideology into America’s public schools. Over and over again, narrow religious interest groups seek to impose their Biblical interpretations to justify religiously-based sex-education programs. For example, Focus on the Family asserts that “The Bible states repeatedly that sex outside one-man-one-woman marriage is dangerous and unacceptable.” While respecting peoples personal religious beliefs, public schools need to practice academic integrity, and teach public health grounded in public health, not religion.

    The facts are that abstinence-only education programs don’t work. According to Planned Parenthood, “88 percent of students who pledged virginity in middle school and high school still engage in premarital sex.” Furthermore, abstinence-only programs leave students in ignorance, increasing their risks for contracting life-threatening STDs like HIV/AIDS. Teens deserve comprehensive and accurate sex-education that provides the information they need to be safest and stay healthiest. In addition to depriving teens about essential health information, abstinence-only programs dangerously assume a heterosexual relationship, and further potentially damaging stereotypes about men and women.

    Abstinence-only education programs demonstrate the dangers of blending religious ideology with publicly-funded programs. Public schools must give our children the best possible education, without preferring one religious tradition over others. American Tax dollars should go to education that teaches health and safety, not religious ideology.

    To learn more and sign the coolest petition on this issue and others you may care about, visit http://www.firstfreedomfirst.org.

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