Giving It Away For Free

by digby

Avedon Carol pointed me to this interesting observation that I think is worthy of a little more discussion. Writing about the inexplicable decision of the Democrats to appropriate more money for abstinence only education Avedon says:

This program is immoral and irresponsible on its face, just leaving aside that it is a right-wing crackpot scheme and a kick-back to fringe religious groups as well. The majority of parents in America want their kids to get real sex education, not enforced ignorance and lies. There is not one single tolerable excuse for the program's existence, and it is the shame of progressives everywhere that they - and elected Democrats - have not been screaming bloody murder about this outrageous misuse of taxpayers' money.

It's true that it's immoral and irresponsible on the merits. To continue to push programs that hurts kids and which a majority of people don't want is simply wrong.

But what makes this even more inexplicable is this:

The Democrats will now become one of the largest funders of an ultra-conservative network that is clearly hostile to its policies and candidates.

What in the hell is up with that? The piece points to an article in The Nation, that spells out exactly who is going to be getting this money and there is no way on earth that it is ever going to benefit Democrats, much less the people at large:

Over the past six years George W. Bush's faith-based Administration and a conservative Republican Congress transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry. These dangerously ineffective sexual health enterprises flourish not because they spread "family values" but because of generous helpings of the same pork-heavy gumbo Bush & Co. brought to war-blighted Iraq and Katrina-hammered New Orleans--a mix of back-scratching cronyism, hefty partisan campaign donations, high-dollar lobbyists, a revolving door for political appointees and a lack of concern for results.

One of the chief cooks is a media-shy 63-year-old Catholic multimillionaire, welfare privatizer and Republican donor named Raymond Ruddy. With close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to W.'s days as Texas governor, Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies--all with taxpayer dollars.

Following the money swirling around Ruddy offers an eye-opening glimpse into the squalor at the heart of the abstinence-only project. One top Bush adviser left to take a job at Ruddy's charity, Gerard Health Foundation, and a senior officer at Ruddy's for-profit company, Maximus, left to take a top-level position at the Department of Health and Human Services. Leaders of Christian-right organizations that are Gerard grantees have gained advisory HHS positions--and their organizations have in turn received AIDS and abstinence grants to the tune of at least $25 million. Maximus itself has raked in more than $100 million in federal contracts during the Bush era.

So you have an obscenely expensive program that the data shows doesn't work, that Democrats don't want and that actually hurts kids. The only people it benefits are a bunch of right wing extremist scam artists who would rather put ice picks in their eyes than support a Democrat --- and the Republican party, who continue to receive plenty of largesse in return. Yet the Democratic congress has agreed to fund it.

This is political malpractice --- the K Street project in reverse. If you are going to sell out your principles, you are at least supposed to get something out of it. These programs help Republicans and only Republicans. Talk about getting the milk for free...

The GOP understands very well that power begets power and they went so far over the top that they actually began to illegally use executive power to rig elections (and possibly spy on their political enemies --- we don't know.) It would be wrong for Democrats to go that far, of course. But if the Democrats are unwilling or unable to even pass legislation that has the salutary effect of enhancing their political power, the least they could do is not pass legislation that enhances the political clout of the Republicans. It's not too much to ask, particularly when the interests they are funding are actually hurting America's kids with superstitious nonsense.

What are they going to do next, help Bush confirm a bunch of wingnut judges on the courts who will torpedo every progressive initiative for the next generation? Oh wait...