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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Faint Praise: Edition 1

We here at CCM have some semi-regular threads. For example, "Gullible's Travails" considers the willingness of some MSM writers to buy the political equivalent of bridges located in Brooklyn; "Tierney of Lies" will be considering the misadventures of NYT columnist John Tierney; "Autocratic for the People" will discuss Congress's habit of treating the District like a social lab (especially for the antidemocratic retrograde ideas of Republicans from nowhere near here who regularly rail against the city they run with impunity).

Today we provide our first edition of "Faint Praise", in which we duly note laudable behavior by the Republican Congress and/or the Bush Administration. Each time we post some Faint Praise, we here at CCM will pause -- if perhaps only implicitly -- to note damningly the commentary on our times that such lauding makes appropriate. That is, if reasonable people ran our government, we would simply expect them to do these things; the notability of these rare moments of pride derives from the sheer mean-spirited, mendacious, misguidedness of our highest officials.

Enough: let's get to it.

Today we offer Faint Praise to the Bush Administration/DHHS for actions reported in today's WaPo:
The Bush administration yesterday suspended a federal grant to the Silver Ring Thing abstinence program, saying it appears to use tax money for religious activities....

Teenage graduates of the program sign a covenant "before God Almighty" to remain virgins and earn a silver ring inscribed with a Bible passage reminding them to "keep clear of sexual sin." Many of its events are held at churches.

In filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the organization describes its mission as "evangelistic ministry" with an emphasis on "evangelistic crusade planning."
Why offer only Faint Praise instead of praise?

Because this adminstration's abstinence-only obsession has come not because of any research to recommend its efficacy, but rather because of the demands of its anti-research base on the religious right.

Because this administration has made funding religious groups an end in and of itself.

And most importantly, because the ACLU basically forced the Administration's hand:
The action comes three months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against HHS, accusing the administration of using tax dollars to promote Christianity. In documents filed in federal court in Boston, the ACLU alleged that the activities, brochures and Web site of Silver Ring Thing were "permeated with religion" and use "taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination."

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