First, as I stated in that post, the AP updated the original article discussing Obama's expansion of FBOs. When I went back to take a look at it this morning, I was struck by the opening three paragraphs:
ZANESVILLE, Ohio - Taking a page from President Bush, Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday he wants to expand White House efforts to steer social service dollars to religious groups, risking protests in his own party with his latest aggressive reach for voters who usually vote Republican.Forget that "taking a page from President Bush" makes my skin crawl. Forget the "aggressive reach" for Republicans. Forget the "centrist themes" in regards to guns, spying on Americans (I refuse to call it "government surveillance") and capital punishment. Forget the use of Reagan. All of this give me hives, but riddle me this, Batman:
Obama contended he is merely stating long-held positions — surprising to some, he said, after a primary campaign in which he was "tagged as being on the left."
In recent days, with the Democratic nomination in hand and the general election battle with Republican John McCain ahead, Obama has been sounding centrist themes with comments on guns, government surveillance and capital punishment. He's even quoted Ronald Reagan.
Why the hell should I be excited and agog about a Democratic Presidential candidate who is so goddamned eager to distance himself from "the left," progressives, and everything I value?
Part the Second - From Obama's site, where the speech in which he outlines his plan for FBOs is posted:
With these principles as a guide, my Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will strengthen faith-based groups by making sure they know the opportunities open to them to build on their good works. Too often, faith-based groups – especially smaller congregations and those that aren't well connected – don't know how to apply for federal dollars, or how to navigate a government website to see what grants are available, or how to comply with federal laws and regulations. We rely too much on conferences in Washington, instead of getting technical assistance to the people who need it on the ground. What this means is that what's stopping many faith-based groups from helping struggling families is simply a lack of knowledge about how the system works.So.
Well, that will change when I'm President. I will empower the nonprofit religious and community groups that do understand how this process works to train the thousands of groups that don't. We'll "train the trainers" by giving larger faith-based partners like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services and secular nonprofits like Public/Private Ventures the support they need to help other groups build and run effective programs. Every house of worship that wants to run an effective program and that's willing to abide by our constitution – from the largest mega-churches and synagogues to the smallest store-front churches and mosques – can and will have access to the information and support they need to run that program.
Obama recognizes the fact that many FBOs, as opposed to social services organizations, secular or otherwise, that are trained and experienced in providing services that have had their budgets gutted by the Bush administration, may not be equipped to provide best services. Instead of returning that money to the organizations that were already doing good work, he's going to give more money to the organizations that may or may not know what they're doing.
Then, his big plan for training these FBO's is to take already overworked organizations that are struggling to provide services for their clients with minuscule budgets and staff, and have them train these FBO's to do their jobs. Isn't that just a brilliant bit of outsourcing?
In addition, is "training the trainers" optional? If so, then there will be some FBO's that will be paid to provide services they're not trained to provide, or if not, they will be told by the government how to provide their services. How does that work with the separation of church and state? And how is that fair to FBO's?
I'm living in a cuckoo clock.