CONSERVATIVES AND ABSTINENCE….Are modern conservatives fundamentally less open to reason than liberals? The liberal Jon Chait thinks so, but the libertarian Megan McArdle thinks he’s full of hot air (“These orgies of self-congratulation to which the media (and the blogosphere) are prone make me cringe”). Over at Tapped, Sarah Wildman implicitly proposes a wee test:

A new study has found that Uganda’s decline in HIV/AIDS can’t be attributed to the “A” in ABC ? Abstinence. The Bush administration claims that Uganda’s battle with HIV/AIDS stands on abstinence, a cornerstone of both the administration’s international and domestic AIDS policy and the work of friends on the far right…. [But] evidence aside, the Bush administration has blithely continued to pour money into international abstinence-focused grants, $100 million since October 2004 alone.

There’s nothing wrong with ideology per se, but if preventing actual illness isn’t a good test of whether pragmatism has even a sliver of support in the modern Republican party, I don’t know what is. Wouldn’t that $100 million be better spend on something more effective?