I’m starting to realize that my new favorite platform, micro.blog, makes makes some of my shorter blogs a poor fit — either literally (their platform is weighted toward 280-character bursts) or in terms of ethos (I’m more focused on political affairs than the vast majority there).

So I’m going to try aggregating here again observations and encounters that don’t quite feel right there, or that exceed the 280-character-weighted format over there. Quotation does not necessarily imply agreement.

If you’re interested in my other shorts, they’re probably going to continue cross-posting here.


Status issues function as vehicles through which a non-economic group has deference conferred upon it or degradation imposed upon it. Victory in issues of status is the symbolic conferral of respect upon the norms of the victor and disrespect upon the norms of the vanquished.

Phillip Jenkins quoting Joseph Gusfield on Symbolic Crusades.

It strikes me that we’re in the very odd position now of having the former political majority symbolically disrespected through laws that say, in effect, “we’re in control now, and to hell with what has been heretofore the universal conviction in Christendom (or even throughout the whole world).”


Begin with those much-touted checks and balances. Their health depends — as my colleagues Norman Ornstein, Thomas Mann and I argued in our book, “One Nation After Trump” — on the willingness of those in the legislative and judicial branches to put their institutional loyalties and their stewardship of the system as a whole above their partisan loyalties.

The opposite is happening in the GOP-led Congress. With the exception of a few Republican elected officials at the periphery, Congress has worked to enable Trump’s abuses (witness the behavior of California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes to undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation) and to minimize the outrageousness of his conduct.

E.J. Dionne.

This is why I’m inclined to vote against most or all Vichy Republicans in November.


I have never talked with such soul-less, self-vindicatingly sincere liars as I have with sexual abusers — who almost always believed that the victim somehow led them into sexual acting out; that it was somehow “not bad” for the victim; that it was their “right” as an abuser; that they were only doing this out of their “depression” and history of “victimization.”

As I looked into their pale eyes, I couldn’t say “go to hell” as I wanted because in fact, they were already there. And loving it.

Fr. Jonathan Tobias


The mood in America is arguably as dark as it has ever been in the modern era. The birthrate is at a record low, and the suicide rate is at a 30-year high; mass shootings and opioid overdoses are ubiquitous.

It would be easy to blame the national mood all on Donald J. Trump, but that would be underrating its severity and overrating Trump’s role in creating it (as opposed to exacerbating it). Trump’s genius has been to exploit and weaponize ….

Frank Rich.


How much of a role did homosexuality play in all this? There is of course a vital distinction to be made here between sexual orientation and sexual abuse [that’s not the distinction that comes to my mind], and between being gay and being a pedophile, hebephile, or ephebophile [it’s hard for me to imagine being gay and not having ephebophilic yearnings, reasoning from analogy to being straight and gazing upon certain post-pubescent girls]. Many gay priests are fine and honorable servants. It horrifies me they are tarred by association, by some of the more reactionary voices in the church. It’s also true that one reason young men and boys were targeted was that they were far more readily available to priests than girls [what is he trying to say? That homosexual priests would gladly abuse girls if they were available? That straight priests abuse boys because girls aren’t available?].

But it remains true that the overwhelming majority of Catholic abuse cases are between men and boys, or men and men, not men and girls, or men with women (although that happened too). And the way in which homosexuality has been treated by Catholicism — the only option for all gays is a life of celibacy and emotional repression [conflation unwarranted] — is not likely to lead to healthy homosexual lives, let alone priests.

Homophobia may also have increased the proportion of priests over the centuries who have been gay, because the priesthood has always been a reliable cover for not dating women. And these closeted, fucked-up gays are the ones who may well have internalized many of the slurs against gays in the past, hated themselves, never come to terms with themselves, and seen no real difference between sexual abuse and sex. So gay priests may well have covered this stuff up for aeons, or formed cliques that perpetuated it, or developed personae that could create some campy subculture to make the awful contradictions and cruelties of sexual repression and self-loathing bearable. When no form of sex is allowed, all forms of sex can seem equally immoral. And if your celibacy has ever slipped, you sure don’t want to snitch on someone else, do you?

It’s a vicious, destructive, evil circle. Which is why, it seems to me, that the clerical closet has to end. Secrecy and shame abet sexual dysfunction. Openness and self-respect are the cure [openness about orientation, perhaps; openly sexually active, no — never]. If a priest is celibate and openly gay, he is in no way disqualified for the priesthood — the church teaches that being gay is in itself no sin — so why can’t he be out? [Fair question, but is the premise true? Is it forbidden for a priest to acknowledge that were he sexually active, he would prefer men?] The stricture against this kind of honesty and transparency has only compounded the fucked-upness of it all. Allowing married people and women to be priests is also a no-brainer [well, that nonsequitur was sure glib!]. We have long discovered that secretive, hierarchical cabals of single men are usually trouble in any context and I have a feeling that a female priest would not react to the news of an abused child with concern for the abuser. The church’s moral credibility is now close to zero. All the more reason to throw open the doors and let the light in.

Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan sort of got on a roll with his ecclesial pet peeves.

This unusually muddled thinking, by a man who tries to be faithfully Catholic while disregarding its stated sexual standards, tends to reinforce the idea that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained because they’ll not teach the faith faithfully, but rather will subvert it on matters of sexuality.


Austin Ruse says

Rod [Dreher] was right and I was wrong, and now I say this to Rod: Pedal to the metal. Tell it all. Tell it loud. Tell it long. Let the chips and even the prelates fall where they may.”


* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Where I glean stuff.