The Week: Most Recent from Damon Linker recent posts.en-usWed, 26 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent from Damon Linker from THE WEEKWed, 26 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops<img src="" /></P><p>Several years ago, a friend of mine was pulled over by the police a few blocks from her house in Milwaukee while driving home from the airport following a business trip. Her crime? A few unpaid parking tickets. When my friend expressed dismay that they would bother to pull her over for such a minor infraction, the cops called for a paddy wagon. When it arrived, they told her to exit her car, handcuffed her, and shoved her into the van. Stunned, my friend first offered to write a check for the unpaid tickets. When that didn't win her release, she became agitated, asking about her rights as a citizen...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500Is it now OK to have sex with animals?<img src="" /></P><p>I have a very 2014 question for you: How would you respond if you found out that a man living down the street regularly has sexual intercourse with a horse?</p><p>Would you be morally disgusted? Consider him and his behavior an abomination? Turn him in to the police? (This would be an option in the roughly three-quarters of states that &mdash; for now &mdash; treat bestiality as a felony or misdemeanor.)</p><p>Or would you perhaps suppress your gag reflex and try hard to be tolerant, liberal, affirming, supportive? Maybe you'd even utter the slogan that deserves to be emblazoned over our age as its all-purpose...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500It's official: The religious right is calling it quits<img src="" /></P><p>What a difference 10 years can make.</p><p>In the weeks following George W. Bush's re-election to the presidency in November 2004, with exit polls saying that the election had been decided by voters who were moved primarily by "moral values," the religious right felt giddy. Its push to get states to adopt referenda banning same-sex marriage had been wildly successful and helped to mobilize conservatives. With the greatest political champion the movement had ever known assured of four more years in the White House, the religious right began to dream of passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:04:00 -0500Let us now praise Billy Joel<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p><p>Read more on this story.</p><p>Listen to a Billy Joel podcast comprising the songs Damon Linker mentions:</p><p><iframe width="300" height="380" src="" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p><p><strong>Listen to more of</strong> <strong><em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts</strong>:</p><ul><li>Rise of the machines</li><li>Your weekly streaming recommendation: <em>Nebraska</em><em><br /></em></li><li>This week I learned a major U.S airline once settled a legal dispute with arm wrestling, and more</li></ul><p> </p><p ><strong>*You can also find <em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, and TuneIn.*</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:20:00 -0500On immigration, Obama is flirting with tyranny<img src="" /></P><p>A democracy dies by a thousand cuts. A particularly deep one may come later this week, administered by none other than Barack Obama.</p><p>As has been widely reported for months, the president plans to make "changes to the immigration enforcement system" that "could offer legal documents to as many as five million immigrants in the country illegally." And as <em>New York Times</em> columnist Ross Douthat has provocatively and persuasively explained &mdash; often in painstaking and illuminating exchanges with Obama's defenders &mdash; those changes would constitute an unprecedented and quite likely unconstitutional...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0500Is devout faith a blessing -- or curse?<img src="" /></P><p>Among the devoutly religious &mdash; fervently pious Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, Salafist Muslims, ultra-orthodox Jews &mdash; you'll sometimes hear it said that the rampant anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional suffering in modernity are a product of the decline of faith.</p><p>"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." That's how St. Augustine famously put it: we want, we crave, we long for God, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. When we find him, we rejoice, at last feeling at home in the comforting arms of a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500The 3 best arguments against legalizing pot -- and why they all fail<img src="" /></P><p>America is going to pot &mdash; and no one much seems to care.</p><p>Sure, Florida opted on Election Day not to take the plunge into full marijuana legalization, but that made the state an exception to the trend. Oregon and Alaska (along with the District of Columbia) joined Colorado and Washington state in permitting the recreational use of marijuana. Together with the states that already allow pot for medical purposes, that's a total of 23 states with some form of legal weed.</p><p>As with the lightning-fast evolution of the country on gay marriage, the change in judgments about pot use has been accomplished...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 12 Nov 2014 06:06:00 -0500Finding the moral, sensible middle ground on abortion<img src="" /></P><p>Did you know that in the contemporary United States a woman who has a miscarriage after falling down a flight of stairs can be arrested for "attempted fetal homicide"?</p><p>Or that a judge can order a critically ill pregnant woman to undergo a cesarean section even though he knows it might kill her? (In at least one case, the woman and baby both ended up dead.)</p><p>Or that a pregnant woman who loses the pregnancy in the process of trying (and failing) to kill herself can be charged with the crime of "homicide by child abuse"?</p><p>I didn't know all this either &mdash; at least before reading "Pregnant, and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 06:07:00 -0500I voted for the Democrats -- and I'm disgusted with them<img src="" /></P><p>I'm not a Democrat; I'm an anti-Republican.</p><p>That was the title of a column that got a fair amount of attention when I published it back in May. Most of the essay focused on unpacking the second half of the statement &mdash; explaining how and why I've come to distrust and even detest the Republican Party (after once having been a self-described conservative).</p><p>The deflating results of Tuesday's election have led me to think anew about the first half of the statement &mdash; about why I don't identify as a Democrat, despite usually voting for the party (as I did this week, contributing in my infinitesimal...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:07:00 -0500The unkillable zombie of the George W. Bush Republican<img src="" /></P><p>Rand Paul and his libertarian supporters like to think they have a shot at reorienting the Republican Party away from its post-9/11, Bush-era fixation on militarism, its embrace of reckless fiscal indiscipline, and its indifference toward civil liberties. If the result of the Arkansas Senate race is any indication &mdash; a contest in which one-term Congressman Tom Cotton defeated Democrat Mark Pryor &mdash; those hopes are badly misplaced.</p><p>The GOP is and remains the party of George W. Bush and his neoconservative brain trust.</p><p>Cotton's victory shows, first and foremost, that the Rand Paul, war...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:02:00 -0500Why you maybe, kinda, sorta should vote in the midterms<img src="" /></P><p>Are you planning to vote today? Yes? Okay then, I have a little thought experiment for you.</p><p>Imagine the outcome of today's election once the votes have been tallied.</p><p>Now imagine the result if you decide at the last minute not to vote after all.</p><p>Any difference?</p><p>I didn't think so. So why vote? Is there any point?</p><p>That's a good question, and there are at least four distinct answers.</p><p><strong>Vote No Matter What</strong>. This is the position of civic do-gooders everywhere. It's the view of those who think civic engagement, even in a minimal sense that usually lasts but a few short minutes once a year, is its...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 04 Nov 2014 05:54:00 -0500What if Leo Strauss was right?<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Maybe it was Irving Kristol's fault.</p><p>When the intellectual godfather of neoconservatism pointed to Leo Strauss as a seminal influence on his thinking, the stage was set for a seemingly endless season of journalistic silliness.</p><p>I can just imagine how it started.</p><p>"Why are the neocons in and around the Bush administration so intent on overthrowing Saddam Hussein?" asks an intrepid reporter some time during the fall of 2002. "I just don't get it."</p><p>"Hey, look at this: Bill Kristol's father refers to Leo Strauss in this 1995 memoir," a colleague in the newsroom responds. "I've heard that Strauss...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:06:00 -0400Imagine: The Democratic States of America<img src="" /></P><p>I have a confession to make: I'm prejudiced against the South. You might even call me an anti-Southern bigot.</p><p>I'm not proud of it. It's just a fact. I grew up a liberal, secular Jew in New York City and southern Connecticut &mdash; a Yankee through and through. The thought of "my" America being yoked together with a region that fought a bloody, traitorous war to defend the institution of slavery and a way of life based upon it &mdash; well, it just felt morally grotesque. That this same region persisted in <em>de jure</em> racism (backed up by brutal violence) right up through the decade prior to my birth...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:07:00 -0400The culture war finally comes to the Catholic Church<img src="" /></P><p><em>New York Times</em> columnist Ross Douthat is no one's idea of a radical. In the five and a half years since joining the op-ed page of the paper, he's proved himself to be a thoughtful, measured, and nuanced social-conservative commentator on political and cultural events.</p><p>That's why I was surprised when six months ago Douthat responded rashly to reports that Pope Francis had told an Argentine woman that she could receive the sacrament of communion even though she was married to a divorced man. Roman Catholic Church doctrine holds that the woman's marriage is adulterous unless the man's original marriage...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 28 Oct 2014 06:08:00 -0400Let us now praise Billy Joel<img src="" /></P><p>Twenty-one years after releasing his last pop album, 15 years removed from his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nearly a decade since his last stint in rehab for alcohol abuse, four years after undergoing double-hip-replacement surgery, Billy Joel, at 65, is enjoying an exceedingly rare moment of critical adulation and respect.</p><p>He deserves every bit of it.</p><p>One of the biggest acts in pop music history, selling something on the order of 150 million albums, Joel has been a punching bag for rock critics from the start. As Nick Paumgarten reminds readers in an admiring 10,500-word Joel...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:12:00 -0400For the GOP, gay marriage could be the most important issue in 2016<img src="" /></P><p>Almost as soon as the GOP cleans the Democrats' clock in the midterm elections on Nov. 4, attention will turn full force toward the next presidential race.</p><p>Will Hillary Clinton run unopposed? Or will someone else &mdash; Elizabeth Warren, Jim Webb &mdash; try to tap into Democratic dissatisfaction with the prospect of a no-sweat campaign by the Queen of the Centrist Washington Consensus?</p><p>On the Republican side, we'll soon be swamped with analysis about what kind of candidate will successfully woo the fractious base of the party. Will it be a centrist (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush)? A libertarian...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:08:00 -0400