The Week: Most Recent from Damon Linkerhttp://theweek.com/editor/articles/damon-linkerMost recent posts.en-usFri, 21 Nov 2014 06:04:00 -0500http://theweek.comhttp://theweek.com/images/logo_theweek.pngMost Recent from Damon Linker from THE WEEKFri, 21 Nov 2014 06:04:00 -0500It's official: The religious right is calling it quitshttp://theweek.com/article/index/272387/its-official-the-religious-right-is-calling-it-quitshttp://theweek.com/article/index/272387/its-official-the-religious-right-is-calling-it-quits<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64448_article_main/w/240/h/300/gay-marriage-could-be-pushing-the-religious-right-out-of-the-public-square.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/272387/its-official-the-religious-right-is-calling-it-quits">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 Joelhttp://theweek.com/article/index/272313/let-us-now-praise-billy-joelhttp://theweek.com/article/index/272313/let-us-now-praise-billy-joel<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63705_article_main/w/240/h/300/a-little-applause-please.jpg?209" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/177729361%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-0Lxy6&amp;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="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:125160370:playlist:6bRKsds4PiSoQrwrqOPVMd" 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="http://theweek.com/article/index/272313/let-us-now-praise-billy-joel">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 tyrannyhttp://theweek.com/article/index/272146/on-immigration-obama-is-flirting-with-tyrannyhttp://theweek.com/article/index/272146/on-immigration-obama-is-flirting-with-tyranny<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64347_article_main/w/240/h/300/the-threat-may-be-president-obama-himself.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/272146/on-immigration-obama-is-flirting-with-tyranny">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?http://theweek.com/article/index/271971/is-devout-faith-a-blessing--or-cursehttp://theweek.com/article/index/271971/is-devout-faith-a-blessing--or-curse<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64285_article_main/w/240/h/300/for-some-devout-faith-can-lead-to-pure-misery.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271971/is-devout-faith-a-blessing--or-curse">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 failhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271793/the-3-best-arguments-against-legalizing-pot--and-why-they-all-failhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271793/the-3-best-arguments-against-legalizing-pot--and-why-they-all-fail<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64206_article_main/w/240/h/300/these-anti-pot-arguments-are-just-like-your-opinion-man.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271793/the-3-best-arguments-against-legalizing-pot--and-why-they-all-fail">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 abortionhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271704/finding-the-moral-sensible-middle-ground-on-abortionhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271704/finding-the-moral-sensible-middle-ground-on-abortion<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64169_article_main/w/240/h/300/we-are-fervently-divided.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271704/finding-the-moral-sensible-middle-ground-on-abortion">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 themhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271419/i-voted-for-the-democrats--and-im-disgusted-with-themhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271419/i-voted-for-the-democrats--and-im-disgusted-with-them<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64052_article_main/w/240/h/300/a-better-choice-but-not-by-much.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271419/i-voted-for-the-democrats--and-im-disgusted-with-them">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 Republicanhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271313/the-unkillable-zombie-of-the-george-w-bush-republicanhttp://theweek.com/article/index/271313/the-unkillable-zombie-of-the-george-w-bush-republican<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0128/64006_article_main/w/240/h/300/meet-the-new-senator.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271313/the-unkillable-zombie-of-the-george-w-bush-republican">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 midtermshttp://theweek.com/article/index/271199/why-you-maybe-kinda-sorta-should-vote-in-the-midtermshttp://theweek.com/article/index/271199/why-you-maybe-kinda-sorta-should-vote-in-the-midterms<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63969_article_main/w/240/h/300/to-vote-or-not-to-vote.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271199/why-you-maybe-kinda-sorta-should-vote-in-the-midterms">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?http://theweek.com/article/index/271006/what-if-leo-strauss-was-righthttp://theweek.com/article/index/271006/what-if-leo-strauss-was-right<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63902_article_main/w/240/h/300/arthur-melzers-new-book-has-revived-the-legacy-of-leo-strauss.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/271006/what-if-leo-strauss-was-right">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 Americahttp://theweek.com/article/index/270822/imagine-the-democratic-states-of-americahttp://theweek.com/article/index/270822/imagine-the-democratic-states-of-america<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63826_article_main/w/240/h/300/needs-fewer-stars.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/270822/imagine-the-democratic-states-of-america">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 Churchhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270736/the-culture-war-finally-comes-to-the-catholic-churchhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270736/the-culture-war-finally-comes-to-the-catholic-church<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63779_article_main/w/240/h/300/pope-francis-has-allowed-fissures-to-emerge-in-the-catholic-churchs-attitudes-toward-social-issues.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/270736/the-culture-war-finally-comes-to-the-catholic-church">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 Joelhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270539/let-us-now-praise-billy-joelhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270539/let-us-now-praise-billy-joel<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63705_article_main/w/240/h/300/a-little-applause-please.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/270539/let-us-now-praise-billy-joel">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 2016http://theweek.com/article/index/270352/for-the-gop-gay-marriage-could-be-the-most-important-issue-in-2016http://theweek.com/article/index/270352/for-the-gop-gay-marriage-could-be-the-most-important-issue-in-2016<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63617_article_main/w/240/h/300/with-more-states-striking-down-gay-marriage-bans-the-gop-may-have-to-walk-back-its-rhetoric.jpg?209" /></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="http://theweek.com/article/index/270352/for-the-gop-gay-marriage-could-be-the-most-important-issue-in-2016">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:08:00 -0400The one thing the New Atheists get right about religionhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270274/the-one-thing-the-new-atheists-get-right-about-religionhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270274/the-one-thing-the-new-atheists-get-right-about-religion<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63574_article_main/w/240/h/300/the-eye-of-providencenbsp.jpg?209" /></P><p>If you're looking for someone to hurl sweeping, ill-informed insults at the deeply held beliefs of hundreds of millions of people, the so-called New Atheists are always happy to oblige.</p><p>In the most recent of a long line of examples, talk show host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris got into a heated exchange with actor Ben Affleck and <em>New York Times</em> columnist Nicholas Kristof about whether Islam deserves to be denounced by secular liberals as (in Harris' words) a "motherlode of bad ideas."</p><p>But that wasn't the end of it. In the more than two weeks since the segment aired, Harris has continued his...</p> <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/270274/the-one-thing-the-new-atheists-get-right-about-religion">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400Ebola and America's epic institutional failhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270066/ebola-and-americas-epic-institutional-failhttp://theweek.com/article/index/270066/ebola-and-americas-epic-institutional-fail<img src="https://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0127/63507_article_main/w/240/h/300/oops-doesnt-really-cover-this-one.jpg?209" /></P><p>"The word that keeps coming to mind is 'disgrace.'"</p><p>That's how a Facebook friend responded to news that a second nurse at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas had been diagnosed with Ebola.</p><p>I think my friend speaks for a lot of Americans this week &mdash; and that doesn't bode well for our nation's health.</p><p>I don't mean our physical health. Ebola remains far less contagious than measles, influenza, and tuberculosis. Unless you encounter the bodily fluids of a symptomatic Ebola patient, you're not going to catch the disease.</p><p>I'm talking about our civic health.</p><p>Liberal democratic government...</p> <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/270066/ebola-and-americas-epic-institutional-fail">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 17 Oct 2014 06:08:00 -0400