Ten Paces

Ten Paces

Will Soccer Conquer the U.S.?

By and From the September 2014 issue

Football vs. Fútbol—No Contest in El Norte

By Larry Thornberry

It’s never as bad an experience, and I don’t have to assume an undignified position. But the quadrennial World Cup has this in common with my annual exam by my urologist: at some point I’m sure to ask, “Good grief, isn’t this over yet?”

It’s not that I begrudge America’s small band of true soccerphiles the chance to enjoy a game they like on a large stage. (These folks are well represented by my friend Wlady Pleszczynski, whose appreciation of fútbol is opposite my harrumphs.) But I’m mildly annoyed by the flogging and over-coverage of a sport few Americans know or care much about.

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Can We Abide the Death Penalty Any Longer?

By and From the July/August 2014 issue

No Messing With Death

by Jesse Walker

The typical conservative is well informed about the careless errors routinely made by the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service, and city hall. If he’s a policy wonk, he may have bookmarked the Office of Management and Budget’s online list of federal programs that manage to issue more than $750 million in mistaken payments each year. He understands the incentives that can make an entrenched bureaucracy unwilling to acknowledge, let alone correct, its mistakes. He doesn’t trust the government to manage anything properly, even the things he thinks it should be managing.

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Could Crimea have been prevented?

By and From the May 2014 issue

Western Weakness Comes at a Price

by Jonathan S. Tobin

The question of whether anything could have been done to prevent the Russian seizure of Crimea is more than the usual tiresome counter-factual debate that follows any historical event. Ukraine’s dismemberment was a fait accompli the moment Vladimir Putin gave the order to move his troops. But the “what ifs” about the prelude to that order are important—and not just because it is by no means clear how far Putin means to go, either with the rump of Ukraine or with the other nations that were once part of the Tsarist/Soviet empire he seems intent on reassembling. At a time when the United States seems to be undergoing a sea change in opinion about the direction of its foreign policy, with isolationism on the rise, it is worth examining whether American decisions played a role in creating this crisis.

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Which actor portrays the best James Bond?

By and From the April 2014 issue

Craig...Daniel Craig

By Jonah Goldberg

Look, everyone loves Sean Connery, particularly Sean Connery. That’s why he plays Sean Connery in every movie he’s in. People love that Scottish brogue so much, they don’t mind that he has it when he plays Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, an immortal Spaniard in Highlander. The guy even won an Oscar for playing an Irish cop with a Scottish accent. Talk about sexist double standards: Meryl Streep has to master foreign dialects to get her golden statuettes. Connery just has to show up on time. 

In economics you devalue a currency by printing too much of it. In film you devalue a role by reprising it over and over again. If JFK had lived, his historical standing today might put him in the Rutherford B. Hayes category. But he died, and the mythmaking began. If Sean Connery had died after filming 1967’s You Only Live Twice, his name would be written into the firmament as the greatest Bond of all time.

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Is Rand Paul the future of the GOP?

By and From the March 2014 issue

A New Age of Liberty

By Reid Smith

Every “epoch” begins with a specific moment—the origin point of that particular era. The Defenestration of Prague triggered the 30 Years War. Queen Victoria assumed the throne. Chuck Berry plugged in.

America experienced just such a moment last March, when Rand Paul took the Senate floor to object to our high-flying executive. He spoke for nearly 13 hours, condemning the dangerous ambiguity of an “unlimited imperial presidency.” Since Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in the immediate wake of 9/11, the executive had come unchained. A serious debate was needed, Paul argued, about “whether that use or authorization of force is open-ended, forever.”

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Does intelligent design provide a plausible account of life’s origins?

By and From the January-February 2014 issue

The Cambrian Explosion and the Combinatorial Problem 

by Stephen C. Meyer 

We count on scientists to tell us what they know and don’t know—not just what they want us to hear. But when it comes to the contentious issue of the evolution of life on earth, spokesmen for official science are often less forthcoming than we might wish.

When writing in scientific journals, leading biologists candidly discuss the many scientific difficulties facing contemporary versions of Darwin’s theory. Yet when scientists take up the public defense of Darwinism—in educational policy statements, textbooks, or public television documentaries—that candor often disappears behind a rhetorical curtain. “There’s a feeling in biology that scientists should keep their dirty laundry hidden,” says theoretical biologist Danny Hillis, adding that “there’s a strong school of thought in biology that one should never question Darwin in public.”

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Will the Government Shutdown Hurt the GOP in the Long Term?

By and From the December 2013 issue

Of Mice and Men

by Wlady Pleszczynski

What Shutdown?” That was going to be my opening line, but without the quotation marks. But now that the Wall Street Journal has asked the question in a headline, credit must be shared, but only up to a point. The Journal was reacting to October job numbers, which showed unexpected growth in private sector employment—despite ominous warnings that an October shutdown would slow the economy. It didn’t happen.

What’s more, and this is my larger point, what has universally been called a “shutdown” was at best a partial shutdown, affecting no more than 17 percent of government employees—“nonessential” employees, as if the remaining 83 percent were in fact essential. Without a bona fide shutdown, how will we ever know how much more less government we can not only survive but thrive under? 

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Should We Worry About Violent Video Games?

By and From the November 2013 issue

Imaginary Guns Don’t Kill People, EitherBy Scott Shackford This year’s biggest blockbuster didn’t appear in movie theaters but in living rooms. Grand Theft Auto V, the sprawling, cartoonish vice simulator of a video game, was released on September 17 and earned $800 million in just 24 hours. By the end of the week it had passed $1 billion in sales worldwide.  Like the game’s predecessors, Grand Theft Auto V is a violent, profane sandbox, allowing players the freedom to engage in the sorts of brutal behavior for which we tend to lock people up for long periods (sometimes ending with a trip to an execution chamber). So, as with the game’s predecessors, its release evoked fretting in the media about its content and reminders that it is intended for mature audiences.
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