Friday, January 30, 2009

Emory HS: Round 5: Mountain Brook v. Whitney Young

Negative: Whitney Young.

I wish that the affirmative would have aggressively pursued some combination of “permutation do the counterplan” and “consultation counterplans shouldn’t be considered textually competitive because they make debate silly.” I will give the affirmative very strong presumption on these arguments. Unfortunately, the affirmative elects to go for other arguments, so I don’t really have the pretext I want to intervene against an argument I despise.

As it stands, the 2NR wins by virtue of superior risk analysis. The affirmative wins a good risk of “say no” and the negative wins an excellent to full risk of their net benefit. The 2NR explicitly accounts for this possibility, and devotes a crucial paragraph on top comparing the case and the net benefit. Last rebuttals often constitute a race to risk comparisons phrased as “even if”. The negatively clearly wins this race.

I don’t think his arguments are intrinsically superior, by any stretch of the imagination. Truthseeking would compel an affirmative ballot here in many circumstances – there’s a much better threshold to the “say no” disad than there is to the cooperation net benefit. Left to my own devices, I’d definitely default aff on the basis of superior defense and superior threshold. The relationship between a single consultation and the net benefit is much weaker than the relationship between a “say no” risk and the case advantages.

I’m not left to my own devices, however. The affirmative has all of the individual arguments in play to weave a compelling risk analysis story, but must put them together for me.

On the micro level:

SAY NO: This is a logical argument, and the affirmative wins a decent risk of it. It certainly gives me pause. The negative evidence doesn’t really support their position – it says that the EU wants to promote their own biofuels. That’s the affirmative warrant. They want to inhibit US development in order to promote their own because they perceive it as a zero-sum situation.

If I assign the affirmative full weight of this argument, the gap in risk analysis is probably irrelevant (although I’d still pause, because there’s no subline on why EU rejection might compromise the internal net benefit.) I refrain from assigning anything above a B- (moderate-high) risk, though, for two reasons.

1. The affirmative doesn’t really articulate my objection to the negative evidence on this point. You do point out that it isn’t very good, and you’re right. You don’t, however, explain why it’s a better affirmative card than your cards.

2. This matters because your internal link to this – Perry – isn’t much better. I think you have a more logical story, but your evidentiary support fails epically. It discusses an instance in which Britain refused an EU attempt to regulate British drilling for gas and oil in the North Sea. This evidence is just entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand, and you’d be better off issuing an analytic on this point and keeping Perry out of my hands entirely.

This deficit’s particularly damaging because the 2NR has a cogent story about how Britain wants to reduce greenhouse gases, so will accept the aff as a good global citizen. The 2AR’s only answer is that the negative has no cards. You are correct, but neither do you – it’s very difficult to thus make clean risk assignments when everyone relies on atrocious cards.


The internal net benefit is a disad to this perm. The Haass evidence clearly distinguishes between binding and non-binding consultation. The 2NR’s especially cogent here, incorporating lines of analysis from the evidence directly into his speech.

I could easily view this permutation as a defensive argument against the net benefit, which would in turn help support macro weighing arguments. The permutation doesn’t solve relations as well as the counterplan, but it’s better than the status quo. That furthers weakens the internal link between the counterplan and the net benefit, so the risk of the “say no” disad is comparatively much higher. I don’t hear anything about this in the 2AR, though.


The negative does have an independent terrorism scenario which goes largely neglected. 2NR risk analysis, however, revolves around the China scenario, and I’d likely vote affirmative if left to my personal instincts on macro evaluation, so I’m compelled to engage here.

As with the “say no” debate, the affirmative has a comprehensible (if underarticulated) scenario, but they’re doomed by the quality of their evidence. This embargo internal link doesn’t draw any causative connection between relations and the embargo. It does say that we’ve objected to the European stance before, but there isn’t anything approaching either a predictive claim or even a general assessment of a relationship – it’s simply a description of an individual instance. 2AR storytelling here would be adequate for a good card, but it’s wholly inadequate for an argument with near-zero carded support.

I do think that the negative evidence about managing conflicts is good enough, though. It makes general but predictive claims about the importance of our relations for managing all possible flashpoints with China. Taiwan’s certainly one of those flashpoints, even if the internal link doesn’t mention it by name. I’d be more compelled by the affirmative’s internal link attack if it were coupled with at least some mention of other factors that might overwhelm, such as purely internal nationalist dynamics on both sides of the Strait.

Overall, the aff chips away at the risk of the net benefit and gathers a good risk of their own case as offense. They don’t win one argument so utterly decisively, though, that I’d discount superior negative macro evaluation.

Some individual speech comments:

1AC: Good 1AC, you are crystal clear. Substantively, I wonder if it’s a great idea to intersect directly with the college topic. I always feel that’s a slightly dangerous move that takes control over argument development out of your hands.

1AC CX: I think this goes well for the negative. I hope that these points make it into the speeches as well – if this comes down to case vs. politics, say, I think you’ve made a lot of strides here. If you’re planning to go for Heidegger, this is all meaningless. (Note: I wrote this during the speech, but it was eerily prophetic. You were, in fact, going for the CP or Heidegger, rendering this whole CX an exercise in futility. That’s frustrating.)

2NC – You are nearly incomprehensible. You are reading blocks of analysis at card speed. When you go for Heidegger and consultation, however, the debate’s going to revolve around fairly minute theoretical distinctions. You should have replicated your 2AR pacing.

I think you got lucky. If they went for “consult illegitimate” or “permutation - do the counterplan” I think this 2NC would have hosed you. I wouldn’t have flowed half of your answers, and I’d give the 2AR an enormous amount of leeway on new theory as a result.

1NR – Why do you get to read a slew of new defense in the 1nr? Am I missing something? I was under the impression that teams generally introduce all of their arguments in constructives, reserving the rebuttals for argument development.

I know that these comments primarily rail on the negative – but as I vote negative, I think that makes sense. The affirmative can (I hope) extract most of my advice from an RFD that doesn’t go their way.

Good debate!



Negative: Bronx.

RFD: Politics outweighs the case.

This risk assignation appears clean and technical.

2AR risk analysis, while compelling, is shamelessly new. The 1AR drops the block’s risk comparison. This problem’s compounded by an unresponsive 2AR. For example, the 2AR explains the importance of historical analysis in evaluation of risk, which we’ve never heard before in this debate, while ignoring the 2NR’s moral imperative claim. The 2AR advances very intelligent risk analysis, but it’s just utterly new.

The affirmative can try several strategies avoid this deep hole:

a. Prevention – engage risk analysis early and often. Make sure that the 1AR sketches the arguments that the 2AR needs.

b. Deception – even if the 2AR is new, try to incorporate some actual argument from the 1AR into the new arguments, so they sound old. It’s difficult to ferret out every sub-line of analysis. “Embedded clash,” by minimizing signposting, often enhances rebuttalists’ latitude to make new arguments. You need some process of reference – a 50/50 old/new ratio works much, much better than /100.

c. Engagement – issue at least some justification for new risk analysis. Standard rationalizations might include:

i. Last rebuttals exist to issue new risk analysis – otherwise, they’d just be repetition. Moving that process into the constructives actually damages argument development by accelerating the negative’s block advantage.

ii. The 2NR issues some new risk analysis, which demands new answers on my part – they opened the door. (This is generally more effective than c.i.)

iii. Here’s our risk analysis that’s built into the 1AC – that isn’t really new because the aff doesn’t ever go away.

I think you might do that with the survivability of the toothfish? I don’t get it, though. Toothfish will survive a nuclear war, sure. I don’t think that they’ll re-evolve into humans…is there a reason that I should discount a more likely extinction scenario from Bronx, as long as I know that the biosphere will still have some toothfish around? This isn’t an intuitively appealing position, so it would need to be fleshed out over 3-4 sentences for me to get on board to wherever you want this toothfish train to go.

The aff doesn’t mitigate the disad at all on the micro level either. Risk analysis might not be enough for Bronx if USN won some hot defense. That’s not happening here. The 2AR argues that the aff doesn’t’ affect health care lobbies, which overwhelm. That seems trivial. Some external factors may influence this debate, but they aren’t entirely determinative. The card you reference certainly doesn’t preclude a substantial or outcome-determinative role for political capital. The aff only needs to affect one factor to determine the overall outcome of the debate, despite a plethora of possible alternate causations. I didn’t take enough notes on your uniqueness evidence, but it was short and underexplained as time expired.

You may win a risk of this addon, but you just don’t win enough defense to overwhelm dropped risk comparison.


POSTROUND: BRONX, OMG, you are the worst imaginable team in terms of watching the judge. You will both generally wander out of the round at the same time and immediately make several phone calls within minutes of the 2AR’s conclusion. I have seen you do this before, and you really need to stop. The phone calls smack of arrogance; it seems to imply that you’re so convinced you’re ahead that you can catch up on your social life. They’re also just distracting. More importantly, I call for cards over a few minutes, instead of immediately issuing all my card requests. Therefore, when you both leave, it slows down the whole process for no good reason. Just keep one person in the round to look at the judge and file evidence while the other person makes phone calls in the hall. You can flip for it?

Some incidental comments:

1AC: Faster

1AC C-X: The 1AC must be Scripture to you. You must know each piece of evidence. You frequently refer to “some card” – in one embarrassing sequence, neither affirmative speaker can identify a 1AC card by date or citation.

2AC: I know this is a minor pet peeve, but “literally” means “the opposite of metaphorically,” as opposed to “very.”

Example: “My evidence is literally on fire.”


“My evidence is actually burning and requires a fire extinguisher.”

as opposed to

“My evidence is so awesome!”

You’ve taken to using “literally” as a filler word, producing several cringeworthy sequences in which you reverse its meaning.

Thursday, January 29, 2009




Close and good round – both teams deserved to participate in the elimination rounds, in my opinion, and I expressed this with points.

Theory’s the nexus point of this debate – the affirmative can’t catch up on substance. Unfortunately, the 2AR disagrees with this assessment, devoting too much time to defensive arguments against the net benefit, which don’t matter absent a meaningful solvency differential. Although the 2AR is excellent in a number of places, I don’t think that he quite achieves the same level of clashing argument development on theory as his affirmative colleague.

More specifically, I don’t have the 2AR clearly extending the 1AR’s argument that I should hold counterplans to a minimum standard of both functional and textual competition. (I largely blame time pressure for this deficiency.) This combination of standards should win the debate for the aff, given 2NC/2NR mistakes here. The negative should never solely rely on the argument that textual competition hurts the AFFIRMATIVE. The combination (both text and function are a necessary condition for a competitive CP) should crush the negative disads to textual competition since they all impact in "abusing the affirmative is bad." Fullerton has already conceded the underlying premise that we should opt for a vision of competition that best serves the affirmative.

I get very little of this, however. I have components that come awfully close – the 2AR says “both textual and functional” – but that appears to be a description of the permutation, not a description of the way that I should adjudicate competition generally. The 2AR also says “solves all the disads” – but I’m quite sure that he’s talking about solving the disads to the aff, not solving the theoretical disads to textual competition. I can understand why this might be slightly frustrating for MBA, as many of the components come awfully close, but I just don’t have it clearly assembled in a couple of sentences. If the 2AR repeats the 1AR on this section of the flow, I’d likely vote aff.

In a similar vein, the 2AR opts for slightly more scattershot extension on the PICs debate, which I also felt was winnable. The 1AR, for example, continues the process of clash when he advances the argument that minute net benefits, despite their exciting technical detail, can’t aid debate because they don’t attract two sided discussions in the literature. This is a good, responsive argument, which the 2NR neglects. It’s not a component of the 2AR, however.

The 2AR invests more time in invective against PICs than real substantive analysis of their theoretical implications. Labels such as “hyperinflated” and “inconsequential” net benefits always read like empty insults to me. I don’t know how to determine if they “inflated” or “hyperinflated” or if the disad has a “consequence” without referring to some other section of the PICs debate. Without some external analytic support, these assertions seem logically circular. PICs are bad because they hyperinflate net benefits which we determine by referencing the assumption that PICs and their net benefits are probably bad.

As it stands, I don’t have much onpoint answer to “structural side bias dictates negative flexibility” or “these types of counterplans specifically aid topic development, because they’re the only route to a specific and hypertechnical discussion of energy forms.” The second argument is particularly damning, because the 2AR highlights “topic specific education” as a trump impact, without decisively winning the link.

I’d give a more centered 2AR a good deal of leeway, because I didn’t think the 2NR was strong or centered here. Both teams rely on scattershot extension of individual arguments, without assembling a meaningful theoretical gestalt.

I would have prioritized this debate lower in the 2AR, because it’s fairly even, whereas you are probably just 100% correct on the perm.

As a side note, the dropped “resolutional justification” argument on alternative energy specification exerts a minor gravity on evaluation of technical minutiae on these theory debates. I can’t vote on this argument in isolation – it’s neither smart nor well-developed – but I feel that it’s difficult for me to give MBA much leeway when they don’t explicitly address something that Fullerton flags as a voting issue.

On the substantive debate, MBA just has defense. I don’t think that geothermal drilling will kill 5.5 billion people. I think it might hurt some people, though, or scare them. I don’t think earthquakes are good – they’re risky and endanger human health. It’s a linear impact – each earthquake is probably bad enough to overwhelm presumption. I disagree with the 2AR’s assertion that Fullerton drops this argument about German feed-in tariffs empirically disproving the impact. I think she answers this explicitly when she says that the United States system will be more successful and broadly adopted, and thus spur much broader geothermal drilling. Her argument isn’t dazzling, but it’s an argument.

I appreciate the 2AR attempt to argue that offense/defense is bad, and that I should consequently hold their net benefit to high standard of scrutiny, or raise the affirmative presumption threshold. The resolution of small risks recurs as a nexus question in debates, and you have a viable argument. In this context, it’s clearly both too late (the 1AR doesn’t really set up this filter for evaluation, and I imagine Fullerton would like a chance to address this) and too little (there’s no impact to this type of evaluation beyond “it’s a bad thing.”)

Some individual comments:

1AC CX: I don’t think you should concede “immediate and unconditional implementation of the plan.” That seems like you’re baiting consultation, and should probably distinguish between disads and counterplans in your answer. The correct answer:

“We’ll defend that the plan passes according to normal means for the purposes of your disad links. However, the process through which the plan might pass is not a component of our textual advocacy, as you can see, so we will argue strenuously that your process counterplan is not competitive.”

I also think it’s worthwhile to outline your view of “fiat.” It’s a theoretical construct which allows us to overlook questions of the likelihood of implementation. No one “fiats” a plan. It’s a heuristic, not an action.



NEGATIVE: Greenhill

This round really demonstrated the importance of controlling framework or meta-questions – questions about how the way that I perform my evaluation. Greenhill issues some clear and articulate criteria for my decision. Glenbrook North, while articulately discussing some of the micro questions, neglects these 2NR decision criteria to their detriment.

More concretely, the 2AR drops the offense/defense paradigm, and also drops the (faintly absurd) assertion that structural side bias compels negative presumption on counterplans. Therefore, I only need to assess the two pieces of Gearing evidence to decide the debate. Even if there’s some internal problem with the net benefit, there’s no disadvantage to the net benefit. The negative’s set up a situation in which they only need to win EQUIVALENT solvency.

If you really think through this theory, of course, you’ll see that Greenhill’s arguing plausibly for an absurdity. If word PICs don’t need an offensive net benefit – or if they’re held to an extremely low standard for the evaluation of presumption – the affirmative absolutely cannot win. An affirmative can answer disads to their wording, but it’s absurd to think they’d have a defense of every word against every EQUIVALENT synonym. I’m a fan of word PICs (at least relative to my colleagues) but even I recognize that this would be the zero point; debate would have no value.

Presumption against counterplans must go affirmative. Negatives that counterplan with an identical synonym is not an equivalent remedy for the apparently dizzying power of the last speech. GBN should also refute offense/defense with a story about the “margin of error.” I honestly believe that debate is just not a finely enough calibrated instrument of social science to measure infinitesimally small risks. Extremely small risks should be discounted as unknown if they fall outside our activity’s predictive capability, for the same reason that a poll might discount a 2 point lead with a smallish sample size – overestimating our predictive capability leads to poor decisionmaking by overinterpreting essentially random results.

That’s not the debate that occurs, though.

I’m unimpressed with these Gearing cards. I don’t understand the link to your “common word” argument; Greenhill has evidence that renewable is a less common term, and isn’t a term of art. This evidence definitely doesn’t delineate a positive benefit to using terms together. There’s a risk of a backlash, and Greenhill adumbrates a number of unanswered disadvantages to that backlash, including case effectiveness, direct case rollback, and an independent survival impact.

GBN, you should have gone for “perm – do the counterplan” in the 1AR. I thought the 2AC was good on this. Your theory arguments sounded intelligent and nuanced. I expected this to be the nexus point of the debate, and I felt that the affirmative had roughly equal chances here given correct 1AR diagnosis of the debate. You could also productively fit a number of the arguments that you do pursue under this category heading. For example, the card that you read about subsequent Congressional revision and spell-checking sounds random and disconnected by itself, but, as a further defense of your permutation’s correspondence with real world policymaking, it would be smart and nuanced argument development.
You can effectively center your offense by positing a particular role of the ballot to refute their emphasis on language. A number of your cards about taboo and dirty words don’t really apply to counterplan as a disad, but might make more sense a disad to their framework.

Greenhill, I don’t have many complaints. Although this round’s well-debated by both sides, it’s technically clean, and you display a good understanding of all of the bases you need to touch to win on your strategy. You also display excellent focus and vertical development in the block, which I appreciate. For future reference, I don’t think non-USFG fiat is legitimate, because a variety of different decisionmakers doesn’t make sense, and it tends to make policy discussions contrived and artificial (see Dylan Keenan’s rant on state counterplan fiat – I believe that too.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Round 1 BF: Grapevine v. Vestavia

Aff: Grapevine

RFD: Case outweighs capitalism.

The 2NR really stakes this round on the quality of your ethics evidence and analysis. Absent a strong ethics argument, it’s a very clear affirmative ballot, as the negative concedes the truth of multiple scenarios for extinction. Asteroids is one of several, but it’s the clearest example of something that’s just not particularly susceptible to any sort of social constructionist analysis; the aff claims to stop an empirically verifiable extinction level event that doesn’t much care about our justice concerns.

Ethics remains poorly developed, however; the negative relies on repeated assertions instead of the detailed macro explanation that they desperately need. I need a really good reason to reject the plan in the face of extinction. The Zizek 4 and Zizek and Daly 4 cards don’t get you there; they posit ethical problems with capitalism. They also posit some ways that capitalism tends to misrepresent markets as neutral when instead they tend toward social exclusion. These authors would really need to advocate a strong rule-based, or deontological, morality to justify a negative ballot that recklessly disregards the primacy of survival.

Were I to attempt to justify a negative ballot, I guess I’d have to resort to the idea that ethics transforms the role of the ballot; perhaps I should consider the ballot an expression of my ethical alignment with a particular system instead of an examination of the consequences of enacting a particular policy. I can’t interject such an argument, however. The 2NR never says that, and the affirmative consistently extends their conceded framework arguments.

2NR comparative risk analysis can’t put the negative over the top without a decisive win on the nexus question of deontology. Your discussion of risk suffers from two macro problems. First, it isn’t actually a comparison; you recite some features of your critique’s risk without actually placing these factoids in the context of the affirmative advantages. You don’t say why the K’s better – you just say why you think it’s pretty nice. Secondly, it’s scripted, so any existing nuance is blurred by incomprehensible delivery.

On the micro level, the aff’s ahead on risk because they win several uncontested scenarios while at least contesting both alternative solvency (Rorty) and impact uniqueness (Eichenwald). The 2NR is long on ethics reiteration but short on any detailed explanation of how the alternative actually transitions away from capitalism.

1ac: Good pacing and delivery. I really appreciate the way in which you segment the cards by pausing slightly between them – you are very easy to flow and understand.

I don’t understand the internal link to asteroids at all. I understand that the air force has operational authority over preventing collisions, but how does the strength of the air force really affect an interception? There may well be an internal link story here, but I don’t think that’s transparent based on the tag or text of the evidence.

1nc: Good delivery, but I think there are some conceptual problems here.

As a general rule, I feel that running a single T violation contributes to T’s viability as a 2NR option. Multiple violations create too many possibilities for entirely justifiable 1AR cross-applications.

Capitalism contradicts many of your other arguments. Spiking food prices are likely a product of a market economy, not simply diversion to corn ethanol. Maintaining civil military relations to preserve stability would certainly only be a priority to fans of the current distribution of military and economic power.

I rarely vote aff on conditionality, but I’m increasingly willing to vote aff on “contradictions bad”. If the negative could hypothetically concede link turns on a disad in order to reinforce their links to the criticism, I think the neg’s creating a fairly unusual strategy skew. Also, while negative strategies should not, perhaps, be single seamless advocacy statements, there seems to be some education value to upholding some minimal standard of coherence. Almost any logical system starts with the principle of non-contradiction.

This advice applies more to Grapevine than Vestavia. I’m flexible enough that your 1NC is certainly an option, but Grapevine should make a theory argument that’s slightly more nuanced than either conditionality or conditional PICs bad.

I don’t think your politics disad makes sense. Why does Obama’s political capital affect his policies on Gaza or Israel? Doesn’t he make those diplomatic decisions free from Congressional oversight or control? Perhaps I misunderstand the disad since it’s not discussed much past the 1NC.

1NC CX: Farhad, I appreciate your graciousness on principle – you consistently describe your opponent’s RFDarguments as fair or sensical. I think you’re giving away too much perceptually, however. It’s good to be polite, but you still want to prove that their arguments are bad.

Good overall. I think you’re weak on the counterplan. You might want to flush out the theory on the perms more thoroughly, make more defensive arguments about the net benefit, and at least start to resolve the potentially dispositive questions of PRESUMPTION and MARGIN OF ERROR. I think it’s likely that they could win a non-zero risk of this net benefit, despite some obvious flaws in their net benefit. The round might then revolve around the following nexus questions:
1. When is a fractional risk equivalent to zero risk?
2. If there’s no net benefit to the CP but it solves the aff, who wins?

2NC: These scripted overviews are way too long. They largely reiterate the position. You are too overview dependent and need to clash more directly with their responses.

Ethics is a great example of this – it’s eventually the real nexus question, but I don’t have any useful information other than a couple of cards and an explanation of past future present present past that would be difficult to filter and absorb at 100 WPM, let alone 250.

2NC C-x:

You ask the 2NC, essentially, if he dropped asteroids (he did) and if his ethics explanation made any sense (not really.) Accurate diagnosis of neg flaws, but those are genuinely the worst possible CX question in this scenario, because there’s a 1NR. He could hypothetically instruct her to shore up these weaknesses.

NEVER EVER give them a chance to make up for their errors (did you drop asteroids)

NEVER just give them a chance to explain where they are crucially weak (ethics)

Undermine them CONCEPTUALLY instead of going after TECHNICAL WEAKNESS, because there’s a 1NR.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hooch v. Milton Round 6 Pace RR

Negative: Milton

RFD: I expected to vote affirmative after the 1AR and after the 2NR. Chattahoochee was, in my mind, soundly beating Milton on the core questions of this debate. Regardless of various consideration of frameworks, my ballot’s going to reflect my judgment on whether I should endorse massive federal funding of SPS or reject space exploration entirely through individual instances of power. The 1AR, in my mind, successfully defended the affirmative’s method of empiricism as a means of truth seeking. Even if the aff leads to objectionable political effects, I would still feel compelled to vote for them if their 1AC claims and/or addon advantages are true. Case supercedes the criticism. Alternately, if the negative claims about the aff’s irrelevance or untruth are true, I’m probably voting for them. Until the last rebuttals, I feel the aff’s grappling with these core questions far more effectively than the negative.

Unfortunately for Chattahoochee, the 2AR shifts focus from these questions into a less relevant discussion of fiat and framework. I’m not compelled by these questions in either direction in this instance. The negative has conceded that the affirmative’s able to claim their impacts – they aren’t theoretically precluded from advocating for the truth of these advantages. Conversely, the negative’s objection isn’t theoretically precluded either – if they impact turn the affirmative, they moot questions of the alternative’s theoretical legitimacy. Opening with a rousing defense of speed and policy debate thus seems largely non sequitur.

On a micro level, the affirmative simply drops a number of devastating (albeit spurious) negative claims. The 2AR never explicitly answers “all of your evidence is lies because it’s fabricated to prop up a certain system of power relations.” The 2AR also doesn’t answer the racialization of science, which taints the way you derive your conclusions. The 2AR doesn’t answer the claim that considerations of race are a prior decision rule. The aff claims about empiricism might implicitly answer this, but the affirmative neither teases out the relationship between the two sets of claims nor develops their empiricism and science claims beyond the barest and most elliptic assertions.

Chattahoochee does not need much to beat this. I don’t mind embedded clash – but there’s too much embedding and not enough actual clash. 3-4 sentences starting with “empiricism trumps their claims of bias because..” would probably reverse my decision.

The affirmative also suffers from some related problems because of the quality of their evidence. I think their evidence may well have made some impressive arguments before it went under the knife, but Chattahoochee most definitely cuts away muscle as well as fat. These cards verge on incoherence. Here’s a sample sentence from your Jarvis evidence: “Revisionism…be unconnected to the world postmodernists.” Really? That be pretty good. I don’t drop the affirmative out of exasperation, but this does hurt you. Strength of evidence might redeem the 2AR’s analytic gaps, but it can’t when you generally have a claim at best. Paragraph length explanations can compensate for bad evidence. Good evidence can compensate for sketchy extension. If there’s not much story and word salad cards, however, it’s difficult to assemble an affirmative ballot.

This problem haunts Rawls and Jarvis; I don’t really see where the aff’s going with these cards. Your intent might be clearer if you read more of the evidence in the form of complete sentences. Nansen [sp?] doesn’t address the core question of methodology. Taft-Kaufman is definitely the closest, and it’s warranted. The absence of spin prevents this card from being dispositive, however. Specifically, it says I should prefer an emphasis on material problems and solutions to purely discursive considerations. That’s a fair point, and might push me to prefer the aff to the alternative, all other things being equal. They aren’t, though. An effective material solution’s preferable, but Taft-Kaufman can’t convince me that the aff is that effective solution. The argument presumes the advantages as a premise, but the negative’s undermined that. Put simply, you aren’t effective if your impacts are all bad racist lies. Discourse is worse than a good plan, but the neg proved your plan’s advantages are dirty dirty lies, so it’s probably better than that.

I can discuss line by line questions with that – that governing framework really determines the resolution of any remaining questions. The aff’s a lie, and it distracts from more important questions of racial and economic justice. My natural inclination is that the aff’s a survival question, which outweighs, and their add-ons turn the K, but you need to dispense of the prior question of methodology with some more substantive analysis to get there.


Your highlighting is suboptimal. I frequently hear sets of noun phrases unconnected by verbs. For future reference, I’m violently opposed to the sacrificing coherence for the sake of brevity; I often disregard cards entirely if they’re splattered with the blood of the English language.

You need to pause between cards, for under .35s, but for enough of an interval to distinguish between claims and pieces of evidence. Your delivery isn’t exactly passionate – I’m fine with that, but your bland neutrality really makes it necessary that you use some technique to delineate between your robot word sets.

When you say “PUT YOUR DAS AWAY” – people laugh at you. That can be good or bad, depending on your perspective on comedy. Personally, I’m a fan, but I want to make sure I’m laughing with you, not at you.


1. Your tech breaks, hahaha. So much for your song now! You should definitely have a test run.
2. I’m not a big fan of this performance. You aren’t performing it. We’re all just watching your laptop, reduced to passive spectators. Recorded performance always seems antithetical to debate. Sampling is cool – I’m a fan of tech that enhances expression, but not a fan of tech that substitutes for expression entirely. Short samples = good, long samples where we all stare awkwardly at a machine = meh.

I mean, I’m not sure how I’d really filter this competitively, either. I generally feel that art exists, in part, to express something that can’t be expressed more efficiently in straightforward expository discourse. A poem that restated the politics disad in rhyme wouldn’t serve much purpose, aside from satire or irony.

What does this performance really say that couldn’t be said in three minutes with some cards?


Sometimes you are incomprehensible. Most of the time you are clear. 2ACs against a one-off K should do more than read. They should adapt their responses a bit. For example, you argue that the alternative’s vague enough to merit a negative ballot without a saying a word about their alternative. Moments like this make it more difficult for you to respin your answer toward their specific argument later on.

Very good. I like the parts about empiricism – relationship between the neg and truth claims is pretty good to highlight.

Loses some focus due to time pressure; I think that you’re probably better on an explanatory level in the 2NC, but this breaks down some here. I view this as a structural problem with the position more than a failure in execution. You have a narrow 1Nc that puts very little pressure on the 2AC, because it really only says a few things. In this circumstance, the 2NR is The Reckoning. You’d have to be very good on performativity rendering their straightforward truth claims irrelevant to justify setting yourself up like this. You aren’t – you largely sag away from those claims – so you probably wish your 1AC was different in some ways.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Round 5: USC - Cal BoWe AFF v. MictSt KiKl Neg


Cal exploits the internal link/over-uniqueness hole in politics effectively, reducing the risk of politics to within the margin of error. There's no strong evidentiary or analytic support for the premise that the stimulus bill could potentially fail. For the purposes of this debate, the stimulus bill will pass either way. Although Michigan State wins a very large chunk of their counterplan solvency, the possibility that the plan will fill in some gaps in trade signal effectiveness is measurably larger than the near-zero politics risk.

The 2NC neglects this question entirely. The subsequent cross-examination goes poorly for the negative - there's no coherent explanation of the disad's plausibility aside from a few references to evidence. The 2A rehearses some of the warrants for the inevitable passage of the stimulus bill, and the 2N doesn't have an answer. C-X is rarely dispositive for me, but, in this case, it magnifies the weight I'm willing to assign a press.

The 2N does display good situational awareness by instructing the 1NR to read evidence to fill in this link hole; this sequencing does, however, really confines you to the 1NR "democratic unity" evidence.

That evidence - specifically the Hill 12/24 evidence - isn't enough. It establishes that there will be an internal debate over the CONTOURS of the final bill. It doesn't even suggest, however, that the internal debate threatens the PASSAGE of a stimulus bill in any form. The impact, as articulated, only applies to passage, not controversy during passage or different varieties of a stimulus package.

I scour the remainder of the link and relevant internal link evidence in order to at least examine the most generous possible reading for Michigan State. The aff's probably politically unpopular, but there's no
stimulus-specific internal link evidence. I'm handed these Cochran cards - I'm not terribly sure that the 2NR extends them, but they wouldn't help much regardless, as the internal link doesn't relate Cochran's general power to some crucial role in passing an endangered stimulus package.

The affirmative also does a better job of framing my evaluation. I'm fairly agnostic on the relative size of the margin of error. Put more simply, I don't know if a very low risk of politics should be taken seriously or not. I do know that the 2AR speaks to this question, however, and the 2NR does not.

I give some thought to assigning a very low risk of the disad but still voting negative, as the CP does effectively solve the bulk of the aff. I think, though, that cotton's unique symbolic status and the possibility of a trade collapse while the FTAAP talks are gearing up create a small but statistically significant risk of the case harms that the perm captures better than the CP in isolation.

Two postround questions from MSU -

a. Isn't double solvency stupid?

Well, not really. It's probably stupid lingo, but there's a legitimate idea expressed through the formulation. The CP likely solves trade, but it isn't 100% so the perm insures against the small but real possibility of FTAAP breakdown. I guess that's more accurately expressed as "more certain solvency."

b. Should I have gone for more case defense in the 2NR?

Maybe. That's hard to say. Your politics risk is nonzero, but very small - you would need to push the case awfully close to zero to win this way. I tend to think,that you'd just be better off shoring up the weak point of the politics disad. You could do that by reading more and better evidence on this overuniqueness question - and you could even do it by better storytelling. I'm down with either cards or narrative extrapolation on p'tix, but you must have at least one of those two.

some speech comments:

1AC: The 1AC is fine. A few possibilities for improvement:

a. Your trade evidence is geriatric. The Doha negotiations are ongoing. I didn't hear much, if any, evidence from December or January, and I think that would be helpful. I also wish that more evidence addressed the role of the WTO in resolving the current global economic crisis. There aren't many
new affs on this topic - we should consistently rewrite the few we're allowed to run.

b. Oversegmentation. You distinguish and number four internal links, but they don't sound terribly distinct to me. When the negative reads fairly general defense on trade, I don't see how the proliferation of internal links allows the 2AC to quickly dismiss swaths of defense. I might be mistaken - I think, though, that if you want to meaningfully distinguish advantage components, it might behoove you to seperate out impacts for subscenarios and cluster them with the independent links.


Your clarity improves through the speech. You start off mushy and end up crisp. This is a morning round. I think the object lesson's that you should try to get in a couple of minutes of speaking at some point prior to the round.

A theoretical note:

I'm starting to sour on these massively multi-plank conditional counterplans. I understand their tactical value, of course. I'm not strident in either direction on this - I'm just progressing toward a zone in which I might vote on conditionality, given the way in which multiplank cond CPs force the 2AC to deal with a factorial range of block policy options. In past years, the aff had very little chance when running conditionality bad in front of me. I'm working my way back to the middle on this question.


These internal case overviews don't appear to advance the argument - they're largely just a recap of what happened previously. These sorts of explanations only seem rational to me when you're distinguishing away from some component of their argument. As it stands, they just generate the impression that you're unconvinced that I was paying attention during the 1AC.


You're good on components of the debate - you work diligently and well on risk comparison, for example. I'm not sure why you dismiss this question that's ultimately decisive, though. you display good situational awareness by taking a little prep and making the 1NR read some cards on this issue. You should have done more of this, though, and taken slightly more prep to pull even more cards and possibly script out a few additional answers.

The rest of my speech by speech feelings can, hopefully, be deduced from the RFD. Feel free to email me with any additional questions.

Good round!