Topics! – PF Mar ’16, LD Mar/Apr ’16, CX ’17-’18

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Mar PF Topic Area: Middle East

Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

There’s been a lot on this one recently. Hit the Extemp Files and look for the Middle East folder (essentially Israel/Palestine). There are really only three choices: 1.) Stop expanding settlements, and possibly reduce them (a number are illegal, and one was just taken down), so that Palestinians can have territory for a state of their own. What’s happened in Gaza complicates the choice, given how things there turned out. 2.) Give up on a two-state solution, annex the West bank, and accept Palestinian residents as citizens of Israel – effectively ending the country as a Jewish state. 3.) Continue with Netanyahu’s ‘state-lite’ system of limited autonomy and reduced rights, leaving a system criticized for its apartheid-like distinctions (Animal Farm’s point of ‘some are more equal than others’). What Trump does is worth watching – he’s already criticized the settlements (in a bit of a surprise), but may move our embassy to Jerusalem. One interpretation of the Con on this topic might be that we just step away from the matter and not advocate for any of the three positions – it’s their problem, not ours. That, however, changes the politics of the entire region. (Would we still stand with Israel?)

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Mar/Apr

Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.

Housing articles are in the Extemp Files in the Economic Crisis – US folder (homelessness articles are in the Poverty folder), and/or in the Government folder in the Economics subfolder. (I often file housing articles in both locations.) Remember, though, that this is a Proposition of Values event, so the emphasis may be on our social contract terms (expanding them to include housing) with a food/shelter/clothing basic needs argument. (If we go just for housing, why shouldn’t we cover the other two areas as well?) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is likely to come up in many rounds – the basic level of needs would seem to apply, and is necessary for the higher levels to be achieved.

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

This will be the third time I’ve coached on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

Topic recap/repost:

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Feb Topic Area: Cuba

Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

A regular topic comes around again – in the Extemp Files folder, look for the Cuba subfolder. It has all of the 2016 and 2017 articles. The Extemp Backfiles has articles on Cuba from 2015 and before.

Obama’s opening of contacts with Cuba, and the death of Fidel Castro, will change the dynamics of the arguments this time around – as will a Trump administration. The Cuban exile community has long opposed relaxing the embargo – will Castro’s death change that, or will they have more influence in a Trump administration than they did with Obama. Younger Cuban-Americans don’t support the embargo the way older Cuban-Americans do – have demographic changes altered the debate? A more specific post on this one soon.

If you have access to the 2009 Nationals (Birmingham) PF finals tape, watch it!

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

See earlier posts on this. I’ll get a new post up soon – the whole Berkeley thing makes for an interesting case study. See the Education – College folder, which was updated at the same time as the Extemp Files. It has the Berkeley articles.

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

All topics can be found on the NSDA’s Current Topics page.

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