Extemp Files

The Unfiled Articles folder was updated a few days ago. While I’ve been able to keep up with pulling articles, the filing is woefully behind. The truth is that few use the pre-September articles once the season begins; I at least want to make what I have available, however unorganized. It’s still a quick way to scan for relevant material when compared to finding the same information on your own. The whole idea is to shorten your time on research so you can spend more time developing the arguments and positions you’ll be using.

There is a gap of about a week after Nations where I haven’t pulled anything; everything else is current.

I’ll be at the NDSA/CHSAA speech coaches national conference in Denver, from Thursday evening (8-24) to mid-day Sunday (8-27). If I hear anything interesting, I’ll pass it along.

Today’s question

Nationals is over, debate camps are working on actual (CX – Education topic) or potential (LD & PF) topics, and I’m trying to get caught up with pulling post-Nationals articles (still have the last week of June to cover, though I am current for July). So, slow around here for a brief period.


…there are still questions worth pondering. The Washington Post had one this morning, already worded the way we like it:

Resolved: Barack Obama is better at Twitter than Donald Trump

Extemp Files Update – plus CX, LD, PF

The Extemp Files, LD-Values, and Government folders were updated yesterday afternoon, through March 6th. (I’m current with pulling articles, but not caught up with filing them.)

3-16-17: Files just updated again; now current through March 13th. Biggest edition is a ton of articles on the new Trumpcare proposal.

CX (China), PF (2-state/Middle East) and LD (housing): quick lessons from Nat Quals (ours was the first weekend in March). CX – you need to get more current material on what’s going on in China – too much of what I heard was dated and not applicable (though, often, the other team didn’t point this out – presumably because they weren’t current either). Hit the China folder for the most recent articles. There are some good ones on what Xi’s doing, and economic implications. PF – only judged one round, so not a lot of takeaways – but there have been a bunch of recent articles on the topic (Middle East folder), a lot of them analytical. LD – a longer post later if time permits (State this weekend, so jammed for time) – quick takes are that most people are sticking with homeless only – consider expanding to others who need adequate housing. Hit the Poverty folder; there have been a lot of recent articles on dealing with homelessness. Stats: there’s a 2011 figure I heard in multiple rounds about 2+M homeless; current is much less than that (600k?). Realize that while the recession peaked in 2008-9, there was a lag in people losing homes, so the 2M figure likely reflects the peak number of homeless during the Great Recession.

They’re complete through June 2016 (just before Nationals), and from Sept. 12 2016. Articles in the gap will be added as time permits. I have tried to find all the China articles in the gap after Nationals for the CX people. The files now begin in January 2016; 2015 articles are now in the backfiles.

The Extemp Backfiles folder is available, too. With some political issues, global and domestic, having existed for years, there are some gems to be found here.

Government folder: since the inauguration, I’ve been filing All Things Trump a bit differently. In the Elections subfolder, the articles since the inauguration have to do with the inauguration itself, the inauguration weekend protests, and with Trump appointments. There is now a Trump folder (which will eventually be moved to the Presidents folder, but not for a while) for things specific to him and to White House operations/people. Other topics concerning his actions will be found in the specific topic folders, mostly in the Extemp Files. Note that the Government folder has folders in it for both political parties, for Regulations, for Privatization, and an unfortunately active one for Corruption (including the potential for it).

Extemp Files instructions repost: The link takes you to a Dropbox folder; if a pop-over window saying something about setting up an account or logging in comes up, just close it.

The files are serious overkill – over 34,000 articles right now. There should be a way to copy or download individual articles when you find the ones you want in your files – try right-clicking the specific PDF file/article and selecting the ‘save link as’ option.

The four-digit numbers at the beginning of most of the file names (and the names of the sub-folders) are simply mm/yy codes so that you can tell how recent the article is at a glance.

Please don’t download the whole thing; it trips up my Dropbox limits and bad things happen that shut down access for others. If you need a full copy, let me know (see the About link for an email address) and I’ll make arrangements to get you a copy or share the folder (so that you get the updates as soon as I post them). Students who want to share the folder will need to have an OK from their coach – I don’t want to step on the toes of any coaches who prefer other methods of team research. (Several coaches already share the folder, if you’re a coach and are interested.) Specific topic subfolders can be shared as well.

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.

PF Jan ’17 – Military Spending

Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.

So, at the last hour before the last tournament at which we’ll be debating this topic, the following article shows up:

Trump promises ‘great rebuilding of the Armed Forces’ while signing executive order at the Pentagon

Pro gives their arguments for increased spending, then Con gets up with this article and says that we’re already doing it. Then what?

(A PDF of the article is in the Extemp Files in the US Military – Cyber folder.)

PF Jan ’17 – Military Spending

Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.

Resources: Mostly the Extemp Files and the Extemp Backfiles – both have a US Military – Cyber folder, as well folders for Nukes, US Foreign Policy, and for specific countries that may be cited as a threat (Russia/China/North Korea are probably the big 3 for direct threats, but the Middle East is worth considering, too). Defense One (part of The Atlantic family of sites) and Defense News may also be of use.

When developing a Pro case, consider the first thing a Con opponent should say: What conflict? Simply using the phrase in the resolution is likely to be inadequate without specifying either specific threats, or a range of threats, for which we should be prepared. (See my posting when the topic was announced for some thoughts on ‘why’ options, though there are likely to be several more than I listed.)

The ‘Why’ question should set up the next part – the ‘What’ question. On what should the increase be spent? Keep in mind what components make up a modern military – troops, small hardware (weapons, ammunition/shells/bombs, equipment), large hardware (armor, ships, planes, missiles, air/sea drones, and the technology for these), logistics (say, for rapid deployment), really high tech (Artificial Intelligence, anyone?), and even nukes (now that Trump has put the question on the front burner again) or cyberwarfare. Keep in mind the branches of the US military (Army, Navy/Marines, Airforce, Coast Guard), and details such as Spec Ops taking over countering WMDs (in the December folder). Do we need offensive or defensive capabilities for the threats cited?

Any Con side should be questioning the Pro side for details on what they’ll be spending the money on – the topic is essentially an If/Then statement (if international conflicts/then increased military spending), so pursuing the details of the Then part of the resolution should be expected, since the Then statement is supposed to solve the If statement.

Details: between Dec 5th-12th there were several articles on a report on wasteful military spending – search not only my files but other sources for that time period. I would expect a major Con argument to be that the military doesn’t need additional spending given the size of the waste reported ($125B, I think). What about Trump’s comments that other countries should take over the cost of their defense (Japan, South Korea, and NATO countries have all been singled out at various times)?  Would that be a good Con argument? (Does Trump really mean what he said? Is shifting the costs even possible? There are articles on the subject in the files.)

One of the most sobering articles I read recently, on US technical superiority (or lack thereof) was the Sides article in the August folder. (I use DuckDuckGo.com instead of Google; check the results for ‘russia artillery thermobaric’ for more on the subject – and possible web sites of interest for this resolution.)

A new phrase I came across today, and a possible Con argument: ‘weaponized narrative’ – turn a narrative into a weapon, or more simply misinformation and propaganda of the sort Russia has been using both with us and with Europe. If that’s the new form of warfare, then is more spending really necessary? Or can the Pro argue that countering such narratives is the reason we need more spending?