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.

Topics – PF Feb ’17

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 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?

Topic recap/repost:

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Jan Topic Area: U.S. Military

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

Starting point: Extemp Files – folders: US Military – Cyber, Russia, China, and possibly US Foreign Policy. Do we increase spending because our military has been worn down by our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq? Because Trump will take us into Syria? Because we’ve used too many bombs against ISIS and the Taliban and need to restock? Because our technological lead is shrinking? Are Russia or China active threats? Do we need more spending on cyberwar prep – defense and/or offense? Are we still the ‘Cops of the World’ (an old Phil Ochs protest song from the Vietnam era – I think that Spotify has it). Is Trump changing focus from Asia to the Middle East, and if so what are the implications? This topic seems to have more possible arguments on both sides than other recent PF topics have had. The Extemp Backfiles have the same folders and the 2015 articles may be worth skimming.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

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

It’s trigger warning and safe space time!

Starting point: The LD-Values folder has a Free Speech folder in it. Of more use, though, may be the Education – College folder (just updated today). You’ll want to go back beyond the 2016 articles on this topic. (Sidebar: There should be several articles throughout the folder about writing college admission essays, too – they show up periodically every year.) The folder covers a multitude of topics, so some digging through the files may be required. Look for examples!

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.

Topics – PF Jan ’17, LD Jan/Feb ’17

New topic day!

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Jan Topic Area: U.S. Military

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

Starting point: Extemp Files – folders: US Military – Cyber, Russia, China, and possibly US Foreign Policy. Do we increase spending because our military has been worn down by our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq? Because Trump will take us into Syria? Because we’ve used too many bombs against ISIS and the Taliban and need to restock? Because our technological lead is shrinking? Are Russia or China active threats? Do we need more spending on cyberwar prep – defense and/or offense? Are we still the ‘Cops of the World’ (an old Phil Ochs protest song from the Vietnam era – I think that Spotify has it). Is Trump changing focus from Asia to the Middle East, and if so what are the implications? This topic seems to have more possible arguments on both sides than other recent PF topics have had. The Extemp Backfiles have the same folders and the 2015 articles may be worth skimming.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

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

It’s trigger warning and safe space time!

Starting point: The LD-Values folder has a Free Speech folder in it. Of more use, though, may be the Education – College folder. You’ll want to go back beyond the 2016 articles on this topic. (Sidebar: There should be several articles throughout the folder about writing college admission essays, too – they show up periodically every year.) The folder covers a multitude of topics, so some digging through the files may be required.

Topic recap:

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.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Nov/Dec

Resolved: The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Dec Topic Area: Federal Drug Policy

Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.

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

Topics – LD Nov/Dec ’16, PF Nov ’16

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Nov/Dec

Resolved: The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

This one has to do with holding police officers responsible for their professional behavior, specifically when that results in injury or death to civilians with whom they interact. The articles I have on this aren’t in the Extemp folders, though they are in Dropbox; I’ll post a link to what I have soon.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Nov Topic Area: Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0)

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

Ah, privacy again. Two key things to consider: 1.) If you have a commercial device that’s connected to the Internet (be it a household device or your vehicle), what does the company providing the device/software do with the information it collects about your usage habits? (The purpose of business is to make a profit, and the methods of doing that aren’t always moral – see: Wells-Fargo phantom accounts.) 2.) Connecting something to the Internet pretty much guarantees it can be hacked. What threat does that pose not only to your privacy, but also to your safety? Keep in mind that we already make these trade-offs with our present on-line activities. Bruce Schneier’s book Data and Goliath discusses what’s done with the data, once collected. I get PC World newsletters daily (legacy of an old tech job), and they have numerous articles on both IoT devices and internet security.

Topic recap:

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.

See the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles – look for the China subfolder.

And, from a recent email to the coaches in my state:

Here are the Novice Policy (CX) Case Areas as set by the NFHS. 
A number of tournaments use these as the case areas for novice and/or JV Policy (CX) divisions. Be sure to always carefully read the tournament invitations. 

2016-2017 NFHS Policy Debate Novice Cases for China

  1. Cooperation with China in Outer Space
  2. Signing a Bilateral Investment Treaty With China
  3. A grand bargain on Taiwan: Repealing the Taiwan Relations Act in exchange for Chinese concessions in the South China Sea
  4. Eliminating the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Installations in East Asia in exchange for China’s assistance in stopping North Korean nuclearization.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct Topic Area: U.S. Constitution

Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.

I do have an Education subfolder in both the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folder (links above, under the CX resolution). The resolution would seem to be as much about the adult/juvenile distinction as the question of probable cause.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct

Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.

In the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folders, look for both the Nukes and Energy Independence subfolders. If global warming is as serious a problem as scientists say it is, the nuclear power provides the energy on which we depend without carbon emissions. On the other hand, nuclear power leaves us with some serious (and seemingly eternal) waste disposal issues. Nuclear plant costs can be extreme, and the risk of terrorists compromising the plants or a plant’s fuel may also be factors. (Footnote: you can get a great deal on a partially-built plant in Alabama right now – really!)

LD is value debate – should you argue this resolution from a strictly value standpoint, or would a real-world approach be more appropriate?

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Novice Topic

Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

More on this one later. In my state, with novice tournaments in October and varsity not beginning until November, this may be the only LD topic we see.

Topics – CX (’16-’17), PF (Sep/Oct ’16), LD (Sep/Oct ’16 and Novice)

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.

See the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles – look for the China subfolder.

And, from a recent email to the coaches in my state:

Here are the Novice Policy (CX) Case Areas as set by the NFHS. 
A number of tournaments use these as the case areas for novice and/or JV Policy (CX) divisions. Be sure to always carefully read the tournament invitations. 

2016-2017 NFHS Policy Debate Novice Cases for China

  1. Cooperation with China in Outer Space
  2. Signing a Bilateral Investment Treaty With China
  3. A grand bargain on Taiwan: Repealing the Taiwan Relations Act in exchange for Chinese concessions in the South China Sea
  4. Eliminating the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Installations in East Asia in exchange for China’s assistance in stopping North Korean nuclearization.

 

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct Topic Area: U.S. Constitution

Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.

I do have an Education subfolder in both the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folder (links above, under the CX resolution). The resolution would seem to be as much about the adult/juvenile distinction as the question of probable cause.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct

Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.

In the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folders, look for both the Nukes and Energy Independence subfolders. If global warming is as serious a problem as scientists say it is, the nuclear power provides the energy on which we depend without carbon emissions. On the other hand, nuclear power leaves us with some serious (and seemingly eternal) waste disposal issues. Nuclear plant costs can be extreme, and the risk of terrorists compromising the plants or a plant’s fuel may also be factors. (Footnote: you can get a great deal on a partially-built plant in Alabama right now – really!)

LD is value debate – should you argue this resolution from a strictly value standpoint, or would a real-world approach be more appropriate?

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Novice Topic

Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

More on this one later. In my state, with novice tournaments in October and varsity not beginning until November, this may be the only LD topic we see.

Topics for Nationals! – PF and LD

PF:

2016 Nationals PF Topic Area: Election Process

Resolved: On balance, a one-day national primary would be more beneficial for the United States than our current presidential primary process.

Hit the Extemp Files and look for the Elections folder. The catch right now is that, while there have been some articles on the primary process, they’re getting buried by the overwhelming number of articles on the specific candidates and primaries. I’ll pull and post what I can find specifically on primaries in the near future, as well as some thoughts on the topic.

A larger Elections folder, from which the one in the Extemp Files is derived, exists in Dropbox (I have a Government folder for teachers), and I’ll get a link to it up shortly.

Ponder: if you had a single-day primary, would you have to have some sort of ranked voting (listing the order in which you favored the slate of candidates, passing your vote on to your next choice if your earlier choice was eliminated) so that one person would emerge as the consensus pick? Would you have a run-off of the top two candidates if no one received a majority of votes, or could a candidate receiving a plurality of votes get the nomination?

LD:

2016 Nationals Topic:

Resolved: Immigration ought to be recognized as a human right.

Look for past posts on the Nov. ’15 PF topic on migrants and the refugee crisis – several articles posted then will apply to this topic. Some came from the Extemp Files folders on the EU and specific countries, others can be found in the Immigration – US folder. The Extemp Backfiles link will take you to earlier articles, though I’d recommend starting with the Immigration – US folder over other folders, since the crisis elsewhere has mostly been since 2015 began (exception: Syrian refugees in neighboring countries).

The basic question at the root of pretty much any human rights discussion is whether we have human rights simply because we exist (as human beings), or only because others with more power grant us rights (often only a subset of the spectrum of human rights). Then consider why people become immigrants; this goes back to the push factors and pull factors you should have encountered in your U.S. History course(s). Refugees fleeing violence that threatens their existence would seem to have a pretty strong case – but what about climate or economic refugees? Is fleeing a particular type of political system that narrows your rights (see: same-sex attraction, or religious rules) enough to justify immigration as a human right?

When we debated the CX immigration topic back in the 1990s, one point made at the time was that immigration was acceptable only if it met two conditions: 1.) It was good for the individual immigrating, and 2.) It was good for the country to which that person immigrated. How does this view pay into the resolution’s wording?

Topic recap:

Cross-Examination Policy Debate  2015-2016 topic:
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.

After judging Districts, State, and NatQuals, one of my key observations is that teams aren’t keeping current. Check the Terrorism-Surveillance folder in the Extemp Files for the latest articles.

Cross-Examination 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.

Both the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have extensive China folders. Debate camps start soon – start reading! I’ll post specific articles later.

Topics – PF Apr ’16 – Income inequality

First of the month, so next month’s PF topic is out. In my area this will apply only to those NFL/NSDA districts who have NatQuals in April (two, I think). The rest of us will be done by then.

2016 April PF Topic Area: Income Inequality
Resolved: To alleviate income inequality in the United States, increased spending on public infrastructure should be prioritized over increased spending on means-tested welfare programs.

Hit the Extemp Files, and look for the Economic Crisis – US and the Poverty folders. Infrastructure info will be in the first one, means-tested welfare should be in the second one (and some relevant articles might be in both).

The topic wording is a bit odd. Income inequality usually has to do with how much the top 10%/1%/0.1% earn (income, not wealth, and definitely not me) compared to the rest of us. Either option in the resolution seems to assume that the power of the government will be used to redistribute income; the choice seems to be one of work vs. direct grants (so to speak). But welfare usually targets poverty and not the structural reasons for income inequality, and infrastructure needs, while supposedly ‘shovel-ready’ (short implementation times) seems to be an odd, or oddly specific, choice for workfare. Both seem to dodge the role of people already working but who have stagnant wages (productivity gains for something like 20+ years haven’t been passed along), or who are underemployed. (Economics is rarely/never simple.)

Current topic recap:

2016 March PF Topic Area: East Asia
Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

2016 March/April LD Topic
Resolved: The United States ought to promote democracy in the Middle East.

Cross-Examination Policy Debate  2015-2016 topic
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.

Cross-Examination 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.