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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Battle Patriotism - Judges' Comments

The closing arguments are up, the debate is done, the Battle is ovah!

On the panel for this battle:

On the Left, Joel C. of Nightmares for Sale and Stacie of The Vast Dairy State Conspiracy.

On the Right, Jheka of The Daily Blitz and Urthshu of Urthshu.

Let's see what the Judges have to say.

Opening Arguments


(Challenger) An expansive, pointed, rambling, sometimes confusing and always entertaining post from The Challenger. The wit on display- particularly in the opening and closing paragraphs- is magnificent and the sourcing and education is quite impressive. The Challenger offers up some very intriguing thoughts and does so in an engaging manner. There is no single point that comes across as groundbreaking, but the post as a whole strikes the reader as unique and insightful. There is also an underlying sense of weariness that works wonderfully. The Challenger covers a variety of points in a persuasive manner, though the points are at times somewhat unclear until she explicitly states them. This is really a fascinating opening argument.

(Iron Blogger) This is an excellent opening argument. Rosemary lays out clear definitions and arguments and does it in a way that is incredibly easy to follow. She makes strong and effective points. One can sense her ideological position, but she also allows flexibility and makes it clear that dissent exists and should be allowed to exist within patriotic individuals. The post could have been a little more entertaining, but the studied gravity works well in its own right. However, there are certainly some portions of her argument that are open to challenge and it will be interesting to see what The Challenger does with them.


(Challenger) What I liked: This post is well-supported and well-cited; it's clear The Challenger did her homework. She also writes with quite a bit of humor, which helps to overcome some of the post's shortcomings. And while I probably wouldn't pay to watch The Challenger mud-wrestle Iron Blogger Republican in flag bikinis to Lee Greenwood (no offense to either of these patriotic ladies), I appreciate the sentiment.

What I didn't: The structure of the post, though readable, became a bit precious over time. "This is the first part," etc., is something we're taught to avoid when we write five-paragraph essays with three-point theses. Also, The Challenger's description of "yes-men" and "minions," in the same paragraph as a definition of "ad-hominem attacks," struck me as a bit hypocritical - isn't calling your opponent names ad hominem in itself?

(Iron Blogger) What I liked: Iron Blogger Republican presents a lucid argument, clearly defining what patriotism means to her, and offering examples of patriotic dissent. At times, she ventures beyond the traditional Republican comfort zone and discusses what she considers patriotic and treasonous dissent. That she defines patriotism in terms of things she (presumably) disagrees with is impressive.

What I didn't: Overall, the Iron Blogger Republican's style and structure could use some work - she isn't jumping all over the place, but she does tend to leap from A to C to E - in a logical order, but with gaps. Also, attacking the audience doesn't help endear any writer to that audience; telling them they're wrong is acceptable, but telling them they failed history or had lousy teachers is unnecessary.


(Challenger) I don't have to agree with the arguments made to recognize that they were presented coherently and with a good mix of humor and thoughtfulness. After reading her opening, I know exactly what she will try to prove. One problem: The challenger says: "But regardless, a true act of treason is so rare these days that we can safely stipulate that it's a non-issue in the discussion." A stipulation requires agreement from both sides. Call me when Ms. Esmay agrees with this statement and I will look out my window for the other three horsemen of the apocalypse.

The summary sentences are a simply great touch. Other competitors should run, not walk, to steal this technique. Not only did they summarize the positions nicely, but they broke them up into manageable chunks in what was a very (very) long opening. Which is my one beef. It's too long and it's overlinked. Every time there's a link, a reader is likely to click on it. That breaks the rhetorical rhythm of the post. Sometimes that's necessary, but not always. Links to google search results and other information which is not central to the challenger's arguments could (and should) have been left out. A post full of little blue links looks impressive but, as with everything, there's a limit at which a good thing becomes too much of a good thing.

(Iron Blogger)
I note at the outset that the battle is "Patriotism" and not "American Patriotism." It's a distinction that both combatants have chosen to ignore. Too bad.

The IB does not attempt to define patriotism. Rather, she gives examples of what is not patriotic (i.e. supporting the killing of U.S. troops). The IB also makes quite a few assertions without evidentiary support (i.e. the definition of jingoism, assertion as to Hitler's motivations for starting WWII, assertions as to America's foreign policy goals, etc. (saying that we are acting for the right reasons doesn't make it so)). Essentially, the IB boils down a very big topic to "do you support our troops" as a litmus test for patriotism. That seems a tad simplistic to me. Also, the IB claims that we have to support the President in a time of war and then refers favorably to a woman who emphatically does not support the President. Which is it?

The "Rebecca" link lead to a very interesting read. Plenty of WWII and Revolutionary War education. Some interesting info in the links.


(Challenger) It was clear she had a position and outlined it. It made internal sense, even if it made no outward sense. It stood on it's own.

This was Satire, obviously, so I judged it that way.

She attempted to source quite a bit, but many of her links were either useless [Google searches are difficult to use to prove a point unless they're quite narrow] or actively countering her own argument.

(Iron Blogger) IB has made a good case for her POV, made a post that stands on its own, and addressed pitfalls. It works and is clear. An enjoyable, if short, read. It included drama without being ponderous. Links were informative and balanced. They were lighter than the bombardment from the Challenger, but more effective for that.

First Rebuttal


(Challenger) This is a fairly strong rebuttal, but the post feels almost too lost in the rebuttal stage. I realize that is supposed to be the focus, but I wish The Challenger would have rounded out the post with a bit more of her own beliefs. I do like the wit on display in the opening of the post and enjoyed the extended Patrick Henry quotation at the end. Also, I liked the way The Challenger used the IBR's own example in Sue to attack one of her positions. That was a nice twist.

(Iron Blogger) I had an issue with IBR claiming that The Challenger made a broad assertion that dissent was patriotic, as the quote she took from The Challenger's post simply did not say that. Aside from that one bothersome element, this is a very strong rebuttal. I felt Rosemary did an excellent job of both fleshing out and clarifying her arguments while also actively rebutting The Challenger's claims. Particularly, I liked IBR's focus on establishing that there really are certain behaviors that can be labeled as unpatriotic, as that seems to be a weakness in The Challenger's arguments. The post had great sourcing from a variety of strong sites. Furthermore, it was entertaining and kept my interest from beginning to end. A fine effort from Rosemary.


(Challenger) What I liked: Impressive use of the Patrick Henry quote to rebut the Iron Blogger. Strong, point-by-point dissection of the Iron Blogger's argument. She avoided personal attacks and stuck to the argument at hand, and showed an admirable economy of language.

What I didn't: The Challenger relied too heavily on dictionary definitions as citations for her positions, and veered too closely into "cute" territory this time. Emoticons, snark, and references such as "Iron Blogger MOTO" made the post enjoyable on a sophomoric level, but detracted from their overall quality.

(Iron Blogger) What I liked: The Iron Blogger made a very coherent argument in this post, pointing out the weaknesses-- and, especially, the errors, in the Challenger's opening statement and first rebuttal.

What I didn't: The Iron Blogger spends too much time attacking her opponent personally -- her youth, especially. Also, she relies too heavily on secondary sources, such as message boards and blogs, rather than the primary sources.


(Challenger) First, let me say: "Iron Blogger MOTO" ... that made me chuckle. The challenger makes a couple of major and, for her argument, fundamental assertions which are not supported and are not in any way obvious. The first is that Patriotism is an emotion. As she had done in her opening, the Challenger lets fly with the links but nowhere in her links could I find support for this assertion. ...This is important because it is from this unestablished premise that the next unsupported assertion flows: "It (patriotism) simply cannot be quantified." Now, the challenger may be right in saying that we cannot precisely, numerically establish the level of any particular person's level of patriotism. If that were her assertion, then I'd have little difficulty with it. However, her assertion goes quite a bit farther than that. She asserts that patriotism cannot be measured at all. Now, if you're going to tell me that I cannot, with perfect confidence, say that Pat Tillman and John McCain and my cats are (or were, in Tillman's case) more patriotic than Ted Rall and Michael Moore and Peter Arnett, well, you're going to have to prove it to me with something more than unsupported assertions.

With respect to the Challenger's attacks on the IB's arguments, once you get past the snark (and let me just say, there was too much snark, if only because these arguments are long enough as is and, with the links, take quite a bit of time to read ... I hope that, in the future, challengers and IBs can reign it in a bit and concentrate on the debate topics), she makes some very good points. The fact that Sue Niederer does not support the President is clear and undeniable and the Challenger was correct to point that out. If support for the President in a time of war is to be the measure of patriotism, as the IB suggests in her opening, she picked a very poor example of a dissenting patriot in poor Ms. Niederer. The full Patrick Henry quote is a very nice touch as well.

What happened to the summary sentences that I liked so much? If you have a good hook, stick with it. The challeger's best points (the actual rebuttal) were left for last while her weakest (and the snark) were at the beginning. Points for taking on the IB's arguments head on. No one can accuse Pineapple Girl of being contact-averse. Point for turning the IB's own argument back on her and point for focussing the argument back on the IB via the Patrick Henry quote.

(Iron Blogger) I was worried while reading this rebuttal that it would focus solely on the Challenger's opening and rebuttal and would not expand upon the IB's own opening, which was somewhat light on substance. Luckily, the IB does eventually get to expanding on and giving good examples for her argument in what can best be described as the "Jeff Foxworthy" section. The IB also gives numerous examples of what isn't patriotism. Frankly, it would have warmed my cold, shriveled heart to see a few examples of actual patriotism, rather than focusing on it's absence.

Nevertheless, the IB clarifies her position nicely and addresses the arguments made by the challenger thoroughly (though I bet she still regrets giving the Challenger the slow, fat pitch that was Sue Niederer). In any case, the IB does an excellent job of rebutting the Challenger's assertion that patriotism cannot be measured at all.

I have a complaint that applies to both the challenger and the IB. Every time there is a link included, the reader's rhythm is broken as he goes to check out the link. Every time. For that reason, links should be to something important and highly relevant. For the life of me, I don't see the benefit of repeatedly linking to the dictionary definitions of common words such as "love," "hate," "contempt," etc.

As a rebuttal, this was excellent. The IB fully addressed the points made in both the challenger's opening and 1st rebuttal (no small task) and even went after the difficult points made against her. She turned the challenger's arguments around several times with concrete examples and managed to end by throwing down the foxworthy gauntlet, leaving the ball in the challenger's court.

As I mentioned, the tone at the start was unpleasant and unpleasant to read. I wish that the IB had not risen to the bait. Luckily, it is largely absent from the balance of the IB's rebuttal. Otherwise, the style was very good and, aside from the unnecessary dictionary and Wikipedia examples, the links were helpful. The IB did a nice job of educating the reader. However, as I mentioned, in a debate about patriotism, I would have liked more examples of what patriotism is, rather on what it isn't.


(Challenger) The opening rambles & is unclear. What is she on about? Get to the point. It was less clear as it went on what she was trying to point out, although she had spots of logic in it. Too bad they didn't connect to much. She did try to rebut the IB's arguments, so I'll give her that.

(Style was) Rather tedious, I have to say.

One challenge was made- Are Liberty and freedom actually synonymous? From her links- almost so. But she started me into looking at it and figuring it out. They can be parsed, but the difference is subtle. One of her links would not load. I expected to see a link to the entirety of the PH speech, but she didn't do that, leading me to suspect a dodge here, since her point was to "read the whole speech" and to imply the IB was misleading through omission.

(Iron Blogger) Snarky and very coherent, it spoke to point and made a very tight case- there is nowhere the Challenger can go, since the IB painted her into a corner. Bonuses for: Turning the tables, active rebuts, turning points against the challenger.

Yay! She skewers the main thrust of the Challenger's argument right from the outset! And continues to savage the rebuttal! w00t!! This reminded of a particularly nasty Gwar video segment starring Corporal Punishment...! :-O

A decent, though not stellar educational value. I bookmarked one for later analysis on my own, perhaps to be used in the future for a post. She backed up every point and turned up the heat.

Second Rebuttal


(Challenger) The Challenger really hits the ball out of the park with this second rebuttal. She actively engages her combatant, taking her various points head on. She clarifies her positions and strengthens her position in doing so, all while addressing what IBR had to say about her opening argument and first rebuttal. Furthermore, she is able to deftly and wittily turn IBR's point about profanity back against her. She entertains throughout, links well, and offers up sources that provide quite a bit of background information about a couple of fascinating and important events. Truly a great post.

(Iron Blogger) Rosemary lets loose with an effective second rebuttal that counters many of The Challenger's points. She begins with a great tactic, once again bringing home her point of there being lines that can be drawn. Ultimately, the post boils down to rebuttals that often emphasize a simple and valid difference of opinion. Therefore, it would have been nice if the IBR had included a bit more of her own case in the post, much as she did right at the beginning. That would have helped to emphasize their differences and shed better light on which opinion is the more persuasive. Overall, this is certainly a good post but it could have been better with some stronger arguments for her case from Rosemary interspersed with the counters to The Challenger.


(Challenger) What I liked: Overall, this post is quite well done. Solid structure, and ample examples of turning the IB's own words against her. Pineapple Girl's style is (to borrow from the movie critics) Laugh-Out-Loud Funny�, and only occasionally delves into snark territory without good cause. She also seems to be declaring an end to the "girl-on-girl/catfight/mud-wrestling" references she started, which is good, as it was wearing thin.

What I didn�t: I have few quibbles with this post. It may have benefited from some speaking-to-her-point
sources on the Right (other than the Little Green Footballs reference), to balance out the use of the Left, but this is a minor point.

(Iron Blogger) What I liked: Strong structure; good use of the Challenger�s numbered points against her. She also put up a spirited defense of her previous sourcing and its bias. Rosemary�s writing, as always, is amusing and easy to read.

What I didn�t: The intro and conclusion are both weaker than we�ve seen from the Iron Blogger. The implicit comparison of NAMBLA members to people who veer from the �reasonable person standard� about patriotism doesn�t sit well with me. (Is there a Godwin�s Law for pedophelia?) More links, but fewer dictionary definitions, would have contributed to a stronger post.

(Challenger) The challenger reasserts her position that no one can judge another's patriotism in an objective fashion and that all judgments re: an individual's patriotism are nothing more than opinions.� Again, there is no objective support for this position beyond the Challenger's assertion.� I am completely, utterly unconvinced.

Let me be clear on this.� I am not criticizing the Challenger from having a position that I disagree with.� I am criticizing the Challenger for staking out what appears to me to be a very radical (in the non-political sense) and difficult position and then basing it on little more than her own assertions.� Whether she didn't prove it because she didn't make a sufficient effort or because it's impossible to prove, the fact remains that she didn't prove her central argument that opinions as to an individual's patriotism can not be objectively judges wrong or right.

The discussion regarding what constitutes violence and whether or not certain individuals have been attacked in the name of or for lack or patriotism seems, to me, to be an entirely off-topic tangent, unless we are arguing "is patriotism good," which does not appear to be the topic at all.� The Challenger's discussion of the Plame affair seems to be a symptom of the Bush-obsession discussed above.� The question before us regards the nature of patriotism, treason, etc.� While the Plame affair may (or may not) be illustrative of treason or lack of patriotism (a highly dubious proposition to be putting forth with respect to a case that remains under investigation), mere reference to it does little to advance the discussion or answer the questions that have been put forth.�

The second rebuttal was much longer than necessary, due in large part to some unnecessary tangents (how on earth did the Jehovah's Witnesses get dragged into this?).� Numbering the arguments was a nice touch, though. Points for addressing the IB's arguments.� The final line was rhetorically clever but the IB did not suggest that anyone who swears in anger is unpatriotic, as the Challenger seems to suggest.�

I was very happy to see the tone of the argument improve.� The Challenger is a very good writer looking for her inner editor (aren't we all?).� As I mentioned, the final line was rhetorically very clever, if not entirely on-point.� The sourcing was entirely adequate, if unspectacular.�

(Iron Blogger) I don't know.� Maybe two rebuttals is one too many.� The arguments appear to be losing steam as the participants go about covering old ground.� However, the Iron Blogger does make a very relevant point in discussing the Reasonable Person Standard.� Her answer to the Challenger's stipulation challenge is also, generally, on point (though, as discussed below in the "sourcing" section, I have a MAJOR problem with one of�the links used to drive this point home�and a smaller problem with the other).� Unfortunately, this debate went off on some very strange tangents and, maybe inevitably, the IB follows it there (is smashing up a mosque violence?� Is it just vandalism?� What on earth does that have to do with the price of patriotic bananas?)The IB does score a good point by throwing the Challenger's words about Lt. Smash back at her (though, to be fair, Lt. Smash is about as much a Democrat as I am.� He is a self-described Independent who registered as a Democrat for strategic voting reasons)).

Well structured.� Numbers, bold face.� Really helped me focus after pages and pages of argument.� Now I've run out of things to say on this subject.� Yay for bold face.

A couple of points about sourcing.� First, the "reasonable person standard" link was very good.� However, if you're going to talk about Bull Conner, please give me a link that does more than mention him in passing half way down a long article.� Second, I really, really, really wish I didn't have the NAMBLA website URL floating around in my harddrive.� Man, I can't stress this enough.� I really, really wish�the IB�had found another way to make her point.� I'm sure that everyone who connected from their work computer also appreciate the link.� I can just see that conversation with the company IT guy (if they're lucky).� I also really, really don't think that that's a trackback that the Iron Blog wanted any part of.� Geez, Rosemary, what were you thinking? ��

(Challenger) Mostly a defensive, lawyerly rebuttal, this was a well-done post. In retrospect, probably the only defense she could have raised. Partisan on the links, in some respects, but well done.

(Iron Blogger) Mostly a rehash and expansion, with needed clarifications of disputed items. One hole cleared. It did clarify Rosemary's position better through expanding on it, but little new material was added.

Suffered mainly because she had to respond to so much dreck. When done, she moved onto a better close.

Sourced self added one or links; could have done more.

Closing Arguments

(Challenger) This is a strong and simple restatement of her argument, in which The Challenger stands by her original points. She does a better job, frankly, of summing up her statements in this closing argument than she did in her opening argument. Stripped of much of the detail and minutiae, she is able to state a stronger and less confusing case than was often present in her other posts. The style is sparse, but it largely works. The quotes at the end are nice, but perhaps unnecessary. It�s the first six paragraphs that really contain the meat of this closing argument. Though short, it holds up very well. Great job.

(Iron Blogger) This is certainly an eloquent post. Rosemary closes with a passionate argument that shoots more for strong narration and emotional appeal than it does for a rehash of the arguments. She returns to her original points, though I would have liked to see a greater focus on her strongest point�the ability and need to draw certain lines, rather than proclaiming patriotism an unquantifiable quality. The prose is very nice indeed and it leaves no doubt that Rosemary is a talented writer. I feel the post could have been stronger if it had done more to address The Challenger�s arguments, but I cannot deny that this is a very strong closing argument in its own right.

(Challenger) What I liked: Good use of quotes that simultaneously enlighten, but don�t introduce new points; they merely reaffirm her original argument that patriotism isn�t necessarily the same thing to everyone. An easy read, as usual.

What I didn�t: This post just didn�t shine; hence the midrange scores here. It spent too much time addressing the Iron Blogger, point by point, for it to stand on its own. Strange logic at times -- I�m not sure that silence equals agreement in every case, simply because it did so in one place. The quotes, while good, seemed tacked on, rather than organic.

(Iron Blogger) WHAT I LIKED: This was a stirring, well-organized post, full of optimism, and quite reflective of the Patriotism topic -- Rosemary�s proud to be an American, and one can see it in her writing. An excellent stand-alone post.

WHAT I DIDN�T: Only minimal references to earlier arguments, especially those of the Challenger. I felt Rosemary�s use of 9/11 was designed to hit someone emotionally, rather than logically, and while appealing to emotion is a valid debate technique, it didn�t fit as well with the other posts.

(Challenger) The substance is a bit sparse ... lots of quotes but not much from the Challenger herself.� Moreover, the argument that "questioning our leaders is definitely patriotic" remains unconvincing.� By that still unsupported logic, based on my previous writings, I am a French patriot (or would become one immediately upon moving to France).� I would also be a patriot if I moved to Palestine (for as many hours or minutes as I remained alive) based on my criticism of the leadership there.� Perhaps "definitely" is not the word that the Challenger wanted.� As to whether dissent can be patriotic, I think that it's clear that there is no disagreement on this point between the combatants.�

The Challenger described the Closing as an opportunity to "shore up" her argument and, being satisfied with it, appeared to go into the task a bit lackadaisically. In all, the Challenger didn't take the opportunity to highlight the many good points that she made in her closing.� Instead, she introduced new quotes and new articles.� Even with quotes, rebuttal is possible by showing the full context (as the challenger so skillfully did with the IB's Patrick Henry quote).� The articles (especially the Krugman article which was�quoted at length within the body of the closing) brought up all kinds of new issues.� If it was worth bringing up, it was worth bringing up earlier.� On the other hand, the Challenger does challenge the reader to think about the nature of patriotism and the IB's depiction of it and casts a shadow on the IB's argument by pointing out that the IB failed to rebut all of her points.

The Challenger is a terrific, witty writer.� That's part of the reason that I was disappointed that so much of her closing consisted of other people's words.� I would have liked to see more synergy with the rest of the debate and a stronger wrap up.� That being said, the Challenger didn't back off of her position and she did assertively restate her original thesis. All in all, a nice job by the Challenger.� Congratulations on a worthy effort.

(Iron Blogger) Really good Substance.� Clear, unambiguous restating of the IB position with many personal examples.� Ignoring the many tangents that the argument had strayed on the IB returns to the question:� What is patriotism.� And then she answers it again, unambiguously.� No one is left pondering what her point is.� Agree or disagree, her position is crystal clear.

Very well put together from a purely structural standpoint.� Direct, hard-hitting sentences.� Distinct paragraphs that make clear, distinct points.��

No new info - check.� There could have been more reference to the previous posts but the IB did do an outstanding job of restating her case.� With fresh, universally accessible examples.� The reader, who is addressed directly, is most certainly challenged, as is the Challenger's contention that Patriotism is an amorphous and unquatifiable emotion.� Stylictically, the best closing I've read on IB to date.� Should be saved as an example for future combatants.� Really, deserves its own soundtrack by Danny Elfman.�

The one major weakness of this closing is that, while it powerfully restates the IB's position, it does not make good use of the facts presented previously.� However, the IB does not abandon her earlier position and the closing is powerful and stands on its own merit.


(Challenger) Bonus for 'leaving doubt on the other's case'; PG wrapped up too quickly for my tastes and made statements that weren't entirely supported by the debate itself. The quotes were nice, but off-target: Nowhere was it argued that patriotism = liking the President, except in her own mind. She tried to guide the reader to judge things her way, which is manipulative, but then I guess thats a strategy. I didn't feel the Quotes backed up her assertions in any major way, and the remainder were overtly partisan. She reaffirmed her stand on the topic that was not being challenged by the IB, so a point was garnered there, although it must be said to be an unusual circumstance.

(Iron Blogger) Nothing new introduced, but a little 'preaching to the choir' going on. She did, however, more clearly & simply differentiate her tolerances & reactions to godd & bad patriotism. Not bad, just not really good. Stuck by original points.

The Judges have spoken, only a short time until the verdict is announced.

Stay tuned!

Blitz Battle Winners
Chris in NH (BB #2)
Big Dan (BB #6)
Former Challengers
Jimmie Bisse Jr. of The Sundries Shack
Chris of World Inquiry
Dean Esmay of Dean's World
Big Dan of God In The Machine
Owen of Boots and Sabers
Frank LoPinto of Cool Blue Blog
Bryan S of Arguing With Signposts
Ralph Stefan of Ralph's Garage
Former Iron Bloggers
Rosemary Esmay (2-1)

The Agitator
American RealPolitik
Asymmetrical Information
Tim Blair
John Cole
The Common Virtue
Crow Blog
The Daily Blitz
Ben Domenech
Dan Drezner
Gerbera Tetra
Hugh Hewitt
Sebastian Holsclaw
Kaus Files
The Moderate Voice
Queen of All Evil
Right Wing News
John Scalzi
Donald Sensing
Matt Stinson
Sgt. Stryker
Andrew Sullivan
Transterrestrial Musings
USS Clueless
Matt Welch
Winds of Change


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