Jay Bullock (3-0)

Drucilla B. Blood (0-1)

Current Battle: Election 2004

Keep dinosaurs extinct, help The Chairman upgrade his PI computer:

Dan Champion (1-0)

Vinod Valloppillil (1-1)

Blitz Battle Winners
Mike Pridemore
(BB #1)
Mustang Bobby
(BB #3)
Michael Spires (BB #4 & #5)
Weepboy (BB #7 & #9)
Pineapple Girl (BB #8)
Former Challengers
Ara Rubyan of E Pluribus Unum
Pineapple Girl of Politics at Pineapple Girl
Ralph Stefan of Ralph's Garage
Former Iron Bloggers
Robin Pratt (1-0)

The Agonist
Eric Alterman
BOP News
Juan Cole
Daily Kos
Brad DeLong
Emerging Democratic Majority
Steve Gilliard
The Hamster
Lean Left
Left OverAnger
Liberal Oasis
Lucifer's Condiments
The Moderate Voice
Musing's Musings
NDN Blog
Nightmares For Sale
Pacific Views
Talk Left
Talking Points Memo
Tom Tomorrow


04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004   05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004   05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004   05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004   05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004   05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004   06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004   06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004   06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004   06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004   07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004   07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004   07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004   07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004   08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004   08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004   08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004   08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004   08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004   09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004   09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004   09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004   09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004   10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004   10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004  

Friday, July 02, 2004

100th Post!

With this post, Iron Blog is now 100 posts old!

We have filled our vacancy upon the dais of Iron Bloggers, and new battles will begin Sunday, with our first all-female battle, so you'll want to stick around. Also, the winners of this week's Blitz Battles will be announced Sunday, and their names as well as our first 2 BB winners will be added to the Left and Right columns. Blitz Battle Medical Marijuana and Blitz Battle War on Terror are just getting started, so you still have a chance to join in and see your name in lights.

Thank you to all our dedicated readers and supporters for your devotion in these early days, and we hope to bring you more great reading in the future.


The Chairman


Introducing Iron Blogger Green, Drucilla Blood!

Drucilla Blood of drublood has been selected to claim the mantle of Iron Blogger Green. A mother, activist and blogger extraordinaire, I am very pleased to have her join the ranks of Iron Bloggers and am confident she will serve with distinction. Everyone, give Dru a good, warm Iron Blog welcome!


Blitz Battle Kreig, or Blitz WoT:

In the modern world today, we see a return to global conflict, even if it isn't as intense or as costly as before. However, with the advent of Mass-Casualty causing weapons proliferating to smaller and more unstable countries and parties, terrorists are now a threat not to be taken lightly.

Over the past 40 years (most notably,) organized terrorist groups and criminal masterminds have built war machines that have a global reach, and command a decent amount of money and arms. The main factor in fueling the fires of contempt and increasing membership is the literal translation of the Koran (yes, I have a copy) and impressing hate upon members of their society through mosque attendance and through the media. Their culture is one that holds people back based on outdated ideas of inferiority, and is strictly traditional. Judgements are quick, and punishments are severe. Tolerance and acceptance as we know it is nearly non-existent.

America on the other hand, has been busy also. In the last 40 years, their main adversary has dissolved, and the economy is the strongest and largest in the world. Not to mention it's armed forces, who also have a global reach, and are nearly unmatched in the air, land and sea. However, America is pluralistic, and very liberal compared to the theocracies of the former party in this discussion. There are some who believe that war in this era is unjustified, and vocalize their greivances very loudly. Hollywood actors, common individuals and politicians alike have all voiced and taken steps to end war. However, rhetoric and intent has not changed from the theocracies, and "Jihadistan" (literally "land of jihad") seems unwilling to cease military action should the United States do so. The conflict is over something other than military provocation in and of itself.

The conflict comes in the driving ideologies of each.

Eventually, co-existence will become impossible as each set of ideologies expands. My questions are:

What are the consequences of the defeat of either side? If the United States pulls out of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, will terrorism subside? Why? Why not? Is peace impossible today? Does the fate of the human race depend on it?

if you need them, here are some suras to keep in mind (from the Koran.)

posted by Chris from NH
(if it wasn't obvious before ;))

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Blitz Battle - Pot Rx

Here's another quickie tossed off before I hit the sack tonight. When I wake up, I want to read some serious snark and partisanship in the comments . . .

If memory serves me right, the House of Representatives is slated to take up the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, a bill that would stop John Ashcroft's Justice Department from spending any money to arrest, harrass, or prosecute people who use medical marijuana in states where voters have passed referenda to make it legal, such as California or Colorado.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the bill is bi-partisan, and 152 House members voted for a similar amendment last time around.

Should states' rights prevail here, or do the Feds have an interest in stopping all marijuana trafficking, voter-approved or not? Should Justice be spending millions on enforcement in medical marijuana situations, or do they have better things to do with taxpayer money? This is a very narrow amendment, and we should probably try to stick to the merits of just this one bill. But if you want to go further afield, I suppose you may . . .

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Blitz Battle - Battle Economy!

The Fed is set to jack up the rates for the first time in four years.

Not so long ago, it looked like Bush's strength would be Iraq and his weakness would be the economy.

Now? Now, it looks like Iraq is Bush's Achilles Heel and the economy might be enough to save him.

Is the economy a winner? How long can Kerry run on "The Economy Sucks" when all indicators say the last several months of growth are not just a glitch? How important is the Fed's move?

Battle on!

-Submitted by Big Dan

Monday, June 28, 2004

Blitz battle - Battle Truth!

Since we have honor and dignity down, I thought I'd scratch the itch that REALLY bugs me... truth. Perhaps this is grounds for more of a discussion than a debate, but let us see.

How much deception in politics is morally justified? Are you really saying YOUR candidate is the only one not lying?

Since I can remember, the government has been lying to us, or at least covering parts of the truth, at least partially for our own good. In these days of embedded reporters, that's becoming more difficult, but at least part of the role of the President has been to hide the dirty little secrets and tradeoffs that are part and parcel of governing on such a massive scale.

On a more specific level, I have recently pointed out how liberals tend to use the phrase "religious right" to describe what they would have us believe is an overwhelming majority in our country: Christian fundamentalists who want to march jack-booted into Washington and force us all to obey laws taken directly from the Bible. There are Christian fundamentalists of this description out there, of course, but their numbers are far fewer than liberals would have us believe. The term "religious right" then becomes, for the sake of the argument, anyone who ever voted against abortion, or even anyone who ever voted Republican. It is a term used to demonize, to deflect away from the issues at hand.

These lies and deceptions abound… even in the way a group names itself. Look at the abortion issue, for instance. I have found that most of my Republican brethren who call themselves “Pro-life” are also in favor of wars, guns in the streets and the death penalty, all of which aren’t generally conducive to actually LIVING. The very term “Pro-life” is a deflection of truth for moral high ground.

“Pro-choice” isn’t any better. Do you know many “Pro-choicers,” who while preaching a woman’s right to do with her body what she will, also support legalizing crack cocaine and prostitution? Wouldn’t someone in favor of a woman’s choice also want those things?

Frankly, the liberal blogs I read all boil down to one basic argument: Bush (et al) lies. The conservative blogs do the same: Kerry (et al) lies. I used to think everyone was just reading lies to be able to attack those with different ideologies, but now I think it’s at least a 50-50 ratio of falsely-perceived lies to actual lies. I am convinced all the major political players these days are liars of the highest order, and had to be to get where they are.

Is it even possible in today’s harsh, two-party environment (where truth is often lost somewhere in between the extremes we argue for) to succeed politically without being a liar, at least on some level? How important is honesty in a candidate anymore, when political power and special interest money seems to be what is driving the country? Wouldn’t honesty be a ticket to Losersville in today’s political arena?

Does, to put it bluntly, character count?

Do you Dems really think Kerry and Co. are the only honest ones out there? How about you Bushies? Your blogs seem to completely demonize one group while elevating the others to angelic status.. do you really see the world that way?

Submitted by: Sparky.

Er.. Big Dan, IB Slayer (be glad I didn't go with Battle Coke vs. Pepsi)


Blitz Battle - Honor and Dignity

(Here's a quickie to get us started!)

If memory serves me right, George W. Bush promised in his 2000 campaign for president that his administration would "change the tone" in Washington. After eight arduous years of the worst partisan bickering ever during Clinton's administration, it seemed almost impossible for the "tone" to do anything but get better. The voters saw fit to elect Bush, partly, I believe, because they bought his line about wanting to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House.

Yet in the three-plus years this administration has held the reins of power, the tone has not changed one bit, and, in fact, seems much, much, worse. Take, for example, the way this administration treats its critics, even critics from its own party. In the summer of 2001, before 9/11 gave Bush license in the public eye to do whatever he wished, Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party after the White House and Senate Republicans promised to make him pay for not toeing the line on tax cuts.

Since then, every single Republican critic of the Bush administration--from Paul O'Neil to Richard Clarke--has been smeared in true slimeball fashion. That's nothing compared to the tactics the administration (and the campaign) can sink to against its Democratic opponents, though.

Just this past week, the official Bush-Cheney election site has distributed a commercial to millions of email users that juxtaposes prominent Bush critics with images of Hitler taken from disavowed entries from MoveOn.org's "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest. And on the floor of the Senate last week, Dick "Big Time" Cheney dropped the f-bomb on the other Vermont Senator, Patrick Leahy, in what was probably the most concise statement of the administrations attitude toward its critics we have seen yet.

And should we talk about how this administration treats the press? Last week in Ireland, Bush got snippy with an Irish reporter for asking follow-up questions. (This is after knowing three days in advance what the interview questions would be--they could have prepared something beyond the evasive half-answers U.S. journalists are often satisfied with.) This is not the first time Bush has treated the press corps with disdain, either.

Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof says it well:
So it's not news that politics is a tough business--there's more honor and dignity in a New Mexico cockfight--but what is amusing to me is that we keep expecting it to get better and rise above this level of discourse. The Democrats are just as good as the Republicans at playing hardball. The difference with most Democrats, though, is that they don't hide behind a veil of virtuosity, depicting themselves as the Knights of the Round Table who are bound to some nebulous standard of "honor and dignity," whatever that is. That's why it's so funny to hear George W. Bush, running on a campaign sworn to restore this lost honor, refer to a reporter as a "major league asshole," or to find out that one of their leading scolds against vice, William Bennett, is a whale in Vegas and, according to some rumors, is into a leather dominatrix. This is the party of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and Bob Barr, who collectively have more ex-wives than Henry VIII, pushing the Defense of Marriage Act. (It makes you wonder whose marriage they're defending.) It's not the sins that are funny--hell, everyone has their flaws--it's the flaming hypocrisy of it that makes you wonder if they are either incredibly cynical about the mental capacity of the electorate, or we really are that shallow and sheeplike to fall for their line.
So the questions almost write themselves: Is not having sex in the Oval Office (though the room that Monica and Bill used now apparently holds Bush's conquests!) enough to "change the tone"? Are Republicans truly more hypocritical than Democrats in their virtue? Should Bush and Cheney be held accountable for their very public petulance and profanity? Is John Kerry--who has been known to drop the f-bomb himself a better choice for restoring "honor and dignity" to the White House?

I say the hypocrisy is worse--it shows a deeper pathology than a mere tendency to swear in public. The smears, the hissy fits toward the press, and the unapologetic refusal to engage in bipartisanship must end, and end soon. I think it's time to change the tone for real--and change the occupants of the White House while we're at it.

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Sunday, June 27, 2004

A Note From The Chairman


It is with a heavy heart and fond memories that I must announce that we have lost an Iron Blogger. Iron Blogger Green, Robin Pratt has informed me that, due to issues in his offline life, he does not have the time or energy to fulfill the duties of Iron Blogger. I think I speak for everyone when I wholeheartedly thank Robin for his time and energy here - a more compassionate, kind human being is hard to find. He has been added on the Left to the Former Iron Bloggers roll, and his Left Over Anger link will remain on my blogroll. I wish Robin luck, and welcome his presence as a Judge or Challenger at any time in the future he wishes to return.

I also must take a moment to once again ask that our Left-leaning readers, of which there are many, consider stepping forward as Judges or Challengers. At present, we are down to just 3 Lefty Judges. In the bi-partisan spirit of this site, I ask all of you to help us find more talented, open-minded people to make Iron Blog the best it can be.

Iron Blog will be taking a week off as we line up more Judges, Challengers, and fill a vacancy among our Iron Bloggers. That does not mean you shouldn't continue to tune in and see what's going on, as I have a few things in store to fill the gap.

First, I'm opening the blog to our 3 current Iron Bloggers to post on anything they like, or to cross-post from their own blogs.

Second, I'm opening up the Challenger login to all 6 former Challengers to do the same, sharing their wit and wealth of knowledge with our readers. I only ask that each of you limit yourself to 1 post a day.

Third, I am bringing back the Blitz Battles for new rounds, but with a twist. Each Iron Blogger or former Challenger's post will be a Blitz Battle in the comments, and the IB or Challenger who made the post will decide after 24 hours who the winner is. This is your chance to really mix things up and see whose spleen vents supreme.

I hope you will enjoy these activities, and thank you for your support of Iron Blog in our early, growing stages.


The Chairman

Battle School Vouchers - Verdict

As with our first battle, two friendly rivals have done honorable battle and represented themselves and their positions with dignity and class. This, even more than last battle, was our closest yet - no Judge scored it by more than a 2 point difference between the two combatants.

And now, the Verdict.
A school teacher and his arch nemesis, duking it out over school vouchers Iron Blog style. Challenger Owen makes an impassioned case for parental rights and education, but the Iron Blogger fights back with statistics and horror stories from ground zero of the school system.

Who takes it?

Whose spleen vents supreme?

Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock!

It's the Iron Blogger! Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock squeezes through with a narrow victory and restores the honor of the Iron Bloggers! Let's take a look at the scorecards.

Judge Pineapple Girl scores it 65-64 for the Iron Blogger
The Chairman scores it 63-62 for the Iron Blogger
And Judge Big Dan scores it 70-68 for Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock.

What a battle!

A special thanks from The Chairman to Big Dan and Pineapple Girl for filling in on short notice.


Battle School Vouchers - Judges' Comments

The Closing Arguments are up, the cases are closed, Battle School Vouchers is ovah!

On the panel this week:

From the Left, Pineapple Girl from Politics at Pineapple Girl

From the Right, Big Dan of God In The Machine

And sitting in from the Center, The Chairman.

Let's see what the Judges have to say.

Opening Arguments

I felt this OA actually makes a case stronger than 8 points' worth. Yet, when push came to shove, I couldn't award more in the substance category because I didn't think the Challenger met the requirement of "[going] a good deal of the way to proving it." There was just not the evidence and backup for which I'd hoped, which led me to think, "Hope there's more to come." Philosophically, though, I was pleased to critically consider vouchers from the angle of the unalienable parental right to guide a child's education.

The Iron Blogger seems to mostly tell me what he's going to do in this Battle in the future, but I prefer it when a Combatant actually shows me. While I might have been lenient considering the real-life situation demanding the IB's time, it is balanced by the clear advantage that he had in having already had this same discussion with the same opponent in the same medium just a few days prior -- the Iron Blogger not only knew what the Challenger's position would be, but even accurately predicted how the Challenger would bring it (" a broad philosophical argument without reference"). I didn't feel quite as clearly able to define the Iron Blogger's actual position as I should be -- although I'm pretty sure it's that "I oppose school vouchers because the execution has failed miserably." If so, this might prove to be a pretty strong case strategically, because it's usually difficult for an advocate of a conservative/Republican issue to passionately and disingenuously defend a broken situation with "let's just keep going, and throwing more government money at the problem."
I felt that, while the Challenger had a worthy point, he did himself great disservice by wandering and being vague at times. His mention of his conservative wife opposing vouchers failed to help him in any way, and while in a later post he explains this in a positive light, it still further undermines his case. I also found a few minor contradictions to be troubling as well. Perhaps what harms him the most in an otherwise strong post is his almost total lack of sources to provide evidence for his claim. This post lives too much in a vacuum.

A tight and concise case made by the Iron Blogger, while richly linked and sourced and more direct in its focus fails to lay out much of a position in its brevity. He gets to a point, but only one, and has little to say about it, as if his links are doing the talking. This post is the opposite end of the Challenger's - too colored by outside opinions and lacking in its own.
The challenger fails in the substance category in this first post. Admittedly, it is difficult when one doesn't know how one's opponent will argue a topic, but the challenger could have done more. What I see here is groundwork. There is a structure set up that shows how vouchers COULD work, but not WHY they should work. I can see from this opening post how the system would support vouchers, but I see no real impetus to do so. The post's structure was smooth and very readable. I felt like the challenger believed what he was saying. The structure made the trip very enjoyable, I just wish we had actually arrived somewhere when it was over. Bonus point for the Jefferson quote, but again, I would have liked more meat, more unique thought and more sourcing. Again, the challenger is well-spoken and crafts words in a way that is easy to understand. There was nothing punchy, nothing overly witty or clever, but more than adequate given the substance. The challenger's strength was the good work on the role of the State in education. The framework has been set for a strong argument which I hope to see in the first rebuttal.

The IB has a case here, but admittedly leaves it short due to time constraints. The concept of creating substance to rebut in the opening by quoting a prior discussion with the challenger was brilliant, but the IB didn't follow up on it. For instance, that quote left an opening to attack whether there is a strong reason to institute vouchers vs. the current system. The possibility was there to argue that the current system is fine and while vouchers might be nice they aren't necessary. This is the beginning of a great opening, but only the beginning. Well structured post that flows nicely. Again, however, the trip is less important in debate than the destination. Both opponents suffer from arena-building in their openings; they are creating a battleground but not yet attacking in sincerity. This felt like a cliffhanger - while the groundwork is strong, I needed to see more! One bonus point for drawing on his own experience and focusing the battle on the area he knows firsthand, making himself an irrefutable source. This was a strong piece of writing. I wanted to give more points based on the clear writing and communicating talent displayed, but again, I was left wanting more. I wish I could give more than 2 points for sourcing. Again, a strong educational post, but the brevity and unexplored areas kept me from awarding full points - at post's end, I knew where and how he would debate, just not WHAT.

First Rebuttals

As a rebuttal, this is outstanding. The Challenger opens by
highlighting the primary structural and content flaws in the Iron Blogger's Opening Argument, and then does a great job fisking in his remainder. Other than the one left-fielder that was the religious paragraph ("When public schools stop teaching kids to worship Gaia and such nonsense, then I will listen to their arguments more seriously" was needlessly inflammatory and actually a bit distracting -- it made me go back and re-examine the whole religion argument more closely, and the points weren't strong enough to override the salient fact: school vouchers do allow public monies to fund religious education. Better to have glossed past that then lifted the rock and examined it, when no one called for it.), the Challenger does a noteworthy job on many levels. Especially skilled were the return of the violence in schools point and the ambiguity fallacy of the testing exchange, for which I gave a bonus point, as well as for the actively rebutting.

Why is "why not" weak? The Iron Blogger tells me that he thinks it's weak, but doesn't tell me why he thinks it's weak -- well, he sort of does, later in the post... but he misses the opportunity to signpost me right up front. I didn't like the structure here. But, good job on rebutting the points on testing and the efficacy of vouchers outside Milwaukee. Bonus points for turning the "private schools are private" point back on the Challenger, and for the very active rebuttal in responding with examples and case studies from other cities and countries.
Here the Challenger goes farther in arguing his side and does a respectable job of laying out his argument with facts and supporting data, but he reaches too far for my tastes when he tries - intentionally or not - to play the race card by suggesting the Iron Blogger has played the race card. As with Holocaust references, this is a Chewbacca Defense in the Iron Blog canon. He leaves this post on a solid note and on stable ground, but he never truly turns the tables on his opponent, in my opinion.

The Iron Blogger has a very valid point when he notes that arguing the hypothetical and theoretical does no good in the real world. The Challenger is building his case on an ideal vouchers system, and the Iron Blogger rightly and damagingly points out that such a thing does not yet exist. I also liked how he turned the costs argument and facts back on his opponent. What this post suffers from is a bit of a rambling, absent-minded professor quality. I trust his actual classroom lectures are better structured and less long-winded than his blog posts.
This is an interesting case to judge. The challenger has nailed the IB on a lack of substance while covering a substantive lack of his own. He concentrates on the IB in this rebuttal to good effect but in doing so fails to produce any substantive reasons why vouchers are needed. It's not too late to pull this out, but if I don't see some defense of WHY we need vouchers in the first place, the challenger will be in trouble. Simply put, because something would be nice is not an argument for changing the system. His defense of vouchers 'doing no harm' is excellent work, but I need to see the good they do, as well. Structurally, the challenger goes point-by-point through the IB’s opening in seamless fashion. I gave 3 bonus points for taking on the IB's arguments directly and totally (despite not presenting arguments of his own) and 1 for putting the opponent on the defensive. This rebuttal put the IB on the defensive, but left his own 'argumentless flank exposed. Stylistically, this was a good read, but nothing strikingly so. Better use of sourcing, but to keep beating the dead horse, more arguments in favor of vouchers would have allowed for more sources. Full points for education as the challenger drew the opponent away from Milwaukee and pointed to some systems of which I had been unaware. The religion argument the challenger sets forth can be a winner here, depending on what the challenger does with it. The Gaia comment was NOT representative of the best way to use religion here, however. Even as a Baptist pastor, I am a fan of Gaia and of nature. Even if I was staunchly fundamentalist, I would still recognize that making fun of someone's religion, no matter how extreme, is disingenuous at the least.

I'm glad I'm not the conservative that has to respond after this rebuttal. The IB was right on target here and any quibbles are just that - quibbles. Substantively strong, this rebuttal provides two potentially winning arguments: the 'why not?' assertion and the inability to provide proof of a quality education in private schools' argument. Full points for substance (damn liberal!), particularly in pointing out the inability to trust parents alone to monitor quality, insufficiency of testing and the use of religious schools as even more private than private schools. The structure didn't turn me on but was nevertheless straightforward and easy to follow. Full bonus points for actively rebutting arguments, turning the opponent's points against him and leaving the challenger with a long row to hoe. IB has style. I want at him! Four of five points here. Educationally sound. Knowing little about this topic, I am in a good position to judge how educational these posts are. Like the challenger's first rebuttal, this one serves that purpose in outstanding fashion. Another rebuttal like this might be more than any challenger can contend against.

Second Rebuttals

Another outstanding rebuttal here, all around. Just one example: I personally am not one that loves a lot of data interpretation on blogs (for the same reasons I don't love too many opinion polls), and yet I can recognize when it is skillfully done in a way that will resonate with the average blog reader; the Challenger
does that when he returns the "turnovers in choice schools" data -- he manages to undercut the Iron Blogger's point while bolstering his own. Owen does that in several places in the 2R (accountability, state control, extortionate vs. wasteful spending), and while I don't agree with his ideology, there is no question that his technique is superior. The only area I found lacking was the paragraph on the NY study -- the Iron Blogger never tried to equate school vouchers and class size reduction, so noting that the two are dissimilar was much ado about nothing, and I found the sentence about the African-American children and their bright, shiny future to be a bit condescending. This was the one small spot on an otherwise tasty fruit.

The Iron Blogger fleshed things out here, and I have a better handle on where he's coming from here; he made good hay of some of the Challenger's factual missteps too. I gave bonus points for active-rebuttal and for turning around some of the Challenger's points. "Daewoo" - HA! Zestay! While I didn't know what to do with the Glass / Pitcher Analogy, the writing was great in the 2R.
I find that the Challenger is doing a better job of rebutting his opponent's arguments and turning them back on him, but he has for a third post in a row navigated himself into the corner of ideology over facts. His case is on very shaky ground now as he has yet to argue that vouchers are working now, instead merely suggesting they might possibly in some unspecified place and time if under the proper circumstances and with the right alignment of the planets, work. I could argue, for instance, that giving everyone cookies and milk before sleep would reduce violent crime in America, but if I can't show that it actually works, I'd never be taken seriously. That is the increasing danger the Challenger faces.

And true to that line of thought, the Iron Blogger correctly identifies this flaw in his opponent's arguments. He uses more facts, more links and more data to make his case and rebut the Challenger's points, almost daring him to show something more than 'at least it isn't worse' than public education. Strong sourcing and good points. Unfortunately, a long-winded and ultimately ineffective analogy eats up a large swath of the post and distracts from the point he's making rather than enhancing it.
The challenger's posts are each stronger than the last. In his best effort yet, the challenger earns high marks for substance. He manages to address the IB's two main thrusts ('why not' and 'no way to prove quality') effectively, at the very least putting the ball in the IB's court. If the challenger had failed to address both arguments here, he might have been lost. He also charges that the IB has not 'argued against vouchers,' which will at the very least put something else on the IB's radar screen. Still, while claiming not getting into religion too deeply is a good thing, it is clear to me that the religious argument can be a winner for the challenger - public schools teach subjects and create environments that are antithetical to, say, core Christian beliefs, so the argument that private education is needed to protect Christian children is a good one. I actually gave full bonus points here because the challenger tackled all the salient arguments of the IB, shifted the focus back to the IB and employed a very effective 'agreement' technique. Ironically, agreement can be one's strongest tool in a debate and by agreeing with much of what the IB says, the challenger narrows down the field to the areas in which he thinks he can win. I still wanted more in terms of sourcing. There were long spaces empty of sourcing where a link or two could have backed up his arguments. The challenger finally hits the deontological 'State's duty' assertion, but could have backed it up with links instead of leaving it an attackable opinion. My own opinion on vouchers was being formed exclusively by the IB until this post. While nothing is settled, the challenger gets full points for challenging my own thoughts and ideas on the topic. This rebuttal may have gone a long way into closing the gap between the two combatants, but a strong closing statement is still in order.

As you might expect from a teacher, the IB has done his homework, even checking up on his opponent's links and pointing out his misdirection to good effect. He bolsters his own arguments and sources while working to discredit the challenger's. I still think his 'why not?' argument could be a winner here, and I think he discards it too quickly. The challenger to this point has stated that the government should be/is required to allow all students quality educations (meaning they can get vouchers when the public schools don't meet their needs), but still hasn't shown WHY that is the state's job. The IB does, however, hammer home his second important claim, that there is no way of adequately monitoring/testing the quality of education provided at voucher schools. If the challenger can't find a way in his closing to address this point, the IB won't need the 'why not?' argument. Very fluid read, with 2 bonus points (of 3) for actively rebutting (most of) the challenger's arguments, 1 for turning the opponent's arguments against him and 1 for ending with the focus back on the challenger. Stylistically, I think the IB once again rushes through his potential here. He has demonstrated a flair for humor, wit and insight but allows himself to settle for a merely adequate stylistic piece here. I suspect he has talent at communication, but lets himself fall back on that skill at will without putting in the extra effort to make this rebuttal extraordinary. Those with a talent for wordsmithing can toss out 3-points-out-of-5 rebuttals in their sleep. Another link for which I have to register before reading. Grrr. Plenty of good links, but I'm not going to receive junk email for the rest of my life to confirm that the IB has a point here. Full points (no surprise here) for education, which has been the IB's strong suit all along, as he takes our hand and clearly illustrates the voucher situation.

Closing Arguments

I was disappointed in this closing. After some nice solid rebuttals
that really got me on board with the efficacy of a philosophical argument, which I had doubts about in the beginning, I felt like the Challenger threw me under the bus. This post was heavy on ideology-speak, and light on logical deductive reasoning. Owen's closing mostly served to remind me that his position has some huge holes, and that he didn't do much in the very end to fill them for me. I feel like, at the end of it all, the Challenger is hoping that throwing up the smokescreen of "yeah...but...but... public education is not 100% effective either" for a finale will suffice. That just doesn't fulfill me on the parental rights concept that I was sold in the beginning.

I was disappointed in this closing too. I wanted to see more from the Iron Blogger, a solid roundhouse, the blogging equivalent of the 1812 Overture. Instead, I got more rebuttal than anything: a summary of what he didn't like about his own arguments paired with what he didn't like about his opponent's. But, while it might not have been fireworks, the latter was succinct and strong. Do I wish that the Iron Blogger had spent more time calling the Challenger on the carpet for those logical failings prior to now? Of course -- but he can't introduce new material to explore those failings at this time, so I can at least appreciate being left with a pile of doubts about the weaknesses of the Challenger's case. The Iron Blogger received the extra point from me for taking strategic advantage of his position as the final poster, to send me away wondering if the Challenger met his own prima facie responsibility.
A solid close for the Challenger, summing up his case and bringing all the threads together at the end. He makes a smooth, fluid argument and ends on a high note, his best post of the battle. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, all he has to back up his strong words and interesting views is the milk and cookies argument. He has not given us any real reason to believe that vouchers work, just that they could.

Reading this post brings me great shame as it is by far the worst, weakest thing my Iron Blogger Democrat has ever posted. If the massive nosedive in points this post costs him ends up losing him the battle, he should be prepared to do the right thing for blog and party and honorably kill himself.
As it should be, the challenger's closing is his strongest effort yet. Given another rebuttal, he might be able to close the gap he set up in the openings and first rebuttal completely. Lots of good stuff here. The arguments that 100% is too high a standard and liberty of citizens is an argument FOR vouchers both help allay my two main charges against the challenger earlier on. He bypassed the religion issue (understandable in this day and age) which could have been a winner. No points taken off for not mentioning it, of course - I'm just saying it could have helped. The challenger uses the pitcher of water analogy for his own uses, which is noble on paper, but the IB's analogy was shaky and overdone to begin with. I would still have liked to see more to refute the IB's claims that private schools can get away without being monitored for quality education. Four of five bonus points given for reasons listed in the guide. This was also the most stylistic offering by the challenger, who got better as the debate ran along. Well written, offensive without the snark. The challenger ties up his case nicely here. He repackages his earlier arguments and gives himself his best chance to win given his opening and first two rebuttals.

Brevity is the soul of wit, however I was looking for more from the IB after the brilliant course of debate he had put together to this point. The IB takes a somewhat risky course in his final statements, focusing on hammering home the point that there is no way to prove quality education in private schools. His argument that the system can't be cleaned up enough to ensure quality education is a good one. The challenger said 100% efficiency of quality education in public schools is not reachable so we should provide for the kids we can. The IB turns that on its head to say that since making sure 100% of voucher schools provide good educations is an unreachable goal, the system can't work. The IB trusts that we would rather work on the public school system where we can monitor the educations of all students than hope without proof that the places we do send them do the job. Fortunately for the IB, that is the case even in this conservative judge's head. In any case, this nails down the IBs contention that private schools can't be sufficiently monitored, which has been the centerpiece of his argument. By making it the only piece of his closing, essentially, the IB puts all his eggs in one basket. While he may lose a point or two for not expanding his other claims, the basket he chooses is a winner. Structurally adequate; there wasn't much room to put in too much structure. Nothing to write home about stylistically, but having built a bit of a lead, the IB could get away with mailing it in here. Still, he hurt himself with this closing compared to his other posts.

Well, the Judges have spoken, and strong words from The Chairman for the Iron Blogger. If an Iron Blogger loses again on a weak closing, will we see our first vacancy upon the dais of Iron Bloggers? 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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