Monday, November 01, 2004
Battle Election 2004 - Verdict
I was harsh on both Combatants, but allow me to thank them once again for their hard work and dedication. To be fair, this debate was probably the best I've seen online about this Topic, and I only wish the media could learn a few things from us.
And now, the Verdict.
Two old friends and old foes squaring off in the first Iron Blog Election Battle. Former IB Republican Rosemary Esmay returns with her trademark snark and vitriol against the 'just the facts' style of undefeated IB Democrat Jay Bullock, the most successful Iron Blogger the site has seen.
Who takes it?
Whose spleen vents supreme?
Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock
It's the Iron Blogger! Jay Bullock pulls off the most narrow of victories over his rival, 50-47. Let's look at the round-by-round scores:
Opening Arguments goes to Jay, 12-9.
First Rebuttals goes even, 15-15.
Second Rebuttals goes even, 14-14.
Closing Arguments goes even, 9-9.
A draw in every round but the first! A great Battle and an excellent way to close this chapter of Iron Blog.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Yes, just one Judge this week, and that is me. I will give a round by round review of each Combatant's posts without the scores, then post the Verdict. After the Verdict, scores will be revealed.
But first, a few thoughts...
I want to thank Jay and Rose for their participation this week and throughout the history of Iron Blog. Their hard work and dedication makes what is about to follow that much more difficult for me, as I not only have to Judge them but critique their posts as well.
It isn't going to be pretty. So... here we go!
Short and simple, Rosemary lays out her basic premise for why she supports Bush. She gives us little to think about and few links to follow, and those she does aren't exactly strong, but it /is/ her Opening, she /was/ rushed (as she later said) and Openings were never her strongest point. She has a solid flow to her post, the structure is good though it lacks substance and she pretty much misses the opening to score Bonus Points. A so-so start that at least tells us where she's going.
The exact opposite of Rose's opening, Jay overloads us with substance that quite honestly destroys any real structure to the post. It's mostly a litany of why /not/ Bush, and when he gets to /why/ Kerry, he is - admittedly - rushed. There are some serious and some seriously damaging points in here, but it blows right past because there is just too much all at once. As with Rose, we know where he's going, but it takes him far too long to get there, missing many openings for Bonus Points. The links, many of which are good, are quite honestly /too/ many.
This is generally where Rosemary has always done her best work, and this one post is a perfect capsule of everything that is right and wrong with her style of argument. She simply destroys Jay when she points out that his Opening was more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry, and she scores more points when she picks away at Kerry's insurance plan. Vintage Rosemary. Unfortunately, she tries her best to shoot herself in the foot by first dragging up the Swift Boat story (note to Republicans: SWING VOTERS AND UNDECIDEDS COULD GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS. DROP IT.) and her rather vicious attacks at the man in general (also a HUGE turnoff to Indies like me). It is both completely unnecessary and actually detracts from what would have been an damning first rebuttal, costing her Style and Substance points from me as well as a ding in the Facts section of the scorecard. Luckily the rest of the post balances it out.
Once again, Jay is strong on the data and substance, but once again suffers from a structure and style deficit. There are a number of good rebuttals in here, such as pointing out that Rose simply dismissed the previous laundry list of Bush's weaknesses as 'Bush bashing'. She gave him a huge opening and he connects on that punch. He also points out the lack of 'non-partisanship' in her links, but unfortunately gets /more/ partisan in his own, this time. Jay's biggest difficulty seems to be picking a few key points to hammer away at with precision shots and an air-tight style, opting instead to throw an avalanche and hoping his opponents get buried under it all. Rose dismisses everything in one fell swoop, Jay writes a novel answering every single point.
Here, Rosemary goes in the wrong direction. Her biggest strength in Iron Blog Battles has been her rebuttal skills, but rather than come back at Jay and rebut him, she spends over half of her post doing what she should have done two posts ago in her Opening: laying out her case for Bush as strong on terror. When she finally does get back to the actual job of rebuttering as it was once called, she lands a few jabs but nothing worth writing home about. This post suffers from what she, perhaps unintentionally, sums up best as 'quickie rubattal time'.
And Jay gets back addressing every single point Rosemary has ever made since the age of ten. To be fair, he gets in a few good shots here, but some of his rebuttals amount to, "And your guy, too!". Instead of staying on one or two weak spots in Rose's case, he tries to address them all, and in doing so really hurts her on none of them. There's so much here I forgot what he just said as I read the next section.
The links on both sides are starting to suffer from ideology, now.
Making up for the fact that her Opening wasn't, and her Second Rebuttal was actually her Opening, Rosemary turns her Closing into a Second Rebuttal - with raisins! This, quite simply, closes nothing until the very end. It really is a Second Rebuttal, Take Two, and if not for the fact that the rules on bringing in new evidence in Closings were changed after she stepped down as Iron Blogger Republican, I'd auto-zero the entire thing. Since that went into effect after her tenure, I'll let it slide. The closing part of her Closing (the part where she puts an actual Closing Argument) is pretty good. Unfortunately it's only four paragraphs and a handful of one-liners long and only scratches the surface.
It's all or nothing, isn't it Jay? Three posts of Encyclopedia Bushanica, and we get a closing that amounts to, "Woooo Kerry! He's not Dean, but he's not Bush!" The use of the school imagery was both a plus and a minus: he points out that as a teacher he has /lots/ of kids to worry about, but commenting that he has other things to worry about in addition to them getting blown up didn't come across as well as I think he hoped. In the end it's a wash. The style and structure here is a bit better, perhaps because he finally does focus on just a few key issues. If only he can take that and build on it, he'd find a happy middle ground.
In the end, I think what bothers me about this Battle - though nowhere near the level the press, parties and campaigns do - is that I weep for the death of intellectual honesty. Instead of discussing HOW TO MAKE US SAFER, we're caught up in how big a piece of shrapnel was forty years ago and whether our President was pissing on cars in Alabama at that same point in time. WHO THE FUCK CARES?!
I want to know how Bush has made us safer at home other than he's killing terrorists in Iraq. IS he making us safer at home? Has he secured our ports? Our chemical factories? Our borders? Osama Bin Laden just made a cameo yesterday - forgive me if I wonder WHY THE FUCK HE IS STILL ALIVE?
I want to know how Kerry is going to solve Iraq. He's going to have a summit and ask really nicely? He's going to say, what? "Sorry the last guy fucked up. Wanna let me fix it?" It's not that easy, and pretending it is makes me feel like he thinks I'm stupid. HOW WILL YOU CHANGE THINGS?
There are tons of things I want to know, but all we get are spin and rhetoric, spin and rhetoric from /both/ sides.
A plague on both your houses.
Battle Election 2004 - Iron Blogger Democrat - Closing Statement
So here it is: My last closing for the Iron Blog as it exists now. I guess this is when I'm supposed to peel off the mask and reveal that I'm actually Atrios. Or Sydney Blumenthal. Or something. Sadly, I have no reveal saved up for this moment. It's just me, your humble Iron Blogger Democrat. Thanks again to the Chairman, for putting up with my crap and, I'm sure, following every link. And thanks to the Challenger, Rosemary Esmay, taking time out from her busy pregnancy to try the IB one more time.
I have a lot of respect for parents, even though I am not one and do not plan to be. And I can see how someone would consider herself a "security mom," as I imagine that a parental bond would be stronger than the love I have, for example, for my dog or my rabbit (hi, Maggie and Peter!).
I even have some similar nagging fears of my own, since I work in a school, and have not one or two, but 1500 kids who I know and care about. And I don't think there's a teacher in the country who--like parents--didn't feel personally for the children killed by terrorists in Beslan earlier this year.
But this election, at least in my mind, is about more than terror, about more than just making sure that the 1500 students at my school don't get blown up. I want to make sure that they have access to health care so they can grow up healthy. I want clean air for them to breathe so they can kick the asthma, and clean water for them to drink. I want their civil rights in tact, their schooling to be more than testing and test prep. I want affordable college options for them, and I want there to be jobs for my students when they graduate. I want, in short, John Kerry.
I began the Battle by laying out, as neatly as I could, some specific failures of George W. Bush and his administration. From the economy to the war on terror, I do not feel that we are better off than we were four years ago. While 9/11 changed many things, it did not change enough that we should abdicate our responsibility to our children and their future--not to mention the well-being of all of us right now.
Is John Kerry a perfect man, a perfect candidate? No. That's why I hitched my wagon to Howard Dean way back when. But in this Battle, I have tried to articulate, both in my Opening and throughout my rebuttals, that I believe John Kerry will do a good job of addressing many of the issues that Bush has done less than well.
Even the Challenger admits that she is displeased with much of Bush's agenda. That's not to say she would like Kerry's "liberal spending" any better, but when all is said and done, for purposes of this Battle, the Challenger has conceded pretty much all of the arguments save one, and that's terror.
However, I believe that I demonstrated that Bush's record on terror, in part because of problems in intelligence, but mostly because of Bush's out-dated state-terror world-view, is not all that much to crow about. Yes, Bush stands up straight and declares that he will not yield in his desire to take the fight to the terrorists. But we are not safer. And yes, the Bush administration and campaign try to make us fear what terrorists might do in John Kerry's America, but that is all they have. There is no record of accomplishments, no litany of success, no laurels to rest on. All they have left is to tear down Kerry's character and scare us into thinking we'll all die under his leadership.
I know I haven't changed the Challenger's mind, as I remain unpersuaded by her arguments. I probably haven't changed the minds of any of the other four or five regular readers here, either, nor, I'm guessing, has the Challenger. But I've made my case, and I believe I have done it well.
At the outset, I said that we have reached a moment in history where we will set the course we will follow for decades to come. I said that this election will decide who gets to chart that course. I've seen the course we are on now.
It's time to change course. It's time to elect John Kerry.
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat
Battle Election 2004 - Challenger - Closing Statement
I want to begin by thanking Jay for a most spirited battle. I especially liked reading his links. It isn't often that I get to read so much frothing leftwing bias without benefit of a rabies shot. Seriously, I haven't seen that much foam since the Latte machine exploded at my local Starbucks. Thanks Jay, it was really fun.
My closing is going to be two parts. The first part will address some things that IB Dem said in his second rebuttal that I disagree with and the second part will rap up my pro-Bush position.
IB Dem is voting for Kerry because he will not appoint far-right judges.
Far-right judges, oooh how scary. Talk about scare tactics. Bush isn't planning on using a litmus test to appoint judges he will only appoint those that are strict constructionists. That is much better than Kerry will do. This country is neither left nor right. The court needs to be balanced and the judges that will be leaving are conservative. They should not be replaced with far-left liberals. That would throw the court way out of balance. The court should represent the country not one ideology.
IB Dem is voting for Kerry because he will not subjugate science to politics;
ignore civil rights; enact a huge middle-class pay cut; engage in cronyism; and let Teresa get away with paying so little in taxes.
One at a time:
Subjugate science to politics ... ah, the environment. Well, he ain't that much better than Bush on this one. Libertarian Jane Galt
answers this one for me:
The Environment: Kerry wins by a hair here, but only a hair, because he supports moronic CAFE standards instead of sensible emissions taxes. He's made idiotic promises about getting to 20% of our energy from alternative fuels, a promise which is made as predictibly as the rising of the sun by presidential candidates, to little effect. Bush is better on nuclear energy, but not much. Kerry gets the bonus here because he cares more, though not a whole hell of a lot more, about the negative externalities of various economic activities, than does Bush. Warning to Dems, though: you almost lost this over his grovelling to the coal industry.
Ignore Civil Rights...Kos must've blown a load clear across the room when he reported this one, eh? Talk about assault weapons...
The gist of this charge is that Congress didn't act fast enough on voting so Bush is to blame. NCLB didn't address unequal education enough. Perhaps if the Dems hadn't been beholden to the Teacher's Unions then vouchers for the poorest of the poor, which a majority of African Americans support, would have had a chance. Bad Bush.
NOW is charging the Bush administration with cronyism? Hahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhaah
Middle Class Pay cut. Well if Nancy Pelosi says so ...
Seriously, I'd prefer a more non-partisan source rather than spin.
Racial profiling of visitors from Arab or Middle Eastern countries at airports and borders is bad. I know it isn't very PC but exactly how many 80-year-old Scottish grannies are trying to kill us again? Bad Bush for recognizing that a majority of terrorists happen to be Middle-Eastern or Arabic. You want him to catch them all before they enter the U.S. and kill us but we ain't allowed to look at them? How? Using psychics?
John Kerry won't let Teresa get away with paying little taxes? Yeah, okay. He had a chance to show us what it means to step up and he proved himself by paying the lower rate in Massachusetts
. Taxpayers are offered a choice in his state between the higher and lower bracket. He chose the lower one for himself. Do as I say not as I do must be his motto.
IB Dem also characterized me by saying that I am disgusted with Bush's domestic policy. Not true. I am disgusted with his spending on certain things but I know in my gut that Kerry will spend more and make things worse.
Things I like about Bush's domestic policy. I love NCLB. I love it especially because the Teacher's Unions hate it, so I know it's on the right track. I love his Faith-Based Initiative. I love his idea for Social Security reform and it is a hell of a lot better than Kerry's more of the same bullshit approach. I love the Tax Cut and since I personally benefited from it, it really helped my family a lot and I'm far from being rich. It's a good thing. The tax cuts not only stimulated the economy but also helped all of us when we needed it.
Weak on Terror
IB Dem claims that Iran endorsed Bush. Actually, some politician made a statement and that is turned into an endorsement of a country. The leader of Iran made no such claim, unlike the leader of the PLO did for Kerry and just the other day Osama Bin Laden did as well quoting parts of Michael Moore's ficumentary Fahrenheit 9/11. His video taped appearance read like DNC talking points. My favorite part was when Osama referred to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter... Okay, he didn't but that's the only thing he left out.
If Osama wants Kerry that speaks volumes and it doesn't suggest that Kerry will be a strong leader on Terror.
Our nation's security depends on strong, steadfast leadership. We need someone that will make a decision, stick to it and do what needs to be done. Bush is that man. In this time, in our life we need someone that isn't afraid to make hard choices. We don't need someone that change's his mind like a weathervane changes direction in a windstorm. That is Kerry. Kerry makes decisions based on what is good for his career. Bush makes choices based on what is good for all of us. Not some of us, all of us.
In WWII, we waited. If we had acted in 1937 to stop Hitler how many lives would have been saved. If FDR knew what was to come he would've acted sooner. We know what will come if we don't take the fight to them and we can't afford to just wait any longer. Waiting to be attacked is not a position that makes me feel safe.
The terrorists want to kill us. That is all they care about. They hate our freedom and us. They hate that I don't wear a burka and that I walk with husband not 10 paces behind him. There is no negotiating with them. WE die or THEY do and I damn well ain't prepared to die because we waited. Waiting may make Kerry and the pacifists feel better but not me. No more. I don't want his sympathy on my loss or yours. I want someone that will fight to prevent attacks. I don't want to wait for the next 9/11. I don't want to find out my son's school was invaded by killers because we didn't profile them.
Do you really?
Bush won't wait. He's proven that. He's proven over and over again that his word is his bond. He says what he means and we don't always like what he says but we know where he stands. I don't know where Kerry stands. I know what he says and I know that if he says something I don't like, all I have to do is wait a couple days and he'll change his mind. That isn't good enough for me. I need to KNOW what he will do. We can't afford to hope that he changes his mind to the right position at the right time. He was a staunch backer of Iraq until he was challenged by Howard Dean, then he flipped. Now he says it was the wrong war at the wrong time. He questions the decisions of soldiers in the field. Tommy Franks has called him out and still he persists with the Tora Bora nonsense. The generals fight the war and make the decisions on the ground. That is how it is done. The last time politicians did it was Vietnam and we all know how that turned out.
To paraphrase John Kerry, he is the wrong man at the wrong time.
We need stay the course and win, not cut and run and lose. With Bush we will the first, with Kerry the latter.
That is why I support the re-election of George W. Bush. He is the right man at the right time.
That is what this country needs.
Respectfully Submitted: Rosemary, the Queen of All Evil