Trivium Pursuit

Homeschool Speech and Debate Discussion Loop 5

Archives Page Five


Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998

I am proud to announce the Alexandria Home School Debate Tournament on October 17 was a great success. We had seven debaters traveling from all over Minnesota, ranging from Warroad to Willmar! We were delighted to see interested enthusiasts come and observe to see what all this debate "stuff" is all about.

As Minnesota's first home school debate tournament, we seized the opportunity of being "top-heavy" with observers by hosting two workshops that took place during the first two debate rounds. These workshops left the pioneer-debaters free from a nerve-wrecking audience for their first two rounds, and it allowed the observers to learn and study what debate had too offer.

The items discussed were "How to write and affirmative and negative case," "Cross-examinations," and "Researching." A packet was provided for home schoolers to bring back to their home school contact groups.

These debaters were truly "pioneers"! Most of them never even attended a speech or debate tournament, let alone compete in one. This was, to their credit, a gambling risk for them.

All got to debate five rounds throughout the Saturday of debating. The final round consisted of hidden semi-finalists. Many attended these rounds in the small rooms of the Baptist church. Ballots came in and the tally-room people hustled to figure the final-round contestants.

The day closed with warm sharing of the entire day. People from Little Falls and Grand Rapids were discussing weekends for more debate tournaments (to be announced soon!). A group photo of all the pioneer home school debaters was taken. True Christian spirit was radiating in the end.

Cam Leedahl of Fargo, ND, writes...

I am a support group leader (and parent of teens) who attended Saturday's tournament. I observed along with a gal who is planning to be a debate coach for our group. We attended in order to become familiar with this activity in which we very much want our children to participate.

I thought the tournament was organized well, in light of it being the first one. I was impressed with the poise of the students, most of whom were novices. I was pleased to see so many teens observing and learning. I agree with the vision of one father, whom after the prizes were awarded, said he believed this was an important beginning ... the threshold of a destiny for our children. It is indeed exciting to see the leaders-in-training of this next generation.

I am thankful for all the time that Chris Jeub has put into MACHE debate, and I am eager to spread the vision to my fellow home educators in North Dakota.

And above all, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the reason we find it so important to refine and strengthen our speaking and thinking skills in debate. In Him, Chris Jeub


Taken from Imprimis, a monthly publication of Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI 49242:

The Real Generation Gap by Marianne M. Jennings

"...Indoctrination is partly to blame for the knowledge gap. This is not a new trend in education. When I was in school, I was taught about "global cooling," and my teachers predicted that the earth was going to be frozen over in a new ice age. Today, my children are told that global warming is going to bring on an ecological apocalypse. But the level of indoctrination has risen sharply. Environmentalism has become an obsession with the teachers of Generation X. They constantly bombard students with dire warnings about pollution, scarce resources, and weather-related disasters...Indoctrination makes students passive receivers of information. As such docile participants, most public school students are incapable of independent thought—of drawing logical inferences or exhibiting other critical thinking skills. They are also incapable of looking at a statement and determining its validity. I refer to this as the "frou-frou head" problem, because students are so lacking in skills and knowledge and are so indoctrinated by politically correct thinking that they are not able to think clearly or make sound, well-informed judgments..."


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998

Subject: Debate Tournaments

The Moons were here in Columbus last week for our public speaking and debate conference. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, loved the debate conference! Some parents who weren't too sure about it due to the cost went home to their husbands and said, "Get out your checkbook, we're doing this again next year!" And the husbands are like, "Is is THAT good?!" The students just literally ate it up! They are so excited and pumped. They are ready to debate! It seemed to bring everything together for them. It encouraged, motivated, enlightened, energized, and made these kids feel like they can really do this. I'm telling you, Teresa's student teachers are really fabulous! I had heard that they made the debate camp fun, but I found that hard to believe. I mean, how can you make it "fun"? Well, they did! Just you wait — your kids will have a great time! We're already planning another one for next year.


Dear Mr. Miller,

This year's homeschool debate topic is "The United States should substantially change the rules governing federal campaign finances." Have you produced any handbooks on that topic? Have the government schools ever debated that topic? Laurie Bluedorn

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998

From: Lee Miller

Organization: Information Press

Subject: Re: Freedom of expression... Classic Thought Series...


I don't have anything on this specific resolution. But, it has me thinking....

1. Why don't you use the NFL topic and simply go to debate tournaments in your area? Why do homeschools have their own resolution? I know your group is independent, but the NFL is actually a private non-profit organization. There are almost as many private schools in the group as public.

2. This topic is on the list of 10 Lincoln-Douglas topics that the NFL will chose from through the year. So, it might be chosen in January-February or March-April or maybe for the National Tournament Topic (June). I'll find something for you in anticipation. By the way a committe of the very best debate coaches chose LD topics every two months.

3. Is this a policy debate topic? In that case, the NFL picks only one per year. This year it is Russia.

In anycase, I'm on the job and I'll find you something or my assistant will do it. In the last ten years, we've debated Presidential Elections, Term Limits and Lobbying. I'm sure there is something there related... elections, funding, democracy... etc.

However, if you want the very best results in debate... you would better be served by adopting whatever the national topic is. That is why they have a national topic, so every kid can debate every other child without any problems. There are some other reasons... you can get expert help if there is one topic.

Ideas... first write your congressman and get a copy of the hearings on the topic. They have had extert testimony before the Congress the last four or five years. Second, I would search the internet for "editorials" and "campaign financing". Third, I would get the Democracy file from I think there is a quick HTML copy at, if not let me know and I'll send you a copy.

I would hate to convince the homeschool people that they ought to do what public and private schools do, but fortunately that's not my job.

Thanks and I'll get back with you on this... I'm interested in helping,

Lee Miller, editor

Information Press


Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998

From: The Whitehairs

I have a debate question. Should we give the cost of our public funding for federal elections in our debate. My guess is that we should. If we should, which speech do we give it in? Any insight appreciated. Thanks, Deb Whitehair, Debate Coach for SIAHE


From: "Chris Jeub"

Subject: Fw: Common Cause Email Alert

Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998

Here is an email "alert" from Common Cause claiming campaign finance reform is the reason for the surprise elections. I question that, but it would make for good evidence for the Affirmative. They fail to mention the Ventura victory: outspent 20:1 and he still won! (Great evidence for the negative!)

-Chris Jeub

—Original Message—

Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 7:54 PM


Wednesday, November 4, 1998


>The lesson of the 1998 elections is that while big

>money continues to play a powerful role in determining

>who wins and who loses elections, reform supporters

>won some important victories across the country.


>Wherever voters had the opportunity to vote directly for

>campaign finance reform, reform won.


>Voters in Arizona and Massachusetts passed historic

>referenda providing public financing of campaigns for state

>candidates. Voters in Florida passed a key constitutional

>revision which enshrine's Florida's existing system of public

>financing into the state constitution.


>And despite the best efforts of Majority Leader Trent Lott

>and Senator Mitch McConnell, chair of the National

>Republican Senatorial Committee, Senator Russ Feingold,

>one of the Senate's leading reformers, was reelected.

>Facing a barrage of phony issue-attack ads funded with

>out-of-state, undisclosed, special-interest soft money,

>Senator Feingold won while refusing similar help from his

>party or outside groups — and by making campaign finance

>reform the test issue in his own campaign.


>In addition, Senators Alfonse D'Amato and Lauch Faircloth,

>incumbent Senators who voted to block campaign finance

>reform, each went down in defeat in part because their opposition

>to reform became an issue in their campaigns.


>The current campaign finance system is completely out of

>control, with incumbent reelection rates of more than 90 percent,

>and a growing flood of soft money-funded negative attack ads

>overwhelming the process. Congressional leaders promise

>early action next year on campaign finance reform, and reformers

>will also be pressing for action on campaign finance reform

>at the state level.


>Americans are making their voices heard

>on campaign finance reform.


>And our politicians better listen.


Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998

On Sun, 01 Nov 1998,

<<I have a debate question. Should we give the cost of our public funding

for federal elections in our debate. My guess is that we should. If we

should, which speech do we give it in? Any insight appreciated. Thanks,

Deb Whitehair, Debate Coach for SIAHE>>

Yes, you should give the cost of your plan. Even if it doesn't cost any money. If your plan requires no additional funding, make sure to say that. And it goes in your 1AC. In Christ, rOoKiE


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998

From: "HSLDA Debate Coordinator"

I would like to recommend a resource for home school debaters that will hopefully clear up any confusion regarding whether or not it is topical for the affirmative team to deal with campaign finances at the state v. federal level. You can order a brochure entitled "Federal and State Campaign Finance Laws" from the Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20463. 1-800-424-9530. The brochure is free. Here's a quote from that brochure: "Where federal laws and state laws appear to overlap, the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations take precedence in two broad areas: 1. Prohibitions on election-financing activities by foreign nationals, national banks and federally chartered corporations; and 2. Laws that pertain to the financing of federal elections (2 U.S.C. sec. 453; 11 CFR 108.7(a))." Thus, federal law on the financing of federal elections always overrides state law. Again, let me repeat: It is NOT topical for the affirmative team to deal with state laws in any way. Even if the affirmative wants to enact the same law at the state level in every state. As long as it's a state law, it's nontopical. Please stick to FEDERAL laws only, as the topic states. A federal law in essence enacts the same law in every state, only the state has no control over that law. The main federal agencies that have control over federal campaign finance laws are: The U.S. Congress and the Federal Election Commission. If the affirmative team wants to abolish the FEC, change it, change Congressional control over federal campaign finances, take Congress out of that role altogether, or give control of federal campaign finance law to some other federal organization, that would be within the affirmative team's prerogative. Thanks! Christy Shipe


From: "Joshua Sikora"

Subject: Three questions

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998

First of all, I was wondering how to sort my evidence. I have almost two binders full right now, and it takes me forever to find a piece of evidence I want. Does any one know a good way to sort a lot of evidence? Second, When you're debating negative, is it alright to admit that there are problems in the status quo, just not the ones that the affirmative team listed? For instance, if the affirmative gives one harm and a plan that solves that harm, can the negative argue that the one harm doesn't exist, and that the plan doesn't solve all these other harms that do exist? Or if the affirmative harm is insignificant, compared to some "real significant" harms. Third, with fiat power can we change the constitution by adding or repealing amendments? Also with fiat power, can we have some mandates within the resolution, and other mandates outside of the resolution to solve our harms? For example, can we change another part of the government to give money, power, etc. to the FEC or other campaign finance agency? Thanks for all the help! Joshua Sikora


Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998

From: The Whitehairs

Subject: Difference between an Affirmative Plan and a Minor Repair

My question is how much of a change can be made in the negative's minor repair before it actually becomes an affirmative plan? Must the minor repair avoid any change to regulations (that is, laws and Agency rules) in order to remain a minor repair? For example, would changing the FEC's enforcement rules be a minor repair or an affirmative plan. I would appreciate any light anyone can shed on this.


From: "Lisa C. Kanak"

Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998

Sorting Evidence: Our debaters primarily use file folders and file boxes. We also use "expanding folders" (folders which have dividers inside). We put "like" arguments on briefs and file briefs in folders or a section. For example, topicality definitions are usually filed according to word/phrase and where they fall in the resolution. For negative "case-side" evidence, we have both "generic" files and more specific files. These files are placed in alphabetical order within a file box for easier retrieval.

Example of generic/specific files:

Federal Campaign Finance Rules Necessary

Federal Campaign Finance Rules Not Necessary

McCain-Fingold Bad (general arguments against McCain-Fingold bill)

McCain-Fingold Good (general arguments supporting McCain-Fingold bill)

Affirmative evidence is filed:

(1) extension evidence according to observations/case advantages

(2) answers to other case arguments (alphabetically)

(3) answers to disadvantages/counterplans (alphabetically)

(4) answers to topicality (by word in the resolution)

This is the same system that is generally used on both the national high school circuit as well as the national college circuit.

On your second question — admitting other faults in the status quo:

The tactic you have proposed would not be an effective negative attack for one main reason — the affirmative doesn't have to prove that it will solve all harms, only the harms they enumerate in their case. You could (and should) argue that the harms they list don't exist, but I would not argue that other harms do exist that the affirmative team doesn't address. You could try to argue significance "comparatively" by showing that their harm isn't as important as some other area, but that may again not argue the real issue of significance. Significance merely means that the harm is important in some respect. Saying that there are other harms that may be more important does not necessarily negate the "importance" of solving the harm area outlined. The negative's job is to (a) minimize the case and (b) show how the plan would have unintended consequences (disadvantages) which would outweigh any benefits to be gained from the plan.

You can minimize the case by

(a) attacking their harms

(1) the harm does not exist/not significant

(2) the harm is too great — multiple causes exist for the harm

(b) attacking their inherency by arguing that the plan is being or will be done in the status quo.

(c) Attacking their solvency by arguing

(a) the mechanism/enforcement for solvency is ineffective

(b) because multiple causes for the harm exist, you cannot solve for it (alternate causality PMN)

(c) the mechanism/enforcement for solvency is what is causing the harm, or would actually increase the problem (turn)

Unintended consequences (disadvantages) of the plan are usually determined by the plan mandates. For example, a case which changed the rules governing finances by federalizing all U.S. Congress and Senate races would probably increase government spending by billions of dollars, the plan calls for a cigarette tax to pay for the new spending.

Disadvantage: the money raised by a cigarette tax would hurt the U.S. economy and cause large numbers of people to be thrown out of their jobs, increasing unemployment and putting the country into a recession. Your third question regarding "Mandates inside/outside the resolution." All mandates must fall within the resolution, mandates outside the resolution would be extra-topical. However, the example you mention changing "another part of the government to give money, power, etc. to the FEC or other campaign finance agency" would most likely be topical, or arguably so. Currently, Congress does change rules by increasing or decreasing the oversight responsibilities of the FEC and/or other campaign finance agencies. Abolishing or expanding the FEC agency could arguably be topical. There is a lot of gray area surrounding funding and enforcement provisions. Some say that you can create a board, or some new oversight agency and some say you cannot. I'd be prepared to argue with or without the change in enforcement and adapt to your judge. Sincerely, Lisa C. Kanak RVC Debate AR Homeschool Debate Coordinator


Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998

From: jean-raphael lemoine

===A few quick answers to a few quick questions.

First, sorting evidence. I have found, in my personal experience, that knowing exactly where your evidence is in a debate round is vital to success, but building a system is tough. I would recommend you take your evidence out of the binders and put them into individual folders, which you keep in some type of bin. Organize your folders by subject. For example, Neg. Soft Money, this folder would hold information for the negative side on why soft money isn’t a problem. For every negative folder you have on a topic you should have an affirmative folder for the same subject. Just because you don’t use a particular harm or idea in your affirmative case you should still have some information for and against the harm or idea. Many times you will find that even though you are debating negative your affirmative evidence will help you almost as much as the negative. Use this same method of organization for your note cards, which is really the only thing you should bring into a debate round. Second, confession. Never admit there are problems in the status quo unless you are running a minor repair case or a counter plan. By admitting there is a problem you are destroying your biggest defense. Remember, negative is innocent until proven guilty; you have assumption on your side. Do not give away your first line of defense. Third, it is my understanding that fiat power is not exercised unless you offer a negative counter plan. If you do write a counter plan it must be non-topical to the resolution. For example this year resolution is: "That the United States should substantially change the rules governing federal campaign finance." So, the affirmative team is always arguing some or all of the rules governing federal campaign finance need to be change in some way. Now, if you write a counter plan it can’t or shouldn’t agree with the resolution, instead you must find a different problem with federal campaign rules. For example, the problem isn’t the money it is the men. If you follow this then you could change the constitution and all the other things you talked about. Remember it can’t be topical to the resolution. Later, in Christ, Jean-Raphael E. Lemoine