[eDebate] ans Neal

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Fri May 12 09:18:54 CDT 2006

Travis, the big blind, goes all in with a 3 - 9, off-suit. yeesh.
Travis took it personally...  was it the basque-midget-lawyer example?  Yes, yes... i know... I oughta been a diplomat.  
1st:  I characterized the situation accurately:  lots of topic considerations based on a crappy set of arguments.   Okay, it isn't obvious why actor/agent counterplans are, for the most part, crap, but it isn't like it requires a Master's in debate theory, either.  They persist because of a "collective inertia of debate-theory-stupidity".  Notice i did NOT make it personal with "because Travis Neal is a moron."  And mocking this post as "history lessons" is funny until you realize you're launching invasions of Russia in the fall, decade after decade...
2nd: The literature almost never considers actor/agent counterplans as reasons to reject proposed courses of action because they are, for the most part, nonsensical.  
Before you point to your author who writes that Congress should overrule, understand that is just a trick/mistake on your part:  your author is NOT arguing that action as a counterplan...  they are just considering  an action on its own terms...  I might write that "France should attack Iran" for many good reasons.  But if the affirmative plan is "The US attacks Iran" it would be a trick/mistake to argue "No, it shouldn't.  France should attack Iran instead." and use my article as "literature" for your counterplan.  Because I didn't  present my advocacy as a reason to reject US action, and in fact, believe such use of my argument is simply nonsense.  Because anyone deciding whether the US should attack Iran wouldn't also have the authority to decide whether France should attack Iran instead.  So no literature for you.
No literature means we need to check if actor/agent counterplans are just artifacts of reasoning created by how debate is structured as a game.  And voila, they are.  The debate game replaces an actual decision-maker like a President, Governor, Legislature, or Mom with a proxy decision-maker, the debate critic.  In that move, actual decision-maker AUTHORITY disappears.  A governor has particular authority over a set of actions and is thus fairly clearly demarcated in what actions they could take instead of the plan.  A debate critic has no interesting authority over policy.  So what should a debate critic consider as legitimate alternatives to the plan?  The debate game thus creates the problem of the scope of legitimate negative fiat.  In the real world, there isn't any or at least not much problem with the scope of negative fiat because that is determined by real-world authority over alternatives.  Actor/agent counterplans happen in debate but not in the literature simply because they are artifacts of how debate is structured as a game.  That doesn't make them nonsense, of course:  it does, however explain where the nonsense comes from.
SO simple test:  where is your card where the author argues that the US SUpreme Court shouldn't rule a piece of legislation unconstitutional because it would be better for Congress to amend it instead?
3rd: Travis writes that a "Congress do it instead" counterplan would still be a possibility if the resolutional agent were the USFG.  Well, I dunno if they would.  That could be a healthy and complex discussion that has some substance to it.  But USFG resolutions aren't where the big actor/agent counterplan worries and uses are - it's the USSC resolutions.  And the USSC resolutions ARE where the action is these days...
4th: Travis just doesn't get the Toyota Hybrid example.  I'll do the long version.  You and your significant other are sitting at the table talking about whether you should buy that Prius at the dealership down the road.  The other lists several reasons like "environmentally responsible", "snazzy look", "hippy friends will approve" and they list some negatives like "expensive," and "cramped."   You both agree that the positives outweigh the negatives and you are ready to go buy it.  Then you, Travis Neal, lurch up out of your chair like a zombie and yell inchoately "NO!!!  COUNTERPLAN!  we shouldn't!  It would be better if that guy down the street who we see at the Starbucks every now and then buys it instead!  He drives more than we do and if he replaced his Hummer with that Prius, it would be EVEN MORE environmentally responsible! And the environmentally is most important."  Your significant other, never impressed with your debate geekiness, stares at you, the love dripping slowly out of their eyes, as they point out "But we don't even know if that guy has any interest in anything except Hummers, much less environmental responsibility, much less hybrid vehicles, much less a Prius, much less THAT Prius, dear..."  You, that's you Travis, squak "FIAT!  I FIAT that the guy buys the Prius. I explained FIAT to you the other night while you were... you remember!"  Your significant other, edging toward the door, recounts...  "So, we are NOT buying the Prius because it would be better if that other guy bought it instead... and we have no reason to believe that they actually would buy it if we didn't?  That is what the man I once thought I loved is telling me?"  Does it all make sense now, Travis?
5th: Travis misunderstands the interplay between plenary power and what I wrote.  Lindsay Harriman's paper makes a sophisticated and interesting argument:  Political branch actor/agent counterplans are negative ground, but not as powerful as they might be against other USSC resolutions because even though they check advantages from specific issues, they don't get at plenary power itself.  That's neat.  However, I don't think that actor/agent counterplans are negative ground at all for USSC resolutions (which leaves negative with trouble).
And please don't agree with me that "I do not like the plenary power resolutions."  because I wrote the opposite... you know... by writing "I like them at least as much as the other resolutions proffered."
Finally:  30 years since Lichtman and Rohrer without a decent attempt to legitimize actor/agent counterplans is more than enough time.  Stupid arguments.  Instead, the nonsense keeps getting passed down from generation to generation like a genetic defect... it's frikkin INHERENCY all over again...
Michael Korcok
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