[eDebate] ans Bach (2)

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Mon Aug 6 00:06:49 CDT 2007

1) Democratic Socialism
It is just not true that the blog where you identify yourself as a Democratic Socialist in the 5th International was a few years ago.  Last June you were still Solistus and that was the blurb in the about FI section.  your description of it as tongue-in-cheek is also not especially convincing.  folks can judge for themselves, but you seem serious to me about being the next generation of socialism. ( http://solistus.wordpress.com/about-fi/ )
I was born in Tito's Yugoslavia and I got to see what Democratic Socialism is in the real world, so I am not especially respectful to those who call themselves that.  Their dream became the nightmare of everyone I cared about before my parents came to the US.  The term "Democratic Socialism" is contested, with some folks trying hard to distinguish it from Communism.  But that distinction became salient after Stalin and became the ship almost all Communists jumped into only after the fall of the USSR.  So I am only partly less disturbed by those who call themselves "democratic socialists" than those who call themselves "communists".
The left is more comfortable with "Communist" than the right is with "Nazi".  They shouldn't be: neither nightmare is for kids to play at.  In debate we examine arguments, so my personal views are beside the point in the back of a round.  Here, in e-debate, they take a backseat only to the extent that I need to make room for those who hold those views.   I try but... you know...
But you say that was just tongue-in-cheek.  Good enough.
2) role models and 20-year-old punks
This is not a new discussion for me.  It goes back to before the founding of e-debate and to the ceda-l years.  I think it was Greg Simerly who was the first to ask me, what 15 years ago, why I always mixed it up with debaters and other coaches on ceda-l.  His point was that I was (back then) one of the most respected and successful coaches and theorists in debate, and here I was arguing vociferously, ad homs flying, research everywhere, with people who were basically unknowns.  He wondered why I was doing it.  My answer to him is still my view of it: argument is the great equalizer - the best argument is no respecter of status or class or of power and I mean to keep it that way.
You write that Stannard's point that I am "reduced to beating up on people half your age who question the Bush administration...that should really bother you" doesn't insult you, at least not as much as being compared to a mass murderer.  I didn't actually compare you to a mass murderer:  i was mocking your "blame is stupid" argument by playing at blaming you - i do not REALLY blame you for the 72,000 dead Iraqi civilians...   But I do think you should be insulted by Matt's implication that you are any less worthy of being beaten up by me than old men like Josh Hoe or Ross Smith.
Furthermore, you play at little kid being beaten up by the big bad ogre by invoking my status as a debate coach, professor, and icon of debate, chastising me for being so rough with you and advising me to act as a role model.  You initiated this exchange and certainly didn't do so in any way that signaled you wanted the exchange to be professor-student.  You didn't call me Professor Korcok, for example.  You certainly didn't offer the requisite kow-towing supplications owed to me as a 30-year icon of this activity. <--- humor.  And I didn't mind your churlishness because I am NOT your professor, your superior, or your father.  Here we are, you and I, ARGUING about something important and I won't insult you by treating you like a child.
And part of the reason for ad hominems is that you did frame your post as judging the discussion as it stood between Lewis and I.  You weren't a reasonable critic:  you were a partisan who twisted and worked hard throughout for 1 side rather than being an honest judge.  So those ad hominems which weren't ideology-related were almost all judge-quality related.  Because... you... are... a... crappy... judge.
True, I made use of your immaturity by calling you a teen and making references to acne and so on.  That made fair-game of baldness jokes and Mr. Burns comparisons of course.  And it is clear as day that how you are thinking through many of these positions is largely an artifact of immaturity and youth.  But I didn't ignore you or treat you like a kid or condescend from my ivory tower.  You are welcome, little boy.
3) my dismissal as "stupid" the decent arguments you made at the bottom of your post
They aren't bad, a couple are actually pretty decent.  But it was, and is, clear to me that you didn't and still don't give sufficient respect to several excellent arguments I made.  So I returned the favor for arguments that you like.  If you think that you are dealing fairly with my positions, then we will have to disagree.  If you think that your arguments deserve better from me, fair enough.  You get that when you treat mine fairly.
Lewis got that for the same reason.  Out of context evidence, refusal to seriously engage the top arguments, and general silliness meant I wasn't interested in the rest...
4) the Iraq Liberation Good Debate
I really don't think you have made much headway here.  
Your responses are those of someone who hasn't fully represented the horrors of Iraq under Saddam.  When you don't understand how Saddam's atrocities could have raised the child mortality rate, I am nonplussed.  You don't think it raises child mortality when the parents of entire villages are imprisoned or killed, when rivers are diverted so the Marsh Arabs can't grow food, when nerve gas is dropped on entire ethnic groups? 
You now protest that you understood what death rates are, but you didn't mention them at all and certainly didn't incorporate them into your responses.
You have tried to shift the debate almost entirely to questions of what is important but you still haven't conceptualized the role of death rates, life expectancy and infant mortlaity as measures of all the things that go into a quality society.  Lifespan, for example, is a universal proxy for crime rates, health care access, wealth, happiness, political violence, access to food, and almost all indicators of quality life:  it is not just important in its own right.  Furthermore, we have no satisfying way to value all of those sundry things apart from metrics like lifespan.  Similarly for child mortality and death rates:  they are important in their own right but they are also important as metrics of the overall goodness of a society.  You can attempt to argue that shortages of pure water should be the be-all and end-all criteria of success, but you have no chance of doing so when I ask about how to value safety, freedom from disease, freedom from political persecution, and access to healthy food in comparison.  That's why the UN and most other people have settled on child mortality rates, lifespan and death rates as metrics. 
Finally, you have never engaged in any meaningful way the argument that demolishes your counterplans.  Saddam and Sons (the Baathists) were horrible mass murderers - they slaughtered about 50,000 Iraqis a year.  The liberation removed them.  After accounting for those Iraqis killed by terrorists, insurgents, and the US over the last 4 1/2 years, MANY MORE Iraqis are alive than if Saddam and Sons would have lived.  Not one shred of evidence has appeared in this discussion that there was any reasonable prospect for removing Saddam and Sons from power absent a full-scale US liberation.  I linked to several cards that, in fact, said there was no way to do it except the way that Tommy Franks did it.  And that is debate over, because leaving the mass murdering dictator in power, sanctions or no sanctions, means 100,000 + more Iraqis butchered by the Butcher of Baghdad over the last 4 1/2 years.  And that butchering destroys persons, communities, and families much more thoroughly than anything that has happened since the US liberated Iraq.
Professor Michael Korcok
Icon of Cross Examination Debate
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