Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Development of debate skills and the entertainment it inspires

I've never been one to shy away from a good, spirited political discussion. I've debated some topics with folks with whom I typically agree. When it's done respectfully and professionally, it even can lead to changes (or at least an evolution or shift) in opinions and stances on a given issue.

However, when you enter into such a debate with someone who makes a point of describing himself as an intellectual over the course of the exchange, the results can be... well, see for yourself:

The background story originates on a Facebook friend's profile Wall. This person was asking for folks to comment on their status update as to their favorite radio station.

This was mine:

"1150 AM WIMA here in Lima. Gotta love a radio station that carries Glenn Beck!"

Well, someone else decided to add their comment -- but not about his own favorite radio station, just go on a rant about how he'd like to see Glenn Beck get run over by a bus and such an occurrence would be good for America since the content of his broadcasts are (his word choice) divisive.

My reply:

"And some folks insist the Tea Parties are all about hate. Interesting."

Now, this other gentleman's comments are no longer there, but I remember exactly what his next response was:

"parrots are cute; polly wanna cracker?"

Well, at this point I came to the conclusion that continuing this exchange in this manner was not appropriate. So, feeling the need to speak up once again on my own behalf, I sent him the following message to his inbox:

"I am more than willing and eager to debate anyone on any political subject at any time.

But, I am not going to play that all out on a mutual friend's status update.

So, if there is any public issue you want to tackle, please feel free to fire away."

To which he replied:

"Glenn Beck has nothing to do with politics. That is exactly the problem. He is a shock jock who uses half-truths, rhetoric, and hyperbole to garner ratings. And since he is on a "news" channel, the sheeple think he is legit,"


"With which subjects and comments of his do you take exception?

I'll give you an example where he has disappointed me:

He frequently mentions being "a Libertarian at heart" but in recent weeks has begun making comments about "I think introducing a third party would be a disaster."

However, when he points out the unconstitutional nature of the legislation that is being heaped on us all by a disconnected gang of public sector elitists, he is spot-on. While he is extraordinarily focused over this past year on the big government activity of the current administration and congressional majority, Beck has not been shy about bringing up the Republicans' failings on adhering to the Constitution. In particular, he's thoroughly dissected the Patriot Act and the fall of '08 financial sector $700 billion bailouts.

What is funny about his critics (to me, at least) is they tend to ignore the fact he frequently reminds his audience that he is not a certified, pedigreed, college educated, FDA approved expert on any of the areas of government on which he comments. He is a commentator -- and one who is self-taught on these topics and has successfully built his own little operation by speaking his mind and espousing the virtues of people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Sowell.

To top it off, he frequently uses video and audio evidence to back up the assertions he makes on the air. When he has the very words as they are spoken by the individuals he criticizes right there for the world to see and hear, how does that constitute half-truths and hyperbole?

Finally, one subject Beck tackles quite frequently on the air is the Progressive movement in America over the last 100 years. I remember full and well studying about the rise of progressivism in history classes when I was a kid: that a select crowd of intellectual and Ivy League-educated individuals in government know better how the affairs of everyday Americans should be handled than the people at large might know. And I'll tell you right now, that is the single-most dangerous philosophy being discussed and embrace in our society today. Here's the question: at what point does Washington D.C.'s accumulation of power to regulate our lives and industries end?

When he argues and makes the case for scaling back and limiting the authority and power retained by the federal government, he is spot on, my friend."


"Well, it is pretty obvious he has you hook,line, and sinker, so enjoy your bomb shelter.

Taking a 5 second snippet of a 10 minute dialogue and wordsmithing it until the point is lost is not "evidence". Pretending to cry while standing in front of a 50ft screen of marching Nazi's or Karl Marx isn't an attempt to foster constructive debate. Asking absurd rhetorical questions and then playing the "prove me wrong" game is about as divisive as it gets.(Did you hear Glenn Beck raped and killed a girl in 1991? Prove he didn't! - see how easy that is?)

Uneducated, ignorant talking heads like Glenn Beck do far more damage than good because their half-wit followers follow their lead and dig in their heels and declare "if you aren't with us, you are against us", which helps nobody.

For the record, I am a registered indpendent who typically votes Republican on a locql level, but one who cannot in good conscience vote Republican on a national level because of their deastructive and over-reaching views of foreign policy. I get my news from RSS feeds and my politics from CSpan because I am not a sheep.

What I also am, however, is an intellectual who refuses to engage in the "us against them"-style politics. I am not arrogant or naïve enough to believe that the power of the federal goverment is "the single biggest issue of the day", mainly because I don't let alcoholic mormons or pill-popping racists tell me what my opinions are."


"You do realize that you have completely contradicted yourself on the point of divisiveness...

"enjoy your bomb shelter"

"uneducated, ignorant talking heads like Glenn Beck do far more damage than good because their half-wit followers follow their lead"

and, "I don't let alcoholic mormons or pill-popping racists tell me what my opinions are."

Am I supposed to believe these statements are not divisive vitriol designed to shame people out of expressing or even holding their points of view?

You have just engaged in precisely the same tactics you claim serve to disqualify those who comment on politics.

Next, you are gravely mistaken if you believe the size and reach of the federal government's power and authority do not serve to damage this country at a rate that makes correcting this situation a top priority.

Do you believe that the bursting of the housing and banking bubbles were entirely the result of greedy, corporate bankers engaging in predatory lending practices? If so, then are you aware that in 2007 the House Financial Services Committee began threatening the U.S.'s largest banking and financial institutions (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in particular) with congressional audits if they did not begin expanding their rates of high-risk lending?

The financial sector was in tenuous shape as it was by then, but that served as the second-to-last straw which positioned the entire industry to begin unraveling under the strain created 42 years ago by the Fair Housing Act (obviously, the "nudge" which sent the whole ball of wax over the cliff was the financial strain experienced by many low-income [high risk] borrowers by the price of gasoline eclipsing $4 a gallon the summer of '08).

The threat posed to banks and other lenders by merely mentioning the word "audit" is significant due to the fact that a federal audit invariably leads to a major drop in that corporation's stock values -- causing sudden and massive shortfall in capital.

Furthermore: honestly, are you not bothered by the rate of spending that has occurred over the last 10 years? Do you realize that the Social Security Administration is now having to pay out more in benefits than it is receiving in taxes? Have you considered the overall economic ramifications if Social Security becomes insolvent due to decades of both parties having borrowed against the Social Security Fund?

And with a more than $1 trillion deficit this year alone, how would you evaluate the prospects of being able to prevent the SSA's bankruptcy?

And then, I am curious if you are willing or able to justify the parliamentary travesty behind the passage of the Health Care Reform Act. I understand you believe yourself to be an intellectual, but can you formulate an honest argument in defense of passing a 2,410-page legislative behemoth that carried with it another 300+ pages of earmark amendments?

Also, what does a federal takeover of student loans have to do with health care reform? Where is the Department of Education's capital coming from to enable them to serve as the nation's sole lender for higher education? Guaranteeing student loans is entirely different game from administering them (not to mention ALL of them).

If you agree with that portion of that recent legislation and believe it was the right course of action, then wouldn't it make sense to introduce it as a separate bill and debate it on the floors of both houses of Congress on its own merits?

The clear majority of Americans did not want either of these laws passed yet one party rammed them through as if acting on a higher calling (there, now I'm a hypocrite for using divisive rhetoric of my own).

So, who exactly has been playing the game of "if you're not with us, you're against us?!"

Sure Republicans and their dedicated constituents resort to such tactics. But to portray them as the lone offenders there is much more naive than you may care to admit."


"Wow. Just wow. In one blustering wall of text, you managed to misrepresent my position instead of simply asking what it is mulitple times. Very Beckian of you.

Please kindly point out where I ever even remotely insinuated that "republicans and their constituents are the lone offenders" when it comes to divisive politics.

I do find your attempt to paint me as contradicting myself pretty comical. I am not on a news channel trying to pass myself off as a legit pplitical pundit. I absolutely despise each and every person who follows ANY of the talking head psuedo-pundits and freely admit as much.

I never once said I favored goverment run health care T (because I don't), and I also agree the bill that was put through was a mess. However, with that being said, I am also am logical enough to admit the single-payer system works just fine for just about every other developed nation on the planet, so the rhetoric that idiots like Beck spout about death panels and bankrupting the country have no basis in fact.

I believe higher education should be available to absolutely everyone for the long term well being of the country.

I also can read facts, so I know that the whole "CRA" scapegoating for the housing bubble burst is nonsense, since the highest rate of defaults came from the third party "mortgage house" lenders, and the loans covered by the CRA are some of the most tightly regulated loans out there and the default rate is significantly lower.

See, the problem with people like you is you state your opinion as fact-ie:" it is the biggest problem, and if you don't agree you are sorely mistaken" - without realizing what an incredible douche you sound like.

Whatever. Enjoy Beck... I personally hope he dies in a fire. That would be best for America.

Oh, and for the record, I fully expect ther SSA to default - mostly due to the fact that the authors of the original legislation failed to consider the possibility that life expectancy would increase so drastically."

And then he added an addendum:

"Looking at your home page, I do find it ironic that you had no problem joining our standing volunteer army (something our founding fathers opposed) and taking a salary from the federal government (ZOMG SOCIALISM).

Wow, being Beckian is fun!"

Well, at this point once I was able to get back online again to continue this rather stimulating debate-by-use-of argumentation gymnastics, I see that either this gentleman has blocked me so as to prevent me from being able to respond, set his account as invisible, he has chosen to cancel his Facebook account for reasons unknown, or Facebook may have terminated his account (again, for reasons of which I am not aware).

Both his comments on the original mutual friend's status update are gone. I had to recreate them from memory.

Well not being one to let this new development deny me from replying one last time, if I can't reply to him directly via Facebook mail then I'll post my follow-up comments here in the event he decides curiosity is too much for him overcome:

>Since you decided to challenge the notion that big government is not the most pressing concern facing America, I presented several examples supporting my assertion that it is.

That is not "misrepresentation" it is argumentation. For you to claim I misrepresented your preceding comments is a pure red herring.

You fail.

Also, you did contradict yourself. Your arguments against Beck and others were based on the premise that comments which qualify as divisive do harm to society. You preceded and followed this portion of your commentary with a variety of insults and comments engineered (as stated previously) to create a sense of shame for holding one's opinions.

Instead of "if you're not with us you're against us" you suggest "if you're not with us, you're less intelligent than us," which is an equally as divisive philosophy.

Again, you fail.

Where you believe my personal history is relevant to the discussion -- and then determining my service to my country somehow constitutes elevating your position while detracting from mine I find quite curious.

Once again -- you guessed it....... You fail.

But still, I'll indulge you on the subject of the United States Military. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America opens with the following phrase: "The Congress shall have Power To..." And then when you peruse down to paragraphs 12, 13, and 14 you will see that by applying this opening phrase to Section 8, these paragraphs read as follows:

"The Congress shall have Power To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;"

"The Congress shall have Power To provide and maintain a Navy;"

"The Congress shall have Power To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces;"

Where you're wrong on your assessment of the Founding Fathers' perspective on a Standing Army is regarding its use and deployment within our own borders for the purpose of acting in a law enforcement capacity. That is why we have the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

Since the Founding Fathers wrote and then participated in ratifying the Constitution, I'm curious why they would have written the clauses contained within paragraphs 12 through 14 of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, not to mention the opening clause of Article 2, Section 2 which states, "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States..."

Please explain, when you can, this particular discrepancy in your logic.

Otherwise, no surprise..... You fail.

Now here's a healthy dose of reality for you: from my experience in life, whenever someone has to come out and explicitly describe themselves as being an intellectual, they actually are not. You have confused intellect with being a control freak. You are a control freak by virtue of the insults you incorporated at every turn of our exchange and the manner in which you resort first to marginalizing or dismissing those who disagree with you and then presenting your counterarguments.

But, I suppose I'm just being "Beckian."

I'll even concede this point to you: since I criticized you for incorporating insults and marginalizing comments and then turned around and kept including the "You Fail" quips, that serves as evidence that I am not the intellectual as I would like to be perceived.

In conclusion neither of us possesses an intellect that is superior to one or the other: I am no more intelligent than you and you are no more intelligent than me. And since you have deluded yourself into believing you are smarter than me, I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing how much such an observation will surely irritate you.

Either way, I win -- you fail.

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