Monday, February 28, 2011

Just when you thought you were safe... offer's us:

How One Nuclear Skirmish Could Wreck the Planet

* By Dave Mosher
* February 25, 2011
Updated: Feb. 25, 2011; 11:40 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON — Even a small nuclear exchange could ignite mega-firestorms and wreck the planet’s atmosphere.

New climatological simulations show 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs — relatively small warheads, compared to the arsenals military superpowers stow today — detonated by neighboring countries would destroy more than a quarter of the Earth’s ozone layer in about two years.

Regions closer to the poles would see even more precipitous drops in the protective gas, which absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. New York and Sydney, for example, would see declines rivaling the perpetual hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. And it may take more than six years for the ozone layer to reach half of its former levels.

Researchers described the results during a panel Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, calling it “a real bummer” that such a localized nuclear war could bring the modern world to its knees.

“This is tremendously dangerous,” said environmental scientist Alan Robock of Rutgers University, one of the climate scientists presenting at the meeting. “The climate change would be unprecedented in human history, and you can imagine the world … would just shut down.”

To defuse the complexity involved in a nuclear climate catastrophe, sat down with Michael Mills, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who led some of the latest simulation efforts.
‘It’s pretty clear this would lead to a global nuclear famine.’ In your simulation, a war between India and Pakistan breaks out. Each country launches 50 nukes at their opponent’s cities. What happens after the first bomb goes off?

Michael Mills: The initial explosions ignite fires in the cities, and those fires would build up for hours. What you eventually get is a firestorm, something on the level we saw in World War II in cities like Dresden, in Tokyo, Hiroshima and so on.

Today we have larger cities than we did then — mega cities. And using 100 weapons on these different mega cities, like those in India and Pakistan, would cause these firestorms to build on themselves. They would create their own weather and start sucking air through bottom. People and objects would be sucked into buildings from the winds, basically burning everything in the city. It’ll burn concrete, the temperatures get so hot. It converts mega cities into black carbon smoke.

Atmospheric scientist Michael Mills of NCAR. Dave Mosher/ I see — the firestorms push up the air, and ash, into the atmosphere?

Mills: Yeah. You sometimes see these firestorms in large forest fires in Canada, in Siberia. In those cases, you see a lot of this black carbon getting into the stratosphere, but not on the level we’re talking about in a nuclear exchange.

The primary cause of ozone loss is the heating of the stratosphere by that smoke. Temperatures initially increase by more than 100 degrees Celsius, and remain more than 30 degrees higher than normal for more than 3 years. The higher temperatures increase the rates of two reaction cycles that deplete ozone. And the ozone layer is in the stratosphere, correct?

Mills: OK, so we live in the troposphere, which is about 8 kilometers [5 miles] thick at the poles, and 16 km [10 miles] at the equator.

At the top of the troposphere, you start to encounter the stratosphere. It’s defined by the presence of the ozone layer, with the densest ozone at the lowest part, then it tails off at the stratopause, where the stratosphere ends about 50 km [30 miles] up.

We have a lot of weather in the troposphere. That’s because energy is being absorbed at the Earth’s surface, so it’s warmest at the surface. As you go up in the atmosphere it gets colder. Well, that all turns around as you get to the ozone layer. It starts getting hotter because ozone is absorbing ultraviolet radiation, until you run out of ozone and it starts getting colder again. Then you’re at the mesosphere.

How Nukes Gobble Up Ozone

When we talk about ozone, we’re talking about the odd oxygen family, which includes both ozone (O3) and atomic oxygen (O). Those two gases can interchange rapidly within hours.

Ozone is produced naturally by the breakdown of molecules of oxygen, O2, which makes up 20 percent of the atmosphere. O2 breaks down from ultraviolet solar radiation and splits it into two molecules of O. Then the O, very quickly, runs into another O2 and forms O3. And the way O3 forms O again is by absorbing more UV light, so it’s actually more protective than O2.

Ozone is always being created and destroyed by many reactions. Some of those are catalytic cycles that destroy ozone, and in those you have something like NO2 plus O to produce NO plus O2. In that case, you’ve gotten rid of a member of the odd oxygen family and converted it to O2. Well, then you’ve got an NO which can react with ozone and produce the NO2 back again and another O2. So the NO and NO2 can go back and forth and in the process one molecule can deplete thousands of molecules of ozone.

It’s a similar process to chlorofluorocarbons, Those are the larger molecules that we’ve manufactured that don’t exist naturally. They break down into chlorine in the stratosphere, which has a powerful ozone-depleting ability. —Michael Mills Where do the nukes come in? I mean, in eroding the ozone layer?

Mills: It’s not the explosions that do it, but the firestorms. Those push up gases that lead to oxides of nitrogen, which act like chlorofluorocarbons. But let’s back up a little.

There are two important elements that destroy ozone, or O3, which is made of three atoms of oxygen. One element involves oxides of nitrogen, including nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which can be made from nitrous oxide, or N2O — laughing gas.

The other element is a self-destructive process that happens when ozone reacts with atomic oxygen, called O. When they react together, they form O2, which is the most common form of oxygen on the planet. This self-reaction is natural, but takes off the fastest in the first year after the nuclear war.

In years two, three and four, the NO2 builds up. It peaks in year two because the N2O, the stuff that’s abundant in the troposphere, rose so rapidly with the smoke that it’s pushed up into the stratosphere. There, it breaks down into the oxides like NO2, which deplete ozone. So firestorms suck up the N2O, push it up into the stratosphere, and degrade the ozone layer. But where does this stuff come from?

Mills: N2O is among a wide class of what we call tracers that are emitted at the ground. It’s produced by bacterias in soil, and it’s been increasing due to human activities like nitrogen fertilizers used in farming. N2O is actually now the most significant human impact on the ozone, now that we’ve mostly taken care of CFCs. You did similar computer simulations in the past few years and saw this ozone-depleting effect. What do the new simulations tell us?

Mills: Before, we couldn’t look at the ozone depletion’s effects on surface temperatures; we lacked a full ocean model that would respond realistically. The latest runs are ones I’ve done in the Community Earth System Model. It has an atmospheric model, a full-ocean model, full-land and sea-ice models, and even a glacier model.

We see significantly greater cooling than other studies, perhaps because of ozone loss . Instead of a globally averaged 1.3-degree–Celsius drop, which Robock’s atmospheric model produced, it’s more like 2 degrees. But we both see a 7 percent decrease in global average precipitation in both models. And in our model we see a much greater global average loss of ozone for many years, with even larger losses everywhere outside of the tropics.

I also gave this to my colleague Julia Lee-Taylor at NCAR. She calculated the UV indexes across the planet, and a lot of major cities and farming areas would be exposed to a UV index similar to the Himalayas, or the hole over the Antarctic. We’re starting to look at the response of sea ice and land ice in the model, and it seems to be heavily increasing in just a few years after the hypothetical war.

Massive global ozone loss predicted following regional nuclear conflict. Michael Mills/NCAR/NSF What would all of this do to the planet, to civilization?

Mills: UV has big impacts on whole ecosystems. Plant height reduction, decreased shoot mass, reduction in foliage area. It can affect genetic stability of plants, increase susceptibility to attacks by insects and pathogens, and so on. It changes the whole competitive balance of plants and nutrients, and it can affect processes from which plants get their nitrogen.

Then there’s marine life, which depends heavily on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are essential; they live in top layer of the ocean and they’re the plants of the ocean. They can go a little lower in the ocean if there’s UV, but then they can’t get as much sunlight and produce as much energy. As soon as you cut off plants in the ocean, the animals would die pretty quickly. You also get damage to larval development and reproduction in fish, shrimp, crabs and other animals. Amphibians are also very susceptible to UV.

A 16 percent ozone depletion could result in a 5 percent loss in phytoplankton, which could result in a 7 percent loss in fisheries and aquaculture. And in our model we see a much greater global average loss of ozone for many years; the global average hides a lot. This doesn’t sound very good at all.

Mills: No, as we said it’s a real bummer. It’s pretty clear this would lead to a global nuclear famine.

You have the inability to grow crops due to severe, colder temperatures and also the severe increases in UV light. You have the loss of plants and proteins in the oceans, and that leads to widespread food shortages and famine (PDF).

The first three layers of the atmosphere. NOAA There have been thousands of nuclear tests. Why hasn’t this already happened?

Mills: We’re not talking about direct impacts of the explosions themselves, but the firestorms that result when you detonate these in cities. Most tests were in deserts or atolls or space or underground. When you talk nuclear reductions, you’re wading into political territory. As a scientist, how do you handle that?

Mills: The response to this from the policy community has been rather underwhelming. We know, from what both Gorbachev and Reagan have said in anecdotes, that these kinds of studies had a big impact on thinking at the time. People started realizing nuclear war was not something you can win. You’d just destroy the whole planet.

That led to some of the dramatic reductions we saw in the original START treaty, but we still have the ability to basically destroy the planet with one-tenth of 1 percent of the world’s current arsenals.

By the way, there’s nobody really funding these kinds of studies. All of us here are doing these on our own time. You can’t get grants to do this kind of research. It’s puzzling to me. What would you like to see happen?

Mills: We’d all like to see much more dramatic reductions in the number of nuclear weapons we’re seeing proposed in the new START treaty, and the SORT treaty under the Bush administration. These just seem like refinements, in which the number of weapons is reduced, but each airplane counts as one weapon that can carry multiple bombs. So we might not be seeing any reductions. Should nations have any nukes?

Mills: How many times do you need to explode a nuclear weapon in your enemy’s capital to deter them? I think just once. But given the consequences, I don’t think it’s reasonable to have any.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Next Level **** : beyond the stupid in framework debating

Debating Framework - Brian McBride

I judge way too many ‘clash of civilization’ debates (essentially a kritikal aff in some form versus a framework argument) for my liking. Most of the time this debate super seriously sucks because the neg has their ‘sweet’ copy of Klinger’s framework file from years back (sorry Klinger, nothing personal) and the aff is real good about describing any concern for limits or fairness as white supremacy, biopower or genocide. No one really cares about listening to the other teams’ argument or making arguments, off their blocks that is, that actually responds to what the other team said.

Here’s what I’m come to notice over the years.

Aff Tips

Defense is the new offense. Typically affs can’t win a framework debate without winning some defensive arguments that demonstrate that their interpretation of the topic is debatable. Let me say that again: the aff must win that they are somewhat debatable in order to win the debate. While it is possible to assert that all concerns for fairness or debatability are stifling to the affirmative, I rarely notice judges being persuaded by these arguments. Kritikal affs need to have and develop a relationship to the topic, whether through counter-definitions of the words in the resolution or reasons why their aff is an important part of topic literatures. But the move to take the door off the hinges and allow any aff to say whatever they want will often times be counter-intuitive to many well-established beliefs in the community. ‘T = genocide’ is often times insufficient without some defense.

There is no topical way to do our aff. This is an argument that should require some serious aff thinking of how best to articulate it. The aff should prove in more than an assertion that the standard view of the topic prevents their aff and that there’s something uniquely educational about expanding the interpretation of the topic to include it.

Neg Tips

There are two main crutches that I see operative in a bunch of neg framework debates:

First, topical version of the aff. The argument that there is a ‘topical version of the aff’ is often used as a crutch for poor impact debating. If the neg just wins that there’s a more topical version of the aff but doesn’t really spend time proving why the aff is hard to debate then I usually vote aff. Yes it is important to be inclusive and this argument should be made but it should substitute discussion of why the aff’s framework is bad for ground.

Second, fairness first. Again, while it’s important to make these arguments, the neg should probably recognize that they’re not gonna win the debate exclusively on fairness first. They will have to defend the politics of their framework argument in some fashion: fiat is a way to pay attention to government policy-making; cure apathy against the government; fiat politics are a way to get outside our shoes and respect the demands that others have to deal with, etc. For me, a lot of this debate comes down to the way the negative frames the final impact of their framework argument. For example, framing the framework impact as critical to methods of compassion or respect for able opponents is a bit different that pointing out that framework is a jurisdictional issue. The neg could argue that their framework politics pays attention to unworthy opponents, which spills over to larger forms of fairness and respect. Disempowered groups can use the politics of fairness and respect for unable opponents to strengthen their claims for political participation. Or the neg could argue that their framework arguments infer that politics has a duty to both listen and respond and that the aff wants of politics of listening only. They don’t want us to be able to respond. It’s not enough for us to simply listen to the suffering of others. Suffering demands a response.

The “fed is bad” is not really an aff argument. Often times the aff answers the negative’s framework argument by asserting, ‘well if federal government action is problematic why should we be forced to advocate it.’ Look people, every venue of action or concern has its downsides. If it’s true that there’s something inherently limited about federal policy making, usually aff’s that believe in the thought experiment of fiated action teach the many different and unique limitations or drawbacks to such thinking. Fiated aff teach us the different way agencies work, the way the government can (mis)interpret ideas and difficulties of truly progressive reforms. The aff’s assumption that the federal government is inherently a deadend assumes that when we as debaters advocate fiated action that we will come to believe when our debate days are over that nothing is more promising that federal action to cure for what ails us. Many moons ago the college community had a topic that advocating increasing federal control over Indian country (the resolution’s words not mine). I don’t know many people who walked away from the topic (and who advocated that the federal government should implement an idea) that federal control of Indian country was actually a net positive. The neg’s framework argument isn’t that the federal government is great but it is a concern for having the discussion.

Hope this little post helps with some of your thinking on the issue. Expect more from our site in the months to come.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Space is the Place

This may be a little bit premature, but for those of you excited about next year's Space Exploration topic, check out these renderings of life on a space colony.

A couple of space colony summer studies were conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. Colonies housing about 10,000 people were designed. A number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made.

See more:

Winners of the Longhorn Classic Novice Division Receive UTNIF Scholarship

Congratulations to Rikki Bleiweiss and Reece Rosenthal of The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas. As the winners of the Novice Policy division at the 2010 Longhorn Classic they have been awarded a $250 scholarship to attend any program at the UTNIF.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Performance Debate" - Beginning a conversation about what it is, how its done, and how to defeat it - Teddy Albiniak

Few issues spark real controversy in the debate community anymore. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who truly believes that kritiks are no longer a legitimate part of negative strategies, even if that is not really your preferred argument.

Performance arguments come close though. I have witnessed (and coached) teams who shudder at the idea of having to debate "those stupid affs." If this is you, my suspicion is that you will only spend the amount of time it takes to pull out your framework file thinking about strategy.

But, for better or worse depending on your proclivity, performance arguments are not a fading fad, but will only continue to grow in the coming years. And as they do, framework strategies will become as obsolete as the "wrong forum" argument did on the kritik. For this first blog post on performance arguments, I offer some questions that can help anchor your thinking and some helpful tips for how to handle these arguments.

What are performance arguments?

Contrary to popular belief, performance arguments are not about singing, dancing, or reading poetry. These texts may be part of the overall argument, but do not necessarily constitute it. Neither are they simply about suspending traditional "line-by-line" debate. While this might be part of some teams tactics, it is not the core of their position. In fact, there are many different types of arguments that people lump into the category of "performance."

While this is not true for all performance arguments, usually the overarching goal is to research and introduce perspectives on the topic that a more mainstream or traditional approach to the topic is not necessarily concerned with. In other words, at their core, performance arguments tend to ask:

1.What parties or ideas have a stake in the debate about resolution beyond the governments’ interest?

2. Why are those interests not currently analyzed or included in the discussion?

3. What is dangerous about their exclusion?

4. What would policy discussion look like if their perspectives were included?

There can be numerous answers to these questions.

Research methods: This literature base is concerned with how we come to prove the arguments we know. While it is certainly acceptable to turn to think tanks, mainstream newspapers, even traditional academic literature bases to explore topics of contemporary policy, there is a real possibility that the real, everyday people effected by the policy are not included in those sources. Instead, teams may choose to explore qualitative, ethnographic, or narrative based literature to explore the effects policy has on people on the ground.

*Check out Walter Fisher's "Narrative Paradigm" in Communication Monographs (1985) for some other historical background

Standpoint/perspective: This literature base suggests that traditional policy making does not encompass the interest of everyone, but rather one perspective or set of interests against another. These folks may draw from identity and cultural studies to describe how the history of policy making or its practices tend to represent the perspective of a privileged group either at the expense of or resulting in the exclusion of a traditionally marginalized group.

*Check out Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza for an introductory sample.

Aesthetics/Presentation: This literature argues that persuasion has less to do with the number of pieces of evidence one reads, and rather with the practices of body and voice that happen in the actual exchange of the debate. Instead, their are non-quantifiable ways of moving an audience to understanding and will introduce mechanisms to demonstrate this process.

* Check out Michael Shapiro's Politics of Representation for more information.

While these short blips surely do not encompass the nuances, it is merely meant to demonstrate that performance arguments are usually not just about representing, they are a kind of doing: drawing attention and focus on the relationship between research methods, power, and presentation as it is reflected and practiced in academic debate.

So, what should we do?

Three starting tips:

1. Right now, you've still got your framework arguments. Obviously, this will not be a shock to performance teams. In fact, their arguments at the onset are designed to answer this position. Since so many teams will inevitably run framework, they will have spent many hours thinking and practicing answering this argument. But, all is not lost. If framework is your bag, then I would encourage you to defend the perspective of traditional policy making with as many specific example as possible. So, if you believe that policy making is "real world." Don't just leave it at that. Describe what that real world is to you, why it is important to preserve, and why that outweighs a risk of exclusion. If you believe that traditional debate creates the best form of communication, offer some examples. The point is: do not just sit on your ideology. The more detailed your defense of traditional practice, the better off you'll be.

2. Consider what you agree with and what you disagree with. My guess is that these debates will not occur on the impact level. I think it is difficult to win that racism or patriarchy is good for example. Instead, you should ask if the affirmative offers a mechanism that effectively challenges those structures or practices. Could there be alternate ways of challenging those systems? Perhaps we ought to orient ourselves to a more traditional form of protest or organizing. Maybe we should be more radical in our strategy? Maybe we should consider a different starting point? Because the nature of these debates are still ambiguous, you have a lot more leeway to establish points of competition. Take that opportunity and redefine the stakes of the debate.

3. Since the goal of the affirmative is to enact change, their entire speeches are open for interrogation. Are their phrases, depictions, stylistic practices or approaches that could or should be challenged? Did they make a claim about a root cause? Could you identify another possible root? Disagree with notion of "roots" entirely? The affirmative has introduced a whole range of possibilities for you, neglect them at your own risk!

4. Don't get frustrated! Most teams turn to performance not because of some enduring hate for debate: they are, after all, at the tournament! Instead, they most likely find something alluring about the practice or find some solace in its content. The more frustrated you get, the more you activate the argument. If you approach the discussion with meaningful, well-thought out, and reasonable differences, you will already be ahead of the game.

These are some helpful framing tips to help guide your thinking regarding performance debates. Join us at the UTNIF this summer to get strategic and technical training not just how to beat these arguments, but how to run them as well! Feel free to post below of email me ( with comments, concerns, or rants.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Theory and the Politics DA: Claire McKinney takes you Inside the Smoke Filled Room

The Politics Disadvantage is different than many other disadvantages in debate. Temporally, it focuses on the process of plan passage rather than plan enactment. Structurally, it requires the discussion of some external bill unrelated to the plan. And recently in high school debate, it’s probably the disadvantage you see most often. Because of its unique relation to the plan and the external world, the disad has created theoretical controversy regarding its legitimacy as well as how plan passage ought to be imagined (that is, the meaning of fiat). In this post, I want to isolate two of these controversies, explain how they are deployed on the aff and how the negative can respond to them effectively. The first is the intrinsicness perm, an older argument that has made a resurgence in popularity, and an argument about the theoretical implications of voting neg on political capital, a newer response. I will spend most of this post on intrinsic perms, because they are more common and more complicated.

1) The intrinsic perm
The intrinsic perm tests whether or not the disadvantage is intrinsic to the plan. Does the plan really result in the lost opportunity that the disad suggests? For instance, does the drawdown of troops from Okinawa require that the South Korea Free Trade Agreement not pass? The premise of this argument is that the aff need only defend the consequences of plan enactment. The aff must argue why certain tradeoffs will not result from the plan implementation, or if they did, why those tradeoffs would be good (or not as bad as foregoing the plan). The aff should not have to be prepared to defend against disadvantages that are not opportunity costs to plan implementation.
This strategy often goes by several different names in the debate. Sometimes, the judge is invoked as a “logical policymaker” who could vote for both the plan and the politics disad scenario (For the purposes of this post, I will be assuming that the politics disad is and Obama good disad; that is, some bill will pass now, plan costs Obama political capital, bill not passing causes bad things to happen.). Some say that the disad is not an opportunity cost to the aff. I think that how someone phrases the argument changes how you ought to respond to it. It is best to clarify in cross-examination whether or not it is actually a permutation or just a no link argument because a permutation may require an extra sentence as to why intrinsic perms are bad or why perms cannot be advocated.
Ultimately, I think these arguments are not all that persuasive. If the negative wins that the plan passage forces an opportunity cost for Obama (which bill to push in Congress), then talk of logical policymakers and opportunity costs are red herrings. In addition, if the links are based on agenda sequencing, focus, or a quickly closing legislative session (all distinct link argument from political capital), then the logical policymaker in the American political system would also face issues of lost opportunities. This is all to suggest that the negative, if they have a link, can argue why for someone, the choice to vote for the plan requires foregoing a vote in favor of something else on the agenda. For members of congress, this could be because the plan and the DA scenario are unpopular in their district or party, so Obama can only convince them to vote for one of them because voting for both would guarantee electoral defeat. Or it could be an issue of horse-trading (think the tax cuts deal in the 2010 lame duck session, where Obama had to give into Bush tax cuts in order to get START. The plan, if unpopular, could take the place of some other unpopular bill (like START) in the horse trade). A real rational policymaker does what she can to get the most out of compromise while giving away the least. The aff changes those calculations irrevocably. The question is not could a rational policymaker do both. The issue is would a rational policymaker do both.
The real issue of the intrinsic perm is whether or not the affirmative ought to defend the process of plan passage. We can interpret fiat to mean that the question is whether the implementation of plan passage is a good idea, not whether the process of plan passage is a good idea. The argument that the aff does not ask questions of plan passage underlies the arguments about competition for agent counterplans, consultation counterplans, and any process counterplans (such as veto-cheato). The argument usually derives from the “should” in the resolution; the question is one of the plan’s desirability and nothing more. In order to win this argument, the aff must have a robust defense of this interpretation of fiat.
The main arguments against having to defend process are as follows:
-Predictability: “Should” in the resolution means this is the most stable interpretation, which is key to research and aff offense.
-Limits: There is an unlimited number of ways to tweak the process by which a plan passes/unlimited links to process disadvantages, while there is no offense to garner a large solvency deficit or link turns from that process, which means the aff cannot generate or research sufficient offense.
-Education: focus on process destroys topic specific education because it encourages less topic specific research in favor of strategies that can be recycled for years/encourages researching superficial news analysis instead of peer-reviewed foreign policy analysis.

Negative responses:
I discussed above how I believe one ought to answer the claim that a logical policymaker could do both. Here, I will consider both theoretical reasons why the logical policymaker model is bad and why the implementation-not-process model of fiat is bad.
Problems with logical policymaker:
-Simulating the US federal government is not simulating any one person in the federal government. Durable fiat (the only real solution to inherency) requires that one fiats the actions of multiple agencies, which means there is no logical policymaker, otherwise plan would never be implemented.
- Rather, one is voting on the resolution: should the federal government as currently constituted do the plan? If it is not this government, there can be no claim about timeframe of solvency or impacts. If it is not a question of the current government passing the plan, then this makes any standard impact calculus impossible to engage in.
-Limits: Much as people accuse kritiks as involving ‘infinite’ frameworks, there are a limited, but large and unpredictable number of ways to interpret what makes someone ‘logical.’ The increasing number of debates that involved carded responses to probability versus low risk magnitude arguments should expose how many different ways one can logically consider a problem. Also, any passing glance at judge philosophies will also show how many different weighing mechanisms judges use in deciding debates. Assuming most judges think they are logical, this really presents a limits problem for the neg.
Negative responses to intrinsicness perms:
-Process is an important part of policy education; policymakers do make calculated decisions about how to approach policy change, whether it be legislation, litigation, and the endless subsets of venues or approaches to law-making bodies.
- Almost all disads and advantages have elements that are in addition to plan implementation; most notably, perception links (necessary for short-term solvency for advantages like hegemony, where the restoration of our readiness would take at least months after implementation of the plan because of the need for retraining and redeployment This is also true of relations-based advantages, where the guarantee of plan passage is what is necessary for a change in relations). If the aff can claim advantages off of non-implementation-based links, then the neg ought to be able to show how those non-implementation based issues cause bad things to happen.
-Arbitrary distinction: Any disadvantage could be spun by the aff to not be a genuine opportunity cost to the affirmative, or to be based on process and not implementation, which means all disadvantages would be illegitimate. This is the flip side of the argument right above, though the impact is slightly different. Instead of a reciprocity claim, this is a ground claim.

2) Voting Negative costs political capital
I am probably late to the party on this one, but I heard this argument for the first time in January. The argument is, as far as I can tell, that if the judge votes neg, it will show that Obama is too weak to get his agenda passed, which will cost him political capital, making the disadvantage inevitable. This is a tricky argument because it is relatively new and because it has the veneer of a logically coherent argument; if plan is perceived in horse-trading negotiations, then voting against the plan would be perceived as well. This is a no-cost argument for the affirmative to make, but I think a couple of simple negative responses can defeat it.

Negative responses:
The main problems with this argument are that it presumes that the negative has to defend something other than the status quo. The negative is not a no vote after the plan is proposed; the negative merely has to defend that how things are in the present is better than how things would be if the plan were passed. But even if the negative did have to defend a no vote on the plan in Congress, there are several reasons why the aff’s interpretation of its consequences is incorrect.
-First, a no vote would prove that Obama spent his political capital getting the scenario passed as opposed to getting the plan passed. The judge’s ballot would be more of a choice of where Obama ought to spend his political capital as opposed to a sign of the political capital’s failure. Dennis Kucinich proposes bills all the time that never are voted on. Just because a bill is proposed does not mean Obama pushes it.
-Second, a vote neg could actually increase Obama’s political capital. If the plan is really as unpopular as the link evidence says, then when it is proposed, it will scare those who oppose the plan into a less-extreme agenda item. The plan is a warning shot, as it were, that Obama can abandon in order to get more support for his centrist agenda items.

Because the original aff theory argument has no evidentiary basis, it is easily spun to support the negative’s position. When the facts are as indeterminate as this, oftentimes, judges will default to the team defending its position, rather than the team trying to forward a positive claim. As long as this argument is answered, it is difficult for the affirmative to win such a position.

These are obviously not the only theoretical arguments that are involved in the politics disad (others are bottom of the ‘docket’ or other time frame arguments and other interpretations of fiat), but I believe that the logic of these two arguments ought to help you deal with other types of theoretical objections to politics disadvantages. Thinking through these forms of arguments and thinking about how they implicate the type of negative and affirmative argumentative possibilities as well as what they assume about the negative’s relationship to the status quo will often be enough to argue against new types of theory you may encounter.