Attn: Debaters! Your Turn to Lead the Discussion

My big bi-annual vacation is coming up in January, and I'd like to try something a little different. Debaters, I throw it over to you. It's your turn to lead the discussion. Write a blog entry on any issue about which you'd like to start a conversation, send it to me, and I'll post the most intriguing entries while I'm away.

I'll still drop in to comment and post as often as I can -- but I'm not banking on wireless Internet in East Timor. (I base that prediction, possibly erroneously, on the fact that there are only two ATMs in Dili.)

Your post should follow the usual blogging format, providing lots of useful links to both opinion pieces and factual documentation. I hope to see posts on a wide range of controversial subjects. Humor is most welcome (shout out to Chris Ford for morphing my "rogue banana peel" comment into a detailed analogy) and a healthy dose of sarcasm is fine ... keeping in mind that sarcasm isn't always obvious in print. It is an opinion column, so give us your take, but nothing too rabid. Ask probing questions, and provide a few good nuggets for your fellow Debaters to evaluate.

Real names are required -- don't say anything you wouldn't want to put your name on -- plus a working e-mail address or phone number where we can reach you. (Don't worry, the contact info won't be posted, and I promise I won't stalk you or give your details to telemarketers. We just need a way to reach you if we have any questions about your submission and to verify that you are who you say you are.) I'd especially like to hear from the regular Debaters -- ErrinF, Will, Chris Ford, Turnabout, Alex Ham, SandyK, James, Jon M., Jaxas and the rest -- we know you have strong opinions, so why not take the reins for a day?

I look at my fellow Debaters as something of a focus group on current events. If you want to see what the focus group has to say about your big issue, write up your post and e-mail it to me at by Jan. 3.

By Emily Messner |  December 23, 2005; 12:40 PM ET  | Category:  Your Take
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The Supreme Court
Are the laws they evaluate so poorly written that the nine absolute best legal minds in the land are still often split 5- 4, or can we acknowledge that these judges are making their decisions based upon their own political leaning?

Is Congress writing such ambiguous language so as to delegate its authority to the Court, or is it so complacent as to let the misinterpretation of plainly written language go unchallenged?

Posted by: Brian Mayr | December 24, 2005 02:41 PM

Right!!I agree with you!I have been suspecting the action of the congress!

Posted by: Headsonic | December 24, 2005 11:07 PM

Debate topic: Emily is cute AND brainy. Does she have a boyfriend? :)

Posted by: Turnabout | December 29, 2005 08:43 AM

I wish a lawyer would make some comments but I will make a few observations. This seems to be a power grab by the executive branch. First, the war on terror can go on forever. Second, congress declares war. Of course when you have a legislative branch as craven as the present one they let the executive execute a manuver that Orwell would have admired. Heres hoping congress will find its spine or Scalito will ultimately save us. I'd have to have way the best of oddds to bet on it though.

Posted by: Jack Hicks | December 29, 2005 11:30 AM

I think I object to the idea of surveillance of citizens more than anything except the consequences of not having surveillance.

There again, I object to the provision of legal assistance to terrorists nearly as much as I object to surveillance.

But then, I don't find the idea of finding myself in the sequel to World Trade Center at all appetizing. I guess I'm just hard to please! Who said "Eternal vigilance is the price of Safety"? I'll guarantee he's still alive....

Posted by: Rick Clarke | December 31, 2005 01:33 AM

Phone servailance has been around since Ma-Bell had her babby bells. With people still being allowed over our borders, that proves how security stinks in america.
Congress always knew about the tapping, they passed laws governing what can be done with the information. Its all leagle for security sake.They Can't even control the houses of congress how can they control this issue?

Posted by: Mike | January 1, 2006 03:39 PM

Dang, Emily you must be a mind reader. Just been over to and was reading the documents on the East Timor independence struggle -- and before reading this thread!

***BTW, going to come back with a bombshell on that topic? You know, a working vacation??*** ;D

That said some choices for a topic can be...

1. Any topic from here:
2. Especially from this subsection:

Surely there's some meat to gnaw on from that site not even partisans excuse readily (hey, it's OUR protection and money being spent!).

Hope your vacation goes well. There's some really juicy blogging to do when you return, from Alito on down. :evil grin:


Posted by: SandyK | January 2, 2006 08:10 PM

If Emily's not single, I hear Maureen Dowd is available... : ) Poor Maureen Dowd just had to be cursed with brains and beauty. And red hair. So sad. Being beautiful and intelligent myself, I can relate. : )
Anyway, I tried thinking up a topic, per Emily's request, but no luck. Just not a good time of the year for me to find the time to draft a Debate topic. I'll just try again next time Emily's off to East Timor.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 2, 2006 09:48 PM

At one time Emily I thought the USA had a better form of government than England's parliamentary system which we in Canada copied. With the arrival of the Bush(Carl Rove) administration I now realize we have true freedom. Constitution Act of 1867, Bill of Rights www.efc/pages/law/canada/BillofRights.html.passed in 1960. The Constitution Act revised 1982 to include Bill of Rights and Freedom. To those of your readers who need to examine their religious beliefs I suggest reading Tom Harpur's book "The Pagan Christ" As Bishop V. Gene Robinson stated " Unless we come to grips with the clash of fundamentalisms vis a vis Christianity/Islam, it will make the crusades look a like a tea party

Posted by: Dogface | January 3, 2006 12:19 PM

I'd like to hear a discussion about Bush's understanding of checks and balances and/or his definition of politics. It might just me--I however doubt it--but it seems our president doesn't comprehend that what he commands may not be done. The most recent example is the Patriot Act resistance. He blames politics for Congressional standstill. I wonder why he doesn't blame politics on anything else? I guess it's the GOP's way of trying to dig themselves out of a hole.

Sorry Emily, no links for this one.

Posted by: Kegathon | January 3, 2006 09:22 PM

Debate topic:

The Democrat Party has taken some rough turns of late, and after the Kerry defeat in 2004, party leaders started assessing how they can change to take back their country.
One idea that came out was "Framing the Debate "

Others had ideas , and sometimes focus groups were formed.

Clinton's successful manager, James Carville had ideas as well, calling for Democrats to be "born again"

But is there something else going on ? Is the democrat party changing ? Are there forces that are creating a differnet type of party?
Did campaign finance reform accentuate these forces, with, and what about the 300 million that flowed into "issue advocacy groups ", 527c's, and perhaps in a small way hurt the democracts when the SwiftVets arose.
The talk behind the scenes is the SHADOW PARTY, or more commonly called " far left control ", or "liberal takeover " , .
Are the democrats afraid of this label, as John Kerry denied it on the televised pre-nomination debate hosted by Dan Rather ?
Maybe the democrats shouldn't be afraid, and should start embracing their new left wing tilt, provided by big money moguls like Goerge Sorros, and even Jane Fonda with 527c contributions.
What is the Democrat Party forming into, what will they be, are they the same, how can they take back their country ?

Posted by: SiliconDoc | January 5, 2006 06:08 PM

Followed the FairTax debate. It seems most of the debaters do not understand what the FairTax Plan proposes. Would it help the quality of the debate if everyone read the FairTax Plan at to find out what is actually being proposed and the academic and market research supporting the Plan? Much of the debate seems to be centered on assumptions not contained in the FairTax Plan. It is much more productive to debate what is proposed rather than assumptions not included in the FairTax.

Posted by: The Lion | January 14, 2006 06:08 PM

Security and Surveillance: Checks and Balances? Interesting territory because the kinds of threats facing the US and other western democracies neither existed nor could be envisaged when the instruments of the Constitution, its subsequent amendments and the Bill of Rights were conceived. Time for a twenty-first century appraisal of our security needs in the light of what is happening right now. Museum specimens and fossilized niceties are not much use to a society facing unprecented menaces from within and without the nation's borders. But be sure that all objections to effective national security are appreciated by the enemies of the West.

Posted by: Rick Clarke | January 14, 2006 07:54 PM

Mostly everyone seems to debate on the legality of the wiretap ordered by President Bush.I want to ask all the bloggers one simple question.Bush knew his constitution.Let us assume an intelligence operative following MohdAtta becomes suspicious of his connection to an american citizen and rreports to chief which reaches Bush;Now what he must do?Is he to follow the warrant procedure which may take 3 days (being a weeend)or order immediate wiretap?Terrorists use TERROR notonly against nations but also against Individuals.Guatonomobay detainees:Who will give evidence against them from Afghanistan?As they cannot be charged in a proper court with proper eveidence;they should be released to take up suicide bombing against americans?What america should do?How will America will solve this dilemma hinges WORLDWIDE battle against terror.We in Democratic India have been faced with this dilemma as most of the JEHADIES once released on bail or due to lack of evidence have gone back to TERRORISM as they know nothing else to do.
Captain johann 91 080 26591615,

Posted by: captain johann | January 17, 2006 11:57 PM

captain: It's not that the warrant procedure takes three days -- it's that you can wiretap for up to three days BEFORE applying for court permission. Funny how people keep getting that wrong.

Posted by: m | January 21, 2006 04:33 PM

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