@kstarkey: Adding some comments here -- apologies if there's any overlap with the other comments in the doc.
- Agree with adding "its" if the current resolution wording is largely kept; agree with "substantially reduce" rather than "eliminate" to avoid excessive PIC ground; agree the Farm Bill is a bad topic given the current political climate; agree that FCIC is a good topic/revision
- I think it's weird that "farms" is only in the tobacco topic -- I don't think there's necessarily a meaningful difference between ending subsidies for "tobacco" vs "tobacco farms" but it nevertheless seems the topics should be consistent (if nothing else, any debate about what constitutes a "farm" or a "subsidy for a farm" as opposed to a crop is certain to be asinine).
- I think corn, sugar, and crop insurance are the best topics. I would also change "sugar beets" to just "sugar" or "sugar production" -- that grants access to larger geopolitical debates (like the WTO/Brazil sugar dispute) as well as larger general inroads to the US sugar industry; and I'm not aware of any unique benefit to discussing sugar beets and not sugar cane.
Strong +1 for "development and implementation" rather than "research" wording. The crux of it for me is that advantage solvency mechanisms tend to require actual implementation (we've been doing research for decades, that's obviously necessary but not sufficient to address climate change/etc) while negative disads often only need perceptual links (easier to win the IL that the act of Trump suddenly approving funding for X science thing would trip the politics link, freak out energy companies, etc).
- I don't like the NASA budget topic as written -- the affirmative could implement a permanent budget for NASA identical to its current budget and be topical, minimizing disad ground while claiming perception based advantages like science diplomacy. Conversely, in real life there's not really such thing as a "permanent budget" absent a Constitutional amendment -- yes, fiat is durable but it seems odd to force the aff to do something that more or less doesn't exist in the actual budgetary process. (Topic is also missing "the" in the phrase "for National Aeronautics and Space Administration".)
- Most of the other topics should have "significantly" or "substantially" added to prevent minuscule affs.
- I think SLS, debris, and military satellites are the best topics here. I think space solar and asteroid mining are overly susceptible to the "do it on the ground" CP, and rely on fairly speculative technologies that are years/decades from reality.
I would suggest changing the wording of each of these to "military naval presence". I understand that the present wording intentionally expands aff flex but I would argue it does so too much -- especially since the actor is US not USFG; this would arguably justify having random US companies do economically beneficial but unpredictable things such as cargo shipping (this would certainly be a good and perhaps neg-favored T debate but I don't see a reason to open the door to it). Military naval presence still allows aff flex (heg affs, military science/environmental affs) while providing a modicum of predictability. Barring this change, I would at least advocate for changing US to USFG.
My favorite topics here are:
- SCS -- good China debates and debates about the Asia pivot/SE Asian alliances post-TPP-scuttling
- Arctic Ocean -- as Matt noted, a lot of creative aff ground here
- Black Sea -- I think new Russia debates are both interesting and very meaningful in the context of a Trump presidency
- I agree there should only be one river topic. I think the Irtysh River topic is the better of the two. There are larger geopolitical and international questions regarding the UN challenging China as the topic demands, while the Hari-Rud river topic seems much more regional (and debate-scale impact scenarios more speculative).
- I think the Syria topic is fairly sound -- it has geopolitical implications for the international community as well as the Middle East, on top of the general HR impacts. I am somewhat concerned about aff/neg bias though; it seems the aff only gets relatively small HR advantages and relatively vague UN cred advantages, while the neg gets Syria disads, ISIS disads, Russia disads, and generally solid uniqueness given that the Syrian government has already retaken most contested territory (so arguably stable water supplies are coming in the status quo anyway).
- I pretty much exactly echo Matt's concerns about the Haiti topic.
- I think the Hormuz topic is the best third topic. I think the term Rob may be searching for is "right of transit passage" which is referenced in LOST (I also think this is a preferable phrasing instead of "zone of free passage" since there is a literature base to establish its meaning and limits.) I would consider rewording the topic to be a bit more precise in general: "The United Nations should establish and enforce the right of transit passage in the Strait of Hormuz."
- I also agree with Matt's concerns on the 64/292 topic, and I am unsure of the negative ground on the additional water filtration topic.