My 2008 Jewish Debate At UCLA Hillel

Several nights ago, I participated in a political debate at UCLA Hillel. I made my case for John McCain.

First, a quick housekeeping note. I filmed a pair of 2 minute commercial for Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. One features me, and the other one features my friends, who adopted a child from Guatemala with the help of Norm Coleman.

As for my debate, it was very different from my debate the previous week at USC Chabad. That debate had a certain warmth to it. Both debaters were seated at the table having a discussion.

This debate was more a town hall style format. We both had seats, but stood the whole time, leaving our suits buttoned and ties knotted.

Making the case for Barack Obama was UCLA Law Professor Jonathan Zasloff.

UCLA Hillel, while officially non-partisan, has a reputation for being very left wing. Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller has a history of liberal activism. My concern going into the event was that one of the conditions for the debate was that it be for students only. I was concerned he was trying to stack the deck.

Nevertheless, the evening went off without incident, and in my mind the setting was completely fair. I was treated with courtesy and respect before and after the debate, with the exception of a few militant left wing students. They were the exception, not the rule. The program was a complete success, and the students reacted very enthusiastically to the event itself.

A student wearing a very stylish bow tie was the moderator. He actually did a good job. He let us know when our time was running out, and made sure we did not go over our allotted time. He also asked a couple of intelligent questions, and then left plenty of time for audience questions.

The opening statements were 10 minutes each, which I felt was lengthy.

There is no doubt that Jonathan Zasloff is an intelligent guy. He is also not a bad guy. Before and after the debate, he was sociable. However, I felt the tone of his approach was hard negative. He also shouted most of the time. I was waiting for a Howard Dean type scream.

I wondered during the debate if he is one of those stereotypical left wing professors that bullies his students into submission by shouting. However, I want to make it clear that I have never seen him in class, and have no evidence that this is how he conducts a classroom. I had never met him before this evening. I prefer not to judge a man prematurely because misjudging a man is awful. Nevertheless, he did come across as very angry.

Also, more than one person after the debate told me that Jonathan was smirking and mocking me while I was speaking. However, one of them said it was constant, while another one said it happened twice. I cannot verify this, so he gets the benefit of the doubt.

His entire opening statement was lambasting President Bush, and tying John McCain to President Bush. While the guilt by association is a smart strategy, it seemed strange that this was his entire strategy.

I began my remarks by pointing out that I did not hear one positive word about why Barack Obama should be President, or what his qualifications were.

I then immediately shifted to a positive tone. I spoke of John McCain’s heroism, and how he saved the arms of fellow captive Colonel Bud Day.

I did take some time to deal with why Barack Obama is wrong on issues. I went after him on taxes, trade, Israel, and his lack of experience on foreign policy.

Yet I did so in what I was told afterwards was a pleasant manner. The crowd laughed when I referred to “Barack Hannah Montana Obama.”

I was told later that I made my point well when describing what a community organizer does when I said, “Al Sharpton is a community organizer.”

Jonathan used his 3 minute rebuttal to continue bashing President Bush and McCain, spending zero time on why Barack Obama should be President.

One thing that I noticed was that even after I mentioned that the claim of 47 million uninsured includes 15 million illegal immigrants, Jonathan repeated it anyway.

I mentioned Jeremiah Wright and Rasheed Khalidi as an example of Obama’s bad judgment, but did not bring up William Ayers.

Jonathan brought up conservative bigotry, and the racial code words that republicans supposedly use. I did not let that go unchallenged.

I mentioned the t-shirts that say, “Abort Sarah Palin,” “Kill Bush,” “Bush = Hitler,” and the democratic activist that ran over Katherine Harris in his car. I also mentioned that horrible words by John Lewis towards John McCain. I mentioned that John Lewis was a hero, but his words were beneath him, and that John McCain was not George Wallace. John McCain never turned fire hoses on anybody or authorized or supported such noxious behavior.

Another strange line of attack that Jonathan brought up was how George W. Bush failed to stop terrorism during the Clinton Presidency. I know that sounds bizarre, but he blamed North Korea getting the bomb on President Bush. He blamed America for handling the situation badly.

I was more matter of fact, pointing out that “Liars lie. North Korea is run by a liar. He was doing what liars do.” I explained that this is exactly why the left keeps getting kicked in the teeth. They keep thinking that dialogue is always the answer. I clearly stated that with Russia it was, but not with Armageddonijad. The crowd laughed that I call him that.

One thing that surprised Jonathan was that I did not spend my time trying to separate John McCain from George W. Bush. I do not like the cowardly approach. Gore lost by running from Clinton, and I truly believe that John McCain cannot win a Bush-bashing contest.

I vigorously defended President Bush as a champion of freedom, liberty, and women’s rights. I pointed out that women’s rights was more than abortion. It dealt with freeing thousands of women in Afghanistan and Iraq from being beaten to death. Those women held up purple stained fingers to show they voted. Some of them are now in government. I also pointed out that for those worried about abortion, overturning Roe vs Wade, which is highly unlikely anyway, would not ban abortion. Those who claim otherwise are lying.

One area of the debate that made me uncomfortable was when a questioner asked me my opinion on gay marriage. I prefer to stay out of the culture wars.

More importantly, I was there to advocate for John McCain. My position might not be his. I had to make sure I was not getting his position wrong. One thing I did address is that both Barack Obama and John McCain say they are against gay marriage, but that only John McCain means it. Barack Obama is like many liberals running for President. He badly wants to say he is fo0r it, but is afraid of losing the election. So he is willing to put politics above principles. I personally am not a hardliner on either direction on the issue, but it disgusts me that Barack Obama will not have the guts to say what he believes.

Several people in the room said they were voting for Obama because of that issue alone. They know he is lying to satisfy Middle America, and they don’t care. For this reason, they are just as pathetic as he is. They are prepared to endorse a man who publicly rejects them because they know he secretly accepts them. So much for gay people being out of the closet. I would rather have my self respect.

After the debate, several gay rights activists in the crowd were quite rude to me. I gave them my business card, and they asked me my opinion on a gay marriage proposition in California. I stated that I had not sat down to read it yet, but that I would in a couple of days. They expressed shock that there was anything to read or think about.

This is why I detest activists, especially student activists. They are so blind in their support of their pet issue that anybody that expresses a divergent viewpoint is met with hostility. I did not even disagree. I expressed neutrality. I wanted to tell these students that their hardline approach took people in the middle, and shoved them in the other direction. I decided to keep silent since activists are usually incapable of letting logical reasoning interfere with their blind passion.

Most of the students were very polite, and at least one undecided voter told me afterwards that they were now supporting John McCain. That is why I did the debate.

Plenty of people told me afterwards that I won the debate in a landslide. While that is flattering, it is quite possible that the people talking to Jonathan told gim the same thing.

Jonathan is a successful and accomplished professional. He is very intelligent. However, his approach to debating was to speak to the already converted. He would be fabulous at a partisan pep rally. I can picture him speaking at future Democratic Conventions and lighting up the crowds. I mean that respectfully.

However, my approach was to try and appeal towards the middle. Sure, I offered some partisan red meat, but I made sure to offer a positive portrayal of John McCain, while Jonathan’s entire case for Obama was that it is the anti-Bush and anti-McCain.

Jonathan’s approach can win elections, but it is not a good model for governing. Then again, with many on the left, winning elections is the end itself, not the means.

I look at it this way. I held my own in what had the potential to be very hostile territory. The students liked the debate, and felt it was informative.

That in itself made the event worth doing, and successful.


14 Responses to “My 2008 Jewish Debate At UCLA Hillel”

  1. Rarely has any anecdote been so misused, so boorishly, so humorlessly, so inapproppriately as the “Howard Dean Scream.” God, don’t you guys have any original material?

    And what’s with this “illegal immigarnt” number regarding the unisured? How would you guys even know such a thing? What? Where do you get the numbers from? Is there some “illgeal immigrant” poll ot there that I haven’t heard of?

    C’mon. You guys are just ass-u-ming, and making an awfully liberal (not in the American political sense) assumption at that. We don’t even know how many “illegal immigrants” there are. We don’t know how many are, in fact, insured (many are, I know, I used to work with many of them). Most “illgal immigrants” keep quiet. They are not counted by most governmental accounting institutions. You guys are just making this stuff up (as usual). Who needs facts when you have inarguable ideology?

    And what? Would 32 million unisured Americans sound better to you? What kind of argument is that?

    And what’s this insanity regarding adoption? What about adopting American kids? What? Aren’t they good enough? Do you really believe that adoption is a GOP issue? The GOP stands against making adoption easier! God forbid a single person, or a gay couple, or a working class person wanted to adopt a child! Heaven forbid!

    I want to debate you. Any time, any place, my friend. ;)


  2. Micky 2 says:

    “Most of the students were very polite, and at least one undecided voter told me afterwards that they were now supporting John McCain. That is why I did the debate.”

    Then it was all worth it.
    Well done.

  3. Micky 2 says:

    Jersey, if you want to talk about outdated material the left holds more of it than anyone.
    Do want me to list all the stupid slogans thrown at the administration for the last 8 years that just would not go away ?
    Also even if we drop the illegal alien count as to has and does not have insurance its a fact that most of those who dont have insurance have simply opted on their own not to purchase it , but instead opt for the wide screen TV or dont want to dip into their latte` budget.

    “I want to debate you. Any time, any place, my friend. ”

    Yea, and I would love to see Charles Krauthammer debate Al Franken, but we are a sympathetic society so I doubt anyone would let that happen for your sake.

  4. I happen to be one h#!! of a debater. You don’t get to be a corporate collections man being an uninformed softie, ya’ know. ;) If I can get a major corporation to cough up the dough, I can get a conservative to face the fact that their ideology is wrong, even if they don’t want to admit it.

    As for medical care everyone – EVERYONE – needs it, and someone has to pay for it. It’s just a matter of when. When Americans grow up (and grow a brain) and realize this, they’ll finally understand why every other civilized nation on the planet has some form of universal medical coverage.


  5. Micky 2 says:

    You’re a riot.
    Eric is ten times as informed as me and can produce an argument way better than myself and you think you could handle him when I’ve shown you the door just about everytime ?

    Oh jeez, I bit my tongue jumping up and down laughing.
    You never have any facts and you always resort to the emotion, metaphor and opinion as fact. And its actually you who carries his own bucket of sand with him everywhere in case you need to bury your head when you wont accept fact.

    “As for medical care everyone – EVERYONE – needs it, and someone has to pay for it. ”

    That someone who needs it should pay for it.
    I need food, a roof over my head, transportation and medical, and O pay for it.
    Those who have fallen on hard times deserve a break but i’m not buying their medical for the next four years

  6. I can handle our good host just fine. I happen to be quite informed myself.

    As for medicine – I think one of these days you cons ought to look up the definitions of “utility,” “society,” “civilization,” and “economy.” Maybe then you’ll see why your over-zealous orthodox free-market ideology has so consistantly and inexorably failed.

    And back to the point of the post – the reason Democrats and the Left have been bashing Bush throughout this election is that McCain is proposing the same failed ideologies that pusued the past eight years. Sure, McCain talks about “change” and “cleaning up Washington,” and “corruption on Wall Street,” but what exactly is he proposing to do about these issues? The same failed answers Bush has given us the past eight years. And once again, a prolonged period of laizzez faire ingovernance has led to disaster. This has happened over and over again. But Americans, being the anti-intellectual bunch we are, just seem to forget every other generation or so and fall for the same rightwing con-job. If only the schools taught the kids what the Right was really about – and what history can show us about that.


  7. Micky 2 says:

    “But Americans, being the anti-intellectual bunch we are, just seem to forget every other generation or so and fall for the same rightwing con-job. If only the schools taught the kids what the Right was really about – and what history can show us about that.”

    The first half of your post is pureley speculative upon bias and opinion as usual with nothing to back it up whereas I will kindly refer you to all the info on the housing bubble created by the left that is partially responsible for this mess. We discussed it and I showed you the actions of the left as documented that caused it and the actions McCain made to prevent it which you absurdly said was not good eneough as it was in all actually ver batum what happened.

    “If only the schools taught the kids what the Right was really about”

    So, you want the school system to indoctrinate our kids into thinking conservatism and capitalism are bad ?
    Dont worry, most of them are already half way there.

    “and what history can show us about that.

    History shows that for America capitalism has worked and sustained our society for centuries.
    Whereas history has shown that endeavores such as Obama socialistic visions have failed.

    “I can handle our good host just fine. I happen to be quite informed myself.”

    Put your money where your mouth is and fly your butt to L.A, and set up a forum.
    You presented the invite and brought on the challenge by saying anytime “anytime, any place”

    But, I have a feeling like most of our debates this challenge you put forth is going to be looked back on as nothing but empty rhetoric

  8. Joshua Godinez says:

    “As for medical care everyone – EVERYONE – needs it, ”

    I agree. Not everyone needs medical insurance, though. That’s what Barack would like to make mandatory. In the world of the totalitarian, government tells you what you must do (I heard Dennis Prager give a really good summation on totalitarianism today) and that is what I keep hearing from Barack. You MUST pay more if he things you’re too rich. You MUST have medical coverage that may not be what you desire or need. You MUST accept abortion. You MUST spend your tax dollars on government schools even if you send your kids to a private one. I choose candidates who are less invasive, much less, than Barack Obama.

  9. Joshua, because everyone needs healthcare, and because someone has to pay for healthcare, and because ya’ just never know when you will need healthcare, ipso facto everyone needs healthcare insurance. Why Americans are so stubbornly unwilling to accept this simple fact is beyond me. And there’s another simple fact at play here as well: profiteering utility is economic cannibalism.

    Now, in the mind of the obscene exagerator, this is somehow “totalitarianism” or “socialism.” But it’s not. It’s just also not fundamentalist orthodox free marketeering. All healthy (pun intended) civilizations must balance socialism and capitalism together. These systems are NOT mutually exclusive, contrary to the simplistic logic of the Right. In fact, without one you cannot have the other. You cannot have trade without contracts. You cannot have contracts without consequence. You cannot have consequence without socialism. You cannot have infrastructure withour socialism. You cannot have the taxbase to pay for infrastructure without capitalism. It goes on and on. Not only are socialism and capitalism not mutually exclusive – they are in fact mutally dependent!

    When you pay your taxes, for schools or healthcare or roads or the military or whatever, you are not just paying for yourself, as you proposed with your narrow example above. You are paying your share to be a part of the broader society. And the more that society benefits you, the more of a share you should pay. This is progressivism.

    You use the example of schools. Okay. I love that example. Imagine you are in a car accident. You’re laying on the ground next to your car pretty hurt. A paramedic arrives. The paramedic looks at you and says, “DDDDDDUUUUUUHHHHHH… You huwt ‘derr, buddy boy?” You say, weakly, “Yes. I think I broke my leg.” Your left leg is obviously broken up, twisted in an unnatural direction. The paramedic looks at you and says, “Which leg?” Then, after a pause, he says, “Hey! You bwoke ‘yer leg!”

    You get what you pay for, Joshua. If you want to live in an educated society, you have to pay for that. You are not a nation unto yourself.

    Get it?


    I might just do that one of these days. But I was thinking more of a web-radio debate. I’m living kinda lean these days betweeen my new health problem and career issues. I too have suffered a bad hit from this mortgage crisis – and no one’s bailin’ out ol’ Jersey McJones. besides, I have trips to the southwest and NJ coming up, so LA will just have to wait. I’ll be up there sometime though. I do have family there.

    It’s funny that we’ve been debating healthcare coverage. All my life I had great health and I’m still pretty young. And then bango, I wind up with a heart problem when I happen not to be covered but I was covered almost all my life prior to this. Just goes to show. And I had the best coverage too, back when I was up north. That’s one of the reasons I always worked for foreign companies – they had the best benefits by far. Americans are stupid. They’ll take pay over time off and benefits, then they complain when they’re worn out and unhealthy at a young age. What a bunch.

    ya’ know, you just gave me an idea. I think I finally have my radio webcast show concept!


  10. Micky 2 says:

    So much for “anytime, any place” huh ?

    See, you’re just all blab.

    “ya’ know, you just gave me an idea. I think I finally have my radio webcast show concept!”

    Wolfman Yak ?

  11. Noooo – a debate show! A show that only does debates. What do you think?


  12. Micky 2 says:

    Wuss man Yak ?

    People would rather debate on threads because it gives them time to research before they open their yap.
    I think its a little late actually.
    After the election I would see little point in changing someones mind, thats why I debate.
    I just come round here to show everyone why you’re wrong, I’m right, and to defend Erics positions, only because I agree with him most of the time.
    I debate to the finish, til you’re rebutals are all chopped up and you got nothin left. In our case I’ve gotten the last word almost everytime with you.
    Now, you can say its just because you may feel at some point its useless.
    BUT !
    If your point was so good to start with you never really should of backed off in the first place.
    In my opinion its just an example of how the fighting spirit is predominantly on the right and that liberals do tend to leave unfinished business to the wind, fate,or move on arrogantly stroking themselves that somehow they won , with their noses up in the air while mumbling to themselves “forgive them Obamassiah, they know not what they do”.

  13. Got a bit of narcicsim goin’ there, huh Micky? Last word? I tend to move on to the the next thread rather than continuously debate on a prior one. Mybe that’s why so many of your posts are “last.” I don’t know, because I don’t look back all that often.

    I really can’t think of any substantial debate in which you proved me wrong about anything. You tend to debate more from the ideological heart rather than the intellectual head.


  14. Micky 2 says:

    ” I don’t know, because I don’t look back all that often.”
    Well then its all a mute effort , for what ?

    “You tend to debate more from the ideological heart rather than the intellectual head.”

    You tend avoid the intellectual truth as i have consistantly provide reliable sources/documents to back up my points.
    I am the one supplying the intellect whereas the arguement against you has always been one that you derive your input from questioning peoples intelligence and expecting to “take your word for it”
    Now that my man is an example of narcicsim and ideaoligy.

    Nice try at turning that around.

    If anything its sadism and not narcisism.
    I love to make dumb people look dumber.

    Kinda like hustling pool.

    Go into the bar shooting like a dufis and lose a couple bucks here and there waiting for some schmuck to think he can take you for a hundred.
    Then you crank up the grammar and the intelect and run the table.

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