2nd CD: Debbie Holmes on the issues

BOISE, Idaho - Debbie Holmes, a Democratic candidate for United States House of Representatives in the Idaho 2nd Congressional District, issued the following position stances today.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

I work very hard trying to help people into or out of housing in a very difficult market. The problems I see as I meet with my clients (who are usually struggling, sometimes losing their homes) have convinced me that we must make changes in how this country is run. I believe the deregulation of the big business and banking has led to the current distress we are in. By deregulating the financial sector we have allowed crooks to take their profits while destroying our economy. The greed of many banks, speculators, real estate agents, builders, etc. has created the inflation in housing prices. Loans were made that never should have been made. People signed documents they didn't understand. As a real estate agent, I work very hard to try to get people out of these situations.

The stories I hear on the job make me want to cry. There are many people who are financially devastated by medical problems. Thirty percent of us do not have health insurance. First we lose our health, then our jobs, then our insurance, then our homes. It is time for universal healthcare for all Americans. When people are ill they should worry about their recovery, not their finances. In this country, we penalize the sick. Health insurance should not depend on who you work for.

We must reform the largely regressive tax system that exists in the status quo, and move tax demands which are placed unfairly on the poorest among us somewhere else.

IRAQ

I don't believe that we can morally pull out of Iraq instantaneously, whatever the result of the 2008 election. If we, through our terrible handling of the war, ruin a country, then leave it in a state of anarchy, that would be reprehensible and would hurt our reputation on the world stage. That being said, we need to start preparing for withdrawal.

The Republicans have no exit strategy in Iraq; they seem to be willing to keep troops there indefinitely no matter what the circumstances on the ground. I support Sen. Joe Biden's plan to partition Iraq into three autonomous regions under a loose federal government, with provisions for the equitable division of oil wealth, and a phased replacement of US troops with Iraqi forces.

I firmly believe that Iraqis who have worked for the US military or diplomatic efforts in Iraq should not be left to fend for themselves as we begin to withdraw. As in Vietnam, those who have put their reputations and their lives on the line for our cause deserve a chance to immigrate into the United States if we withdraw under circumstances which put their lives in danger. All Iraqi support staff and personnel should receive this opportunity.

CIVIL RIGHTS

One of the most important civil rights issues facing our country today is the question of "coercive interrogation." To me, this is a relatively simple question: Will we be a nation that tortures its prisoners, or will we be a nation that follows due process? What with the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and black sites across Europe, combined with the Bush administration's recent assertion that waterboarding, a practice which amounts to controlled drowning, has been used on detainees, it is clear that the GOP and the current president are veering in the other direction. I will do my utmost to restore America to the strong anti-torture stance that, until recently, was generally accepted by all parties.

Mike Simpson voted to allow the government to wiretap conversations and engage in intrusive investigations without a warrant, even from a secret FISA court, whose decision would remain private and therefore would not danger national security. It is my understanding that the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution provides protection against search and seizure without a warrant. Every Idahoan and every American ought to enjoy the protections of the Constitution. It's time to send a message to Washington that our rights are not negotiable. We can and must preserve them at the same time as we provide for national security needs. Maintaining this balance is not the easy way out, but it is necessary.

Whatever one's opinion of same-sex relationships might be (and I believe that such relationships are perfectly valid), it is not our business to pass moral judgments on the victimless lifestyle choices of other individuals. It is certainly not the place of an employer to do so; sexual orientation does not affect a worker's job performance. If elected I, unlike Congressman Simpson, will support extending civil rights protections in the workplace to include those involved in same-sex relationships. It is not the place of the government or corporations to determine family values.

EDUCATION

Many in this country believe that it is time to desert the public schools, and establish a program of vouchers, in order to encourage student to bail out of the public system. I could not disagree more. Rather than deserting the public schools, we need to reform their administration. The standardized testing regimen imposed by the current administration has done nothing to help. Schools are punished for underperformance under No Child Left Behind through the withholding of necessary funds. The NCLB program, which Congressman Simpson supported, fails to account for the obvious. In order to improve education, we need to put money into failing schools, not redistribute this much-needed funding to schools which are already successful.

I support the replacement of No Child Left Behind with a system that actually gauges students on an individual level, rather than judging schools as a whole, and gives money (with oversight) to failing schools rather than taking it away.

ABOUT DEBBIE HOLMES

Debbie Holmes is a real estate agent, a mother of three and a first-time candidate for public office. She lives in Boise.

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Iraq

I see you're another "break it, buy it" kinda people without thinking of the ramifications of an extended occupation. There is a very good debate waiting to happen on the 2008 election that involves the very real possibility that we're the cause of the strife in Iraq, that by rapidly withdrawing we force political reconciliation. Then you also have the degrees of withdrawal. You seem to have set your mind that "break it, buy it" is the only solution to an incredibly complex situation.

Why don't you try actually admitting that it is a complex situation and requires more study and discussion with experts on the region rather than assuming you must have an answer, and one that sounds like it appeals to the majority of your constituency?

I for one will respect the truthful answer of "its really really screwed up over there, I don't have the expertise nor the current education on the entire situation to sum this up in a short news blurb."

For some reason, though, I continue to be disappointed in all of the politico's when it comes to that question...

Biden plan

She's not advocating permanent occupation, she's advocating a gradual withdrawal to start ASAP, so that we can implement the Biden plan effectively.

Faults of the Biden plan

What I know about the Biden-Gelb plan couldn't fill a thimble. But since partitioning seemed commonsense to me at one point, I researched partitioning: the fatal flaw would be akin to making Idaho a 'Mormon' state: the majority of Idahoans aren't LDS, nor are there clear geographic lines separating Kurd/Shia/Sunni populations in Iraq.

That being said, I did a moment of googling 'Biden Plan juan-cole' and found this:

Are You Listening, Joe Biden?

Yeah, Debbie, *Something* must change. We *do* own the problem Neocons have created, who should have learned their lesson from observing Russia and Afghanistan's war.

Hearts and minds, cancelling / elimination all no-bid contracts, much tighter restrictions on all involved occupying forces and corporations, efforts to empower progressive Iraqis (teachers, engineers, scientists, business-owners) and strip political power from theocrats, pulling troops back more aggressively, enabling journalism (to make people accountable), drawing in the UN and other nations, etc etc etc... As an engineer six thousand miles and multiple degrees of involvement separated from this, I can list off ideas like gangbusters, but I'm also smart enough to know I am utterly not qualified to say what the answer is. And regrettably, everyone involved has an agenda when there's this much oil and money at stake.

Superimpose the economic peril the US faces (double thanks, Neocons), and I don't see a way things improve any time soon.

My opinion of the Biden Plan

I speak only for myself here, but my impression is that sectarian strife is already quite high in Iraq in the status quo; the creation of 3 Iraqi regions based on the dominant group is more likely to cool tensions and stop ethnic cleansing than increase the rate of atrocities. In the status quo, with the parties in the federal system being divided along ethnic lines, minority ethnic groups are, to a large extent, kept out of the corridors of power, and feel forced to protect themselves through violent means. With a federal system in place, minority groups will have an agency of government that has a vested interest in protecting their rights. If one of the regional governments violates the rights of minorities living within their territory, the federal government (in which the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds will have an equal say), which is in charge of splitting up oil wealth and various other funds, will have means to check the region's actions.

Don't forget that the Biden plan calls for US troop phaseout within several months of implementation, with only residual training forces remaining. We need to help the Iraqis find a political settlement, rather than a military one.

I think Debbie's position is we need to clean up our mess

Debbie's view is that we went in based on faulty intelligence (or worse....treasonous interpretation of the Whitehouse by the President and his advisers). But, we went in there and screwed the place. She believes that when you make a mess, you are obligated to clean it up. Unfortunately, in this case, it is not clear how to clean it up. However, Sen. Biden has a plan that might work. It is better to follow that than pull out and destroy a country.

Debbie would love to see the troupes comes home...she understands the impact of deployment on the people and family: Debbie grew up a Navy Brat, and saw her father away for 8 months of the year. Debbie can describe that uneasy feeling of, as a 15 yo, having a 'strange man' in the house. However, she also believe in responsibility. If you make a mess you have to clean it up...

Biden's "plan"

Biden's plan is not the only thing that "might work". It might have worked in 2003 that we over-ran the country, killed Saddam and were greeted with flowers and candy (those candy injuries can be very serious).

I don't want blind support of a plan that "might work". Thats a load of crap that any candidate should have trouble pushing on their constituents. Unfortunately right now Americans are clamoring for any plan that is thrown their way, anything would be better than right now, where we have no plan at all.

If I were to parse what you are saying, David, you're saying that Debbie will blindly trust other members of her party to have the best solutions to problems she isn't educated about. Hmmm, if thats how you want to do it...

Blind support?

I don't know why you're accusing her of being uneducated on Iraq; she's followed the situation extensively. And the Biden plan for Iraq is supported by both Clinton and Obama. No plan is assured of success, but if you read the Biden plan, it really is quite good. We aren't going to stay indefinitely; if the Iraqis fail to cooperate in its implementation, we won't act as their permanent police force.

None of us

No one that has lived exclusively in the US for their entire lives can fully understand the issues that make Iraq such a clusterfark, and to even assume that the information we can glean from news sources and interwebs "experts" must be understood that it is all through a lens that filters out the parts that we don't understand and almost can't understand.

Why is it such a problem for people to admit that they don't know something? I've been against the Iraq war since 2002, calling for impeachment, writing to representatives and I've tried to educate myself on Islam and other factors, but I can recognize that I still have no idea how to fix Iraq and I would never even begin to suggest that a plan will or will not work (except for having no plan but for popping champaign in Baghdad).

Biden could very well be wrong, Clinton and Obama could very well be wrong. Has Petraeus reviewed the Biden Plan? How about other middle east experts? Where are the reviews, the analysis, the criticism?

It is far too easy to trust one's party. I think it should be far easier to break off and hold them up to criticism to see if they hold up.

Biden plan is the best option now?

Binky, when we look at the options we have, we can stay the course, try to find a solution for the quagmire, or pull out and potentially let Iraq disintegrate like Afghanistan did at the end of the Soviet occupation. Clearly, the first option is not good. And, the third option (when previously executed by the Soviets) led to the Taliban and possibly 9-11.

The second choice...trying to find a solution as we draw down, is clearly the preferable choice (IMHO). At the moment, the Biden plan seems to be the best option available -- not a good solution, but the best option.

If a better idea comes along, then, we have something to debate.

As Jesse as said, Debbie has read about Iraq.

And Debbie's support to any issue would not be blind. Unlike a lot of so called leaders (Mr. Bush), Debbie is willing to admit when she is wrong, either about a position or in other areas. If she sees that the Biden plan is not working, it would lose her support...and that change would NOT be based on what polls say, but rather her own analysis of the data. Debbie is smart; she was educated at one of the top engineering schools in the country. She can think for her self. She can analyze.

You can trash her all you want, but it would be could to talk to her first.

Screw you

Screw you, David. Criticism and concern do not equal "trash"ing. Get over yourself.

Let's calm down, everyone.

Take a deep breath.

The reason why I used the word trash

What you said that she had not studied the issue. That is not the case.

And at this time, all you know about her is what is on the blogs. When real debate happens, when (if) you meet her, then I think you may be impressed.

David --

If you, as well as Debbie and her campaign, can't get past Bink's questions and criticism, you'll have absolutely no chance against Simpson and his Rethuglican goons.

Bink's tough on Idaho Dems, and his teeth are sharp, but better to learn to deal with it now, from one of our own, and get the Holmes campaign's talking points heat-treated now. The road only gets steeper from here.

Edumacation

This is not an answer I could ever respect either:

I support the replacement of No Child Left Behind with a system that actually gauges students on an individual level, rather than judging schools as a whole, and gives money (with oversight) to failing schools rather than taking it away.

You cannot gauge students on an individual level, it won't work and it requires massive bureaucracy in order to do it. Focus on student performance creates a very real chance of corruption. Instead of suggesting that public education is all about the student, you need to focus on getting good teachers and keeping them employed through benefits and competitive wages, along with professional review of teacher performances. If you read the weTeach proposal and challenge the NEA and IEA to come up with the statistics and numbers to support their proposal, I think you would find that they have been pretty comprehensive, except that they don't exactly encourage a high level of independent review of unionized teachers.

Of course, the above is based on my quick scan of their proposal, so I might actually be surprised if I read it closer, they may have already addressed the independence of the teacher reviews.

Teachers are the key to student performance. The bell curve of grading will ALWAYS be there, the key is to move the apex of the curve to the right, towards slightly higher scores without sacrificing real learning.

NCLB flaws

I talked with her about this; she's talking about the flaws in NCLB's approach. Schools such as Mountain Cove and Fort Boise, which are meant for students who are underperforming, are punished under NCLB with the withdrawing of funds. Schools with English Language Learning Programs are punished without regard to their special circumstances. As I understand it, she feels that we need a plan that is more flexible to individual needs and doesn't punish schools.

NCLB is crap

And I've stated that sentiment for years. Kennedy should be ashamed of himself and punished for co-sponsoring that lump of offal.

So in that aspect, I agree with Debbie that NCLB is "flawed", and I would go further and suggest that an underfunded mandate such as NCLB is akin to blackmail and encourages corruption in our schools.

Well funded schools are already withdrawing themselves from the program, but the underfunded ones can't.

The education issue, however, has two major areas to focus on, NCLB and local efforts to address immediate issues. weTeach is one of those efforts that deserves special attention and Debbie should be very well updated on how the IEA has developed that plan and on how it can be improved and implemented.

I don't see that in any of the addresses from Debbie.

On an off-topic note...

... thank Mota somebody redesigned the campaign logo. Much better than the previous, and kudos to whomever did so. (Gold and blue work in this state -- every FFA'er is familiar and comfortable with 'em).

That's very odd

Just hours ago my kids and I, driving back from Portland, encountered a whole slew of FFA kids wearing all their regalia in the Pendleton Dairy Queen. My boys recognized them right away - "Hey Mom, those are the same coats Napoleon Dynamite wore in the milk drinking contest!"

And even more off-topic - if any of you are traveling to Portland in the next month, you MUST see the Cirque du Soleil Corteo. Unbelievable. Fabulous. Worth every penny.

If I may say so, the choice is quite clear

Recall 10 days ago we didn't even know if we'd have a candidate against Mike Simpson in the 2nd CD. Today the choice couldn't be clearer:

-We can keep the Simpson, and the reliable Bush/McCain vote he provides.

-Nominate an opponent for Simpson who thus far has addressed exactly none of these very important issues despite repeated requests, other than to say the beef is "on the grill cooking to perfection!" This from the supposedly more "experienced" candidate, mind you.

OR

-Nominate an opponent for Simpson who's already addressed these topics so comprehensively that Julie at RSR complained about the wordiness. While we may disagree on the minutiae, the crux is what many of us are looking for: get out of Iraq, scrap NCLB, and intelligently address our financial system.

I won't try to analyze Simpson's primary opponents; it's way too early in the morning for that.

what remains

Are you also of the camp that it is not ok to question a candidate?

Because I'm not down with that in any way. She may have my vote, but I want to actually support Debbie, not just give mindless head nodding and cheerleading just because she's a candidate.

Besides, better to address a semi-friendly crowd now than a hostile one later.

Of course

we don't want you to pull the lever for her just because she has a D after her name; that would make us no better than certain segments of the Republican Party in Idaho. Binkyboy's questioning really is to be appreciated, however terrifying it might be; it forces a candidate to defend him or herself early, which leads to a more refined candidacy when we get closer to Election Day.

The vetting on the issues here

Is a good thing (for the most part). I for one encourage it; any good candidate can't help but benefit from constructive criticism. I'm just pointing out the lay of the land here, and the need to support the best candidate, even if the perfect candidate doesn't exist.

The main issue is that these &$^$* Bushies got to go!

Dick Cheney, commenting on the 4000th troupe death, apparent said (approximately) They Volunteered.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/24/cheney-on-4000-dead-amer_n_93109.html

As a country, as a state, as humans, we need these people gone.

different things

Support vs. Voting For are not the same things.

Supporting Debbie calls for actively tracking her issues, communicating them to others and encouraging others to learn more about Debbie.

I for one don't want to throw my support behind a BushDog or an embarrassment that I'll have to apologize for later.

I'm not criticizing that.

I hope that she can convince you.

Debbie Holmes on Iraq and Terrorism

I have studied the situation the best I can as an ordinary citizen. Just like the rest of you, I am not privy to intelligence reports that might guide me better. I firmly feel that we both need to get out of Iraq and we need to protect those people whose lives have been put at risk by our country's actions. I am not actually talking about our brave servicemen and women, but the civilian Iraqis, whose lives have been devastated. I am willing to look at plans that might serve both purposes.

My father served in the Navy when I was a teenager. I fully understand the devastation that long deployments can have on both the military personnel and their families. It hurts me that we are sending our people on painfully long deployments in a war with questionable legitimacy.

No plan is guaranteed success, including immediate troop withdrawal. If I am in Congress, I will be privy to information that I can use to better analyze the situation.

Since George W. Bush has been in power (note: I did not say elected), I have watched our country's standing in the world deteriorate. We have acted like a big bully, and the world has acted accordingly. We have bypassed the UN and our allies and acted mostly alone. Last October I traveled to England (whose government is our firmest ally) and was verbally attacked on more than one occasion for being an American. I have traveled overseas before and never had that problem. I am ashamed that our credibility in the world has decreased.

I also believe that Mr. Bush's actions have increased terrorist activity around the world. We have created a generation of Islamic extremists who feel that we need to be suppressed. Now we really have a problem with terror. Thank you, Mr. Bush!!!

We cannot afford another 4 years of Republican rule. We need a Democratic President, Senate, and House.

Debbie Holmes
Candidate for Congress District 2