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November 26, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Senators value money over people

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Today our elected officials are blatant about the importance of money versus the will of the people.

The polls indicated close to 90 percent of people favored background checks and gun registration.

Unfortunately, money from gun and ammunition manufacturers, the right-wing political donors who fund NRA mouthpieces, doomed the will of the people.

Political campaign donations to primarily Republican senators overshadowed the will of their constituents. They showed us they are not concerned about their campaign promises and do not care about their constituents and their needs.

Their political feeding at the senatorial money-trough is all that is important as they line their pockets.

The frustration of the people and their disgust with feeling powerless is overwhelming.

This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment, our freedoms, our way of life or any other bogus excuse the senators who voted no conjure up; it’s simply that they cannot resist the enormous amount of money that may be coming into their campaigns.

They did not consult with their constituents before they voted. We, the people, sent them to the Senate to keep their campaign promises, to listen to our concerns and represent us with honesty and integrity.

The senators’ personal feelings, their donors, their NRA ratings and their standing within the Republican Party should never be more important than their constituents who voted for them.

I agree with the Senate gallery comments after the vote: “Shame on you!”

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  1. The general public has little in-depth knowledge of what good public policy is that will lead to positive societal outcomes.

    Only in a perfect world will the majority wants align with what policy experts deem most likely to be effective. When a conflict exists, however, which should take priority? What constitutes good public policy? Specifically, will gun bans, gun magazine bans, gun registration and gun background checks reduce bad behaving criminals and lawbreakers? Honestly, it would do little to prevent or protect law-abiding citizens. Criminals and lawbreakers don't carry a book of laws to refer to and govern their behavior.

  2. "Criminals and lawbreakers don't carry a book of laws to refer to and govern their behavior."

    True, but does that mean we MUST enable them by leaving such a large loophole in the laws that they can do this legally?

    To characterize many U. S. Senators as "policy experts" is the triumph of optimism over experience.

  3. This letter by Debbie Starr and other similar letters make me shake my head.

    Ms Starr is right about the money and the NRA of course, but what about the big pharmaceutical lobby that keeps our drug costs so high, even under the ACA? What the health care insurance lobby that made sure the ACA would provide them with 30 million more customers but do next to nothing to reduce premiums?

    What about all the other lobbies that provide money to Congressional campaigns in exchange for having 'our' representatives vote for what 'they' want? Ms Starr should be outraged about a 'system' where 'serving' in Congress is a lucrative 'career' without any term limits, where we do not have public financing of Congressional campaigns and where lobbying runs rampant without any oversight or controls.

    Whatever side of the gun debate one is on, it should be obvious that the problem we have in Congress is much more than the NRA. The NRA is part of a very 'corrupted' system in Congress that 'must' be changed. If Americans want to place the people who 'serve' as elected representatives in a situation where they can vote on legislation using the will of their constituents and their own best judgment .... instead of what will garner them enough money and support from powerful interests with lobbyists to maintain their lucrative 'careers', we cannot leave this system as it is.

    Michael

  4. As I recall in a recent poll [rarely quoted] of law enforcement officers in the U.S., the overwhelming majority [70-80 percent] said bans of assault weapons and super magazines would have no measureable effect on gun crimes and rates.

    So let's pass a NEW FEDERAL LAW, or combination of 12 more, to close a 1-2 percent loop hole of gun sales by private dealers. Right! Makes complete sense. Non-sense.

    Carmine D

  5. I'm a firm believer in the notion that when the President and Congress and the Governor and the State Legislature and the County Commission and the City Council don't vote the way that I want, they are a bunch of corrupt SOB's on the take from special interests and lobbyists like Jack Abramoff[sp.?] Corrupt? of course they all are, except, of course, for the guy that I voted for. He/She is a reasonable person, bucking the tide of depravity and corruption. Sometimes my guy tries to be a conciliator and works to cooperate with the other side, but they are so partisan that it gets him/her nowhere. I just wish all politicians were as reasonable and committed to bi-partisan solutions for the good of the country/state/county/city as my rep is!

  6. The 2014 midterm elections will speak volumes.Hold on to your hat if your running for re-election.The voters are waiting in the wings.

  7. Enjoyed the letter, Ms. Starr.

    Simple facts cannot be ignored. That background check could NEVER have passed to go forward to be brought up without bi-partisan help. This nonsense that the Democrats blew it is garbage. This government is supposed to work. And that means both sides of the aisle. There was nothing catastrophic about this legislation. But the entire Tea/Republican Party decided to act as an arm for the NRA and the pro-gun manufacturing lobby.

    By their inaction on this vote, they CONFIRM that the massace at Sandy Hook Elementary School is now the norm in America. It happens again? Meh. Tea/Republicans, by their inability to do anything meaningful to prevent it from happening again, are now on record they welcome it to happen again. They could care less. Politics are more important than people's lives.

    It is a known fact that just about 91 percent of the people in the U.S. were for background checks. And just about 87 percent of Nevadans. This was before the vote happened.

    But our Senator Heller disregarded what the people wanted. We simply don't matter to him and his predatory joke of a political party.

    If you read his statement of why he voted like he did, it was almost verbatim what is written in a National Rifle Association's lobby propaganda handbook.

    Ever since that vote, Senator Heller has not breathed one word. Nor has he ever shown his face anywhere.

    Why?

    Because he knows now is the time to lay low. He KNOWS the people are mad. Disgusted at how he just slapped all Nevadans in the face with his vote.

    Like any Tea/Republican Party politician in power, they just do what they do, could care less if the people don't like it, then hide, hope it all dies down. Then they come forth and do the same shenanigans again.

    He's a poor excuse for a Senator. And I hope the good people of Nevada remember his vote come election time.

    This vote he did on background checks is not an isolated incident. He has also blocked not once, BUT TWICE, an emergency Federal judicial judge appointment. Why? Because of his stupid party politics which states that anything the opposition does to run government, he's supposed to be against.

    Let's get rid of Heller. It's gonna happen again. I am simply amazed that voting for a Tea/Republican, people hope that a different result will happen. No. They ALL act like Heller. There's no difference. The entire Tea/Republican Party is bereft of ideas. Other than to take everything away from the middle class....and hand it over quietly to the rich. Because the rich are insatiable with their lust and greed for more and more and more and more and more corporate welfare.

    Anyways, Heller will be nothing but a first term back bencher. From now until forever. He's nothing but a follower. Not a leader. Nevada could do way better than him. Especially after the non-stop craziness he does.

  8. From her past rants, it's plain to me that Starr is no "constituant" of any Republican. She and her ilk automatically vote for Dumbocrats regardless whether they are the best for the job or not. Then they complain about the government they get. T.S.! Whittling away at our Constitutional rights should be opposed by every thinking American citizen. And "gun" control is exactly that. Honest law-abiding citizens must not be hampered in their quest to defend themselves, their families and their property from criminals who obey no laws.

  9. Jeff,

    You are obviously intelligent but it is such a shame that you consider my calls for Term limits, public financing of campaigns and lobbying reform 'blather'.

    Yes, we have tried R control of Congress as well as D control, but there is a problem, one I recognize but most others don't. 'Careerists', which is what we have in Congress for the most part, are going to do whatever is necessary to keep their career. Both party structures fully support that. What is necessary is money. Who has money, and lots of it, and agree on what they want? Not us! Not the citizens! We are 'all over the place on issues' and we lack the cohesiveness of purpose and the money resources that the 'careerists' need to keep their 'career'.

    I hate to blow your idea out of the water and I wish you were right, but if we elect legislatures with all D's or all R's, the 'careerists' will still be there and so will the powerful interests with the money the 'careerists' need to retain their 'career'.

    Wake up and smell of coffee. These people are human beings (whether D or R) and self interests rules. The system has to be changed so that a 'career' in public service may not be so easily obtained and retained by simply doing what those with power and money want.

    Michael

  10. YOU cannot vote away the Constitution rights of CITIZENS. You can restrict sales to illegals, legal visitors, convicts, young. How about ENFORCING some of those laws? In Nevada, it's illegal for non-citizens to own or carry but WHERE IS THE ENFORCEMENT? Further, we could, without any constitutional issues, enforce FEDERAL LAWS that using a firearm in the commission of ANY crime would mean 5 years minimum in a federal prison--would get a lot of these yahoos off our streets and cut the demand for illegal firearms.

  11. It is funny that you get those reactions but not a lot of similar letters when the PPACA (Obamacare) passed. There were several high profile Senators who said that 80-90% of the calls that their office was getting were opposed to the law. Most regular polls show substantial opposition, but many of those who voted for it just shrugged it off as misinformed or just stupid voters. People here talk about term limits, but I question what that will do since it has not done much where it has been implemented. Similarly with campaign finance reform. It seems as though we believe there are issues with government and the people running it, but we want to put them in charge of election funding.

    We just saw our Congress gut the insider trading provisions that they passed not long ago under the guise of national security. They are looking to exempt themselves and their staff from the health care law that they supposedly passed for everyone. And their arguments are similar to businesses that oppose it, that it will make things too expensive and possibly cause them to not retain better people.

    On the gun control issue, a Gallup poll showed that 65% wanted the Senate measure to pass. No 90%, which is an answer to a very generic question. Roughly 1/3 were opposed to the Senate bill. Similar numbers came from a Washington Post/Pew Research poll on the bill. Based on that, the Senate vote was not a horribly wrong as some would say it was.

    It is still an issue of voter participation and awareness that we need to fix the issues with government. Often it seems we are looking for a magic solution that will give us better government without having to pay attention to it. That just does not work. Term limits and campaign finance reform are unlikely to change it much.

  12. Jeff,

    I try never to be unfriendly or personal and I do a good job of that. Let's start with that.

    I agree that the Supreme Court would be a major barrier to what I propose, but so would both major parties and their members. Such a change has to be grass roots and have major majority citizen support. Things here are not bad enough for that.... yet... but we are heading there.

    I understand that you place trust in the progressive caucus but what they propose just bolsters my contention that any changes that matter will not come from within this 'system' without a massive citizen demand.

    We cannot 'redress' the issues mentioned or enact 'reform'. That's been tried and it has always failed. You can't have 'voluntary' public financing of campaigns. Been tried and failed. That stuff is window dressing that will allow the system to continue as it is.

    If we want representatives that represent us, here is what is 'required': Senate: One term. House: Three terms. Serving is a privilege and honor, not a 'career'. If you want a 'career', train to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, mechanic, etc., not a 'public servant'.

    All Congressional campaigns are funded by a public fund.. taken, yes, just like taxes, from the citizens to fund campaigns. No other money, personal or otherwise is allowed, period. Everybody sits on a level playing field and we choose whom we support.

    Lobbyists have the same access you and I have.... no less.... no more. No gifts, no junkets, no airplane trips, nothing. Lobbyists cannot sit with legislators as legislation is drafted. Wouldn't you and I like to be able to do that!

    NONE of this will EVER be embraced by SCOTUS, or either political party UNLESS a huge majority of Americans demand it. As I said, that has zero chance of happening until things get much worse here than they are now.... but I am convinced they will.

    I just don't buy the contention that we can fix what is wrong, either by voting more progressives in or more conservatives in. Progressive or Conservative, we are all human beings and we place our own self interests first. In Congress, that means election and re-election. Under this system, that takes money and the interests we'd prefer NOT to run the country ARE running the country... because they have the money.

    Jeff... why does the government let all the fraud, waste and duplication in government programs continue no matter who we elect? Because to really address it would impact powerful interests with money! The evidence of this corrupted system is everywhere, if you just look.

    Michael

  13. William,

    Obviously, an informed and engaged citizenry is the ultimate answer. However, as unlikely as it is that we will see public financing, terms limits and lobbying reform, they are more likely to be seen than an informed and engaged citizenry.

    Again, for any MAJOR changes (good or bad) to happen, things are going to have to get to a tipping point where enough Americans are so dissatisfied with their lives that they are ready to support BIG changes. We are not there yet and may not get there in my lifetime, but we are heading there.

    Michael

  14. Jeff,

    Here is where you and I differ and I quote:

    'You have an organization that believes as you do. You reject them as not able to affect change. Well, if you won't vote for folks who think like you, isn't it YOUR fault no change takes place? Yes sir, it is.'

    These people do not believe as I do. If they did, they would be proposing what I suggested instead of tiny tweaks that won't mean a thing in the big picture. I applaud your beliefs Jeff and have no problem with you advocating for them.

    I will consider voting D if a D is the best candidate, but I have zero belief that doing so will bring us one millimeter closer to where I believe we must go. I have exactly the same belief with the R's. It's simple self interest Jeff, and that isn't altered by whether you are a D or and R.

    WE allowed our own government to morph into what it is by being uninformed, uninterested, lazy and gullible. WE DID IT and WE ARE GOING TO HAVE UNDO IT. It is folly to hope that those that benefit from this system... the people we elect and the interests that fund their campaigns .... are going to make changes that alter this system in a way that does not benefit them.

    Michael

  15. Money is the great motivator and corporations have a hold on our politicians. The recent explosion at a Texas plant which blew an entire town to pieces hasn't had inspections for over 20 years. That event brought to mind an opinion I submitted three years ago.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 2:04 a.m.

    In the movie "Wall Street," Gordon Gekko, a main character said, "Greed is good."

    At what cost is greed good? Corporate greed caused our economy to bottom out, almost leading to another Great Depression.

    Forty thousand people without health insurance died yearly while CEOs paid themselves handsome salaries.

    Mining company Massey Energy was fined hundreds of times for operating under unsafe conditions, resulting in an explosion at Upper Big Branch, killing 29 workers.

    In 1911, the New York City Triangle Factory fire killed 146 people; some jumped to their deaths to avoid being burned alive, again because of unsafe conditions.

    There have been plant explosions, buildings collapsing, cranes falling and people buried alive across the nation. Why? Profits before all else!

    This country has a long history of putting money before people, and after all these years some would think human life is more important.

    Why protest abortions if you allow corporate murder?

  16. Practically, our political system makes it highly unlikely that ANY problem of the scope of gun-violence, will ever be corrected by Congress.

    Why? Even though 90% of us may WANT a solution, we all have other concerns as well - other items we want addressed by Congress. And, of course, we all have to do our day jobs and cover our family responsibilities. Permitting gun violence is the SOLE day job for the NRA. Each one of us may send our representatives 10 letters a year (more likely 1 per decade in practice). But those letters will probably cover 6-8 DIFFERENT issues. The NRA can send 20, 30, 50 letters A DAY and each one will cover a different aspect of ONE issue.

    We retain the title of having the best Federal Legislature money can buy.

  17. In a Free Market economy, everything is for sale. Privatize the retirement accounts and watch that money get invested in sales on bubble industries and technologies. The fund management will become rich on commissions, bonuses, perks and salaries etc. but when the funds fold, you can kiss that retirement adieu.

  18. Jeff,

    I think you agree with me on some of what must be done, but you, like most other Americans have hitched your wagon to one of our two major parties.

    Each party benefits greatly from the 'system' in place so there is little, if any incentive to make any changes. I understand that each of us has to vote for someone or some party but if that is what we do and actually expect to see any substantial change, we are being naive.

    We have to call our leaders out and force the change. If we don't, we get business as usual.

    Michael

  19. "The Virg. Tech shooter was the most deaths by a gunman in the USA with 35 deaths.

    He had two handguns with 10 bullet mag's each.

    He went through two background checks to buy the guns.

    He had a history of mental health treatment." Sgt. Rock

    The gun of choice for criminals is the hand gun. Chicago, with all the supposed gang violence, and throughout the country, more gun violence and gun crimes are committed with hand guns, not assault rifles with super clips.

    I opine that is the reason that the poll I quoted above by U.S. law enforcement officers is as it is.

    Although I opine a ban of assault weapons and super clips would have prevented FAST & FURIOUS. Oh, that's right. Justice Department would have had an exception.

    Carmine D

  20. Jeff,

    I have watched over the years as our government has implemented many programs and passed varied legislation. The one constant in all of it is that the legislation and programs, while beneficial to many, always favored the powerful interests with lobbyists.

    There was a time when we were so powerful economically and so wealthy compared to every other nation in the world, that it just didn't matter much the our representatives did the bidding of the powerful interests with lobbyists. There was still enough left over that our middle class lived a life that people in other nations could only dream of.

    That's still true today for many Americans but that group is dwindling. The world is much more competitive now and we can no longer afford to run our country the way it has been run, by both parties for a very long time. Our margin is now gone.

    Neither of our parties shows the least interest in really changing things in ways that would matter. Both seem content, although taken different paths, to do things basically as they have always been done.

    You and many others, supporting both parties don't agree and that is your right. I never though in my wildest dreams that I'd be a 'radical'... calling for changes unimaginable by most Americans, but that is where I am. I have absolutely zero faith in our two main parties and the system under which they operate. I have great faith in the fact that if we don't adopt great changes in our now corrupted system, our country will eventually fail.

    Michael

  21. Codegrey,

    There are a few people who write to the Sun that recognize that both parties are a disaster. Jeff, Lastthrows, Teamster and others are correct in that the GOP currently has a worse standing with many Americans than does the Democrat party, and the CNN poll and others show that to be true... at least at this time. CNN is biased left; Fox is biased right... yada, yada, yada... both statements are true... and so what.

    I try to make a habit of not using Fox to try to bolster any position I hold because I recognize that they are biased right. I wish those writing to the Sun from from the left took the same stance with CNN, NY TIMES, HUFF Post, MSNBC, etc, which are all biased to the left... but they don't and won't.

    I welcome you to the discussion, whether or not you agree with me, but I do try to stay non personal and reasonable and polite no matter what slings and arrows come my way. I don't always succeed but for the most part I do.

    Michael

  22. Jeff,

    If compromise means to change a position I hold to one someone holds, I don't really compromise and neither does anyone else that writes here. The biggest difference between me and most others that comment here is that I propose that our real problems are 'systemic' and cannot and will not be resolved by electing more D's or R's. In that position, I am practically all by myself, which surprises me, in that the facts to support my view seem so obvious, at least to me.

    Michael

  23. I think the 90% figure I keep hearing and reading is a fallacy. I don't know anyone who favors the legislation as written. You might get 90% if it was discrete legislation without any other side issues or amendments tacked on.

    I would support background checks for all if that was a standalone and separate requirement with nothing to dirty it up and no outrageous fees, taxes or other nonsense. Buy a firearm from any source regardless of physical location or reason and the transaction must be cleared by ATF. No registration, no illegal holding of records, etc. Pay a one time fee to cover the cost of the transaction and when approved and completed, it's over.

    Unfortunately that's not what happened and I would not support the bill as drafted and with the intended amendments. Stop using every bill that gets written as a vehicle to carry other unwanted unpopular items and then blaming no votes as if they voted for a disease. Too often this is done intentionally for political purposes. Dirty up a bill knowing it won't pass for the purpose of making a political point and to vilify the opposition.

    We have a senator who does this routinely although he has company from all parities and corners.

  24. Jeff,

    I did, at one time, think that a 3rd party could be a solution. My views have evolved. I have come to realize that a 3rd party injected into this 'system', where to keep a lucrative Congressional 'career' requires money that can only be obtained by doing as powerful interests with lobbyists want, the 3rd party would soon be just a junior R or D party. That isn't what we need.

    We need two parties where being a member of Congress cannot be a 'career' and where the money necessary to be elected or re-elected is equal between candidates and cannot be provided by powerful interests. Without that, we will continue to get what we are getting now, which is an incredibly poor performing legislative branch.

    Michael