Americans are feeling growing unease about the accumulating dysfunctions afflicting us which seem to elude governmental solutions. The combination of weak leadership and irresolute voters has led to diminished standing internationally, inflation, rising crime rates, energy shortages, the hollowing out of once-great cities, and persistent racial disparities.
Yet the greatest threats of all to our future are the national debt and illegal immigration, both of which are wildly out of control. These two dangers, if not soon contained, threaten to consign our beloved nation to second-tier status.
Yes, it could happen. Americans tend to believe that everything will be OK, because this is America where everything naturally gets better.
But there’s nothing inevitable about our good fortune. Yes, we have a fortuitous history, but the music could stop at any time if we habitually neglect the discipline necessary for successful self-government.
There’s even an ominous question of whether the debt and illegal immigration are even solvable at this point. Yes, we’ve carried high debt loads before, notably after World War II. Strong economic growth rescued us then. Innovation and improved productivity are again our only realistic hope of avoiding sharp economic decline.
But we’ve worked ourselves into a dangerous situation, where our annual debt service has reached $1 trillion. We are forced to borrow to make interest payments while our debt continues to grow – a death spiral normally leading to bankruptcy. Creditors will soon demand higher interest payments, and many may refuse to buy our debt altogether.
The effects of the massive migration of the last few years will also be difficult to reverse. Even if we ended illegal immigration today, the 20 million new residents among us aren’t going home, and deportation of this scope may be impossible.
At least two million are “gotaways” who intentionally avoided border check points, for reasons we can easily guess. This means not only will our lives become more dangerous, but social, educational, and criminal justice systems will all be undergoing stress tests just at a time when we are running out of money (see above).
Sure, Democrats have enthusiastically led the open borders craze. They ludicrously claim there is nothing they can do unless Republicans will legislate more, spend more, and agree to comprehensive immigration reform, a.k.a. universal amnesty.
But Republicans had their chance to close the border and didn’t. Instead of cutting back immigration, the Trump administration could have used executive authority to close the border entirely to unauthorized entry, as the law requires.
Americans’ traditional respect for the Rule of Law is a linchpin of our national success. We ignore it to our detriment. We now will pay an awful price for keeping the door cracked a little open when the law is clear.
Democrats have also led the charge for irresponsible spending for false reasons (COVID) or for pure political gain (student loan forgiveness). But Republicans have failed to be the adults in the room, quailing at the threatened “government shutdowns” during spending debates, sneakily supporting spending abuses like earmarks, and generally refusing to expend political capital on spending reductions.
When you’re in a hole, stop digging, right? The first orders of business are to close the border and balance the budget. Both require prodigious amounts of political will, and these are just the first steps.
There is some hope in the sudden transformation of the formerly sanctimonious sanctuary city jurisdictions. When faced with the realities of millions of unvetted, unskilled dependents demanding…well, everything, they are swiftly losing their enthusiasm.
For now, the self-described humanitarians are demanding more help in processing and caring for illegal immigrants, but it’s likely they will become more realistic before long. We’ll see. Voters clearly respond more constructively to crises which affect them personally, which our unmanageable debt will also soon begin to do.
Many historians believe we are seeing the inevitable decline of a still great civilization, a highly successful republic that by choice never became an empire yet achieved dominance and wealth. Like many before us, prosperity produced softness and self-indulgence in the citizenry and so we too may sink into the dustbin of history.
Somehow, we must not – we cannot – let that happen.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers held a press conference to announce their plan to “ease the financial burden hitting hardworking Arizonans when they fill their gas tanks…by addressing fuel blend requirements in Arizona.”
The fuel blend issue at Arizona pumps has long been a point of contention between legislative Republicans and the Hobbs’ administration, leading to this proactive attempt at a solution on the lawmakers’ side. According to the press release issued by the State Senate Republican Caucus, “Arizona is required to provide drivers in Maricopa County a specific fuel blend for cooler season months and a different fuel blend specific for warmer season months.” The blend employed by the state during spring and summer is “Cleaner Burning Gas” (CBG) – a boutique blend dictated by statute and procured from outside the state, which can lead to shortages and higher prices for consumers filling up their tanks at critical times of the year.
Faced with this issue of a very limited set of approved fuel blends, Arizona legislative Republicans announced that they had “identified eight comparable blends” in their free-market proposal to allow “as many fuel blends as possible.”
“We believe the EPA can and should approve those blends for use, as they provide nearly identical clean air benefits as CBG,” said Senate President Warren Petersen. “Providing multiple fuel options allows the market to compete during unexpected shortages and helps keep gas prices low for Arizona drivers.”
Senator Justine Wadsack, the bill’s sponsor, added, “The Legislature was not made aware of the shortage until after it had happened. As part of our plan, we’re proposing the Legislature be immediately notified if a waiver is requested by refineries, and that the Senate President and House Speaker are provided the authority to file a waiver request directly with the EPA. Hardworking Arizonans are struggling in this economy. Turning a blind eye to crippling gas prices is like throwing salt on their wounds. As lawmakers, we should do everything in our power to improve the lives of our citizens who elected us to represent them.”
The issues raised by Wadsack refer to previously induced information this year that the Governor’s Office was convinced by the EPA not to submit a waiver for an “alternative fuel type to provide an adequate supply for drivers and preventing a hike in gas prices,” despite oil companies warning state officials of significant refinery shutdowns and past Arizona Governors applying for and receiving that opportunity. According to Senate Republicans, “this catastrophe reduced the supply of the CBG (fuel blend).”
In an exclusive statement to AZ Free News, Representative Austin Smith said, “I applaud my fellow freedom caucus colleagues, Kolodin and Wadsack, for being the leaders on this issue. Every Arizonan, specifically in Maricopa County, has felt the pain at the pump under the Biden administration. Katie Hobbs could have led on this issue with requesting a waiver from the EPA, but failed to do so. As Vice Chairman of the House Energy committee, I look forward to seeing the proposals come forward this upcoming session. It’s the upmost importance to deliver real solutions to working Arizona families where we can.”
Earlier this year, Senator Jake Hoffman unleashed a blistering rebuke of Hobbs’ reported failure “to do the right thing by requesting this waiver to allow prices at the pump to drop.” Hoffman’s statement followed the aforementioned accounts of a letter that had been sent to Hobbs in March by independent petroleum refiner HF Sinclair, warning the state’s chief executive “of a critical supply shortage in Arizona due to an unexpected equipment failure stopping the production of CBG required by the Biden Administration in Maricopa County, as well as parts of Pinal and Yavapai Counties.”
At the time, Hoffman said, “Katie Hobbs’ incompetence as Arizona’s Governor continues to take center stage, and hardworking Arizonans are paying the price for it. The average price for a gallon of gas right now in Maricopa County is a full $1 higher than the national average. This is extra money that could help with groceries, medications and other necessities many of our taxpayers are having a difficult time affording because of the Biden Administration’s reckless policies leading to historic inflation.”
Senator Shawnna Bolick, who also attended the Wednesday press conference, told AZ Free News that “earlier this year, a proposed waiver that would have helped Arizonans save millions at the pump was rejected by an unelected government bureaucracy. During the critical supply shortage of CBG this spring it would have been invaluable to have this legislation to increase the availability of multiple gas blends instead of the current monopoly. It is time to remove unnecessary excessive red tape and open the market to competition to help Arizonans counter the Biden inflationary economy.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
Arizona Legislative Republicans aren’t finished with the City of Phoenix’s action to donate firearms to Ukraine.
Last week, three Arizona State Representatives sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, calling on the prosecutor to “immediately undertake a criminal and civil investigation of City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and City Councilmembers for their intentional and flagrant violation of state law in connection with their actions surrounding the City’s Ordinance S-50010.”
The letter from Representatives Travis Grantham, Quang Nguyen, and Selina Bliss, follows a response from Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes regarding a 1487 complaint for “a recently passed City of Phoenix ordinance allowing the illegal donation of 599 unclaimed firearms to Ukraine’s national police force.” Mayes’ report found that “Arizona law requires cities to dispose of unclaimed firearms by selling them in the manner provided by statute, yet the Ordinance provides for Phoenix to dispose of its unclaimed firearms by donating them to Ukraine via an export company. Because a ‘donation’ is not a ‘sale’ – and because the Ordinance conflicts with A.R.S. 12-945 in other related respects – it violates that statute, and therefore also violates A.R.S. 13-3108(A) and A.R.S. 12-943.”
Attorney General Mayes’ findings forced the City of Phoenix to repeal the Ordinance, as the lawmakers admitted in their letter to Mitchell. However, the legislators noted some “alarming details” contained in Mayes’ report “that confirm the City Council’s lawlessness and egregious disregard for state law.” One of those details was that when faced with the threat of the Attorney General’s investigation, the City’s counsel disclosed that the City has already completed the firearms transfer contemplated by the Ordinance and the Agreement.
The three state lawmakers argue that “neither the AG’s Report nor the City’s repeal of its Ordinance absolves the City Mayor or Councilmembers of criminal or civil liability for their misconduct,” hoping that the County Attorney could determine “the extent to which the City’s elected officials conspired to: (1) knowingly and repeatedly violate state law – particularly after we alerted them to the illegality of their conduct; (2) conceal their conduct; and (3) interfere with, coerce, or thwart the Attorney General’s S.B. 1487 investigation through improper means or communications.”
At the end of the letter, the legislators wrote, “In a free society, it is critical that our elected officials follow the rule of law, even when they may disagree with the underlying policy of the law. Citizens in our state are held to this standard every day. Arizonans reasonably expect – and the law demands – that government leaders likewise comply with state law or risk serious consequences for their intentional disregard of the law.” They added their collective hope that “the Mayor and City Councilmembers must also be held fully accountable for facilitating crimes of others through their illegal transfer of weapons, including but not limited to domestic civil offenses, war crimes, and organized crimes defined in Chapter 23 of Title 13.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
Rep. Ruben Gallego envisions Republicans as those who own guns and drive jacked up trucks with “cow nuts” hanging off their tailgates. (Cows don’t have testicles, or “nuts”; only bulls do. Hence the centuries-old proverbial folly, “milking the bull,” and the recurring viral memes about the “dairy” products derived from bulls.)
The congressman issued the remarks during a campaign event last Thursday, laughing as he described his view of those voters across the aisle. Gallego further asserted that gun ownership has become a “cultural thing,” implying that guns represent a separate and distinct defining trait from the natural American identity.
“Weapons now have become more of a cultural thing,” said Gallego. “It’s like, if you’re a Republican, you have to have a bunch of guns, some jacked up truck with some cow nuts hanging in the back. That’s your cultural identity now.”
The campaign event occurred at Chalice Christian Church in Gilbert, whose teachings contradict Biblical teachings on sins regarding gender identity and sexual behaviors. The Gilbert church is part of a network of progressive churches within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination across the Valley.
The pastor of the church that hosted Gallego, Vernon Meyer, is an adjunct theology professor at the private Christian institution, Grand Canyon University, and married to a man. About 20 years ago, Meyer made headlines as a Catholic Church priest who was one of over 160 Arizona signatories to the “Phoenix Declaration” calling for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ lifestyles in the church.
In 2010, Meyer made headlines again after the Catholic Church excommunicated him for ordaining a woman, an act that also contradicts scripture.
Responses to Gallego’s remarks at the progressive church varied along political lines, with Democrats praising the congressman as “right” and Republicans questioning the “cow nuts” confusion and oversimplification of a party.
State Rep. Austin Smith (R-LD29), an Arizona Freedom Caucus member, quipped that he didn’t qualify as a full Republican because he doesn’t have cow nuts on his “jacked up” truck, though he has guns. Smith also remarked on Gallego’s misunderstanding of the differences between cows and bulls.
“I’m failing on my Republican credentials,” posted Smith. “Cows don’t have nuts… but I guess this is his worldview outside Phoenix, very narrow minded and ignorant. DC will do that to ya!”
Gallego would again draw attention for his controversial remarks this week. In a podcast interview, Gallego excoriated his congressional colleague, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, as a “sh*thead” for blocking top-level military promotions as a means of opposing paid time off for female military members seeking abortions.
Independent voters are now the largest voting group in Arizona, toppling the Republican Party for the first time in years.
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes’ office advised ABC 15 of this change earlier this month, pending the upcoming publication of their quarterly voter registration report. Independent voters last outranked both the Republican and Democratic parties in 2016.
The most current data available on the secretary of state’s website, from April, registered over 1.43 million independent voters.
In two months, that number grew to surpass the leading number of Republican voters at the time, which was just over 1.44 million. Democratic voters totaled over 1.26 million. The “No Labels” party at the time had 17 voters total; the secretary of state’s office also disclosed that the party had grown to around 6,000.
Libertarian voters registered at over 33,300 in April.
Last year, the number of registered independent voters decreased from over 1.44 million in April to just over 1.4 million in the general election. Republican voters decreased from over 1.47 million to over 1.43 million; Democratic voters decreased from 1.33 million to 1.27 million.
At the time of the 2020 election, which had more registered voters than in April, there were over 1.35 million independent voters. Republicans had over 1.5 million registered voters, while Democrats had over 1.37 million.
The 2016 general election — which had over 815,600 less voters registered than the most recent registration counts — had over 1.21 million independent voters compared to over 1.23 million Republican voters and just over 1 million Democratic voters. Although the number of registered independent voters increased from May to November 2016, there were more to register as Republican during the same time frame.
The 2016 general election broke a two-year streak in which more voters registered as independents than anything else. Midway through former President Barack Obama’s second term, more registered as independents than Republicans. There were around 900,000 less registered voters at the time.
Ahead of last year’s midterm election, some candidates sought to appeal to the growing base of independents.
In this century, independents first outranked Democrats after the 2010 midterm election. In July 2011, registered independent voters (over 1 million) surpassed registered Democratic voters (over 999,000).
Independent voters have maintained that lead on Democratic voters since then — 12 years.
The shift in 2011 also marked the first session in which Republicans enjoyed their largest majority in the state legislature since 1981: 21 Republicans to 9 Democrats in the Senate, and 40 Republicans to 20 Democrats in the House. Since then, the majority has dwindled. This session, there’s a slim majority: 15 Republicans to 14 Democrats in the Senate, and 31 Republicans to 29 Democrats in the House.
Independent voters may vote in all primaries except presidential.