Wendy Rogers: Let’s take care of our known problems

I stand with President Trump to repeal Obamacare

America must start to repair its healthcare system. The designers of Obamacare ultimately wanted a single payer system. It doesn’t work; case in point: the broken Veterans Administration (VA) system, which my husband and I experience first-hand.

Wendy Rogers & Donald TrumpAs far as being a conservative goes, I’m as conservative as they come. I am ardently pro-life as a mother and grandmother, strong on national defense as a retired career Air Force lieutenant colonel and one of America’s first military women pilots, and I want the government out of my mess kit because I’m a tireless but successful 20-year small business owner.

Academically and professionally, I practiced as clinical social worker in the military mental health system before I trained to be a jet pilot. I cannot bear to see families continue to be plagued by rising premiums and limited choices in healthcare, especially in Arizona where premiums have climbed 116%.

I knocked on thousands of doors where AZ-1 voters told me something must be done to fix the current healthcare mess. I’m not in Washington, but I read the news. Last weekend, my mid-20s-aged kids asked me what I thought. You know what I told them?

I said, “Democracy is messy. We cannot agree a lot of the time, but that’s what the Founders envisioned. Arm-wrestling, passion, patriotism, and compromise. If we had more small business owners and military veterans working this in Congress, we’d get more done. I believe in the president’s agenda overall. Congress needs to get onboard to repeal and replace Obamacare, reform our tax code, repeal onerous regulations, and foster energy independence. Congress needs to help drain the swamp, not add to it.

And I’ll tell you something else. I met the president way back in December 2015 when I introduced him to the crowd in Mesa AZ as the representative military veteran in strong support. I’ve read his books. I’m close to some who work in the administration. As my commander-in-chief, I trust President Trump to have my back. More of us in the military trust this president than any other in a very long time. That should tell you something. A new healthcare law must wend its way through Senate rules and administrative action before we can arrive at a better system. I trust President Trump to steer that course for the good of our country.

Conservatives and citizens all must realize that standing on principle is all well and good, but it cannot be worth falling on one’s sword if we end up with nothing.

These challenges are fixable. We’re Americans. We accomplish great things. Let’s take care of our known problems, so we’re better prepared to thwart the unknowns when they crop up like North Korea’s ICBMs, ISIS infiltrating our own country, or opioids ravaging our families.

Let’s get it DONE.

Air Force (ret) Lt Col Wendy Rogers’s home is in Flagstaff. She and her husband own and operate their own home inspection business across Pinal, Maricopa, Yavapai, and Coconino counties. She is a current pilot who flies her own aircraft, Search and Rescue member of Civil Air Patrol, HAM radio operator, and avid national and statewide traveler. She and her husband have two children and three grandchildren. She was one of the Air Force’s first women pilots and ran for Congress in AZ-1 in 2016.

Seth Leibsohn: Politicizing and Misunderstanding the Opioid Crisis

By Seth Leibsohn

The nation’s opioid crisis is real and it is serious. As Christopher Caldwell recently pointed out, “those who call the word ‘carnage’ an irresponsible exaggeration are wrong.” And so, too, are those playing politics with the crisis. Even beyond the politicization—or, perhaps, because of it—there is still a great deal of misunderstanding as to what is driving this crisis.

As for the first problem, the politics: Senator Claire McCaskill (D., MO) has announced that she is initiating an investigation of several opioid manufacturers, and is requesting “reams of information” from them. But note the one manufacturer she did not target and from which she did not request information—Mallinckrodt. Mallinckrodt, after all, is headquartered in Missouri, her own state. Odd, that. And it’s not as if Mallinckrodt is a bit player in the manufacture and sales of opioid drugs. Indeed, “it is one of the nation’s largest” producers, responsible for nearly 20 percent of the market share of opioid prescriptions. The companies McCaskill has targeted are responsible for a total market share of 5.25 percent combined. Odd, that. If she were serious about investigating pharmaceutical companies, she most certainly would be investigating the one based in her own home state which also happens to be the one responsible for most opioid sales in America.

But all of this is not even the beginning of the beginning in addressing America’s opioid crisis. For when political leaders like Senator McCaskill are not playing politics with the issue, they are too often misunderstanding it. Some of that is not their fault.

Part of the problem in addressing the opioid crisis is that the terminology can be confusing or misleading. People hear “opioid” or “prescription opioid” or “fentanyl” and begin to lump the problems all together as a crisis driven by legitimately prescribed drugs. No doubt, that is a part of the problem, but it is nowhere near the biggest part of it. Take a look at the best statistics available (taken from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the CDC):

  • In 2015, there were 33,091 opioid overdose deaths.
  • Heroin deaths constituted 12,990 of those deaths.
  • Synthetic opioids (mostly illegal fentanyl) constitute another 9,580 deaths.

Because opioid deaths usually involve the use of more than one drug, percentages and raw numbers will not neatly add up to 100% or the 33,091 deaths. As the White House Website puts it: “A portion of the overdose deaths involved both illicit opioids and prescription opioids.” But what we can see from the above is that over 68 percent of the problem is from the use of illegal drugs.  Or, as the CDC put it in December of 2016: “[T]he increase in opioid overdose death rates is driven in large part by illicit opioids, like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.”

As for the prescribed opioids, the majority of overdose deaths from those come from the diversion and illegal distribution of them. As the CDC notes: “Most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative.” The people “at highest risk of overdose” “get opioids using their own prescriptions (27 percent), from friends or relatives for free (26 percent), buying from friends or relatives (23 percent), or buying from a drug dealer (15 percent).” Thus, for the population that overdoses from opioid prescriptions, 64 percent abuse them from a diverted or illegal source. In other words, the abuse of opioid prescriptions that leads to overdose deaths involving a patient acquiring a legal prescription and misusing that prescription on himself is less than 30 percent of the prescription problem and constitutes about 15 percent of the overall opioid overdose problem.

This is backed up, as well, by the most recent testimony of the Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC, Dr. Debra Houry. Just last month, she testified to Congress stating,

Although prescription opioids were driving the increase in overdose deaths for many years, more recently, the large increase in overdose deaths has been due mainly to increases in heroin and synthetic opioid (other than methadone) overdose deaths, not prescription opioids. Importantly, the available data indicate these increases are largely due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

Again, the main driver of our current crisis is the use and abuse of illegal drugs, not legally prescribed drugs. Indeed, there is some common sense to this. Almost anyone who has had a surgical procedure was likely given a legal opioid like fentanyl. As one prominent anesthesiologist recently wrote: “To an anesthesiologist, fentanyl is as familiar as a Philips screwdriver is to a carpenter; it is an indispensable tool in my toolbox. It is the most commonly used painkiller during surgery. If you’ve had surgery, it is more likely than not that you have had fentanyl.” And yet the vast majority of people who have had surgical procedures do not have substance abuse or opioid abuse problems.

Yes, there is a popular reverse gateway theory regarding heroin abuse—i.e., that high percentages of heroin users started by abusing prescription opioid drugs. But that is misleading and, indeed, looks at the problem from the wrong direction.

As Dr. Robert DuPont from the Institute for Behavior and Health has put it:

[W]hile 80% of heroin users used a prescription opioid before they first used heroin, the vast majority, over 96%, of people who have used a prescription opioid non-medically [i.e., illegally] have not transitioned to using heroin.  Five years after the initial nonmedical use of a prescription opioid, only 3.6% ever used any heroin.  Among prescription opiate users, the people most vulnerable to switching to heroin are those who are also abusers of other drugs including alcohol.

In other words, the vast majority of prescription opioid patients do not transition to the use of an illegal drug like heroin.

Other data bear this out, as well. For example, according to an important article in the January 2016 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that “[A]lthough the majority of current heroin users report having used prescription opioids non-medically before they initiated heroin use, heroin use among people who use prescription opioids for non-medical reasons is rare, and the transition to heroin use appears to occur at a low rate.”

The numbers and factors detailed here are not meant to diminish or emphasize any serious or particular effort to address the variety of opioid issues contributing to the present crisis but, rather, to detail the full picture of the problem in sharp relief. Playing politics with this crisis will get us nowhere and waste a lot of time, energy, and resources. Public confusion about what is leading the epidemic and behind the majority of cases driving the crisis is another problem altogether, made worse by playing politics with it. It is time, past time, to get serious about this issue and take it on in a serious manner.

There are a great many efforts aimed at dealing with pill mills and irresponsible and rogue sales of prescription opioids. That is all to the good. But those efforts will not solve the problem or even get to the roots of the largest parts of it. A responsible and successful prevention campaign is needed and must be combined with serious drug education policies and messages along with a greater border and law enforcement effort. For concerned Americans, first and foremost, it is our duty to become educated about the issue.

Seth Leibsohn is a Contributing Editor to American Greatness and is the host of The Seth & Chris Show, heard nightly on 960am/KKNT in Phoenix. You can connect with Seth on Twitter: @SethLeibsohn

Frosty’s Democrat Talking Points

By Ella Gent

Last week, we wrote about Frosty Taylor’s so-called “Republican Briefs.” As we pointed out at the time, Frosty is less interested in “News and Updates,” as her website claims, and more interested in vile gossip, attacks on Republicans, and outright lies.

However, despite spending the vast majority of her time demonizing and attacking fellow Republicans, Frosty has never overtly supported Democrats or their talking points. That is, until Sunday morning’s post.

Sunday, Frosty gave voice to a left-wing Arizona Democratic Party e-mail that attacked Senator Flake. Since Frosty is not a real journalist she just believed the worst and added her voice to the attack. Frosty’s fake news never does any real research. Or she would have known that she was attacking ALL of the Republicans in the Arizona delegation!

It is understandable why Democrats would attack Senator Flake. He has supported each and every one of President Trump’s nominees. He’s pledged to do whatever it takes to confirm Judge Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. His voting record on conservative issues is always among the highest in the Senate. Of course Democrats would like to see him defeated.

Indeed, what’s confusing is why a self-described “Republican” would amplify the attacks on Senator Flake from the Arizona Democrats. Using wildly out of context “facts” and twisting a recent vote to imply wrongdoing, Frosty and her friends at the Arizona Democrat Party are doing all they can to defeat Senator Flake.

To be clear, the Senator’s vote was to roll back an 11th-hour Obama regulation that the entire Republican delegation felt was the right thing to do. Without question, Congress will take up the matter of internet privacy over the next few months, but in the meantime, stopping a regulatory end-run by the Obama Administration should be applauded, not attacked…and certainly not attacked in a “Republican” newsletter by using Democrat talking points.

Frosty, of course, fails to mention that every single member of the Arizona Republican Congressional delegation voted the same way that Senator Flake voted. Voting with Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, and others isn’t party of Frosty’s #fakenews agenda. She fails to provide the other side of the argument. She just attacks…and uses Democrats to carry her message. At best she is dishonest, at worst she simply didn’t do any real research.

Frosty Taylor is welcomed to submit a response to this guest opinion.

MCRC Briefs Defines Party Purity, Defies Party Unity

By Ella Gent

It’s an old and tired act. And for too many years, it has polluted the dark corner of Arizona Politics where conspiracy theories, hatred, and attacks rule the day.

We’re referring of course, to Frosty Taylor’s #FakeNews site, the MCRC Briefs.

Monday morning, Frosty’s readers were treated to yet another example of #FakeNews when she printed, verbatim, an outright lie about Chairman Jonathan Lines, quoting a letter he never wrote from a voter he’s never met.

There’s no such letter. Just another Frosty Fable.

First off, despite her intentions to confuse her audience, Frosty’s #FakeNews is in no way affiliated with the Maricopa County Republican Committee, which is ably run by Chris Herring. But Frosty wants to give you the impression that she is the voice of the County party.

She isn’t. But the lies don’t stop there.

No, Frosty has created a cottage industry of using her shrinking platform to attack Republicans. She goes after elected officials. She berates Precinct Committeemen. She bullies anyone who doesn’t adhere to her myopic world view, and despite her claims of impartiality, writes the kind of slanted and biased articles that would make the writers of Pravda stand up and take notice.

Worst of all is that Frosty, despite modeling herself as a champion of grassroots Republicans, doesn’t seem much interested in advancing Republican causes, candidates, or policies. Browse through any one of her blog posts in the last month, and once you get through the poor writing, misspellings, and non-sequiturs, you won’t find criticisms of Democrats or the leftists agenda, no information of registering voters or any pro-GOP information. What you will find are attacks on Republicans, outlandish paranoia, and lie after lie after lie. If Frosty Taylor so enjoys attacking Republicans, perhaps she’d be more comfortable as a Democrat!

All of this would be moderately amusing if not slightly annoying, if Frosty weren’t now actively engaged in trying to bring chaos to the Arizona GOP. In January, Frosty strongly backed the two losing candidates for Chair in Maricopa County and for the Arizona GOP, using her blog to push false narratives, ask slanted questions and lies about other candidates. Despite her best efforts, both Chris Herring and,two weeks later, Jonathan Lines were elected. Could people finally be seeing through the falsehoods?

But Frosty just couldn’t accept that she and her candidates lost. Recently, in conjunction with Jim O’Connor, she has begun to whisper about and organize a “recall” effort of Chairman Lines. While absolutely absurd on its face (Lines has been in office less than 2 months, just concluded a wildly successful Executive Committee Meeting, and is poised to break records for fundraising at this month’s Legislative Salute), there’s really no cause or justification for taking this action. But that won’t stop Frosty…she’ll keep attacking her fellow Republicans and damage the party until she gets her way.

Or until everyone stops reading.

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Frosty Taylor / MCRC Briefs are welcome to submit their own response. That door is always open.

Trent Franks, Other Arizona Conservatives Need to Keep Healthcare Promises

By Sam Stone

The Trump Administration may be less than two months old, but for conservatives, it may already be D-Day in Washington.

In less than 48 hours, the House of Representatives is set to vote on the curiously named “American Health Care Act” – the current GOP effort being pushed by Speaker Paul Ryan as a repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

This bill is the wrong idea at the wrong time and it does not deserve a “yes” vote. Right now, the count says that it’s too close to call. So every member of Congress counts.

Here’s our question: Will Trent keep his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in a responsible way?

Let’s step back.

Trent Franks is no rookie when it comes to opposing Obamacare. Look at his record here. Lots of detail and votes against what he consistently calls: “Health care proposals that wrested control of the American health care industry from the hands of private organizations and turn it over to the federal government.”

Right when this year’s Congress began, Franks and Congressman Andy Biggs introduced the Protection from Obamacare Mandates and Congressional Equity Act.

Franks said it contained three bedrock principles:

  • First, it gives every American more coverage options.
  • Second, it would allow Americans to purchase their coverage across state lines, opening up more opportunities for competition that will, in turn, help to lower costs for consumers.
  • Third, our alternative protects the patient-doctor relationship.

Just a month ago, Rep. Franks said: “My concern is [a repeal-replace bill] will give some lackadaisical senator a reason to vote against it. My concern is the entire repeal is in mortal danger … There may be some people who will get weak-kneed.”

These are valid concerns, but they sound like reasons not to vote for the current plan, which has all sorts of problems.

The reliable conservative policy think tank Heritage Action makes the fundamental case that the AHCA falls short:

“Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference between the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the American Health Care Act.  That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.

“Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare, congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors.”

Congressman Franks is a solid conservative leader. Currently, he is listed as “leaning no.” That’s why this is the ideal time to give him the support, encouragement and, well, cautionary warning he may need to stay true to his principles and his promises by not resting until Obamacare is gone – and in its place a true, principled alternative – instead of Obamacare-lite.

Message From MCR Chairman Herring – Proclamation of Purpose

The Election Grudge That Just Won’t Die

By Sonny Daze

Sources tell Sonoran Alliance that the author of a vicious, divisive and dishonest hit piece in Monday’s Arizona Daily Independent was authored by none other than failed AZ GOP Chairman candidate Jim O’Connor.

Mr. O’Connor, who left his LD 23 committee with over $26,000 in legal debt, is clearly attempting to create controversy and division amongst Republican PCs.

fighting elephantsMr. O’Connor and his supporters have clearly still not come to grips with that fact that Mr. O’Connor lost his race for chairman. It was a close contest, but it was decisive: Chairman Jonathan Lines actually won by 3 times as many votes as Treasurer Bob Lettieri, who required a 2nd ballot to garner the required 50%-plus-one of the votes. However, unlike Mr. O’Connor, 2nd place finisher Eric Morgan graciously conceded defeat, without demanding any recounts, proxy reviews or credentialing fights. Eric Morgan knows, of course, that these internal disputes only harm the party, and do not help us unify to register voters, recruit candidates, or win elections. Lettieri also seems to have moved on with his life and is doing a professional job.

Unfortunately, we’re once again reminded that Jim O’Connor and his allies care less about defeating Democrats, and more about settling scores, launching personal attacks against fellow Republicans and lies. In short, they are interested in raw power, NOT in winning elections.

Mr. O’Connor’s latest gambit may be his most pathetic yet. According to our sources, he has authored, and posted anonymously, a blog post chock full of lies, deceptions and personal attacks. Next, he’s posting his vitriol on his Facebook page, and even urging PCs to work towards recalling our new chairman.

This is what desperation looks like. Unable to win fairly, Jim O’Connor and his supporters are reduced to cowardly, anonymous blog posts and dreams of overturning the will of the State Committee through a wild goose chase of a recall.

It is increasingly clear that the Arizona GOP dodged a major bullet when the State Committee rejected Jim O’Connor last January.

Bob Stump: Why is Airbnb funding a group attacking Arizona Republicans?

All you Airbnb fans take heed! The company has decided to inject itself into Arizona politics by funneling dark money against Republicans. In this letter, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump hits back with an email to Arizona legislators.

Bob StumpDear Honorable Member:

It is rare for me to contact you as a private citizen and former colleague. I believe this issue is important enough to merit it.

An extremist far-left organization, Checks and Balances, is active again in Arizona. Yet again, it is attacking elected Republicans.

I fully expect Republican members of the House and Senate to be next.

Airbnb, which has enjoyed a friendly regulatory environment in Arizona thanks to you, is funding Checks and Balances. According to Penn State’s Daily Collegian, “Airbnb representative Nick Papas said Airbnb supports the work CBP does.”

What exactly is this “work”? Smearing, suing or harassing Arizona Republican officeholders such as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, members of the Arizona Corporation Commission — including four Commission chairs — and yours truly.

Consider the “work” of the group Airbnb supports financially:

In an act of pure malice, Checks and Balances published my mother’s private mobile number on the Internet.

At a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and staff time, and with the help of Democratic activist Dan Barr, Checks and Balances sued the Arizona Corporation Commission in an attempt to break the chain of custody of my phone and publish private text messages to my family and friends. Despite Checks and Balances’ conspiratorial fantasies, I was vindicated in court: Two judges determined that nothing retrieved from my phone met the definition of a public document.

Undeterred by losing in court every single time, Checks and Balances has taken to the pages of the Arizona Capitol Times to attack Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Tom Forese and Commission legal counsel Tim LaSota, who defended me in court.

Until recently, SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar rooftop leasing company, sponsored Checks and Balances. SolarCity’s aim was to attack and sue sitting regulators nationwide, in an attempt to alter regulatory outcomes and thereby enhance SolarCity’s bottom line.

SolarCity was shamed into withdrawing their support for Checks and Balances.

It is past time for Airbnb to follow SolarCity’s lead and cease funding a mercenary band of character assassins which exists to intimidate citizens at the behest of its corporate sponsors.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, ignored my letter to him, written when I was a sitting member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Perhaps he will be more responsive to you.

I would suggest you contact Mr. Chesky and his lobbying team and ask why Airbnb is funding an unsavory group that sues and smears Arizona Republicans.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. And thank you for your service to our great state.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Stump

Former member and Health Committee Chair, Arizona House of Representatives (2002-2008)
Former Commissioner and Commission Chair, Arizona Corporation Commission (2008-2017)

Sen. Jeff Flake Stands Up for Arizona’s Consumers and Businesses

Takes to the Senate Floor to Raise Concerns with Border Adjustment Tax

Phoenix, AZ – Today, Americans for Affordable Products, a coalition of nearly 200 businesses, local organizations, and trade associations united to stop the Border Adjustment Tax or BAT, and its resulting increased prices on everyday necessities, thanked Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for speaking out on the U.S. Senate floor to raise his concerns with the BAT.

The Border Adjustment Tax is a provision of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) tax reform plan, which, if enacted, would levy a 20 percent tax on imported goods.

During the floor speech, Senator Flake expressed his worry that BAT “could make everyday consumer products more expensive at the very places that middle-class families shop the most…[and] household staples could be pushed out of reach for those who can least afford it.” He went on to say that he’s looking forward to working with his colleagues on tax reform, “but we ought to make sure that the middle class isn’t in the losing column.”

“Senator Flake’s stout defense of Arizona’s businesses and consumers earlier today cannot be lauded enough,” said John Arterburn, owner of Ace Hardware in Pinnacle Peak. “A 20 percent tax on imported products could threaten the viability of my business, forcing me to make tough choices – I’d either have to raise prices or eliminate staff.”

If enacted, the Border Adjustment Tax could result in American consumers spending an additional $1,700 per year on basic necessities like food, clothing, medicine and gasoline.

“Everyone agrees, simplifying our complicated tax code is very much needed, but shifting the burden onto the backs of the middle class while killing U.S. jobs is not the way to do it,” said Robert Medler, VP of Government Affairs for the Tucson Metro Chamber. “Senator Flake hit the nail on the head today – we need tax reform in this country, but introducing a Border Adjustment Tax which amounts to a hidden tax on consumers and punishes those that are the least fortunate dampens what would otherwise be a popular plan.”

Americans for Affordable Products is a coalition of job creators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and consumers united against higher prices on everyday necessities. To learn more, please visit: www.KeepAmericaAffordable.com.

Additional Information:

  • Resources: Coalition Infographic, Myth vs. Fact, and More
  • Press Release: AAP Launches Opposition to BAT

To schedule an interview with an Americans for Affordable Products representative, please email press@KeepAmericaAffordable.com.

LD23 wastefully spends $27,000 on attorneys fees in ridiculous feud

By Millenial Maven

Just when you thought the debacle in LD23 could not get any more bizarre, it has!

At the February 9th LD23 Meeting, the Chairman finally admitted to the grand total for the attorney fees that they had spent.

It came to an astonishing amount of $27,000, an amount that equals approximately two years of typical income for LD23.

There was an audible gasp as this amount was announced. The Board had never approached the PCs for their inputs on spending this huge amount of money.

The LD is now deeply in debt, and the Executive Board offered no real solution to paying off their debt.

The question now remains:

Can an LD be repossessed?