2014 is the Year ACC Stood for “Arizona Captured Commission”

Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption occuring when a regulatory agency, such as Arizona’s Corporation Commission (ACC), created to act in the public interest, instead advances the special concerns of commercial or interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.

In the same year that Harvard University Center for Ethic’s ranked Arizona as the country’s most corrupt state, the integrity of the ACC was called into question repeatedly, and Commissioners did very little to persuade the public that their agency was any different than the norm for our state.

Led by the affable Bob Stump, the ACC in just two years has taken steps right off the Christmas wish list of Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt, including slashing commercial solar incentives to zero in early 2013, rushing into a first-of-its-kind tax on rooftop solar despite a complete lack of analysis from ACC staff (they asked for more time), and treating Arizona’s 15% renewable energy standard as a ceiling rather than a floor.

Now the Commission is considering what could end up being the most backwards step the agency has taken in its history – the abolishment of Arizona’s successful energy efficiency resource standard which requires utilities to be more efficient and has already saved ratepayers an estimated $540 million according to APS’s annual demand side management reports.

Stump has presided over a Commission that has ushered in, by its inaction and silence, an unprecedented era of spending by monopoly APS on public relations and influence. After accidently spending thousands in the 2012 election supporting Stump, Susan Bitter Smith, and Bob Burns, APS opened the floodgates of election cash in 2014, spending a total estimated at over $3 million to ensure two Commissioners friendly to its interests would take office next month.

Starting in January, all five Commissioners will have reached their post at least in part thanks to APS election dollars. Any future candidate for the Commission will now know that to speak out against the utilities might mean getting buried in utility-funded attack ads.

Our Commissioners, tasked by Arizona’s founders with protecting the public by diligently regulating our state’s utilities, have responded with a collective yawn. I’m dreading to find out what the Arizona Captured Commission has in store for 2015.

Reach the author at williambgreene9@gmail.com

The public policy issue that needs to be addressed: wealth inequality

I had to sit in a waiting room while waiting for service, and some jerk had the TV tuned to FAUX News. The segment I was forced to endure essentially was about trashing the “takers” of the working class who are part of an “entitlement society” who are destroying America and . . . oh boo-fucking-hoo — bite me!

monopolybThis is pure über-rich elitist Plutocrat propaganda, and how the Plutocrats deflect and distract the easily distracted low information viewers of FAUX News from the fact that nobody receives more largesse from the government than do Plutocrats.

This is the true definition of “class warfare” as Warren Buffett so accurately described:  “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The rich may pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they do not pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay. Their accumulation of wealth has continued to grow exponentially, at the expense of and to the detriment of the middle class.

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DREAMers to get drivers licenses beginning Monday

On Thursday, Judge David Campbell of the Maricopa County Superior Court, acting on an order from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ordered the state of Arizona to issue drivers licenses to Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beginning on Monday. Merry Christmas! Judge: Arizona dreamers can apply for licenses Monday:

DREAmactYoung immigrants known as dreamers will be able to begin applying for driver’s licenses on Monday, according to a court ruling handed down Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell.

Campbell issued a preliminary injunction ordering Arizona to stop denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants known as dreamers.

The ruling means the state is now compelled to begin allowing dreamers who have received work permits through President Barack Obama’s 2012 deferred action program to apply for driver’s licenses.

George Wallace in a dress, Governor Jan Brewer, is sounding like a deranged parrot squawking “States rights! States rights! Awk!

[I]n a statement issued Thursday evening, the outgoing governor made it clear she is not giving up the fight yet.

“The right to determine who is issued a driver license is reserved for the states – not the federal government or an unelected judiciary,” she said in the statement..

“It is important to remember that courts have yet to consider the full merits of the case, and I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail. Consequently, I have instructed my legal team to move forward in pursuing a full review of this matter before the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

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Why are conservatives unwilling to admit that pulling “The Interview” was a business decision?

Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with Rep. Paul Gosar have joined the conservative hand-wringing over Sony’s decision to pull the release of “The Interview”.

That move came after U.S. intelligence linked the North Korean government to hackers who made violent threats about the comedy film. In the movie, a TV crew travels to North Korea to interview dictator Kim Jong Un, and they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim.

“It’s remarkable that a country like North Korea can have that capability,” McCain said. “If they are able to disrupt a film, you can imagine what they are doing or attempting to do to our national defense capability. This is deeply alarming.”

Flake added the hacking incident was a “huge wake up call.”

“If they can wreak that kind of havoc in the entertainment industry, then you’ve got to worry where else their reach is,” Flake said. “It’s very concerning.”

Gosar quipped: “Just show the movie.”

When Americans can’t see one particular Seth Rogen movie the terrorists have won! Like pretty much most people, I think Sony made a bad decision but it’s fairly obvious why they made it and, contrary to what the right wing perpetual outrage machine is spinning,

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Sony capitulates to cyber-terrorist threat from North Korea

With normalization of relations with Cuba, that leaves only one Communist country in the world with which the U.S. does not maintain relations: the “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

This will be a tougher nut to crack. North Korea is a cult of personality, with its citizens required to worship Dear Leader, Li’l Kim (Kim Jong-un), as a demigod.

Pick up a copy of Without You, There Is No Us, by Suki Kim for a description of life in North Korea. This place is a seriously effed up hell hole.

KimJongIl2It turns out that Li’l Kim and the Hermit Kingdom are sensitive to criticism. I mean really sensitive to any criticism. Remember the controversy over Team America: World Police (2004) by South Park creators  Trey Parker, Matt Stone,and Pam Brady? Li’l Kim’s old man, Kim Jong-il was parodied in the film, and North Korea sought to ban the film in the Czech Republic. The Czechs told them to go pound sand.

Ten years later his son Li’l Kim apparently has ratcheted things up a notch, or two, or three.

Sony Pictures scheduled a Christmas day release of a supposed action-comedy, The Interview, in which the plot is that two producers of a popular celebrity tabloid TV show are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un during an interview, after they discover the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of their show.

Yeah, assassinations are hilarious. Not at all inappropriate, especially on Christmas day.

North Korea is alleged to have hired some computer hackers to hack into Sony Pictures. The hackers call themselves the Guardians of Peace (probably because the Guardians of the Galaxy was already taken) and recently threatened violence against movie theater patrons if the movie was released.

Riiight. Somehow I can’t imagine computer hackers wanting to get their hands dirty with actual physical acts of terrorism and a risk of being captured or killed. That’s not their thing. This is the equivalent of someone phoning in a bomb threat. Nevertheless, Sony Pictures panicked and pulled the movie from release.

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President Obama’s ‘open door’ overture to Cuba is long overdue

Conservative were outraged when President Richard Nixon announced that he would normalize relations with Communist China after 18 months of secret negotiations pursuing a policy of opening China. Nixon made an official state visit to Communist China and smiled broadly while greeting Chairman Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China — and a dictator who oversaw systematic human rights abuses, and whose rule is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 40–70 million people through starvation, forced labour and executions, ranking his tenure as the top incidence of democide in human history.

Nixon-Mao

Neocon cold warriors condemned President Nixon in a statement issued by John McCain and Lindsey Graham:

“We agree with President [Nixon] that he is writing new chapters in American foreign policy. Unfortunately, today’s chapter, like the others before it, is one of America and the values we stand for in retreat and decline. It is about the appeasement of autocratic dictators, thugs, and adversaries, diminishing America’s influence in the world. Is it any wonder that under President [Nixon]’s watch our enemies are emboldened and our friends demoralized?”

Wait, that never happened. Nixon’s “open door” policy towards Communist China was hailed as a major foreign policy achievement by Conservatives and Republicans. McCain and Graham were not yet in the Senate (the good old days).

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