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Ron Klain, Secret Agent Man

Where is Ron Klain?

He’s an international man of mystery. We know he exists. We know he’s defeating Ebola. Probably has one arm tied behind his back, just to be fair. But we are not allowed to see him.

He is our leader, but he does not lead. He does not talk us. He does not reassure. HE DOESN’T LET ON WHAT THE HELL HE IS DOING.

But that’s because he’s not just the Ebola Coordinator. Coordinating is not really his bag, baby. Ron Klain cannot appear in public, because he is a secret agent man.

Here’s a photo of him practicing his moves. That’s Klain on the left, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the right.

KlainEarnest

Together, they are fighting Ebola. Earnest takes the public role, while Klain does his secret agent stuff. And Ebola doesn’t even stand a chance.

And now, a tribute to Ron Klain.

Ron Klain’s Unpromising First Day of Work

The president’s personal secretary announces his first appointment of the afternoon today – Wednesday, October 22.

“Mr. President, the new Ebola Response Coordinator is here to meet with you.”

“Fantastic. Send him in.”

“Hello Mr. President.”

“Hello Ron, have a seat.”

“Thank you.”

“So, tell me, how is the coordinating going?”

“I haven’t coordinated anything yet.”

“I see.”

“It’s my first day.”

“Okay.”

“I can’t even coordinate my mouse with my desktop. You got all this new technology since I was last in the White House. I’m down in IT for training today. And I’m filling out forms.”

“Forms?”

“There’s a lot of forms. First day of work, you know?”

“Okay. I heard you were studying up on Ebola even before you got here. That’s great. That’s just the kind of employee I want around here.”

“Mr. President, my phone is vibrating. Could you wait just a minute?”

“Uhh, sure.”

“Hello? Hello? . . . Mr. President, it’s Michelle Nunn, I have to take this . . . Michelle? Yes? How are you? Okay . . . okay . . . yes, I understand. Well just say it’s nobody’s business, and sanctity of the ballot box is your first priority, not getting elected . . .  No, no, definitely don’t admit that you voted for him.”

“Voted for who?”

“Nothing, Mr. President . . .  Look, Michelle, I’m in meeting right now . . . Yes, I know you paid me a lot of money, but I’ve got this temporary gig, I think you’re aware of it . . . Yes, yes, goodbye. Okay, now where were we, Mr. President?”

“You were going to tell me what you’ve learned about Ebobla.”

“Oh, sure. Okay, Ebola. Ebola is a disease of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses. The first known outbreak of Ebola was identified only after the fact, occurring between June and November 1976 in Nzara, South Sudan, which was then part of Sudan, and was caused by the Sudanese variant of the virus. The Sudan outbreak infected 284 people and killed 151. The first identifiable case in Sudan occurred on June 27 in a storekeeper in a cotton factory in Nzara, who was hospitalized on June 30 and died on July 6 – ”

“Ron, this is of course extremely interesting. But what does this have to do with preventing Ebola here in the United States?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Umm . . . ”

“How am I going to fight this virus if I don’t understand the context in which I’m battling it? If I don’t know its history and how it operates. It’s MO, Mr. President. When I take on an enemy, I need to know everything about it. I need to know what the Ebola virus wants before the Ebola virus knows it wants it. I need to know what the Ebola virus thinks before the Ebola virus thinks it. To know it’s next move before it makes it. I need to know everything about the Ebola virus. I need to know the Ebola virus better than the Ebola virus knows itself.”

“Ron, um, how does one transmit the Ebola virus?:

“I have no idea. How could I possibly have gotten that far in my reading? You just appointed me last week, and as you can see, I’m still wrapping up my prior commitments. Is there anything to eat?”

“Well, I already had lunch . . . ”

“That’s okay. I’ll wait. Now, you should know that I already took some actions I think you’ll approve of, even though I only have a phone and an pen. I ordered the EPA to study the effects of all these sick Ebola people on global warming. And I’ve tasked HHS with figuring out if we can give the virus to the Koch brothers.”

“For study?”

“No, give them the virus. Make them sick.”

“Well, Ron, this has been an enlightening discussion. ”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that. I wish I could have told you more about the history of Ebola. Tomorrow we’ll discuss Zaire. Anyway, I have to get over to ergonomics to have my chair fitted. Goodbye, Mr. President.”

“Goodbye, Ron. Hey, why don’t you skip a few chapters ahead in your reading. Okay?”

“I can’t do that, Mr. President. Remember, know your enemy.”

“Yes. Well, just, please, don’t hold any press conferences for a couple of days. Goodbye, and thanks.”

“Goodbye . . . ”

“Can someone get McDonough in here??”

White House Knew Solyndra Investment Risks

Senior White House officials understood the risks of committing taxpayer dollars to  Solyndra but proceeded anyway, according to internal Obama administration email transcripts released today.

Quotes from the emails are included in a story this afternoon by POLITICO, which obtained the documents from House Democrats, who argued that there were “no smoking guns” among the emails.

But the missives offer a sense of the willingness of White House officials to play loose with taxpayer dollars even as deficits were skyrocketing, the economy was wilting, and President Obama was trying to pass a nearly $1 trillion overhaul of the health care system.

In a Christmastime 2009 email exchange with Brad Jones of Redpoint Ventures, an investment firm with financial connections to Solyndra, then-National Economic Council Director Larry Summers acknowledged that the government was a lousy instrument for picking successful companies to invest in.

“The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well-equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much,” Jones wrote. “One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million; while that is good for us, I can’t imagine it’s a good way for the government to use taxpayer money.”

Summers replied on Dec. 26: “I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist] and if u were closer to it you’d feel more strongly. But suppose we think there are all kinds of externalities to renewable investments. What should we do?”

The reference to a government loan of $580 million appears to refer to the Solyndra guarantee, though the number is in error. Solyndra received $535 million.

In a spring 2010 email exchange with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett discussing whether concerns over Solyndra’s finances should preclude a visit to the company President Obama – which he eventually made – Vice President Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain suggested the White House well understood that fair percentage of the investments made in green projects would be sent down a rathole.

“The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012 — but that to me is the reality of saying that we want to help promote cutting edge, new economy industries.”

Jarrett had been warned by California venture capitalist Steve Westly, who raised more than $500,000 for Obama and was on a high-level DOE volunteer advisory panel on energy issues, that Solyndra was trouble.

“A number of us are concerned that the president is visiting Solyndra,” Westly wrote White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on May 24, 2010. “[T]here is an increasing concern about the company because their auditors, Coopers and Lybrand, have issued a ‘going concern’ letter. … Many of us believe the company’s cost structure will make it difficult for them to survive long term.”