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Obama Blames Congress, China for Solyndra

I’ve forgotten how to speak English. Because I can’t believe I heard this. It must have been in another language I don’t understand. It’s likely the president said something else.

In an interview today with National Public Radio, Obama – sounds like – is trying to get some Republican buy-in on the blame for the Solyndra fiasco, even though the loan program was part of the stimulus he created and they opposed, and even though the administration allocated the money.

This is not passing the buck. It’s throwing the buck for a Hail Mary.

Take a listen.

Here’s the transcript of what Obama said:

Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt. Part of the reason they did was because the Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn’t compete. But understand, this was not our program per se.

Congress–Democrats and Republicans–put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries–it’s easy to raise money for start-ups, but if you want to take them to scale sometimes there’s a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start-up companies get to scale. And the understanding is that some companies are not going to succeed, some companies are going to do very well, but the portfolio as a whole ends up supporting the kind of innovation that helps make America successful in this innovative 21st century economy. Do I wish that Solyndra had gone bankrupt? Absolutely not. And obviously it’s heartbreaking it happened for the workers who were there.

Please let me know if you heard and read this the way I do. Because honestly, I think it’s in some strange language that I’m unable to comprehend.

H/T to the Drudge Report and The Washington Free Beacon.

Obama’s First Ad Flops

The Obama campaign has released its first commercial.

It’s a disaster. Have a look.

First of all what is this thing about exactly?

It starts out as a defense of President Obama’s backing of Solyndra, the solar panel maker that the president celebrated as an emblem of the future but which inconveniently went belly up and which may have benefited from having friends in high places.

But then the ad broadens into a general defense of Obama’s ethics. And then it becomes about his energy policy.

Campaign ads need to be tightly focused. This is way to much information for a viewer to absorb in 30 seconds. The thing is all over the place. Sloppy.

And who is talking about Solyndra anyway right now? Why would the Obama campaign want to remind everybody? Just because there’s some attack ad floating around? Let if float away. This defensiveness only raises suspicions.

What’s more, Obama himself has not really been linked to the scandal. It’s been consigned to mid-level people within the administration. Until this ad.

Notice also how the scary sounding tone of voice doesn’t change much even as Obama’s face appears up on the screen, while the words “Obama” and “ethics” both pop out at you from the screen. Honestly, I thought he’d done something wrong!

And the quote on the screen crediting him with having an “unprecedented” record on ethics. Notice it’s dated April 28, 2009. He had only been in office for three months! A little soon to rate his ethics record.

Meanwhile, the ad begins to brighten up as we see a nice lady pumping gasoline. So is oil a good thing?

And really, if you’re going to tout Obama’s record on energy, why in the wake of Solyndra would you show him surrounded with solar panels? Put him in an electric vehicle or something.

Although with this type of talent putting together his commercials, they’d probably put him in the electric vehicle he favors above all – a golf cart.

Let me know what you think about the ad.

The Obama Scandals Continue to Simmer

Well, now we know one good reason why President campaigned so aggressively to maintain Democratic control of the House.

With Republicans running the House and in charge of the committees, the White House now has something it was missing in its first two years: oversight.

House Republicans Thursday subpoenaed the White House for internal emails related to Solyndra, trying to ascertain whether political favoritism informed administration efforts to keep the company afloat.

The White House Friday pushed back, essentially terming the request a fishing expedition and charing the effort was the the effort partisan. The two sides will probably try to negotiate a narrower request.

Another ripple in in the Solyndra matter, reported by The Daily Caller, is that the Energy Department paid $1 million to Lazard Ltd., a heavyweight Democratic donor, to see what could be done to bail out  Solyndra as it flailed on its deathbed.

Meanwhile, 35 Republican members of Congress are now calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over his handling of the Fast and Furious matter, which may have included perjury before Congress in his testimony about when he learned of the operation.

Holder will testify on Capitol Hill next week. It should make for interesting viewing.

White House White Wash? The Solyndra “Probe”

The White House announced Friday that President Obama has appointed someone to look into this whole Solyndra matter. But don’t be too impressed.

Solyndra of course is the solar panel maker that took half a billion in federally guaranteed loans and proceeded to go belly up anyway, prompting a Congressional investigation into the incompetence of the loan steering process and whether Obama fundraisers who were involved had conflicts of interest.

"You're going to love our independent review."
Photo by Keith Koffler

First, let’s take the opening line of the Washington Post article about the new investigation: “The White House has authorized an independent review . . .”

Authorized an independent review? What does that mean?

Second, Obama has chosen one of the inmates to investigate the asylum. While Herbert Allison Jr. appears to be widely respected and has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, he’s not exactly an independent outsider, having recently served as Obama’s Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Financial Stability, overseeing the financial system rescue effort.

He’s an insider. Not an outsider.

And third, the “investigation” is tailored to assess the clean energy program itself – to gauge the health of the companies that have received funds and to find ways to spot problems in the future – not to probe the actions and conflicts of interest of those who divvied up the loan money.

The White House has been clear that, while broadcasting to the public that it is conducting some kind of internal investigation, it will continue to stonewall congressional investigators trying to find out who did what and why.

White House officials told the Washington Post and the New York Times Friday that they will continue to oppose congressional effort to obtain more documents, parroting the line that they have “already handed over 70,000 documents.”

Which sounds impressive, unless damning information is contained in document No. 70,001.

Republican Energy Committee leaders threatened in a statement Friday to subpoena the information:

Subpoenaing the White House is a serious step that, unfortunately, appears necessary in light of the Obama administration’s stonewall on Solyndra. What is the White House trying to hide from the American public? It is alarming for the Obama White House to cast aside its vows of transparency and block Congress from learning more about the roles that those in the White House and other members of the administration played in the Solyndra mess.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post – at the end of an article this morning, like, as an afterthought – lists several more major loan recipients that appear to be in dismal straights.

Fisker, an electric-car maker that received a $529 million loan guarantee through the program, has missed its early manufacturing goals and pushed back plans for U.S. manufacturing. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, this week asked the Energy Department to explain a $730 million loan guarantee made to the Michigan subsidiary of a steel and mining company owned by a Russian billionaire.

Other loan recipients, too, are confronting recent financial difficulties.

Beacon Power Corp., an energy storage company that received $43 million in federal support from the program, may be delisted from the Nasdaq because its shares have dropped below $1 and it has warned it may not be a “going concern.”

The firm, which makes flywheels that control the flow of energy through the electrical grid, was next in line to receive a loan after Solyndra and counts the Navy among its customers.

Beacon received good news last week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a regulation that will allow electricity storage companies such as Beacon to receive incentive payments. But two flywheels at the company’s Stephentown, N.Y., plant have failed in the past two months, prompting some analysts to downgrade its stock.

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.”

Solyndra Expands into Energygate

It now appears that the Energy Department was something of a haven for Obama fundraisers who wanted to affect policy after the election.

ABC News is reporting that several Obama fundraisers found themselves helping out around the place. Some of them had ties to green energy projects that DOE ended up supporting.

Well known already is DOE’s precipitous and calamitous decision to fund Solyndra, which was backed by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser.

Also known is that another Obama fundraiser, Stephen Spinner, was involved in advising on the Energy Department’s loan program. His wife’s law firm represented Solyndra, but the firm claims she had recused herself from work with the company.

DOE is trying to minimize Stephen Spinner’s role, while Spinner tried to maximize it, ABC reports.

Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, described Spinner as someone who had “no role” in evaluating loan applications or selecting recipients.

Spinner described his job differently. He wrote in an online bio for the Center for American Progress, the left-leaning think tank he joined after leaving the administration, that he “helped oversee the more than $100 billion of loan guarantee and direct lending authority” for the department’s green-energy loan program.

Meanwhile, yet another Obama fundraiser has popped into the mix, according to ABC.

California venture capitalist Steve Westly, who raised more than $500,000 for Obama, had Secretary Chu’s ear on green energy issues as a member of a high-level volunteer advisory panel. Mackey Dykes, who was a finance manager for the Obama campaign, was hired to be the liaison between the Energy Department and White House. Each declined interview requests.

Westly has held stakes in at least five companies that have won DOE support.

Fundraisers are often awarded by presidents with ambassadorships and ceremonial titles. But President Obama, who talked much about eliminating money from politics and halting the “revolving door” between the private and the public sector, and so forth, appears to have placed money people in positions in the government where they had a chance to . . . make more money.

Notice that Westly was the liaison between Energy and the White House. And it’s clear someone at the White House pressured OMB to reluctantly sign off on the Solyndra loan guarantee, which will cost taxpayers more than $500 million in the wake of Solyndra’s failure.

There is much more to come. More names will surface.

Who in the White House pressured OMB? What were this person’s ties to the Obama fundraisers?

If this were Dick Cheney energy policy, the Democrats would surely be screaming for a special prosecutor.

H/T to Doug Ross @ Journal, where I first learned of the ABC story. He has  a good summary of the Energygate players.

Solyndra Investor Donated to Michelle’s Pet Cause

Wanted to flag this article for you. The Daily Caller is reporting that Solyndra investor George Kaiser donated to a program near and dear to Michelle Obama, Barack Obama buddy Eric Whitaker and Valerie Jarrett during the same year he obtained the half billion dollar loan guarantee for Solyndra.

A great piece of reporting and another piece in the puzzle of the growing scandal surrounding the White House decision to approve taxpayer backing for the dicey solar panel maker, which of course went belly up.