Solyndra: Obama's Marble Boat
The dowager empress of China, Cixi, famously took the admiralty funds intended for building up an Imperial Admiralty and used them to construct a boat carved of marble on the shore of Kumming Lake for her amusement and the pleasure of her royal entourage. The embezzlement was condoned by the controller of the Admiralty, despite the disadvantage to the nation, because he owed his position to Cixi.
Solyndra is Obama's equivalent of the Marble Boat. It represents, we think, what may be the largest in a series of enormous federal expenditures to Obama's friends and supporters for their benefit and to buy him votes, with others deluded into thinking that traditional energy is too destructive of the planet and too cheap for our own good. Just as Cixi's marble boat impoverished China and placed it at risk, the foolish actions of this administration impoverish us and place us at risk. But the optics!
To the left, which includes the president and many of his staunchest supporters, fossil fuels are a "source of 'death and destruction.'"
This plays into the hands of the Middle East oil producers. An outfit called Ethical Oil has exposed the ridiculous thinking behind those who are fighting Canadian oil sand production and transmission to the U.S. Ethical Oil created an ad that explains that the choice for consumers is not no oil; on the contrary, it is between ethical oil -- that is, oil produced in Canada -- or unethical oil produced in Saudia Arabia, an ad whose truth so roiled the Saudis that they tried to halt its continued airing.
Correctly, The National Post observed:
The reality is that the oil they love to hate makes modern civilization possible. The world is not going to end its dependence on fossil fuels any time soon, indeed, until other forms of energy are price-competitive. This will only happen when oil becomes too expensive, either due to scarcity or the invention of a cheaper (read: non-subsidized) form of alternative energy.
Until that happens, the ethical thing to do is not to eschew all fossil fuels, but to make choices between their sources, just as we have done with other products.
Because of the prejudice against fossil fuels in administration quarters, and undoubtedly because so many Democrat fundraisers and lobbyists are lining their pockets on "green projects," the government, which should not be providing debt capital for new tech energy start-ups, has jumped into this area, feet first, and landed on its nose, at huge cost to us. The risk should be taken by high-flying investors, not the taxpayers. Moreover, the evidence is overwhelming that the administration utterly lacks people with the business acumen to make the decision between competing technologies and companies. Successful silicon valley investors simply are not hanging around looking to jump ship for a slot at the Department of Energy or this White House. As a wise man once said about taking advice from stock brokers, if they are so smart, why aren't they making the money for themselves?
The evidence already establishes not only the connection between Solyndra's investors and lobbyists with the Democrats, but as well that its representatives met multiple times with Obama's closest aide, Valerie B. Jarrett, "to push for loans, tax breaks and other government assistance."
But cronyism is not the only shortcoming in this picture: as the New York Times article linked above makes clear, aside from the possibility of political corruption, the question of incompetence in the doling out of half a billion in funds to this company is damning:
Industry analysts and government auditors fault the Obama administration for failing to properly evaluate the business proposals or take note of troubling signs already evident in the solar energy marketplace.
"It was alarming," said Frank Rusco, a program director at the Government Accountability Office, which found that Energy Department preliminary loan approvals -- including the one for Solyndra -- were granted at times before officials had completed mandatory evaluations of the financial and engineering viability of the projects. "They can't really evaluate the risks without following the rules."
The Energy Department's senior staff has acknowledged in interviews the intense pressure from top Obama administration officials to rush stimulus spending out the door...
"There was just too much misplaced zeal at the Department of Energy for this company," Mr. Mehta said.
Were this the only instance of waste of substantial sums of federal funds made public this week, it might escape so much attention, but it comes at the same time that we learn of expenditures of $16 muffins and $8 cups of coffee by the Department of Justice on a series of conferences and $16.5 billion paid out erroneously for unemployment claims. Is it a wonder that Americans tell Gallup that we think half of every federal dollar is wasted?
Were there a grown-up in the White House, someone could be counted on to whisper to the chief that now is not the time for more spending bills.
Instead, he's asking for even more money. As the president stood before a bridge that ironically was ineligible to receive the additional funds he was seeking (another example of how bad the White House staffing is), others noted that Solyndra alone received more stimulus money than did 35 states the last time the Congress gave Obama trillions in walking-around money.
And were the loss on Solyndra the only instance of money misspent on faulty energy projects, it might pass without much further concern, but who knows? Given the atmosphere -- Democrat biggies, green propaganda, foolish notions about fossil fuels and green energy -- how many more such projects we will find once we start turning over rocks or people come clean?
Even worse, all takes place in a background of consistent Interior Department and EPA efforts to choke off so much vital, productive, and essential activity. The most recent example comes from the Central Valley in California, which was starved of water to save the delta smelt because of what a judge now calls "illegal actions and abuse of power" based on dishonest testimony.
Big Green environmentalists claim that the delta smelt is threatened with extinction by diversion of water from the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers to supply farms in California's Central Valley and cities in Southern California. Those diversions are handled by the Central Valley Project, a Depression-era federal water project designed to move water from California's northern area to its arid southern region. The issue before Wanger was where Department of Interior officials should set boundaries between the fresher water of the rivers the fish prefer and the saltier waters from the San Francisco Bay. The 2-inch-long fish mainly breeds in marshy estuary areas where the fresh and salt water mix.
By diverting more fresh water for the delta smelt, federal officials reduce the amount available for people on farms and in cities. California's Central Valley was long among the nation's richest agricultural areas, producing fruits and vegetables shipped to grocery shelves across the country. Increased water diversion under President Obama and Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, however, has wreaked Depression-like economic havoc on the region, costing thousands of jobs, increasing food prices nationwide, and destroying a way of life for many California farm families. Unemployment in some areas of the valley has reached 40 percent.
Wanger was angered by testimony from the two scientists, Frederick V. Feyrer and Jennifer M. Norris, that he said was "false," "contradictory," and "misleading." He accused the Interior Department of "bad faith" in providing the two scientists as experts and claimed that their testimony was "an attempt to mislead and to deceive the court into accepting not only what is not the best science, it's not science." [Source: Washington Examiner.]
[T]he National Park Service and the Department of the Interior have manipulated science in an effort to paint the oyster farm as an environmental hazard. Science can play a key role here, if in fact evidence showed that the oyster farm was an environmental detriment to the area. But the science doesn't support this argument. So the Park Service issued a series of reports with bad, incomplete, misleading, or cherry-picked evidence of impacts to seagrasses, seals, water quality, and fish diversity. Equally egregious, Park Service employees withheld or selectively excluded scientific evidence that they knew contradicted their claims, even after requests by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and external scientists seeking to independently review their claims.
And now a new internal report on this debacle from the Department of the Interior has been released (the "Frost Report") that simultaneously acknowledges that the scientific arguments of damage from the oyster farm are false, yet whitewashes the actions of National Park Service employees in producing, disseminating, and repeating those false arguments. The Frost Report uses semantics, logical twists that would amaze even a wise and practiced Marin County yogi, and incomplete and incorrect assessments of events. The local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal carried a cartoon on March 26th by George Russell calling the Frost Report "a shell game on the half-truths" in a play on words on "oysters on the half-shell."
In the Report, practices and actions that any scientific society, scientific journal, or scientific ethicist would clearly identify as scientific misconduct and reprehensible, are treated by the Department of the Interior as simply worthy of a slap of the wrist, a verbal tisk tisk. In a remarkable semantic twist, the Frost Report found that five National Park Service employees violated the Department's Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct but chose to label those violations as "administrative misconduct" rather than "scientific misconduct" because of the difficulty of proving "intent" to deceive. Yet this "administrative misconduct" included four years of withholding and cherry-picking data in public reports, writing journal articles with incomplete or wrong data, failing to present complete materials, data, and scientific observations to a National Academy of Sciences Committee, even after multiple requests, and issuing repeatedly false public statements. And this "misconduct" was all in the direction of exaggerating the adverse impact of the oyster farm. No intent? [Source: Huffington Post.]
While I believe this kind of false testimony was used by the Department of Interior on other such occasions, I'm sure readers are fully aware of more instances of this than the two I have quickly culled.
In any event, there remain two questions for me.
(1) How do people square the endangered species act with their belief in evolutionary theory?
Take for example, the spotted owl. Thousands of jobs were lost after President Clinton signed the Northwest Forest Plan ,which was designed to protect spotted owls and other species which live in old-growth forests. And what was the consequence? Those owls are still in decline, barred owls having moved into their range and habitat. Now there's a proposal to kill the barred owls. Will this nonsense never end? What about an Endangered Workers and Taxpayers Act?
(2) As my friend porchlight notes, if the sun is such a perfect energy-producer that we can immediately eschew fossil fuels, why is its natural fluctuation an insufficient explanation for any increase in the world's temperature?
I guess you have to be an Interior Department scientist or a former Democrat officeholder or staffer lobbying for green energy to understand stuff this complex.