Solyndra Scandal Pronounced Dead (Again)

With the release of the chief restructuring officer’s report, the scandal over the bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra is being declared over. Kevin Drum says it’s a big “nothingburger,” pointing to Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-California) concession that there was “perhaps not” any criminal activity. Fortune’s Roger Parloff has a pretty thorough post-mortem. Grist’s perpetually irate David Roberts says the whole thing was a sideshow

A few points:  

First, you read it here four months ago. After Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s embarrassing-to-all-concerned House testimony – during which the Nobel laureate pled a combination of ignorance, incompetence and bi-partisan support for green pork – I noted that Solyndra’s half-billion-dollar scandal had run its course

I don’t really disagree that Solyndra has exhausted a radioactive half-life. (There’s more radiation on the sun than there was at Three Mile Island, people!) The fact that there is bi-partisan – or is it transpartisan? – support for this kind of waste should make the story that much more maddening. But within the Republocrat consensus it’s considered a mitigating circumstance. 

The Republicans’ Inspector Clouseau routine with Chu left little hope that we’re going to get an aggressive investigation in this era of collegiality. And that’s not counting the shameless behavior of Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and Henry Waxman (D-California), who began the Solyndra scandal making public-spirited noises but ended up running interference for the president. 

I’m still hoping for a Rhambo subpoena. Like Evel Knievel and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I reserve the right to announce my last appearance on earth and then continue making appearances. But Solyndra does seem to be passing into the afterlife with Hillary Clinton’s statistically improbable cattle futures gains and Halliburton’s no-bid Iraq contracts: mysteries that fade not because they’ve been solved but because corruption is the fuel of effective politics. 

Second, none of this stuff is new. Grist’s Roberts, who for reasons of his own attributes the Solyndra scandal to a vast right-wing conspiracy centered in the GOP-controlled halls of Politico, has been trying to wish the scandal away for the better part of a year. He’s not the only one. The criminal claims around Solyndra did not originate with the Republicans but with the president’s own Departments of Justice, Treasury and Energy. I have said all along that the criminal angle was a dead end, and it had the practical effect of shutting down the most promising material in the congressional probe. 

Third, despite those obstacles, the Solyndra probe ended up shedding quite a bit of light. President Obama’s cronyism and shaky grasp of even basic 99-cent-store economics are now clear to anybody who is not willfully in denial. Chu has been revealed as a fool. Energy subsidies have been discredited, even if that hasn’t quite filtered up to the Energy Department, which is still setting aside multi-billion-dollar subsidies for green energy boondoggles: 

Most importantly, the folly of government industrial policy has been subjected to a long and continuing scrub. A company as bad as Solyndra can’t be created by mere stupidity. It takes a particular kind of misguided genius and a lot of money from unwilling investors. If the nothingburger sideshow has made that clearer to one or two people, it was worth something, though not  half a billion dollars. 

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  • ¢||

    Every man is charbroiled to freedom.
    —Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingburger

  • JB||

    Greek porn?

    How is this not a scandal? $500 million in tax dollars is wasted because Obama wants to play Green Energy King in fantasy-land and surprise, surprise he is connected to people at Solyndra.

    There doesn't have to be illegal behavior for something to be a scandal.

  • Anthony Weiner||

    There doesn't have to be illegal behavior for something to be a scandal.

    *hums quietly to himself*

  • Mary Stock||

    I'll dress up like a seventeen year old in a plaid skirt and bobby socks if you want me to, congressman. Girls still wear bobby socks to look sexy, right?

  • shrike||

    Behindertsein ist schön

  • Paul||

    it’s a big “nothingburger,” pointing to Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-California) concession that there was “perhaps not” any criminal activity.

    I suppose it depends on how you define "criminal". Did it break any statute as clearly written?

    Probably not.

    Was it taking advantage of the corruption and graft designed into the system?

    Hell yeah.

    Is it "criminal" to design corruption and graft into the system?

    Opinion is divided. I say it is, most everyone else says it isn't.

  • ||

    ""Was it taking advantage of the corruption and graft designed into the system?""

    You bet, that's what government does. Many of them are rewarded for their quality with multiple terms in office.

  • ||

    Damnit, Tim. I had hopes that the real misdeeds would prove you wrong. But, your cynicism trumps my crazy dreaming that wrongdoers might once be held to account.

  • Paul||

    When Tim quotes himself, he quotes himself twice!

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Thanks. I thought that quote looked long.

  • Steve Chu||

    I told you we're not crooks, we're just sleazy and incompetent!

  • P J O'Rourke||

    It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.

  • ||

    ssssssssssh!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Tim Cavanaugh, snug in the radioactive pocket of Big Atom.

  • Almanian||

    Big Atom. Awesome. That's as oxymomronic as Small Intestine. (seriously - have you SEEN one of those things unfolded to full length?)

  • Jeffrey Dahmer||

    Once or twice...

  • ||

    (seriously - have you SEEN one of those things unfolded to full length?)

    As a matter of fact, yes, your Almanianship. Fortunately, not very often WRT to live patients.

    Cadavers, different story.

  • Dick Cheney||

    Pikers. We blew $1 trillion for cronies in a Middle East hellhole.

  • Almanian||

    They don't call him Chimpy McHalliburton for nothin'.

  • omniblot||

    He's more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil.

  • Sevo||

    Dick Cheney|3.29.12 @ 7:40PM|#
    "Pikers. We blew $1 trillion for cronies in a Middle East hellhole."

    Nope.
    The war is stupid, but we got actual product for whatever amount was spent.
    Solyndra was pissed right down the drain for nothing.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    5:13 mark: Is Cavanaugh hitting on Bones there with that line? Booth isn't going to like that.

  • Sevo||

    "President Obama’s cronyism and shaky grasp of even basic 99-cent-store economics are now clear to anybody who is not willfully in denial."

    That would be, oh, 55% of the voters, right?

  • ||

    marching to their leaders tune in Fla. right now...

  • Shreek Sachssucker||

    NA NA NA NA NA

    I CAN'T HEARS YOU!!!!

  • Nando||

    Over-packaging makes me want to never purchase anything again for as long as I live! Want to SMASH this stupid clear plastic junk!!!

  • Sevo||

    Nando|3.29.12 @ 7:58PM|#
    "Over-packaging makes me want to never purchase anything again for as long as I live! Want to SMASH this stupid clear plastic junk!!!"

    Yeah, well, you're a stupid shit, so you really deserve food packaged such that those with wee beasties on their hands can touch everything you might eat.
    Eat it and get sick, bozo.

  • Nando||

    I wasn't talking about food.
    You know those scissors they make to open up plastic packages? They come in those plastic packages.

  • Sevo||

    Nando|3.29.12 @ 8:14PM|#
    "I wasn't talking about food.
    You know those scissors they make to open up plastic packages? They come in those plastic packages."

    OK, here's a thought experiment for you:
    Why do they package them that way?
    Now I emphasize *thought*; IOWs, you should actually *think* about your response, and consider what the alternatives are and why that one was chosen before you post your answer.
    Remember the company selling those scissors (or whatever) is attempting to make money for the owners of the company.
    Got that?
    Go!

  • Sam Walton's Ghost||

    Because we're evil. Yeehaw!

  • Sevo||

    Somehow, I was pretty sure that a request that dipshit *think* about an answer was going to mean we weren't going to get one.

  • Aliosha Kasin||

    Lol at Tim quoting himself twice

  • Janeway||

    How can you expect anyone to be outraged about this when we have a college spycammer and a possibly racist shooting to worry about?

  • ||

    you see, Eisenhower was right. we have to beware of the Military-Industrial Complex. they're gonna take over and spend our... wait, who's Solyndra?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The scandal is the wastefulness. They're getting guaranteed loans from the government and they spend it all on hookers and blow over designed and over built facilities with everything except gold plated toilets. A facility they didn't really need, but man, they sure wanted. No bank would have underwritten it without the federal guarantees, and that's about all you need to know.

  • ||

    No bank would have underwritten it without the federal guarantees,

    I doubt that. This company had already raised quite a bit of money on the capital markets.

    All the guarantee did (initially, of course) was get them a lower rate and/or reduce the need to dilute the crony insiders by selling stock. The only effect that this guarantee had (aside from ripping off the government, at the end) was to enrich the crony insiders.

    Its the waste, sure, but its really the cronyism.

  • ||

    This looked more than anything like another example of the government's inability to pick winners in the marketplace. Which, sadly, is not newsworthy.

  • Steve Chu||

    Hey, so I blew $500 million of your money. Shit happens. You keep acting like it's a big deal and hassling me about it, I'm going to force you to use the lightbulbs I like best.

  • Cliche Team||

    C-

  • Quis custodiet ipsos custodes||

    F

  • Some Guy||

    that there was “perhaps not” any criminal activity

    Perhaps they should make a law for that, then.

    I always liked the idea of making asking for a bailout to Congress a capital crime.

    Energy subsidies have been discredited, even if that hasn’t quite filtered up to the Energy Department, which is still setting aside multi-billion-dollar subsidies for green energy boondoggles

    [Indigo Montoya]

    In my definition of 'discredited', people would stop doing that.

  • ||

    That actually looks like it might jsut work. WOw.

    www.Anon-Nets.tk

  • ||

    Well, nobody thought there was criminal activity in the first place.
    It was the Obama administration that called the FBI to shut down the congressional hearings on the matter.

    The scandel wasn't that there was supposed to have been criminal activity, it's always been about the political cronyism involved in why Solyndra was selected to get a loan, and the lkegalized corruption inherent in the whole energy subsidies program from the get go.

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