Barack Obama

Chu Review: "Unbowed," "troubling," "failed," "well played," "clueless" "unflappable"

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Steven Chu, large and in charge.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu contains multitudes, according to a roundup of establishment media coverage of his testimony about Solyndra, the Fremont, California solar panel maker that received a half-billion-dollar taxpayer-guaranteed loan in March 2009 and went bankrupt in September 2011.

Conventional wisdom: Chu's testimony ended with a hair's-breadth 'scape by the Nobel laureate. 

USA Today's Aamer Madhani reports that Chu has already moved on to new business successes after yesterday's mixed testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the Solyndra debacle: 

Chu is scheduled to tour a General Electric thin-solar panel facility in Arvada, Colo., this afternoon and meet with company executives. GE announced their plans to enter the solar panel business in April, and Chu will use the visit to tout the potential of the solar energy industry in the United States.

"America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat," Chu told the the panel investigating the $535 million DOE loan guarantee to Solyndra. "I believe we can and must compete."

Republicans blasted Chu for his decision to restructure the Solyndra loan earlier this year and argued that his decision to place $75 million in private investment ahead of taxpayer debt violated the statute of the loan guarantee program. Chu called the collapse of Solyndra "very regrettable" but declined to apologize for the Obama administration's decision to make the loan.

Washington Post columnist Glenn Kessler gives Chu "three Pinocchios" for contrary-to-fact statements in his sworn testimony: 

Given the high stakes involved in Chu's testimony, it seems strange he would repeat talking points about the jobs that had already been called into question by a major news organization. Granted, DOE disputed that article, but we don't think their rebuttal makes much sense.

In any case, the job number and the fuel number are greatly inflated by the inclusion of the loan to Ford. As we have demonstrated, these are not new jobs or even saved jobs — just people who might, just maybe, have a little more job security, in part because of the loan.

Chu's comments on the unexpected "tsunami" that hit Solyndra are also troubling. The OMB e-mail shows that at least one arm of the government was aware that Wall Street was quickly souring on solar energy and that the tsunami that swept the industry should not have been such a surprise.

An unsigned editorial in Investors Business Daily says Chu should lose his job over the Solyndra loan:

Corruption: The Secretary of Energy takes responsibility for and defends the granting of a half-billion-dollar-loan guarantee to an imploding solar panel maker. But that's not where the campaign donor buck stopped.

In testimony Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Steven Chu, caught in a tangled web of administration deceit regarding a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra, tried but failed to continue the administration line that the affair was just a good-faith bet that went bad.

The respective Timeses of New York and Los Angeles applaud the administration in straight news stories, but both papers ignore the matter in their overt opinion sections.

The Washington Post editorial noted earlier by Ron Bailey also calls Chu's appearance a win: 

Chu appeared before a Republican-controlled House committee Thursday and immediately turned the tables on his GOP critics. Yes, it's regrettable that a half-billion-dollar government loan to Solyndra went sour. But, Mr. Chu reminded the panel, the loan was part of a program that Congress itself authorized (during the Bush administration). Congress has set aside $10 billion to cover anticipated losses in the Energy Department's $36 billion loan portfolio.

And, he noted slyly, he "appreciate[s] the support the loan programs have received from many members of Congress .?.?. who have urged us to accelerate our efforts and to fund worthy projects in their states."

Well played, Mr. Secretary. Clean-energy loan guarantee programs have enjoyed bipartisan support. Financial loss is, indeed, an inescapable risk — and would be whether or not the money got dished out to the Obama administration's political cronies, as Republicans imply but as the evidence so far does not prove.

So what is the scandal here? Well, the review process behind the Solyndra loan was not quite as diligent as Mr. Chu insists. 

Why haven't they made a Dazzler movie? If there's one thing America needs right now, it's a rollerdisco diva in a pantsuit with a really lame superpower.

In the New York Post, Michelle Malkin pans the secretary's "know-nothing" defense

[D]ecisions were made with serial cluelessness about the political jockeying, dire financial warnings, legal red flags and conflicts of interest that "everybody [else] and their dog" knew about (as GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas politely pointed out).

While former Democratic chief inquisitor Henry Waxman praised Chu's "reputation for integrity" as "unimpeachable," Chu came across as more Mr. Magoo than Mr. Clean.

Chu said he was "unaware" of the Department of Energy's own staff predictions two years ago that Solyndra would face a serious cash-flow crisis today.

Chu said he was "unaware" of administration pressure on Solyndra to suppress layoff announcements until after the November 2010 midterm elections. "I don't know. I just learned about that," he shirked.

In fact, he used the phrase "I am aware of it now" at least a half-dozen times.

And in the Manchester Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg says the "unflappable" Chu withstood the GOP like Muhammad Ali in the first four rounds of the Rumble in the Jungle: 

By the end of the day Chu had deflected Republican attempts to cast the entire clean energy industry as a pay-off for Democratic donors. "I want to be clear: I did not make any decision based on political considerations," he said.

But he was left exposed on the question of his own general competence.

On question after question, to the Republicans' frustration, Chu claimed to have had knowledge of key decisions.

"I'm aware of it now" was all he could offer.

I'm pretty sure Goldenberg means to write "claimed not to have had knowledge" or "claimed to have had no knowledge." (Even the typos are biased!) 

My live coverage of Chu's testimony featured long periods of crushing boredom punctuated by many moments of indescribable terror and not enough references to Marvel has-been The Dazzler. 

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  1. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu contains multitudes,

    multitudes of what?

    1. Different kinds of shit. Most of it is bull shit, but there’s some horse shit and some human shit too.

  2. How much of his Nobel prize money did he lose in Solyndra?

  3. What this shows is that a Nobel Prize doesn’t mean that you can manage shit.

    1. Obama himself hasn’t show that already?

  4. What, no “inscrutable”? I am disappoint.

  5. I did not make any decision based on political considerations

    I thought his testimony made it crystal clear that he didn’t make any decisions, period.

    The questions now are:

    (1) Who did make these decisions? and

    (2) Why?

  6. It’s pretty clear that my prediction of a bombshell didn’t pan out. Maybe they should of waited until they had the White House documents before inviting him. They nailed him on laws being broken, but they got nowhere close to catching him in a baldfaced lie.

  7. and would be whether or not the money got dished out to the Obama administration’s political cronies, as Republicans imply but as the evidence so far does not prove.

    How can they be that fucking dishonest? Solyandra was owned by an Obama crony and its loan had been turned down as a bad risk by the Bush Administration.

    Basically Chu could have gotten up there and pulled out a gun and started shooting and the WAPO would have called it a rounding success. Just pathetic.

    1. You don’t understand the subtle dance between the branches of government like the WASHPOST does.

    2. Solyndra is not “owned by an Obama crony.” Jesus. Some guy who raised a bunch of money for Obama is an investor, one of many. A rich venture capitalist giving lots of money to the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency? UNHEARD OF!! CORRUPTION!!

      1. Aaaand his people are on record pressuring the administration to get them a loan, which is where your shell game really trips up.

        1. Business interests pressuring politicians to do things that would favor their business interests. NOT IN MY AMERICA!

          My main point was that if you have to lie and say things like “Solyndra is owned by an Obama Crony,” chances are the facts aren’t enough.

          1. If you have to fall back on “the other team does it too,” chances are you don’t have much of a defense.

        2. Link please. I find this:

          A top Obama fund-raiser with ties to Solyndra LLC asked the president to crack down on Chinese competitors of the solar-panel maker but avoided lobbying directly for the company, newly released emails show.

          George Kaiser’s family foundation owned a 36% stake in Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy in September and closed operations.

          The emails released by House lawmakers offered the first glimpse of Mr. Kaiser’s actions that might have helped Solyndra. But they don’t offer evidence that would support Republican allegations that politics influenced the Department of Energy’s decision to give Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee. [Wall Street Journal, 11/10/11]

          That’s because there conversations happened AFTER the loan was given.

          1. Pete stinks like shit.

      2. Solyndra is not “owned by an Obama crony.”

        Not wholly owned, true. But, the biggest investor in Solyndra is the family foundation of an Obama crony.

        Plenty close enough.

        And, the conversations we know about happened after the loan was approved, but not before all the loan payments were made, and certainly not before the highly irregular and suspicious (if not illegal) restructuring that benefited the crony occurred.

        Or, are your standards so low that doesn’t cause you any qualms?

        1. His standards are that low, but only if it were a Team RED crony getting the sweet end of the stick from BOOSH!

  8. Still waiting for Occupy Solyndra. Yeah, I’m not going to hold my breath.

    1. Those clowns can occupy my ass and fight for air.

      1. Sounds like a green job with a happy ending.

    2. I’ve been trying to make sense of this comment for 5 minutes. The best I can come up with is you think the people who are angry about income inequality and the lack of criminal prosecution for the widespread fraud in the financial sector should instead turn their ire on a solar panel company that went bankrupt after a federal loan guarantee? That’s worse than, say, AIG, which gobbled up $75 billion? Or Citigroup, which took (don’t feel like Googling, but it’s a shit load) and has so far only settled five cases with the SEC for fraud, paying millions in fines without admitting wrongdoing (sweet deal, that)?

      But I guess if the occupiers don’t immediately leave Wall Street and march to Solyndra’s now-empty headquarter, they’re all hypocrites, or something.

      1. you think the people who are angry about income inequality and the lack of criminal prosecution for the widespread fraud in the financial sector should instead turn their ire on a solar panel company that went bankrupt after a federal loan guarantee?

        Wait. They are angry about “fraud” but can’t be bothered about THIS fraud, because they read Fortune?

        I don’t want these OWS protests to EVER end. People attempting to defend them, and their own actions, are simply Too. Fucking. Funny.

        1. I’m defending the non-action of OWS protesters not dropping everything to scream at/about Solyndra. Yes. I’m defending that. Call me a hippie.

        2. Here you have a member of the 1% (Kaiser) exerting political influence to line his pocket to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, at the expense of the 99%.

          I can’t imagine why anyone would think the Occupados would be concerned about that. After all, they’re protesting members of the 1% using their political influence to line their pockets at the expense of the 99%. Not the same thing at all.

      2. Pete, the common actor in all of these travesties is the fucking government. It is the source of all of this theft and corruption. You’re not just defending OWS’s inattention to this, you’re defending the entire Solyndra debacle. “Hippy” is not the right H-word here.

        1. Hippie, hippie, hypocrite.
          Doesn’t know his facts from shit!

      3. pete stinks like shit.

  9. On question after question, to the Republicans’ frustration, Chu claimed [not] to have had knowledge of key decisions.

    “I’m aware of it now” was all he could offer.

    Which is more admirable, to have no knowledge of what your department is doing, or to being able to weasle out of answering a direct question?

  10. Michelle Malkin. I’d bang her.

    1. Ditto. Preferably with a ball-gag in place, so she doesn’t say anything stupid.

    2. Filipino women are dirty. I wouldn’t touch that shit with your dick.

  11. Republicans blasted Chu for his decision to restructure the Solyndra loan earlier this year and argued that his decision to place $75 million in private investment ahead of taxpayer debt violated the statute of the loan guarantee program.

    Obama’s bundlers wanted paid. They’re more important than any taxpayer.

  12. ? It’s the New Chu Review, comin’ right at you!
    It’s the New Chu Review, comin’ right at you!
    It’s quite an unusual thing, the Chu dances and sings…
    With Barry behind him, you know, each testimony’s a different show! ?

    1. I see you like to Chu. Perhaps you’d like to Chu… ON MY FIST!!!

  13. “As I’ve written before, there certainly is something awful about the federal government making a bad decision that costs more than half a billion dollars. But there remains no actual evidence of corruption. Just a lot of innuendo. Today’s hearing didn’t change that.” – dude from Fortune.

    1. Oh there’s no evidence. Must be clean then. Let’s pack it up and forget about it. GO TEAM BLUE!

      1. Yes, silly me. I require evidence of lawbreaking.

        1. Yeah, like I said its clean. That’s why Obama responded right away to the subpoena for docs on Solyndra and didn’t blow it off. He knows there is nothing to hide.

          1. Ah the old “If they had nothing to hide they’d be doing X” argument. Airtight. Obama might as well resign in shame right now.

            1. Ok Pete, you convinced me. So far we’ve seen nothing illegal – for a congress critter anyway. What we have seen is that when it comes to business they are incompetent morons. Thanks for clearing that up.

            2. Obama might as well resign in shame right now.

              I agree with that.

            3. please wipe ur ass, pete

              you smell like big shit

    2. Dude from Fortune must not be paying attention. Every indicator screamed out that the company was going to fail. But, for some strange reason, the loan was made anyway? And then when it became plainly obvious that the company had indeed failed, they subbourn the loan? Give me a fucking break.

  14. Thanks for the jugtastic illustration. The last time I was at Ryker’s Island, it looked exactly like that, except that all the chicks were smiling. Because I didn’t let them up.

    As for Sec. Chu, I guess you don’t get a Nobel without being fast on your feet. The Republicans on the House Committee must be a bunch of bozos.

  15. The House Republicans made Chu look like an incompetent fool. Nobody who watched that hearing came away believing Chu was “fast on his feet”.

  16. “America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat,” Chu told the the panel…

    I guess the choice to be a smart consumer is off the table?

  17. Shorter Chu:

    “I am kept out of the loop, in the dark, and irrelevant. But I take full responsibility!*”

    *So long as full responsibility doesn’t include any, you know, consequences.

  18. silly me. I require evidence of lawbreaking.

    Silly me. I require some reasonable likelihood of a successful business model before I invest. But what the fuck do I know? I only invest my own money.

  19. silly me. I require evidence of lawbreaking.

    Silly me. I require some reasonable likelihood of a successful business model before I invest. But what the fuck do I know? I only invest my own money.

  20. [ Begging for Life] Complaint about IBM China CSR on Centennial

    Please Google:

    IBM detained mother of ex-employee on the day of centennial
    or
    How Much IBM Can Get Away with is the Responsibility of the Media
    or
    Tragedy of Labor Rights Repression in IBM China
    or
    IBM Advised to Treat its People with Humanism in China

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