Corporate Scandals

HuffPo Blames Media for Failure of All New Solyndras


Solar Trust trying to communicate with extraterrestrials.

At the Huffington Post, Jason Linkins focuses like a laserbeam on the really important story: That too many reporters use the term "Next Solyndra" to describe the growing number of companies that have gone out of business after taking taxpayer money through the Federal Financing Bank

Way back in September, Politico reported that LightSquared was the next Solyndra. (Their story showed up in my RSS feed with the headline, "LightSquared: The next Solyndra?") In January, they wrote a story about Ener1, an Indiana company that manufactures lithium-ion batteries, giving it the headline they'd essentially recycle for Abound Solar, "Another Solyndra? Grant recipient Ener1 in bankruptcy proceedings." In April, Politico's "Morning Energy" newsletter hyped a National Review story from Robert Bryce titled "The Next 'Next Solyndra,'" which fingered electric car battery maker A123 Systems as … well, you get the idea…

It's just an example of the nagging tendency of the media to fall back on "this thing looks like that thing" tropes, thus losing the details of the story in the blinding light of all the shiny-shiny…

But what sets Politico apart is that they know better. All they have to do is read their own publication—specifically, Alex Guillen's April 4 piece, "A $2 billion solar mistake—from the media."

In his article, Guillen describes how lots of media organizations bought the hype that Solar Trust, an Oakland-based company that was planning to build a large solar farm in Blythe, Calif., had cost taxpayers $2.1 billion in DOE-guaranteed loans after it filed for bankruptcy. The problem is that Solar Trust had never taken the loan—they'd actually backed out of the deal in August.

So the problem isn't the massive cost to the public treasury of central planning experiments that predictably failed. Nor is it that so many green companies buzzing around the nest of government handouts keep failing. (Note that the National Review story Linkins cites wittily uses a double-"Next" to allude to the great number of bum taxpayer investments that have been made.) Rather the problem is that media shorthand has made room for a new term that is maybe irritating in the way the old habit of adding the suffix -gate to political scandals was irritating.

Ron Bailey correctly noted the details of the Solar Trust failure in April.

Last October I posited that the challenge in finding the Next Solyndra was not, as Linkins claims, a shortage of claimants but an oversupply of them:  

The competition for the title "Second Solyndra" has become somewhat like the search for the New Dylan in the seventies. The New York Times nominates San Jose-based SoloPower, which got a cool $197 million from the Energy Department. Previous contenders have included SunPower and the Solar Power Project (which came in for its own $737 million DOE loan shortly after Solyndra went south). You'll also be relieved to know your tax money is helping to build low-emissions sports cars in Finland. And in a rare moment of efficient stimulus, a Tennessee electric truck terminal has managed to go bankrupt with only $400,000 in federal green stimulus. At that rate, profits must be right around the corner. 

I am also on record believing the Massachusetts-based Beacon Power won the competition to become the next Solyndra last year. Ener1 or some other company may have taken a bronze medal. Now we're well into the mid-pack of runners in the Solyndra race. 

Linkins blames the Chinese for these failures. (Those crafty devils have struck again by offering a product that does the job as well or better at a lower cost — an Ancient Chinese Secret that no American entrepreneur could have foreseen or been expected to plan for.)

But Linkins won't get a break from the "Next Solyndra" label until Next Solyndras stop appearing. I advise patience along that line, because it's going to be a long time before we see the last Solyndra

NEXT: Cracks Appear in California State Senate as High-Speed Rail Vote Approaches Station

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  1. You’re sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, Cavanaugh!

  2. I blame climate change deinalists.

    1. Nando|6.29.12 @ 11:17PM|#
      I blame climate change deinalists.”

      Yeah, well, you would…

      1. You don’t even want to give solar power a chance.

        1. Nando, it ain’t even a thang, man. These haters gonna hate no matter what you do, so don’t let it get you down, dude.

          1. Stop being so deinal!

          2. Physics gonna phys.

        2. I think solar power is swell. It makes sense in a lot of remote, low-power applications. It might even become scalable some day.

          But any nation that thinks it’s going to run an industrial society on it today is insane.

        3. Jesus that’s right out of Atlas Shrugged. Chances are for small children, and I only give two of those anyway.

          The math just doesn’t work for solar power. Sorry, it just doesn’t. Believe me, I wish I could get free energy by setting up a few thin shiny panels. But it doesn’t actually work.

        4. My HOA won’t let me. If Obama wants to abuse government power for green energy, he could invalidate all such rules.

  3. All government subsidized enterprises have moral and economic equivalence to Solyndra.

    1. Including Iraq? That shitty wasteful war by the Bushpigs is morally and economically equivalent?

      This place is bonkers.

      1. shh. they love Bush here.

        1. Riiight, lots of love for GW Bush here at Reason.

      2. I like when shrike posts. It’s like the last four years never happened.

        I’m transported back to an innocent time where I was young, spry, and naive enough to believe that Bush was about as bad as it could get. Ha. And the abominable christfag from the north, Sarah Palin, was going to ruin the country, oh my what a scary barracuda lady! We had no idea.

        Oh oh, remember when racism ended because that half white guy got elected? Wow, seems like yesterday.

        Me and you shrike, all we’ve got are these memories.

        1. I used to have the same sentiment. Then the ‘memories’ wouldn’t STFU and they got progressively more annoying and retarded/insane. To the point where it’s frightening.

          1. I’m not convinced that shrike isn’t satire. Whilst perusing the comments sections in various publications there are a multitude of people that sound exactly like “shrike”.

            No matter what horrendous thing Obama has decided to fuck up this week there will always be something to do with Bush to be brought up by the deranged Obamaphile. Dude, Bush is drinking hisself silly on some ranch in Texas, the shit happening now is on yer unicorn’s hands. I spent the Bush pissed off at the president and the bullshit he was pulling, but that doesn’t make me blind to the worse shit that Obama is pulling.

            1. Bush was the “Greenhouse George” to Obama’s “Ivy Mike”.

      3. Hoarders, wreckers, christfags!!!

  4. See, it’s all about ‘branding’. If your fave gov’t boondoggle gets the wrong ‘brand’ from those scriveners, well, the jig’s up!
    So what we need to pick more taxpayer pockets is better acronyms! More marketing effort to name the damn things!
    Nando knows this; Nando ‘brands’ those who disagree with a pejorative, and that’s that!

    1. Oh, and, in the manner of those who ‘brand’ things:

  5. It’s a veritable Solyndra-gate.

  6. To be fair to the government, it’s not like they weren’t doing this with the best of intentions. Let’s cut them some slack, shall we?

  7. I’m too lazy to see if the Nevada Highway Patrol K-9 lawsuit was already posted here at HampersandR

    1. That’s pretty juicy, right there. Anybody over the age of about eight had to know that some of those dogs could be (and almost certainly are) trained to alert on command. This is the first time I’ve read of cops actually admitting it.

    2. I actually read the whole 100-plus page lawsuit this afternoon and am putting my thoughts together for a blog piece.

      1. You’re a heck of a journalist Scott.

        1. Don’t leave out critic as well. The Newsroom hit piece was a thing of beauty.

          Sorkin’s gonna be checking his underwear for blood after reading it.

    3. Gee, I’m stunned.

  8. California might be the next Solyndra.

    1. Hee hee. It’s funny because it’s true.

      Seriously, though. Can you imagine the scenarios when California comes to D.C. begging to be bailed out? It will be very entertaining.

      1. The president shouldn’t just give them money to get them to go away. That’s not doing right by the people he answers to. Maybe they have a lemon orchard he could buy.

  9. “So the problem isn’t the massive cost to the public treasury of central planning experiments that predictably failed….

    Naw, the problem is that we’re all too cynical and too eager to punish failure. Just ask Bill Maher.

    1. But rewarding failure is the essence of government. Bill’s just accusing us of being anti-government, which we are, so it’s a fair cop.

    2. I’m only eager to punish failure when I’m forced to participate in it. If you want to fail on your own, have at it. I’ll give you props for trying.

  10. OT: Geroy Simon (Maryland) sets CFL all time receiving record.

  11. OT: Geroy Simon sets CFL All Time Receiving Record

  12. Geroy Simon (Maryland) sets CFL All-Time Receiving Record

      1. wait, what?

        1. It’s just not that impressive when you measure it in Canadian yards. 15,153 Canadian yards is like 1000 American feet, or something. Which is fine if you’re talking about ice hockey, but football is a different horse all together.

          Speaking of ice hockey, I’m on pins and needles waiting for free agency to open up. King Shero is looking to make a big splash and has the cap room to pull it off.

          1. No, really. CFL yards are NFL yards. The field is 10 yards longer though.

            1. I thought we we’re talking ice hockey now.

              1. After signing Crosby to a billion years, do the Pens have money? really?

                1. Dude, Crosby took a deep discount to play here. His cap hit is a mere $8.7mil which is the same as he’s made in the past three or four years. Yup, he didn’t take a raise, and they would have given him anything he wanted. Supposedly, after Shero showed signs of wanting Parise, Crosby made the offer to pens management. They of course, jumped at the deal, but what he really wants is a fucking winger. So I’m looking to Shero to go big this summer.

                  Regarding the Staal trade: It was probably the best thing for all parties. Pens didn’t want to spend too much on him and aren’t going to make him 1st or 2nd line, ever. He’ll get to play with his brother and be a bigger star in Carolina. Not to say that he won’t be missed. He will.

                  1. The Jets signed Pavelic for 5 years. so What? They still won’t make the plaoyffs.

                    1. Dang man, give it a year or two before you start freaking out. I think they’ll be in playoff range at the end of next year, i.e. anywhere from 7th to 10th place.

                  2. Staal will definitely be missed. But it’s probably best for him. Anywhere else but Pittsburgh he’d be a 2nd or 1st liner.

        2. Everyone knows Canadian yards are heavily discounted versus American Yards. They’re worth like 1/3 as much.

      2. Are they legally allowed to report the receiving totals in yard?…or in English only?

        1. When you drive in Canada all the speed limits are in Canadian yards per hour which confuses Americans used to our comparatively huge yards. It’s a scam to get speeding ticket money out of us U.S. Rubes.

          1. We’re switching our speed limits to metres/second to fuck with you all.

            1. Ooh, with the r and e mixed up at the end there too! That’s extra fucked up.

              1. You think that’s fucked up, you should see those Canucks light up on Canadian New Years. Which is in the summer, or something.

                Absolutely whack.

  13. Oh ho ho, I have something for you guys.

    This is a documentary of occupy “hackers”. Bunch of hipster marxist peen licks. One of the guys from Ben and Jerrys ice cream son is on the show. He gets hit up for cash of course.

    As always there is some creepy ass group speak/think sort of thing.

    Enjoy, fuckwads.

    1. I made it about halfway through. I wish them well in their quest to build a network outside of those owned by corporations, but I predict that their creation will look and act a whole lot like the networks now in place.

    2. I think the concept of a peer-to-peer network is great for liberty. Yes, it will probably suck relative to commercial networks, but because it provides a baseline for performance, it means that there would be no ISP that didn’t face some degree of competition. Plus, it’s much harder for the government to control and snoop (rather, if the government can snoop, anyone can, so any security features protect against both legal and illegal violations of privacy).

      1. It’s great as long as it doesn’t promote piracy.

  14. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed since moving back to Massachusetts from Houston last year is the sheer ignorance on energy matters.

    Lots of idiots here sincerely believe that if only the legislature would grow a pair, they could get rid of all fossil fuels by mandating solar panels on the roofs of every building in the state… nevermind silly details like latitude and weather patterns.

    So long as these people are continued to be allowed to have an opinion, the spectre of Solyndra will live on.

    1. “… moving back to Massachusetts from Houston…”

      In the name of God, why would you do that?


    2. This is why federalism is so bitchin’. This way, states with sane citizens can sit back and watch MA commit economic suicide and be relatively unaffected, all the while getting an unambiguous lesson in what happens when you chase rainbows.

      1. The underlying logic for going national in one fell swoop is to avoid the demonstration of failure on the small scale. Once everyone is in the same boat, the argument becomes that we all have to sacrifice and work to save the ship. It’s harder to convince people on a floating ship to do the same things that sank the next ship over in the formation.

        1. So it’s like Joe Stalin sending peasants to the front lines against the Krauts with pitchforks and clubs, but with the Red Army behind them with machine guns.

        2. Nah the whole point of liberalism is to make yourself to feel good by forcing other people to do things you think they should do. Clearly, the larger the group you can enforce your will on, the more “good” you do. And slackjawed hicks from parts of the country where your philosophy is not shared are the very people making the worst decisions, hence in most dire need of your control.

          Furthermore the answer to “failure” is to simply double down at each setback till you ultimately win. Foolproof strategy. Anyway no policy that is based on good intentions can ever really fail. Only markets fail.

  15. moving back to Massachusetts from Houston

    It was a woman, wasn’t it?

  16. I’m glad some journalist is brave enough to dig up the dirt on NextSolyndraGate.

    1. We’re all eagerly awaiting the founding of the Department of Green Energy Salvation.

  17. Hey, didn’t one of our heroic commenters write De Bello Lemures? I just read it last night and thought it was a blast.

    1. You are correct, sir. But I don’t remember the guy’s HR handle.

      1. That would be commenter “Fluffy”.

        “The Last Days of Jericho” is pretty good, too.

  18. HuffPo Blames Media for Failure of All New Solyndras


    I hear the media also killed the lead-into-gold business.

  19. No matter what horrendous thing Obama has decided to fuck up this week there will always be something to do with Bush to be brought up by the deranged Obamaphile. Dude, Bush is drinking hisself silly on some ranch in Texas, the shit happening now is on yer unicorn’s hands. I spent the Bush pissed off at the president and the bullshit he was pulling, but that doesn’t make me blind to the worse shit that Obama is pulling.

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