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Solyndra, Per Se

Rolling into Boulder City, Nevada on the mighty cloud of carbon created by his immense fleet of aircraft and limousines, President Obama appeared at the Copper Mountain solar facility to boast of his investment genius, more dazzling than the sunlight bouncing off the field of photo-voltaic cells behind him.  ABC News reports on the President’s sizzling rhetoric:

“Now you’d think, given this extraordinary sight, given the fact that this is creating jobs, generating power, helping to keep our environment clean, making us more competitive globally.  You’d think that everybody would be supportive of solar power,” Obama said before a backdrop of thousands of solar panels soaking up the desert sun.

“And yet, if some politicians have their way, there won’t be any more public investment in solar energy,” he said.

“One member of Congress, who shall remain unnamed, called these jobs ‘phony.’ Called them ‘phony jobs.’ Think about that mindset, that attitude, that says because something is new it must not be real. You know if these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they’d be charter members of the flat earth society.”

No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu.  That’s the second time Obama has offered his historically illiterate “Columbus versus the Flat Earthers” rhetoric.  For the record, the objections raised by contemporaries to Columbus’ journey had nothing to do with the belief the Earth was flat.  They knew the world was round, and thought Columbus would be taking an unnecessarily long route to navigate it. 

People who actually know what they’re talking about have been trying to figure out where he got the “flat earth” stuff from.  The best guess is that he’s thinking about The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, a work of fiction by Washington Irving.  But remember, he’s the smartest President who ever lived.  All the people who incorrectly disagreed with Sarah Palin about the date of the Boston Tea Party will tell you so.

Incidentally, the flat-earthy job-doubting member of Congress referred to by the President is Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), who was extremely generous by describing Obama’s “Flat Earth Society” line as “witty,” but pointed out it was “no help for folks paying $4/gal thanks to his failed energy policy” via Twitter.

Oh, and the solar facility Obama was speaking at has either five or ten permanent full time employees, depending on which report you believe.  I’ve most commonly heard five, but ABC News says ten.  It was built with $42 million in federal subsidies, plus another $12 million from Nevada.  Using the higher figure of ten permanent employees, that works out to $5.4 million in taxpayer subsidies per green job.  Columbus wouldn’t have gotten far with Queen Isabella if he’d been offering that kind of return on her investment.

And the company which built the equipment used at Copper Mountain, First Solar, received $1.6 billion in Energy Department loan guarantees, without which the cost of outfitting the massive Nevada solar farm would have been much higher.

Both history and math become highly malleable in the hands of Barack Obama.  While his vast gas-guzzling motorcade and transport jets were being refueled for the next leg of his two-day junket to lecture America about breaking its oil addiction, the President sat for an interview with Kai Ryssdal, host of American Public Media’s “Marketplace.”  Ryssdal asked if the President was sure he was implementing his “all of the above” energy strategy correctly, since the only visible result has been disasters like Solyndra.

And the President of the United States replied:

Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt.  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, oftentimes 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.

Fighting to stay on his feet as this gigantic memory hole opened in Nevada, Devin Dwyer of ABC News recalled what the Obama 2012 campaign requires you to forget:

Obama rightly notes that Congress created with bipartisan support an Energy Department loan guarantee program for clean energy start-ups in 2005, during the George W. Bush administration.

However, he incorrectly suggests Solyndra received its financing from that 2005 appropriation of funds.  Instead, the company’s $500 million in fast-tracked loan guarantees came from a new section of the program created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus. The Recovery Act did not receive any GOP votes.

During a May 2010 visit to Solyndra, Obama explicitly credited the Recovery Act with supporting the company’s early success.

“Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot,” Obama said at the time. “But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations.  This new factory is the result of those loans.”

Obama has since lamented the fact that those loans failed and explained that losses were never unexpected in the pursuit of new technologies.

“Obviously it’s heartbreaking what happened to the workers who were there,” Obama told “Marketplace.” “When you look at the overall portfolio, is it right for us to make sure that we’re not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future? I’m proud to say that we’re going to continue to support it.”

Not even the legendary Obama bus is big enough to fit Solyndra beneath its amnesia-soaked wheels.

One other noteworthy point about Solyndra and the many other “green energy” bankruptcies under Obama’s watch: a reason commonly cited for these business failures is competition from China, which is able to crank out solar cells more cheaply because of heavy government investment.  In fact, just this week, the Commerce Department stated imposing penalties on the sale of Chinese solar panels, because the Chinese government’s support for the industry is said to violate trade laws.

In other words, according to the Administration and its apologists, the domestic solar panel production of China is driving down prices in the global solar panel market.

But the same people adamantly insist that domestic American oil production cannot possibly affect prices in the global oil market!

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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