Obama caught between a Big Labor rock, and a solar panel hard place

One of the problems with Barack Obama’s brand of ultra-divisive crony politics is that eventually you come to a moment where two of your cronies strongly disagree with each other, and you’ve got to pick which one to bestow your royal favor upon.  In this case, it’s labor unions versus “green energy,” as Obama infuriated labor unions by congratulating their arch-enemy Wal-Mart for making a big commitment to solar panels.

Obama’s making a shrewd calculation that he needs the power and money he can harvest from his global-warming agenda far more than he needs the dying Big Labor movement, which isn’t about to start voting Republican just because he stages a few photo-ops at Wal-Mart.  Still, this is a crushing blow for the Democrats’ union allies, who have made a huge deal out of attacking Wal-Mart as the symbol of non-unionized corporate evil over the past couple of decades.  Wally World holds the same talismanic significance for unions that the Keystone XL pipeline holds for radical environmentalists.

The Associated Press leads off with some rather fanciful claims about the big solar-panel initiative:

Obama on Friday was to announce commitments from more than 300 companies and local and state governments to use solar energy technology. He also was announcing executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency in buildings and appliances. The White House says the solar effort will power the equivalent of 130,000 homes and the administrative actions could reduce carbon pollution in an amount equal to taking 80 million cars off the road for one year.

80 million cars off the street?  Impressive!  How many Air Force One flights to fundraisers and golf outings does that work out to?  For those who wonder when Barack Obama will begin behaving as if he really believes there’s a man-made climate crisis in progress, you should know that he threw up a couple of entirely symbolic solar panels on top of the White House, so quit bugging him about his 40-vehicle carbon-spewing motorcades already.

The White House chose Wal-Mart because the company has committed to doubling the number of solar energy projects at its stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers.

But in choosing the giant retailer as the backdrop for his announcement, Obama triggered a backlash from labor unions and pay equity advocates who say Wal-Mart pays low wages and who archly noted that Obama has made pay equity a central issue of his presidency.

Considering the idiotic “pay equity” rhetoric that has been spewing from the White House lately, that is a bit awkward.  As always, these left-wing crusades are all about fooling Americans into viewing law-abiding companies as criminals, and sacrificing the opportunities afforded by gainful employment for a bit of socialist rhetoric.  Net result: more unemployed people and more “income inequality,” which suits the socialists just fine.  If you want a better look at some hard-core “income inequality,” try jacking up the minimum wage.

So, just how much hot water has our debonair President landed in with Big Labor, by daring to salute Wal-Mart?

“What numbskull in the White House arranged this?” former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Bill Clinton administration, said in a posting on Facebook on Thursday.

“While he’s in California, I would hope President Obama would speak directly to Wal-Mart employees and hear from them about their daily struggles to pay the rent and put food on the table,” said Maria Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Ouch.  The AP goes on to mention that unions are already annoyed with Obama for killing the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline as a sop to radical environmentalists and the Democrats’ sugar daddy, billionaire Tom Steyer.  The AP forgot to mention that unions have grown restless over ObamaCare as well.

Union bosses will probably get over their irritation with Obama for his Wal-Mart speech, since it was really just a pretext for allowing him to pretend that his fund-raising trip to California was some sort of official visit (with another 30,000 tons of jet fuel burned into the sky along the way.)  But as Business Insider observes, environmentalist groups aren’t terribly happy with Obama’s embrace of the discount retailer either:

Walmart already produces and uses more solar power than any other big-box retailer ??? more than twice as much as Costco, its nearest competitor. That still amounts to only about 4% of its overall energy use provided by solar power, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth said holding up Walmart as an example was misguided. ???Walmart has both under-reported its greenhouse gas emissions and failed to meet its 2012 targets,??? the group said.

Who knows if the company will be able to hold off the wrath of almighty State by playing nice with Obama and giving him a photo op for his solar-panel program?  On the surface, it sounds like it’s all about voluntary cooperation – if Wal-Mart wants to cover the large roof space of their stores with solar panels, bully for them, and if you think solar power is a good idea, those big-box retailer roofs are an excellent place to put some panels.

But of course, it’s not about voluntary cooperation – it’s about coercive government power and taxpayer loot.  Obama’s green-energy cronies have already reaped a windfall of taxpayer money, leaving a long string of bankruptcies and broken promises in their wake.  Tax credits are used to reduce the cost of solar installation, which means the rest of us are being forced to pay for a good chunk of it.  And USA Today notes that Obama’s latest initiatives include “financing for new solar business ventures, training and developing a solar workforce, and enforcing new building codes to promote efficiency.”

Great – more Solyndras, and more regulations.  Just what the American economy needed.  And all in the service of a technology that only provides 1 percent of our electricity.