Guy Benson

If you spent the weekend doing what normal people do -- watching football, or hanging out with friends and family -- you may have missed two exquisitely stupid pieces on Solyndra in The Paper of Record.  Let's start with the the Old Gray Lady's house editorial on the subject, which was actually the less terrible of the two:
 

Republicans have now pounced on the [Solyndra] bankruptcy as proof that the loan program is a bust, that the president’s signature green jobs program is a fraud, and that this country’s solar energy business is in terminal decline.  None of that is true. Solyndra made a bad bet, investing heavily in a new type of solar array just as the price of silicon, the main ingredient in competitors’ solar cells, was dropping. Its demise should not spell the end of federal investment in the alternative fuels and energy sources that are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, easing this country’s dependence on fossil fuels and keeping it competitive in the race for clean-energy jobs.

...Recent studies suggest that, globally, renewable energy will grow faster than any other energy source in the coming decades. The surest way to guarantee that America gets its fair share of that business and those jobs would be to enact a comprehensive energy strategy that raises the price of older, dirtier fuels. Failing that, continued government support is absolutely essential.


The Times' editors concede that the Solyndra collapse merits a "hard look," but are quick to pin the blame on the company itself, not the White House.   It's absurd to suggest that this was merely a "bad bet."  Such a whitewash overlooks the fact that it was the Obama White House that fast-tracked the taxpayer-funded gamble, over the objections of Bush and Obama-era actuaries.  And that the harmless bad bet just happened to benefit a company whose principle investor was a major Obama donor.  And that even after they knew for sure that the investment was headed south, they concealed that fact while a favorable loan refinancing was secured for, ahem, major investors.   Details, details.  Powerline's John Hinderaker also points out how revealing the piece's penultimate sentence is -- it's bolded above.

Then there's the work of C-list Times columnist Joe Nocera, whose moronic shill credentials are well established.  Nocera used his Saturday column to assure readers that the Solyndra "scandal" (scare quotes his) is much ado about nothing, and to call the Republicans looking into the matter McCarthyites:
 

The company’s innovative solar panels, high-priced to begin with, became increasingly uncompetitive in the marketplace. Solyndra didn’t have enough big commercial customers to create the necessary economies of scale. And although Harrison and Stover remained optimistic up to the bitter end — insisting six weeks before the late-August bankruptcy filing that the company was going to be fine — they ultimately failed to raise additional capital that would have allowed Solyndra to stay in business.

The Republicans are trying to make that optimism appear sinister, but if we’ve learned anything from the financial crisis, it is that wishful thinking in the face of a collapsing market is not a crime. Otherwise, Richard Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, would be wearing prison garb.  Harrison and Stover are on the hot seat. Anything they say in their defense — even an off-hand remark — can and will be used against them. Their lawyers would be fools if they didn’t insist that their clients take the Fifth Amendment.

Do the Republicans know this? Of course. Do they care? Of course not. For an hour and a half on Friday morning, they peppered the two men with questions about this “taxpayer ripoff,” as Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, described it, knowing full well that Harrison and Stover would invoke their constitutional right to remain silent. Joe McCarthy would have been proud.


Yes, nothing to see here, folks; move along.  Just another well-intentioned company whose only sin was being a wee bit too optimistic for their own good.  Nocera ignores pretty much all of the facts the paper's editorial did, most notably the important element that the Obama OMB accountants who warned against the loan guarantees were able to predict to the exact month when Solyndra would go belly up.  His "optimism" defense is even more laughable.  The company and the White House knew full well that the jig was up months in advance, and they intentionally misled Congress about the stabilty of the business by feigning optimism until the "bitter end."  This was not misplaced optimism.  It was deliberate deception.  Even some Democrats are furious about that.  But that's not how The Great Joe Nocera sees it.  In his keen mind, if these spiteful Republicans weren't adding their sinister spin and ruining the fun, Solyndra executives might even deserve medals for their good intentions.  Nocera concludes that the controversy will blow over without drawing much more than "a little blood."  Indeed, Joe.  Everything's turning up roses.  For a complete takedown of his column, read Tim Cavanaugh at Reason.  And if you thought Solyndra coverage couldn't get any more hacktastic, think again


UPDATE - Hmmmmm:
 

Out of the hundreds of out-of-work employees, vendors, investors and other creditors in the bankruptcy of government-backed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, one name stands out: the California Democratic Party.  Why California Democrats would be creditor to a company that received more than a half-billion dollars in federal loans to build a solar-panel plant isn’t clear. Even party officials say they’re not sure.  The California Democratic Party’s communications director, Tenoch Flores, said the organization was not owed “any funds in any form” by the California-based company. He said he was unclear why the party would be listed as a creditor in Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing.

According to campaign-finance records, Solyndra donated $7,500 to the California Democratic Party in October 2010. It’s legal in California for corporations to make donations. But that doesn’t explain why the company would identify the Democratic Party as a creditor in its bankruptcy filing a year later.  A Solyndra spokesman did not respond to messages seeking more details about the filing.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography