“Obama’s Big Green Mess”

posted at 12:45 pm on October 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

We wondered whether the mainstream media would start connecting the dots on Solyndra and Barack Obama’s failed “green jobs” stimulus.  ABC News has done a great job reporting on the scandal itself, including its connection to an Obama campaign bundler and the remarkable manner in which taxpayer funds were subordinated to George Kaiser’s investment by the Department of Energy — in direct contravention of Congressional mandates protecting taxpayer-funded loan guarantees.  The first major media outlet to view Solyndra in the larger context of stimulus failure turns out to be Newsweek — and Eleanor Clift, surprisingly (via Instapundit):

Washington’s scandal du jour has been Solyndra. The California solar company received a rushed half-billion-dollar clean-energy stimulus loan from the Obama administration, only to go bankrupt and potentially leave taxpayers on the hook—despite warnings from career officials that both Solyndra and the larger solar industry were facing financial pressures.

But it is far from the only blemish on the administration’s much-touted green agenda. In addition to weatherization problems, an internal Labor Department report disclosed this month that a multibillion-dollar program to retrain workers for green-energy jobs met only 10 percent of its goal of creating 80,000 jobs. A federal renewable-energy lab in Colorado that got nearly $300 million from another green-energy program began laying off 10 percent of its workforce last month.

Overall, as the $787 billion economic stimulus—the primary engine for the green-energy agenda—came to an end Sept. 30, it is clear that the program created far fewer jobs than promised. So-called green-collar jobs are notoriously hard to tally, but numerous estimates by gleeful Republicans put the taxpayer cost of each green-energy job created by the stimulus at more than $1 million.

The article is titled “Obama’s Big Green Mess,” but the URL indicates that it originally went by another title: “Obama’s Green Energy Agenda Flop.”  That doesn’t mean that Newsweek allowed itself to focus on Obama’s role in the flop, however, or the role his crony capitalism played — at least not explicitly.  Clift scolds Republicans and Democrats alike for turning both the solar and oil industries into pay-for-play arenas, but curiously doesn’t mention Kaiser or his role as both bundler for Obama and the highly favorable and questionable treatment he received from DoE.

Clift also tells an anecdote to push some of the blame off onto Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, but doesn’t realize that the report actually makes Obama look like a dilettante:

Internally, some have questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s role in overseeing the efforts, noting that the Nobel laureate with the keen grasp of physics at times seems to lack political skills. On one occasion, Chu prepared a dense PowerPoint presentation to brief Obama on the complexities of last summer’s BP oil spill. After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

Really?  We had a severe environmental disaster unfold in the Gulf, and Obama couldn’t bother to sit through more than six Power Point slides to cover the material?  That actually provides a great insight into why Obama chose to push his “green jobs” stimulus, despite decades of failure of federal subsidies to produce a viable, mass-producing solar and wind industry in the US.  Obama doesn’t bother to do his homework; he merely dusted off decades of liberal hobby horses and just figured they would work as advertised. When it comes to the hard work of analysis and creative thought, Obama’s limit is apparently six Power Point slides.

At least this moves the ball forward, if only incrementally.

Update: Count the Economist out of the subsidy-cheerleading business, too:

THE rush to subsidise solar power over the past decade has been massively wasteful and squalidly political. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the sorry saga of Solyndra, a Californian maker of novel tubular solar panels down the maw of which the Obama administration shovelled $535m in the hope of “green jobs” and photo ops. It got instead mismanagement, bankruptcy and scandal. The money wasted on Solyndra, though, is as nothing compared to the tens of billions of euros squandered on solar panels in Germany. So little electricity do these panels produce under its cloudy northern skies that the emissions from a single large coal-fired power station are enough to nullify all the benefits that their carbon-free contribution might bring. The green jobs they, too, were meant to bring are largely, though not entirely, in China. …

There is much that governments can do to encourage such progress in the future without repeating the mistakes of the past. They should limit the grounds on which people can object to neighbours’ solar installations through the planning process. They should remove subsidies for technologies that compete with solar. In India, which has lots of sun and lots of back-up generators burning subsidised diesel, that could be a game changer in itself. Above all they must fix a price of carbon that gives innovators the confidence that competing with fossil fuels for the long term will be a rewarding, and perhaps hugely profitable, undertaking. If politics prevent them from setting a substantial carbon price, they might consider requiring utilities to have a carbon-free component to their generating portfolios, as happens in many American states. But that needs to be open to all carbon-free technologies, not just the ones that the politicians like, so that the most efficient can prosper.

You mean that having politicians pick winners and losers (really, just losers) doesn’t create efficiency and innovation?  I’d be shocked … if I wasn’t paying attention to the decades of futility we have seen in green-tech subsidies in the US.

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He should stop eating so much fibrous arugula.

Bishop on October 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM

He craps green…

PatriotRider on October 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM

They lost PBS when that silly frog used to sing “It’s hard to be green”…

right2bright on October 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM

When you’ve lost Newsweek? How about when you’ve lost Letterman?

The One managed to lose both, apparently:

Obama’s dog Bo has turned three.

Do you know the difference between Obama’s dog and the U.S. economy?

Obama fixed Bo.

EconomicNeocon on October 18, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Eleanor you’re Swellanor.

/for one day

mankai on October 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I’m a liberal, and I agree it’s fair game. This is a high-quality, well-reasoned and interesting post, IMHO. (Not that anyone cares what I think.)

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

decades of failure of federal subsidies to produce a viable, mass-producing solar and wind industry in the US.

 

Let’s try again, shall we?
 
Bayam, what percent of your total external/non-corporal energy consumption… is met by solar power?
 
rogerb on October 6, 2011 at 7:54 PM

 
I have no idea, but why does that matter? What does the present have to do with the future?
 
bayam on October 7, 2011 at 12:44 AM

 
So we’ll mark you down for “0% (zero percent) personal investment in solar.”
 
Thanks for that bolded part, btw. I never expected that to come out.
 
You’re a bright fellow. You still can’t see the problem?
 
rogerb on October 7, 2011 at 6:00 AM

rogerb on October 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM

as el rushbo says:

a random act of journalism

cmsinaz on October 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM

I always avoid buying so called “green” products. They cost too much and are not as effective.

Blake on October 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Why hasn’t anyone been charged and arrested yet? On this or F&F?

If any of us were up to our eyeballs in this, we’d have been charged and arrested and awaiting a trial date to determine guilt/innocence.

Midas on October 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM

After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

wow

and if the lsm actually reported this???

cmsinaz on October 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM

(Not that anyone cares what I think.)

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Bifidis = a stopped 24-hour digital clock. Right once a day. (Maybe)

either orr on October 18, 2011 at 1:01 PM

He is green.

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Barack, I’m done.

TXUS on October 18, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Why hasn’t anyone been charged and arrested yet? On this or F&F?

If any of us were up to our eyeballs in this, we’d have been charged and arrested and awaiting a trial kangaroo court date to determine guilt/innocencethe means of execution.

Midas on October 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM

FIFY.

either orr on October 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

If Obama can abrogate first-lein holder rights to GM’s investors in favor the UAW’s pension fund then what–apart for short-sighted obstinance–is preventing Obama from abrogating to illegal contract clause that gave Kaiser first protections in the event of a bankruptcy?

Mr Snuggle Bunny on October 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

“I’ll just go demand another half trillion dollars – after some golf” he added.

forest on October 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I’m a liberal, and I agree it’s fair game. This is a high-quality, well-reasoned and interesting post, IMHO. (Not that anyone cares what I think.)

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Well, bless your heart.

SlaveDog on October 18, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Obama loves GR$$N Energy.

portlandon on October 18, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Clift scolds Republicans and Democrats alike for turning both the solar and oil industries into pay-for-play arenas…

Hey, don’t forget wind. There’s rampant corruption in Big Wind at every level… federal, state, and local.

petefrt on October 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

On one occasion, Chu prepared a dense PowerPoint presentation to brief Obama on the complexities of last summer’s BP oil spill. After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.

“Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?”

Akzed on October 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM

Obama, we’re done.

Kissmygrits on October 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM

On one occasion, Chu prepared a dense PowerPoint presentation to brief Obama on the complexities of last summer’s BP oil spill. After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”</blockquote>

Full quote ………. “Steve, I’m done. Got a 1:30 tee time.”

fogw on October 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM

“Obama’s A Big Green Ass Mess”
-
Ready to print.
-

RalphyBoy on October 18, 2011 at 1:09 PM

I’ve not heard a peep about this from Mr. President. This administration never has to answer to anything, and even if they get asked they either brush off the question (I’m not going to discuss this) or shrug it off as if it’s not an issue. Well someone ought to be accountable for half a billion in wasted taxpayer dollars.

scalleywag on October 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM

The problem for America is that Marxism can be explained in five Powerpoint slides.

Cicero43 on October 18, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Several things wrong with all of this.

First off, Newsweek is whining not because they think it’s wrong that we’re being dictated to by envirocranks, they’re unhappy because we’re being dictated to by incompetent, venal envirocranks.

If Obama, Chu, Holdren, Jackson and so forth had executed competently on pushing through their statist watermelon agenda, Clift and company would be peachy-keen with it.

Secondly, maybe the Economist is unhappy about the political bent of green subsidies, but they’re still flogging the biggest one of all: carbon taxation.

JEM on October 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

It isn’t easy being green…

coldwarrior on October 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Wow, when you have lost Elenore Clift, you are in big trouble with your base.

The GOP could have a lot of fun with the “we’re done” statement. That could be comedy gold in the right hands.

simkeith on October 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Cicero43 on October 18, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Nicely done.

30 pcs of silver on October 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Obama: Once you go green, you can’t come clean.

BuckeyeSam on October 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

He has the intellectual depth of the last puddle my puppy left on the floor.

Naturally Curly on October 18, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Don’t they always end negative articles about Obama with something like:
“As much as we disagree with Obama’s actions, if it would have been a Republican in the White House it would have been worse and we are still endorsing Obama for President in 2012.”

albill on October 18, 2011 at 1:35 PM

(Not that anyone cares what I think.)

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

No we don’t…. just kidding.

Hey, what do you think about Obama’s Walkergate scandal?

Chip on October 18, 2011 at 1:36 PM

After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

Children don’t have much of an attention span, do they?

MNHawk on October 18, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Eleanor you’re Swellanor.

Perhaps I’m cynical, but I think I’d like to see a little more integrity from this woman before I’ll believe a “Damascus Road” experience.

oldleprechaun on October 18, 2011 at 1:40 PM

“When it comes to the hard work of analysis and creative thought, Obama’s limit is apparently six Power Point slides.”

Obowma’s new nickname…

… “six slides”.

Seven Percent Solution on October 18, 2011 at 1:43 PM

But that needs to be open to all carbon-free technologies, not just the ones that the politicians like, so that the most efficient can prosper.

How about NUCLEAR carbon-free power? They figured it out in France!

Steve Z on October 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM

On one occasion, Chu prepared a dense PowerPoint presentation to brief Obama on the complexities of last summer’s BP oil spill. After Chu narrated six slides, one senior adviser who attended the meeting recalled that Obama simply stood up and said, “Steve, I’m done.”

Did the sixth slide tell Obama whose @$$ to kick?

the Nobel laureate with the keen grasp of physics at times seems to lack politicalfinancial skills.

Sell solar panels for less than it costs to make them…what happens?

Steve Z on October 18, 2011 at 1:52 PM

MSM better start squealing about Solyndra or their readers might find out about Obama running guns to Mexican Narco-Terrorists.

DANEgerus on October 18, 2011 at 1:53 PM

The first major media outlet to view Solyndra in the larger context of stimulus failure turns out to be Newsweek

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! That’s too funny!

cartooner on October 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Wake me when Eleanor votes Republican.

Extrafishy on October 18, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Drudge has a post on turbines killing an endangered bat in Pn.

Here’s what caught my eye:

The windmills will likely resume nighttime operation about Nov. 15, when the bats will hibernate until spring.

18Oct today. Almost a month without nighttime power generation. Yeah, this will work out well for humans./

journeyintothewhirlwind on October 18, 2011 at 2:12 PM

When you’ve lost Newsweek? How about when you’ve lost Letterman?

The One managed to lose both, apparently:
Obama’s dog Bo has turned three.
Do you know the difference between Obama’s dog and the U.S. economy?
Obama fixed Bo.
EconomicNeocon on October 18, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Second look at Dave?

angryed on October 18, 2011 at 2:15 PM

So little electricity do these panels produce under its cloudy northern skies

Exactly! The greenies tout solar as a savior. They don’t take into account the general climate of a particular area, but go for generalizations. Same with geo-thermal. Supposed to be good EVERYWHERE. Yeah, try it in Hawaii, on any island but the island of Hawaii itself.

In Kalifornia, the political hacks in Sacramento are also raking Solyndra over the coals. Over $100 million in tax credits were extended to them. NO financial analysis was performed. Although one of the wags in charge of overseeing observed “they have neat robots in their factory”.

GarandFan on October 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

This is all fine and good. But aside from people in dentist wait rooms, does anyone actually read Newsweek anymore?

angryed on October 18, 2011 at 2:17 PM

six slides over taxes…

Dhuka on October 18, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Above all they must fix a price of carbon that gives innovators the confidence that competing with fossil fuels for the long term will be a rewarding, and perhaps hugely profitable, undertaking

Wait, now profit is good? Alert the OWS protesters!

ConservativeinCO on October 18, 2011 at 2:35 PM

I’m in Kern County, CA, where ‘green’ is viewed as a means to flood the county with tax $. Almost every single project is approved, with ‘mitigations’ that are simply laughable.

There are lots of problems that nobody looks at. With the solar project my organization is fighting, not only are the principals big-time Dem operatives from way back, aligned with outfits like the City of Vernon and Los Angeles DWP, but they are in a position to make gazillions from water.

The impact on rural citizens is blown off. Many of us are retired, can’t afford the $, time or energy to move, will lose most of our property value, and the way of life we came here for. There are people who can’t sleep for the noise of windmills, can’t sell, can’t afford to leave without selling. They are losing their health. And just because I’m conservative doesn’t mean I like the idea of putting bats and birds through a Cuisinart on their migration routes.

I could go on and on. Our only hope is making enough noise that politically it is not favorable, and lawsuits. So we very much hope that these scandals trickle down to influence our local situations.

Because projects are divided and rural, it is very difficult to get media attention and the numbers of people that would carry weight.

jodetoad on October 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Now if only Ms. Cliff continue to be disenchanted with Obama when her talking head hits the TV during his campaign for reelection. The man is unfit for office.

SC.Charlie on October 18, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Summer’s over.

How are those solar panels on the White House coming along?

Hello!

Is this thing on?

pain train on October 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

How is it possible that the story of Obama walking out after 6 slides on the BP oil spill isn’t reported and Obama isn’t questioned about it? I know it’s trite, but imagine if that story was leaked about Bush? “Bush walks out of FEMA briefing on Katrina!”. It would be front page news.

I seriously don’t understand how the media never challenges Obama about this report and it isn’t even reported on. What am I missing?

gash on October 18, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Really? We had a severe environmental disaster unfold in the Gulf, and Obama couldn’t bother to sit through more than six Power Point slides to cover the material?

One has to prioritize. I’m guessing Obama had a golf tee time he had to get to.

RJL on October 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Some of the biggest immediate beneficiaries of the green revolution, ironically, may have been politicians themselves.

Eleanor Cleft

“Ironically”?!

I do not think this word means what you think it means, Eleanor.

Jaibones on October 18, 2011 at 4:35 PM

The genius Obama probably couldn’t even produce a six-slide PowerPoint presentation. He is a consumer, not a producer.

onlineanalyst on October 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM

JEM on October 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Excellent points.

onlineanalyst on October 18, 2011 at 4:48 PM

“Green” has become a word you substitute for “stupid” or “irrational” when you are trying to make things seem better than they are…

EXAMPLE: Even after 100 years, it costs as much as a new gasoline powered auto just to replace the batteries in your electric car. But the VOLT only has half the range of 1906-1914 electric cars: so it’s STUPID GREEN!!

Similar examples show that “wind,” “solar,” and unicorns are all made of the same stuff.

landlines on October 18, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Above all they must fix a price of carbon that gives innovators the confidence that competing with fossil fuels for the long term will be a rewarding, and perhaps hugely profitable, undertaking. If politics prevent them from setting a substantial carbon price, they might consider requiring utilities to have a carbon-free component to their generating portfolios, as happens in many American states. But that needs to be open to all carbon-free technologies, not just the ones that the politicians like, so that the most efficient can prosper.

Ahh, price fixing. That is sure to work exactly as well as it always has. And right there alongside it, forcing the playing field to be uneven in favor of the ineffective, mismanaged, and more wasteful. That always does wonders for the economy, and really gets those “cause” technologies off the ground.

Economics are fluid. It is exactly why fluid-related terms are used to describe big-picture money conditions. So, following the laws of fluid dynamics, absent outside interference, a fluid seeks its own level. So would an economy, if not wrecked by government interference. What works, or is desired, succeeds. What doesn’t work, or isn’t wanted, fails, as it should be.

Freelancer on October 18, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Sell solar panels for less than it costs to make them…what happens?

Steve Z on October 18, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Hold on a second, I know this one…

Freelancer on October 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM

When it comes to the hard work of analysis and creative thought, Obama’s limit is apparently six Power Point slides.

One thing is for certain he is not a policy wonk.

chemman on October 18, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Tin-foil hat time….. Sometimes I feel like John Nash from “A Beautiful Mind,” only I see angles of the DNC and Liberals. I wouldn’t trust a liberal with my table-top Nativity scene (I was going to say, “as far as I could throw them, but in fact I could throw them pretty far…but I digress).
As I was saying, I see “angles,” and this story is screaming to me, “Look at me, look at me, don’t look at Fast and Furious!”
Obummer has so much crap falling down around his head right now that the MSM has to take notice of SOMETHING….but the last thing they want Americans to notice is the death of 2 government boarder patrol agents and hundreds, if not thousands of deaths, and thousands of guns allowed to cross the boarder just to create a useful political crisis. A political crisis that was manufactured by the Obummer administration for the sole purpose to undercut the United States second amendment.
It is notable that that at least ABC is getting Obummer on record regarding Fast and Furious. Yet, F&F is not getting near the attention it deserves. (I have noted the lastest from ABC’s interview with Jake Tapper, and it does sound like O’Bummer is setting up AG Holder for the fall, if not just the foundation for the on-coming bus).
But as this piece states, everything is falling around O’Bummers feet, not ON his feet. The MSM is not connecting the dots that clearly lead directly to O’Bummer.
So do I have a point? Or do I need electroshock therapy, if not just to continue wearing my shinny metal hat?

JimmyGee on October 18, 2011 at 7:48 PM