“Pay to Play” is the Chicago way

The Green President

John Kass at The Chicago Tribune:

Obama’s Solyndra scandal reeks of the Chicago Way

The Solyndra scandal cost at least a half-billion public dollars. It is plaguing President Barack Obama. And it’s being billed as a Washington story.

But back in Obama’s political hometown, those of us familiar with the Chicago Way can see something else in Solyndra — something that the Washington crowd calls “optics.” In fact, it’s not just a Washington saga — it has all the elements of a Chicago City Hall story, except with more zeros.

The FBI is investigating what happened with Solyndra, a solar panel company that got a $535 million government-backed loan with the help of the Obama White House over the objections of federal budget analysts.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden got a nice photo op. They got to make speeches about being “green.” But then Solyndra went bankrupt. Americans lost jobs. Taxpayers got stuck with the bill. And members of Congress are now in high dudgeon and making speeches.

Federal investigators want to know what role political fundraising played in the guarantee of the questionable loan. Washington bureaucrats warned the deal was lousy. And White House spokesmen flail desperately, like weakened victims in a cheesy vampire movie.

So forget optics. What about smell? It smells bad, and it’s going to smell worse.

Or, did you really believe it when the White House mouthpieces — who are also Chicago City Hall mouthpieces — promised they were bringing a new kind of politics to Washington?

This is not a new kind of politics. It’s the old kind. The Chicago kind.

Those of us from Chicago know exactly what the Solyndra scandal smells like. And It doesn’t smell fresh and green.

The usual suspects are spinning and shilling like mad right now. Here is Kevin Drum explaining how to spin the scandal story:

How to Talk About Solyndra

You’ve probably heard of Solyndra by now, right? It’s the solar power company that got $500 million in Recovery Act loans from the Department of Energy and then went belly up a couple of weeks ago.

Conservatives have been trying to paint this as a big scandal of some kind, despite the fact that: the company had plenty of private investors too; it’s the only DOE loan that has failed so far; and there’s no real evidence that anyone in the White House did anything worse than push OMB to speed up their decision-making process a bit in 2009.Basically, Solyndra was working on a solar technology that promised to be cheaper than silicon, and at the time of the loan it looked really promising both to DOE and to private investors. But then the market turned: Silicon prices dropped, and China started producing super low-cost silicon PV. That spelled doom for Solyndra. They had a good idea, but it didn’t work out.

In any case, Solyndra is a tiny fraction of DOE’s green-energy loan program, and Solyndra’s loan guarantees are dwarfed by those of both fossil fuel and nuclear companies, which range into the multiple billions. There was no scandal in the loan process, and there’s nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail. It’s all part of the way the free market works.

Let’s get rid of some of the fallacies that are floating around:

“It’s not a scandal.”

Half a billion dollars is missing. That’s a scandal.

“Nobody saw it coming.”

Yes they did. The warnings were ignored.

“There is no evidence of wrongdoing.”

The FBI got search warrants. Search warrants require probable cause that a crime has been committed. That means there is evidence of wrongdoing.

“There is no evidence the White House did anything illegal.”

Not yet, but they’re still digging.

“This all started under Bush.”

Who gives a fuck when it started. Corruption is bipartisan.

“The Republicans are hypocrites.”

I’m sure the GOPers really appreciated it when the Democrats helped them sweep all the Bush-era corruption under the rug, but that doesn’t mean they have to reciprocate. Besides, it’s OUR money getting stolen.

“The Republicans are worse.”

We have lots of prisons – there’s room for all of them.

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58 Responses to “Pay to Play” is the Chicago way

  1. HELENK says:

    it is part of a pattern. backtrack redistributing the wealth of the US to his friends.

    keep an eye on the broadband scandal that is starting to be made public due to a general speaking out. That one is more than money it is National Security.

    unemployment needs to start in DC asap

  2. WMCB says:

    there’s no real evidence that anyone in the White House did anything worse than push OMB to speed up their decision-making process a bit

    Bullshit. Most of the media is still ignoring the primary problem here, and the reason our money is down the tubes, wherein the administration deliberately circumvented (and IMO violated) the law. I wrote this below, but I’m moving it up here:

    The biggest stink bomb, to me, is that the LAW that Congress passed was very specific: when doing these kinds of loans, the taxpayer was to be the primary investor, and NOT subordinated to any other investor. Period. We get paid FIRST if the thing goes belly up. Congress was very clear about that when they wrote the law. It was foreseen as a potential problem, so they wrote the law deliberately ironclad in that regard to protect the taxpayer. Yes, some of this “investment” is going to fail, not all the technologies are going to be viable, so Congress, knowing that, made sure they wrote clear protection for the taxpayer into the legislation regarding these loans.

    The Obama administration got their lawyers to “interpret” that law to mean that only the original loan had to be structured that way, but if you wanted to change the terms of the loan after the fact, that was fine. So according to them, you could set up the loan on Monday to meet the requirements, then on Thursday you could change the entire loan to say the other investors get paid first. So long as you comply with the law on Monday, you are then free to break it on Tuesday, because Congress didn’t specify that you couldn’t modify it later, now did they?

    Yeah, because all contract law that says you “X contracts must meet Y guidelines” only applies to the day you sign it. You are free to tear it up and do something entirely different 2 days later, right? The law has an expiration date, and only applies to the first deal, not later deals?

    It was blatant bullshit, and total disrespect for and sneering at the rule of law. They knew it, despite their weasel words from their lawyers.
    THAT, to me is the most appalling and infuriating part of this whole thing.

    They shit all over the rule of law. It’s not only about money and corruption, it’s about arrogance and being above the law.

    • HELENK says:

      backtrack and bunch believe

      the law is for thee not for me

      when he loses the next elections , money will be redistributed with both hands before he leaves office

      unemployment needs to start in DC asap

    • myiq2xu says:

      Did you hear the guy talking to the Congressional committee?

      “We did it to protect the taxpayers.”


    • Mary says:

      The “other” investors they put first in line? One was George Kaiser’s own Kaiser Family Foundation.

      From AP:

      “Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors—Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP—stand to be repaid before the US government if the solar company is liquidated. The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the US government.

      Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. The foundation is headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House (visiting Valerie Jarrett) Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, federal election records show. Kaiser has made at least 16 visits to the president’s aides since 2009, according to WH visitor logs.”

      Kaiser the billionaire gets paid before taxpayers do. And the Obama administration approved that agreement.

  3. yttik says:

    “..there’s nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail..’

    There is something wrong with taking tax payer money and using it for “speculative” programs. We don’t give the government that money so they can speculate, gamble, or reward their campaign contributors. Well actually that’s exactly what we do, but it’s still wrong.

    • WMCB says:

      yttik, even if a case can be made that this is new technology, that not all are going to be successful, and even if you AGREE that govt has a role in promoting it, they still pulled a scam.

      Because knowing that some would fail, Congress wrote the loan laws to make sure the taxpayer got their money back FIRST in the event of bankruptcy. And the Obama administration blatantly broke that law, to keep this company afloat longer and avoid an embarrassing PR event.

      • myiq2xu says:

        When you have a business that is making something for $6 a unit that sells for $3 a unit, it will ALWAYS fail.

        • No, you make up for it with volume.

        • WMCB says:

          Yup. There is a twofold problem here. One is that they gave the loan to start with, when all indications were that the company was not viable.

          The second is that when it became obvious they had screwed up, they then rewrote the loan to subordinate the taxpayer, and so convince other investors to keep the company afloat a while longer.

          I personally don’t believe those later investors intended to make a profit at all. I think the Obama administration knew the thing was going belly up, and cut a deal hoping to keep it afloat long enough to get past the election. The investors agreed to sink some more money in as a favor to Obama, but their price for helping him avoid a PR disaster before November 2012 was to be first in line to recoup their money when it inevitably failed.

        • Mary says:


      • HELENK says:

        to backtrack congressional laws are just something to work around, not to be obeyed.

      • 1539days says:

        Some people still have blinders on because “green energy” is somehow more moral than fossil fuel. Republicans (and some Democrats) curry favor with the oil industry because their base supports it. Democrats ally with alternative energy and trade unions because their base supports it. Both have equal ability to be corrupt.

        • WMCB says:

          Both can be corrupt, and there are billions to be made in both. The whole carbon-credit-trading thing is a speculator’s and stock manipulator’s wet dream. It would dwarf credit default swaps as the next big bubble to enrich the financiers.

          People fail to realize that corruption goes where the money goes. Money could give a shit what the product is. Oil, tulips, pork bellies, green technology, whatever – they could give a rat’s ass. It’s about the trading of worthless paper that can be leveraged for big bucks and the asset-stripping. What the product is has little to do with it.

        • Mary says:

          Yes. And guess where the trading center for those carbon credits was going to be established?


        • WMCB says:

          Mary, they set up that Chicago exchange years ago in preparation.

          Then, curiously, a lot of big money got behind a little-known state senator and cut him a beeline rapid path to the presidency. Coincidence?

        • Mary says:

          I don’t believe it was a coincidence. But that’s just me. 🙂

        • I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence. /snark

        • Mary says:

          And I also believe Valerie Jarrett is a key player in the charade, on behalf of the Chicago (and others) business community. After all, it was mostly Jarrett who George Kaiser—the evil icky billionaire with a corporate jet—met in the White House to “discuss things.”

        • WMCB says:

          It ALL goes back to Chicago, Mary. All of it. If the media would get a clue, and start tracing all this back to Chicago, and do the digging they SHOULD have done in the beginning, it would become evident.

          The entire Potomac now stinks of Chicago, and all roads lead back there.

          All of this is happening because a compliant, leg-tingling media accepted a couple of ghost-written memoirs of a presidential candidate as the final word on his life and career and associates, and refused to vet him or look at his Chicago ties at all. There were no reporters snooping around Chicago looking at his life and career. They took his word, for everything, case closed.

          It was gobsmacking. The complete abdication by our press corps is going to go down in history as one of the most startling and sad stories of the massive failure and criminal corruption of the Obama Whitehouse.

          And if any journalists are reading this, how about you stop covering your ass and his, and get busy redeeming yourself, m’kay? GO TO CHICAGO and start digging. It all leads there.

      • yttik says:

        They did pull a scam, WMCB. Taxpayer money is never supposed to be used for speculation. That’s why those laws were put in place to protect taxpayer money from the risks associated with speculation. But Obummer who knows everything and is always right, didn’t think those laws were important.

  4. We shouldn’t gamble with tax payer money. We should use it for community good, things private companies won’t do, things that are better not in the private sector, etc. E.g., military, infrastructure incl. basic utilities, health, education, and welfare, etc. And of course in dire economic situations, for jobs programs to stimulate the economy. But to use it saying it’s jobs stimulus to boost very speculative companies with lots of warning signs is clearly corruption at work.

    • yttik says:

      I kind of wonder how much that infusion in cash actually contributed to the company failing? Around here that happens a lot, some business gets what they think is a windfall and they take risks they wouldn’t normally, expand too quickly, and go belly up.

      • Agree, too much money too early often has a bad effect. It wouldn’t with businesses that knew what they were doing of course, but start ups are often pretty shaky when they start.

  5. Mimi says:

    The LA Times points the finger at bundler Steve Spinner (love the name) as the monitor for the DOE loans. He recused himself with Solyndra because his wife worked for the law firm that represented Solyndra so he must be super honest although his name is on emails from the WH telling them to hurry up with the loan. Steve is a very busy guy according to CorruptionDOE . I have no idea who put website together but it is mighty interesting. This not going away and will continue to blow up.

    • Mary says:

      I think we need a Special Prosecutor , but I doubt Eric Holder will support the idea. (cough cough)

      • Mimi says:

        What is the special prosecutor law now? Can Congress do it if the DOJ won’t? This in many ways looks more like organized crime.

        • Mary says:

          I’m not sure, really. I think the Special Prosecutor law was abolished, but there’s always the possibility of an Independent Prosecutor.

          That would require Holder’s agreeing to an appointment, though. Chances of that are slim and none.

          Besides, Drum says this ain’t nothing, and gives fellow Obots talking points to help argue. What a dumbass, eh?

    • WMCB says:

      although his name is on emails from the WH telling them to hurry up with the loan

      That’s some “recusal”, huh?

      Oh, and he worked for NBC from 1996 to 2000. Incestuous little bunch, aren’t they? I noted earlier that Goldmann Sachs was Solyndra’s financial advisor. Why is it that GE/NBC, Goldmann, etc always seem to turn up under every rock in this administration?

  6. HELENK says:

    some people just do not get it. This was our money used in this deal.
    It does not matter what other deals over the years by both parties happened. The corruption does not stop and making excuses for it or saying the other guy does it does not change it.


  7. DeniseVB says:

    There’s about 6 million people affected by natural disasters this year, shouldn’t we be helping them first ?

  8. SHV says:

    “Mary, they set up that Chicago exchange years ago in preparation”
    “While on the board of a Chicago-based charity, Barack Obama helped fund a carbon trading exchange that will likely play a critical role in the cap-and-trade carbon reduction program he is now trying to push through Congress as president.”

    The charity was the Joyce Foundation on whose board of directors Obama served and which gave nearly $1.1 million in two separate grants that were “instrumental in developing and launching the privately-owned Chicago Climate Exchange, which now calls itself “North America’s only cap and trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.”


    Obama was selected to be President, for among other things, 1) continue the bailout of the corrupt financial industry (at least $16 trillion and counting) 2) no prosecution for fraud (done) 3) Protect and increase the profits of the health care industry (done) 4) “Cap and Trade” laws to benefit the Chicago Climate Exchange, GE, Goldman Sachs, etc. (not done and the Climate Exchange is out of business.

  9. SHV says:

    I forgot to mention that the Joyce foundation that Obama used to helped set up the climate exchange also had/has as board members a “Daly” and Valerie Jarrett.

  10. There’s a protest march on Wall Street today, which is good. Would have been better if the idiot Larouchies hadn’t been there with their signature h!tler moustaches on Obama posters. Talk about a cult. Some Obots are lumping them in with the tea party.

  11. ralphb says:

    US taxpayers could be on hook for Europe bailout

    Geithner has been in Europe pounding on the table for the EU to set up a TARP/TALF plan. Makes Solyndra look like lunch money.

    So far, America’s role is fairly limited. But if the crisis continues to grow and the U.S. takes on a wider role, U.S. consumers and taxpayers could feel a bigger impact. The biggest exposure could come from America’s status as the single largest source of money for the International Monetary Fund.

  12. DeniseVB says:

    From the same people who did the snarky attackwatch video …..

    • crawdad says:

      Shit out


    • Mary says:

      Great video!

      AP also reports Solyndra spent $187,000 lobbying Congress for a “Buy American” program that would require the military and all federal buildings to install solar panels.

      Theirs, of course. Government contracts are quite lucrative, they say.

  13. Mary says:

    From Hot Air:

    “As it turns out, the Stimulus’s $38.6 billion loan program for clean energy firms that Solyndra benefited from has created just about 3,545 permanent new jobs after parceling out half of its dough.

    That works out to around $5 million per job.

  14. NPR on Sharpton.

    I’m a big fan of Rev. Sharpton; I’ve known him quite a bit,” Griffin says. “He’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative — [he’s] all the things that I think MSNBC is.”


  15. HELENK says:

    check out HR4646 floating around the house.
    a 1% tax on ALL bank transactions. If you deposit or withdraw and money the transaction will be taxed 1%.
    really nice huh/////

    unemployment needs to start in DC asap

  16. Carolyn Kay says:

    Being praised by Obama is obviously the kiss of death. He said nuclear power was safe, and gave Japan as an example. He declared offshore drilling safe just before the BP oil spill disaster.

    You’d think people would be lobbying for him NOT to mention them.

    Carolyn Kay

    • myiq2xu says:

      He declared war on FOX News and their ratings went up.

      He bashed the Tea Party and they took over Congress.

      Maybe we could ask him to start bashing socialists and liberals?

  17. djmm says:

    Great analysis, Myiq!

    Sometimes I wonder whether Republicans have the goods on the President and senior WH officials and they are holding onto their cards (to thoroughly mix the metaphors) until after the election. If they close in now, the Democrats could convince someone else to run for President.

    This scandal and the Fast & Furious scandal are both powerful enough to cause serious trouble. I suspect we have only scratched the surface.


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