“Knox, for the ninth time, there is no bat. If there were, we would find him, we would arrest him.”
—Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon in Batman
I’m going to make a bit of a strange connection, but stick with me here. It’s all about accountability. Just ask Obama.
Speculation and accusations continue to swirl around the White House over Benghazigate, as the President’s position that he didn’t know anything and couldn’t do anything and never lied about anything becomes increasingly untenable. Perhaps the most fundamental problem Obama faces is that even in his world, he can’t blame this one on Bush, since the Libyan Spring took place on his watch and with his overt support; under Bush we had no consulate in Libya for terrorists to attack.
Having painted himself into a corner, Obama has now been forced to acknowledge that the Benghazi incident reflects some potentially serious problems. Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, Obama said that “[I]f we find out that there was a big breakdown and somebody didn’t do their job, then they’ll be held responsible.”
This somebody will be held responsible line sounded like something I’d heard from this administration before. So I did a little digging, and shockingly, this isn’t the first time Obama has said something about holding people accountable. Indeed, he’s said it many times, in many different contexts. Here’s what I could find without too much work:
On the banking industry:
“And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible[.]” February 24, 2009 address to joint session of Congress;
On burning Korans:
“We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible.” February 23, 2012 letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai
On the economy:
“One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable.” February 2, 2009 on NBC’s Today
On Operation Fast & Furious:
“There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case then we’ll find out, and we’ll hold somebody accountable” (eerily similar to the Benghazi statement). March 22, 2012 interview on Univision
On security leaks:
“[S]ince I have been in office, my attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks[.]” Obama during June 8, 2012 press conference; Senior Adviser David Plouffe “[O]bviously people need to be held accountable if they did something wrong.” June 17, 2012 interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley.
Perhaps the most interesting to me, however, is President Obama’s statement about accountability in his discussion of the Stimulus during his February 24, 2009 address to a joint session of Congress:
“That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort—because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend.”
Every member of his Cabinet will be held accountable for every dollar they spend, huh? Well, that got me wondering again how that whole Department of Energy green energy stimulus giveaway program was going. So in the interest of accountability, I thought it might be time for an update of the green energy subsidy casualty list I published back in February.
UPDATE: A123 Systems—Bankrupt, October, 2012
A123 began in 2001 from a research lab at MIT on $100,000 in federal seed money. In 2009 it received $249 million in DOE loan money to develop electric car batteries for the Fisker Karma (which later proved to have serious defects resulting in the recall of all 239 Karmas produced). This, despite public admissions in their SEC filings that they had “never been profitable.” A123 is $144 million in debt and filed for bankruptcy on October 16.
UPDATE: Abound Solar—Bankrupt, July 2012
Abound was a Colorado-based manufacturer of thin-film solar panels. In December 2010, it received $400 million in DOE loan guarantees, about $70 million of which it cashed in. Unable to compete, and unable to find a buyer for itself as a going concern, Abound filed for bankruptcy liquidation on July 2.
UPDATE: Solar Trust of America—Bankrupt, April 2012
This one didn’t get much press. Oakland-based Solar Trust of America holds the development rights for the Blythe Solar Power Project in Southern California. It received $2.1 billion in DOE loan guarantees in April 2011, but ran short of cash when its 70% majority owner—German company Solar Millennium AG—filed for bankruptcy in Germany in December. Solar trust filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. April 2.
Ener1—Bankrupt, January 2012
Ener1 was a New York-based parent company of a firm that received $118 million in federal “stimulus” grants to produce electric car batteries in part for the Fisker Karma (see below), a deal that ultimately fell through in favor of A123 (see above). Ener1 filed for bankruptcy in January.
Beacon Power—Bankrupt, October 2011
Beacon received $43 million in DOE loans. Beacon declared bankruptcy in October 2011, and began selling off its assets in December.
Evergreen Solar—Bankrupt, August 2011
Evergreen was a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of solar panels. It received government grants including an estimated $5.3 million in federal “stimulus” money. Evergreen went bankrupt in August 2011, and in November sold its assets to a Chinese firm.
Solyndra—Bankrupt, August 2011
You all know the Solyndra story. Solydra netted a $535 million loan over the objections of financial analysts, and the debt was later restructured to move taxpayers behind Obama bundler George Kaiser in the creditor queue. Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August 2011, and later sold its assets for pennies on the dollar to a new outfit also partly owned by Kaiser.
Spectrawatt—Bankrupt, August 2011
Spectrawatt was a New York-based manufacturer of silicon cells used in solar panels. It received $500,000 in “stimulus” grants in June 2009. Spectrawatt filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, and was bought by a Canadian firm.
Nevada Geothermal—Insolvent, October 2011; UPDATE: Auditors Doubt Viability, July 2012
Nevada Geothermal is a Nevada-based geothermal energy company that received $66 million in federal grants, and another $79 million in DOE loans; loans it immediately used to pay off or renegotiate other loans that were or were about to be in default. A July 4, 2012 report said internal auditors were questioning the firm’s viability going forward: “[M]aterial uncertainties case significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going-concern.”
Amonix—Layoffs, January 2012; UPDATE: Closed Main Plant, July 2012
Amonix was a California-based solar systems manufacturer with a plant in Nevada, partly owned by Obama mega-bundlers John Doerr, Daniel Weiss, and Steve Westly. Amonix received $5.9 million in federal “stimulus” grants in 2010. It laid off two-thirds of its workforce in January, and closed its main plant in July.
Sunpower—Insolvency/Layoffs, November 2011
Sunpower, yet another California-based solar firm, received a $1.2 billion DOE loan in September 2011. Barely a month later, it announced hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and that it was “reorganizing” and cutting jobs. It is now owned by the French oil giant Total, without whose backing it would be bankrupt.
Fisker Automotive—Layoffs, February 2012
Fisker Automotive is a California-based manufacturer of luxury electric cars. It received a $529 million DOE loan to produce its $102,000 Karma, which it manufactures in Finland. After producing—then recalling—a grand total of 239 units, Fisker announced in February that it was laying off employees in its Delaware and California locations.
Hundreds of billions of your tax dollars at risk or gone, on a program that’s seen eight bankruptcies and counting, at least two insolvencies, and three sets of layoffs and plant closures. That’s in addition to jobs being sent overseas (Fisker) or entities being taken over by foreign ownership. All to “create”—giving the administration the most charitable benefit of the doubt—a few hundred jobs.
Yet neither Secretary Stephen Chu or anyone else has been fired or even taken to task by the administration. Come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone getting fired over banking failures, burning Korans, the economy, or security leaks, and only one low-level scapegoat firing in Fast & Furious. And my bet is as long as Obama is in office, no one gets fired over Benghazi.
Maybe “holding people accountable” doesn’t mean what the Obama administration thinks it does.