Vail Daily letter: Bush part of Solyndra, too |

Vail Daily letter: Bush part of Solyndra, too

Henry Bornstein
Vail, CO, Colorado

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln

In Mr. Gustafson’s letter of Nov. 2, he lists six claims and then provides his alleged “facts”: “What are today’s facts?” If I responded to all of his “facts,” my reply would have to be in six parts. Therefore, I will only reply to his “fact” No. 3, concerning the loan guarantees to Solyndra.

First, let me say that Mr. Gustafson does not know what a fact is. One definition is: “a thing that has actually happened or that is really true.”

Gustafson’s states: “The $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra was considered and rejected by the Bush administration as unsound.” This is not only not a fact; it is a lie. In 2005, Bush signed the Energy Policy Act into law creating the 1703 loan guarantee program in an effort to compete with and prevent China from becoming the world leader in green energy. In fact, the Solyndra loan guarantee was launched by the Bush administration. Neither Bush nor anyone in his administration ever found the Solyndra loan guarantee to be unsound and it was never rejected.

Bush tried to obtain a conditional approval before Obama took office so he could get the credit for this green project. The often repeated rightwing claim that this was “rushed through” by the Obama Administration (Fox), or in Gustafson’s words, “revived and fast-tracked the approval …,” is false.

This loan represents only 1.3% of the DOE’s total loan portfolio and so far is the only company under this program to have filed bankruptcy. This loss is not something to be sneezed at, but it is nothing compared to the $5 trillion to $10 trillion that has been and will be spent on Bush’s two unnecessary wars of choice. In fact, it amounts to .0001% of the cost of Bush’s wars.

Gustafson makes reference to “the primary investor [who] was a “bundler” of Obama donations – a conflict of interest?”

This is also a distortion of the facts. The alleged “primary investor” whose name was left out is George Kaiser from Tulsa, Okla. Mr. Kaiser did contribute to Obama’s campaign, but he was not an investor in Solyndra. The George Kaiser Family Foundation made the loans. The GKFF is a philanthropic organization — i.e., a non-profit — which means that Mr. Kaiser could not personally profit from this investment. The initial GKFF, money was given to Solyndra sometime between February and October 2006. This was well over two years prior to Obama taking office.

“In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut [Ventures].”

“George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan,” the statement said. “GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes.”

Madrone Capital Partners, which is a private investment arm of the Walton family (Walmart), initially invested $7,000,000 in Solyndra during the Bush administration. This loan was guaranteed under the Bush administration. The Walton family investment was made with the intent of making a profit. The rightwing critics continuously fail to mention that the Walton family has contributed millions of dollars to Republican candidates over the years, including to George Bush – a conflict of interest? Has Gustafson researched any of these connections, let alone advised his readers of same? No!

Various private investors put more than $1 billion of their own money into this company, most if not all of which was unsecured. Obviously, they thought that Solyndra had great potential. Some of the largest investors included Schott N.A., MSG Mfg., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Substantially all of the government scientists and researchers who were involved in and reviewed this project during the Bush administration were/are career professionals who remained in these positions during the Obama administration. They are not political hacks with political objectives.

Did some of the scientists and relevant government officials offer objections? Yes, but the overwhelming majority felt the project had great potential, just as did the Walton family and the numerous other investors.

A substantial part of Solyndra’s failure was a result of the Bush recession, which was the worst recession in this country’s history. According to Solyndra’s David Miller, “Solyndra’s collapse stems from an oversupply of low priced panels produced by foreign manufactures who get funding from their governments, as well as reduced European incentives for buying solar energy products.” This reduction obviously was due to the European recession.

Another one of Gustafson’s distortions: “Shortly after, the company revised its structure, putting private investors’ risk ahead of tax payers bonds.” I do not know where this fabrication came from. Maybe Gustafson could enlighten us. The government guaranteed some, but not all of the loans. Nothing I have been able to find indicated that there were any taxpayer bonds. Nor did or could Solyndra “revise its structure” with respect to the government guarantees. Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures and the Walton family’s Madrone Partners agreed to put up an additional $75 million, if they would receive a first position in case of a liquidation. Mr. Gustafson, please tell us how many taxpayers will receive the return of their money from the trillions of dollars wasted on the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

As I have said in one form or another in my responses to Gustafson’s various rants: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.” It is not fair to the Daily readers to be presented with information, and I use the word loosely, that is inaccurate and/or fabricated.

Or, as Abraham Lincoln said: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Henry Bornstein

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