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Solar Company That Obama Once Touted Shuts Down September 3, 2011

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President Barack Obama, with Solyndra Chief Executive Officer Chris Gronet, looks at a solar panel, during a tour of Solyndra, Inc., a solar panel manufacturing facility, in Fremont, Calif.

A California solar-panel manufacturer once touted by President Obama as a beneficiary of his administration’s economic policies — as well as a half-billion-dollar federal loan — is laying off 1,100 workers and filing for bankruptcy.

Solyndra LLC of Fremont, Calif., had become the poster child for government investment in green technology. The president visited the company in May 2010 and noted that Solyndra expected to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels. Other state and federal officials such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Energy Secretary Steven Chu also visited the company’s facilities.

But hard times have hit the nation’s solar industry. Solyndra is the third solar company to seek bankruptcy protection this month. Officials said Wednesday that the global economy as well as unfavorable conditions in the solar industry combined to force the company to suspend its manufacturing operations.

The price for solar panels has tanked in part because of heavy competition from Chinese companies, dropping by about 42 percent this year.

Republicans have been looking into the Solyndra loan for months. The House Energy and Commerce Committee subpoenaed documents relating to the loan from the White House Office of Management and Budget. GOP Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying it was clear that Solyndra was a dubious investment.

“We smelled a rat from the onset,” the two lawmakers said.

Shortly after the company’s announcement, it became clear that the bankruptcy would serve as further ammunition to criticize an economic stimulus bill that provided seed money for solar startups — even though officials said interest in providing Solyndra with guaranteed government loans was first sought under the Bush administration.

Upton and Stearns said they would continue to seek documents that would provide more details about the Solyndra loan.

“Unfortunately, Solyndra is just the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus, emblematic of an economic policy that has not worked and will not work. We hope this informs the president ahead of his address to Congress next week,” the GOP lawmakers said.

When Obama, who is seeking to address Congress to unveil a new jobs plan, toured the company’s facilities, he said the investment was important because more clean energy would benefit the environment, the economy and national security.

“The future is here,” Obama said during his visit. “We’re poised to transform the ways we power our homes and our cars and our businesses. … And we are poised to generate countless new jobs, good-paying, middle-class jobs, right here in the United States of America.”

In a blog posting, Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow said Solyndra was a once promising company that had increased sales revenue by 2,000 percent in the past three years. The $535 million loan guarantee was sought by both the Bush and Obama administrations, he said, and private investors also put more than $1 billion into Solyndra.

“We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy,” Leistikow said.

Solyndra was heralded as one of the nation’s bright spots of green technology innovation, creating a solar tube of sorts that could soak up sunlight from many different angles, producing energy more efficiently and using less space. The company’s panels were also light and easy to install, which was meant to save up front costs.

But over the past few years, other companies caught up and provided similar products at a lower cost.

Brian Harrison, Solynda’s president and CEO, said that raising capital became impossible.

“This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate,” Harrison said in a statement.

Another solar company, Spectrawatt Inc. of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 19. Its CEO said in the filing that it could not compete with solar manufacturers in China, which receive “considerable government and financial support.”

Spectrawatt’s filing came four days after Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlboro, Mass., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Solar industry advocates said the failure of these three companies is not indicative of the health of the U.S. solar industry as a whole and that overall the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program has been a success.

“In the last 18 months, solar companies have either added or expanded almost 60 factories in the U.S. and driven the installed cost of solar down by 30 percent,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“To date, solar projects that have received loan guarantees will help to deploy enough clean solar energy to power nearly 1 million homes and create tens of thousands of jobs across 28 states,” he said.

Jesse Pichel, a clean energy analyst with New York-based investment firm Jefferies & Co. said Solyndra’s products used unique technology that was more expensive to install, “and the improvement was marginal at best.”

Obama Conversation With Tea Partier Gets Heated August 16, 2011

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Barry Carr~

DECORAH, Iowa – President Obama got into a heated back-and-forth Monday with a Tea Party activist who demanded to know at the end of a town hall meeting here whether Vice President Biden had called Tea Partiers “terrorists” during the debt ceiling debate on Capitol Hill.

In public, Obama did not directly answer the question from Iowa Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes about Biden. But Obama fired back that he knows better than anyone what it’s like to be slammed for his political views and was not about to accept a lecture on the topic.

“Now, in fairness, since I’ve been called a socialist who wasn’t born in this country, who is destroying America and taking away its freedoms because I passed a health care bill, I’m all for lowering the rhetoric,” Obama said.

Obama did say he would discuss the matter further with Rhodes, founder of the Iowa Tea Party, after the event. And the duo was spotted in an animated conversation a few moments later.

In an interview later with Fox News, Rhodes claimed that the president had insisted that Biden had not made the original comment.

“He just denied it. He said the vice president didn’t make any of those assertions,” Rhodes said. “If he doesn’t want to even admit what was on TV nationally — all over the place — then how can you have a conversation?”

Rhodes added that Obama brushed him aside. “Then he said, ‘We can’t have a conversation because you’re saying I called you a terrorist,’” recalled Rhodes. “The fact is it demonstrates the deep divide that he is unwilling to negotiate without going after the other side. The whole day was about going after Republicans and talking about how unreasonable they are.”

The private conversation between Rhodes and Obama was partially picked up by a TV camera, but the audio was tough to make out. Obama in general seemed to be saying the incident with Biden was misconstrued and that if Rhodes wanted to insist that the word “terrorist” was used then they were never going to see eye to eye.

The incident stems from a private meeting Biden attended, at the height of the debt ceiling debate, with House Democrats who were angry that Republicans were not meeting the president halfway. One lawmaker, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., went so far as to say that Republicans affiliated with the Tea Party had behaved like “terrorists” during the debate.

Some Democrats familiar with the meeting said at the time that Biden had appeared to agree with the sentiment expressed by Doyle and others as a way of moving the conversation along and convincing Democrats to support the final compromise. But Biden himself denied to CBS News that he had uttered the word “terrorist” in the meeting in the context of the Tea Party.

Here in Iowa, some people in the crowd seemed to be unhappy with Rhodes. One woman was overheard confronting him by saying, “That was extraordinarily rude” to the president.

A second woman who did not want to be identified by name said she felt the exchange was “over the top aggressive.”

But Rhodes was not backing down. “I said my piece,” he said.

Bolton: Obama Risking America’s Sovereignty August 11, 2011

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Barry Carr

Adam Smith wrote in “The Wealth of Nations” that “the first duty of the sovereign, that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies, can be performed only by means of a military force.” Today, failing to protect our national security inevitably endangers our economic prosperity by making us vulnerable to global adversaries.

It is clear that President Obama does not agree with Smith’s wisdom. Obama’s policies are jeopardizing not only our national security and economy, but our constitutional sovereignty too.

That is why I have been considering running for president. The Republican Party must nominate a leader who, unlike Obama, understands instinctively that America’s liberty, prosperity and national security are inextricably linked.

Sadly, last week’s debt-ceiling legislation, potentially resulting in catastrophic cuts to our defense budget, only reinforces my deep concerns. This may have been the best we could get, and it is far better than we feared. But the deal risks massive defense cutbacks, potentially pointing a dagger at the heart of our security and sovereignty.

Obama Slips; Romney Is Top Rival August 11, 2011

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Barry Carr

More American voters disapprove than approve of the job President Obama is doing. Likewise, if making a choice today, more voters say they would back someone else for president in 2012 than say they would give Obama a second term. Who would that someone else be?

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains Republican primary voters’ preferred candidate. He’s also the GOP contender more voters see as likely to do a good job in the White House.

These are some of the findings from a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Currently 42 percent of voters approve of Obama’s job performance and 48 percent disapprove. Last month, before the agreement on the nation’s debt limit was finalized, 45 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved (July 17-19, 2011).

The drag on the president’s rating these days is not only lower approval among Democrats, which currently stands at 77 percent, but also a record-low 31 percent approval among independents. Approval among Republicans is 6 percent — matching a previous record-low in October 2010.

Meanwhile, for the first time, the poll shows a 51-percent majority of voters think Obama is not a strong and decisive leader.

Today 45 percent say he is a strong leader, down from 52 percent earlier this year, and 60 percent in October 2009.

Similarly, 51 percent of voters say if the election were today, they would vote for someone else over President Obama. That’s about the same as the 49 percent who said someone else in June.

Forty-four percent would re-elect Obama, unchanged from two months ago (June 5-7, 2011).

The Fox poll first asked this question after Obama had been in office about 100 days, and at that time 52 percent said they would give him a second term, and 31 percent would vote to oust him (April 2009).

For Democrats, 80 percent would re-elect Obama, down from a high of 87 percent early in his term (April 2009).

Among the key voting group of independents, 33 percent would give Obama a second term, while over half — 57 percent — would vote for someone else. By a 52-44 percent margin, independents backed Obama in the 2008 election and helped him secure victory (Fox News Exit Poll).

Still, it’s important to remember the presidential election is 15 months away and the Republican candidate is yet to be determined.

And maybe there’s room for more than two in this race? Two out of three voters (66 percent) say they would consider supporting a third party presidential candidate. Even so, an almost equal number doubt a third-party entrant has a reasonable chance of winning (64 percent). Despite the negative feelings toward current office holders, these views on third party candidates are unchanged from how voters felt in 2007.

Make a Good President?

On the whole, voters are more likely to say Romney would make a good president than any of the other Republican hopefuls tested. Even so, just 34 percent give him a thumbs-up. That increases to 50 percent among Republicans. In fact, only Romney receives a positive response from at least half of Republicans.

The next highest is Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: 22 percent of voters overall and 40 percent of Republicans think she would make a good president.

At the other end of the scale, about 7 voters in 10 think former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would not make a good president, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich receives similarly negative marks.

Many voters say they have “never heard of” several announced candidates, including former Ambassador Jon Huntsman (41 percent), businessman Herman Cain (41 percent), former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum (39 percent) and former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (33 percent).

Race for the Nomination

Romney remains the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination, garnering 21 percent among GOP primary voters. The only other candidate to receive double-digit support is unannounced candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 13 percent.

Palin comes in third with 8 percent, followed closely by Bachmann and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani both at 7 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Gingrich both receive 6 percent. All others receive 5 percent support or less. Giuliani and Palin are unannounced.

When the field is narrowed to just the announced candidates, Romney’s support increases to 26 percent. He’s followed by Bachmann at 13 percent, Paul at 10 percent, and Gingrich and Cain with 9 percent each. These are almost identical to the responses three weeks ago.

Candidate Qualities

Which is more important when picking a president — competence or principles? It’s a fairly tough choice for voters: 41 percent say “principles” and 33 percent say “competence.” Another 24 percent says “both.”

By a wide 18 percentage-point spread, Republicans say the more important characteristic is “principles.” For Democrats, “principles” also takes priority, by a slim 1-point margin.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 904 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from August 7 to August 9. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Electric Cars, Liberal Dreams, and Decepticon Democrats July 21, 2011

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by Big Government

For many years, liberals have been gushing with enthusiasm over the prospect of a totally-green planet, one where CO2 emissions are a thing of the past (but wouldn’t that kill green plants?), wind turbines spin like glittering pinwheels in a parade (killing hundreds of thousands of birds each year), and electric cars line the roads (stopping every 40 miles for a recharge). To help ensure this dream becomes reality, President Obama pledged in his 2011 State of the Union address that he wanted to see one million electric cars on America’s roads by 2015.

Of course, the President’s pledge meant taxpayers will subsidize the progressive vision for a clean planet. The day after his State of the Union speech, liberal Democrats proposed creation of tax incentives to encourage people to buy electric vehicles.  What progressives consistently fail to understand is that government screws up each time its big shoes step into the private sector (can anyone say Amtrak?). When it comes to the markets, consumers and the private sector drive it forward or backward, not government. Winners and losers are determined by what people want, need, or desire, and not by what government wants for them.

This was played out recently with the announcement that Green Vehicles, a Salinas, CA electric car start-up company, was closing its doors. Barely two years into its Vision Quest to create an “electric valley” in the state, Green Vehicles ran into problems creating enough capital to survive (translation: nobody wanted to invest in or buy the sewing machine engine scooters). What makes the story most disturbing, however, is that the company’s start up was subsidized by California taxpayers, to the tune of $540K.

If electric vehicles were a winning, money-making idea, someone would have perfected the technology and sold millions of them by now. That’s how capitalism works.

Instead, General Motors Corp (owned and operated by the Dear Leader), spit out the Chevy Volt in fawning reverence to his greatness. This puny poser gets 40 miles to a charge and sells for $42K. And just like the Green Vehicles debacle, taxpayers get to foot the bill for the incentives used to entice buyers. That’s how socialism works.

I recently saw Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon, and was amazed at how much Democrats remind me of the Decepticon robots in the series. In their quest for endless power and control, the Decepticons consume and then destroy all that is good around them. Democrats operate much the same way. They confiscate and redistribute wealth and waste it on frivolous projects that flop, fizzle, and fail, like an electric car company in Salinas. Word is, they may be coming out of the closet. Democratic National Committee Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, was spotted recently with a Decepticon logo on her lapel. I’m just sayin’!