Tag Archives: Crony

Obama’s “Green Energy” Stimulus Strikes – Twice

a123 sale
A123 Systems received, in 2009, a $249.1 million federal grant from “Dear Leader” Barack Hussein Obama’s wildly successful (NOT) stimulus program. A123 also received over $100 million in grants and tax credits from Massachusetts. A123 was, however, deeply in debt, and in October 2012, filed for bankruptcy. A123 sold $125 million of its auto assets to Johnson Controls, which will provide financing to A123 in bankruptcy. The remainder of A123 was then purchased in December 2012 by the Chinese company Wanxiang Group, through an auction run by Latham and Watkins, a law firm that contributed more than $200,000 to Obama’s re-election bid. Cozy, huh?

A123 has drawn just over half of its grant money, $129 million, to build a factory in Michigan. Speaking of A123’s factory, here is what Obama had to say in 2009:

“This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America – an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars. When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America.”

A123 Systems, co-founded in 2001 by Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials scientist at MIT who had developed a new technology for fast-charging lithium-ion batteries, had, in 2009, what appeared to be a great idea. But that “great idea” didn’t pan out. The batteries A123 supplied to Fisker for its electric car caused fires, forcing Fisker, in 2011, to recall 239 Karmas for battery replacement, costing A123 $50 million.

The fact that A123 went bankrupt after receiving taxpayer money is bad enough. What’s worse, IMHO, is that Obama placed bets on future technology with taxpayer money. The entire situation would have been fine had Obama placed bets with venture capitalists’ money. Venture capitalists could have examined A123’s prospectus, its technology forecasts, and production plans, then decided whether or not to invest. But the evaluation task was assigned to the totally unbiased “experts” at Obama’s Department of Energy (DOE), under the Obama crony Dr. Steven Chu. We taxpayers, who footed the investment bill, were never consulted.

What’s even worse is that now the A123 Systems technology that we paid for is going to the Chinese. What does all of this mean (or potentially mean)? Dean Popp, former acting United States assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, and co-chair of Strategic Materials Advisory Council (therefore, not some ignorant blowhard) said:

“We are not taking a critical look at what China is doing in terms of assembling a portfolio of things that allow her to control our supply chain and control our national security concerns. These batteries are used in satellites; these batteries are used in combat vehicles; these batteries are used in precision munitions – you know, wherever there’s sensitive stuff. It is the technology not only of the hour, but of the decade.”

Popp also expressed concern that the U.S. is losing its manufacturing, industrial and technological strength, and becoming more vulnerable to China.

So, I guess Obama’s reelection and paybacks for cronys (I mean, “campaign contributors”) is more important to him than national security.

But that’s just my opinion.
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LightSquared and GPS Interference

Imagine you are at the controls of a small single engine airplane. You are flying in the clouds, relying on your instruments to keep you out of trouble. All you see out your windscreen is gray. You are setting up for an instrument (ILS) approach to a small airport. You are 1000 feet above the ground. To your right is a 2500 foot hill and to your left is a 1500 foot hill. Your glide-slope has you right on the mark. The displays on your instrument panel should have you popping out of the clouds at 500 feet above the ground, one and a half miles from the end of the runway, lined up on final approach.

Enter LightSquared. Imagine that while still in the clouds, lining up for final approach, your ILS receiver, which relies on GPS data from an on-board GPS receiver loses it’s signal or begins to report inaccurate information. Now where is that runway…and where are those hills?

Bloomberg reported on Friday, that leaked test results show LightSquared’s equipment, which is designed to provide terrestrial based wireless broadband mobile service, interferes with 75% of existing GPS equipment.

LightSquared has responded by claiming the leaked test results were incomplete in that the power levels used in the test are higher than those the company proposes to use. They stated further that using their proposed power levels, the system would only interfere with 10% of existing GPS equipment. Indignant, LightSquared has also called for an investigation into who leaked the results.

The complete test results are due to be released on Wednesday.

LightSquared came under fire earlier in the year, when, according to a story in the Daily Beast, Air Force General William Shelton told the House strategic forces subcommittee in closed session, “that the White House asked the general to alter his testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, officials said.”

Majority investor in LightSquared, Philip Falcone has consistently given money to both democrats and republicans.

A series of e-mails and documents obtained by The Center for Public Integrity in September, document contacts from company officials and White House staffers concerning the company’s project, and requesting a meeting at an Obama fundraiser.