am a hearings junkie. My favorite entertainment channel is C-Span3.
This past Friday morning, it had a real showstopper. The two chief
executives of Solyndra appeared before the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The interrogators were examining how the solar energy company went bankrupt after getting $535 million in federal loans.
My favorite part is when citizens take the Fifth. I've seen some
classic performances of citizens exercising their Constitutional rights.
When in knee pants, sitting at my mother's varicose knee, I still
remember Frank Costello and other mobsters and racketeers. Then there
were the dangerous possible 10 Communists in Hollywood... the Watergate
hearings... Oliver North working in the basement of the Whitehouse in
Iran-Contra. They either took the constitutional way out or came up with
circumlocutions I don't recall at this point in time.
But Brian Harrison, Solyndra CEO, and Wilbur G. Stover, the CFO,
were masterful. They respectfully declined to answer questions 25 times
out of 25 in the roughly hour of tough grilling by the Torquemadas of
the House. The Solyndra sphinxes were so stony-faced as they read their
rights from the single piece of paper on the table, it was as if they
were auditioning for the Mount Rushmore of Corporate America.
What the Founding fathers had in mind was protecting citizens against self-incrimination. What a concept.
Like most Americans watching TV, I always assume anybody taking the
Fifth is guilty. Why else are they not answering? What are they hiding?
If this makes me a fascist, so be it.
By answering the questions, the Solyndra blocks of marble could have
established there was nothing nefarious about using taxpayer money and
going bankrupt. Everybody in Silicon Valley, a smart investor told me,
knew Solyndra had picked the wrong technology in making the solar
panels. That's why they had to take the stimulus money. On the upside,
they could have explained they ran out of money in September 2011, just
as their projections predicted.
Solyndra isn't the first to guess wrong about new technology. I
remember the case of Thomas Edison, the original clean air guy who
proposed eliminating whale oil and kerosene fumes from the environment
by inventing an electric light bulb. It only took 10,000 costly
experiments with filaments, including spaghetti strands, before he
discovered tungsten. That really irritated investors in Edison Inc.
Rather than implicate incompetent or over-optimistic executives, the
probers really wanted to implicate the Obama Administration for wasteful
spending. They wanted the Solyndra Two to discuss the skulduggery of
the Chicago thugs in the White House. They wanted Solyndra's Strict
Constitutionalists to describe special favors granted because of
campaign donations and other shady doings.
By speaking up, Solyndra executives would confirm the Obama
administration support for green energy is the most scandalous
expenditure since the Grant administration supported the building of
another emerging technology -- the transcontinental railroad -- by
issuing bonds, which led to the Credit Mobilier scandal of 1873.
The Obama presidency, they would confirm, is the most corrupt since
Rutherford B. Hayes people stole the election of 1873. Not to mention
Warren Harding's cigar-smoking poker buddies who pulled off the Teapot
Dome Scandal of the 1920s.
I'd better stop this. They were all Republican administrations.
What does all of this mean? I'm taking the Fifth.