The Solyndra fiasco is all over the news, as well it should be, with political pressure apparently be brought to bear on the Office of Management and Budget to approve a more than half-billion dollar loan to a solar panel company which has now gone bankrupt, incinerating those hundreds of millions of dollars of our money with it.
But a story which is just as troubling is now being reported (strangely, since it's a left-leaning site) by the Daily Beast: In short, the White House pressured a four-star general to alter his testimony to Congress to make it sound as if he and the Department of Defense were more supportive of a particular company's technology than they are. The company, LightSquared, is run by Phil Falcone, a nouveau riche billionaire (who made his money shorting sub-prime mortgage securities, but has since turned in a disastrous performance as a hedge-fund manager), who is a major donor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
According to the Daily Beast article, "Falcone, his wife, and the CEO of LightSquared, Sanjiv Ahuja, have given more than $90,000 to the Democratic causes since they applied for the license. Falcone also has made a smattering of donations to Republicans."
The main way in which this is different from Solyndra is that LightSquared's technology still has not been proven not to interfere with other radio signals, in particular GPS signals, which are essential to our national security as well as to many consumer functions, such as vehicle navigation systems. At least with Solyndra, we know our risk is limited to money. I'm not saying that LightSquared's technology is unsafe. It might be perfectly safe. But it is an open question and it is beyond unacceptable for the White House to try to pressure a general to change his comments on such a situation.
This trickle of information about the administration's bad judgment -- perhaps too polite a term for what might be more accurately termed corruption -- has the feel of the leak before the dam bursts. For a party and administration which promised to "drain the swamp" and the most "transparent" government ever, this goes far beyond hypocrisy. If these stories are proven to be true, heads should roll and people should go to jail.
Leave it to the Obama administration to make the voters forget about a Republican "culture of corruption." It brings to mind the t-shirt I saw in a Washington, DC airport earlier this week: A smiling George W Bush with the caption "Miss me yet?"
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