Ed Driscoll

Green Power, Red Lights

“Environmental activists have yet to meet an energy project they won’t try to stop,” Adam J. White notes at the Weekly Standard:

“Sputnik” was not the only nostalgic moment in the State of the Union address. When President Obama called on Congress to “invest” in “clean energy breakthroughs” that would “translate into clean energy jobs,” he echoed every president since Nixon. In fact, President Obama himself made the same arguments two years ago, when he signed the stimulus bill.

“Because we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by foreign dictators,” the president said in 2009, “we are taking big steps down the road to energy independence, laying the groundwork for new green energy economies that can create countless well-paying jobs. It’s an investment that will double the amount of renewable energy produced over the next three years.”

Environmental activists applauded the stimulus’s $20 billion investment and joined the president in asserting that renewable energy projects would bring both a cleaner economy and sorely needed jobs. The Sierra Club called the stimulus “a win-win for a strong economy and a healthier environment” and hailed the government’s commitment to “promoting the shift to wind and solar.”

All of which was long forgotten by December 2010, when the Sierra Club sued California regulators to block a solar energy project in the Mojave Desert—and asserted that stimulus money was the root of the project’s evil.

As I wrote on Friday morning, at some point in the last 15 years, the concept of “NIMBY” — “not in my backyard” slowly went “BANANAS” — “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.” Shannon Love, one of the “Chicago Boyz” econobloggers charts but the latest example:

So, basically, we have three supposedly environmental lawsuits against an alternative energy project that probably have nothing to do with protecting the environment, and whose resolution will most likely  do nothing to promote the good of the environment but will instead involve jobs and revenue for the groups filing the lawsuits.

And then add that to all of that FDR-like fantasies Obama and the Northeast Corridor pundits who supported him enjoyed in his early days about jump-starting the economy via Keynesian Hoover Dam-sized projects.

Good luck getting those built, as Jonah Goldberg wrote last year:

Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldn’t have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means “coordination.” The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay “independent.” If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the state’s ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.

Now, contemporary liberalism is not an evil ideology. Its intentions aren’t evil or even fruitfully comparable to Hitlerism. But there is a liberal Gleichschaltung all the same. Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.

And this is where the Catch-22 catches. The dream of a nimble, focused, problem-solving government is undone by the reality of hyper–mission creep. When every institution is yoked to an overarching philosophy or mission, its actual purpose can become an afterthought. In 2005, volunteer firefighters from all over the country offered to help with Katrina’s aftermath. But FEMA sent many of them to Atlanta first to undergo diversity and sexual-harassment training (which most already had).

Such examples are everywhere. What is political correctness other than the gears of the liberal Gleichschaltung? The financial crisis was worsened because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became tools for liberal social engineering. Let’s not even mention public schools.

The White House is determined to be a great friend (i.e., servant) to the unions, so everything from the stimulus to the automaker buyout to the Gulf spill must first pass union muster. Remember those vital, “shovel-ready” weatherization jobs the stimulus was supposed to pay for? The Labor Department delayed them for nearly a year while trying to figure out how to comply with pro-union “prevailing wage” rules for each of more than 3,000 counties.

Liberalism has become a cargo cult to the New Deal, but many of the achievements of the New Deal would be impossible now. Just try to get a Hoover Dam built today.

Just try getting anything built based on this map.

Related: Just in time for the Academy Awards, “An Inconvenient Truth About ‘Gasland.’”