Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The big news is President Trump announcing the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, with predictable reactions
- All Democrats denounced Trump for two reasons: abdicating US leadership of a multilateral effort and weakening commitment to environmental protection
- Centrist Republicans and virtually all big businesses opposed the withdrawal; Mitt Romney was very vocal about it, for instance
- Trump’s base loved it and loved his dual rationale: jobs and America First.
The arguments for the agreement are that America has isolated itself from a global movement, backed by scientists, that supports collective action to slow global warming, some of it man-made.
The counter-argument is that the costs to the US are very high but positive effects on the climate are vanishingly small. There is also a fairness and effectiveness argument that China and India’s sweet deals (basically, they don’t have to do anything) mean that some of the world’s biggest polluters are unchecked by this deal.
◆ What is being overlooked in the furor over the withdrawal? That the process by which the US entered the accord. That created its own problems.
The Paris deal was never a treaty, only a presidential agreement (like the Iran Deal). After all, treaties need ratification, and that’s a higher hurdle. Why not just let the President sign it himself, call it something besides a treaty, and skip that whole pesky ratification thingy?
That’s just what President Obama did with the Paris Climate Agreement, and just what he did with the Iran nuclear deal. The US seems to be abandoning the quaint idea that its major commitments should be treaties, just as it has abandoned the idea that it should vote to declare wars. We’ve been at war repeatedly over the last few decades, but the last war the US declared was on December 8, 1941.
Avoiding the treaty process comes at a price, however. What one president signs, the next one can undo. That’s what Pres. Trump did on Thursday.
There is a second, less obvious problem that is also being overlooked. US environmental groups were planning lawsuits to compel the government to implement Obama’s promises under the Paris Accords. Of course, the environmental bureaucracies themselves would want to implement those promises, too. The substance of those actions might be good or bad, depending on your perspective, but no one could argue that they were determined by laws passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Skirting these constitutionally-designed, democratic processes has become a standard feature of modern American government.
It has been a hallmark of progressivism from the beginning, in the early 20th century. A core principle of the progressive movement, initially aimed at corrupt, big-city patronage machines, was decisionmaking by “disinterested” experts: technocrats. Today, that has morphed into rule by regulation, with regulations poured out of bureaucracies whose employees are immune from firing because of civil-service protections (a key feature of the progressive program, designed to block firings by partisan politicians).
So, one hidden effect of the withdrawal is to slow the pace of new environmental regulations, which the EPA would issue to implement the Paris Accords, either of its own volition or because the courts required them.
◆ Trump administration asks Supreme Court to Reinstate its Travel Ban (New York Times)
Comment: We don’t know if the Court will take the case. If it doesn’t, the lower court decisions to block Trump’s order will stand.
◆ Mitch Daniels, the nation’s most innovative university leader, discusses Purdue’s purchase of for-profit Kaplan (Indianapolis Star)
Purdue President Mitch Daniels painted the move as Purdue’s ticket into the future.
“None of us know how fast or in what direction online higher education will evolve, but we know its role will grow and we intend that Purdue be positioned to be a leader as that happens,” Daniels told the Education Writers Association.
Daniels has been working to make a Purdue education more accessible since stepping onto the West Lafayette campus. Purdue’s been on a tuition freeze since 2013, became the first major U.S. research university to offer income-sharing agreements and struck a deal with Amazon to lower textbook costs for its students.
The bid to acquire Kaplan, though, is taking innovation to a new level and was seen as a tectonic shift in the higher education landscape when it was announced unexpectedly in April. –Indianapolis Star
◆ Massachusetts judge denies defendant’s motion to juggle–yes, juggle–at his trial (AP, via St. Mary Now, Louisiana)
The defendant, who is representing himself, wanted to juggle to show “he was just clowning around when he allegedly tried to rob a convenience store with a toy gun.”