Att. Gen. Barr on Separation of Powers

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  • Swagnarok
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    Attorney General William Bar did, on November 15, give an address at a convention of the Federalist Society, or, more particularly, to a gathering of conservative lawyers under the banner of this organization.
    In his address, he argued that the independence of the executive branch has come under unprecedented attack from the other two branches during the Trump era, pointing to record-breaking use of injunctions by miscellaneous lower courts to block initiatives of the current administration on a nationwide level, along with other grievances.

    The full speech can be read here:
  • Dr.Franklin
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    hes done nothing, he is a cia tool

  • HistoryBuff
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    yeah, arguing that the trump administration has done nothing wrong when like 6 of trump's associates have been found guilty of crimes is a bit sad. How could someone who used to be a respected lawyer lower himself so much as to argue that criminal actions are fine because the president did them? I mean he was live tweeting threats to witnesses in his impeachment inquiry. Any lawyer can tell you that threatening a witness is a crime. 

  • HistoryBuff
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    I took another look at what he was saying. there is some disturbing stuff in there.

    I mean the attorney general is supposed to be non partisan. They are not supposed to be an advocate for a political party or any particular person, including the president. But he just goes off on a deranged rant about how it is "the left" that is obstructing and shredding norms. But the Mitch McConnell had been laughing and announcing that he was going to block everything under Obama and making it part of his election campaign that he would do it again if the Democrats won in 2020. He loves being called the "Grim Reaper" for gods sake. The republicans have been destroying norms and rules for years to try to block the executive branch when it wasn't controlled by them. But Bar is such a partisan hack that he solely blames "the left" and says that "conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means." Is he watching the same political process the rest of the country is because he seems to have this backwards.

    In his opinion, the executive branch should have very little oversight at all. He thinks that the president should be a quasi dictator. 

  • Greyparrot
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    It's OK to be Trump.
  • Swagnarok
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    I mean the attorney general is supposed to be non partisan. They are not supposed to be an advocate for a political party or any particular person, including the president.

    I'm not sure how true this is in practice, but yeah, it was a rather partisan speech, I'll admit. During Obama's presidency the common fear among Republicans was that the executive was too strong, for the simple reason that a member of "the other party" was running the executive at that time. Now the tables have turned, so they adjusted their behavior accordingly.

    But the Mitch McConnell had been laughing and announcing that he was going to block everything under Obama and making it part of his election campaign that he would do it again if the Democrats won in 2020. 

    The republicans have been destroying norms and rules for years to try to block the executive branch when it wasn't controlled by them. 

    This isn't as true as you might think, actually. To quote Barr in his address:


    "A prime example of this is the Senate’s unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process.  The Senate is free to exercise that power to reject unqualified nominees, but that power was never intended to allow the Senate to systematically oppose and draw out the approval process for every appointee so as to prevent the President from building a functional government. Yet that is precisely what the Senate minority has done from his very first days in office.  As of September of this year, the Senate had been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees — each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay an inevitable confirmation.   How many times was cloture invoked on nominees during President Obama’s first term?  17 times."


    "Just to summarize briefly, nationwide injunctions have no foundation in courts’ Article III jurisdiction or traditional equitable powers; they radically inflate the role of district judges, allowing any one of more than 600 individuals to singlehandedly freeze a policy nationwide...Since President Trump took office, district courts have issued over forty nationwide injunctions against the government.  By comparison, during President Obama’s first two years, district courts issued a total of two nationwide injunctions against the government.  Both were vacated by the Ninth Circuit."

    (Keep in mind that there are plenty of district court judges who were appointed by Republicans, and there were plenty such from 2009-2017. Any one of them could've done to Obama what's being done to Trump now, but for the most part they did not exercise this power.)



    He thinks that the president should be a quasi dictator. 

    Nope. He argues that there are certain areas that belong solely to the executive, as there are areas that belong solely to the legislature or to the judiciary.  Instead of this being the case, however, in the Trump era the legislature and judiciary have moved to strip the executive of much of its traditional authority/ability to operate and function, in a fashion that's without precedent in American history.
  • Greyparrot
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    The Congress willingly abdicated their warpowers among other responsibilities long ago for the sake of political expediency.

    Government is the best scapegoat production complex.

    Or Scapedeer as Congress passes the Buck.
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    Whoops, I forgot to tag you. See post #6.
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Swagnarok
    I'm not sure how true this is in practice, but yeah, it was a rather partisan speech, I'll admit.
    Yeah, given that it is a political appointee position there is always some level of partisanship. But they are at least supposed to try to be non-partisan. Bar has made it clear, almost from the day he was appointed, that he has no intention of even putting on a veneer of non partisanship. He is just going to go full partisan all the time. This speech was just 1 long partisan ramble. 

    This isn't as true as you might think, actually. To quote Barr in his address:
    I didn't say that the democrats haven't also done some obstructing. But barr singles out the left as the problem and conservatives as blameless patriots. it is insane. Republicans are very proud of all the obstructing and norm breaking they have been doing.

    You should also keep in mind that trump has been nominating people who are wildly unqualified for jobs. Many of the objections raised by democrats were quite justified. but i do recognize that some were not. 

    Nope. He argues that there are certain areas that belong solely to the executive, as there are areas that belong solely to the legislature or to the judiciary. 
    And in a presidency where the president sticks to the norms of politics that might be the case. Trump regularly appoints people who are completely unqualified and takes actions that are blatantly illegal and/or unconstitutional with no regard at all for the fact that what he is doing is wrong. The barriers between the separation of powers only works when each uses those powers in a responsible way. Trump is absolutely not doing that. The republicans in the senate on congress are only slightly better (not committing crimes per se, but breaking the system to try to get their side more power). 

    I am not saying that the democrats are innocent in this either, they're not. But to pretend that conservatives haven't been pushing for the break down of the old political structure for their benefit is either incredibly naive or just blatantly a lie.
  • Greyparrot
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    I am not saying that the democrats are innocent in this either, they're not. But to pretend that conservatives haven't been pushing for the break down of the old political structure for their benefit is either incredibly naive or just blatantly a lie.

    What a silly view. Rinos have no intention of allowing the people to dictate policy over government employees.

  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Greyparrot
    What a silly view. Rinos have no intention of allowing the people to dictate policy over government employees.
    I didn't mean the people. I meant they are breaking down the norms of government because it benefits them in the moment. For example when McConnell refused to even debate Obama's supreme court pick for an obviously made up reason. There was no law that said he had to, but the norms said that he should. He tossed those aside because it provided a short term win.

    The republican party has proven they don't care about what should or shouldn't be executive authority. They don't care about the norms of government or the checks and balances. They only care about the partisan game of winning points against the other team. If that tears down the political system, it clearly means nothing to them. They only cry about it when the other side does it to them. 
  • Greyparrot
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    There's clearly nothing normal about government in general, in any nation.
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Greyparrot
    There's clearly nothing normal about government in general, in any nation.
    That statement is semantically null. Whatever is the normal way things work, is normal. The US government has a long history. There is a "normal". It has been eroded and destroyed over the last decade or 2 as both sides, but in my opinion especially the republicans, try to score cheap points at any cost. 

    For example impeaching a president over a blow job. Then arguing that it doesn't matter that the president extorted a foreign country to try to help himself in a political campaign and that this is somehow not impeachable. The complete 180 done by people like Lindsay graham shows that the republican leadership have no ethics at all. 
  • Greyparrot
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    If there was anything "normal" about government, then there would be no need of elections.

    Either the people are in charge of deciding what is normal or they are not.
  • HistoryBuff
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    If there was anything "normal" about government, then there would be no need of elections.
    Either the people are in charge of deciding what is normal or they are not.
    You seem to be misunderstanding me. I don't mean normal as in specific policies, which of course will change with election cycles. I mean normal as in the rules and conduct that the government adheres to. Like the senate voting to confirm or reject a supreme court nominee. There is no law saying they have to do so, but the normal conduct is that they will. When McConnell refused to do so for reasons that made no sense and were later proven to be a lie, he broke that norm for a short term gain. 

    These kinds of norms are usually adhered to regardless of the changing priorities of voters. The fact that they are no longer being followed just makes the partisanship all the worse because there simply aren't any rules to the game any more. It's now anything goes which just makes the deadlock even worse. 
  • Greyparrot
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    Either the people are in charge of setting the rules or they are not.

  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Either the people are in charge of setting the rules or they are not.
    They're not. The elected officials are in charge of setting the rules. If the people are upset about a rule or a law they can pressure their elected member of government to change the rules. But that rarely happens. And norms aren't even rules. They are more of a code of conduct that the government follows. When politicians trash those norms to score cheap points they are just ensuring that there is even less chance of anything getting done in the long term.

    Do you think democrats are going to try to cooperate or allow republicans to do things after the republicans spent 8 years under obama sabotaging and obstructing everything they could? All they have done is ensure that democrats are super motivated to do the same thing. it is self defeating and only undermines the ability of the government to function. 


  • Greyparrot
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     But that rarely happens.

    That's because the people are paid by the government to keep the status quo.
  • HistoryBuff
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    That's because the people are paid by the government to keep the status quo.
    I honestly have no idea what you are trying to argue. Are you trying to say the government shouldn't have rules? Are you trying to argue that the rules for behavior and decorum should be determined by average citizens? Are you arguing that every single person in america is being paid to make sure rules never change?


  • Greyparrot
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    Are you arguing that every single person in America is being paid to make sure rules never change?

    Just enough to preserve the status quo.

  • HistoryBuff
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    Are you arguing that every single person in America is being paid to make sure rules never change?
    Just enough to preserve the status quo.
    This still doesn't make any sense.

    1) the government doesn't pay the vast majority of americans.

    2) procedural rules in government have nothing to do with average americans. 

    This issue is about partisan hack politicians bending or breaking rules and norms in order to score political points. I honestly have no idea what point you are trying to make. 

  • Greyparrot
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    Just enough to preserve the status quo.

    This is one big reason why Local governments are less corrupt on average than Federal governments. Higher accountability with a voterbase with skin in the game.

    Especially local governments with a flat or regressive tax rate. Those are by far held the most accountable by the voters. Status quo can't get a foothold.
  • Greyparrot
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    I actually would vote for Warren next election if the promised an identical tax policy as the Nordic nations.

    Nords tax the poor at 40% which keeps the voters watchful of the government.

  • Greyparrot
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    In progressive taxation States like Mass, the local states tax the poor with Lottery revenues, which come out to around a Billion dollars of revenue annually mostly funded by the poor.

    Most of the poor see their lottery losses as bad luck, so they do not hold the politicians accountable as to how the money is spent.
    This is how a progressively taxed state is able to secure funding with less accountability.

    And that is what drives government. More power. Less accountability.
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Everything you just said has literally nothing to do with the topic...