It all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is

Bill Clinton

Remember the media meme that tax increases were necessary to be sure the rich pay their fair share? Well apparently to democrats, the party of the little guy and the media “The Rich” doesn’t include General Electric, Citigroup, Diageo (makers of Puerto Rician Rum) Citi, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, American Wind Energy Association and The Motion Picture Association of America.

Apparently they wanted a big batch of tax credits and favors and paid millions to lobbyists to achieve them, they put these credits into a Senate bill called the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012.

Now as the GOP didn’t support this massive tax giveaway and a House of Representatives with a strong Tea Party presence wasn’t about to pass it. In fact according to the site…

Introduced Aug 28, 2012
Reported by Committee Aug 28, 2012
Passed Senate (not yet occurred)
Passed House (not yet occurred)
Signed by the President (not yet occurred)
The committees assigned to this bill sent it to the House or Senate as a whole for consideration on August 28, 2012.
Prognosis: 19% chance of being enacted.

Or at least that would have been the odds but according to Tim Carney of the Washington Times:

A Republican Senate aide familiar with the cliff negotiations tells me the White House wanted permanent extensions of a whole slew of corporate tax credits. When Senate Republicans said no, “the White House insisted that the exact language” of the Baucus bill be included in the fiscal cliff deal. “They were absolutely insistent,” another aide tells me. (The White House did not return requests for comment.)

Sure enough, Title II of the fiscal cliff legislation is nearly a word-for-word replication of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012.

So the Democrats,the protectors of the little guy, the people who were going to make sure that the rich paid their fair share and President Obama their champion managed to do what corporate lobbyists couldn’t add this unpassable bill into the fiscal cliff legislation, passed it in the senate and sent to the house where democrats voted for it en masse and enough establishment Republicans could make sure their corporate friends had their reward.

There was a time when media would have screamed foul, there was a time when such a bill once read and known to the public would not have been possible, but the media has already defined the villain as the GOP and the heroes as the Democrats in general and this President in particular and no amount of truth could change it.

We get the government we deserve, I really thought we deserved better.

Update: The Wall Street Journal adds to the list:

In praising Congress’s huge new tax increase, President Obama said Tuesday that “millionaires and billionaires” will finally “pay their fair share.” That is, unless you are a Nascar track owner, a wind-energy company or the owners of StarKist Tuna, among many others who managed to get their taxes reduced in Congress’s New Year celebration.

and they have a solution for the GOP

Republicans who are looking for a new populist message have one waiting here, and they could start by repudiating the corporate welfare in this New Year disgrace.

and even better they can ask where the MSM were when this happened?

To Boost the British Economy I’d tax all foreigners living abroad

Monty Python’s Flying Circus The Spanish Inquisition 1970

Pirates are hanged

Lord Hornblower 1946

I have come to kill Indians and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians

Col. John M. Chivington

Via Glenn I see a very interesting and potentially dangerous precedent being made by US courts:

A few days before Christmas, the U.S. indicted three men at the Federal District courthouse in Brooklyn for plotting suicide bomb attacks.

This is an extraordinary, almost unique case: none of the people or conduct has any connection to the U.S.
Sounds good right, terrorists nailed before they could do suicide bombings read on…

The defendants are foreign nationals, captured by some African government ont their way to join up with al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist group.

Even better, I’ve gone on for years about the threat of Islamic Terror and its large body count. Stopping these murderous bastards is always a positive and saves lives, but here is where it gets complicated…

To be clear, there is no suggestion that they planned to target American nationals or facilities, or had even ever been to this country before.

Three thoughts go into my mind:

In terms of utility this would be a good thing. Terror and suicide bombing are an international problem as is terror by Islamists. Going after them would doubtless save many lives, not necessarily American lives but lives just the same and make it more complicated for terror groups to act.

In terms of  principle furthermore you could apply the old rules of Piracy, Pirates when captured on the high seas could be hanged on the spot and piracy is still recognized as an “offense against the law of nations” surely Terrorism and suicide bombing can be as well

It’s in terms of practice is where we run into problems. First of all, there is the US Constitution (emphasis mine)

The Art I. authority for prosecuting conduct under universal jurisdiction is the “Define and Punish” clause. Yet the clause limits universal jurisdiction to crimes, like piracy, that are i) “offenses against the law of nations,” and ii) treated as universally cognizable by the law of nations. Congress cannot “define” something as a universal offense when the law of nations has not done so – not because of any superiority or comity of international law, but because that is the limit place by the Define and Punish Clause.

It would seem to me odd that suicide bombing and terrorism is not defined as “offenses against the law of nations” but if that is in fact the case, this simply can’t be done because the constitution explicitly limited the power of congress to do this (and that matters because they are being prosecuted under US law).

If we move to get terror and these groups listed as “offenders against the law of nations” internationally then we are in play, or better yet if we can get terrorism defined as a form of Piracy, already recognized as the same that would work, but until then it’s pretty dodgy allowing the government to redefine “offenses against the law of nations”.  I don’t trust congress or the president to unilaterally redefine this kind of thing and neither should any of you.

And if congress can’t be trust consider who defines these things internationally these days:

the problem of course is how such a law is enforced and how “terrorist” is defined. I suspect if the UN gets its hands on it suddenly Israel will be on the list of “terror” nations giving a false sense of legitimacy to the murder of Jews everywhere.

Remember this is the same international community ready to consider Israel a bunch of criminals for firing back when rockets are launched against civilians while willing to turn a blind eye to those who shoot them.

Or worse yet, what if this same international community defines offending religion (read Islam) is an “offense against the law of nations”. Suddenly US citizens abroad could be picked up for any of these offenses and tried under international law using the same type of Universal jurisdiction being applied here.  Or perhaps private ownership of firearms can also be so defined.  There are already international moves in that direction and if you don’t think that can happen here, look at the reaction in the US since Sandy Hook?

As a practical matter stopping these guys is a good thing, but we had better be careful,  VERY careful when it comes to embracing  this kind of thing.