The Senate will vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) early next week. The bill sailed through committee without a hearing this week. Getting suspicious yet? You should: sections 1031 and 1032 would allow the President to detain American citizens in military custody if the President suspects them of collaborating with terrorists. Section 1032 (b)(1) states that "(t)he requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States," but that doesn't mean American citizens are exempt from being detained -- it means the Executive doesn't have to detain them, which also means the Executive can detain them. Would you like to be detained, indefinitely and without access to lawyers or trials, on suspicion of collaboration with terrorists? Of course not, but if you're an American citizen, it could happen to you. I can't help but wonder if it already happens to some folks currently occupying major cities. In any case, I think Sections 1031 and 1032 warrant a phone call to your Senator. They'll never see it coming.
Meanwhile, the Senate will pointedly not be voting on extending federal unemployment benefits any time soon. These benefits expire December 31, and if our government doesn't extend them, two million Americans will get cut off in January, and four million more will get cut off before 2012 ends. One more time: it's not a welfare handout. You have to look for a job to keep your benefits. And nobody's getting rich off their benefits, either. I wouldn't harp on this matter so much, but corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars and not hiring anybody. I guess they'd tell you that the economy's so unstable that they just don't want to take the chance. To which I respond: what weaklings! I thought our Captains of Industry were the greatest, most daring people in the world! The TV says so all the time! Well, they might want to consider that if they actually earned their reputation as risk-takers, they might help the economy recover. Until they find their courage, Moms Rising helps you tell Congress to extend federal unemployment benefits already.
Finally, just in time for whatever size orgy of consumption we can reasonably support this holiday season, USPIRG once again provides toy safety tips. USPIRG lists the common hazards (small parts, big magnets, long cords, watch batteries) found in toys, and also helps you report dangerous toys to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). USPIRG even helps you get toy safety tips while you're shopping -- the toysafety.mobl site lists unsafe and recalled toys, with as much detail as you can stand on your cell phone. I can already hear the right-wing oldheads saying we were tough, we never worried about this stuff in the old days. Of course, they got tired of their oldheads telling them the same thing. But toys weren't as complicated in the '50s and '60s, and the more complicated things get, the more you have to stay on top of them. Our government helps us keep on top of them, and we'll need to fight to keep it that way.