Ross Mackenzie

Congress has reopened, and aren't you and you and YOU oh so glad?

More debate about Medicare prescription drug coverage awaits, oh groan. And here come post-Columbia hearings on whether the United States should continue with manned space flight. (Drawing back from manned exploration of the solar system and beyond ranks high among the worst things the nation could do.)

Prepare, too, for endless talk about energy independence (will Senate lefties at last relent and sanction oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?). And about judicial nominations (will Senate lefties at last relent on them, too?). And about the budget (none of the 13 spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 has been approved). And about allocating $100 million for AmeriCorps (why not go to compulsory universal service for every American 18 to 23?).

Oh, and the distinguished congresspersons likely will (a) approximately double spending for special operations (good), while (b) restricting use of Spec-Ops forces without a presidential order giving Congress information about what's up. The latter point means word well could leak out to the public and the very country where Spec-Ops forces are deployed, which is not so good.

Nor will Iraq likely escape congressional prattling. Guerrilla-warfare deaths to Americans now surpass the number of American deaths during formal hostilities earlier this year. Terrorists from all over the Middle East are flooding into Iraq for the opportunity to use Americans for target practice. The UN and many traditional U.S. allies are hanging back with helping out in Iraq - with one official at the ever-intrepid UN citing a "level of discomfort with charging ahead." Persisting American deaths there could do as much to undermine President Bush's re-election as a plunging economy.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, captured by the Iraqis and rescued by Spec-Ops forces, now has an honorable discharge from the Army, a $1-million book deal, a ghost of note to write it (departed New York Times Pulitzer reporter Rick Bragg), and a fiance. Not bad ancillaries for a patriotic gal who sought simply to serve her country.

Palestinian extremists and Boss Yasser have shot holes in the Road Map to Mideast Peace. The "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas is gone. Israel has declared it will isolate, even exile, the dread Yasser and will continue with taking out the terrorists. Oh, and they will continue with building the Fence. And who can blame them - given the war the Palestinian terrorists are waging against the Israeli people?

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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