Ross Mackenzie

FURTHER, I want to wish you a merry Christmas....

--For your similarly late-hour effort to ram through an omnibus "lands bill," wherein you rolled about 100 alleged environmental measures into a single package that, if successful, would have constituted one of the most gargantuan, most intrusive federal grabs of private land and private property in the nation's history.

--For the Senate's dismal ratification of the New Start arms-control treaty with Russia. You and the president permitted little deliberation and no amendments so as not to offend the Russians -- the same argument (giving them no offense) proffered for passing the treaty now. New Start is a treaty with a country vastly diminished on the world stage. At the same time, it's a treaty that may hamper our ability to modernize our nuclear inventory and defend ourselves against missile attacks by renegade nuclearized countries such as North Korea, Myanmar, possibly Pakistan, possibly Venezuela, and Iran. And finally,

--For your repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, thus inviting openly practicing homosexuals to serve in the military. Never mind the poll showing across the military a seeming ambivalence (except in the combat forces). Never mind the similar blandishments by most of the military's top brass (except in the Marines). There can be little denying that the injection of romance and sexual tension into combat circumstances cannot possibly enhance readiness and combat performance. Period.

In your lame-duck session, wherein you implied strongly for making it history's last, you should have extended the Bush tax cuts, passed a continuing spending resolution to prevent government shut-down -- and gone home. Instead, facing considerable diminution of the congressional left come January, the 111th Congress provided ample evidence as to why popular approval of Congress has descended from a recent high of 84 percent (in 2002) to a lowest-ever 13 percent.

As lame-duckers, you did your utmost to make long-term legislative mischief and, perhaps irremediably, to undermine our national security. For all that, I want to wish you a merry Christmas -- from the bottom of my heart.

Pulling the plug, so you can fast circle the drain and disappear, has taken far too long.

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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