- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

Osama's failure
As hard as it is to comprehend, the horrific terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 could have dealt an even more serious blow against the United States, devastating far more American families than those now suffering, as reflected in this comparison forwarded by an Inside the Beltway reader:
The World Trade Center The twin towers of the World Trade Center were places of employment for some 50,000 people. With 5,000 people listed as missing, almost 90 percent survived the attack.
The Pentagon Some 23,000 people were the target of the third plane aimed at the Pentagon. The latest count shows that only 123 lost their lives. On top of that, the section that was hit was the first of five sections to undergo renovations that would help protect the Pentagon from terrorist attacks. It had recently completed straightening and blastproofing, saving untold lives.
American Airlines Flight 77 The Boeing 757 that was flown into the outside of the Pentagon could have carried up to 289 persons, yet only 64 were aboard. Luckily, 78 percent of the seats were empty.
American Airlines Flight 11 This Boeing 767 could have had up to 351 persons aboard, but only carried 92. Thankfully, 74 percent of the seats were unfilled.
United Airlines Flight 175 Another Boeing 767 that could have sat 351 persons only had 65 persons on board. Fortunately, it was 81 percent empty.
United Airlines Flight 93 This Boeing 757 was one of the most uplifting stories yet. The smallest flight to be hijacked, with only 45 persons aboard out of a possible 289, had 84 percent of its capacity unused. Yet these people stood up to the attackers and thwarted a fourth attempted destruction of a national landmark, saving untold numbers of lives in the process.
In other words, out of potentially 74,280 Americans directly targeted by the inept cowards, 93 percent survived or avoided the attacks. Unfortunately for the cowards as yesterday's massive launch of cruise missiles against terrorist targets inside Afghanistan demonstrates the 7 percent that didn't survive will not be forgotten.

Feuding dinosaurs
Don't look now in the midst of our national crisis, but more Americans these days are describing themselves as independents rather than Democrats or Republicans.
The two-party American political system is in crisis, a reality that, for the time being, has been eclipsed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to two Washington political observers. Still, the current mood of bipartisanship and national unity doesn't diminish the inescapable reality that major political change is on the horizon.
Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, both with the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, write in a new Doubleday book to be published today, "The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics," that in the wake of the closest presidential election in U.S. history, the majority of Americans now call themselves independents.
The authors contend both Democrat and Republican establishments have been captured by their "extreme fringes" and thus are incapable of promoting majority views on a wide range of issues. In particular, say the authors, both parties lack a national program to address vital economic, demographic and technical realities of America in the new digital information age.
With liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike still "wedded" to the ideas and institutions of the last century, the authors say "our nation's politics are dominated by two feuding dinosaurs that have outlived the world in which they evolved."

Unfinished business
Four senators in particular can help reduce the current threat to national security by agreeing to depend less on foreign oil.
So Charles W. Jarvis, chairman and CEO of United Seniors Association, tells us, expressing grave concern over America's reliance on foreign oil.
"The facts are quite alarming," says Mr. Jarvis. "America cannot afford to be held hostage by foreign dictators who are enemies of freedom."
That said, Mr. Jarvis' group is initiating a multistate media campaign designed to reach key Senate leaders whose influence is vital to the passage of energy legislation pending in Congress.
The campaign includes several thousand radio advertisements placed on more than 100 radio stations in the states of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota; Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat; Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat; and Sen. Gordon Smith, Oregon Republican.
The ads call for the senators to support comprehensive energy legislation which, barring more serious business in Congress related to the current military effort, will be debated in coming weeks. The H.R. 4 energy bill includes President Bush's proposal to expand U.S. oil production by drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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