- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Fear of Americans
Everybody in Washington or so we hope is well aware that 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers of September 11 obtained visas to enter the United States in Saudi Arabia, where Uncle Sam still permits them to be distributed by travel agents or "drop boxes."
In fact, Saudi Arabians wishing to travel to the United States typically are not interviewed by the State Department.
On the other hand, Americans desiring to travel to Saudi Arabia won't find the going easy if they can go at all.
"Tourist visas are not available for travel to Saudi Arabia," says a written notice issued by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington.
As for those Americans applying for business visas (not to exceed 30 days), an "invitation" from the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia is required, the embassy notice adds.
And get a load of this: Work permits will not be issued to any American who doesn't first undergo an "AIDS test."
"U.S. test sometimes accepted," add the Saudis, who obviously prefer their own testing methods.

America's disconnect
The 2000 presidential election was the closest in 125 years in terms of electoral-vote difference. It was the second-closest election (behind 1960) in the percentage of vote difference between the two leading candidates.
Yet, a bare majority of the voting-age population just 50 percent cast ballots.
"Hardly an endorsement of the idea of electoral resurgence," concludes the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE) in Washington, which has uncovered a continuing and progressive generational decline in voting.
In fact, Americans ages 18-20 have reduced their rate of participation by more than 40 percent since they were given the franchise in 1972 in both presidential and midterm elections. And worse yet, as each succeeding generation moves up the age ladder, they are reducing the rates in the age cohorts above them. Consider these facts:
The rate of presidential-voting participation of Americans ages 18-24 has declined 40 percent since 1972, according to U.S. census data.
The rate of participation for ages 25-34 has declined 32 percent since 1964.
The decline for 35- to 44-year-olds is 23 percent since 1964.
The voting rate for 45- to 54-year-olds is down 16 percent since 1964.
There has been a 9 percent decline for 55- to 64-year-olds since 1964.
"Only those over 65 have actually increased their rate of participation," the committee finds, noting that the number of Americans above age 75 casting presidential ballots has jumped 21 percent (part of the reason is Americans are living longer).
What do these numbers spell for the future of America?
"This generational decline will not be reversed until some new generation gets different stimuli in the home, their schools and in the macrocosm of American politics," says the CSAE.
(Tomorrow: The low 2002 primary turnout and its relation to September 11).

Ring the bells
On this, the nation's 226th Independence Day, Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, is reminded of a letter that one of our Founding Fathers wrote to his wife the day he signed the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams wrote: "I am apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
Observes Mr. Hyde: "How true these words ring today, when we are under attack not only by terrorists who murder innocents, but also by some who want to erase the Almighty's handprint from the Pledge of Allegiance."
Still, the congressman has faith.
"These problems have only served to bring us all together," he says.

Some answers, please
Every day Americans are warned of another terrorist threat. The question is, how big of a threat really exists?
Next Thursday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey will try to get some answers. He's invited everybody but President Bush himself to testify before the Select Committee on Homeland Security about the "new threat" that American faces.
Invited to testify are Mr. Bush's most senior Cabinet secretaries: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Mr. Armey, Texas Republican, wants the president's men to focus on conditions in this country and the world that caused the president to recently propose a new Cabinet agency on homeland security.
"We must understand America's new place on the world stage before we bury ourselves in the fine points of the legislation" to create the agency, says the majority leader. "Why is a fundamental transformation of government necessary?"

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