“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Like Hagel, who voted for the Iraq War, a majority of Americans have come to believe that 8-year war was a mistake. Even some neocons have expressed second thoughts.


By: Patrick J. Buchanan
1/11/2013 01:09 AM Human Events

Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking … on most issues regarding foreign policy,” says GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. Neocon William Kristol concurs: Hagel is “out on the fringes.”
But where, exactly, is the mainstream on foreign policy in 2013?
Since the Bush II years, “the three amigos” — Sens. Graham, John McCain and Joe Lieberman — have clamored for new wars.
“We are all Georgians now!” thundered McCain when Vladimir Putin was thrashing the Georgians for attacking South Ossetia.
“Bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran,” trilled McCain in 2008 in parody of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.”
Ten days ago, McCain, Graham and Lieberman urged the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, provide weapons to the rebels and send Patriot missile batteries to protect northern Syria. And what has been the response to their calls for air strikes and new wars? The sound of silence.
George W. Bush ignored McCain on Georgia, and in 2008 McCain was crushed by a dovish Democrat who had opposed the Iraq War.
Like Hagel, who voted for the Iraq War, a majority of Americans have come to believe that 8-year war was a mistake. Even some neocons have expressed second thoughts.
Obama pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq and is pulling them out of Afghanistan, and he won easy re-election over the more hawkish Mitt Romney. And has anyone heard any echo of the amigos’ call to plunge into Syria’s civil war, outside the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and the little magazines of the neocons?
Let’s do our nation-building here at home, Obama said in the debates.
Any doubt this idea had been poll-tested as a winner?
How many Americans today are saying that what we did in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan was worth doing and should serve as America’s model for dealing with Syria and Iran?
From 2001 to 2005, McCain, Graham and Lieberman were in the mainstream. Those were the days of bipartisan votes for war, of “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” of our goal being “to end tyranny in our world.” Those were the days of the democracy crusade of George W. Bush.
But that was yesterday. The crusade is over. Americans want the crusaders home.
This is not an argument for mindlessly seeking out and parroting mainstream thought. If the amigos believe that intervening in Syria and war with Iran are essential to the national security, they should continue to say so.
Nothing wrong with being out of step with majority opinion, if that is where one believes that truth and wisdom lie.
But the amigos and neocons deceive themselves if they think that in their hostility to Hagel’s views they occupy the mainstream.
Set aside the nonsense about homophobia and anti-Semitism. What, at bottom, are Hagel’s views? Where does he part company with much of the Senate GOP? What are the substantive disagreements?
First, Hagel believes in direct communication with our enemies, be it Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran or Cuba. Second, he believes war is a last resort to be undertaken only after all diplomacy has failed, and war should not be undertaken unless vital interests are imperiled.
Third, he believes a Pentagon budget as large as all the defense budgets of the other 190 nations combined is bloated and too big to carry when, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said, the deficit and debt are the greatest strategic threats to the United States.
On communicating with enemies, was Richard Nixon, who rescued Israel in the Yom Kippur War, wrong to go to Egypt and Syria, and meet with Anwar Sadat and Hafez Assad, who had launched the war?
Was Yitzhak Rabin wrong to negotiate with Yasser Arafat, his enemy, to achieve the Oslo Accords? Was Bibi Netanyahu wrong to give Hebron to Arafat or deal with Hamas for the return of Pvt. Gilad Shalit, in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners?
Was it not absurd that, to get a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, both parties had to go to Hosni Mubarak, because the world’s superpower does not allow itself to talk to Hamas?
If we are going to cut a deal with Iran where it retains the right to peaceful nuclear power, but we get solid guarantees of no bomb, how do we do that without sending representatives to negotiate the deal with Iran?
Is a nation that kept an embassy in the Third Reich eight years, whose presidents sat down with Stalin and Mao, now fearful of being contaminated by having to sit across a table from Raoul Castro?
Hagel speaks for the realist school of foreign policy, and he can speak for the nation. For he reflects the views of a president who just won another decisive vote of confidence from that nation.
Sorry, Sen. Graham, you are no longer in the mainstream.
That river changed course, half a decade ago


  1. If we are going to cut a deal with Iran where it retains the right to peaceful nuclear power, but we get solid guarantees of no bomb, how do we do that without sending representatives to negotiate the deal with Iran?

    Last time we had representatives in Iran they ended up in leg chains for nearly a year, til Reagan popped 'em out by threatening to blow the whole place up.

    But, al-Hag the Unreal will get it done, by wishful thought, ending the sanctions, and an islamic prayer.

    You betcha.

  2. Powell, who is black, said it was incredulous that Republican leaders would brook the extremists who question Obama’s place of birth, and he said some prominent Republicans had made remarks that he considered to be borderline racist.

    He said there was a ‘‘dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party’’ that must be addressed.

    ''You've got to think first about what’s the party actually going to represent,’’ Powell said. ‘‘If it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty.’’

  3. Letting Powell, Brennan, and the rest of the nation builders Trash the General Garner/Rumsfeld in and out plan was W's biggest mistake.
    That and not following 41's footsteps in financing the War.
    ...but the Wuss continued to fold throughout the 8 years, followed by 4 even more disasterous years by BHO.

    Public Opinion has mainly been changed by failure stacked upon failure, selling out to Islamists at home and abroad, and etc.

  4. Watched the Seahawks live down here.

    I feel like somebody has ripped my heart out of my chest.

    1. The Niners woulda killed them anyway, Sam, so don't take it too hard.

      Damn fires are more than enough to worry about.

  5. Deuce, I do not think Doug should be allowed to post on this site.

    1. Every time you attract a serious contributor Doug comes in and vomits all over her. You leave his posts up, and he will do it again.

    2. I appologized for my treatment of Max, admitting my mistake.

      I posted nothing personal in the previous thread, but hey, you know more about being thrown out of blogs than I, so you could be right.

    3. I was quoting a years old news item, nowhere connecting it to "DRR" or anyone else in a personal fashion.

      You knew "DRR" is female.

      I didn't, but now I do, and am learning the (unstated) rules here, like a good boy should.

    4. Nothing personal? You made a "personal" reference to my relationship to my ex-wife (something I've never discussed on this, or any, blog.

    5. Sorry, was sposed to be funny, but I will take your assertion of hurt feelings into consideration.

      Please DON'T use that to LIE about me supposedly personally attacking "DRR"


    6. You made a "personal" reference to my relationship to my ex-wife (something I've never discussed on this, or any, blog.

      How is it then that I know she booted your worthless ass out and threw your clothes in the yard?


      Deuce, I do not think Doug should be allowed to post on this site.


      You know what I could say about Rufus soap mouth n' flappin' gums, but won't. It's really funny though.

      I do wish you'd ask him to stop with the soliciting of unwanted sex, though. He even wanted Ash in a parking lot.


    7. You gotta admit tho, he's adorable when he seethes.

      So steamy.

  6. DRR Sun Jan 13, 11:09:00 AM EST...

    Interesting that that "new study" from the "highly respected" NBER (IIRC) blaming the CRA legislation from 1977 for the mortgage meltdown leading to the 2008 crisis came out one week or so before Taibbi's piece. Think about that POV as you read Taibbi's analysis.


    DRR Sun Jan 13, 12:38:00 PM EST...

    It might not be palatable, or accurate, to call TARP a "success", but it was repaid.

    The problem? What are you going to do? Write a Strongly Worded Letter?

    When at least half if not all the Republican Party believes we should string up Jimmy Carter for CRA.


    Janet Reno prosecuted banks under the CRA, forcing them to make loans to folks they knew could not repay.

    Hijinks ensued.

    Then W and Obama bailed out banks rather than taxpayers,
    ensuring a Japanese Outcome by following Japanese policies.


    But hey, I can learn:

    DRRSun Jan 13, 12:11:00 PM EST

    What a fucking mess.


    "Stinky C word" not OK

    Got it.

  7. Doug, I was gone, and didn't see what you wrote. BUT, I saw what you wrote before, and I know Deuce wouldn't have taken it down, and Doris wouldn't have pulled up unless it was more of the same.

    You have a serious problem, but there's no need for it to be our serious problem. This is twice that you've done this, and I have had about all I can stand, also.

    1. I finished the rest of the article and pasted it, asshole.

      If Deuce wants to take it down, it's his blog, and I am fine with that.

      I am not fine with your unfactual BS, and desire to silence one of YOUR critics.

    2. You came back with the same old, hat in hand comments before, after posting the most vile filth toward a female commenter.

      I'm asking Deuce, again, to begin taking down your comments. They add nothing, and cost a lot.

    3. I have plenty of serious problems.
      Have to remember not to include you in that list, Mr. Holier than thou "atheist"

    4. You're not a "critic," Doug. You are in no way capable of being a "critic." You're just a vile, disgusting asshole.

      And, you won't quit until you destroy this blog.

    5. Ignore the facts if you must:

      My first personal comments to DRR are those above IN THIS THREAD.
      Factual, not vile.

      The previous thread simply had pasted items Deuce judged to be beneath the standards here.

      NONE of them were directed toward "DRR" as I explained above.
      Ignore the facts if you must, you certainly are well-practiced at it.

    6. I'm going to stop, now, and leave it up to Deuce.

      But, if it was up to me (which, of course, it's not; I don't pay the rent here,) I'd take you down for the good of the list.

    7. Well whoop de fucking do for you.

      Glad you SAY you are going to stop.
      Hope you mean it.

      (unlike that time w/Max when you said you would not re-quote what Deuce had taken down, and the did just that, a few comments later.)

    8. You have a serious problem, but there's no need for it to be our serious problem. This is twice that you've done this, and I have had about all I can stand, also.

      Hey Doug, Rufus soap mouth an' clean flappin' gums says "You're just a vile, disgusting asshole."

      I agree with you, Doug. What Ruf The Sordid Sex Solicitor really wants is the exit of one of his best critics. That's all.

    9. He could have called you 'uncouth', or your language unfit for polite society, our word censor Rufus, but instead says, "You're just a vile, disgusting ..........".


    10. I'm going to stop, now, and leave it up to Deuce. (big of you Ruf)

      But, if it was up to me (which, of course, it's not; I don't pay the rent here,) I'd take you down for the good of the list.

      I'd take you down for the good of the list

      Thus confirming our Sordid Sex Solicitor's commitment to the First Amendment.

      Like Trish might say, you can't make this stuff up.

  8. The U.S. Government’s Failed History of Muslim Outreach Since 9/11

    When President Obama hosted his annual iftar dinner in August to commemorate Ramadan, the list of invitees published by the White House was curiously missing the names of several attendees — all of whom are top leaders of organizations known to be purveyors of jihadist ideology.

    But it was not like they had crashed the party. One of the unlisted, Mohamed Magid, head of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Society of North America, was photographed by Reuters sitting at the front table only a few feet from the president as he spoke.

    This was just the most recent episode in the federal government’s disastrous attempts at outreach to the Muslim community since the 9/11 attacks. With the release of President Obama’s new strategic plan to combat “violent extremism” by expanding outreach to these same terror-tied groups, the present administration seems intent on compounding the problems wrought by its predecessors.

    Misguided outreach activities began long before 9/11, with the best example being the case of Abdurahman Alamoudi.

    It is too terrible to contemplate how many more lives may eventually be sacrificed before our elected officials decide to reverse course.

    ...As we now know, Alamoudi was indicted in October 2003 for moving money on behalf of Libyan intelligence in an assassination plot targeting Saudi Prince (now King) Abdullah. The U.S. government has admitted that at the time he was being courted by Democrats and Republicans alike, he was a major fundraiser for al-Qaeda.

    However, it is not as if the U.S. government was unaware of Alamoudi’s attachments. As far back as 1993, an informant told the FBI that Alamoudi was funneling regular payments from Osama bin Laden to Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheikh” who was convicted of authorizing terror attacks against New York landmarks. In March 1996, Alamoudi’s association with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook was exposed in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Two years later, the State Department came under fire by the New York Post for inviting Alamoudi to official events despite his known remarks in support of terrorism and terrorist leaders.

    When President Bush took office, Alamoudi was quickly courted by the new administration. In June 2001, the Jerusalem Post reported that Alamoudi was going to be part of a White House meeting with Vice President Cheney despite the fact that Alamoudi was known to have attended a terror confab in Beirut earlier that year featuring representatives from virtually every major Islamic terrorist organization in the world, including al-Qaeda.

    Yet just days after the 9/11 attacks, Alamoudi was one of the Muslim leaders asked to appear with President Bush at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. That same week, one of Alamoudi’s close associates, Muzammil Siddiqi, was asked to deliver an Islamic prayer and to represent the entire Muslim-American community at the national prayer service mourning the fallen.

    The inclusion of Alamoudi and Siddiqi at the post-9/11 events was highly criticized, especially because Alamoudi had been videotaped in October 2000, as noted by the Los Angeles Times, expressing his support for Hamas and Hezbollah at a rally held just steps from the White House. At that same demonstration, Siddiqi accused the U.S. of responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians and warned that “the wrath of God will come.” One former Secret Service agent told Fox News that “the intelligence community has known for some time the association of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Mr. Alamoudi and their association with terrorist organizations.”

    The decision to continue doing business with Alamoudi and others like him was just one of many blunders made by the U.S. government in its eagerness to conduct Muslim outreach in the wake of 9/11...

    1. Meanwhile, responsible, intelligent Muslims like Dr. Zudhi Jasser are ignored.

    2. "The inclusion of Alamoudi and Siddiqi at the post-9/11 events was highly criticized, especially because Alamoudi had been videotaped in October 2000, as noted by the Los Angeles Times,"


      NOT highly criticised:

      The LA Times STILL is keeping secret a video they possess incriminating BHO conspiring with known terrorists.

    3. NOT highly criticised:

      The LA Times STILL is keeping secret a video they possess incriminating BHO conspiring with known terrorists.

      Absolutely true. They 'have the goods' on Barky, but certainly are not going to give those goods up. Unless they, of course, are threatened sometime in the future with 'the Barky bus treatment'.

  9. Well, anyways, the post is about Hagel. So I'll put this up. Not that I agree with all of it.

    This from Hitler is something we all ought to be reminded of from time to time, however, just to show how bad things were, and can get.....

    "Our strength is our quickness and our brutality. Genghis Khan had millions of women and children hunted down and killed, deliberately and with a gay heart. History sees in him only the great founder of States. What the weak Western European civilization alleges about me, does not matter. I have given the order-and will have everyone shot who utters but one word of criticism-that the aim of this war does not consist in reaching certain geographical lines, but in the enemies' physical elimination. Thus, for the time being only in the east, I put ready my Death's Head units, with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language. Only thus will we gain the living space that we need. Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?"

    January 13, 2013
    Hagel echoes Hitler on the Armenian genocide
    Peggy Shapiro

    If it's not Hagel, it will just be someone else willing to do Barky's bidding.

    Leon Panetta at least made clear there was a point beyond which he would not go in the weakening of the United States.

    It doesn't do my blood pressure any good to get in a continual stew about Barky's appointments. I'm just a witness, after all.

    1. .

      According to Godwin's Rule you lose once again.



  10. You two are funny. Doug especially.

    Patrick is correct, Hgel and Obama Are mainstream America.

    The US IS NOT at war with Islam, nor with the Muslim Brotheerhood,nor the Wahabbi,not even the Shiites.

    Proof is every wheere to be seen. GWB Saudi two step, the Ramadan breakfasts, arming the Saudis and paying the Pakistani.

    Dog counts the number of Muslims. Visitin the White House, but notCatholics, Jewws or Athiests.

    Islam is not the Enemy.

    That is bipartisan US poliicy.
    Learn it, Live it, Love it

    1. Our Pols are not at war w/Islam, but Islam is at war with us.
      ...or was W behind those airliners?

    2. The GOVERNMENT of America is not at war with Islam.

      That that doesnt mean America....

    3. America is not a country, anon.
      It is a hemisphere.
      Two continents, North and South.

      49 of the aproximately 165 States in North Americ make up the United. States of America.

      There being more American States out of the Union than in it.

    4. He's got you there, Anon.

      Best use the term of art, The United States of America in future.

  11. "Alamoudi was the conduit through which much of the U.S. government’s outreach was pursued following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

    Not only was he asked by the Clinton administration to help train and certify all Muslim military chaplains, his organization being the first to do so, but he also was appointed by the State Department in 1997 as a goodwill ambassador to the Middle East, making six taxpayer-funded trips. It is fair to say that during this period, Alamoudi was the most prominent and politically connected Muslim leader in America.

  12. Look at who we installed in Iraq.

    Iran's proxies.

    That was the Republican policy choice.

  13. it was the Sauds and Pakistani that were behind the 11SEP01 hijackings and subseqjuent events of that day. Providing finance and security.

    Who did the $10 billion dollar two step with them?

  14. I'm for Joe Biden as Secretary of Defense. His geo-political talents are being wasted as Vice-President.

    He suggested dividing Iraq into three parts. And this made some sense to me.

    The nation needs to really get something out of its great men.

    1. Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.

  15. That one building, and maybe the Twin Towers themselves, were brought down by explosives.

    I've seen the videos.

  16. The greatest nuclear proliferator in the world, Pakistan, the US donated $10 bilion too, publicly.

    Come to terms with realikty.

    Yo've been played.

  17. I've also seen videos of Iranians chanting 'Death to America' and videos of the Iranian leadership calling us 'The Great Satan'. Unbelievably I've read their words about the world 'without the United States'.

    Therefore I know Islam is not the Enemy.

  18. Our real enemies are the perfidious Jews. Look at how they control Congress. Look at how they control the Idaho congressional delegation.

  19. Look at how Israel sucks money out of the United States each year, not a shekel returning. The Egyptians, the Palestinians don't do that.

    Look at how the Jews control the banks of the world.

  20. Look at how the 'Jewish influence' has permeated our culture over all these years. Look at how the Judeo/Christian influence ended slavery among us, even among the Cherokee.

    I bet that queer Lincoln has a skull cap under his bed.

    1. Had, of course, a skull cap, until he was gunned down by a patriot.

  21. Lincoln read the Bible, you know. Every single day, did you know that? That proves it, we lost our singular achievement of southern slavery because of the Jews.

  22. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I see.....Australia
      No, American in Australia American from the northwest of America in Australia
      You had an uncle in Spokane, no?.....
      I see.....a whorehouse
      A grandfather on the Spokane River...
      I does stocks, no?
      I see....kayak
      I see.....great future for you!

      $200 bucks, please, you use Visa or Mastercard?....


  23. Chinese Gasping To Death On Own Air -

    January 13, 2013
    Beijing air quality worst ever recorded
    Rick Moran

  24. From the WWII archives: Japanese submarine in Ukiah

    Ukiah Daily Journal

    Click photo to enlarge
    Mendocino County residents wait in line on...
    (Photo courtesy of the Robert J. Lee Collection)

    In November, 1942, the HA-19 Japanese submarine that ran aground on Oahu during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was brought to Ukiah. Its commanding officer was the first World War II prisoner of war captured by the U.S.

    Nov. 13, 1942 ­ Dispatch-Democrat

    Complimentary view of sub permitted'

    Privilege given in recognition of bond sales

    Because of the excellent record in the sale of Stamps and Bonds made in this community under the leadership of Fred L. Creen, the Japanese submarine which was in this port Tuesday (Nov. 10) was viewed by the people free of charge. This community is the only one in the tour granted that privilege, forthcoming because Washington knows and appreciates the response in bond sales by the people of this area. It was a complimentary gesture in recognition.

    Arriving on schedule the submarine train was met at the city boundaries by the high school band under the direction of Robert Sharp. Following a brief description of the noted visitor the people were allowed to view the submarine. Fully 2000 people walked the platforms in the three-hour stay here and many were unable to remain in the line. The schools in the area were excused to view the submarine.

    High school students set up catwalk of submarine

    Ten students in the Ukiah high school auto mechanics class supervised by Jack Roberts set up the catwalks that permitted Ukiahans to view the interior of the ... submarine when it was here Tuesday. The young men went to work immediately the sub stopped at the north side of the court house and in a brief time had the catwalk ready. They also took it down when the sub got ready to leave. The boys also assisted the small children to see the interior of the ... underseas craft; they lifted each little girl and boy to the level of the windows.

    The ten were George Bold, Bill Clary, Clarence Grothe, James Harding, Bob Hair, Gilbert Mossi, Angelo Marcheschi, Cletis Phillips, Ted Sousa, Charles Turri and Al Ringstrom.

  25. 13 Horribly Depressing Real Estate Ads

    Dead on Arrival

    Some have called the housing market the “dead spot” in the U.S. economy -- but a seller in Raleigh, North Carolina, seems to have taken the concept literally.

    Among photos of a typical living room and one-and-a-half baths, is a photo of, yes, a stained outline of a dead body.

    Yet it seems that the scare tactic actually worked—the home sold at the end of June–albeit at just over half of its original listing price.


    Before the housing market crash, an acre in downtown Phoenix was selling for about $90 a square foot.
    Today, it sells for $9 a square foot.

    Empty dirt lots checker the area, where developers once dreamed of high-rise condos and office buildings, and many businesses have closed their doors.

    Residents hope building will happen again once the market recovers, but in the meantime neighborhood organizers push for temporary fixes to the eyesore, like planting sunflowers and projecting movies onto the side of existing buildings.

  26. Nice video. thanks for sharing this video

  27. Wretchard Wrote:

    "Today we are told that our biggest problems things like Global Warming, debt ceilings and assault rifles in America. Are they?"

    I responded:

    Let us not leave out the massive issue of Gay Marriage.
    A cause so powerful that a sitting President of the Greatest Nation on Earth (at present) experienced a fundamental transformation.

    Protesters in France: Gay marriage would hurt children

    PARIS - Several hundred thousand people converged at the Eiffel Tower in Paris Sunday to protest President Francois Hollande's bill to legalize same-sex marriage by June.

    Protesters waved pink and blue flags showing a father, mother and two children. Many had taken long train and bus rides from outside Paris.

    Hollande has pledged to push through a same-sex marriage law with his Socialist party’s parliamentary majority, but his opponents have dented public support and forced deputies to put off a plan to allow lesbian couples access to artificial insemination.

    Same-sex marriage is recognized in 11 countries including Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway and South Africa. In the U.S., it is legal in nine states and in Washington, D.C.

    Champ de Mars, the long park between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire, was packed Sunday, with organizers claiming 800,000 protesters, but police more conservatively estimating 340,000 – a large turnout even in France, where protests are a way of life.

    "Nobody expected this two or three months ago," said Frigide Barjot, a flamboyant comedian leading the demonstration. At the rally, she read aloud a letter to Hollande asking him to withdraw the bill and hold a public debate on the issue.

    Strongly supported by the Catholic Church, opponents of same-sex marriage have mobilized practicing Catholics, members of the extreme far-right Front National party, some Muslims, evangelicals and even a few openly gay people.

    They argue that same-sex marriage would cause psychological and social harm to children, which they believe should trump the desire for equal rights for gay adults.

  28. (Then there’s that damned issue of Demographics.
    Dark Times Ahead.)

  29. Note From a Wise Man

    A note appeared on a private message board. This private group includes many current and former generals, and just about anyone you see on television or in books as a national security specialist, ranging from CIA to all the top war correspondents, special operations types galore, and high-level policy makers. There is significant education value in just reading their traffic.

    A few days back, retired Marine and 3-star General Mick Trainor left this note. I asked LTG (ret.) Trainor for permission to publish on my website, and he agreed.

    Now for the show:

    It’s Who You Know That Counts
    By Mick Trainor

    The TSA agent walked down the line of Christmas travelers awaiting screening at Dulles airport. He ran a swab over the palm of randomly selected individuals. I was one of them. As I hoisted my luggage onto the surveillance conveyor another agent asked me to step aside while a third agent abruptly commandeered my travel suitcase.

    “Did you use hand cream this morning?”

    “Yes,” I replied, “Why do you ask?”

    “Because there is a trace of nitrate on your hands. That is not uncommon with some hand lotions. Nitrate is an element of explosives.”

    “OK,”.I thought. “I have soft hands, but not a bomb.” Notwithstanding such logic, I was informed that I would have to have a full body search. With that two agents escorted me to a private room while other agents began to tear apart my luggage.

    “Is this really necessary?” I enquired. “I’m an eighty four year old, native born American citizen who spent forty years in the Marines and fought in two wars and retired as a general.”

    “Oh, you were a Marine.” said one agent. “My father-in-law is a retired Marine colonel of about your vintage. His name is Webster. Did you know him?”

    “I knew a Charlie Webster, who went as ‘Chuck.’ We went through Quantico together as new lieutenants.”

    “That’s him.” replied my interrogator ….. as he proceeded with the full body search.