– Commander-In-Chief Caption Contest(s) (ZeroHedge, Sep 2, 2013):
It’s a holiday, so today we have two for the price of one… well zero.
First, courtesy of Bloomberg:
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, talks on the phone with Speaker of the House John Boehner as Vice President Joe Biden listens, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. on August 31, 2013.
And the second, fresh from the Mail:
– Kerry’s cosy dinner with Syria’s ‘Hitler’: Secretary of State and the man he likened to German dictator are pictured dining with their wives at Damascus restaurant before civil war broke out (Daily Mail Sep 2, 2013):
Kerry pictured around a small table with his wife and the Assads in 2009 Assad and Kerry lean in towards each other, deep in conversation Picture taken in February 2009 when Kerry led a delegation to Syria Kerry yesterday compared Assad to Adolf Hitler and Saddam HusseinAn astonishing photograph of John Kerry having a cozy and intimate dinner with Bashar al-Assad has emerged at the moment the U.S Secretary of State is making the case to bomb the Syrian dictator’s country and remove him from power.
Kerry, who compared Assad to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein yesterday, is pictured around a small table with his wife Teresa Heinz and the Assads in 2009.
Assad and Kerry, then a Massachusetts senator, lean in towards each other and appear deep in conversation as their spouses look on.
A waiter is pictured at their side with a tray of green drinks, believed to be lemon and crushed mint.
The picture was likely taken in February 2009 in the Naranj restaurant in Damascus, when Kerry led a delegation to Syria to discuss finding a way forward for peace in the region.
While President Barack Obama has softened his military threat against Syria by putting the question to Congress and guaranteeing at least a week’s delay, Kerry remains outspoken about the dangers posed by the Syrian regime.
He said that Assad ‘has now joined the list of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein’ in deploying chemical weapons against his own people.Kerry said Sunday that the U.S. now has evidence that sarin nerve gas was used in Syria and that ‘the case gets stronger by the day’ for a military attack.
During a passionate speech in Washington last Friday, he called Assad a ‘thug and murderer,’ and urged the world to act. ‘History would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator,’ Kerry insisted.
And today in a call to 120 Democratic congressmen Kerry called Assad a ‘two-bit dictator’.
The Obama administration has placed the Syrian chemical weapons death toll on the outskirts of Damascus at 1,429 people – far more than previous estimates – including more than 400 children.
Kerry has said he is confident that Congress will give Obama its backing for an attack against Syria, but the former Massachusetts senator also said the president has authority to act on his own if Congress doesn’t give its approval.While Kerry stopped short of saying Obama was committed to such a course even if lawmakers refuse to authorize force, he did say that ‘we are not going to lose this vote.’
Congress is scheduled to return from a summer break on September 9. House Speaker John Boehner has said a vote will likely take place that week.
Senator John McCain said on Sunday that Assad will be ‘euphoric’ about Obama’s decision to wait for Congress before scrambling his bombers.
And after a meeting with Obama at the White House today the senator said it would be ‘catastrophic’ if the vote was lost on the House of Representatives floor.
The French parliament could act sooner. A debate is scheduled Wednesday on taking action on Syria, as President François Hollande has come under increasing pressure to seek legislative approval for joining the U.S. in any attack.
On Saturday evening, centrist UDI party leader Jean-Louis Borloo insisted that ‘like the U.S. president, who decided to consult the U.S. Congress in the name of democratic principles, the French president must organize, after the debate, a formal vote in parliament.’
What was once considered a certain three-pronged attack on Syria from the U.S., France and the UK was reduced to a bilateral affair on Thursday, as Britain’s parliament shot down Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for involvement in a strike against Assad.
A day later, Kerry began flattering France as America’s ‘oldest ally,’ in hopes of ensuring that Paris didn’t follow London’s lead.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault now says he will share top-secret intelligence with his nation’s parliament on Wednesday.
‘We are going to give the MPs everything we have – classified until now – to enable every one of them to take on board the reality of this unacceptable attack,’ he said Monday.
Elisabeth Guigou, president of the foreign affairs committee in France’s National Assembly, said Monday that – told France info: Ayrault planned to show MPs ‘evidence the attack took place and that it could only have been the regime who were behind it.’
On Sunday a government source told the French news agency Agence France-Presse that the French will soon make public a trove of documents over the years, showing Syria stockpiling chemical weapons.
One of the loudest critics of the administration’s handling of Syria, McCain criticised Obama in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Referring to Obama’s famous statement that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a red line, McCain said: ‘He didn’t say, “It’s a red line – and by the way I’m going to have to seek the approval of Congress.” He said it was a red line, and that the United States of America would act.’
‘That’s a big difference,’ McCain insisted. ‘And that’s one of the reasons why this is so problematic.’
The Arizona Republican, whom Obama defeated for the presidency in 2008, said the president asked him to come to the White House on Monday, specifically to discuss Syria.
Democrats, too, are expressing frustration at Obama’s failure to act decisively after his ‘red line’ speech.Charles Rangel, who represents the Harlem section of New York City, said Monday said ‘of course it’s embarrassing’ that the president didn’t act immediately after chemical weapons use was discovered.
Rangel opposes a Syrian military strike but said Obama’s delay on Saturday was also a major embarrassment to Kerry – who had demanded strong action a day earlier.
It’s ‘unheard of,’ Rangel said on MSNBC, that a president would allow the world to see him issuing an empty threat.
‘So of course it’s embarrassing, I wish it didn’t happen, ‘ he said. ‘
‘I guess Secretary Kerry is even more embarrassed than me after making his emotional speech that this was urgent.’
Obama is hoping Congress’s most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation already deeply scarred by more than a decade of war in the Middle East.Having announced over the weekend that he will seek congressional approval for military strikes against the Assad regime, the Obama administration is now trying to rally support among Americans and their elected representatives.
Obama’s meeting with McCain is meant to quell fears that Obama isn’t doing enough to punish Assad’s government for the presumed sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs last month.
But some Republican and Democratic lawmakers don’t want to see military action at all.
Obama’s turnabout on Syria sets the stage for the biggest foreign policy vote in Congress since the Iraq war.
On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. received new physical evidence in the form of blood and hair samples that shows sarin gas was used in the August 21 attack.
‘We know that the regime ordered this attack,’ he said. ‘We know they prepared for it. We know where the rockets came from. We know where they landed. We know the damage that was done afterwards.’
Kerry’s assertion coincided with the beginning of a forceful administration appeal for congressional support.On Capitol Hill, senior administration officials briefed lawmakers in private to explain why the U.S. must act.
Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough also made calls to individual lawmakers.
Classified meetings have been planned for this week. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans a to hear from Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday.