Tangled Web Obama and Team Weaved

Editor’s Note – If you lie on your income tax returns, and the IRS catches you, guess what happens. You cannot just say oops, or plead the ‘fifth’, you have to fix it, likely pay a fine, and if bad enough, off to prison you go. ”

“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” – Walter Scott tangled-web

If an IRS employee pleads the ‘fifth’ in front of a Congressional hearing, then retires, is she likely to be prosecuted? If the President of the United States of America knowingly lies on national television, is it really a lie? Did he just misspeak about the IRS? If he repeats it over and over, what is it then, ObamaCare? If you like your liar, you can keep your liar?

Live Not by Lies

by Angelo M. Codevilla – LibertyLawSite.org

Being human, politicians lie. Even in the best regimes. The distinguishing feature of totalitarian regimes however, is that they are built on words that the rulers know to be false, and on somehow constraining the people to speak and act as if the lies were true. Thus the people hold up the regime by partnering in its lies. Thus, when we use language that is “politically correct” – when we speak words acceptable to the regime even if unfaithful to reality – or when we don’t call out politicians who lie to our faces, we take part in degrading America.

The case in point is Television personality Bill O’Reilly who, in his pre-Super Bowl interview with Barack Obama, suffered the President to tell him – and his audience of millions – that the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups had been a minor “bonehead” mistake in the Cincinnati office, because there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” in that agency. O’ Reilly knew but did not say that both he and the President know this to be a lie, that the key official in the affair, Lois Lerner, had made sure that the IRS’s decision on how to treat the Tea Party matter would be made in Washington by writing: that the matter was “very dangerous” and that “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

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O’ Reilly did not call out the lie. Nor did he just remain silent. Rather, he said of Obama that: “his heart is in the right place.”

I have written in this space: “Obama’s premeditated, repeated, nationally televised lies… are integral, indeed essential, to his presidency and to the workings of the US government.” They are neither innocent opinions nor mistakes. Rather, they grab for power by daring the listener to call them what they are. Failure to do so, never mind gratuitously granting them bona fides, is redefining our regime.

Nasty, brutish – and false – as was the Progressive assault on George W. Bush: e.g. “Bush lied, people died,” Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11,” etc., was very much part of a free society, in which people freely contest each other’ view of reality. Alas, the Progressive ruling class is instituting a regime in which no one may contest what it knows full well to be false without suffering consequences.

How, for example, is one to react to the White House’s explanation for the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that Obamacare will reduce the number of full-time workers in America by some 2.5 million over the next decade? CBO says the law will do this by “creating an implicit tax on additional earnings” – in other words in-kind bonus for unemployment. But the White House, echoed by the New York Times, says that this is a good thing because it will free people, young and old, to pursue careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage.

This is the sort of thing that one expects from the North Korean regime, explaining that the latest cut in food rations will free people from the tyranny of having to eat more than once a day, or as I heard on Cuban TV in 1969, that the government had cut the meat ration because its scientists had discovered that eating meat causes cancer. One can no more take such things as sincere expressions of mistaken opinions than anyone, Bill O’Reilly foremost, could legitimately take Obama’s statement that the IRS’ targeting of conservatives was a “bonehead mistake” by low level officials in Cincinnati.

Why then do we not call lies lies, and liars liars? Because there are consequences. Had O’Reilly told Obama something like “You know that this is false. You are insulting me by lying to my face. What makes you think that I, or any other American would stand for that?” he would have been ostracized by the Establishment – and lost his prized access to the White House.

For ordinary Americans, calling the regime’s lies by their name, deviating from political correctness, carries far stiffer penalties, because the regime has labeled each such deviation as an antisocial pathology: racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, “denialism,”etc., any of which mark you as an opponent of those who count. They may fire you, pass you over, or just exclude you from that to which you wish to be included.

This is new and incomplete. But only in America. It is the very routine, the very constitution, of totalitarian society. Returning our attention to the indissoluble link between truth and freedom, lies and servitude, was the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s enduring contribution to our civilization.

Solzhenitsyn showed that totalitarianism works by leading people to take part in the regime’s lies, and that it does so mostly by a host of petty incentives. Then he wrote: “the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.” The lies that hold up corrupt regimes, he noted, like infections, “can exist only in a living organism.” Hence whoever will live in freedom “will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.”

We should all do that. Even Bill O’Reilly.

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Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. He served as a U.S. Senate Staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services. His book Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations is forthcoming from Hoover Institution Press.

America’s Tragicomedy: Send Out the Clowns

By Major General Paul E. Vallely (US Army-Ret.)

Last week, as I was listening to the “State of the Coup,” as Rush dubs it—joined by about 1 in 10 of my fellow Americans, the lowest since Bill Clinton at his lowest—I surveyed the scene inside the House of Representatives chamber.

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What I saw was a circus: Happy smiling Democrats winking at each other, clapping and grinning from ear to ear, over and over, as Barack Obama, Santa Claus-like, announced goodies that, in reality, are impossible to deliver with his slow growth policy prescriptions; while also turning a blind eye to the burning international situation, with just three forgettable lines about Syria, eclipsing the metastasizing Al Qaeda threat in that warring country and how to eviscerate it.

This at a time when America is on the precipice, threatened from home and abroad.

It all brought to mind that Broadway musical at the end of the Vietnam War that my peers and I remember so well—Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” featuring “Send in the Clowns” that Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins made so famous, Sinatra’s rendition hitting gold status; Collins’ winning the “Song of the Year” Grammy in 1976, her version hugging the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 (11 weeks) and 1976 (16 weeks), reaching 36 and 19, respectively. (Video)

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Sondheim’s musical was an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night. “Send in the Clowns” is a ballad from Act II in which the character Desirée reflects on being rejected by her lover, causing both great pain. Later, when he returns to her, the song serves as a coda.

Then, as now, it reflected the country’s mood perfectly.   As Sondheim’s show was brightening Broadway, Jimmy Carter’s policies were precipitating storm clouds—threats of foreign aggressiveness given Carter’s hollowing out of the military, which materialized when Americans were taken hostage in our embassy in Tehran for 444 days; a weakening economy characterized by rising gas prices, long, snaking gas lines, and a rising misery index (unemployment + inflation) climbing to nearly 22 by summer 1980.

Rejection of conservative values hurt, but, as with “A Little Night Music,” Americans got a second chance when Ronald Reagan came to the rescue.

Yet, the cycle of rejection has repeated itself. Currently, our nation is in great peril—suffering disrespect abroad, having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan; as well as unease over the falling dollar and a weak economy in which the employment participation rate has plummeted to levels not seen since Carter.

Given this reality, last Tuesday’s spectacle was hard to stomach.

“Send in the Clowns” was my attempt at humor, comedy being the underside of tragedy. And, of all things, my wife recently found this YouTube rendition of “Send in the Clowns”—with a twist. (Video) Titled “Send Out the Clowns,” it was made in honor of a fellow, David Noble, who died much too young, at age 28 (a soldier, I wonder?).

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It features our fearless leaders in Washington morphing into—you guessed it: clowns.

The message superimposed at the end is entirely fitting. “Clowns defending clowns,” it announces: “Fast and Furious, IRS – NSA – Benghazi, Obamacare.  These are not phony scandals.”ClownsOld

“WAKE UP AMERICA,” it ends, superimposed over the Washington monument, coinciding with the end of the song:

“Send in the clowns, Send in the clowns. Don’t bother they’re here.”

Yes, they are—by the barrel-full.

It’s time to express “no confidence” and signal we are going to take our country back and send the clowns packing in this year’s elections.  No more phony business as usual.  If our leaders won’t lead, then it’s time for real leaders who will. 

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Major General Paul E. Vallely (USA-Ret.) is Chairman of Stand Up America. He is currently taking a leading role in galvanizing the Tea Party, responding to numerous calls he has received from across America in recent weeks, given the seriousness of the threat America faces. Here’s one example from Wild Bill for America, who founded Tea Teams USA:  http://www.westernjournalism.com/new-tea-party/

Farm Bill Hammered Out – Lee says, "We’re better than this"

Editor’s Note – Where are we as a country when a “farm bill” is 79.1% funding for non-farm issues? You guessed it, $756 billion out of a total $945.4 billion bill that was “hammered out by Congress” goes to Food Stamps and Nutrition Programs alone. The other 20.9% goes to crop insurance, commodities, and all other programs.

As Mike Lee says: “We are better than this!” This is a “compromise we can live with?”

The Farm Bill vs. America

From the official site of Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah

We’re better than this.

This Farm Bill is a monument to every dysfunction Washington indulges to bend our politics and twist our economy to benefit itself at the expense of the American people.

The topline talking point among defenders of this bill is the word “compromise.” “The Farm Bill,” we are told, “may be imperfect, but it’s a compromise we can all live with.”

They said, “Negotiators from both houses and both parties came together and hammered out a deal.”

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They said, “This is how you get things done in Washington.”

There is some truth in this. But it’s more of a half truth. There absolutely is compromise in this thousand-page, trillion-dollar mess. But it’s not a compromise between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

No, it’s collusion between both parties against the American people, it benefits the special interests at the expense of the national interest.

This bill does not demonstrate how to do things in Washington, but how to do things for Washington.

The final product before us is not just a legislative vehicle – it’s a legislative getaway car.

And what did they get away with?farm bill_HomePageFixedWidth

Well, the Farm Bill is really two bills: one that spends about $200 billion to subsidize the agriculture industry, and another that spends $750 billion on the public assistance program previously known as Food Stamps.

The Farm Bill is thus a Beltway marriage of convenience between welfare and corporate welfare – ensuring the passage of both while preventing the reform of either.

Instead, Congress broke out the neck-bolts and sutures and put Frankenstein’s monster back together.

This was the year the Farm Bill was supposed to be different. This was supposed to be the year when we would finally split the bill into its logical, component pieces and subjected both of them to overdue scrutiny and reform.

This was the year we might have strengthened the Food Stamps program with work and other requirements for able-bodied adults, to help transition beneficiaries into full-time jobs.

This was the year we might have added an asset test, to make sure wealthy Americans with large personal bank accounts were no longer eligible for Food Stamps.

But those reforms aren’t here. Under this legislation, the Food Stamps program is not really reformed – just expanded. Once again, the give-and-take of compromise in Congress boils down to: the American people give, and Washington takes.

Yet if anything, Mr./Madam President, the other side of the bill is even worse.

Not only did the Conference Committee fail to reform programs subsidizing agriculture businesses, the Conference Committee removed many of the few improvements the House and Senate tried to include in the first place.

For instance, the Senate bill, for all its faults, included a novel provision to limit farm subsidies to actual farmers.

The Senate bill was also going to phase out crop insurance subsidies for wealthy individuals with an annual income of more than $750,000. Farmers who make three-quarters-of-a-million dollars a year, after all, should not need taxpayer assistance to keep their farms afloat.

The House bill included a transparency reform requiring members of Congress to disclose any subsidiesthey receive under the crop-insurance programs.

Yet all of the above reforms mysteriously disappeared from the final legislation.

And it’s not like the Farm Bill was a paragon of accountability and fairness to begin with. Agriculture policy follows a troubling trend in Washington: using raw political power to twist public policy against the American people, to profit political and corporate insiders.

For instance, under this legislation, the federal government will continue to force taxpayers to subsidize sugar companies, both in the law and at the grocery store.

This bill maintains the so-called “Dairy Cliff,” keeping dairy policy temporary.  This will create an artificial crisis the next time we take up a Farm Bill, which will once again undermine thoughtful debate and reform.

Perhaps of all the shiny ornaments hung on this special interest Christmas Tree, the shiniest may be the actual cronyist hand-out to the Christmas tree industry itself.

Under this Farm Bill, small, independent Christmas tree farmers will now be required to pay a special tax to a government-created organization controlled by larger, corporate producers, like some medieval tribute to feudal lords.

These costs will of course be passed on to working families, and so every December, Washington will in effect rob the Cratchits to pay Mr. Scrooge and his lobbyists in Washington.

And yet, Mr./Madam President, even all this is squeaky-clean, legislating compared to this Farm Bill’s most offensive feature, it’s bullying, disenfranchising shake-down of the American West.

Most Americans who live east of the Mississippi have no idea that most of the land west of the Great River is owned by the federal government. I don’t mean national parks and protected wilderness and the rest. We’ve got a lot of those, and we love them. But that’s a fraction of a fraction of the land I’m talking about.

I’m just talking about garden variety land, the kind that is privately owned in every neighborhood and community in the country.

More than 50% of all the land west of the Mississippi River is controlled by a federal bureaucracy and cannot be developed. No homes. No businesses. No communities or community centers. No farms or farmers markets. No hospitals or colleges or schools. No little league fields or playgrounds. Nothing.

In my own state, it’s 63% of the land. In Daggett County, it’s 81%. In Wayne, it’s 85%. In Garfield, it’s 90%. Ninety percent of their land… isn’t theirs.

In communities like these, financing local government is a challenge. There, like in the east, local government is funded primarily by property taxes.

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Chart courtesy of the Washington Post

But in counties and towns where the federal government owns 70, 80, even 90% of all the land, there simply isn’t enough private property to tax to fund basic local services:

  • another sheriff’s deputy to police their streets;
  • another truck or ambulance to save their lives and property from fires;
  • another teacher to educate their children.

To compensate local governments for the tax revenue Washington unfairly denies them, Congress created – as only Congress could – the PILT program, which stands for Payment In Lieu of Taxes. Under PILT, Congress sends a few cents on the dollar out west every year to make up for lost property taxes. There is no guaranteed amount. Washington just sends what it feels like.

Imagine if a citizen operated this way with with the IRS.

Local governments across the western United States, and especially in counties like Garfield, Daggett, and Wayne, Utah, completely depend on Congress making good on this promise.

Given this situation, there are three possible courses of congressional action.

First, Congress could do the right thing and transfer the land to the states that want it.

Second, Congress could compromise and fully compensate western communities for the growth and opportunity current law denies them.

But in this bill, it’s neither. Congress chooses option three: lording its power over western communities to extort political concessions from them, like some two-bit protection racket.

“That’s a nice fire department you got there,” Congress says to western communities. “Nice school your kids have. Be a shame if anything should happen to it.”

These states and communities are looking for nothing more than certainty and equality under the law. Yet Congress treats these not as rights to be protected, but vulnerabilities to be exploited.

I have been on the phone with county commissioners for weeks, who feel they have no choice but to support a policy they know doesn’t work. This bill takes away their ability to plan and budget with certainty, and forces them to come back to Congress, hat in hand, every year. County Commissioners know this is no way to run a community. I share their frustration, and I applaud their commitment to their neighbors and communities.

I’m convinced that in the long run, the best way to protect these communities is to find a real, permanent solution that gives them the certainty and equality they deserve.

My vote against the Farm Bill will be a vote to rescue Utahns from second-class citizenship, and local communities in my state from permanent dependence on the whims of faraway politicians.

Mr./Madam President, for all the talk we hear in this chamber about inequality, we nonetheless seem oblivious to its causes. This bill – and thousands of other bills, laws, and regulations like it – are the root cause of our shortage of opportunity in America today.

The end result of this legislation will be to disenfranchise and extort the American people to benefit special interests, to enrich the well-connected at the expense of the disconnected.

And the true cost of that transaction – just another forced deposit and withdrawal from Washington’s dysfunctional favor bank – is a lot more than $956 billion.

The true cost of this kind of unequal, cronyist policymaking is the trust of the American people: in the legitimacy of our political institutions, in the fairness of our economy, and in the good faith of their countrymen.

Our constitutional republic, our free enterprise economy, and our voluntary civil society depend absolutely on the equality of all Americans under the law, the equality of all citizens’ opportunity to pursue happiness in their own communities, according to their own values, each on a level playing field with everyone else.

This legislation subverts that principle, and mocks any patriot who still holds it dear.

All Americans may be equal, but as George Orwell might put it, under the Farm Bill some Americans are more equal than others.

I will not be a part of it. And I encourage my colleagues to recognize that there is another way, a better way, a new approach that remembers what – and who – we’re supposed to really stand for.

What we are supposed to stand for is deliberation – open debate and transparent amendment, on this floor.

These programs should not be coupled to shield them from scrutiny and reform.

If we need Food Stamps to fight poverty and farm subsidies to maintain our food supply, let those programs stand on their own merits or not at all.

Furthermore, the land out west is not going anywhere. This should be an opportunity to bring our people together, not turn our regions against each other, and turn the right to local government into a political football.

It’s time to have a serious debate about a permanent solution to federally owned lands that can improve economic opportunity and mobility while reducing the deficit. And all the evidence in this Farm Bill to the contrary, I believe we are capable of finding that solution.

Kerry Admits Failures in ME – “Boycott” Statement Blows Up

Editor’s Note – As we have pointed out in the past, many liberal leaning web sites are posting some interesting things of late – they are reporting failings of the Obama Administration. They are also conducting investigations that only a few short months or more ago would never even have been discussed prior to the Presidential election of 2012.

Here is one such example from the Daily Beast (Ranked 17 on the list of the most liberal web sites at Right Wing News), exposure that even John Kerry believes his boss’s policies have failed in Syria. Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast does a fine job, but left a lot on the cutting room floor regarding Obama/Kerry/Clinton foreign policy disasters.israel-usa_2809868b

Everything they touch goes up in smoke somehow, and even James Clapper revealed startling new insights on Syria himself during his testimony (See transcript here and his opening statement here.) last week in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee that contradicts official White House policy. Syria – utter failure, Israel/Palestine – inept/naive failure, Afghanistan – flaming/corrupt failure, Egypt – abject failure, Iran – explosive failure, Russia reset – played like an accordion by Putin…

Then there is the big issue of the a threat of a “boycott on Israel” that is now being explained, or walked back as it were, but the damage is done. Now even groups like Security Solutions International are suspending any future trips to Israel that they have been doing for years. Security issues and the deteriorating relationship we have with Israel were mentioned as reason why. (Read more here.)

Senators: Kerry Admits Obama’s Syria Policy Is Failing

By Josh Rogin – Daily Beast

In a closed-door meeting, two senators say, the Secretary of State admitted to them that he no longer believes the administration’s approach to the crisis in Syria is working. Peace talks have failed, he conceded, and now it’s time to arm the moderate opposition—before local al Qaeda fighters try to attack the United States.

Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding. But according to the senators, Kerry now wants to arm Syria’s rebels—in part, to block the local al Qaeda affiliates who have designs on attacking the U.S. (Kerry’s spokesperson denied that he now wants to supply weapons, but did not dispute the overall tenor of the conversation.)

KerryMunichBoycottIsrael“[Kerry] acknowledged that the chemical weapons [plan] is being slow rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms, we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who attended Kerry’s briefing with lawmakers on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”

Kerry’s private remarks were a stark departure from the public message he and other top Obama administration officials repeatedly have given in public. Shortly after the meeting ended, Sens. Graham and John McCain described the meeting to The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg View. Given newly-released intelligence on the growing al Qaeda presence in Syria, as well as shocking new evidence of Syrian human rights atrocities, the senators said they agreed with Kerry that the time had come for the United States to drastically alter its approach to the Syrian civil war.

“Kerry acknowledged that we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy.”

Kerry arrived in Munich after eight days of talks between the Assad regime and the Syrian Opposition Coalition—negotiations talks that U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said made “no progress”  in ending the conflict. The Secretary of State sought feedback from the Congressional delegation there about U.S. policies towards Syria.

Kerry confirmed new testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told Congress last week that al Qaedas affiliates in Syria “have aspirations for attacks on the homeland.”

“Kerry confirmed that,” said Graham, “The first thing [Kerry] said [to the lawmakers] is, ‘The al Qaeda threat is real. It is getting out of hand.’”

McCain, the leader of the bipartisan delegation to Munch, told Kerry that he supports the Secretary of State’s drive to change the administration’s policy, including increasing the flow of U.S. arms to the rebels. The CIA has provided small amounts of arms to some rebel groups, but Kerry is lobbying internally for an aggressive escalation of that effort.

“This is not surprising because all along John [Kerry] has wanted more vigorous action,” said McCain. “I said to John on the way out, ‘Don’t make it a half measure.’ I said you’ve really got to do something to change the momentum.”

McCain and Graham also said they share Kerry’s assessment that the U.S. must take steps to address the growing al Qaeda presence in Syria, which Clapper said now amounts to over 26,000 extremists on Syrian soil.

“Well, eventually you’ve got to confront them,” said Graham. “So to me, it’s a choice of: do we hit them after they hit us, or do we hit them before they hit us?” (It’s a position McCain and Graham have long held. The senators are long-time advocates for U.S. military intervention in Syria, and were some of the highest-profile backers of surging American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Kerry’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said the senators are confusing their views with the Secretary of State’s. “This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the accurate facts of what was discussed,” Psaki added. “It’s no secret that some members of Congress support this approach, but at no point during the meeting did Secretary Kerry raise lethal assistance for the opposition.”

“He was describing a range of options that the Administration has always had at its disposal, including more work within the structure of the international community, and engaging with Congress on their ideas is an important part of that process,” Psaki continued. “While Secretary Kerry restated what we have said many times publicly about our concern about the growing threat of extremists, he did not draw a direct connection to the threat on the homeland or reference comments made by other Administration officials.”

The lawmakers also said that newly released evidence showing the torture and apparent starvation of as many as 11,000 civilians by the Syrian government might be enough to persuade the White House to change course in Syria, as Kerry said he wanted.

“Maybe those two disturbing facts about the results of the war in Syria could maybe help them think they ought to change their policy,” said McCain. “The president needs to be convinced.”

McCain wants the U.S. to establish a safe zone in northern Syria protected by U.S. patriot missile batteries currently stationed in Turkey. Graham said he thinks the U.S. should use drones to directly attack extremists inside Syria. McCain does not favor drone strikes.

At one point in Kerry’s 45-minute Munich meeting with the lawmakers, he sought to gauge the popular appetite for more aggressive action in Syria, asking the lawmakers, “Where are your constituents at?” Lawmakers inside the meeting told Kerry that without leadership and public discussion of such options from President Obama, there was no way individual Congressmen would be able to convince a war weary public to get more involved.

“How many Americans even know about this?” asked McCain, comparing the alleged atrocities perpetrated by the Assad regime to the ethnic cleansing conducted by the Serbians in Bosnia in the 1990’s.

The senators suggested that President Obama could follow the path of Bill Clinton, who avoided using military force in Bosnia for years until the Serbian atrocities came to light, after which Clinton reversed himself and decided to bomb the Sarajevo and the government of Slobodan Milošević.

“The president needs to challenge the Congress, based on Clapper’s assessment, Kerry’s assessment, that the time for action is at hand when it comes to the growing threat of al Qaeda,” said Graham.

In his public remarks at Munch, Kerry said that the Assad regime had become a magnet for extremists, who would someday return to their home countries. Kerry also said publicly that the international community needed to keep the pressure on the Assad regime to live up to its promises to hand over it chemical weapons stockpiles.

Responding to a joint inquiry about Kerry’s private meeting from The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg News, State Department Spokeswoman Psaki insisted that all the top administration officials were on the same page regarding Syria policy.

“Like [White House Chief of Staff] Denis McDonough [Sunday] morning on the Sunday shows, Secretary Kerry has stated publicly many times that more needs to be done rapidly by the regime to move chemical weapons to the port at Latakia, that we need to continue doing more to end the conflict, and that he has pushed the Russians to help in this effort,” said Psaki. “No one in this administration thinks we’re doing enough until the humanitarian crisis has been solved and the civil war ended. That is no different from the message Secretary Kerry conveyed during the private meeting. The meeting was an opportunity to hear from and engage with members of Congress and it is unfortunate that his comments are being mischaracterized by some participants.”

But McCain has said repeatedly that top White House officials, including McDonough, are avoiding any further U.S. involvement in Syria and making the argument that the current strategy can be sustained. In June, McCain recalled, he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein travelled to Guantanamo Bay with McDonough, who revealed his position on the Syrian crisis.

“He said, ‘Well, we are keeping Iran pinned down,’” McCain recounted. “What? 130,000 dead and we are keeping Iran pinned down?”

Kerry, on the other hand, wants to move more aggressively to arm and train the rebels—placing him at odds with McDonough, other White House staff, and perhaps President Obama himself.

“John Kerry, to his credit today, said this is getting really out of hand. And he was really down on the Russians,” said Graham. “He was really good on Syria. He was good on [saying] the Russians are slow rolling us and saying this ain’t working. He sounded more like John McCain than I have ever heard him.