For John, BLUF: We elect some strange people to Congress. Nothing to see here; just move along.
You can't make this stuff up.
President Assad is preferable to many of those who are seeking to overthrow him, but he is a thug. He learned those lessons from his father, who was a thug. On the other hand, I expect that in his previous life, in England, Bashar al-Assad was an excellent Ophthalmologist.
Regards — Cliff