I have a bad habit of categorizing behaviors I don’t understand–behaviors that I just cannot make sense of–as insane. Nuts. Wacko.

I have to remind myself that many of the positions and decisions that I find incomprehensible aren’t really evidence of mental illness, and that the mere fact that they seem devoid of any sensible basis (and–like the anti-vaccine hysteria– often seem likely to personally endanger the person holding them) is hardly justification for my dismissal as too “looney” to merit efforts at serious debate. Shame on me.

But then I run across something like this. 

Talking Points Memo is a reputable, credible source of political information–one that I visit frequently. As this year draws to a close, the editor, Josh Marshall, posted an essay he titled “Looking Back on the Dumb.” It included things like the effort by Rudy Guliani’s son to run for Governor of New York, despite the fact his entire government experience is apparently limited to an internship. But then, Marshall’s recitation included the following:

Tom Cotton was somehow not joking: It was a while ago, but Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AK) Saturday Night Live script-esque warning to President Biden this summer about the Beijing Olympics still lives in my head rent-free. In June, Cotton sent Biden a letter demanding the President should stop Americans from participating in the 2022 Olympics unless China promised it wouldn’t … steal U.S. athlete’s DNA. “In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China,” the letter read. “Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the CCP … thus, we should expect that the Chinese government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19.” He also somehow concluded that the Chinese government was going to use said harvested DNA to create an army of super soldiers.

Okay, it wasn’t April 1st, but surely, I thought, this had to be tongue-in-cheek. Tom Cotton is a  dangerous rightwing ideologue, but he’s a United States Senator, for heaven’s sake! Surely, a Google search would explain the joke…


The accusation was covered at the time in a number of publications. My favorite was Esquire’s “Tom Cotton Is a Few Reindeer Short of Santa’s Sleigh,” by the always acerbic Charles Pierce.

The shebeen has been keeping a weather eye on Senator Tom Cotton (R), the bobble-throated slapstick from the state of Arkansas, ever since he enlivened his first term by writing a letter to the leadership of Iran telling its members not to assume that any action taken by the President of the United States is in any way permanent. This nugget of larval Trumpism marked Cotton as a potentially dangerous autocrat. What I was not prepared for was the prospect that Cotton is also perhaps three tiny reindeer short of Santa’s sleigh.

I discovered that when reports first emerged about Cotton’s DNA concerns, Twitter had had a field day–with more than one tweet showing Cotton with a tin foil hat, and others comparing him to Marjorie Taylor Green. (Given the wealth of reporting and Twitter activity at the time, I really don’t know how I missed this…)

The Hill also reported on Cotton’s “theory.”

Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, detailed several of his concerns, including China’s “invasive” surveillance system. He said members of the American delegation should expect their rooms to be bugged and their electronic devices to be hacked by Chinese authorities.

He also warned about the possibility the Chinese government could try to obtain DNA samples from athletes.

“The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] also considers DNA collection a vital intelligence-gathering objective,” Cotton wrote.

“The CCP has reportedly conducted tests to develop biologically-enhanced soldiers and intends to use DNA data to catapult Chinese biotechnology companies to global market dominance,” the letter states.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve been under the impression that there are a lot of people in China, and all of them presumably have DNA…I’m missing something.

Tom Cotton is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. And he’s convinced that (only American??) DNA can be harvested and somehow used to create super-soldiers.

I’m rethinking my effort to stop categorizing people as lunatics…


  1. Sheila writes, “He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.”

    Now you know why I don’t think much of higher ed right now. There are a whole bunch of Tom Cotton’s graduating from Harvard Law School if the right money is exchanged. What does that say about the cost of a US diploma?

    Never mind the fact, the Walton-owned senator is on the “intelligence committee.” Do oxymorons come to mind?

    What’s amazing is China does have the technology where health is tracked via their individual cell phones via an app. It was how they were able to defeat COVID so quickly. They could quarantine small segments of their population when an infection arose. American’s would freak out or already have because we don’t trust our government for a very good reason. It’s been a captured menace of the oligarchy for a very long time.

    In China, they trust their government because only the brightest members of society are elevated to government positions. You must pass IQ tests.

    Also, Chinese billionaires who buy US diplomas from Harvard aren’t worth the paper they are printed on because of their national IQ tests. Sorry, mom and dad.

    For those of you who enjoy chess and geo global matters, should be paying very close attention to how many countries are signing on to Russia/China collaborative agreements.

    The next decade will be very difficult for the US if changes aren’t made much faster in a progressive direction. The problem is we have too many Tom Cotton’s running things in this country because his diploma was acquired from a prestigious university. LOL

  2. Sheila,

    Is this really so hard to understand? History is just repeating itself once again.

    Eugenics! Folks criticize Nazi Germany For their eugenics program, and using it as a platform to disenfranchise and murder minorities ,The mentally ill, the elderly, Anyone That wasn’t of the so-called superior race.

    But Germany got the idea of eugenics from the United States. Actually the United States and Britain. That’s why they thought that the United States Would eventually Ally themselves with Germany. If you research the history, You will see how barbaric American and British eugenics actually was, when put into motion in many states here.

    The American movement of Manifest Destiny, was used by the Germans and called it Leibensrum which meant room to grow. This was used as a permission slip to enslave all of those who they considered inferior to The Great Aryans. And of course they used it to invade the other countries and steal their property and wealth.

    Today, Just go on the old Google machine and look at “genetics in politics” And you will see how the right is actually trying to promote separation of races because of the black gene! Very Nazi-esque if you ask me. The United States is always been a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s treated huge swaths of its population like beasts of burden to be bought and sold and slaughtered! Land was stolen, People were stolen, residents of this land were wholesaley slaughtered, And not just by the gun, they were also purposefully infected with disease.

    Put a Nazi uniform on Cotton or Green or any of the others that promote That way of thinking and how they conduct themselves in a manner like Adolf Hitler’s cabinet, And Presto changeo, you magically have a dyed in the wool Nazi.

    The United States was barbaric back then, and it is still barbaric, it’s just not quite as overt as it once was. What was a big driver of Adolf Hitler’s political views, and His power plays? Religion!

    What’s used as a big driver in political views today or power plays for that matter, Religion? If you can manipulate big religion enough, you can alleviate One’s conscience and allow them the permission to release the inner bigot or inner preditor for that matter.

    So this shouldn’t be a shock, It’s just history pointing the way to man’s incapability of actually being decent to his fellow man.

  3. Let’s consider that Ted Cruz is also a Harvard Law School graduate. What do he and Cotton have in common? They lust for publicity and higher office. Throw in another prestigious law school graduate in the fetid form of Josh Hawley and you have The Three Stooges of the Senate. Intelligence Committee? Really?

    This blog merely validates what so many of us on this blog have been positing for years: The Republican party has a very short bench of rational members. Cotton has been showing off his mental problems for quite some time. Cruz is out of his mind with ambition and fact bending. Hawley is just playing a traitor straight up. And yet… And yet, millions of people voted for these lunatics masquerading as Senators. What does that say about the Republican voter?

    Therein lies the problem: Nut cases are electing their representatives.

  4. In fairness, Cotton isn’t all wrong about room bugs and personal devices. Both a pretty common information security concerns when traveling to authoritarian regimes (my clients pay me to be paranoid, by the way). China also has the largest DNA database in the world, with no real legal or regulatory restrictions on state use of the data, and they’re in the process of collecting samples -with or without consent- from a huge percentage of the male population. (There are a couple articles in Nature about that). Like U.S. companies that collect mountains of consumer personal data, the Chinese government collects it because they can.

    The ostensible purpose for amassing the data is to aid in criminal investigations, but the options for other, more nefarious uses, largely around enforcing social order and authoritarian control, are pretty much whatever you can imagine.

    That doesn’t mean that Cotton’s blather about genetic engineering isn’t a bit on the loony side of things; the Chinese did just recently jail 2 scientists for gene editing human embryos. But that doesn’t mean DNA won’t be collected from foreign athletes. As I said, they do it because they can, so the fear that it will be collected from athletes without their knowledge or consent isn’t all that far fetched. Still, there are far more realistic abuses of the data, for example, tracking down dissidents and their families, collecting and using the data for human experimentation without consent, etc., -basic human rights violations rather than sci-fi plots- that Cotton should be more concerned about.

  5. The fact that Tom Cotton remains a member of the Senate INTELLIGENCE Committee is a constant reminder of the danger this administration and the nation remains in and how great the possibility of a return to the White House by Donald Trump hangs over all our heads.

    Sheila; do not stop categorizing qualified people as lunatics; when such as Tom Cotton can graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, those who allowed him to benefit from what should be an honorable education should be examined for lunacy above and beyond that of Cotton himself.

    Discerning lunacy from intelligence is in this case discerning good from evil. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the difference. As a high school dropout with a GED I cringe when I see the names Cotton and Gohmert as the source of idiocy but read their quotes for a laugh.

  6. Another possibility is that Cotton doesn’t really believe in this possibility but knows his voter base will relish it. Or he never took biology because we no longer think general education is important. But I’m going with the voter pandering theory.

  7. Nancy C,
    I’m going with your theory.
    The nuttier the idea the more it appeals to their base.
    Why let facts get in the way?
    My maga family members are well educated (IU, Purdue, SoCal, etc) and this is exactly what they think happens.
    The boogy man is around every corner.
    Local school boards have nothing but evil plans for indoctrination of elementary students.
    My description of these wackos is less kind than Sheila’s.

  8. Let’s face it, there’s always been a sizeable portion of our population that hates intellectuals. The GQP has been pandering to them for years. It’s okay to graduate from Harvard, Yale, or even Oxford (Kennedy), so long as you behave like you’re not sure which shoe goes on which foot.

  9. Checked Snopes and very relieved my early morning fantasy turns out to be exactly that … a fantasy. I verified that it is NOT TRUE … ‘Mom’s for Cotton’ are not lined up at his front door with their children to have them injected with his DNA. Oh well. There is always tomorrow.

  10. Thank you, Marquat, for your curious inquiry. First I looked up a source to verify advances in human genetics … this published a couple of years ago by Newcastle U: >> “If you want to conduct groundbreaking but contentious biological research, go to China. Last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he had created the world’s first gene-edited human babies, shocking the world at a time when such practice is illegal in most leading scientific nations. More recently, US-based researcher Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte revealed he had produced the world’s first human-monkey hybrid embryo in China to avoid legal issues in his adopted country.” <<

    But back to your curious inquiry, Marquat. Yes, I connected with the Department Health Inspection with the State of Arkansas and verified there is no evidence Cotton Candy in their state has been tainted with the Senator’s DNA. Stay tuned! There is always tomorrow. 😇

  11. No sorry, Marquat. I called Babies R Us in Arkansas, and they are completely sold out of their commemorative Cotton stuffed baby monkeys. The Senator announced due to the success of his Chinese import, the stuffed babies will be available on Black Thursday next year.

  12. Today I wish there were a “Like” or “Hahaha!” icon on each poster’s post because I would give several of these a click for “Very funny!”
    Thanks for the laugh, folks.
    To quote Jimmy Buffett, “If we couldn’t laugh we would ALL go insane!”

  13. Just as our “ME” culture celebrates/”likes”/gives news coverage/$ to the “brands” of individuals/groups, why should we be surprised that outlandish dress/speech/ideas prevail.

    Cole Porter would be smiling…

    “Times have changed
    And we’ve often rewound the clock
    Since the Puritans got a shock
    When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
    If today
    Any shock they should try to stem
    ‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
    Plymouth Rock would land on them. ..

    Anything goes!

  14. And/or as a young, rich crypto-currency guru wrote today:

    ‘What’s coming is … a world where the civilized concepts of freedom and equity are extrapolated to their decivilizational limit, where you ain’t the boss of me and we are all equal, where all hierarchy is illegitimate and with it all authority, where no one is in charge and everything is in chaos.”

  15. I must say people with paranoia have some very creative delusions. Too bad that can’t use that resource towards creating beautiful art and music that soothes the soul.

    I have noticed that all the delusions of the GQP and other conspiracy theories look nothing other than a symptom of paranoia. That is in the DSM V, paranoia that is. I hope they don’t start hearing voices telling them to kill democrats.

    And in the meantime, Desmond Tutu, an incredible man, has died. What a wonderful laugh he had. He was true to to the teachings of Jesus.

  16. Let’s face it, the States previously United and China and Russia compete for business, friends, world domination, political hay at home and occasionally for territory encompassing valuable contents in their dirt. We all have devoted enormous resources over many years to those arms races that would otherwise have been available to the people at home. It used to be that a competitive advantage here was our liberal democracy and the freedom it represented to the world but we have squandered most of that competitive advantage. It used to be that the manufacturing muscle that we built up here winning WWII was another competitive advantage but we have squandered that too. We have made the competition much harder to win and much easier to lose.

    One aspect of the competition was our various governmental positions on the liberal to authoritarian scale that defined to the world the tradeoffs for other countries deciding who to emulate based on our competition. That’s the nature of being world leaders.

    We have conceded much over the years making the competition even more intense.

  17. Sheila, trust your instincts, on this. Now, you/we know why Trump (reportedly) said, many years ago, that if he were to run for president,
    he’d run as aRepublican, because they are so stupid. Recall my mention, yesterday, about the guy at the gym, with his “Trump is my president,”
    If we could get rid of gerrymandering, perhaps these loonies would fail in their oxymoronic campaigns.

  18. Years ago we had a slogan that went how you get a successful politician is to have (always a him) graduate from Harvard and turn left; now it appears that the test is to graduate from Harvard and turn right. See Cotton, Hawley, Cruz et al.

    Unstated in today’s commentaries are the enormous endowment accounts of the Ivy League members, fed by the ultra-rich fathers who want their (always) sons to hold an Ivy League degree. See Bush, Jr. with an MBA and, however financed, an Ivy League degree for Cotton. Apparently academics are inferior to endowment support.

    I earned an economics degree with a minor in political science and a law degree from non-Ivy League schools and I venture to say without knowing that the law of comparative advantage and other “iron laws” of economics and the teaching of causation in tort law were taught similarly in both Ivy League schools and the ones I attended, and I’m sure my tuition costs were far less than if I had left Indiana for a law school in Massachusetts, not to mention that my father wasn’t hit up by the endowment folks up East or, for that matter, those at Indiana University.

    So back to Cotton and Arkansas. They deserve one another.

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