Tag Archives: Tom Cotton

Um…Really?

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…

Nope.

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…

 

And Speaking Of White Nationalism…

Tom Cotton. (Even his name is white…)

As Alternet, among other media sources, has reported:

Tom Cotton, a Republican U.S. Senator representing Arkansas, has filed a bill that would withhold federal funding to any schools that teach “The 1619 Project,” a Pulitzer-prize winning piece of in-depth journalism from The New York Times published in 2019 that explores the United States’s legacy of slavery.

Cotton’s so-called Saving American History Act of 2020 would punish schools that teach lessons based on “The 1619 Project” by making them ineligible for federal professional development grants.

 “The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded,” Cotton wrote. “Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage.”

Calling the meticulously researched reporting “Neo-Marxist garbage,” Cotton has staked out his political territory. He has advocated the use of U.S. military force against racial justice protesters, and accused journalists who had written an article detailing a classified government program monitoring terrorists’ finances of violating the Espionage Act. (He actually proposed prosecuting the reporters under that act, which at its extreme, allows people guilty of violations to be put to death.)

According to Business Insider, during an interview in which he was defending his attack on the Times project, Cotton referred to slavery as a “necessary evil.”

Cotton disputed the premise of the project, which he said argued “that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable.”

He went on to describe the US as “a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal.” He continued: “We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it.”

Later, he said: “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

Several historians have questioned whether any Founding Father expressed the opinion that slavery was a “necessary evil.” (What some did express was the belief that allowing the South to continue slaveholding was a “necessary evil” if the Constitution was to be ratified.)

Nikole Hannah-Jones was the journalist who came up with the idea for the project, and her   introductory essay won a Pulitzer Prize.  She responded to Cotton’s characterizations in a tweet.

“If chattel slavery — heritable, generational, permanent, race-based slavery where it was legal to rape, torture, and sell human beings for profit — were a ‘necessary evil’ as @TomCottonAR says, it’s hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end,” she wrote.

According to Wikipedia, Cotton has written essays calling Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton “race-hustling charlatans” and has said that race relations “would almost certainly improve if we stopped emphasizing race in our public life.” He has rejected assertions that America’s justice system “over incarcerates, saying “If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem” Cotton said that reduced sentencing for felons would “destabilize the United States.

Not all of Cotton’s policy preferences are rooted in racism, of course. He’s wrong on multiple other fronts as well.

He opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens (okay, that one probably is racist), and voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill to ban abortions occurring 20 or more weeks after fertilization.

Cotton has an A rating from the NRA and In response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, stated that he did not believe any new gun control legislation would have prevented it.

He was one of thirty-one Republican senators to cosponsor the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz that would grant individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home state the right to exercise this right in any other state with concealed carry laws while concurrently abiding by that state’s laws.

You will also not be surprised to find that Cotton opposes the Affordable Care Act; he has characterized it as “offensive to a free society and a free people.” Cotton was among the 38 Republican signatories to an amicus curiae supporting a legal challenge to the ACA. (Okay, maybe this one is rooted in racism too; he probably doesn’t want to give “those people” free access to medical care…)

I should give Andy Borowitz the last word:“Rand Paul thanks Tom Cotton for replacing him as the most hated man in the Senate…Cotton beat out a daunting field of competitors for Senator Paul’s crown, including Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, and Ted Cruz.”

In short, Cotton is a perfect representative of today’s Republican Party.

 

Another Contender for the Title of “Most Despicable”..

So many “public servants” who are anything but….

I had never heard of Tom Cotton until he authored that treasonous letter during the Administration’s negotiations with Iran–the one sent to the Iranian government by 47 Republican Senators in a deliberate attempt to sabotage an effort aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It was later reported that he received a million-dollar campaign contribution from Israel–but I’m sure there was no quid pro quo.(If you believe that, I have some swampland to sell you….)

Not that I would have had high expectations of a newly-elected Republican Senator from Arkansas, but his sheer arrogance, his willingness to ignore the longstanding bipartisan patriotism that used to stop policy disputes at the water’s edge, was astonishing and disheartening.

It was clear then that something was very wrong with this guy, and recently, more evidence has emerged of what can only be described as significant moral defects.

Cotton has been one of the Republican Senators refusing to act on judicial vacancies–from the Supreme Court down to the District Court level–simply because Obama is President.

It’s bad enough that the federal courts are so understaffed that Americans are being denied access to justice. But according to several news reports, Cotton isn’t just participating in the GOP’s willingness to indulge partisan spite at the expense of the common good. He’s twisting the knife.

Consider, for example, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni’s report on Cassandra Butts’ nomination to serve as the United States ambassador to the Bahamas.

After “decades of government and nonprofit work that reflected a passion for public service,” Butts received a nomination from President Obama to a diplomatic post for which she was well qualified. Her confirmation should’ve been easy, but the Senate kept putting her nomination on the back-burner – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, blocked her as part of a tantrum against the Iran nuclear deal.

And then there’s Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who blocked Butts and the nominees for the ambassadorships to Sweden and Norway.

Cotton eventually released the two other holds, but not the one on Butts. She told me that she once went to see him about it, and he explained that he knew that she was a close friend of Obama’s – the two first encountered each other on a line for financial-aid forms at Harvard Law School, where they were classmates – and that blocking her was a way to inflict special pain on the president.

Bruni’s report added that Cotton’s spokesperson “did not dispute Butts’s characterization of that meeting.”

Butts died recently at age 50 of acute leukemia, which she didn’t know she had until her life was nearly over. She waited 835 days for the Senate to vote on her nomination, but the vote never came.

In the highly competitive sweepstakes for “most despicable,” it will be hard to top that.