Tom Cotton, the New Ted Cruz

Watching Sen. Tom Cotton’s first couple months as a U.S. Senator is causing a bit of deja vu. I’ve seen this kind of behavior before, walking in on the first day and acting like a bull in a china shop. We saw the same thing two years ago when Ted Cruz was elected. It’s all about being as controversial as possible to get as much attention as they can. Look at Cotton’s latest bit of WTF:

Cotton, apparently unbowed by the outcry over his recent open letter to Iranian leaders, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would cut U.S. funding to countries that receive former Guantanamo detainees who are later suspected of terrorism. He toured the prison March 13 with three other senators.

Cotton’s Guantanamo Bay Recidivism Prevention Act of 2015 comes after his unsuccessful effort to slip similar language into a different bill during a closed-door Senate Armed Services Committee meeting last month. As The Huffington Post reported, Cotton suggested an amendment to a bill aimed at restricting detainee transfers out of Guantanamo. The amendment would have cut funds to any country that accepted detainee transfers.

Since November, 27 detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo, leaving 122. Of those, 54 have been cleared for transfer.

Cotton, along with several other Republican lawmakers, is determined to stop the releases. “Until President Obama stops releasing Guantanamo Bay detainees, Congress must do everything in its power to stop recidivism,” Cotton declared when he introduced his bill.

“President Obama seems to have little concern for what happens after a detainee leaves Guantanamo Bay. But these detainees are hardened terrorists and their release puts U.S. lives and our national-security interests at risk,” Cotton added…

Cotton claimed when he introduced the bill that “almost one in three detainees released from Guantanamo Bay are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.” However, in the February hearing that Cotton attended, McKeon pegged the recidivism rate at 17.3 percent. Since Obama took office in 2009, the recidivism rate for transferred detainees is 6.8 percent, he said. Of the 107 former detainees confirmed to have re-engaged in violent activity, 48 are either in custody or no longer alive.

So the overall rate of recidivism is 17.3%, but only 6.8% for Obama. But 520 of them were released by the Bush administration and only about 100 by the Obama administration, which means the recidivism rate under Bush was way higher. Clearly the Obama administration is vetting those detainees who are cleared for release far more effectively than was done under Bush.

Again, I see Cotton following Cruz’ strategy here. Traditionally, those who are elected to the Senate take their time getting to understand how the place works, keeping their head down and getting to work (this is less true of the House). But Cruz and Cotton have gone in and immediately started infuriating people (including their own federal Republicans). It gets a lot of attention, to be sure.

Why is this happening? Because of the Tea Party, which has pushed the GOP so far to the right that more and more extremists are making it to the Senate. It used to be that the really extreme people were mostly confined to state legislatures, with a few of them making it to the House and that was as high as they could rise. But now the Republican caucus in the House is at least half extremists and more and more of them are making it to the Senate as well. Joni Ernst, James Lankford and Tom Cotton would have had little chance to win a Senate election only a decade ago. Now they’ve got a clear path to it.

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  • colnago80

    Well, Cruz and Cotton have one thing in common. Both are graduates of Harvard Law School, allegedly the foremost such institution in the US. Not.

  • daved

    Apparently, Cotton’s goal is to “prevent recividism” by ensuring that nobody is ever, ever, ever, going to be let out of Guantanamo, no matter whether or not they should have been imprisoned there in the first place. Or how long they’ve been there. Or whether they were tortured.

  • raven

    Tom Cotton is also a vicious misogynist. He’s left a long paper trail dating back to Harvard on this.

    Senator Cotton voted against equal pay legislation and the Violence Against Women Act.

    Salon. com

    10. He has opposed legislation to expand women’s rights.

    Senator Cotton voted against equal pay legislation and the Violence Against Women Act. While Senator Cotton’s website will say that the vote was taken out of context, and that the Senator supports harsh punishment for sexual assault, a vote is a vote. If that’s the case, then why would he vote against an act that would give women more resources in the case of abuse or assault? And why would he vote against legislation that would push for equivalent pay? No matter what defense Cotton’s team comes up with, there’s really no logic or excuse to vote against women’s rights.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    I wonder how many are actual recidivists and how many were created by their illegal incarceration.

  • Doc Bill

    What I don’t understand is why 47 senators signed Cotton’s nutty letter. Is it possible that the whole stunt was McConnell’s idea and he got Cotton to do the work? I’m perplexed that seasoned senators follow lunatics like Cruz and Cotton. Just don’t get it.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    We can’t let them go, because they’re the Worst of the Worst and won’t rest until they kill us all in our beds, so we have to keep them in Gitmo no matter how “innocent” they are, where their presence continues to help Islamists recruit people who won’t rest until they kill us all in our beds.

  • raven

    Just don’t get it.

    It’s simple.

    The GOP wants war.

    It doesn’t even seem to matter with whom. There are always countries we aren’t getting along with. Right now it is Russia and Iran.

    A war with Iran would cost a lot more than Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a much larger country with a much larger population, 78.4 million. It’s going to cost 4 or 5 trillion USD.

    I’m wondering where we are going to get that money. Without raising taxes, we simply don’t have it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    It’s cear now that the tea party is all about theater. They care very little about whether they accomplish anything of real substance while in Congress. All they want is to get as much attention for themselves, raise a lot of money, and get their faces on Fox.

  • sundiver

    Like bulls in a china shop. What they don’t break they shit on. I mean, why not invade Iran. The last two went so well. Cotton, huh? Sounds like a description of his cranial contents.

  • Trebuchet

    Speaking of the old Ted Cruz, he just announced his candidacy at “Liberty” “University”. He’s still promising to repeal Common Core, a law that doesn’t exist. The “C-word” (Canada) was not mentioned. He spoke to a sea of 10,000 freshly scrubbed faces, all of whom were required to be there.

  • caseloweraz

    Doc Bill: What I don’t understand is why 47 senators signed Cotton’s nutty letter. Is it possible that the whole stunt was McConnell’s idea and he got Cotton to do the work?

    I’m thinking something like this happened. I wouldn’t guess it was McConnell, but a word from some senior Republican in Cotton’s ear, a little verbal encouragement, could be involved.

  • raven

    Iran Letter Is Perfect Neoconservative Fiasco — NYMag

    nymag. com/daily/…/iran-letter-is-perfect-neoconservative-fiasco.html

    Mar 13, 2015 – A thoroughly Bill Kristol operation, right down to the utterly botched … Senator Tom Cotton, whose letter warning Iran that any nuclear deal will …

    The force behind the 47 GOP senator letter was worse than McConnell.

    It was Bill Kristol. A notorious chickenhawk neocon. Someone with a track record of always being completely wrong. Kristol was one of those behind the Iraq II war.

  • scienceavenger

    Speaking of the old Ted Cruz, he just announced his candidacy at “Liberty” “University”.

    Fox news’ coverage of this included a celebratory clip of Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham during his notibuster. No wonder Colbert quit, no one could parody that.

  • Rick Pikul

    So the overall rate of recidivism is 17.3%, but only 6.8% for Obama. But 520 of them were released by the Bush administration and only about 100 by the Obama administration, which means the recidivism rate under Bush was way higher.

    Wait a sec… (does some math).

    So, that would mean out of 620 releases there are 107 recidivists and out of 100 Obama releases there were 7 recidivists. Ed, you missed a Fun Fact ™: Bush released as many recidivists as Obama has released in total.

  • grumpyoldfart

    It’s all about being as controversial as possible to get as much attention as they can.

    And it works!

  • dan4

    Oklahoma has been pretty solidly Republican for a long time (i.e., I don’t think James Lankford would have had any problem winning a U.S. Senate election in 2004).