January 26, 2016

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who will not be actually be in Thursday's GOP Debate, is making his TV rounds in lieu of his disappointing poll numbers. He appeared on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes last night. Hayes asked Senator Paul his opinions on one of his political rivals, the oft disliked Senator Ted Cruz, with whom he has some ideological and personality conflicts. Senator Paul respectfully expressed his disapproval of much about the character flaws of Ted Cruz, but he also emphasized his disagreement with another GOP Senator, "Tehran" Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Cotton is leading the charge to to thwart Paul's bipartisan efforts at judicial overhaul.

Senators Paul (R-KY) and Booker (D-NJ) have authored a bill to reform harsh mandatory minimum sentences and other disproportionately severe penalties of our unfair justice system. The bill,

known as the REDEEM Act, would give incentives to states to keep teenagers under 18 out of adult courts, seal criminal records of youngsters who commit nonviolent crimes before age 15, offer a way for adults convicted of nonviolent crimes to seal their records, and allow certain low-level drug offenders to continue to receive certain federal support such as food stamps.

Charlie Pierce describes the resistance, led by Tehran Tom, pretty damned perfectly.

With Ted Cruz busy out there wooing the rubes away from He, Trump, the Senate had an opening for an obstructionist pain in the ass, and Tom Cotton's resume always is at the top of the pile when that position comes open. Not that Cotton is alone in his efforts to make sure that the Republican Party's marriage to the remnants of the old Wallace campaigns remains inviolable.

Cotton is hell bent on being the Freshman Senator who not only receives heaps of attention, but he must also be the one who most embodies the diametric opposition to compassionate conservatism.

It's been almost a year since he decided to make himself a cause célèbre for the über right-wing of his party. It was Cotton who authored that mutinous letter, signed by 46 other GOP Senators, urging the Islamic Republic of Iran to disregard the efforts at diplomacy by his own Commander in Chief. Major General Paul D. Eaton explained it:

“I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, whose long career includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to VoteVets.org. “I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.”

“What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better. I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.”

The consequences of Cotton’s missive were plainly apparent to Eaton. “The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran,” he said.

Tom Cotton is a proud member of the Wrong Wing Party, refusing to budge on issues that don't fit neatly into his box of conservative principles. With fame-hungry curmudgeons like Cotton in Congress, you can kiss any hopes of bipartisan cooperation goodbye for many years to come.

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