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    Tom Cotton Tag

    The 2018 midterms are going to be followed like nothing we've seen before, drawing more mainstream media coverage than did even the 2010 midterms.  Although they have lost two special elections (Kansas and Montana) and failed to avoid a runoff in Georgia, Democrats and their media allies really really want the 2018 midterms to be a referendum on President Trump. While we focus often on the fact that Democrats are divided between the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing and the slightly less radical Cory Booker wing, Republicans, too, are divided.  The 2018 Ohio Senate race for incumbent Sherrod Brown (D)'s seat provides a snapshot of this friction. Conservative, conservative-leaning, and Trump-supporting Republicans are already endorsing Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel in what they hope will be a successful rematch between Brown and Mandel.  Mandel lost to Brown in 2012 and last year announced he was running again in 2018.

    Tom Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas, has never minced words when giving his opinion of Guantanamo Bay detainees. In a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation in Washington last week, he reiterated this position, making a strong case for continuing to hold the remaining 107 prisoners in Cuba. Opening his remarks by recalling President Obama's first call to close the prison some seven years ago, Cotton quickly came to the point. America continues to keep prisoners in Cuba because to do otherwise would threaten our security.
    We do not maintain Guantanamo because we want to. We maintain it because it is in the best interest of our national security to do so. In this way, Guantanamo is not a unique site-not sui generis or separated from historical practice, as many of its critics say. It is, in plain terms, a humane and professional wartime military prison: the unpleasant but inescapable necessity of any conflict, well-grounded in the laws of war. Guantanamo was created to house captured combatants and has always been set for closure once hostilities end.

    Rep. Mike Pompeo (R - Kan.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R - Ark.) have a lot in common. Both are army veterans and both are graduates of Harvard Law School. And both have been doing a great job of exposing aspects of the nuclear deal with Iran that the administration would rather keep quiet. This week it was reported that an inquiry from Pompeo got the State Department to admit that the nuclear deal was never signed and is not "legally binding." Julia Frifield, the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, wrote in response to Pompeo's inquiry if he could see the signed agreement, in a letter reproduced at the congressman's website, that the nuclear deal was not binding and that it was not signed by any party. The key parts of the letter read:
    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document ...

    In a press conference yesterday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that he didn't want the Iranian legislature to approve the nuclear deal (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) the Associated Press reported Saturday.
    Rouhani told a news conference that the deal was a political understanding reached with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, not a pact requiring parliamentary approval. The deal also says Iran would implement the terms voluntarily, he said. ... "If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to (and passed by) parliament, it will create an obligation for the government . it will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it," Rouhani said. "Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?" ... The president said a parliamentary vote would benefit the U.S. and its allies, not Iran.
    Similarly, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported, "President Rouhani underlined that the submission of the JCPOA to the Parliament would mean that the president would have to sign the JCPOA, an extra legal commitment that the administration has already avoided." So Iran doesn't want to be bound legally by the JCPOA.

    Things just got real up in here. You might remember the hubbub surrounding Sen. Tom Cotton's so-called "47 Traitors" open letter addressed to Iranian officials. You know, the one where Cotton, et al. were proved right? Well earlier today, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (the same dude who thought it would be cute to lecture the Senate about the U.S. Constitution), took a verbal swipe at Sen. Cotton. As U.S. News and World Report writes:
    The Iranian foreign minister addressed the U.S. domestic political debate regarding the negotiations, referencing a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to leaders of the Islamic republic warning that any deal agreed to by President Barack Obama could be undone by a subsequent administration. The initiative was led by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, whom Zarif called out by name Wednesday, saying with a chuckle that upon completion of a deal Iran expects sanctions to be dropped in the U.N. Security Council “whether Sen. Cotton likes it or not.” “We don’t want to get bogged down into the domestic procedures in the United States. I’ve studied and lived in the U.S.,” Zarif said. “I know enough about the U.S. Constitution and U.S. procedures, but as a foreign government I only deal with U.S. government. I do not deal with U.S. Congress.”
    Shortly thereafter, Sen. Cotton released a statement urging Congressional approval of any Iran deal, and reiterating the need to oversee President Obama's efforts:

    In October, the New York Times reported President Obama intended to fly solo on Iranian negotiations. "But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it," they reported. Fast forward to Monday, when freshman Senator Tom Cotton kicked a hornet's nest. Joined by 46 Republican Senators, Senator Cotton wrote an open letter to Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The letter was an exposition of the Constitutionally guaranteed Congressional role in international agreements. Most notably, a reminder that international agreements arranged by the President are non-binding until they've received Congressional approval. President Obama responded, accusing participating Senate Republicans of allying themselves with Iranian hardliners, "I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition," Obama said Monday ahead of a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk." Vice President Joe Biden weighed in calling the letter "beneath the dignity of [the Senate,] an institution I revere." And then the Democratic dog pile began. Iran too, responded. Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif called the letter a propaganda ploy and proceeded with a self-righteous lecture on international law:
    I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
    Zarif's statement isn't exactly incorrect, but it in no way negates the fact that for any agreement involving the United States to be a binding agreement on the international stage, it must first pass Congressional scrutiny... which is exactly what Senator Cotton and his 46 compadres pointed out. Conversely, any agreement reached without Congressional consent is not legally binding.

    Newly elected Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has no problem stating how he really feels about Gitmo detainees. In a hearing on the administration's recent decision to close the Guantanamo Bay facilities, (something Senator Obama promised to do when he was running for President in 2008), Senator Cotton grilled Brian McKeon, the Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Policy. Cotton hammered the point that the administration's decision to close Gitmo was not one based on national security, but one born of politicking.
    Senator Cotton: Ok now I want to explore the so-called risk balance between recidivism of released terrorists and the propaganda value that terrorists get from Guantanamo Bay. How many recidivists are there at Guantanamo Bay right now? Secretary McKeon: I'm not sure I follow the question... Senator Cotton: How many detainees at Guantanamo Bay are engaged in terrorism or anti-American incitement? Secretary McKeon: There are none. Senator Cotton: Because theyre detained. Because they only engage in that kind of recidivism overseas. Now let's look at the propaganda value: How many detainees were at Guantanamo Bay on September 11, 2001?
    After a few more questions and feeble answers, Senator Cotton goes in for the kill.

    The new Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet, but many pundits and activists are already assuming that come January, we're in for a world of pain, disappointment, and failure---but maybe we should rethink our gloomy outlook. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace had Sens.-elect Cotton and James Lankford on this weekend to talk about the upcoming battle between the Republican Senate majority and President Obama, and when the conversation turned to repealing Obamacare (and dealing with the mass #Grubering of the American people) Cotton put to bed the idea that a Senate majority won't be able to get anything productive past President Obama (emphasis added):
    WALLACE: But Senator-elect Cotton, realistically, what do you think you can get down about ObamaCare while President Obama is still in office? COTTON: Well, Arkansans are conservative people, but they're practical people as well. They realize it's going to be hard to repeal a law named ObamaCare when the president is named Barack Obama. What they want is relief from the immediate harms. The House of Representatives has already passed a lot of bills that would stop those harms, like preventing people from having to pay a tax that they can't afford in ObamaCare plan, or business from having to pay a tax if they can't provide an ObamaCare plan, or letting people keep their plans as was promised. Those passed the House with bipartisan support. The president has taken some of those steps as an administration measure. I think we could pass that legislation again and the president would be hard pressed to explain why he wants to veto it if he's already done it as an administrative measure and it has broad bipartisan support.
    I'm all for managing expectations during a lame duck session, but isn't what Sen.-elect Cotton is talking about the point of electing new representatives to Congress, as opposed to just throwing in the towel?

    Tom Cotton, running for Senate to unseat Mark Pryor in Arkansas, held a blogger telephone conference today. I sat in on it, breaking my usual policy of sitting in a hermetically sealed room with the drapes drawn and the lights out avoiding all human contact. All someone...