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Sen. Tom Cotton Dreams Of An America With Even More People In Prison
The smartest man in the room
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is rolling out the predictable Git Tuff On Crime line in response to the modest attempts that have been proposed to reduce rates of incarceration in the US of A. Never mind that we already have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Tom Cotton thinks we need to be locking up a whole lot more people, because he's been a soldier, and he knows all about national security. We'll have to assume that what he's really saying is that he knows about as much about criminal justice reform as he knows about international diplomacy.
Cotton, who knows there's not much an Arkansas Republican can say that will sound too monstrous as long as it's about Bad Guys, rejected what he called "baseless" claims that the prison system is overcrowded with minor offenders, that prisons cost too much, or that "we should show more empathy toward those caught up in the criminal-justice system." Empathy, as we all know, is merely a weasel word for wimpiness, and all criminals need to be treated as brutally as possible so they'll never offend again. Cotton did at least stop short of calling for the death penalty for parking violations.
You also can't argue with the logic of his speech to the Hudson institute Thursday:
Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed ... Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.
Hmm. If you wanted to get really technical about it, the only thing we can really conclude from those numbers is that lots of crimes go unsolved. The numbers themselves say fuck-all about whether long sentences for marijuana possession or property crimes do anything to actually reduce crime. We almost think Cotton has no fucking idea at all what he's talking about.
Mind you, this is a man who also said "the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty cells."
Cotton also drew upon his experience in the military to explain how the criminal justice system works, because his thinking parts are broken:
Cotton said releasing felons under reduced sentences serves only to destabilize the communities in which they are released.
“I saw this in Baghdad. We’ve seen it again in Afghanistan," recalled Cotton, who served in the Army during both wars. "Security has to come first, whether you’re in a war zone or whether you’re in the United States of America.”
Immediately following these remarks, Sen. Cotton was handed a piece of wood with a screw in it, which he promptly hit as hard as possible with a hammer.
Cotton went on to rail against prison reform -- or as he wittily called it, "the criminal-leniency bill" -- insisting he will fight any reform effort that allows "for the release of violent felons from prison," not that anyone is actually advocating for that. Prison reform legislation has uniformly focused on non-violent offenders. But they're in prison, so they're all the same, after all. He bravely vowed to "oppose any effort to give leniency to dangerous felons who prey on our communities." And also, obviously, to portray any effort at sentencing reform as a liberal plot to flood our neighborhoods with murderers and rapists.
Not surprisingly, Cotton also complained about the "growing assault on law enforcement," by which he clearly means virtually any attempt to hold police responsible for their actions:
Investigations into use of force are necessary, Cotton said, invoking his past military service.
"But what should not and cannot occur is a rush to demonize law enforcement whenever force is used," he continued. "In the absence of facts and hard data, we’re vulnerable to heart-wrenching images, to our own biases, and to cheap demagoguery."
When in doubt, trust the cops, don't ask too many questions, and follow cops' shouted instructions, even if they're contradictory. And for Christ's sake, stop acting like it's some tragedy that a 12-year-old got shot to death two seconds after cops arrived on the scene. We cannot let ourselves be endangered by such cheap sentimentality. Instead, we should be moved only by the cheap sentimentality of people preaching about the thin blue line of police who keep America safe from the hordes of thugs who are trying to kill us.
Cotton shared his own ingenious take on a popular movement:
Now let me make something clear: black lives do matter. The lives being lost to violence in America’s cities are predominantly those of young black men, with devastating consequences for their families and their communities. But the police aren’t the culprits. In nearly every case, the blood is on the hands of criminals, drug dealers, and gang members.
Isn't that a clever way to rephrase "what about black-on-black crime"? This Tom Cotton is one smart dude. He closed with a very thoughtful set of clichés designed to move the heart of any patriot:
"And it’s the police who are trying to protect those lives and prevent those murders," he said. "We shouldn’t stigmatize them; we should thank them."
So remember, stop resisting arrest! Stop resisting arrest!