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Cotton’s rise was fueled by pro-Israel money– but ‘NYT’ and Matthews won’t tell you so

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Last night on Hardball, Chris Matthews bashed the 47 Senators who wrote the loony-toons letter to Iranian leaders and repeatedly questioned why they would seek to undermine U.S. foreign policy in apparent violation of the Logan Act, who had written the letter, and how Senator Tom Cotton had gotten 46 senators to sign on after being in the Senate all of a few weeks. Good questions. Matthews alluded to Republican donors:

Could it be politics? It’s OK to be for fighting Iran, because it’s pretty good, healthy in terms of fundraising and things like that. It makes you popular with some people, hawks… Big fundraisers are … very hawkish about Iran, that’s a fact.

But Matthews didn’t say anything about who those donors are. The man who can’t help identifying Peter King as Irish and guests Christina Bellantoni and Gregory Angelo as Italian simply can’t bring the word Israel lobby to his lips.

It’s a common affliction. This profile in the New York Times of lead letter-writer Cotton of Arkansas also never mentions Israel. Though Jennifer Steinhauer quotes Bill Kristol again and again, she identifies Kristol as

“the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and an early supporter of Mr. Cotton’s political career.”

But Kristol is head of the Emergency Committee for Israel, which gave nearly $1 million to Cotton toward the end of his campaign challenge to Mark Pryor in Arkansas last fall. And Kristol speaks at AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group. Again, not a word about it.

Alpine body type -- not really Tom Cotton

Alpine body type — not really Tom Cotton

Steinhauer does describe the 6-5 Cotton as “alpine,” which Webster’s defines as “of or relating to a type of stocky broad-headed white men of medium height with brown hair or eyes often regarded as constituting a branch of the Caucasian race.” I don’t think Cotton is alpine.

And this is pretty squirrely too:

Back home [about 5 years ago], Mr. Cotton began to attend events at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and became closer to Mr. Kristol and others who saw his potential.

Israel appears to be the main motivation of those Republican donors. Paul Blumenthal is honest about this calculus, at Huffpo. The big Republican Party donors are pro-Israel donors:

Along with [Sheldon] Adelson, there are three other donors who fund both anti-Iran groups and the Republican Party’s super PAC infrastructure: hedge fund directors Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. These four right-wing, pro-Israel donors gave a combined $11.5 million to some of the biggest opponents of the Iran negotiations from 2011 through 2013, and pumped $115 million into Republican Party super PACs in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

“Reasonable people can disagree on our country’s foreign policy, but I think everyone would agree it should be driven by the merits, not the ideology of big donors,” Adam Smith, spokesman for the campaign finance watchdog group Every Voice, told The Huffington Post. “Unfortunately, that’s the appearance Sheldon Adelson sitting in the House balcony gives off, and that’s a problem.”

And at Lobelog, Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe report on the Israel lobby’s support for Cotton:

Cotton’s rise to prominence didn’t come cheap and required friends with very deep pockets. His Senate campaign cost $13.9 million, and some of his biggest campaign contributions came from far outside his home state of Arkansas. That doesn’t include the nearly one-million-dollar contribution in supportive political advertising made by Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel in the closing days of Cotton’s Senate campaign, as has already been reported here.

A National Review article from July 2013 offered some details about a fundraiser held on behalf of the then 36-year-old “farm boy” from Arkansas’ in New York City. The guest list, as described in the article, was a who’s who of the hawkish Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) leadership and the Republican Party’s most influential money men. It reads:

“The conservative hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer and former Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor last month hosted a fundraiser for him in New York City that hauled in over $100,000 from high-dollar Republican donors including Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. There, according to one attendee, Senor joked about Cotton’s looming senatorial bid, ‘just to acknowledge the elephant in the room.'”

I’m glad that the Israel lobby is at play more than ever before. As Martin Indyk said at the start of this amazing scandal, Netanyahu’s overreach could allow President Obama “to take on the Jewish lobby.” Now it turns out Jews overwhelmingly are siding with Obama, and the Israel lobby is broken apart. “From what I’m hearing, Jews across the political spectrum are mortified & furious at the shit Netanyahu, AIPAC & the GOP pulled this month,” MJ Rosenberg says. These are great stories for any journalist. When is the Mainstream Media going to talk about the Israel lobby in the Republican Party?

Photo thanks to Dylan Williams J Street feed.

Update: The New Yorker is also incurious about the sources of Cotton’s rise. It’s baffled by how this came to pass.

Something seems to be out of kilter in the political marketplace that yielded Tom Cotton. How are younger legislators with assets like military experience—something in too short supply in Congress—deployed and, more crucially, developed, and which talents are rewarded?

Golly. You’d think it was their first day at the neocon fair.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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24 Responses

  1. pabelmont on March 12, 2015, 12:34 pm

    When Bibi spoke to a packed joint session of Congress, did he (and they) appear as agents of big-Zion (AIPAC et al.), or did he direct AIPAC et al? Were they agents of a foreign government, as some would have it, or were Congress (and Bibi) agents of the lobby — in the now normal if tawdry tradition of dancing to the tune of the lobbies who pay the pipers?

    America is run by an oligarchy — the “bigs” such as big-banks, big-oil, big-defense, big-Zion, to name a very few — and when they say jump Congress asks “How high?”

    Same for the letter of the 47. It appears that the letter was written by Kristol (or the like) and presented to Congress for signing on that basis (and perhaps also to favor big-defense); abd the other 46 signers were doing the normal — making nice with oligarchs.

    The puzzle is the other 53 senators. Could another principle of governance be reasserting itself — something other than subservience to the “bigs”?

  2. PeaceThroughJustice on March 12, 2015, 12:40 pm

    “Now it turns out Jews overwhelmingly are siding with Obama, and the Israel lobby is broken apart. “From what I’m hearing, Jews across the political spectrum are mortified & furious at the shit Netanyahu, AIPAC & the GOP pulled this month,” MJ Rosenberg says.”

    Well, yes and no. From what I’m reading they’re mainly mortified and furious at the risk of politicization of support for Israel.

    Let’s not let our optimism mislead us.

  3. CloakAndDagger on March 12, 2015, 12:57 pm

    On a related note, the petition to file charges under the Logan Act has garnered nearly 230,000 signature and is still going strong. If you haven’t signed on, please do so now:

    • CloakAndDagger on March 12, 2015, 3:06 pm

      They have stopped taking any more signatures after reaching a count of 236,514. Let’s see the response from the WH.

    • JWalters on March 12, 2015, 9:10 pm

      If we invoke the Logan Act, we can impound all the computers and office documents of the 47 signers, and find out if this letter was written by Israelis. It seemed to me when Chris Matthews asked who wrote the letter he was giving the panelists a chance to bring up MJ Rosenberg’s view that Israelis wrote it. That could also explain why the letter was so bafflingly tone deaf to American political traditions and so bafflingly ignorant of the U.S. Constitution. Many commentators have been willing to say it was baffling. The next step is to explore why. Keep the pressure on.

      • CloakAndDagger on March 13, 2015, 12:45 pm

        @ JWalters

        I agree. Meanwhile the petition count is over 270,000 this morning and still going at a healthy clip.

  4. Krauss on March 12, 2015, 2:32 pm

    Post-Dubya it seems the GOP is doubling down on the Harvard guys. It’s like, we didn’t have enough issues with Ted Cruz, now this guy?

    As groomed as he was by the Israel lobby, this guy’s fanaticism is real. They may be exploiting it, but you get the feeling that it’s unclear who’s playing who. Cotton would still be a crazie without the Israel cash.

    The difference, and it is crucial, is that he wouldn’t have nearly the same reach without it. And that’s the problem.

  5. JLewisDickerson on March 12, 2015, 2:36 pm

    RE: Steinhauer does describe the 6-5 Cotton as “alpine,” which Webster’s defines as “of or relating to a type of stocky broad-headed white men of medium height with brown hair or eyes often regarded as constituting a branch of the Caucasian race.”

    MY COMMENT: Well, hush my mouth!
    ALTERNATIVE MINCED OATH: Well, drop my drawers!

    P.S. Tom Cotton is neither stocky nor broad-headed. And, 6’5″ is certainly not medium height.

    • just on March 12, 2015, 2:56 pm

      LOL! I was scratching my own head over that, JLD.

      (love the ‘minced oath’!)

      • Mooser on March 13, 2015, 1:00 am

        Wouldn’t “alpine” be a reference to his height? 6’5″ is pretty tall.

    • CigarGod on March 13, 2015, 10:41 am

      Alpine seems related to “Wood”. In that context…6 1/2 is average.

    • retired on March 13, 2015, 12:11 pm

      Just think of him as the same phenotype as that tall feller over there in EyeRack with the big knife and the Boris Karloff demeanor. Bill Kristol must have been swept off his feet.

    • JLewisDickerson on March 13, 2015, 10:02 pm

      P.P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA (Alpine race):

      [EXCERPTS] The Alpine race is a historical race concept defined by some late 19th-century and early 20th-century anthropologists as one of the sub-races of the Caucasian race,[1][2][3] others including the Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, and East Baltic. . .
      . . . The term “Alpine” (H. Alpinus) has historically been given to denote a physical type within the Caucasian race, first defined by William Z. Ripley (1899), but originally proposed by Vacher de Lapouge. It is equivalent to Joseph Deniker’s “Occidental” or “Cevenole” subrace[5][6] and Jan Czekanowski identified it, as of the Lappanoid race. In the early 20th century the Alpine physical type was popularised by numerous anthropologists, such as Thomas Griffith Taylor and Madison Grant, as well as in Soviet era anthropology.[7][8]
      The German Nazi Party under the influence direction of Hans F. K. Günther, recognized the Germans as including five Aryan racial subtypes, described by Günther in his work Klein Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (1929): Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, East Baltic, and Dinaric, viewing Nordics as being at the top of the racial hierarchy.[1] He defined each racial subtype according to general physical appearance and their psychological qualities including their “racial soul” – referring to their emotional traits and religious beliefs, and provided detailed information on their hair, eye, and skin colours, facial structure.[1] He provided photographs of Germans identified as Nordic in places like Baden, Stuttgart, Salzburg, and Schwaben; and provided photographs of Germans he identified as Nordic and Mediterranean types, especially in Bavaria and the Black Forest region of Baden.[1] Hitler was so impressed by this work by Günther, that he made it the basis of his eugenics policy.[1]
      Adolf Hitler utilized the term Alpine to refer to a type of the Aryan race, and in an interview spoke admirably about his idol Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, commending Mussolini’s Alpine racial heritage saying:

      They know that Benito Mussolini is constructing a colossal empire which will put the Roman Empire in the shade. We shall put up … for his victories. Mussolini is a typical representative of our Alpine race… — Adolf Hitler, 1931[9]

      It however fell out of popularity by the 1950s, but reappeared in the literature of Sonia Mary Cole (1963) and Carleton Coon (1969).[10] In more recent sources, a very small array of anthropologists accustomed with such usage, still use the term.[11] . . .
      Physical appearance
      The Alpine race is mainly distinguished by its cranial measurements, such as high cephalic index. A typical Alpine skull is therefore regarded as brachycephalic (‘broad-headed’).[12] As well as being broad in the crania, this thickness appears generally elsewhere in the morphology of the Alpine, as Hans Günther describes:

      …the Alpine race is thick-set and broad. The average height of the Alpine man is about 1.63 metres [5.35 feet / 5’4″ – J.L.D.]. This small height is brought about by the relatively short, squat legs. This broadness and shortness is repeated in all the details: in the broadness of the hand and its short fingers, in the short, broad feet, in the thick, short calves.[citation needed]. . .

      SOURCE –

  6. JLewisDickerson on March 12, 2015, 2:45 pm

    RE: “From what I’m hearing, Jews across the political spectrum are mortified & furious at the shit Netanyahu, AIPAC & the GOP pulled this month,” MJ Rosenberg says.

    MY COMMENT: I certainly don’t blame them for being furious. I wouldn’t want Netanyahu, AIPAC and the GOP claiming to represent me. That would amount to a triple bogie!

  7. David Nelson on March 12, 2015, 2:49 pm

    everyone seems to be looking at this from the Zionist angle, but it seems to me that considering how much money pro-Israel donors are willing to give, it is good strategy for the Republicans to wrestle the Israel issue away from the Democrats. If they can show themselves better friends to Israel than the Dems, and NOT have to fight a war against Iran, all the better for the for those Republicans who are in the Israel game not because it is close to their hearts but because of all the money, both received and what no longer flows to the Democrats. Making Israel a partisan issue may not be good for the lobby, but surely it is good for the Republicans.

  8. Pixel on March 12, 2015, 6:46 pm

    This is one wild post + comments. Rarely, have I run across one where I had absolutely no idea what anyone was talking about.

    I got lost somewhere up there at the Swiss Miss with Double Mini-Marshmallows, so I donned my lederhosen and my Oktoberfest hat with 1000 very cool pins in it, all to say…

    “A traitor by any other name is still a traitor”.

    Benedict Cotton. (I read that somewhere today. lol)

    When I was schuhplattlering in my driveway, I ran into an African-American friend who said he felt no particular resonance with either “Tom” or “Cotton” (eye roll).


  9. just on March 13, 2015, 8:46 am

    “Ex-U.S. Official: With Iran Letter, “Reckless” GOP Places Middle East Hegemony over Security”

    Stellar interview with Hillary Mann Leverett and Ali Gharib~ covers Iran, Cotton and the money trail, a bit on Rand Paul, and does not leave Israel out of the mess.

  10. CloakAndDagger on March 13, 2015, 12:29 pm

    I found this picture on another site. It is a very accurate depiction (IMO) about how our press treats muslims and feeds Islamophobia:

  11. Kay24 on March 13, 2015, 1:27 pm

    What a joke! Hate Yeller, Pamela Geller, calls JON STEWART “the most disgusting Jew on the Planet”. So who thinks she is not insane, a lunatic, unhinged, a hate monger?

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