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Public Officials Get Away with Too Much
A few quick notes on Jamaal Bowman and Clarence Thomas.
There is another Jackal coming at the end of the week, but I wanted to quickly touch on something that irked me. Specifically, I felt the need to address Jamaal Bowman’s arrest and also re-visit the flow of misinformation coming from the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Who is Jamaal Bowman?
Bowman is a Congressman from the Bronx, who was elected in 2020. About a month ago, while a bunch of folks in Congress were scrambling to get to a vote, Bowman pulled a fire alarm, apparently thinking it would open a door that was locked. According to him, he was trying to get back to Congress in order to vote for a bill to keep government open.
Again, that was his story. He supposedly had a brain fart, misread a sign, and pulled the fire alarm. I even believed him at the time, because I could have seen myself making such a mistake:
I have my own version of Occam’s Razor to explain things like this:
It turns out I was stupid to believe him. On Friday, Capitol Police released the video and pretty much proved that Bowman was lying. The video shows him trying to open the door, removing the warning signs, pulling the alarm, and then walking away. He is going to pay a $1,000 fine and then have the charge dismissed from his record in January.
I don’t know why Bowman pulled the fire alarm. Maybe he was frustrated that he couldn’t get out of the building; maybe he really did want to delay the vote (this was what Republicans said at the time). But pulling a fire alarm in a Federal building1 is not a joke, and lying about it is almost as bad.
Congress has every right to conduct an investigation into Bowman’s conduct and find out why he pulled the alarm. And I know any criticism coming from Republicans rings hollow, since they have not done anything to investigate those within their ranks who aided Donald Trump on January 6th, but I would like to submit my own criticism for the record.
Similarly, another Clarence Thomas story dropped last week, where we found out that a loan Thomas received for an RV was actually forgiven by a millionaire donor who has had some business before the Court.2 The Senate is now taking a closer look at Thomas’s financial statements, which is good.
This all brings me to the crux of the issue: Public officials get away with too much. If you or I pulled a fire alarm in a Federal building in D.C., I do not think we would get hit with only a $1,000 fine and an agreement to dismiss. In addition, there is literally no other judgeship (real word?) in the Federal system that has a loosey-goosey ethics agreement like the Supreme Court.
I have been on this soapbox for a while, but political corruption is the easiest way to get the public to lose faith in democracy. Unchecked abuse of power leads to cynicism, which eventually leads to nihilism. As anyone who studies Vladimir Putin closely will tell you, the slow-roll into authoritarianism happens when the people become despondent. The fact that Trump has been indicted, and that Bowman (hopefully) and Thomas are being investigated are all signs of a healthy democracy, not the opposite.
A quick note on Palestine and TikTok.
I came across this meme on Instagram, which made me chuckle:
And I wanted to talk about a video that I have seen floating around on social media:
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In the video, the woman above says, “Let’s imagine a world where Palestinians existed and Hamas did not.” She then points out the obvious: The West Bank is this world, and it exists in real life. But then she says Israel has killed 7,000 Palestinians there in the past 8-10 years, and proclaims that people who repeatedly cite to Hamas being a barrier to peace in the region, “…don’t know what the fuck [they’re] talking about.” The argument is that Israel mistreats Palestinians in the West Bank too, so Hamas isn’t the problem.
The actual problem is that her numbers are off by about 1,000%. In the past ten years (the timeline that is most favorable to her), 670 Palestinians have been killed in conflicts between Israel and the West Bank. Not 7,000.
Israel says those killed were extremists who launched attacks from the West Bank. In some instances, that is correct, but it’s also important to vet all of Israel’s claims carefully. In any case, this shows the danger of listening to charismatic people on social media without looking into their claims more carefully.
Legacy media isn’t perfect either, but they do have more resources available to give a full picture of the conflict.
See you all at the end of the week.
Worth noting that Bowman was in the Cannon building, not the Capitol.
In fairness, I don’t think Anthony Welters had any business before the Court at the time he gave Thomas the loan, but he is linked to companies that absolutely do have business before the Court right now.