by James Bovard
“You can send a man to Congress but you can’t make him think,” Milton Berle quipped in the 1950s.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, the socialist congressman representing The Bronx and Yonkers, is the latest political nitwit to vindicate Berle.
In his Instagram profile, Bowman boasts that he “causes good trouble.”
He posted on X Friday: “Republican math is causing a catastrophic shutdown that will force millions of working people to go without pay or lifesaving benefits and calling it ‘fiscal responsibility.’”
He condemned Republicans for being “so unserious.”
The next day, Bowman got serious by seeking to sabotage budget negotiations by pulling the fire alarm in a House office building.
Bowman’s disruption occurred just as Democratic congressional leaders were stalling for time.
Instead of the old question of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” the new mystery is: “Why did the boneheaded congressman pull the fire alarm?”
Bowman’s chief of staff Sarah Iddrissu claimed he “did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote.”
So Bowman thought that particular fire alarm was a decorative novelty, unconnected to any central system?
Late Saturday, Bowman issued a statement claiming he was “rushing to make a vote” and came to a door that would not open. “I thought the alarm would open the door,” he told reporters.
This is malarkey.
As Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted, “We don’t have to go outside to vote. All House and Senate office buildings are connected to the Capitol with tunnels, for getting to votes quickly.”
Maybe Bowman was so dumb he didn’t realize congressional office buildings are suffused with surveillance cameras to capture the perfidy of anyone who violates official rules.
It is not as if Bowman was sent to Congress from a backwoods haystack that lacks newfangled devices such as fire alarms.
Bowman spent 10 years as a Bronx school principal and routinely conducted fire drills for students. What would he have said if a student triggered a false fire alarm and defended himself by claiming he thought the switch would summon a magic carpet?
False alarm, real harm
Daniel McAdams, who worked a dozen years as a congressional staffer in the same building as Bowman, declared, “Pulling a false alarm like this with no emergency seriously puts lives in danger. There are limited exits and any panic can result in injury or worse. We had several of these alarms immediately post-9/11 and let me tell it’s no joke.”
Theoretically, Bowman could face the same harsh penalty as Jan. 6 protesters — who have been sent to prison for years for obstructing an official proceeding.
After the incident, Bowman spoke with Capitol Police. Was Bowman’s statement videotaped? If so, can we lowly private citizens view the “progressive highlights of 2023” tape?
Or will this be another case of the Capitol Police serving as craven tools of the political elite and sweeping their abuses under a rug?
Actually, pulling that fire alarm was a natural next step for a congressman who has always specialized in hysteria and claims he is stopping America from “sliding back into slavery.”
In April, he claimed reducing food-stamp benefits would be genocidal, leading to “death for 38 million Americans.” That meltdown was spurred by a congressional Republican proposal to require able-bodied adult food-stamp recipients to take a job — the worst form of tyranny.
In March, Bowman verbally assailed Rep. Massie near the House floor, raging because Massie supports the Second Amendment. Bowman raved: “Look at the data; you’re not looking at any data!” Nobody could look at anything while Bowman was screaming.
What will Bowman do next? Start throwing flash-bang grenades at conservative witnesses during congressional hearings? Set his office trash can on fire to protest the lack of Republican support for a Green New Deal? Protest high interest rates by hijacking an armored Brinks truck and crashing it into the entrance of the Federal Reserve?
Bowman sought to brush off the false alarm story Sunday: “My hope is that no one will make more of this than what it was.”
A simple question settles the controversy: Is Bowman a fool or a liar or both? Luckily for him, there is no such thing in DC as “too stupid to legislate.”