Let’s be clear: The video below is not an April Fool’s Day prank.
Last Thursday morning, at a House Armed Services Committee meeting, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Decatur) was questioning Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific, about the impact of more American troops on the tiny, tiny island of Guam.
Johnson went into tortuous detail about just how tiny Guam is.
And then he said this:
“My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”
Johnson’s office said the boss is simply a tremendous deadpan — and that he was using a facetious metaphor. (More on that below) But the admiral didn’t know that, and played it straight:
“We don’t anticipate that. The Guam population, I think, currently about 175,000, and again, with 8,000 marines and their families, it’s an addition of about 25,000 more into the population.”
Either way, talk radio is having a field day with this today:
Just in case you still think you may be a victim of the day, the Johnson video comes from the video feed of the House Armed Services Committee web site. His questioning of the admiral begins at about the 1:31 mark.
Here’s a formal response from Johnson, via his spokesman:
“I wasn’t suggesting that the island of Guam would literally tip over,” said Johnson. “I was using a metaphor to say that with the addition of 8,000 Marines and their dependents – an additional 80,000 people during peak construction to the port on the tiny island with a population of 180,000 – could be a tipping point which would adversely affect the island’s fragile ecosystem and over burden its already overstressed infrastructure.
“Having traveled to Guam last year, I saw firsthand how this beautiful – but vulnerable island – is already overburdened, and I was simply voicing my concerns that the addition of that many people could tip the delicate balance and do harm to Guam.”
Next time, Johnson might want to smile when he says that.
Down on the coast, U.S. Rep. John Barrow continues to explain his vote against the Obama health care law. The Democrat had an op-ed in Wednesday’s Savannah Morning News that included this paragraphs:
Here’s what my vote came down to: I thought the legislation was going to cost working folks too much money in increased taxes, and I didn’t think it was going to do enough to make the insurance companies change their stripes. It also threatens to overwhelm Medicaid in rural areas, because it’s going to grow the number of patients on Medicaid at the very time that health care providers are dropping Medicaid patients.
I wholeheartedly support the goal of extending coverage to those who can’t afford it, and growing Medicaid is a key feature of that goal. But over 100,000 people will be joining a system here in Georgia that’s already at its limits. We have to fix Medicaid before we grow it, or we’re going to break it. It won’t break down everywhere, and it won’t be obvious where it has broken down: When doctors no longer take Medicaid patients, the rest of us won’t notice. Only the ones we thought we were helping will notice. They’ll have a card, but it won’t do them any good.
The Republican attempt to impeach Attorney General Thurbert Baker for his refusal to obey Gov. Sonny Perdue’s directive to file a legal challenge to the new health care law hit cable TV on Wednesday.
State Rep. Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross), sponsor of the impeachment resolution, was on Fox News, of course:
Just as predictably, Baker was interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” There was this exchange:
Matthews: Why does the governor of your state think the civil rights bill was constitutional, using interstate commerce – or would he have said that? Or would he be doing the same thing back then if he were governor? I’m asking a tough question. Is he playing the same game that people played back then?
Baker: I can’t attribute any motives to this governor. But let me say this: since 1937, this country has been very clear through our U.S. Supreme Court – that Congress has a very, very expansive commerce-clause power.
Here’s the video:
There’s been talk that the impeachment attempt will bolster Baker’s Democratic campaign for governor. A bit of proof is this Wednesday statement from the Rev. Joe Lowery, the civil rights patriarch, in support of the attorney general:
” The nation needs strong leaders to call for calm and sensible reaction to controversial legislative and political action, as well as common sense in refusing to throw Georgia tax monies after risky causes, for history has shown futility of using ’states’ rights’ to defy federal law.
“We respectfully urge civic and religious leaders to speak out for calm — not merely politicians, particularly from those who lose with bitterness and rancor. I commend Attorney General Thurbert Baker for exercising courage in not throwing away tax money. Reckless rhetoric from whatever source can only lead to irresponsible behavior. We need statesmen who will honor and oversee the public trust toward the goodwill of our cities, states and country.”
Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown of Macon says his Republican colleagues are using threats to persuade Democrats to support a $169 million hospital bed tax.
“Democrats across the state were threatened today by Republican leadership — vote for the tax increase or we will kill funding for your local projects,” Brown said in a statement released Wednesday evening.
Brown said GOP leadership targeted historically black colleges and university projects, naming the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center in Albany as one of the targets.
“Why do you need to shake down the Democrats when you hold the majority? Pass your own tax increase. Don’t hide behind us,” said Brown.
HB 307, the hospital bed tax, is on the Senate calendar for today. The minority leader thinks that the threats indicate a split in Republican ranks over the tax.
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