Your morning jolt: Hank Johnson and a ‘capsizing’ Guam

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.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

241 comments Add your comment


April 1st, 2010
9:08 am

What the desperados at the state capitol have done is given Thurbert Baker all the earned media he needed to bump his numbers up in the polls. They are really gonna be sorry in November. What idiots! Shooting their own foot off because they are so bent on being right! Georgia consistently tries to be on the wrong side of history. They can’t seem to grasp reality–voters may not want healthcare but they sure don’t want their tax dollars wasted on crazy impeachment attempts. The more than 30 legislators that signed this impeachment legislation should have targets on their back. Where is our transportation, water and jobs legislation? Where is the strong ethics legislation? I know my vote will count heavily on their actions–not their rhetoric!

Junior Samples

April 1st, 2010
9:19 am


April 1st, 2010
9:22 am

Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the usual left-leaning commentators have to say about Hank Johnson. For as much as they call Republicans idiots, none of them, George II included, could be as moronic as Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson.

The Dogfighter Returns

April 1st, 2010
9:28 am

Hank was momentarily in “la la ” land. Poor guy. Maybe his illness is more serious that anyone imagined.

Clearly the man is exhibiting signs of mental instability.

What a gift to Jones.

An Island capsizing? :)

“we don’t anticipate that happening” No Sh#t.

Georgia Conservative

April 1st, 2010
9:28 am

Incredible. How dumb can Hank Johnson be? His constituents shun run, not walk, to vote this guy out of office.

On the impeachment front: of course this is politics. Should Baker be acting against this Federal overstep? Sure, he should. Are Republicans giving him what he needs to make King Roy spend some of his campaign war chest before November? Absolutely.

On the hospital tax front, here’s an idea. Don’t vote for the tax AND kill the spending for the special projects (both for Republicans and Democrats). Taxpayers are gagging on all of this pork.

Georgia Conservative

April 1st, 2010
9:30 am

Er, that’s “should” not “shun.”


April 1st, 2010
9:30 am

Congressmen are supposed to represent their districts. I think Mr. Johnson represents Georgia’s 4th to the letter.

Doug Patterson

April 1st, 2010
9:32 am

Hank Johnson is a IDIOT! But unfortunately he is a shining example of what we elect to Congress. John Lewis, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, etc. Now if a Republican had said that it would be reported all over the media!


April 1st, 2010
9:32 am

Johnson was better than McKinney, but his time to go is now.
After his racist explaination of why Joe Wilson shouting “You lie” was racist, I am done with him. I will vote for whoever has the best chance of unseating him in the primary. I just hope that’s not Vernon Jones because it looks like his administration will be costing DeKalb millions in descrimination settlements.


April 1st, 2010
9:33 am

These are indeed the people who are making our laws. Unbelievable. Time for a restructure and I do mean a restructure.

[...] Headline: Hank Johnson and a ‘capsizing’ Guam [...]

Guy Incognito

April 1st, 2010
9:40 am

Later Hank said he fears people leaving California because that would mean the East Coast will tip into the Atlantic


April 1st, 2010
9:40 am

At the risk of stating the obvious, isn’t it likely that Rep. Johnson was using a “metaphor,” defined thusly in

   /ˈmɛtəˌfɔr, -fər/
a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.”

I suspect Johnson was suggesting that the island’s resources would be overtaxed with the additional personnel. Right or wrong, it’s a bit silly to suggest that any pol — right or left — who uses a metaphor is a dope.


April 1st, 2010
9:41 am

Don’t look now but Johnson’s career just capsized – I wouldn’t let him bag my dang groceries, and now that racist Vernon Jones has a good shot at the seat. When will we have strong representation in Dekalb county? At least Cynthia McKinney is gone.

John Konop

April 1st, 2010
9:42 am

You might find this interesting from the military. The military does think GW is an issue with islands.

….U.S. intelligence officials are drafting a national intelligence assessment that will list those countries thought to be most vulnerable to sea-level rises and political instability resulting from global warming, said Michele Brunngraber, an intelligence official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The assessment, which is expected to be finished by late spring or early summer, will take a more detailed, geographic look at the national security implications of global warming than a report released in May 2007 by a panel of retired U.S. three- and four-star generals and admirals, Brunngraber said April 9 during a panel discussion at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. National intelligence assessments tend to be less quantitative than the better known national intelligence estimates, she said after her talk.

It is not just low-lying, developing countries that need to be thinking about the possible physical implications of rising sea levels, said former Army official Ray Clark, who as an assistant Army secretary from 1999 through 2001 was responsible for caring for the Army’s 2,000 installations around the world.

“If we don’t find some ways to mitigate [the effects of global warming] … this next round of base closures is going to be really a terror,” Clark said.

For instance, suppose U.S. officials decide to consolidate facilities at Guam, he said. “Do we have a clue as to how many years we have until rising sea water affects that?” Clark said.

Clark said the next U.S. presidential administration should create a new secretary of environment and energy to get those agencies working together to curb global warming instead of at cross purposes. But he said military officials will need to adapt to warming because its effects are coming faster than efforts to curb warming…..


April 1st, 2010
9:43 am

No Doug – Johnson is a dumb !#$ incapable of speaking clearly, much less communicating an appropriate metaphor.


April 1st, 2010
9:45 am

Hank Johnson is obviously impaired by illness, incapacity, or lack of ability. It’s no different than the majority of those idiots, and many of them obviously spend their days in a haze of drugs, alcohol, or grand delusions.


April 1st, 2010
9:46 am

What do these people want? Do they want health care for all, or do they want to tie everyone and their tax dollars up in litigation for the rest of the centry. Get over it, if you didn’t want healthcare reform, you lost, let’s go on to something else more meaningful, like more jobs.

Look before I leap

April 1st, 2010
9:47 am

Vernon Jones running for the 4th???
Say it ain’t so!
As crooked as he was as Dekalb’s CEO, can you imagine just how much more crooked he will be once he is on the federal teat?

Look before I leap

April 1st, 2010
9:53 am

Dekalb will have decent representation in Congress when its citizens stop voting for people simply based on skin color.
Vote for someone who can actually represent us and get the job done without regard to skin color. Vote for someone with integrity and intelligence be they black, white, purple or green.

conservative democrat

April 1st, 2010
9:54 am

Let’s give Hank the benefit of the doubt…at least he’s not Cynthia McKinney! It was just a joke. I didn’t say it was funny, but surely he wasn’t serious.


April 1st, 2010
9:55 am

Doug, your response was a bit condescending, don’t you think? I’m quite confident the readers of this site understand what a metaphor is and, more importantly, when the technique is or is not being used.

But I’ll play along with your game:

id·i·ot   /ˈɪdiət/ Show Spelled[id-ee-uht]
–noun utterly foolish or senseless person.
2.Psychology. a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

Used in a sentence: Hank Johnson and Doug are both idiots.


April 1st, 2010
9:57 am

I heard this on the radio, and perhaps thought that he was exaggerating or using a metaphor for overpopulating Guam… but as I see the video, the Rep actually leans his body to emphasize his concern for the island actually tipping.
Then, Notice the Admiral hold his laughter and the lady smiling at the his remarks..
Did he not go over his questions with aids? Maybe the aids are too scared to say, “sir, islands do not tip over”


April 1st, 2010
9:58 am

Yank Hank in 2010 … and Jones is running for Senate, I thought … but perhaps I’m mistaken.


April 1st, 2010
10:01 am

Actaully Hank is correct, 25,000 more people to a place like Guam is like having a boat over capacity. How would you like 25,000 more people in your community? Shall I say – our schools are already over crowded, traffic is a mess and they can’t stop cutting down trees to build more houses. I feel sorry for the people of Guam, God please have mercy on them.

[...] Jim Galloway notes this morning, state Representative Mark Hatfield was on Your World with Neil Cavuto yesterday on FOX News to [...]


April 1st, 2010
10:06 am

How can you expect morons who think Sarah Palin is a ‘leader’ to understand that he was speaking metaphorically? Heck, most of these Fox News idiots can’t even read the menu board at a McDonald’s drive-thu.

Guy Incognito

April 1st, 2010
10:09 am

Those of you who believe that HJ was joking, I know who you voted for, and it merely reaffirms how B.O.(pew, try some deodorant) was elected


April 1st, 2010
10:10 am

While I am sure that Hank was just trying for effect, it is odd that we are sending so many troops to Guam. I know one of them. I asked him why he was going there. “I don’t know” he replied.


April 1st, 2010
10:11 am

Hank is a true representative of his constituents. Remember, these constituents were once proudly represented by the honorable Mrs. McKinney.


April 1st, 2010
10:12 am

Hank Johnson is an idiot and those who say he was using a metaphor are fools. Why can’t the 4th find a capable black person. We know it won’t elect a white due the the racist composition of its black population. But why can’t we find a capable black person???


April 1st, 2010
10:18 am

This may have been deadpanhumor but he also showed his ignorance by being unable to determine the square miles of Guak. Just multiply 12×7 Hank.


April 1st, 2010
10:19 am

Excuse me Hank as I showed my inability to spel or maybe typel. It is Guam.


April 1st, 2010
10:20 am

I don’t proof read either.


April 1st, 2010
10:25 am

Gwammm really be sinkin’. Dat’s da trut


April 1st, 2010
10:26 am

I don’t think Hank Johnson is smart enough to know what dead-panning is. Obviously, his spokesperson is smarter, more articulate, and knows how to spin things better than he does.


April 1st, 2010
10:27 am

Maybe they are afraid to drill for oil because they think the continents will sink.


April 1st, 2010
10:30 am

Anyone who says he was using a metaphor is being intellectually dishonest, or they’re just plain stupid. Watch the video…the man literally pantomimes a boat capsizing (w/ his hand). He’s not being deep, or trying to speak on the taxing of the islands resources, or social services. This guy had LOST IT. Be it from his illness, the medications he’s taking, or whatever, this is embarassing…and he should be recalled and removed from office, before he starts ranting about some other nonsense. Yet another shining example of what voting based on ‘he look like me’ gets you.


April 1st, 2010
10:33 am

How dumb is Hank Johnson, doesn’t he realize the military can solve that problem by distributing it’s forces evenly around the island instead of just in one spot? That way it won’t tip over! ;-)


April 1st, 2010
10:38 am

Are Hank Johnson and Reilly Martin related?

Avery Bundren

April 1st, 2010
10:38 am

Leave it to some South Georgia cracker (Hatfield) to bring Georgia back into the Confederacy. Perhaps we could fire on Ft. Sumter again or its equivalent. What’s wrong with this state?


April 1st, 2010
10:43 am

Listen, all you idiots. Johnson was just being facetious. Maybe the joke fell flat, but he knows the island is not going to tip over. Lighten up!
And Chris Matthews, of course Perdue would have fought civil rights legislation as unconstitutional back then just like every other southern politician did. This fight over healthcare is reminiscent of that time.


April 1st, 2010
10:44 am

How did Haiti stay afloat after it cracked?

Old guy

April 1st, 2010
10:44 am

I watched the video and Representative Johnson did not appear to be making a joke or using a metaphor. If he was then he is the most deadpan comedian I have ever seen and is in the wrong line of work. He could make more money as an entertainer than as a member of congress. I think one of the most helpful things we could do is to amend the Constitution to add term limits for congressmen and senators. How about 3 terms (6 years total) for congressmen and 2 terms (12 years total) for senators. And include a provision that would prohibit a person who has served in either house of Congress from running for the other house. Let’s eliminate the “permanent” congress person.


April 1st, 2010
10:46 am

Sorry but I just looked at the tape. He did not appear to be deadpanning and he nor speaking metaphorically. If that was his intent, which I doubt, he did a very poor job of it. So I am left with he is either worst case a fool or best case he made himself look like a fool. Intensely embarrassing to those he represents either way.

The good admiral didn’t do himself any image favors either by remaining in the congressional rear kissing mode. He should have asked the congressman a clarifying question then politely set him straight.


April 1st, 2010
10:48 am

“What do these people want? Do they want health care for all, or do they want to tie everyone and their tax dollars up in litigation for the rest of the centry. Get over it, if you didn’t want healthcare reform, you lost, let’s go on to something else more meaningful, like more jobs.”

Maybe, just maybe, if the Dem’s would have lead with action on the people’s top priority (the economy) instead of health care changes few wanted and most despise (read the polls) they wouldn’t have ticked off half of the population to the brink of open tax rebellion. Fixing the economy runs counter the Dem agenda, so I guess we won’t ever see any real action on that. Creating government jobs will NOT fix the economy. Cutting taxes and government spending and incentivizing private investment in America will. A vote for the Baker’s and Johnson’s and Barnes’ of the world is a vote for more decay.

JD in Marietta

April 1st, 2010
10:50 am

Is there not 1 intelligent person capable of running against Hank Johnson in the 4th district? There must be something in the water in Dekalb when you keep electing the likes of Cynthia McKinney, then Hank Johnson, and unfortunately maybe that knucklehead racist Vernon Jones…..


April 1st, 2010
10:52 am

Maybe with all the lobbyist, Georgia Power lobbyist, Altanta gas and Light Lobbyist, BCBS lobbyist, and the inflated weight of the General Assemblies egos, and the weight of worthless paperwork on stupid bills will cause the Gold Dome to plunge in the ground. I like the capize theory. Maybe it can apply to a big sink hole for these stupid lawmakers in the General ASSembly.


April 1st, 2010
10:54 am

FYI, There are jokes that don’t end with “you might be a redneck.”

Scooter (the Original)

April 1st, 2010
10:59 am

Yeah, and Sheila Jackson Lee asked if the mars rover took pictures of the U.S. Flag that Armstrong planted in 1969.

Candidate Barack Obama said he would US the UN Security Council to reprimand Russia for their invasion of Georgia. Well, you would think a constitutional law Professor would know Russia can veto anything in the Security Council.

NOW, reading HJ’s apologists makes me think of what George W. Bush once said; Democrats practice the soft bigotry of low expectations… enough said!