Patterico's Pontifications


Don’t Let Guam Tip Over

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson, who succeeded Cynthia McKinney in office, is worried Guam “may tip over and capsize:”

The second best part is the Naval officer’s measured response that “we don’t anticipate that.”

Allahpundit says this about Congressman Johnson:

“Via Weasel Zippers, a clip that’s destined to be viral by tomorrow morning. Even so, go easy on him. Yes, he was an Iraq defeatist, and granted, he demagogued Joe Wilson’s outburst in the scummiest way imaginable, but he’s also a guy with a serious illness that affects his mind (“he regularly gets lost in thought in the middle of a discussion”). Although if that’s what’s going on here, a polite question for Madam Speaker arises: What’s he doing at these hearings instead of resting?”

I also won’t belabor the point if Rep. Johnson is a sick man, but it’s entirely appropriate to ask Democratic leaders why they don’t do something. If they don’t, then clearly Democrats view a reliable vote as worth more than mental competence in America’s federal officeholders.

In other words, this is the attitude that Democrats expect from Americans:

Thank you, sir, may I have another?


66 Responses to “Don’t Let Guam Tip Over”

  1. This is the sort of person that makes the laws we have to live by.

    Is it too late to defect?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  2. Words escape me. I didn’t think anyone could top Cynthia McKinney.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  3. And were I that Naval Officer, my response would NOT have been that kind.

    My God it wouldn’t have been as kind…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  4. Well, if he’s ill then I won’t compare him to Sheila Jackson-Lee’s question about whether the Mars Pathfinder mission photographed the flag Neil Armstrong planted.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  5. The House Dems have the most awesome front bench in the history of the Republic.
    What could go wrong?

    AD - RtR/OS! (6f84de)

  6. He reminds me of the FL State rep who thought “Animal Husbandry” was people marrying animals…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  7. Sigh…you have to wonder sometimes what could make people elect someone like this, and then, I remember Deedee ‘It’s her turn’ Scozzafava, and it all becomes clear…

    MunDane (54a83b)

  8. Obviously you guys haven’t seen 2012.

    snips (6a0094)

  9. Another fine day for the Congressional Black Caucus.

    Boy that Sarah Palin is an idiot. And all those dumb racist teabaggers.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  10. And to think he won a runoff with Cynthia McKinney. One has to wonder what’s up with that Georgia district…

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  11. … anyone check his refrigerator lately?

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  12. One has to wonder what’s up with that Georgia district…

    I could explain it but I would be sentenced to 25 years in prison. But frankly, it is the simplest explanation in the planet and obvious to 99% of the population.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  13. “he’s also a guy with a serious illness that affects his mind”

    Hank is by no means unique. Isn’t it obvious that a lot of Democrat members of Congress have similar diseases?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Jeez. That was tough to watch. Why are his aides letting him talk? He clearly is medicated.

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  15. #12. No question mark needed.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  16. It’s awful. I don’t know the side effects of interferon and ribavirin, but obviously he is not altogether there. That the Dems don’t temporarily put him on a medical leave of absence or whatever the proper protocol is, makes it appear that he is just being grossly used…and it opens him up, as well as the Dems, to mockery.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  17. Mental competency — when disproved by something as powerful as this video — is an absolutely legitimate campaign issue, but there is a very significant danger of straying beyond what’s politically necessary to point out, and instead into poor taste or ghoulishness. Tread only lightly, then, on his illness and mental status.

    He’s a party-line Democrat. His campaign website includes a press release from January 16th in which he insisted, “I’m strong, I’m ready, I’m running!” If that was all true at all on that day, the first two elements clearly were no longer true when the video was made. More offensive — and without danger of anything other than generating the standard, absolutely mandatory accusation that I’m a racist for pointing this out — is his insistence that he’d already brought “more than $200 million in federal funds” to his Congressional district. I read this as bragging about graft, which ought to be disqualifying to a candidate of either party but is now, in fact, probably only disqualifying to Republicans, and maybe only a few of those.

    In particular, I would bet dollars to donuts that however well or long Rep. Johnson himself survives — and let’s wish him better health and much happiness in a well-deserved retirement! — Rep. Johnson’s district will survive the 2010 redistricting intact. I suspect that Alabama state legislators will be told by their lawyers that, indeed, his district must be maintained as an inviolately Democratic one during the redistricting process under continuing mandates of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 (as still interpreted). That seat isn’t going to be “in play” until, at a minimum, the section 5 pre-clearance requirements are repealed or allowed to expire, and possibly not until the Act is judicially reinterpreted to actually satisfy the Fourteenth Amendment (instead of nominally being used to subvert it in the name of remedying long-past state-sponsored racial discrimination). Don’t hold your breath.

    Beldar (7549b8)

  18. (I ought to have said “redistricting based on the 2010 Census” rather than the “2010 redistricting.” Best case that’s unlikely to happen before 2011, and as we showed in Texas in the past decade, it might not happen until even later in the decade, despite the implied federal constitutional imperative that it be accomplished right away.)

    Beldar (7549b8)

  19. Please stop the cock-tailing — the guy has been a fool for lots longer than his illness has “existed.”

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  20. Merely another reason why I don’t feel I’m being too facetious when I theorize that if 90% of black America suddenly became conservative (or truly centrist) instead of leftwing — if not loony left in particular — the remaining members of that community (not to mention “progressives” elsewhere) still tied to liberalism and the Democrat Party would seriously wonder if diversity and civil rights were all they were cracked up to be.

    Mark (411533)

  21. I have a personal complaint with Rep. Johnson.

    When he was running for Congress, Rep. Johnson posted a story at winds of change: see here. His post was seeking support from the readers of the site, and in his post, he said:

    And here’s a pledge: I pledge that, if elected, I will return to Winds of Change every so often to personally post an update on my experiences in the House and to hear from you. Blogs are a wonderful extension and expansion of the public discourse; they democratize society by removing barriers to influence and giving journalism a populist edge.

    He has not, to my knowledge, followed through on that pledge. A search of the site’s archive shows no such follow-up.

    It’s been four years. I don’t know if he made the pledge intending to break it, or if he just forgot, or what, but I feel somewhat betrayed by it in a way that I don’t when politicians break other promises.

    [This went to the filter for some unknown, and perhaps unknowable, reason. — DRJ]

    aphrael (4e93b5)

  22. Serious illness that affects his mind? When Rep. Johnson says that we must now all be concerned about global warming, I will be sure to take it seriously now.

    Wait, my island is only 7 miles from its apex and I think my wife is tipping it…better stop commenting now…before I piss off every voter in Georgia’s 4th District.

    Thorne (8fc7af)

  23. As far as I can tell, Rep Johnson suffers from Hepatitis C (HCV), whose long term (and apparently reversible) effects on cognition affect concentration and design or figure copying; but would not explain his rather bizarre concern about Guam capsizing.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  24. #21 Danke.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  25. #13 Eric Blair:

    Jeez. That was tough to watch.

    It can be tough to watch someone struggle with impaired concentration, stuttering, or aphasia, but its also important to remember that those aren’t necessarily indicators of diminished capacity by themselves.

    Rep Johnson votes the way he does because he’s a Democrat, not because he is ill.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  26. but would not explain his rather bizarre concern about Guam capsizing.

    That can easily be explained by the simple fact that he is a complete moron…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  27. I sent him the dimensions of Guam that I found on Wikipedia. I did not sent the information about earthquakes since I was not sure that he could handle it. /sarc
    I hope that a lot of people send his congressional offices little notes about Guam so that his staff realize that they let him make a fool of himself (and indirectly the USA since I am sure that this will play well overseas.) Maybe they will realize that they need to keep him in the office until there is a vote and they can tell him how to vote. I think that this guy must scare the Demoncrats more than Senator Reid does when it comes to a voice vote.

    Ed Patterson (860214)

  28. Patches had his home away from home in the Kennedy wing of the Hazelden Center. At least he had the good sense to finally decide not to run again this year.

    I don’t know enough about Hank to understand his excuse. Hasn’t he socked away enough graft yet?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  29. 3.And were I that Naval Officer, my response would NOT have been that kind.

    My God it wouldn’t have been as kind

    That Naval officer is ADM Willard, Commander USPACOM. Of course, I can call him “Rat” as that was his callsign when I met him as the CO of VF-51, the Screaming Eagles.

    He’s a pretty cool guy with a good sense of humor. He was one of the advisors on “Topgun” and also was one of the MiG pilots in the movie.

    You don’t get selected for the carrier CO pipeline unless you’ve got a little bit on the ball, and you don’t get 4 stars unless you have some self-control and diplomatic ability. Not that they can’t do snark. Just not with a Congress full of egos like Barbara “call me Senator” Boxer.

    An Admiral I worked for attended a fleet review in Malaysia, with a more senior ADM bumped into a North Korean Admiral. As I heard it, the North Korean said, “Do you know who I am? I am the man who siezed the Pueblo.” And the US Admiral shot back, “Yeah, there’s a lot of piracy in these waters. That’s why we need such a strong naval presence.”

    I could speculate about what may be the main subject of jokes at whatever bar a certain Admiral is hanging out at on Friday, but if Henry Waxman runs across this comment he may start demanding everyone’s e-mails and personal testimony.

    Steve (7d8b00)

  30. I get the feeling that all of Washington is going mad.

    Seriously, in 20 years, what will we think of this period?!

    Patricia (fa8e06)

  31. Seriously, in 20 years, what will we think of this period?!

    Allow me to terrify you…

    “An economic Golden Age”

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  32. Considering how long Teddy Kennedy stayed in the Senate after he was known to have brain cancer, this is merely the Democrats’ SOP. Besides, someone who’s impaired is likelier to believe the rubbish they spout.

    Technomad (e2c0f2)

  33. Comment by EW1(SG) — 3/31/2010 @ 9:53 pm

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6f84de)

  34. FYI: My email (I used the link above for Hank Johnson) bounce with this response.
    Reason: No Such User Here”
    I guess I knew that from the video.

    Ed Patterson (860214)

  35. Steve (#29 — 3/31/2010 @ 10:18 pm): Great comment, thank you. I was wondering who the officer was, and now I feel like I know some important things about him, in addition to the fact (obvious on the tape) that he’s a consummate professional. Go Navy!

    Beldar (7549b8)

  36. So who helps him cast his vote on legislation?

    roy (0692a4)

  37. From The Hill:

    Like other islands, Guam is attached to the sea floor, which makes it extremely unlikely that it will tip over, even if there are lots and lots of people on it. Guam is 30 miles long and up to 9 miles wide in certain spots, with a population of 175,000 civilians. The military is proposing the addition of 8,000 U.S. servicememebers and their families.

    Reached for comment, a spokesman for Johnson said the lawmaker had visited Guam, and his concern was that the influx of military personnel would overwhelm the island’s infrastructure and ecosystem.

    I’m kind of skeptical though. Did the reporter actually go to Guam and see firsthand that it’s attached to the sea floor?

    Andrew (015073)

  38. No need to fear, Guamanians. If all of you stand perfectly still in the middle of the island, there is no danger of tipping. Besides, balancing exercises are said to be good for the brain.

    Jaime (88d0da)

  39. The question must be asked – why is such a man, sick or not, sitting in Congress voting on laws that bind us all?

    Is he any better than Murtha was?

    This question WILL NOT BE ASKED in any significant public forum. Watch this video and understand that parasites doom our entire society.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  40. After decades of Maxine Waters and Dennis Kucinich, is there any doubt that “… Democrats view a reliable vote as worth more than mental competence”?

    Seriously, is there anybody on the planet that has even a shred of a vestige of a scintilla of a doubt that this is true?

    Steve Levy (3ddd9d)

  41. I’m surprised he didn’t ask the U.S. Navy officer if he feared sailing off the edge of the earth.

    He obviously has ingested too much MSLSD.

    Alta Bob (e8af2b)

  42. Two thoughts:


    – his behavior is not typical of being on ribavirin and interferon. Perhaps he tolerates it worse than any patient I’ve ever seen on it.
    – I would expect diminished capacity from ribavirin and interferon, as well as from Hep C, to cause difficulty in concentration, poor memory, poor judgement. As EW1(SG) stated, I’m not sure I would expect it (alone) to give someone ideas like an island tipping over.
    – Mental status changes from liver disease, HepC or otherwise, occur when liver function is severly compromised. I have seen patients with mental status changes from HepC respond well to treatment, and hopefully he will. Someone who persists with clouded mental state from liver disease would be in line for a liver transplant, unless judged not a candidate.
    – Certainly medical opinions from a distance are fraught with error, but regardless, as is obvious to everyone, taking medical leave and concentrating on getting well would be in order. I don’t think one could write this off as “a bad day” and expect things to be better tomorrow.

    From what I remember of Rep. McKinney, if this was the worst we had to deal with from Rep. Johnson, we might still be ahead with him there.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  43. Hank is a nice fellow with a good family. His wife is also very nice.
    If a staffer gave him the comment and question it was an early April Fool joke.
    If he did it himself he is running for the Roman Hruska Award for defending the “mediocre.”
    I used to live in that district and had to suffer with Cynthia McKinney. My condolences for those who are Hank’s beleaguered inhabitants.
    This is one of those “if you are not embarrassed by this then we are embarrassed for you” moments.

    velville (8566a7)

  44. Yes, Scott Jacobs, “We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

    Patricia (fa8e06)

  45. This guy is a flipping idiot.

    Good thing he’s not in charge of something important, like our health care. Oh, wait…

    Paul (b28434)

  46. You are all bigoted racists who should be ashamed of yourselves.

    JD (3b62be)

  47. I am convinced that foreign agents have put something in the water in DC, because the sheer lunacy that is being demonstrated there has no other explanation. On the other hand, why would AlQuida or any other organization bother to try to destroy us at this point since we are doing such a fine job all on our own?

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  48. Hank Johnson responds. Apparently he writes far more elegantly and coherently than he speaks. Hmm…

    “I wasn’t suggesting that the island of Guam would literally tip over 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 on the tiny island with a population of 180,000 – could be a tipping point which could adversely affect the island’s fragile ecosystem and could overburden its stressed infrastructure. Having traveled to Guam last year, I saw firsthand how this beautiful – but vulnerable island – could easily become overburdened, and I was simply voicing my concerns that the addition of that many people could tip the delicate balance and do permanent harm to Guam.”

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  49. It’s always amusing when the Congressman’s written views sound completely different from what they actually say.

    I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt of being drunk or on pain medication and simply being incoherent and disinterested in his work on the people’s behalf. He’s just another jerk, and I guess he took a nice vacation in Guam at my expense, too.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  50. His explanation is not completely impossible, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Not everyone gets to carry his teleprompter with him everywhere he goes.

    SPQR (8475fc)

  51. It’s not impossible, SPQR, and it’s embarrassing enough that he was being so incoherent.

    But he was talking about the fragile coral reefs being destroyed and the island, quote, “capsizing”, with insane arm movements illustrating this disaster. I don’t think he had any idea what he was trying to say, though, and it just came out when he ran out of things to complain about. Probably on drugs, and desperate for universal health care to help him get into a rehab spa.

    When I’m on crack, I say silly stuff too, and people always give me a hard time about it. It’s just more polite to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  52. If you look really, really closely at the video, you can just barely make out a slight little smile-like movement on his face just after the word “capsize,” so I’m sure he was just using (what he though was) an amusing metaphor. But his prior rambling about the island’s dimensions certainly set him up for this misunderstanding, and will probably not sound so great to his constituents.

    Andrew (015073)

  53. Which is preferable, on drugs or hepatic encephalopathy?

    Sounds like he has someone competent on his staff trying to prop him up- but maybe they should put him on medical leave instead.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  54. I think someone wrote it for him.

    Cynicism is my new default position.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  55. Dana, of course. Sadly, that’s the norm.

    The idea that our leaders should write their own views is simply out of step with DC. I don’t know why. Seems like we might as well elect the speech writers and reduce staff to a couple per house member and proportional for Senators.

    They don’t need Legislative Correspondents. They need blogs.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  56. There is something more severe going on in the California State Senate along these lines. Pat Wiggins, a Santa Rosa Democrat, has obvious and serious brain issues that have been an open secret for years.

    Wiggins’ erratic behavior is the stuff of legend: She cut off a black pastor at a committee she chaired by saying “I think your arguments are bulls—.”

    After that, she resigned leadership of committees she chaired, and the Senate no longer allowed public access telecasts of committee meetings she attended. But there are still audio recordings, which allow us to hear Wiggins lose her cool. In the midst of testimony in another committee, she screamed three separate times for staffers to refill her pitcher of water. In both cases, other Senators just pretended she hadn’t said anything, and continued with their business. There are other reports of her short fuse when dealing with colleagues, including one time when she allegedly had to be physically restrained from a confrontation with another female Senator.

    CA Dems have been long resisting ousting Wiggins now because she is a party-line vote, and they aren’t sure her replacement from a special election would necessarily be. She’s announced she won’t be running for re-election after all due to an undisclosed illness, and she will remain at home and not travel to Sacramento anymore — unless the Dems need her vote. As KGO-TV (San Francisco) reporter Dan Noyes said in the above-linked report from March 25, the situation now is unlikely to change any further unless Wiggins starts voting with the CA Republicans. :\

    L.N. Smithee (9119f4)

  57. Heh. Steyn on Guam tipping over,

    “Watching the Commander of the Pacific Fleet’s deadpan face as Congressman Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) asks him about the danger of the island of Guam tipping over and capsizing is a glimpse of how the viziers to the loopier Ottoman sultans must have felt.”

    L.N., you’re right about Wiggins – one of the talk radio shows down here play a recording of her last rant at a committee meeting, and holy smokes, she was just loony. She, as well as Johnson, are being shamefully used by their colleagues.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  58. If I were the Admiral, I would have told that looney-tunes congressman that the Navy had a number of excess observation blimps left over from WWI and they would anchor them along the rim of Guam to keep the island from tipping, if it became necessary.

    tmac (5559f7)

  59. Hepatitis C, my foot. He’s a demented old drunk.

    nk (db4a41)

  60. he’s a liberal, which is essentially the same thing.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  61. Ho lee shit. This dope’s in congress? (And yet he makes a whole lot more sense than Barry O.)

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  62. I was wondering when people were going to say it was an early April Fools joke! They need to blame this insanity on something. I think everyone has gone completely out of their minds. But I guess since Pelosi is the one who appointed him, then we don’t need to look any further do we?? God help us!

    Becca (0119c5)

  63. Anyone who knows anything about the current buildup in Guam is aware that there is a very real concern that the large influx of Marines and their families relocating from Japan will create a tremendous stress on the infrastructure and public utilities on the Island. I don’t know anything about Hank Johnson, but the metaphor was well understood by the residents of Guam, including Michael W. Cruz, lieutenant governor of Guam and an Army National Guard colonel. Those of us who are residents of Guam or have family residing on Guam, as well as military planners, certainly are aware of the issue and understood the metaphor. See this article in the AirForce Times: . Anyone who did not get the metaphor either is not really aware of the issue or has a rather low I.Q.

    C.W. Juhl (70b4b9)

  64. Mr./Ms. Juhl,

    I hope you can find much better spokespersons for your concerns than Rep. Johnson. Some of us have reasonable IQ’s and did not see the use of a metaphor. Perhaps it was written for him as a metaphor, as the official release from his office states. If so, he was impaired to the degree he failed to communicate that.

    I can certainly understand that such a concern exists, and I can understand that those who know of the problem “knew better” than to take him literally, but that was because you already knew the problem and knew what he should have been saying.

    Thank you for pointing out there is some degree of substance behind his comments, but maybe next time you could spare the unnecessary insults.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  65. is this guy a ******* idiot? Makes me sick!

    christian (6b2c0d)

  66. Comment by C.W. Juhl — 4/2/2010 @ 8:51 am

    If Rep. Johnson is unable to clearly and succinctly express himself in this important hearing, how and what might he appear to be misrepresenting or misleading committees on in other vital hearings?

    From what I’ve read online and heard on the radio/TV news, the reaction here toward Rep. Johnson is typical and consistent. You might condescend to us and assume we are not aware of the potential problem that could come about on Guam, but to the vast majority that was not a metaphor – that was the incoherent rambling of someone who needs help. Seriously, would you want your representative to be inarticulate and without clarity?

    Dana (1e5ad4)

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