Apr 2, 2010

On Hank Johnson, Guam, and Metaphors

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Aerial view of Apra Harbor on the island of GuamLeft: Aerial view of Apra Harbor on the island of Guam

I read a few blog skewerings of the rhetoric used by Hank Johnson (D-GA) regarding Guam. If you missed the C-SPAN clip that has gone viral on the Internet, Johnson suggested that the island of Guam might "tip over and capsize" if plans by the U.S. military proceed to relocate some 10,000 Marines and their dependents to the island from Okinawa.

Let's employ Occam's razor here. Which is easier to believe: that Rep. Johnson used a metaphor (or clunky wording, or dry humor, or convoluted rhetoric) or that a person with two academic degrees and 25 years as a practicing attorney actually believes that an island can capsize?

As I mentioned on another site, I'll grant that Johnson sounds less-than-stellar as a rhetorician here, and I might even accept that he comes across like a mush-mouthed tool. However, it is difficult for me to believe that this former lawyer and jurist really thinks islands can capsize. We might also consider Johnson's discussion partner, a naval admiral, when deciding if there is a plausible context to the use of the nautical term "capsize."

Moreover, while on the subject, Johnson raised an interesting point about sustainability on Guam: with a population density of 839 people per square mile, the population density of Guam is almost as high as Japan. Quite a few invasive species have disrupted the ecosphere of Guam, and the influx of the U.S. Marine Corps' 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force will result in a 10 percent or more rise in the island's population, no doubt adding to the environmental challenges of the island. In addition, during the peak of construction for the new base the island's population is expected to swell by 79,000 people, a whopping 45 percent increase in human beings on the 209 square mile island.

Perhaps we should be more concerned that the military spokesperson could not provide even rough estimates about the size of the island - you would think if he were testifying before Congress he would be prepped beforehand about geographic and demographic data. The figures that the supposedly brain-dead Hank Johnson pulled off the top of his head were fairly accurate, while Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific fleet, was unable to provide any data.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you really sticking up for this mindless idiot, Mikey???? He's an even bigger fool than Cynthia McKinney!

historymike said...

I am not "sticking up for" Johnson, Anonymous, but merely pointing out that his claim of capsize as a metaphor is plausible.

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Mad Jack said...

Face it, HistoryMike. You're sticking up for Hank Johnson, a tried and true moonbat, and you don't want to admit it.

Johnson has distinguished himself as new holder of the Dan Quayle Award, moonbat division. He did so by making a joke that few understood and is now being castigated by a small faction of the commercial press, who we hope saw this as the cure for a fossilized news day.

This whole fiasco is a very sad reflection of the commercial news media in general and partisanship in particular. Haven't we got enough problems without creating more?

Randy said...

I watched the video (it's removed from the site you link to, Mike) to see if I could tell if Admiral Willard took "capsize" literally. Arguably, he did: he paused before answering the question, so perhaps he was trying to figure out how to respond nicely. On the other hand, the Admiral seemed woefully unprepared for any questions about what this deployment would do to Guam. I will wager that he expected committee members to listen respectfully, and approve whatever he said. Hearing real questions and real concerns was something he hadn't expected.

I'm not necesarily faulting the Admiral. I'm sure his expectation of "testimony before the Committee as a routine ritual" was something developed through experience.

Lee said...

First off, Admiral Willard is Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, not the Pacific Fleet Commander -- there's a significant difference in the scope of responsibility. The Asia Pacific area of responsibility encompasses more than 100 million square miles and 36 countries. The precise dimensions of an island, albeit an important one, sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is not something America needs a strategic, combatant commander to be concerned with. And yes, his testimony before congress was a routine ritual; the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command submits annual testimony before the Senate and House Armed Service Committees. Although it is an annually recurring event, I can assure you that the Admiral commits an immense amount of time and resources to prepare for his testimony. I wouldn't say the Admiral seemed "unprepared"....more likely he found it difficult to muster a polite response to the bizarre ramblings of Rep Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who heard the rhetoric knows he meant exactly what he said. No metaphor. Sorry.

I guess when you have a President who thinks there are 58 States, the fact that an elected Congressman thinks an island could capsize shouldn't surprise anyone.

Anonymous said...

I watched the video a couple of times. It seems to me the congressman had a liquid lunch and was being serious.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you know very little about GA politics. First of all, a cursory view of daytime programming will no doubt illustrate that passing the bar exam isn't exactly jumping the Grand Canyon. So just because he's a lawyer doesn't mean he is intelligent. Second, he has 2 degrees? Again, given the plethora of idiotic professors in academia today, this isn't surprising. Third, he would hardly be the first idiot politician from GA. McKinney has already been mentioned. The more idiotic the voter, the more likely they will vote their kind. So a politician only needs achieve the median idiocy level of his constituency +1 to have a decent chance at being elected. Given the fact that both he and McKinney represented Dekalb County, getting elected was probably TOO easy. I have NO doubt he really thought Guam would capsize.

Matt Conway said...

Johnson is the only guy who has said anything intellegent about the move of Marines from Okanawa to Guam. I have lived on the island for a total of seven years out of the last 13. My son, a graduate of Guam high school, was actually a Marine assigned to Okanawa for one year. Guam's infrastructure cannot currently support the expected number of new residents, either temporary or permanent, associated with the build-up. Guam is a negected piece of the United States that most folks can't even find on a map. Worst of all is the state of the public school system. Shame on America for treating this terrority so badly. 8000 hard drinking Marines will ruin this island, and my son the former Marine infantry seargent agrees.

Anonymous said...

I also served on Guam for a staggering three and a half years with the Navy helicopter squadron on Andersen Airforce Base,and to make matters worse I was born and raised in Georgia. So listening to Representative Johnson ramble on about an impossible occurance was not only saddening but also frightening! Although he did have numerical representation to "back" his theory up he lacked the scope to realize that one fully loaded B-52 bomber (which makes annual rotations to Guam) out-weighs nearly every Marine and his dependents combined. No the island's infrastructure would not crumble. The military owns so much more land than is being utilized as of now, and the influx in population might just bring enough money to the island's housing market that more jobs and in turn more opportunities present themselves for the local Chamorro people. The island has a problem with the school system because they are constantly misusing and abusing the budget that is alloted them via an American public that as you said earlier tends to forget about them. Many of the locals don't care enough about their island to scrap their cars when they break down as is evident with one drive down any road in Guam...why would they be any different when it came to the condition of the schools...last year alone they received over $249 million dollars in Federal grants and aid. You do the math.

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