God is unhappy with George Bush

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In Chinese lore, it is said that when the levees break and the rivers flood, that the emperor has lost the "Mandate of Heaven." After all, when an emperor foolishly pursues war at the expense of his people's well-being, then the gods will be unhappy. The levees break, the people rebel, and the government falls. As UC Berkeley professor emeritus Franz Schurmann wrote earlier this year (pre-Katrina):

The disasters occurred especially in the Yellow River region, ancient China's homeland. Confucius put the blame on the power-driven warlords, each of whom insisted they alone had the "Mandate of Heaven," or more correctly, "God Commands" (tianming). Instead of making sure the levees vital for an overwhelming peasant society were secure, for example, the warlords first selfishly pursued their own aggrandizement.

In a more colloquial fashion, a good pal of mine (who shall remain nameless), just wrote me this thought:

Y'all might be amused to note that in Hurricane Katrina Trent Lott lost his home, while Hurricane Rita (which as of today was upgraded to Category 5) is currently on track to wreck straight through Crawford, Texas. Who's got God on their side, now, be-yatch?

And that's the wisdom of the ages.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, it'll barely touch Crawford.

    What it is going to do is tear through the homes of a lot of good Democrats in Galveston and Harris Counties. And of course, once again it's one of the poorest metro areas in the nation.

    My hometown is in Galveston County, and my family is still there. They're currently trying to get everything ready for evacuation, but it's not easy. The roads are already blocked, and phone service is spotty (heaven forbid Verizon actually upgrade the lines-- they are so overwhelmed already that they regularly get the "circuits are busy" all throughout the year).

    If God was going to show his wrath to Bush, he'd drop down tornados in Crawford. He wouldn't send in a hurricane hours and hours away.

  • Seriously... (unverified)

    Saying that God is sending a message to Republicans through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- even if it's said half-jokingly -- is no better than those who said that gays and abortionists were to blame for the 9-11 attacks, or that God was punishing non-Christian "heathens" in South Asia when He sent them a tsunami this winter.

    Kari, it appears that you are in good company. According to a recent A.P. article, "Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former chief rabbi and the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas movement, said on Wednesday that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for U.S. President George W. Bush's support for Israel's Gaza pullout."

    (For the rest of the article, go here.

    Too many people have lost their homes and their loved ones to pull political punches or make jokes about these catastrophes.

  • Tax Increase (unverified)

    The weather has never been a great respecter of persons. As another great philosopher once said, "The rain falls equally on the just and the unjust."

    Seriously, it seems to wreak of desperation when climactic effects causing untold amounts of devesation on a personal and economic level are called upon for political validation.

  • (Show?)

    Hold on now... While the second comment is, yes, a funny jibe about God smiting Bush via hurricanes, it's actually quite logical that the Chinese would have believed that the "Mandate of Heaven" had been lost when the levees failed.

    After all, levees don't fail because God smites them, levees fail because governments fail to keep them up. In ancient China, the warlords would invest too much in war - rather than upkeep on levees, and then the floods would come in to give people a sign that it was time to rebel against the warlords.

    Whatever you want to call it, Mr. Bush has lost "the Mandate of Heaven." Of course, in modern America, we call it "the Will of the People."

  • (Show?)

    Kari Wrote:

    "After all, levees don't fail because God smites them, levees fail because governments fail to keep them up."

    They also fail because environmental groups sue to prevent those governments from reinforcing the levees.

    On September 9th a congressional task force reported that the levees that failed in New Orleans would have been raised higher and strengthened in 1996 by the Army Corps of Engineers were it not for a lawsuit filed by environmentalists led by the Sierra Club.

    Also, in 1977 a group called "Save the Wetlands" sued to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from protecting New Orleans with a gigantic hurricane barrier. A judge decided they had to do a better environmental impact statement.

    I wonder how they like the wetlands now?

  • (Show?)

    Wetlands can save a city more than a levee.

    They take on much of the storm surge, help to weaken the storm, etc. before it hits the actual city.

    Barrier islands, wetlands, etc. are there to protect the mainland during major storms.

    However, we've built on them, dredged them, etc. Now they're not there to protect the mainland.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    Guess Rob got the GOP marching orders: dig up all the references you can to past litigation and try to deflect the blame to environmental groups.

    An excellent Register-Guard editorial has their number.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)


    Please link to your sources. I've been fooled too many times by well-meaning people repeating Republican propoganda that turns out to be either blatantly false or used without the correct context.

    I have read that the Bush Administration directed the Justice Department to search for any lawsuits filed by environmentalists regarding the New Orleans levies. They hadn't found any the last I heard, but that was a while ago.

    Can the President legally use the DOJ for political research? Can he ethically use the DOJ for political research? Interesting questions.

    But please site link to your sources. I'd like to know more.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    From the Register-Guard editorial that Ruth sites:

    Environmentalists filed a legal challenge nearly a decade ago not to actual levee improvements, but to an Army Corps of Engineers' plan to drain 11,000 acres of wetlands in order to obtain construction materials. The levees in question were not the ones that were breached in the city's flooding but were located more than 100 miles from New Orleans. Ultimately, the project was delayed not because of litigation, but because of a lack of funding allocated by Congress.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    The Army Corps of Engineer's perverse cost/benefit analysis lead to the inclusion of vast areas of wetlands within the levees. The idea was that "reclaimed" land could be developed, adding to the economy and tax base. Of course, draining wetlands makes flooding worse, and also harms ecosystems. saving lives and preventing flood damage were not considered measurable benefits.

    Environmentalists rightly sued.

    NOW did a good piece on this. Here's another discussion.

    Lesson: If a Republican seems to make a good point, look deeper. The point seldom holds up.

  • LT (unverified)

    They also fail because environmental groups sue to prevent those governments from reinforcing the levees.

    So I guess it was those big bad environmentalists who caused this story to be in the Washington Post today.


    Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding

    By Michael Grunwald and Susan B. Glasser Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, September 21, 2005; Page A01

    NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 20 -- Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has said that Katrina was just too massive for a system that was not intended to protect the city from a storm greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and that the floodwall failures near Lake Pontchartrain were caused by extraordinary surges that overtopped the walls.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    W's critics have said for years that the payback for all the the crookedness, cronyism and incompetence would be biblical.

    Cue... God.

    The good news is he's a forgiving sort, so W ain't goin' straight south... yet.

  • (Show?)

    Even as a joke, it's not funny.

    The fact is this storm is looking to hit a very poor community (the Houston metro area is one of the poorest metro areas in the nation) with large minority and elderly populations. These areas also tend to vote Democrat. Until DeLay played with the maps, this area was represented by U.S. Congressman Nick Lampson, a Democrat. Only one term in the past 50 years or so has a Republican held the seat. That's why DeLay had to change the map.

    If it ever makes it to Crawford, it'll be a weak thunderstorm.

    Making jokes of stuff like this literally make me sick. How would you like to be sitting on Hwy. 6 for hours and hours on a trip that normally takes less than an hour? In 98 degree weather? In a vehicle packed with all the belongings you could fit, your family, your pets, etc?

    My mom had to work hard just to be able to fit all our pictures and my wedding dress into their vehicles, as there wasn't a lot of room once you fit in the essentials (water, food, small amount of clothes).

    Maybe some of you who have never weathered a hurricane can joke about it. But I've been through them, and now my family is going through Rita.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    Maybe, just maybe, NO and LA should've taken the flood problems on themselves without federal assistance. They had enough money to build the Superdome, why not allocate local dollars to flood control?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Because stadium boosters make big campaign contributions.

  • LT (unverified)

    When someone tells those backing public money for a stadium that the money should go to emergency preparedness, and doesn't get laughed to scorn (remember the fight about MLB in Portland?), then I would agree with Chris.

    But at the moment I recall one reason Jesse Ventura was elected Gov. He was in the debate with Humphrey and Coleman and this issue of public money for a stadium (didn't W do that in Texas years ago?) was a debate question. The report was Humphrey and Coleman both gave 2 minute politician-speak answers. Ventura said "I know the team made ---- in profit last year and they have enough money to build their own stadium, so why should taxpayer money go to that purpose?" and that was his answer. Someone I knew flew into a Minn. airport the day after that election and said the local newspaper quoted that exchange in their analysis of why Jesse Ventura shocked the political establishment and won. Perhaps next year Chris and those who agree with his statement can ask candidates whether money should be put into sports facilities or emergency preparedness and vote accordingly.

    BTW, I heard on the news that the Superdome was built to the specification that it withstand a Category 4 hurricane and except for the rips in the roof it seems to have done that.

  • Becky (unverified)

    I just stumbled across an Islamic Web site gloating over the outing of Bush in his fall from the wagon and pointing to the hurricanes as Allah's judgment on Ameria for putting this man in office and tolerating the persecution of the righteous - a.k.a. the Muslim world. By the way, there are folks in this faction who believe the USA manufactured the giant tsunami, which mostly hit Islamic people. We all know what the Christian fundamentalists are saying (they're God's punishment for tolerance of homosexuality and abortion). I guess my point is if one is inclined to believe there is a conscious God who manipulates events in order to punish people, then one can't help but find meaning in these tragic events. If, on the other hand, one looks for rational explanations for the things that happen in the world, the answer lies only in how far one is willing to go in accepting what some feel are conspiratorial or radical ideas, such as scalar weaponry, global warming, or planned neglect of the unwanted. If you believe there are powerful people who are evil geniuses who manipulate the masses, you might accept these ideas. If you believe people are generally well-meaning bumblers, you might only be able to accept that these things just happen in nature. Whatever views a person brings to these events, I think they will only be reinforced.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    Look at our local government. We spur development in the Pearl/SoWa via tax abatements, build toy trains and trollies -and- have the audacity to fund an aerial tram. All the while The CoP and Multnomah county complain about lack of funding for prisons, police and schools.

    Our local and state governments aren't hurting for money. They have all kinds of funds to blow on pet projects mainly to appease special interests and ensure reelection.

    The gummint should provide police/fire/military, infrastructure and education -- the basics. Not until those requirements are fully met should tax dollars be spent on superfluous accoutrements.

  • Gregor (unverified)

    Three hurricanes hit Florida after the second election was stolen, dozens die in Ohio after the election is stolen there, and the Reich ignores Katrina for a week. Maybe Dubya thought someone said there were "problems with his golf", rather then "problems in the gulf", and maybe he thought they said everyone was "hitting the fairways" instead of "hitting the freeways". Bush isn't listening to anyone, never mind God. Never has, never will. he's got his own reality, thank you very much.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Jenni, I'm sorry for the bad joke.

    I have friends in New Orleans and was seconds away from taking a big job at WWL-TV a few years ago. That's the Number One TV station in N.O. and the state, for that matter.

    The reason I did not take the job was the poverty. The TV station was in a "rough" part of town, which in N.O. means just about every neighborhood but the Garden District and Bourbon Street. The WWL staff was not allowed to walk to their cars at night alone, ever, even though the cars were parked right next door, an outdoor parking lot lit for open-heart surgery with 15-foot high fences topped with razor wire. The burly, armed WWL guard walked you to your car, hand on gun, and then would bid you good night.

    When I was in N.O. for the interviews, I noticed so many of the people were so poor, they could not read or write. The illiteracy rate in N.O. rivals many developing nations, according to my friends who've been there for generations.

    The town just had an aura of sadness (for lack of a better word) and since I'm not much of a drinker, and strip clubs bore me, I passed on the job at WWL and am mighty glad I did. Best job I never took.

    Katrina and its aftermath was no real surprise to anyone, none at all, for anyone who's been to New Orleans and has taken a walk on the wild side, past the tourist districts (and the MSM too).

  • (Show?)

    Poverty is a huge problem in the south. Neither Party's major candidates want to address these issues. Democrats talk over and over again about the middle class. They forget all the people down at the bottom who don't have the luxury of worrying about their 501ks and stocks-- they can barely pay rent and buy groceries.

    These people no longer have welfare to help them-- only a pittance for food stamps and (maybe) TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families). If you can get a job, after several weeks you can get some help to pay for your child care. But what are you supposed to do in the meantime?

    I'd like to see some of these politicians live off food stamps for a few months. See them have about $300 left over after rent, plus $125 in food stamps, and use that to:

    • pay electric bill • pay phone bill • pay car insurance • put gas in your car • buy groceries for 2 adults and one two-year-old

    And of course you have those occasional purchases like shampoo, laundry soap, toilet paper, etc. which are not covered by food stamps. Just hope that you don't have any special needs, such as dye-free/scent-free soaps or dietary needs. Or that you don't have medications that need to be purchased or doctor visits for an ongoing medical condition.

    Most people have no idea what it is like to live like that.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    Jenni, just how do suggest rectifying the problem? Throwing money at poverty doesn't seem to help.

    Oddly, after Clinton begrudgingly passed the welfare reform bill in 1996 (I think), welfare roles dropped. It seems instilling a sense of personal responsibility is an integral part of reducing poverty.

    I realize the problem is very complex, but I believe making it harder for the masses to become dependant on the government is a good way to promote self reliance.

  • many have been laid off (unverified)

    Oddly, after Clinton begrudgingly passed the welfare reform bill in 1996 (I think), welfare roles dropped. It seems instilling a sense of personal responsibility is an integral part of reducing poverty.

    I realize the problem is very complex, but I believe making it harder for the masses to become dependant on the government is a good way to promote self reliance.

    2 things: 1) Clinton passed Welfare Reform in the middle of a booming economy. How many of those who got jobs then still have them today and how many were subject to layoff at some time in the last few years?

    2) Tell those laid off from LSI this week that they shouldn't be dependent on the government and should be self reliant.

    Truth is that it is tough in Oregon to get a job once laid off. Those who talk about self reliance should explain exactly what those laid off workers should do if they have applied for hundreds of jobs and gotten the "since we had so many qualified applicants it was a tough decision but we hired someone else..." letters.

    This is true across the board--college grads as well as those with little education.

    Time to quit mouthing the old platitudes and start talking about the reality of 2005.

  • (Show?)

    I am so frilling tired of people using "personal responsibility" when it comes to the poor.

    Many of these people did not choose to be poor.

    Do you think I chose to be laid off? Do you think I chose to not be able to find a job that pays enough so that I don't go in the hole to pay for child care? Do you think I chose to have medical problems that make it difficult now to have a job?

    Many of us have been responsible-- we had good paying jobs and no credit cards. Everything we bought was paid for in cash, or it wasn't bought. But then sometimes bad things happen, and you lose your job.

    Using "personal responsibility" to describe the poor comes straight from the Republican's issue framing guidelines.

    You can be as responsible for yourself as you'd like, but you can't choose whether or not you lose your job, can't find another, get sick, etc.

    I'm not suggesting just "throwing money" at people. I'm suggesting giving people enough to live on, to take care of health insurance costs, and for child care for a few months so that people can get on their feet.

    Requiring someone who has been on food stamps to work for 6 weeks before you'll cover child care is ridiculous. If you didn't have enough money for food, how are you going to pay child care for 6 weeks? It cost me $125/week to put my toddler in day care three days a week while I had a temp job last fall. I was lucky enough that my sister and husband could each get one day off during the week (working one weekend day) so that I didn't have to put her in for 5 days a week. Otherwise I would have ended up bringing home about $30/week after paying for child care.

    And I can't even begin to count how many of those "I'm sorry..." letters that the anonymous person above is speaking of. I've been up for positions where more than 500 people applied. I've been lucky enough to make it into the top 5 on numerous occasions. However, all that matters is if you're #1.

    We've got to fix the system so that we're actually helping people to adequately survive and get back on their feet.

    Have you ever tried feeding two adults and a toddler on about $150 per month (less than $40/week)? It'd pretty difficult, and means the amount of low-fat and healthy foods you can purchase is pretty low. That's a huge problem when you have a gallbladder that's already giving you problems. Now I get to have it removed... lucky me.

    We've got to give people enough food stamps so that they can eat healthy-- so they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, etc. Not give them so little that they live off hamburger meat (not the extra lean stuff, but the 20% fat ones), chicken thighs and drumsticks, potatoes (99 cents for a bag), spaghetti noodles, sandwiches made with the cheap (and fatty) lunchmeat, raman noodles, etc.

    We need to help people pay for their health insurance so that they don't end up dropping the coverage or sacrificing food to pay for the coverage. We spent almost $170/month to keep our family coverage since we have a small child and I have a few major medical problems. The only way we could get help was to drop our coverage for at least six months.

    We need to get people child care so that they can get a job. It's pretty hard to go do interviews and exams when you have kids. And once you get the job, it'll be a few weeks before you'll even have a paycheck to cover the childcare. But it has to be paid at least one week in advance at all times.

    People don't seem to get that this isn't about "personal responsibility." This is about people who have fallen so deep down into a hole that the possibility of ever getting yourself out seems hopeless.

  • chris mcmullen (unverified)

    It sucks getting laid off. Both my wife and I were laid off from our jobs three years ago. But instead of losing our house, I work two jobs (about a total of 70 hours a week) while she works 40+ hours a week at half what she used to get paid.

    Life is tough; sometimes you have to work extra hard and make sacrifices

    I have no problem helping those deep in a hole. I do have problems with continued assistance to those who repeatedly have more kids and make more bad choices.

  • (Show?)


    Glad to hear you were able to keep the house. It took a lot of hard work for us not to lose our place. My husband worked a second job at a friend's moving company and I did temp work while my health held up and do a lot of computer work from home. I got laid off just before my daughter's first birthday, and we both agree that having another until we are financially stable is not something we want to do.

    Hopefully things will get better after my surgery next month. There are some positions I can get, but no one wants to hire you if a good half of the time you're going to have to call in sick. We're crossing our fingers all will go well. If it does, the only thing in my way health-wise will be my back, which is slowly deteriorating from extremely bad scoliosis (I was born with it). I'm used to that, so it's not a big deal. I know that one day I'll probably have to start using a cane or even a wheelchair.

    I definitely want to help those who need help. I don't want to help those who abuse the system.

    My cousin and his family definitely abuse the system. They're up to like 12 kids and live off the taxpayers. They refuse to use birth control because it's "against their religion."

    I have no sympathy for them. They don't try to help themselves or better themselves. They just want to be lazy and live off the efforts of others.

  • chris mcmullen (unverified)

    Sorry about the unfortunate circumstances you have to go through, Jenni. A family in your situation deserves public assistance (if needed) -- I doubt even the staunchest conservatives would disagree.

    I too have a family member who not only works under the table and has never paid taxes, but gets assistance as well. It's frustrating to see such abuse of the system.

    Hopefully, as government budgets get smaller, assistance to those truly in need will become more of a priority.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Jenni is talking about institutional poverty which is tied to racism and lack of education and some really bad choices.

    Missing a payment on your $40,000 pickup, like some of the above, is NOT poverty.

    But, it's going to take more than LAWS to bring people out of poverty. The plan goes like this:

    Education, food, shelter, health care = Job.

    But all the good jobs are in Baghdad, like Halliburton's web site offering $1,000 a day to anyone who wants to work in Baghdad -- all expenses paid.

    Gee, 63,000,000 people voted for W, but they all seem to be a bit cowardly, unlike our poor, who grind it out every day, without The Orkin Man lobbying for them or Sen. Frist trading stocks 24/7 instead of, uh LEADING our nation through times of deep doo-doo..

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