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Laura Bush and Burma: Echoes of Disaster

First Lady Laura Bush held a rare press conference today about the cyclone that struck Myanmar (Burma) that may have killed up to 50,000.

MyanmarAFP today:

"US First Lady Laura Bush accused Myanmar's military rulers Monday of failing to warn their citizens in time about a killer cyclone and pressed the junta to accept US aid in the disaster's wake. 'Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path,' Bush said in an unusual appearance at the White House briefing room podium. 'It's troubling that many of the Burmese people learned of this impending disaster only when foreign outlets, such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, sounded the alarm,' she said. Washington calls the country Burma."

Not that Burma's military government doesn't deserve to be criticized for the treatment of its people. But then, of course, there's this:

Washington Post, 1/06: "In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show. A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's 'situation room,' the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document...The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. 'I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm,' Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America.'"

Laura Bush urged Myanmar to take the foreign aid to help its people. Of course, if Myanmar uses the U.S. as its example, they'll likely refuse it.

Clip AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. I agree 100%. I was thinking the exact thing when I was watching her press conference. This administration is so dense.

    Posted by: Stefano | May 6, 2008 5:08:07 PM


  2. But did she co-opt her speaking about Myanmar again to talk about her daughter's upcoming wedding?

    *pukes*

    Posted by: Rey | May 6, 2008 5:14:40 PM


  3. Most likely, Myanmar will take the aid offered by the U.S., misappropriate it, and millions of dollars in taxpayer money will disappear just like Iraq.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | May 6, 2008 5:16:18 PM


  4. The moment I started reading this, I knew it had to head in that direction. Wow..

    Posted by: Susie | May 6, 2008 5:16:53 PM


  5. Are you fucking kidding me? Has your Bush hatred rotted your minds? Everyone in the USA knew that Katrina was going to hit New Orleans. CNN, Fox, all the cable channels and the evening news, the internet, you name it -- ALL were covering that story to death. It was the reaction to the storm that sucked, at the local, regional and national level. The Feds dropped the ball, and so did the city and state!

    But in the case of Burma, you have a nation of oppressed slaves whose access to information is rigidly controlled by the national government. They did not get the word out and Laura Bush is calling them on it.

    I'm seriously sick of you idiots who try to pin everything and the kitchen sink on Bush. For fucks sake, I can't wait for him to get the hell out of the White House, but this is too much.

    Posted by: Steven | May 6, 2008 5:23:26 PM


  6. The fact that it's a nation of oppressed slaves is WHY it's not a surprise that Burma didn't assist its citizens. What's the Bush administration's excuse?

    Posted by: dan | May 6, 2008 5:32:44 PM


  7. Ok, the log cabinites are back. Steven, the name of the country is Myanmar, like it or not. Laura said the Burmese people, continuing the neo-con vision of their world, not what is actually taking place. I don't defend the junta, we just need to speak the correct language so we can better understand the world. Sheesh.

    Posted by: davefromtampa | May 6, 2008 5:34:45 PM


  8. This makes me sick. I just read that Bush pledged 3 million dollars. Where the hell is this money coming from? Don't get me wrong, if it were possible, we should be giving much much more. We still have citizens of our own country living under bridges in New Orleans, waiting to get back into their homes. There are roads that are so filled with debris that cars can't pass through. The fucking FEMA trailers that house families, older adults, and children are leaking formaldehyde. And we have no way to help these people. FEMA is actually telling citizens of NOLA that they were given too much money, and that they need to pay it back right away. There are no checks and balances when it comes to appropriations of funds in this country, and we're just driving ourselves further and further into the recession.

    Steven - it's true, the reaction to the storm sucked harder than anything else, but there were MANY things that were mishandled before the storm actually hit. Take, for example, the fact that the Louisiana National Guard told FEMA they needed 700 buses to adequately evacuate citizens. FEMA sent only 100 buses, and sent them late. It took the government two days to respond to a request for backup from the National Guard. Only 4,000 members of the Louisiana Guard were available, as over 40% of the total members were in Iraq. This was all BEFORE the storm hit. Michael Chertoff stated that it wasn't until Tuesday, August 30th that the government even became aware that the levees were being topped, which lead to a lack of preparations. Of course, that was another lie, as the Bush administration was made aware of the levee breach that Monday morning. It may be true that the media covered the potential storm, but as we've seen, that doesn't indicate that George Bush or any of his buddies in the government were paying attention.

    I apologize for the lengthy response. I'm just overwhelmed with how digusting the preparations and reaction to Hurricane Katrina were/are. I wish we could help out the people of Myanmar more, but I don't see how, when we can't even help people in our own country.

    Posted by: Jackie | May 6, 2008 5:56:09 PM


  9. Um Dave, I'm with Steven on the Burma vs Myanmar thing. Everyone that I know that is from the country or that has relatives there refers to it as Burma. (And, I've asked which they prefer.) This is, in part, a refusal to kowtow to the junta. I always refer to it as Burma for that reason.

    And while I am not a fan of Bush and think that the behavior of the Bush administration makes it difficult to criticize other governments, I am thankful that someone is taking this oppressive regime to task.

    Too bad Bush has been so silent on so many other issues . . . .

    Posted by: Brandon | May 6, 2008 5:57:35 PM


  10. Aung San Su Kyi, the venerated and courageous opposition leader under house arrest, does not use the term "Myanmar" and nor should we. The military junta (SLORC) imposed the ridiculous name in 1989 at the point of a gun. It's not "neo-con" to say Burma.

    Saying the citizens of America are oppressed slaves is an insult to the ranks of the legitimately oppressed in Burma. It's a cute way to score a cheap point, but in a larger sense, totally reprehensible. If you went into Burma and addressed any of the things you spew against Bush at the junta, you'd be locked up and tortured. Here, you'd be booked on NPR and given a movie deal.

    Douches.

    Posted by: Steven | May 6, 2008 6:04:12 PM


  11. Well, Steven, the USA has no moral authority on anything anymore in the world community. They are letting a genocide rage in Darfur, like Clinton did in Rwanda and, this country can no longer afford to be the worlds police, no money to do it, China has it all, or it needs to condemn all injustices with strong actions not pick and choose when people are oppressed for whatever reason.

    Posted by: Juan Pablo | May 6, 2008 6:10:31 PM


  12. Um, I think Dan was in agreement with you that the citizens of Burma are oppressed. He wasn't referring to the U.S. Though, seeing your perspectives, it doesn't surprise me that you have comprehension issues.

    Posted by: hugh | May 6, 2008 6:12:03 PM


  13. You're right, Hugh. My bad. I'm so used to people saying those kind of things, I jumped to that unfair conclusion (and Dan does make a good point). But I'll never apologize for believing in individual rights and freedom. That's my perspective and as an out gay man, I hold it proudly.

    On Juan Pablo's point: I don't see why the US has no moral authority anymore. I would think the people committing the genocide in Darfur and those that support them (namely China) would come under more criticism. In fact, by your standard, I suppose no country anywhere can speak out ever. Which would make the Mugabes and Kim Jong-Ils of the world pretty happy.

    Posted by: Steven | May 6, 2008 6:40:13 PM


  14. Okay, this is getting as bad as the comments on the douche that got arrested in the Cayman Islands.

    Just because we are arrogant Americans and "gawd's" chosen people doesn't mean we get to define another nation's laws, name, or anything else. It's a well-established truth that the neo-cons who usurped our government have no desire to stop with the US, but wishing don't make it so. Fox can call Mark Foley a democrat as much as they want and he'll remain a GOP owned and operated PERV! Call it Burma again and again and again. It's still gonna be Myanmar.

    Just because we're Americans and we don't like the name of the nation of Myanmar or the laws of the Grand Cayman Islands doesn't change the fact that they are the name and the laws established by their governments. It just doesn't work that way. The power in control makes the rules.

    If we could just 'wish it was the way it should be' then Israel would be Palestine and Bush the Minor would have been out of office a long time ago.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | May 6, 2008 6:53:10 PM


  15. Wow. I'm not getting in on all of this. I just don't see why Laura Bush should be saying anything at this point having been a mute for most the time she has been in office, smiling through the Xanax at her husband's immorality.

    Posted by: Br!on | May 6, 2008 6:55:22 PM


  16. You must be frigging kidding?.You dare compare what happened in New Orleans to what happened in Myanmar.Everybody knew that New Orleans was going to be flooded.The french knew where to build & we f*cked up.What happened in Myanmar was a governmental homicide.What happened in New Orleans was because people did not wanted to evacuated in fear of being looted and paid for their stupidity.It was also overblowned because in happened to black poor people.How come the tornadoes in Kansas, the flooding in New England do not get the same notoriety and the deaths are the same once you add them?.Why, because it happened to white middle class people.And if the US government was slow to react in New Orleans,the dictators in Myanmar are doing sh*t to help their people and are even fighting over the aid.Come on,get real and get a life.Seems like gayness have gone to your senses.

    Posted by: Oscar | May 6, 2008 7:07:14 PM


  17. Good point Mike. As much as some people think it should, The US is not the UN. I hate to see all the poverty and injustice in the world, but these countries need to battle their own fights and go thru their own painful processes to reach their freedom. Don't misunderstand me, international help must me provided, but it has to be unconditional, otherwise it will be the same old story: America trying to impose their own truth to others.

    Posted by: Felix | May 6, 2008 9:50:43 PM


  18. @MikeinSanJose:
    Stupid laws are stupid laws and need to be changed. This has nothing to do with US arrogant behaviour. Such a law shouldn't exist or be valid in a constitutional state.

    Posted by: Chris | May 6, 2008 9:55:41 PM


  19. I was quite shocked to see that both George and Laura knew about the Myanmar situation - what with the upcoming wedding at the ranch, going on game shows, reading to kids and stuff. I thought they might get around to acknowledging the disaster probably next Tuesday, May 13 when the President and probably half the White House get back to Washington.

    Posted by: Malibu Boy | May 6, 2008 10:19:55 PM


  20. whether new orleans or myanmar are comparible is completely beside the point. this stupid woman and her stupider husband were silent when citizens of our own fucking country were standing on rooftops and languishing in hospitals, and when bloated bodies were rotting by the roadside. our imaginations should be focusing on the failures (iraq, katrina, the economy, etc.) of this despicable administration, rather than supporting laura stepford bush while she fixes her disdain on foreign governments.

    did this thread touch a nerve in the log-cabinettes asses? you guys make me sick.

    Posted by: nic | May 7, 2008 3:58:41 AM


  21. NIC, chill out. There was no silence when those things were supposedly happening. The responsibility for evacuation belonged at the local level with DEMOCRATIC elected officials and not at the White House. The dropped the ball worse than anyone could've imagined. FEMA was never, ever, meant to be a first responder and much pressure had to be brought to get the state of Louisiana to act. Up the thread I see someone moaning about FEMA not shipping enough buses when NOLA let the dozens of buses it had go unused and flood out as recorded in infamous photos.

    You have to be a moron not to see a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane heading for your city, one built below sea level, and not get off your ass and head out of town. It's one of the very few disasters you *CAN* prepare for in advance unlike a quakes, tornados or wild fires. If you're indigent or hospitalized your caregivers have a moral and ethical duty to help you.

    Gov't isn't there to wipe your ass.

    I remember when the wildfires tore through southern CA and the locals were on top of it while the media vultures were just about pleading with people to criticize gov't. And, guess what, different levels of gov't did make mistakes and didn't use all the resources it could've to battle blazes. We learned from 2003 and did better in 2005 and, hopefully, do better still if it happens again.

    Posted by: queendru | May 7, 2008 6:54:11 AM


  22. MikeInSanJose, it isn't just the U.S.A. which still calls the nation Burma. Canada, Australia and the UK do also. The EU uses Burma/Myanmar. The Western press is divided on what term to use.

    Burma had a democratically elected gov't but the military refused to concede control. It's a regime that engages in inhuman practices including slavery and slow genocide.

    It is most certainly not in any way comparable to the United States no matter how much you hate Bush or Republicans.

    The Bush administration has attempted to get the UN to act on Burma since 2005. You're obviously great at criticizing but have no solutions when world bodies sit on their hands.

    Posted by: queendru | May 7, 2008 7:15:24 AM


  23. Mrs Bush needs something to do with all that time on her hands. Yes, I feel for a country whose population is decimated by a storm. However ...

    I've been researching on the Internet [my favorite time-on-my-hands pastime]. Here's an assignment for the First Lady -- take care of some one person or some few people in YOUR own country, Mrs. Bush. You're an ambassador of sorts. So do something.

    Stats showed that in 2005 there were about 744,000 homeless people in the US. My guess is that number is WAY larger. Basically the population increases 1% a year. Three years later, 22,000+ more have hit the skids and hit the streets. Don't care who or how, ethnicity, religion, or lack of any thereof.

    You wanna help someone? Take a person off the streets, feed him or her, educate him or her, teach him or her a useful skill, give him or her some goddamned hope for a change. You got 3/4 of a million reasons to care. Huh?

    Posted by: aaronj | May 7, 2008 2:01:26 PM


  24. Juan Pablo.....the US is one of 3 countries trying to get something done in Darfur. We have excoriated the Sudenese goverment for allowing the genocide to go on and have provided aid in the form of money, drugs, food and supplies. The genocide there would stop tomorrow if South Africa(a black nation, run by blacks) and China would stop giving moral and financial support to the Sudenese goverment.
    If you want to critisise, then know what the fuck your talking about first.

    Laura Bush has been speaking out on BURMA(this is still the name recognised by most western and non-communist countries as well as the Burmese people) since 2002. She has raised the issue of Aung San Sui Ky in forums across the world and has backed groups trying to get her house arrest ended and restored to the power she won in a free election almost 20 years ago. I know it's fashionable to bash Bush, but here and there, now and then his administration has done the right thing and even had much success in some areas.
    Bush recently went to Africa and the people in the countries where he went genuinelly rushed out to greet him, why?....because Bush has given more money for AIDS drugs and clinics than any U.S. President before him(why do you think Bono went with him for part of the trip) and has asked Congress for another extra 15 Billion for Africa. Thanks to Bush and the U.S. hundreds of thousands of poor Africans not only have the drugs needed to allow them to live, but clinics, and schools were built, kids who were orphaned by AID'S are going to school, have a home and food to eat and going on to College.

    Bush has been a disaster in many, many ways, but he's also had some very important success's.

    Posted by: Joshua | May 7, 2008 5:09:52 PM


  25. QUEENDRU, "supposedly happening"? what,you don't own a tv? there certainly was silence, and much worse, there was damnable inaction. and, finally, when there was action it was abysmally inept. do you remember, "brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"?.

    you might consider reading the history of FEMA before you make apologies for mrs. shrub. under jimmy carter fema was made an independent agency and fully funded by executive order. after 9/11 the idiot's administration folded fema into the dept of homeland (in)security and eviscerated its funding.

    i am in no sense saying that myanmar doesn't require or deserve foreign help, but for laura to look down her nose at another government's disaster response, is laughable. moreover, if the warmongers were not spending billions upon billions of tax dollars on a wrong-headed invasion and occupation, the U.S. would have the wherewithal to better help in these kinds of situations.

    chill out? yeah, when we are able to tell this wretched administration, "goodbye. and don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya."

    Posted by: nic | May 8, 2008 12:31:44 AM


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