Sunday, March 05, 2006

NOMA's re-opening continues today.Schedule of events, for anyone interested. There weren't many people when I was there Friday, I've heard that yesterday's turnout was much greater.

Back to the Katrina tapes, I think that a rhetorical question is the best answer to the overtopping/breaching semantic evasion. That argument is usually presented with in a smug "gotcha" tone--"Don't you Know how much less serious overtopping is than breaching? Are you dishonest or just plain dense?" Since the best reply to a "gotcha" is another "gotcha", the first reply should merely be to ask why "nonserious" overtopping has always been the subject of such serious warnings. I know it's somewhat circular, but KISS first, throw in the technical details later. Once they acknowledge that overtopping is serious, but insist that it's less serious than breaching, the hair-splitting becomes obvious.

The semantic evasion was predictable, the Rathergate counterattack surprised me-- shouldn't have, but it did. I was also surprised to find out that Bush defenders are still repeating the claim that Bush had to call the governor and the mayor to stir them to action. Sean Hannity repeated the claim on Thursday night (transcript not available) saying that of course the president was aware of the danger, he called the governor and implored her to order an evacuation. Glenn Reynolds also repeated the claim (on Thursday, if you want to subject yourself to instapundit)italics quote a fan mail, bold print is Reynolds reply:

I have to admit, it had me spun up for about a half an hour, too. What did Bush know? When did he know it? Then I stopped and remembered... wait a minute! Didn't we already know that Bush knew about the potential of the hurricane in advance, because he made calls to Mayor Nagin asking him to make the evacuation call?

Where is the actual news, here?

The news is that the port-deal publicity is dying down, Iraq's not in a civil war, and we need something to fill the headlines with anti-Bush stuff.

UPDATE: Wizbang notes a Rathergate connection

So the right wing's top blogger and frequent CNN guest didn't actually assert that Bush convinced Nagin and Blanco to make the evacuation mandatory, he just signed off on it. Same thing with the Rathergate attack.

It's long been established that Blanco called for the federal disaster declaration on Aug. 26 before the White House made the declaration. There must still be conflicting claims as to who first called for the mandatory evacuation on Aug. 28. First off, it's somewhat dishonest for even a partisan blogger to only repeat one side of a he said/she said story. It's blatently dishonest for someone who masquerades as a journalist to do so. But (I only bring this up, because apparently it's still a legitimate issue, at least to the right wing) it may be easy enough to resolve the issue. If the president called the governor after the press conference was announced, it seems unlikely that he convinced the governor to convince the mayor to change his mind about what he was going to say at the press conference. If the call came before the announcement, it's inconclusive-- most people were expecting the announcement beforehand.

We know that the mayor and the governor's press conference was originally scheduled for 10am Sunday morning. I can't find any record of what time the press conference was officially announced or what time the mayor and the governor actually went before the microphone. As I recall it, early Sunday morning--before 9:00, I believe it was earlier-- it was announced that there would be a 10:00am joint news conference. I also remember the press conference starting somewhat later than that. Since, at the press conference Blanco stated that

Just before we walked into this room, President Bush called

I assumed that the phone call was the cause of the delay. However, Scott McClellan later stated that the call came slightly earlier:

He got on the phone with Governor Blanco at 9:00 a.m. -- I think it was around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

As the president was in Crawford, I assume the 9:00 (about 9:00)was central time. I'm almost certain that the press conference was called before then. There must records somewhere in the local media archives of what time the press conference was announced. There must also be phone records of what time the president called the governor. I'm sure that some wingnuts would try to make the case that Blanco and Nagin called the conference, but hadn't decided what to say until Bush called. But how many people would believe that?

I'm surprised to be wasting time on this at this late date, but I'm equally surprised at how often I've heard it said that Bush had to convince Blanco and Nagin to call for the mandatory evacuation. It took some doing to slap dowm the claim that the state of emergency on Friday was Bush's idea. With a little information, we could probably slap down the claim about the mandatory evacuation.

Everyone in New Orleans knew what was going to happen--the levees were going to fail. I distinctly remember seeing Mayor Nagin on TV saying "this is the one we've been fearing/waiting for, so leave." Which means that if President Bush told Ray Nagin to evacuate New Orleans, then he too must have known that the levees were going to fail. Which is ironic, because he's insisting, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
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