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kma3346's Journal
Posted by kma3346 in General Discussion (Through 2005)
Mon Sep 26th 2005, 12:50 PM
I got fired up on Saturday after reading a first-hand account about Al Gore's mercy mission to airlift patients from Charity hospital here (http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/9/7/1647... ) and wrote a post about it here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu...

Yes, I wrote it to show what a great person the man who should be our president is and also to contrast his response with the pitiful response of the current pResident.

However, the bigger issue is the massive effort, from many different fronts, to prevent Gore from helping people who desperately needed help. Multiply this by everything we've heard about other countries, agencies, companies, and individuals trying to help out and being turned away. The bigger issue is "who" and "why." Who is behind this and why--especially when the poor response is being used to justify other actions: like using paid mercenaries (paid by who? corporations, private citizens, the state and/or Federal government?) to "protect" property; using our military forces to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, riots; and so forth.

Here are some excerpts from Greg Simon's account of what happened (some are repeated from my previous post, but I think they are important):

"Starting right after midnight I began receiving calls from FEMA, HHS, TRANSCOM and other groups whose acronyms I still cannot explain. LCDR Kennedy from FEMA called to understand what I was trying to do. I told him. Fifteen minutes later Mimi Riley, Deputy Director from NDMS called to beg me in a plaintive and exhausted voice not to carry out this mission. She had many reasons "you need doctors on the plane, Chicago is too far from their home, how will we track the patients, this is a military operation and we were not military."

Over the next three hours (from 2a.m. to 5 a.m.) I was called by an array of Majors and Lieutenant Commanders telling me to stop. ("I don't mean to be rude, sir, but you must not do this. You must stop this now.") Major Webb from GPMRC (don't ask), Grant Meade from ESF. Major Lindquist from TRANSCOM (at last!) all telling me they would not cooperate and they did not know how we had gotten permission to land. I never mentioned Gore's name because no one ever asked me who was paying for the flights or how we had come so far.

Finally at 5 a.m. Major Lindquist said if we landed he would not put any patients on the plane and we should expect no cooperation and there was no place to store the plane so we would have to leave.


And now consider this as reported in the Philadelphia Daily Herald: (http://www.harktheherald.com/modules.php?o... ):

"Bush is just fine with naming his homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, to lead an internal inquiry -- which the White House believes is investigation enough -- into the bungled federal response to Katrina. Townsend certainly has more qualifications for this post than the clueless Michael Brown, the recently departed FEMA chief, had for his. But her close ties to the White House and Department of Homeland Security cast doubt over whether she would be able to issue findings she knows could displease Bush."


And also ponder on the fact that Bush is using the terrible response to Hurricane Katrina to try and justify using the Department of Defense to militarize future disaster response.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu...

This is why we absolutely need an independent investigation into what went wrong. We need to find out who was lying and saying "Everything is being taken care of and we don't need outside help" when obviously that wasn't the case. The fact that so many agencies, the military, and so forth were unified in this (non)response means that they were (I would think) told to do this by someone or some group. Who is this group? Who was in charge of this group?

That's the bigger issue. And it goes way beyond building up Al Gore, and it is at the heart of the big picture in what is going on right now in our country.

I don't know what we can do about it except continue doing what we're already doing: protesting, writing letters to the media and politicians, and telling everyone you can about what's really going on.
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Posted by kma3346 in General Discussion (Through 2005)
Sun Sep 25th 2005, 11:16 AM
The following is a first-hand account (by Greg Simon, President FasterCures) about a team of people led by Simon & Al Gore to airlift patients from Charity hospital during the first days following Katrina. They fought red tape, bureaucrats at all levels and from many different agencies, and overcame "no" after "no" after "no" in their effort to evacuate critically ill Hurricane Katrina patients. For the full story, see:

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/9/7/1647...

Gore went directly to where he thought he could help and he actually got in there and WORKED. He did not grant interviews, he did not hold press conferences, he did not talk to reporters, he did not use this as an opportunity for a photo op--in fact, the pictures that many have seen are not exactly flattering, but show someone who is working hard and not caring about what he looks like. Compare this to the visits of Bush and Cheney, who came on the scene well after the disaster struck, clean and unrumpled, and walked around the area amid a throng of reporters and photographers, but very few actual victims.

Al Gore has credibility as demonstrated here:


"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews "the first time Steve Davison had ever witnessed that in 15 years of chartering planes for political campaigns and other events. One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them."


What is amazing to me is the superhuman effort made by those trying to prevent this rescue from taking place--people from FEMA, military personnel, etc., etc. If they put as much effort into helping people who desperately needed it as they did in trying to prevent people from helping those who desperately needed it, many more lives could have been saved.

What Gore was up against:



According to Simon's account:

"Starting right after midnight I began receiving calls from FEMA, HHS, TRANSCOM and other groups whose acronyms I still cannot explain. LCDR Kennedy from FEMA called to understand what I was trying to do. I told him. Fifteen minutes later Mimi Riley, Deputy Director from NDMS called to beg me in a plaintive and exhausted voice not to carry out this mission. She had many reasons "you need doctors on the plane, Chicago is too far from their home, how will we track the patients, this is a military operation and we were not military."

"Over the next three hours (from 2a.m. to 5 a.m.) I was called by an array of Majors and Lieutenant Commanders telling me to stop. ("I don't mean to be rude, sir, but you must not do this. You must stop this now.") Major Webb from GPMRC (don't ask), Grant Meade from ESF. Major Lindquist from TRANSCOM (at last!) all telling me they would not cooperate and they did not know how we had gotten permission to land. I never mentioned Gore's name because no one ever asked me who was paying for the flights or how we had come so far.

Finally at 5 a.m. Major Lindquist said if we landed he would not put any patients on the plane and we should expect no cooperation and there was no place to store the plane so we would have to leave."


Gore wouldn't take "no" for an answer:


"At 7 a.m. on Saturday September 3, the American Airlines plane with Gore and the doctors and Gore's son Albert left Dallas for New Orleans. They landed at 8:30, got off the plane and Col LaFon immediately established contact with the Colonels running the operation on the ground, most of whom he had served with. He had trained many of the doctors on the scene. He explained why they were there and the doctors began a triage process to fill the plane. Two hours later the plane was loaded and headed to Knoxville.

After speaking with Gore, I called ahead to Donna Tidwell of TEMA who was running the operations there and told her what to expect "about 20 patients needing dialysis, many more needing insulin, a burn victim and many people needing to be back on their medications" and one boy with his dog. Forty of the people on the plane were evacuees mistakenly put on the plane by TSA but who might need medical attention nonetheless. Knoxville was prepared to provide shelters for them.

The plane's arrival in Knoxville was described by the local paper as the "Mercy Plane" and the mayor and many of the citizens turned out to help.

By now, it was too late to return to New Orleans, load up and leave before dark and American Airlines refused to have its personnel stay in New Orleans after dark. Gore and the team headed to Dallas for the night. Around midnight Saturday night, the FAA called American airlines and pulled their landing slots for Sunday saying only FEMA planes could fly in. Gore called Mineta again who promised to honor our initial agreement for two landing slots.

On Sunday morning Gore and the team landed in New Orleans to a much improved scene. Many more patients had been airlifted out after our flight and there were only ten ambulatory patients for our plane so we took 120 evacuees with us to Chattanooga. The welcoming reception in Chattanooga was so large that Gore said it looked like there was an ambulance for everybody on the plane.

We decided not to return to New Orleans because the medical patients we could take had been helped. (We could not take bedridden patients on stretchers on this plane.) Gore said that on the second trip to New Orleans, the doctors at the airport told him that the evacuation of the first 90 ambulatory patients had been the tipping point in their ability to adequately care for the other bedridden patients. They also noted that the military evacuations did not really pick up steam until after we "motivated" them with our private effort."


And yet this was barely covered in the mainstream media

But that's another story...

Many amazing people worked together to pull this off. I don't believe they could have done it without the involvement of Al Gore. This story highlights the tenacity, compassion, and ingenuity of Al Gore. His name has been coming up more and more (and very favorably, I might add) these days as a potential presidential candidate for 2008. It may sound corny, but when I think of Gore as our future president, it gives me hope for the future of America.

If he does decide to run, I will support him 100 percent. I will join his campaign and encourage my friends and family to do so as well. I've never been involved in any sort of campaign before, but if he gets in the race, I'll do it!

(P.S. This my first long post on DU. I hope it's not too long and that I didn't break any rules!)

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