Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anthrax, Goss, Osama, Bush and the Painting and ...Oprah

I barely arrived at full consciousness today when I realized the enormous coincidence of intersecting stories which are all unbelievable but true. There are no coincidences, of course, so there must be some reason behind this confluence of jumbled jargon and events—so I think. What could that rationale be?

Here’s what has happened:

1. Porter Goss knows where Osama Bin Laden is but doesn’t wanna rush right in where fools fear to tread, and git’im.

PORTER: In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play…


PORTER: I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?--From the TIME Magazine Interview "10 Questions for Porter Goss" By TIMOTHY J. BURGER
OK now what the f--- does THAT mean? 3,000 Americans were killed September 11, 2001, by a group headed by “Mr. Bin Laden” but we don’t want to step on any people’s toes, or nation’s for that matter, who provide sanctuary for the number 1 criminal? This, according to Goss, head of the CIA, who said in an interview on the DVD of “Fahrenheit 911,” that he was NOT qualified to be head of the CIA. The whole story is outrageously incredible, and I haven’t had a second cup of coffee yet.

And anyway, what would happen to Bush’s program of fear mongering, his unfocussed and 1984’ish unending “War on Terror” if Bin Laden actually got caught? Look at Saddam--in jail fussing about Doritos and Reagan and appearing all but a cartoon-ish buffoon—his removal as dictator of Iraq has cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives, Iraqi, American and others—would a thoughtless frightening killer like Osama be worth a continuing “War on Terror” if he were in a similar situation? Do you really think Bush wants to leave Iraq now that he’s got a foothold where all the oil is?

2. Then the email comes from the National Vaccine Information Center:

More than 1,200 military personnel who received the anthrax vaccine before going to Iraq have developed serious illnesses, according to an Army report released last month, though local military officials contend the shots still are safe and necessary.

… "We've really not seen a big problem with anthrax -- nothing outside of the normal range of side effects," Blalock said.

… But the illnesses reported by the Army have been more severe. Initial symptoms of the reported cases included minor diarrhea, cramping and fever to more intense problems like sleep and memory loss, chronic fatigue, headaches and chest pains.

...The hospital contends anthrax vaccinations are safe and more necessary than ever, especially considering the threat of anthrax contamination that hit several post offices and office buildings following Sept. 11.

"We're living in a completely different era. There are terrorists who are intent on using biological agents and there are countries that certainly have the capability," Blalock said.

While the debate about the seriousness of anthrax-related illnesses is likely to get bogged down in the same discussion over such war-related illnesses as Gulf War Syndrome, Blalock is among those who believe the benefits far outweigh the cost. "There are a lot of diseases out there -- very lethal, very deadly," Blalock said. "It really comes down to people making the best choice." --"More than 1,200 who had anthrax vaccine now sick," By Jeff Donaldson LAS VEGAS SUN

My choice, if I had to make it?—no! Based on the number of anthrax attacks lately--none. I live in Southern California—there’s no vaccine for unforeseen earthquakes or mudslides. Now THAT might be something to sell…

3. I’ve had two cups of coffee, feeling wide awake, here comes the good story:

"The 1923 painting by Joseph Kleitsch, titled Evening Shadows, is worth an estimated $500,000, the expert said."

It took a landslide for Albert Trevino to learn that he had a treasure on his wall, one that could help him rebuild the wreckage of his $1.8-million Laguna Beach house.

The painting of Mission San Juan Capistrano had been hanging on Trevino's living room wall for 20 years. He thinks he bought it at a garage sale. Now Trevino, a former Irvine Co. planner, believes the painting is worth as much as $500,000 — thanks to an artist friend who spotted it this month after Trevino was given 15 minutes to clear out the house.

"My wife and children said this is a miracle," said Trevino, 74. "It's an unbelievable set of events."[emphasis added]-- "Slide Victim's Painting Offers Off-the-Wall Help," By Jeff Gottlieb Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Why is this piece of local news included here? It is unbelievable, yet, like the Goss and Anthrax vaccine tales, totally believable and understandable.

Fate, if that’s what you want to call it, works in strange ways, certainly not at random, and definitely with direction and meaning. For instance, Trevino moved the painting in order to project videos for his 50th wedding anniversary, or it would not have been able to be retrieved where it normally hung. The friend, whose house he stored the painting at since the mudslide, knew about the artist and the painting style, notified another friend who had it appraised.

If Trevino’s wife, her mother, and her grandmother, had not all been baptized at the Mission, they wouldn’t have scarfed up the painting from an inconsequential garage sale 20 years ago. They happened to like paintings of the Mission, and the garage sale “sellers” had no idea of the treasure with which they were parting.

Some things, as Raymond’s brother Robert would say, are “meant to be.” There are no coincidences.

4. Thus culminates my morning of the confluence of my confrontation of unbelievable, but absolutely believable, news items. So I thought—then I got this email from my dad, which is so ridiculous, that I actually had to check and double check for its veracity. Turns out it’s not only for real, it’s from the White House itself! Considering the source, once again it fits the “absolutely believable” category:

Q -- …really understand how is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.) Yes, sir.

Q How do you like these hard questions?

THE PRESIDENT: You know. You watch my press conferences? (Laughter.) Please don't encourage him. (Laughter.) –-White House Web Site

That’s true arrogance—to be so inarticulate and speaking garbled unintelligible nonsense, and then publicize it on the presidential web site for reproduction. In case you thought your president cares what you think—he doesn’t.

5. I was going to discuss the Oprah Winfrey Show “Atrocities Against Children,” in this grouping of entries that are absolutely true, yet unbelievable. But the incidences and human depravity are too hard to ponder, as they were so difficult to view.

I could say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” That wouldn’t fix anything, although when enough of “we, the people” take interest and want change, it will happen. There are no coincidences. And we are all in this together.

Today, we know there is love in our hearts, but we have only begun to scratch the surface of how we can use it to restore and transform our world…Most of us don’t lack compassion so much as we avoid it.—

Everyday Grace, Marianne Williamson. Riverhead Books 2002. p. 194

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