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[William Brandon Shanley, a documentary filmmaker, is offering a clever and brilliant contest which challenges “coincidence theory” and asks contestants to analyze the odds of certain events happening by chance. FTW readers will greatly appreciate Shanley’s challenge which is why we are posting it on the site.—CB]

Meta-Analyses of Odds Against Chance Ratios
Progressive Deviations, Theoretical Anomalies, and Missing Smoking Guns in U.S. Political Murder Mysteries: Part I

By William Brandon Shanley*


© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications,  All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.


Spetember 27th 2006, 1:30PM [PST] - It is now September 27, 2006 - 9/11/01 + 1842 days.

Author’s Note: This document is not intended to impugn the Republican Party or Conservatives. Its only purpose is to highlight and explore unusual patterns in recent U.S political history.

Question #1: What are the odds against chance that the only U.S. political leaders to have been assassinated in the past 100 years were Democratic or Progressive?

(All biographical and Anthrax Attacks information excerpted from Wikipedia entries.)

John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), the 35th President of the United States.

Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925June 6, 1968), a United States Senator from New York and candidate for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929April 4, 1968), leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and peacemaker.

Question #2: What are the odds against chance that the only U.S. political leaders (or heirs apparent) to die in plane crashes at pivotal moments in political history in the past 50 years were Democrats?

Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr. (February 15, 1914October 16, 1972), a Democratic member of the U.S House of Representatives from Louisiana and House Majority Leader.  While still Majority Leader, in October, 1972, he was aboard a twin engine Cessna 310 with Congressman Nick Begich on the way to a fundraiser when it disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska. Begich's aide and the pilot were the only others on board. The plane presumably crashed and was never found.

Mel Carnahan (February 11, 1934October 16, 2000), was Governor of Missouri from 1993 to 2000. He died in a plane crash during a campaign for the U.S. Senate, weeks before the election, after which he was elected posthumously to the office. His opponent was U.S. Senator John Ashcroft, later U. S Attorney General from 2001-2005 in the administration of U.S President George W. Bush.

Paul Wellstone (July 21, 1944October 25, 2002), was a two-term U.S. Senator from Minnesota. A Democrat, he served in the Senate from 1991 until his death in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. His wife, Sheila, and daughter, Marcia, also died in the crash. Wellstone's death came just 11 days before his potential re-election in a crucial race to maintain Democratic control of the Senate.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. (November 25, 1960July 16, 1999), was an American lawyer, journalist, socialite, and publisher. He was the son of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and heir apparent to lead the Democratic Party to the White House in future years. On July 16, 1999, Kennedy was killed along with his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, when the aircraft he was flying crashed on a hazy night into the Atlantic Ocean en-route from West Caldwell, New Jersey, to Martha's Vineyard.

Question #3: What are the odds against chance that only Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate received, or were the intended recipients of, weapons grade, aerosolized anthrax in the 2001 Anthrax Attacks?

Tom Daschle (born December 9, 1947), was a U.S. Senator from South Dakota and the Senate Majority Leader. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He was defeated on November 2, 2004. On October 9, 2001, Daschle's office received a letter containing the highly lethal Ames strain of weapons-grade anthrax bacteria. Many of his staffers were diagnosed with inhalation anthrax and the Congress was closed during Senate consideration of the Patriot Act which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. A total of twenty-two people died in the attacks.

Patrick Leahy (born March 31, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Vermont. He is a member of the Democratic Party and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy was one of three Democratic Senators targeted in the 2001 anthrax attacks. The anthrax letter containing weapons-grade anthrax bacteria was intercepted before it reached his office.

Russell Feingold (born March 2, 1953) is a U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin. He has served as a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate since 1993. Several of Senator Feingold's staffers were diagnosed with weapons-grade inhalation anthrax bacteria. Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act when first voted on in 2001.

Question #4: What are the odds against chance that the only TV news outlets targeted in the 2001 Anthrax Attacks were ones accused of being “liberal” by some elements of the political right in the United States?

ABC News received an anthrax letter dated September 18, 2001, exactly one week after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

NBC News received an anthrax letter dated September 18, 2001, exactly one week after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

CBS News received an anthrax letter dated September 18, 2001, exactly one week after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Question #5: What are the odds against chance that all events in questions 1-4 involved Democrats, Progressives and TV networks accused of being “liberal” by the some elements of the political right in the United States?

While these data would seem to point to the existence of extreme, reactionary forces in our presence that are attempting to unravel our democratic progress and discourage social and economic justice, it is therefore imperative that we pivot away from these tragedies and recommit ourselves to the principles and vision articulated in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Let us also restate the covenant that “We the people of the United States…” have the power to manifest our destiny as expressed so powerfully in the Preamble of the United States Constitution:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It’s often said, “What’s past is prologue,” but I beg to differ. Human beings are not gears in a machine imprisoned in La Place’s “nightmare of determinism.” Nor, must we live in a Kantian nightmare of paradox, insanity and suffering.  These are not our destiny! We are creative entities capable of great visions and manifesting magnificence through inspired action. And while the past will always be a component of the future, it is only that, a part of it; for as we take new actions each day to fulfill our vision, these new actions recede into the past and become it. This is how we can change the past by creating a new vision which incorporates the best from the past, recommitting ourselves to it each new day and manifesting it now. And every succeeding now…

All the wars and suffering and heartache and trails of tears and blood that have characterized these hundreds of years are calling us to birth a new future, to move beyond the tragedy, to fulfill the possibility and promise of the visions of our founding fathers with their fulfillment and realization in an abundant loving and joyous land characterized by brother and sisterhood, creativity, freedom, equality, equanimity, harmony and justice.

We can’t let a handful of evil ones get us down!

Good luck and God Bless America!

William Brandon Shanley

Kindly send answers to by midnight on the Ides of November (the 13th). Best, first answers will be announced on Christmas Day, 2006. Please include name and contact information, as well as questions being answered, narrative, calculations and notes. No attachments please. If anyone prefers to remain anonymous, please indicate the same.

*William’s documentary work has appeared on PBS, A&E, Discovery and CNN. Other projects include the feature length documentary, The Made-for-TV Election with Martin Sheen and the science novel, Lewis Carroll’s Lost Quantum Diaries. He may be contacted by email at

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