How Very Convenient...
By John Bottoms
Strike The Root

How very convenient. How very damned convenient. ~ L. Neil Smith, 1995
L. Neil wrote these bitterly sarcastic words in response to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, but they seem to resonate more strongly every day, as calamities pile up, seemingly always in the furtherance of State power. So, with the recent death of Minnesota's Senator Wellstone, it's my turn to say it:
How very convenient...
...that Democratic anti-war Senator Wellstone died, to the advantage of his Republican adversary, whose ascension to the Senate will give a majority to the Republican Party. 
...that Wellstone died right after Republicans conceded privately that he was going to win his Senate race in spite of, or maybe even because of, his anti-war vote. 
...that he died after voting against Bush's unilateral attack on Iraq, against Bush's Homeland Security Department, and in favor of an independent 9-11 investigation over Bush and Cheney's objections. 
...that he died one day before time ran out to name a replacement candidate. Running posthumously, Wellstone would surely have won, and a replacement named by Minnesota Democrats. Replacement candidate over-the-hill Mondale has less of a chance. Senator Wellstone's wife was conveniently killed also, preventing a repeat of John Ashcroft's defeat two years ago by the wife of newly deceased air crash victim Mel Carnahan. 
...that a weather radar map from the hour that the plane went down shows no precipitation anywhere in northern Minnesota, and the on-the-scene reporter said there was no indication that weather was a factor, which was confirmed by officials the day of the crash. But two days later Robert Benzon, the NTSB official in charge of the investigation describes temperatures near freezing with icy and snowy conditions at the time of the crash, and is searching for "valves and cockpit switches that could indicate whether the plane's de-icing equipment was functioning." The story takes shape. 
...that another pilot who left the same airport about an hour after the crash reported only "trace to light icing," but the NTSB investigator wouldn't speculate on whether such minimal icing was sufficient to cause the crash, although they've been happy to speculate that icing may be the cause almost from the start. 
...that Wellstone's airplane lacked the usual flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, even though FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said that the plane was supposed to be so equipped.  
...that Carol Carmody, the acting head of the NTSB, said on the day of the crash that the plane had a cockpit voice recorder, but retracted it the next day. 
...that the first rescue party at the Senator's crash site told St. Louis County Sheriff that "the fuselage was intact, the wings were separated from the plane and the tail had broken off." But the next day, the NTSB said that "only the burned tail section was still intact, but everything else was destroyed." Acting NTSB head Carmody said that the fuselage was destroyed and the cockpit was "gone," and that "the impact destroyed the fuselage and the cockpit." 
...that "the condition of [the plane's] de-icing system...may be impossible to document because of the badly burned condition of the wreckage."  
...that the plane's poor condition prevented investigators from learning whether either of the plane's two independent de-icing systems (a set of valves, air lines and expandable boots on the wings) worked or were activated.  
...that investigators have few clues to go on "since the plane had neither a cockpit voice recorder nor a flight data recorder, issued no distress call and was mostly consumed by fire." But they're quite willing to speculate that the weather was the cause. 
...that the NTSB says they may "spend at least a year" determining the cause of the accident. That's plenty of time to start several new wars of conquest. 
...that in these days when the federal government is issuing almost daily terrorism alerts, the NTSB has apparently already rejected sabotage as a possible cause of the crash, instead focusing solely on the weather.
...that the Bush administration has had an active "Plan Wellstone" for more than a year, and recently campaigned for his opponent.  
...that "just hours after [Wellstone] perished in the fiery accident, WABC Radio's resident Democrat Richard Bey complained that he thought the Wellstone crash defied mere coincidence--then pointed out that the Bush White House had made the Minnesota liberal one of its top political targets. By the next day Bey had second thoughts, telling his audience he didn't want to encourage such bizarre speculation." Did someone get to him?  
...that Wellstone avoided an apparent assassination attempt in Colombia (where there's an active CIA presence) less than two years ago. 
...that 9 other powerful and outspoken politicians have died in often mysterious plane crashes over the last 30 years. Most convenient was the death of Mel Carnahan, John Ashcroft's Senate opponent, almost exactly two years ago. 
In the weeks and months to come, don't be surprised if the contradictions and misinformation start to pile up, so that we may someday view Senator Wellstone's death as something far more ominous than merely "convenient."
October 31, 2002
John Bottoms writes, works and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
All of this sounds feasible. Indeed, the coincidences do add up. But Bottoms failed to enter into his story the fact that within 2 hours after the crash a group of democrats, lead by the clintons, had already chosen Mondale to replace Wellstone. Or, perhaps Mondale had been chosen before the crash. Also, doesn't it seem more than odd--sickening, actually--that the little gathering in Wellstone's memory was nothing more than a well-planned political convention filled with one-liners, podium pounding, grinning and laughter-filled democrats and not a single tear to be shed, and all under the nauseating banner of "Wellstone would have wanted it that way"? I think we need to look at all possibilities in this case. It is too important an issue for us to only see the most popular possibility. History dictates that in almost every situation such as this one that which is the most obvious is never reality.
From Forest
"...doesn't it seem more than odd--sickening, actually--that the little gathering in Wellstone's memory was nothing more than a well-planned political convention filled with one-liners, podium pounding, grinning and laughter-filled democrats and not a single tear to be shed..."
That comment from a reader is incorrect.
1) A gathering of more than 20,000 -- with others told to stay home because they'd have to stand in the cold -- can hardly be called "little." The political reporter from the CBS affiliate, WCCO, said he had never seen anything like it.
2) "Nothing more than" is an absurd reduction that insults the intelligence of a rational viewer.
3) Anybody who watched the crowd can testify that many tears were shed. I saw lots of grown men weeping. Yes, there was laughter. Many funerals include laughter in remembrance of the departed.


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