Monday, July 6, 2009

Exclusive Clip From Palin Press Conference


A Plan to End the Wars

By David Swanson

There are a million and one things that people can do to try to end the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and to prevent new ones in Iran and elsewhere, as well as to close U.S. military bases in dozens of other nations around the world. Certain people are skilled at or interested in particular approaches, and nobody should be discouraged from contributing to the effort in their preferred ways. Far too often proposals to work for peace are needlessly framed as attacks on all strategies except one. But where new energy can be created or existing resources redirected, it is important that they go where most likely to succeed.

In my analysis, we should be focusing on three things, which for purposes of brevity and alliteration I will call: Communications, Congress, and Counter recruitment / resistance. Communications encompasses all public discussion of the wars and impacts all other approaches, including targets I consider far less likely to be influenced by us than Congress, such as the president, generals, the heads of weapons companies, the heads of media companies, the people of Afghanistan, your racist neighbor, etc. If our communications strategy can change the behavior of any of these targets, terrific! We should be prepared to take advantage of such opportunities should they arise. But the first place we are likely to be able to leverage successful communications will be the House of Representatives. Counter-recruitment / resistance is another area that overlaps with communications but involves much else as well, and it is a strategy that we continue to underestimate.


Our task is to communicate that:
--the wars are ongoing and will not end without our efforts,
--the wars must be ended,
--the peace movement has had many successes already and should by no means give in to frustration,
--the wars can be ended if a small fraction of the majority that wants them ended makes an effort,
--we have to choose between warfare and healthcare / other social goods,
--minimizing U.S. casualties will not satisfy the demands of the U.S. public,
--neither maximizing nor minimizing foreign casualties will satisfy the demands of the U.S. public,
--there is a personal cost to those who support wars and war crimes,
--Congress members will face opposition through negative communications, disruption of their lives, and electoral challenges if they fund wars.

We don't have to communicate all of that in one interview on cable television, or violate any other laws of physics, but we DO have to communicate ALL of that. And getting our spokespeople on TV has to be part of how it is done. But primarily we need to create our own media and work with decent independent media outlets. Online media has developed to the point where it can influence broadcast and print media. And yet we are still quite capable of creating powerful online media. We cannot overlook the need to work with communities that lack internet access, or the need to use the internet to generate offline activities. But it is very hard to overestimate the importance to our efforts of the internet, and working to get more people access to it might be one of the most helpful efforts we can make.

We stopped Bush-Cheney from invading Iran. They intended to do so, and we prevented it -- largely by exposing the grounds for invading Iraq to be lies. There was no press conference at the White House to announce this failure of theirs and success of ours, but that should have no impact on our claiming a victory and making it known to those who require encouragement and optimism.

Ctrl Alt Del

Sarah Palin Turns Pro

Paul Begala

by Paul Begala

I wish Hunter S. Thompson had lived to see this.

As Hunter said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Sarah Palin makes Mark Foley, the congressman who sent filthy emails to pages look almost normal. She makes David Vitter, the senator who was hanging out with hookers, look almost boring. She makes Larry Craig, caught hitting on a cop in a men's room, look almost stable. She makes John Ensign, the senator who was having an affair with a staffer, look almost humdrum (and compared to the rest of the GOP whack-jobs, he is). And she makes Mark Sanford, the governor with the Latin lover, look positively predictable.

It was an almost impossible mission, but in resigning from office with 17 months to go in her first term, Sarah Palin has made herself the bull goose loony of the GOP.

Let's stipulate that if there is some heretofore unknown personal, medical or family crisis, this was the right move. But Gov. Palin didn't say anything like that. Her statement was incoherent, bizarre and juvenile. The text, as posted on Gov. Palin's official website (here), uses 2,549 words and 18 exclamation points. Lincoln freed the slaves with 719 words and nary an exclamation; Mr. Jefferson declared our independence in 1,322 words and, again, no exclamation points. Nixon resigned the presidency in 1,796 words -- still no exclamation points. Gov. Palin capitalized words at random - whole words, like "TO," "HELP," and "AND," and the first letter of "Troops."

Gov. Palin's official announcement that she is resigning as chief executive of the great state of Alaska had all the depth and gravitas of a 13-year-old's review of the Jonas Brothers' album on Facebook. She even quoted her parents' refrigerator magnet. (Note to self: if one of my kids becomes governor, throw away the refrigerator magnet that says: "Murray's Oyster Bar: We Shuck Em, You Suck Em!") She put her son's name in quotations marks. Why? Who knows. She writes, "I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!?" Was she exclaiming or questioning? I get it: both! And I don't even know what to make of a sentence that reads:

*((Gotta put First Things First))*

Ponder the fact that Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins publishing house is paying this, umm, writer $11 million for a book. Ponder that and say a prayer for Ms. Palin's editor.

Sarah Palin, via Twitter: God told me to sue the internet

Wonkette has a post up about @AKGovSarahPalin's crazy late-night twitter bender. She's gonna have to give up that handle, no? Anyway, after you slog through all the crazy ungrammatical Palinglish rambling, the point seems to be that a "higher calling" has directed her to file anti-defamation lawsuits against a number of news websites for having reported the news that she quit her post as governor of Alaska (her "news conference" to that effect is embedded above). From Wonkette:

[A]fter crazily quitting her elected position as governor of Alaska, via an alarming backyard last-minute press conference void of any explanation , at the classic 4 p.m. hour of the Friday-Holiday news dump, Sarah Palin is now twatting on the twitter about how her Anchorage attorneys are going to SUE THE AMERICAN MEDIA, for saying "WTF?" Honestly, this is what Sarah Palin twatted on Saturday Night, July 4th, Independence Day, in America.

Her link goes to (of course) Scientologist nut and sub-literate weirdo Greta Van Susteren's blog on, where Greta has helpfully (?) posted seven pages of legal threats from Palin's lawyers, although you can't actually read beyond the first vague page of whining bullshit, because Greta/Fox can't figure out how to operate the Internet.

But, from other websites, we gather Palin's lawyers plan lawsuits against MSNBC, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, individual bloggers in Alaska, and other such anti-Palin forces such as "rain on your wedding day" and static cling.

Related reading: Anchorage Daily News article, hilarious. Vanity Fair article: It Came from Wasilla (and "Don't Blame Us"). (via @Andrew Baron)

On his excellent "nedslist" mailing list, Ned Sublette wrote this concise and spot-on appreciation of the official text of Palin's goodbye speech:

[W]hat Roland Barthes would have called the pleasure of this text has to be savored in full to draw out its pure nuttiness. It's hard to know what to appreciate more: the all-caps prepositions; the sentence fragments that begin the fifth and sixth paragraphs, the run-on sentences, the frequent exclamation points!, the quotation from her parents' refrigerator magnet, the basketball analogy, the proposed logic of quitting so as not to be a quitter, or the grammatically incorrect final sentence framing the misattributed punchline, which was actually said not by General Douglas MacArthur but by General Oliver P. Smith. I especially like the capital O of "Outside" in "Outside special interests," which reminds us that the world consists of two parts: Alaska, and Outside.

But what I most enjoy is the authenticity of this text; there can be no question that Governor You Betcha wrote it herself {wink}.

Left out of the will

KBR might seek federal funds in truck driver case


Uncle Sam could soon be writing another big check to a U.S. company, this time not for recession-related troubles but for civilian casualties five years ago in Iraq.

KBR may ask the U.S. government to reimburse it for legal bills if a jury decides the company failed to protect KBR truck drivers during a deadly April 2004 roadside attack, a lawyer for the Houston-based government contractor said.

Though no final decision has been made, lawyer Robert Meadows said, if the cases go to trial and result in a jury award, "it's conceivable that KBR would look to the government to accept responsibility under its contract" with the company.

Such a prospect does not sit well with plaintiffs' attorneys, who argue the government contractor should pay its own bills if held liable in the cases.

"It would be extremely rare for anybody to be able to turn the cost of their own negligence over to any other individual, much less the U.S. government," said Tobias Cole, a Houston attorney representing Kevin Smith-Idol, a KBR contractor shot in the knee and hip during the attack.

But the idea is only hypothetical at the moment. KBR lawyers are preparing to file motions that will ask U.S. District Court Judge Gray Miller in Houston to dismiss the cases before they go to trial, Meadows said.

Unmanned drones could be banned, says senior judge

Unmanned drones could be banned from use in conflicts, Lord Bingham, one of Britain's most senior judges has suggested.

He likened drones, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza, to cluster bombs and landmines.

Lord Bingham made the comments to the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in an interview which addressed the issue of the state being bound by the rule of law.

"Are there, for example, and this goes to conflict, not post-conflict situations, weapons that ought to be outlawed?" he said.

"From time to time in the history of international law various weapons have been thought to be so cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance. I think cluster bombs and landmines are the most recent examples.

"It may be – I'm not expressing a view – that unmanned drones that fall on a house full of civilians is a weapon the international community should decide should not be used."

His comments are likely to lead to further calls for new international rules to protect civilians from attacks by the pilotless aircraft.

Pentagon’s Robo-Hummingbird Flies Like the Real Thing

Military-backed researchers have built a tiny drone that looks and flies like a hummingbird, flapping its little robotic wings to stay in the air. So far, the mock bird, built for Pentagon mad-science division Darpa, has only stayed aloft for 20 seconds at a time. But that short flight was enough to show the potential of a whole new class of miniature spies, inspired by nature. Darpa just handed AeroVironment, makers of the winged "nano air vehicle," another $2.1 million to build a hummingbot 2.0.

The Art of the Prank

From coast to coast, intrepid bands of merrymakers are staging hoaxes, stunts, and practical jokes like never before. Welcome to the Golden Age of the Prank.

This is for participants only," announces a heavily bundled Charlie Todd through his trusty gray bullhorn. "If you didn't come to take your pants off today, you're in the wrong spot." It's a frigid January afternoon in New York City's Foley Square, and hundreds of fearless pranksters are braving the elements to get together and shed their trousers for the eighth annual "No Pants! Subway Ride."

Todd, a baby-faced 30-year-old from Columbia, South Carolina, is the mastermind behind this gathering, and on his command the assembled crowd scatters for the nearest subway entrances…and collectively drops trou. Even in a city like New York, riding the subway sans pants is a guaranteed eye-opener, and today is no exception: Straphangers stare, chuckle, even take photos. Around 1,200 men and women have come out clad in boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, and bloomers, not just in New York, but in 21 cities across the globe. ("Three hundred take to the subway—shameless and pantless," the Toronto Sun would inform its readers soberly the next day.) The mission ends with a group of agents celebrating in Union Square, making snow angels, still pantless. Improv Everywhere has struck again. Mission accomplished.

MISSION: No Pants! Subway Ride
DESCRIPTION: Countless agents ride the
New York subway system in tighty-whities
and less.
DATE: Every January

The largest network of pranksters ever assembled, Improv Everywhere is the leading light in what might be called the Golden Age of the Prank. All across America and beyond, groups are gathering to pull off practical jokes, hoaxes, and ruses of all kinds, blurring the line between prank and guerrilla theater, and using the Internet to share their work with audiences far and wide. The prank, of course, has a long and illustrious history going back to…well, Adam and the serpent: "Ha! You actually ate the apple!" Summer camps and college campuses have long been jokesters' playgrounds, while avant-gardists like Marcel Duchamp and the Dadaist movement elevated the prank to an art form. Borat and (coming soon) Bruno have taken squirm-inducing hoaxing to the big screen. But it's the Internet—and groups like Improv Everywhere who have learned how to exploit it—that has been the primary mover in the prank renaissance. More than seven million people have watched the 2009 "No Pants!" clip on YouTube, and copycat groups have sprung up around the world.

"The use of video has spread like crazy, so pranks are getting more and more popular," says's Amir Blumenfeld, whose online "Prank War" series with colleague Streeter Seidell went viral this spring. No group has demonstrated the power of YouTube and the Internet better than Saturday Night Live's masters of the digital short, the Lonely Island. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer (whose debut album, Incredibad, was released in February) got their start by posting their sketches, songs, and goofs on their Web site. "When we started back in 2001, most people's computers weren't fast enough to watch video, but slowly technology caught up," notes Schaffer. Now the group's clips regularly draw millions of viewers online.

MISSION: Human Mirror
DESCRIPTION: Eight pairs of twins take
the subway.
DATE: 4/26/08
While they may not have the muscle of SNL behind them, Improv Everywhere has pulled more than 80 stunts, involving thousands of so-called "agents," resulting in countless headlines and enough TV news spots to fill a season's worth of Punk'd episodes. Their own videos have generated more than 55 million views online. But their insidious influence has no doubt infected a far larger audience: Count literally hundreds of Improv Everywhere–inspired groups across the globe, to say nothing of the masses of bewildered, babbling "victims" each prank leaves in its wake. According to legendary prankster Alan Abel—whose Citizens Against Breastfeeding nonprofit group famously condemned what they called "an incestuous relationship between mother and baby that manifests an oral addiction leading youngsters to smoke, drink, and even become a homosexual"—"Pretty soon we'll have as many groups pulling pranks as we have church choirs."

Buy Robert Anton Wilson's medical marijuana card

The medical marijuana card belonging to bOING bOING patron saint Robert Anton Wilson (RIP) is up for auction on eBay. It's one of many of RAW's personal items that his daughter, Christina, is auctioning to help pay off her father's large debts. From the medical marijuana card auction listing:
RawwwwwwAs we all know (or should) RAW was a great champion of decriminalizing marijuana. In his late sixties, when his post-polio syndrome started getting bad, he really found great relief and was a staunch supporter of WAMM. WAMM is Wo/Man's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, located in Santa Cruz. His doctor gave him the necessary paperwork and here is his official WAMM card granting him the right to use marijuana medicinally. He is of course, patient # 2323. There is no signature, but his picture is emblazoned on the front with a twinkle in his eye...
Robert Anton Wilson's Medical Marijuana Card

Conspiracy fever: As rumours swell that the government staged 7/7, victims' relatives call for a proper inquiry

By Sue Reid

Today almost four years on, the images of that dreadful morning are etched into our minds: the woman in the haunting white burns mask being helped to safety; the shell-shocked businessman in a suit with his hair and shirt matted with blood; the crippled No 30 bus with its roof blown off; the mangled wreckage of smouldering Tube trains.

The country's worst-ever terrorist atrocity during London's morning rush hour on July 7, 2005, shattered for ever the heady euphoria in which the capital was basking the morning after winning the bid for the 2012 Olympics.

That afternoon, Tony Blair - who was hosting the G8 summit on global poverty in Gleneagles, Scotland - returned to Downing Street to pronounce that the attack was an act in the 'name of Islam'.

Fateful day: The iconic image of a 7/7 Tube victim wearing a burns mask
Fateful day: The iconic image of a 7/7 Tube victim wearing a burns mask

Later, at a meeting of the Government's national emergency committee COBRA, London's anti-terror police chief Andy Hayman told senior ministers that he suspected suicide bombers.

And so the story of 7/7 that we have come to accept was pieced together: four British Muslims - Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Jermaine Lindsay, 19, and Hasib Hussain, 18 - blew themselves up using home-made explosives, killing 56 and injuring 700 on three Tube trains and a double-decker bus.

They had travelled on a mainline train from Luton into King's Cross Thameslink Station in London, each carrying a heavy rucksack of explosives.

It is a version of events that has been endorsed by a high-level Parliamentary inquiry and a government report, both published in May 2006 ten months after the event, based on 12,500 statements, a police examination of 142 computers and 6,000 hours of CCTV footage.

The report insisted that the bombers acted on their own, constructing explosives from chapatti flour and hair bleach mixed in the bath at a flat in Leeds, Yorkshire, where all four had family and friends.

It concluded that the Muslim bombers were not controlled by a terrorist mastermind, but inspired by Al Qaeda ideology picked up on extremist websites.

But families of the dead victims and an increasing number of 7/7 survivors claim there are inconsistencies and basic mistakes in the official accounts that need explanation.

And they are demanding a full public inquiry to answer key questions about what the Intelligence Services and the police did and did not know before the bombings.

Meanwhile, the Government's determined refusal to meet their demands is having a very dangerous side-effect - fuelling myriad conspiracy theories about 7/7. Books, blogs and several video documentaries point to oddities in the official accounts.

Messages left after laying flowers for the victims of the London bombings at the site of the bus explosion in Tavistock Square
Messages left for the victims of the London bombings at the site of the bus explosion in Tavistock Square

Alarmingly, some of the conspiracy videos are being hawked around mosques throughout the country to whip up anti-British sentiment.

For the most outlandish and offensive of them suggest that the attacks were not the work of Muslim terrorists at all, but were carried out by the Government to boost support for the Iraq war.

The survivors are so intent on an independent inquiry that they are now taking legal action in the High Court to try to force the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to authorise it.

Campaigner Diana Gorodi, whose sister Michelle Otto, 46, was one of those killed, explains: 'It's just very hard for us to believe four people got up in the morning, put bombs together on the basis of information from the internet and managed to throw London into chaos and to create a tragedy. It's impossible for me to believe those four individuals acted on their own.'

Rachel North, a 39-year-old strategy director who survived the King's Cross Tube bombing, adds: 'We need a public inquiry. It was the public, after all, not the politicians, who were attacked. Let the public know what risks they run and tell them why there are those living among them who seek to kill for an ideal.'

Central to the puzzle is which train the four Muslims caught from Luton to London on the morning of the bomb blasts - bearing in mind that the three separate Tube explosions at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King's Cross occurred together at exactly 8.50am, followed by the red bus an hour later near Tavistock Square.

Tavistock bombing: The remains of the bus after the terrorist attack
Tavistock bombing: The remains of the bus after the terrorist attack

The official reports said the bombers got on the 7.40am train from Luton which would have arrived at King's Cross in good time for them to board the Tube trains.

However, the 7.40am train never ran that morning. It was cancelled.

The Government has since corrected this information - but only after the error was raised by survivors - saying the bombers actually caught an earlier train, the 7.25am from Luton, for the 35-minute journey to King's Cross. It was due to arrive in the capital at 8am.

Yet this throws up more questions than it answers. For this train ran 23 minutes late because of problems with the overhead line which disrupted most of the service between Luton to King's Cross that morning. It arrived in London at 8.23am, say station officials.

According to the July Seventh Truth Campaign - another group calling for a public inquiry - this again places the official version of the bombers' travelling times in doubt.

A still CCTV photo of the four bombers arriving at the station in Luton is the only one of the four men together on July 7. Controversially, no CCTV images, either still or moving, of them in London have ever been released.

The Luton image is also contentious: the quality is poor and the faces of three of the bombers are unidentifiable. The conspiracy theorists say it could be a fake.

This photo is timed at four seconds before 7.22am. But if this were the case, the men would have had just three minutes to walk up the stairs at Luton, buy their £22 day return tickets and get to the platform, which was packed with commuters because of the earlier travel disruptions.

Blown up: A Circle Line subway train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations
Blown up: A Circle Line train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations

The Truth Campaign group is equally sceptical about the bombers' supposed arrival time at King's Cross.

They say it takes seven minutes to walk from the Thameslink line station to the main King's Cross station, where there is an entrance to the Tube network.

Police say the four men were seen on the main King's Cross concourse at 8.26am, although no CCTV footage has ever been made public.

But is this possible? How had the men got there in three short minutes after getting off the Luton train at 8.23am?

And it is such inconsistencies that are fuelling the deepening concerns. This week, a television documentary on BBC2 called Conspiracy Files 7/7 revealed the existence of a conspiracy theorist's 56-minute video called Ripple Effect.

It accuses Tony Blair, the Government, the police, and the British and Israeli Secret Services of murdering the innocent people who died that day to stir up anti-Islamic fervour and create public support for the 'war on terror'.

Fact or fiction? Some theories suggest Mohammad Sidique Khan's video was a forgery
Fact or fiction? Some theories suggest Mohammad Sidique Khan's video was a forgery

It alleges that the four British Muslims were tricked by the authorities into taking part in what they were told would be a mock anti-terror training exercise. What they weren't told, the video alleges, was that the Government was going to blow them up, along with other passengers, then pretend the four were suicide bombers.

Without any evidence, the Ripple Effect video accuses government agents of setting off pre-planted explosives under the three Tube trains and on the bus.

It suggests that the four Muslims were not, in fact, on any of the Tube trains, claiming that they missed them altogether because of the train delays on the Luton to London line.

It adds, astonishingly, that because the four did not get onto the Tube on time, three of them were murdered by police at Canary Wharf later that morning and the fourth - the bus bomber - ran off.

Outrageous though these claims are, the video has become an internet hit. More worryingly, it is playing on the fears of Britain's Muslim community.

Even some senior Islamists believe the events of 7/7 were fabricated. As Dr Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, says in the BBC2 documentary: 'We do not accept the government version of July 7, 2005. The Ripple Effect video is more convincing than the official statements.'

Mr. Naseem, a well-educated man, had made 2,000 copies of Ripple Effect for members of his mosque. Research has revealed that even before the contentious video came out, one in four British Muslims thought the Government or the Secret Services were responsible for the 7/7 atrocities. Now the number of doubters is growing.

At Friday prayers recently, Dr Naseem asked the congregation to raise their hands if they did not accept the government version of events. Nearly the entire gathering of 150 men and boys did so. He then urged his audience to collect free copies of Ripple Effect at the back of the mosque.

A victim is taken away from King's Cross station by emergency personnel on
A victim is taken away from King's Cross station by emergency personnel

The respected chairman has since said that the identities of the bombers were discovered by the police suspiciously quickly. 'When a body is blown up, it is destroyed. How is it that the identification papers found at the bomb scenes of these men were still intact? Were they planted?'

That is another suggestion in Ripple Effect. So who is behind this dangerous video?

He is 60-year-old Yorkshireman Anthony John Hill who lives in Kells, County Meath, Ireland. He is currently under arrest there and fighting extradition to Britain. Police here want to interview him on a charge of perverting the course of justice after he sent a copy of his video to a jury member in a terrorist case.

Mr. Hill made Ripple Effect at his own home and is the narrator.

In many ways, it is an amateurish affair: the dialogue is jumbled and hard to understand. But that begs the question, why is Ripple Effect having such an impact?

The answer is that muddled in with the wild theories of a government plot are some questions that are hard to ignore.

Why did the four bombers get return tickets to London if they were on a one-way suicide mission? Why are there no CCTV images of the four together in London even though the city has thousands upon thousands of such cameras in public places?

Why did so many survivors of the Tube bombings say that the explosions came upwards through the floor of the trains, not down, as would be the case if a backpack blew up inside? And why do no passengers on the London-bound Luton train clearly remember the four bombers with their huge rucksacks on that fateful morning?

Binyam Mohamed launches legal fight to stop US destroying torture images

British resident says photographs are evidence of abuse at Guantánamo

Former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed has launched an urgent legal attempt to prevent the US courts from destroying crucial evidence that he says proves he was abused while being held at the detention camp, the Guardian has learned. The evidence is said to consist of a photograph of Mohamed, a British resident, taken after he was severely beaten by guards at the US navy base in Cuba.

The image, now held by the Pentagon, had been put on his cell door, he says.

Mohamed claims he was told later that this was done because he had been beaten so badly that it was difficult for the guards to identify him.

In a sworn statement seen by the Guardian, Mohamed has appealed to the federal district court in Washington not to destroy the photograph, which neither he nor his lawyers have a copy of, and which is classified under US law.

The US government considered the case closed once Mohamed was released and returned to Britain in February. The photograph will be destroyed within 30 days of his case being dismissed by the American courts – a decision on which is due to be taken by a judge imminently, Clive Stafford Smith, Mohamed's British lawyer and director of Reprieve, the legal charity, said today .

Under US law, evidence relating to dismissed cases must be automatically destroyed. The only way to preserve the photograph is to have it accepted as a court document.

This is the aim of Mohamed's appeal and he says he needs the image as a crucial piece of evidence to fight his case against US authorities for unlawful incarceration and abuse. "That is one piece of physical evidence that I know exists of my abuse," he says in the statement, adding that it was taken in Guantánamo in 2006.

Kill the Indian. Save the Man.

by Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola

Manifest Destiny

In 1845, an American columnist, John O'Sullivan, writing about the proposed annexation of Texas, claimed that it was America's "manifest destiny to overspread the continent." Later in the same year, referring to the ongoing dispute with Great Britain over Oregon, he wrote that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon."

And that claim is by the right of our Manifest Destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent that Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.

The westward expansion did not originate with O'Sullivan's theory. In 1803, the United States acquired 23 percent of its existing territory through the Louisiana Purchase. Seeing land as a source of political power, the government began to actively pursue aggressive expansion of its territories through the 19th century. The idea of Manifest Destiny was one component of the process which captured the popular imagination. This was further fueled by the discovery of gold and other minerals in the West attracting Easterners acting on their conviction in their right and duty to expand.

The Mexican-American conflict generated massive casualties, and when it was over, the US controlled all of New Mexico and California, and more of the territory of Texas. When Texas was annexed in 1846 as the 26th state, Col. Ethan Allen Hitchcock wrote, "We have not one particle of right to be here."

Acclaimed historian Howard Zinn told Truthout, "The Mexican War, presented as something we were doing because Mexicans had fired on our soldiers ... no, we were going to Mexico because we wanted to take forty percent of Mexican land. California, Arizona, Nevada ... all of that beautiful land in the Southwest that was all Mexico. I'll bet there are very few Americans today who live in that area and know that it belonged to Mexico. Or they may ask, how come all these names? How come Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Ana, how come?"

Perhaps Americans seriously believe that the US was preordained by God to expand and exercise hegemony over all that it surveys? After all, our 25th president, William McKinley, (1897-1901) declared that "The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation."