Jun 162017
 
The Problem Isn't Willie Pete. The Problem is War Crimes

by Thomas L. Knapp……. The New York Times reports  that US and/or US-allied forces in Syria may be using white phosphorous munitions in the assault on Raqqa, capital city of the Islamic State in Syria. The use of white phosphorous in war is a perennial complaint among human rights activists. And while it’s valid as far as it goes, it misses a larger and more important point. White phosphorous — nicknamed “Willie Pete” by the US mortar, artillery and air forces who use it — [continue reading…]

 June 16, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #223, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Jun 022017
 
Free Speech: Ted Wheeler is the Enemy He Invokes

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, wants to control who can say — and hear — what. He’s asked the federal government to cancel one permit and deny another, both for “alt-right” demonstrations at Portland’s Shrunk Plaza. His excuse: Portland is “in mourning” and its “anger is real” over an incident in which an anti-Muslim bigot, Jeremy Joseph Christian, allegedly harassed two women on a commuter train and then stabbed three men who came to their defense, two of them [continue reading…]

 June 2, 2017  Posted by at 12:55 am Issue #221, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Jun 022017
 
Stand With Ross Ulbricht. Shun His Tormentors.

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On May 31, a panel of three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the conviction and sentence of American political prisoner Ross Ulbricht. It’s been two years since I last devoted a column to Ulbricht’s plight, so a refresher seems in order: After a show trial so obviously fixed in advance that Stalin’s pet prosecutor Andrey Vyshinsky would have blushed with embarrassment to participate in it, judge Katherine Forrest sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison [continue reading…]

 June 2, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #221, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
May 192017
 
Donald Trump and the Politics of Whine

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety,” US president Donald Trump told Coast Guard Academy graduates on May 17, “has been treated worse or more unfairly” than himself. A day later, in the wake of the US Justice Department’s appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate allegations of “Russian meddling” on his behalf in the 2016 presidential election, Trump once again offered a grandiose reference to his place in history, this time [continue reading…]

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am Issue #219, Thomas L. Knapp 5 Responses »
May 192017
 
Seth Rich, the DNC, and WikiLeaks: The Plot Thickens

by Thomas L. Knapp……. According to the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department, the nation’s capital reported 135 homicides last year. One of those homicides, the killing of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich on July 10, 2016, continues to make news ten months later. Who killed Seth Rich, and why? We may never know for sure. On the other hand, a significant piece of the puzzle may have just fallen into place. Fox News, citing a federal investigator as source, reports that Rich may [continue reading…]

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #219, Thomas L. Knapp 51 Responses »
May 122017
 
The US Postal Service is Dying. Let it.

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Like most monopolies, the US Postal Service isn’t interested in changing its business model. An enterprise hemorrhaging cash in a free market would cut prices, improve service, look for new revenue streams, or simply close its doors. The USPS solution, as usual, is to raise prices and hope for the best. Alternative proposal: Let’s put it out of its misery. The Service posted losses of $562 million in the first quarter of 2017, the Associated Press reports. This year will likely [continue reading…]

 May 12, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #218, Thomas L. Knapp 46 Responses »
May 122017
 
Congress Should Just Say No to Trump's Afghanistan Surge

by Thomas L. Knapp……. With the US occupation of Afghanistan well into its sixteenth year and the country no closer to becoming a stable democracy than it was in late 2001, Antiwar.com reports that this isn’t an “all options are on the table” scenario. President Donald Trump seems to have rejected the idea of withdrawing US troops and ending the war. Instead, he intends to become the third president in a row to roll the dice on a “surge” — that is, to send in [continue reading…]

 May 12, 2017  Posted by at 12:53 am Issue #218, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
May 052017
 
"National Security": The Last Refuge of Vote-Buying Politicians

by Thomas L. Knapp……. More than half a century ago, Congress passed the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Since mid-April, US president Donald Trump has twice invoked one of the law’s nearly forgotten provisions, ordering Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate the possibility that steel and aluminum imports “threaten to impair the national security.” If Ross says they do and Trump agrees, the law empowers him to “take such action, and for such time, as he deems necessary to adjust the imports of such article and [continue reading…]

 May 5, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #217, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
May 052017
 
The Scandal Isn't Post-Presidential Speaking Fees, It's Political Pensions

by Thomas L. Knapp……. As former US president Barack Obama’s second term drew toward its close last July, he exercised his veto power for the eleventh of 12 times, shutting down “The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2016.” The bill, which easily passed both houses of Congress, would have reduced former presidents’ pensions and staff allowances dollar for dollar if their other incomes exceeded $400,000 per year. In the wake of Obama’s decision to accept a $400,00 fee for a Wall Street speaking engagement this [continue reading…]

 May 5, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #217, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Apr 282017
 
Tax Reform: Two Places to Start

by Thomas L. Knapp……. An anonymous announcement of a forthcoming public announcement: On April 26, an anonymous White House source says, the Trump administration “will outline our broad principles and priorities …. We are moving forward on comprehensive tax reform that cuts tax rates for individuals, simplifies our overly-complicated system and creates jobs by making American businesses competitive.”

 April 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #216, Thomas L. Knapp 8 Responses »
Apr 212017
 
"Buy American, Hire American" is Anti-American

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On April 18, US president Donald Trump visited the Kenosha, Wisconsin headquarters of Snap-on to speak in front of an American flag made of the company’s tools and publicly sign an executive order titled “Hire American, Buy American.” The order itself is small beans — it just orders four federal agency heads (Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State) to “review” policies and recommend changes that tend toward hiring and spending domestically instead of abroad. But such changes would just increase Americans’ [continue reading…]

 April 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #215, Thomas L. Knapp 8 Responses »
Apr 142017
 
"Safe Spaces," Notre Dame Edition: Who's Afraid of Mike Pence?

by Thomas L. Knapp……. At the beginning of their first terms in office, US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were invited (and accepted the invitation) to speak at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement ceremonies in South Bend, Indiana. This year, university president Father John Jenkins tried to avoid an obvious and seemingly inevitable controversy by snubbing new US president Donald Trump, going instead with a “safe” speaker: Vice president Mike Pence. Not safe enough, Father Jenkins. In fact, according to student protesters, [continue reading…]

 April 14, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #214, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Apr 072017
 
We're Asking The Wrong Questions About Syria

by Thomas L. Knapp……. As I write this, two key questions remain unanswered, and a third mostly unasked, about a deadly daybreak attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a northwest Syrian city of (pre-war) 50,000. Hundreds were wounded and as many as 100 killed, apparently chemical weaponry (Turkey’s health ministry believes the agent in question was the nerve gas sarin), on the morning of April 4. The two most obvious questions are who did this, and why? The US government (and unfortunately most American media, acting as [continue reading…]

 April 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #213, Thomas L. Knapp 15 Responses »
Apr 072017
 
Want Privacy? Washington Isn't Where You'll Find It.

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On April 4, US president Donald Trump signed a bill repealing some of the previous administration’s rules on Internet Service Providers’ handling of user information. Privacy advocates raised Cain over the legislation, but let’s put it in perspective: The rules in question were only created last October and hadn’t even really been implemented. Internet privacy is going back in time a whopping six months, if that. The sky is not falling. That said, if you’re worried about Internet privacy, there are [continue reading…]

 April 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #213, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Mar 312017
 
Sanctuary Cities and DoJ Funding: The Hypocrisy of Jeff Sessions

by Thomas L. Knapp……. In a surprise White House appearance on March 27, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to make America’s cities less safe and more vulnerable to crime unless he gets his way. He didn’t say it quite like that, of course. In fact, he asserted the opposite, accusing so-called “sanctuary cities” of “mak[ing] our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets” and conditioning future grants from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice on certification [continue reading…]

 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #212, Thomas L. Knapp 6 Responses »
Mar 312017
 
Rudd Re-Declares Governments' Lost War on Strong Encryption

by Thomas L. Knapp……. UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd is upset. She considers it “unacceptable” that she can’t read your private chat messages and wants that fixed. Naturally, she publicly ties her demand that you surrender your privacy to the fight against terrorism. Fortunately, Rudd won’t get her way. That’s not because her demand is evil and wrong-headed, although it is. It’s because her demand is impossible to implement.

 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:51 am Issue #212, Thomas L. Knapp 2 Responses »
Mar 242017
 
It's Time to End America's Longest War

by Thomas L. Knapp……. In the latest round of saber-rattling between the US and North Korean governments, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid down the well-worn line. “All options,” he said during a visit to South Korea, “are on the table.” If he’s serious, here’s an option that never seems to get much discussion lately: US president Donald Trump should send Tillerson to tell Yun Byung-se, his counterpart in Seoul, that the US is withdrawing its troops from the Korean peninsula by a specific [continue reading…]

 March 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #211, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Mar 172017
 
Stranger Fruit Meets Rotten Fruit: Robert McCulloch and the Michael Brown Shooting

by Thomas L. Knapp……. As the 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was litigated in the court of public opinion, Ferguson’s police department released video which appeared to show Brown robbing a local store a few minutes before his fatal encounter with Wilson. A new documentary, Stranger Fruit, includes additional, mostly previously unnoticed, footage which seems to call that interpretation (and the attendant perception of Brown’s character) into question. Filmmaker Jason Pollock believes it shows that what happened [continue reading…]

 March 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #210, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Mar 172017
 
Sorry, Non-Interventionists: Donald Trump is a War President

by Thomas L. Knapp……. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed to have opposed the Iraq war, wanted better relations with Russia, and even briefly put his hand on the hot stove of the Arab-Israeli conflict, calling himself “neutral” on Palestine. On the other hand, he called for “rebuilding” the US armed forces, which hardly need it (they’re already the most expensive and bloated war machine on the planet). And he yanked his hand off the stove when he got his fingers burnt, turning [continue reading…]

 March 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #210, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Mar 102017
 
Vault 7: What it Means for You

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On March 7, the transparency/disclosure activists at Wikileaks began releasing a series of documents titled “Vault 7.” According to the New York Times, Vault 7 consists of “thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the [US Central Intelligence Agency] to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.” If the documents are authentic — and WikiLeaks has a sterling reputation when it comes to document authenticity — every paranoid thriller you’ve ever watched or read was too [continue reading…]

 March 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:16 am Issue #209, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Mar 032017
 
The War on Marijuana is Ending. Disarm Jeff Sessions.

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Jeff Sessions doesn’t “think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot.” He’s worried about the possibility of “marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” Because, you see, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” America disagrees. A majority of US states (28) have modified their laws to recognize the medical benefits of cannabis over the last two decades. More recently voters in eight of those states, representing 25% [continue reading…]

 March 3, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #208, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Mar 032017
 
The Immigration Enforcement Police State is Here

by Thomas L. Knapp……. February 7: Muhammad Ali, Jr., returning to the US from a speaking engagement in Jamaica, is detained for two hours at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and questioned about his name and religious beliefs. February 22: Passengers disembarking from a domestic (San Francisco to New York) flight at JFK airport are held up by US Customs and Border Protection agents demanding their IDs. February 24: Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education clears the usual security checks at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta [continue reading…]

 March 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:59 am Issue #208, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Feb 242017
 
Florida's Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State

by Thomas L. Knapp……. In mid-February, Florida’s Division of Elections stripped the state’s third largest political party of its official recognition. Tallahassee’s excuse for ending the Independent Party’s ability to put candidates on the ballot and disenfranchising its 260,000-plus registered voters? The party organization’s 2014 financial audit wasn’t conducted by a Certified Public Accountant. Florida law doesn’t specify any such CPA requirement, and even if it did this dirty trick would exemplify the real purpose of so-called “ballot access laws”: To safeguard the Republican and [continue reading…]

 February 24, 2017  Posted by at 1:02 am Issue #207, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Feb 172017
 
Trump: Triumph of the Permanent Campaign

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Less than a month into the first term of his presidency, Politico reports, Donald Trump appears to be back on the campaign trail, heading for Melbourne, Florida and one of his signature airport hangar rallies. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump speculates that Trump’s outing is motivated by the simple need for an ego boost. It’s been a rough month. Heck, it’s been a rough week, marked by the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and the withdrawal of Labor Secretary [continue reading…]

 February 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #206, Thomas L. Knapp 8 Responses »
Feb 102017
 
Hey Antifa: Free Speech is Not Negotiable

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On February 1, a gang of violent thugs managed to shut down a speech scheduled to take place at the University of California at Berkeley, metaphorically making the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s into that movement’s grave site. The scheduled speaker, sponsored by the campus’s student Republican group, was “alt-right” clown cum agitator Milo Yiannopoulos. The gang of rock-throwing arsonists identified themselves as “Antifa” activists. “Antifa” is short for “anti-fascist,” but the actions of those identifying with [continue reading…]

 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:12 am Issue #205, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Feb 102017
 
Trump's Foreign Policy: Obama's Third Term, Bush's Fifth

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances,” Illinois State Senator Barack Obama said in 2002. Later in the same speech: “What I am opposed to is a dumb war.” Although elected president at least in part on his image as “the peace candidate,” Obama owned eight years of constant war. He waffled on then partially reversed the withdrawal [continue reading…]

 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:10 am Issue #205, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Jan 272017
 
Why Trump is Doubling Down on the Voter Fraud Fraud

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide,” US president-elect Donald Trump tweeted in late November, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Kind of a sore winner. And now that he’s no longer just president-elect but actually president, he’s doubling down and says he “will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD …” That’s dumb. And dangerous. Dumb because voter fraud is almost non-existent. There are rare cases [continue reading…]

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:34 am Issue #203, Thomas L. Knapp 12 Responses »
Jan 202017
 
A Reminder: What Insurance Is

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “Elections have consequences,” outgoing US president Barack Obama once told Republican congressional leaders, and “I won.” He was right. One consequence of the 2016 election, in which the Republican Party maintained its House and Senate majorities and got a president of their own party, is the near-certain, near-future repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare.” What will replace ObamaCare? That’s far less clear, but president-elect Donald Trump, in a January 14 interview with the New York Times, promises “insurance for [continue reading…]

 January 20, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #202, Thomas L. Knapp 4 Responses »
Jan 132017
 
Who's More Anti-American, Russia Today or the US Director of National Intelligence?

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Someone should take US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper aside for a talk. He desperately needs to be told that when you’re deep in a hole, the first step toward getting out is to stop digging. Clapper’s been in such a hole since 2013, when he got caught lying to Congress about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of and data collection on Americans. Oops. On January 6, he fired up a backhoe and dug himself six feet deeper when his [continue reading…]

 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #201, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Jan 062017
 
New Boss(es), Same as The Old Boss(es)

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Donald Trump ran for president in part on a promise to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, DC. He positioned himself as a political outsider, beholden to no one and capable of bringing sweeping changes to a federal government set in its ways. But as Inauguration Day approaches, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fundamentals aren’t going to change much. While Trump’s cabinet picks do reflect the usual party line changing of the guard, they’re hardly “outsiders” by any conventional definition. [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #200, Thomas L. Knapp 5 Responses »
Dec 302016
 
About That Foreign Meddling in US Presidential Elections ...

by Thomas L. Knapp……. So we had an election and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won it. If I had all the ink that’s been spilled on why and how Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I’d be an ink tycoon. Much of what passes for analysis focuses on alleged “foreign meddling” in the election. There certainly was some of that. There always is. But some meddlers get more attention than others. Mainstream anti-Trump opinion leaders claim that the Russian government, at the [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:42 am Issue #199, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Dec 232016
 
Capital Punishment: Can we Cut it Out Already?

by Thomas L. Knapp……. The Hill reports that capital punishment is fading away in America. Government employees have ceremonially killed fewer prisoners this year (20) than in any year since 1991, and fewer criminals (30) have been sentenced to death than in any year since the option became available again in 1976 (after a US Supreme Court ruling resulted in a four-year national moratorium). There seem to be several reasons for the precipitous decline, ranging from difficulty getting the drugs used in executions (manufacturers and [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #198, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
Raid Encryption: This Should Be The New Normal

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “When government agents raid Uber’s offices,” Business Insider reports, “the company springs into action with an immediate response: it shuts everything down and encrypts all its computers.” That claim comes from documents filed by former Uber forensic investigator Samuel Ward Spangenberg, who’s suing the company for age discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and defamation. Merits of the lawsuit aside, the details of Uber’s raid response protocol are fascinating. They should be standard practice for every company which electronically stores and transmits sensitive information [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #198, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Servergate/Hackergate: The Case of the Investigatory Double Standard

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On December 9, US president Barack Obama ordered a “review” of — an investigation into — alleged Russian hacking aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. Supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lauded Obama’s order, which seems aimed at, well, influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On December 19, the electors chosen by voters on November 8 will meet in their respective state capitals to choose the next president of the United States. Under the [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:43 am Issue #197, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »