Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant

Omarosa Manigault - Caricature (24514517627)Caricature by DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Between her new “tell-all” book and her use of taped conversations to promote it, Omarosa Manigault Newman (former “Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison”) has the White House in a tizzy.

President Donald Trump publicly refers to her as a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog.” There’s quite a bit of pearl-clutching over one recording which seems to have been made in the White House Situation Room, where some of the government’s most secret stuff gets discussed.

All of which is par for the course in Trump’s America.

I can understand why some people were surprised when a reality TV personality got elected president.

I can understand why some people were surprised when that reality TV personality president hired another reality TV personality (in fact, someone he had twice reality-TV-“fired”) to work at the White House.

What I can’t understand is why anyone would expect two reality TV personalities to stop acting like reality TV personalities just because their new show broadcasts from a new set at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Is there a serious side at all to these made-for-reality-TV melodramatics? Yes. The Trump campaign organization has invoked the arbitration clause of its non-disclosure agreement versus Omarosa, and rumors (stoked by Trump, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, and others) imply another NDA specific to her White House employment but generalized beyond the bounds of protecting classified information.

Exposing the likely existence of that second NDA, along with hopefully successfully defying it, makes Omarosa the current front-runner for the title of “Best, Maybe Even Only, Public Servant Produced by the Trump Administration.”

The sustaining fiction of American government is that citizens and taxpayers are the real employers — the ultimate bosses — and that even the top-most government employees are answerable to us.

Fictions like that can only be stretched so far. The idea that Donald Trump can legally interpose himself between Omarosa’s desire to dish on White House life and our desire to listen to her do so stretches this particular tale to the breaking point. A shift manager at McDonald’s doesn’t get to swear the cooks and cashiers to silence should the corporation’s CEO happen along with questions for them.

If it was up to me, the Oval Office and the entire West Wing of the White House would be covered 24/7 by publicly accessible live-streaming web cameras. THEY claim to work for US, remember? The employees don’t get to hide from the employers. What they do on the clock, and how they do it, is our business, not their privileged secret.

Of course, it’s not up to me, and the fiction will likely survive even without turning the White House into an uncut (and probably even more boring) version of Big Brother or Keeping Up With the Kardashians. But Omarosa’s book and its promotion campaign are turning into a much-needed test case for just how far from transparency the executive branch can go without the public, and possibly the courts, finally putting our feet down.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


New Haven Overdoses: It’s Time for Indictments Atroszko Atroszko

In mid-August, the New Haven, Connecticut Register reports, more than 70 people suddenly fell ill at a local park, collapsing and losing consciousness. Terror attack? Accidental industrial release of a deadly chemical? No. The culprit was “K2,” aka “synthetic marijuana,” laced with fentanyl. The victims were revived by first responders and at the local hospital. Thankfully no one died and an alleged drug dealer was quickly arrested.

But, as law enforcement likes to tell us, getting a single dealer off the street does little good. We need to move up the food chain and nab the people at the origins of this thing.

Who are those top dogs? Whose names can be presented to a grand jury for indictments in the conspiracy to put “synthetic marijuana” on our streets? Here are two: Uttam Dhillon and Scott Gottlieb.

Dhillon is the Acting Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Gottlieb heads the US Food and Drug Administration.

Together, Dhillon and Gottlieb oversee the “scheduling” of drugs under federal law. And, like their predecessors, they have conspired to create a market for “synthetic marijuana” by putting REAL marijuana on Schedule I, fraudulently claiming that it has a “high potential for abuse,” “no currently acceptable medical use,” and a “lack of accepted safety.”

In point of fact, marijuana is about as “abused” as caffeine, is demonstrably an effective treatment for various medical conditions (Queen Victoria drank it as a tea for menstrual cramps), and isn’t even in the same league as alcohol or tobacco when it comes to safety — year after year, the number of marijuana overdose deaths in the US totals a big whopping zero. It’s a common, benign plant, with numerous useful attributes, that grows in all fifty states.

So, why do Dhillon and Gottlieb conspire to keep marijuana on Schedule I? When you have to ask why, the answer is usually “money.”

Dhillon’s DEA employs more than 10,000 people at an annual cost of nearly $3 billion.  Gottlieb’s FDA employs nearly 15,000 people at an annual cost of more than $5 billion.

De-scheduling marijuana would mean fewer jobs and lower budgets at those agencies. That is the sole plausible reason to keep marijuana on Schedule I. The other reasons are, simply, lies. And that makes conspiring to do so a matter of theft by deception, aka fraud.

The New Haven overdoses and incidents like them are an aggravating factor. The DEA/FDA conspiracy to keep marijuana off the legal market, and to make it less available illegally through violent law enforcement action, creates the market for unsafe substances like “synthetic marijuana.”

If not for Dhillon and Gottlieb, the 70-plus New Haven victims would have been able to purchase the real thing — an eminently safe substance no more dangerous, and possibly less dangerous, than an everyday energy drink — at their local stores of choice. They’d have had pleasant, euphoric, brief highs before going about their business instead of collapsing and requiring medical attention.

It’s time to put these racketeers out of business. Indict, convict, and de-schedule.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors

Ban Censorship (RGBStock)

In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart.” His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe  of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

“[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. ” In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

“[R]equiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so.” America’s long tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous political speech — not least among it the Revolution-era pamphlets of Thomas Paine — shouldn’t be subject to the veto of Mark Warner or Chris Murphy.

Then, a good laugh: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics.”

Since when has government ever produced proper oversight, transparency, or effective management of anything? And what could possibly go wrong with eviscerating the First Amendment to give these jokers “oversight” or “management” powers over technologies that undergird our politics? What’s really going on here?

Political blogger Michael Krieger answers that question with a simple headline: “Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared.” The American political establishment has spent the last decade quaking in its boots over the next potential disclosure from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, or whistleblowers yet unknown. This isn’t about “our democracy.” It’s about “their power.”

The US government’s use of putatively “private sector” social media outlets as proxy censors has been going on for some time, but the Russiagate scandal lent it new momentum. And it’s not just some alleged lunatic fringe that they’re after. Recent victims of Twitter’s ban policy include non-interventionist foreign policy analysts like Scott Horton (editorial director of, former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren, and Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams.

We don’t need “more government oversight” of social media. What we need is for it to be recognized, and treated, as a criminal abuse of power (and a violation of US Code Title 18  § 241 — “conspiracy against rights”) for government officials or employees to attempt to “oversee” or “manage” social media’s content standards.

Let me reconfigure Chris Murphy’s authoritarian statement to name the stakes: The survival of our freedom depends on it.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.