Thanksgiving 2016: Uncertain But Still Grateful

Sketch of Thanksgiving in camp (of General Lou...
Sketch of Thanksgiving in camp (of General Louis Blenker) during the US Civil War on Thursday November 28th 1861. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, it’s that time of year: Time to reflect on the good things in our lives; to appreciate family, friends, community; to consider that for which we ought to be thankful.

I’m grateful for many things, starting with my family, my church and its members, my comrades in the freedom movement and the Libertarian Party,  and the wonderful people of Gainesville, Florida, the city I’ve called home for not quite four years since moving south from Missouri.

Then there’s something I had hoped to be thankful for, but that hasn’t really happened yet.

Like many, I expected to spend the last three weeks of November heaving a sigh of relief that the most contentious presidential election of my lifetime is over.

My dog in the presidential fight was never going to win, and I didn’t much care which of the Big Two came out on top. I can’t say I was looking forward to four more years of the same old thing, but I was looking forward to getting the ritual over and done with.

Unfortunately, it continues to drag on. We expected the usual quick mass and communion; instead we’re getting a Pentecostal stemwinder, replete with fire and brimstone.

Oh, the popular votes have been counted and a winner declared, but the Electoral College doesn’t vote until December 19.

It feels like half the country is protesting the outcome as ordained by the existing system (and protesting that system itself to boot), while the other half writhes on one set of tenterhooks or another.

Will the electors vote as pledged based on the popular vote outcomes in their states?

If not, who will they (or possibly the US House of Representatives if no candidate hits the magic mark of 270 electoral votes) send to the White House?

If so, are we in for four continuous years of the same gut-wrenching drama — The Trump Horror Picture Show, 24/7/365? — we mistakenly expected to end on November 8?

Are we even possibly at the beginning of a permanent political crackup, feeling our way through the early stages of some sort of revolution?

All those concerns cast a pretty long shadow over the holiday launched as an official observance on the final Thursday in November by president Abraham Lincoln in 1863, to celebrate a bumper harvest and Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

This Thanksgiving feels a lot more like 1939 — the year that president Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to November’s fourth, rather than final, Thursday — than like 1863.

At the time of Lincoln’s proclamation, the country’s future was becoming more certain: The Union hadn’t yet won the Civil War but it was clearly going to. The corner had been turned.

At the time of FDR’s proclamation, the country’s future was becoming less certain: World war had broken out for the second time in 25 years and the specter of American involvement in that war loomed large on the horizon.

2016’s is a pensive Thanksgiving  unlike any I’ve lived. But I’m still thankful. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

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.


The Washington Post vs. “Fake News”: Pot, Meet Kettle

Remember the Maine

“Freedom of expression is a bedrock of American democracy,” the Washington Post‘s editorial board writes in a November 18 jeremiad, “but its irresponsible exercise can distort and destabilize our politics.”

The Post‘s editors, mining the bottomless pit of mainstream media excuses for not predicting Donald Trump’s victory in November’s presidential election, think they’ve hit the mother lode with their newfound focus on “fake news” stories going viral in social media.

The Post coming out against “fake news?” That’s rich, especially given the last few months, during which the Post‘s reporters went all in for Hillary Clinton even to the extent of manufacturing “news” that Trump, and Julian Assange of Wikileaks, were in bed with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

Neither the Post nor its sources have publicly revealed so much as a crumb of actual evidence for the assertion. The case for the claim consists entirely of rumor and innuendo. But since doing so seemed to benefit Clinton’s campaign, the Post unreservedly ran with that rumor and innuendo, helpfully packaged for it by the Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee.

A one-time lapse? An artifact of Jeff Bezos’s takeover of the newspaper? No. The Post  has been a vector for “fake news” for decades.

In the run-up to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the Post led American media’s cheering section, cheerfully publishing one bald-faced administration lie after another concerning Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” — then in the aftermath assisting the administration in taking revenge on Joseph Wilson (who had exposed one of the lies) by exposing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent.

Woodward and Bernstein’s glorious expose of the Watergate affair is long past and may have been an exception to the rule even back then. These days, at any rate, “fake news” is the Washington Post‘s stock in trade. Half their “reportage” comes down to nothing more complex than re-wording government press releases. The other half requires the extra work of slanting alleged “news” in favor of the paper’s favored causes and against their political opponents.

The Post’s editors pathetically close their diatribe with a veiled threat, channeling their masters’ voice: Social media needs to crack down on other people doing what the Post does to “avoid giving tyrants any impetus to crack down on dissent and free expression.”

This, from the paper which used Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing work to grab a Pulitzer … then publicly advocated prosecuting their source!

The Post‘s editors have no problem with tyrants cracking down — they work for the tyrants. Their problem is purveyors of “fake news” — other than the variety pushed by the Post — gobbling up revenue in a niche the Post considers its own.

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.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY Dismissal is Insufficient — Charge Harris

Ban Censorship (RGBStock)

On November 1, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman dismissed pimping charges against Carl Ferrer, the CEO of, as well as the site’s controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, on free speech grounds. The ruling is a victory against Internet censorship, but it’s just a start. It’s time to send a strong message to grandstanding prosecutors who abuse the justice system for self-promotional purposes.

When California Attorney General (now US Senator-elect) Kamala Harris ordered the arrests, she knew better.

Yes, escorts — many of them presumably sex workers — purchase advertising in’s “adult” section. The ads are pretty racy, but based my (minimal) research they do not plainly offer sex for money.

Yes, accepts payment for, and runs, ads.  Presumably they don’t investigate each, or for that matter, any advertiser. Nor are they legally obliged to.  The Communications Decency Act is quite clear: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” has prevailed in court in several cases similar to the California action.

If anything, the site goes the extra mile: Their terms prohibit “[p]osting any solicitation directly or in ‘coded’ fashion for any illegal service exchanging sexual favors for money or other valuable consideration.”  Readers agree, prior to viewing adult ads, to report illegal activities.

There was no case here. Ferrer and company are clearly not pimps under any reasonable definition.

Harris must have known that. Yes, she failed the bar exam her first time out, but she eventually passed, has practiced law for more than 25 years now, and as California’s top government attorney has a staff of other lawyers to advise her. There’s no avoiding the conclusion that she knowingly wasted taxpayer money on an obviously bogus prosecution, presumably to get media face time and burnish her “tough on crime” credentials for campaign purposes.

Worse, she and those who assisted her (including but not limited to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had Ferrer arrested and extradited) clearly violated United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 241:

“If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same … They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years …”

The US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division should take notice of this case and make an example of Harris. It’s time to bring an end to the era of malicious prosecution for political profit.

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.