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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway

Photo by The White House

On the eve of her departure from the White House, after the arrest of a 17-year-old "militia" gunman for a double homicide, Kellyanne Conway blurted a gloating observation: "The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety and law and order."

To anyone familiar with the methods of fascism, the Trump adviser's ugly boast was telling. Authoritarian parties and regimes, dating from the era of the Reichstag fire and Kristallnacht, have always covertly encouraged violent disorders to justify their own repressive acts. Beneath President Donald Trump's rhetoric of "law and order" lies not only the notorious lawlessness of the president and his cronies but also his incessant instigation of crime and brutality on the far right. He is assuredly not the choice of anyone who hopes to improve the nation's security.

Before Trump, no modern president had ever encouraged his followers to consider their fellow citizens as enemies who pose a threat to the nation and must be somehow extirpated. By repeatedly tweeting outrageous calumnies against his political adversaries — claiming that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George Soros and many others committed "treason" — he has provoked violent plots against them. By shrieking false alarms about "invading immigrants" and "election fraud," he has driven his armed followers to imagine that America is on the verge of civil war. And with his constant drone of white resentment, he has assisted recruiting neo-Nazi extremists, even as he pretends not to know who they are.

By now, we ought to understand the grave dangers posed by a president who publicly fantasizes vengeance and bloodshed. We've seen how his permissive attitude toward the "very fine people" who marched with swastikas in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to repeated acts of murder and mayhem aimed at immigrants, Blacks, Jews and other minorities.

The Republican National Convention again demonstrated the perils of right-wing extremism when its organizers decided to invite an appearance by the nutty St. Louis couple who aimed their weapons at peaceful demonstrators on the street outside their home. (Local prosecutors indicted them for that crime.) For the Republican Party to make heroes out of kooks who threaten their fellow Americans with firearms can only lead in one direction.

That direction became clear as demonstrations and rioting broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, when a teenager in a baseball cap named Kyle Rittenhouse showed up from Illinois with an "AR-15-style" rifle. Because he was under 18, his possession of that weapon on the streets was unlawful. Before the night was over, he would scuffle with demonstrators, kill two of them and wound a third. It doesn't matter that his victims were innocent of any crime, because he inflicted retribution on the far right's perceived "enemies." (Before this tragic incident, he was last seen in the front row of a Trump rally, where the president vilified Democrats and immigrants.) As the gleeful commentary on social media suggests, this kid really "owned the libs."

Urging civilians onto the street with guns to confront other citizens can only result in more mayhem and murder; white nationalists are plotting to kick off the "second civil war" they have long imagined. That isn't "law and order." That is social breakdown verging on national destruction — and it is the potential consequence of a growing violent fascist underground that has been responsible for most terrorist acts in this country over the past decade.

The most darkly ironic moment at the Republican National Convention came when Vice President Mike Pence asked his audience to remember the late Dave Patrick Underwood, an officer in the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service. The vice president said that Underwood was "killed during the riots in Oakland," falsely suggesting that he had been killed by protesters against police brutality. But the facts about Underwood's death revealed a deeper truth: He was assassinated by a right-wing extremist seeking to set off "the boogaloo," a term for urban violence leading to civil war.

Such is the bloody atmosphere of the United States after four years of Donald Trump stirring up hate. It is the mood that sustains him. But we will have neither law nor order if he somehow remains in office for four more.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Democratic nominee Joe Biden

Photo by US Department of State/ CC BY 2.0

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

On a call Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien revealed the campaign's total ad buy for the last two weeks of the presidential race would be a whopping paltry $55 million ... split among no fewer than 11 states.

Um, just wow. And that's not only the Trump campaign, it represents coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee (RNC) too. Far from being a muscular way to close out the race, it feels more like a cry for help. By comparison, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said last week that she still anticipates raising another $234 million through the election.

The 11 states included on the target list for both entities are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine-2, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

According to an Axios article last week, Stepien views Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Maine's 2nd district as the foundation of their path to 270—in other words, must gets. In fact, the article quoted Stepien calling that line up the "easy part," but apparently not so easy that they're forgoing dropping money in all four supposed gimmes.

As New York Times journalist Shane Goldmacher, who was on the call, noted, "On the one hand, Stepien says he is 'certain' that they are winning Ohio and Iowa. On the other hand, he announces the campaign will be up with ads in those two states in final two weeks." Go figure.

One state the Trump campaign appears to have finally given up on altogether is Minnesota. Earlier on Monday, the Trump camp had announced cancelling ad buys in several Midwestern states even as they were preparing to reinvest in some of them through this coordinated ad buy with the RNC. But Minnesota, which has pretty much always been a pipe dream for Team Trump, was dropped altogether.

Even before this final Trump ad buy in the closing weeks, Biden's ad spending had outpaced Trump's by a 2-to-1 ratio for months, according to The New York Times. In a review of the two campaigns' spending in 10 battleground states, the only state where Trump outspent Biden was Georgia—which doesn't exactly jibe with that state's inclusion in Stepien's so-called "easy" list.

Biden's spending strategy has clearly centered on the Midwest. "His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump's $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president's handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes," reports the Times.

And while Trump initially enjoyed a digital ad advantage in the early part of the campaign, Biden has steadily closed that gap in recent months, achieving near parity in the last 30 days at $50 million for each ad campaign on Google and Facebook, according to the Times.

What is perhaps most interesting in these final weeks is just how small Trump is playing even as Team Biden has played very big—and not just in terms of overall spending. As this Politico piece explains, the Biden campaign has seen so many paths to 270 open up that in some cases they realized it would be more cost effective to make national buys rather than spending astronomical amounts in smaller battleground markets. It's a worth a read.

Under normal circumstances, most campaigns at this point would be making buys to leverage their position in 10 or even fewer states. But the Biden campaign realized that making some national buys through the networks would actually cost only slightly more, for instance, than purchasing air time in states with major Senate races like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, where pricing had gone through the roof. The big upside of the national buys was that they had the advantage of not only reaching the desired markets in key battlegrounds but also establishing a Biden presence in states that were newly on the radar, like Texas.

"We are looking at a very wide map right now," Becca Siegel, the Biden campaign's chief analytics officer, said. "Normally at this stage of the campaign, we would be narrowing in. But at this stage of the campaign, we have a lot of pathways that have opened up."

So as Trump closes out with a whimper, Biden is heading out with a roar, and his sizable cash advantage has made all that possible.