Belmont Club

Safe Spaces

During the 2012 Republican primary Sidney Blumenthal sent email memos to Hillary Clinton suggesting a media strategy to build up the “weaker” candidates so that the objectively weakest candidate would advance to face Obama.  Blumenthal obviously believed it was in Clinton’s power to shape the narrative to achieve this effect. Three years later the Republican primary candidates are suggesting that Blumenthal’s game plan is still in play.

In consequence, many Republican candidates have spent as much time facing off against the media as they have against the administration.  The latest clash was between Ben Carson and CNN, which was grilling him over inconsistencies in his life story.  Carson accused them of unfairly favoring the Democratic party.

“The vetting that you all did with President Obama doesn’t even come close, doesn’t even come close to what you guys are trying to do in my case, and you’re just going to keep going back, ‘He said this 12 years ago’ — it is just garbage,” Carson said. “Give me a break.”

“I would hope that at some point, the people in your profession,” Carson says towards the end of part three, “You would do a greater service to our nation if you would be trying to find ways to solve some of these problems that I’m talking about.”

The adversarial trend has Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post worried about the future of the system: “Republicans declare war on the media at their own peril.”

the candidates need the media as much as we in the media need them.

We need them for our headlines, horse-race narratives and wry political portraiture — in addition to, you know, material for more wonkish policy analysis about tax plans that don’t add up. And the candidates need us to serve as arbiters of their ideas, values and records, and to help them more credibly fake their own “authenticity.”

The preferred adjective for new combativeness is “broken”.  Chris Cilizza writes that the ‘House is broken’ and he explained that a kind of secession has taken place.  The conservative monster has broken from its GOP masters leading to “polarization in the country” and “polarization in Congress.”

If Boehner robbed GOP leaders of the carrot, then groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action robbed them of the stick. The rise of these organizations, which not only preached ideological purity but also demonstrated an ability to raise lots and lots of money for that cause, meant that the party leadership could no longer choke off campaign funds to those who refused to fall in line. Quite the opposite: Bucking the party leadership or refusing to play nice delivers conservative members a considerable windfall, financially speaking.

But it’s not just the conservative monster which is on the loose.  The liberal zombies are running wild as well.  A Pew Research study cited  by Cilizza has an interesting graph depicting the relative shift of political attitudes over time.  The distance between the Median Democrat and the Median Republican is now wider than ever.

Further apart

Further apart

To make things worse the conservative monster and the liberal zombies have run past each other to capture different parts of the institutional terrain.  The liberals have taken the White House and the Big Cities while the conservatives have taken over everything else.  Cilizza writes elsewhere that the “Republicans have an absolute stranglehold on governorships and state legislatures all across the country.”



The conservatives are dying all right — but only in areas the liberals dominate — while in conservative areas it is the reverse.  This explains a lot of things. It is sometimes believed the media, a la Sid Blumenthal is simply gaslighting conservatives into thinking they are only a few election cycles from extinction.

Obama’s biggest asset – and that of ultra-liberal politicians in general – is the perception that they are in the majority, and we isolated conservatives will be relegated to the ash heap of history. That perception is zealously protected by the Lying Liberal Media, who downplay stories that could puncture it. As New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael famously said after Richard Nixon won a 49-state victory, she didn’t know anyone who voted for Nixon.

But Cilizza’s analysis demonstrates how this misperception can arise from separate development. With the media working out of big cities and liberal institutions, they like Kael may literally not know very many people who lean the other way. He wrote:

While the story at the national level suggests a Republican Party that is growing increasingly white, old and out of step with the country on social issues, the narrative at the local level is very different. Republicans are prospering at the state level in ways that suggest that the party’s messaging is far from broken.

There are other, more pragmatic effects of the GOP dominance in governor’s races and state legislatures, too. Aside from giving the party a major leg up in the decennial redrawing of congressional lines, which has led to a Republican House majority not only today but likely through at least 2020, the GOP’s dominance gives the party fertile ground to incubate policy that makes its way to the national level and to cultivate the future stars of the national party from the ground up.

It also partially explains the demand for “safe spaces” where liberals can shelter from any potential contact with the Other.  They just can’t stand them and see it as their right to be spared the trauma of an encounter. “Safe spaces” have a long pedigree in liberal cultural thought.  Faced with the challenge of ISIS their first reaction was to create a “safe zone” for its victims.  That is what the administration sought to create in Libya; that is what it hopes to establish in Syria.

State Department officials told lawmakers on Wednesday there is no “viable option” on the table for establishing a safe zone inside Syria for civilians and opposition rebels.

“We continue to look at this. We continue to study this. But there is no viable option on the table at this time,” Ambassador Anne Patterson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The options that do exist would take away resources from the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, she said.

So why not a safe zone from conservatives? The astonishment with which conservatives greeted news that Yale students would not abide Halloween costumes underscores how far apart cultural viewpoints have drifted. In a widely circulated video “a student demands an apology -from a Yale official named Christakis] … saying she feels like Yale was no longer a ‘safe space’ for her and other students, especially incoming freshmen.”

“[I]t’s not a home. It is no longer a safe space for me. And I find that incredibly depressing,” she says. “This was once a space that I was proud to be a part of because of the loving community.”

According to the Yale Daily News, nearly half of the students left when they realized Christakis was not going to give them what they considered an “appropriate” apology.

One student pressed Christakis on whether he was going to give an apology.

“So, my question is: are you going to say that? Or not?” she asked. “Cause then, I could just leave if you’re not gonna say that.”

In another video, below, a student in the crowd tells other students to just “walk away” because “He [Christakis] doesn’t deserve to be listened to.”

Yale is “not a home” any more if its been defiled by the Christianists.  For some of the students the aspirational home is a hive. Writing in the Atlantic, Alana Semuels describes the next big thing: meeting the pent-up demand for dorms — as long term housing. The future of real estate are tiny cubicles called Commonspace.

Coworking is probably a familiar concept at this point, but Evans wants to take his idea a step further. On Friday, on the top two floors of the building, he’s starting construction on a space he envisions as a dorm for Millennials, though he cringes at the word “dorm.” Commonspace, as he’s calling it, will feature 21 microunits, which each pack a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef’s kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. Worried about the complicated social dynamics of so many Millennials in one living unit? Fear not, Evans and partner John Talarico are hiring a “social engineer” who will facilitate group events and maintain harmony among roommates.

Forget communes or co-ops. Millennials, Evans says, want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely (hence #FOMO).

“We’re trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs,” Evans, who is 35, told me.

The units, which are just wide enough for two men to spread their arms but rent for $900 a month.  They would probably be considered by conservatives as no better than overpriced jail cells.

Evans and Talarico aren’t the only ones trying out something like this. Pure House, which The New York Times called a “Millennial commune,” is a Williamsburg apartment building that also creates a networking and social community for its residents. Krash is a startup that invites entrepreneurs to live in a shared living space for three to 12 months in Boston, New York, or D.C. to jumpstart their connections. Even WeWork, the massive coworking space, is planning on moving into shared living spaces, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

But if jail’s what a customer wants, jail’s what a customer will get, especially if he regards it as a safe room, which in a way it is.  There are now two nations, each on separate courses and the effects of this divergence are only beginning to show.  Whether they will compete or destroy each other?  Perhaps future elections will become ritualized conquests between the two sides, each alternately plundering the other from their “safe spaces”.  More likely they will trade.  The liberals will demand “safe spaces” so long as they are maintained with no apparent means.

One of the more obscure postscripts to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was the award a year later, of a Navy Cross and a Distinguished Service Cross to 2 Delta Force members who dealt with the undisclosed events of that night.

The Washington Times has reported that two Delta Force members were among a seven-person rescue team sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Their mission: rescue diplomats, security personnel and CIA employees pinned down by terrorists about a mile from the U.S. diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and aide Sean Smith were killed by al Qaeda-directed militants.

The Times can now report that one of the Delta Force members was an Army soldier and the other a Marine.

The soldier was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Marine received the Navy Cross for heroism.

The bestowal of the awards was done in secret. The medals rank just below the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Everybody knows nothing happened in Benghazi.  Don’t aggress by suggesting something did.  And BTW, here’s your Navy Cross. The secret awards encapsulate the different demands of two political cultures. One culture demands safety from the knowledge that safety itself is necessary. The other provides it anyway.

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