No, Steve Bannon Wasn’t Booted From the NSC

You thought Donald Trump kicked Steve Bannon off of the National Security Council, didn’t ya?

Well, you’d be wrong!

New York Times:

Mr. Trump removed Mr. Bannon, his chief strategist, from the National Security Council’s cabinet-level “principals committee” on Wednesday. The shift was orchestrated by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, who insisted on purging a political adviser from the Situation Room where decisions about war and peace are made.

Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Mr. Bannon’s camp denied that he had threatened to resign and spent the day spreading the word that the shift was a natural evolution, not a signal of any diminution of his outsize influence.

More clarification:

Britain Crosses the Rubicon, Nigel Farage’s Reaction

It’s officially official:

LONDON — A little over nine months after British voters chose to withdraw from the European Union, Britain took a decisive — and likely irreversible — step Wednesday toward leaving a partnership that has bound the country to the continent for nearly half a century.

With the simple handoff of a letter in Brussels in the early afternoon, the British government became the first to trigger Article 50 — the mechanism for nations to exit the European Union.

“This is a historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” Prime Minister Theresa May announced to a momentarily hushed House of Commons, before debate later turned rowdy.

How is Nigel Farage celebrating, you might ask?

“You’ve been triggered!”

On Tomi Lahren’s Pro-Choice Controversy

I know I’m late on this. In any case, I still want to get my two cents in.

Tomi Lahren is a 24-year-old political commentator for TheBlaze. Her popularity has skyrocketed since 2016; not only does her attractiveness help, but she’s much edgier than essentially every conservative commentator. She regularly eviscerates liberals, has called #BlackLivesMatter “the new KKK,” and even once referred to refugees as “rapeugees.”

Last week, Tomi strolled into the lions’ den of hostile female liberals known as “The View.” She emerged, however, with praise from the left and disapproval from the right. How?

She emphatically declared her pro-choice views, saying “I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say ‘I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies’.” Video:

The fallout? She’s been temporarily suspended from The Blaze.

Interestingly, Tomi lambasted Lena Dunham for her sick abortion comments just three short months ago, using language like “murdered a fetus,” “kill your child,” and “baby-killers” in her segment. So, did Tomi foolishly flip-flop on abortion? Or did she sincerely undergo a change of heart? Or has she always been pro-choice but simply said what her target audience wants to hear?

I think Tomi is sincere in her pro-choice convictions because she framed them in terms of a core political philosophy—namely, that the government shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s “right to have an abortion.”* She genuinely believes in small government at the expense of being pro-life.

This illuminates the difficulty (impossibility?) in balancing traditionalism and liberalism. A more traditionalist conservative is staunchly pro-life; but if that’s the case, you must necessarily believe that the act of abortion murders a defenseless human life, and to murder a defenseless human life is something that can’t go unpenalized, right? Well, if it can’t, doesn’t that betray your commitment to “small government”?** Tomi’s comments fall in line with this interpretation.

On the other hand, a more “liberal” conservative may believe the act of abortion takes a human life, but that the government ought not to get involved because 1) “it’s not their role to do so,” 2) “it violates women’s rights,” 3) both 1 and 2, or 4) some other reason. Tomi clearly belongs to this camp, and it’s a befuddling one no matter how you slice it. If human beings possess inherent rights and human life begins at conception, then to permit abortion is to permit the denying of its inherent rights. How can the willful denying of someone else’s rights, even if he’s a fetus in his mother’s womb, possibly go unpenalized either? I ask such questions because abortion is not merely a political issue, but a fundamentally philosophical issue.

Along with Tomi’s ostensible sincerity in being pro-choice, it also seems that she was capitalizing on a chance to further enhance her starpower and appeal. What a misguided attempt. Liberals will still dislike her because she criticizes them in no uncertain terms, and now numerous conservatives will dislike her because she’s not pro-life. By trying to become liked by everyone, you become liked by no one.

Tomi’s rise was characterized, to some extent, by her willingness to be edgy and attack everything liberals stand for. But then she decided to publicly go muh freedom on the abortion question. In doing so, Tomi hurt herself when she thought she was helping herself. Oops.


*This is not a direct quote from Tomi. This is what her stance implies.

**I think it does—unless you, like I do, refuse to frame political issues in terms of “big government” versus “small government.”

ESPN’s Disconnect with Its Viewers

I used to be a devoted reader and watcher of ESPN. But over the past few years I’ve only used their website to check scores, and I haven’t watched a full episode of programming since the early 2010s. Despite this, I’ve been a sports fan since my youth, and I’m fully aware of just how social justice oriented ESPN has become.

Per SportsTVRatings.com, ESPN lost 422,000 viewing homes this past month. Yes, the gradual transition from traditional TV to streaming services is a factor, but the network’s increasing politicization should not be neglected either.

ESPN is also suffering financially. Sports Illustrated reports that:

ESPN will have significant cost-cutting over the next four months on its talent side (people in front of the camera or audio/digital screen). Multiple sources said ESPN has been tasked with paring tens of millions of staff salary from its payroll, including staffers many viewers and readers will recognize.

It’s obvious there’s a disconnect between ESPN and its viewers. The average sports fan, like myself, sees sports as an escape. Sports writers can spill as much ink as they’d like about how it’s wrong to “stick to sports,” but only liberal sports fans agree with this because the media is on their side.

I also recognize that conservative sports fans will always want sports writers to “stick to sports” because the media is not on their side. That’s how human nature works: we like mediums that support our view and dislike mediums that don’t. Yet if a sports outlet is alienating viewership, perhaps they should reexamine their coverage. If they don’t, then social justice crusading is obviously more important to them than ratings.

Dutch Election: Mixed Feelings as Results Trickle In

Welp, Geert Wilders will not be the next Dutch prime minister. Mark Rutte, the current prime minister and candidate for the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, holds a sizeable lead with 20% of the vote counted as of this writing:

VVD — People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy: 22%
PVV — Party for Freedom (Wilders’s party): 12.9%
CDA — Christian Democratic Appeal: 12.4%
D66 — Democrats 66: 11.7%
Green Party: 10.4%
Socialist Party: 9.4%

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The PVV is on track to gain a few seats in the Dutch parliament. And although the VVD will win the election, they’re on track to lose several seats as well.

What sticks out is how poorly the PvdA—the Labour Party—is performing. They’re not even polling in the top six and will also lose the vast majority of their parliament seats. If the exit polls prove to be correct, the PvdA will become the seventh-largest party after being the second-largest. Yikes.

So what does this all mean?

1) The Dutch aren’t quite ready for nationalism. The PVV gained seats but may wind up in third place behind the VVD and CDA when every vote is counted. Wilders is by no means going away.

2) Despite not being quite ready for nationalism, the Dutch are clearly not pleased with the current state of the country. Voter turnout was massive and nearly every party besides the VVD and PvdA will gain seats. Rutte will need to organize a new coalition government, which could bode well for Wilders and the PVV.

*****

If you wish to follow live updates of the election, go here. We may not know the official results for several days, however. The Dutch are counting ballots by hand because they feared Russian hacking if they used technology.

A Ringing Endorsement for Marine Le Pen

This just might be the most ringing endorsement yet!

Reuters:

Outgoing French President Francois Hollande said in European newspaper interviews published on Monday that his “ultimate duty” was to prevent a victory of far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in this year’s election.

“My ultimate duty is to make sure that France is not won over by such a programme, and that France does not bear such a heavy responsibility,” said Hollande of the risk of a Le Pen victory in the election.

Approximately 90% of the French populace disapproves of Hollande. History teaches us that when the French become greatly upset over the government, the pendulum swings in the opposite direction.

But the 2010s are not quite the 1780s. The French election structure is such that if no candidate obtains 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters head to a run-off election. The thinking is that most will flock to the liberal Emmanuel Macron if (or when?) it comes down to him and Le Pen.

Mark your calendars: the first round of voting takes place on April 23, with the potential run-off on May 7.

P.S. Dutch elections are next Wednesday, March 15. It’s anyone’s game!