“The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” —John Jay (1784)
IN TODAY’S EDITION
- Western Christianity is in flames, not just Notre Dame.
- Yesterday was Tax Day. Today is Tax Freedom Day.
- Daily Features: More Analysis, Columnists, Headlines, Opinion in Brief, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
Monday of Holy Week was a particularly poignant time for Notre Dame Cathedral to burn. Fire destroyed the roof and spire, as well as much of the interior. It’s difficult to see such magnificent Christian architecture go up in flames, yet no lives were lost, even with the building full of worshippers, workers, and tourists.
Standing at the center of Paris since the foundation stone was laid in 1163, this monumental Gothic cathedral took more than 100 years to finish, and it was perhaps the crowning achievement of an age when Christians prioritized enduring beauty to reflect the eternal glory of the Creator. To be sure, there were also other motivations for such grand enterprises, and external beauty does not cover internal rot. But building a place of worship meant to last for centuries is, sadly, a lost art.
The first question on everyone’s minds was whether Monday’s fire was set deliberately, though authorities have said it was an accident amid a multimillion-Euro renovation. Already this year, however, vandals have attacked numerous Catholic churches across France, destroying various objects within them or harming the buildings, including by setting two of them on fire. According to The Daily Signal, “In 2017 alone the French government recorded 887 attacks on Christian artifacts or churches.”
It’s unclear if any of these attacks have been attributed to Muslims, but given the rise of radical Islam in Europe, it’s not unthinkable. France, where at least one-eighth of the population follows Islam, has the Western world’s largest number of Muslims. And, of course, other deadly attacks in France have been perpetrated by radical Islamists.
Yet far more important than the burning of Notre Dame is the metaphor it creates for Western Christianity. Once the center of Christendom, Europe has descended over the last two centuries into a secular, post-Christian — and often anti-Christian — malaise. Arguably, Europe was always more culturally Christian than doctrinally Christian, but now instead of the church being the center of society, government is. Nominal Christians have exchanged the truth of Scripture for the lies of self-worship. They’ve rejected God’s authority, substituting their own feelings.
To most of the French, Notre Dame itself had become little more than a popular tourist attraction, and most of their mourning has nothing to do with losing a symbol of Christianity but rather a cultural museum of national pride. Jesus himself might have called it a white-washed tomb.
The resulting vacuum in Europe is being filled by Islam, which aims to supplant Christianity and become the world’s dominant religion. Europe is far down the path that America has begun to tread. But such Christianity hardly needs an external enemy when it’s already committing suicide.
Notre Dame, then, is not just one cathedral up in flames; it’s all of Western Christianity. Still, there is always hope. Christians and Christianity itself never find perfection in themselves — in fact, that’s the point. Fallen humanity needs a Savior, and we celebrate His sacrifice and resurrection during this Holy Week. Indeed, that the Notre Dame cross survived the fire may just remind us that hope, renewal, and redemption remain, by God’s grace. After all, Christ promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against His church.
Today is Tax Freedom Day, the day each year that we recognize the number of days needed to work off federal taxes. This year, the number of workdays required to pay off federal taxes comes in at 105, or about 29% of Americans’ income. That’s actually five days less than last year, thanks in large part to the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, though it’s still longer than all but about a dozen years in American history. That’s an awful lot of time worked to pay taxes, and yet it still won’t cover the federal government’s actual spending.
As The Daily Signal’s Rachel Greszler notes, “As high as $5.42 trillion or about $34,600 per worker is, it’s not enough to actually pay for what the government spends. To also cover the federal government’s estimated $897 billion deficit for fiscal 2019, Americans would actually have to work until May 8. That’s 22 days longer.” She adds, “If workers actually had to pay for the full cost of government, the average tax bill would be about $5,700 higher, at about $40,300 per worker.”
The shocking reality is that taxes, by far, are Americans’ largest expense. “Americans spend more on taxes than they do on food, clothing, and housing combined,” Greszler observes.
However, unless Washington seriously cuts its spending soon, Americans will only see Tax Freedom Day coming later and later each year.
ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY
- Featured Analysis: Assange Was Not Right — WikiLeaks founder is an anti-American lawbreaker and he should pay for his crimes.
- Trump’s Sanctuary Strategy — Here’s a brief reminder of what President Trump has tried to do on immigration.
- American Spirit: Witness Pulls Gun, Stops Kidnapping of 11-Year-Old Girl — A stranger saved a girl from being kidnapped, thanks to a firearm.
- Video: The House ‘Hate Crimes and White Nationalism’ Hearing — Matt Christiansen evaluates Jerry Nadler’s top lies on the issue.
- Video: Preferred Pronouns or Prison — “He.” “She.” “They.” Have you ever given a moment’s thought to your everyday use of these pronouns?
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- MUELLER REPORT TICK-TOCK: “Attorney General William Barr plans to release the final report of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election Thursday. … The 400-page document … will be transmitted to Congress and made public at roughly the same time. Barr said he will keep parts of the report secret.” (USA Today)
- BILL WELD’S MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: “Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced Monday that he will mount a Republican primary challenge against incumbent Donald Trump. … Weld’s first foray into national politics came in [the 2016 election], when he served as libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson’s running mate. Johnson and Weld ended up capturing just 3.6 percent of the popular vote after a devastating gaffe in which Johnson admitted he was not aware of the existence of the Syrian city of Aleppo, where intense sectarian fighting was then taking place.” (National Review)
- SANDERS KEEPS THE WEALTH: The Washington Post reports, “Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has made income inequality a hallmark of his presidential campaign, earned with his wife about $566,000 last year and $1.15 million in 2017, putting them in the nation’s highest income brackets. … Sanders’s annual Senate salary is $174,000. Much of his income came from books he has written about his democratic socialist platform, which includes a call for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. … The Sanders campaign said in a news release that he paid a 26 percent effective tax rate in 2018.” Meanwhile, according to NBC News, “The Patriotic Millionaires, a group of about 200 wealthy individuals … say they should be taxed more, and as soon as possible.” Neither Sanders nor the Patriotic Millionaires are prohibited from writing bigger checks to the IRS.
- THE FLIP SIDE OF THE TAX COIN: “Of the 150,272,157 tax returns filed for the 2016 tax year, 50,219,667 — or 33.4 percent — were classified by the Internal Revenue Service as ‘nontaxable returns,’ meaning the people who filed them paid $0 or less in income taxes, according to data published by the Statistics of Income Division of the IRS. At the same time, 80 percent of all income taxes paid that year were paid by tax return filers who had adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more.” (CNS News)
- A BLIND SQUIRREL FINDS A NUT: “Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Sunday that she is no longer using Facebook and is cutting back on all social media for health reasons associated with being too engaged with social media,” the The Daily Wire reveals. ‘I actually think that social media poses a public health risk to everybody,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘There are amplified impacts for young people, particularly children under the age of 3 with screen time. But I think it has a lot of effects on older people. I think it has effects on everybody. Increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.’“ Ironically, firebrands like AOC are an important component behind social media’s devolving into a toxic morass.
- SWEET RECOMPENSE? "Philadelphia’s soda tax is barely two years old, but many local lawmakers are saying they’ve seen enough. … Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, a member of Philadelphia’s city council, introduced a bill last month that would phase out and potentially eliminate the soda tax. … Philadelphia’s soda tax, which imposed a 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy on sweetened drinks, raised $79 million in its first year. … While that $79 million sounds great, in fact, the tax lagged projections by about 17 percent. Apparently, pennywise consumers with the means to do so don’t mind shopping outside the city for soda (and when they do, they take other shopping business with them). This leaves the bulk of the tax to be paid by the city’s lower-income population.” (Foundation for Economic Education)
- SOCIAL-JUSTICE PANDERING: “The country’s only all-male historically black college will begin admitting transgender men next year. … Transgender men will be allowed to enroll in [Morehouse College] for the first time in 2020. Students who identify as women but were born male cannot enroll, however, and anyone who transitions from male to female will not be automatically eligible to receive a degree from the institution.” (Associated Press)
- POLICY: The U.S. must remain wary of the International Criminal Court even after its decision to not target Americans (The Daily Signal)
- POLICY: One way to save the planet: Build more nuclear plants (New York Post)
- HUMOR: White House implements new policy of dropping all illegal immigrants off at Nancy Pelosi’s house (The Babylon Bee)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Cal Thomas: “In the category of Mad magazine’s ‘scenes we’d like to see,’ comes President Trump’s threat to transport migrants to cities and states that have declared themselves sanctuaries. … Those living in this country without legal permission have broken the law, but are simultaneously protected by the law. Does this make sense? Name other laws American citizens could break and not be held accountable. Try breaking the tax laws this week and see where that gets you. One of the president’s problems has been his lack of focus. He throws proposals against a congressional wall to see if any will stick. He should stick with one and bring public opinion with him. The ultimate solution lies with a do-nothing Congress and only it can solve the problem. For political reasons, members of both parties refuse to do so. Those who support sanctuary cities ought to experience the consequences of that support in their own front and backyards.”
Insight: “An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.” —Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
Upright: “One of the reasons our politics is so contentious and angry is that we can’t agree on what the rules are. Some of us want to argue that certain policies are good and certain policies are bad. But a vocal chunk of Americans don’t really care about what the policies are; they would much rather argue that their side is right. They don’t care if these are the same policies or comparable to those they denounced earlier. The system is clogged with bad-faith arguments, hypocrisy, and flip-flopping.” —Jim Geraghty
The BIG Lie: “I do reject socialism as a[n] economic system. If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Non compos mentis: “There’s something bigger going on with this story. It tells us something about the right-wing rage machine and about how news priorities are set. The history of the United States is a tug of war over who belongs and who is equal and who has power. It’s the biggest story of all. And yet, those of us in the press often-times cover this just in tiny discreet bits.” —CNN’s Brian Stelter defending Rep. Ilhan Omar’s “some people … did something” statement regarding 9/11
Who knew? “Economic justice does include a living wage for everyone.” —Sen. Cory Booker
Braying Jackass: “The vice president is entitled to his religious beliefs. My problem is when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people.” —Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Friendly fire: “[Joe Biden] does not particularly animate right now.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Dear Diary: “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook. And Facebook was my primary digital organizing tool for a very long time. I gave up on it.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
And last… “Look for facebook’s stock to plunge today since the Boss has quit it.” —Twitter parody account @AOCpress
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Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher