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On the roster: The real foundation of Notre Dame – Bernie makes no apologies at Fox News town hall – Dems start to sweat Trump’s fundraising advantage – Pelosi faces heat from party over Omar dispute – Hamburglars
THE REAL FOUNDATION OF NOTRE DAME
If the art and design that a civilization leaves behind is a more honest reflection of its values than the subjective accounts of chroniclers and historians, Western Europe 900 years ago was wild as hell.
Talking about the dizzyingly detailed 18-foot-tall bronze candlesticks cast in the style of central France’s Cluny abbey, art historian Kenneth Clark described their creators’ “irrepressible, irresponsible energy.”
“The Romanesque carvers were like a school of dolphins,” Clark said in the second episode of his 1969 BBC television series “Civilisation.” And looking at the work you have to agree. Our modern aesthetic recoils from such gaudy ornamentation, but 12th century artists were not looking for spare, clean lines. And like a bunch of dolphins (actually called a pod, Sir Kenneth) frolicking in the surf, they were utterly heedless.
The art is seemingly alive, crawling with fantastic beasts, writhing humans and, of course, dogs. In the churches and palaces of the day, like the one where the great Charlemagne had ruled in Aachen, every surface that could be was bejeweled or encrusted or etched. Gilt was good.
You may have forgotten since eighth-grade days, when teachers knew the redeeming power of the audio-visual rack on a balmy spring Tuesday, Clark’s series focuses on art as a key for understanding Western history. Yes, art is to be appreciated for art’s sake, but it is also a reflection of a civilization’s priorities.
How does it spend its treasure? Where does it enshrine its greatest glories? What does it most fear?
In the centuries after the final fall of the Roman Empire in Europe, fear, want and uncertainty were the norms. If you worried when a barbarian tribe would come marauding or Viking long boats would vomit out bloodthirsty shock troops, “berserkers,” to murder, rape and rob you did not take much time to consider your candlesticks.
But slowly, slowly, slowly, men started to reassert order – men like Charlemagne and his grandfather Charles Martel. By the time we reached the second millennium after Jesus, Europeans – at least those where sufficient order had been restored to allow for a new birth of freedom – were ready to create. And a riot of beauty broke out.
“Irrepressible, irresponsible energy” requires order and ease. Every culture creates art, but sometimes it is little more than drawings on a wall. A civilization, however, produces art on a grand scale. That’s because a civilization is a culture strong and stable enough to afford people the chance to let their spirits soar.
Listen to J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 or stand in front Michelangelo’s David or gaze up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. What connects them? The masterworks of Western art are the fruits of a civilization rich, peaceful and predictable enough to make room for true beauty.
As the West mourns the loss of much of Paris’ Notre Dame, the great gothic masterpiece, we are rightly considering matters of faith, history, art and culture. But we should also be considering the matter of the health of our civilization.
Notre Dame was built to glorify God. But it was also an act of rebellion – a defiant act of art that boldly rejected the darkness and fear that had kept Europeans gazing earthward for generations. Here in stone and glass and wood was an eruption of human potential – a victorious yawp in the face of benightedness.
As you watch the spire rise above Notre Dame again in the months to come, be grateful that for all of our near failures and for every time the light of learning and beauty was almost extinguished again, we have somehow managed to maintain a civilization that can afford such wondrous things.
And maybe that will remind us all to do more to shore up that civilization in our little corners of the world. Industry, decency, charity, order and community are the real bedrocks on which the foundation of Notre Dame were laid.
THE RULEBOOK: DON’T JUMP THE GUN
“In some, it has been too evident from their own publications, that they have scanned the proposed Constitution, not only with a predisposition to censure, but with a predetermination to condemn…” – James Madison, Federalist No. 37
TIME OUT: ‘THE SCRAMBLE FOR EGGS’
Smithsonian: “Between 1848 and 1855, some 300,000 fortune-hunters flocked to California from all over the world in hopes of finding gold. … The feverish growth strained the area’s modest agriculture industry. Farmers struggled to keep up with the influx of hungry forty-niners and food prices skyrocketed. … Chicken eggs were particularly scarce and cost up to $1.00 apiece, the equivalent of $30 today. … The situation became so dire that grocery stores started placing ‘egg wanted’ advertisements in newspapers. … The scramble for eggs drew entrepreneurs to an unusual source: a 211-acre archipelago 26 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge known as the Farallon Islands. … [T]he Farallones had one feature that appealed to the ravenous San Franciscans: they hosted the largest seabird nesting colony in the United States. Each spring, hundreds of thousands of birds descended on the forbidding islands, blanketing their jagged cliffs with eggs of all colors and sizes.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 51.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 3 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 53% disapprove.]
BERNIE MAKES NO APOLOGIES AT FOX NEWS TOWN HALL
Fox News: “Bernie Sanders took the stage at a fiery Fox News town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Monday, and sparks flew almost immediately, as Sanders defiantly refused to explain why he would not voluntarily pay the massive new 52-percent ‘wealth tax’ that he advocated imposing on the nation’s richest individuals. ‘We’ll get through this together,’ Sanders said at one point, as tensions flared. Sanders later admitted outright that ‘you’re going to pay more in taxes’ if he became president. Just minutes before the town hall began, Sanders released ten years of his tax returns, which he acknowledged showed that he had been ‘fortunate’ even as he pushed for a more progressive tax system. According to the returns, Sanders and his wife paid a 26 percent effective tax rate on $561,293 in income, and made more than $1 million in both 2016 and 2017. Sanders donated only $10,600 to charity in 2016 and $36,300 in 2017, the records showed, followed by nearly $19,000 in 2018.”
Dems wonder if they can stop Bernie’s momentum – NYT: “…Democrats are increasingly worried that their effort to defeat President Trump in 2020 could be complicated by Mr. Sanders, in a political scenario all too reminiscent of how Mr. Trump himself seized the Republican nomination in 2016. … But stopping Mr. Sanders, or at least preventing a contentious convention, could prove difficult for Democrats. He has enormous financial advantages — already substantially outraising his Democratic rivals — that can sustain a major campaign through the primaries. And he is well-positioned to benefit from a historically large field of candidates that would splinter the vote: If he wins a substantial number of primaries and caucuses and comes in second in others, thanks to his deeply loyal base of voters across many states, he would pick up formidable numbers of delegates for the nomination. That prospect is not only spooking establishment-aligned Democrats, but it is also creating tensions about what, if anything, should be done to halt Mr. Sanders.”
Where does Beto fall on the policy spectrum – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke’s most distinctive policy position? To be determined. There’s no signature issue yet, no single policy proposal sparking his campaign. Convening crowds — and listening to them — is the central thrust of his early presidential bid. And one month into the race, even some of O’Rourke’s supporters are starting to worry about persistent criticism that the charismatic Texan is missing big policy ideas of his own. … It’s not that O’Rourke doesn’t have positions. He does, and in the month since announcing his presidential campaign, he has expressed many of them with specificity. … But none of those positions is unique to O’Rourke. And with his relatively meager legislative record — and a belief that he can transcend ideological lanes within the Democratic Party — O’Rourke appears unclear about where he fits on the policy spectrum.”
Mayor Pete pitches national service program plan – Politico: “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday night advocated a form of national public service for all young adults as a way to create unity among Americans. ‘We really want to talk about the threat to social cohesion that helps characterize this presidency but also just this era,’ the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. ‘One thing we could do that would change that would be to make it, if not legally obligatory, but certainly a social norm that anybody after they’re 18 spends a year in national service.’ … Buttigieg was vague about what would constitute national service, but both he and Maddow acknowledged it would most likely not be a military draft. Without saying the program would be mandatory, Buttigieg did suggest colleges and employers ask applicants about participation in it.”
Harris rakes in donations from Hollywood – Politico: “Hollywood donors are flocking to Kamala Harris. Actors and actresses who wrote checks to the Harris campaign during the first three months of the year included Ben Affleck, who gave $2,800; Elizabeth Banks, who donated $5,600; Eva Longoria Baston, who donated $5,400; Alison Pill, who donated $360; Wanda Sykes, who donated $500; Lily Tomlin, who donated $525; and America Ferrera, who donated $250. Filmmakers and studio executives were similarly supportive of Harris’ presidential bid: Filmmakers J.J. Abrams and Lee Daniels wrote Harris checks of $2,800 and $2,700, respectively. … Harris did not garner a herd of Hollywood supporters by accident. She has made an effort to court donors in Hollywood for years while holding statewide office in California, as well as during the early months of her presidential bid.”
Tax returns reveal 2020 candidates’ charity donations – WaPo: “Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) released 10 years of tax returns last night. He and his wife reported $1,166 of charitable giving from a total income of $370,412 in 2017, the most recent year they released a return for. That’s one-third of 1 percent. How much someone gives to charity is a meaningful metric of their values and priorities, though far from the only one. … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his wife gave $19,000 to charity out of an income of $566,000 last year, or 3.4 percent. … Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) … gave $27,000 to charity – or 1.4 percent. … Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and her husband donated $6,600 of their $338,500 income to charity last year, or just under 2 percent… Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) … gave $3,750 to charity, also just under 2 percent. The most generous of the top-tier presidential candidates appears to be Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). She and her husband donated $50,000 last year of their $906,000 income. That’s 5.5 percent.”
DEMS START TO SWEAT TRUMP’S FUNDRAISING ADVANTAGE
Bloomberg: “Fundraising totals for 2020 candidates show the advantage of being an incumbent president — and the challenge for Democrats, who are raising less money and still have to compete among themselves before taking on Donald Trump. … Sanders, who leads with $18.2 million raised and has $15.7 million in cash on hand, started with a massive fundraising advantage because of the list of supporters he’s maintained from his failed 2016 bid… Some Democrats moved quickly to use Trump’s fundraising news to seek fresh donations. Kamala Harris sent out an e-mail solicitation seeking more money for her campaign Monday evening, highlighting the $30 million Trump raised during the quarter. … Elizabeth Warren, a Senator from Massachusetts, collected about 70 percent of her contributions in amounts of $200 or less, the filings show. While that’s a higher proportion than many of her contenders, her overall fundraising total lagged others who had declared their intentions to run even later than she did.”
Trump uses border efforts with election momentum – WashEx: “President Trump’s reinvigorated effort to secure the Mexican border coincides with the acceleration of his 2020 reelection bid and comes as some immigration hawks say the administration has failed to realize a signature campaign promise. Trump on Monday said the federal government would begin releasing undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities, a provocative move to pressure Democrats in Congress to negotiate and that follows a bold house cleaning of top personnel at Homeland Security. The president wants the department to toughen its response to a historic surge of asylum-seekers and unlawful immigrants, vexing problems that persist despite his vow to halt illegal crossings. … But as Trump’s own election nears, immigration hawks otherwise supportive of the administration’s aggressive border policies say the president could find himself exposed, politically, for lack of tangible results.”
Weld makes it official as Trump’s first primary challenger – WaPo: “Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld officially announced Monday that he will challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, after several months of mulling a long-shot bid that would appeal to traditional GOP voters. Weld made the announcement in an appearance on CNN’s ‘The Lead With Jake Tapper,’ where he described himself as ‘a Republican who works across the aisle and gets things done.’ ‘Donald Trump is not an economic conservative. He doesn’t even pretend to be. The country deserves to have some fiscal constraint and conservatism,’ he said. Weld, 73, will face a steep climb against Trump, an incumbent who is deeply popular with Republican voters. Weld last won an election in 1994 and has drifted politically in recent years, even serving as the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2016. But he is now determined to offer the GOP a moderate alternative.”
PELOSI FACES HEAT FROM PARTY OVER OMAR DISPUTE
WaPo: “The far left’s frustration with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the rise, as liberal advocates and lawmakers fume that she hasn’t done enough to defend freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar from attacks by President Trump and other Republicans and has undermined their policies and leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Omar’s allies over the weekend were upset by what they viewed as Pelosi’s delayed response in standing up for one of the two Muslim women in Congress after Trump accused Omar of playing down the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Pelosi, whose initial statement criticizing Trump made no mention of Omar, said Monday that it was ‘beneath the dignity of the Oval Office’ for Trump to have shared a video on Twitter of Omar spliced with footage of the burning twin towers. But liberals seethed that Pelosi (Calif.) and Democratic leaders did too little, too late. They were equally baffled by Pelosi’s quip seeming to dismiss Ocasio-Cortez during a CBS ‘60 Minutes’ interview Sunday, suggesting her ‘wing’ of the party included ‘like five people.’”
Once her defender, Bernie distances himself from Omar – WaPo: “Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders created some distance Monday night from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), emphasizing that he doesn’t know Omar well and suggesting that she should change the way she addresses the Jewish community. At the same time, Sanders repeated his defense of Omar against accusations by many that she has made remarks that are anti-Semitic. Sanders’s comments, which the independent senator from Vermont made in a televised town hall here hosted by Fox News Channel… ‘Hold it, hold it, hold it,’ Sanders told moderator Bret Baier, after Baier called Sanders a ‘staunch supporter’ of Omar. ‘I’ve talked to Ilhan about twice in my life.’ … Sanders, who would be the nation’s first Jewish president, continued, ‘I think that Ilhan has got to do maybe a better job in speaking to the Jewish community.’ He said that he does not consider Omar to be anti-Semitic and that he respects her.”
Omar reaps cash benefits from controversies – Politico: “Small-dollar donors rushed to defend embattled Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in the first three months this year, as she faced charges of anti-Semitism from prominent Democrats, according to a fundraising report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat elected in 2018 and sworn in for the first time in early January, found herself embroiled in controversy shortly after arriving in Washington. The first Somali-American member of Congress was widely rebuked in February, including by her own party, after several high-profile instances in which she invoked anti-Semitic tropes about U.S. politicians’ support for Israel. Omar raised $832,000 in the first quarter, according to her FEC report — among the best totals posted by any House Democrat.”
House Dems subpoena Deutsche Bank for Trump records – NYT
Poll shows Alabama voters divided on Sen. Doug Jones, Roy Moore leads list of replacements – Montgomery Advertiser
Survey finds 13 percent of Americans believe men are ‘better suited emotionally’ for office – Politico
Trump to award Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – NYT
“This glass of water would win with a ‘D’ next to its name in those districts.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while praising Democrats who flipped House seats in 2018 downplayed representatives like herself and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez whose districts were solidly Democratic.
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Tech Times: “In the battle of man versus McDonald’s machine, man comes out on top as a pair of buddies hack their way into a bunch of free burgers in Australia. … In a YouTube video that has racked up more than 2.6 million views (and counting), two Australians share the ingenious way they outsmarted the McDonald’s machine to get a free burger and 10 patty-less burgers as a bonus. As the pair show in the video, the first step is to put in an order of 10 burgers on the machine, which cost $1 each. Then they customized these by taking out the beef patty from the order, which cuts down the cost to $1.10 — for a burger that only costs $1. As a result, they were credited $1 for all 10 burgers, which the pair used to buy an eleventh burger. For this last burger, they kept the patty in. The pair’s final count is: one hamburger and 10 other burgers with no patty.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“On foreign policy, as the cliché goes, I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me. Not so on domestic policy. The Democratic Party remained true to itself. I changed.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) wrote in his book, “Things That Matter.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
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