Cal Thomas

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While scanning YouTube videos, I came across an appearance by Ronald Reagan on The Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson. The year was 1975 and Reagan was "between jobs," having left office as governor of California, where he served for eight years, but not yet president. He would challenge Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976, barely losing at the nominating convention, but setting himself up for what would be a successful run in 1980.


Anyone looking for another reason not to leave life-and-death issues to the state need look no further than the conflict between the British government and the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard. Governments, including the British courts and the European court of human rights have refused to allow Charlie's parents to take him to the U.S. for what they believe is life-saving treatment.


"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." (Proverbs 29:18) In 1987 when he was contemplating a run for president, Vice President George H.W. Bush was criticized for his inability to articulate an agenda for the country. A friend suggested he spend a weekend alone at Camp David to figure out where he would take the nation. "Oh, the vision thing," Bush replied disparagingly. Though he won the 1988 election, the quote would haunt him.


President Trump once referred to the health care bill passed by the House as "mean." So how should we characterize his remarks about MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski? The president of the United States, reacting to her criticism of him, claimed Brzezinski was "bleeding" from a facelift when he saw her last New Year's Eve at his Florida resort. He further described her as being "dumb as a rock." That's worse than mean. It's cruel.


Is there anyone who can point to the "Affordable Care Act" (aka Obamacare) and credibly claim it is accomplishing the goals set for it seven years ago? Insurers are pulling out of the exchanges, premiums and related costs are going up, not down, as supporters of the misnamed law claimed they would. Many people who like their doctors are not being allowed to keep their doctors.


“Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1 KJV) That didn't take long. Less than 48 hours after the shooting rampage targeting Republican members of Congress and their staff on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, followed by the picture of Republicans and Democrats kneeling in prayer at Nationals Park before their annual charity game, things returned to normal...or abnormal.


In television it's called a "loop," the replaying of the same scene over and over and over again. The latest and most assuredly not the final terrorist attack in London last weekend was a "loop" that has become all-too familiar. The jihadists who claimed to be acting on orders from their god, killed at least seven and injured more than 45 others, some critically, with a brazen attack on London Bridge and in a nearby pub.


For sheer hilarity and hyperbole it's hard to beat a recent headline on a Washington Post editorial opposing President Trump's decision to remove the U.S. from the nonbinding and unenforceable Paris climate agreement. "Trump turns his back on the world," it screamed. A close second goes to the headline on a New York Times piece by columnist David Brooks: "Donald Trump Poisons the World."


The terrorism scenario is always the same. Events repeat themselves, like in the film Groundhog Day. First the video of screaming innocents, as in Manchester, England, where an Islamist detonated a suicide bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, killing at least 22 people, many of them children, and wounding dozens of others.


Roger Ailes was no genius, not in the league of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. The founding chairman of Fox News Channel, who died last week from complications after suffering a fall, understood and respected Middle America from whence he came.

 


The ransomware cyberattack that wormed its way into at least 74 countries recently exposed new vulnerabilities in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), as if it weren't vulnerable enough. Hospital systems in England and Scotland were taken offline. Major operations were delayed, causing frustration and additional worry to patients who spoke to TV interviewers.


Awards once meant something. There was a time not that long ago when they were given in recognition of important accomplishments. Today, we tend to value celebrity over steady achievement. Fame is paramount. It matters little how one attains it. The Kardashians are just one of many examples.

 


President Trump is about to score a religious trifecta, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome, the "home" of three monotheistic religions. The president has said he wants to make the ultimate deal and achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. While the goal is similar to a high school kid attempting to hit a curve ball from an all-star pitcher, the scenario cannot end well for Israel. How do I know this? One has only to look at history. 


President Trump and I have something in common. We were both invited to last Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner and we declined. The president wasn't interested in hearing himself mocked by an industry that holds him to a different standard than his predecessor and I wasn't interested in hearing the predictable jokes denigrating all things Republican, conservative and Fox News.


The headline in the March 5, 1929 edition of the Chicago Tribune read, "Plain Citizen Coolidge Shuts Desk and Quietly Goes Home." Calvin Coolidge would write a newspaper column from Northampton, Massachusetts, for which he presumably was paid a pittance, but other than that he refused to exploit his notoriety or accomplishments as president for money.


President Trump did something Monday I have long advocated. He met with a small group of conservative journalists, pundits and radio talk show hosts. I was among them. After ticking off a list of what he said were his accomplishments leading up to the arbitrary 100-day marker of his presidency, we asked him questions.


As is almost always the case, signs of trouble preceded the latest shooting in Paris, which left one police officer dead and wounded two bystanders before police killed the gunman, later identified as French national Karim Cheurfi, a known criminal with a long, violent record. ISIS claimed to be behind the attack. According to police, a note praising ISIS fell out of Cheurfi's pocket when he fell.


There was a moment at Press Secretary Sean Spicer's White House briefing Monday that was significant. Asked by a reporter about North Korea's missile launch last weekend, Spicer said the administration was aware of the launch and that "it failed." End of story. Next question, please.

 


Thanks to the beneficence of the federal government (and the calendar), we Americans have until midnight on April 18 to file our income taxes. It's too bad filing taxes wasn't an easier process. President Trump has pledged to reform our tax code, which, to most people, currently reads like a foreign language.


In Greek mythology, sirens were beautiful creatures that lured sailors to their doom with their hypnotic voices. In Homer's epic, "The Odyssey," ships came to ruin on jagged reefs, following siren song, the pull of the beautiful voices so strong that the hero Odysseus, in order not to succumb, commanded that his crew lash him to the mast of his ship, and not untie him, until they were in safe waters. That's a lesson American presidents might have learned.