Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist and author
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When you receive your paycheck and look at the withholding for federal, state and sometimes city taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare, you probably don't think you're underpaying governments and want them to take more. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio believes that if you have played by what used to be called “the rules” and are making a decent living, taking care of yourself and your family and not relying on government, your taxes should be increased.
DUBLIN, Ireland — The Irish government is proposing rebates to a carbon tax it recently imposed to households that comply with what it considers “low-carbon lifestyles.” The rebate, according to Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, might be in the form of a check, an increase in welfare benefits or a tax credit for people who live the way the government thinks they should.
LONDON — To Brexit, or not to Brexit, that is the question (apologies to Shakespeare). The answer to whether the UK will pull out of the European Union as a majority of voters favored in a 2016 referendum will be decided this month. Maybe. Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament that debate on the deal would resume on January 7. She has scheduled a vote for the following week. The vote had originally been set for December 11, but May pulled it, fearing the measure would be soundly defeated.
“Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?” asked Professor Henry Higgins in the musical “My Fair Lady.” It's a good question for Americans, especially millennials. On a recent flight two young women sat behind me, chattering away rather loudly. In just one minute I counted 16 “likes” and “you knows” from just one of them. It went this way: “And then she was like and then he was like and I was like, you know.”
Osama bin Laden predicted it and his prophecy appears to be coming true. In his book, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” Lawrence Wright quotes bin Laden as saying: “Look at Vietnam, look at Lebanon. Whenever soldiers start coming home in body bags, Americans panic and retreat. Such a country needs only to be confronted with two or three sharp blows, then it will flee in panic, as it always has.”
Republicans and conservatives dating back at least to Richard Nixon have used the slogan "tough on crime" and its corollary "lock 'em up and throw away the key" as electoral red meat. The problem is what to do when inmates are released with few skills, fewer job prospects and a bleak future that leads some to commit new crimes that land them in prison again at taxpayers' expense.
The erosion of what many Americans once believed were the foundations of our country continues apace. They include, but are not limited to, overspending and debt (personal and national), never-ending wars, uncontrolled borders leading to massive immigration with no time for or expectation of assimilation and political divisions that grow wider by the day. It's now the Boy Scouts of America's turn to join the parade.
Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but scorning the Washington Establishment produces even greater anger. The Establishment's full fury has been unleashed against Donald Trump and is not about to subside until its goal is reached: the removal of the president from office, either through impeachment or defeat in the 2020 election. If there were more than the kitchen sink to throw at Trump, the Establishment would be throwing it. The latest is the hyping of private money paid to two women by Trump's disgraced lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Before George H.W. Bush fades from memory into the darkness of history books, one more point needs to be made. It is about the contrast between how most of the major media treated him when he was president and how they mostly (but not completely) did a 180 during their coverage and commentary of his funeral. Maybe reporters and anchors considered their largely favorable and complimentary coverage of the man in death as penance for their earlier sins during his life, but they still should be held accountable for what they said about him when it mattered.
I first met the man who would become America's 41st president in 1968. He was a Houston congressman and I was a young reporter for a local TV and radio station. My first impression was how kind he was to this “kid,” who had just moved to Texas from the Washington, D.C., area and was just starting to learn the “language,” like “fixing to go” and “y’all.” Everyone who worked for George H.W. Bush, or knew him, has a story to tell. I have several.
Each time an end-of-the-world prophecy is delivered -- whether by a self-deluded preacher, a group of politicians or scientists -- we are told that we must believe. Never mind how many of their prophecies have been wrong in the past, this time they mean it. The latest prophecy of doom and planetary extinction comes from a government report authored by people appointed during the Obama administration. This report, and others before it, concluded that Earth is warming, humans are responsible and that we have only 10 years to fix it.
Chief Justice John Roberts has been drawn into President Trump's web. Last week the president criticized the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, calling it "a lawless disgrace." The New York Times writes, "Mr. Trump's remarks came after a federal trial judge ordered the administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States."
Google "Great American Political Cartoonists" and you will undoubtedly find the late Herbert Block (aka "Herblock") of The Washington Post, (Paul) Conrad of the Los Angeles Times, Michael Ramirez of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and several other cartoonists whose work, if not their names, are familiar to newspaper readers. One name that will take more than a cursory search to find is Wayne Stayskal, for many years a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, later the Tampa Tribune and syndicated worldwide. Wayne passed away Tuesday morning. He was 87.
After two recounts — one by machine, the other by hand — after a concession speech by Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor, which was withdrawn and then re-delivered; after hordes of lawyers descended on the state to argue that "every vote should be counted," including mail-in ballots with faulty signatures that were rejected the first time around, it's finally over.
MIAMI — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had the best line when it comes to the latest Florida election in which contests for governor and the U.S. Senate are still undecided. Rubio tweeted: "Bay County was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago, yet managed to count votes & submit timely results. Yet over 41 hours after polls closed #Broward elections office is still counting votes?"
We are about to find out whether Democrats meant it when they lamented the loss of civility in Washington. Having won the majority in the House of Representatives in Tuesday's election, will they cooperate with Republicans and "reach across the aisle," or will they pander to their base, which wants President Trump's blood? Guess which scenario I'm betting on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who will likely head the Financial Services Committee, has promised to seek revenge on the banks, which she notes loaned money to people in the '90s so they could buy houses they couldn't afford.
"Some of my best friends are Jews." That familiar, yet offensive, phrase has been used by some people as a defense against an accusation of anti-Semitism. It's time, however, to rebrand it as a positive affirmation of love and concern for the Jewish people. In light of the latest mass shooting, this time at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a man who yelled "all Jews must die," there couldn't be a better time to reach out to Jewish friends and acquaintances with statements of support, and to publicly and loudly reject the hate directed at them.
Just in time for Halloween comes a former male stripper, who drove a van with Trump stickers plastered all over it, being charged with sending pipe bombs to top Democratic leaders, a journalist and at least one celebrity, all of whom have been vocal critics of President Trump. The New York Post headline was the cleverest: "Caught Red Hatted: Steroid-abusing Florida stripper driving Trump van is charged with Dem bomb spree." The Post reported that the accused, Cesar Sayoc Jr., was said to be lost and a "sick individual" who is estranged from his family, but eventually "found a father" in President Trump. He also hates his mother, according to Ronald Lowy, his Miami attorney.
Is it more than coincidence that thousands of migrants from Central America are seeking to enter the United States illegally just two weeks before the midterm election? Who are these people? Who's paying for their transportation, food and expenses? Why doesn't the media find out? Is this migrant caravan a ploy by Democrats to win sympathy from Hispanic voters so they'll reverse their growing approval of Trump administration policies and vote against their interests?
As difficult as it may be to believe, there was a time when Republicans were known as the anti-debt and balanced budget party. Now, the GOP prefers to tout low unemployment as the debt soars and they are co-conspirators in its rise. It's not that Republicans (and once-fiscally responsible Democrats) lack a way out of debt; it's that they lack the will. Both parties, but especially Republicans, fear a backlash from voters if they cut spending, much less make actual reductions.