Cal Thomas

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“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.

 


In the aftermath of the debacle over the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump can learn a valuable lesson that will serve him well in the next battle over tax reform and other issues. The president was elected largely on the force of his strong personality and vague promises to fix things that are a "disaster," a favorite word of his.


Readers of a certain age may recall ads for Ivory Soap, which claimed to be 99 and 44/100ths percent pure. If the soap could have reached 100 percent purity, the company would likely have made the claim. Purity, apparently, is what some conservative Republicans are demanding in a health insurance bill, which likely will be voted on this week, unless it is held back because Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't think it has enough votes to pass. 


Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to spend $1.4 billion of New York's resources to solve the persistent problem of poverty in central Brooklyn. If he wins legislative approval, Cuomo, a Democrat, intends to spend the money on affordable housing, job training, anti-violence programs, recreational space, even obesity. Some cynics suggest the proposal is targeted at boosting Cuomo's presidential prospects in 2020, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt and take his proposals seriously.


Here are two scenarios. One: you are a retiree who in recent years has been concerned about the value of your stock portfolio. Suddenly, the value of your stocks and stock-based mutual funds surges, the Dow rising 1,000 points to record highs within weeks. You examine the monthly report your broker sends and you are pleasantly surprised at how much your investments have earned since Donald Trump took office.


Before becoming a newspaper columnist I was a broadcast news reporter for local TV stations and occasionally appeared on the NBC radio and television networks. I have some experience at being on the receiving end of hostilities directed at the media. At a pro-Nixon, pro-Vietnam war rally I covered in the early '70s, a demonstrator looked at the NBC logo on my microphone and called me a "communist." We had never met. He knew nothing about my politics or the quality of my reporting. He assumed that because I was covering the event for NBC I must be a left-wing radical.