Cal Thomas

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According to a report by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the teaching of U.S. history to American students lags behind all other subject matters. The latest NAEP survey finds that proficiency levels for fourth-, eighth- and 12th-grade students are in the 20, 18 and 12th percentile, respectively. Part of this, I suspect, is the way the subject is taught. History is boring to many students. It was boring to me in high school and college. 



As far as I can tell from a reading of history, while some presidents were friends of clergy, who sometimes advised them, to my knowledge, none hired them as staff members. Until the presidency of Richard Nixon. It was during Nixon's administration that Charles Colson began mobilizing the evangelical community to support the president's policies and programs, seeing evangelicals as just another special interest group, like organized labor has been for Democrats.



Only extreme partisans intent on denying President Trump any credit for any success would be critical of the operation he ordered that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These extreme partisans include Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, while praising the “heroism” of the special unit that conducted the raid on al-Baghdadi's location in Northern Syria, could not bring herself to say anything nice about the president. Instead, she said the House should have been notified in advance.



A new wrestling league is being promoted during TV coverage of Major League Baseball's post-season. The ad promises more action, more spectacle and includes women as well as men grappling with each other. I have two candidates for their consideration: Hillary Clinton and presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Last week Clinton accused Gabbard of being a “Russian asset” as she offered new excuses beyond the real ones for why she lost the 2016 election.



Since America's colonial days the press has been a target of those who believe journalists have a point of view that shapes their reporting. There have been numerous articles and studies revealing a journalistic predisposition to opinions and subjects that reinforce liberal points of view. Now comes an excellent critique from World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky. His latest book, “Reforming Journalism,” is a philosophical and even theological deconstruction of historic and contemporary media.



The debate about political power and authority among those who profess the Christian faith has raged since the 1st century. In modern America, the debate raged throughout Jimmy Carter's presidency and more recently through the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The debate now looms large for Donald Trump. Newsweek magazine labeled 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical” because of Carter's openness about his faith.



Back when reruns were a staple of summer programming, television networks aired repeats of their programs, giving viewers another opportunity to see what they had already seen. Democratic politicians are now conducting their own version of reruns. The same bunch who brought us the failed Russian “collusion” story, the sliming of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and charges that President Trump is a racist (which also failed, given the spectacular increase in minority employment), are now rerunning the same show with different characters.



How much credibility should we give to a 16-year-old when considering her qualifications to lecture adults about science and an end-of-the-world scenario? Greta Thunberg has been dubbed by the media as a “climate change activist” and a teen “eco-warrior.” She was at the United Nations in New York on Monday to appear before diplomats and others at a “climate action summit.” Only the UN has less credibility than a teenager.



They are all gone now; the men (and one woman) who were major influences in my early journalism career. The last two died within weeks of each other. They were Jack Perkins and Sander Vanocur, both veterans of NBC News where I started as a copyboy. My list of mentors is long. They were famous then, but most likely unknown to younger people today. Their signed pictures hang on my office wall, reminders of what real journalism looked like.



DUBLIN — “When would you like to schedule your knee replacement surgery?” asked my American doctor before I left for Ireland. I gave him a date that works for me (I'm calling it the result of an old basketball injury, not advancing age). His office scheduled it for that date. Contrast this with a headline in the Irish Independent newspaper: “Surgery delays are ‘cheating elderly out of precious time.’”



PARIS — President Trump was right to cancel a “secret” meeting with leaders of the Taliban and the Afghan government following two bomb attacks by the terrorist group that killed 10 civilians, an American soldier and a Romanian service member in heavily fortified Kabul. The president is eager to fulfill a desire to withdraw remaining American forces in what has been one of America's longest wars. Who isn't?



San Francisco, a city described in song for its natural beauty, is descending into an abyss of homelessness, the use of sidewalks as toilets and a place you might not want to visit, much less live. The latest, but surely not the last demonstration of insanity, is San Francisco's Board of Supervisors’ adoption of new “person first” language guidelines meant to “change the public's perception of criminals.” 



President Trump has repeatedly promised, “America will never be a socialist country.” Since Franklin Roosevelt began expanding government in the 1930s, the United States has increasingly adopted big-state policies associated with socialism. We may not be at the stage Bernie Sanders would advocate, but more millennials appear to favor a system under which they have never lived. Free stuff is appealing until one realizes its costs.



After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, investigators discovered that the lone man assigned to guard the president, John Parker, had abandoned his post to watch the play from an adjacent box at Ford's Theater. Worse, at intermission, Parker adjourned to a nearby saloon to have drinks with some friends. It was during the second act that John Wilkes Booth entered the president's box and shot him.



Politicians and pundits are promoting familiar explanations, excuses, and demands following the tragic mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. From pushing more gun laws to blaming President Trump, conservative talk radio and Fox News, we've heard it all before. One question no one is asking: why is evil rampant in our country? I don't mean obvious evil like the all too frequent mass murders. There are other evils, which seem to have come from the “pit” and are roaming among us uncontrolled.



Calling someone “racist” has become the default position for liberal politicians and certain members of the media who wish to deflect attention from real problems. President Trump has (again) been called a racist for having the temerity to note that House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) seems to spend more time criticizing him and the border patrol than he does fixing problems in his own home district, which includes about half of Baltimore city.



The Founders of the United States of America warned against massive federal debt, but, to our detriment, their political descendants are not paying attention. The Founders speak to us from their graves to condemn and warn of the consequences now that President Trump and Congress have come to an agreement about lifting the meaningless “debt ceiling” and increasing already massive federal spending and the debt, which is at $22 trillion and growing rapidly.



You had to be there 50 years ago, and I was. As a young reporter for a local TV station in Houston, I frequently visited NASA (“the space base,” we dubbed it), met many of the astronauts and reported on their exploits. Along with people from around the world, I watched the lunar landing on television, July 20, 1969, fulfilling President Kennedy's goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of that decade.



Two summers ago on a visit to Budapest, I asked the spokesman for the Hungarian government about the growing problem of migrants coming into Europe. He told me Hungary doesn't have a migrant problem because they don't have welfare programs. So, he said, migrants continue their travels to other European countries that do.



The likelihood I would ever be invited to serve on a network panel questioning the Democratic presidential candidates is equivalent to an invitation to take the next trip to the moon. Still, as I tortured myself watching the two “debates,” which were not really debates, but mostly a show of memorized sound bites, I thought of unasked questions that ought to have been put to them all