Cal Thomas

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I love definitions because they help focus the mind. For decades, we are said to have been in a culture war. As in any war, it helps to know one's enemy. One online dictionary defines culture this way: “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.” One secondary definition is under the subheading anthropology: “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.”



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's strategy of holding on to the two weak articles of impeachment against President Trump was starting to rattle some Democrats, who felt they were losing the political battle. Last Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told reporters, “If we're going to do it, she should send them over,” adding, “I don't see what good delay does.” On Friday, Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues that announced she was preparing to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate this week. 



Prior to Iran's missile attacks on U.S. bases inside Iraq, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said, “We are not seeking war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one.” Esper said the U.S. prefers a “diplomatic” solution to the escalation of tensions in the region. Yes, that would be ideal, but a diplomatic solution would require Iran to reverse course, no longer fund and practice terrorism, stop developing a nuclear weapon and cease its repeated threats to destroy Israel.



Addressing the British Parliament in 1982, President Ronald Reagan outlined a plan for placing the Soviet Union and Marxism-Leninism on the “ash heap of history.” It is an objective President Trump might pursue against the mullahs in Iran, who are subsidizing terrorism in the Middle East and threatening to export it elsewhere. The latest military and verbal volleys between the United States and Iran started when a branch of the Hezbollah terrorist group (called “militants” by some reporters), attacked the American Embassy in Baghdad.



It can be useful and instructive to observe the turning of a decade by looking back on what life was like in America a mere 100 years ago. On Jan. 2, 1920, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 108.76. Today it is over 28,000 points. In 1920, the U.S. had become an economic power, which is remarkable considering the bloody “war to end all wars” that ended just two years earlier. Republican presidents shifted their attention from foreign entanglements to economic growth (sound familiar?).



The battle between church and state is as old as church and state, as is the conflict within religious circles over who supposedly speaks for God. The latest dustup occurred after the departing editor of Christianity Today magazine, Mark Galli, wrote an editorial in which he said President Trump is an immoral man and his impeachment by the House is cause for his immediate removal from office.



“Blowout” was how one UK newspaper described the decisive victory of Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party in last week's election. How decisive was it? Not only did conservatives win an 80-seat majority in Parliament, a constituency in Blythe Valley in Northeast England elected a conservative member for the first time since its creation 40 years ago. Pundits leading up to the election were wrong, as usual. They predicted a very tight race.



Apologies to Elton John, but in Washington and throughout so much of the country, can you feel the hate tonight? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by reporter James Rosen if she hates President Trump. She responded with an “if looks could kill ” fire in her eyes and denounced Rosen for his question while claiming she doesn't hate Trump. Former Vice President Joe Biden verbally attacked and challenged an 83-year-old man in Iowa to a push-up contest at a gathering of Democrats.



Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to come earlier each year. Though the dates remain the same, the promotions from advertisers don't. Christmas decorations are appearing before Halloween. Merchants can't wait for Thanksgiving to end so they can promote “Black Friday,” itself beginning days and even weeks before the day after Thanksgiving.



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?