By Gary R’nel

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Departing from my usual focus on a singular topic, today’s column addresses several recent events in the news.

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Story 1: Our right to privacy as American citizens has been under assault. While I unequivocally support the composite ideology of the Patriot Act, it is time to retool. The House voted this week to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone data instead voting for the USA Freedom Act. This would end bulk collection and instead grant intelligence agencies access to telephone data only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to terrorism. Bipartisan support for the measure is encouraging. Let’s hope the Senate acts with the same courage.

Story 2: The Republican-led House approved a bill that would ban abortions past twenty weeks in a largely party line vote. The bill, called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, contains exceptions for women with life-threatening conditions, rape survivors who have gotten medical care or counseling at least 48 hours before seeking an abortion and minors who reported an act of rape or incest to authorities.

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Note to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee: The GOP messaging for 2016 needs to stay focused on the economy, jobs and foreign policy. A majority of surveys indicate that these three issues are the ones that weigh heavily on the electorate. While social issues are a compelling messaging tool to solidify a fragmented base, they do not hold the gravitas to win an election.

Story 3: The Vatican’s announcement this week that it would formally recognize a Palestinian State is the antithesis of the church’s doctrinaire concerning civilized hegemony as it is applied to human rights and dignity. The Palestinian Authority and its antecedent, the Palestine Liberation Organization, harbor an inherent bias against Israel and the Jewish people. Pios XII did publicly condemn racist oppression in his wartime Christmas messages and other times. Critics maintain that the language he used was so vague that it did not clearly refer to Nazi atrocities. The Vatican is expected to be in the vanguard when it comes to messaging about oppressive peoples and nations. It is not expected to bestow statehood for Palestine when its President, Mahmoud Abbas, subscribes to terrorist philosophy and ideology.

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If only we could apply common sense thinking to the above events, we would find compromise and rational resolution. I will continue to write about the applicability of common sense, which is now on the endangered species list and soon to be classified as extinct, particularly as it affects the thought process of most under the dome of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.