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PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland — President Obama Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance reported at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States: first express outrage, next announce an investigation and then say he won’t comment on the scandal until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held “accountable,” if they violated the law. Good luck with that.
Once, Social Security was the “third rail” of politics. Touch it and face political death. Now it is homosexuality. Criticize anything gay people do and you risk ostracism, fines, suspension or loss of your livelihood. Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by a National Football League team -- the St. Louis Rams picked him 249th in the last round -- is being treated by the media and those in the gay rights movement as the equivalent of an early American pioneer.
Faith is making a comeback among liberal Democrats, but they still have a way to go. First, some history. Hoping to attract some Evangelical Christian votes more than 20 years ago, former vice president Al Gore wrote that the biblical story of Noah and the Ark could be paraphrased in modern terms, “Thou shalt preserve biodiversity” (“Earth in the Balance” p. 245). Gore also claimed the first recorded instance of pollution was when Cain killed Abel and Abel’s blood “falls on the ground, rendering it fallow” (p. 247).
One of the reasons our political structure has become dysfunctional no matter which party is in power is that too many of us are living in the moment. The closest we get to history is the instant replay.
It wasn’t so long ago that conservative Christians believed Hollywood to be evil and some preachers instructed their congregations not to go to movies lest they be tempted beyond their ability to resist. Now Christians are debating film content. That’s progress of a sort.
My parents taught me never to speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Fred Phelps, who died last week at the age of 84, I think they would have made an exception.
After much criticism from conservative quarters, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided, at least for now, to withdraw plans for its proposed study of how media organizations gather and report news. The expressed goal of the survey was to determine if the “critical information needs” of the public are being met. In making the announcement on Friday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated the survey would be “revised” and that the government agency had “no intention” of regulating political speech of journalists or other broadcasters.
In real life when you find yourself paying more and getting less, you usually search for another product or service. With the federal government, it isn’t possible to take your business elsewhere unless you are prepared to give up your citizenship, as some have done. Such a drastic step is rejected by most of us because we still believe in the ideal that once was America, though not in the direction in which the country is currently headed.
Each year during the period of conspicuous consumption known as Christmas shopping, I try to think of a gift that will not be returned, exchanged or forgotten before next Christmas. One year it was a goat for a poor African farmer through World Vision. Another year it was a sewing machine for a woman in Ghana who wanted to lift herself out of poverty by starting a small business.
In (a recent) speech, President Obama declared income “inequality” to be “the defining challenge of our time.” It is time for me to come clean; to own up to a dark secret I have been hiding most of my life. It is embarrassing to admit it, but I suffer from income inequality. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people who make more money than I do and it has affected my life in ways too numerous to recount.