NEWS AND OPINION:
It is a cultural moment, and one likely to attract attention. The students of Liberty University — originally founded in Lynchburg, Virginia, by evangelical minister Jerry Falwell in 1971 — will hear 80 speakers this fall semester as part of their weekly “Convocation” series, described by the school as the world’s “largest weekly gathering of Christian young people.”
The 14,000 students who reside on campus soon will give a listen to such speakers as Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Gov. Scott Walker and Ben Carson.
But on Monday, Sen. Bernard Sanders - presidential hopeful, Vermont independent, septuagenarian and self-described socialist - came to call. An interesting pairing. David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice president for spiritual development, says the campus “has always welcomed speakers from across the spectrum, and this semester will be one of the most varied to date.”
Mr. Sanders listened to Christian music prior to his appearance, and accepted a personalized Liberty University football jersey from the school’s president Jerry Falwell, Jr. who noted that fans of the candidate had been seated in the front rows of the audience, which numbered about 9,000, according to early estimates. The fans made themselves known throughout the lawmaker’s appearance.
“It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day. It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort,” Mr. Sanders said in his speech.
He continued, “Let me be very frank. I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them.”
SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator: No more U.S. troops in Middle East, Arab countries must step up
Mr. Sanders cited poverty, health care and insurance challenges, youth unemployment, and unequal wealth distribution among those issues - equating them with injustice and a lack of ethics and morality, and making references to Biblical parallels.
“There is no justice when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is no justice when all over this country people are working longer hours for lower wages, while 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent,” he said.
Mr. Sanders answered questions submitted by students about racism, religious persecution, the cost of war and abortion - a topic which drew the loudest response from the audience at large. Students were keen to know how the candidate reconciled his call to protect vulnerable populations with his support for abortion. The event ended with a prayer for the nation, as well as for Mr. Sanders himself.
“He has made friends here today,” said Mr. Nasser, who led the prayer.
C-SPAN covered the appearance live; it will re-aired at 8 p.m. with an online video also available. Mr. Sanders is due for a major rally at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas later in the day, some 130 miles to the northeast.
HEADLINE OF NOTE
SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa: poll
“Unlike her campaign, Hillary Clinton‘s emails may be recoverable”
— Parody headline from Fark.com, a news site.
TWEETS OF NOTE
“Let me be very plain, I’m not going to vote for @RealDonaldTrump. He is unfit to be president.”
—Tweet from Republican hopeful Gov. George Pataki on Sunday, using Donald Trump‘s twitter handle for emphasis.
“Why is someone like George Pataki, who did a terrible job as Governor of N.Y. and registers ZERO in the polls, allowed on the debate stage?”
— Mr. Trump, in a tweet reply.
STILL TRUSTING ‘TRUST BUT VERIFY’
President Reagan‘s wisdom often resurfaces for active use, particularly “Trust, but verify” — among the most memorable words from the nation’s 40th president. The phrase is adapted from an old Russian proverb “doveryai, no proveryai,” which the canny Reagan employed numerous times when negotiating arms control with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s. The useful phrase comes up again concerning the U.S. nuclear accord with Iran in all its complexity.
“Ronald Reagan’s famous negotiating advice was to ‘trust, but verify.’ But under this agreement, President Obama is saying trust Iran to verify. It relies on secret side deals that the American people’s representatives were not allowed to see,” points out Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Inspections will no longer happen anytime, anywhere. Instead, Iran can delay and will reportedly self-inspect its own nuclear sites. Iranian officials have also declared military locations off-limits,” the Texas Republican noted in the weekly Republican address.
“Let us be clear-eyed about the deal. This was not a negotiation with an honest government. It was a negotiation with terrorists, who chant ‘Death to America’ and stand against freedom and democracy. For the last decade, Congress has passed bipartisan sanctions to keep Iran from going nuclear,” Mr. McCaul advises. “Sadly, this agreement does not achieve that goal. It puts Iran on a glide-path to a nuclear weapon and turns those hard-won sanctions into wasted effort.”
‘ALSO A GOOD COUNTRY’
Republican front-runner Donald Trump wins favor with voters by fearlessly voicing their innermost concerns. Ben Carson garners approval by fearlessly adding a moral dynamic to his policy talk that sets it above typical rhetoric. And like his peers, Mr. Carson is not keen on the U.S./Iran nuclear deal, calling it “dangerous and foolish.” But he adds more.
‘In a Carson administration it will have no standing. From the very beginning, this should have been dealt with as a treaty, which would have required a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate,” the candidate says in a new voter outreach. “As President, I will re-establish respect for our Constitutional processes and ensure that America once again leads the world from a position of strength and clarity. America is a great country, but we are also a good country. We should not be afraid or embarrassed of the large shadow we cast, but instead stand proud and tall for the values that made us into the pinnacle nation.”
ADVICE FROM ELSEWHERE
“If you think Donald Trump cannot be elected the GOP candidate for president look at what just happened in Britain in the Labour Party once the stronghold of Tony Blair. Jeremy Corbyn — who started out as a 100/1 longshot and who has voted against Labour Party policies more often than Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron did — has been elected party leader,” advises Niall O’Dowd, founder of Irish Central, an online news site.
“Not just a narrow victory either he won almost sixty percent of the vote and smashed rivals who were from the Blairite wing of British politics. It is easily the equivalent of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination or Donald Trump the GOP standard bearer race,” Mr. O’Dowd continues. “Corbyn is as far left as British politics can go. Among his many comments were regrets that Usama Bin Laden did not get a fair trial and comparisons between U.S. troops in Iraq and ISIS.”
A MOST UNFASHIONABLE WASHINGTON
The nation’s capital has long been criticized by fashionistas for stuffy suits and sensible shoes. But now comes a Global Language Monitor analysis revealing just how lousy Washington’s fashion image is, this based on press mentions from 375,000 print, online and social media news sources. Using specialized computer software, the Texas-based research group analyzed metadata on the trending public fashion presence among 56 of the world’s large cities. Not surprisingly, Paris ranked No. 1 and New York City No. 2. London was third, followed by Los Angeles, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid and Tokyo.
But alas, poor Washington. Keep those sensible shoes handy. The city is ranked 53, only besting Abu Dhabi and Seoul.
Washington “belly flopped,” notes Paul JJ Payack, who led the research and optimistically adds, “fashion can be a force for good that can be experienced in a positive manner in every culture and tradition.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 90 percent of Americans say it’s likely that Iran will violate the terms of the proposed nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other nations.
• 64 percent of Americans say the U.S. should take military action against Iran if it violates the terms of the agreement; 34 percent say the U.S. should not take military action.
• 59 percent disapprove of the job President Obama is doing handling the U.S. relationship with Iran.
• 49 percent say Iran is a “very serious threat” to the U.S.; 33 percent say it’s a “moderately serious threat,” 11 percent “just a slight threat.”
• 49 percent of Americans say Congress should reject the Iran nuclear deal; 47 percent say it should be approved.
Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,012 U.S. adults conducted Dept. 4-8 and released Sunday.
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• Jennifer Harper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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