TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — How Dare You, Donald Trump?

This is a hard time to be a true American. As I write this, a very large military appropriations bill was passed by Congress. The president of the United States signed the bill into law and held a press conference acknowledging some lawmakers in attendance.

What the president did not do is to acknowledge Sen. John McCain, for whom the bill was named. That was no inadvertent oversight.

Sen. McCain is now and always has been an American political and military hero in my book. Most know the story of his military career and years-long imprisonment in North Vietnam after his plane was shot down.

What many still may not know is that he could have been released years earlier. But he refused release until all those captured and imprisoned before him were set free.

He was tortured, beaten, deprived of food and medical care … and still he persisted.

Once he returned, he honorably served in the U.S. Senate from Arizona for many years right through today.

The good senator is dying from incurable brain cancer. When he was running against President Obama for the presidency, he displayed the kind of behavior that defines his admirable character. When an elderly woman at one of his rallies tried to attack Obama’s character, the senator stopped her dead in her tracks. He called his competitor “a good and decent family man.” He did the honorable thing: He set the lady straight in a calm, dignified manner.

It’s too bad that Trump learned nothing from McCain. Trump has no class. He has no filter. He’s like a baby chimpanzee who cries, pounds his fist, tweets and name-calls anyone who he deems to have offended him.

Your chances of being targeted by 45 are great if you are black — greater yet if you are a black woman or a black athlete. He has attacked people of color in whose shoes he could not stand, men and women who have contributed greatly to this country and their communities.

Back to Sen. McCain. Our shit-for-brains president (sorry if that offends you, but if you approve of his own language, don’t complain about mine) attacked the good senator by saying he’s no hero; he likes people who weren’t captured. And that comes from a serial draft dodger with bone spurs, apparently in head, not his feet — since he’s plenty able to play golf when he should be working.

Trump will never share the space for awesome that is defined by Sen. John McCain!

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Speaking of Trump, how many of you are feeling the benefit of his trickle-down economics? His great tax cuts helped those who didn’t need them at the expense of those who do.

How many people — like me — find that any small benefit they received was more than offset by the cost-of-living increases (gas, auto, home appliances, rent and so on) brought about by the great dealmaker’s thoughtless tariffs?

You can tell I did not vote for the windbag. He talked about all of his deals and his dealmaking abilities without providing one shred of evidence to support the claim. The only evidence you can find of Mr. Dealmaker is his multiple bankruptcies, where he gained at the expense of his vendors, suppliers and employees who believed his lies but learned the truth until they weren’t paid.

This is the same president, who while making millions in violation of the Emoluments Clause, also literally advertises his double standards. He wants to block immigrants from entering the country … “unless” they are to work at one of his properties, particularly Mar-a-Lago — where, it has been reported, he has undocumented workers around-the-clock.

While 45 is badmouthing our top intelligence agencies, including but not limited to the FBI, and slanders good and decent employees, they go about doing their jobs protecting our country, including this very president who demeans and insults them.

He still rants daily about the “fake news.” By his definition, that means any story about Trump that is factually accurate. Somehow he has organized the dumbest humans allowed to breath into supporting his every move and statement.

There is nothing dumb about supporting a candidate. But when racism, sexism, lying and downright stupidity are accepted as OK on a daily basis, then those who have a blind eye participate as if they had done the same things.

Congress — both senators and representatives — who used to have nationwide respect receive no such respect today. When our elected men and women allow the world’s biggest bully to get away with the things he says and does, it makes me wonder who is worse: Our Liar in Chief, or the cowards who remain silent.

In North Dakota’s upcoming Senate race, the president’s greatest cheerleader, Kevin Cramer, has pledged to support him 100 percent of the time. If you have the brains that God gave a goat, you can conclude no president is right 100 percent of the time — not ever, and surely not now.

Heidi Heitkamp, aka. my senator, has voted for the people of North Dakota. She works for consensus. Unlike her challenger Cramer, she does not now and never will kiss the ass of 45 to make political points. We elect people to represent us, not their party, and sure as hell not the president. When pushed, Sen. Heidi can nail the president where the sun doesn’t shine, as well she should. If our senator had ever said what Cramer continues to say about willingly wallowing in the muck that is Trump, I’d have no respect for her, either — but she didn’t , she won’t, and I for one appreciate her honesty and integrity.

Since I started this article talking about a veteran hero, let’s get one thing perfectly straight. When Cramer’s ads claim Sen. Heitkamp doesn’t support veterans — that’s a bald-faced lie. He owes her an apology.

Not so long ago, I made a private confession to my Creator where I apologized for being so nasty about Trump. The good Lord forgave me my sins. Not only that: He told me to keep up the good work. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Russia Is No Ally And No Friend To The USA

My first independent post on the Fish — whoopee! No more advertisers squawking about me picking on poor Donald Trump. I get to say what I think, not what others think and not softened to avoid stepping on advertisers’ toes.

I used to think that good advertising meant that the advertiser wanted to make its products known, not to control the content of the paper that it advertises, but I was wrong. It’s their right, but it’s too bad they exercise it.

My writings are opinion pieces — not the gospel. I would never compare my writings with those professional newspeople who do a pretty good job of reporting the news as it is, not as we would like it to be. Since our Lying President deems the real press to be “fake news,” I hope in my humble way to join them in that regard.

With Trump, pay no attention to what he says, but just to what he does. The man has set a world’s record for presidential lies and misstatements. Yet the party in power — the party that controls the House and Senate as well as the presidency — his Republican Party sits in silence as he damages everything we hold dear in this country.

I’ve lost so much respect for federal legislators that it will take a miracle (or Trump’s impeachment) for me to regain my former respect for them.

I can remember in recent times when GOP stood for “Grand Old Party,” instead of GOR, “Grand Old Russians.”

With all of the damage the Russians have done, Trump still falls all over Putin and refuses to say one bad thing about him. To placate those who are tuning in to his lies, he now must admit the Russians have in fact interfered with our election. Ya think?

As Mueller continues his march for truth, the president and his son, Don Trump Jr., still play us citizens for fools.

Think about it. It’s 2016. Trump is in his office in Trump Tower. His son and a group of Russians and/or Russian sympathizers are meeting in a room one floor below Trump’s office … and Trump is sitting in that office.

Rumors suggest there had already been a prior meeting to set up the notorious meeting attended by Junior and Jared Kushner, the one that they’ve admitted … but that still remains to be proven.

What Trump and his son would have us believe is that the president knew nothing about that meeting at any time and that he and his son never discussed it. To do so, you would have to forget the fact that the president himself dictated the false cover story (that it was an innocent meeting about “adoptions”) using government staff and equipment on board Air Force One.

Now let me ask one simple question. Do you believe there is even one chance in hell that Donald Jr. would never have informed his father of meeting with Russians who claimed to have dirt on his archenemy Hilary Clinton? Before that took place, do you honestly believe young Trump wouldn’t have been so excited he’d have gone straight to Dad to tell him about it?

Does anyone with the brain God gave a goat believe that Trump doesn’t keep tabs on everything — every single thing — his family and subordinates do?

I have a difficult time understanding how anyone can accept lying as a way of life and face no consequences!

Mr. “I’m the Greatest” “I’m the Most Intelligent” “I’m Very Rich” “I’m the Best Deal Maker the World Has Ever Known” just fails in each category he brags about. He’s afraid to disclose his tax returns because they would show: 1. He’s not rich. 2. He’s indebted to the Russians and other foreign governments. On its face, many of his questionable finance sources openly pay him outrageous sums as rent in his various properties. Others buy his astronomically priced condos with cash.

He’d tell you that this violates no laws … but with lawsuits over the emoluments clause in progress as I write, the courts will show otherwise. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have prevailed on every motion, and the case is headed for trial. If successful, it will require the Great Deal Maker to divest himself of the income he’s deriving because of his position as president.

I think of Trump praising himself after his North Korea and Russian visits. Absolutely nothing has come from either, except the president’s lies about success. A North Korean missile test site had imploded before he met Kim Jong Un. Trump was convinced they destroyed it. No missiles have been fired lately by the North because, while Trump grins and brags about success, we’ve learned they are building new and more effective missiles at a new site. Yet the president does not believe his own security agencies, but relies only on his own judgment.

The president meets for Putin for two hours in private. No one (at least from our side) records it. He has nothing to show for it when he comes out. Everything we know at this point is what the Russians have announced. Even our secretary of state admits he knows not what agreements were made.

And now Trump wants to meet with the leaders of Iran. He says he’ll meet anyone, anytime with no preconditions.

This man thinks he can run the greatest nation in the world like he runs his companies. Oh oh. He has filed repeatedly for bankruptcy (so much for his deal ability!) and is setting this country up for the same. The greatest deficit in United States history is forecast for next year. That means the greatest debt.

His big tax achievement has brought big breaks for to the wealthy but modest tax relief for the average person. Even that is being swallowed up by increased costs because of his poorly thought out tariff policies.

Between now and the midterm election, real American politicians in the party of Trump must dump their cowards’ shields and come roaring back as American Patriots. This isn’t a D or R question — it is an A-for-American issue. Time is flying by.

Keep the faith. The Mueller wake-up call is on track, bringing light to the true facts, wherever they lead us. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — A Country Ruled In Anger

My word for the week is “vindictive.” The word is an adjective that means “one who has a strong and unreasonable desire for revenge.”

This week, the president went off the charts in his desire to seek revenge. He is the first president in history to demand that security clearance be revoked for the intelligence and law enforcement chiefs of former administrations —Republican and Democratic — who dare to say he’s wrong.

First, the people whose clearances he wants canceled are American patriots who have simply pointed out what they believe to be facts about Russia’s actions based upon their personal history, experience and training. Second, several don’t even have security clearances at this time. Third, the president is contemplating (or “has not ruled out,” according to Press Secretary Sanders) also revoking the security clearances of Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.

Criticism based on the truth isn’t speculation. It is fact. On the other hand, what purpose is served, even if were appropriate, to revoke security clearances, just because you can. These threats make the leader of the free world look weak and uninformed. That’s sad.

Ours is the most powerful nation on Earth. We have undisputed military power. We may be divided politically, but when it comes to patriotism, we are one.

In our American community, the experts acknowledge the Russians interfered in the last federal election and even now continue to do so wherever they find us vulnerable. Our elected leaders in Congress agree that this has been proven. Only the president refuses to acknowledge the interference because he thinks it reflects upon the legitimacy of his election. But wait! He acknowledged it last week — then unacknowledged it a few days later. Now he says it never happened. It’s all, he insists, a witch hunt and a hoax.

Some readers think I don’t respect the president because of his policies. Those folks give me too much credit! From day to day, I have little idea what his actual “policies” may be, other than a few exceptions: 1) separating children from their parents or guardians and putting the kids in holding pens; 2) doing little or no planning to comply with the federal court’s ruling that they must be returned to their parents.

The courts have ordered the government to reunite these children with their families on a timely basis. But as the story developed, we’ve learned that the odd venture proceeded without keeping adequate records to proceed with many of the reunions the judge has ordered.

I’m glad I’m not the judge in this situation. I would be prone to order the arrest of the heads of the departments charged with executing the administration’s policies and not releasing them until the all the children are back in the arms of their parents. I’d also order the government to pay all travel expenses involved in bringing them back together.

Meanwhile, we’re on the verge of a trade war. Imposing tariffs on allies — while not enforcing existing sanctions against Russia — drives a wedge between us and our long-time friends.

None of our top national leaders — not the secretary of defense, the secretary of state nor the intelligence community — have the faintest idea what was said when Putin and Trump met in private. In Moscow, the Russians are bragging about “the agreements reached” in Helsinki. Yet none of our own officials know what they’re talking about.

Given the many state and federal investigations into this administration, it would be prudent as never before to truly have “open government” — no secrets from our leaders and the public. While President Trump has a hand in this, I am more critical of a U.S. Congress that is afraid to act. Our Congress is supposed to be a separate but equal branch of government. Its members have abandoned their responsibilities and the priceless duty of oversight.

This is America. We disagree politically, and that’s not unusual. What is just plain weird is the silence of those we elected to speak up and represent We the People!

While the administration bashes our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies, they cannot and do not respond to the lies that are being told. Yet several state criminal investigations continue to dig into the administration’s potential misdeeds. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues and has already generated many indictments. He does not comment, and that’s the way it should be at this stage. It’s too bad those who know better can’t stop their baseless bashing of the investigation.

Remember the years of the endless Benghazi investigation? Remember Congress’s digging into the suspected Clinton email fiasco? Millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours were spent, grabbing endless headlines and fanning baseless speculation. In the end, neither found an evidence at all of unlawful behavior. Now, that was a real “witch hunt.” Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Campaigning On The City’s Nickel

What is $104,000 to you? Recently, the president of the United States visited Fargo to support a political candidate. That’s approximately what his stop here cost to the city.

Mayor Tim Mahoney had raised the question of the cost of presidential visits. When the total for the frankly political visit was revealed, Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and John Strand raised serious questions.

When the president comes for an official state visit, as opposed to a political rally or fund-raiser, the citizens rightly foot the bill. When his visit is for partisan political purposes, however, the cost ought to fall on the party he comes to support.

Commissioner Tony Grindberg was quoted in the media saying that the expenditure was “insignificant” in its overall cost to the city. In dollars and cents, that may be true when you’re looking at the entire annual budget. But then you have to ask yourself: How many of these so-called “insignificant” costs should be passed on to the citizens without a breakdown?

Strand and Piepkorn were right to question the cost and Mahoney was right to ask for the numbers. But once presented, we saw no profiles in courage on the City Commission. Instead of simply moving on to the next topic, it should have set a date for citizen input and open discussion.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that neither of our two political parties wants to pay for their opposition’s campaign expenses — not here, not in Duluth a few days earlier, and not in Grand Forks later this month, when the vice president stops in to stump for the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Whatever political party you support, I do think it’s a matter of common sense how such large sums are spent accommodating officials’ highly partisan appearances. State visit — we pay. Political visit — the party should pay. Of course, enforcing that might take common sense, an item in short supply nowadays.

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A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against its enemies or detractors.”

Treason is defined in 18.U.S.Code S 2381: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort with the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned for not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Former CIA chief John Brennan minced no words Monday when he accused the president of treason. The president was in Finland, standing side by side with President Putin while he attacked, demeaned and insulted the Mueller investigation and the FBI, the CIA and in fact all federal law enforcement and investigative agencies.

The undisputed fact is that the president of this country, while on foreign soil, attacked his own country while supporting a Russian dictator. This isn’t a political issue. It is an issue of American security. All Americans should view the facts and come to their own conclusions.

To call the Mueller probe a “witch hunt” ignores the true facts including the number of perpetrators charged, the number who have pled guilty, the number cooperating in the probe and the fact that just last week 12 Russian citizens were charged with crimes. The investigation is ongoing and must be allowed to proceed, regardless of where it leads. Draw your own conclusions.

After watching the notorious news conference of the president and Putin on Monday, I ask you: Where are the leaders of our Republican and Democratic parties? The president’s own party ought to be up in arms about what he said about and to Putin. They ought to be further outraged by his treatment and comments he made about our nation’s loyal allies!

I also watched the video in dismay as our president disrespected the elderly queen of England during his visit to London, walking in front of her and blocking her. It was a complete lack of manners, both American and British protocol.

Last but certainly not least, his attacks on the media shake the foundations of our country. Without a free and unfettered press, democracy will die. Every time I hear his favorite term “fake news,” I (figuratively speaking) want to punch someone in the snout. Print, radio and TV news reporters endanger their lives, and sometimes die in action, bringing us the very real news every single day of the week. God bless the media and all they do for us. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

For years, I’ve watched our local police departments warn the public about the penalties that attach to the illegal use of fireworks. An offense has been clearly defined. A specific penalty has been set (subject to a judge’s discretion). And then … we have a law that is not a law!

“A law that is not a law” is one that is on the books but is not enforced by police and is ignored by the public.

Worse yet are the poppycock explanations we hear every year. Politicians don’t seek enforcement because “it’s not their job — that’s the job of the cop shop.” Then the cop shop tells us that fireworks are on the “low end “of their enforcement.

Low end, my rump. The actual reason violations are ignored is because they don’t generally enforce the existing fireworks law.

Don’t get me wrong, I like fireworks as much as anyone, with the exception of the explosive ones — those that blow up and disfigure your face, blow your fingers off, blind passers-by and so on. You get the idea.

So let’s see what happens, and to whom, when the fireworks (noise) ordinances aren’t enforced. People are killed or maimed or kill and maim others, with personal injury lawyers taking care of business. Fireworks can burn down houses, damage entertainment venues such as nightclubs, frighten children, cause brush fires and terrify pets and wildlife.

Noise from fireworks can cause distress in adults, too, especially those that sound like gunfire. The deafening noise can also cause tinnitus and deafness or aggravate nervous conditions. People who suffer from asthma may experience discomfort. Epileptics can experience seizures following fireworks displays.

And consider veterans or anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many things aggravate PTSD, but fireworks are at the top of the list. Not only those who’ve been on a battlefield suffer from this condition. Police and emergency personnel do, too, as well as individuals who’ve gone through personal trauma. One loud bang can bring back horrible memories.

Every kind of pet — dogs, cats, birds, hamsters — has a terrible time coping with the explosions. Imagine the distress of their counterparts living in the wild.

There are plenty of reasons for citizens to call the police because of fireworks violations. Most don’t share all the reasons that they called. Nor should they have to.

Every fireworks complaint ought to be treated as a call from someone who needs help. It needs to be investigated. Drive-bys in police cars don’t do a thing. The moment the car is out of sight, the explosions continue. Casual enforcement — or none at all — is how it has always been. But now we have more reasons than ever to require that each call be treated seriously.

If some officers were given an overtime option around the Fourth of July, and if they ticketed the violators every time they saw an incident, you can bet the farm that the number of scofflaws would shrink the next year. If you kept up regular enforcement up for a few years, chances are good that the need for extra enforcement would decrease in a few years.

A bonus: The fines violators were assessed would pay for the stepped-up enforcement. The revenue would go into the city tills, and the result would benefit the entire city.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those who love to set off their fireworks would think about others who might be impacted? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all thought about those most in need instead of only ourselves? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a law … one that was actually enforced?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone considered the rights and needs of their neighbors? Damn straight, it would. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — We’re No. 1!

Fourth of July celebrations are loud. Not all remember how the celebration came about. Before it became known simply as the Fourth of July, the holiday was called Independence Day.

In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved, and the document was published. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the declaration on Aug. 2, 1776.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration. It is also important to note that Native Americans already lived in the country, and each tribe had its own nation and government prior to the European settlers.

I placed the history of the Native Americans at the time to eliminate any ignorance or doubt that this was their country, and through various means, white settlers who founded our nation deprived them of their lands and assets.

We celebrate Independence Day to show our reverence for the day we gained freedom. It is also the way of showing patriotic feelings you have for this nation.

For years, we have enjoyed freedoms of thought, religion and speech. We have a government with checks and balances, and it has worked — sometimes very well, sometimes not so good.

Right now, we have two politicians in particular who are degrading everything this country stands for at the very time we should be celebrating.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has announced he is not running for re-election and has indicated a desire to serve on the federal bench. This is the man who has attacked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray. Gowdy,  who chaired a committee that spent 2½ years and $8 million on investigating Hillary Clinton in connection with Benghazi, is heard to complain and demand that the 12-month-old Mueller investigation be ended at once. He forgets his work took much longer, cost much more … and came up with absolutely nothing.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion. He, too, has seized the bully pulpit. Last week in Congress, he called Rosenstein a liar during his sworn testimony.

Jordan and Gowdy make good tag-team partners when on camera. When it comes to facts, however, they are like wolves howling in the wind.

These two pit bulls like to flex their muscles when they run the committees and carry on in front of the cameras. But the fact is, neither of them has a clue what Mueller has or has not discovered. To ask the attorney general and or director of the FBI to turn over evidence to their committee is not only wrong — it is not supported in the law.

Why, you may ask, do I mix Independence Day with Gowdy, Jordan and the law?

It is because we have a separation of powers, thanks to the Founding Fathers, but it is under attack. Our founders worried about protecting the nation and outlined a structure to keep it safe in our Constitution — and it is the Constitution that will govern our future.

Avoid bullies, enjoy Independence Day, and speak your mind when you see a wrong. Be glad you live in this country where we can agree to disagree, at least sometimes. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — God Bless America

Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan each in his own time spoke at the Berlin Wall. Kennedy asked that the wall be removed because, as he put it, it separated parents from children, husbands from wives, families from friends. Reagan again asked for the wall to come down more than 25 years later. At his urging, it did.

Each president, one Democrat and one Republican but both American, condemned the purpose, intent and the horrible effects of the wall.

The comments by the two presidents are echoed in what civil rights, religious and political groups are now saying about the wall between the U.S. and Mexico, both as it stands now and its proposed expansion.

It wasn’t too long ago that our administration proposed privatizing our prison system, notwithstanding the fact that professionals indicated it was a bad idea. Making money on misery has never been a good idea. The brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos is one who has been pushing for privatization. Others in the administration agree.

It appears private contractors are making lucrative profits out of human misery. According to the Daily Beast, military contractors are making tens of millions of dollars detaining and housing prisoners as families are being torn apart at the border. While enraged Americans are demanding their elected representatives do something to protest the separation of children and their families at the U.S.-Mexican border, “detention centers” are being built to house unaccompanied children. The contractors are also paid additional millions to transport them to the centers in Texas.

To make matters worse, it appears the U.S. is preparing to pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council after clashes over Israel and its excessive use of force against the Palestinians.

The Council of Catholic Bishops has condemned the treatment of children and families along the Mexican border as they race to our country for sanctuary. The bishops have gone so far as to threaten canonical penalties to Catholics participating in the separation of families looking for asylum.

It is a mark of courage that the Church is intervening. It would be another mark of courage if politicians would do the same.

The president has claimed repeatedly that the Obama administration made separation of children from parents at the border a law. That claim is demonstrably false. Just as President Obama signed executive orders, so, too, can this president. By a stroke of his pen, the president can stop the policy at our border crossings.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is an American issue. As a country, we are better than this.

Personally, I could not stand idly by while children are taken from their parents — children who are as pure as the driven snow. These children, who have broken no laws, are placed alone in detention centers. Brothers and sisters are separated. In the name of all that’s holy, how can young children — including babies — be taken from their parents and warehoused?

This is the United States of America. By God, we can and must do better.

What some forget or choose to ignore is the plight of many of the adults who are being arrested and jailed at the border. Many of them have come great distances with their children asking asylum from rape, murder and violence in their home countries. We are a welcoming, compassionate people. What is happening at our borders, in its present form, has to stop. These parents and children seek sanctuary, and we are big enough to grant it.

Like some, I ask myself whether the color of their skin and their race has anything to do with their treatment at our borders.

Think of Puerto Rico. Eight months after a human disaster, little has been done to restore essential services in a country that our Army Corp of Engineers could have reconstructed in half the time. People who are American citizens continue to suffer. Now as we enter a new hurricane season, I ask: If the Puerto Ricans were all Caucasian, would they have been treated better? Would they be the next time?

As a nation, we are simply much better than this. As a people, we know better than this. In other parts of the world, bad things have happened because good people remained silent. We are those good people. We cannot remain silent. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — We’re On The Path To Isolationism

Webster defines isolationism as “a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relation.” This definition may be rather limited, but it describes what is happening in this country right now.

Webster also defines a dictator as “a person granted absolute emergency power … one holding complete autocratic control: a person with unlimited governmental power.”

Here’s the question: Can one assume all of the power and policies described in the preceding paragraphs here in the United States of America?

A sincere attempt appears to be in process in this country in the form of Donald J. Trump. Meanwhile, the Congress of the United States is complicit in rubberstamping his actions without question.

In simple terms, we now for all practical purposes have only two branches of government — the judiciary and the presidency. The legislative branch has surrendered its authority to the president.

When President Trump attends the G-7 meeting with our allies, the first thing he does is demand that Russia be readmitted. Russia, of course, was kicked out of what was then called the G-8 because of its military incursions into Ukrainian territory after the fall of the Russian puppet who had been installed as its president. A Russian missile has been determined to be the cause of the destruction of a fully occupied civilian airliner. Those incidents, and more, caused our allies to kick them out of the G-8 in 2014.

Trump has also created his own set of numbers. He rates the meeting with the G-7 a “10,” which in our world would mean it was great. Unfortunately, we now know the truth. It was a 10, all right, but out of 100 … and that was no compliment to Trump.

The president has turned lying into an art form. After praising the G-7 allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to their faces, he boarded Air Force One and instantly became braver, trashing Trudeau on Twitter. The next day, one of the men in Trump’s echo chamber doubled down, saying “there is a special place in hell” for Trudeau. Shortly thereafter, he had a heart attack.

What was it that got Donald so upset? Prime Minister Trudeau calmly and professionally said that Canadians are good people but aren’t about to be bullied by anyone. Of course, our Bully in Chief couldn’t let that pass, so he attacked him and his country.

Perhaps our president has forgotten (or more probably has never known) that right now Canadian forces are working side by side with our military in foreign wars.

Google that photo of the two men side by side at the G-7 meeting. Note the difference in stature. It looks like Trump forgot to exercise and Trudeau has no such problem. It’s like a “before,” long before, picture alone with a “long after.”

Not having insulted all of our allies enough at the G-7, the president made up for lost ground afterward by visiting one of the world’s most dangerous dictators, Kim Jong Un of North Korea. He glad-handed Kim, said he was honored by the presence of North Korea’s answer to Putin and proceeded to make who-knows-what promises, among them canceling scheduled war games without consulting South Korea, whose leaders had no idea to do this, along with Japan and Australia.

This man we call president met privately with the enemy without any diplomatic experts in the room with him. He expects us to trust he knew what he was doing.

In his private life, Trump used to do the same thing with his contractors and suppliers. They relied on his word — and they paid a sad price to find out his word was worth nothing. Hundreds of lawsuits continue today.

I know one thing for certain: We should not have to wait for the next election to demand our legislators to do their jobs. They must honor their oath of office and protect the citizens who they represent.

President Trump withdrew from the detailed nuclear program with Iran. It was far from perfect, but the net result was a nuclear-free Iran with provisions for onsite inspections. But President Obama presided over that agreement, so on that basis alone, Trump trashed it.

If only one of his advisers would convince Trump that Hillary Clinton is not the president (although she trashed him in the popular vote) and President Obama has retired! Then perhaps he could stop fixating on them. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — All Must (Not) Hail The King

When I watched MSNBC’s special Sunday on Robert F. Kennedy, I candidly admit my tear ducts flowed.

Chris Matthews hosted the documentary, which included footage of Kennedy’s visiting Appalachia and the poorest of the poor. I was reminded that here was a wealthy man who concentrated on assisting those in the greatest need.

A member of a large family himself, Bobby gave of his time to visit with, work with and help young people. He gave of himself to help African-American people most in need. He cared about those who were, and are, deprived of wealth, opportunity and education by a racist nation.

While most coverage centered on problems in the South, it was obvious that bigotry and greed showed their ugly faces in all parts of the country.

I know this means I’ll be called liberal by some, conservative by others. Either way, my admiration of politicians is usually aimed at those who help people in need — regardless of race, color, creed or political party.

When Martin Luther King was arrested, it was RFK, the U.S. attorney general, who effected his release. When King was assassinated, it was Kennedy who spoke to a shocked crowd. He reminded them that he knew how they felt because a white man had murdered his own brother. That went a long way toward keeping the lid on demonstrations that night.

King was killed on my birthday anniversary, April 4, 1968. President Kennedy was killed on my mother’s birthday, Nov. 22,1963.

Much has been made of John F. Kennedy’s womanizing and the suggestion that he and brother, Bobby, had affairs with Marilyn Monroe. Robert obviously was the more moral of the two, but their personal affairs were consensual. Their wives forgave them, and that ought to be enough.

Today many try to equate President Trump’s womanizing to JFK and. Consent has an important meaning, even if the affair is immoral. It should never be confused with groping, raping and all nonconsensual actions by a man against a woman.

Bobby was killed while trying to get the United States out of Vietnam. Those in power knew that after the Tet Offensive, the U.S. military (which never lost a battle in Nam) literally decimated and destroyed the North Vietnamese forces. Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — so many American lives had been lost by that time that our country just wanted out, no matter the cost. To say that we lost that war is either misinformed or a damned lie. What is correct is to say that we left without victory.

So many factors today echo the problems of the 1960s. History seems to be repeating itself. We are in foreign wars with no end in sight — wars that ought to be fought by allies who live in those regions. If the draft had not ended 45 years ago, I believe the young people of today would be engaged in the same kind of nationwide anti-war protests. The creation of today’s professional military after the draft ended in 1973 prevented that.

Instead, the youth of today are marching in solidarity against politicians who care not what they think — politicians who are in the pocket of the NRA. Just as they did during the Vietnam-era protests, our youth are once again protesting death and mayhem in this country … inside our schools. If you think they’re going to stop, or that they won’t succeed, you’re overlooking their passion and intelligence.

As adults, we should be role models for our youth. As adults, our words should be considered and thoughtful. As adults, we should provide promise and opportunities to our youth.

The current occupant of the White House believes he is above the law and cannot be held accountable. He has gone so far as to say that if he’s convicted of crimes, he could use his presidential powers to pardon himself. So far, our Congress has lacked the courage to speak out on this issue.

Our freedom is based on three separate but co-equal branches of government — the presidency and executive branch, Congress and the judicial system. The president claims he is above the law. Congress to date has allowed him to be unfettered. It’s up to the judicial system to ultimately restore civility to this country.

I have never been prouder of the actions of some attorneys than I am today — but have never been more disappointed that bar associations across this country have not taken up political arms to address unethical behavior by some of the attorneys employed by the president.

When you knowingly lie, never recant and refuse to admit your errors, you are a liar. That is true of every American, but especially so of lawyers. It appears that our nation’s capital can use a clean-up. So, too, can many state and local communities. Today more than ever, if you think your vote will not count — and you fail to cast it — you deserve what we all will get. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — ‘And To The Flag Of The United States Of America’

The president of the United States has made an issue out of what he calls “disrespect” of our flag. Remember what he said last year when some National Football League football players took to their knees to protest racism during the national anthem? The leader of this great country shouted that he’d love to see “those SOBs” fired for taking the knee? (His term, let me point out — not mine.)

Since then, I’ve learned more about flag etiquette than I ever did. While I do not pretend that the president will listen to anyone to brush up on the basics, I hope the average American is smarter than that.

Many closet racists joined the president in criticizing the black players for what they called disrespect of the flag. So let’s see what is and what is not right.

The American flag code is defined in Title 44, United States Code, Chapter 1, which is far too long to reprint verbatim in this column.

Section 8 covers respect for the flag. Did you know the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free? Gee, have you noticed that, at NFL games, the league parades the flag in flat? Not aloft and free by any means.

Perhaps you didn’t know the flag should never be used for wearing apparel, bedding or draperies. Or did you?

Do you realize the flag should never, never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever? Nor is it to be used for anything that is for temporary use and then discarded.

No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. (However, exceptions are made for patriotic organizations, military personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers.)

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing!

The code, which is five and a quarter pages long, details a lot more specific do’s and don’ts.

Since the flat flag that the NFL parades out before football games does not comport with flag etiquette — a clear violation — it’s difficult to see how anyone “disrespects” this already inappropriate use of the flag by respectfully taking a knee.

Bikini bathing suits, T-shirts, slacks, cowboy shirts and clothing of all types make use of parts of the flag as part of their design. Just look around the stores right now. Furniture, drapes and all kinds of indoor and outdoor decor show off full or partial pictures of the flag. All are inappropriate and forbidden by the Flag Code.

Think of all of the print and TV ads for Memorial Day sales that included the flag, in part or in full! All are violations of the Flag Code. So are images of the flag printed in the newspaper before the Fourth of July — a temporary use that will soon be discarded.

I could go on and on about what’s in that code. But it’s best for each of you to look it up in its entirety. Please do. You will be surprised what is banned.

So if our president, instead of attacking black football players, would read Title 4, he could spend the final days of his first term tweeting about all of the disrespect being shown the flag by those who improperly display it here, there and virtually everywhere. Of course, that would mean he’d have to attack some big companies whose support he needs, and he’d also have to read.

It’s hard for me to think of this president in an article discussing our flag because I have so much respect for the flag and the men and women of our military who gave their lives defending it.

While Memorial Day celebrates those who died in combat, I can’t help but think of the one American hero who did not die but spent years in captivity. He came back to serve his country with honor and distinction. I refer, of course, to U.S. Sen. John McCain, who is nearing the end of his service because of a brain tumor.

When he was campaigning against then-Sen. Barack Obama, an elderly woman questioned his opponent’s birth certificate and racial background. Sen. McCain gently stopped the lady in her tracks and told her the story was not true … and that while he and Sen. Obama had different political opinions, he (Obama) was a good and decent man.

Decency at the highest level is hard to come by these days. I still can’t understand why the GOP leadership at all levels did not uphold the honor of that true American hero when he was attacked by some not fit to tie his shoes. But it is what it is: A real hero who was vilified by those who (history will show) failed the test of decency when it was on full display and badly needed.

I respect the flag. I honor Sen. McCain. Amen.