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 — Is Lady Liberty Weeping?

The honesty, integrity and diplomacy of the United States of America worldwide is on the line. “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” — the name of the agreement that the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China and Russia signed with Iran — is about to be revoked by President Trump.

The plan was approved by the United Nations Security Council. Its purpose was to prevent development of nuclear weapons. There were obviously other considerations as well, but that was the focus when the plan was approved.

It is understood that Iran has lied about its intentions … but lying is certainly nothing new to this country as of late. The fact is, we signed an agreement, and all of our allies say Iran has honored it — including new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Everyone who has spoken about the agreement concedes it’s not perfect. But what is perfect is what it accomplishes. It allows our inspectors access to Iranian nuclear sites at any time and any place without notice. That means the inspectors have unrestricted access to assure nuclear compliance — and they have stated Iran is compliant.

So if the United States withdraws from the deal, that action will represent another turn away from the multilateral diplomacy that underpinned Obama’s foreign policy and has been America’s approach to the world for much of the 20th century.

At a time when strategy is essential, Trump — over the objections of some 60 percent of the country — wants to breach the agreement with Iran, while at the same time trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with North Korea.

Why would North Korea enter into a good-faith agreement with our country, given our decision to breach the same type of proposal with Iran?

Perhaps our new secretary of state, in whom I have some confidence, will at the last moment convince the president his idea to breach the agreement is bad. But since it is apparent the president listens to no one but himself, the secretary may run into his first, obvious failure.

By the time you read this article, our country will have either honored its agreement or breached it in bad faith. Our allies have been there for us when we needed them. It’s about time we reciprocate.

It was nice to see the first lady taking steps this week to advance the cause of women and children. The naysayers suggest her comments were crafted from Obama-era speeches. That bothers me not. If someone has said what you want to say, only better, why not use their words? But give them credit.

Melania Trump now has a chance to put her goals to work. As she focuses on the rights of women and children, she will be running right into — and hopefully right over — Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In this era in which advisers and friends of the president are pushing to privatize prisons (with private companies running them rather than state, local and federal agencies), Sessions has just announced that every person who tries to enter this country illegally will be detained and referred to federal prosecutors. He warned that will likely mean separating their children from their parents.

With absolutely no statistics to back him up, the leader of this country brands men, women and children seeking asylum as (in his words) murderers, rapists and the worst their countries can offer. He has said in so many words, “The countries from which the people are fleeing are not sending us their best.”

Actually, they aren’t “sending” us anyone. These individuals are fleeing for their lives — fleeing murder, rape, slavery and oppression along a route that leads through Mexico. Our nation has always been, and should be, open and welcoming to them. Aren’t these the very kinds of people our Statue of Liberty welcomes?

What do the words on Lady Liberty say?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Amen.

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

Remember when the line “We’re No. 1” was a badge of honor? Well, Fargo has once again claimed that distinction … but in a category where no one wants to be included.

North Dakota and Fargo are No. 1! They outdo Moorhead and Minnesota in the categories of the drunkest city and drunkest state in the country. By whatever measure is used to calculate this distinction, Fargo tops the list.

Fargo has city elections this spring. I hope the population is awake, alert and knowledgeable on the issues.

Alcohol abuse has been a serious problem since Prohibition ended. Recently that other local newspaper ran a detailed story on how several political candidates in the North Dakota side of the river have some prior serious alcohol-related convictions.

Now, the past is the past. If these candidates have suffered the consequences of their actions and learned from them, that should be enough. I don’t intend to condemn the past conduct of individuals in this context.

But recently, three members of the Fargo Liquor Commission stood up for common sense on the topic of alcohol. When the commission voted on whether to allow the addition of yet another license in a spot that’s already problem area for booze, only three people — Mayor Tim Mahoney, Commissioner John Strand and Fargo Chief of Police David Todd — voted against the additional license.

The mayor and Strand represent the vast majority of the voters. Chief Todd represents the thinking of the Police Department. He and his officers have firsthand, daily working knowledge of the problems caused by excessive drinking and too many licenses in a small area — a problem for both local residents and the working of the department.

Notwithstanding the educated positions of these three stalwarts, the majority of the Liquor Commission voted with their pocketbooks and not their brains. The motion to permit yet another license passed.

Now some downtown boosters want to allow open carry — of booze, not guns — during the summer street fair. Perhaps these same people didn’t pay attention to downtown Fargo on St. Patrick’s Day. The pub crawl began before the parade had even ended. Heavy drinking was everywhere. It wasn’t just legal-aged college students feeling their oats; it was people of all ages. Someone I know who worked that day said he waited a few hours after work to socialize because, by that time, a lot of the drunks had finally gone home.

I don’t use that term “drunk” lightly. My professional life in Municipal Court gave me a unique view of the problems booze creates. The harm it has caused to individuals and their loved ones is immeasurable.

Mahoney, Strand and Chief Todd are absolutely right. Concentrating all of the watering holes downtown concentrates the problems overdrinking causes.

Many people are living downtown nowadays, with business and residential buildings are occupied as never before. The new Block 9 project in what’s now the First Bank public square will bring more residents, businesses and corporate offices.

More law enforcement is required for the downtown — at the expense of other areas of the city. It’s not the fault of the police but of the Liquor Commission majority. It approves the liquor licenses but doesn’t also decide to fund and increase the police presence to deal with the good old boys and girls who can’t or won’t drink responsibly. One commissioner, one mayor and one police chief deserve kudos for standing up for our communities. Some of the other government representatives … not so much.

What many elected officials forget is that they represent “we the people” — not the special interests. This is a time in America where that statement should be obvious to all.

Is it too much to ask of those who did not support the awesome three who voted no to get on board for the people instead of the business boosters? There is a difference between liquor control and liquor out of control. Some people in places of power just don’t seem to understand that.

Fargo-Moorhead has been good to me, and I’d never live elsewhere. But every time someone dies, is harmed or diminished by alcohol abuse, I ask, “Why?” As a community, we are better than that.

Now is always the right time to hit the problem head on. But that takes the courage of a Mayor Mahoney, a Commissioner Strand and a police chief like Todd. If not now, when? Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Amnesia, Anyone?

Do you still remember Sept. 11, 2001? That’s the day four planes were hijacked. Two were flown into the Twin Towers in New York and another into the Pentagon. The last crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania when its passengers overcame the terrorists who had planned to take out a fourth target.

The hijackers were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. Do you remember that 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia? Two others were from the United Arab Emirates; one each came from Egypt and Lebanon.

In its infinite wisdom, the United States military was unleashed upon … Afghanistan. You know, a country that had nothing to do with the bombings. You figure that one out because I can’t.

The Trump administration has looked with favor upon the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. Do you think it’s because, shortly after a meeting with the Saudis and the Emirates, U.S. firms signed enormous military contracts were signed with them? Do you also suppose it could also be because lucrative and much-needed financing was suddenly made available to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to bail his family real estate company out of substantial, pressing debt?

We still have a large troop presence in Afghanistan. We talk about the serious opioid crisis in our country; what seems even more serious is that Afghanistan is the greatest supplier of opioids. Why isn’t our country attacking the supplier-growers on their own ground, rather than only concentrating on the cure for overdoses? With all of our electronic surveillance capabilities, including the use of drones, the military could greatly diminish the drug pipeline. They are already there. Why hasn’t their mission changed?

Perhaps if we were constantly reminded that 115 people die every single day from drug overdose, we would focus more clearly on the source of the supply.

In Syria, we have troops in harm’s way. The president has said we should get out “quickly.” No sooner had he said that when Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad authorized the use of chlorine gas against his own people.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Russians benefit if we leave or are thrown out of Syria.

As we view situations such as the one in Syria, it reminds me of the days before and during World War II as the world, including this country, stood by and did little as the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. If you believe we didn’t know what was taking place in Europe during those times, I have some hot air to sell you from my backyard.

We all see the same news reports of the slaughter of men, women and children in Syria. Bombs, rockets and artillery shells are not selective when it comes to death.

To bring the bad news closer to home, think about Puerto Rico and Michigan. Puerto Rico has endured months without essential infrastructure, including electricity, because for some reason our leadership can’t or won’t make use of the National Guard or active-duty military and their combat engineers to assist them. Restoration would make a wonderful peacetime practice for war. Where else could they get better on-the-job training.

More than three years have gone by, and people in Flint, Mich., still can’t drink their lead-tainted water. Engineers from the military or the Guard could come in with supplies right now, but that hasn’t happened. The government talks a lot but the talk is not matched by action.

We need thinking men and women in Congress who can get it through their heads that they represent we, the people. That is not happening now. It’s hard to argue with that fact, notwithstanding your political affiliation.

The world is in turmoil. That includes our own country. We need meaningful, considered, thoughtful discussion. Then comes the hard part: prioritizing and acting first upon our actual needs, then upon our wants.

When so many people with so much money are running the country, the regular people are shortchanged. The rich get gigantic tax cuts, while the average person gets a pittance … and often thinks that’s just great.

If the wealthy were taxed like the average citizen, and if we stopped spending on military items we don’t need (as Dwight David Eisenhower warned us so long ago), we could develop a balanced budget. Some of these problems do predate the current administration, but the worst can be laid at its feet. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Discrimination Is Alive In America

In the era of Trump, you don’t have to wonder about racial discrimination and profiling. It’s out of the closet and on full display.

Native Americans (you know, the real Americans we somehow called Indians) were denigrated and their lands and culture stolen and just about destroyed by the Palefaces — the good old white guys!

The racists are back out of the closet now. In January, a Navajo legislator from Arizona was verbally attacked by armed Trumpers demanding to know if he was in the United States legally. My God! So many people, so few brains.

The president has signed documents allowing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain pregnant women who are undocumented (they aren’t white) and deport a veteran who had served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, a married father of two. (The courts have since ordered that he be readmitted to the U.S.). He has also signed an order allowing drainage of oil spills into our waters that primarily affects reservations.

I could go on and on … and I will. Much of the damage being done to our country is under the radar. Few seem to notice.

A lot of the changes unduly harm Native Americans. That’s something that has been going on in our country forever. Recently I saw two photographs of Indian prisoners in handcuffs. In one, they stood by the railroad sometime in the 1800s. The other pictured members of the same minority handcuffed at Standing Rock just last year, surrounded by armored vehicles and law enforcement in military camouflage. It was a stark reminder that while there has been change, overall, there’s been not so much in the world of minorities.

Anyone who has a working TV or access to paper or electronic news knows about the many questionable killings of black men by police officers. Even when being caught on video, these men who should never have worn the uniform blast away and “murder” unarmed people of color. These incidents rarely happen to whites.

Last week unarmed Stephon Clark of Sacramento, Calif., was shot eight times, six times in the back, by uniformed officers. He was in his grandmother’s backyard holding a cell phone in his hand. The police had been on the lookout for vandals who broke into cars (yup, that’s when they always use deadly force — not-t-t) and happened to spot him.

What they did next shows why black men rightfully fear for their lives in some parts of this country. The officers’ original claim was that Clark attacked them and they feared for their lives because they thought his cell phone was a gun. Later they said they thought it was a crowbar.

Twenty shots were fired. The autopsy concluded that he was moving away from the police as they fired those shots, not toward them. Interestingly, right after the shooting, you can hear the police on the video … telling each other to turn off their sound and cameras.

The autopsy showed that the injured Clark lay alive on the ground for several minutes, but no one rendered aid. Perhaps it’s true that he would have died even with medical assistance; but they didn’t even make an attempt.

Reminds me of another young black man, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., whose body lay in the street for four hours after being killed before it was removed.

Reporters asked the White House press secretary if the president was going to comment on the Clark killing. Her response: “It was a local matter.” Any other administration’s response might have noted “the unlawful taking of a human life is a civil rights violation, and the Justice Department will investigate.” (Not Jeff Sessions, though.)

White school shooters are called “troubled youth.” People of color are called “terrorists.” This racial discrimination just has to stop.

Maybe it’s the blood of my father running through my veins that makes me feel so strongly. Judge Ronald Davies did not tolerate racial bias. He proved it when he ordered the immediate integration of schools in Arkansas in 1957. That was the way I was brought up. It tells me the Trump administration gives no hope for people of color, including our True Americans, and this must end.

The young people who marched on Washington March 24 — in crowds far larger than Trump’s inauguration — have it right. Change is needed, it is required, and we adults ought to join the younger generation to bring it about.

Remember how Nazi Germany treated its minorities, its elderly, its infirm? Remember when no one said anything to oppose them? Well, by God, this isn’t Nazi Germany, and we the people are going to stand and be heard.

This isn’t new. The world before Trump was not perfect for minorities, either. But now the country needs to change in spite of his administration. So let it be written; so let it be done. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Deterring Crime Means Serving Serious Time

I was all set to hang Rick Santorum out to dry this week when, as usual, someone derailed my chain of thought and sent me in a new direction. This morning, it was Fargo Police Chief David Todd speaking on KFGO Radio. He expressed a concern that took courage to say out loud. And he is spot on.

The state of North Dakota, in its infinite wisdom (not-t-t), has limited the prisoners who will be accepted in the state penitentiary. Because the Legislature rarely sees beyond its collective nose, and because they didn’t know how to budget, the local communities are paying the price. Convicted criminals who should be spending time in prison are instead serving shorter sentences in our county jails, in home detention and too often on probation.

One can criticize the courts, the prosecutors or the defense attorneys for this situation, but that wouldn’t really address the situation. Take defense attorneys out of the equation first. They do what they are supposed to do in representing their clients.

The prosecutors and judges have an entirely different problem. They are caught between the realities of the cost of incarceration, the limitations in housing prisoners after sentencing and the fact the problem has not even (to my knowledge) been discussed recently.

Chief Todd should be commended for having the courage to speak up on this issue. His department apprehends the criminals, as they are charged to do. It then refers the matters to city attorneys or the states attorney. City attorneys are not part of the problem, since their cases remain in Municipal Court and the Cass County Jail.

Instead, the state’s attorney faces an entirely different problem. They have to determine whom to charge, what to charge them with, and — upon plea or conviction — recommend the sentence to the judge. Then the judges have to weigh all of the factors before sentencing.

In his radio interview, Chief Todd referred to a career criminal who was convicted 50 times in 2017 and told investigators he made $200,000 that year selling stolen items, mostly from Walmart and Target. The last time he was convicted, he received just 18 months rather than several years and is likely to be on the street again in seven months.

A repeat offender thief, burglar and nonviolent offender does not deserve this kind of break by default because the state is too uninformed to repair a problem. It is not right that a repeat criminal be given a break just because the state won’t accept them in prison.

If you think of burglary as a victimless crime, you have not been the victim of a burglar. My lake place was ransacked years ago. If it could be moved, they took it — including washers, dryers, electronics. You name it, they took it.

Now visualize someone ransacking your own home here in Fargo-Moorhead! Believe me, that’s a trauma that is real. Those who do this once need their behinds severely kicked by the criminal justice system. When they repeat, they need housing at the State Pen … oh, but the state won’t accept them because they don’t fit the parameters of the kind of prisoners the system is accepting. Instead, they get a short sentence in the county and will soon be on the street again.

I’m sure some plea agreements are being made because of the refusal by the state, resulting in a lesser sentence. The state can recommend a sentence, but the judge is not required to accept it.

Based on what Chief Todd has to say about this sorry situation, and based on my own 40 years on the bench, I hope the prosecutors take a hard-line approach (not saying they don’t) and the judges impose the proper sentences … regardless of recommendations, and regardless of where the prisoner will be housed.

Our judges and prosecutors can shut this revolving door. The scofflaw repeat offender who Chief Todd referenced could have — and should have — been given the maximum. That’s how to show the community and law enforcement agencies that when they do a good job, the criminal will pay a just penalty.

Police, prosecutors and judges all have difficult occupations. When they fulfill their respective roles, we all gain. When they don’t, we all lose.

I am laying the blame for this sorry situation squarely on the state — not the judges, prosecutors and attorneys. Supporting your local police must be far more than just a saying! Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — March for Life?

We should all be very proud of the youth across this nation, including but not limited to the Fargo-Moorhead area schools.

Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo public high school students joined the national movement to stop the murder in our nation’s schools. They also plan to join the national movement that plans a march in Washington on Saturday (March 24).

Our young people know that the National Rifle Association has purchased politicians from both parties, and they’ve said, “Enough is enough.” Millions of these young Americans will be of voting age by the midterm elections. If that doesn’t give those up for election pause, then they deserve to be retired.

Let’s get one thing straight! This youth movement has been and is a March for Life — their lives. They don’t want to be slaughtered anywhere including their schools. They know the so-called adults in the room have neither the courage nor the common sense to do what is right to correct this national wrong!

Noticeably absent in our area was participation by religious schools, including my alma mater, Shanley High School. This is not a reflection on the students at these schools but on their administrations.

Apparently, it’s OK to spend a few days and much money to attend a Washington, D.C., March for Life opposing abortion, where the media is aplenty, but not participate in the local movement.

You can say these students are only involved in a gun control movement. If that’s what you think, you are a narrow-minded contributor to the problem. The participants are not single-issue marchers — they believe that once out of the womb, the human deserves the same protections as those who seek to protect them while in the womb.

Why in the name of God would religious school administrators feel it’s OK to be active in a Right to Life movement if the subject is abortion … and not this movement against murder of the living? You can talk until the cows come home, but you will never convince me that the Shanley students, if given the choice, would not have joined the nationwide school protest last week, and may yet join the marches Saturday.

I harken back to the days of the legendary Sid Cichy, coach and teacher at Shanley, and Oliver Lux, the dean of men, when the nuns ran the school. Had this situation arisen, I don’t doubt for a moment that the whole school would have joined the march with their blessings.

Father Lux was one large man who, when he leaned on a wall to have a smoke before he went into class, bowed the wall. He was a former professional football player. No one messed with him.

Cichy was not only a great teacher and coach but a very nice and decent family man. In my senior year, Sid gave me some great personal advice. One of my classmates had defeated me in every track race in my junior year. Sid asked me if I knew why my mate always beat me. I said, “‘Cause he is faster.”

Sid said, “No, it’s because he always tells you he’s going to beat you.” After that little talk, my senior year was outstanding. The mate never beat me again.

I share this only to reflect on what was — and what is now. All of our students want to be involved in the current march against violence and for common sense. They ought to be allowed to do so.

This is a lifetime moment for the youth of today. They have a mission called common sense and a message suggesting to the leaders of our country: “You’d better stop talking and start acting.”

The movement of today may well result in some well-deserved retirements from Congress. The young people remind us that all is not lost in America. We are going through some very tough times right now. These extraordinary students have already accomplished more in the last two months than all of the politicians since mass school shootings started years ago.

I congratulate them for their courage and hope that school administrations, public and parochial will support them. If they will not, perhaps there might be some retirements due there also. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Are Young People Being Shortchanged?

I was watching a Facebook video showing a young man walking into a street pole; a young man falling into a pool; a young lady smashing into a glass door; a young man stepping in front of a moving car; and a young lady falling flat on her face after missing a step.

These people all had one thing in common: They were all looking at their cell phones and not where they were going. It’s even worse when they do the same thing while driving. That’s how accidents and sometimes death occurs.

Just look around at family gatherings, in town, at sporting events, at the lake. …  Young people simply can’t put down their phones and enjoy the real world. While I do have a cell phone, a computer and a tablet, I don’t live on them (at least, if you don’t count Facebook). I have to admit I’m beginning to resent those personal machines and how their owners use them.

I have a hard time watching this younger electronic generation marching to the beat of their electronic drummer. To be sure, given the murders of students in this country, our young people are doing what the adults up to now have not dared to do. They want the carnage to stop, and they are organizing to do just that. The courage of this new generation is not in question.

But I just wish there was a way to let them know what they are missing … without going through my own youth, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

We had our electronic messages also. When the streetlights came on, we knew it was time to head for home. If the streetlights didn’t get your attention, then your porch light came on and you knew to head for home to avoid a grounding.

Daylight Saving Time would have created mayhem back in those days. Thankfully, it didn’t yet exist.

Back in my day, we knew entire neighborhoods — including everyone’s name and occupation. We knew the owners of the neighborhood grocery stores where our parents sent us to pick up whatever our moms wanted. We knew the names of the neighborhood bus drivers, the milkmen and our mailmen. In other words, we were connected to our surroundings personally, not through impersonal electronic media.

We organized neighborhood park activities. Most of us had our own disorganized softball, touch-ball, flag ball, baseball, basketball and hockey teams. The park boards slowly but surely caught up with us and came to organize the same things — but that was never the same as when we picked our own teams. By the way, never did we ever leave out someone because they weren’t talented. None of us were talented! That worked just fine.

In our neighborhoods, bullies weren’t tolerated. We all had older brothers and sisters. If someone gave us crap, they only did it once. Our siblings didn’t have to hit anyone. They simply explained the pain the bully would feel if they didn’t back off.

Kenny Hunt, a classmate of my older brother, went on to play for the New York Yankees. My eldest sister could throw a softball just as far as Kenny. (But if I use her name, she’ll scalp me.)

I guess the point I’m trying to recommend that young people take a timeout from their electronics. Use your phone when you need to, not just when you have nothing better to do. See the world and the environment around you as it is — not in a fog as you live instead in your electronic world.

There are so many thing to see, so much to do, so many friends to cultivate in this world of ours. It all works better in person than through a colored screen.

I wouldn’t trade my childhood for that of kids today for anything. But,then, I’ll be 79 on April 4, so some won’t care. By the way, if you want to make me happy, send cash April 4. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — But Did Justices Scalia And Burger Agree?

The National Rifle Association spokespeople like to use Justice Antonin Scalia as a supporter of the Second Amendment to the extent they claim you can’t place limits on gun ownership and use.

The NRA is devoid of integrity. It espouses its “love for the right to own guns, any guns.” The moment POTUS 45 declared to the National Governors Association, “”Don’t worry about the NRA. They’re on our side” … I knew that the BS (and I don’t mean “Boy Scouts”) train was back on the tracks.

Last week, I quoted the late Justice Warren Burger, who called the NRA leadership “pernicious liars.” Of course, Justice Burger would be considered a liberal judge with whom the NRA would disagree.

It should therefore come as a surprise that the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, often quoted as supporting the position of the NRA, did no such thing!

In 2008, Justice Scalia led a five-justice majority to recognize, for the first time in American history, that “law-abiding, responsible citizens” have a right to own a handgun in defense of their homes. Note: They said “handgun.” The case was District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). The NRA uses it to this day to support its gun-slinging positions. What the NRA has done is to use “selective reasoning.” I, therefore, will do the same thing — only I’m going to use “selective incontrovertible fact.”

A passage that has come back to haunt the NRA because people who can read are talking about it right now is Scalia’s subsequent warning that people shouldn’t read too much into the fundamental right he helped announce. Scalia emphasized that “long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” were still fair game.

Justice Scalia opined that the Second Amendment is restricted to weapons “in common use at the time” and further stated it left the government with many tools for combating handgun violence, including regulation.

Since the Heller decision, lower courts have upheld numerous restrictions on the sale and ownership of guns. On many occasions, including twice in the last year, the Supreme Court has refused to hear lower court appeals of cases regulating ownership and sale of weapons in which regulation was approved.

There is a profound disconnect between the actual meaning of the Second Amendment, as it is understood by courts, and the political uses of the Second Amendment, as it is invoked in federal and state legislatures and as a basis for attacking politicians who think in good faith about how best to save lives.

If you are one of the folks who like to debate the weapons issue, just remember — the reason the federal government ducks gun regulation to this day is that the U.S. Congress is owned by the NRA. States, however, are free to regulate and protect their citizens. That seems the only way to proceed until the upcoming midterm elections.

The wonder of the youth of today is that they are not tolerating the cowardly comments and positions of politicians anymore. They are taking action. Many millions more will be able to vote for the first time during the midterms in November.

If you want to watch how successful these students are, watch the flip-flops (at least in talking points) that congressional members are now making.

I totally support the upcoming student protest demonstration planned for March 14 in Moorhead and hope that Fargo and other communities will join the Moorhead students in supporting the cause.

For those who say students should not demonstrate — that they should stay in school and shut up — I say what I’ve said to the NRA: You go to hell, and let our young people demonstrate the courage and guts the adults don’t have.

If you believe that government regulation of weapons will cause it to confiscate all of your guns, then wear your Nazi emblems on your shirt sleeves where they belong — because that’s how you must view this wonderful country of ours.

We live in trying times, but the good times will return. It’s Mueller time. Amen.