TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving means many different things to people. To me, it is a reminder that, notwithstanding all of the bad happenings in this country and the rest of the world, I am one of the luckiest men on Earth.

I have enjoyed the practice of law and many years on the bench and was blessed with wonderful support staff, both in my law office and in Municipal Court.

In my public and private life, I have met the best whom the human race has to offer. I wish I could let each know how they had an impact on me.

In most cases, even those with whom I disagreed — or vice versa — did it in a respectful way. Even when disrespect showed its ugly head, we had a way of overcoming it and getting along.

No person ever born has more respect for the law than I do. At times like this, I remember some of my heroes: my dad, Judge Ronald N. Davies; Judge Myron Bright, whom I knew both before and after he became judge; Judges John O. Garaas, Roy K. Redetzke and Ralph Maxwell, who helped me in my career on the bench; and Justice Harry Blackmun, the U.S. Supreme Court judge who wrote the opinion relating to abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade. My admiration for Justice Blackmun, however, had nothing to do with his opinion on that case; rather, it arose from my opportunity to meet and spend time with him and his wife, Dottie, thanks to my dad using me as his personal driver when they were in town.

I saw the justice as caring human being who applied the law as he knew it to be. He was just a very decent man. His wife had a laugh that could take the bark off a tree. They were both very nice people … Fargo-Moorhead Nice.

I watched Ralph R. Erickson go from a good attorney, to a great state district court judge and then on to an awesome U.S. federal district judge. Now I hope to see him become a judge on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Fargo-Moorhead, we have the finest attorneys in the country. Whether seeking one who practices civil or criminal law, you need look no further than the Cass-Clay Bar Associations for the best.

In the media, we also have the best local radio, TV and network news. It makes no difference what your politics are. Then there’s the F-M Extra and its little sister, The Forum, for news in print news, and don’t forget the High Plains Reader.

At this moment in our nation’s history, I am particularly proud of our judicial system and the media. While some slur journalists as the “fake media,” those with functioning brains know full well this country needs — no, demands — an unobstructed media. In this day and age, those professionals are really earning their keep.

I intensely disagree with some in the local media. However, if they were my friends to begin with, they are my friends now (at least on my end).

The federal courts are due praise for keeping unlawful actions from being enacted and protecting the constitutional rights of us all. The law is the law. If you don’t like it, see if you can change it — but stop with the attacks on the courts! This is a time when the law really counts, and the courts are fulfilling their responsibilities.

With all these nice comments, one might think I was going to run for office! Don’t worry. That is not going to happen.

I said earlier that I am lucky. That certainly applies to my family. All of my children and grandchildren are alive and in good health. All are following their hearts in what they are doing. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

I have been married to a saint called Maureen K. Brodigan Davies forever. I met her in 1956 at Fargo Shanley High School. Growing up with my three sisters had convinced me that women were to be avoided at all cost … but then I saw Maureen. She did have a great smile, but being an “eye” man, I immediately noticed she had one green eye and one blue eye. It turned out her mom had one blue eye and one brown eye, but the rest of the Brodigans were normal.

We had just moved to Fargo from Grand Forks after my dad had been appointed judge, so all of my classmates were new to me. I finally asked several of my new friends whether Maureen “liked” me. Well, that was a bad question; three of them came back with her answer: “We’ll never be anything but friends.”

With her response, I figured, “game on.” I hounded her ’til she said she’d marry me. On Sept. 3, 1960, we married. Through good times and bad, thick and thin, we made her comment come true: While we are married, we are in fact best friends.

As some readers know, I retired from the bench involuntarily when my body was slammed by severe pancreatitis. I was ill for over a year, including two months in intensive care. I dropped from 190 to 130 pounds.

Everyone but me was terrified at my condition. Since I was under intense medical care, I was unaware of its seriousness. When I regained my senses (no comments, now — be nice), I told my physicians that if they could have awakened me during that time, I’d have told them not to worry. Of course they asked why the hell I would even say that. My response was very simple: “I don’t qualify for heaven, and the devil didn’t want competition.”

Needless to say, I am indebted to the doctors, nurses and the rest of the medical staff at Sanford Health for providing the quality care that accounts for my survival.

Take all of the above. and throw in the wonderful life we have in these twin cities …  and you understand why each year at Thanksgiving I am truly grateful for the life I have.

P.S. If it weren’t for the great health insurance I have, my life would not be what it is today. Affordable health care is absolutely essential. Don’t let anyone try to take it away.

For 55 years as an attorney and on the bench, professional restrictions and the Judicial Code precluded from commenting on the matters that I can address today. Thanks to the folks at the Extra and Unheralded.fish for allowing me to finally have my say. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Missing In Action

The evangelical leadership is MIA — missing in action — when it comes to Roy Moore of Alabama. A former state prosecutor, he was twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court and twice removed for bad behavior. He is now a candidate for the United States Senate for Alabama … and facing serious questions about his past behavior with young girls.

According to news reports, Moore was banned from a shopping center many moons ago because he was making young girls uncomfortable. Four adult women have publicly accused him of sexual assault when they were between 14 and 18 years of age. They have provided details, complete with supporting witnesses, to professional journalists investigating the long-circulating rumors back in Alabama. A fifth woman has now come forward and publicly disclosed what she claims Moore did to her when she was 16. He was he was in his 30s.

All of these women have identified witnesses whom they told about their experiences with Moore, most at the time of occurrence and some years later — but all long before his current political campaign.

When Moore first announced his run for the Senate, 53 evangelical ministers wrote a detailed letter of support. That was long before any of the current allegations were made public. Then the dirty tricks came into play. Moore’s wife has republished their letter again now, after the new information has come to light, with the same 53 signatures included but the current date — all without the signers’ knowledge or consent.

Kayla Moore’s letter was specifically intended to claim continuing religious support of her husband, even after the women have come forward. It is false.

Moore was, and largely still is, the favorite of evangelicals because of his belief in the supremacy of the Christian God over the U.S. Constitution.

The problem with this senator-wannabe is that he violated his judicial oath to uphold the Constitution of Alabama when he was ordered to remove the Ten Commandments from his courthouse by the United States Supreme Court but refused to do so.

If elected to the U.S. Senate, Moore would be required to take an oath to uphold the federal laws of our country. Just as he did in Alabama, he might very well take the oath but then ignore it.

People question why these ladies have forward only now. Well, why have other women been coming forward in the entertainment industry? In this male-dominated culture, there has always been a tendency to look the other way when it comes to sexual assault.

Sure, when it involves a beating and physical brute force too severe and obvious to be hidden, the men may be prosecuted. But remember the tape of President 45 bragging that because of his position as a wealthy celebrity he could do anything to women, and they’d like it? Even after that videotape was broadcast, 45 was elected president. One has to wonder: Just what must the male of the species do to cause him to pay the price for his bad sexual related behavior?

The answer to that is both simple and complicated. The simple part is that, at least for now — and hopefully forever — women have a voice. The male of the species is listening right now and quaking in his boots.

The Good Old Boys Club still claim that every time a female complains about improper sexual conduct, it’s politically motivated … or it just can’t be true because otherwise she’d have complained when it happened.

Consider yourself a 14-year-old young lady. A well-know 33-year-old prosecutor, Roy Moore, offers to give you a ride home, you accept. He then attempts to assault you. You resist and are thrown out of the car. He was trying to make you have oral sex, and you thought after that he would rape you.

After he warned you not to tell anyone, you go home, shaken and at your wits’ end. That happened to a 14-year-old, and she kept her secret shame to herself until recently. She has nothing to gain personally by telling it now. And what happens? She is attacked by Moore and his supporters as a liar.

Put yourself in the shoes of a young lady under those circumstances (or much worse). You feel ashamed and terrified, and you sincerely don’t believe that anyone would believe you if you talked. In some cases, you confide in close friends but not your parents. You are feeling shame for something you yourself did not do.

Finally, that problem is now being addressed as never before. We’re long past the time where we should begin to take these complaints seriously and stop the “slut shaming.”

In their original letter supporting Moore, the Alabama pastors said, “We are ready to join the fight and send a bold message to Washington: Dishonesty, fear of man and immorality are an affront to our convictions and our Savior, and we won’t put up with it any longer.”

The quote I just inserted is, in fact, a good message as stated. It is a call to arms to believe, honor and protect women — and men also, as men have been sexually assaulted, and this applies to them equally.

It is easy to fault people when you have not walked in their shoes. I personally consider the women who are speaking out to be freeing themselves from what they long thought was their personal shame. They are placing the blame where it belongs, on the perpetrator.

I cannot imagine how an assault victim feels when she thinks she has to keep what happened to her from the world. To attack her when she comes forward now because of the delay is part of the very problem itself. It must stop.

True, we should not prejudge nor automatically condemn individuals. But what we can do is listen, show compassion, control our prejudices and look for truth. This is not a problem that women created. It is a situation that man foisted upon them. and it must stop.

When I posted some views on Facebook that were specifically limited to the Roy Moore situation, sure as grass is green, some people brought the Catholic Church and pedophilia into the conversation. That only displays their own bias, prejudgment and ignorance.

I’d like to think most people who believe in a creator believe in justice. Recent events in this country sometimes seem to have proven me wrong. But there is hope, and there is your vote. Do not lose either — ever. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — You Pray … I’ll Vote

Given the Texas church massacre that was just committed by a man named Kelley … if you use the same rhetoric as the president, then all white Irishmen should be banned from this country.

Of course, banning the Irish is an insane idea. But it’s no more insane than banning anyone else because their skin color, religion or place of origin resembles a criminal’s.

Politicians across the nation are suggesting that we turn to God and prayer to stop the violence. Meanwhile, those same people are turning to the NRA for its money and political support.

I’m not knocking the NRA for supporting its own cause. I blame the gutless elected officials at all levels of government who have more concerns about expanding gun sales than protecting the innocent lives lost by gun violence.

Earlier this year, 45’s administration eliminated the prohibition that kept mentally ill individuals from legally obtaining weapons. North Dakota politicians supported the removal of that ban, while those from Minnesota, who apparently have intact brains and concern for their fellow humans, did not.

Japan and Australia have shown the world that a general weapons ban works! Not here, though. This is America, where gunslingers rule and decent people are afraid to speak up.

What is wrong with our elected officials? How can they not see the need for regulating the type of weapons for sale and the type of person who can purchase them.

You can argue until the end of the world that gun regulation will not work. Yet I will tell you that, if you seriously believe that canard, you should remove your head from your lower extremity and come up for air.

This is not Nazi Germany. Don’t you believe the NRA line that regulation will somehow result in the government coming for your guns. No, it won’t. The NRA — Not Really Assassins — are entirely concerned with profits.

Last Sunday, the president again said, “This is not the time to talk about gun control.” Well, if not now … when? How many mass murders do we need before we finally stop talking and begin to act?

Somehow, many seem to think that murders in a church are more serious than murders in a movie theater, or a concert, or while riding down a bike path. Excuse me, but for the victims it makes no difference at all where and how they are murdered. If God were going to be involved in this, he’d surely have struck down the Texas killer for daring to enter the church. God is leaving it to Man to get his act in order.

It’s a sound idea to require background checks with no exceptions: Keeping weapons from the unstable just makes good sense. We should limit the type of weapons for sale to the public, too; weapons equivalent to those of war should be banned.

Now, I suppose the boo birds will quickly claim, “Who will protect the good guys from the bad guys with guns?” To them I say, how do the good guys tell who the bad guys are at a shooting when everyone is armed? How’d you like to be a lawman and come upon a mass shooting scene, where all are armed — then have to determine the good guys from the bad in a split second? The answer is clear. They couldn’t.

I’m not against responsible gun ownership. However, we do need some serious regulation. After all, we regulate cars and drivers with testing, licenses, insurance requirements and more.

So how do we address gun violence? Make your position clear — and do it with your vote! The one thing more powerful than money is your individual vote. The NRA can purchase political support now. You can change that with your vote. If the politicians know they will lose their jobs unless they support reasonable arms regulation, right now, the NRA loses its clout.

We can talk till the cows come home, but that will change if we start acting.

* * *

In addition to the lack of gun regulation, we have another problem with our current Congress. USA Today has detailed a list of issues within the GOP tax bill that could affect us all. Here are some to think about:

The large adoption tax credit would be eliminated. Alimony payments would no longer be deductible. Teachers could no longer write off the cost of supplies they buy. The cost of tax preparation would no longer be deductible. The costs of moving for a new job would end could not be deducted.

Employee children’s day care would no longer be deductible. Deductions for major medical expenses would be lost. Disaster losses from theft, floods, fires or tornado would be removed, with the exception of disasters given special treatment by prior acts of Congress. Employee achievement awards would no longer be deductible. And there are many more.

By the way, I hope you notice these deductions the bill would take away will hurt the average wage earner but have little or no effect on top earners.

All the GOP’s (Group Of Pansies) talk of tax relief leaves out one little caveat: “for the wealthy.” Those without wealth will continue to suffer. This is just plain dishonest and wrong.

In the good old days, the politicians usually represented the people. As years have gone by throughout my lifetime, that assumption has changed … and for the worse. We can use our votes to bring back accountability.

I care not what your political party may be. None of us can stand by and watch the degrading of our country. We must all get involved in one way or the other. If anyone dares try to tell me their vote doesn’t count, my bodyguard will knock them to their senses.

As white people, we must learn what minorities and people of color have experienced are still experience today. Bigotry and prejudice are now colorblind. All of us have to rise as one people — no color, ethnic or religious discrimination — and get involved in resurrecting the good that can be found in this country. We must rise to get rid of the hatred. It takes more than talk!

So many people still say that they don’t want to get involved because “no one will listen” — not true! If we all get involved, even the dumbest of elected officials will pay attention and start doing what is right instead of what is convenient.

* * *

By the way, a note to the drivers of the red and black pickups with ear-splitting mufflers who drive by my home after dark and stomp on the gas: I now have your vehicle license numbers!

Go ahead -— make my day and see what happens! Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Me Too?

There has been quite a movement across this nation to focus on demeaning and horrible things happening to women in this country. To be sure, the stories on the national stage deserve the attention they are receiving.

Let’s put the brakes on the current outcry, however. Let’s study the issues and do more than sensationalize and talk.

Khizr Khan, an American of Pakistani descent, is the Gold Star parent of a fallen hero. Then he criticized then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.

Myeshia Johnson is the Gold Star widow of fallen hero Sgt. La David Johnson.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., was in the car with Myeshia Johnson on the way to Dover Air Force Base to accept her husband’s remains when 45 placed a call of condolence. Wilson had been a mentor and family friend to the Johnsons for years and was in the car as a friend, not as a politician.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another bona fide hero, spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam under the most horrible circumstances.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel is an American-born federal judge of Hispanic heritage who was overseeing the fraud case against Trump University in San Diego.

And Donald J. Trump, the current president of the United States and leader of the Free World.

Let’s start with President Trump, who in normal times we’d have expected to be as a role model for our children — a man who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote in a country that’s currently deeply divided.

For the first time in history, the president of the United States has openly criticized a Gold Star family, that of Khizr Khan, an American of Pakistani descent.

He attacked Sen. McCain, an American hero, saying he didn’t like men who were captured.

He attacked Myeshia Johnson, the Gold Star mother of three with a child on the way who’d taken offense at his tone-deaf attempt to offer condolence. There obviously was miscommunication; but rather than apologize or stay quiet, the president attacked her. Of course he did; she is a woman of color.

He attacked Rep. Wilson, the longtime family friend, who heard Myeshia Johnson’s whole conversation with the president. She was supported in her interpretation of the conversation by the widow herself. Rather than take the high road and apologize, admitting there may have been miscommunication, he went tweet-crazy. But then, she too is a woman of color.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel, one of many federal judges the president has personally attacked, was said to be “incapable of being fair” because he was Hispanic and ruled against the case involving building 45’s wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Judge Curiel is an American of Mexican heritage, so of course that made him less than an honorable man.

* * *.

Harvey Weinstein is a Hollywood producer who’s now famous worldwide because of sexual misconduct toward women spanning decades — including allegations of rape, harassment and assault. He may now hold the record for more allegations of sexual misconduct than any man in history. I’ve lost count of the number of women who have come forward with their stories. They have explained legitimate reasons why they did not say anything publicly until now. Of course, he is a multimillionaire, so he feels he can use women as he wants.

We have certain churches in this country that even now do not allow women to have leadership positions. Yet they scream like hell that they protect and value women.

We have legislative leaders who howl like a pack of wolves that women and children must be honored and valued, yet do little to address the issues for fear of offending certain individuals or groups.

Men who take advantage of women and children are the scum of the earth.

What this country needs right now are men who will raise their sons to respect everyone, regardless of gender or color.

We need women to urge their daughters to respect themselves and not allow the male of the species to treat them like objects.

We need the general population to stop talking and start acting — by word and deed — to let everyone know that each life is valued, and that no one at all has the right to devalue them.

We need religious leaders from all faiths to get out of politics and go back to preaching the values promoted by our Creator. We need them to remind everyone that the color of one’s skin is just that: color. It is not something sinister, not something that diminishes them.

We need politicians to remember we didn’t send them to the Capitol to represent their party. Their job is to represent the people who elected them.

Most importantly, we need people to take off their blinders, get the facts on candidates and issues and only then use the power of their votes.

With the exception of the man who is our president, there’s not much truly new in what has been happening to this country. What is new is that the news media and social networks are shining the light on what is really going on — as opposed to what we might like to think is happening.

Values count. Family values count the most. If we don’t pull our collective heads out of the sand and care about each other, then all may be lost. In my opinion, this last election has brought a lot more than Trump into focus. It has spotlighted a lot of shortcomings. Our goal now is not to whine and moan but to do what is necessary to bring us back to the greatness our military, alive and deceased, fought for.

If not now when? Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — A Win For President Trump

In the interests of humanity, the lives of the people of our country should have priority. Hence, funds that would have been appropriated for the wall will instead be diverted to rebuilding the devastated communities. That would include infrastructure and replacement of utilities, as well as immediate provision of food and medical care, including the means to “deliver” them.

We have the means. Does President Trump have the will to put people first? He wants to claim he’s creating jobs; the suggested solution would certainly do that. Think about it! Using new and progressive ideas — new and improved roads, bridges, utilities, housing and businesses — all creating jobs and future growth in the affected areas.

I believe 45 hasn’t visited fire-ravaged California because that state didn’t support him. But that is no reason not to support the citizens who live there.

I know I have oversimplified this idea. But what is the down side? I can’t find one. I know the average citizen of this country would support the idea. We simply cannot afford to both build a wall along the entire border and support storm-ravaged areas.

He could also divert a few trillion dollars from the military budget to infrastructure without harming the military. Remember, there is a lot of money in the military appropriation that the military did not request.

Congress, which has a lower approval rating than a skunk, could gain much-needed esteem by growing a spine and taking prompt action to help those most in need. It appears to me that millionaires would not qualify as “those in need,” so you can tax them a few more bucks for the common good.

One can rant and rave about any president at any time in history, but this is a fact: A president can’t go rogue if Congress does its job.

What blows my mind is the fact that our elected officials at the national level can’t just sit down and compromise. During the Obama years, the R’s kept things from happening. During the Trump tenure, the D’s keep things from happening. These people have forgotten they represent us (the people), not their party and not the president.

I guess common sense is a lost virtue within our current federal leadership.

* * *

A Tennessee man named Bob Nichols, who I do not know personally, posted the following on Facebook. I can’t find the original source. The wording is so great that I’m just copying it verbatim. I can’t improve on the message:

“Some of the most incredible people I know voted for Donald Trump, and some of the most incredible people I know voted for Hillary Clinton. The people that I know that voted for Trump are not racist, misogynistic or hateful, and the people that voted for Hillary Clinton are not hateful and intolerable. If you are someone who woke up this morning and is going to start seeing people as who they voted for, and not as the person you have always known them to be, then you are what is wrong with America. I will never think any less of any person who has different views than me, because some of the most beautiful, inspirational people I know will disagree with what I believe all day long, but at the end of the day they are still that beautiful inspirational person I have always known them as. Don’t think less of people because some of their beliefs don’t align with yours, and don’t lose quality people in your life because you choose hate over love.”

Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Trump Knows More Than All The Generals!

Our blowhard-in-chief has outdone himself in his cold-blooded, uncaring and false statements relating to Puerto Rico.

If you remember World War II, then you remember Gen. George Patton and his tank corps rambling across Europe to show the Nazis the power of right. You’ll also probably remember the Army Corps of Engineers who paved the way for his tanks and the Big Red One providing support and logistics for the drive.

Now, how does this relate to Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls and the El Yunque tropical rainforest. In San Juan, the capital and largest city, the Isla Verde area is known for its hotel strip, beach bars and casinos. Its Old San Juan neighborhood features colorful Spanish colonial buildings and El Morro and La Fortaleza, massive, centuries-old fortresses.

Puerto Rico is 100 miles by 35 miles in area, and its currency is the U.S. dollar. Capital San Juan has a population of 3.41 million as of 2016.

The citizens are Americans. However, if they wish to exercise their right to vote, they must leave the island and return to the U.S. mainland to do so.

When the Category 5 Hurricane Maria basically destroyed the island, the reaction from 45 was predictable and irresponsible.

For six days, while the Puerto Ricans suffered without food, water, electricity, medical services and supplies, how did El Doofus 45 spend his time? He tweeted his opinions on the NFL protests, thereby deflecting attention from his own looming personal problems. He did likewise with the hurricane victims by attacking the mayor of San Juan, who was pleading for help. Again, he deflected attention away from the Mueller probe!

Our Deflector in Chief has no moral compass. The man whom he finally put in charge, three-star Gen. Jeff Buchanan, has said he’s never seen such damage. Meanwhile, El Dumbo was complaining that the citizens were asking others to do their job — when, in fact, just the opposite was and is true.

While it’s true that FEMA did provide food, medical supplies, generators and medical supplies to the airports and docks of the country  for a prior hurricane, what our smarter-than-all-the-generals president did not do was direct the military to provide what was necessary to enable the country to start to rebound. That greatly compounded the problems. Without telephone and electrical service, the citizens had no means of communication. They did what they could, and many died in the process.

Imagine being a diabetic in need of insulin. Think of individuals with lung problems and all kinds of life-threatening conditions that require electrical-powered medical equipment and medical staff.

With heat in the range of 90 to 110 degrees, and without air conditioning, water and food, how were these people were supposed to take care of themselves?

Had Generalissimo 45 consulted with real generals, he might have learned the following: Combat engineers are required to repair and prepare the roads, bridges and air strips for heavy equipment and other military support. We understood that even back in World War II.

Take a little walk through history. Google “bailey bridges,” and look at pictures of some of the bridges that were constructed from those days through current military engagements. You will see spans of all types, lengths and conditions.

Though desperately needed supplies were stockpiled at airports and harbors in Puerto Rico, the roads were inaccessible. Access to airports was limited. The number of helicopters, essential to provide supplies to outlying rural areas, was totally insufficient.

Had the military immediately brought in combat engineers, they could have put their experience in repairing roads and bridges into action immediately. In the process, they’d have gotten those stockpiled supplies out of the airports and docks to the people who still need them.

I hope it’s true that things have improved, but it’s not nearly fast enough. While El Chumpo spent his time relaxing at his personal golf course (at taxpayer expense), the mayor of Puerto Rico who called him out was in waders plodding through flooded areas looking for survivors.

Remember when President Obama took a vacation and 45 said that, if he’d been president, he wouldn’t have time for vacations? Yeah, I remember that, too. We all should have known 45 was lying, as his lips were moving when he said that.

I apologize to those who think no one should speak about an American president like I do, but I have never suffered liars and fools, and he is both. The people of Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans, deserve much better than they have received.

When 45 visits the island this week, may he leave his air-conditioned comfort and go into the rural areas. He needs to personally view all those people he has been condemning and the conditions they find themselves in … through absolutely no fault of their own.

They deserve better, and so do we. The Deflector in Chief is doing his best to stir up controversy to keep the Mueller investigation out of the headlines. But sooner or later, he’ll run out of gas. One way or the other, justice will prevail. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — McCain, An American Hero — Again

Apparently area senators have never heard of Dwight D. Eisenhower. He warned about an out-of-control military complex … and Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven of North Dakota and Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota just voted for that.

The budget the Senate approved is a $700 billion defense policy bill. It’s only $37 billion more than the president had requested. Other than national news stories you might have seen on Facebook, who knew this action had taken place?

What open discussion took place in the Senate? Who weighed the military requests versus the military need? What discussion took place about other national priorities like infrastructure needs, health care and the rest?

It’s true that the bill must be studied more and considered by the House before anything can be sent to the president to sign. But what happened to open debate-public input and prioritizing requests?

A true American hero, Sen. John McCain, promoted the bill. Given his place in history, his position is understandable. The same does not hold true for our own senators, who would have been wise to engage in public debate and set priorities before any vote was held.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I, too, want to support the military this country requires and deserves. Right now, we’re the most powerful nation on the planet. Right now, we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy this earth. Right now, we have enough offensive and defensive weapons to annihilate any adversary (without the use of nuclear arms). Right now, we have the most powerful air force and naval forces the world has ever seen. Right now, we can cause unimaginable harm through the use of drones and rocket science.

Do we need to overhaul and provide more maintenance to our existing military equipment? You bet we do. Upgrades and regular maintenance, according to reports, are failing miserably. That, however, is a problem of our own making. Again, it’s the prioritizing of our spending that is the problem.

We don’t have sufficient funds to approve all budget requests. But when the budget is studied and common sense is used, we can in fact address most needs adequately.

Ike was right. Military spending — given our current situation — need not be the No. 1 concern of Congress.

How about improving, upgrading and expanding our railroads? How about constructing, improving and maintaining our roads and bridges? How about improving our freight and passenger air fleets? And how about funding a health care act that can be approved and promoted by health-care providers?

Sen. McCain once again showed his patriotism and concern for the people over party. His no vote sounded the death knell to the GOP Death Care Act. This will result in improvement to the Affordable Care Act rather than its elimination. Common sense, regardless of party affiliation, should dictate that the ACA be amended and improved. The idea that the ACA should be eliminated without any replacement plan is an idea floated by fools.

That those opposed to the ACA (in reality, to anything President Obama did) had eight years to bitch, whine and complain about it but still have not produced a replacement shows that the booing folks weren’t thinking of people who need health care. The stupid party line appears to be that  “those who aren’t rich and can’t pay their own way should suffer.”

Of course, while denying coverage to those in need, some of the party people also want large tax cuts for the rich. They’re flat-out lying about how that would affect the average wage earner.

By the time this article appears, I suppose a few others in 45’s administration will have been fired or quit. The tide is turning. Some of the voters who blindly followed and even worse, believed the bull doodoo from 45 are abandoning ship. With all of the dexterity of a bull in a china shop, 45 is losing his base — not his hard-core base, perhaps, but the ones with functional brains.

Now if our North Dakota and Minnesota senators will turn the switch in their brains back to “on” when it comes to the military, we can go back to our usual political party bashing.

* * *

Speaking of North Dakota! I have to wonder who Gov. Doug Burgum is representing. I lost all interest in him when he announced his support for 45, but it didn’t occur to me he would directly or indirectly, a la 45, use the office to obtain funding for his private companies.

Fargo has a commissioner, Tony Gehrig, who has been sounding the alarm on behalf of the citizens of Fargo. It’s falling on deaf commission ears. He has rightfully pointed out that the citizens are taking it in the shorts by the tax breaks given to Fargo area developers — tax breaks that benefit the developers but not the taxpaying citizens of Fargo.

Enough is enough. Developers want a tax break for the great project proposed for the First Bank site, which has now been postponed and extended for the second or third year. The whole idea of offering tax breaks was to induce construction now, but that has been changed to a tax break “whenever the developers want it.”

Not unlike our state and federal delegations, our local elected officials ought to remember they are supposed to represent the citizens of the area they serve. Those folks are not subservient to the corporate business interests.

Gehrig is an easy target for the politicians because he is a minority vote. In his case, though, the minority is a vote for the people. He’s usually right. Oh, that all elected officials would simply remember that they represent the people, not special interests!

* * *

Now, on to my life. For three years, the motor on my pontoon at the lake was hosed. This year, all of my lake equipment has worked … and it is me who broke down. Well, now that all of my physical equipment has been repaired and is in good running order, the whole damned summer is gone.

As we prepare to close our cottage down and winterize everything, I have but one plea. Let just one year go by where my body and my equipment in town and at the lake stay healthy. God told me I have now paid the price for all the sins committed in my 78 years of life, so now it’s down to motors and worldly things. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples Day

As children, most of us learned about Christopher Columbus discovering America, and the celebration continues today. The truth, however, was not shown in our history books when I was a child, and I don’t know if is being taught today.

For those of you who were as uninformed as I was, here’s a little historical truth.

Columbus Day was invented by the Catholic Knights of Columbus, a fraternal service organization, back in the 1930s. They were looking for a Catholic hero their children could look up to.

As a result of their lobbying, in 1934 Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday to honor “this courageous explorer.”

We’ve since learned that it was not Columbus who discovered this country. It was the Viking, Leif Ericson, who founded a Norse village on Newfoundland 500 years earlier.

Not stated in the history books of my youth was the fact that the Native Americans actually discovered North America about 14,000 years before Columbus was even born.

When he landed in the Bahamas in October 1492, he found the islands were inhabited by friendly, handsome, smart people who possessed no weapons. They were known as the Arawaks. He subsequently enslaved them to work the gold mines, sold native girls into sex slavery and, when they refused or could no longer work, he had their hands cut off and tied to their necks.

He enslaved these people. Conditions were so intolerable that at one time, 100 committed mass suicide. Catholic law prohibited enslavement of Christians, so Columbus simply refused to baptize the native people.

There are pages and pages of history documenting examples of his cruelty. I’ve cited just a few. It should also be noted here that most of his income came from slavery.

And this is the man who in some quarters is looked upon as a hero. In fact, he was not. No day should be set aside in his honor.

Some states have dropped Columbus Day as a holiday and replaced it with Indigenous Peoples Day. This entire country should do likewise to honor the peoples who truly discovered and settled this country, the people I refer to as Native Americans.

But Columbus simply set the tone for settlers who subsequently arrived in this country. The settlers and the government murdered, cheated, stole from and enslaved the Native Americans.

The Natives had their lands confiscated, were forced onto reservations that weren’t fit for human habitation, were deprived of their weapons and horses and were made to till land that could not grow crops.

Most of the western movies depicted the “Indians” as bloodthirsty renegades who raped and plundered, when in fact that type of activity usually took place in response to the atrocities committed upon them by settlers, reservation bosses and the military sent in to quash their various rebellions (which were attempts to live like the human beings they were.)

As recently as the 1970s, Indian children were being taken from their families on a huge scale. About 25 percent to 34 percent of all Native American children were removed from their homes on either a temporary or permanent basis and passed into the system of federal schooling, foster care or adoption. The non-Native American children removal rate was 5 percent.

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. It took into consideration Indian customs and religion and stated that maintaining family and cultural bonds was of utmost importance. It also required that tribal governments be involved in all such rulings.

The Natives had their heroes, too. Many in our current era deserve recognition, but I’m sticking with earlier history to show where we are now.

Sitting Bull (the name given him by the white man) was a great Sioux chief and holy man. He was killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. His Indian name was Tatanka Iyotake. He had resisted white efforts to destroy him and the Lakota people. He felt the whites wanted to undermine the strength and identity of the Lakota and would lead to their ultimate decline.

Sitting Bull, as he aged, simply wanted to be left alone to pursue traditional ways. But Anglo settlers’ interest in the land resulted in confinement of Indians to government-controlled reservations. That led to inevitable conflict.

When told to move, Sitting Bull refused. The Battle of the Little Big Horn was the outcome, during which the confederated Lakota tribes and Northern Cheyenne wiped out Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

History says Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada for four years before his return to the U.S. and his surrender in 1883.

He enjoyed considerable power on the reservation to which he was assigned, Standing Rock. But when the spiritual revival movement known as the Ghost Dance began to grow in popularity, Indian agents thought Sitting Bull was the driving force behind it. They attempted to arrest him. A scuffle ensued, and he was shot dead, as were 12 other Indians; three were wounded.

Two weeks later, the U.S. Army brutally suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with the massacre of a band of Lakota at Wounded Knee. This was supposedly the final act in the history of the American war against the Plains Indians.

In addition to abolishing Columbus Day, we should pay tribute to the Native Americans and the horrors they suffered at the hands of the white man. In my opinion, the holocaust museum that has been suggested would only be appropriate, considering what our original Americans suffered. The museum should be built at the expense of the federal government that participated in and fostered the situation Native Americans find themselves in today.

There are those who say the past is the past. To them, I’d add, “And payback’s a bitch.”

We owe it to the original Americans to restore their rightful place in history.

Fast forward to modern day Fargo. A young, beautiful, pregnant Native woman is murdered and her baby taken from her. Multiple days go by before the authorities launch a search. The facts relating to her disappearance are clear, and to my knowledge, nothing could have been done by authorities to prevent the murder.

I do pose the question — if, instead of Native American, she had been the daughter of a well-placed, influential Fargoan, and using the same facts … do you think the search itself would have started in earnest much sooner? It is my belief that it certainly would have. While that wouldn’t have stopped the murder, it would have saved the family and friends prolonged searching and grief.

As humans, we stand or fall together. Fargo-Moorhead has its own racial problems and people fomenting discrimination. We in the majority must continue the fight to end discrimination against any individual or group based on race, color, lifestyle or religion.

And on a personal note … this past weekend while I was at the lake, I looked out the back door and spotted a fawn. I grabbed my camera and trotted to the side of my neighbors’ garage, creeping up on the little bugger. It didn’t move … not even when I came within 10 feet.

Thanks, Brad and Sheila Klose, for not telling me you’d installed a fawn statue in your back yard. I felt like an idiot but did laugh. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Toward a UNITED States Of All Americans

Anyone who believes this country is — and always has been — great had their confidence reinforced by the climate-changing events that have destroyed so many lives and so much property in the past two weeks.

It is not the death and destruction that makes us great, of course. It is the way this country responded to provide help and aid wherever needed to the best of our ability.

Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert’s is a name you should remember. While I assumed the Environmental Protection Agency would have been in charge of the disaster relief, it is Bossert and his department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency who gives credibility and intelligence to it.

Bossert is intelligent, articulate and extremely knowledgeable (unique in the administration of 45). He focuses like a laser on what has happened and what this country is doing about it.

He does not puff himself up, does not exaggerate and does not attack people or institutions, but just gives you straightforward facts. When he doesn’t know, he says so … and promises to obtain the answer and get back with it.

He does not attack the press and does not demean or insult those who ask the questions. It is just beyond my wildest expectations that there is a spokesperson in today’s White House whom I admire.

It was Bossert who first announced the advance placement of responders. It was he who talked about the planning that went into stockpiling equipment for use in the disaster and who coordinated efforts with the military to provide disaster relief. He did so in a direct, easy-to-understand fashion without the grandstanding gibberish that other White House spokesmen have utilized.

This man is as good as it gets on the national stage.

I listened in awe as he discussed moving an aircraft carrier, landing craft and personnel into the area to assist in the Florida disaster as well as the other island calamities. He explained that both the carrier and landing crafts carried helicopters to assist in rescue and supply operations. The media showed the around-the-clock efforts of the military and Coast Guard while risking their own lives.

It was Bossert who carefully explained that convoys of gas trucks are headed to Florida and the outlying islands, along with security provided to the drivers to assure their safe destination and arrival.

He also described severe problems with infrastructure. Bridges and roadways have been damaged or destroyed. Power lines and backup sources of electricity — gone. Generators are needed to provide minimum power. No drinkable water supply! Gas supplies are nearly gone; even where they exist, there’s little power to run the pumps. Without power, there’s no air conditioning, no television, few means of communication and hell to pay if, right now, you have a medical or other kind of personal emergency.

I could go on for pages describing the horror of it all … and the great feeling I get when I see Americans, all of them, rallying to help their countrymen in need. Politics be damned! This is the America I know, responding the way I knew it could. In helping others, there’s no R or D or I. It’s all the American way!

Originally I thought the EPA would be the lead agency. Not so — and the reasons are the opposite of the goodness the disaster response demonstrates.

Virtually all scientists acknowledge the science behind the theory of climate change. Yet there are those who refuse to listen to them. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a mallet to get my attention on this issue: Climate change is clearly and definitely real. Yet the deniers in government, from 45 on up, are doing their best to kill education and discussion on the subject.

The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. Yet look what has happened. Mustafa Ali, head of the agency’s environmental justice program, resigned, citing gigantic budget cuts to the agency and its staff. Elizabeth Southerland, director of science and technology in the Office of Water, resigned after 40 years, citing the “temporary triumph of myth over truth.” She made clear that, contrary to new Director Scott Pruitt, there is no war on coal. There is no economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change is caused by the activity of man.

The EPA’s own regulations require websites on climate change; yet Pruitt has ordered those sites taken down. Never mind that before he obtained his current position, Pruitt was known for his lawsuits against EPA. Guess who profits by his actions? Both he and 45. Rick Perry, energy secretary — though a nice, funny man -— couldn’t find his way to the bathroom without an aid. Perry is in lockstep with Pruitt on this.

My best guess is that 45 and his minions, after considering the nature of the current multiple disasters, will rethink their ill-informed rejection of climate change and learn that it is real — that man contributes to it, and only man can slow it down.

The Chinese, of all people, in a land where pollution abounds, have signed the Paris Accords. They pledge to continue their all-out efforts on pollution control. We’ve become one of only three nations on Earth to refuse to sign.

For those who don’t believe in climate change and that man can do something about it, answer this question: If the air is polluted from automobiles and factories — and when we clean up the autos and factories, the air becomes clean again — is that, or is that not, a manmade disaster and a man-engineered correction?

These hurricane disasters are ongoing. It will take much time to rebuild lives and property. As to property, I hope new building codes will restrict where and how lost structures are rebuilt. I also hope we finally hear an admission that climate change is real. Funding should be restored to the EPA, as well as other environmental agencies and programs that have been decimated because 45 can’t stand anything that Obama touched. That’s sad. We are all Americans. What is good for most should be good for all.

God bless this country and all of its inhabitants. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Freedom Of Speech Is One Thing, But To Do Harm Is Quite Another

With all of the violence occurring in this country, one has to ask: What can be done to address it? Too often, people are prosecuted after a crime has been committed. What is missing is the deterrent effect of a law that would prohibit or reduce the number of folks who create the problem.

I’m not going to refer to the laws of North Dakota or Minnesota or any individual state. This is a national problem that needs to be addressed head on. This means a focus on federal laws.

18 U.S. Code § 2102 – Definitions

(a) As used in this chapter, the term “riot” means a public disturbance involving (1) an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons, which act or acts shall constitute a clear and present danger of, or shall result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual or (2) a threat or threats of the commission of an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons having, individually or collectively, the ability of immediate execution of such threat or threats, where the performance of the threatened act or acts of violence would constitute a clear and present danger of, or would result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual.

(b) As used in this chapter, the term “to incite a riot,” or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot,” includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts

In March 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump basically urged the crowd at his rally in Louisville, Ky., to rough up some protesters. Three who were indeed roughed up brought suit in federal court against Trump and his campaign. His words — “get them out” and “throw them out” — started the ball rolling. And roll it, did as the three were pushed, slugged and hustled out the door.

Trump’s lawyers moved to dismiss the protestors’ lawsuit on the grounds that he didn’t intend for his supporters to use force.

Federal Judge David J. Hale rejected his free-speech defense. He ruled that the case against Trump and his supporters could proceed. He found sufficient facts supporting allegations that the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions. He further noted that the Supreme Court has ruled out constitutional protections for speech that incites violence.

The judge observed, “While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”

Trump’s lawyers (he picks lawyers who rarely win) argued that the protesters assumed the risk of injury when they decided to protest.

The judge summarized that every person has a duty to every other person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. He said, “Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that their harm was foreseeable and that Trump had a duty to prevent it.”

To be clear, the judge has not yet made a final determination that Trump violated the law, but there was sufficient evidence for the case to move forward for trial.

I cite this case to show that a complaint filed by citizens or by criminal prosecutors can proceed and can produce results.

When the hate groups verbally attack Jews, flaunt the Nazi flag, bring torches, weapons including guns and other instruments of hate; wave the Confederate flag of the defeated South — it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude bad things are going to happen because good people aren’t going to accept that activity.

Communities (Fargo, are you listening?) can enact measures that may well cut down or eliminate protest problems. A protest is being contemplated for Fargo in October. Because the local media have given the neo-Nazi promoter so much air time, he just might be able to pull it off.

May I suggest that no permit be issued unless the following conditions are met: No weapons of any kind or implements that could be used as weapons; no helmets or military-type body armor of any type; no swastikas or other Nazi memorabilia; no baiting of the Jewish community; no racial slurring.

The harm in using these things I’ve listed is foreseeable, and both the city and the protesters have a duty to prevent it.

Just a suggestion. Freedom of speech is one thing. Freedom to do harm is quite another. Amen.