TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Help And Believe

Around the country and right here in Fargo-Moorhead, there are victims of abuse, both men and women, who suffer in silence. They are silent because few believe them when they voice their concerns.

The dumbing down of America at the national level does not help. Look at the people who the president has surrounded himself with:

  • Rob Porter, accused of abusing two ex-wives.
  • Steve Bannon, charged with domestic violence.
  • Steve Wynn, resigned after being exposed as a serial abuser.
  • Andy Puzder, accused of domestic violence.
  • Cory Lewandowski, accused of battery domestic assault.
  • And Donald J. Trump himself, accused by 20 women of groping and sexual assault.

Our president supports the men without offering one word of condolence to the female victims. Our congressional majority and most members of the minority generally sit without comment, thereby giving silent approval to the men and disbelief to the women.

To be sure, there are also men who are vilified and beaten by their female partners. But as men, they are ashamed to admit this to anyone because it would reflect badly on their “manhood.”

At both state and national levels, people who spoke so sanctimoniously about their moral superiority are resigning in droves after having been caught in illicit affairs, as well as pedophilia. We get what we elect!

We don’t need to play the blame game. What we need is truth. That means when there is a claim of abuse, we as a people have to listen and act. Yes, there may be an occasional false alarm, but I’d bet the facts show them to be few and far between.

As a people, we have to be concerned with the welfare of our neighbors — men, women and children — and that means we must listen. In schools of all types, every report of abuse must be investigated, not shoved under the rug. That requires people’s participation.

In Fargo-Moorhead and our surrounding communities, if you simply Google “counseling and abuse services,” you will find many professional agencies that provide help to victims of rape and assault as well as domestic abuse, including both physical and (just as important) verbal abuse. Safe houses and medical services are available to help, and we have the best lawyers in the country to provide assistance.

If you have a friend or acquaintance who needs help, don’t just sit and worry about them. Take a chance — get involved! Try to help them help themselves. Lives can be saved and years of abuse stopped by convincing the people who need help to get it.

Once they know they can seek assistance with their privacy insured, they may take that first big step.

The odds are that when you first learn about abuse, it’s not the first time it has happened. We as human beings have to get involved and forget the cute action names that are used. Actual help and guidance are not just a catchphrase. They are an act of kindness towards those who need kindness the most.

I know it’s not easy to get involved. But I’d rather lose a friend by trying to help them than sit by and whine as I watch them suffer.

It’s not a matter of what women must do to be believed. It’s what every one of us needs to do when we hear the sound of pain. If you hear it — act. If you can’t act, call one of the many agencies in the community to find out what to do next. They’ll be a great resource.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The same is true with humans: You can show them how to get the help they need, but in the end, it is their decision whether or not to accept it.

For too many years, men have been passing laws and telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. Now it’s time for the men to butt out. Concerned people must to take off the gloves and attack this problem.

No one wants to break up families. Nor do we want individual family members to be broken down. Get involved or don’t complain. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Equal Under The Law In The USA?

I think Lady Liberty would be crying right now if she were human. Given the events of recent days, echoing the worst days from our history, I cannot fathom what it would be like to be an immigrant, a nonwhite person or a dreamer.

The executive and legislative branches of government right now are treating humans like cattle in their unending war to gain political advantage. Instead of behaving like adults, too many follow the lead of the childish and dangerous 45 — no way to solve this nation’s problems.

Philadelphia experienced all kinds of misbehavior after the Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday. Some called it “rioting,” while others brushed it off as limited bad behavior. In a city that large, “limited bad behavior” would be like torching the whole downtown of a city the size of Fargo.

No matter what they call it in Pennsylvania, if nonwhites had committed those acts, you can bet the farm there would have been large-scale arrests. The last reports I’ve seen reported just three arrests, though there may have been a few more since then.

When the Minnesota Vikings played in Pennsylvania, the local fans’ behavior was both obnoxious and unlawful, as well as completely dangerous. We’ve heard about urinating on people, throwing full cans of beer, head-butting and other physical contact. And no arrests?

While I certainly don’t equate the situations in Pennsylvania and North Dakota, does anyone remember the level of force used to quash the protesters at Standing Rock? Does anyone recall the hundreds of arrests — arrests that subsequently resulted in multiple dismissals?

Recently federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE — has been arresting people at work, at church and while dropping their children off at school. Physicians, U.S. military veterans and parents have been hauled off and deported, sometimes without a chance even to say goodbye to their families.

What kind of country deports people under these circumstances? How dare they even consider arresting veterans who have earned citizenship through their service, even if present law does not reflect that.

It isn’t the nation that is the problem. It is our totally dysfunctional government. There is no excuse for the DACA situation, with the lives of hundreds of thousands who were brought here as children left hanging in the balance. President Obama provided leadership, but 45 revoked Obama’s executive order with his own. The current president did have the right to revoke the order, but he also had a duty to have a new plan in place before doing so — assuming he knew what he was doing, and I don’t think he did — or at least now, as the deadline he set is looming.

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation, 45 perfects his frustrated-monkey yowl and attacks the investigation that is steadily moving forward. This, of course, is the same 45 who promised to release the flawed GOP intelligence “report” before he had even read it.

Too many people excuse his bad behavior. Too many buy into his obvious lies. They seemingly couldn’t care less.

But the president of these dimwits is about to walk right into a constitutional crisis. In doing so, he lashes out like a … well, I was going to say “child,” but I’m not insulting children. He has no concept about how his words are taken by the rest of the world.

I once again urge those people in government who support him to take away his Twitter and his cellphone and lock him in a room until the Mueller investigation is complete.

If, as the president says, he’s not guilty of collusion or obstruction, why on Earth is he doing everything in his power to block the investigation? If he had a filter of any type and was genuinely innocent, 45 should have sat back, laughed and waited until Mueller was done. He did not.

His actions speak louder than words! They are the actions of a man who has something nefarious to hide. In the meantime, he places our country in danger and the congressional majority does nothing to protect our democracy.

I’ve said this before: It is the third branch of government, the judiciary, that will ultimately restore this country to its greatness. Trump has lost most of the legal battles he has faced, and he is about the lose the biggest one of all. The question is not “if,” but “when.” Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Espionage, Not Treason

With all of the news relating to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, some terms have been loosely thrown around.

A number of talking heads have been referring to the investigation of the Russian matter as “treason.” That is not correct. Treason is defined as “the practice of spying or using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information.”

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution of the United States, treason can be committed only during times of war!

Espionage, on the other hand, is defined as “the practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and or military information.” It consists among other things, of infiltration; eavesdropping; surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence and undercover work.

Rep. Devon Nunes, R-Calif., who served on the House Committee on the Judiciary, was supposed to be disqualified from anything Russian. Remember him? He’s the man who last year went to the White House in the middle of the night, got materials to slime the Russian investigation, and then — dimwit that he is —returned the materials to the White House … and was caught doing it.

Then we have retired Gen. John F. Kelly, the man with supposedly perfect credentials, who is the chief of staff to 45. Kelly was brought in to potty-train 45 and bring order to the executive office. He has failed miserably.

I initially considered Kelly a good choice to keep the undisciplined president under control, but he hasn’t. In fact by now, 45 seems to have potty-trained Kelly.

The real world understands that the president has no right to tell the FBI, CIA or Justice Department how to do their jobs. He especially has a duty not to interfere with their investigations.

Yet Kelly contacted the Justice Department and FBI and made it clear that the president wanted certain individuals removed. The president also said he wanted that infamous memo prepared by Nunes’ staff released — after the legal divisions of the agencies said that such a release could jeopardize security and endanger sources of information.

I’m watching the destruction of our values on a scale I could never have imagined. Those who are interfering with a lawful investigation that is in the best interests of this country are, in my opinion, guilty of espionage. Putin loves them. Because he does, we should not.

There is no one who can control this lying, name-calling, childish president. But I can tell you one thing, as I’ve been saying ever since 45 lost the popular vote in 2016: The investigation will continue. The president will be required to testify. Though the Trey Gowdys and Nuneses will, with their gang of scofflaws, continue to block the truth … and the final arbiter will be the courts.

In case you haven’t noticed, 45’s record with the courts since becoming president is dismal. It’s just about as bad as his record in business.

Remember, the original investigation was to determine whether there was Russian interference in our election. That has been determined to be fact beyond the shadow of a doubt. Counsel is simply following the trail.

You can take this to the bank: Special Counsel Mueller will complete his investigation. Either the president will suffer, or he will not. A lot of folks who should never have been brought into government have already been exposed, and there will be more to come. Hold onto your seats. The battle is just starting. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Oh, Say, Can You See? Not!

I wonder how many people are aware of the unseen heroics among our fellow neighbors. The extreme cold, accompanied by recent blizzard-like conditions often blocking visibility, placed too many of our fellow humans in unnecessary situations.

City, county and state police officers are on duty 24/7, 365 days a year. When unsafe driving conditions develop but drivers throw caution to the wind and drive as if it was warm and sunny — and then hit the ditch or another vehicle — it is the law and emergency personnel who must face the elements to save their lives.

I can’t imagine how our firefighters and ambulance crews can do their jobs in the extreme wind and cold we’ve experienced lately. But they do, and do them very well.

I also watched during that period of extreme cold while the postal workers walked their mail routes. They delivered on time and without complaint. During most of the worst weather, they were not only out on deliveries … they got them out on time. So much work with so little public thanks and notice!

The people who walk or drive their paper routes get the job done regardless of weather, too, which always amazes me. When I was young, I had a weekend paper route of my own. I can’t say I ever adjusted to lousy weather.

City, county and state workers charged with keeping our roadways clear have done a wonderful job. If only those who use the roads in miserable conditions had the good sense to drive at safe intervals and at safe speeds, especially when approaching the plows.

And there are other unseen workers, too. City staffers are charged with dealing with the winter water main breaks. In spite of the weather, they give it all they have. Yet few of us recognize their hard work and dedication.

Consider how time-sensitive our broadcast meteorologists operate. When lousy weather approaches, they are at their best. They save lives in doing so without taking credit due them. It’s always easy to yowl like a castrated monkey when the weather predictors are wrong. But somehow it seems to be much more difficult to give them a heads-up when they are (usually) right.

Our local radio and TV stations also must be commended for keeping us abreast of dangerous conditions. Behind those voices on the radio or TV are real people. (Oh, there might be an exception or two.) They truly display dedication and concern for their communities

I do a fast boil when I read about auto accidents in which someone dies and they aren’t wearing their seat belts. Some say it should be a matter of choice. To that, I say, “It is my choice not to have you body-slam into my car and die because of it.” Once you die, I have to live with that, even though I had no legal fault. So don’t tell me it should be a matter of choice. Wearing seat belts should be the law. If you can’t see that, you shouldn’t have the privilege of driving.

Last but not least — since my subject is what I see around me — distracted driving should carry a primary and serious penalty. When you’re driving and turn around or look down or to the right or left to tap out your message, you place everyone around you at risk. The same applies to those hands-free phones. Some people keep their eyes on the road while their hands are free and they’re talking — the phone’s intended purpose. Far too many seem to actually look at the phone on their dash while they’re talking. That, my friends, is like driving blind.

To all of our outdoor workers of all types — I salute you! Keep up the good work. And to everyone who drives around with a loud muffler disturbing the peace: May you meet your friendly police officer, and soon, and be glad you’re not going to appear in my court. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Right To Be Silent

In this country, we have the right to remain silent. But there are times where we also have the duty to speak out. We now live in a time when to remain silent is an act of cowardice, racism and bigotry.

I’m not going to dignify this POTUS by quoting his recent disgusting statement referencing the entire African continent. He was, of course, talking about banning folks from those countries whose people just happen to be black! It’s not unlike his constant attacks on Mexico, whose people happen to be brown. Of course, he also has little positive to say about China, which has the largest population on Earth, which happen to be yellow.

Have you noticed that the only time the president takes on someone face to face, it’s when he has a microphone in his tiny hands … and it’s either a female reporter or a female member of Congress. Since he moved into the Oval Office, have you seen him say one critical thing to a male, mano a mano? Perhaps in the case of men, I might have missed a moment or two of bravery. But I doubt it.

The next time you see POTUS speaking to the press, watch his posture. When he is seated and on the defensive, he crosses his arms, literally hugging himself. When he’s in that posture while being questioned, he really lashes out. In this defensive position, he even can summon up the guts to insult some media males.

When he is standing at a podium and controls the mic, he doesn’t hug himself. Instead, he gestures from right to left, left to right, until you can predict which direction he’ll opt. He learned that on “The Apprentice”! Actually, his behavior suggests he didn’t really learn much of anything from his hit TV show— but you can bet the farm that the participants on that show recognized his dictatorial style long before the public did.

We don’t get to make any more excuses for the state of our country. Before we voted for him, we were told what this man had done to the small businesses that contracted to do work for him. We were told that, as a landlord, the court stepped in to rescind his ban on renting to blacks. We were told all about his sexual improprieties. We knew fidelity was not his strong point, as evidenced by his multiple marriages. We knew all this and more … but still elected him.

I am always amused by those who claim they voted for POTUS rather than Hillary Clinton, referring to her as a “crook” and every demeaning comment imaginable. When you ask them for a concrete example of her sins, they either go silent or refer to a phony scandal like Benghazi. Sen. Tom Cotton led a panel that cost our country millions of dollars “investigating” the charges. He and his attack dogs came up with absolutely nothing because there was nothing there.

Previously I referred to some of POTUS’ shortcomings. Here are some more: his attack on the United States Supreme Court; his attacks on federal district and appellate courts; and his attack on one judge in particular who he stated should be disqualified because he was of Mexican heritage. (That judge was born and raised right here in the U.S. Even if he had not been, I’d say, “So what!”)

If our veterans, teachers, child-care centers and middle-income people are going to be hurt as much by his tax bill as experts have estimated, the term “absolute liar” will stick to him forever.

* * *

OK, I’ve just been reminded of something completely different — how lucky I am to be alive. When I worked in my law firm, my wife was my bookkeeper. When I occasionally left before she did, I’m told I always asked her on my way out the door, “What’s for dinner?” The staff — many of whom are still our friends today — would have a good laugh, asking her why she put up with me.

I wonder to this day how she did it. I’m a lucky man. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — In My Day, Kids Were (Fill In The Blank)

Last week, I described some of my youthful contemporaries as “daring.” Now I’ll return to my youthful adventures … but this time, leave it to you, the reader, to fill in the blank.

I’ve been describing youthful fun on the Grand Forks skating rink. Now let’s recall a much more dangerous pursuit — the American Flexible Flyer and the Champion Sno-Line downhill sleds.

They were the fastest and the best-steering sleds on the market. They turned, cut and jumped (if you aimed) down any hill, provided you had the proper drivers.

In Riverside Park just down the street from Seward Avenue was what is known as the DeMers estate. A large lot surrounded by a high brick wall, it was an attraction to visitors. Right beside it and outside its walls were a series of hills that ran down to the Red River. It was there that youthful lives were endangered … all because our parents trusted us to have good fun when we went sledding.

Our neighborhood gang of boys loved those hills. Some were steep, some were gradual, and all were fun. We always groomed the hills by first sliding down on cardboard after a fresh snow to flatten it and create a track.

Sometimes those cardboard pieces would drive you right into bushes or trees. But that is a story for another day.

Once the various trails had been created, we created some sled jumps. For those who haven’t had this experience, that means at certain points on the downhill trail we’d create jumps for the sleds to fly off of. They were real jumps, and we really flew.

One day someone got extra creative. We created parallel downhill runs on both sides of the main run. Then we added a cut from one side to the other, right in front of each of the other.

Now imagine yourself on the main hill on your sled, with one of your friends on the run right next to you. Your friend starts slightly ahead of you. Then you cut loose on your sled. If you time everything just right, your friend will get to a jump slightly ahead of you, and — if everything was timed right, you’d fly over the top of your friend, and both of you would continue down the hill.

Now, the first time we tried the jump, we should have learned our lesson. The first time, the jump wasn’t packed right. As the sled on the main run hit the jump, it went through it, not over. That meant crunch time for your friend, who had assumed you would go over, not through him.

But we were young and daring. The experience didn’t deter us. After a few tries and crashes, we succeeded in getting it right without any injuries more serious than scratches and broken sleds.

Once we had conquered the hills and run them for a few weekends, we decided (just once) to get more creative. One of the guys had a big toboggan. Those things came in three sizes — short, medium and too damned long. We opted for the long one, since it was our only option.

Now visualize six young boys on that toboggan, hanging onto the rope handles that were the only means to keep you on it. Now watch as those kids moved it to the center sled run, the one with the jump, yelled like paratroopers jumping out of a plane, and launched.

Hanging on for dear life, they hit the first of the jumps. By golly, that unit launched like an airplane taking off.

The landing, however, was not so good. The toboggan, with no one able to control it, veered to the side, off the jump, and into some brush and small trees — coming to a stop against a tree that was definitely not small.

There is no way to describe that stop, nor the cries of fear when the unit went airborne. Nor was there any way to describe the emotions of the friend whose parents owned the toboggan.

The unit did not have seat belts, so when it stopped, we all went flying into each other, into branches and into small trees. Thank God no one (but the toboggan) hit that big tree. It did, in fact, scare us senseless.

Even more fearful was what we thought would happen when the father who owned the machine came down to view the pieces. The unit was splintered and useless. What did that father do? Since we were not hurt, he just laughed his butt off.

Such were the good times in the early 1950s. And yet, we survived. We were young and sometimes foolish, but we made it the best of times for young men creating their own entertainment. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — In My Day, Kids Were Daring

We all have memories of the good old days. The older one gets, the more unusual they seem.

When I was a young lad growing up in Grand Forks, N.D., the only inside rink in the city was the University of North Dakota arena. It was a glorified farm shed with no heating, and when it was cold outside, it was butt-busting freezing cold inside.

The seating was plain hard wooden benches, but when the Fighting Sioux played hockey, that place was always full. It didn’t have near the seating of the new arena, but it sure was a sociable place to be.

I learned even as a kid that when each period ended, there would be a stampede to the concessions counter for coffee, cocoa, hot dogs and anything that was hot and cheap. I learned early on that when you wanted to get through the crowd in the eatery fast, all you had to do was hold a cup over your head — full or empty — and yell “hot coffee.” The crowd would part like the Red Sea.

Grand Forks had outdoor skating rinks all over town, each with its own warming house. Back in the day, people had just one car if they were lucky. You walked to those rinks or took a bus.

It’s a good thing they didn’t have wind chill charts in those days, or there would have been no hockey games at all. But there would be games every weekend. We’d put on coats, hoods, scarves and big gloves over our Park Board hockey equipment. It was usually so cold that there were no spectators … only the teams playing and those waiting to play.

When we weren’t playing hockey, we’d just go down in the evening and speed skate, jump barrels, barrel into snowbanks and basically show off for the girls. If the wind was low, the temperature didn’t really make any difference because everyone was constantly moving.

The warming houses were always manned by Park Board employees. They kept the furnaces or stoves red hot so the houses were toasty warm. They had no gas-operated stoves back in the 1950s. Instead, they relied on good old hand-chopped logs.

We’d go after supper and not return until the warming house closed between 8 and 9 p.m. All of the ice was cleaned by a pickup truck with a plow, if it happened to be available. Otherwise, we had wide plow-like shovels. We’d push them from one end of the rink to the other until all was cleared. Sometimes by the time we finished cleaning, it was time to walk home. And no matter what the temperature was when we finally got to skate, that night walk home was always colder than a well driller’s behind (as my father liked to put it).

While I was in the first eight grades, my friends and I played hockey all winter on a daily basis. By the time I was in seventh grade, I was lucky enough to make the citywide all-star team that was selected to play the Winnipeg all-stars. The first game was in Grand Forks, the second in Manitoba (Canada). There was not much of a crowd in Grand Forks, but the game drew thousands in Winnipeg. It was both fun and exciting. I thought that hockey was definitely going to be my sport of choice.

Such was not to be. When I started high school at St. James Academy, they dropped hockey. It was restarted when I was in my junior year, but then we moved to Fargo. That year, Shanley dropped hockey. By the time I graduated, both schools had reinstated their programs. For me, though, the four years off denied me my hope of playing college hockey.

In my grade-school years, we liked to go for rides by hooking our sticks on a bumper. A real trick was to sling your hockey stick and skates over your back and then grab onto the bumper and slide to the rink … without killing your buddies who were doing the same thing on the same bumper at the same time.

We got a few nicks and bumps, but we did get there on time. Hitting the old streetcar tracks, though, could be a problem. If you got caught in a rut, your ankles would take a hit. Then you’d usually let go, sliding around with either your stick or the skates that swung from it creasing the heads or other parts of your buddies.

I’m still not sure if it was our parents going nuts trying to figure out why our boots were wearing out so fast or the bus company putting spotters on the back of the bus. Either way, by seventh grade, that had stopped.

Nowadays, if you did what we did, you’d be in juvenile court in a nanosecond. Back then, though, there were very few cop cars to cover a pretty large area. I wouldn’t give up my youthful memories for anything, but it’s probably best. Had I been born in this generation with the same playful tendencies, I’d be writing of my experiences not as a retired judge, but as a reformed juvenile.

I’m entering this year in good health and I wish everyone a happy — and, more importantly, a healthy — new year. Amen.

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 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.

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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.

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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.