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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Moments To Remember

On Monday, I attended the Moorhead High School senior honors concert. The administration at the high school should be extremely proud of their music faculty and students.

I’ve been to many nice concerts where the students performed well — but Monday’s was a night to remember. I cannot aptly describe the interaction between the students, their teachers and the audience. The music was exceptional and the delivery even more exceptional. The men and women in the various groups delivered with the energy and focus of true professionals.

The Concert Choir, Chorale, Vocal Jazz, Combined Men and Combined Women, coupled with the Senior Class and Combined Choirs put on a show that would be the envy of Broadway!

You can’t fake that caliber of enthusiasm, love of music and pure enjoyment. The show was pure, awesome entertainment, and the friendship within the groups was self-evident.

While it’s true the audience consisted of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends, I daresay that anyone attending that concert would have come away humming, doing a little jig, being thankful for the students and their interactions, and grateful for this magical time free of the political discourse that has been bothering many of us.

Watch for next year’s concert, and make plans to attend. It’s free. You will not be disappointed.

* * *

Moorhead also has been favored with an exceptional police chief in David Ebinger, who has announced his pending retirement this summer after 40 years of dedicated service to law enforcement. He came to Moorhead from Little Rock, Ark. Arkansas’s loss was certainly Moorhead’s gain. He has served with distinction and set an example anyone in enforcement would be proud of.

A certain federal judge named Ronald N. Davies spent a month in Arkansas well before Chief Ebinger was a lawman there, and I sure hope it made the chief’s job easier when he subsequently joined the city’s force.

* * *

Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Center for the Arts is hosting an exhibition called “Bearing Witness” through June 29. It’s a mix of photographs provided by the Three Musketeers of Photojournalism at The Forum. Bruce Crummy, Dave Wallis and Colburn Hvidston III are providing news photos that span the time from the early 1960s through October 2017, when the last of them, young Wallis, retired.

I know each of these men well. They are not only true journalists but very nice men. They have total recall of their work.

I went through grade school and two years of high school with Colburn, fondly known as CH-Three, before my family departed to Fargo when my dad was named judge. That darn Hvidston has one memory burned into his brain that he reminds me of every time we meet, which is often, since we’re both now in Fargo.

It seems I took a lovely gal named Jackie Brooks to homecoming at St. James High School in Grand Forks in 1954. We were freshman and, as Colburn reminds me, my brother, Tim, drove us to and from the dance because I didn’t have a driver’s license of my own.

Well, the beautiful Jackie Brooks is now Mrs. Colburn Hvidston III; with this article, I’m trying to convince him that I know I took her to the dance. Ye gods! It’s 2018, and he still bugs me about that! Someday I’ll write a column about what an adventurer and entrepreneur he was back in high school … but that’s for another day.

When we moved to Fargo, friends had a going-away party for me at the Brooks family’s home. I jumped the fence to get in and was met by their Doberman pinscher, which promptly bit me in the a*s , ripping my pants and eating my brand-new billfold. Fortunately, it was empty. Now, if CH-Three would remember that, he’d know he had his revenge long ago. Stay tuned. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Ambush at Lindenwood Park

A political lobotomy must be in the plans for the Fargo Park Board.

When I drove by Lindenwood Park last week, I noticed something was different but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Thank goodness for concerned, interested neighbors! Apparently with no public discussion, the Fargo Park Board has been developing plans to close the park’s softball fields to allow for more RV lots.

First, let’s get one thing straight. They have already removed fencing around some fields at Lindenwood. That suggests more than “we’re considering it.” It looks more like “we’re doing it.” That begs the question: Who do these Park Board members, the ones who support eliminating the playing fields, think they are? Fargo’s parks have been there for a purpose. That purpose is to allow our citizens, young and old, to enjoy — at no direct cost to them — the beauty of nature, the excitement of games, and the enjoyment of family and group gatherings, among other things.

You cannot place a price on individual enjoyment in our parks. RV camping is fun, but it should never replace the true function of a park like Lindenwood. To expand services for the few (the RV campers) at the expense of our citizens is just plain wrong.

Taking down the fences around some playing fields, which just happen to be next to the existing RV camper sites, doesn’t seem like a coincidence if you apply a rational thought process. The excuse coming from the Park Board — “we’re just laying plans” — is political baloney.

The bike trails throughout the city also course through the parks. Men, women and children of all ages use them. Do you think the proposed change won’t affect them? Think again.

The board apparently believes that two new softball fields in North Fargo eliminate the need for two south Fargo fields. To that, I claim “foul!”

South Fargo has not shrunk; North Fargo has not grown. The people in the south deserve their parks. The RV folks can find places to park and enjoy life in other areas.

It makes one wonder if the fact that the park is in “old south Fargo” rather than in the newer plush “new south Fargo” is being factored in. In this political climate, you’d have to be brain dead to not recognize that “moneyed interests talk” and have much power here as elsewhere.

It’s a good thing the neighbors in the area are speaking up to sound the alarm. The board’s argument that there will be discussion about this at some time in the future apparently means it will be presented to the public after the parks plan has been completed. How about public input in creating the plan in the first place?

What is happening is obvious! Money talks. But in this context, people count, and the current plan to dumb down the parks must stop.

An aging population deserves park access just like the youngsters. You can participate, observe and enjoy the parks at any age. But you cannot replace the memories.

 So the Fargo Parks director has been quoted as saying the board has no interest in restoring the fields that were closed. That’s the thinking of a person who confuses his position with a dictator. That’s where the elected Park Board members come into play.
The Park Board is responsible to the people, and the people should let the board know that the director’s plans and comments do not comport with the best interests of the citizens of Fargo.

The Lindenwood neighbors have it right. This is already taking place. Without public voices to stop it, it will happen.

Your voice and your vote count. If you don’t speak up, you can’t complain. Make your voices heard, and put a stop to this ill-conceived idea. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Is Lady Liberty Weeping?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do the words on Lady Liberty say?

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

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Headlines Tell Conflicted Tales Of Life In America

Wow, what’s happening around this country?

  • Oklahoma passes a bill preventing gays and lesbians from adopting.
  • The National Rifle Association bans weapons at its own event featuring Vice President Pence.
  • Republican men in Congress opposed a bill requiring lawmakers to pay their own expenses for settling sexual harassment lawsuits.
  • As of this month, Flint, Mich.,, has been without water for an astounding four years!
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is proposing to increase rent for low-income housing.
  • Our national bird, the bald eagle, is being decimated by lead poisoning, and few are taking issue.
  • The Department of Justice has rescinded a number of protections afforded to citizens by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has literally gutted the safeguards it was sworn to protect, like clean air and clean water rules, restrictions on drilling and much more.

However, what the country seems to be talking about right now is the comedienne hired by the national press corps to headline its annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Michelle Wolf may become a permanent household name as a result, but for all the wrong reasons. If you recall, the Smothers Brothers were literally driven off of the air decades ago because of daring to say “morons” were running the country and then for taking on their own network for lack of courage.

Well, the clock has begun ticking on Michelle Wolf’s future, one way or the other. She actually attacked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, among others, who happened to be sitting at the head table. This is the same Sarah who once uttered these words: “Get a sense of humor.”

Wolf attacked or mocked Republicans, Democrats, TV networks and, of course, the president. She was already known for “locker room humor.” You know who else used that term? But in this case, she has been savaged for the same reason after he was given a pass!

I’m not a fan of Wolf’s type of humor, but I must admit I laughed my arse off at some comments, while cringing at others. Some of the same folks who invited her to speak now want her to apologize for doing exactly what she was asked to do. That’s like asking someone to build a jetliner and then, when they do, complain about the lug nuts on the tires. What’s wrong with that picture?

The show was definitely R-rated, but it was broadcast in the later hours when young people shouldn’t have been watching — not that she used any words used that our youth haven’t already heard.

What amazes me is that while the speaker was all over the charts with her comments, she didn’t reference anything that others have not actually said previously. It’s apparently OK when the others say anything they please, but now, when a woman dares to cross the now-holy line, that’s brought the boo birds out in force.

I wonder if those who now call for canceling the event altogether remember that one of its successful purposes is not just to enable newsmakers and reporters to hob-knob with each other, but to honor young journalists who plan to enter the honorable but embattled media profession.

I don’t give a tinker’s toot what your political affiliation is: The issue I contemplate is what is and what is not acceptable in America. Wolf had an act — that’s right — a comedy act. She did what she trained and was asked to do, and she did it well. She may have gone too far for many, but many more were not offended.

When a comedienne is held to higher standards than elected officials, that’s sad. But then again, take away the cuss words, and you’ll see she spoke truth to power.

A man may have been hit over the head for the same content, but it wouldn’t be nearly like the attacks being heaped on Wolf.

We need strong women to stand tall. We need the #MeToo movement. Say what you will, but women and those about to turn of voting age are on the move. Good for them. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — A Real-Life Version of ‘Wag The Dog’

I had the goofiest dream last night. The president of the United States, in a panic, placed a call to the president of Russia seeking guidance. It went something like this:

POTUS: Sarah Sanders, get the Russian president on the line. Don’t call your daddy for permission to make the call. Just call!

Sanders: I’m calling on behalf of the president of the United States to talk to President Putin.

Russian operator: Which president?

Sanders: We only have one president.

Russian operator: What’s his name?

Sanders: President Donald J. Trump.

Russian operator: Oh, that one. Our president will accept your call, and he’s on the line.

(Sanders hands the phone to the U.S. president.)

POTUS: Good morning, Vlad, this is the Donald!

PO-Russia: You will address me as President Putin! OK, Little Donny what do you want now?

POTUS: Well, Vlad, err … President Putin … at the direction of Mr. Mueller, the telephone recordings and records of just about any type have been seized from my lawyer’s office.

PO-Russia: Well, what the heck do you want me to do about it, Little Donny?

POTUS: Did you happen to give my lawyer any of those pictures you’re blackmailing me with?

PO-Russia:  You mean the ones in the bedroom with the hookers?

POTUS: I mean any pictures of anyone anywhere that involve me but not Melania!

PO-Russia: No, no, I didn’t give anything to your lawyer … not that I’ll admit to, anyway. By the way, Donald, our informants tell us it was not Mueller who seized those records. It was a United States attorney in New York.

POTUS: How’d you know that?

PO-Russia: Because I read the newspaper headlines and watch CNN after I read your daily briefings. You ought to try it, too.

POTUS: Forget the advice crap, Vlad … err, President Putin. Seizing all of my attorney’s records is going to give my enemies way too much to talk about. I know you’ve allowed the Syrian people to be gassed a number of times recently. In this country, we don’t care if you burn, mutilate, disembowel and otherwise murder men, women and children, but gassing is just a bridge too far. If I give you a heads-up to move your troops and anything of significance out of the way, how about I blow up a couple of empty buildings over there? That way, people will think I give a damn. It’ll take the focus off my problems.

PO-Russia: OK, Donald, you can conduct a single raid … but do be sure to state you’re going to bomb the hell out of us before you don’t. We’ll let it pass this time, and you can claim you won. Gee, this sounds just like that capitalist movie “Wag the Dog”!

POTUS: Vlad … err, President Putin, what are you talking about? Never heard of it! I don’t go to movies, I don’t read, and I don’t listen to anyone but myself. I am my own best source of information. That’s how I can run this country a lot like a dictator. Just look — Congress lets me do anything I want. Maybe a couple guys whine a little. The rest do nothing.

* * *

Yes, it was a dream — or a nightmare — but it’s all too real in the light of day. The president ordered a single strike on Syrian targets, gave the Russians time to warn the Syrians to clear out anything of value and then bragged, “Mission accomplished.”

It speaks volumes that there was no military push back by the Russians after American, French and British missiles struck targets near Damascus. The Russians may not feel superior to us, but they are sure as hell are not afraid.

Why have so many people, including Trump’s official TV network, Fox, overlooked the multiple additional gas attacks on the Syrian people over the past year? Perhaps it’s because back then the U.S. attorney hadn’t just seized records from Trump’s attorney.

Some say it’s coincidence. The president says, “Mission accomplished.” I say, “Oh, crap!” Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Amnesia, Anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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