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JACKSON — Insurrection in the world’s greatest democracy. What a way to start the New Year!

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WASHINGTON — One of the top priorities of the new federal government will be to address the issue of free speech in the age of the Internet.

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STARKVILLE — At noon Wednesday with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Democrats will control the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowly the U.S. Senate.

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OXFORD — Freedom of speech doesn’t protect a person from liability for falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater, I was taught in college.

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Gov. Tate Reeves was batting .500 this week in the decisions he made dealing with the state’s efforts to vaccinate Mississippi residents against COVID-19.

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My favorite scene from the 1959 version of the movie “Ben Hur,” starring Charlton Heston, is at the end, where Heston, as Judah Ben Hur, returns to his home in Jerusalem after witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus.

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NORTH CARROLLTON — Last week my daughter, Kate, went for her checkup. This office visit brought the video photo image of my grandson, Herschel. He’s expected to arrive in March. I watched the video over and over, thinking about the entire future ahead of him.

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JACKSON — Hopes for a much calmer 2021 compared to 2020 were quickly dampened by the horrific attack on our nation’s U.S. Capitol Building.

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OXFORD — Of the six senators voting to overturn the presidential election results in Arizona last week, half of them were from Mississippi and the two adjacent states of Alabama and Louisiana.

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RIDGELAND — The death of Ashli Babbitt during last week’s insurrection in Washington was certainly tragic. It is always sad to see a young person’s life extinguished by violence.

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Overshadowed by the riot at the U.S. Capitol this week was the remarkable turn of events the day before in Georgia, where the not-so-long-ago heavily Republican Southern state gave both of its U.S. Senate seats to Democrats.

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JACKSON — As the old melancholy year passes, the cynical mind struggles to see hope and good cheer coming in the new year.

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STARKVILLE — President-elect Joe Biden’s choice of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary should bode well for Mississippi farmers whose agriculture production value was $7.35 billion in 2020.

JACKSON — This time last year we were experiencing the longest bull stock market in history, 11 years, from 2009 until early 2020.

STARKVILLE — It is certainly no stretch of the truth to suggest that at the time of his death last week at the age of 97, former Gov. William Winter was by and large beloved by the people of Mississippi.

JACKSON — How did they know back in the 1700s when they coined the phrase, “Many happy returns of the day”? How did they know that the week after Christmas in America would become filled with joyous long lines of festive people returning unwanted, unappreciated and just plain ugly gifts to W…

RIDGELAND — New data shows that public school enrollment has declined by nearly 25,000, or about 5%, over the past year. At the same time, home schooling has increased by 35%.

It may seem a little early for New Year’s resolutions, but this one came to me on Christmas Eve.

JACKSON — Perhaps Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch should sue Secretary of State Michael Watson.

JACKSON — Back in the Old Testament days, God spoke directly to his people. The reaction among all those who experienced this was the same: They were all terrified.

STARKVILLE — The pandemic, the presidential election, the constant discord and meanness of social media and the endless blame game for all facets of the aforementioned troubles — aren’t you tired of it?

Mississippi’s Department of Corrections decided a couple of years ago that its employees just needed to meditate some to lower the stress of their job. To put them in the mood, MDOC bought a truckload of massage chairs, Himalayan salt lamps and other accoutrements.

JACKSON — Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and every other attorney general throughout the nation are suing Facebook for creating an illegal social media monopoly that has stifled competition.

JACKSON — Schools in communities with strong tax bases generally provide better learning environments than those in communities with strained tax bases. This reality looks to be at the heart of another Mississippi racial inequity lawsuit kept alive by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

STARKVILLE — Looking back over 31 years of a meteoric writing career that ranks him as one of the most successful writers on the planet, novelist John Grisham’s flawed hero from his very first novel might well be a forgotten figure among the hundreds the author has created.

JACKSON — Barring some bombshell, expect Joe Biden to be elected president of the United States on Monday when the Electoral College meets.

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JACKSON — Move over, Grinch. It’s no childish matter, Dr. Seuss. The new holiday story this season is “How the COVID stole Christmas” by Drs. Robert Redfield and Thomas Dobbs.

STARKVILLE — Our family, like most, is nearing the end of our collective ropes in COVID-19 fatigue and pandemic uncertainty. Enough, already.

As the nation waits anxiously for the approval and distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines, there is an underlying uncertainty about the prospect.

JACKSON — OK, I’ll admit that I was wrong. Going to the beach for Thanksgiving was really pretty fun.

JACKSON — Gov. Tate Reeves has proposed spending $3 million on a Patriotic Education Fund to educate “the next generation in the incredible accomplishments of the American Way.”

STARKVILLE — The Electoral College, as confusing and messy as it often becomes in presidential politics, remains the only safeguard against having our national leadership chosen by the citizens of a few densely populated states on the east and west coasts of our country rather than the voter…

JACKSON — Despite a massive vote on Nov. 3 in favor of a new Mississippi state flag that proclaims “In God We Trust,” additional official actions are needed to ensure the death knell for the 126-year-old state flag that features the Confederate battle emblem as part of its design.

These are perilous times not only for the elderly and the unhealthy. COVID-19 has lowered America’s tolerance for politicians who say one thing and do another.

JACKSON — Forty-three years ago when I first began writing a weekly political column, several focused on the new Republicanism emerging in Mississippi as portrayed by party leaders. They described a surging party intent on building a strong two-party system in Mississippi.

RIDGELAND — Donald Trump’s loss in his reelection bid marks only the second time in 124 years that a political party could hold the White House for no more than a single term.

JACKSON — Just in time for Thanksgiving, several highly effective COVID vaccines have been announced. They will be here within months, and this horrible plague will soon be over. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

JACKSON — “Stories shape the way we look at and perceive the world and help us to gain a shared perspective. That is especially true in Mississippi.”

JACKSON — Mississippi Democrats must be looking for a Plan C after their disappointing election results this year.

There are big thinkers in this world, and there are big doers. In rare cases, you find people who are able to not only think grandly but also to carry those grand visions out.

JACKSON — Legendary country western singer Jerry Jeff Walker died a few weeks ago at age 78. Somehow a column I wrote on Walker began circulating on the internet in the wake of his death. A friend of mine sent me the link. I had forgotten I had even written it 43 years ago as a sophomore edi…

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STARKVILLE — Republican Mississippi U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is no stranger to getting her hands dirty. How else could a woman work her way from tending livestock and mucking stockyard stalls to earning a chairmanship in the Mississippi Legislature, later serving as the state’s first femal…

OXFORD — Former football coach Tommy Tuberville, who was elected a United States senator in Alabama last week, told a pre-election gathering of Republicans that “I do believe God sent us, and elected, Donald Trump.”

Leave it to Tate Reeves to draw the wrong conclusion from the likely outcome in this year’s presidential race.

JACKSON — During an election season, you are bound to hear politicians make a lot of promises. One of the most common — largely because it polls very well — is free, or at least cheaper, health insurance. Regardless of the costs and practicality of such claims, there are reforms that would a…

People often dog Mississippi for being a “poor” state, but everything is relative. Mississippi may have one of the lowest per capita GDPs in the nation, but the U.S. is a very rich nation.

STARKVILLE — American voters occupied themselves during the 2020 presidential and congressional campaign cycle talking about COVID-19, the Amy Coney Barrett nomination to the Supreme Court, national social justice strife and an uncertain economy.

OXFORD — Scanning the television guide for something to watch on a rainy evening, I couldn’t resist the promotional paragraph on an old Turner Classic Movie.

STARKVILLE — When the electioneering bandwagons roll back into the barn and our new leaders assume their duties — regardless of the party in power — health care remains as the immense force on the nation’s political horizon.

JACKSON — Well, yet another presidential election has rolled around, and I can no longer put off writing about presidential politics. I do this about once every four years.