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Sometimes it takes a long time before you’re able to pay forward a kindness. This one took me 12 years to repay.

President Trump has repeatedly promised, “America will never be a socialist country.” Since Franklin Roosevelt began expanding government in the 1930s, the United States has increasingly adopted big-state policies associated with socialism.

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I have been covering schools for 25 years, and if you’ll pardon the pun, it has been very educational. I feel fortunate to have visited more schools than the milk delivery guys. As Johnny Cash sang, I’ve been everywhere, man. From the dusty rural roads to the swanky private prep schools, and everywhere in between.

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After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, investigators discovered that the lone man assigned to guard the president, John Parker, had abandoned his post to watch the play from an adjacent box at Ford’s Theater. Worse, at intermission, Parker adjourned to a nearby saloon to have drinks with some friends. It was during the second act that John Wilkes Booth entered the president’s box and shot him.

I’m not the guy you go to when you need directions. As my wife will gladly testify, I have gotten lost in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. If there’s a wrong turn to be made, I’ve traveled that road. The Clark Griswold character played by Chevy Chase in those vacation movies may have been based on me.

Politicians and pundits are promoting familiar explanations, excuses and demands following the tragic mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. From more gun laws, to blaming President Trump, conservative talk radio and Fox News, we’ve heard it all before.

Former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has urged President Trump and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD to stop exchanging insults over conditions in Baltimore.

A couple of years ago, Tink and I had the opportunity — which turned out to be an honor and a privilege — to work with Dolly Parton on a television project.

Calling someone "racist" has become the default position for liberal politicians and certain members of the media who wish to deflect attention from real problems.

I know he is a longtime reader of this space and should he be doing so this week, I want Sen. Johnny Isakson to know he is in our prayers (assuming mine gets past the ceiling.) The senator is currently rehabbing after a fall at his residence in Washington, breaking four ribs. In the current dysfunctional political environment where each side is trying to out-scream the other, Johnny Isakson is one of the sane voices in Washington and one of the most respected. Also, the Woman Who Shares My Name loves him better than apple dumplings. You say something negative about her friend and she will put a skillet against your skull. Don’t even think about it. Get well soon, Senator. ...

The Washington Post, which has done everything in its dwindling power with articles, editorials and columns denouncing, demeaning and attempting to destroy President Trump, appears to have temporarily — but only temporarily — raised the white flag. A headline following former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before two House committees said: “Democrats struggle to figure next move against Trump after Mueller Hearing falls flat.”

There’s something awful special about seeing the South from the pavement of asphalt back roads mostly forgotten by the majority of population. It is there among scrub pines, pecan trees and cattle watering in a nearby stream, that you will behold a sight that soothes the soul.

Really now, where would we be if it were not for the long suffering patience of God in dealing with us difficult human beings?

For the past six years, Rob Philyaw has seen what most of us will never see. He has heard stories we will never hear. The Hamilton County (Tennessee) Juvenile Court judge conducts hearings behind closed doors to protect the identity of children. But that does not prevent him from speaking out about the problems that plague our present and future.

The Founders of the United States of America warned against massive federal debt, but, to our detriment, their political descendants are not paying attention. The Founders speak to us from their graves to condemn and warn of the consequences now that President Trump and Congress have come to an agreement about lifting the meaningless “debt ceiling” and increasing already massive federal spending and the debt, which is at $22 trillion and growing rapidly.

For safety reasons, fire marshals control the number of people who can occupy a building at any one time. We’ve seen what happens when crowds get too large and a fire breaks out, causing panic and often death. So why not control the crowd illegally entering America?

The phrase “America, Love It or Leave It” has a pedigree dating back at least to the McCarthy Era. In the ’70s, the phrase was employed again against those protesting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The left has its own version, vowing to leave the country if a Republican is elected president. They rarely do.

Before going any further, let me say that success means different things to different people.

You had to be there 50 years ago, and I was. As a young reporter for a local TV station in Houston, I frequently visited NASA (“the space base,” we dubbed it), met many of the astronauts and reported on their exploits.

This past Christmas Eve, we had just returned from a candlelight church service back to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to have dinner at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Cappacio’s.

Two summers ago on a visit to Budapest, I asked the spokesman for the Hungarian government about the growing problem of migrants coming into Europe. He told me Hungary doesn’t have a migrant problem because they don’t have welfare programs. So, he said, migrants continue their travels to other European countries that do.

PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Ver. -- Rep. Justin Amash has left the Republican Party and will now represent Michigan's third congressional district as an Independent. In a Washington Post op-ed, he wrote: "I've become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions."

The notion of history repeating itself is usually viewed as a negative statement, but some history is worth repeating because we might learn and be guided by it.

At least 16 children have died in hot cars in the United States so far in 2019. Last year, the number of heat-related child deaths in vehicles was the highest in recorded history.

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I was pretty sure I knew what the term pander meant, but I looked it up in my Funk and Wagnalls, anyway. It still means what it did when I first learned the word about 60 years ago. I will save you the trouble of having to look it up yourself. I’m a giver.

The Trump administration thinks appealing to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un by dangling promises of prosperity in front of him if he agrees to change his ways is the path to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Each year, I write an “I was wrong” column. In case you haven’t noticed, most columnists are right about everything. Just ask them. They will tell you why a particular politician is inept or why a football coach should be fired. These columnists are well-paid experts who regularly offer their solutions to everything that ails the world.

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