It is Christmas time, and since Alabama is one of the most charitable states in the nation, I would expect that many of us are in the giving mood and plan to help many worthy causes across our great state.  Unfortunately, it appears that some recent rulings by the Alabama Ethics Commission are going to make it more difficult for charities across the state to raise the funds that they need to serve our communities.

Our Senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby will begin his sixth six-year term in January. He is an Alabama treasure. Over the past 30 years as our Senator he has brought millions of federal dollars home to Alabama.

Donald J. Trump’s election to the presidency left the pollsters and pundits from every media outlet and news network with egg on their face.  It also left them with their mouths ajar in shock.

Desmond Doss’s story, which has been made into the movie “Hacksaw Ridge,” is how he, a conscientious objector, rescued dozens of wounded soldiers during the worst battles of World War II.

Veterans Day is this Friday and, to some, the national holiday is simply a day off of work. While JSU faculty, staff and students are certainly looking forward to having Veterans Day off for the first time, we believe the holiday is so much more.

We will vote to select the 44th President Tuesday. The next President will be a New Yorker. Whomever is selected will enter the Oval office with the most unfavorable poll ratings of any President in recent memory. This election will epitomize the old adage that George Wallace once told and that is, “more folks vote against someone than for someone.”

Vietnam War veteran Robert Betz of Anniston has traveled near Washington, D.C., but he has never seen the Capitol Building or the Vietnam War Memorial. He learned a few years ago that there is now a memorial dedicated to those who served on submarines, as he did. Betz hopes to travel in May from the Anniston Airport to the nation’s Capital thanks to Honor Flight, a non-profit organization that is sponsoring the trip. Its mission is to honor veterans by transporting them to see their respective memorials.

Ole Bill Baxley has been in the news a lot this year. He was the lead defense counsel for former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics conviction trial over in Opelika. Baxley practices law in Birmingham and is one of the state’s premier and most expensive criminal defense lawyers. Like a good many of the top defense attorneys, Baxley was first a prosecutor and a doggone good one.

Our junior U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions has risen to national prominence in this pivotal presidential year. His arch conservative senate voting record and impeccable pedigree as one of the most rock solid Republicans in the U.S. Senate has made him a marquee persona among right wing Fox News conservatives throughout the country.

During this election year I have watched all the politics on television. In order to judge the coverage I have perused all the channels. Over the years political observers have bemoaned the fact that certain networks are biased. Folks, I am here to tell you they are. There is no doubt Fox is a Republican channel and MSNBC and CNN are Democratic networks.

Alabama’s most famous political restaurant and watering hole for 50 years was Montgomery’s Elite Restaurant. Until it closed about 1995, the Elite (pronounced “E-light”) was the place to eat and be seen. Many a political deal was struck at its back tables.

There is no truer adage in the political world than “all politics is local.” therefore, the best politics and the best governing in the state is at the local level. The mayors of cities and towns throughout Alabama are the real governors of the state.

The Boat Shop Press will publish Theron Montgomery’s latest book, The End of the Legend of Jared Snead, due out this fall. It is not autobiographical, according to the author, but it certainly has themes that have tugged at Montgomery’s heart in the past.

Checking out books from a bookmobile evokes warm memories from many readers in Northeast Alabama. Two local librarians understand that tradition probably more than anyone else. Combined, they have had more than 60 years of experience driving bookmobiles.

I am a lot of things: a daughter, a sister, a friend, a Methodist, vice president of the JSU Honors Program. I’m obsessed with “Harry Potter” and glitter and the color pink, and I have a bigger crush on Nick Jonas than the average 20-year-old arguably should. I’m compassionate and energetic. I’m loud. I can’t sing, but I’ll sing along to everything from show tunes to Ed Sheeran’s raps. I don’t mind that stores put out Christmas decorations in October, and I take the holiday very seriously.

I was, like most children growing up in Calhoun during the 1950s and 60s, fascinated by a person who shot and dismembered two brothers and threw their body parts out the window of a car across three Alabama counties. Viola Hyatt’s murderous act pierced the hearts of adults and children with a level of intrigue that persists even today. In the 1960s, we children repeated the story around campfires and scared each other in dark places. Adults back then imagined a mass murderer on the loose and will always remember the fear.

Sometimes when I observe national politics I am enthralled by the magnificent creation of our American government. When our forefathers founded our democracy it was grounded in British parliamentarian philosophy with a unique American blend, which of course omitted a monarchy. Now, 240 years later, it is a very representative democracy.

As if we have not been inundated enough with politics this year, hold on to your seats. Over the next few weeks that is all you will hear, read or see. The Republican Convention is set for July 18-22 in Cleveland and the Democratic Convention will begin on July 25 in Philadelphia.

The conviction and downfall of Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is the political story of the year. It has not been the most profound conviction of an Alabama public official in my lifetime. We have had two governors convicted of crimes while in office and removed in fairly recent years, Guy Hunt a Republican and Don Siegelman a Democrat. Siegelman is still in federal prison in Louisiana. However, Hubbard’s trial has been the most anticipated and most dramatic.

If at first you don’t succeed, try at least one more time. That’s the rule the soft-spoken, local artist, Jackie “J.C.” Morgan, is following as she works to open her second art venue. Its name is J.C. Morgan Art Gallery, the same name as the one she opened in 2010 at Quintard Mall.