Much has been made lately of language in a recently enacted New York state statute that permits abortion up to the time of birth if necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. New Jersey has had the same provision for two generations via a regulation of the Board of Medical Examiners.

Sadly, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new legislation into law two weeks ago, he did so in a joyful and celebratory atmosphere. What moral person could find joy in this?

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Last Friday, on a quiet residential street at 6 in the morning, the neighborhood exploded in light, noise and terror. Seventeen SUVs and two armored vehicles arrived in front of one house. Each vehicle had sirens blaring and lights flashing. The house, which abutted a canal, was soon surrounded by 29 government agents, each wearing military garb, each carrying a handgun and most carrying high-powered automatic rifles.

In the canal were two amphibious watercraft, out of which more heavily armed government agents came. Circling above all this was a helicopter equipped with long-range precision weaponry and high-powered spotlights.

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Last weekend, The New York Times reported that senior FBI officials were so concerned about whatever President Donald Trump's true motivation for firing FBI Director James Comey was that they immediately initiated a counterintelligence investigation of the president himself.

The Times reported that these officials believed that Trump may have intentionally or unwittingly played into the Kremlin's hands by firing Comey so as to impair the FBI investigation into what efforts, if any, Russian intelligence personnel undertook in attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election and what role, if any, the Trump campaign played in facilitating those efforts.

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When Donald Trump was looking for a catchy phrase during his 2016 presidential campaign to address the issue of immigrants entering the United States unlawfully -- a line that would resonate with his supporters -- he came up with the phrase "build the wall." The reference, of course, is to what Trump advertised would be a 30-foot-tall, thousand-mile-long Mexico-financed physical wall along our border with Mexico.

At first, most folks seemed to dismiss this a pie in the sky. Why would the government of a foreign country pay for a wall in the United States built so as to keep its own citizens and residents from entering the United States? The answer: It wouldn't.

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1) On Jan. 1, 2020, Donald Trump will be

  1. fighting an indictment for fraud.
  2. fighting impeachment proceedings.
  3. running for re-election.
  4. no longer president.

2) In 2019, the House Democrats will

  1. drive Trump crazy with subpoenas and investigations.
  2. finally get their hands on Trump's tax returns.
  3. try to make it more difficult to own a gun.
  4. collectively agree to keep the government within the confines of the Constitution.

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What if Christmas is a core value of belief in a personal God who lived among us and His freely given promise of eternal salvation that no believer should reject or apologize for? What if Christmas is the rebirth of Christ in the hearts of all believers? What if Christmas is the potential rebirth of Christ in every heart that will have Him, whether a believer or not?

What if Jesus Christ was born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem? What if He is true God and true man? What if this is a mystery and a miracle? What if this came about as part of God's plan for the salvation of all people? What if Jesus was sent into the world to atone for our sins by offering Himself as a sacrifice? What if He was sinless? What if His life was the most critical turning point in human history? What if the reason we live is that He died?

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It seems that every time we look at the legal maneuverings that reflect upon President Donald Trump, the allegations of unlawful behavior by him add up. We know that two teams of federal prosecutors are examining his pre-presidential and his in-office behavior.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump and his campaign reached an agreement with any foreign nationals -- particularly Russians -- to receive anything of value and whether he obstructed justice by trying to shut down an FBI investigation of his first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. And federal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking at bank fraud and campaign financing fraud.

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The nation has paused this week from its toxic political battles to remember the kindness and gentleness of President George H.W. Bush. He was kind to Bill Clinton, who defeated him in 1992, and to Ross Perot, whose unusual entry into the presidential race that year siphoned conservative voters away from Bush and enabled Clinton to amass a majority of electoral votes with only 43 percent of the popular vote. The Bush I knew was the post-presidential one, who, by all appearances, harbored no bitterness or sense of defeat.

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When Donald Trump became president, he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and enforce federal laws "faithfully." James Madison, who was the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention, insisted on using the word "faithfully" in the presidential oath and including the oath in the body of the Constitution because he knew that presidents would face the temptation to disregard laws they dislike.

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What if the government's true goal is to perpetuate itself? What if the real levers of governmental power are pulled by agents and diplomats and by bureaucrats and central bankers behind the scenes? What if they stay in power no matter who is elected president or which political party controls either house of Congress?

What if the frequent public displays of adversity between the Republicans and the Democrats are just a facade and a charade? What if both major political parties agree on the transcendental issues of our day?

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Last week's surprise forced resignation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general of the United States set in motion a series of events that will soon resonate in all corners of the Department of Justice.

President Donald Trump has been steamed at Sessions ever since Sessions removed himself from supervision over the DOJ's investigation into whether a conspiracy existed between Russian agents and the Trump campaign in 2016 for the Russians to provide assistance to the campaign -- a felony.

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The Democratic Party has won control of the House of Representatives. Its members effectively will be able to block all legislation that the Senate passes and the president wants. They also will be able to unleash their subpoena power mercilessly on the executive branch. Will the members of the new majority view their victory primarily as an opportunity to legislate or as a chance to investigate?

Here is the back story.

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I was sitting at Mass last Sunday in a cavernous Catholic church on Manhattan's Upper West Side near Lincoln Center, praying and thinking about the horrible events in America last week.

A white supremacist who lived in a truck covered with images of Donald Trump and his political adversaries terrorized the neighborhood in which I live and much of the country by sending pipe bombs to former presidents and other prominent Democrats and to CNN through the Postal Service. A virulent hater of foreign-born people and Jewish people killed 11 innocent Jewish worshippers using a lawfully owned semiautomatic rifle in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

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In Jean Raspail's 1973 dystopian novel, "The Camp of the Saints," about 1 million poor folks from India make their way on hundreds of ships around the southern tip of Africa and up to the French Riviera. The international media use helicopters to follow the flotilla, and the news of the flotilla's movements dominates the headlines for weeks.

As the flotilla gets closer to France, panic sets in, and fear becomes a political weapon. The government doesn't know what to do. The president of France finally orders the French military to secure the borders and use deadly force to prevent the flotilla from landing.

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The litigation brought by Stormy Daniels against Donald Trump has had its day of reckoning. The adult-film star who sued the president for defamation not only lost a portion of her lawsuit but was ordered to pay the president's legal bills. All this was a resounding victory for the freedom of speech.

After the right to life, protected by the Fifth and 14th amendments, and the right to be left alone, protected by the Fourth, the freedom of speech, protected by the First, is our most cherished. James Madison, who drafted the Bill of Rights, was careful to refer to speech as "the" freedom of speech so as to underscore the Framers' unambiguous belief that free speech is pre-political. Stated differently, it existed before the government did and thus did not come from the government. As it does not originate in the government, Madison and company believed it originates in our humanity.

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What if the whole purpose of an independent judiciary is to be anti-democratic? What if its job is to disregard politics? What if its duty is to preserve the liberties of the minority -- even a minority of one -- from the tyranny of the majority? What if that tyranny can come from unjust laws or a just law's unjust enforcement?

What if we have a right to insist that judges be neutral and open-minded rather than partisan and predisposed to a particular ideology? What if presidential candidates promise to nominate judges and justices who they believe will embrace certain ideologies?

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Mike Scruggs