President Trump Signs Bipartisan Modern Fish Act Into Law

This legislation was over two years in the making. This will simplify federal law with respect to recreational fishing.

The Modern Fish Act was signed into law on December 31st, 2018, by President Donald Trump.

Over 11 million Americans partake in recreational saltwater fishing—with the activity being heavily concentrated in the southeastern U.S.

In what is being celebrated as a victory for recreational fishing and boating, this law will be bring much-needed clarification and reforms to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. While the bill is not entirely perfect, various stakeholders agree this new law will clarify any confusion previously inset in the law and bring recreational fishing management into the 21st century.

The Modern Fish Act was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate on December 17th, and by overwhelming approval in the House (350-11) on December 19th, 2018.

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Gabriella Hoffman


The is now law thanks to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump’s signage. An incredible victory for recreational fishing in America before the new Congressional session begins. Press release c/o @sportfishpolicy

See Gabriella Hoffman’s other Tweets

In a press release issued by the Center for Sportfishing Policy and various stakeholders, they heralded the new law as a fix to the problem of regulating recreational fishing like commercial fishing. Anglers, boaters, and others vested in these industries long argued for distinctions to be made between between recreational and commercial fishing, especially in how they are regulated.

The law adds “more appropriate management tools for policymakers to use in managing federal recreational fisheries.”

“Millions of American families take part in saltwater recreational fishing and boating activities and support multi-billion dollar industries that generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in our country,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Today, we are thankful for this important milestone for federal fisheries management and marine conservation, and we look forward to continuing to improve public access to our nation’s healthy fisheries.”

“This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, capping years of hard work to responsibly modernize recreational saltwater fisheries management,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Modern Fish Act is a critical first-step solution towards establishing a framework for expanding access to recreational saltwater fishing, while ensuring conservation and sustainability remain top priorities in fisheries management. We thank President Trump and Congress for making the Modern Fish Act the law of the land and look forward to working with them in the coming years to advance policies that protect and promote recreational saltwater fishing.”

“The recreational fishing industry is grateful to see this legislation enacted,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, as well as NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils, to improve the management and conservation of our marine fisheries.”

“The Modern Fish Act signed by the President provides an opportunity for significant, positive change on behalf of millions of recreational anglers who enjoy fishing in federal waters,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We look forward to working with NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils and the states to fully implement the provisions of the bill and improve federal fisheries management for America’s saltwater anglers.”

“CCA is proud to be a part of this important coalition, and we are grateful to our champions in Congress who stood by us during the intense, sometimes contentious negotiations on this legislation,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “There is still work to be done, but this is a valuable first step. We are hopeful this opens the door to an ongoing discussion of tools and processes that can be developed to better manage recreational fisheries in federal waters in all regions of the United States.”

What is the Modern Fish Act?

Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, or Modern Fish Act, is a bill that would accomplish the following if passed. Now that it’s law, it’ll set out to accomplish the following per Center for Sportfishing Policy’s press release:

  • Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
  • Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
  • Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

Prior to the Modern Fish Act being passed, data collection methods of saltwater fishing catches were Byzantine at best. For example, those who partook in the data collection process in sync with federal managers had to rely on landline phone surveys. Moreover, Draconian standards that harmed recreational fishing interests like cancelled seasons, reduced bag limits, and unnecessary restrictions were commonplace. This led to economic upheaval, job uncertainty, and endless headaches.

Anglers and boaters are optimistic the new law will prevent this from happening again.

Why was this needed?

This law was needed for several reasons.

The first being the need to recognize the impact recreational fishing has on our country economically and with respect to conservation efforts.

Much like hunting, fishing bolsters conservation efforts. Why not have laws that better reflect this too? Anglers, hunters, and shooting sports enthusiasts helped fund a minimum of 60 percent of conservation funding through excise taxes under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937. Excise taxes are taxes paid when purchases are made on a specific good in the form of licenses, firearms, and tackle to be collected by the Interior Department to be distributed to state wildlife agencies for habitat and wildlife conservation efforts. Better management and science-based policies encouraged by the Modern Fish Act will bolster resources and fish species, not see an end to them.

The second reason for the Modern Fish Act was to bring recreational fishing management to the present day. ​The 1976 Magnuson-Stevens law set out to chart out the course of commercial fishing but never tackled recreational fishing adequately, and arguably, to its detriment.

Recognizing serious deficits in federal recreational fisheries management, a group of stakeholders came together in 2014 in the form of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, or the Morris-Deal Commission. The co-chairs of this commission were Johnny Morris (founder of Bass Pro Shops) and Scott Deal (president of Maverick Boat Group). They drafted a report titled “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries” that laid the groundwork for many of the provisions and recommendations found in the Modern Fish Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted in a December 2018 report — the 11th Fisheries Economics of the United Statesreport — that in 2016, both commercial and recreational fishing generated over $212 billion in sales and contributed $100 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. It also noted that these two industries supported 1.7 million jobs across the country.

Here’s a breakdown of both industries’ economic impact by the numbers from the same report:

9.8 million saltwater anglers took recreational fishing trips in 2016 — a 9 percent increase in anglers from 2015. Saltwater recreational fishing supported 472,000 jobs, generated $68 billion in sales impacts across the economy, and contributed $39 billion to the GDP, all metrics that increased 7 percent from 2015 measurements.

The commercial fishing and seafood industry — harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers — supported 1.2 million jobs in 2016, generating $144 billion in sales impacts and adding $61 billion to the GDP. The domestic harvest produced $53 billion in sales, up 2 percent from 2015, and supported 711,000 jobs across the entire American economy. Sea scallops had the largest revenue increase in 2016, bringing in $46 million in landings revenue.

​Recreational anglers, much like commercial anglers, play a central role in our economy. It was time the law recognized their contributions and importance too.

How does it help recreational anglers?

While groups like Audobon Society accused this law of going “against all common sense and ignores science by weakening the requirement on how many fish are caught each year” and forecasted overfishing if it were to pass, recreational anglers and boaters don’t see it that way. It’ll empower them to further practice science-based, sustainable fishing practices ever further.

Recreational anglers are conservationists who abide by catch limits, seasons, and practice sustainable fishing methods. To suggest otherwise, like Audobon, radical environmentalists, and some in commercial interests have put it, is simply false. There are bad actors who disrespect fishing rules across the country, but they are in the minority and shouldn’t be lumped in with responsible recreational anglers. The majority of anglers —myself included—are law-abiding and don’t want to see our fisheries decimated. If fish were to be harvested unsustainably and with little regard to conservation methods, all of us — fish and humans — would suffer. No angler wants to see this happen, let alone any recreational angler.

Preservation and overfishing are extremes that should never become the norm in this country. Many anglers believe in catch-and-release and partake in reasonable put-and-take practices that don’t undermine fishing populations. Their contributions, like those in commercial fishing, are important to sustain this country and conservation efforts.

Anglers felt extremely marginalized under the Obama administration as the former president routinely sided with radical environmentalists keen on seeing the end of the fishing industry. One ESPN columnist noted in 2010 that Obama’s ocean policies could kill sport fishing altogether.

During the Obama administration, fisheries management councils heavily placed limits on what recreational saltwater anglers could harvest in the Gulf of Mexico—particularly on red snapper (where seasons went from three days to 46 days under the Trump administration).

In a March 2018 article in USA Today, the author noted how President Trump and his secretaries in Commerce and Interior sought to restore recreational fishing privileges in previously off-limit territories once available to sport fishing. Here are some of the measures passed after the new administration came to power:

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross personally approved a plan in June extending the recreational fishing season for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico from three to 42 days even though his own agency warned it would lead to significant overfishing.
  • In July, Ross again intervened. This time, he sided with New Jersey to loosen restrictions on the harvest of summer flounder, known as fluke,over the objections of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Commission Chair Douglas Grout said he was “very much concerned about the short and long‐term implications of the Secretary’s decision on interstate fisheries management.”
  • In the fall, the South Atlantic  Fishery Management Council, working closely with the Trump administration, allowed recreational snapper fishing from Jupiter Inlet Florida to the North Carolina-Virginia border for the first time since 2014. Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association, called it “a victory” for anglers while environmentalists called it a “risky move” given that red snapper in the South Atlantic is still recovering.

As a result of the Modern Fish Act’s passage into law, recreational fishing will get a boost, see increasing participation numbers, and continue to bolster our GDP. It’s encouraging to see Congress and the Trump administration pass landmark legislation that adds to and not subtracts from recreational fishing.

The Government Alone, Not Private Companies, Should Regulate Free Speech

I feel that in 2019, when the Times Square ball drop was in honor of “protecting journalists,” we’re going to be hearing a lot about the deleterious effects of “fake news.” I suspect that people like California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu are going to be heard from a lot on certain news outlets.
Lieu, on CNN a few weeks ago, said “I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech.” But “the First Amendment prevents me of doing so,” he complained, before finally admitting “over the long run, it’s better that government does not regulate the content of speech.” Then he urged private companies to “regulate better themselves.”
This effectively gives carte blanche to large companies in the (social) media and communications business to stifle speech they believe is harmful in some way. Let me take the opposite position from Rep. Lieu here. I believe the government should be the regulator of free speech, and should be the only regulator thereof. In fact, I believe the government should restrain private companies from being their own arbiters of what they consider to be harmful.
Follow me here for a bit.
The government already regulates free speech. The First Amendment protects private citizens and corporate citizens from government interference with free speech. But the government does have the authority and responsibility to defend the truth and to punish liars whose lies harm others.
For example: the SEC sued Elon Musk for tweeting, with little evidence, that he intended to, and had financing for taking Tesla Motors, a publicly traded company, private. They had a strong enough position on this to force Musk from his chairman seat on the Board, to extract tens of millions in fines, and for Tesla to agree to some restructuring to prevent this from happening again.
That’s for a single tweet.
The Federal Trade Commission regularly fines companies and prosecutes individuals for making fake or unsupported claims about products and financial schemes. Prosecutors go after corporations and insurance companies for fraud.
What people and companies say in the public square does matter. People are harmed when others lie to them. The government constantly and without challenge regulates this form of free speech.
Now let’s move that model to the political realm. It’s certainly not appropriate for the government to go after then-candidate Donald Trump for suggesting that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was physically ill. Or to punish him to (as a candidate, and later as president) for him to lead chants of “lock her up.” That’s political invective.
It’s not proper for the government to outlaw skeptics of global warming. But in 2016, California nearly authorized prosecutors to sue fossil fuel companies, among others, who they said have “deceived or misled the public on the risks of climate change.”
State attorneys general have pursued this strategy, subverting others’ rights to voice their own opinions on the degree of risk, the factual basis, and the causes of climate change.
The government has no right to punish free speech, but it does have an obligation to protect citizens from harmful lies, and to protect our right to free speech. But where do we draw the line?
First, we draw the line that the government should not outsource its responsibility to private companies, or to anyone else. Putting the onus on Facebook or Google or Disney to police “fake news” is far worse than the government overstepping its bounds.
Our republic includes safeguards against government tyranny: we elect our executives and legislators. We can impeach and sometimes recall those officials. We (the people) elect, appoint, or otherwise approve judges (depending on state or federal jurisdiction). But who gets to elect Facebook’s executives? Who gets to decide who’s on Google’s board? Who gets to determine if Disney can buy another studio?
Yes, sometimes the government gets to determine if a private or corporate merger is in the public’s interest. But that’s always in the narrow context of preventing damaging monopolies. Nowhere does the government get to decide whether two companies joining together is simply a bad idea because someone will win and someone else will lose.
This is the problem with private companies self-policing free speech. Those companies inevitably act in their own best interests, or in their executives worldview. As long as Howard Schultz ran Starbucks, he could tell investors where to stick it if they didn’t like his politics. But we had no voice in when he left. There’s little difference in that decision and how Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, or Amazon–or the Washington Post for that matter, owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon–deal with their considerable public power to suppress free speech.
Yes, they are private companies. Yes, they can do as they like. If Amazon says they’ll no longer allow anyone who has ever purchased a gun to sell on their platform, we cannot stop them through government power. If Twitter says they will ban or mute any user who won’t properly address transgender individuals by their preferred pronoun, government cannot force them to stop.
But if private companies promote lies that harm others, or systematically engage in strategies to subvert or induce government to abridge free speech, then I do thing the government has a duty to deal with them.
And if government, as Ted Lieu suggests, transfers its responsibility to those very companies, then government has rendered itself–and us–powerless to counter actual and damaging lies.
When sports organizations force young women to compete with biological men, that’s harmful. When universities force those accused without evidence of sexual crimes to prove their innocence without due process, that’s harmful. When foreign nations pump wholly fabricated news through social media, while the companies who publish it profit, that’s harmful.
Should we full-bore regulate Facebook and Twitter? I think that would be a bad idea in the long run. But should we have the government sit back and offer no punishment at all for even egregious and outrageous behavior? Should government allow Google to cherry-pick fact checkers, or to skew Internet search results based on ideology without any penalty?
I say no.
The First Amendment guarantees free speech to citizens. It also gives the government a special responsibility to preserve that right from being taken away by others. Otherwise, we might find ourselves censored day by day, by our own phones, or our government subject to tyranny by proxy.
I’d rather have the government do stupid things that can be repealed than have government do nothing while others do evil things. Ideally, I’d rather have government do nothing while we all do the right thing.
As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
First, government must be enabled to control the governed. It must not give up that responsibility.

She’s In: Warren Goes for 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted a video announcing the kickoff of her 2020 presidential campaign. Actually she only formed an exploratory committee, but aside from her ancestors’ DNA, what is there to explore? She’s in.
Warren tweeted: “Every person in America should be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules, & take care of themselves & the people they love. That’s what I’m fighting for, & that’s why I’m launching an exploratory committee for president.”
Commence now the public stoning by President Trump. He will be merciless, but Warren doesn’t care. She raised $34.7 million in her Senate run, of which she has $12.5 million on hand. This announcement has little to do with going after Trump, though surely she will. It has to do with being first in line for the endless buffet of handouts and political donations from liberal causes.
To beat Trump, Democrats are going to have to pony up at least a billion dollars, and that doesn’t include the primaries. Warren may not make it very far given her multiple self-owns dealing with her DNA and claims of Native American ancestry, which have been widely derided.
Someone had to test the waters, and either the midnight coven of Democrats threw chicken bones and decided it was her, or she on her own accord threw herself into the swirling maw a few months early. Testing how the base and donors react is a worthy endeavor.
But only by the farthest stretch of anyone’s imagination would Warren actually become the nominee, or (try not to lol) win.
While the mainstream media will be kind to her, even the Washington Post offered a bit of an eye-roll.
But recent events have illustrated some of her potential weaknesses. In a liberal state, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) got more votes than she did in November, and a recent survey in Massachusetts had her trailing former vice president Joe Biden and Sanders in a hypothetical 2020 matchup. A recent poll of likely caucusgoers in Iowa had her in fourth place at 8 percent, trailing Biden, Sanders and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.).
Of that list, only Biden has won the last election in which he ran. Trailing Sanders, after he was steamrolled by the Clinton machine, and O’Rourke, who has won precisely nothing, is a very bad omen.
If her friends are tilting their heads and smirking, a quick perusal of Twitter uncovers a pot full of mockery by conservatives.
And my favorite, pre-empting the God-forsaken thought that anyone should be nostalgic for Hillary:
Someone had to be first, and we should all thank Sen. Warren for her commitment to becoming the first to attain irrelevance in the 2020 race.

2018: Disruption and Destruction

Ten years ago, there were exactly zero jobs available with the title of “crypto-currency trader,” “ride-share driver,” “social media manager,” or “influencer.” The only drone operators existed in various militaries, a “data scientist” was likely working in the basement of a lab in a university versus in a Brooklyn-based political headquarters, and “app developer” was what hackers did in their parents’ basement.
The inflection point ten years ago was the movement of high-powered computing from the desktop and the laptop to the handheld smartphone. Just about all of the jobs (with the exception of Bitcoin mining) that make for good careers or side hustles today flowed from that waterfall of technological disruption.
In 2016, the inflection point was not technological, but social. It was not worked out by millions (billions, worldwide) of people suddenly thrust into 24/7 media overload and social connection with the whole world, but rather by the amplification of collective political will into a political upheaval resulting in the current era of politics as entertainment, and entertainment as a social moral force.
In 2016, we expected the political fire for what the old order considered the least likely presidential candidate to win, to either spectacularly explode and die, or to simply dwindle and snuff out. It did not happen.
We expected, in 2017, the stock market to respond to Trump’s win in unison and with severe disapproval. It did not. We expected either clear evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia, or of the “deep state’s” effort to unseat Trump, to emerge. Neither has happened.
In 2018, we expected that some of these story lines left hanging since 2016 would begin to resolve, and over time, we’ve seen the fruit of that disruption. In many cases, that fruit is destruction.
The trends that drove politics going in to 2016 still exist, but the disruption that brought them has morphed into an inflection point where the lines between politics, entertainment, mob action, and punditry have faded into a swampy miasma. For example, there no longer needs to be a revolving door between the media and the White House as there was in the Obama administration, because Fox & Friends has become the braintrust of the Trump White House.
Twitter has replaced the entire White House communications office, though the latter exists as a mere appendage–a vestigial organ with no useful purpose–in the daily ebb and flow of political and entertainment dialogue.
Trump’s tweets are as entertaining as they are responsive or leading in the political sense. And the media’s response to them, and to the clown show of White House press conferences, has become both hilarious and mordant at the same time. The result is a sad public show of destruction of the old ways without replacing them with trustworthy structures.
These trends have not come upon us unaware. In 2016, I cited Matthew Ingram, who wrote in 2013, [New York Times columnist Frank Bruni] “admits some may see the decline of the journalistic sector as a good thing, given the level of mistrust many have in the media — which he blames on “our cynicism, superficiality… and tendency to see all politics in terms of the contest rather than the content.”
The media has become, for one side or the other, an activist organism rather than a fact-reporting organ. That the Fourth Estate should be worried about its relevance post disruption is appropriate, but their blaming of Trump himself for their fate is misplaced and blind.
So we have the rather ridiculous pageant this New Year’s of the Time Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment naming the Committee to Protect Journalists as the honoree for the 2019 ball drop festivities.
“On New Year’s Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement. “This year, we’re celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it.”
The titular reason for this move is the savage murder of Washington Post columnist James Khashoggi by the Saudi royal family inside their embassy in Istanbul. They act as if Donald Trump assented to the killing, though his reaction to it could scarcely have been poorer.
What they really don’t like is that Trump uses the media as his foil, because that’s what Trump has done as a private businessman for the last 40 years. He calls them the “enemy of the people,” and accuses them of “fake news” and they bristle at the terms as if they deserve better.
In fact, the media is not suffering as much from Trump’s tweets or words, or from some nefarious physical assault on the press (Cuba, Iran, Russia or China pose a serious threat to journalists; the United States does not), as it is from its own irrelevance to the social movements of the day.
People get their facts from the mainstream media, as well as from Facebook, from the water cooler at work, from Twitter, from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, from NPR, and some get theirs from Mother Jones, the SPLC, or Prison Planet.
The left-leaning mainstream media is far more consumed with the “danger” of right-wing activist media and organizations (with the Washington Post even accusing the NRA of “threatening journalists“), than they are with their own bias, and failure to properly and transparently police their own retractions, repeated leaks and spoon-fed blockbusters that turned out to be wholly fabricated by “unnamed sources.”
Their need for relevance is driving their reaction to Trump’s baiting and trolling. Instead of proving they are not the “enemy of the people” (which they aren’t), they get angry at not being treated with the proper respect they feel they are due.
This is the biggest destruction of the past two years. The mainstream media’s relevance as a dominant newsmaker and source of social activism has been effectively destroyed. They are like Bruce Willis’s character in “The Sixth Sense,” walking around like they are living but not yet aware of their coming awakening to reality.
I said all of that to say this. Trump has not destroyed the presidency. He has damaged it, but not more than Richard Nixon, or Bill Clinton, and certainly not beyond repair. Trump rode the wave of disruption in 2016 that was coming no matter who ended up in the White House. His win simply accelerated the pace of disruption, and the destruction in its wake.
However, my main point is in the form of a prediction. In 2007, DOS-based software developer positions still existed. Today they do not (in any reasonable sense at least). In 2016, people like Robby Mook thought they were the future of politics. In 2018, Robby Mook, now at CNN, is the equivalent of a DOS-based software developer.
In 10 years, we will have many jobs that don’t exist today (don’t ask me what they are; I don’t know). But I’m confident that the job of political campaign manager will no longer exist in the context we have today. I think we’ll see it more in the form of a celebrity business manager, or an agent, or a personal representative.
The traditional media buyers and data modelers who have preyed upon parties and candidates will be swept away and consolidated into the Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world. This data will be available to anyone and sold dispassionately by firms to whoever has green money.
Meanwhile, the media and social footprint of the real social giants like Planned Parenthood, teachers unions, and liberal billionaires funding activist organizations on the left, and the right’s own billionaires, televangelists, and corporate cronies will rule the space where campaigns once thrived.
Candidates will become figureheads of celebrity and fame, which will be the true measure of popularity. Don’t act like this never happened before, because it has. In 1960, Richard Nixon sweated on camera and appeared shadowed and disheveled versus John F. Kennedy’s suave telegenic youthfulness in the first televised presidential debate.
Don’t try to tell me that Kennedy won because of his policies. Politics has always been at least 50% show. Now it’s closer to 90% show. Disruption happens, and death of old industries and orders of part of the package. In 2018, the mainstream media had its fate sealed.
It doesn’t matter whether Trump wins or loses in 2020. The mainstream media and old political order has already been dealt its card: it reads “destruction.”

Democrats Say They Will Refuse To Seat NC Republican Linked To Voter Fraud

Earlier this month The Resurgent described the case of the North Carolina ninth congressional district where the election of Republican Mark Harris has still not been certified. An investigation found a suspicious pattern in absentee votes for Harris and prompted the board to delay certification of the election results. On Friday, the board disbanded without certifying the election despite a last-minute petition by the Harris campaign. The dissolution of the board leaves the outcome of the election in uncertainty, but incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says that the House will not seat Harris.

In an interview on MSNBC Friday, Hoyer said, “I simply said if Mr. Harris is not certified as the duly, fairly, legally elected member, we would certainly oppose his seating. And as I understand it, that verification has not come. In fact, Republican leaders in North Carolina have said that there is substantial question as to the validity of the outcome of the general election. That’s in court now as you know.”

“We’ll see what the court does, but it is clear apparently from all sides that there was fraud committed by certain participants in the administration of the election,” Hoyer continued. “Under those circumstances, we ought to have a new election for the general election, not the primary. The primary was not contested, but for the general election.”

If the House refuses to seat Harris, then a new election will be held in the district. New elections would include new primaries the Republican and Democratic nominations as well as the Libertarian Party which also fielded a candidate.

Why The Wall Is Not The Solution To Illegal Immigration

Donald Trump’s wall has been a centerpiece of Republican immigration policy since 2015. The bruising fight over wall funding led the current government shutdown that, at this point, is certain to last into the new year. Aside from funding, however, there is another big problem with the wall: It won’t do what it is intended to do.

The idea of the wall is established on the premise that a physical barrier running the entire length of the US-Mexico border is the only way to prevent illegal immigration. The total length of the US-Mexico border is 1,989 miles (3,201 km) and the sheer length of the border would make the construction of a wall along the southern border a massive undertaking.

Still, a wall of that length is not impossible to build. China’s Great Wall is 5,500 miles (8,850 km) long. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Great Wall is not entirely composed of the wide stone walls that we know from pictures. While about 3,900 miles are constructed wall sections, there are also 225 miles of trenches, and 1,400 miles of natural barriers such as hills and rivers.

Natural barriers are also present along the southern US border. While many Americans picture the Mexican border as a flat, desert wasteland, in reality, there are many different types of terrain. As pictured in an interactive map from USA Today, the border geography ranges from urban areas in places like San Diego and Laredo to the sheer rock cliffs of Texas’ Big Bend to coastal marshes and salt flats along the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville, Texas.

One of the largest obstacles to the construction of a wall is that 1,260 miles of the border are defined by the Rio Grande. The entire border between Texas and Mexico is defined by this river, which in many places is shallow enough to walk across. At its deepest point, the Rio Grande is only 60 feet deep and at times the river is a mere trickle if there is a surface flow at all.

Walling up the Rio Grande may be possible from an engineering standpoint, but the river raises a different sort of problem in Texas. In the arid regions of south and west Texas, ranchers depend on the Rio Grande to water both crops and cattle. If the wall is erected on the northern side of the river, it would be equivalent to ceding the region’s primary water supply to Mexico. The Mexicans would most likely not cooperate with placing the wall on the southern side and a wall built in the center of the river would not only be structurally unsound but could alter the course of the river, a violation of treaties with Mexico.

At present, many plans for the border wall in Texas would be set back from the Rio Grande. The problem here is that it would not keep people from crossing the border illegally. It would only impede them in moving from the border region to the interior of the country. Such a wall would be more effective against smugglers than refugees seeking amnesty, who would easily cross onto US soil. It would also be a major inconvenience for American citizens who live or own property south of the wall.

Because much of the border land in Texas is privately owned, the federal government has had to use eminent domain laws to condemn and seize land where it plans to build the wall in Texas. After passage of the after the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Noel Benavides of Roma, Texas lost a swath of land that had been in his family since 1767 to a wall that has yet to be built across his property.

Wall-building would also be difficult in the desolate areas of west Texas. The southwestern United States contains rocky mountains and sheer cliffs that are reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote cartoons. This terrain is ill-suited to construction but is passable to determined travelers.

Even after the wall is built, the need for maintenance would be constant. Earthquakes, rock slides, floods, erosion, corrosion, and, of course, vandalism could cause damage to sections of the wall. The structure would have to be constantly monitored and repaired.

Would the wall be worth the time, trouble, and treasure that it would take to build and maintain it?

There are already about 650 miles of border fence along the borders of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The current fencing consists of a mix of vehicle barriers and pedestrian fencing that vary in height, construction, quality, and condition.

While the wall is a centuries-old technology, the current fencing has shown that the concept can be defeated by other old technologies such as ladders, ramps, and tunnels. A 2010 viral video showed two young women scaling a border fence unaided by ladders or climbing gear in 18 seconds.  Last November, we witnessed members of the migrant caravan climbing the fence near Tijuana. In 2012, a smuggler’s SUV got stuck crossing the border fence with the aid of ramps. It is uncertain how many similar attempts were not detected. More recently a plethora of smuggling tunnels underneath the border has been found in areas where there are physical barriers above the surface.

The bottom line is that a border wall is no panacea. While the wall might make it more difficult or costly to cross the border, smugglers and illegal immigrants will find a way unless they are physically stopped by Border Patrol agents.

Even though a wall backed up by sensors and Border Patrol agents would be at least partially effective, the immense investment in time and money would leave open another route for illegal immigrants. The Center for Migration Studies reports that visitors who enter the US legally and then overstay visas have exceeded those crossing the border illegally every year since 2007. By 2014, two-thirds of new illegals were visa overstays.

The bottom line is that assuming that a wall is feasible to build at all in areas that have not already been fenced, it will be much more difficult and expensive and much less effective than Republicans generally assume. If the fight to build it is ever won, the wall will still require a significant Border Patrol presence as well as constant maintenance. Even then, the wall would do nothing to prevent visa overstays, a larger source of illegal immigrants than the southern border.

H.L. Mencken famously said, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” As conservatives, we should look beyond simplistic and emotional arguments to determine the facts before spending untold billions of dollars. Those facts tell us that a wall is not the best solution to the problem of illegal immigration. Fencing is appropriate for some areas but doesn’t make sense for the entirety of the border. Wall funding is almost certainly the wrong hill to die on, especially since most polls show that a majority of Americans oppose the wall.

The inability to control the border isn’t a problem unique to the southern United States. Walls didn’t work well for the Chinese either. The Great Wall didn’t prevent its defenders from being overrun on multiple occasions. No less than four times the Xiongnu, the Jurchens, the Mongols, and the Manchus pierced the defensive barrier.

Guess Which Abortion Provider Is Still Being Funded During the Shutdown

The government shutdown has reached the one-week mark and there has been much discussion of what services are not available and which government workers are not getting paid, but one organization has been overlooked. Despite years of Republican efforts aimed at defunding the abortion provider, even shutting down nonessential government services doesn’t appear to have cut off the group from its government money.

The reason that Planned Parenthood continues to get federal checks when air traffic controllers, park rangers, and members of the Coast Guard do not is that most of Planned Parenthood’s federal money comes through the Medicaid program. As with most of the federal entitlement programs, Medicaid money continues to flow during the shutdown. Kaiser Health News reports that Medicare and Medicaid are already funded through the second quarter. That would take the health programs through the end of March.

There are some aspects of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding that could be interrupted by the shutdown. In addition to Medicaid, the group is a major recipient of Title X family planning grants. According to the group’s website, Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million of the approximately 4 million Title X patients. The Title X grants make up about 19 percent of revenue for participating clinics. These grants could quickly expire in a protracted shutdown.

Defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t the goal of the current government shutdown, but it would have been a nice added benefit, especially since Democrats don’t seem any more inclined to deal on the wall than they were a week ago. However, even if all federal money dried up, it wouldn’t totally bankrupt the group. Planned Parenthood gets about a third of its funding from the government and the rest from private donations.

For years now, Republicans have embraced a number of quixotic goals such as defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and building a border wall. They have also embraced government shutdowns as a tactic in achieving several of these goals. Obamacare survived a shutdown in 2013 that also left Planned Parenthood funding intact. This year it appears that the wall will not be funded but that Planned Parenthood will.

Perhaps it is time for Republicans to find a new strategy.

What If They Shut Down The Government And No One Cared?

As the government shutdown stretches toward a week with no end in sight, most Americans seem unaffected and possibly even unaware that nonessential government services are shut down. Unlike previous shutdowns, there is little media coverage of closed parks and offices or furloughed federal workers. Even more odd, there seems to be little interest from either side in reaching an agreement to reopen the government.

The shutdown officially began at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21 and negotiations stalled almost immediately as members of Congress left on their Christmas break. Both Houses are reconvening today, but the two parties seem further apart on an agreement than they were last week, chiefly because President Trump is insisting on the apparently arbitrary number of $5 billion for wall funding.

Rather than working towards a deal, the two sides are pointing fingers at each other. Democrat leaders accuse President Trump of using “scare tactics” in attempt to build support for his pet wall project while the president tweeted, “The Democrats now own the shutdown” shortly after talks in Congress failed on Dec. 21 and said, “Nancy is calling the shots” on Dec. 26.

The president’s accusations that Democrats are to blame stand in stark contrast to his statements a few weeks ago. In a televised brouhaha with Pelosi and Schumer earlier this month, Trump boasted, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”

In fact, the evidence points towards Trump being responsible for the shutdown. The Senate passed a compromise temporary spending bill that would have funded the government until Feb. 8, but the House responded with its own bill that included money for the wall. The House bill could not win cloture in the Senate and President Trump refused to sign any bill without wall funding, threatening to veto the Senate compromise. Republicans in both chambers have said that there will be no more votes until there is an overall agreement that the president will sign.

“I’ve made my position very clear: Any measure that funds the government must include border security,” Trump said last week.

Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security that does not include funding for the wall. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall.

At this point, neither side seems to have any incentive to give in. If the shutdown extends into the next Congress, which convenes at noon on Jan. 3, the new Democrat majority in the House will give them a stronger bargaining position. On the other hand, Trump knows that if he ends the current shutdown without wall funding, he is extremely unlikely to receive the money next year from the Democrat-controlled House.

Through all the political theater, Americans have collectively yawned and turned back toward their holiday celebrations. The shutdown has not affected air travel during the busy holiday season and the Post Office, which is independent of the federal government and funded by revenue from its services, has stayed open to deliver packages and Christmas cards. The topsy-turvy stock market and President Trump’s post-Christmas trip to Iraq have also provided distractions.

The shutdown has primarily affected nonessential federal employees and contractors. Military personnel – with the notable exception of the Coast Guard – continue to get paid during the shutdown. Some federal workers such as air traffic controllers are expected to work without getting paid during the shutdown. National parks may be technically open but without most of the members of their staffs.

A sign at the entrance to the Antietam National Battlefield warned visitors, “Park visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter a (National Park Service) property, as NPS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response. Any entry onto NPS property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

Even if people at home don’t care about the shutdown, the Stars and Stripes pointed out that it has far-reaching effects around the world. The US government employs people around the world. Like American federal employees, essential workers will probably get back pay when the shutdown ends, but other nonessential employees and contractors may not. US government services such as the US Geological Survey are not operating due to the shutdown. This meant that the respected agency could not provide data on the recent Indonesian tsunami. The shutdown also means that embassies are not providing many services to Americans and others abroad. One of the biggest effects of the shutdown is the loss of prestige to the US constitutional system.

Contrary to popular belief, government shutdowns don’t save taxpayer money. Shutdowns are more expensive than keeping the government open. Revenue from museums and parks is lost and federal employees spend thousands of hours preparing for shutdowns and then reopening the government. This work includes shutting down systems and securing facilities that will be unmanned. Most workers receive back pay when the government reopens even if they were furloughed and told to stay home during the shutdown. The added cost of shutting down the government typically adds up to tens of millions of dollars per day.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the government shutdown is how much of the federal government is not subject to congressional appropriations. The largest part of federal spending, which includes most military spending and entitlements, is essentially on autopilot.

President Trump said on Wednesday that the shutdown would last as long it took to secure funding for the wall, telling reporters in Iraq, “Whatever it takes, we’re going to have a wall, we’re going to have safety. We need safety for our country.”

But as I wrote earlier this month, there is no clear path to victory in the shutdown strategy. Getting wall funding is contingent on getting a bill past the Democrat filibuster in the Senate. So far, there are no signs that any Senate Democrats are about to break ranks and vote for cloture on the president’s bill. That means that there is no end in sight for the shutdown.