Might the last gasp chance to save the country come in the House of Representatives?

It looks like a contested convention will not save the country from having pathological liar and narcissist Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee facing corrupt and indictable Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But Thomas Sowell reminds us there is one last hope to hang our hats on.

Sowell writes:

What was once feared most by the Republican establishment — a third party candidate for President — may represent the only slim chance for saving this country from a catastrophic administration in an age of proliferating nuclear weapons.

If a third party candidate could divide the vote enough to prevent anyone from getting an electoral college majority, that would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where any semblance of sanity could produce a better president than these two.

Yes, in 1801 the House chose Thomas Jefferson as president on the 36th ballot after he and his running mate Aaron Burr tied in Electoral College votes, and in 1825 no one won a majority of Electoral College votes so the the House named second-place finisher John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson.

 

Wisconsin may provide a peek into GOP future

Wisconsin voters turn out today to select presidential nominees for each party. The GOP race is being closely watched as a make or break for both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, though John Kasich is still in as a spoiler. There are 42 delegates at stake.

Trump currently has 737 delegates, but Cruz, Kasich and Marco Rubio have a combined 789.

Some polls, posted by Real Clear Politics, show Cruz winning Wisconsin and some Trump:

Wisconsingop

By most news accounts Trump has had a rough week. His campaign had to walk back his statement that women who get illegal abortions should be punished, and he then suggested Japan South Korea should have nukes to defend themselves.

How quickly will voters catch on to Trump’s shoot-from-the-lip lack of seriousness and outright laziness in failing to even try to be prepared to answer simply questions?

Thomas Sowell concludes in IBD today:

Instead of offering coherent plans for dealing with the nation’s problems, Trump skips that and boasts of the great things he will achieve. Those who dare to question are answered with cheap put-downs, often at a gutter level.

A man in his 60s, who is still acting like a spoiled adolescent, is not going to grow up in the next four years. And, as president, he would have the lives of us all, and our loved ones, in his hands, as well as the fate of this great nation at a fateful time.

There are signs that some people are belatedly waking up to the dangers that Donald Trump represents. We can only hope that the voters in Wisconsin are among them — and that voters in New York, California and elsewhere wake up before it is too late.

But some polls show Trump with a majority in New York.

Turn out the lights the party’s over, they say that all good things must end

Trump campaigning in Alabama, but I think the fascists used to salute with the right arm. (WireImage via WSJ)

It’s all over but the crying.

On the dawn of Super Tuesday, real conservatives voices are raised in loud lament.

Thomas Sowell says it is time for at least one of the remaining electable Republican candidates in a General Election to throw himself on the Trump grenade.

“Everyone understands that the best chance for stopping Trump is for that fractured majority vote to consolidate behind one candidate opposed to him. But who will step aside for the good of the country?” Sowell asks.

“When we think of American military heroes who have fallen on enemy hand grenades to save those around them, at the cost of their own lives, is it really too much to ask candidates — especially those who present themselves as patriots — to give up their one political chance in a zillion this year for the sake of the country?”

His pleas are probably too little too late, just as George Will says of Marco Rubio’s new-found aggressiveness toward Donald Trump.

Will points out:

Unfortunately, Rubio recognized reality and found his voice 254 days after Trump’s scabrous announcement of his candidacy to rescue America from Mexican rapists. And 222 days after Trump disparaged John McCain’s war service (“I like people that weren’t captured”).

And 95 days after Trump said that maybe a protester at his rally “should have been roughed up.” And 95 days after Trump retweeted that 81% of white murder victims are killed by blacks. (Eighty-two percent are killed by whites.)

And 94 days after Trump said he supports torture “even if it doesn’t work.” And 79 days after Trump said that he might have approved the internment of Japanese-Americans during World II.

And 72 days after Trump proved that he does not know the nuclear triad from the Nutcracker ballet. And 70 days after Trump, having been praised by Vladimir Putin, reciprocated by praising the Russian murderer and dictator. And so on.

Rubio’s epiphany — announcing the obvious with a sense of triumphant discovery — about Trump being a “con man” and a “clown act” is better eight months late than never. If, however, it is too late to rescue Rubio from a Trump nomination, this will be condign punishment for him and the rest of the Republican Party’s coalition of the timid.

Bret Stephens seems to get that there may be nothing to stop the bigoted, politically rudderless and unhinged Trump who in recent days has endorsed “Bush lied; people died,” embraced a Mussolini aphorism, refused to release his “beautiful” tax returns for several difference reasons, waffled on disavowing an endorsement by onetime Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, as well as calling for “opening up” libel laws to make it easier to sue anyone who hurts his feeling. (Will compared this to the Sedition Act of 1798.)

Mussolini

“None of this seems to have made the slightest dent in Mr. Trump’s popularity,” Stephens concludes.

A couple of Stanford professors writing in The Wall Street Journal observe that Trump’s classless bombast has tarred everybody in the GOP. Polls show the number of people who would never vote for any given Republican on the ballot keep going up, but not so for the two Democrats.

“Democrats are having a vigorous campaign that, so far, hasn’t undermined their candidates’ chances in the fall. Meanwhile, Republicans have been destroying each other,” they write.

Will’s lede paragraph is a classic jibe but a futile gesture, I fear: “Donald Trump’s distinctive rhetorical style — think of a drunk with a bullhorn reading aloud James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” under water — poses an almost insuperable challenge to people whose painful duty is to try to extract clarity from his effusions.”

A Trump nomination, which is likely to be wrapped up today, will destroy the GOP. After the state primary in Nevada, in which we get to pick the lesser of assorted evils for U.S. Senate, House and state offices, I may switch to the Libertarian Party. Talk about futile gestures.

I can remember when Willie looked like this:

Editorial: Let the free market ‘invisible hand’ distribute water

As Ronald Reagan once said: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Those words came unbidden to mind when a gaggle of government satraps gathered in Carson City to discuss how best to dole out water during this drought.

The drought forum was set up by Gov. Brian Sandoval, who asked its participants to recommend how to deal with the ongoing water shortage.

The most frightening thing reported out of the session was talk about changing the state’s water law.

“I think ultimately water rights management has to evolve from the strict prior appropriation to more of a paradigm of shared risk,” John Entsminger, general manager of Southern Nevada Water Authority, was quoted as saying.

The first Nevada water law was passed in 1866 and recognized the vital role mining was playing in the state’s economic growth. Though all water within the state is subject to state regulations and controls, the law recognizes the basic principles of prior appropriation and beneficial use.

First in time is first in right.

But then those with the rights must use it or lose it. The holders of those rights may not speculate in water rights or hold on to water rights they do not put to beneficial use in a timely manner. “If they stop using the water, they will lose the water right,” the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources explains.

But water is a property right, and as such it may be bought and sold.

At the drought confab, according to press accounts, some questioned this concept and asked whether giving water right holders access to water at the expense of others in times of drought benefits the public good — whatever that means.

There appeared to be a sentiment for treating water as a communal commodity to be distributed by some government agency — to each according to their needs?

But just as water seeks its own level, so too free markets seek and find the fairest and lowest price and widest distribution for any commodity.

Murray Rothbard, one-time UNLV professor of economics, once wrote: “If the government wants to conserve water and lessen its use, all it need do is raise the price. It doesn’t have to order an end to this or that use, set priorities, or decide who should be allowed to drink more than three glasses a day. All it has to do is clear the market, and let people conserve each in his own way and at his own pace.

“In the longer run, what the government should do is privatize the water supply, and let water be supplied, like oil or Pepsi-Cola, by private firms trying to make a profit and to satisfy and court consumers, and not to gain power by making them suffer.”

This was echoed by newspaper columnist and economist Thomas Sowell in his book “Basic Economics”: “There is no need for government officials to decide arbitrarily — and categorically — whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for particular crops to be grown in California with water artificially supplied below cost from federal irrigation projects. Such questions can be decided incrementally, by those directly confronting the alternatives, through price competition in a free market.”

Creating a free market for water would encourage innovation and efficiency, allowing water to flow from low-value uses to high-value uses while providing both parties of the transaction a profit.

Public officials should resist the urge to “manage” the water supply and permit the free market to apply its “invisible hand.”

A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Ignorance may be bliss, but it cannot prevent the inevitable collapse

An actual ad encouraging young adults to get health insurance. (doyougotinsurance.com)

How in the world can anyone expect that a majority of an increasingly degenerate people accustomed to the “right” to vote should ever voluntarily renounce the opportunity of looting other people’s property? Put this way, one must admit that the prospect of a social revolution must indeed be regarded as virtually nil. Rather, it is only on second thought, upon regarding secession as an integral part of any bottom-up strategy, that the task of a liberal-libertarian revolution appears less than impossible, even if it still remains a daunting one. — Former UNLV economics professor Hans-Herman Hoppe, “Democracy: The God That Failed

Thomas Sowell questions why so many uninformed but potential voters seem willing, after six years of domestic and international disasters coming from Washington, “under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor” — Donald Trump to be specific.

Sowell concludes in his Inverstor’s Business Daily op-ed that the problem lies in the voters themselves. “All too many signs point to an electorate including many people who are grossly uninformed or, worse yet, misinformed,” he writes. “The very fact that the voting age was lowered to 18 shows the triumph of the vision of elections as participatory rituals, rather than times for fateful choices. If anything, the age might have been raised to 30, since today millions of people in their 20s have never even had the responsibility of being self-supporting, to give them some sense of reality.”

Which brings us to the central planners who are trying to tap that youthful contingent to support ObamaCare.

As David Hebert notes in an IBD piece today the viability of ObamaCare hinges on the unemployable subsidizing the uninsurable.

Numbers don’t work, but no one can do the math. Hebert points out that the projected 35 million enrollees is really only 16.2 million. For the program to be sustainable 40 percent of the enrollees need to be healthy people between the ages of 18 and 34, who incur lower costs. But his age group makes up only 24 percent of enrollees and has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

This amounts to redistribution from the younger to the older. But since the younger people aren’t signing up, the premium rates keep climbing and the ObamaCare co-ops, despite being buoyed by federal grants and loans, are failing.

But younger folks don’t see it. According to a recent survey, voters 18 to 34 in age favor ObamaCare by 52 to 41 percent. “And they are indeed alone in that evaluation. Seniors, the main group that actually uses rather than simply theorizes about health care, strongly oppose it by 65 to 31 percent – more than 2-to-1 in several polls – and all adults over 50 oppose ObamaCare almost as strongly, by 57 to 37 percent,” according to Forbes article.

At least before the obvious economic failure of Eastern European socialism, it was widely thought by such rationalists that a centrally planned economy would deliver not only `social justice’ (see chapter seven below), but also a more efficient use of economic resources. This notion appears eminently sensible at first glance. But it proves to overlook the facts just reviewed: that the totality of resources that one could employ in such a plan is simply not knowable to anybody, and therefore can hardly be centrally controlled. — F.A. Hayek, “The Fatal Conceit

Never let the facts get in the way of a good riot

“But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.  Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion. I don’t think that’s the norm. I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials. But these are real issues.  And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress.  And that can be done.”  — Obama after Ferguson grand jury decision

Never let the facts get in the way of your feelings.

Thomas Sowell’s column today takes apart the presidential and media sympathy for those who would burn, loot and trash their own communities in the name of a lie. Grand juries study facts and make decisions based on facts. Mobs and their sympathizers are quite willing to embrace lies, such as holding their hands in the air and chanting, “Don’t shoot.”

“What matters today is how well you can concoct a story that fits people’s preconceptions and arouses their emotions,” Sowell explains. “Politicians like New York mayor Bill de Blasio, professional demagogues like Al Sharpton, and innumerable irresponsible people in the media have shown that they have great talent in promoting a lynch-mob atmosphere toward the police.”

Grand juries studied the facts in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and found no reason to indict. But mobs would rather rampage based on their “feelings.” A jury acquitted Trayvon Martin’s shooter after a special prosecutor indicted.

Fact: Michael Brown was not shot in the back. Fact: Brown did not have his hands in the air. Fact: Brown was inside the police officer’s car and tried to grab his gun, which was fired twice during the struggle. Fact: Brown was shown in video committing a strong-arm robbery.

Another fact: The officer who shot Brown in self defense has resigned for fear of his life and those of this family.

“The black witnesses in Missouri, whose testimony confirmed what the police officer said, expressed fears for their own safety for telling what the physical evidence showed was the truth,” Sowell noted. They are afraid of being attacked for telling the truth.

The president and the media and others should stop fomenting false scenarios about gun-happy cops, which have resulted in two New York officers being assassinated and others being targeted. There are consequences. Police are being attacked for just doing their jobs, just like those cleared by the grand juries.

“No peace” is what we get whether there has been justice or not, because feelings and emotions are more important than facts to far too many.

 

Protesters in Washington. (Getty Images)

Water grab: The laws of economics trump the state and federal lawful approval

The state engineer and the BLM may have both given the Southern Nevada Water Authority a green light to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties, but that doesn’t make the project economically feasible — and it isn’t.

While various coalitions, alliances, do-gooders, sage huggers, animal lovers and assorted rural politicians greeted the approval news with apoplexy, Eureka Republican state Sen.-elect Pete Goicoechea explained why the pipeline probably never will be built: “Spending $15 billion for 84,000 acre-feet of water is not cost-effective,” he said. “The project is not economically feasible …”

Yes, you can give your grandson permission to fly from the roof of the barn, but the laws of physics dictate that, if he tries, he’ll crash. Likewise, economics dictate the rural water grab is a pipe dream, as explained in this week’s newspaper column available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Groundwater permits were first sought in 1989 to ensure a continued water supply for the rapidly growing Las Vegas metropolitan area and to supplement drought-prone Lake Mead, from which the valley now gets 90 percent of its water.

But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the spigot.

The housing market in Las Vegas incinerated. Property values plummeted by half and home foreclosures and business closures and unemployment rates were the highest in the nation as the recession hit.

In fact, according to water authority records, the system’s water use fell by more than 44,600 acre-feet between 2007 and 2012.

One study for the water authority projects costs for the rural water importation project would in most years over the next decade exceed $2,000 an acre-foot. This is while Colorado River water has in recent years been sold to farmers in California and Arizona for less than $20 an acre-foot. That same study estimates water rates in Las Vegas would triple if the groundwater is tapped and piped south. Imagine what would happen to water consumption if that happened. Some of the member districts of the authority are already trying to figure out how to increase rates because they aren’t selling enough water to cover expenses.

The 44,600 acre-feet already saved in five years is more than half way to the 84,000 acre-feet of rural groundwater. All that’s needed is a bit more conservation.

But the real solution is to allow water rights to be bought and sold in a free market like any other commodity.

Economist Thomas Sowell explains in his book “Basic Economics”: “There is no need for government officials to decide arbitrarily – and categorically – whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for particular crops to be grown in California with water artificially supplied below cost from federal irrigation projects. Such questions can be decided incrementally, by those directly confronting the alternatives, through price competition in a free market.”

Read the entire column at Ely or Elko website.