John Ransom
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Holly Wrote: Why not also name all the other presidents who used this program?- Rand Paul Versus Barack Obama

Dear Comrade Holly,

I’m not sure if you’re asking me why I don’t name them in my column or if you are asking Rand Paul why he doesn’t name them in the lawsuit.

In either case, the answer is the same: The only president who actually can be forced to do something about it now is the president who sits in the Oval Office.

This isn’t a punitive suit seeking damages from the presidents for civil right violations. It’s as suit questioning the constitutionality of section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Or is your question just another form of "Bush did it too"?

Seriously: There are so many things that Obama does that "Bush did it too" I'm surprised that the Democrat Party hasn't started a fan page for Bush on Facebook.

I'm not sure how Democrats tell the two apart.

David3036 wrote: There is an important lesson here in how Townhall.com writers often distort facts or leave out relevant information in order to appeal to the most conservative readers. Sometimes you have to go to another source to balance the Townhall view. Ransom writes, "They did it because they're poor.” He also doesn't tell you that the couple is raising seven other children -- two related by blood and five special needs kids that they fostered and then adopted. If they were in it for the money, they could have continued receiving the foster-care funding and not adopted them.

Sperm, Craigslist, Lesbians, and Welfare; What Could Go Wrong?

Dear Comrade 3036,

This is the story where the Kansas court found a sperm donor liable for child support after two lesbians who had the kid applied for welfare benefits to support him.

I also left out the part where the two lesbians had been separated for over a year. I left it out because the original AP story said the impetus for the claim was that one of the parties became unemployed.

In fact, none of the parties have acted responsibly in this matter.

You don’t adopt eight kids, then use a sperm donor to get knocked up and then break up and leave the state to clean things up.

And as for the guy, the "donor": It’s like my granny used to tell me on her knee: “Johnny,” she used to say, “there are many things to avoid in this world. But the one absolute is: don’t spread your sperm around. Neither for love or money.”

And as much as any man can, I’ve tried to live by those words.

DoctorRoy wrote: I agree. But the real test for the Republicans is would they back this if there was a GOP President in office? I'm a little skeptical. Rand Paul Versus Barack Obama

Dear Comrade Doctor,

Gee, you skeptical?

I call it delusional.

If Barack Obama snorted cocaine on live TV during the State of the Union you’d say: “Bush did it too.”

You don’t have to worry about woulda, coulda, shoulda.

All you have to do is support what you know is right, right now.

Jokamura wrote: Conservatives like to throw the word morality around a lot, but when they do, it is only in certain cases, while ignoring the immorality of other acts. When are was the morally right thing to do? Is using a drone to drop bombs on peoples head, because you believe they are bad guys, the morally right thing to do? What happens when that bomb kills others around the target, is that morally right? Is the death penalty the morally right thing to do? Is preventing people who try to enter this country illegally, seeking to live a better life, the morally right thing to do? Rand Paul Versus Barack Obama

Dear Comrade Joker,

I didn’t throw around the word “morality.”

I observed that institutions don’t have the capacity to be moral.

Only people do.

And that’s why it’s dangerous to invest institutions like the NSA with broad powers; or the CIA with the power to use drones to kill people.

Obama has expanded the use of drones, by the way, and as a result our relations with Pakistan have never been worse.

I have grave reservations about the use of the death penalty but I can assure you that they disappear with the certainty that the people who committed the crimes are actually guilty.

Ted Bundy- death penalty. Jeffery Dahlmer- death penalty.

I have no moral qualms about that.

Nor do I have moral qualms about the use of war powers to secure U.S. security or the security of any other peoples that are important to our national interests.

There was death and destruction going on in Iraq long before we invaded; there has been death and destruction long since we left.

Iraq’s one chance to have a rational world was the USA.

They blew it. We did not.

DoctorRoy wrote: Sorry off topic. But since Ransom covered the NFL I wonder if he ever saw this. This is a first as far as I can recall. I don't ever remember a potential pick threatening a team with revenge if they don't draft him.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/14/johnny-manziel-wants-first-overall-pick_n_4790896.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing18%7Cdl4%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D443192

Rand Paul Versus Barack Obama

Dear Comrade Doctor,

No, but I remember John Elway saying he wouldn’t play for the Colts if they drafted him. And that is one of the reasons why the Colts left for Indianapolis, which subsequently drafted Peyton Manning, and then subsequently released him so he could end up in Denver and choke in the playoffs.

Karma.

LiberalSuperTroll wrote: This is all balloney, the only reason more US troops are being killed [in Afghanistan] is because our enemy (created by Bush) has become more experienced with the ways our soldiers fight and hence are able to better preempt their actions and cause more casualties. This certainly has nothing to do with Obama, who has been extremely supportive of our troops and has actually gone out of the way to bring the focus back on military and modernize their weaponry and keep our troops happy.

Dear Comrade LSD,

What an idiot you are!

You must be Obama top thinker on Afghanistan.

The causalities expanded because we had more troops there, with a larger footprint to attack.

In the image "Shifting Plans" we see the surge under Obama.

I have always been against the surge policy in Afghanistan. And my problem is that so was Obama, but that didn’t stop him from campaigning on it, executing it and thereby getting troops killed.

Commanders in Chief have the unfortunate role of commanding young men into battle, and as a result some of them die. It really sucks when they miscalculate as happened in Iraq. It’s beyond the pale when they order them to battle even when they know they are doomed to die and fail.

From the USAToday:

In a passage about a key meeting in March of 2011, [then Sec of Defense] Gates writes that "as I sat there, I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his," according to the Times. "For him, it's all about getting out."

Bush didn’t “create” the enemy in Afghanistan either.

Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in 1996 from Afghanistan when Bill Clinton was president.

Marie150 wrote: Changing the subject just a little, wondering about the guy Beck had on his radio program yesterday. He studies the natural ebb and flow of the market. He was mentioning highs and bottoms. The highs it seems are being unnaturally manipulated. Meaning when the market is high people normally react in a predictable manner but now someone or group is acting in the opposite manner. Can you explain this to me?-- Yellen Economist Says It Would Be Better if Unemployment Was Higher

Dear Marie,

That’s a good question.

So let me try to explain as simply as possible what I think he meant.

In order to do so, I have to give a little primer on quantitative easing, zero interest rate policy and the Federal Reserve (the Fed).

The Fed controls interests rates somewhat by determining what interest rate at which they loan money to banks. Right now they are following a zero interest rate policy, which means that banks can borrow from the Fed for little or no interest.

That makes borrowing money attractive because there is little to no cost to it.

In addition, the Fed is buying U.S. Treasury securities in the open market from investors. This is also known as quantitative easing (QE). QE also exerts a downward pressure on interest rates, keeping them low because it helps inflate bond prices. Bond prices have an inverse relationship to interest rates. High Bond prices equal low interest rates.

Now when investors cash out of United States Treasury securities, they won’t reinvest that cash in bonds, because interest rates are so low that bonds really don’t even keep up with inflation.

So that means that all that money that investors are getting when the Fed buys their U.S. Treasuries has to go somewhere else.

Right now it’s going to the U.S. stock market.

The premium investors are willing to pay for U.S. stocks versus other investments therefore is expanding. And depending how one might measure it, one could make the argument that stock prices are very high.

This expansion will continue, the theory goes, because the Fed is keeping interest rates low and making those bond purchases, which means that the cash from the Fed has to be reinvested in the stock market every month.

Now normally the stock market is supposed to act as a gage for economic activity, either as a leading or lagging indicator of the growth in the economy. But because of the policies of the Fed, we are seeing the stock market become completely divorced from the results of the economy.

Instead, it trades on the money it’s being supplied by the Fed.

Mark Hulbert, a publisher who follows stock market newletters, says that there are a number of indications that the market is at a top.

The Price-to-Earning ratio on the S&P 500, says Hulbert, was 18.6 as on January 17th,“which is higher than those that prevailed at 24 of the 35 bull market tops since 1900.”

So in only a third of cases does the market go higher when you compare today to bull markets since 1900.

A broader way of looking at the market is comparing the Wilshire, the market index with the largest number of companies, to GDP.

Says Gurufocus.com:

As of today, the Total Market Index is at $ 19665.8 billion, which is about 115% of the last reported GDP. The US stock market is positioned for an average annualized return of 1.9%, estimated from the historical valuations of the stock market. This includes the returns from the dividends, currently yielding at 2%.

As pointed by Warren Buffett, the percentage of total market cap (TMC) relative to the US GNP is “probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.”


My own view is that the market still has a bit of room to go this year, but that 2014 will mark a major market top, followed by several years of below average returns, until after the 2016 election.

DBraum wrote: I thought that one of the two missions of the Fed was to promote full employment? So in Newspeak, is the equation thus: lots of unemployment = full employment? Please explain but don't bother telling me it's Bush's fault. 'Cause I already know that; they told me so themselves. Yellen Economist Says It Would Be Better if Unemployment Was Higher

Dear Mr. D,

No one really knows what the Fed’s mission is anymore.

Originally it was a reserve bank for commercial banks so that they wouldn’t run out of money. Then it was supposed to provide full employment; and then it was supposed to fight inflation.

I think it will be an important part of the discussion in campaigns over the next few years.

Many economists are saying that “natural” full employment rate is around 6 percent unemployment now. This despite the fact that during Bush’s presidency unemployment was only over 6 percent for a short period of time.

So congratulations America! You did it. You’re almost fully employed now that unemployment rate is at 6.6 percent.

Yup. Everyone who wants a job has one.

And you made the world’s best cup of coffee, too.

Jsingletary wrote: Did you read the book? The monster is never called Frankenstein. That was the name of his creator. Actually, the book is not anything like all the movies by the same name. I found the book much better. Sperm, Craigslist, Lesbians, and Welfare; What Could Go Wrong?

Dear Comrade J,

Yes, I have read the book. I first read it in an upper-level English literature class in college my junior year. Along side it we read Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Both stories are about rebellion against God, with man and the devil seeking to usurp His powers while neither being able to take responsibility for their actions. In Frankenstein, it’s man in rebellion; in Paradise, it’s Satan.

And yes I know that Frankenstein is the doctor not the monster. But explain to me why when you do a Google search of Frankenstein, you get images of the monster not the doctor. In popular culture we equate the name Frankenstein with the monster. But still even then my reference was to the doctor, not the monster.

The monster is only a symbol of the evil created by Frankenstein.

But Shelley’s is an important work and cited by me for a reason.

In that great Russian masterwork, Brothers Karamazov an aspiring socialist and atheist observes that man will find the capacity to love humanity, and have the power to carry on even without God.

Well as recent events have proved: They can’t even run an Olympics.

Or a website.

Or a sperm bank.

Maybe what they need is a tad more humility and a whole lot of God.

That’s it for this week,

V/r,

JR

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John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.