Stocks in a Spin, The Counter Memo

What Goes Up: With investors questioning the rationality of the stock market surge, the Dow Jones dipped by as much as 1500 points during trading yesterday, before closing down by 1,175, nearly 5 percent. It was the biggest one-day decline in the market’s history, but by percentage there have been days with bigger losses.

Futures indicate it could be another bad day.

President Trump has taken credit for record stock market gains of 21 percent in the year since he was elected, but we’ll see if he’ll accept the blame if things go seriously south. The selloff yesterday and last Friday wiped out all the gains so far this year. But to keep things in perspective, the market returned only to where it was in mid-December.

Ben White writes for Politico, “The big slide comes alongside growing concern that an economy juiced by a massive corporate tax cut, and already at full employment, could overheat and require forceful action from a new and untested Federal Reserve chairman — installed by Trump — to cool things down.”

He continues, “On top of concerns about rising inflation, the tax cuts are already increasing the federal government’s need to borrow and accelerating the date by which Congress must raise the federal debt limit. And as of Monday, there was still no plan in Washington to raise the limit and avoid a catastrophic default.”

Big Little Lies: The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously yesterday to release the Democratic rebuttal to the so-called Nunes memo that accused the FBI of anti-Trump bias in obtaining intelligence warrants. California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said, “We think this will help the public understand the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo.”

President Trump will have to approve the release of the Democratic memo. Schiff said, “We want to make sure the White House does not redact our memo for political purposes.”

In his campaign to disable the investigation into Russian election influencing, President Trump opened up yesterday with a Twitter salvo against Schiff, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. Trump wrote, “Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington ” and he finished with “Must be stopped!”

Later, Trump praised the Republican Committee chairman as a hero for issuing his politically-tilted memo claiming anti-Trump bias in the top ranks of the FBI. “Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!”

The President was not done for the day. At an event in Ohio yesterday, he castigated Congressional Democrats for not cheering and applauding during his State of the Union speech. “They were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ Yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not! I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Yes, he really said that.

Analyzing Trump in The Washington Post, columnist EJ Dionne wrote, “The autocratic leader lies and then falsely charges his opponents with lying. He politicizes institutions that are supposed to be free of politics by falsely accusing his foes of politicizing them. He victimizes others by falsely claiming they are victimizing him.”

Dionne says, “The autocrat also counts on spineless politicians to cave in to his demands. And as they destroy governmental institutions at his bidding, they insist they are defending them.”

Omerta: President Trump’s lawyers are advising him not to sit for an interview with the Special Counsel’s office, The NY Times reports. The paper says, “His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators.” If Trump refuses, that could set up a court fight over compelling him to talk.

Lines of Battle: The Supreme Court said it will not take up the appeal to a case in which Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out the state’s Congressional district map, which had been found to be the product of partisan gerrymandering favoring Republicans. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court based its decision on the state’s own constitution, making it unlikely that the US Supreme Court would ever take the case.

The Pennsylvania court has ordered the state legislature to redraw the state’s 18 Congressional districts and even left open the possibility that the court might impose its own map. The US Supreme Court, meanwhile, is considering gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland.

All the Time in the World: Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar yesterday was sentenced in Michigan state court to another 40 to 125 years in prison for his guilty plea to three counts of criminal sexual misconduct involving girls between the ages of 13 and 15, and a girl younger than 13. Nassar will never see the light of day again. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in one case, and up to 125 in another.

The Obit Page: British-born actor John Mahoney, who played Kelsey Grammer’s cantankerous father for 11 seasons on the NBC sitcom “Frasier,” has died at age 77. When the show was over he moved to Chicago and focused on working with the well-regarded Steppenwolf Theater. Mahoney didn’t become an actor until he was in his 40s. “By the time I started my career, most people had given up and started selling insurance,” Mahoney once said, “I didn’t have so much competition.”

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

" 'The enemy of the people,'" was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017 ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."
 
Arizona republican Sen. Jeff Flake speaking on the floor today.

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