Your Investment Adviser Does Not Have to Work in Your Fiduciary Interest, Says the Ediths of the Fifth Circuit

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals says so.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said the fiduciary rule bears the hallmarks of “unreasonableness” and constitutes an arbitrary and capricious exercise of administrative power.

Of course it’s unreasonable to make your financial advisers act in your best interests rather than their own, in a country where money is speech and corporations are people, it makes perfect sense.

In a scathing majority opinion, Judge Edith Jones, a Ronald Reagan appointee, agreed.

“Only in DOL’s semantically created world do salespeople and insurance brokers have ‘authority’ or ‘responsibility’ to ‘render investment advice,’” Jones wrote in the court’s opinion.

“The DOL interpretation, in sum, attempts to rewrite the law that is the sole source of its authority. This it cannot do.”

Judge Edith Clement, who sided with Jones, was nominated to the court by President George H. W. Bush.  (emphasis added)

This will certainly be challenged as two Ediths can never be allowed to make such an important decision.

Also, in a related decision 2+2 now equals 5. So says the Ediths!  Obey the Ediths!

Now if it was 30 Helens it would probably make more sense.

Carry on.

Steve Bannon Says He’s “Fascinated by Mussolini”

Well, of course he is.  Mussolini certainly wore his racism and xenophobia as a badge of honor as Bannon instructed the French National Front to do.

I hope he’s as “fascinated” with how Mussolini ended up.

When Farrell asked Bannon whether his ideology is similar to fascism, Bannon replied, “This is all theoretical bullshit. I don’t know. Populism, fascism — who cares?”

“Just as long as somebody will pay me to come out and give incoherent speeches and buy collared shirts to layer, I’m good.”

INFRASTRUCTURE

It’s bad enough that we haven’t allocated nearly enough money as a country to maintain our commonwealth at the federal state or local levels.  Even the most essential projects (like the Hudson River tunnels or the Portal Bridge) are turned into political hackysacks to kick around while all the great stuff built in the late 19th, early 20th centuries by smarter, wiser public servants degrade.

When new stuff is built so poorly that people die it’s a sign of the governmental apocalypse. Brand new, still working on it and boom!

We just have to be really, really grateful that our predecessors in infrastructure generally knew what they were doing, (so good we took their works for granted and kept putting off maintenance and replacement).  It’s one thing when we lament that the refrigerator we grew up with was the refrigerator we grew up with, lasting as much as 15-20 years! never needing replacement, and today even large consumer durable buys like a refrigerator or washing machine feel like they have about 5 good years and kablooey, need another trip to Best Buy.  Don’t even get me started about cars.

Infrastructure projects should give you 50 years without thinking about it except for a coat of paint every few years (and they put that off too).

Maybe it’s me but I can’t remember the last report of a new piece of hardware failing so catastrophically so quickly.  People will likely go to jail and hopefully the entire industry will sit up and take notice.

Missing the Point at the Highest levels

Hilary Clinton made a speech, the nerve of her, while traveling in India promoting her book.  She talked about the election, which of course she should never, ever do. Most of the media, certainly the right wing media but plenty of mainstream media as well, believe her unqualified to talk about the 2016 election.  Whatever she says it’s inappropriate, no matter how accurate, because it came from her mouth.

What she said was completely accurate.

“All that red in the middle, where Trump won, what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.  And this whole campaign “make America great again” was looking backwards.  ‘You didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you see that Indian American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is I’m gonna solve it.'”

She said that Trump spoke to that portion of the country which was angry and resentful and “looking backwards.”  The right wing attacked and now the story is that Hillary Clinton called the middle of the country backwards.  So Democratic candidates just have to separate themselves from her.  But that’s par for the course of politics.  The right wing will make Hillary and Nancy Pelosi the story next November, like they did against Conor Lamb.  It didn’t work that well.  But be sympathetic, it’s all they have.  And for the media its a convenient shorthand to tell a story without actually thinking, which can hurt.

Which brings us to a discussion on Morning Joe wherein participants whose self-image is that they are thinking people, perhaps even intellectuals, used the Hillary speech as the entre into a talk about our tribalism problem.  The problem is that they were completely unable to see that Hillary was describing those people in the middle of the country that Trump conned as the tribal people whose identity determined their votes.  In this discussion, as it is mostly in the media (oddly coming from the coastal elite enclaves), it was all about Hillary and coastal elite enclaves being tribal and looking down on the “fly-over states.”  Remember, no matter what Hillary said she’s wrong and should be quiet, that’s a given.  But what her speech illustrates is that liberals are illiberal and so tribal.

The conversation veered into how it is true that people in the blue areas of the country are more diverse and because of that they are less set in their tribal ways, more apt to flow freely from tribe to tribe, less exclusionary and open.  While it’s not uncommon that those people who spread racism and xenophobia have very often not ever interacted with people out of their race, religion or orientation.

What Mika, Amy Chua (the Tiger Mom and Yale Law School professor) and Anand Giridharadas were talking about was cities.  Cities are the real melting pot of the country, where yes! many kinds of people live and do indeed create 2/3 of our GNP.  And yes, cities all over the country vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  They are the blue areas on the coasts and dotting even the red countryside.

So the conversation was supporting exactly what Hillary said, while using her as a cautionary tale for being so tribal and not reaching out to others.  In attacking liberal tribalism they admitted that Trump pandered to a form of virulent tribalism that thinks of themselves as the real Americans and looks down on the other side the way  Pennsylvania loser Rick Saccone described them:

“They have a hatred for our president…. a hatred for our country… They have a hatred for God”

So let’s weigh these sentiments:

They vote against their own best interests and cling to a past in fear of a future they don’t see themselves in.

They hate America and god and we want our country back from them.

Hm.

The bottom line was that the left needs to be bigger and reach out to the middle of the country.  Of course, hatred, racism, xenophobia are bad – and none of the people on the panel were volunteering to go live in those red areas –  it’s still the left’s fault.  There was a sense that the left should be bigger and more paternal (but not paternalistic) to the great middle of the country, to listen to them, hear their fears and invite them onto the porch (or the stoop, I guess) for some lemonade to talk.

Should those people in the middle of the country who are screaming “go home” to brown people and wear shirts that say “Fuck Your Feelings”, who shouted “lock her up” at Trump rallies, invite Hillary in for lemonade and talk to her?  No, they think she’s a heinous bitch who hates America, you can’t blame them for not reaching out.  But she should listen to them anyway they may have a point about her bitchiness or something.

Sure, there’s tribalism on both sides, but really, no really, this shit has gone on for fucking ever.  The gun debate has always been that people in cities need to understand the gun culture and stop asking for gun control.  What do people in Montana have to understand about people in cities who are the victims of gun violence?  Nothing.  Just hate them because they live in cities and couldn’t love Jesus like gun owners do.  There’s just something about shooting things that really brings out the Jesusiness.

That’s the level of burden that is always put on the left – to be bigger, more generous and less vocal (read: shrill, if you’re a vagina owner).  Nobody ever asks anything of the people who vote to keep the country backwards.  Why?

Because they’re just doing the best they can?

It’s the height of true paternalism to say that we can’t ask anything more of these people.  We couldn’t ask them to educate themselves, become more informed, try to have more contact with people unlike them, and live up their own Christian teachings.

To avoid being called an elitist, the very worst of the elite media look down on their own kind and pat the real idiots on the head and say “you run along and play with your guns and god.”  “I don’t understand you but I know you’re wonderful even if we don’t agree on anything.”

It’s placating them and shitting on their own, again because it’s easy.  And the hate mail from the blue states is always better punctuated with proper spelling.

And just to tie all of this together in a centrist Morning Joe knot – what Conor Lamb’s victory in PA-18 really should be informing the political elitists is that their models of right/left/center are all wrong:

A reachable middle of the country moderate in 2018 is not someone who is more conservative economically and more lefty socially – it’s the opposite.  The way to reach people in places that are 95% white like rural Pennsylvania are to be more economically left but without the overt messages of inclusion and multi-culturalism that challenge these people.

 

Captain Chaos Keeps the Crap Line Moving – Tillerson Out, Pompeo Up Next, Torture Lady to Run CIA

Our new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was blocked from running a small part of the CIA in 2013 by Dianne Feinstein because Haspel oversaw torture in 2002.  Now she runs the whole shebang.*  That’s morally failing upward in the age of Trump.

  1. Continuing the tradition of the worst people running things.  The awful Pompeo moves over to take over for the Russian Medal of Friendship holder and the execrable Ms. Haspel takes over CIA.
  2. Tillerson is the most relieved person in America today. His mighty exhale could be the cause of the Nor’easter. But Rex, monitor yourself for PTSD.
  3. If there’s a loser here, besides America which is on a bad losing streak since November 6, 2016, there’s Putin.  He loses his bestie at State.
  4. Besides being the Chaos President, Trump once agains exhibits an exceptionally cowardly style of firing people by proxy, not in their presence. Apparently the only time he ever fired anybody to their face was on TV.

*Unless Senators spine up and vote no to confirmation. It may be close due to John McCain and Rand Paul who may vote against each.

Yes, Betsy DeVos is Chock Full of the Stupid, Buuuuut So Are the “Smart” Kids Who Have Supported School Choice For Years

Besides there being no shock to her ill informed, quarter assed effort as Education Secretary, a year after her ill informed quarter assed effort as a nominee… Slate calls out the policies that corporatist Democrats have been pushing for a long damn time. Now I like Cory Booker*. Met him once and he was as kind and gracious as you’d imagine.  And lord knows he was in the crucible running Newark’s schools, but he’s been on the same track as ninnies like DeVos forever.  Because there’s no points scored for supporting public schools to the hilt, there’s always some new fangled way of edumacating that will fix everything if only the dirty fucking hippies** will stop sniffing the pachouli, realize it’s not the 60s anymore and let us guys in suits fix it!

Slate slays the smug dragon

Lesley Stahl: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?

Betsy DeVos: I have not—I have not—I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

But if I’m reading the reaction to the clip correctly, what seems to be striking most people as ridiculous is DeVos’ advocacy of two particular ideas:

• That rewarding high-performing schools with more resources will compel low-performing schools to improve themselves.

• That school-choice programs should be expanded despite mixed or poor results in states such as Michigan.

The bad news for Democrats who found DeVos’ performance appalling is that these principles have been a crucial part of their party’s education policy for 17 years. Broadly speaking, the regime of compelling competition between schools by creating charter-school or school-choice programs and by rewarding those whose students do well on standardized tests was launched at a federal level by the No Child Left Behind Act; the NCLB was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy and passed the Senate in 2001 with 87 votes. When Barack Obama became president, he created the Race to the Top program, which the Washington Post described at the time as a “competition for $4.35 billion in grants” that would “ease limits on charter schools” and “tie teacher pay to student achievement,” i.e. direct extra funds to already-successful schools.

*Cory Booker is great anyway.  And so is Kirsten Gillibrand even though she screwed Al Franken. Nobody is perfect.  They’re both way more than 80% with us, enuf said.

**You know, dirty fucking hippies like 17th century New Englanders, Horace Mann, John Dewey, etc.