The Millionaires Are Fleeing

Posted by MaGoogle on June 13, 2018 in Weekly Rant |

The Millionaires Are Fleeing. Maybe You Should, Too.

Tracking the rich has become a voyeuristic global industry, a form of celebrity worship. But it can also provide serious clues about where countries are headed.

When a country begins to fall into economic and political difficulty, wealthy people are often the first to ship their money to safer havens abroad. The rich don’t always emigrate along with their money, but when they do, it is an even more telling sign of trouble.

Since 2013, New World Wealth, a research outfit based in South Africa, has been tracking millionaire migrations by culling property records, visa programs, news media reports and information from travel agents and others who cater to the wealthy. In a global population of 15 million people each worth more than $1 million in net assets, nearly 100,000 changed their country of residence last year.

In most countries it is fair to assume that any millionaire exodus is composed mainly of locals, and not foreign investors, because the wealthy classes will be dominated by citizens or longtime residents. In 2017, the largest exoduses came out of Turkey (where a stunning 12 percent of the millionaire population emigrated) and Venezuela. As if on cue, the Turkish lira is now in a free fall. There were also significant migrations out of India under the tightening grip of its overzealous tax authorities, and from Britain under the cloud of Brexit.

On the flip side, slowing outflows can be a welcome sign, and in 2017 the biggest shift for the better came in that caldron of anti-rich hostility, France.

Equally surprising was the lack of change in the United States, where the arrival of a billionaire president did not seem to attract or repel millionaires. A net total of 9,000 millionaires migrated to the United States last year, but they represent a drop in the ocean of five million American millionaire.

Just like the less wealthy, millionaires seemed unsure of America’s direction under an unpredictable president who offers tax cuts and deregulation for the rich, but also bashes foreigners and occasionally talks like a pitchfork-waving populist.

Britain and France appeared to be trading places as magnets for wealth. For decades the rich had been drawn to Britain by circumspect banks, loose regulations and the comforts of London. Until 2016, Britain had a sizable influx of millionaires every year, but the flow suddenly reversed last year with a net exodus of 3,000, amid fears that as Britain exits the European Union, London will fade as a financial capital. It did not help that in 2017 the government raised taxes on foreigners who buy property.

France had long been seen as the anti-Britain, a left-leaning bastion of prying bureaucrats and high taxes that scared off the wealthy, despite the charms of Paris. But the growing exodus of millionaires peaked in 2016 with a net outflow of 12,000, then slowed sharply to just 4,000 last year. The most likely reason: the May election of Emmanuel Macron, the youngest president in French history, who promised a lighter-touch bureaucracy less hostile to business and lowered wealth and capital gains taxes.

Granted, displaced millionaires get little if any sympathy, but no country gains by losing the talent and capital of its wealthiest residents, particularly not emerging countries like India. Stunningly, India in 2017 suffered a net loss of 7,000 members, or 2 percent, of its millionaire population. That exodus came despite global optimism about India’s growth prospects and matched the flight from the stagnant and sanction-battered economy of Russia, which also lost 2 percent of its millionaire population.

This unusual flight from India’s high-growth economy may be driven by the elite’s growing concerns about an official anticorruption drive and “tax terrorism” — unlimited authority given to tax officials to target the rich. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has lately begun catering to the nation’s deep socialist streak, wielding state power to flush out and tax hidden pockets of wealth.

In the worst cases, bouts of capital flight can gain momentum until the value of the currency collapses, plunging the nation into crisis. Balance of payments records show that 10 of the last 12 major currency crises, dating back to the Mexican peso meltdown of 1994, began when residents started sending money abroad, which was typically two years before the currency collapsed. Often politicians blamed “evil” and “immoral” foreign speculators for these crises, but it was the locals who first saw trouble coming.

Right now, this forensic accounting offers clear evidence of looming financial difficulty in only one major country: Turkey. Starting early last year, affluent Turks began effectively moving large sums of money out of the country by exchanging their lira bank deposits for dollars and euros, while foreigners continued to buy Turkish assets.

The 12 percent decline in Turkey’s millionaire population last year was by far the largest of any major economy, and second only to the 16 percent decline in Venezuela, with its small, hyperinflationary economy. Turkey’s millionaires appear to be fleeing both deteriorating financial conditions marked by very high inflation, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on his critics, including those in business.

Millionaire migrations can be a positive sign for a nation’s economy. The losses for India, Russia and Turkey were gains for havens like Canada and Australia, joined lately by the United Arab Emirates. Owing largely to the stability and glitter of the most famous emirate, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates in 2017 had a net inflow of 5,000 millionaires, increasing the size of its affluent population by 6 percent, the largest gain in the world. Britain was among the millionaire havens until 2016, but may continue losing ground until it can resolve the uncertainties raised by Brexit.

Savvy locals are also the first to return when a country’s fortunes begin to turn for the better. In seven of the last 12 major currency crises, residents started bringing money back earlier than foreigners.

More broadly, economists and politicians might rethink the blame they heap on “immoral” foreigners in periods of capital flight. They assume global money managers are more sophisticated than provincial locals — but those longtime residents are in fact quicker to spot and respond to trouble in their own backyards. They might also assume that residents are more loyal than foreigners. But the drive to protect one’s assets often trumps patriotism.

Millionaires move money mainly out of self-interest, to find more rewarding or safer havens. There aren’t a lot of them, but they can tell us a great deal about what is going wrong — and right — in a country’s economic and political ecosystems. Leaders who create the right conditions to keep millionaires home will find that all of their residents — not just the wealthy ones — are richer for it.

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Trump Is About to Meet U.S. Allies in Canada. They’re Angry.

Posted by MaGoogle on June 7, 2018 in Weekly Rant |

President Trump with other leaders of the Group of 7 last year for what’s referred to as the “family photo.” This year’s may not feature many smiles.
President Trump with other leaders of the Group of 7 last year for what’s referred to as the “family photo.” This year’s may not feature many smiles.
President Trump will travel to a sleepy village in Quebec on Friday to meet with the leaders of America’s closest allies for a summit meeting that usually ends with a moment of global camaraderie — the “family photo” that captures presidents and prime ministers smiling for the camera.

This year there won’t be many grins.

Mr. Trump is the black sheep of this family, the estranged sibling who decided to pick fights with his relatives just before arriving to dinner. The dispute, Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, acknowledges, is “much like a family quarrel,” but with the potential for vast diplomatic and economic consequences for the world.

The anger of American allies, especially about Mr. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs, is palpable.

“Patently absurd” is what Liam Fox, the British trade minister, called them. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said they were “illegal,” while Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said they were “insulting and totally unacceptable” — and that was in the carefully worded public statement. In a phone call with Mr. Trump, he was said to be even more blunt.

Ahead of the summit meeting, finance ministers from the other six countries that form the Group of 7, or G-7, condemned Mr. Trump’s trade decisions in an extraordinary rebuke of a member nation’s president. And some of the leaders themselves have threatened to boycott the usual end-of-meeting communiqué. A senior Canadian official said a statement by only Mr. Trudeau, the gathering’s host, is possible.

“I will, of course, try to speak to the U.S. president about the current problems that we have overall, in particular on Iran and on trade tariffs,” Ms. Merkel told lawmakers in Berlin on Wednesday. Asked about the upcoming discussions in Canada, the famously taciturn leader said they would be “difficult.”

There have been disagreements within the G-7 in the past, including a long chill between the Europeans and President George W. Bush over the Iraq war. When Ronald Reagan put missiles in Europe, his counterparts branded him a cowboy who would start World War III.

But rarely — if ever — has there been the kind of visceral and unanimous outrage at an American president among the nation’s most important allies, who for decades have seen the closest of relationships with the leader of the free world as a paramount foreign policy priority.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly poked his counterparts in the eye — ignoring their pleas to remain a part of the Paris climate treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and the Iran nuclear deal, and more recently by branding their steel and aluminum industries threats to national security, and therefore subject to tariffs.

So when Mr. Trump disembarks from Air Force One on Friday morning for a day and a half of closed-door meetings in the resort town of La Malbaie, the president can expect a subzero reception for what some observers have begun calling the “G6+1,” a reference to the political and diplomatic isolation that Mr. Trump has created for himself with his unilateral trade and security actions against his friends.

Cliff Kupchan, a veteran foreign policy analyst, said he expected a “very frosty dynamic” and predicted that “Trump’s going to get an earful from all of them.” Dan Price, who guided Mr. Bush through many economic summit meetings, said the other six leaders should express their concerns to Mr. Trump “even at the risk of offending a notoriously thin-skinned president.”

And Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that because of “real indignation and real frustration” on the part of European leaders who are extremely angry at Mr. Trump, the “venting process is likely to continue” throughout the meeting.

The ill will among America’s allies is a striking contrast to the praise Mr. Trump has heaped on North Korea, one of the country’s most enduring adversaries, before his historic meeting next week with Kim Jong-un, the country’s normally reclusive leader.

The president, who is scheduled to fly Saturday from Quebec to Singapore for the meeting, has called Mr. Kim — the leader of a country once described as part of an “axis of evil” — a “very honorable” man, even as he clashes repeatedly with his counterparts in the world’s longest-lasting democracies.

Mr. Trump’s feud with the allies is also risking a go-it-alone approach to China’s trade practices even as many trade experts have called for a unified front by Western economies to confront China. The disputes with the United States have frustrated European leaders, who are eager for a joint effort that might pressure Beijing for change. Leaders had hoped to use the meeting to help formulate a strategy to combat China’s surplus steel, but they now appear more likely to focus on their own trade divisions instead.

“The isolation from our G-7 allies undermines the United States’ ability to work with them to confront real challenges in Russia or China or the Middle East,” Mr. Price said. “I certainly hope the president and his team will take the opportunity presented by the G-7 summit to find a path forward.”

Others are less sanguine about that possibility.

Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran deal was particularly infuriating to leaders in Europe, where businesses and banks had been eager to begin commercial activities in Iran with the lifting of sanctions. But after the president decided to withdraw the United States from the agreement, European businesses are likely to avoid doing business in Iran for fear of risking sanctions that could keep them out of the much more lucrative American markets.

“There’s no underestimating the level of anger and frustration,” Mr. Dubowitz said. “For the Europeans, this is really a question of sovereignty. It’s a direct challenge, in the case of Iran, to their national security.”

Still, the more immediate source of friction with Mr. Trump is on trade. Efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled in bitter disagreement. And the decision by the United States to claim national security concerns has infuriated even the most stalwart allies, who view it as a transparent — and ridiculous — attempt to get around the rules set by the World Trade Organization.

Mr. Trump has sent no signals that he is willing to back off. In remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Kudlow insisted that the president does not intend to be constrained by the global trading rules set up by his predecessors.

“That system has been broken in the last 20 years-plus. The World Trade Organization, for example, has become completely ineffectual,” he said, adding later: “International multilateral organizations are not going to determine American policy. I think the president has made that very clear.”

The allies at the G-7 are unlikely to give in, either. The Canadians and the European Union have filed cases against the United States at the World Trade Organization, and have announced retaliatory tariffs in a tit-for-tat series of economic moves that could spark an all-out trade war.

French officials say President Emmanuel Macron is likely to urge Mr. Trump to relent, arguing that he will damage the United States economy if he persists. Other allies are hoping that American businesses will pressure Mr. Trump to back off once the tariffs begin affecting their supply chains and profits.

Clues to how the meetings in Canada have gone may be found in the body language of Mr. Trump and his counterparts as they pose for pictures before and after their sessions.

Mr. Kupchan said he will be looking for the expressions on the faces of the allies: “Merkel sitting next to Trump, having just talked about Iran, with a massive frown, looking the other way,” he said. “That’s my best bet.”


Sessions Says to Courts: Go Ahead, Jail People Because They’re Poor

Posted by MaGoogle on June 2, 2018 in Weekly Rant |

OK I thought 2018 would start off a little slow and the fizzle out all together. But as usual I was wrong once again.

As most of you already know I’m not a big fan of this f*cked up administration in the U.S. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite  like it in my lifetime, and I’m old. This even beats the ✌️Nixon✌️years. Yes I do think Donald Trump  is a lot of things but running a close second is this little f*ckin elf with pointy little ears putting a stop to what most of us think is so great about America. This little pricks wants to send as many immigrants out of the country as he possibly can.

Op-Ed Contributor

Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week abandoned the Justice Department’s effort to end debtors’ prisons.Al Drago for The New York Times

Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week abandoned the Justice Department’s effort to end debtors’ prisons.Al Drago for The New York Times

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted an Obama-era guidance to state courts that was meant to end debtors’ prisons, where people who are too poor to pay fines are sent. This practice is blatantly unconstitutional, and the guidance had helped jump-start reform around the country. Its withdrawal is the latest sign that the federal government is retreating from protecting civil rights for the most vulnerable among us.
The Justice Department helped shine a light on the harms of fine and fees when it investigated Ferguson, Mo., three years ago after the killing of the teenager Michael Brown by a police officer. As one of the lawyers on that case, I saw firsthand the damage that the city had wrought on its black community.
Ferguson used its criminal justice system as a for-profit enterprise, extracting millions from its poorest citizens. Internal emails revealed the head of finance directing policing strategy to maximize revenue rather than ensure public safety. Officers told us they were pressured to issue as many tickets as possible.
Even the local judge was in on it, imposing penalties of $302 for jaywalking and $531 for allowing weeds to grow in one’s yard. He issued arrest warrants for residents who fell behind on payments — including a 67-year-old woman who had been fined for a trash-removal violation — without inquiring whether they even had the ability to pay the exorbitant amounts. The arrests resulted in new charges, more fees and the suspension of driver’s licenses. These burdens fell disproportionately on African-Americans.
At the time of our investigation, over 16,000 people had outstanding arrest warrants from Ferguson, a city of 21,000. Untold numbers found themselves perpetually in debt to the city and periodically confined to its jail.
These problems were not unique to Ferguson. A Georgia woman served eight months in custody past her sentence because she couldn’t pay a $705 fine. A veteran battling homelessness in Michigan lost his job when a judge jailed him for bringing only $25 rather than the required $50 first payment to court. A judge in Alabama told people too poor to pay that they could either give blood or go to jail.
In 2015, the Justice Department convened judges, legislators, advocates and affected people to discuss this problem and devise solutions. Participants repeatedly asked the Justice Department to clarify the legal rules that govern the enforcement of financial penalties and to support widespread reform.
And so we did. Relying on Supreme Court precedent from over 30 years ago, the 2016 guidance set out basic constitutional requirements: Do not imprison a person for nonpayment without first asking whether he or she can pay. Consider alternatives like community service. Do not condition access to a court hearing on payment of all outstanding debt.
The Justice Department also provided financial resources to the field. It invested in the efforts of a national task force of judges and court administrators to develop best practices. And it created a $3 million grant program to support innovative, homegrown reforms in five states.
Along with private litigation and advocacy, these efforts have helped drive change around the country. Missouri limited the percent of city revenue that can come from fines and fees and announced court rules to guard against unlawful incarceration. California abolished fees for juveniles and stopped suspending the driver’s licenses of people with court debt. Louisiana passed a law requiring that judges consider a person’s financial circumstances before imposing fines and fees. Texas, where the court system’s administrative director said the guidance “was very helpful and very well received by the judges across the state,” issued new rules to prevent people from being jailed for their poverty. The American Bar Association endorsed the Justice Department’s guidance, and the Conference of State Court Administrators cited it in a policy paper on ending debtors’ prisons.
To justify reversing guidance that has had so much positive impact, Mr. Sessions asserts that such documents circumvent the executive branch’s rule-making process and impose novel legal obligations by fiat. Nonsense. The fines and fees guidance created no new legal rules. It discussed existing law and cited model approaches from local jurisdictions. The document also put state-level actors on notice that the department would take action to protect individual rights, whether by partnership or litigation.
Viewed in that light, the true intent of Mr. Sessions’s decision comes into focus. Sessions pulled 25 guidance documents last week. Sixteen of those involved civil rights protections — including 10 related to the Americans With Disabilities Act and one on the special harms that unlawful fine and fee practices can have for young people. Withdrawing these documents is consistent with the Trump administration’s hostility to civil rights in a host of other areas: abandoning oversight of police departments, reinterpreting anti-discrimination statutes to deny protection to L.G.B.T. individuals and switching sides in key voting rights cases.
The push to abolish debtors’ prisons will continue, as community advocates and local officials press on. It would be preferable, of course, for the federal government to fulfill its role as a leading protector of basic constitutional rights. Unfortunately, Mr. Sessions has made clear that under his leadership it will not.


President Trump went into crazy conspiracy mode

Posted by MaGoogle on May 25, 2018 in Weekly Rant |

Posted by The Real David Denison
President Trump went into crazy conspiracy mode Wednesday morning, perhaps overcompensating for the news that his attorney Michael Cohen’s business partner and “Taxi King” Evgeny Freidman struck a plea deal, or perhaps in reaction to the backlash against Republicans outing a secret intelligence source. His Twitter storm unleashed a host of crackpot conspiracy theories and non sequiturs:

If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal . . .

Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around! . . .

SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history! . . . WITCH HUNT!

Remember, it is already established that there was no planted spy. The source his own allies outed was not part of the campaign. If Trump actually believes what he is saying, he truly is mentally unbalanced and incapable of fulfilling the duties of his office. But if, as most suspect, the latest outbursts are part of a deliberate strategy to vilify and discredit law enforcement and eviscerate the line between fact and fiction, one has to examine the people who make this routine — what you’d expect from a tin-pot dictator — possible.

I’m not talking in this instance about Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose unhinged rhetoric and yen for the limelight is surpassed only by Trump, nor am I referring to the president’s malicious allies in the House, most especially Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who cooked up one fake conspiracy after another and viciously attacked law enforcement. (Freedom Caucus members’ rhetoric sounds more like that of 1960s radical leftists than the voice of conservative Republicans.)
I don’t even point the finger at Fox News, which has abandoned any pretense of real journalism to perpetuate a lucrative cable TV operation, even at the expense of polluting our politics and destroying any semblance of sanity in the GOP.

No, in this case I am referring to the active and quiet enablers, the politicians and pundits on “respectable” publications who indulge and even encourage Trump. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who is responsible for keeping Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee, hit a new low when he applauded the nonexistent scandal. He declared on CNN: “I do think it’s appropriate in the context of the legitimate Intelligence Committee investigation that this information be provided to Congress.” No. This is not a legitimate investigation. It is a hyper-partisan effort built on a mountain of lies (e.g. the Deep State, a planted spy) and designed to provide protection to a president who is engaged in an ongoing scheme to disrupt, to obstruct, justice. Surely Ryan knows this, and yet in his final months in office he cannot manage to put country before party. He is smart enough to know that the Big Lie and attacks on the investigators come straight from the authoritarian handbook. He chooses to do nothing — because, well, tax cuts? His thought process and moral calculus are no longer rational.

There is another cadre of people responsible for the dangerous assault on reality and on law enforcement. These are the supposedly rational Republican pundits who coo about Trump’s court appointments, the rollback of environmental regulations, and a huge tax cut for the rich and corporations. So we’re all good! No problem — he’s a success! Misplaced priorities and tribal loyalty have shredded any semblance of moral and intellectual integrity, making them apologists for a dangerous and unfit president. They have some judges yet passively accept the erosion of legal norms and the assault on the justice system.

And let’s not forget the “mainstream” Republicans who remain silent — Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio, John Cornyn of Texas, etc. — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who won’t bring a bill to protect the special prosecutor to the floor). They actually have the power to call Trump out, to denounce his egregious conduct, to censure the president and to construct guardrails (e.g. protect Mueller, reject unfit nominees, reassert Congress’s war-making powers) to protect the republic during this scary time.

Ultimately, history and the voters will judge all of these people. In the short run, voters in November should consider what a GOP House and Senate majority has wrought. Instead of curtailing an out-of-control, despotic president, they cower or, worse, cheer. They should not be entrusted with power.


Americans for Safe Access

Posted by MaGoogle on May 5, 2018 in Weekly Rant |
After months of public pressure and media attention, the DEA has finally removed some inaccurate information from its website.
The change comes after Americans for Safe Access filed a legal request with the Department of Justice in December, demanding that the DEA update and remove factually inaccurate information about cannabis from their website and materials.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that the more than 25 false statements on the DEA’s website about marijuana constituted a violation of the Information Quality Act (IQA), which requires that administrative agencies not provide false information to the public and that they respond to requests for correction of information within 60 days.
Thankfully, the petition was filed before “alternative facts” became an accepted justification for blatant lies, but something tells me we’re still not in the clear.
One publication, “Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana,” contained 23 of the 25 factual inaccuracies in violation of the IQA, which included claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, caused irreversible cognitive decline in adults and contributed to psychosis and lung cancer.
“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA in a press release.
“This is a victory for medical cannabis patients across the nation, who rely on cannabis to treat serious illnesses,” Sherer said. “The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis. While the fight to end stigma around cannabis is far from over, this is a big first step.”
But the fight is not over, says the ASA.
As of February 13, the government is one week beyond the required deadline to respond to the ASA’s legal petition that states the DEA is still spreading false information about marijuana.
“We are pleased that in the face of our request the DEA withdrew some of the damaging misinformation from its website” said Vickie Feeman, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
“However, the DEA continues to disseminate many damaging facts about the health risks of medical cannabis, and patients across the country face ongoing harm as a result of these alternative facts,” added Feeman. “We are hopeful the DEA will also remove the remaining statements rather than continue to mislead the public in the face of the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis.”
ASA argues that correcting false information about marijuana is especially critical now with the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch supporter of the DEA and outspoken critic of weed.
Sessions often cites DEA publications and opinions about marijuana to justify his opposition to policy reform.
Two days before the 2017 inauguration, the ASA submitted a Change.org petition with over 100,000 signatures requesting the DEA stick to the truth about medical marijuana.


★ REQUIEM ★ :: Wayne Cochran, 1939 – 2017 

Posted by MaGoogle on November 28, 2017 in Weekly Rant |

He was the brass balls on the brass band that made Miami shimmy and shake like no other. Ever. He was the pompadour before the pompatus … the moonwalk before Michael … the original Blues Brother with the show band that inspired the movie. He was the king of blue-eyed soul.

And he was ours. Then, and now.

The over-21 crowd was lucky. In the mid-sixties, they didn’t have to sneak into The Barn, the smoke-filled North Bay Village cabaret that Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders turned into a raucous party-night crescendo for free-spending lounge lizards, goodfellas, snowbirds, short skirts and guys named Sinatra, Gleason, Armstrong. Even Streisand.

No velvet rope on the outside, nor velvet voice within. When the club doors swung open, the beautiful nasty hit you like a double-shot of hot bugles and thunder, with a chaser of Delta wail. Grinding atop the bar was a linebacker-sized boogaloo machine, wrapped in a one-piece Elvis with gold lamé trim, and topped with a foot-high platinum pompadour that brushed the ceiling tiles above the stage. The soulful arc of his sandpaper wail, bumped-up by the baddest show band on the planet, filled the room with rhythm, blue-eyed soul and flying bar stools. Cochran was smashing stools and mirrors long before Pete Townshend crushed his first Fender.

The crowds. Went. Wild.

They followed when Cochran and the C.C. Riders took their act to more fetching South Florida nightclub showrooms. Still, nothing ever felt quite as balls-up and roadhouse authentic as Cochran tearing it up at The Barn.

By the time The Barn closed in 1971, Cochran and the C.C. Riders had recorded three albums, notched their signature hit, “Goin’ Back To Miami;” appeared live on The Jackie Gleason Show, shared the Las Vegas Hilton marquee with Elvis, and performed “Can’t Turn You Loose” in the movie “C.C. & Company” with Joe Namath and Ann Margaret.

That was also the year my parents gave-up their Dolphins season tickets because their view of the field was obstructed by a foot-high platinum pompadour.

As time passed, Wayne’s run as the king of blue-eyed soul gave way to a higher calling. He retired from music to conquer substance addiction, then became an evangelist and minister. Since 1981, Pastor Wayne Cochran presided over his Voice For Jesus Church and Wayne Cochran Ministries in Miami.

Wayne and I bumped into each other from time to time. The pompadour, pompatus, shimmy and shake were gone, along with any interest whatsoever in revisiting the fame and pain he had put behind him.

It didn’t matter. He was still here. He was still ours.

Each time we talked, he was happy. And fulfilled. And complete.

I’m sorry he’s gone, but somehow imagining that when the Holy gates swing open, the beautiful nasty will hit the heavens like a double-shot of sweet Jesus and redemption, with an overdue chaser of Delta wail.



Alabama Senate Candidate: America “Already Under Sharia Law”

Posted by MaGoogle on October 9, 2017 in Weekly Rant |

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore
In a recent interview, Moore insisted that “there are communities under Sharia law right now in our country.” However, he didn’t provide any specifics.

In America, religion and government are supposed to be independent of one another. But don’t tell that to Judge Roy Moore, the frontrunner in Alabama’s upcoming Senate race. Moore, an outspoken Christian, has a long track record of acting upon his faith while in government office and resisting calls to put his beliefs aside.

Roy Moore is perhaps best known as the “Ten Commandments Judge” – a nickname he earned back in the 1990s when he famously hung a copy of the commandments on the door to his judicial chambers. Moore went on to defy a federal order to remove a large statue of the Ten Commandments from Alabama state property.

Over the years, he’s been publicly forced out of several government positions for refusing to compromise on his strong Christian beliefs.

Is America a Christian County?

Absolutely, according to Moore. He argues that the Constitution was written to “foster Christianity” and that the founders intended America to be a Christian nation. In his mind, the Christian God is “the only source of our law, liberty and government.”

“To deny God — to deny Christianity or Christian principles — is to deny what the First Amendment was established for. You see, the First Amendment was established on Christian principles,” Moore explains.

Sharia Law in the U.S.

In addition to his Christian convictions, Moore is also highly skeptical of Islam. In a recent interview with the online publication Vox, Moore made headlines by insisting that certain areas of the U.S. were currently under Sharia law. The puzzling exchange is worth reading in full.

Roy Moore: There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities.
But Sharia law is a little different from American law. It is founded on religious concepts.

Reporter: Which American communities are under Sharia law? When did they fall under Sharia law?

Roy Moore: Well, there’s Sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana — up there. I don’t know.

Reporter: That seems like an amazing claim for a Senate candidate to make.

Roy Moore: Well, let me just put it this way — if they are, they are; if they’re not, they’re not. That doesn’t matter.
He offered no further details on the issue.

Opposition to Gay Marriage

Judge Moore’s faith has also led him to take strong stances on social issues such as gay marriage. Even after the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, he remained resolute. As Alabama’s Chief Justice, he instructed the state’s probate courts to deny marriage licenses to gay couples. As a result, he was forced to step down from his judicial post.

But his opposition to appears to go beyond concerns about marriage – as recently as 2005, Moore insisted that “homosexual conduct” should be made illegal nationwide, defiantly comparing it to bestiality during a televised interview.

On the Road to Washington

Since Roy Moore is the Republican candidate running in a red state, the odds are high that he’ll be elected the next Senator of Alabama.

It’s yet to be seen if Moore will put a copy of the Ten Commandments on the door to his Senate office, but judging by his track record and deep Christian convictions, it would likely come as a bigger surprise if he decided not to.

Now I never professed to know everything about Americian politics, however, I do know a fu*ken jerk when I see one and this guy is definitely one. I don’t care what color you are, what your faith is, whether you live in a red state, a blue state or a fu*ken purple state, a democrat, a Rebublican or Independent. One thing we can all agree on is this guy is a few bricks short of a full load.

Really, is this the best we can do? For fu*ks sake, this schmuck is actually going to Washington to help shape the future of the United States of America and to make laws that will affect our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. Is this really the direction we want the world to go?
Let’s face it Washington has gotten way worse since you know who was elected and by the looks of things, it’s going to get a hole lot more fu*ked up unless people stand up to government and do something about this mess. The U.S. needs the young people to get more involved. Run for office, whether it’s at the local level, the state level or the federal. Start now, today and make the world a better place. Please we need your help. If you need our help in getting started just leaving us a comment and we’ll help in any way we can.
BTW: To leave a comment here just click on the Post-it note at the top of this or any article. So let’s get busy and start to take the country back!

Hey Roy, with all due respect,Bite Me

For now, MaGoogle Out🖕🏻

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Don’t let the new lies make you forget the old 

Posted by MaGoogle on August 28, 2017 in Weekly Rant |


I recently wrote, and this was before Charlottesville, that the speed with which President Trump was eroding basic norms of governing and public discourse was alarming. The most troubling part of this to me is the lying, which brings me to today’s rant.

What’s worse, lying about the size of your inaugural crowd or the growth effects of tax cuts? Lying about who had permits in Charlottesville or the condition of the Affordable Care Act? Lying about your poll numbers or your role as a job creator?

In terms of norm erosion, the first example in each of the above is worse. I mean, we could all see the picture of the inaugural crowds, so there’s a truly unhinged quality to such lies. And the second examples in each of the cases are grayer. Tax cuts can boost growth, especially in the short term in periods of economic weakness (but to do so, they must be targeted at income-constrained households, not the wealthy). The ACA, while covering millions and helping to reduce cost growth, does need improvements.
Moreover, these old, phony claims long predate Trump. Still, I fear that when Trump equates Nazis, racists, and anti-Semites with their opposition (“very fine people on both sides”), I worry that the phony claims about jobs and taxes come off as relatively benign. The old phony gets swamped by the new phony.

Granted, some of the new phony is much more immediately dangerous to people’s safety. But the old phony is dangerous too, as it threatens to generate lasting, negative impacts on the living standards of moderate and low-income people, while confirming conservatives self-fulfilling prophecy that government is a feckless waste.

So, here’s a brief primer, with links to evidence, of the BS you’ll be hearing more of in the coming weeks in current policy debates.
Tax cuts are not tax reform: Team Trump and congressional Republicans talk a lot about “reforming” the tax code, which in D.C. has come to mean paying for lower tax rates by broadening the tax base. However, what I fear we’re looking at here is not tax reform, but tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy. Yes, Republicans have suggested closing some loopholes to offset the costs of their cuts, for which I give them credit. But they’ve already shown that they’ll toss the payfors, though not the cuts, once the lobbyists start closing in.

Tax cuts and growth: There’s no historical record and no correlations or causal evidence in the data that tax cuts reliably, significantly and lastingly raise the growth rate or level of GDP.  Here’s a tweetstorm to that effect, and here’s a useful, balanced and pretty readable review of the evidence.

Revenue neutrality is an inadequate goal of tax reform: Based on our aging demographics, climate change, geopolitics, inequality, natural disasters and our infrastructure needs, we’re going to need more, not less, and not the same amount, of revenue in the future. So even revenue neutrality is too low a bar. And now we’re starting to hear about “deficit neutrality,” which is a much lower bar. It implies losing revenue but offsetting part of the costs of the tax cuts by cutting spending, which makes the cuts even more regressive.
The ACA is not “collapsing under its own weight”: Not even close. It continues to cover millions who previously lacked affordable coverage, while helping to drive down costs. Its biggest problems have been (a) the states that did not take the Medicaid expansion, and (b) the difficult insurers have had calibrating prices in the individual market (the exchanges). “B” is totally fixable and is improving on its own. But it will take congressional efforts to bear some of the risk faced by insurers in these markets, as was foreseen by the ACA’s architecture. “A” may improve as states recognize that the ACA is here to stay and when/if their politics shift.

Raising the debt ceiling is needed to pay for current, not future spending: You’ll soon be hearing arguments from hard-right conservatives that they can’t support increasing the debt ceiling because it will encourage more government spending. But the reason the government needs to borrow beyond the currently allowable ceiling is to pay for spending Congress has already appropriated. They’ve eaten the meal, and now they’re saying they don’t want to pay for it, because to do so would simply encourage eating future meals. I’m ready to argue all day about future spending needs, as I pointed out above re the inadequacy of revenue neutrality. But there’s no argument to be had about paying the bills on spending on which you’ve already signed off.

Our anti-poverty programs work, so cutting them will hurt people: This is in reference to a canard I associate with Paul Ryan, who constantly argues that our poverty programs fail to lower the share of the poor. In fact, measures which account for the impact of anti-poverty policies — programs that have increased over the years but are wrongly omitted from the official poverty measure — show that these programs reduced poverty by almost half in 2015 and have lowered the share of the poor by 10 percentage points since the late 1960s.
Trump inherited a strong job market: Glenn Kessler presents the numbers and evidence here, though why he scores this as a 2 versus a 4 Pinocchio falsehood is beyond me (I’d at least give Trump 4 Papagenos).

These phony arguments have been pitched for much longer than the norm-crushing lies of the Trump regime. But they too erode our politics and our policies. In fact, by creating and elevating the falsehood that government exists solely to redistribute wealth to the already wealthy, they’ve led to a dystopic, cynical, nonrepresentative politics that helped paved the way for Trump.

So what are your thoughts? To comment, just click on the yellow post-it note at the top of this rant.

MaGoogle Out

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Panicking Mitch McConnell Shoves Entire Senate Healthcare Bill Into Mouth As Democrat Walks Past

Posted by MaGoogle on June 20, 2017 in Weekly Rant |

WASHINGTON—Quickly crumpling up all 500 pages of the legislation upon hearing footsteps in the hallway, sources reported Tuesday that a panicked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shoved the entire Senate healthcare bill in his mouth as a Democratic senator walked past. According to witnesses, McConnell became visibly flustered upon realizing there was no place to hide from the Democratic colleague approaching his doorway and began ripping wads of documents from a binder and cramming them through his open jaws as rapidly as possible. Asked about the location of an upcoming meeting, McConnell, cheeks distended to many times their original size, reportedly grunted several times and gestured toward a nearby conference room. At press time, McConnell had spit out the massive clump of saliva-coated, half-chewed papers, which, while largely illegible, would reportedly insure 10 million more people than the original.
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The Paradox of Our Time

Posted by MaGoogle on June 14, 2017 in Weekly Rant |

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.


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