High Taxes and American Greatness

High Taxes and American Greatness

The Golden Era of American Greatness occurred in large part thanks to the highest taxes in U.S. history, as shown in the graph below [1]. Those taxes paid for an unprecedented national infrastructure, massive technological innovations, advanced education, a relatively effective government, social programs to stave off another Great Depression, and the most powerful military forces in human history. Those sky-high taxes were mitigated by a complex system of exemptions. Taxpayers (corporate and otherwise) who invested money back into the country – and who thus sustained the economy and society with methods other than government tax-funds – could lower their Read more »

Guns, Media, and Money

Guns, Media, and Money

The United States was built upon five things that are biting us hard in the ass right now: 1. A literally religious mythology of divine favor. 2. A culture founded entirely upon buying and selling goods. 3. A revolution conducted by eloquent idealists who also owned slaves. 4. The slavery and genocide of everyone who dared to get in the way of the first three elements. 5. A conflux of mass media, technology and literacy unknown in the world until that point. That mass-media – from broadsides to newspapers to TV to the internet – has sold Americans the impression Read more »

Murder, Terrorism, Treason – Call Them What They Are

Murder, Terrorism, Treason – Call Them What They Are

MURDER. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him Read more »

Iron Men and Diamond Dogs (Music, Magic & History, Part VIII)

Iron Men and Diamond Dogs (Music, Magic & History, Part VIII)

…those born of the underground had found the massive financial rewards of their commercial success overwhelming, and misspent the better part of the music’s artistic currency. That failure of nerve had simply and tragically reduced rock’s practical power to the power of business. – Fred Goodman, The Mansion on the Hill (Though largely absent from the airwaves, the original Black Sabbath changed the face of rock.) Social unrest and abhorrent popular culture spin a number of musical experiments into full-blown movements during the 1970s. Although metal, punk, reggae, and other styles can be traced back to the 1960s – and Read more »

Sucking in the ‘70s (Music, Magic & History, Part VII)

Sucking in the ‘70s  (Music, Magic & History, Part VII)

It was as if Morrison had foreseen the Manson-esque destruction of the hippie idyll, confronting the dysfunction of hippie kids initially liberated by sex, drugs and music but now disoriented, frightened, and potentially dangerous. – Barney Hoskyns, from the liner notes for the 2007 expanded CD edition of the Doors album Strange Days (As with the ’70s themselves, folks often forget how dark this movie really was.)    Magic has a price. And as the late ‘60s slide into the early ‘70s, the musical bill comes due. By the time President Nixon resigns and the last U.S. helicopters flee Saigon, Read more »

The Times, They Are A’Changin’ (Music, Magic & History, Part VI)

The Times, They Are A’Changin’ (Music, Magic & History, Part VI)

I throw myself on the altar of your art. Publicist Diane Gardiner, to Jimi Hendrix Change comes from unlikely places… in this case, coffee dens, German nightclubs, second-hand blues records, and a collection of recordings made decades ago. In the backwash of rock’s first tide, creative misfits take the lead. England, Germany, France and other nations catch rock-n-roll fever even as it dies down in America; here, though, many fans prefer authentic blues to the whitewashed product humming on U.S. airwaves. An armful of blues and rock recordings sparks one of music history’s most significant partnerships; Keith Richards re-encounters his Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Rumble (Music, Magic & History, Part V)

Mystic Rhythms: Rumble (Music, Magic & History, Part V)

If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars. – attributed to Sam Phillips, owner of  the Memphis Recording Service, and the man who “discovered” Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley (incidentally, Phillips denied having ever said this) (Arguably the first rock-n-roll recording, Ike Turner’s “Rocket ’88′”) It starts with the blues riffing of a poor boy named Bo Diddly. It rises in the duck-strut of a handsome dude named Chuck Berry. It ignites when a white truck driver catches “that Negro sound” in the gyrations of his Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Anything Goes (Music, Magic & History, Part IV)

Mystic Rhythms: Anything Goes (Music, Magic & History, Part IV)

The sound is the freedom. The chord don’t mean nothing.– Ornette Coleman, interviewed in Andrew Zuckerman’s book Music   (Image from Powerchords: Music, Magick & Urban Fantasy; art by Bryan Syme) If blues is the Devil’s music, then its offspring – jazz, country, soul and rock – are its four horsemen. Thundering across electric highways, these fertile musicologies plunder everything they find. Jazz shares the outlaw origins of blues, but focuses more on instrumental prowess than personal catharsis. Supposedly named for sexual intercourse, jazz takes the most sensual elements of European, African and American music, and then heats them to Read more »

The American Revolution: Misconceptions Clarified

The American Revolution: Misconceptions Clarified

Given the common misconception that the American Revolution was won by some rag-tag militia force (a view restated on one of my blogs by a friend who is, of all things, a teacher), and the pervasive influence of that myth on our political discourse, I had to set a few things straight. (Thank you, France. We’ll be sure to repay your help by slandering you for the next 235 years.) That “rag-tag group” with “only their wits and resourcefulness” was actually a well-funded collection of brilliant political and military thinkers; outfitted with strong industrial, natural and agricultural resources; packed with Read more »