A New Blog

Most of my current commentary is now on another blog. Go to American Reactionary for more dribble from your humble corespondent.


A New World

In an ever changing and uncertain world we are facing a stark new possibility. This is that the Generations Z and Y, those born between 1982-2010 will be so culturally different from preceding groups as to create a rift in American society. This is no academic essay. It is simply the ramblings of one who sees changes in our generational culture that are not quite for the better.

The older members of the so-called Generation X are in some ways the last vessels of memory for many cultural constants in America. That will come as a shock too many over 50 who view Xer’s as too young to understand the post-WWII world. Yet we are the threshold generation for a technological revolution. We are the last to know a world before cable and satellite TV became common. We are the last to know unairconditioned schools, no microwave ovens, no cell phones, no home computers and no internet. For the average 18-year-old American now lacking all these things would be as alien as living in a Franciscan monastery.

We remember the world of Cronkite, Nixon, Ford, Carter and most dear to many of us, Reagan. Many of our parents were of the Silent Generation from 1925-45. My own grandparents were born on the front end of the Greatest Generation 1901-1924. One grandfather was born before the Wright brothers flew. Many Generation Xers learned our life lessons from these earlier groups whose daily lives are as far removed from what most of us now know as to make them unrecognizable.

Growing up I thought everyone’s grandparents had an outhouse. Conveying that thought to a 25-year-old brought me a blank stare.

I venture that most Generation X members have embraced the technology that surrounds us now and use it daily. The very forum for this writing is evidence of that. We staff IT departments, run communications, man the military, and develop new technologies daily. We do all these things that younger generations take for granted yet many of us keep a foot in the past.

I know such generalizations do not take in everyone but they do mark larger trends. For instance I know several people in my own age group that grow a vegetable garden at their home. This may seem a small thing but it is a link with the past because our parents and grandparents and ancestors immemorial did it. We learned it as children by helping and so it became second nature. This is a small thing in some ways. Yet it is indicative that for the most part only those of Generations Y and Z who live in rural settings or on farms still uphold this practice.

Growing a garden does not alone set a group apart. Many other things apply as well. From what I can tell Generation X adults tend to be more conservative socially than younger groups. They also seem to be better able to solve problems without reliance on the newest technology.

This is not a condemnation of Y and Z generations. They can no more control the world they are brought into than any other generation could. Yet it is disturbing that they have less and less contact daily with an American past that was more self-reliant, less globalist and more in tune with things larger than ourselves. A quick look through personal postings on YouTube will reveal a grinding self-centeredness that glares in many people of these generations. Much of this is encouraged or enabled by overindulgent parents who themselves were already loosing touch with the past.

I wonder where we will be when only those of Generation X will be able to recall those lessons of the Greatest Generation. What are we loosing as a culture and country when we break our ties to a past that though not perfect, seems so much more in tune with reality and with sustainability than what we have now?

von Rum

Von Rum has been absent from blogging (that detestable word) for some time now. Much has transpired since the last post and yet little has changed. Little ever does.

From earthquakes in Haiti to the Gulf oil spill to the blockade of Gaza events beyond our shores still baffle, infuriate and even harm us. At home the economy is still in the tank despite any falsehoods put forth by government mouthpieces. Fear and uncertainty are not good fertilizer for growing an economy yet we have a surplus of both. Add to this a growing illegal immigration problem which compounds a chronic shortage of health care providers. All in all things are as they were when we last met.

On that cheerful note….

On an anecdotal note it has been observed by a friend that the more information we have at our fingertips, the less of it we want. This is of course not universal. There are those junkies who spend every waking moment delving deeper into news websites, cable news and blogs both frivolous and serious. We can access this through television, cell phone, laptop, desktop, newsprint or even through a wii.

This hyperflood of information in an ever increasing volume and speed has perhaps for some reached critical mass. Some are going over the edge to obsession with current events and the technology to collect the data. This hypersensitivity to world events often makes those who feed on this news tend toward paranoia and anxiety.

Others are quietly severing ties with this particular form of rat race. They have chosen to focus on their daily lives, their family, their job, their faith, perhaps even their garden or just painting the house. Anything has become preferable to the latest international crisis, layoff or outbreak.

Still more are perhaps simply burned out by a decade of one crisis after another. The war has become distant and foggy as to its goals. This, even as casualties mount. Our remoteness from the battlefield combined with the relatively few who prosecute the war makes our population as a whole numb to the events. If we can become immune to the suffering of a war that our nation is directly involved in, you can imagine our indifference to those regions we know little of and make no sacrifice in.

As an example notice the relative speed with which the ongoing nightmare in Haiti has faded from popular discourse. The suffering goes on everywhere yet there comes a point at which digital images are no longer enough to maintain our focus. So whether by design or drift some of the politically active of the past are tiring. On the right, traditional conservatives seem at times to only be kept involved by the vitality of the Tea Party and the incompetence of Obama.

Of course there are critics of this approach. “How can you just stand by when all of this is happening?”, they might ask. “It matters for your future.” could be equally compelling. These points cannot be contested. However, those who have chosen to shut out at least some of the endless chatter have a point too. A world of over informed activists does not present a pretty picture. The idea that some form of tranquility and peace can be derived from constant action is contradictory. Vigilance with occasional action is the key.

To be informed and prepared to secure the safety and future of your family is wise. To drive yourself to distraction with and information overload is not. While long having been well informed and concerned about our political and economic situation, von Rum has begun to embrace a more reduced stress view.

Of course events in our times are troubling. The economy is in the tank. Terrorism continues abroad and there are attempts at home. The Obama administration seems to be moving toward quasi-dictatorship or ignoble collapse or both. It would seem that now more than ever we need to be constantly vigilant as the founding fathers said. This is not contested. It can be said though that we cannot allow our very beings to be consumed by events outside our control. To constantly fret over events beyond our control is maddening.

Deal rather with what is in front of you. Focus on what you can control and do your best at it. This is no revelation just a reminder of what our ancestors had always known. In our 24/7 world however, it is easy to forget and let yourself drown in information and worry. Yes, bad things are happening. Some you can do something about; most you cannot. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

von Rum

We are witnessing something that is as American as apple pie despite the attempts of various media outlets to portray it otherwise. The event is the mass protests against a government run health care system. Yet some find these town hall protests, heated as they are, to be “un-American” That was the term used to describe the protesters by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

They stated this in an editorial in USA Today. They specifically stated the the drowning out of other voices in protest was un-American. This is laughable. One of the hallmarks of a healthy Republic is boisterous debate and not a little passionate shouting. One doubts the Speaker would find much appealing in the rhetoric of someone like, say Samuel Adams. The Revolutionary War leader was a master of both fomenting passions against the Crown and using reasoned legal arguments against an ever encroaching government. He was also not above shouting down any opposition to the ideals of liberty. I suppose Mr. Adams would be unwelcome at a Pelosi town hall meeting.

I also found it interesting that some of the leftist MSNBC hosts have more or less suggested that it is only health care and the “AstroTurf” protesters should just calm down and go away. I am quite certain that King George III and Lord North probably said to the colonists “its only taxes”.

A divide has been revealed in America this summer. There is a growing realization that the government is swollen with both debt and laws to an untenable size. As a country we cannot continue the unabated spending and borrowing as we have over the last 50 years. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty. Yet we now propose over a trillion in new health care spending on top of a Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security system that are virtually broke. Or national viability in the future depends on finding a way not to expand these government programs but to reduce them.

Yes I said reduce these entitlement programs. We must work to create a culture that is less dependent on government programs not more so. That is a real American solution. As much as possible these programs must be privatized. At the same time we must adopt a new (actually old) philosophy on the role of government. The Federal government of course will be of little help in this since it has no interest in reducing its own power base. It must come from the people and from a concerted efforts by the states to reclaim their constitutional powers that have been usurped by Washington.

Our children must learn this from us for no one else will teach them. Certainly not government school teachers. That is the one area the protesters at the town halls fail in. They do not advocate loudly enough for a real alternative to the continued grown of government and its intrusion into private life. They and we must loudly proclaim “NO MORE”.

Some may see this as utopian but I suppose the Founding Fathers were looked at the same way. When occasionally asked about future planning my advice is to plan for your life, retirement, and old age as if government did not exist. This is not only to prevent a catastrophe should entitlement programs fail but to create a culture that is able to adapt without directions from government. Most Americans today cannot imagine a world without entitlement programs but not so long ago they did not exist and yet our nation endured and prospered.

We must seek that again.

von Rum


Walking the dog tonight I notice a cool breeze blowing. Normally this would illicit no thought except for the fact that it is July. Such a wind is rare in the Carolinas this time of year. That had me thinking how many other rare or strange things are swirling about these days and so I bring to you this group of oddities.

1. First we have had the recent passing of Michael Jackson. No one could have been surprised by this this. Nor could they have been taken aback by the media circus surrounding it. If the same level of attention was paid to the death of a soldier or a saint (of which he was neither) I suspect we would see a different world.

2. We have the case of Governor Mark Sanford of the South Carolina. The public political suicide of a rising star and possible presidential candidate is worth noting. What is not worth noting is the repeated public confessions of his indiscretions and sins which we need not know. That he is a liar and a cheat as well as a thief we are aware. With whom an how often we will leave to his poor wife and the Attorney General of South Carolina.

3. The economy and the stimulus package. I suspect that few Americans can yet grasp the implications of the money that has been spent and wasted. It is on a scale unprecedented in human history. Yet those who propagated this crime sit in office and find new ways to spend money they must steal from you, print from thin air, or borrow. Staggering is too weak a word. Despite (or because of) the Obama promises to save 600,000 jobs in early June, we just recieved news of a higher than expected June loss of 467,000 jobs following May’s loss of 322,000. I am sure the Obama administration has a neat, muddy, ambiguous, and empirically unsustainable argument for the fact that the $787 billion stimulus plan has been a conspicuous and historic failure so far. They always do. This train wreck of an administation is already worse that the previous monumentally bad eight years.

4. We commit more troops, lives, and fortunes to a pile of rubble called Afghanistan (which is little more than a geographic term). As Obama pours thousands more into this pointless war with a shadow enemy and no real strategic goal or necessity we go further down the road to an imperial occupier. With this goes the further erosion of the economy, liberty, and self reliance in the name of national security. In this the “liberal” Obama is no different from and perhaps worse that his “conservative” predicesor.

This 4th of July I hope we can all remember just what happened on that date. Not the date of D-day or 9-11 or anything else. We need to remember the sacrifice of safety, freedom, fortune and life that was made by those with no prospect of winning their liberty other than their courage and faith in victory. Beside that most of our modern perils fade into insignificance.

von Rum

von Rum apologizes for his tardiness in posting.

John McCain remarked that Obama now has more Czar’s than the Romanov’s. Sadly this is true.

Beginning with the Energy Czar under Nixon and the Drug Czar under Reagan, US Presidents have shown an inclination to create posts of all encompassing power answerable only to themselves. All have done it, though Obama has carried it to new heights.

We now have Czars of Drugs, Cars, Bank Bailouts, the Middle East, the US border, and most recently a Cyber Czar to being policing of the internet. In all there are over 20 of these appointed officials.

The most disturbing thing about them are their extra-Constitutionality. They are not subject to confirmation by the Senate as Cabinet members are. The Cabinet has traditionally been the seat of such oversight officers. These, along with the head of the CIA and the Pentagon officers have been accountable to Congress and as such indirectly to the citizens. The new Czarist officials are not similarly accountable.

This gathering of power into the hands of a few unelected and uncontrolled people answerable only to the President is a terrible precedent. It smacks of despotism and is nothing more than a further engorgement of the Imperial Presidency.

It has been argued that the Czars create more efficient problem solving because they are outside and above the traditional archaic bureaucracy in Washington. This is hogwash. The in fact create more bureaucrats and more turf wars multiplying the hands in the pot and the costs of each effort to solve anything. They are in fact the opposite of efficiency. The fact that many of them are also overseeing areas of American life never meant to be the prerogative of the Federal government is even more insidious.

Even the king of pork, Senator Robert Byrd D-WV has had the foresight to condemn the practice of appointing Czars. He wrote to Obama that the system, “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances,”. He also complained that it gives the President too much power. The strange thing is that Obama complained about that very thing as a candidate. He claimed the Bush White House had used executive privileges to accrue too much power. He called for transparency. His hypocrisy in appointing all these unaccountable executives to their fiefdoms is staggering.

In less than five months Barack Obama has gathered to himself more executive power than George W. Bush could in eight years. Change has been called for and delivered. We have changed presidents from an incompetent quasi-liberal Bush to a skilled messianic socialist with, at best delusions of grandeur and at worst a despotic streak that threatens the Republic.

A century of steadily increasing the power of the executive branch of government at the expense of the accountability and oversight of the Congress has gotten us here. This combined with an election system that smacks of corruption and an insulated political class have created a gulf between life in America and life in Washington D.C.

This is the cause of the strange irony that as the power of the Federal government has grown our respect for and support of that government has dropped precipitously. In 1916 the greatest contact that most Americans had with the Federal government or Federal law was the Post Office. The respect for Uncle Sam was great because it was distant. When he is in your living room every day then he, like guests and fish, begins to smell. Familiarity does not breed contempt, it is contempt.

Hail Caesar!



Yesterday the Governor of North Carolina, Beverly Purdue signed into law an act prohibiting the smoking of tobacco in restaurants and bars in the state. For some this may seem a victory and good thing. For many in the state it is a betrayal and a criminal act.

At any rate for any reasonable observer who is concerned with his or her personal liberty this must be an ominous sign. One not need be a smoker either.

As this ban is set to take effect on 2 January 2010 we contemplate what other laws and trends are coming our way. Indeed which have already arrived by way of our state and federal governments.

It seems we are entering a period of the surreal. At a time in which state, local and federal legislation becomes even more “sensitive” and puritianical in drafting laws, these same bodies are increasingly immoral and ignorant of their role in this Republic.

A few examples. While wailing away at the dangers of public smoking legislatures nationwide and the federal government have adopted economic policies that will put our children into debt for most if not all their lives. Is this healthy? While pursuing mass mandatory vaccinations that could be leading to allergic and deep health issues the states also allow, encourage and in some cases subsidize the slaughter of millions of unborn children. If it is a matter of choice to abort a child why is it not a matter of choice for a parent to look after the children who are alive? The hypocrisy is staggering. While I do not advocate any parent leave their children to chance with childhood diseases, I also oppose them having these choices (if that is the word) forced upon them at the point of a gun by the state.

I continue. While demanding that property owners surrender the right to allow a perfectly legal act in their own businesses the state is schizophrenic in its application. By singling out only restaurants and bars that serve food it leaves a whole swath of public locations free. If this was such a dire health issue and beyond question then there should have been no difficulty in a total statewide ban in all public or even private places. If it was as bad as it is portrayed to be then state trucks would be plowing up tobacco fields as I write this and shutting down cigarette factories. But then, oh the horror, that would cost the treasury in these troubled times.

It seems any act, no matter how ridiculous can now be passed by wrapping it in one of two mantles. Those are “to protect our children” and “national security”. Both arguments are often as hollow as the souls of those who espouse them. We will ban any traditionally protected or culturally acceptable practice to “protect the children” yet send those who bravely volunteer for military service on fools missions in pointless wars to be killed in vain.

All the while the traditional protections of privacy and liberty with a balance of community interest are being subverted. Not in the interests of the community against the individual as some argue, but in the interests of the state. As the power of the states grows over our lives our respect for and use for that same state diminishes. I wonder at which point a critical mass will arrive.

No wonder you can wander into any bar, restaurant, park, farmhouse, outhouse or doghouse and hear people rail against the government. It is no longer our government but we are still the governed.