Thursday, November 4, 2010

Moving on

For quite a while, one of my favorite blogs has been this aggregation called Norwegianity.  The blog's creator calls himself the "Wege" and is this almost perfect example of the guys I grew up with.  Most importantly, he is an Iowa farm kid.  My father was a preacher but the folks in our churches were always rural so I got to know quite a few boys like Wege as a child.

Farm kids at their best are amazing.  Because of their lives and locations, they get to witness hundreds of biological processes up close so tend to be very grounded.  Every farm kid I knew had real jobs by the time they were in first grade so they understand hard work.  Because farms are isolated, the best of them wind up extraordinarily well read--the Wege once claimed he went through a period in life where he was reading 150 books a year.  I have NO problem believing him.

When I started blogging, the Wege provided me with a template for how I wanted to do it.  He blogged every day--farmers never get a day off, ya know.  He was grounded in the reality that teaches "if you want crops at harvest time, you must plant in the spring."  And his wide-ranging reading had taught him that there are a LOT of interesting parts that make up the whole.

Yesterday, the Wege claimed he was quitting--at least he claims he will not blog any more about politics in USA.  After watching the Democrats piss away their incredible mandate of 2008, I can understand his frustration and rage.  But more importantly, I believe the Wege is on to something very interesting--the possibility that politics isn't the problem but merely the symptom.  Think about it--on paper Obama was the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt.  In practice, he was George W. Bush in blackface--a Harvard Law Review editor who fumbled every opportunity he faced.  Obama has been SO inept, it started looking like he was dropping the ball on purpose.

Of course, the problem of the best and the brightest doing incredibly stupid and evil things is not new.  It's why Halberstam wrote his book, after all.  In this view of the world, Obama isn't W. in blackface, he's Robert McNamara--screwing up the world with his pinched Harvard worldview.

And Obama is, unfortunately, not the only example of a Democrat who can say all the right things but underneath, is really REALLY screwed up.  Here in Minnesota, we have perhaps an even better example (at least I can understand it better.)  In the DFL primary for governor, we had a guy who--on paper--should have been my absolutely perfect candidate.  His name is Matt Entenza.  And the reason I liked him was he understood that building a society powered by renewables required hard work, a LOT of money, and leaders with a clear vision.  He said so in his political ads.

Matt did not stand a chance of becoming the DFL nominee.  Not only had he committed the unpardonable sin of suggesting that doing right by the environment was going to require more than folks rolling a fat one and proclaiming their heartfelt concerns for mother earth, he was widely known as Mr. Lois Quam.

Ms. Quam is just an extreme example of another sort of person from my childhood--the hyper-accomplished Norwegian Lutheran preacher's daughter.  I have a sister who played Bach for a wedding when she was nine--trust me, I know women like Quam.  She was the kind of woman my parents sent me to Bible Camp to meet.

Ms. Quam has made a LARGE pile of money in life--millions came from exercising some stock options granted her while working for United Health.  What she did was, from all accounts, perfectly legal.  But at a time when the rest of the country is literally going bankrupt because USA medicine is so ridiculously over-priced, a person who made a killing with a paper maneuver in the medical-industrial complex will never be looked at as a paragon of virtue.

And Quam SHOULD have known better.  The Lutherans who settled the upper midwest built and ran hospitals.  (In Minneapolis, they even built one called Lutheran Deaconess--a deaconess is this rare nun-like creature no one has seen for decades.)  The idea was to provide quality help for the sick who were usually poor because they were sick.  The idea that someone should make millions profiting off the misfortunes of others was once for a Lutheran, literally unthinkable.  It is certainly NOT what the Lutherans had in mind when they opened their hearts and wallets to build those hospitals.

So the interesting questions are: how did a black community organizer become so reactionary, he makes Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon look progressive? or, how did a little-miss-perfect Lutheran preacher's daughter become so wicked she thought it perfectly fine to rip off the sick?

So Wege if you are still looking for something to do now that you have supposedly given up on politics, perhaps you might give some thought and energy to answering the questions of why the culture became so corrupt, a sane and uplifting politics became impossible--why even the best and the brightest failed us.

Chris Hedges has written an interesting book on this topic called, "Death of the Liberal Class."  Hedges certainly understands the Lois Quams of this world--he is also a preacher's kid (Presbyterian).  And here he explains his ideas.

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