Dave Paxton

It could be that I’ve been staggered the past week or so by the loss of three great old friends. It could be that I grew mold on my brain prior to this week and the sun coming back out. But merciful heaven, we do live in depressing times.

I have been an early riser ever since my mother dragged me out of bed as a seven-year-old to fill the waterers for our donkeys and feed the dogs. So tuning into Fox and Friends at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and flipping back and forth to catch Jeriann Ritter’s weather forecast on Channel 13 is something I look forward to every morning.

Tuesday morning I almost went back to bed. Fox and Friends played back a news clip of some ancient Broadway actress who was bemoaning the fact that John Wilkes Booth was no longer alive to take care of Donald Trump. No, really, that’s what she said, almost verbatim. She felt the need to assassinate the President of the United States.

And then they showed a morning clip of MSNBC talking head Joe Scaroborough who said on the 17th anniversary of 9-11 that President Trump was more dangerous than the terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers. He said it with conviction, which convinces me he is a lunatic.

Frankly, I am unable to process this kind of insanity.

Then there was the news clip of whacko Democrat Maxine Waters who was rallying her troops to shout down any Republican or nominal non-party Trump supporter, anywhere, anytime, in church, in restaurants, in school settings. There is a word for this. It is called “fascism,” a form of government which is a type of one-party dictatorship. Fascists are against democracy. They work for a totalitarian one-party state. It demands adherence to a strict single party line of thought and speech.

If Waters, a long-time black liberal Democrat is part of the face of the party, we are in deep, deep trouble, particularly if Democrats ever regain power in Washington, D.C.

I watched some 17th anniversary of 9-11 on the History Channel and on ESPN (of all places) and wondered how in the world we got to where we are today with open contempt and talk of assassination of our President and washed out NFL players being called heroic for wearing pig socks and kneeling for the national anthem. There was none of that in the weeks that followed the attack on the U.S. by Islamic terrorists. In fact, it was Major League Baseball and NFL football that served as a national force for good. The NFL, at least, is now a force for political lunacy.

And then I happened to think about my three friends, ranging in age from 76 to 89 when they died. One was extremely sharp politically, one I’m pretty sure didn’t care a whit. The third, a farmer who was as brilliant an artist and sculptor as I’ve every met, probably had strong political convictions, but preferred not to share them.

The best parts of them had virtually nothing to do with their politics. Betty was a person I had the joy of being on stage with several times. She was buoyant, bubbly, full of life and energy, who could make you laugh by tilting her head or mangling American English that she had never completely adapted to from her Welsh childhood.

Janet was just one of those super deep thinkers who had the courage to place her thoughts on paper and share them with newspaper readers. She often found herself taking on somebody or something in local, state and national politics, but her very best thinking arrived in terms of something she’d stumbled on reading a cookbook, or observing a grandchild or reading a mystery novel.

There are all sorts of East and West Coast snobs who have never met a Midwest farmer and consider them all rubes and mental misfits. How wrong these people are, especially when you consider people like Junior. I will admit that my taste in original art work is extremely narrow. I like Frederick Remmington paintings of the Old West, I like Native American and Mountain Man era sculptures and art, I like Larry Zach wildlife art and I like people who draw and paint old cars and pick-ups. I didn’t even know what barbed wire art was until I happened into Junior’s crop insurance office and saw one of his pieces, made from rusted, farm fresh barbed wire.

I’m not sure how many pieces he made. My wife and I have his butterfly barbed wire art in our front yard. He made eight-foot corn stalks, combines, airplanes, pick-up trucks and steamships with moveable parts. Each part was meticulously bent and crafted with fingers so strong he could probably have used them as vice grips. Everything was in perfect three dimensional order, left the color of rusted barbed wire, hanging and sitting and leaning throughout the GP Insurance office in Albia.

I begged him to bring all of his work out and place them in an art display for one of our community celebrations. It never interested him, partly because he would have had to fetch all of the pieces he’d given to people along the way. One of his last pieces was a perfectly sized football that is likely sitting in the office of New England Patriot’s Coach Bill Belichek. Another football he created will be auctioned for the Welcome Home Soldier Monument. I’ve got a feeling the value of this will increase dramatically following his untimely death.

His artwork was a whole lot like his life. Simple and rustically beautiful, but intricate and complicated in its creation. His joy in working his barbed wire art was as much in the giving of that art to people whom he loved as it was in the creative process.

So I think about the crazy crap people on both sides of the political spectrum puke out on an unsuspecting public and wonder if they have any idea that it has virtually no value. My yellow lab yapping at a squirrel is more important than anything Maxine Waters or Joe Scarborough or any number of showbiz effites have to say, because the dog at least seeks to answer the challenge before him.

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