Dave Paxton

I’ve got 12 days to enjoy being 64 years of age and I guess 365 days to enjoy being 65.

For some reason (mostly dealing with retirement) 65 seems to be an important date in the life of a person. Actually, you can’t take your full Social Security until you’re 66, although you can start Medicare when you’re 65.

I’ve long since accepted the fact that AARP will hound me for the rest of my life to join and I’m pretty sure I’m going to let them keep hounding. Even though I’m officially a senior citizen and could retire and join this merry band of elderly pilferers, I’m not going to. I rarely accept a senior discount and rarely order off a senior’s menu, although I’ve never quite figured out why a senior’s one egg, bacon and toast costs $4.99 and a regular person’s one egg, bacon and toast costs $6.95.

See, I remember being 30 years old with two kids, a wife and a mortgage really needing a junior’s discount. The entire world operates backwards in my view. If we really wanted to make America Great Again, we’d have Congress pass a law that if you graduated high school with passing grades, you could retire for the next 30 years to enjoy all the things in life that need energy and enthusiasm, then you’d enter college or the work force and work until you dropped dead.

As it is, much of what an aging person really wants to do is within financial reach, but you have neither the energy nor the working knees to do it.

Actually my theory would cut down on wars if we drafted men and women into the armed services upon their 50th birthday. “Like hell I’m going to do that,” a newly trained 50-year-old private would say. “Figure out some other way to capture Baghdad Bill.”

I really think the workplace would be a better place as well. What you lose in energy and the willingness to do about anything, you’d gain in wisdom and knowledge of life. In other words, you wouldn’t drive the company’s new forklift through a garage door.

Anyway, it’s just a thought. A whimsy of a man approaching his 65th birthday.

I’m not sure what I will do to celebrate. I had intended to enter the Iowa Games and play racquetball with my longtime 70-year-old partner in the “master’s division.” You can play master’s division when you hit 65. Frankly I’m not sure why they term a division made up of guys with knee and hip replacements, poor eyesight and slow reaction time “masters.” At any rate, I read the rules and I’m actually two days too young to play. My birthday is on a Monday, the tournament on the previous Friday and Saturday.

I could enter the 55 and older tournament, but I remember what I did to guys 65 years of age or older when I was 55, and I decided against it. I also considered faking my birthday, but a true master would not lie to gain the edge, even if I could effectively feign memory loss. “My birthday is….uhmmm….July or maybe June.”

I’m actually hoping to celebrate at the state softball tournament in Fort Dodge but that is entirely dependent on 15-18 year old girls.

The news of Ross Perot’s death at the age of 89 didn’t elicit an emotional response one way or another, but it did take me back to 1992 and the arguments I had with my dad, who left the Republican Party and George H.W. Bush to become a Perotista. He and my mother both voted for the jug-eared Perot.

It wasn’t that I had anything against Perot. It’s just that I was pretty sure losing 19 percent of the vote would hand the election to Bill Clinton, who I was convinced was a flim flam man with an aw shucks way of hiding his true self. I was right about Perot and wrong about Clinton. Clinton was actually a brilliant (albeit morally corrupt) politician.

Ironically, Ross Perot gave birth to the candidacy of Donald Trump as well as other big money business people (the latest now Democrat Tom Steyer). The difference between Perot and Trump (other than cartoonists drew Perot’s ears and now draw Trump’s hair) is that Trump didn’t run as an Independent. He captured the party itself. I’m not sure if it was Trump’s personal charisma or if there were just enough conservative Americans sick of namby pamby, get-along, go-along Republicans to push him through the primaries. And I don’t remember if Perot ever really tried to enter Republican (Democrat for that matter) politics or went right for the Independent vote.

I do remember reminding my dad that Theodore Roosevelt ran the last major third party campaign and gave us the completely ineffective Woodrow Wilson and his horribly thought out League of Nations, which gave rise to Hitler’s Nazi Party. It didn’t matter, Dad didn’t like the Ivy League elder Bush, even though history shows that he was an honest, forthright guy who managed a tidy White House and prosecuted the first Gulf War brilliantly.

People forget that Perot ran again against Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996, but it was an embarrassment. Dole was one of the worst candidates in GOP history, Clinton was a rising star (pre-Monica Lewinsky) and Perot was mostly billionaire ego by then.

It’s too bad that history will remember him as a goofy little Napoleon figure who seemed to exist in a constant state of irritation. He was actually a patriot, a brilliant businessman in the fledgling computer industry and a man willing to take huge risks for the return of American POWs and his own IDS employees.

A Minneapolis suburban city council (St. Louis Park) voted 5-0 to discontinue the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance to open council meetings. “We concluded that in order to create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community we’re going to forgo saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting,” a council member said. Do they not understand what “Liberty and Justice for all” means?

Actually, lots of city councils and boards of supervisors don’t start meetings with the Pledge, but to remove it because it somehow portrays a less than welcoming environment and anti-diversity was too much, even for the people of St. Louis Park. People (many with Trump caps and t-shirts) packed the council chambers, stood and shouted down the council by reciting the Pledge to start the proceedings.

As the great American Prophet Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Way too many people matriculating into politics are simply stupid.

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