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Norma “Duffy” Lyon, whose cow sculptures made of butter were for decades a big draw at the Iowa State Fair, died of a stroke on Sunday at 81.

Even outside the state, Lyon’s work was the stuff of folklore.

But while she normally steered clear of politics, Lyon was inspired by Barack Obama’s insurgent presidential candidacy in 2007.

“Barack Obama’s got a real plan for rural America. And it’s gutsy, because it looks out for us, not lobbyists,” Lyon intoned on a radio ad released by the Obama campaign in October of that year, just when he was beginning to pick up steam ahead of his stunner caucus victory in January that propelled him, eventually, to the Democratic nomination.

Click here to download the radio spot

“But the best part is he listened, and knows our kids need opportunity here in Iowa so they don’t have to leave home to follow their dreams — even that if that dream is 500 pounds of butter, shaped like a cow,” she goes on.

Duffy was a key cultural validator for the exotic-sounding Obama right when he needed voters in the state to become more comfortable with him.

Obama carried Iowa by nearly ten points in the 2008 general election.

Photo by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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