“Islam Will Dominate” I Call Bullshit

“Islam will dominate” proclaim placards waved by bearded fanatics. Organizations such as Shariah4Belgium, and similar groups in Holland, Britain and France scream of their dreams of Islamic victory while they harass moderate Muslims and secularists. Naive multiculturalists chanting the “Coexist” mantra, craven politicians, and worse those cynical enough to pander for the Muslim vote as did George Galloway in Britain and Holland in France prime Islamist confidence.

They should enjoy their present day surge because of this I am certain, and would say to them:

One day you will call down a terrible retribution on yourselves.

From the jezails that some still carry in the Arabian desert, the cell phones you use to detonate your cowardly IEDs, to the atomic weaponry the Iranians hope for, everything you use against us, you got from us.

And one day, we will take it all away

Your lies and subversion of our institutions have worked  to spread your falsehoods, but more and more of see beyond this.

 

It is you who will suffer, and suffer you will gladly for your nihilism blinds you to the misery that centuries of oppression have wreaked upon our peoples.  The miserable level of development and wretched human lives that characterize your world will be infinitely worse when the reckoning comes.  This did not have to be, but perhaps it does have to be so.  When you turned your back on reason a millennium ago and, instead, embraced war as your principal argument, you doomed yourselves.

And when the free peoples of the West revolt and eject you as a foreign body, you will glory in your martyrdom, but your women and children, your innocent neighbors, all of you, guilty, complicit, and innocent will share in a Nakba uncountable orders of magnitude larger and crueler than the tragedy you claim for Palestine, and on your heads it shall be.

You think that you are strong because you retain belief, while we have abandoned it.  You do not understand us at all.  The civilization of Christendom was indeed based on Christianity, for which came the idea of personal salvation and individual responsibility for an ethical life.  Our post religious civilization is today uncertain, reeling and unsteady as it seeks a new compass.  It will find it, because our ethics and abilities, while rooted in religion, can and will survive its decline.

Your religion gives you only the notions of collective submission in the name of dominance, and that dominance is an end to itself.  You promise no earthly city of god, but only slavery and ruin.  For us, but in the end for you as well, yet you are too blind to see that your course is suicidal.

Do you really think that you will get Germans to deny science; that Italians will not drink wine with their pasta and that her women will go covered to the beach?  Do you think that Frenchman will give up charcuterie  and political debate?

That you will chain our intellects, erase our literature, and silence our music?

You will not rob us of our ancient heritage, built on millennia of success and failure, experiment and struggle, that gave us the world we enjoy and you would destroy.

You will not dominate Europe by demographic conquest.  Long before you reach over lordship Europe will revolt.  Remember, that continent woke from a thousand years of feudalism to give the world the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

You have only prevailed against us in times of disorder and disunion.  Just as after the fall of the Western Empire, we are in a new dark age, where doubt and relativism have divided and undermined us, so you thrive for the moment.  This will not last.

America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are infected as well with this malaise but do not forget that these nations were formed from Europe’s best, those who would be free and die rather than accept serfdom, which is all you can offer us.

You don’t believe in evolution, yet in your appeals to violence and lust that is no more than assault, you deny everything that separates us from beasts. You cannot evolve, and thus your like will die in the end.

You shall not win; you cannot.

You don’t have what it takes.

You never have, and you never will.

Highway 60: Four Days in the American Interior: Day 4 Nowata, OK – Fort Wayne, IA

You can read the first three installments of my October 2011 road trip here, here, and here.

Complimentary coffee and supermarket sweet rolls, then on to Vinita where I join the Interstate. The best is past, and I can only look with longing at each exit.  Lots of slowdowns for construction as the two year old stimulus proceeds.

Late Autumn in the Ozarks of Missouri, and Arkansas stations coming in on the radio. A field filled with pickups where a cattle auction is in progress.  On the hills, billboards for “Erotic Superstores,” fireworks, gun stores, Indian gaming. And churches, particularly as I approach Springfield, known for its piety and confessional diversity. Sex, loud bangs, weapons, and God.  If there is a message here, I don’t get it.

A rest area is handsomely themed with icons from old Route 66.  I’ll take route 60, largely intact where I drove it.

Oh St Louis! Long ago Gateway to the West, now firmly in Middle America.  A commanding height on the great river, choke point and gathering place.  History. Approaching the center, a bluff with old brick houses on streets still thick with autumn foliage.  Across the river, East St Louis, another history, an unfortunate one of urban decay, where Chevy Chase had his ride stripped in “National Lampoon Vacation.”  Funny.  I guess.

Some of the old factory buildings are being sold as loft condos.  A sooty dark bridge crosses the river.  There must be a lot of old iron down there, a great place for a little urban archaeology, a black and white photo shoot.  I guess I’d be afraid.  And that’s not funny.

The Interstate splits, North to Chicago, south to Memphis.  On my own, with no obligation, I’d take a hard right, right now.  Memphis, Interstate roads signs to conjure with, each trigger for memories and dreams.

Again those imaginary but so real lines on the map.  Illinois and the clean straight sweep of fields and windbreaks.  White houses and grey barns and silos, very different from those of Oklahoma and Missouri.  Near new Zurich, a country cemetery, nineteenth century grave still tended, sheltered in a copse among the ripening corn, a barn and silo rising behind.  And so it has been, around every corner, over every rise, past every bend, the human geography that shows not only a particularity of place but the traces of great waves of settlement and economic change.

Later, with the luxury of the internet (something I did without those three days) I saw that what was to me no more than an interesting road sign with a tiny population number, was a place built by generations, still cherished, histories remembered.  Not histories of great battles and famous men, but an early settler, a successful farmer, a pioneering business, a champion sports team recalled in yellowed clippings and black and white speed graphic.

At dusk, Terre Haute, and I remember a long ago summer visit there with cousins, lazy days of swimming in the Wabash, bicycling the streets under the green arch of trees in full summer leaf, and out into the open country side. Dinner at the back yard picnic table most evenings. Hot dogs, watermelon, and corn so sweet that butter was superfluous.

Construction delays, and well past nightfall when I pass though Indianapolis, the brightly lit glass towers much the same as in any of scores of midsize American cities. At last skirting the outskirts of Fort Wayne, past dark office parks and brightly lit auto dealerships, into the rural suburb where my daughter lives.

That moment of both solid satisfaction and mild regret when the journey is done.  The lights go on and I am home, because, as was once said, home is where they have to let you in, to which I would add, where they are glad to see you. How fortunate I am to have so many.

The US Economy 2012: All Hail the Farmers and Workers Soviets

Farmers! Workers! The Party( Which one?  Doesn’t matter.) Fight for You!

 

Earlier in the week, the President reached into his stash and produced $170 million to “help” livestock producers by directing the federal government to step up meat purchases.

The caption for this photo in Businessweek was”Pigs at the Lehmann Brothers Farms LLC in Strawn, Illinois. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.” But actually, it’s Lehman Brothers with one “N” and it’s not the Wall Street guys. Too bad, I could really have riffed on that.

As a result of the this  year’s drought –and the permanent mandate that 40% of the U.S. corn crop be turned into ethanol – feed prices are rising so that producers are selling animals for slaughter early, thus leading to a glut, and lower costs to consumers.

Can’t have that.

From Bloomberg:

Obama said he also directed the Defense Department to speed up purchases and hold the meat for later use. The buying will help farmers, and the government will get a better price on products than if they were bought later, he said.

So, the government – which uses our money, and the money it borrows on our behalf -, will get a better price, while we pay more.

Nowadays, you aren’t allowed to call stuff like this cheese. “Processed cheese food” is the correct nomenclature. Lasts forever, and rates and roaches won’t touch it.

What rally floored me about this was that the government is still buying food commodities  directly.  I thought the era of government cheese was long since over.   I know people who remember receiving a Velveeta like substance in waxed cardboard boxes( and thus the origin of the urban vernacular term “cheese,’ meaning money, but I had assumed that USG these days put its food requirements out to tender on the open market for ready to use products.

Wrong.

The President went on to say:

“We’ll freeze it for later — but we’ve got a lot of freezers,” Obama told supporters in Council Bluffs as he kicked off a three-day visit to Iowa, a swing state that is also the country’s leading producer of pork, soybeans, corn and ethanol. “That will help ranchers, you know, who are going through tough times right now.”

 

So somewhere, the Government has a whole heap of foodstuffs frozen for whenever or whatever.

Have you heard of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service(AMS)?  I hadn’t.

AMS Commodity Procurement Division purchases a variety of food products in support of the National School Lunch Program and other food assistance programs. These purchases also help to stabilize prices in agricultural commodity markets by balancing supply and demand.

I thought supply and demand balanced themselves.  One requirement for government jobs must be that one not have taken Econ 101, and this applies apparently, not only to the permanent bureaucracy but to the executive and legislative branches as well..  The hoary grail of “price stability” dates back to the New Deal, if not the Wilson war time administration.  Price stability, one could note was a characteristic of the old Soviet Union, where prices remained the same for decades, for phantom goods stocked on empty shelves.

Coming from California, I well remember periodic uproars over the high price of lettuce( we do love our salads) during seasonal price spikes that were entirely predictable. After a lot of hot air in Sacramento, during which debates I found something else for the salad bowl, $1.59 head lettuce sooner or later when down to $.59, two for a buck on coupon days.

FDR’s Agricultural Adjustment Act was not popular. Nor did it make sense: a depression is characterized by a severe drop in output. Mandating an additional reduction leads to…more depression. Nor was destroying food food popular when so many went hungry. In the previous decade, the Bolsheviks had taken a different approach, simply stealing all the food and leaving the farmers to starve. So, I guess we’ve made some progress.

I suppose this is better than buying food and destroying it, as was done in New Deal Days, although the ethanol program comes close, taking food off the market to produce a fuel with less BTU yield than the fossil fuel used to produce it.

This kind of nonsense crosses administrations, party lines and decades.  The best agricultural policy would be none at all.  Ask yourself this: have you ever gone down to the store and found that there wasn’t any food?  Yet governments remain convinced that they can get it right so that in Europe,  once known for mountains of surplus dairy products, Norway can also experience as it did not long ago, a butter shortage.

Old timers in Indonesia where I was raised, and now live, fondly recall when government employees and workers in large firms were paid in a mix of commodities and cash. A barely developed consumer economy, largely lacking infrastructure, and periodic hyper inflation made this a valuable perk.

This former “third world” country(Now classified as lower middle income by the U.N.)has largely abandoned such practices, while we seem to be a heading for a future in which a large part of the population lines up for government cheese.

It gets worse:  When I saw a link on Drudge to a story on Labor Department subsidies  for payrolls in the states, I assumed it meant state and local governments, the destination of a good deal of stimulus funds, but to my amazement when I went back and had a look, I found this:

US Labor Department announces nearly $100 million in grants available for states to implement, improve short-time compensation or ‘work sharing’

In other words, funds will be provided  so that private employers can avoid layoffs. Now, in the US economy, 100 million isn’t a whole lot, and when apportioned among the states the amounts are laughably small, as the Labor Department  graphic shows, indeed so small that one wonders if the administrative cost will exceed the benefit, as is the case for the entire US government anti poverty effort, which if simply divided by the number of poor people, and then disbursed to them, would lift all of them over the poverty line, with a bit  of a surplus to boot.

What isn’t laughable here is the principle:  In a small part, the government is going to be paying the wages of some private sector employees.  Keep going, and, one day, you have state socialism.

So, this is manifest evidence of the Obama administration’s commitment to government management of the economy, right?  Well,  it isn’t.  You will find this odd program as subtitle D in HR3630, best known for its extension of the payroll tax cut, but which contains all kinds of other little goodies like this one.

I don’t know whose idea this was.  Rep Pelosi didn’t care for the bill at all, but she doesn’t mention this part, so perhaps it was a Democrat effort. It really doesn’t matter  It’s a proudly owned GOP bill..  Republicans have quite rightly decried Federal subsidies to state and local government payrolls.  Do similar – albeit, at this stage, far smaller – subsidies to private payrolls have virtues that those advocated by democrats do not?

The only virtue the mainstream Republican party has is that it is not the Democratic party, and that, rather than being a virtue, is just smaller scale vice, and smaller only due to lack of opportunity rather than any overriding principle.

Both parties claim to work for the benefit of the middle class, want to help struggling farmers and workers, but

The old German DDR symbol has grain for agriculture and the traditional hammer of industry, but also a calipers signifying technology. This might be closer to the mark for today’s emerging collective. Perhaps an iPad substituted for the calipers.

reach for power by favoring one group over another as it suits them. Those attracted by these blandishments should remember that that icon of oppression, the hammer and sickle, was first thought to represent the tools of honest labor, but in the end were used to crush  all into a dependent class, and to cut down any who dared to rise.

Obama’s Iftar: Breaking the Fast and Shaving the Truth

The President’s relationship with truth is tenuous at best. The confabulations and inventions in his autobiography have been well documented and he has amassed a substantial collection of Pinocchios over the years..

At this year’s  iftar dinner( iftar is the breaking of the Ramadan fast, usually beverages and light snacks, but a White House dinner in  a “tradition ” going back to George W.Bush) his remarks were laced with what I would characterize as bromides, myths and lies of omission.

Mr Obama opened with:

Of all the freedoms we cherish as Americans, of all the rights that we hold sacred, foremost among them is freedom of religion, the right to worship as we choose.  It’s enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution — the law of the land, always and forever.  It beats in our heart — in the soul of the people who know that our liberty and our equality is endowed by our Creator.  And it runs through the history of this house, a place where Americans of many faiths can come together and celebrate their holiest of days — and that includes Ramadan.

Among the attendees were the ambassador from Saudi Arabia, where foreigners are routinely imprisoned and then expelled for practicing their religions,  where the penalty for apostasy is death, and where “witches” are regularly executed, as well as diplomats from many other Muslim majority nations where religious freedom is severely restricted, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Also present were ambassadors from some countries with substantial Muslim minorities  , such as Mozambique(17.9%), and Israel (16.9%). This would seem a not very subtle intervention in these nations’ minority affairs.

As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia — perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.  And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress — the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson.  And that’s a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam — like so many faiths — is part of our national story.

Indeed, the President has said this before. This hoary myth is repeated every Ramadan.  Jefferson did not throw an iftar shindig, but simply and courteously rescheduled a banquet at the request of the fasting envoy from what is now Morocco.    A peace was successfully negotiated but other small states on what was known as the Barbary coast( Tunisia, a French colonial creation named after a Roman province did not yet exist) continued to seize American ships and their crews.  Hence the Marine beat down on the Shores of Tripoli, at Jefferson’s orders..  When I was a kid, we sang the Marine Hymn in school, and understood what ti was about.  Mr. Obama, with his manifest weaknesses in history and geography, clearly does not.

As for the significance of his possession of a Koran, there is little, if any.  Jefferson was a prominent bibliophile  of wide interests who sold his 24,000 volume collection to the Library of Congress to replace books burned by the British in the War of 1812.  He certainly did not regard Islam as “a religion of peace”,  having been told by the ambassador from Algiers, during unsuccessful negotiations in London in 1786,  that the hostility the Americans found baffling in a nation with which they had had little contact “was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

This evening, we’re honored to be joined by members of our diplomatic corps, members of Congress — including Muslim American members of Congress, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson — as well as leaders from across my administration.  And to you, the millions of Muslim Americans across our country, and to the more than one billion Muslims around the world — Ramadan Kareem.

Congressmen Ellison and Carson, both converts, have been vocal opponents of “Islamophobia,” opposing congressional investigation into Islamic  radicalism at every turn, and thus found themselves in congenial company..

Now, every faith is unique.  And yet, during Ramadan, we see the traditions that are shared by many faiths:  Believers engaged in prayer and fasting, in humble devotion to God.  Families gathering together with love for each other.  Neighbors reaching out in compassion and charity, to serve the less fortunate.

Islamic teaching is very specific that charity be given only within the umma, the community of Muslim faithful.  This can be borne out by reference to the activities of Islamic Relief, or the miserable record of Muslim nations in aid to Haiti for post-earthquake relief and reconstruction.

People of different faiths coming together, mindful of our obligations to one another — to peace, justice and dignity for all people — men and women.  Indeed, you know that the Koran teaches, “Be it man or woman, each of you is equal to the other.”

This can only be characterized as a lie, a lie of omission, and is the most egregious of the many untruths in the President’s short talk.  It is also evil, for it denies and devalues the suffering of women under Islam.

Here is a full text of the Koranic ayah 3:195 (verse) from which this quotation is taken

And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed – I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah , and Allah has with Him the best reward.”

Clearly, this passage has nothing to do with gender  equality other than than the belief that Muslims of both sexes will be rewarded for their sacrifices in the name of Islam.  t is instructive that the words the President quoted, with its rather strange pronoun reference, appear again and again on sites pushing the notion of Islamic gender equality, such as this one, with no further context.   I have long doubted that Mr. Obama, although he might have chanted Koranic verses in his Indonesian childhood, has an real familiarity with the text. This snippet was handed him  by  someone with an agenda someone like Humeda Abdin, of whom more shortly.

And by the way, we’ve seen this in recent days.  In fact, the Olympics is being called “The Year of the Woman.”  (Laughter.)  Here in America, we’re incredibly proud of Team USA — all of them — but we should notice that a majority of the members are women.  Also, for the very first time in Olympic history, every team now includes a woman athlete.  And one of the reasons is that every team from a Muslim-majority country now includes women as well.  And more broadly — that’s worth applauding.  (Applause.)  Absolutely.

I suppose it is worth applauding, although one might ask what took so long and why returning female Olympic participants still won’’t be able to drive in Saudi Arabia.

After some talk about women’s roles in the Arab upheavals, where the President mention of bloggers seems to mean he’s still selling the “Facebook/Twitter Revolution ” euphoria of pre-Muslim Brotherhood ascendancy days, he goes unto name and praise some of his American Muslim guests,  ending with a special accolade for Secretary Clinton’s aide, Humeda  Abedin.

And that includes a good friend, Huma Abedin, who has worked tirelessly — (applause) — worked tirelessly in the White House, in the U.S. Senate, and most exhaustingly, at the State Department, where she has been nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear.  Senator Clinton has relied on her expertise, and so have I.

The American people owe her a debt of gratitude — because Huma is an American patriot, and an example of what we need in this country — more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit.  So, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you so much.  (Applause.)

Ms Abedin has been the center of much attention for her familial connections and work experience in Muslim Brotherhood funded and connected organizations.  Those questioning her background are called “nuts” and McCarthyites, but anyone with similar associations to say, white supremacist organizations, would not be able to get a job as a letter carrier.

The President does not say just why we owe her so much gratitude, but he is no doubt appreciative of her support for her boss as Mrs. Clinton has worked with the OIC to suppress speech that “defames religion.”

And at times, we have to admit that this spirit is threatened.  We’ve seen instances of mosques and synagogues, churches and temples being targeted.  Tonight, our prayers, in particular, are with our friends and fellow Americans in the Sikh community.  We mourn those who were senselessly murdered and injured in their place of worship.  And while we may never fully understand what motivates such hatred, such violence, the perpetrators of such despicable acts must know that your twisted thinking is no match for the compassion and the goodness and the strength of our united American family.

He doesn’t say where thee places of worship have been targeted, but there are daily instances of such violence often taken congregants along with structures  and it is generally Sunni Muslims carrying these attacks out.  It is sickening to see the Chief Executive use the American Sikhs’ pain to whitewash Islam as a victim equal to those it in fact victimizes,

So tonight, we declare with one voice that such violence has no place in the United States of America.  The attack on Americans of any faith is an attack on the freedom of all Americans.  (Applause.)  No American should ever have to fear for their safety in their place of worship.  And every American has the right to practice their faith both openly and freely, and as they choose.

This right of course is one that the governments of much of his audience do not accord their citizens.

That is not just an American right; it is a universal human right.  And we will defend the freedom of religion, here at home and around the world.  And as we do, we’ll draw on the strength and example of our interfaith community, including the leaders who are here tonight.

This is at beast an empty boast, or an outright lie.  The abandoned Christians of the Middle East know this, as do Christians in Indonesia and Buddhists in Southern Thailand, or animists in tribal areas of Bangla Desh, among others.

So I want to thank all of you for honoring us with your presence, for the example of your lives, and for your commitment to the values that make us “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Allahu Akbar

( You can find the full text of the President’s remarks here.  Unlike Mr. Obama’s,my ellipses do not create untruths.)

The Obama Campaign’s Celebrity Demand Curves

When the Obama campaign began raffling off dinner invitations to the White house, the price was 5$, although the website stated that no no donation or purchase was necessary, which was true as long as one didn’t insist on enrolling in the lottery.   Not much higher than any State Lotto game, and with better odds,  albeit offering a less appealing prize for all but the most starry eyed, who won’t mind being possibly being net losers when they get the tax bill.

The suggested donation quickly fell to 3 bucks, suggesting a radical price cut in the face of lagging demand.

Now, the price has returned to 5$.  Is this the classic mistake of raisingp rices to make up for falling demand, or a precisely calculated move based on strong sales?  Recent raffles have included attendees such as George Clooney, so that winners got two celebrities for a single price.

I like this for the 2016 series $10,000 dollar bill, or perhaps $100 first class mail stamp.

Today’s Five Dollar Special is Michael Jordan. Basketball fans can hang out with the court legend and the Prez, and shoot a bit of hoop after the presumably low cal, low fat dinner, if Michelle vets the menu..  This will be the first event of the 2012 “Obama Classic” Whatever other players’ scores and standings, the winner is predetermined.

As Mr. Obama relates “When Michael Jordan wrote a check to my campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004, I wasn’t sure whether I should cash it or frame it.”  He did, of course, cash it, and hopes to deposit many more from the celebrity obsessed.

The President acknowledges that no everyone is sports minded.  Perhaps this is just the beginning of a sophisticated niche marketing campaign.  Dinner with Spike Lee, for example, would bring in both film aficionados and black nationalists.

Snooki from Jersey Shore would appeal to an enormous and under appreciated demographic, guys who like big boobs and stupidity.

This marketing move mirrors the basis on which we now choose our Presidents: celebrity and blind chance. The 66.6% price rise in the diner lottery  is most likely far less than the inflation we will see after another four years and untold trillions of “investment” in a second Obama term.  And the profile of the Prez shooting hoop will fit nicely into the series of Obambucks that will replace the collapsed dollar.

Highway 60: Four Days in the American Interior: Day 3: Hereford, TX – Nowata, OK

( You can read parts one and two here and here.   Unfortunately, bad storage media ate my photos, other than a couple retrieved from Facebook. and I will have to rely entirely on the written word for description.)

I was running somewhat behind, and from here on in what I write will be as much about what I missed, as saw.

Morning in Hereford is frosty.  It’s snowed overnight, and while it’s gone from the streets, there is still quite a bit on the motel’s roof and the Xterrra.  I amble across theroad to the McD’s for a take out coffee and cookie for breakfast.

The streets are just losing the last of the darkness and the glow of day has yet to manifest itself in sunshine, but the place is jumping.    Again, that Left Coast feeling of being out of place.  There are plenty of middle aged men in overalls and John  Deere caps.  These are real people, I think, not extras from central casting.  I’m beginning to feel something akin to shame, as I think of all the talk of rednecks, which while I no longer indulge in such, I have tolerated. I’m ashamed to have called these peopled rubes, hicks, apple knockers..  While I might not be at home in their culture, I respect it.  I will never again put them down, or accept slurs on these good people.

Really, what are those California folks talking about?  These are men who can care for large animals, operate and repair complex machinery, lay irrigation pipe, all to wrest sustenance from the earth, and with my best hopes and wishes, a fair amount of cash in a good year.  I’ll put these ole boys up against any bunch of South of Market loft dwellers, putting together a website or coding on their Apples, if you want to talk social utility.  We need them both.

Back in the room, coffee and the farm report, and then it’s time to go, after I scrape the snow off the windshield.

Courthouse, Hereford, TX. Throughout rural America, the courthouse was the seat of civic authority, and reflected pride of place.

Hereford, seat of Deaf Smith County.   I’ve heard of Mr. Smith, an early figure in Texas history who bridged the Anglo and Hispanic words, both of which I’ve seen in Hereford, working along just fine as far as I can see.  Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t think to take a quick turn around town before I left.   The place boasts a fine courthouse, as I later find, and the courthouses of Texas have their aficionados, and rightly so.

Perhaps at this point I was just stupefied with the richness of what I had seen.  I had expected this in Arizona and New Mexico, states that have attractions known around the world, but last night’s view of a small portion of the Panhandle was revelatory.  Years ago, I had been across it on the interstate, and remembered nothing. When talking with experienced cross country drivers, the Panhandle merited an eye roll, pure tedium, something to be endured, not experienced.

I saw it differently now. The Panhandle is Texas: oil, grain, cattle, railroads.  And the plains that slope so subtly towards the Mississippi are beautiful, as they were this snow dusted morning.

On the way out of town, I see a sgn :  “Hereford Gun  and Pawn, a Faith Based Business. “ Bitter clingers?”  Gun totin’ bible thumpin ‘ rednecks?  Now I know: Just people.

Canyon is the next big town, spread along a river gorge.  I spot a giant cowboy, and a sign for a Cowboy Missionary witness on the other side of the road.  This means I have to stop.

A classic roadside attraction.

The cowboy is a local landmark.  Just like those Paul Bunyans and his blue ox that used to tower over muffler shops, and were considered eyesores, but now preserved as quintessentially mid century American, Canyon’s cowboy has been the center of a preservation effort.

On the town square is a very fine courthouse. And it is here that I first notice another commonplace that I somehow missed if it existed before: huge, multi-multi turn stoplights, controlling traffic into the square where mine is the only vehicle.  I’ll see lots more of these before I’m done.

Canyon is a tank town – maybe not in the original meaning of a railroad stop for steam locomotives to top off their boilers, but in the sense that a major landmark is a water tower with the local high school team emblazoned: Go Mustangs!  The Friday light nights shine here.

On the way back to the highway, a Thai restaurant.  Texas, like anywhere else, moves with the times, even as it loves its traditions.

Then it’s on to Amarillo, as the road widens into the interstate, and takes me past large ranchettes, California style subdivisions and into town along the eastern edge of the city.  And there are at every intersection, batteries of those massive traffic lights, eight way turns, I guess.  They are at least staggered and I get through pretty fast, stopping off for a pit stop at the convention Center.

There is a certain sameness to government or if not government, civic buildings in America.   They all seem to have those speckled conglomerate floors, and door hardware reminiscent of a locked ward in a mental hospital.  And here I feel constrained to say something about public restrooms.  In the better locations in Asia, the U.S has long since been surpassed in comfort, hygiene and esthetics.  It’s not easy to put it delicately:  While restrooms in the U.S are basically hygienic, there is something about them…how can I put this….. you know it’s a place where people poop.

Across the way, there appear some fine old brick buildings in the downtown. If only I had more time.  On the way out of town, amidst all the signs for “abarrotes” and “Mufles, the  Myanmar Asian Grocery.”  A rail siding with immense grain or feed elevators.  These structures impress me, and are in their way, glorious. The abundance of this Texas earth sent across the land.

At Pampa a very fine old ATSF rail station.  It’s midday and it’s providential that I spot Dyer’s Barbecue.  The lunch rush hasn’t started and I am quickly seated by a genuinely friendly hostess.  Courtesy, I’ve always found, is a bedrock Texas trait.

The patrons mostly look like those folks I’d seen at breakfast in the morning, but there is a table of young people, guys in suits and ties, women in suits, laptops and cells, and folders spread out, with their lunches to the side.

Of course, I get the combo plate with a bit of everything.  Brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and

The works!

Polish sausage.  The Polish isn’t surprising at all: Texas has many ethnic enclaves, towns here and there entirely settled by one central  eastern European group or another Ranch beans and a thick slab of bread toasted and buttered, slaw and potato salad.  Oh my. The barbecue sauce is just right, not too sweet, smoky and a touch of vinegar, complementing, not overwhelming the glorious meat.  You have to do little more than look at the ribs for the meat to fall off the bone.  The waitress asks if  I’m enjoying my food, and looks pleased, but somewhat startled at the lengthy encomium.

Then it’s on to Oklahoma.  I’m eager to see something of this state that is at once southern and western.  I cross the line and am soon in Arnett.  This is a lovely town, old houses sheltered by trees in late fall leaf. Down one street, I see a kid swinging on a tire hung from a tree branch.

Not far out of town, the land changes, dramatically so; I shake my head as if to banish an illusion.   It is if I have made a wrong turn through some space time portal and landed back in the Southwest.  Low eroded hills lead to higher distant mesas. Mile after mile, a few cattle, an oil well or two, but not many people around.

On a hill high above the highway, the Sinclair dinosaur!  Oil country now, injection wells, some drilling rigs, a gas station with a lot of old oil patch equipment billing itself as a museum.  Wish I had time…

A climb into some hills and then, after a few switch backs, a prospect so fair it took my breath away.  To the east and as far as I could see north and south, a gently rolling country of fields and wooded swaths of autumn leaves following water courses, and rising here and there tall and white, the grain elevators like ships sailing a placid inland sea.

Vici, Oklamhoma, with its very own and fine elevator.  I think what this represents, a cooperative, it says.  It must have been a great day when the local farmers inaugurated it, their grain ready for market, on all the bourses of the nation and the wider world.

The road goes on for miles along a slight elevation, well watered farmland on either side.  Every turn off to another town north or south, would I am sure bring me to little towns nestled in the autumn sunshine.

I notice, at regular intervals, simple green signs: “cemetery.” Old tombstones are something I love, so I turn off at one.  The markers are of all recent vintage, but it’s pleasant to sit for a while with a few grazing cows for company.  As to why, in Oklahoma, cemeteries get the same highway billing as food, fuel, and lodging, I have no idea.

The little towns I pass through seem unchanged since the time of Pretty Boy Floyd.  All that’s missing is the hitching posts.  Enid, a big city, and again those huge banks of traffic lights.  These seem to be adjusted for 16 way turns.  It takes forever to get out of town.  It’s back to Anywhere, USA for a while: Home Depot, and the first Starbucks I’ve seen since leaving Phoenix.  But on the side streets, the same spacious frame houses I’ve seen in town after town, tree shaded with expansive lawns. A kid swinging in a tire suspended from a branch.

In Pond Creek, a fine old Iron bridge, now just for pedestrians and in the late afternoon, people are walking along it, some fishing, and again, wish I had time,  These old Oklahoma bridges,  like the courthouses of Texas, have their fans, and deservedly so..

It’s late and the tall grass prairie is red in the fading sun.  I enter the Osage nation,  which looks just like another tidy Oklahoma town, although the homes seem more imposing than elsewhere.

The light is almost gone when I enter Pahwhuska.  What is this place. Out on the prairie, this appears to be, or have been a city, with midrise buildings, brick in the style of the early part of the last century, blocks and blocks of them, fronts mostly boarded.

Down one street, a lighted cafe window, and a scene that could be a tableau vivant of Hopper’s “Night Hawks.”  I decide that I might stay, but see no accommodation.

Had I known more, I would have turned off the highway and found a place.  Pahhuska is the capital of the Osage nation and was once the richest city in the world.  Oil wealth brought prosperity and then treachery as Indians were cheated and murder for their land. Now its once impressive downtown is largely empty, save, some say, for the ghosts of the murdered Indians.

Dark now and winding curves, and slow going as there is extensive road work.  Stimulus money, shovel ready at last, as the signs announce.  At an overlook, I see Bartlesville below, and even in the dark can see that this must be quite a place, out in the plains.  Suddenly, genuine high rises and I drive by the end of a runway with good size jets taxi-ing.

This is the home of Philips petroleum, once a family concern, and now headquarters of Philips-Conoco.  The road takes me through the town quickly, and there are motels, but none convenient to liquor stores, supermarkets and fast food, so I decide to push on just a little bit more,

Pulling over to see where the next town is, I find that I’m in the parking lot of a community center funded by Philips Conoco. A woman, and her daughter of nine or ten, dressed for ballet, smile at me.  Seeing me with the map and out of state plates, the lady asks if I need directions.   There is an openness and courtesy that I’ve seen since I hit the road out here. I like it.

On the way to the next town, Nowata, darkness punctuated by a glowing neon cross. Then a darkened downtown – more handsome century old brick buildings and just beyond, the Silver Saddle Motel.

Opening the reception door which is decorated with a very large no smoking logo, I enter a cloud of cigarette smoke. While a flat screen pumps out an R&B music video, a black guy in a do rag and three ladies are knocking back assorted adult beverages and puffing away.

Fifty bucks.  Oklahoma is substantially lower income than Texas.  The poor always pay more. Their card reader is down, so I am directed to an ATM.  From there I stock upat te adjacent supermarket.  The prices startled me.  Cheese is higher than in San Francisco.  I notice a blond girl, very pretty, perhaps the head cheerleader or homecoming queen, because she is arm and arm with a very large guy in a high school football jacket.  He is black.  This is Oklahoma, the state of ‘brown vs. Board of education.  That was a long time ago.

Two of the ladies from the reception show up, refilling on mixers.  I am invited for a drink while I register.  None of these women appear over 40, and one, an attractive brunette, asks me if she looks like a grandmother.  She certainly doesn’t.  One of her friends, who looks much younger, is missing a substantial number of her upper front teeth.  I had noticed similar dentition at gas stops during the day.  Some stereotypes are based on fact.

Darryl, the receptionist, sends me off with a bourbon and ginger ale. In the room, the heat doesn’t work, and I go to bed semi clothed, watching religious programming on the cable. Out front, they carry on until late, but it doesn’t bother me.