California is, for the most part,Mongolia. Erase the coasts and the canals that suck water from the north to feed Big Asparagus and whiten the teeth of Valley Girls, it would be as desolate as the steppes of Central Asia. Driving throughthe high desert between Bakersfield and Las Vegas I note two landmarks: a graveyard for embalmed airliners, in permanent holding pattern at Mohave airport, and a shrine for Republican presidential
candidate Ron Paul. Paul is what is known as a Libertarian, a sect of American politics that wavers between admirably cranky conservatism and loco-weed lunacy: just right for the build-a-wall, save-the-republic denizens of this landscape of coyotes, cactus and bullet-riddled road signs.