I went to the Western Montana State Fair and Rodeo last night, where I remembered that the experience of American culture varies wildly from person to person. For one thing, this year’s clown sucked. His first interaction with the audience was built around the joke, “can a bald man get a hairline fracture?” Fertile comic ground though it was, we did not respond, so he launched immediately into one of those math tricks that involves thinking of a number, adding six, dividing it by three, subtracting the original number, et cetera. Math tricks! Fortunately, he won us back with a dog routine. The people behind us went insane, occasionally describing what was happening with gleeful incredulity—e.g., “He can’t get out!” when the clown get stuck upside-down in a garbage can—and generally reminding us of the values of a bygone era. Today is Friday, and a substantial portion of the populace loves Milton Friedman and Dennis the Menace. Won’t you focus your nostalgia on an age that never existed with me?
Let’s call this thing what it is: a war between two cultures that have somehow emerged from the same nation. Class warfare obviously isn’t happening. The average net worth of a US congressperson is just shy of $8 million dollars, which is approximately 100 times the median net worth of US households. This rich/poor thing is settled. Now we must lock ourselves in mortal struggle to resolve the conflict between tradition and modernity, ruralism and urbanity, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Community. Today is Friday, and America is on its H.L. Mencken, except for the half that’s on its William Jennings Bryan. Won’t you man the barricades with me?
Andrew Sullivan begins his screed against Jose Rodriguez and the 60 Minutes producer who blew his chance to ask him if he was maybe a war criminal with some bold assumptions. “There are a couple of things worth knowing about Jose Rodriguez,” Sullivan writes: “that he is a war criminal and that he destroyed the evidence that would prove it without a doubt. The third thing you need to know is that he has no shame about any of this and intends to make money off it.” That’s a good list, but it’s incomplete. It is also worth knowing about Jose Rodriguez that he was Director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA in 2005, when it destroyed video evidence of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” conducted at a CIA prison in Thailand in 2002. Yes, the CIA has a prison in Thailand, and yes, they waste videotapes there. Rodriguez was also D/NCS in 2007, when people found out about that. Now he is on a book tour, and he has “no regrets.” For example, he does not regret destroying the evidence of what he did.