The Vanishing Middle

It’s been another great week in the world of hyperbole.

I’d been hoping for an outburst from Comrade Bob, former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, who once famously declared “Britain is a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses.” But now that he has been whisked away by security forces we are down at least one reliably great moonshot a week.

Nevertheless, the world is large, contains multitudes, and the week in exuberance started off with a bang when the DPRK News Service—that’s the mouthpiece of a nematode Korean dictator who executes people he doesn’t like with anti-aircraft guns and by feeding them to wild dogs—tweeted this gem into the world: “Egg-shaped idiot Donald Trump petulantly demands applause. Marshal Kim Jong Un never demands applause, only receiving it spontaneously.”

So there you have it: an obvious moral victory for the DPRK.


Spontaneous Applause Only, Please

Over in Russia, Putin was the headliner at a fascinating convocation of cops, criminals, and well-lubricated, weaving, carton-a-day generals bedecked with their well-patinaed Soviet orders.

The world learned two valuable things from this event. First, Putin’s nickname is Uncle Vova, which is apparently an affectionate Russian term for Vladimir. Second, Uncle Vova told a fawning audience that in his oligarchy, “We will always take pride in our heroic deeds, we won’t allow a bad word about our great victories.”

A brave dissenter in the crowd suggested to Reuters that the great victories were noteworthy, but it was hard to attend the event at all because the roads all over Russia are falling apart.

Which brings me to President Trump, who wants a military parade “like the one they have in France.” It’s hard to think of a worse idea, given sixteen years of continuous warfare in Afghanistan that has resulted in no great victories.

Our expedition into the region of Great Game follies is starting to look a lot like police work, actually, which never results in great victories either, only the endless meat-grinder of chasing criminals around the block, day after day after day.

It’s easy to be seduced into believing otherwise, but there really is no end to crime or war.


I Heart You

Over at ESPN, which has mostly abandoned sports coverage for an endless roundtable of consumerist social commentary, the venerable Stephen A. Smith—never one to sit idly by in the face of injustice–joined the hyperbole parade when he called New England Patriots coach Bill Bellicheck’s benching of a star player for the Super Bowl an act of “pure evil.”

True evil exists, though outside of Aaron Hernandez I’m not sure it’s found on the gridiron.

Venezuela might be a better place to look for it, where the results of Chavismo-style socialism have placed 31 million people in danger of starvation. Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, who once noted that “We are all a little bit hippy, a little bit bohemian,” denies all of this, of course, and predictably blames us damn Yankees.

But we should probably give credence to Maduro’s view because, as top Venezuelan henchwoman and former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez told UK newspaper The Guardian: “In Venezuela there is no hunger, there is willpower.”

Given that the average Venezuelan has reportedly lost nine pounds and has access to only one meal a day, maybe we should start thinking of Chavismo as something more than just a bad political alternative, but as a branding opportunity and a marketable weight loss plan.

Closer to home, Republican representative Mark Harris implored voters to “send a message to the Washington establishment that we will not sit by and watch them continue to spend our country into bankruptcy.”

This case of daydreaming aloud came after an all-night budget farce featuring Nancy Pelosi delivering a Castro-length speech in stiletto heels. Nevermind that spending the country into bankruptcy has, is, and will continue to attract the undying devotion of a bi-partisan Congress.


But the world isn’t just traveling in polar directions. Gravity is still a thing.

This was proven last week when Robert Meilhammer, of Crapo, Maryland, was “struck in the head…by a dead Canada goose that plunged from the sky after a fellow waterfowl hunter fired a blind shot on a flock overhead.” Meilhammer was knocked out cold and lost a couple of teeth, but earned a coveted Shredded Vest, awarded annually by the Dick Cheney Hunting Club.

That bit really isn’t hyperbole but I thought you should know about it.

But, in the midst of so much that is polarized, desperate, and fringe, I urge you not to despair. There is always the promise of good news on the horizon.

Over at Clickhole, investigative journalists say the National Hockey League “has unveiled a new hyperbolic penalty box that makes three minutes inside it feel like 500 years…Last night, Sidney Crosby officially became the first man to be sent to the box during NHL gameplay, and when he emerged, he immediately fell to the ground gasping and sobbing, having lost his ability to both skate and speak English after 500 years of isolation from his perspective.”

Which, in the era of the rapidly vanishing middle road, and with fewer people than ever actually walking on it, can only be helpful.

  1. Via SaddleTramp, on the roads of America…
    Great post Craig…

    Yes, good satire (especially hyperbolic satire) requires that strong element of truth to pull it off.

    Average never get’s much attention. When one claims the rise one also owns the fall whereas average is risk averse (in this application).

    I transferred to Milwaukee in the early 90’s. An associate (who had a strong resemblance to Cheney) had also transferred to Milwaukee from Houston (a Texas native) and chose to buy a house in Horicon, WI and make the rather long daily commute to Milwaukee. He was a fanatical hunter and fisherman. In fact he told me that he had informed his wife before marrying her that hunting and fishing took priority. We took some clients out to a lease he belonged to in the Horicon Marsh area for goose hunting. My first time hunting geese. We huddled down in our separate ground covers amongst the corn stubble (and waited and waited) He had judiciously spread out the decoys. It was very, very cold. Yes, I got one and somewhere I have the photo with traditional pose (his insistence). He was much more excited about it than I was. Elated in fact. Later came fishing excursions on Lake Michigan. Fishing for me, especially in waders waist deep in a trout stream is my preferred choice. I find it very therapeutic. He also went on a Javelina hunting trip to New Mexico, but I passed on that one. He eventually transferred to Florida where he also got his Captain’s license to further pursue his fishing habits. By the way, Christian Bale will be portraying Dick Cheney in an upcoming film on Cheney. Christian was almost unrecognizable when I saw him at the Q&A for HOSTILES after seeing the film. He was portly (putting on much weight for the role) and his head was close shaven. I am not star struck in the least. I do it for my own interest. I have socialized (in the business world) with the best of them and the worst of them. I am impressed by my own criteria. A janitor may impress me more. Humility is a strong factor. Sympathy where it is deserving. Not much sympathy deserved in the line up you laid out above. A Rogues Gallery. A never ending occupation. What explains it all? Nothing I can give an answer to. All one can do is observe and check off (not the writer) the list and go from there. Vitriol never looked so good Craig. The man who knew too much perhaps. Ignorance is bliss, but I also am in too deep and it is too late now. The Wicked Wasp Of Twikenham (Alexander Pope) would be proud of you. Unlike Alexander The Great, maybe the world was enough for Alexander Pope)…
    Great post Craig!!



  2. Thanks Tramp, it was a fun week to observe the lunacy. I actually met Cheney once when I served on his security detail when he came to the Reagan Center in downtown Santa Barbara. We actually talked. Pleasant enough man, but something inside of him seethes. It’s easy, of course, to pin up the world’s larger grotesques and throw darts at them, but it has to start somewhere.

    Safe travels, my friend. Not sure why your comments aren’t sticking. I’ll look into it.



  3. A couple things come to mind. One was a cop I knew when I was a rookie who saved my sanity by telling me that I wasn’t there to prevent crime, only to prevent anarchy. I found an entirely different outlook after that. But then he quit to sell Amway, So I’m not sure what that means.

    The other was what Solomon wrote “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

    The only thing that seems to change is the speed at which people can hear and comment on every utterance without understanding what was said.



    1. “The only thing that seems to change is the speed at which people can hear and comment on every utterance without understanding what was said.”

      Boy howdy. There seems to be a missing piece in our ability to listen before formulating a comment. It’s the comprehension part. I’m not sure where we lost that, but I suspect it has something to do with communicating so much via text, email, or some other form of intermediary. I suspect that will only continue to get worse over time–particularly as we begin to merge with machines at even deeper levels.



  4. Thanks Craig!
    Actually Christian Bale took an apolitical position but with one caveat. He admired him
    for his (against the grain) support for his daughter. He just wants to do a faithful portrayal to the extent that is possible. I attended a dinner with then Governor Of Texas George W. Bush who was a friend of an associate. He was friendly enough.I too also always look for the good first.
    My Dad (who just turned 89 last week) has the personality of Will Rogers and an iron grip. No man (at their request not his) could ever out grip him. Many tried. Nothing arrogant about him at all. He always looked for the good and is sociable as they come. I took that from him and I always start there myself. We take a lot on faith. Nobody really knows where this is taking us. Try to enjoy the ride when possible…



    1. Indeed. Not sure why that is happening. Might be length. Researching it…



  5. I suspect so…
    That is what I noticed as well.
    A shot across the bow perhaps. Ha!
    I hate to abuse the privilege, but I still have trouble with vanishing from the middle as you know all too well. Twitter length maybe.
    Haiku and Tanka are the only way I can discipline and constrain it. I came up with thousands on the road. A perfect place to be inspired…
    Lane also inspired me!



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