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home : columns : columns November 17, 2018

2/13/2018 2:18:00 PM
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.

Over in Russia, Putin was the headliner at a fascinating convocation of cops, criminals, and dour, 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 16 years of continuous warfare in Afghanistan that has resulted in no great victories.

Our breathless expedition into the 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 either crime or war.

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.

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