CSotD: Jumpers

Ed Hall delights me with a combination of political insight and zoological accuracy.

The concept of lemmings leaping off the cliff in mass suicides is so deeply embedded in our consciousness that, for political cartoonists, it’s as basic an element as very small, sandy desert islands with one palm tree are for comic strippers.

It’s irrelevant whether people realize a little island like that would either disappear or become larger twice a day and that the palm tree would die of salinization, because it’s just a setting for a joke.

Similarly, anyone who wants to know already knows that lemmings don’t really leap off cliffs in mass suicides, but it remains a useful symbol for self-destructive group behavior.

What we do know, having been reasonably curious people, is that Walt Disney’s ersatz-nature photographers flung the little fellows off that cliff and filmed it from an angle that made it look like suicide.

Which makes me particularly like Hall’s depiction, because those lemmings are going to their death by the will and effort of Dear Leader, and the weird thing is, they continue to cheerfully line up and allow themselves to be flung.

Maybe not all that weird.

There will always be that group, the variation over history being its size and certainly not its eagerness to listen to the lemming who points out that the Pod People are taking over, or that Soylent Green is made from humans or, in this case, that Dear Leader is sending them to their deaths.

Like Montag’s wife, they just want to be left alone to enjoy their interactive screens.

Fahrenheit 451 was consciously written in response to McCarthyism; Invasion of the Body Snatchers reportedly was not, but the point remains regardless of authorial intent.

And those who have been fruitlessly awaiting Dear Leader’s moment of “Have you left no sense of decency?” may finally have found it, in reports that his BFF had put bounties out on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Big Question apparently being whether anyone briefed the President on this, for which Dear Leader has set the stage by establishing that trying to brief him on anything is futile.

I can tell things to my dog, and he may look into my eyes and cock his head but he won’t understand what I’m saying. Dear Leader, by multiple reports, doesn’t even make that much of an effort to feign interest.

But it really doesn’t matter, if the story finally breaks through the lemmings’ willingness to be led — flung — over the precipice.

Pia Guerra puts things in stark perspective, and even if you don’t see the oddness in Trump pushing to let Russia back into the G7, you’ve seen enough buddy-buddyness between them to get her point.

Which, by the way, she made some time ago and is simply reposting because maybe now someone will pay attention.

Trump’s complicit smile and Putin’s disdainful tip elevate this beyond average commentary. It’s the silent story of a man who thinks he’s got a friend, and a man who knows he doesn’t.

Guerra doesn’t seem to keep a regular cartooning schedule, but when she hits, she hits hard.


Meanwhile, David Rowe, who does keep a regular and savage schedule, points out that Dear Leader is also willing to be made to look foolish by Xi Jinping, and Twister is an excellent choice of metaphors, since Xi is continuously changing signals while Trump attempts to cover them all, regardless of how he is forced to twist around and look ridiculous in doing so.

As in the game, it’s hard to maintain balance, and Trump’s claim that China invented and unleashed the coronavirus, and his claim that he is winning the trade war, and his insistence that tariffs are paid by the country of origin, are clumsy, unnatural positions that can’t be maintained for very long without falling over.


I guess we’ll see how this plays out, but this Moderately Confused panel is right on: The level of anger just in the past few weeks has been ratcheting up to the point where reading Facebook or Twitter has become a bit circular, in that the bad vibes are upsetting, adding to your own willingness to share bad vibes.

However, while I’ve always been one to curate my friends lists to eliminate bad actors, the increasing hostility has accelerated that process to the point where I don’t hear from Dear Leader’s lemmings nearly as much as I did even six months ago.

But I get the impression that, while they didn’t mind him using Daddy’s money to get out of serving in Vietnam, forcing less privileged young men to take the risks, this thing of making nice-nice with somebody who pays people to kill American service members is crossing a line.

Fingers crossed. They already know he won’t jump off that cliff himself.

Will they finally wise up to the fact that he’s actively throwing them over it?


Look through my window


We all have ways of dealing with being locked in, but some of us deal with it better than others and Ann Telnaes has covered one of her walls with this Rear-Window-inspired mural.

No word on what she intends to do with it beyond enjoying it herself, but my vote is to print it on a shower curtain.

My son had a world map shower curtain when his daughters were growing up and I have no doubt they came away with a better-than-average grasp of what nations were where.

I also had a friend whose shower curtain was a photograph taken from the stage of an outdoor concert, so that, as you sat there, you were facing a crowd of people sitting comfortably on a hillside staring back at you.

A shower curtain with Ann’s design would be neither educational nor intimidating, but it would provide something to look at and ponder and might be a healthy alternative to actual voyeurism.

Assuming anybody is seeking an alternative to actual voyeurism.

Maybe it’s not such a good marketing idea after all.

But it’s a lovely piece of work nonetheless.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Jumpers

  1. Mike Peterson. I have no brilliant ideas but I do have great gratitude to you for these columns. Thanks and Thanks. Stay Safe. Stay Strong.

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