The Sorensen Monologues

Forest Fire: Guns gone wild in national parks

This cartoon was inspired by this disturbing NYT article. I like to think the right to bear s’mores without being shot at falls under the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.



This week in That’s Disgusting: Oil Wastewater Irrigation

According to this Mother Jones article, the drought in California is leading to increasing amounts of oil wastewater being applied to crops. While I understand and support programs like Bill Gates’ effort to extract potable H20 from sewage water as a means of preventing disease in poor countries, this would not be quite the same. Benzene, a known carcinogen, is showing up in concentrations higher than is allowed for drinking water. As an official comfortingly reassures us in the MoJo article:

“I admit that [some oilfield contaminants] are in there,” says David Ansolabehere, the General Manager of the Cawelo Water District, “but they are at such a low level I wouldn’t think they are doing any harm. But we are looking into that to make sure there isn’t any harm being done.”

The trouble is, testing methods are badly outdated — only recently have officials begun testing for a wider range of industrial chemicals — and fracking chemicals tend to be trade secrets. Energy companies have a long history of claiming their chemical recipes are proprietary information. So how do scientists know what to test for?

I’ll take slightly more expensive clementines than ones laced with unknown industrial effluvia, thanks.

More info on Think Progress.



Legacies of the Trump presidency



Tissue-gate

Yes, it’s a big scandal, folks. What with all this fetal tissue research, Planned Parenthood may even have a hand in curing Parkinson’s someday. They must be stopped!

As noted in this editorial, fetal cells have been saving lives for decades:

The use of fetal tissue in research is not new. Fetal cells extracted from the lungs of two aborted fetuses from Europe in the 1960s are still being propagated in cell culture. They’re so successful that today we still use them to produce vaccines for hepatitis A, rubella, chickenpox and shingles. From two terminated pregnancies, countless lives have been spared.

The idea that this smear campaign is a scandal for Planned Parenthood has been assisted by some media outlets taking a clueless, “he-said, she-said” approach to reporting. Politicians such as Rand Paul (who love freedom, except for the reproductive kind) are clamoring for the end of federal funding for PP, yet many news orgs fail to report that no taxpayer dollars actually go to abortions. Many reports (and Republican presidential candidates) also fail to mention the close ties between the video makers and violent extremist groups.



Advice conservatives never give themselves

Some people blame Sandra Bland for escalating the situation during her traffic stop, suggesting she should have been more respectful to the barking officer. Funny how all this finger-wagging about manners when dealing with law enforcement didn’t seem to apply when the person in question was Cliven Bundy, the freeloading rancher who put up armed resistance over paying grazing fees. Apparently rebellion is virtuous if you’re a highly-armed white cowboy/militia leader/Tea Party activist, but if you’re a black woman who forgot to signal while changing lanes, do not even think about behaving ungraciously towards police, no matter how abusive they are.

Other panels in this cartoon were somewhat inspired by a recent David Brooks column, which was written as an open letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates in response his new book. Beneath a veneer of what struck me as patronizing faux-humility, Brooks pretty much slipped into ye olde “why don’t you stop wallowing in victimhood and pursue the American Dream?” line of attack.



Posting schedule

For the time being, I’m going to try to maintain a more regular schedule of posting my comic here on Monday night/Tuesday morning. My travels and editing work for Fusion have made posting a little unpredictable over the last several months, so to simplify things, let’s say Tuesday morning is the new time.


Natural Gasbags

One thing that got under my skin last week was a little remarked-upon NYT column by Joe Nocera making the Very Serious Person’s case for a Sensible and Balanced™ approach to fracking. Environmentalists are dismissed as prone to “hyperbole” and “teeth gnashing,” and fracking is referred to as “a blessing.”

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health just reported on a study showing how hospitalization rates jump near fracking sites. In particular, heart disease, neurological problems, cancer, urologic problems, and skin conditions were much higher near fracked areas. This isn’t exactly the first time such health concerns have been reported on, but Nocera’s article euphemistically sweeps them under the rug, referring abstractly to the “disruption” and “local controversy” that fracking causes in communities.

Look, we’re way past the point where you can write an essay like this without explicitly acknowledging how gas companies have been bullying communities and destroying people’s health, homes, and finances in a manner that would make the Chinese ruling party proud. We’re not just talking about a few pinpoint locations. We’re talking about huge swaths of the country being made unlivable. But it’s so much easier to call the citizens of Denton, TX and Longmont, CO — who’ve been fighting a David and Goliath battle to keep fracking out of their towns — teeth-gnashing hippies.

Nocera cites Council on Foreign Relations fellow Michael Levi, who claims the dispassionate analysis mantle in coming down in favor of fracking. To his credit, Levi does describe the need for specific regulations — but offers no credible means of accomplishing these legislative goals. You show me companies abiding by the best of all possible rules, show me that communities are no longer having their health destroyed, and then let’s talk about fracking as a viable alternative. Coal is indeed bad, but this is not an excuse to ignore the completely unacceptable health consequences of fracking. I guess these communities are just supposed to wait for that brilliant federal regulation to come along any day now, right?

For a better perspective, I recommend Naomi Klein’s remarks given recently at the Vatican.



Pop Culture Periscope: San Diego Comic-Con Edition

I had a great time at this year’s Comic-Con, and this year had the honor of being a special guest. They even gave me an Inkpot Award, possibly the cutest trophy ever. Of course, it’s hard not to be amused by a certain level of silliness and entertainment-industry promotion at Comic-Con, hence the light satire intended by this cartoon. Like SXSW, it’s a convention that has grown beyond its original scope, with big-budget marketing efforts for TV shows and movies at every turn. But beneath that commercialized surface, there’s still a lot of cool stuff and great people.



San Diego Comic-Con Appearances

SDCC-logo

I’m honored to say I’m a special guest at Comic-Con this year. This means you can catch me on three (3!) panels if you’re going to the convention (it’s been sold out since forever). I have some awesome panel-mates! Here’s my schedule:

Thursday, July 9 • 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Room 9
Spotlight on Jen Sorensen” (probably the most intimate gathering of the three)
Herblock Prize-winning political cartoonist Jen Sorensen (Slowpoke), seen on Daily Kos and The Nib as well as in alternative newspapers around the country, will show her favorite cartoons and discuss her other job as comics editor for Fusion, a startup from ABC and Univision.

Friday, July 10 • 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Room 9
“Comic Strips in the Modern Era”
Everyone remembers reading their favorite comic strip on a Sunday morning and what a joy it was. Find out what comic strips are up to today with Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha), Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange), Jen Sorensen (editorial cartoonist), and moderator Andrew Farago (The Cartoon Art Museum).

Note: I will be signing at the National Cartoonists Society booth on Friday 7/10 from 3pm-5pm

Saturday, July 11 • 2:30pm – 3:30pm, Room 8
“Writing Engaging Non-Fiction Comics”
Nonfiction comics are a wide and blossoming field, with lots of exciting projects emerging all the time. The genre of nonfiction comics can include biographies of important historical figures, as in Peter Bagge’s Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story; political cartooning, as in Jen Sorensen‘s short and long-form work for numerous periodicals or long-running web serials about the history of hip hop, as in Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree. Calvin Reid (senior news editor at Publishers Weekly) will find out what it is that drew them to work in nonfiction and how they make it interesting for their readers.

 



Dawning of the Obvious



LGBT cartoonists respond to legal same-sex marriage

ericorner-brokeback
I put together a special roundup of comics and cartoons about the gay marriage ruling for Fusion, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Many cartoonists enthusiastically went beyond the call of duty, including the legendary Howard Cruse, Hilary Price, and Eric Orner (whose work is shown here). Go check it out!



« Older Posts


Jen Sorensen is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Daily Kos, Austin Chronicle, NPR, Ms., Politico, and many other publications. The recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, she tweets at @JenSorensen.

Archives