The Sorensen Monologues

Tips for Holiday Cheer

Okay, I suppose things got a little dark this week. I’ve been wanting to comment on the weirdness of experiencing all the usual holiday frivolity during these very abnormal times. Just the other day, there was news of greenhouse gas emissions accelerating like a “speeding freight train” on the same day Trump announced a plan to open up nine million acres of land reserved for sage grouse protection to oil exploration. And in a chilling display of authoritarianism, the Republican legislature in Wisconsin voted in the dead of night to strip away power from the newly-elected Democratic governor. While these stories made newspaper headlines, I don’t entirely get the sense that Americans, as a whole, are deeply rattled. Bells continue to jingle and car antlers continue to sprout. Not that I begrudge people their reindeer fun. Indeed, it is possible to affix a plush red Rudolph nose to the grill of one’s automobile and be concerned about the demise of democracy at the same time.



The Refugee Cycle

To be clear, my intention here is not to say that refugees necessarily lead to fascism. Rather, it’s hyperbolic, inflammatory rhetoric about migrants that leads there. Without irresponsible right-wing media demonizing entire groups of people round the clock, I suspect the national conversation would look a bit different.

U.S. foreign policy has unfortunately played into the creation of some of these very refugees. With the Iraq War, we destabilized a whole region and opened up a power vacuum filled by terrorist movements. Then there’s been decades of US involvement in Central America, also not unrelated to current migrants fleeing violence.



Things you don’t hear after a Democratic wave

While I’ve seen some news stories about women voters, there’s been nowhere near the same adulation and obsessive fawning as there was over male Trump voters in 2016. The very notion of “authenticity” is gendered male, and Dem-voting women are not seen as “real” Americans by many in the media.



Notification Bloatification

Finally taking a break from politics this week. In the early days of social media, it seemed a notification was a notification. Someone mentioned you or tagged you in a photo, you got pinged, and that was that. Over the past couple years or so, I’ve noticed both Facebook and Twitter desperately throwing random notifications into the mix about various friends’ activities. I’m getting Facebook alerts about people I don’t know commenting on posts written by people I don’t know. Once in a while, Twitter burps up some obnoxious little nudge informing me that someone has tweeted, or liked a tweet. Now, before people write me with advice about changing my settings, let me assure you I have tried everything humanly possible. At least in some cases, YOU CAN’T TURN THEM OFF. (I realize this is hardly the biggest problem in the world right now, but it’s fun to complain about.)



America Then and Now

My short take on the election is that the results were not bad, but we have a long, long way to go to restore sanity. Just thinking about the Supreme Court gives me the willies.



Get Off My Precinct!

A bit late posting here as I’m traveling abroad. I had to draw this one before the election results, but given what happened in Georgia, it’s still unfortunately relevant. Gerrymandering and other voter suppression efforts have gotten so extreme now that Democrats must win by huge margins to actually, you know, win. Things have gotten so bad that elections have become about whether to keep what little democracy we have left.  We are in an emergency situation for our country, yet many media outlets spent the week before the election obsessing over the non-story of the “caravan.” If anything, voter suppression efforts should be receiving that kind of breathless coverage.

The specific issue with Native American voting rights I’m referring to in panel four is described here.

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Tips for Stopping Extremist Violence

Sometimes I can’t believe the things I have to draw cartoons about these days. When I began the weekly strip some eighteen years ago or so, I never imagined I’d be making the case against fascism in America. It felt like the dam broke this past week, that whatever was holding back an explosion of violent nutballery that’s been waiting in the wings is now gone. All I can do is try to point out the obvious, that these acts are the culmination of decades of over-the-top conspiracy theorizing and incitement on the American right. And no amount of being “nicer” or more “open-minded” is going to change things.



Debate to Nowhere

In previous cartoons, I have dealt with the folly of giving fascists and roundly-discredited racial theorists prestigious speaking platforms — such as Steve Bannon headlining the New Yorker ideas festival — and made the case that it is not “closed-minded” to object to such norm-violating appointments. Here I take on the same basic topic from another angle: if fascists and racists must be treated as part of serious contemporary intellectual debate, as some insist, surely there must be some point when the debate is over? If not, then it follows that there’s no way to ever condemn a set of ideas or come to any conclusions. An analog would be people who want endless “debate” over climate change, long after scientific consensus has been established. The Bannons and climate deniers of the world are free to speak their nonsense, but rehashing it endlessly leads absolutely nowhere.



Voter Purge Surge

This has been one of those weeks for me. I broke my phone, then someone smashed my car window and stole a bag containing my scanner (fortunately I had my computer), all my art supplies, and a book about birding… probably not the haul they were expecting. So I’ve been a little stressed. Luckily, this “classic” strip was easily updated for the horrific situation in Georgia, where Kemp is taking voter suppression to new extremes.

The GOP has become absolutely brazen about ignoring basic democratic principles. It’s all very frightening and makes it all the more imperative that those of us who can still vote do in fact vote.

In other news, I contributed a couple illustrations to this book, along with many other political cartoonists.



Supreme Court Silver Lining

A week ago someone asked me what I thought the odds were of Kavanaugh being confirmed. This was when many people thought his nomination was doomed. I said 10:1 he will be confirmed. My read all along has been that there is simply no mechanism left to stop Republican lawlessness.They simply do not care about any of the standards that matter in a normal democracy. Perjury doesn’t matter, evidence of sexual assault doesn’t matter, thousands of law professors signing a letter saying that he is not qualifed doesn’t matter. And here we are.



High School Slang According to Brett Kavanaugh

I have noted before that the Trump era is often difficult to parody because it is already so extreme, and nothing illustrates this better than the Kavanaugh hearings. The man is a serial liar, and it’s not at all hard to prove. His laughable explanations for the slang terms he used in his high school yearbook are such obvious hogwash, it’s like he wasn’t even trying to be plausible. The thing is, these weren’t just little lies — they were directly related to his history of binge drinking and his attitudes toward women in high school and college. Whatever his behavior then, he’s lying now, and should be nowhere near a position of power that involves evaluating evidence.

There is a darkly entertaining article about a gay punk who was unfortunate enough to share Kavanaugh’s dorm at Yale. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, I’m afraid we will all be that guy.




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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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