The Sorensen Monologues

If Flint’s water problem happened to rich people

You would think the wealthiest nation on earth could do better than this. Of course, these public health disasters are what we can expect when basic government services get chipped away over the years by ideological zealots. Curiously, reports are surfacing that cost-cutting may not have been the primary reason for the water supply switch, raising the possibility that politics were somehow a factor. Whatever the case, it seems unlikely that a deep-pocketed GOP donor would have had to wait a year and a half to get Gov. Rick Snyder’s attention.

Behind the scenes at the Trump girl group tryouts

In case you haven’t seen the “Freedom Kids” performance at the Trump rally, proceed here. Have a stiff drink ready.

Do I detect a trendlet of little girls spouting wingnuttery on behalf of GOP candidates? There was that Ted Cruz ad starring his daughters a few weeks ago, and now this. Of course, when people make fun of these performances that are (ironically enough) practically Maoist in their ideological zeal, they are accused of picking on poor, defenseless children. So let me be clear: I am mocking the grownups who are using these kids as mouthpieces to spew belligerent, jingoistic twaddle the kids probably don’t even fully understand.

Unequal exposure: Sexy show names for male comedians

When I learned the name of Daily Show alum Samantha Bee’s new show recently, my heart sank a little. “Full Frontal?” Really?  Here’s my theory about why prominent comedy shows hosted by women have titillating names. From a studio exec’s point of view, having a female host is a risky proposition. Some viewers will simply assume that a show hosted by a woman is just “for women.” Also, to be a comedian is to be an authority figure, and some people just aren’t into watching a lady in that role. (Whenever I write about this, I get comments from guys protesting that they like female comedians, so let’s just agree I’m not talking about you.)  The solution, as far as the entertainment industry is concerned, is to go “Full Hooters” with the name, making the show appear non-threatening to the easily-emasculated.

Note for nitpickers: I’m well aware of the arguments behind reclaiming female sexuality and am fine with women being desnudas or whatever, but Sam Bee is a political humorist. The name seems gratuitous. It occurred to me that the title might have been inspired by Jessica Valenti’s book Full Frontal Feminism, but that’s using the concept in a very different context. My point here is not to pick on Bee, who I admire and who is probably under incredible pressure to make the show succeed, but to illustrate a double standard that’s hard not to see as a sad commentary on the state of women in comedy and the media.

Oregon militants: Patriots… or Owl Qaeda?

I’m fine with a little healthy civil disobedience, but once you add guns to the mix and threaten to use them against the powers that be, you’re no longer just a protester. You are, at the very least, a militant. As many others have rightly noted, the kid gloves treatment these extremists are getting would likely be denied to other groups attempting to occupy a government building with weapons. Not that I don’t support letting them slowly run out of Twinkies.

Did you know the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established by Teddy Roosevelt and hosts over 320 bird species? Speaking as an occasional birdwatcher, it looks awesome. Hopefully those bozos will be gone in time for the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival to proceed in April as planned.

And yes, somebody actually had to write this for their website:


Cartoon Flashback: More things for Islamophobes to worry about

Here’s a comic from 2010 that seems extra-appropriate for current times. If only the me of the past knew how bad things would get in 2015.

Mr. and Mrs. Perkins go gift shopping, Star Wars edition (2015)

A holiday tradition returns, with Mr. and Mrs. Perkins once again searching for the perfect gift for Auntie Perkins. You can see the previous installment (from 2013) here.

The news has been so crazy lately, it feels a little strange not drawing an overtly political strip this week, but I think the degree to which Star Wars has permeated our consumer culture is political in its own right.

The never-ending death spiral

Australia illustrates what a country has to do to solve this problem. The U.S. is doing pretty much the exact opposite.

America reacts to the Planned Parenthood attack

Just in case somebody wildly misinterprets this cartoon, I do not in fact support issuing tracking collars to white males, nor do I blame all of Christianity for the shootings at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. I’m merely illustrating the ludicrousness of the GOP’s recent rhetoric against Muslims.

Between this and their incendiary lies about Planned Parenthood, the current crop of Republican candidates have shown themselves to be dangerously unfit for the presidency. But you knew that already.

Thanksgiving Through the Years

How to Tell the Difference Between ISIS and Muslims

The GOP is demanding that the Democratic presidential candidates use the term “radical Islam” to refer to ISIS. Yet it’s hard to imagine them making similar demands that various acts of homegrown terrorism be called the work of “radical Christians.” Many would argue that simply committing such an act means one is not a true Christian. By the same token, ISIS is not Islamic, as Islam is understood and practiced by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. So why insist on the label, unless you have an axe to grind about a faith you deem inferior? Why add to the Islamophobic backlash that has already led to a Texas mosque having its front door hit with feces?

ISIS thinks in terms of a “clash of civilizations,” and (surprise!) so do American right-wingers. Anyone framing this issue as The West vs. Islam is playing right into ISIS’s hands.

The Right to an Unfair Trial

This is a huge story that many progressives seem to be overlooking. In 2013 the Supreme Court allowed companies — Netflix, T-Mobile, rental cars, banks, private schools, medical practices, online retailers, etc. — to slip “arbitration clauses” into contracts for services and jobs that circumvent the court system entirely. If you have a legal grievance, you will be shunted into their private kangaroo court, presided over by often-laughably biased officials hired by the company. The NY Times has a must-read three part series on this truly incredible overturning of a fundamental Constitutional right.

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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.