The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for August, 2012

This Week’s Cartoon: Free Speech for Cigarettes

Hmm… so according to this 2-1 appeals court ruling, speech added to cigarette packaging limits speech. I guess the “individual liberties” of li’l old corporate persons like RJ Reynolds outweigh a democratically-elected government’s right to add a message on behalf of the public interest. Never mind that we’re talking about the packaging of a deadly commercial product with a history of being marketed to kids. Actually showing a kid being harmed on the package would interfere with whatever those Marlboros are trying to express.

Via Raw Story:

In a dissent, Judge Judith Rogers said that the regulation ordering the label “does not restrict the information conveyed to consumers, but requires additional information to be conveyed with the aid of graphic images.”

Rogers, who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, said that tobacco companies had engaged in “decades of deception” over health risks and had no legal basis to complain about “emotional reactions” to graphic warnings.

You may recall that Judge Janice Rogers Brown, the author of the majority opinion, was one of the radical George W. Bush appointees whom the Dems tried to filibuster, until the Gang of 14 came along and opened the floodgates of nutballery. She’s an extreme libertarian who invokes Ayn Rand in speeches to the Federalist Society, and calls government a “leviathan” prone to “crushing everything in its path.” You know the type. She and Paul Ryan would make great drinking buddies.

I’ve been surprised by the number of commenters on Daily Kos who say “Oh, the labeling won’t work anyway.” To which I responded:

I think some of the labels would work, such as the one shown in the cartoon, saying “Tobacco smoke can harm your children.” Some people have no regard for their own bodies, but they care about their kids, and could use the reminder to smoke away from them.

If the warnings have no effect, then why are companies fighting them so vigorously? Why does Judge Brown say the labels are against the business interest of the companies if, as she also says, there’s “not one shred of evidence” that they work?


Dem Convention Blogging

Some of you may recall my blog coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention for C-VILLE Weekly. We’ve been working on doing something similar this year, possibly in partnership with another altweekly, so I’ll be traveling to Charlotte the week after next. Watch this space for updates!


This Week’s Cartoon: Sneak Preview of the Republican National Convention

I read somewhere recently that not long after Romney’s announcement of his running mate, Google searches for “Paul Ryan” and “shirtless” shot through the roof. Undoubtedly this was due in part to the revelation that Ryan is a devotee of the infomercial workout known as P90X. If only people craved deets on Ryan’s radically-destructive, mathematically-impossible budget like they do glimpses of his abs, we’d all be much better off. Speaking for myself, I can’t even stand to look at the man’s cold, dead eyes. Also: enough about what a brainy wunderkind he is. Ryan is an intellectual in the same way that people well-versed in specious vaccination theories are “intellectuals.”

If you haven’t heard about the Buckyball controversy, you can read more about it here. I don’t have particularly strong feelings either way, though right-wing blowhards apparently do.


This Week’s Cartoon: Olympic Memories

McDonald’s being the official restaurant of the Olympics is a bit like XBox being the official study aid of the National Spelling Bee. But, of course, the biggest crime of this year’s games coverage was the omission of Ray Davies from the U.S. broadcast of the closing ceremony.


This Week’s Cartoon: One Weird Trick

The “one weird trick discovered by a mom” meme has persisted for a while now in the illustrious world of web ads. And it’s not just moms — all sorts of ordinary folks are coming up with strange tips and tricks for our collective benefit. Just a few weeks ago, I spotted a rather paranoid ad that read: “47yo patriot discovers ‘weird’ trick to slash power bill & end Obama’s power monopoly.” (I’ve heard Obama accused of many things, but being an electricity cartel kingpin is a new one.)

I wonder how this trend came to be. Was there some marketing study on the clickability of different phrases, and “weird trick” came out on top? Especially if the weird trick came from moms, dads, patriots, and other salt-of-the-earth folks? The implicit rejection of professional expertise here frankly says a lot about our culture. Don’t need no fancypants scientist telling us how to lose our flab!

In 2011, the Washington Post reported on a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the “tiny belly” ads; they’re the front end of a highly profitable scheme involving a large number of dubious dietary supplement companies. The fact that anyone is seduced into giving their credit card numbers to these people boggles the mind.


This Week’s Cartoon: “Fat Cat”

As if we needed any further proof that trickle-down economics is a joke, along comes massively-profitable Caterpillar’s decision to freeze the wages of its Joliet, IL factory workers from now until the cows come home, and then some. Meanwhile, the compensation for Cat CEO Douglas Oberhelman shot up 60% in 2011, to $16.9 million. It’s not like the workers were being lavishly paid, either; the top tier had average salaries of $55,000 before overtime.

Unfortunately, I can’t boycott Cat, as I won’t exactly be in the market for a knuckleboom loader anytime soon.


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.

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