The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for January, 2018

The next cryptocurrencies

As I was penciling this, Paul Krugman’s latest column on the Bitcoin bubble went up. Krugman makes some of the same points I make in the cartoon.

For more on the incredible energy use that goes into mining Bitcoin, this Arstechnica piece is a good place to start. This site has some eyebrow-raising stats, such as the fact that the number of U.S. households that could be powered by Bitcoin is 4,252,394. To quote from this Motherboard article making the Denmark comparison:

Even in the optimistic scenario, just mining one bitcoin in 2020 would require a shocking 5,500 kWh, or about half the annual electricity consumption of an American household. And even if we assume that by that time only half of that electricity is generated by fossil fuels, still over 4,000 kg of carbon dioxide would be emitted per bitcoin mined. It makes you wonder whether bitcoin could still be called a virtual currency, when the physical effects could become so tangible.

Emphasis mine. It’s extremely ironic, then, that a currency this inefficient and destructive to the planet — it’s mostly powered by Chinese coal-burning plants, according to Digiconomist — has become the darling of Libertarian utopianists who think they’re creating a futuristic paradise.

The Corruption Cycle

Lost in the shuffle of recent headlines about shutdowns and porn stars is the fact that Republicans are eviscerating Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A case in point.

I’m going to quote from myself here, from a post I wrote last April:

It’s not big or small government that I care about; it’s smart or stupid. In other words, it’s about policy, not “the government.” Once you start doing away with government, or the idea that government regulation is necessary, you grant more power to corporations and Wall Street. Government exists as a check on abuses of power by moneyed interests. While government can be corrupt to varying degrees, the fashionably cynical belief that all government is inherently corrupt is an idea that enables corruption.

The primary way to end government corruption is through campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections. Anti-government libertarians have not supported candidates or policies that would lead to this outcome. Gorsuch will uphold Citizens United, ensuring future corruption of politicians by moneyed interests, furthering the right-wing ideology that government is inherently corrupt. And so the cycle continues.

We tend to talk about politics in terms of individual personalities.  But I think it’s more useful to look at the broken system of incentives, which invariably compromises even well-meaning public officials to some degree. (I’m talking about Dems here; the entire Republican party is nothing but a scam at this point.) This is not to say we can’t point fingers at specific people, but the problem is systemic. And nothing is going to change without the Supreme Court.

Sadly, much of our mediascape is now terribly corrupted as well, with Fox being almost pure disinformation; I’m not sure how you begin to fix this, but campaign finance is a start.

Worse Than Idiocracy

I realize I’m hardly the first person to make an analogy between the Trump administration and Idiocracy (one of my favorite movies of all time, let it be known). While doing some Googling, I found that Cracked made the case for Idiocracy being superior to our current state of affairs. But given Trump’s recent comments and porn star revelations, it seemed a direct comparison with Camacho was in order, one that went beyond merely pointing out their similar lack of qualifications and flamboyance. And the verdict is: I’ll take Camacho, thanks!

See No Evil

This comic was initially inspired by Sheriff David Clarke’s over-the-top tweetstorm last week. He railed against “fake news” and promised to “bitch slap these scum bags.”  “Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD. Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA’S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood” he added. In earlier times, a prominent supporter of the president making unhinged violent threats against journalists like this might have been perceived as scandalous and embarrassing, but it’s just another day in the Trump era, where this kind of authoritarian rhetoric has been normalized.

Just this last Sunday, hotheaded Trump adviser Stephen Miller had an interview cut off by Jake Tapper on CNN, providing some extra backdrop for the cartoon.

Cartoon Flashback: The Game

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.