The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for January, 2019

Billionaire Buttinsky

Just as the Dems have been putting forward some popular and economically-sound ideas about helping working people, along comes ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to dump on everything. Among Schultz’s many inane statements: “We haven’t had a balanced budget since President [Bill] Clinton. Think about that.”

Yeah, because the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations have all been equally fiscally irresponsible, right? And it’s not like one of those presidents inherited a devastating recession and grossly-mismanaged budget himself, and did a pretty good job of fixing things. Republicans can blow up the budget until the cows come home, but Dems will always get the finger wag no matter how many times they clean up a mess.

I wrote the penthouse joke in the third panel before I checked to see whether Howard Schultz actually had one, and sure enough, he bought a $40 million penthouse in the West Village of NYC in 2017. So no worries there!


Sharp Advice

I’ve watched the much-talked about Gillette ad a couple times now, and I have to say, it’s hardly controversial. In fact, I’d argue any news outlet describing it as controversial is misrepresenting what’s actually in the ad. The campaign does a pretty good job of suggesting how men can be positive role models, tying the concept of “manhood” to stopping bullies and intervening to prevent sexual harassment from other men. As this Huffpo piece argues, it’s actually fairly conservative, in the sense that it puts forward a virtuous, heroic ideal of masculinity. Men as a whole aren’t insulted at all. Not that you’d get that impression listening to the right-wing rage machine, which has twisted the ad into “man-hating.” I mean, there’s a clip of Terry Crews (aka Camacho from Idiocracy — not exactly an emasculated wimp!) in there discussing the need for men to hold other men accountable for sexual assault. The fact that so many people are infuriated by these mild suggestions is just plain weird — and speaks volumes about the extremist vision of traditional patriarchy that underlies Trumpism.


No Government, No Problem!

While the shutdown is ostensibly about a border wall, I think it’s useful to remember that infamous statement from Steve Bannon during his brief tenure as White House strategist, in which he called for “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” Yesterday, an anonymous Trump administration official wrote an op-ed in Tucker Carlson’s journalistically-challenged tabloid site The Daily Caller, suggesting that the shutdown “is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.” From TPM:

The op-ed’s author wrote that “many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce” and that “we do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them.”

Ha, right! That’s 800,000 people! Meanwhile, unpaid TSA screeners are calling in sick, aircraft safety inspections are stalled, FDA food inspections have stopped. The list goes on.

In case you missed the news about Joshua Tree National Park, some idiots took advantage of the shutdown to chop down threatened Joshua trees to make illegal trails for off-road vehicles.


On the ‘Unlikability’ of Female Candidates

There was a debate last week over the suggestion that Elizabeth Warren may face the same “likability” issues as Hillary Clinton. I would argue that the idea of “likability” for a female candidate is problematic, as it fails to address the very real social context in which female authority figures are seen as less likable than their male peers. This piece on NBC does a pretty good job of explaining the issue.

Regarding Warren, I’d suggest that the fair question to ask is not “Is she likable?” but rather, “Can America overcome its sexism and anti-intellectualism enough to vote for her?” I wish I could confidently say yes, but I’m not so sure, despite the success of female candidates in the midterms. The authoritarian wave sweeping the world is very much a reassertion of traditional ideas about masculinity. I say all of this as a big fan of Elizabeth Warren, who has always felt like an alter ego if I’d gone to law school. I even dressed up as her for Halloween once.


Cartoon Flashback: Starve the Beast

This week’s comic is one final holiday classic before I head back into the trenches, although it has been updated to reflect 2018 data about the CEO-to-average worker pay ratio. The original strip from 2011 cited a statistic of 343 to 1. According to this Forbes article citing an AFL-CIO report, the pay gap has widened to 361 to 1. In the 1950s, the ratio was more like 20:1. Thank goodness no economic policies have been enacted to exacerbate this trend!


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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