The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for September, 2019

Cartoon: Calling for Impeachment

I decided to make this a very straightforward narrative about Trump and Ukraine, as I get the sense that some people might not be up on all the details. There is, in fact, no scandal involving Joe Biden’s son, but the Trump administration has been extremely successful at laundering such stories into mainstream media outlets prone to parroting the words of Very Important Officials, and eager to report “both sides” even when one side is the equivalent of a hot, steaming democracy-crushing cowpie.

As this TPM article notes, we’re in uncharted territory here. A former Obama staffer noted:

“When you withhold military assistance to a country at war with Russia because you want to compel the country to launch a political investigation into your opponent, that’s outside the bounds of anything that’s happened in U.S. political history,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the GOP has paralyzed the Federal Election Commission and Mitch McConnell is blocking anti-corruption measures. Just FYI.

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Honest Democratic debate questions

I have trouble watching the debates these days because they feel like a gigantic farce. They’re like a holdover from another era, normalizing events that gloss over Republicans’ breathtaking attacks on democratic norms. Here we are, gathering the candidates to discuss the nuances of their policy proposals so Americans can make a rational, informed decision about whom to vote for. Never mind the GOP’s scorched-earth obstructionism, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, Trump’s packed judiciary, absurd gerrymandering that favors Republicans, the Electoral College, and massive voter suppression efforts (more than 1,000 polling places have closed since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act). I realize this can sound a little cynical and defeatist, which isn’t my point. Hearing good ideas and having a vision for the Democratic party is important. But there’s a big authoritarian elephant in the room.

As I was finishing up this comic, I saw that Paul Krugman had some similar thoughts in his latest column.

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Yoga Pants, Destroyers of Western Civilization

Yoga pants may seem like a trivial subject matter, but I’d argue this cultural stuff is way more important than most people realize. It’s about so much more than the pants, which of course I wore as I drew this cartoon. These ideas form our symbolic vocabulary and frame our entire way of seeing the world.

NYT columnist David Brooks is the latest in a long line of yoga pants bashers, from incels who think women wear them to torment men (one of whom committed a mass shooting at a yoga studio, you’ll recall), to a Montana politician who wanted to make them illegal, to random guys in New Zealand. Brooks adds a new angle in a recent column written from the perspective of an online extremist:

Did you really think you could raise me on gourmet coffee and yoga pants and I wouldn’t find a way to rebel against your relativism and materialism? Didn’t you observe the eternal pattern — that if you try to flatten a man to the bourgeois he will rebel by becoming a fanatic?

Ostensibly Brooks is opposing both the alt-right and the “alt-left” (whatever that is — people on Twitter upset about racism, I guess?) in this strange piece, but it reads like his usual shtick of painting liberals as decadent, effeminate aristocrats. Never mind the opulent tastes of the right-wing donor class, or the bourgeois materialism of the Republican suburbs, or the moral travesty of polluters hastening the death of the planet. It is the gourmet coffee and yoga pants leading us to our doom. Which makes me wonder: Does David Brooks only drink Folgers Crystals out of solidarity with the working class? I’m guessing not.

Back to the yoga pants for a sec. It’s ironic that a form of exercise that increases strength and flexibility could be spun as some kind of cultural weakness, but women are used to having our interests diminished as “chick flicks” or “chick lit.” Anything that could be perceived as emasculating is mocked as silly and inferior. The alt-right has its origins in reactionary opposition to women’s empowerment, and equates the liberalization of America with feminization. David Brooks is actually very much in line with this school of thought, though with a more polite pseudo-intellectual veneer.

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Eco-snide

Recently I saw an older gentleman in a Trump cap trying to pay for something when it wasn’t his turn at the grocery store, and being told by the cashier that he had to go around and get in line. In fairness to the guy, I don’t know the full context of the situation (maybe he had already been through the line and forgot something?), but he seemed to be resisting the cashier’s request in a way that suggested a sense of entitlement. I found myself thinking about how this phrase is typically lobbed at younger generations as a blanket insult, and how ridiculous this is given the entitled and thoughtless behavior of so many of their elders. My point is not to engage in generational warfare — no demographic is monolithic — but when you compare someone like Greta Thunberg to the oligarchs currently destroying the planet, the platitudes about “kids today” ring hollow.

I anticipate someone will quibble with the first panel of this cartoon, arguing that elephant hunting is actually beneficial because the hefty fees paid by trophy-seeking rich dudes are used for conservation efforts. As Vox notes, the deets on that are murky:

And there’s not great evidence that this conservation tactic works. For its October issue, National Geographic investigated the claim that hunting helps conserve threatened animals. Tanzania lost two-thirds of its lions from 1993 to 2014, despite a trophy hunting program. Overall, reporter Michael Paterniti found, “what happens to the hunters’ fees … is notoriously hard to pin down — and impossible in kleptocracies.”

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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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