The Sorensen Monologues

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Additional thoughts on Obamacare comic

I’ve appended some follow-up thoughts on my Kaiser Health News comic to this week’s cartoon, below. (Posting this to cycle it into the blog section of the front page).

Great podcast on the origins of “jaywalking”


In response to this week’s cartoon on pedestrian rights, a reader sent me a link to this fascinating article and podcast about city streets in the early 20th century. The streets used to be for people, many of whom resented the introduction of cars, which had a tendency to slaughter children. Automobile interests promoted the concept of “jaywalking” to ridicule pedestrians — a belittling term with connotations of “country bumpkin.”

Coincidentally, one of the hosts of the podcast (Jesse Dukes) is someone who was at the University of Virginia at the same time I was. I didn’t know him personally, but I’m pretty sure we crossed paths during my day job years at the library.

Recommended viewing on the so-called moochers

Those who blame poverty on poor people not trying hard enough (and even those who don’t) should watch the Frontline documentary “Poor Kids” about the kids in a few struggling families in the Midwest. I finally got around to watching it myself last night, something I’ve been meaning to do since it was named the winner of a 2013 RFK Journalism Award for Domestic TV. Warning: will make you realize everything is worse than you thought.

Cartoon flashback: World’s Scientists Flummoxed by Snowstorm

Cartoon about Global Warming and cold weather

Ah, it’s that time of year: Snowstorms and cold weather inspire a flurry of bad editorial cartoons questioning the science of global warming since, you know, it’s really cold out. To honor the occasion, I’m sharing a strip I drew a few years ago as a reaction to those terrible cartoons.

A few readers failed to detect the snark in this one, and wrote me very angry emails attempting to explain how climate change worked. So please be sure to wear your sarcasm hat.

I Get Hatemail

I’ve noticed an uptick in angry email lately, ranging from the mildly disgruntled to the downright ugly. To wit, this gentleman’s missive:

How exactly was the “shutdown” an “actual economic disaster” you dumb c*nt?

oh, never mind.


(Asterisk added by me.) OK, here’s your answer:

“The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy,” S&P said in a statement. “In September, we expected 3 percent annualized growth in the fourth quarter because we thought politicians would have learned from 2011 and taken steps to avoid things like a government shutdown and the possibility of a sovereign default. Since our forecast didn’t hold, we now have to lower our fourth-quarter growth estimate to closer to 2 percent.”

More on how the government shutdown hurt the economy here.

Rand Paul fundraising letter fun


I find Rand Paul’s blend of cockiness and paranoia to be endlessly fascinating, so I got a little excited when I received a fundraising letter that was intended for a previous resident. What I like best is that along with all the usual 1960s-era Cold War government-as-fascism nonsense, you get a header taken straight from the Mad Men logo. All that’s missing is the cigarette.

He’s also asking for a $600 donation. That’s Don Draper money! Clearly he stands with the little people — all the ones with six hundred clams to send to a libertarian frootloop. At least he knows from what era he comes.

Abortion clinics abruptly close in Texas, leaving scheduled patients scrambling

Yeah, so I’m not sure how this fits within anti-choice Libertarians’ definition of “freedom.” From the Austin Chronicle:


Marni Evans is one of those women. Evans, 37, had already received the mandatory state counseling, mandatory ultrasound examination, and had waited the requisite 24 hours before obtaining the procedure when she found out – via voice message Thursday night – that the procedure she had scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Planned Parenthood clinic in South Austin would not happen. She hadn’t been following news about the legal dispute, and was shocked to hear that the state had taken away her right to make what she said was a difficult decision, but one that she and her fiancé concluded was right for them. “That decision was taken out of our hands,” she said Monday morning. “I was devastated. … I had no idea what to do next.”

Evans, eight weeks pregnant as of Mon­day, said that in order to obtain services in Texas she would not only have to find a new provider – with providers quickly being overwhelmed by the number of women who need access – but also, because of the requirements of state law, would have to begin again at the beginning, with another round of required counseling and another state-mandated ultrasound examination, followed by another 24-hour waiting period. Evans has instead decided to cash in frequent-flier miles that she was saving for her honeymoon and has made arrangements to travel to Seattle, where she previously lived, in order to obtain services at a Planned Parenthood clinic there. Evans said she is fortunate, unlike many other Texas women, to have the resources to take such drastic action.

Read the rest here.

Book Recommendation: “Why We Drive” by Andy Singer


When I was in St. Paul last week, I got a copy of my cartoonist pal Andy Singer’s new book “Why We Drive.” Andy is a longtime transportation activist, and has thought about the effects of cars on society more than just about anybody.

The cover photo says it all: a mafia-connected attorney receiving a check from a transit company vice-prez as one of the trolley cars they were systematically destroying burns in the background. Even if you know some of the sleazy history of why the US paved itself over instead of investing in rail, Andy Singer’s cartoon-and-prose expose will give you new reasons to hate cars. Loss of public space, the limitations of alternative fuels, sprawl and the clueless voters it helps create – with every topic we see cars run over our future while out of control transit agencies funnel their income to more roads instead of a better system. Witty cartoons on our witless ways and soul-crushing before-and-after photos add to the fun. And yes, Andy provides some hints on how to find an exit from the planetary parking garage. A must-read.

Cartoon Flashback: Freedom to Be Screwed


A reader recently reminded me of this cartoon, and I figured I’d repost since it’s still painfully relevant.

Today, TPM reports that insurance companies are sending misleading notices to their customers informing them that their rates are going up without mentioning the much better, less expensive plans offered in the new health insurance exchanges. My husband received one himself. People are getting confused, assuming the Affordable Care Act is causing their premiums to explode.

If losing the new consumer protections against these companies’ worst abuses is your version of “freedom,” you can keep it.

New Iraq War death toll estimate

Via Science Daily:

“Researchers from four universities, including the University of Washington, estimate that nearly a half-million people died from causes attributable to the war in Iraq from 2003 through 2011… The researchers found that for every three people killed by violence during the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011, two more died as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure that supports health care, clean water, nutrition and transportation.”

Remember when the Dems shut down the government to try to stop this from happening? Me neither. Would have been a more justifiable goal than denying people health insurance.

Template for lazy journalists writing about Wendy Davis candidacy

My friend Andrea Grimes has a funny satirical piece on RH Reality Check about attempts by non-Texans to wax knowledgeable about Wendy Davis’s candidacy for governor.

“Nevertheless, setting of the scene with cowboys, football, and cowboys playing football in demonstration of deep historico-political understanding of the Lone Star State, which it must be noted, is the insider nickname for Texas, because mavericks. Comparison of Wendy Davis to a maverick. A maverick who abortions.”

I may be a carpetbagger myself, but my driver’s license says Texas, which gives me a license to laugh at y’all.

NSFWCORP Comic Unlocked

For the next 48 hours, you can view an exclusive comic I drew for NSFWCORP #4: TWEETS IN MEATSPACE. Link will expire after that!

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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.