The Sorensen Monologues

Flattening the Crazy Curve

The Trump administration has taken the extraordinary step of announcing pollution laws will not be enforced during the pandemic. This, at the same time that we’re seeing evidence that air quality has a significant impact on coronavirus survival rates. It’s straight out of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, which recounts the many times throughout history that disasters have been exploited to advance a right-wing agenda.

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Choose Your Pandemic Plan

The virus is, of course, infecting rich and poor alike. And it’s just a fantasy that you can buy private insurance against a pandemic. But America’s class divide is still manifesting itself in predictable ways. There is, according to this NYT article, a healthcare concierge service for the very rich and sick that costs $80,000 every six months.

The firm has helped clients arrange tests in Los Angeles for the coronavirus and obtained oxygen concentrators for high-risk patients.

“We know the top lab people and the doctors and nurses and can make the process efficient,” said Leslie Michelson, the firm’s executive chairman.

The fourth panel touches on the insane Trump tweets and pressers, where he has implied he’s withholding medical supplies from states with governors he feels are not sufficiently deferent.

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Breathtaking Negligence

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Coronavirus Spring Break

The Miami cruise ship referenced in the second panel had a passenger test positive after leaving the ship; thousands of passengers boarded after that person left, and were allowed to enter Miami without screening.

And in case you missed it, former Miss Nevada and Trump supporter Katie Williams boasted of eating at a crowded Red Robin because she’s American, dammit, and nobody tells us what to do. Because nothing says FREEDOM like being a vector for mass death!

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Pandemic Partisans

As I was drawing this cartoon, Fox Business host Trish Regan went on an unhinged tirade, suggesting that Dems were using the coronavirus to “encourage hate” and take down the president. Fortunately, I was able to work her into the third panel at the last moment.

Other right-wing media personalities have been weighing in with similarly inflammatory language about Dems rooting for the virus. As if the coronavirus isn’t enough to worry about, the Trump administration’s incompetence combined with the right’s conspiratorial rhetoric about Dems rooting for mass death should send shivers down everyone’s spine.

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Astroturf Twins

As you may have heard, there is now an anti-Greta, Naomi Seibt. The German teen is on the payroll of the vile Heartland Institute, publisher of such classics as Nothing to Fear: A Bright Future for Fossil Fuels. Really, she should not be a media sensation at all, aside from the appalling cynicism of her recruitment by industry propagandists. But imagining Greta’s loathing for her is kind of funny.

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Trumping Our Safety 2020

Pretty straightforward one this week. I wanted to show the absurdity of Trump unfairly demonizing immigrants at the same time that he (and the GOP) are undermining so many other aspects of public safety, such as our ability to respond to the coronavirus. As this Foreign Policy article notes, “In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure.” They also slashed the CDC’s meager budget for work on global health, leading Bill Gates to beg H.R. McMaster and John Bolton to reconsider, apparently unsuccessfully.

The pardoned criminal with mob ties in the fourth panel is former NYC police commissioner and Giuliani pal Bernard Kerik, whose shady dealings you can read about here

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Billionaire Buttinsky 2: Bloomberg Boogaloo

I haven’t been doing many strips about the candidates lately, partly because I’ve grown weary of the circular firing squad. But I feel compelled to address Bloomberg. Questionable record of stop-and-frisk aside, I do not think he’s as electable as some people think he is. Politics is largely a personality contest based on perceived charisma. I’ve always liked Molly Ivins’ theory that a candidate needs to have at least a little Elvis. He or she needs to inspire people in an authentic way. Let’s just say Bloomberg is appallingly bereft of Elvis.

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Selfie Surveillance

Burbling in the background of election and impeachment news have been disturbing revelations about a company called Clearview AI, which has been hoovering up photos people post to social media and selling them as part of a 3 billion-image facial recognition database to police departments. While the company currently does business in the US and Canada, Buzzfeed reported that it’s seeking to go global, which would entail working with governments known for human rights abuses.

Then there’s Amazon’s Ring, which shares doorbell camera images with police departments. Ring also has a platform for sharing the videos online with neighbors

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Who’s Going to Save Us?

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Joni Ernst said “I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened… Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.'” When asked what he would be impeached for, she replied “for being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.” As the article notes, this claim has been debunked. Since then, Ernst has tried to walk back her comments as “hypothetical,” but it’s clear that she believes in a conspiracy theory and her comments were threatening, whether she intended them to be or not.

The Show Must Not Go On

Truth be told, I don’t find the impeachment hearings terribly compelling at this point, as we already know what we need to know. Mitch McConnell’s kangaroo court mostly serves as a reminder of kangaroo courts past, from the Brett Kavanaugh “investigation” to the utter refusal to give Merrick Garland a hearing at all. But at the same time, we can’t let ourselves become blasé about this insane spectacle unfolding in front of us. This is a show trial, a feature of the worst regimes in world history, and it should be shocking to see this happening in the United States.

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School Lunches of the Future

The Trump administration announced its planned rule change on Michelle Obama’s birthday, which seems just gratuitously mean, but I suppose that’s the point. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue described the change as “common-sense flexibility” — “flexibility” that will allow kids to choose pizza, burgers, and French fries every day. This will have real consequences, as we see increasing numbers of kids develop Type 2 diabetes. 

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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.