Beaten Down

Beaten Down

To be clear, I am not saying protest and activism are worthless — they are more necessary than ever. Like many people, I’m frustrated by the inertia of our institutions, and profoundly alarmed about what DeSantis is doing in Florida (such as blocking AP African American studies classes, subjecting teacher to felonies for disallowed books, and installing right-wing extremists on the board of the progressive New College).

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The Sorensen Monologues

Gas De-Rangement

For a decent summary on the risks of gas stoves, this Scientific American article is worth checking out. One recent study estimated that some 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases were attributable to emissions from gas stoves. 

While bans on new construction are being considered in many places, and already exist in a few cities like Berkeley, no one is actually confiscating stoves. The right-wing freakout over “stove bans” is mostly hot air, serving the purpose of demonizing liberals and whipping up panic over imaginary “government overreach” when what we have here is a clear case of government underreach.

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Man of the House

I actually find “Alpha influencers” to be morbidly fascinating, because they embody so much of the rising fascist movement — the obsession with gender, the fixation on performative masculinity, the notion that you are escaping “the Matrix” by adopting far-right extremist beliefs, the rejection of climate science and COVID as conspiracies. In this worldview, the true villains of late capitalism aren’t rapacious CEOs and Republicans who do their bidding in Congress, but feminists and anyone who would emasculate men. Ultimately these perverse ideologies serve the very corporate hegemony they claim to be freeing people from.

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You Get What You Pay For

I’m back after using a few reruns over the holidays.

If you’re going to hoard the wealth of the nation and refuse to pay wages that allow people to afford housing, then you at least have to support subsidized worker housing and health care. You can’t have it both ways — denying people both a living wage and public programs to compensate for a lack of the former. Of course people are going to end up on the streets! While it’s true that actual pay is higher than the federal minimum wage in many places, the fact that it’s still stuck at $7.25 in 2023 is utterly shameful.

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Unionless

The current abuses and indignities so many workers must endure seem like they belong in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, published in 1906, instead of America in 2022. But things can always get worse!

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Height of Folly

According to Consumer Reports, 526 people died in “frontover” accidents in 2020, many of them children. Often these deadly events occur in driveways or parking lots. You can watch an NBC News report on the issue here (below the petition) that shows kids lined up in front of various trucks and SUVs. Or if that link expires, you can watch it here

Senator Richard Blumenthal has introduced a bill make front-end cameras and detection sensors standard technology in new trucks. While I’m sure this would help, it also strikes me as a Rube Goldbergian solution. Americans are using machines so tall and massive to move their bodies through space that elaborate systems of video feeds and alarms are necessary so they can see what’s directly in front of them? THIS IS COMPLETELY ABSURD.

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Hostile Takeover

With the recent takeover of Twitter by a certain cretin who shall not be named here, the information landscape feels more dominated than ever by far-right conspiratorial garbage while progressives get pushed even further to the margins. The aforementioned executive tweeted recently that the site had been propagating “far left San Francisco/Berkeley views” to the world and that he was “moving rapidly to establish a even playing field.” These guys are the true eliminationists, using money, power, and intimidation to shut down the entire project of civil rights and human rights. Yet in conventional narratives, it’s still college kids or powerless people on social media who get scolded for being some sort of authoritarian threat. 

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Predictable Pattern

I think it’s safe to say that if the GOP had not launched an aggressive demonization campaign against drag performers in recent months, falsely linking them to child abuse, those people at Club Q in Colorado Springs would still be alive today. The same applies for threats of violence against trans people and the medical professionals who provide care for them. The party now thrives on barely-veiled threats of violence and intimidation.

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Signs the Climate Conference is Falling Short

The Cop27 climate summit happening now in Egypt has been somewhat overshadowed by US election news, but it is no less important. I was struck by the statistic that global subsidies for fossil fuel production totaled $400 billion in 2019, and according to this Guardian report, these subsidies shot up to $700 billion in 2021 as governments tried help their economies rebound from the pandemic. Meanwhile, wealthier nations have failed to honor an agreement from Cop15 in 2009 (!) to provide a fraction of this — $100 billion — in aid to poorer nations ravaged by climate crises. 

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“Dems Should Move to the Right”

It cannot be emphasized enough how the GOP has ceased to be a legitimate political party and there is no meaningful way the Dems could position themselves to “the right” without trafficking in dangerous falsehoods. Mainstream commentators like to pretend elections are still determined by good-faith policy differences, because the alternative would be to acknowledge that nearly everything one “side” says has no basis in reality. And that gets awkward when you’re trying to maintain the lucrative fiction of “unbiased centrist.”

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A Brief History of Twitter

In earlier drafts of this cartoon each stage of Twitter initially had a description, which I’ll post here for posterity: 

  1. The Early Years: Innocent first-person “microblogging”
  2. The Middle Years: Outrage generation machine
  3. Later Years: Barely-contained tsunami of disinformation and abuse — but still strangely compelling
  4. Now: Plaything for deranged billionaire autocrats

Hopefully the artwork in each panel manages to convey these ideas without the explanations.

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Decision 2022

This pretty much sums up how I feel about the midterms. I can’t believe so many contests are so close. Perhaps the most depressing one is the Ohio Senate race in which far-right extremist JD Vance — who has stated that the sexual revolution made it easier for women to leave violent marriages, and that this is bad somehow — has a very good shot at winning. Republican candidates can say just about anything these days, and it doesn’t matter. The old norms are gone; actual policy has become irrelevant. 

In case you haven’t heard about the guys in tactical gear guarding a ballot drop box in Mesa, AZ, you can read more here.

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Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist seen on Daily Kos, The Nib, and in magazines and
newspapers throughout the US. 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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