Moments of Clarity

Moments of Clarity

Over and over again, we have these events that show very clearly what is happening in this country — a violent white supremacist movement spreading like wildfire, and fueled by deep-pocketed players — only to slip back into the daydream where “both sides” are to blame, and endless handwringing ensues over the behavior of good people trying to stop the madness.

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The Sorensen Monologues

Pandora’s Court

We’re finally paying the price of the scorched-earth obstructionist game the GOP has been playing with SCOTUS (as well as the federal courts), and getting away with over and over again. I mean, they haven’t respected institutions at all — destroying democratic institutions from within is what they do. Clarence Thomas’s wife literally supported a coup to overturn the last election!  The only solution at this point would be adding people to the court, but it does not look like Dems will get the numbers to do this and it is doubtful they would even have the courage to do it, as they would face waves of mainstream pundits saying (falsely) that Dems are the ones undermining the institution.

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What Does the Billionaire Think?

Recently, when Elon Musk was asked about the possible unfairness of the world’s billionaires controlling so much of the world’s wealth, he suggested that there were “axiomatic flaws” leading people to that conclusion. He claimed that he did not spend money like a billionaire, with the exception of his time-saving private jet, and that he did not even own a home. I think I detect an axiomatic flaw in that answer.

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Highly Selective Health Nuts

It’s easy to laugh at this stuff, but I actually find it more disturbing and sinister than anything. The “alpha male” bro culture of the alt-right ties directly into authoritarian “strongman” rhetoric and the strategically-contrived moral panic about gender that is reflected in the anti-LGBTQ laws sweeping the nation. Put simply, it’s fascist, and many in news media don’t seem to fully connect the dots or grasp the symbolic power at work here.

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Accurate Political Labels

I suppose on the surface this could be read as a simple insult comic, but I’m trying to get at a deeper issue. Our entire political discourse has become plagued with right-wing terminology, much of it false, with the intention of demonizing entire classes of people and inciting moral panic. It is remarkable how how we have no similar language for “conservative elites,” or the overwhelmingly Republican plutocratic class that runs Fox and much of the country. 

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How to Fund Grad Student Workers

One of several unionization efforts in the US right now is the movement to organize graduate student workers at universities. These laborers, who teach college classes and perform research that lends prestige to their institutions, tend to be paid appallingly low wages. The poverty-level paychecks are all the more unethical when you consider how university endowments have ballooned with the stock market in recent years, with many worth billions. Meanwhile, housing prices in college towns have surged, leaving student workers in a terrible predicament. This recent Guardian article provides further details.

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The “Marketplace of Ideas”

The phrase “the marketplace of ideas” has a long history, but seems extra-ubiquitous lately. As Wikipedia puts it, “The marketplace of ideas is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market.” But markets are about power, money, and advertising. Certain voices are seen and heard more than others. The most “popular” product is not necessarily the best, and is often arrived at through manipulating desires and needs. The entire approach runs counter to the scientific method. You don’t get to choose facts like a brand of deodorant.

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Eyeballs to the Wall

Hopefully it’s clear that I’m not arguing for averting one’s gaze entirely from harsh realities. We have a moral obligation to do what we can. I do think that excessive media consumption and Twitter activism can become counterproductive. And when that happens, it’s time to embrace the sweet emptiness of painted drywall, or another real-world object of your choice. 

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New NFTs

The Guardian reported recently on the Hardin coal plant in Montana coming back to life to power a Bitcoin mining operation. Not only is this bad for climate change, but the pollutants wreak havoc on public health, causing premature deaths and childhood asthma. NFTs are typically sold via the Ethereum blockchain, which is also extremely energy-intensive. While developers are working on less environmentally-destructive alternatives, the system as it stands now is a form of “slow violence” with the victims out of sight, as this writer puts it.


Pump and Dump

As others have pointed out, drilling new oil wells takes years, there are already plenty of unused drillilng permits, and if we don’t decarbonize we’re all going to roast. To the extent that we “need more gas,” this is entirely due to the fact that we are fifty years behind on switching away from fossil fuels, courtesy of the very people now yelling for more drilling. So you can safely dismiss any rhetoric about drilling as GOP/fossil fuel industry propaganda.

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Quiz Time: Is it from Russia or the American Right?

The fact that we are seeing so many anti-LGBTQ bills at the state level in the US is not unrelated to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Gay rights have long been used by Putin as an ideological wedge issue to forge a Russian identity in opposition to the “decadent” globalized West. Russia’s “gay propaganda” law passed in 2013 casts a wide net around anything that could be remotely perceived as promoting “non-traditional” sexual relationships to minors. 

For more on the Russian Orthodox leader’s remarks on the war-justifying threat posed by gay pride parades (which are allowed in Kyiv), this article has a decent summary.

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Bad Ukraine Takes

This Guardian article provides a synopsis of some of the more ridiculous assertions by Carlson, Bannon, and others. And this is a good explainer on the energy issues at stake (bottom line: renewables pose a threat to Russia through energy independence.)

In case you need a translation for the third panel, Putin is saying “Thanks, fools!”  Though his actual net worth is impossible to know, this Money article lays out the likely range.

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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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