Lowering the Temperature

Lowering the Temperature

I thought it was time for another appearance of the Flaming Conservative. But I need to start calling him something else because the word “conservative” no longer fits. Don’t call this movement authoritarian, though! Shortly after the assassination attempt, before evidence about the shooter’s identity was available, soon-to-be-named Vice Presidential candidate JD Vance stated, “The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs. That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.” This is one of the most preposterous and Orwellian arguments I have ever heard in my entire career as a political cartoonist. When you consider the January 6 insurrection and the long list of violent and threatening rhetoric from Trump and other Republican officials — too many to enumerate here — while Democratic leaders have not engaged in such tactics, blaming the Biden campaign is a ridiculous act of gaslighting.

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.

The Sorensen Monologues

Podcast interview

I recently did a lengthy interview with Geoff Grogan’s Blockhead podcast, which focuses on comics creators. We talked about politics a lot! The interview was conducted on the weekend after the presidential debate and Supreme Court’s Chevron ruling. Apple podcast link is here.


A Second Revolution?

The day after the Supreme Court’s ghastly immunity ruling, Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts rejoiced in an interview on the pro-insurrectionist War Room podcast. (Host Steve Bannon was absent due to being sent to prison for defying a Congressional subpoena related to January 6.) “We ought to be really encouraged by what happened yesterday,” Roberts enthused. He proceeded to explain why a chief executive unfettered by pesky laws is great for the republic, then slid into the chilling quote about the maybe-bloodless second Revolution. The Heritage Foundation is the source of Project 2025, the radical blueprint for Trump’s second term. 

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.

 


Supreme Debacle

The Supreme Court ruling overturning the Chevron doctrine was largely overlooked in the wake of the debate, but possibly even more apocalyptic. In short, the Republican majority gutted the precedent that gave deference to scientists and other experts at setting regulations for pollution, safety, worker rights — i.e., basic functions of government. Everything now has to go through the courts, which are jam-packed with Trump appointees and other Federalist Society-backed corporate extremists. This Slate article provides a good overview. To quote Justice Kagan, who I attempted to draw in the first panel: “the majority today gives itself exclusive power over every open issue—no matter how expertise-driven or policy-laden—involving the meaning of regulatory law. As if it did not have enough on its plate, the majority turns itself into the country’s administrative czar.”

We all breathe air and eat food, and I assume many of the justices have children that they don’t want poisoned. No one escapes the impact of these rulings. But it’s their reality now and we’re just living in it. 

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


A Smaller Tent

In my experience, Dems do better when they at least acknowledge the concerns of different factions of the Big Tent. In 2004, during the height of Iraq war jingoism, they were at their milquetoast Republican-lite worst — and Kerry lost to Bush. This era was was formational to me as a cartoonist; it was a time when many were galvanized to build a more progressive party that reflected its own constituents. My growing concern with the Democratic party this election season isn’t coming from a place of “purity” per se, but fears that they are underestimating the risk of alienating voters they need to win — not fringe zealots, but people who care about the basic values of human rights, democracy, inclusivity, and intellectual honesty. Republican-lite pandering makes the party less able to deal with the pressing issues of our time: the Supreme Court, big money in politics, authoritarianism, and other crises that require the courage to speak frankly. Cede too much ground and you’ve lost moral clarity and moral authority.

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Are You Experienced?

At some point, marketers began slapping the words “curated experience” on just about anything. An internet search brings up nice hotel rooms in Nigeria, a visit with coconut shell carvers in the Andaman islands, countless restaurants, event planners billing themselves as “Experience Curators,” advice for realtors on creating curated experiences for their clients (that is, figuring out what they really need)… the list goes on. Today, “curated” simply means that someone or more likely something — such as an AI algorithm — picked stuff, while experience has become so vague that it refers to every waking moment, which isn’t saying much.

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Billionaires Fund Human Intelligence

AI technology has spread into every nook and cranny of digital life with alarming speed. Now Apple has just announced they’re getting in on the game. So much of it feels like gilding the lily, adding unnecessary bloat to things that worked well enough already. I’m not the first to make this comparison, but AI-assisted software reminds me of Clippy, the famously annoying animated paperclip from Microsoft Word who constantly offered unwanted help. And the models are being trained on the stolen work of artists and writers who are already struggling to find new ways of earning a living. While I’m sure there are some narrower areas where AI is useful, much of it seems like Silicon Valley cloaking self-interest in the language of altruism. 

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Shell Game

I had to simplify the story of Red Lobster’s bankruptcy a bit for the cartoon, so for further details I recommend this piece by Gretchen Morgenson. So many headlines refer to the endless shrimp deal because it sounds like something that would drive a company into bankruptcy, and it makes for a funny, clickable story. But those losses were a drop in the bucket compared to the plundering by the private equity firm, Golden Gate Capital. The landlord that they sold the properties to, American Realty Capital Partners, leased the stores back at above-market rates, placing a heavy burden on the restaurant chain. (In 2020, Golden Gate sold Red Lobster off to the seafood company that provided the shrimp, which is another story of self-dealing.) 

Receive my weekly newsletter and keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Upside-down Alito

Alito blamed the upside-down flag on his wife, but as others have pointed out, he didn’t apologize or distance himself from the symbol used at a deadly attack on the Capitol just eleven days earlier. Any decent person would at least have said “I’m very sorry this happened. I strongly condemn the false claim that the election was stolen in 2020 as well as the violent insurrection of January 6.” Yet here we are with no mechanism to get rid of him, with Democrats unwilling to overtly call for his ouster and a fascism-normalizing chattering class that would chastise them if they did.

Receive my weekly newsletter and help keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


The Great Regression

Like many Americans, I marvel at the speed with which we went from the historic election of Barack Obama to the brink of fascism. Clearly these events are not unrelated; racial resentment exploded in reaction to Obama’s presidency. But this moment of reactionary politics goes well beyond that historical first and now seems to permeate every aspect of life, anywhere some degree of social progress has been achieved. What we’re seeing is a broad-based backsliding on many fronts, with rights that took decades to achieve — or even hundreds of years — disappearing before our eyes. It’s important to keep in mind that this is largely a top-down movement, driven by billionaires and corporate interests. Plenty of them are lining up behind Trump.

Receive my weekly newsletter and help keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Growing Hypocrisy

I’ve noticed that some people who seem fine with rampant development — and in some cases have profited mightily from it — suddenly become very concerned about growth when the need to build affordable housing arises in their own neighborhood. I do think that growth without any thought to the kind of dense development being created can also be a disaster. Are the new buildings ugly and so cheaply constructed that residents can hear everything their neighbors do through the walls? Are we allowing vehicle size to increase enormously at the same time we are trying to put people in ever denser spaces where they walk and bike? Are we regulating vehicle noise (and leaf blowers!) so people can live and sleep in these denser spaces? Are we keeping some nature? It seems to me that we need to do a number of things differently if we are to create livable cities that accommodate more people.

Receive my weekly newsletter and help keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.


Where’s the Crisis?

Only a few weeks ago, the world was aghast at Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in three separate vehicles, and an investigation revealed the IDF’s AI targeting system that tolerated enormous numbers of civilian casualties. It’s no mystery why students are protesting. While many politicians and journalists vilified the protesters and openly discussed denying them future employment, displaced Gazans in Rafah thanked them with signs and spray paint graffiti on the sides of their tents. One such message read “Thank you, students in solidarity with Gaza. Your message has reached (us).” Yet in American media coverage, the fact that these kids are protesting is treated like the far greater crisis, worse than the actual death and destruction being rained down on real human beings.

Since I finished this cartoon, people occupied a building at Columbia, and pro-Palestinian students at UCLA were violently attacked by counterprotesters — it’s hard to keep up with the news cycle.

Receive my weekly newsletter and help keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.

 



« Older Posts


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Join the Sorensen Subscription Service! Powered by Campaignzee

Or subscribe via Patreon:

 



MAKE A DONATION





RECENT-ISH TOP TEN

ARCHIVES