The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for September, 2010

This Week’s Cartoon: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Senate”

In an unsurprising burst of ineffectiveness, the Senate failed to break a conservative filibuster against ending the ban on gays in the military. The Senator in the last panel is loosely modeled on Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who provided the death blow. Collins said she supported a repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” but didn’t like the way the Dems were going about it. As in, they were actually trying to pass something. We all know that is forbidden, of course.


So I turn 36 today.  Normally I don’t mention my birthdays here, but I have a little anecdote about this one. Back in middle school, I remember kids in my art class asking the teacher, Mr. Williams, how old he was. He replied “36.” At the time, it occurred to me that 36 was the quintessential age of adulthood. Not too old, not too young. Just a standard grownup. It’s a rule of thumb that I’ve carried with me through the years.

The thing is, I feel like I’m 26. I can hardly remember what I’ve done over the decade that has apparently elapsed since then. I think I may have drawn some cartoons…

A Correction

In the spirit of journalistic integrity, I should mention that last week’s “Trojan MILFs” cartoon contained a factual error. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (DE-Nutball) is not, in fact, a “hot mom” as implied in the cartoon. She is unmarried and without children. I mistakenly assumed that all that talk about masturbation and abstinence meant she had some kids of her own (who would ultimately grow into repressed, confused adults with bizarre  leather fetishes).  I was wrong, and I apologize. If one were feeling uncharitable, one could suggest that her crusade to stop the nation from having sex might not exactly be helping her in the relationship department, but that would be catty.

Despite this error, I maintain that O’Donnell is part of a larger phenomenon — a symbolic MILF, if not a literal one. Republican women are claiming the motherhood mantle, using it to promote themselves as pillars of decency and common sense, when in fact they embody the opposite.

New Illo

Rock in the Suburbs

Here’s something I drew for this week’s Dallas Observer, about a growing live music scene in the suburbs.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Trojan MILFs”

In retrospect, I probably should have drawn the MILFs more attractively in this cartoon, with a bit more emphasis on the “F” than the “M.” But really, the whole thing isn’t about their attractiveness per se — I have no problem with attractive women entering politics. What I’m talking about here is the normalizing veneer these wingnut ladies lend to radical ideas. They pose as nurturing everymoms, but advocate the same old anti-worker,  anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-environment, anti-education agenda the far right has spewed for years.

If you had any lingering doubts that the right is pursuing a strategy of putting a pretty face on ugly ideas, check out the trailer below for a new propaganda film called “Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman.”  Never mind that many of the women featured aren’t exactly from the Midwest. Filled with empty platitudes, it’s put out by Citizens United, the same people who brought you the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations. Be sure to wait for the grizzly bear! (Via TPM.)

Short Takes

A couple must-reads from today:

In case you missed it, comedian Marc Maron was seated on a plane next to newly out-of-the-closet former RNC chair  Ken Mehlman. Tweeting and exposed nipples ensued.

Also, today in weeniedom: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have donated $100,000 each to defeat a Washington state income tax on high earners (which is also bundled with a 20% property tax cut). Bill Gates, Sr. has donated $500,000 in support.

Big Tex Illustration

I drew the cover to this week’s Dallas Observer. That’s “Big Tex,” the Texas State Fair mascot, after he ate a few too many deep-fried Twinkies.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Media-Made News, Alternate Version”

I’m not one of those people who like to say, “Why is the news always so negative? Why can’t they report the GOOD news?” I can’t stand those people. News outlets must report unpleasant facts, for sure. But what I question about the case of pastor Terry Jones — who, as you may have heard, threatened to burn the Koran — is its newsworthiness. Had some major American political figure (Sarah Palin, anyone?) threatened to do that, I’d call it news. But some podunk preacher with a congregation of 50? Please. That’s a PR stunt, a “News of the Weird” story at best.

It’s important to remind ourselves that news doesn’t just happen; it gets created. Lots of things happen every day, and it’s the job of journalism to select what’s important. In the case of 24-hour cable news, controversy — especially of the “culture war” variety — will always trump stories about peace efforts. I used to do web work for a professor who ran a number of interfaith programs at the University of Virginia. (Yes, that page still bears my handiwork.) As far as I know, he hasn’t attained even a fraction of the celebrity as that nutball pastor.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Low-Information Nation”

I saw a post on Think Progress the other day about a new Pew survey showing only 28% of Americans can identify John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To make matters worse, the Pew site states:

Asked to name the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, and given four possible names, nearly one-in-ten Americans (8%) choose Thurgood Marshall, despite the fact that Justice Marshall left the Supreme Court roughly 20 years ago, and passed away in 1993.

I also found this item on the Pew site about Americans’ gross level of misinformation about Obama’s religion:

A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.

You just can’t run a democracy when people are this clueless. Related cartoon from a few years ago: “The Mental Welfare State.”

Reader Mail

A reader with a credible email address writes in to report:

Jen, my office is two blocks from the White House.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of Tea Partiers around here. The “I’m Taking Back America” shirted folks.

During one of their recent rallies, a guy paraded past here holding a sign that read, exactly:


I am not making this up.

To be fair, I suppose it’s possible that a counter-protester was walking around with an intentionally-bungled sign. But given the number of badly-spelled signs and confused statements made by tea partiers that I’ve heard over the past year, I’m going with Occam’s razor. If it looks like a tea partier and quacks like a tea partier, it’s probably a tea partier.

Last Week’s Cartoon: “A Volatile Situation”

I’m playing catch-up here, as I had to go back to Virginia last week to get my stuff out of storage. If any of you are thinking about doing a cross-country move, let me advise you not to do it in fourteen different stages as I’ve done.

It’s been a while since I did an autobiographical comic, but it felt appropriate for this one. In the process of furnishing my apartment, I have been sucked into a vortex of competing scientific claims. For example, this Planet Green article, ominously titled “Five Ways Your Bedroom is Killing You,” insists that conventional carpeting, paint, mattresses, pillows, and furniture are all pretty much deadly. In other words, your entire bedroom! I’ve become a master of indoor-pollution vocabulary, from “bioaccumulation” to “PDBEs” (flame retardants) to”off-gassing” (probably my new favorite word).

It’s hard to say where to draw the line — how much is cause for concern, and how much is marketing hype. I actually like the idea of nontoxic mattresses made by local hipsters, but the prices will kill a hipster budget. One starts to sense an eco-class system at work, with people making products they couldn’t afford to buy themselves, at least not without an employee discount.

Wool carpeting, VOC-free paint, solid hardwood furniture free of formaldehyde-leaking fiberboard — it’s all expensive stuff. So we have “green” products for the affluent, and for the masses? Let them be off-gassed! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to my bubble.

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.



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