The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for November, 2013

Comic art in the Library of Congress

Many people are unaware that the Library of Congress contains an incredible archive of comic books and cartoon art, which I’ve been fortunate to see on a couple occasions. Bleeding Cool has a nice post giving you a taste of what it’s like. I’m honored to have some of my own originals kept there, as part of the Small Press Expo collection. (A photo of a cartoon I did about Sarah Palin appears at the bottom.)

Just signed up for health insurance: Some advice for those still trying

I finally completed my application for health insurance through the federal exchange today, with the assistance of an independent insurance broker. I’d visited with a navigator earlier in the month who did a good job of explaining how the tax credits and subsidies worked, but I decided to do the actual work of filling out the application myself. For weeks I’d been getting stuck at the final verification stage that allows you to proceed to choosing a plan. So I called up a professional insurance broker here in Austin, who was very helpful.

First, if you created your account on a few weeks ago and you’re still having problems, it’s a good idea to start over with a completely new account using a different email address. This eliminated the problem I was having before; the new account allowed me to sail right through the application process.

Talking to a private insurance broker is also useful if you have specific questions about different plans or companies. You don’t pay their fee — the insurance companies do. For maximum choice in providers, I went with a PPO plan (as opposed to an HMO, which can have lower premiums, but puts serious limitations on which doctors you can see). Look on Yelp to find highly-recommended brokers in your area.

My husband and I chose a Silver plan with much better coverage than our current individual plans, and with the ACA credits, we’ll be paying approximately $150/month less in premiums.

Assuming all goes as expected, I’m pretty excited about having reasonably-priced, non-crappy health insurance. It was such a relief not to have to fill out endless forms about my medical history and pre-existing conditions. As far as I can tell, there is no “crisis” — the real crisis would be if opponents of health insurance reform managed to undo all the hard work that got us this far.

Black Friday on Thanksgiving

The statement by the Walmart exec that associates are “excited” to work on Thanksgiving embodies everything that is wrong with elitist management culture and its dehumanization of low-level employees.

While drawing the second panel of this cartoon just before dinner, I have to admit I was overcome with a powerful craving for Turkitos, which, alas, do not exist in real life.

Rand Paul fundraising letter fun


I find Rand Paul’s blend of cockiness and paranoia to be endlessly fascinating, so I got a little excited when I received a fundraising letter that was intended for a previous resident. What I like best is that along with all the usual 1960s-era Cold War government-as-fascism nonsense, you get a header taken straight from the Mad Men logo. All that’s missing is the cigarette.

He’s also asking for a $600 donation. That’s Don Draper money! Clearly he stands with the little people — all the ones with six hundred clams to send to a libertarian frootloop. At least he knows from what era he comes.

Hell Bent for Healthcare

I realize I’m mixing cosmologies here, and that it should really read “Hades bent for healthcare,” but that didn’t quite have the same ring. Seriously, though, I can’t understand the logic of scrapping an entire program that will probably save countless lives just because the rollout was bad. Am I upset about the website not working? Yes. But mainly because it is a tremendous political blunder that reinforces opponents’ “train wreck” narrative, which was going to happen whether the website worked or not.

Book Plug: Eat Drink Vote


‘Tis the season of Publication of Books Containing My Drawings. “Eat Drink Vote” is a collection of essays about the many issues surrounding our food supply, paired with political cartoons by a number of artists. The author, NYU professor Marion Nestle, is perhaps best known for her book “What to Eat,” which I highly recommend for anyone seeking to answer that question.

Rand Paul, Donut Defender

Rand Paul will give up his trans fats when you pry them from his cold, dead hands slathered in partially-hydrogenated, oleaginous goo.

Paul is claiming that the FDA’s ban on the harmful additive in industrially-produced food is somehow threatening your freedom to eat donuts.

Believe it or not, it *is* possible to make donuts without introducing an artificial contaminant via an isomerization side reaction on the catalyst in partial hydrogenation (thank you, Wikipedia). While Paul drops the usual platitudes about “nanny state” overreach, I applaud the FDA for protecting my edible liberties — that is to say, my freedom from food containing this toxic crap.

Americans will always be able to eat as many deep-fried confections as they want. I bet you dollars to donuts.

Legal Horseplay

The most recent case this comic refers to, of course, is the appeals court verdict upholding Texas’s medically unnecessary abortion clinic regulations, which shuttered numerous providers around the state. In a perfect inversion of the law’s intent, the judges ruled that “the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate it.” Yes, don’t mind that little thing about the clinics closing — just an incidental side effect!

Abortion clinics abruptly close in Texas, leaving scheduled patients scrambling

Yeah, so I’m not sure how this fits within anti-choice Libertarians’ definition of “freedom.” From the Austin Chronicle:


Marni Evans is one of those women. Evans, 37, had already received the mandatory state counseling, mandatory ultrasound examination, and had waited the requisite 24 hours before obtaining the procedure when she found out – via voice message Thursday night – that the procedure she had scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Planned Parenthood clinic in South Austin would not happen. She hadn’t been following news about the legal dispute, and was shocked to hear that the state had taken away her right to make what she said was a difficult decision, but one that she and her fiancé concluded was right for them. “That decision was taken out of our hands,” she said Monday morning. “I was devastated. … I had no idea what to do next.”

Evans, eight weeks pregnant as of Mon­day, said that in order to obtain services in Texas she would not only have to find a new provider – with providers quickly being overwhelmed by the number of women who need access – but also, because of the requirements of state law, would have to begin again at the beginning, with another round of required counseling and another state-mandated ultrasound examination, followed by another 24-hour waiting period. Evans has instead decided to cash in frequent-flier miles that she was saving for her honeymoon and has made arrangements to travel to Seattle, where she previously lived, in order to obtain services at a Planned Parenthood clinic there. Evans said she is fortunate, unlike many other Texas women, to have the resources to take such drastic action.

Read the rest here.

Book Recommendation: “Why We Drive” by Andy Singer


When I was in St. Paul last week, I got a copy of my cartoonist pal Andy Singer’s new book “Why We Drive.” Andy is a longtime transportation activist, and has thought about the effects of cars on society more than just about anybody.

The cover photo says it all: a mafia-connected attorney receiving a check from a transit company vice-prez as one of the trolley cars they were systematically destroying burns in the background. Even if you know some of the sleazy history of why the US paved itself over instead of investing in rail, Andy Singer’s cartoon-and-prose expose will give you new reasons to hate cars. Loss of public space, the limitations of alternative fuels, sprawl and the clueless voters it helps create – with every topic we see cars run over our future while out of control transit agencies funnel their income to more roads instead of a better system. Witty cartoons on our witless ways and soul-crushing before-and-after photos add to the fun. And yes, Andy provides some hints on how to find an exit from the planetary parking garage. A must-read.

Cartoon Flashback: Freedom to Be Screwed


A reader recently reminded me of this cartoon, and I figured I’d repost since it’s still painfully relevant.

Today, TPM reports that insurance companies are sending misleading notices to their customers informing them that their rates are going up without mentioning the much better, less expensive plans offered in the new health insurance exchanges. My husband received one himself. People are getting confused, assuming the Affordable Care Act is causing their premiums to explode.

If losing the new consumer protections against these companies’ worst abuses is your version of “freedom,” you can keep it.

The Democracy Scam

This cartoon is based on a Democracy Corps survey of Republicans:

“They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy — not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view.”

It’s an incredibly cynical view, reducing any laws that have significantly improved Americans’ quality of life to mere political gamesmanship. It calls the very notion of democracy into question.

Don’t forget to vote Nov. 5!

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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