The Sorensen Monologues

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Archive for 2013

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!

The Market Liberation Army in “Freedom Fowl”

I had recently purchased a bunch of organic Foster Farms chicken from Costco when I read this Mark Bittman column about the problems with the antibiotic-resistant, possibly heat-resistant Heidelberg strain of salmonella. Suffice it to say, the chicken wound up in the garbage, even though I hate throwing away food. See also this follow-up blog post.

Don’t let the healthcare glitches get you down

Thinking further about the bugs on, it occurred to me that I’ve *never* been able to apply for health insurance online. Perhaps things have changed since the last time I applied — which was only a couple years ago — but I’ve always had to fill out pages and pages of forms. It was excruciating, and often took upwards of a week with all the researching of my own medical history. Yes, it would have been nice if the website rollout hadn’t been fubared, but I’ll probably be able to sign up next month with the help of a navigator. I’m dreading this process much less than I did in the past.

We’d do well to remember William Kristol’s famous 1993 memo: “[A government health care program] will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.” Despite the glitches, conservatives remain afraid of Obamacare.

Anti-abortion group fundraising off ACLU comic

This is kind of amusing. Americans United for Life, who were mentioned in my comic for the ACLU about the new anti-choice laws sweeping the nation, sent out a fundraising email to their supporters in response to the comic. The complete text:


Subject: Charmaine Attacked by ACLU


Dear Friends and Supporters,

Yesterday I received a phone call from our media team to tell me that the ACLU had targeted AUL. . . in a cartoon!


I have to admit, I was taken aback. It’s a clear caricature of AUL’s President and CEO, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, mocking our efforts to defend women and unborn children.


Of course, personal attacks against your AUL team are nothing new. We’ve had radical bloggers post our home addresses online; family members have received hand-written threat letters in mailboxes; and just last week someone infiltrated the post office and attempted to redirect our mail in an effort slow us down.


At AUL, we know we will face personal risk, and we accept it knowing that saving lives and protecting women is well worth it. The more successful we are, the more virulent our opponents become.


But, the ACLU’s attack is particularly concerning. No longer are we facing threats from radical lone-ranger pro-aborts, but bullying from the ACLU, a well-funded nationally-known organization of attorneys. The ACLU even enlisted the help of well-known comic artist Jen Sorensen to create the cartoon.


The ACLU has reached a new low in professionalism by childishly mocking the individuals who make up your AUL team merely because we are effective in advancing a cause we believe in.


The sacrifice and dedication of our team to Life is no laughing matter. And this juvenile attack by the ACLU only serves to increase our dedication to continue fighting for Life.


If you would like to show your AUL team special support in light of these events, any donation you can make today is appreciated. Thank you for standing with us as we face these attacks.


“Radical lone-ranger pro-aborts”?! That’s one I haven’t heard before. I’m also pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been accused of bullying. If anything, I tried to draw Charmaine Yoest, AUL’s president, in a straightforward manner so as to present the group’s self-stated agenda as plainly as possible.

I realize fundraising emails tend to be hyperbolic, and I don’t bear AUL any particular ill will. At least they referred to me as “a well-known comic artist.” But I do find it interesting that instead of responding to the points I actually made in the cartoon, they simply resort to pejoratives like “juvenile” and “childish.” Yoest also dismissed my “cartoonish images” in a statement to the  Washington Times, which wrote an entire article about the comic. A political cartoonist drawing cartoonish images? Well, I never!

Side project: Illustrations for Book of Jezebel

perm-jezebelOne thing I’ve been working on in addition to my political cartoons is a bunch of illustrations for the Book of Jezebel, which was officially released this week. The book is laid out like a dictionary, filled with humorous entries on a variety of subjects (this illo is for “Perm”). It feels a lot like America: The Book; it’s from the same publisher (Grand Central). A number of women illustrators and writers contributed, and I’m honored to be among them.

More info at

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. 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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