The Sorensen Monologues

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Fragrant Future

I recently purchased the worst smelling garbage bags yet, emitting what can only be described as an overpowering stench of portaloo liquid throughout the kitchen. As this Guardian article notes, around 4,000 chemicals are used in fragrances, the details of which remain “trade secrets” and are therefore unregulated. EWG adds that even products labeled “unscented” may contain fragrance to cover up other odors. Many are derived from petrochemicals, contributing to urban air pollution in the form of VOCs. So in addition to irritating those of us who are sensitive to smell, they’re actually bad for air quality.

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“Polarization”

In the case of present-day America I’m afraid this has become a weasel word — a way for political commentators to safely bemoan our sad state of affairs without actually saying anything that could be construed as “partisan.” The term “polarization” erases differences in power, places dominant and marginalized groups on the same plane, and implies a false equivalence between violent movements and vulnerable people trying to defend themselves. It is an intellectually dishonest way of looking at our current situation, one that has been ruthlessly exploited by those very extremists who would destroy the press that insists on normalizing them.

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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.


Back to normal

I’m not suggesting that the climate crisis would end if billionaires abandoned private space flight. I am saying that they are the grotesque embodiment of a sociopathic gilded age, narcissistic pig-men who have a moral obligation to end the system that enabled their stupid fortunes in the first place, as Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott is admirably trying to do. 

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Egalitarian Wave Theory

We’ve seen the right do this over and over, repeating a phrase until it becomes conventional wisdom. Eventually mainstream media outlets and even progressives start using these concocted frames, as Professor Cas Mudde eloquently argued in The Guardian this past weekend.

The GOP has long been at war with academia, and now they seem closer than ever to achieving their dream of shutting down teachers and professors’ ability to teach history, social science, and basic critical thinking skills. Several states already have ridiculous bills pending that would chill academic freedom. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Hungary!


Classic Cartoon: Nation of Moochers

I’m taking some much-needed time off over the holidays. This is a “classic” from 2014 with some relevance to our current moment. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the minimum wage would be $24 in 2020 had it kept up with productivity growth.

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A Quick Housekeeping Note

I’m in the process of updating the site, so if you see some broken bits here and there, that’s why. Of course, when you become a subscriber, the cartoon and commentary are luxuriously delivered to your very own inbox, thus allowing you to avoid the website altogether! 


Introducing the Sorensen Subscription Service

At long last, I’m launching the Sorensen Subscription Service. Many readers have inquired about this over the years, with some going so far as to set up their own “service” through recurring donations (thanks!). While I’m still fortunate to have paying clients who make the strip possible each week, it seems clear that reader subscriptions will be a necessary part of my business model going forward. Especially if the GOP destroys the Affordable Care Act and my health insurance premiums approach the cost of porn star hush money.

Those who join the S.S.S. (which may eventually take on a more novel name — The Eagle’s Clutch, anyone?) will, at an absolute minimum, receive the cartoon via email each week as soon as it is ready for consumption. I have big plans to include bonus material, such as behind-the-scenes glimpses of the creative process and photos of what I’m up to. You’ll also stay in the loop regarding public appearances, side projects, and forthcoming books.

So sign up today! It’s cheap and easy and will give you a warm, gentle glow of satisfaction.


And now a word about “republics” vs. “democracies”

I’ve received many comments over the past week about my last cartoon, snootily lecturing me that “We live in a republic, not a democracy.” I’m posting my response here so I can point people to it in the future.

1. A constitutional republic is a form of democracy. To quote from this:

The United States is not a direct democracy, in the sense of a country in which laws (and other government decisions) are made predominantly by majority vote. Some lawmaking is done this way, on the state and local levels, but it’s only a tiny fraction of all lawmaking. But we are a representative democracy, which is a form of democracy.

2. It’s not big or small government that I care about; it’s smart or stupid. In other words, it’s about policy, not “the government.” Once you start doing away with government, or the idea that government regulation is necessary, you grant more power to corporations and Wall Street. Government exists as a check on abuses of power by moneyed interests. While government can be corrupt to varying degrees, the fashionably cynical belief that all government is inherently corrupt is an idea that enables corruption.

The primary way to end government corruption is through campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections. Anti-government libertarians have not supported candidates or policies that would lead to this outcome. Gorsuch will uphold Citizens United, ensuring future corruption of politicians by moneyed interests, furthering the right-wing ideology that government is inherently corrupt. And so the cycle continues.


Reader mail on right-wing “political correctness”

I appreciated this note from reader Alex, in response to my recent comic on the concept of political correctness:

I’ve been reading your comic for years and I loved your latest one on right wing political correctness—something that seems to get completely ignored!

I’ve made a list of right wing political correctness in the States I thought you’d enjoy:

You cannot critique:
Military
Police officers (particularly policeMEN), firefighters (particularly fireMEN)
America
Americanism
Patriotism/Nationalism/Fourth of July
Christians
Christian Holidays (and you must say Merry Christmas/Happy Easter)
White victims of crime/trauma
Football
Eating meat
Guns

You cannot use:
[The terms] heteronormative, internalized misogyny, implicit bias/racism, white privilege, racist (must say racial bias), sexist
Data, science, statistics that contradicts “feelings” (of white people that is)
Words to describe terrorists other than Islamic extremist .

You cannot talk about:
Drug addicts as victims rather than criminals
Reasons why someone might get an abortion
Birth control
Criminals as people
Terrorists as people
Cycles of poverty
Terrorism committed by white people
Excitement about “first woman” or “first X”


A comic essay on medical marijuana

Go check out this piece I edited for Fusion, a comic essay by Adam Bessie and Marc Parenteau that makes a compelling case for letting people use medical marijuana to ease their suffering.
HunterSThompsonPANEL


Odds and ends

A couple things I’ve been up to lately: I edited this illustrated essay by Juana Medina about her Kafkaesque experience immigrating to the U.S. Moving here legally and permanently from another country isn’t as easy as some people think.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing comedy writer Nell Scovell (credits: The Simpsons, The Muppets, Spy Magazine, among many others) for the Austin Chronicle’s SXSW coverage. We had a nice chat about bullshit and women in comedy.


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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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