The Sorensen Monologues

Funding Fanatics

$1.6 billion — tax free — is going to an entity run by Leonard Leo, who co-chairs the Federalist Society.  This would be “the largest known donation to a political advocacy group in U.S. history” according to Propublica. Among other things, the Federalist Society is responsible for the radical tilt of the current Supreme Court. One of the Federalist Society’s star lawyers is John Eastman, who tried to overturn the 2020 election for Trump. You would think a legit legal organization would distance itself from an attorney who led a coup attempt — he insisted that Mike Pence refuse to certify the Electoral College results at Trump’s pre-insurrection rally! But no.

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Vanishing Video

Now, it’s one thing for a show to get canceled. What new CEO David Zaslav is doing is nuking shows — particularly animation series and kids’ programming — from the face of the earth. It’s possible they will never be seen again, or will only become legally viewable in a century or so once the copyright expires. The reason given for these actions is cost-cutting: a tax break available in mergers for writing off incomplete projects (like Batgirl), and savings on residual payments for the cast and creators of series. God forbid the artists make a few crumbs! Meanwhile, Zaslav’s compensation package in 2021 alone was valued at $241 million. This is capitalism at its most absurdly cannibalistic, of profits based on destruction.

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Black Hole Seized from Mar-a-Lago

Trump could openly threaten to suck us all to our doom and the mainstream media would still treat it like some sort of political parlor game where every move to stave off apocalypse is motivated by “partisanship” and nothing more. The irony of this cynical take is that the Dems — most especially Biden and Merrick Garland — seem to avoid confrontation religiously, until they would be breaking the law themselves if they didn’t do something. If that wet noodle of an Attorney General signed off on the raid, there was almost certainly a good reason for it! In fact, there’s not even that much to discuss beyond what were they looking for, what did they find, and how violent will the right’s response be.

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Remote Control

I think there is some value to socializing with your colleagues in person, at least occasionally. But for many workers, there are practical reasons to avoid the expensive and time-wasting schlep to the cubicle farm.

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What Does “Liberal” Mean, Anyway?

The word “liberal” has been through a lot. Since the ’80s, liberals have been ludicrously demonized by the right. At a certain point, I began using “progressive” instead as it seemed more contemporary and carried less baggage. These days, it seems that the concept of liberalism is often conflated with neoliberalism — which is pretty much its opposite. To the extent that some socially-liberal people are unconcerned with the excesses of capitalism and economic inequality, I would argue that means they are conservative, although that word has also become somewhat meaningless in an era of extremism.

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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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Delivering the Goods

It’s a rare single-panel cartoon from me. The end of Roe felt like it required a simple, direct response. My one hopeful thought is that enough people have had a taste of freedom thanks to the social revolutions of the past 50-60 years that those ideas will be difficult to erase — though that is exactly what the GOP is trying to do. 

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The Guilty Party

I hope the Justice Department does the brave and moral thing and prosecutes everyone who broke the law, no matter how “controversial” that may be. Yet I worry that removing Trump from the equation won’t be enough to stop the authoritarian juggernaut that is today’s GOP. Swift action was needed after the insurrection to punish or remove members of Congress who refused to certify the election, yet nothing was done. The movement is so much larger now, with institutional backing on countless fronts. There’s an enormous donor class of billionaires and superPACs and companies funding antidemocratic campaigns. And they’re not going to stop. 

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Housing Crisis Made E-Z

This particular doom spiral, which once seemed relegated to a handful of hip cities and resort towns, has seemingly spilled over into just about anyplace you’d want to live now. I don’t mean to pin personal blame on particular kinds of workers, but the widening gap between jobs that can cover the cost of living and those that don’t. (I realize not all tech workers and realtors make tons of money!) The ultimate irony of this dysfunctional system is that eventually the “essential” workers disappear, leading the obliviously wealthy to lament that poor people are “lazy” and don’t want to work anymore.

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More Guns, Please

Blanketing America with guns is the logical endpoint of calls for ever more guns, the folly of which was demonstrated at the school in Uvalde where cops with guns failed to stop a bad guy with a gun for over an hour.

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Republicans Call for School Control

After I drew this cartoon I found out that some Republicans are, in fact, calling for homeschooling as a response to mass shootings in classrooms. Apparently someone was making this argument in The Federalist. Homeschooling advocate and ’80s teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron is also trending for his outlandish comments about public schools. So, as is often the case these days, my comic is not really that great an exaggeration. (I’m not necessarily opposed to homeschooling in all cases, though as the daughter of teachers and a graduate of a public high school and university, I am a staunch defender of public education.)

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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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