The Sorensen Monologues

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Punditspew, Orlando shooting edition

One of my least favorite parts of being a political cartoonist is having to process these mind-boggling tragedies on a short deadline. It was absolutely clear from the beginning, however, that easy access to assault rifles did not help this situation.

The worst possible response to this attack is to demonize Muslims, as Trump is doing, which only fans the flames of hate and extremism. We know the shooter was virulently homophobic, a belief that may have preceded any affiliation with extremist groups. Whatever the findings in the coming days, it’s obvious that Trump deserves zero “congrats for being right.”



Radical Cleric vs. Trump

Given Trump’s penchant for threatening the press, encouraging violence among his followers, and directing hate towards minority groups, he sometimes seems like a mirror image of the very extremists he claims he’d protect us from. Actually, more than anyone, Trump reminds me of Turkey’s authoritarian president Erdogan, who has pursued a harsh crackdown against his critics in the media in recent years, while enjoying support from the nationalism-and-traditional-values crowd.

In case you were wondering, there was no new strip last week because I was in Memphis for the National Cartoonists Society convention.



Canned patriotism

Budweiser has been roundly mocked for this marketing campaign, thus demonstrating that it is possible to lay it on too thick. I keep having flashbacks to the jingoistic days of 2003, when cars were plastered with magnetic flags and “Support our troops” ribbons. (Where’d all that stuff go, anyway?)



McTeacher Night is new low in marketing to schoolkids

Mother Jones has further details: schools get around 15% of profits during the McTeacher’s Night event, which means that, for example, an Ohio school got $191. The proceeds amount to $1-2 per student (after their families spend considerably more than that on McDonald’s food — not the most efficient way to raise funds from this tightwad’s perspective).

Various groups including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have campaigns against the program. While purporting to be some kind of altruistic community event, McTeacher Night amounts to cheap advertising: it’s really about inculcating brand loyalty and trust, turning teachers — TEACHERS! — into “brand ambassadors.” At the very moment that we need to change our kids’ eating habits more than ever, we’re normalizing industrialized fast food, through our nation’s educators, as something actual human beings should be eating.

My parents were both teachers, and I cannot imagine either of them having to do this. In fact, I don’t recall encountering any such advertising at all when I was a public school student. I’d probably be shocked if I went into a classroom now.



Baby-on-gun violence

Relevant and depressing article about the four toddlers here.

As guns gradually infiltrate every nook and cranny in America, it’s statistically inevitable that some guns will become victims of accidental gunfire. Heck, some have probably already been shot. We need to stop this problem now, before any more innocent weapons get hurt!



Playing the Woman Card

My husband actually spotted a bumper sticker saying “Trump that bitch” the other day.  Nice to see people keepin’ it classy.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Trump accused Hillary of playing the “woman card.” (He also suggested she lacked stamina, an odd — if phallically-loaded — criticism to level at someone who’s been campaigning tirelessly for eleven months.) Look, this is not that hard to understand: a woman running for president, who advocates for women as part of her platform, is not playing a “card” that gives her some kind of unfair advantage over her oh-so-meritocratic male opponents. See Jill Filipovic’s excellent NYT op-ed piece on how Donna Edwards was accused of playing the “race card” in her Senate campaign simply for talking about her life story, and how women and minority candidates are accused of playing a ”card” simply by virtue of who they are.



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



Cartoon: Algorithm Blues

I click on items in my Facebook feed as much as the next person, but I’m also a print subscriber to the New York Times, and I love finding articles I never would have come across any other way. As we are increasingly served information based on personal data, it seems a narrowness of range is inevitable. Reality bubbles get reinforced, and news that is important but not-so-sharable gets lost in the shuffle.

Of course, I’m hoping the algorithm gods smile favorably upon this comic.



Cruzin’ under the radar

This Bloomberg profile of Ted Cruz’s biggest backer, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is so chock full of delicious details, I implore you to read the whole thing. For example, more on those owls:

Mercer has dubbed his house the Owl’s Nest. Owls seem to be something of a familiar for Mercer. He’s commissioned a succession of yachts, all called Sea Owl, the latest of which stretches to 203 feet, with a pirate-themed playroom for the grandkids and a chandelier of Venetian glass. At least one Sea Owl was fitted with a medical center and video links, so a stroke at sea, for instance, could be diagnosed and treated remotely by a former White House physician ashore…

At the Owl’s Nest, visitors pass through pillars crowned by a pair of owl statues, their wings outstretched as if taking flight. People who’ve been inside describe a pistol range, a series of secret passages, and an octagonal tower holding a two-story library.

Among Mercer’s other financial beneficiaries is an idiosyncratic guy (to say the least) conducting experiments on 14,000 vials of urine on a sheep farm in remote Oregon. It’s hard to explain, and even harder to fit into a cartoon, unfortunately. You’ll just have to read about it.

This would all be purely amusing were it not a reminder of the growing power of the far-right fringe, especially in the era of Citizens United.

Of course, this cartoon is by no means a complete list of Cruz’s shortcomings. The man is vile in too many ways to enumerate here.



Cartoon: Hell’s shells

As we close in on Tax Day, a time when many of us will be writing sizable checks to the IRS (ahem), well-heeled people around the world are enjoying their wealth tax-free thanks to secret accounts. On rare occasion, one of these immense piggy banks briefly becomes visible thanks to a data dump such as the Panama Papers. It’s worth noting that the US already has many agencies in lightly-regulated states that can help set up shell companies, thus likely explaining the relatively small number of Americans exposed in this case.




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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Daily Kos, Austin Chronicle, NPR, Ms., Politico, and many other publications. The recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, she tweets at @JenSorensen.

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