The Sorensen Monologues

Suffer the children

I’m a bit delayed posting the strip this week, but I have a pretty good excuse. On Monday afternoon, I learned I was a Pulitzer Finalist. I’ve never been so thrilled to come in second place for anything. It’s nice to see the Pulitzers increasingly recognize that political cartoons can come in a variety of formats.

A few relevant reads for this week’s comic: this Mother Jones article explains what you need to know about Trump’s EPA reversing the scheduled ban on chlorpyrifos.

Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids’ brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples herehere, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.

See also this from Human Rights Watch: EPA Decision Could Put Children at Risk

This should be getting as much attention as that guy getting pulled off the United Airlines flight. Countless kids, especially child farmworkers, and those who live near farms, will suffer from this decision. Now that’s caring about the working class!

There’s also this about how the Republican replacement for the ACA threatened to hurt children.

And more on how the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan would affect air pollution, and kids’ health in particular.

 



Portraits of an Extreme Supreme



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.



“Government” or “Democracy”?

This cartoon came about from the recent realization that an obnoxiously libertarian internet entrepreneur/huckster used to live in my neighborhood. You know, one of those “government needs to get out of the way of innovation” bros who don’t perhaps fully appreciate the origins of the internet as a government program, or all the other scientific research that has been government-funded. I’m so sick of these people.

UPDATE: For more, see this blog post responding to reader comments.



Trump’s new programs

A couple relevant articles from Charleston, West Virginia (you know, where Trump cares so much about working people):

AmeriCorps, still doing work in flood zone, facing Trump budget cut

Trump budget axes program that funds WV infrastructure projects

Then there’s this gem from Houston, where they have, oh, just a few chemical plants and refineries:

‘Death and destruction’ expected as Trump moves to gut Chemical Safety Board

While little known to the masses, the CSB is to chemical disasters what the much better-funded National Transportation Safety Board is to airline crashes, train derailments and bridge collapses. Without the recommendations that come from these boards, preventable accidents repeat themselves.

Gutting the CSB is “standing up for death and destruction,” said chemical safety consultant Paul Orum. “It’s disrespectful to those killed in such incidents.”

You’ve probably heard of the cuts to PBS. After I wrote the cartoon, I found out the 2014 movie Muppets Most Wanted was set in a gulag. I know somebody is going to mention this, so let me just say I am aware of the Muppet-labor camp connection.



Cartoon: A handy comparison of Obamacare vs. Trumpcare



How tax cuts for the wealthy keep America healthy



Tips for getting along with Trump voters



Orwellian reversals for 2017



It’s the attack on democracy, stupid!

In case you haven’t heard about Anton’s eyebrow-raising essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” here’s a good rundown. In short, the former George W. Bush speechwriter (and now Trump national security adviser) equated the 2016 election with the hijacked Flight 93 heroically brought down by passengers on 9/11. He urged conservatives to “charge the cockpit” and support Trump despite the candidate’s flaws, because there was no coming back from a Hillary presidency. From the New York magazine article linked above:

“The ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle,” he writes. He describes the children of immigrants as “ringers to form a permanent electoral majority.”

He adds, “I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live.” As though one more Democratic administration would dash those hopes forever. (I guess he’s not too worried about Trump’s microfingers fondling the nuclear football.)

Clearly America’s changing demographics have Republicans rattled, and the message they’ve telegraphed is clear: we can expect a massive assault on voter rights. And it’s hardly just Trump; the “voter fraud” myth has been perpetuated for years. This is the real Flight 93 situation for our country. As we’ve seen in places like Russia and Turkey, once you’ve gone down the authoritarian path, it’s hard to come back.

I unfortunately had to cut a panel about the stolen Supreme Court seat, which is another glaring piece of evidence that we are dealing with a revolutionary force — not a political party operating within the norms of democracy.



The backwards B.S. detector




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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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