The Sorensen Monologues

Oddly Familiar Talking Points

Apologies for the late posting this week. I had to dig myself out of a post-holiday pileup of to-dos.

Let me start by saying I consider myself to be somewhat to the left of Bernie. I favor a Scandinavian-style social safety net — heck, I am Scandinavian. And I admire Elizabeth Warren more than just about anyone. So this comic is not coming from the perspective of a milquetoast centrist Democrat, or even a strong Hillary partisan, as I’m guessing some will assume in our world of fun political binaries. What concerns me is that I’m seeing fundamentally right-wing concepts being adopted by those who self-identify as lefties or progressives. You might say I’m criticizing the left from the left.

To address a few points raised in the cartoon: I shouldn’t need to even spell this out, but as a gentle reminder, Russia is an authoritarian regime that crushes free speech, dissidents, LGBT rights, and now, apparently, my own health insurance. This didn’t just happen to Hillary; it happened to all of us. It’s pretty much the definition of what should be a non-partisan concern. Mountains of evidence exist for Putin’s attempt to swing our election (and others), and to minimize the problem is nothing short of laughable. And yes, I do think the interference had a substantial impact.

Hillary has certainly frustrated me at times over the years, but I came to admire her intelligence and poise over the course of this election cycle. Her performance at the debates with Trump was nothing short of heroic. She also ran on the most progressive Democratic platform ever, but since policy has become almost completely divorced from politics, that doesn’t get talked about much. I could go on, but as my husband says, this was not so much an election as an exorcism, the culmination of a decades-long smear campaign by the right.

The term “political correctness” has been the cornerstone of conservative efforts to transform the ideas of civil rights and equality into something frivolous and stupid. The right loves plucking silly examples from obscure, powerless people and blowing them up into huge “culture war” issues that supposedly threaten the nation. “PC” is an insult that plays into their hands.

Along these same lines, “liberal elites” — long a Fox News favorite — is designed to shift attention away from the actual economic elites hoovering up the world’s wealth and resources, such as the Koch Brothers or Trump, and instead make one think of poodle-owning urbanites supposedly looking down their noses at everyone (while in reality voting to raise the minimum wage). It’s a frame, not a fact, and hides a deep anti-intellectual agenda. By definition, I would say a liberal is someone who cares about the less fortunate. So a liberal “elite” would be a liberal with power. However, the term is thrown around as a pejorative to smear just about anyone — feminists, college student activists, etc. — rendering it meaningless, and an effective right-wing language hack that divides the left.

So don’t fall for these con-job concepts! We progressives need to be strategic in our opposition, not Fox News Lefties.



The Republican guide to screwing the working class



2016: A Year to Fear

This strip revisits an earlier cartoon, in which a 1990s couple is warned about future developments. Alas, I don’t have much confidence in the Russia revelations changing anything. If there’s one thing people fear more than dooming the planet, it’s rocking the boat.



If social justice movements tried not to offend anyone

When you hear someone throwing around the suddenly-ubiquitous term “identity politics,” it’s useful to try substituting the words “civil rights” and “equality.” Economic justice and social justice are part of the same package.

Do some people take their idealism too far? Of course. But the right has long employed a strategy of cherry-picking the most over-the-top examples of college student activism as supposedly representative of all historical struggles for marginalized groups. “Identity politics” can easily be used as a frame that trivializes bedrock progressive values — as though fighting, say, voter suppression is the frivolous agenda of a special interest group. It’s important, as we face staggering abuses of power in the future, that we don’t allow their rhetoric to divide us.



Crude Awakening at Standing Rock

I may have taken artistic license by showing a mainstream-ish TV news reporter here, as it seems this very important story is being largely ignored. In case you haven’t been following, a recent college grad had her arm mutilated by what many think was a concussion grenade; police sprayed people with hoses in the subfreezing night, risking deadly hypothermia; another woman had her retina severed. Journalists are facing arrest and rubber bullets. The camp is facing evacuation on December 5, a situation which threatens to become violent. It’s imperative that Obama step in; this is not a time for overcautiousness. The stakes here are enormous. It’s not only the Standing Rock Sioux who are imperiled; the world cannot afford this pipeline.



Survival Tips for Thanksgiving 2016

I appreciated the notes from people eager for an election rant. I’ve been busy lately and am still gathering my thoughts (I have a lot of them). At some point, I’m sure I’ll write something. In the meantime, enjoy those mashed potatoes.



Not Helping



Let’s get real on Election Day



If the media covered climate change the way it covers Hillary’s email

As many have notednot one question about climate change was asked by the moderators of the recent presidential debates, despite our passing a major climate milestone in September.

A fairly astonishing study of network news broadcasts in 2016 showed no (!) climate change coverage — and relatively little policy coverage, for that matter — yet ample reporting on Hillary Clinton’s email.

You know what’s “extremely careless” (to borrow a phrase from James Comey)? Ignoring the most important issue in the world.



No comparison

Ever since the first debate between Hillary and Trump, many have remarked on the “ugliness” of this election season. It sounds so nice and bipartisan to call them both clowns and loftily pronounce yourself to be above the fray, but this is flagrant false equivalence. You don’t have to agree with Hillary on everything to see that, relative to Trump, she’s been a model candidate.

It’s worth noting that throughout history, people have said women can’t be president because they are too emotional, but Hillary has admirably demonstrated how a female candidate can have much greater self-control than her male opponent.



Cartoon: Kiss and Yell

A few relevant articles in case you missed them: One of the women alleging sexual misconduct by Trump is now fleeing the country out of concerns for her safety. Lou Dobbs retweeted the home address and phone number of accuser Jessica Leeds, which was dug up by a conservative website.  Trump spokeswoman AJ Delgado said “any reasonable woman would have come forward” with the accusations earlier. Delgado also claimed to be offended by the allegations, invoking some bizarre feminist reasoning from another planet:

“As a woman, I’m livid having read this. Not only are these accusations simply not credible but it’s disgusting that the New York Times is trivializing sexual assault this way. I take great offense at that, as a woman.”

Trump himself called NY Times reporter Megan Twohey “a disgusting human being” for even reporting on the accusations. A Wall Street Journal reporter tweeted that a Trump crowd in NC chanted “Lock her up!” in reference to the accusers.

In light of all this, I recommend this Vox article: “Trump is giving us a master class in why #WomenDontReport




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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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