The Sorensen Monologues

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.



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.


Candidates we can all get behind

Just having some fun this week. If you do a Google image search for “Justin Trudeau boxing” you get some interesting results.



North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom law stinks

Seems like the GOP wastes an awful lot of time and money creating solutions to problems that don’t exist. Voter ID laws are one example. North Carolina’s recent anti-LGBT law concerning public restrooms is another. Now, stop me if I’m going out on a limb here, folks, but it’s almost as if Republicans have some sort of agenda against certain groups of people.

The billboard slogan in the last panel is inspired by North Carolina’s “First in Flight” motto. I’ll bet even Orville and Wilbur would be ashamed.



Obama Nominates Fern to Supreme Court

Apologies to the Honorable Merrick Garland for the comparison to a moisture-loving houseplant. I’m sure he has more going on upstairs than your average Nephrolepis exaltata. It’s just that he was not the most inspiring pick in a year when the Democrats really need to inspire the base.  The choice of Garland was likely intended to highlight the GOP’s absurd obstructionism. Perhaps he’s the only pick Dems think can make it through the blockade, somehow. While he would almost certainly be much better than any Republican nominee, it’s not clear to me that the “reasonable bipartisan” approach Obama often favors actually gets results at the polls, or in the court of public opinion.

For more on fern sex, please consult The American Fern Society.




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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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