Greetings from Flyover Country

Greetings from Flyover Country

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President Obama is in the midst of touring the country and giving speeches about the economy. I agree with most of the content of those speeches, but after five years of saying those same things, the economy remains stuck in the shitter for most Americans. The fact that those speeches focus almost entirely on the middle class, and only briefly mention “those willing to work” out of poverty highlights the President’s desire distance himself from those hardest hit by economic inequality, lest he be blamed for catering to his base of “moochers.”

Yes, the obstructionist House is mostly to blame, and I’ll probably go after them in next week’s ‘toon, but thinking a nationwide tour will somehow turn them around this time is a folly. Wall Street and the elite are reaping all the benefits from this anemic “recovery,” but the rest of us remain mired in an economic crisis. Both parties are so far removed from it, they’re not treating it like the disaster it is.

Detroit is an extreme example, but if the status quo remains, its fate could be any city’s.

McBudget Advice for Fast-Food Employees

McBudget Advice for Fast-Food Employees

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McDonald’s and Visa were roundly mocked last week for making a website designed to “help” their employees budget on their meager wages. The sample budget was obviously written by rich people who have no idea what living in the real world actually costs. CNN had a great piece where real employees filled out the sample budget and the results were predictably depressing.

McDonald’s was singled out because of that budget, and a recent strike at a Manhattan franchise aren’t making them any more sympathetic, but the suffering is the same for everyone in the fast-food industry and minimum wage workers everywhere. Companies are able to get away with it because low wages are subsidized by government programs like SNAP, Medicaid and the Earned Income Credit; things companies like Wal-Mart openly use to increase their bottom line.

Way back during his State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned raising the minimum wage. Obviously it went nowhere, because those earning minimum wage aren’t likely to have any leftover income to make campaign contributions, unlike the corporate behemoths who are raking in huge profits by exploiting their undervalued labor.

Johnny Privilege

Johnny Privilege

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A massive hunger strike is underway in California’s prison system. Inmates are protesting its Kafkaesque solitary confinement rules and other conditions that the Supreme Court and the federal government have deemed cruel and unusual. Governor Jerry Brown continues to insist that everything’s fine and refuses to implement any changes.

California’s prisons may be the worst, but the entire country is prison-crazy. And who gets sent to one depends largely on race and income. The War on Drugs has failed and has given the US the largest incarceration rate in the world. It’s easy to write off inmates as a bunch of bad guys, but most are victims of circumstance. And even if you believe they all deserve to be there, there are others more deserving of rotting in a prison cell.

And I can’t mention Jerry Brown without listening to this still-relevant Dead Kennedys song.

NSFWCORP Comics

Starting with this month’s issue, you can find an exclusive comic of mine appearing in NSFWCORP. It’s an impressive comics spread, with features from Matt Bors, Ted Rall, Jen Sorensen, Ryan Pequin and Scott Bateman. You have to subscribe to see them, so I suggest you get to it.

You may have noticed I’ve only been drawing The Strip for a while now, ever since the number of weeklies that ran Big Fat Whale dwindled down to one and was raking in a paltry $15 per cartoon. NSFWCORP pays actual money, and if you like what we freelance cartoonists do, support them so they can continue to support us.

While you’re at it, you can take a break from circumventing their paywalls and throw some support towards The NYTimes, so they can continue paying me to draw comics. (I syndicate The Strip to Daily Kos and Funny Times, and they deserve your support too. And I welcome anyone else to get in touch about syndicating it too!)

And yeah, I know I gotta update this site. I’m too lazy to do it myself, and too poor to pay someone else.

Journalism Summer Camp

Journalism Summer Camp

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The media’s mostly treating Edward Snowden like he’s Lindsay Lohan, rather than focusing on the contents of his NSA leaks. There are obviously good journalists out there, and occasionally some even show up on TV. But in general, US journalism is a shit-show of lowest common denominator hackery. Of course, you could say the same about editorial cartoons and you wouldn’t be wrong.

The media elites have been extremely deferential to the Bush and Obama Administrations with anything that involves terrorism. I think that’s because the rich and powerful are so comfortable and secure, terrorism is the only thing that scares them. No pundit has to personally worry about hunger, poverty, gun violence, flooding or the other disasters that routinely destroy the lives of us lowly plebes, but the unlikely prospect of being blowed-up in a random act turns them into scared little pants-pissers.

There’s also the threat of losing their precious “access” and getting disinvited to Beltway cocktail parties that keeps them from becoming the adversaries of government that they’re supposed to be. But I’m not old enough to remember when that was ever the case.

How Did Bors Cross the Road?

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ANSWER: Safely. Very Safely.

We were in Salt Lake City for the AAEC convention, and they take crosswalks very seriously out there, with bins filled with orange flags for pedestrians to wave around like maniacs as they cross the street:bors-flag-sign

And here’s an action shot of Matt not getting hit by a car, thanks to the power of the safety flag:

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You can read Matt’s recap of the convention for more about what went on in Utah. Matt also asked me (and paid me) to write a comic during my flight out there. This is the result.

Besides a few weird rules about beer and alcohol, it is a lovely city. Its people are so polite, I dubbed it “Weird Canada.”

Huge thanks and kudos to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Pat Bagley for hosting us. After experiencing the dry heat out West, I have been nothing but miserable since returning the sweaty East Coast.

Cutting Carbon: The Healthy Way

Cutting Carbon: The Healthy Way

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I was in Salt Lake City last week for the annual AAEC convention and forgot to post a link to this. So here’s a brief post about last week’s Strip. Obama’s climate speech got lost in the shuffle of Supreme Court rulings (Boo to the VRA ruling. Yay to ending DOMA!), but if it gets implemented it could finally signal that the US might do something about the disaster that’s coming for all of us who are expected to live for another 20 to 30 years.