The Lowe Down | Political cartoonist Chan Lowe's take on current issues and the news of the day | Sun Sentinel blogs

The Lowe Down

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June 30, 2008

Airline fees


One of the tools in a cartoonist's box of tricks is exaggeration. Now and then, as has happened to a few of my cartoons over the years, reality overtakes imagination.

Judging by the add-on fees airlines have been charging for things like reserving your seats, sitting on the aisle and even for soda, an advance deposit for oxygen insurance and
a life jacket that inflates might not be far behind.

Maybe a year from now I'll do a "look back in anger" gallery and we'll find that this cartoon was clairvoyant rather than fanciful.


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June 27, 2008

Abstinence only sex education


My first job out of college was at a paper in a small town in central Oklahoma. Just about everyone there I talked to said they'd gotten their first sex education at Bible camp. Not in organized class, but empirically, in the bushes.

The point being, you can moralize all you want, but kids being kids, they're going to want to try out the equipment they've been given, so you might as well teach them how to drive responsibly.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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June 26, 2008

Florida and Offshore Drilling


Somebody wrote in when I did a cartoon last week about Gov. Charlie Crist's flip-flop on offshore drilling. Normally, I dismiss the comments of people who use the combination "you liberals" as just name-calling in order to avoid presenting a reasoned argument for their premise.

This gave me pause, though, because I have never thought of the environment or climate change as a liberal/conservative issue. I did watch "The Exterminator" (former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, so named because of his previous profession as a bug man) on TV one night espousing the official stance of the Republican Party, which is that there is no scientific proof that climate change is caused by human activity. I guess it's just one of the holy mysteries.

Anyway, last I heard, even conservatives have children and grandchildren whose future well-being they worry about, which is why we should reconsider this not as a political issue, but a moral one. Then we could work on it together.


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June 25, 2008

Reject corner!!!!


I showed this specimen last week to my editor, Antonio Fins, thinking it was going to be a shoo-in. I was wrong. Herewith, Tony's justification for spiking it:

"This one I axed cause it is time to come up with a new topic in presidential politics. We've run dozens of Hillary-themed cartoons this year. Not just Chan's but also ones we picked up from the wires for secondary art. (Today we even have Bill on the page.) After I nixed this one, Chan drew the one about Obama and campaign finance reform, which ended up in the New York Times. He can thank me for that.

Hillary's campaign is over. It's time to focus on Obama and McCain. That is, if you ever recover from seeing today's artist's rendition of Bill's ass."

The "ass" Tony refers to appears in the posting below this one, which was approved by Editor Earl Maucker (to my amazement). As for the Hillary cartoon, I beg to differ on Tony's take that her campaign is over. The whole point is that some of her more fervent supporters refuse to let it die. To me, their disgruntlement is part of the aftermath of a tough campaign that is worthy of comment. My guess is that Tony is just as tired of this extended political season as everyone else, and wishes it would end, like our eight-month Florida summers.

Tell me what you think.


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Campaign 2008, Bill Clinton and the Obama endorsement


You could say that this cartoon dances on the ragged edge of good taste, and you would be right. I was so cocksure that this baby would get spiked that I had already gotten on my high horse and crafted a sharp-as-a-tack comment in its defense for my Reject Corner.

Imagine my surprise when my editor looked at it and said, "I have no problem with it." After almost twenty-five years at this place, I thought I had him figured out. Pleasant little surprises like these are what keep the job interesting.


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June 24, 2008

High gas prices call for desperate measures


In the middle of all this, we're watching our Presidential candidates conduct an Alice in Wonderland debate about remedies for high gas prices that won't have any effect until today's kindergartners get driver's licenses. Which they won't need, because we'll all be riding bikes by then.


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June 23, 2008

Irv Slosberg


I, for one, was disappointed that Irv Slosberg decided not to run for the legislature in a reprise of his earlier service. Rarely does a politician as colorful as he come along, and rarely does one wage a campaign as devoid of subtlety, yet as effective. Irv always knew his constituents, he knew their specific needs, and he never forgot to shower them with goodies during his marches to Tallahassee.

I hope he changes his mind two years from now. The local political scene is pale without him.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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June 20, 2008

Midwest Flooding and the economy

To me, the most effective cartoons combine seemingly unrelated topics that happen to be in the public consciousness at the same time. Maybe they aren't so unrelated, certainly not to the poor flood victims.


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June 19, 2008

Campaign 2008, Barack Obama, and Public Campaign Financing


A new kind of politics. Yes, we can. Change We Can Believe In. In the end, it's the same old story--it' all about the Benjamins. It was a smart move for the Obama campaign to renege on the pledge now. Considering the short memory span of the American people, this will all be obscured by the mists of history come November.

It's hardly a sexy enough topic for the Republicans to keep bringing up...they'd do the same if they thought it would benefit them. Still, it's time the Obamaphiles took off the rose-colored spectacles.


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June 18, 2008

Charlie Crist, offshore oil drilling, Florida, and the environment


Who would have thought Governor Charlie would want to be Vice-President so badly that he'd pull this kind of craven flip-flop on coastal oil drilling? Personally, I never gave him credit for having that much ambition.

If McCain chooses him in hopes he'll deliver Florida for the Republicans in November, he might find the Governor to be damaged goods in his home state after this news gets around.


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June 17, 2008

Teacher/Student Hijinks


Remember the good old days, when your mother told you, "Be careful on your way to school?"
Now that you're a parent yourself, it turns out that strangers may be the least of your worries.


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June 16, 2008

Tim Russert


The British have a delightful custom, which American political junkies can witness late at night on C-SPAN, called Questions in the House. This is where the Prime Minister is required to stand in the well of the House of Commons each week and take any and all questions from the opposition as well as his own party. He must be superbly prepared. He cannot duck, he cannot weave or bob. He will be called out if his answers are inadequate, and eventually the nation will lose confidence in him.

To me, Tim Russert performed this function for us, and this political season in particular, our nation will be the lesser for his passing.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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June 13, 2008

Campaign 2008, Obama, rumors and smears


I applaud the Obama campaign's new anti-smear website, but there are some people who will never be disabused. A friend of mine said she patiently explained to a co-worker that Obama was a member of the United Church of Christ, etc. She responded, "Well, he'll always be a Muslim to me." No need for supporting evidence.

Here's the side of this reasoning that perplexes me: if he really WERE a Muslim, how do they think he would have ever made it this far? Wouldn't some patriot have managed to blow his cover by now?


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June 12, 2008

McCain, Crist, and the Vice-Presidency


As any consultant will tell you, it's perceptions, not facts, that matter in politics. Too much snow on the rooftop to win an election, telegenic as Gov. Charlie might be. To make matters worse, as one of my colleagues remarked, "Crist's healthy tan makes McCain look sallow and frail by comparison."

Case closed.


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McCain, Obama, and the economy


When it comes to affecting economic cycles, there is very little a President can realistically do. Candidates for President can do even less, so they bloviate like whales spouting on a distant horizon.

The debate between McCain and Obama on this topic has an abstruse, how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin quality about it. We should move on to topics that matter to the American People, like whether Cindy McCain looks like a Stepford Wife, or whether Michelle Obama is too radical and edgy to be a First Lady.


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Gas prices and Dick Cheney


When I think charitably of President Bush, which is not often, I visualize him as an amiable dupe in the thrall of the incarnation of evil, Dick Cheney. There is talk that someday Cheney (along with Donald Rumsfeld) may be confined to our borders thanks to international warrants for his arrest on war crimes charges, a la Augusto Pinochet. I say fine--that will give the American people a chance to track him down first.


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June 11, 2008

The Official Lowe-Down Design Your Own Cartoon Contest!


I had a professor in college, one EJ Johnson, who taught the seemingly dull and fusty subject of architectural history with such wit and elan that it ended up becoming my major. This caused no small amount of consternation when I applied for my first newspaper job in Oklahoma ("We ain't got much call around here for an architecture critic, Young Fella. Know anything about the awl bidness?")

Anyway, I mention EJ because it is he who came up with the idea for our newest Lowe-Down Blog contest. The last one, you may recall, was about captions. EJ has proposed a new riff.

Last month, I drew the cartoon that you see posted again here, titled, "Four Things You Can Do With Your Hummer." Since it ran, the continuing meteoric rise in fuel prices has made the concept of owning a Hummer in our society even more absurd and difficult to defend. Here's your challenge: Rack your imaginations to come up with the cleverest fifth idea for what you can do with a Hummer. We all hate 'em, right? Post it on the blog as a comment, where everybody can enjoy it. Here's an example of the type of thing I'm looking for: "A Hummer is sitting at the bottom of the ocean, with fish and seaweed floating around, maybe even a wrecked Spanish galleon. The caption reads, 'Create an artificial reef.'" You have one week to submit your idea.

On Sunday night, June 15th, I will close the window on entries. A distinguished panel of experts (anyone I can snag who happens to be hanging around the office) and I will pore over the submissions, and post the top three picks for a week-long Vote of the People. The ultimate winner of this vote will have his or her concept realized by me in a cartoon which I will post, with credit to the author, here on the blog. As if that weren't enough, we will also publish it on the Op-Ed page of the Sun-Sentinel. In addition, the winner receives an official Lowe-Down Blog t-shirt.

No obscene or tasteless entries, please. Don't forget to use your real email address or I won't be able to notify you if you're a winner (I'll keep it private).


This just in:
Last month's caption contest Grand Prize winner Gary Pedullo (below) of Deerfield Beach, FL, proudly displays his Official Lowe-Down Blog t-shirt. Post a submission NOW for a chance to win your own!


POSTED IN: Design Your Own Cartoon Contest (2)

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June 9, 2008

Barack Obama, for better or worse


Hillary's concession speech over the weekend is sure to create further strife in already divided households. As if that weren't enough, there is that pernicious "secret Muslim" rumor, which is particularly rampant here in South Florida. Just thought I'd stir the soup a little.


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June 6, 2008

FPL Rate Hike


We're all frustrated ratepayers, but at least I get a chance to vent about it. We serfs suck up the rate increases while our government "regulators" in Tallahassee lash the utility with a seemingly endless supply of wet noodles.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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June 5, 2008

Campaign 2008 and the "Dream Ticket"


Talking about Hillary Clinton with someone is like talking to your friends about whether or not they want anchovies on their pizza. Everybody has a violent opinion, and nobody is indifferent. From what I can tell, Clinton supporters are well-meaning and honestly feel that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be greater than the sum of its parts.

In their zeal, however, they forget that there are others in the electorate who so viscerally detest her that it would drag people out of the woodwork who might otherwise not care that much whether Barack Obama or John McCain became President.


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June 4, 2008

Campaign 2008 enters a new phase


We'll have to rewrite all the cliches... It's over and it STILL ain't over. Not only has the fat lady sung, but the audience and orchestra have packed up and gone home and they've shut down the opera house. Nothing succeeds like failure.

For people in my business, this is a godsend. It's the most exciting kind of sudden-death overtime, and if we're lucky, it won't end until the convention. I don't mean to imply it's the best thing for the country.


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June 3, 2008

Ted Kennedy


In all fairness, left-wing fund raising organizations do the same thing, which is to demonize people (like Justice Antonin Scalia) to shake down their rabid base. So before you start saying I'm being disrespectful of Sen. Kennedy, let me stress that I would have drawn the same cartoon using liberals, were Justice Scalia the one who was stricken (although right-wing conservatives all know that liberals are godless. I'd have had to come up with a variation).

It's about political cynicism, nothing more or less.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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June 2, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent's Passing


One could argue that not since Joan of Arc put on an armor suit has a line of women's clothing had such an effect on the raising of society's consciousness. Certainly the irresistible social forces that Hillary Clinton embodies made the moment appropriate in the 1960s for the introduction of the pantsuit. In return, the pantsuit may have imbued Sen. Clinton with a subliminal credibility as a potential commander-in-chief that she might not have enjoyed were she to have appeared on the campaign trail in a skirt. We'll never know for sure, but great historical events have turned upon such subtleties.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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