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November 28, 2008

Edducayshun blues

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Those of us who live in BrowardDadePalm, otherwise known as New York’s Sixth Borough, sometimes forget that Florida is still, in many ways, a backward Southern state.

Take, for example, its quaint, retrograde attitude that the mere existence of homosexuals threatens the very—on second thought, don’t take it. I’ve dealt with this many times in other cartoons.

Instead, take education—the polish on human consciousness that supposedly separates us from the beasts that slither and crawl along the face of the earth. It turns out that our state university system has just about the lowest tuition in the country, roughly half the average. It also has one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios. We read of the best professors leaving the state because they can’t get a decent cost-of-living raise.

You get what you pay for. Some would say that as long as you still have partying and sports, which the Florida system has in abundance, then you’ve pretty much covered the important stuff, anyhow.

When I played rugby in school Up North, we tackled the issue with typical New England efficiency. During halftime, they trotted large amounts of a vile regional brew called Genesee Cream Ale onto the field. Its rancid bouquet was mitigated only by its price, which was roughly five bucks for a case of twenty-four. Yes, even thirty-five years ago, that was pretty cheap.

See how my mind wanders? Must be the Genny Cream.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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November 27, 2008

An innovative suggestion

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There's a valid argument that allowing any of the Big Three automakers to go under would have catastrophic repercussions throughout the economy, since so many hundreds of thousands of jobs depend upon their survival.

As they sink beneath the waves, the titans of free enterprise are turning to us taxpayers for a lifeline. Yes, the same folks who, I'm sure, have done everything they can to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

If we are really going to do this, at the very least we should demand that the execs who drove the companies into the ground take a hike, without the usual obscene compensation that CEOs snag regardless of profit or loss.

It would make the bitter medicine of rewarding incompetence a little easier for us to swallow, if nothing else.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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November 26, 2008

It's a happy Thanksgiving for somebody

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There are quite a few Americans this year who don't feel they have a whole lot to be thankful about as they lace into their Spam turkey.

Well, take heart. Uncle Sam is looking out for the fat cats. Remember, the ones who made all the mistakes that got us into this mess? Seems they're too big and too valuable to the economy to be allowed to fail.

Guess what? We're not.

Happy Thanksgiving.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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November 25, 2008

Every parent's nightmare

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When they asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he is said to have answered, "Because that's where the money is."

If you have a penchant for children, the best place to burrow in is among the legions of well-meaning educators and coaches whose business it is to be in close contact with children.

Society supposedly has safeguards; background checks, etc. But increasingly, the perps are managing to crawl under the radar screen. Distasteful as it is, it looks like the best way to defend against them is to educate our children so that they know when they are being victimized before the crime occurs.

How did we reach such a state that the innocence of childhood has become an unaffordable luxury?

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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November 24, 2008

Remember W.? Still here.

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I guess the best way for a failed presidency to end is not with a bang, but with the long, slow hiss of deflation.

There has been some talk lately that the transition shouldn't take so long. The period between the election and the inauguration used to be even longer, and had something to do with the time it took to go by horseback from the seaboard colonies to the new areas out in Appalachia, to let the locals know who their President was going to be. The only reason there's talk this time is that the nation's condition is so dire.

One does find oneself wishing that if W. just wants to hang around for all the retirement parties, at least he could do the country a favor and get out of the way so that Obama can start fixing things. Every day wasted compounds our plight.

Well, as BHO (is that what the headline writers will call him?) likes to say, "There's only one President at a time."

Somebody should tell Dick Cheney.

POSTED IN: President Bush (36)

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November 20, 2008

The more things change that you can believe in...

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One of the more rewarding aspects of editorial cartooning is that you are limited only by your imagination. Each day presents a new challenge. That doesn't just go for the subject matter, but for the way you choose to make your point.

This cartoon couldn't be more different from the previous one, where I drew a cartoony little boy wearing absurd-looking eighteenth-century dress.

In the one at the right, it made sense not to show the actual people doing the talking, but rather to highlight the building itself, which is a stand-in for the institution of the executive branch of government.

By necessity, the drawing ended up looking more like an architectural rendering than a typical cartoon, and I was hoping that its very dryness would help to accentuate the distinction between the tropes of the campaign and the new reality of the Obama White House.

I tried to stick to the "Keep It Simple, Stupid" rule. No unnecessary lines, no need for color.


POSTED IN: Barack Obama (172), Bill Clinton (14)

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November 19, 2008

Happiness is a warm gun

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We sometimes forget that the Founding Fathers were humans, too. They didn't spend their whole lives just making historic pronouncements for posterity, or figuring out new ways to apply the philosophical principles of the Age of Reason to government.

They probably headed on down to the Continental Army Veterans hall and tossed back a few now and then, especially when they felt the need to get away from the Founding Mothers for a few hours.

But, to my point: it's all well and good to punish kids for bringing firearms into the schools, but we all know that they'd never be able to get hold of them in the first place if parents didn't make them accessible, either through negligence or oversight. After all, kids can't buy them. It's no infringement on the right to bear arms to punish parents when their children, due to their own lack of care, endanger others--or worse.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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November 18, 2008

Pantsuit diplomacy?

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At this writing, we still don't know if Hillary accepted, or was even offered, the job of Secretary of State.

One of my colleagues, a big Hillary supporter, wants her to hold out for the Supreme Court. This is an intriguing possibility, since the road to the Presidency is more or less blocked for the foreseeable future, and there's nothing very groundbreaking about being the third woman Secretary of State.

But as Justice Clinton...well, let's just say that Chief Justice Roberts might want to keep a weather eye peeled.

But back to the State Department idea--can you just imagine Secretary Clinton negotiating a treaty with some third-world country on behalf of the United States, while her spouse does deals with the junta in the next room?

Talk about a twofer.

POSTED IN: None

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November 17, 2008

Reindeer on the unemployment line

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We've had the stock market scare, the banking scare, the insurance company scare, and now we're in the middle of the car manufacturer scare. Your latest assignment is to be terrified about the holiday non-spending scare, although you can wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start hiding in the closet.

The experts keep telling us that the pillars of our economy rest upon a base of consumer spending. So, as George W. Bush told us back in 2001, it's your patriotic duty to go out there and shop.

Buy lots of stuff for your friends and relatives. Even for people you don't like.

Not me, I'm terrified. I'm hanging on to my money. But I expect you to spend yours, as unwisely as you have in the past. Our future depends on it. Good luck, God bless you, and God bless America.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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November 14, 2008

Obama's seamless Hart Schaffner and Marx suit?

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This is beginning to look like Religious Theme Week, but believe me, it was unintentional.

Here, I'm responding to the faith many people are investing in Barack Obama and his perceived supernatural ability to pull us out of our morass.

The downside of giving people hope is that you'd better deliver, or they'll turn on you--and they'll be vicious about it. Obama knows this, and he's trying to lower the expectation level so that folks don't get disgruntled when their fortunes haven't miraculously reversed themselves by January 21st.

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November 13, 2008

God takes some time off

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I love drawing cartoons like this because the notion that God really cares about the topic of same-sex marriage is so absurd, particularly when He has so much else to worry about, like war, disease, poverty and worldwide hunger.

Even if He did care, I imagine that it would definitely be on His back burner. As we know, same-sex marriage only seems to be a threat to the very survival of the republic once every four years, at voting and fund-raising time. I doubt it is a threat to God, since He created both gays and straights. He probably did it in order to make Creation more interesting for Him to watch.

So far, we haven't let Him down.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199)

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November 12, 2008

The remaking of Caribou Barbie

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It has always been a goal of mine to contrive a way to use Burkina Faso in a cartoon. Never heard of the place? Maybe you remember it by its former moniker, Upper Volta (although, to my knowledge, a Lower Volta has never existed).

Or, maybe you don't. I felt that the more obscure-sounding places I could list, the better the humor would work. In other words, forget Egypt or Algeria.

Having now fulfilled my lifelong career aspiration, there is really nothing left to live for, professionally speaking. That aside, my feeling is that the more Sarah Palin mentions how she was wrongly characterized by her handlers in the recent campaign, the more it will remind us, four years from now, that she had a reputation as a hopelessly ditzy fashion diva back in 2008.

Helpful hint to you rabid Palinophiles out there: Those places I named are all countries in Africa.


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November 11, 2008

Horror stories

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The inspiration for this cartoon came to me this morning when I considered handling my paper's business front with barbecue tongs. The bad news- DHL, Circuit City, the auto companies, AIG- to mention just a few, continues day after day.

No wonder John McCain gave such a gracious concession speech. On Election Day, he stared into the abyss and said to himself, "What was I thinking? Maybe being just one of 535 legislators isn't so bad, after all. The job's still got great perks and bennies. The only thing I don't get is my own plane. Good luck with everything, Fella."

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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November 10, 2008

The man with the golden tongue

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As America gets used to the words, "President-elect Barack Obama," it's both amusing and cringe-inducing to watch Barack Obama himself get comfortable with the concept.

What would have been nothing more than an inconsequential aside when he was a mere mortal, that being a reference to Nancy Reagan's seances, suddenly became a cause celebre in the Conservative blogosphere (which is not willing to give the man a nanosecond of honeymoon period) now that he's the leader of the free world.

It necessitated a personal call of apology to America's most revered widow, who probably wasn't all that offended, anyway, considering it was actually Hillary who held the seances and Nancy who brought in astrologers. But that's off the point.

From now on, he'll have to realize that every grunt and burp is going to be scrutinized, parsed, and mined for its subtext. It's a shame, for it may strip the man of his spontaneity and quick wit. Ronald Reagan, as we know, never learned to zip it. Remember the time he tested the microphone by announcing that we were going to begin bombing Moscow immediately? It almost started World War III.

POSTED IN: Barack Obama (172)

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Election night fun and games, Part II

Once again, follow along as this remarkably articulate fellow guides you through the vicissitudes of working on Election Night deadline.


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November 7, 2008

G.O.P. circular firing squad

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Ah...just when we thought all the excitement of the campaign was over, and it was time to settle down and eat our lima beans while President-elect Obama dragged us through the fleshing-out of his cabinet...

Now comes the glass of fine liqueur at the end of a rich, multi-course meal for us political junkies. The Republicans unsheathe the long knives and begin the much-anticipated scapegoating of their own. She doesn't know Africa is a continent? Can't name the countries in NAFTA? He refused her pleas to play the Rev. Wright card? His henchpeople mishandled her?

One can only hope it lasts through the Transition, which the economic news is making drearier by the day.

POSTED IN: None

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November 6, 2008

Obamanos!

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Talk about hitting the ground running. After a grueling two-year campaign wherein he slew not just John McCain but--lest we forget--the most well-oiled political operation until now, the Clintons--he barely gives the confetti time to hit the ground before he's choosing a cabinet and fielding snarky demands from Hamid Karzai, of all people.

My guess, as illustrated here, is that Inauguration Day is going to be pretty much a formality. The "Uniter" seems to have already packed up his comic books and checked out, so somebody is going to have to move in to fill the vacuum, especially at this time of crisis.


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November 5, 2008

The cartoon you'll never see in the newspaper

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On Election Day, I had to be ready with several alternative cartoons, just in case. The deadline for the Opinion Pages was 1 a.m. Wednesday, and there were three contingencies.
No.1: Obama wins. No.2: McCain wins. No.3: They're still counting, and we don't know by deadline.

What you see here is the sketch I had ready for an eleventh-hour McCain upset. Obviously, I never had to bother to ink it because they called the election for Obama relatively early on, so we ran that cartoon instead.

POSTED IN: None

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Gay marriage amendment

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A conventional wisdom seems to be developing that the same huge minority voter turnout that helped tip Florida into the Obama column also helped to put the "Gay Marriage Amendment" over the top, thereby enshrining discrimination in our state constitution.

If that is true, I find it puzzling that a segment of our society that so recently suffered under anti-miscegenation laws, and knows what it means to have the state step in and dictate whom one should and should not be allowed to marry, could be complicit in restricting the rights of another minority.

But, maybe it isn't true. Also, maybe I'm just dumb and am missing some key piece of logic here.

POSTED IN: None

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November 4, 2008

President-elect Obama

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There's not much else I can say, except that it's a proud moment for all Americans, regardless of your political stripe. Sit back and savor it.

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November 3, 2008

Hurry up and wait!

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Rarely have Americans been called upon to perform a small service that will have such a consequential outcome for the republic as they have in this election. Think of your vote as the tangible expression of your hopes and dreams for your way of life, your friends, your loved ones, and even people you may not ever meet. It isn't just a right, it's a gift.

I voted last week, and waited in line a couple of hours to do so. Far from being tedious, it was a pleasant experience. All the folks in my section of the line were friends by the end of our trip to the ballot box (or, in our case, scanning machine).

The lady ahead of me, a delightful naturalized American citizen from Argentina named Roberta, gave me her recipe for chimichurri steak sauce, which is still burning my mouth (that must be the "warm feeling" one gets after doing one's civic duty). Nobody in line groused, and there wasn't even a thrill ride waiting for us at the end.

Most important, if I'm not happy about the outcome of this election, I now have a right to complain about it.

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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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