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April 30, 2009

The Florida Legislature tackles bestiality


I'm going to refrain from indulging in cheap double-entendres, since this is such a target-rich environment, it isn't even a challenge.

The Florida Legislature, which is sure to go into overtime because it can't hammer out an austerity budget, still manages to waste precious minutes over a front-burner issue that has evidently been on all our minds, specifically, the criminalization of human/animal sex.

My favorite quote out of all of this came a few weeks ago, when the state House was debating amendments to this bill that would exclude veterinary applications and situations involving animal husbandry.

A South Florida legislator (who shall remain nameless) shouted out, "You mean, people are taking animals as husbands??"

And we are entrusting these people with our tax money. Anyway, it's probably a good thing that this glaring oversight in our legal code is being rectified, in light of the fact that the Florida Constitution already forbids people of the same sex from taking each other as husbands.


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Gas prices rising again

The reason the oil companies gave us last year for the terrifying run up in pump prices made at least some sense: the Chinese. Their unquenchable industrial growth sucked all the oil out of the market.

Well, this year it’s different. The economic meltdown is global, and the Chinese engine has throttled back. With fewer jobs to commute to, the rest of us are driving less, as well. We’re in a glut of crude.

So why are we experiencing déjà vu from last summer?

I love this one: “Reconfiguration of refineries to adjust for seasonal blends.” What is that? First of all, it’s not like the pending arrival of summer comes as a big surprise. Why do they suddenly have to shut down all of their refining capacity to “reconfigure?” Who’s doing the planning—chimpanzees?

My car, by the way, runs just as badly on “winter” fuel as it does on “summer” fuel. No need for a “seasonal adjustment.”

We consumers should band together to demand more creativity in excuses from our oil companies. We deserve at least that much.

Of course, they’ll tell us we’re lucky they even bother. If they wanted to, they could charge extra for plausible ones.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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April 29, 2009

Obama's first one hundred days


There's a reason why nobody is interested in marking President Obama's first hundred days except the media.

The observance, or appraisal, or whatever, is entirely a media creation. It's as artificial as Four Corners, where four states meet because somebody decided that would be the place (turns out they were several miles off, anyway, due to surveying errors).

It all started with FDR, and ever since then, the pack journalism mentality has dictated that this so-called milestone must be the subject of innumerable news stories, analyses, and navel-gazing exercises.

Why? Because some assignment editor or news director, worried about his or her job, fears that some other news outlet will churn out a bucketload of pointless blather and that his or her boss will come in screaming, wondering why he or she didn't have the story. Hence, the pack.

All of us in the news business worry about our continuing relevance as the information superhighway becomes a light-speed torrent. One way might be to concentrate on things that really matter to people. We should be making these hundred-day appraisals every day, without ballyhoo, in such a way that they make clear how Obama's policies affect everyday lives. This other stuff is like screaming yourself hoarse in an echo chamber.


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April 28, 2009

The face of God...coming to your car tag


We might as well set aside the church vs. state argument, since if the boneheads in the Florida Legislature haven't accepted that one by now, they're never going to.

In their zeal to kowtow to their base, our representatives (mostly from the northern and central parts of the state) have tried repeatedly to get the cross tag (bearing the legend, "I believe") and the tag with Jesus' face on it officially approved.

What makes this year different is that the bill has a good chance of passing, and our craven governor, Charlie ("I want to be the governor of ALL Floridians") Crist is so busy running for the U.S. Senate that he says he will sign it if it reaches his desk. His reasoning must be that by the time the lawsuits reach the Florida Supreme Court, he'll already be safely in Washington, so it's no-risk for him.

But ponder this: Any religion that can't even get its act together enough to agree on who its interlocutor with God ought to be (think "Protestant Reformation," and "Orthodox vs. Latin," just for starters) is going to have one hell of a time determining what the state-sanctioned image of Jesus on the license tag should look like.

For all we know, He resembled Buddy Hackett, or maybe Moshe Dayan. You can be pretty sure He didn't look like the mug they'll probably stick on the plate-- some Northern European Renaissance artist's conception of a blond, blue-eyed Aryan ubermensch.


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April 27, 2009

Caption Contest, Part II: The Vote of the People

The two-week caption submission period is over, the distinguished panel of judges has combed through almost eight hundred submissions, and it has winnowed the creme de la creme from the dross, to mix several metaphors.


As we pored over the list, we detected many disparate themes threading through the submissions: There was the illegal-alien genre, the Obama's-funny-looking-ears genre, the what-were-they-smoking genre that left us scratching our heads, and a few that mentioned Monica Lewinsky (wrong president, folks).

There were several that were quite funny, but not germane to this cartoon, since they didn't address the core concept of President Obama and a space alien having a conversation.

Ultimately, there were a handful that really stood out, in our opinion. After much deliberation, we arrived at the final three you see listed below.

Now, it is up to you--the readers--to weigh in with your verdict. Pause before you click that circle, and ponder the gravity of what you are about to do. This is no light task we confer upon you. Give your decision the attention and concentration it deserves!

You have one week to determine the Grand Prize Winner. Have at it!


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Swine flu


Not again!

Remember the Great Swine Flu scare of 1976? Poor old President Ford could never catch a break. Somebody died of swine flu in Vermont or somewhere, and the whole U.S. health system mobilized.

Millions of doses of swine flu vaccine were manufactured at taxpayer expense, thousands upon thousands of Americans were inoculated, and in the end more people died of reactions to the flu shots than from the original disease. The whole fiasco ended up as a political embarrassment.

I clearly remember drawing swine flu cartoons when I was just getting started at a small paper in Oklahoma that didn't even publish on Mondays (so that nobody would have to work on the Sabbath), and now, thirty-three years later, I find myself having to brush up on my hog anatomy all over again.

To quote Santayana, "Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it." There are two lessons to be taken from this: Don't stay too long in the same dead-end job, and let somebody else be the guinea pig for that flu shot before you take the plunge.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188), Medical (50)

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April 26, 2009

Cartoon caption contest moves to new phase



The caption submission period has ended, and we have gotten an overwhelming response from readers, almost 800 entries!

Our distinguished troika of judges will do their best to comb through the submissions and present the three finalists in the form of a reader poll on this site by the night of Monday, April 27th.

Readers will have one week to vote for the Grand Prize Winner, who will accrue fame and glory to his/her name, not to mention a pair of movie passes that may or may not have passed their expiration date. We're not sure. There's also a one-year membership to Morikami Gardens, if anyone is interested.

The three finalists will each be awarded an Official Lowe-Down Blog t-shirt.

Stay tuned!


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April 24, 2009

"Enhanced interrogation" vs. torture

It's an old cliche that language is the most potent weapon of all.

If you can control what things are called, you can define and guide public discourse. This is something the Republicans learned well, exemplified by their skillful substitution of "Death Tax" for "Inheritance Tax." Makes it all seem so unfair. On the other side, "pro-choice" sounds much more benign than "abortion advocate."

The term "War on Terror" --which is really absurd when you deconstruct it-- was carefully crafted to act as a template for using military involvement to address a problem, when the rest of the world saw it as a law-enforcement issue.

The "what constitutes torture" debate that is going on right now is more than some abstruse argument over semantics. Its outcome will not only define what we intend to stand for as a nation now and in the future, but it could also have a real impact on whether or not certain people are going to be treated as criminals and sent to prison.

"Enhanced interrogation" sounds like a questioner who just shouts at you a little louder under the bright lights, not someone who is busy trying to fill your lungs with water. I heard somewhere that it was the Nazis who first invented the term.

And they sneer at Obama for emulating Lincoln.


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April 23, 2009

Saggy pants law overturned

This is one of those asinine issues that has gotten way more attention than it deserves, which is why I've decided to pile on along with everybody else.

The prevailing fashion trend for a certain cohort of the community is to wear one's trousers hanging down around one's butt as a statement. They are emulating prisoners who, deprived of their belts by the authorities, can't keep their pants up. Why they want to do this is their own business.

To me, it's the essence of the First Amendment right of free expression to make a statement of identification with whomever you want, as long as you're not exposing something fleshy and private. As a visual person, I find the panoply of underwear patterns a welcome distraction from the cheesy sameness that characterizes South Florida architecture and dress.

1973-copy.gifThis doesn't mean that their sartorial habits aren't something they won't regret when they're older. When we were young, we all presented ourselves in ways that now make us blush (see Yours Truly at left, taken in 1973). And, there was no more effective way to make us continue in our folly than for authority figures to register disapproval and try to thwart us.

With all the problems facing this state, there was even an attempt in Tallahassee to legislate against saggy pants (which, of course, merited both this cartoon, and this one). It ultimately failed, I believe.

The overturning of this silly law on constitutional grounds is not only the right thing to do, but as I have intimated in the above drawing, it will probably help relegate this unfortunate fashion trend to the obscurity it deserves.


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April 22, 2009

Take Your Child To Work Day


This cartoon idea seemed like a natural under the circumstances. If Take Your Child To Work Day is supposed to teach kids about the reality of the workplace, they might as well learn that the term, “pink slip,” like, “green card,” is just a figure of speech.

In reality, it’s an icy smile from some HR type who knows he or she still has a job as long as there are people left to fire, and maybe a security guard who escorts you out just in case you turn psycho and try to firebomb your computer.

Maybe, if you’re like the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather II, your erstwhile boss catches up with you in the street with a basket containing a loaf of bread and a salami.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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April 21, 2009

The banking "crisis"


Remember how the $600 toilet seat helped us finally understand defense spending waste in a concrete way?

The auto company CEOs who flew to Washington in private planes to beg for handouts... the obscene bonuses for the same Wall Street masters of the universe whose greed got us into this mess...these are the convenient handles that we, the great unwashed, must grasp if we are ever going to comprehend the bewildering abstractions that swirl around us and snake their wispy tentacles into our pockets.

The problem with this banking paradox is that it isn't making sense to us taxpayers. If they're doing so well, why do they need our help? Even if they do need help, why should they get it before we do? And what happened to that first $600 billion of TARP money? It was supposed to grease the skids. They aren't skidding yet.

Somebody's got, as Ricky Ricardo said, some 'splainin' to do. Or some better 'splainin', anyway, because it seems like the only constant in all this backing and filling is that we, the public, keep getting ripped off. When we ask why, nobody has any answers.

The 'Splainer in Chief, for all his rhetorical abilities, could be doing a better job at laying it out. And the Loyal Opposition, rather than just sniping and obfuscating, could be displaying a little more statesmanship by presenting a credible alternative.

We should be holding their feet to the--oh, that's right. This isn't an election year. No wonder they aren't sweating it.


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April 20, 2009

Red-light cameras


It's the Holy Grail for cash-strapped localities: cameras, supplied by a private company, that snag red-light runners. The company takes a cut, the city gets the money, and it's win-win for everybody.

Red-light runners are one resource that South Florida possesses in an abundant, inexhaustible supply. Tapping into them is like harnessing the power of the sun.

Besides, everybody hates them, so it's like taxing child abuse or something. There's no constituency of red-light runners that will organize to push back against being targeted.

Another advantage I see is that, this being Florida, the rear-end collision side-effect of drivers slamming on their brakes at the last moment will be more pronounced than in other states where these cameras are being tried. Take into account all the usual text-messaging, phone-yakking, ingesting of dangerous drugs, and doing make-up while driving that happens in every state, and add to it the slower reaction time of a tailgating senior who is trying to get through the light because, like everybody else in Florida, it's important to get wherever you're going ahead of all the other drivers, and you've provided a stimulus for one of our major industries: personal injury lawsuits.

It's the gift that keeps on giving.


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April 17, 2009

The torture memos


George W. Bush is a lucky guy. He will never be a tragic figure.

A tragic figure is a man who is brought down by some fatal flaw in his own character, and no matter how roundly George W. Bush and his benighted administration may be condemned by history, he will not be brought down, for there is no anguish. His conscience and his sense of his own rectitude remain unshaken.

George Bush has probably never lain awake one night in his life second-guessing a decision he made. This is the advantage of leading "from the gut," rather than by reason.

Gut leadership is strong, swift, sure. Reasoning is more deliberate, and can easily be read as tentative by an electorate that demands immediate action.

George Bush is probably not lying when he says his administration never approved torture. He may be horribly wrong, but he believes he is telling the truth. He has effectively, and enviably, insulated himself from the consequences of his decisions.

If only the rest of us could.


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April 16, 2009


Today, we are going to discuss the decline of civilization.

No, it isn’t the result of rot from within, the death of shame, or the erosion of morals. You can lay it all on the e-doorstep of fixed-rate unlimited access calling plans.

Now, even people with little means can remain connected all day, through cellphones, texting, email, Twitter, and a host of other media I haven’t had a chance to get incensed about yet. Talk has always been cheap, but now it’s even cheaper. When the value of something is debased, it gets overwhelmed with dreck.

I don’t care if somebody laments that they’re over-connected. Obviously, they can’t figure out anything more redeeming to do with their lives than mindlessly chatter or write in e-snippets all day, so no harm done.

What bothers me is when they indulge their need while someone who is too old to find this stuff necessary is trying to hold a personal, real-time, in-place conversation with them. Someone like me, for example.

Then, there’s what texting has done to flatten the language. World War III could easily start because Dmitry Medvedev misread an Obama text message lacking the proper irony-denoting emoticon, “;-)”,
as in, “U dummy ;-).” This tells me that the medium has an inherent clarity problem.

Go ahead, call me a Luddite. To me, subtlety and inflection are the exotic spices of communication.


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April 15, 2009

The death of inflation


If you ever wanted to see the law of supply and demand in action, this is the time.

We're bombarded daily with incredible sales: a third off, half off, sixty percent off. The fact that they can afford to sell stuff at this much of a markdown and still clear a profit makes you realize how artificially high retail prices must have been when everybody was flush. Back in the good times, even so-called "deep" discounts were ripoffs.

How sad. All this wonderful junk that we always wanted, at prices we can finally afford. Only, we can't afford them anymore. We'll just have to do without.

Wait a minute...that's un-American. Ahhh, that's where credit cards come in.


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April 14, 2009

Gays in the military


By now, you've heard all the arguments, so you're either in favor of Don't Ask Don't Tell, or you aren't. It isn't really Don't Ask Don't Tell, anyway, because the military diligently investigates all rumors of homosexuality in order to extirpate the so-called mental illness from the ranks. So even if gays don't come out, they must live in constant fear of being discovered.

As for the morale issue, I saw an interview once of an Army veteran from the Deep South who had gone to Vietnam as a young soldier in possession of all the usual cultural prejudices that one would expect. He came back a changed man. "There's something about being in a unit, knowing that all your lives depend on everyone doing his job," he said. "You put your life in your buddy's hands, and he puts his life in yours. You don't care about what color he is."

And as far as whether gays can make good warriors, there's a story about Alexander the Great, who, as legend goes, was gay. His troops were horrified to learn about his lover, who accompanied him on his campaigns as he conquered most of the known world.

What upset them wasn't that Alexander's main squeeze was a man; it was that he was a Persian.

So the problem isn't really gays serving in the military. The problem is with people who have a problem with gays serving in the military.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199)

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April 13, 2009

The rescue of Capt. Phillips

What a feel-good moment. We certainly needed it. Reminds me of the "Miracle on Ice" during the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, and more recently, the Hudson River plane crash.

The first thing that struck me when I heard the news on Easter Sunday was how capricious fate can be. Barack Obama is being hailed as a man who, when tested, made the right decision under pressure.

What if, God forbid, a rogue wave had lapped against the side of the little lifeboat, throwing off the rhythm of one of our snipers just enough so that he hit the hostage, instead of his captor, in a horrible accident? The President would be condemned as a man whose intemperate rush to conclude the impasse cost an innocent man his life, when further negotiation might have yielded fruit.

I would have liked to be inside Jimmy Carter's head for a moment yesterday. Remember when he sent the task force into Iran to free the hostages, and the effort ended in tragedy? All because a few rotor blades got tangled up with each other, and some sand got in the engines. Had it succeeded, he might have been reelected.

Upon such discrete and seemingly trivial phenomena do the great wheels of History turn.


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Cartoon caption contest!!!


The response has been overwhelming--we've received approximately 780 submissions. Thank you for your enthusiasm!


We will do our best to have the three finalists posted in the poll by Monday evening, April 27th, and you will have a week to choose your favorite.

Here it is, folks…the moment you’ve all been waiting for. A chance to win fame, swag, and the thanks of a grateful nation.

In observance of my 25th anniversary as editorial cartoonist for the Sun Sentinel, I am launching another Official Lowe-Down cartoon caption contest.

All you have to do is come up with a caption for the cartoon displayed above and post your creation as a blog comment, so everyone can enjoy it. There is no limit on the number of individual entries, in the event you are feeling particularly inspired.

The caption submission period will last two weeks. At the end of this time, a distinguished and learned panel of veteran journalists, consisting of Opinion Editor Antonio Fins, Daily Buzzmeister Gary “The Opinionator” Stein and myself, will carefully comb through the offerings to pick what we think are the top three.

IMG_0031.gifI will then put up a week-long poll where the three finalists are submitted to a Vote of the People. All three will receive an Official Lowe-Down Blog T-shirt (modeled at left). The first-place winner, as determined by the poll, will also be awarded a one-year membership to Morikami Gardens, with all the benefits pertaining thereto.

PRIZE UPDATE: It has come to our attention that the prizes being offered so far have little appeal to anyone under about 50 years old. "What is Morikami?" one teen is reported to have said.

In hopes of attracting a younger crowd to the contest, the Lowe-Down rummaged around in his kitchen utility drawer and dug up two theater chain movie passes that he was given once when he donated blood platelets. They appear to have no expiration date, so we are throwing them into the prize mix. The winner must take his own chances at the gate.

In addition, we will feature the cartoon with the winning caption both on this blog and on the op-ed page of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (suitable for framing, if that’s your thing) with the winner’s name and photo.

Entrants should make sure to use their real names and email addresses, so they can be contacted in the event they are winners.

One last request: Please keep your entries clean and tasteful.

Above all, HAVE FUN!



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April 10, 2009

Cuban exile group sees the light


It looks like Fidel Castro may have won simply by outlasting everybody else.

The Cuban American National Foundation, long the bulwark of the hard line against engagement with the Communist regime--a group so powerful that it hamstrung one administration after another and virtually dictated our Cuba policy for years--has now decided that maybe increasing our ties with the island is the best way to effect change.

It's true that the C.A.N.F.'s influence is on the wane (Obama took the swing state of Florida in spite of its support of McCain), and the younger Cuban-Americans, the next generation, neither share the fire in the belly nor the fear of being tarred as Castro sympathizers for following their own political path. Slowly and tentatively, U.S. official policy toward Cuba is becoming more flexible.

It has been said that Miami-Dade County is the only county in the U.S. to have its own foreign policy. That may still be so, but at least theirs is finally coming into line with the federal one.


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April 9, 2009

The Wheel of Ill Fortune

My Creationist friends aren't going to appreciate this, but Florida--South Florida in particular--is a Darwinian environment for people and dwellings.

It is a rare building indeed that does not fall victim to such local perils as windstorms, the Formosan termite, the Cuban Death's Head cockroach, tuberculosis-inducing mold, and a host of other natural nightmares.

As if that weren't enough, we have to face brimstone-laden panels of Chinese-made gypsum board, predatory lending institutions and additional man-made threats to home and hearth, like entire neighborhoods turning into ghost towns. Only the toughest humans and domiciles survive this brutal natural selection process.

Back to Creationism: Anyone who really believes in the doctrine of "Intelligent Design" should take a good look at how this region developed. It'll make a Big Bang theorist out of anybody.


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April 8, 2009

Vermont legalizes gay marriage


What's different about the recent development in Vermont is that it eviscerates one of the arguments in the anti-gay forces' bag of nastiness. Until now, they claimed that the only way gay marriage could be legalized was by "activist" (defined as "people they didn't agree with") judges who stretched civil rights law to suit their own perverted ends.

Whenever the issue was subjected to a state legislature, which represented the true will of the people, it was bound to fail (so they maintained).

Well, the Vermont legislature not only passed same-sex marriage into law, it did so by overriding the veto of a Republican governor. You can't get much more willful than that. Makes one wonder what Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys were up to besides revolutionizin'.

The Vermont vote even overshadowed the state supreme court decision in Iowa (Iowa!) reflecting the legal view that a class of individuals' civil rights were being violated by not allowing them to marry.

If the Forces of Righteousness decide they want to boycott products from the offending states, breakfast is going to be a pretty dreary affair. No bacon or ham if it comes from the Devil's farmyard in Iowa. No corn muffins, neither. Dry pancakes, too, if the maple syrup's made in Vee-Tee. And that Thanksgiving turkey's gonna be mighty bland without Massachusetts cranberries.

My old home state, Oklahoma, is likely to be one of the last to allow this kind of outlandishness to occur. Then again, it only just outlawed cockfighting a few years ago.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199)

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April 7, 2009

Robert Wexler, down in the trenches

Congressman for Life... It has a nice, third-world ring to it, doesn't it?

Well, that's my Congressman, Robert Wexler. I say that loosely, because he calls Maryland home, but he nominally represents my interests as a resident of his district.

I've had some fun with Rep. Wexler in the past, which he accepts with good humor. He can afford to be magnanimous, because nothing I or anyone else says is going to dent his chances of getting reelected as often as he wants.

Robert may rarely show his face around here, but his constituent services are second to none, so nothing short of a secret photo showing him cavorting on a yacht with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would ever cause his adoring public to have second thoughts about him.

This Chinese drywall thing, though, is one of those simmering little stories that can blow up in a legislator's face if he allows himself to get caught napping. It's unlikely there's much of a Chinese drywall problem among Mr. Wexler's neighbors up in Maryland, but there is one down here where people vote. Hence, the inspection tour.

So nice to have you back in the area, Congressman. Stay a spell and enjoy the holidays with us!


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Explanation of yesterday's cartoon

It's the nightmare of every cartoonist--a reader looks up blankly and utters the dreaded words, "I didn't get it."

That's all well and good as long as it's just somebody who hardly ever reads the paper or is in other ways uninformed. It's less good when that person is your editor in chief, who collared one of my colleagues yesterday after viewing the page proof, and asked him to please explain this one to him.


I then polled my opinion page colleagues and found that a majority of them hadn't been able to unlock the mysteries of my thought process, either.

So, for the record, the planet Earth in the window of the spaceship has morphed into the (in my opinion, highly recognizable) Obama campaign logo from the last election.

What threw me off was that the opinion editor, Tony Fins, just happened to be one of the people who saw it my way, so I happily trotted off to my drafting table.

I'd set up an online poll to find out what readers think, but that is so diabolically difficult to accomplish, and so far above my technical pay grade, that I'll just settle for comments from anyone who wants to weigh in on my singular lack of communicative skills.


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April 6, 2009

Obama-the first international tour


There are people who will carp about how Barack Obama is spending too much time becoming a world celebrity, when he should be occupying himself with more mundane chores like fixing the economy.

What do they think he's doing over there? This is not a man whose ego needs a constant fix. He's already gotten enough accolades for a lifetime. He's using his and Michelle's star power as potent weapons in the service of American national interest.

Take the speech which he gave (not accidentally) at Strasbourg, the crossroads of Europe. By seducing the fawning crowds from Europe's two largest countries, he sent a signal to Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy that they cross the American wunderkind at their own peril. It's a strategy he has already used with some success to go over the heads of his own Congress.

And speaking a few words of Czech to the multitude in Prague--that took some guts. Nobody should ever dare to try speaking Czech before he's gotten a few liters of Pilsener under his belt. It was a gamble that paid off hugely.

A word about Strasbourg. It's too bad that, for security reasons, the President isn't allowed to eat anything local. They have this dish there called Choucroute a l' Alsacienne, which involves sauerkraut, goose fat, smoked, cured and fresh sausages and pork products with a hint of caraway that should only be eaten once in a lifetime, because of what it does to your circulatory system. I had it at the railroad station restaurant there in 1968, and I'm still working off the accumulated cholesterol.


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April 3, 2009

Chinese drywall blues

Some of us may be old enough to remember Nikita Khrushchev's famous utterance, "We will bury you," from 1956. He didn't exactly mean it the way it sounds--it was a loose translation made by someone who obviously didn't understand Russian very well. He meant that capitalism would fall on its own accord from bloat and topheaviness, and that Communists would be shovel-ready to pile dirt on the corpse.

He was wrong about a lot of things, including which Communists would be doing the burying. Modern-day China, whose political and economic system would give Karl Marx an aneurism, is delighted to shower us with a panoply of defective and poisonous goods that we are happy to purchase at places like Wal-Mart because they are less expensive than their American-made competition used to be, back when America was making stuff.

Lead in our children's toys, melamine in our pet food, and now some mysterious gas trapped in our drywall that sabotages our air conditioning and rots the wiring in our flat-screen TVs...could it all be part of a mysterious Manchurian Candidate-type plot to rot us from within? A silent, creeping terrorism that we won't be aware of until it's too late?

Confucius say: He who buy cheap junk always get more than he bargain for.


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April 2, 2009

The Obama Cabinet's tax problems

The arrogance is breathtaking, and not confined to Wall Street. The latest to surface with tax issues in her background is Gov. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas, who is being confirmed for HHS secretary.

The way these people get snagged with such regularity (Timothy Geithner being the most egregious; I mean, Secretary of the Treasury, really) you wonder how many others in our government are getting away scot free simply because they're not being considered for cabinet positions.

Not paying social security for their servants? It would be nice to have servants. If I were wealthy enough to afford them, I would certainly feel it was my duty to pay their social security.

Then again, maybe I wouldn't. The above paragraph is only the journalist talking. Wealth and power work a transformation on people. It's easy to say they're rich because they know how to hang onto their money, and not spend it when they think they can get away with it, but there's that entitlement thing. They come to believe they have it because they deserve it.

Government of, for, and by the people. It looked good when Lincoln wrote it on the back of the envelope.

Well, from where I sit, an old envelope is good for just one thing: scratching out the address and reusing it to send a Letter to the Editor.


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April 1, 2009



It's time, once again, to get our minds off depressing issues like politics and the economy to discuss an unrelated local topic, to wit: the Boca Raton teacher who has been accused of allowing her cats to starve to death in her apartment while she was off working and spending time with her boyfriend and family.

We knew the subject would stir passions, which is why we made it the Daily Buzz on the Sun Sentinel's website. So far, it has been a smashing success.

I am owned by two cats, myself. I use this locution advisedly, because in a relationship with a cat, he or she is the master, and you are the dog. A cat displays allegiance to the last person who fed it, and that's about the extent of the bonding. I think it's precisely because cat loyalty is so transitory that we prize the critters so. Dogs love you even if you're a dirtbag. With them, love is cheap (I also have a dog).

This is why pet food manufacturers can extort cat lovers, pound for pound, for the most carefully prepared feline treats, while dog food can be bought in bulk at a price that more accurately reflects what it's worth. No kitty toy or gimmick designed to make their lives more comfortable is too expensive.

For the record, I think that what this woman is accused of doing is worthy of a felony charge. The least she could have done was leave the sliding door ajar so that they could get out and fend for themselves. She didn't.

On a personal note, this cartoon marks my 25th anniversary here on the Opinion Page of the Sun-Sentinel. Where did the time go? I think I'll celebrate the auspicious occasion with another Lowe-Down Cartoon Caption Contest, probably next week. Cool prizes and the thanks of a grateful nation lie in store for those with the guts to enter.

Stay tuned.


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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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