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May 29, 2009

Padre Alberto's religious conversion

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If you have a problem and you can't resolve it, then the next best thing is to make it somebody else's problem.

This wisdom holds as true for Holy Mother Church as for anybody else. The bizarre case of the Roman Catholic priest who was caught on the beach acting, um, human, with a lady was a huge black eye.

To add insult to injury, Father Alberto Cutie began publicly questioning one of the most sacred tenets of the Church, the doctrine of priestly celibacy. While this entertaining little affair doesn't rise to the level of the child abuse scandal, he had to go. But how to disappear him without generating further embarrassment?

Enter the Episcopal Church, which, as a member of the Anglican Communion, traces its very roots to a dispute between King Henry VIII of England and Pope Clement VII. The latter refused to grant Henry an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon when his head was turned by the comely Anne Boleyn, so Henry cut Rome out of the the English salvation business and became Protector of His Own Faith. Where better for Padre Alberto to hang his clerical collar?

In the end, everyone comes out ahead. It's a modern-day miracle.

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May 28, 2009

Welcome, hurricane season

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My editor knows something about economics. At least, he says he does.

He knows more than I do, which to me makes him an authority.

He likes to terrify us during editorial board meetings with little hypotheticals, like: "Suppose a massive hurricane hits, and you lose your roof. Sure, you have a windstorm policy, but because it's now so expensive, you opted for the highest possible deductible...say, $12,000. So you go to the bank for the twelve grand, and they say, 'We're not lending, especially to you, since the value of your home has dropped below the amount of your mortgage.' Now, multiply that by several hundred thousand cases, and you've got a real catastrophe."

Then he says that the only solution will be for the state to step in and start handing out money to people so that they can pay their deductibles. Since the state is required to balance its budget every year, that means all of us taxpayers will have to step in, including those who bought before the bubble and whose mortgages are not upside-down. A political nightmare.

Which is when we turn our eyes to our rich uncle in Washington for Federal relief. You know that old expression, "There are no atheists in foxholes?"

Try this one: "There are no Libertarians in roofless homes."


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May 27, 2009

The California court decision on gay marriage

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The gay marriage controversy in this country is probably going to die one opponent at a time.

Just as it is hard to find anyone credible who would publicly oppose interracial marriage today, it will eventually become quaint to hold the view that "marriage" should be an institution restricted to a man and a woman. It's just a matter of when.

In my opinion, those who cite the tenets of their faith as the reason for their inability to come to terms with this are entitled to do so. They are not being asked to marry people of the same sex.

When I lived in Oklahoma, there was a general assumption by the Christian faithful that Jews were not allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they did not address their prayers through Jesus Christ.

Now, there were never any petitions or fundraising efforts to outlaw Judaism in Oklahoma that I knew of (to be fair, part of the reason may have been that there is a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing individuals the right to practice their own faith).

I use this as an analogy for adopting a "live and let live" attitude about folks being allowed to marry whomever they want.

Those who pray to Jesus do not find their entry into Heaven hindered by the presence on this Earth of those who do not share their belief system. Similarly, people who are married to someone of the opposite sex need not feel that their marriage has been debased by others who happen to follow a different path.

Maybe I'm missing something.

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May 26, 2009

The Sotomayor nomination

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This is going to be fun.

President Obama has his hands full trying to sell health care, save the economy, and conduct foreign wars, so the last thing he wants to get involved in right now is a mudslinging campaign over a Supreme Court opening.

As soon as the White House drew up its short list of prospective candidates, the opposition research started. As I've mentioned before, a Supreme Court opening is just about the most potent fund raising opportunity that exists in American politics, so even if Obama nominated Snow White, they'd come up with something about her highly unorthodox, and no doubt immoral, living arrangement with seven men.

But there's a fly in the Conservative ointment: Sonia Sotomayor is Hispanic, and stands an excellent chance of becoming the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in American History.

It is a delicious dilemma: The Democrats have an overwhelming majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, so it's a sure bet her confirmation will be passed to the main body of the Senate for a final vote. They also are just one short of the votes needed to prevent a filibuster. So you're a Conservative Republican, and you want to gin up some righteous anger about yet another radical activist judge, blah, blah, blah.

At the same time, Hispanics constitute a growing proportion of the vote, and alienating them could be tantamount to committing political suicide. These are people the Republican Party desperately wants to attract.

I had the pleasure of being the one to inform a Puerto Rican colleague about the Sotomayor nomination. "It's about time," she said, and grinned with pride.

Let's see now...who wants to be the pol who will be remembered for standing in the way of history?

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May 20, 2009

Bush's first 100 days...eight years ago

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Even cartoonists need a vacation now and then.

I thought that while I was away from the blog, it might be edifying to post a few cartoons from a parallel period in our history, specifically, the end of President Bush’s first one-hundred days eight years ago.

One can almost forget that this occurred during the brief period (eight months) between his inauguration and the 9/11 tragedy, which subsequently defined his tenure in the White House.

At this point, people were beginning to question Bush’s competence, and whether his administration actually stood for anything.

The bitterness of the 2000 election loss was still fresh in the minds of the losing side.

POSTED IN: Bush's first 100 days (5)

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May 19, 2009

Bush's first 100 days...eight years ago

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Even cartoonists need a vacation now and then.

I thought that while I was away from the blog, it might be edifying to post a few cartoons from a parallel period in our history, specifically, the end of President Bush’s first one-hundred days eight years ago.

One can almost forget that this occurred during the brief period (eight months) between his inauguration and the 9/11 tragedy, which subsequently defined his tenure in the White House.

At this point, people were beginning to question Bush’s competence, and whether his administration actually stood for anything.

The bitterness of the 2000 election loss was still fresh in the minds of the losing side.

POSTED IN: Bush's first 100 days (5)

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May 18, 2009

Bush's first 100 days...eight years ago

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Even cartoonists need a vacation now and then.

I thought that while I was away from the blog, it might be edifying to post a few cartoons from a parallel period in our history, specifically, the end of President Bush’s first one-hundred days eight years ago.

One can almost forget that this occurred during the brief period (eight months) between his inauguration and the 9/11 tragedy, which subsequently defined his tenure in the White House.

At this point, people were beginning to question Bush’s competence, and whether his administration actually stood for anything.

The bitterness of the 2000 election loss was still fresh in the minds of the losing side.

POSTED IN: Bush's first 100 days (5)

Discuss this entry

Bush's first 100 days...eight years ago

maychan08bcopy.gif

Even cartoonists need a vacation now and then.

I thought that while I was away from the blog, it might be edifying to post a few cartoons from a parallel period in our history, specifically, the end of President Bush’s first one-hundred days eight years ago.

One can almost forget that this occurred during the brief period (eight months) between his inauguration and the 9/11 tragedy, which subsequently defined his tenure in the White House.

At this point, people were beginning to question Bush’s competence, and whether his administration actually stood for anything.

The bitterness of the 2000 election loss was still fresh in the minds of the losing side.

POSTED IN: Bush's first 100 days (5)

Discuss this entry

May 15, 2009

Bush's first 100 days...eight years ago

maychan01bcopy.gif

Even cartoonists need a vacation now and then.

I thought that while I was away from the blog, it might be edifying to post a few cartoons from a parallel period in our history, specifically, the end of President Bush’s first one-hundred days eight years ago.

One can almost forget that this occurred during the brief period (eight months) between his inauguration and the 9/11 tragedy, which subsequently defined his tenure in the White House.

At this point, people were beginning to question Bush’s competence, and whether his administration actually stood for anything.

The bitterness of the 2000 election loss was still fresh in the minds of the losing side.

POSTED IN: Bush's first 100 days (5)

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May 14, 2009

Dick Cheney's Republican Party

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A strange thing about Dick Cheney (OK, another strange thing about Dick Cheney), is that when he was in public service, he went to enormous lengths to keep everything private.

Now that he's a private citizen, he's trying to make everything public, to the point of declassifying documents that would prove torturing prisoners made the country safer.

Then there's this so-called "battle for the soul of the Republican Party," which is a lot like arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, since nobody can really prove that the Republican Party has a soul in the first place. Or, if it once had a soul, maybe it sold it to Dick Cheney.

Cheney's condemnation of a truly heroic public servant, Colin Powell, as not being a "real Republican," says more about what has happened to the Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Rockefeller, Goldwater and Reagan than about Powell.

The only member of the former administration who seems to have distinguished himself in the post-Bush period is W. himself, and he has done so by wisely keeping his mouth shut (unless he's in front of wealthy foreigners, who pay him to open it).

Cheney could learn a little something from his former junior partner.

POSTED IN: Dick Cheney (11)

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May 13, 2009

Gov. Charlie goes to Washington...maybe

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Whether Charlie Crist serves as governor or U.S. Senator really isn't that important. He hasn't exactly covered himself with glory as a leader in Tallahassee, and he's likely to be pretty lackluster in Washington as well.

There is a sense that he's cutting and running (to use a Republican turn of phrase) just when the going is toughest...maybe anybody else would do the same, under the circumstances.

Senators aren't term-limited, and Floridians tend to reelect their senatorial incumbents for life just because they recognize their name on the ballot.

Then, there's the talk about his possible run for the presidency. To me, he doesn't seem to carry the mass for that kind of job. Maybe the new Mrs. Crist, who is rumored to have aspirations to be First Lady, will provide him with the gravitas and "fire in the belly" to lunge for the brass ring.

In any case, he'll look smooth and debonair in a tux at all those Washington parties. That counts for a lot in the corridors of power.

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May 12, 2009

Tweet, tweet...you're history

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I'm sick of Twitter. I'm sick of hearing about it. If it's true that social networking is going to revolutionize the way we communicate, then we deserve what we get.

I've already discussed the coarsening of civilization thanks to this e-bomination. It looks like those of us troglodytes who don't understand the need to share the intimate details of our lives in banal microbursts with thousands of "followers" are fighting a losing battle.

As for intimacy, I'm sure somebody has figured out how to have cybersex in 140 characters or less. No need anymore to soften them up with dinner and a movie first--and we wonder why the economy's in trouble.

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May 11, 2009

The coming fight over health care

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The health care industry is throwing words like "socialized" around to scare people into hanging onto the status quo, where there's money to be made.

There are two problems with this argument: First, the cold war ended twenty years ago, so "socialized" doesn't carry quite the menacing "Rooskies hiding under the bed" sting that it used to.

Second, we watch our Canadian and European friends make life decisions--like retirement--based on when it's best for them, rather than being forced to work until they can crawl across that bridge to Medicare.

Them ungodly socialistic types also rest easier when they lose their jobs, knowing that state benefits will kick in to protect them from starvation, and that their children can still see a doctor even if they're unemployed. Assuming that meeting these basic needs is what the state is primarily there for, then socialism doesn't look so bad, after all.

As for the "your taxes will skyrocket" argument, to me it's semantic. Taxes, health care premiums--either way, they get taken out of your paycheck. If, by calling them "taxes," they guarantee me and my family health care no matter what my employment status, then sign me up. Chances are they'll be less than the combination of premiums, co-pays, and "your provider charges more than the standard accepted rate for your region" dodges.

And finally, if single-payer "socialized" health care is so bad for us, why are the private insurers fighting hammer and tong to prevent that option from being passed into law? Could it be that we might get something closer to our money's worth?

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May 8, 2009

Bristol Palin touts sexual abstinence!

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You have to hand it to Bristol Palin. Like her mom, she's an expert at turning a sow's ear into a silk purse.

All teens do stupid things. Bristol figured out a way to get paid for talking about her stupid thing, in the form of giving a public service announcement extolling (choke!) teen sexual abstinence.

I don't know if young Bristol's trying to help burnish her mother's image for a presidential run in 2012, but if I were Sarah Palin, I'd be trying to keep her out of the spotlight.

After all, Sarah's shooting for the Republican primary, with all those pinch-mouthed morals voters, and having an unwed teen mother in the family displays a decidedly liberal-style cavalier attitude toward what is good and proper.

But then, if you're Sarah Palin, the Great Foxy Hope for the Conservative Future, they can bend the rules a little. Bristol's "situation" becomes a joyous celebration of life.

Now, if we could just get the girl to fly to Vermont and marry a woman...

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May 7, 2009

The Afghanistan mess

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It just shows you that no matter who is in the White House, our republic--with all its awesome and high-priced might--remains at a disadvantage when it comes to asymmetrical warfare.

What do you do if you're the Taliban, you're armed with rocket-propelled grenades and maybe some old Enfield rifles the British left behind back in the Nineteenth Century, and you're fighting a foe who has precision missiles that can rain down destruction from the sky with no advance notice, obliterating an entire crowd?

You make sure the crowd he obliterates is the wrong one.

Remember, this battle is for hearts and minds, not body counts. You use jiujitsu, turning the aggressor's own bulk and momentum against him. Enough of these little mistakes, and pretty soon the whole country sees you as the heroic defender of innocent women and children.

What are a few thousand more deaths in a country that has suffered so much already, especially if they serve a strategic goal? The locals don't know the Twin Towers from the Doublemint Twins, and when you say "terrorism," they look at all the bodies of their friends and loved ones that need to be buried.

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May 6, 2009

The death of Tri-Rail?

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We tried to give it a permanent source of funding with a $2 tax on rental cars.

Yes, Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, the three serviced by Tri-Rail, were willing to tax themselves. Well, they were willing to tax tourists who came and rented cars, but it's a small point.

The Republican-dominated legislature, which had to approve the self-taxation, felt we needed to be rescued from our own folly, and refused to sign off on the plan. Why? The old anti-tax philosophy. What happened to government staying out of the people's business? I thought that was Republican philosophy, too.

Then Tri-Rail got caught up in some petty tit-for-tat ego battle between pols over a similar system in Central Florida. We don't get ours, then you won't get yours.

It's all very childish. Remember that as you creep down I-95 past those lovely abandoned stations.

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May 5, 2009

The Casey Anthony trial, coming to a venue near you

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This blog is often Florida-centric, since as editorial cartoonist for a regional daily, I need to remain mindful of the interests of my print readership.

It is a happy moment when local news morphs into national. This happens not infrequently here in the Sixth Borough of Paradise--the Butterfly Ballot and Anna Nicole Smith are two subjects that immediately come to mind.

If Casey Anthony's lawyer's request for a change of venue is granted, the whole dog and pony show may move from Orlando into our backyard--along with the paparazzi, TV crews, international media, and the usual carnival train of hangers-on and scam artists that accompanies spectacles of this magnitude.

Paging Judge Seidlin.

The Anthony case holds no interest for me. Mrs. Lowe-Down, on the other hand, is addicted to the criminal porn shows, like Issues With Jane Velez Mitchell and the eponymous Nancy Grace, driving The Lowe-Down into his garage workshop for refuge.

At the beginning of each program (I hear this in the background, mind you), Nancy marches through a set-piece litany recapping the major events in the Anthony psychodrama. I remember one line in particular, "little Caylee's body, duct-taped and stuffed into a garbage bag, LIKE TRASH!" She could open a side business selling rosary beads for viewers to finger while they recite the liturgy along with her.

Anyway, who am I to complain? Tourism is tourism, and we'll take it anywhere we can find it. O Judge, in thy boundless wisdom which passeth all understanding, please grant Casey's petition...


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May 4, 2009

We have a Caption Contest Grand Prize Winner!

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Yes, after almost eight hundred submissions and even more votes cast, I'm pleased to announce that the Grand Prize Winner of the Official Lowe-Down 25th Anniversary Cartoon Caption Contest is Brenda West of Delray Beach, FL.

Brenda's offering garnered a plurality of forty-four percent of the total vote. Brenda not only wins an official blog t-shirt as a finalist, but a pair of movie passes that the theatre may or may not honor when she gets to the door. Or she can have the Morikami Gardens membership. Or both, unless one of the other finalists wants it.

The contest cartoon is displayed here with her winning caption.

The contest was not without controversy. The three finalists chosen by the elite panel of experienced journalists (Editorial Writer Gary Stein, Opinion Editor Antonio Fins and myself) were received with mixed feelings. In fact, there was derision from all quarters: "Is that the best you can do?" "Those choices suck!" "You're all showing your liberal bias!"

As for the last comment, we honestly tried to find at least one caption that both denigrated liberals and was really funny, but since conservatives generally view humor with suspicion, it seems they're just not that good at it.

All this goes to show that in this glorious tapestry we call America (Yecch...did I really write that?), you can't even have an innocuous cartoon caption contest without somebody getting his nose out of joint about it.

In an interesting postcript, some contestants simply refused to give up, and continued to submit more captions for days after the entry period had ended. Some helpfully suggested that theirs were better than the mediocrities we had chosen, and should be substituted for same. My readers are not the kind to take a deadline supinely.

In the final analysis, I applaud and thank all readers who got involved; whether it be those who made constructive contributions or those who just threw bombs.

Next time, maybe I'll just have the readers vote for the top three finalists from all the entries. I think I also speak for Stein and Fins when I say that we'd be more than happy to let you spend the long hours sifting through them.

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Abortion, Supreme Court

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Remember Deep Throat's dictum in All The President's Men? "Follow the money!"

That's what's really behind every Supreme Court fight. Why is it that abortion becomes the number-one criterion for determining whether or not a prospective justice is qualified for the bench...rather than intellect, judicial temperament, scholarship, rigorous analytical powers, or any of the other qualities one might want in someone who occupies such a weighty position?

It's because a Supreme Court opening is the greatest opportunity of all to whip up a frenzy among the respective bases, who then reach reflexively for their checkbooks. It's high-stakes bingo time, folks. Lest we forget, the nominee is ultimately confirmed by politicians. Herein we see both the genius and the Achilles heel of the system designed by the Founding Fathers.

The Achilles heel is that we place so much importance on one subject when a Justice, during his or her career, will wield awesome authority to shape our country and its laws as they pertain to a whole raft of issues.

The genius is that the system encourages the nomination of less extreme candidates, because the President fears the loss of face and prestige if his nominee is rejected, particularly when his own party holds the majority in the Senate.

The best part is that it's bound to be a circus, and we'll all have front-row seats at center ring.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199)

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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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