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The Lowe Down


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December 31, 2009

Chan Lowe "encore" cartoon IV

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While the Lowe-Down is using up the last of his vacation days for the year, here is a selection of cartoons from December 2004 to keep you busy.

MEANWHILE, GEAR UP FOR AN EXCITING LOWE-DOWN YEAR-OPENER CAPTION CONTEST, LAUNCHING ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2010! Win prizes, be famous!

More information to follow shortly.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 30, 2009

Chan Lowe "encore" cartoon III

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While the Lowe-Down is using up the last of his vacation days for the year, here is a selection of cartoons from December 2004 to keep you busy.

MEANWHILE, GEAR UP FOR AN EXCITING LOWE-DOWN YEAR-OPENER CAPTION CONTEST, LAUNCHING ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2010! Win prizes, be famous!

More information to follow shortly.


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 29, 2009

Chan Lowe "encore" cartoon II

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While the Lowe-Down is using up the last of his vacation days for the year, here is a selection of cartoons from December 2004 to keep you busy.

MEANWHILE, GEAR UP FOR AN EXCITING LOWE-DOWN YEAR-OPENER CAPTION CONTEST, LAUNCHING ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2010! Win prizes, be famous!

More information to follow shortly.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 28, 2009

Chan Lowe "encore" cartoon

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While the Lowe-Down is using up the last of his vacation days for the year, here is a selection of cartoons from December 2004 to keep you busy.

MEANWHILE, GEAR UP FOR AN EXCITING LOWE-DOWN YEAR-OPENER CAPTION CONTEST, LAUNCHING ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2010! Win prizes, be famous!

More information to follow shortly.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 24, 2009

Chan Lowe: Hi-tech gift of the future

hitech.gifWay back in the 1960's, I read a sci-fi story about a scientist, far in the future, who comes in to the Pentagon to talk to the Joint Chiefs about this ground-breaking weapon he's developed.

He requests a piece of paper and a pencil, and asks them to throw any numbers they want at him. Using only the pencil and paper, he multiplies and does long division for them, providing the answers within a few seconds.

The military types whip out their pocket calculators to validate his findings, and by golly, the scientist has come up with the right answer every time.

They immediately swear the man to secrecy and classify his "weapon", for fear an enemy might take advantage by jamming all the electronic impulses in the world, yet still be able to make those strategic mathematical calculations without the aid of devices.

Here's something nobody has thought of, as far as I know: Remember the book burnings in Nazi Germany in the 1930's? Once we're all dutifully reading on our Kindles, all a dictator will have to do to control our sources of information is to edit the streaming feed.

So much more efficient, and it spares us the greenhouse gases, too.

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December 23, 2009

Tiger Woods

barbara.gifFame--and infamy--are all about narrative. A savvy celeb who intends to remain in the game weaves an easily digestible narrative about him- or herself for public consumption, and sticks with it.

We all knew Bill Clinton was a serial philanderer and a liar, but while the Monica Lewinsky story captivated us, it didn't cut to the quick the way the Tiger Woods story does.

Why? Because Clinton's defiling of the Oval Office sanctum was merely a sin of degree. It shocked us, but it was in character.

Tiger Woods has spent his career spinning a squeaky-clean image for the purposes of creating a brand that sponsors would wish to associate with. When he was found to be a cad, and a multiple-repeat offender at that, it ran contrary to the myth.

To many people, he represented everything that was good and clean and decent about professional sports. Kids even played with Tiger action figures and dreamed of growing up to be like him someday. Not just rich, but wholesome.

But they were confusing the character with the man. When we looked at Bill Clinton, we knew exactly what we were seeing. Bill never let us down, because he couldn't.

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December 22, 2009

global warming, climate change

santa.gifWe've all seen those cataclysm movies, where an asteroid or a comet is on a collision course with Earth.

A messianic world leader with the gravitas of, say, Morgan Freeman gathers all the nations together and exhorts them to pool their resources to face the common threat. Mankind, in an unprecedented display of cooperation, acts as we always wish he would and manages to deliver himself from doom at the last minute.

Well, that isn't going to happen with climate change, because the effects are so gradual that the threat doesn't seem real, even though it's far more genuine and immediate than that asteroid.

While we slouch toward the end of days, nations have plenty of time to indulge their selfish economic interests, zealously protecting the status quo for their own people--their jobs, their sovereignty, their place in the pecking order.

It's only natural to look out for your own--that is, when you don't have the imagination to see beyond the horizon and realize that the best way to protect your own is to protect everyone.

That quote from colonial times is most appropriate now: "We either hang together, or we hang separately."

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December 21, 2009

Wall Street, bonuses, financial

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Since we are now in the shank of the Christmas season, it seems fitting to open today's sermon with a bible lesson:

Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

That's all very nice, but the fact is there aren't any camels in Lower Manhattan--unless they're the kind you smoke outside a Wall Street bar after a hard day's trading, and you're just killing time with a glass of single malt and a butt before you hop the 6:22 to your estate in Westport.

As for needles, you might have been able to find some on Seventh Avenue back before the American garment industry was outsourced to overseas sweatshops, but the rag trade is pretty much dead now.

And the Kingdom of Heaven? Who needs that when you've got everything you could possibly desire in the here and now?

So, Merry Christmas from all the rest of us who stand outside in the cold with our noses pressed against the glass.


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Annual Lowe-Lights running this Sunday!

This post is for those of my readers who also happen to have subscriptions to the Sun Sentinel, or who buy single copies on the street.

This coming Sunday, our Outlook section will feature my annual Lowe-Lights look back at the year in cartoons. This year, we added a new twist: instead of my picking my favorites, we allowed the editors of national publications to weigh in.

Specifically, we are running cartoons that also ran nationally in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Time. com, and on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.

Accompanying several of the cartoons are brief excerpts from the blog commentary I wrote when they first ran. Of course, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you won't need to read any of that stuff.

At the very least, you will have an actual printed selection of my work to do with as you wish; frame it, line your birdcage with it, whatever.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: General Topics (188)

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December 18, 2009

Health care reform, medical, insurance

rx.gifIt's the nature of the beast.

The Republican Party--at least until now--has tended to be more homogeneous in ideology than the Democrats. They've always been better at marching in formation and saluting when told to by their leaders.

The Democrats are, by necessity, a coalition. Labor unions, immigrants, minorities, wealthy Upper-West-Siders, tree-huggers, gays--they band together loosely and sometimes get along with each other in hopes of persuading others in the party to back their own agendas.

It's a fragile construct, and when confronted by something enormously complex like health care reform, interests collide and it can easily break apart. With exactly sixty votes in the senate, there is no room whatsoever for error.

Down deep, I think President Obama is willing to settle for anything, as long as it's written on a piece of paper he can sign with a flourish, take credit, and move on to other priorities.

Maybe the Republicans are right when they say the Democrats can't govern. Then again, I haven't seen any remarkable statesmanship out of them over the last decade, either.

POSTED IN: Medical (50)

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December 17, 2009

Crist, Rubio, GOP, Florida, Senate, Republican, primary

warmer.gifHe was supposed to be a shoo-in.

Everybody knows his name. He's the tapioca pudding of politics...nobody loves him, but nobody finds him that offensive, either. Therein lies Charlie's potential downfall: When all you stand for is being affable and trying to please everyone, you end up standing for nothing.

If that little speed bump they call a primary didn't exist, Charlie could be measuring the drapes for his U.S. Senate office as you read this. As everyone knows, however, party primaries on both sides are the preserves of true believers and nut cases (nobody else cares), which means they are rich feeding grounds for the more dogmatic candidates.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Marco Rubio's insurgent campaign prevails and he becomes the Republican Party's candidate for the November 2010 general election. He will doubtless follow the Republican playbook originally penned by Richard Nixon, which is to tack to the center after winning the primary. An electorate just beginning to get engaged by October will forget--or never know--that he sounded like a right-wing crazy a year before.

Ironically, his positions by then will probably be indistinguishable from the those of the governor, who will have nothing to blame but his own lackluster performance for his failure.

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December 16, 2009

Lieberman the lackey

lieber.gifIt's to be expected that a U.S. Senator will look out for the welfare of his home state's main industry, but there are limits of propriety.

Joe Lieberman has shielded the big Connecticut insurance companies with the zeal of a coal-state politician throwing roadblocks in the way of clean energy legislation.

He denies that he is an insurance lackey, declaring with his characteristic grating sanctimony that he is simply doing what he thinks is best for the country.

Nevertheless, it is hard to see how making sure the public option never sees the light of day helps the American people, especially those of us who pay ever-spiraling health insurance premiums. He has not given us a sound reason for his obstructionism, hence we are forced to come to our own conclusions.

He doesn't seem to care that he may be vilified for the ages by many American families who will now lie at the mercy of an industry unfettered by real competition, yet which is blessed with a law that will require everyone to have coverage.. Now, that's what I call a conscience of steel.

If Connecticut voters ever come to their senses and kick him to the curb where he belongs, don't feel sorry for him. No doubt there's a nice directorship waiting for him in one of those big glass buildings in Hartford.

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December 15, 2009

Rothstein cartoon: Media gone wild

cellblock.gifIt's only right that we ink pushers poke fun at ourselves once in a while.

Seriously, this is one of the biggest stories to hit South Florida since...Anna Nicole, at least. The recession has affected us all. News people are susceptible to the unrelentingly depressing news just like everyone else.

But ever since Scott Rothstein melted down, my friends over on the Metro Desk have had a glint in their eye, a glow in their cheeks, a spring in their step. Suddenly it's fun to be a journalist again.

We're gonna ride this wave all the way to the Mojave Desert. If you've already had enough of this story, then move on to something sexier--like health care, global warming or unemployment. I bet you'll come back.

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December 14, 2009

Bonuses, bailouts, banks, Wall Street

bonux.gifSome philosopher once put forth the notion that there is no such thing as "reality" in the objective sense; everything is perception, filtered through personal experience.

Was it Kirkegaard? Dunno for sure. After this long out of college, I can barely remember how to spell his name.

Anyway, if your world view is circumscribed by the borders of the bedroom counties of the Tri-State Area, with maybe the Washington Beltway thrown in, it could very easily look like the recession is over to you.

If you're one of those talking heads on the news gab shows, repeatedly asserting that we're on the upswing even when the rest of us think you're smoking something, chances are that you and all of the other swells you share canapes with at chi-chi cocktail parties are connected to Wall Street in some way.

Just look at the ads for all those fancy one-of-a-kind wristwatches in the New York Times these days, any one of which would pay the family heating bill for the entire winter in, say, Detroit. They can only mean one thing: The bonuses are flowing!

And if you ever run into some poor taxpayer on the street who asks you the time of day, please tell him. He deserves it.

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December 10, 2009

Obama snags the Nobel Peace Prize

nobelz.gifMaybe those besotted Nobel panelists got the Obama charm dust sprinkled in their eyes when he made that campaign lap through Europe in 2008.

What better way to demonstrate the hipness of the Peace Prize than to give it to the biggest rock star going at the time...bigger than Bono, even.

That was then. They might have had second thoughts after Surge II, Afghan Version, but it's poor form to yank it after it's been awarded and the guy's already been fitted for his white tie and tails.

At least the honoree had the grace to point out the, um, awkwardness of it all in his acceptance speech, and it'll never come close to the embarrassment suffered after they gave it in a three-way split to Yasser Arafat, who probably melted his third of the medal into bullets or something.

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents bought you new sneakers a couple of sizes too big because they knew your feet would eventually grow into them? And you spent a few months tripping over the big, floppy toes?

Maybe we should think of it like that.

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December 9, 2009

Delray menorah misstep

menorah.gifWe've already dealt with the holiday greetings issue; a variant is the Religious Symbols in Public Spaces brouhaha.

Any of these controversies, which return with depressing regularity every year, could be resolved with a little openness of thought and consideration for one's neighbors, but unfortunately neither of these qualities characterizes life in our subtropical paradise. As one of my comment-posters put it the other day, "here in South Florida I'm just grateful to see social interaction that doesn't involve someone getting the finger."

One still has to be taken aback by the tone-deafness of the city of Delray Beach, which neglected to place a menorah alongside its "holiday tree" in Old School Square. The city manager even cited a legal argument that displaying a menorah would leave a loophole for fringe groups to demand that their symbols be included.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a menorah, like a "holiday tree," is not a religious symbol, which renders that argument invalid. I think most reasonable people would agree that both are indeed religious symbols, but even so, who cares? Either put them all up, or don't display any of them.

The harm done to any group of citizens that has been left out of the mix is a far worse affront to the public than a city simply staying out of the religious display business altogether.

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December 8, 2009

EPA, greenhouse gases, global warming

smog.gifAs expected, nothing gets my readers' knickers more tightly knotted up than any mention of the International Com-Symp Liberal Egghead Hacked-Email Global Warming Conspiracy.

Except maybe something about health care reform.

Anyway, since it seems to be climate change week, one has to wonder about this earth-shattering pronouncement by the EPA that greenhouse gases are harmful to public health.

I realize that they're merely setting the legal stage for regulation of our precious CO and CO2 emissions, which many Americans hold dear, but anybody who has ever tried putting a hose from his exhaust pipe into his car window knows the stuff is bad for you.

If you ask me, it's just one more case of an intrusive government attempting to dictate what's best and worst for us. It all started when we let them fluoridate our drinking water.

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December 7, 2009

Blowing smoke at Copenhagen

copenhagen.gifSo it's down to us and the Chinese as the biggest offenders.

Only, the Chinese--being no fools--have begun investing heavily in alternative-energy industries even while they continue to befoul the environment. They are actually implementing a green jobs program that that Socialist in the White House can only dream about.

The Chinese political system isn't hobbled by self-interested senators from energy-producing states who hold enormous sway in government policy, so they are more supple than we are when it comes to turning the ship of state around, at least in this regard.

Besides, we all know that climate change is a hoax, anyway, so let the other fools invest in windmills and solar mirrors and hamster treadmills or whatever. We've got jobs in the mines and the oil patch to protect, and nowadays, nobody wants to interfere with the jobs we've still got.

And what if we're wrong, and it isn't a hoax? That's the beauty of it: nobody's gonna know until it's too late. And those who may find out the hard way either aren't born yet, or they're still too young to vote.

Party on.

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December 4, 2009

Rothstein side-benefits

quake.gifIt isn't enough that those who appear to be leading perfect, enviable lives are knocked off their pedestals.

Let's face it: the real satisfaction comes from watching them crash and burn because they did it to themselves, thanks to their own inherent moral weaknesses, as though they were characters in a Shakespearean morality play.

This is why we are so fascinated by the Tiger Woods story. He had it all, but it still wasn't enough. It sure would've been enough for you and me, right?

Scott Rothstein is equally fascinating... a whole empire built on chutzpah and quicksand. None of us would ever have done such a thing, so he's getting what he deserves, all right. Yessiree.

For those of us here in the cheap seats, we're finally getting our money's worth out of our taxes. The feds are going to draw this saga out for our continuing enjoyment. We get to gawk while all those champagne-swilling, caviar-slurping swells who went along for the ride finger each other like rats in a cage in their scramble to stay out of the slammer.

Why, we haven't had this much fun since Gov. Sanford did his last tango in Buenos Aires.

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December 3, 2009

Chan Lowe: The education of Barack Obama

idea.gifIt isn't so much the passage of time that has caused the scales to fall from Barack Obama's eyes; it's the view.

Things look a lot different from behind that big, heavy desk in the Oval Office than they do on the campaign trail.

Out on the stump, you can pretty much say whatever you want, attack whomever you want for whatever policy or character flaw, and the only thing you have to worry about is your continued credibility with your listeners. And oh, how they love it when you throw them a fat chunk of red meat.

Once in that hot seat, though, you're confronted with a kaleidoscope of moving parts never dreamt of in your philosophy, and you have to start worrying about things like what's good for the country, not only your base.

Your base just doesn't get it. They don't understand how the dominoes work over there. If you explained it to them the way it's been explained to you, they wouldn't believe it, anyway. But you can't blow them off, because you need them to bend over and give up something for you on health care.

So you sit there at the intersection of domestic politics and global strategy, trying to thread the needle in a windstorm.

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December 2, 2009

Chan Lowe: Holidays, schmolidays

kwanz.gif’Tis the season to be overly sensitive.

Here in South Florida, where collections of cultures and creeds live in uncomfortable proximity, the holiday season is an annual endurance test fraught with politically-incorrect pitfalls.

Every December, various groups have major holidays that happen to fall close to one another.

In our zeal not to offend anyone by offering the wrong salutation, we have reverted to the default phrase, “Happy Holidays,” which in its insipidness displays not only insincerity, but also an implicit fear of our differences.

I live in a neighborhood that has a high proportion of Jewish residents. When one of my neighbors wishes me “Happy Hanukkah,” I accept it with the same cheer as I would “Merry Christmas.”

Why? Because I know it comes from the heart. It’s all about the giver offering something of value--goodwill--to the recipient. Who am I to quibble about the brand?

I suggest everyone wish each other the happy returns of the season in the manner that best suits the giver’s core identity. That way, your listener will know you’re serious.

There is a famous Sanskrit saying that goes something like this: “There is one Truth. Wise men call it by many names.” The key word here is “wise.” Those who--because of their own limitations--are unable to grasp that concept will decide that they’d rather be offended than honored.

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December 1, 2009

Chan Lowe: Condign punishment for the White House party crashers

crashers.gifThe Balloon Boy and Party Crasher episodes tell us something about the media, consumers of media, and the same base urges in human beings that create rubbernecker slowdowns when there's a juicy wreck on the other side of the Interstate.

"Give them bread and circuses," one Roman emperor prescribed for keeping a deprived citizenry quiescent. Even in a lousy economy, people will always pay good money to see a five-legged calf, a bearded lady, or a peep show on the midway.

Clever folks can parlay a good gimmick into a sweet payday if they know how to play the game. At the very least, they can get the attention they crave. They know that the Larry Kings, the Good Morning Americas, and all the other media outlets (yes, even newspapers) have a symbiotic relationship with fresh, fascinating content.

How do you slap the brakes on when things get potentially dangerous, like the crasher episode? You can't stop the media...remember the First Amendment? Instead, throw the book at the perps. Prosecute, convict, and sentence. There's nothing like the prospect of a little jail time to dampen the ambitions of would-be copycats.

A big mistake, by the way, was to humiliate the Secret Service. Yes, they've taken the blame and apologized, but hell hath no fury like a federal agency that's been made a fool of.

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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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