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

The Lowe Down


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April 30, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Gulf oil spill

spill.gifEvery disaster is abstract until it happens.

It can be demagogued, exploited, twisted, disputed, trivialized and even ignored when it is still theoretical.

Now, as the tendrils of oil approach the coast of the southeastern United States⎯ with heartbreaking pictures of petroleum-soaked wildlife struggling ashore on ruined beaches sure to follow⎯ everybody from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of history.

Drill, baby, drill? Whoever said that? It’s so 2008.

The reality that our insatiable energy demands require us to drill in the Gulf in the first place provides a perfect segue to something I witnessed on the way to work this morning: Here in Florida we have these gorgeous trees called tabebuias that bloom an electric yellow for a few weeks, then drop all their petals to the ground, creating an enormous mess.

I passed a shopping center where a maintenance worker was cleaning up after one of these things. Rather than rake up the petals and dispose of them, he was using a gasoline-powered blower to disperse them off the property and into the street--where they became everyone else’s problem, meaning no one’s problem.

So, after all the fuel was burned and the additional greenhouse gases were released into the atmosphere, absolutely nothing of value was accomplished.

How perfectly American.

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April 29, 2010

Chan Lowe: Charlie goes Independent

charlieind.gif

As of this writing, it looks like Charlie has decided to go rogue.

A mere three weeks ago (an eon in political time), he was telling us that he was and always would be a Republican. But then, he was also saying that teacher merit pay was a great idea for Florida's schoolchildren. He's a professional politician...what do you expect?

Being an unprincipled moderate means that pesky things like ideology never stand in your way. This can be both an advantage and an Achilles' heel. It affords extraordinary flexibility to someone who uses the same common sense most of us would to solve problems and forge sensible compromises.

It also means that certain officeholders can never be depended on to do anything courageous in the face of strong public opposition. There are times, believe it or not, when the public doesn't know what's best for it. Sometimes people in government, who are supposed to make it their business to be well informed, can grasp the nuances and ramifications of issues in a way that rises above the raw, self-interested emotion of the masses.

Then, they act in a way they think is best for the country, rather than their own political futures.

Which type of person is Charlie Crist? That's something the voters will have to decide in November.


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April 28, 2010

Chan Lowe: Red light cameras

redlightx.gifFor a party that likes to scare the bejeezus out of people with horror stories about socialist government takeover of our lives, the Republicans are capable of some pretty Orwellian moves in their own right.

Just today, the Florida Senate passed a bill requiring that a woman who is about to get an abortion must receive an ultrasound first, and pay for it herself.

At least they threw in an exception for rape and incest (as long as she can prove it…I guess that means she has to get the relative or rapist to sign a notarized affidavit).

And let’s not forget the Terri Schiavo episode (perhaps one the GOP would prefer to bury for all time), which pushed government intrusion into private decision-making to breathtaking limits (What was that line they use? Oh, yeah-- “Do you want a bureaucrat getting between you and your doctor?”).

Now our Republican legislature, with alacrity, has passed a bill allowing red-light cameras at intersections. Motorists will be automatically ticketed for infractions. The ever-present eye in the sky.

Had Democrats proposed this idea, it would have been shouted down as Big Brotherism. Let’s bear in mind, however, that under the new law, the state receives a huge portion of the revenue from the tickets.

Suddenly it’s a safety issue. Well, let's make sure we're not too safe, or the whole thing will be a wasted investment.

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April 27, 2010

Chan Lowe: Betting against America

goldman.gifMorality is for losers.

It’s an artificial code of principles dreamed up by weaklings in an attempt to deny their superiors the unbridled bounty that is theirs by divine right.

Why divine? Because God obviously gave them the intelligence to dream up a system whereby they could enrich themselves through the labor of others, and then enrich themselves even further by gaming the very system they created.

At least, that’s what they believe on Wall Street.

You have to figure that outfits like Goldman Sachs have engendered some hard feelings among their colleagues on the Street, for several reasons.

First, they devised financial instruments so exotic that nobody could really understand them (including the SEC, which threw up its hands in despair and resorted to downloading pornography), sold them to unwitting customers, and then bet in competing arrangements that these same constructs would fail.

This act, by its sheer brazenness, poisoned the well for everybody. “Betting against America” is something even the clods out in flyover country can understand.

Even Wall Street’s pet poodles in Congress are distancing themselves. They’re talking regulation, which means many more millions will have to be spent on lobbyists to make sure the new laws have loopholes large enough to drive a stretch limo through.

Second, the other players are looking at the Blankfeins of the world and smacking themselves. “The man’s a genius,” they’re snarling over their single malt whiskeys. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

And this, for any self-respecting Master of the Universe, is the bitterest pill of all.

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April 26, 2010

Chan Lowe: Civics, schmivics.

civics.gifHere’s a game you can play the next time you are having a conversation with someone who is ranting about out-of-control government not heeding the will of the people:

Ask them who their member of Congress is. Chances are better than even that you’ll get either a blank stare, or the name of somebody they may have heard of on TV, like John Paul Stevens.

If you really want to have some fun, say: “OK, I’ll make it easy for you. Name one of Florida’s three U.S. Senators.”

Again, the blank stare.

Government is made up of human beings, and being human, they’re only going to do the right thing if they’re accountable to someone. An ignorant, disengaged populace is a lamb waiting to be fleeced.

It's practically criminal that Florida does not require any basic civics curriculum in its schools. Some county systems require it, but it shouldn’t be left to them to decide that it’s necessary. One could almost suspect the Legislature, for nefarious reasons, of deliberately trying to keep the masses in the dark.

Civics isn’t some arcane package of useless knowledge. Unless you know the mechanics of how you’re governed, you will never be able to take control of your life. If you really want to bring government to its knees, taking up arms is nothing compared to the power of the collective vote.

Those people in Washington, D.C. who supposedly ignore your wishes didn’t crown themselves emperor, like Napoleon. Somebody voted them in, and if it wasn’t you, then it would be wise to keep your complaining to yourself.


POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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April 23, 2010

Chan Lowe: SEC porn shenanigans

sec.gifIf this is what passes for regulatory oversight in the federal government, you have to wonder why Wall Street is paying so many top-dollar lobbyists to fight it.

Now it comes out that while cracks were appearing in the financial bubble's fragile walls, senior staffers at the Securities Exchange Commission were web surfing and downloading porn for as much as eight hours a day.

In one case, when his government hard drive hit capacity, a regulator began downloading his trove onto disks.

It gives a whole new meaning to "spreadsheet."

To add insult to taxpayer injury, these people get paid a lot more than most of us in the private sector could ever hope to earn, they have job security, their health care is comparable to the average European's, and they will have a nice pension to tide them over in the twilight years when they can take their smutty DVDs home and peruse them at their leisure.

Nice work if you can get it. I should have listened to my college roommate when he told me to major in economics.

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April 22, 2010

Chan Lowe: Immigration policy

nachos.gifA nation is within its rights to preserve the integrity of its borders in the face of intruders. A people are entitled to preserve their culture, their language, and especially to prosper from the fruit of their labors without a tide of uninvited foreigners coming in and, through sheer force of numbers, overwhelming the existing populace.

Just ask the Indians.

Because our nation either lacks the means or the political will to make our borders truly impermeable, the job of weeding out the unwanted has been left to individual states, like Arizona. In desperation, these states are more likely to look to their self-interest than to observe the niceties of the Bill of Rights.

Maybe from a fed-up Arizonan’s point of view, their new, draconian laws make sense. From a distance, they look inhumane, demeaning, xenophobic, racist and actually kind of scary to anyone who values the rights and protections guaranteed to us under the Constitution.

Chances are that in their zeal to rid their state of illegal aliens, Arizona law enforcement authorities will unintentionally sweep a number of innocent American citizens into their dragnet.

Unlike Europeans, Americans are not in the habit of carrying national identity papers around with them proving their citizenship. What will happen under this new regime is that “probable cause” will be applied to those who happen to look, for example, like their Mexican ancestors.

Those of, say, Danish extraction are more likely to be bypassed.

One’s looks are not a sound foundation upon which to base laws. As a nation founded on principles, we can do better.

Cartoonist's note: This being Take Your Child To Work Day, I had the assistance of two delightful young ladies, Krista and Baylee, in the drawing of today's pictorial offering.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199), Immigration (17)

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April 21, 2010

Chan Lowe: Wall Street reform

limox.gifLet’s face it, the image of wealthy financiers crying the blues doesn’t exactly tug on our heartstrings.

If the Republicans in Congress make an issue of preserving a laissez-faire policy toward Wall Street after what has happened to this country, they’re singing to an empty house.

The Dems know this, and they’re itching for the GOP to rise in defense of their natural constituency: the fat cats. Most Americans hate big government in the abstract, except when it’s applied to restrain the rampant greed of the plutocrats who got us into this mess.

As President Obama has said, it’s a fight he’s looking forward to having.

We may finally see the cracking of the solid Republican bloc that would rather do harm than deliver Barack Obama a victory.

After all, to a pol, self-preservation comes first and foremost. Wall Street and all its lobbying dollars aren’t worth anything to a member of Congress who can’t win the next election.

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April 20, 2010

Will Crist pull a switcheroo?

rumors.gifThe big speculation, even in national circles, is whether embattled Gov. Charlie Crist is going to run as an Independent.

Everyone is weighing the pros and cons. The bad news for Charlie is that if he bolts, he'll lose his big GOP donors, most of his staff, all of his party's organizing support, and be branded as a turncoat.

Already, party stalwarts are saying he should either remain in the primary race against Marco Rubio or bail out altogether, rather than act as a spoiler.

The good news is that polls show he actually has a chance of winning the general election as an Independent. Charlie can go ahead and be moderate (detractors would say "wishy-washy") Charlie, the People's U.S. Senate Candidate. If he makes it to Washington, he can acquire power beyond his junior status by auctioning his loyalty to whichever party needs his caucus vote more.

Most interesting in the wake of Charlie's decision will be the Great Moderation of Marco Rubio. Once he becomes the de facto Republican candidate, Rubio will no longer be forced to emit all the wild jungle noises that appeal to rabid right Republican primary voters.

In fact, he'll leave skid marks as he suddenly begins to sound like a reasonable person in an attempt to pick off the Crist moderates in November. Tea Partiers be damned...after all, where are they going to go?

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April 19, 2010

Tea Party gives back

treasury.gifIf big government is our beef, then what is more bloated, more out-of-control, more emblematic of the drain on our resources than Social Security?

Even the name sounds vaguely subversive. It bears the aroma of one of those un-American, welfare state European imports⎯like Danish pastry, French fries, frankfurters, English muffins, pepperoni pizza. One could go on, but the point is made.

To compound the insult, Washington doesn’t even give the average freedom-loving American a choice in the matter.

Anybody who wants to make a decent living is forced to participate in the Social Security system…a lot like that communistic Obamacare that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their collectivist fellow travelers just passed against the wishes of the majority.

Not only should we tell Washington what to do with its Social Security money, the old folks ought to pay for their own health care, too.

Medicare…now, there’s another huge bureaucracy gobbling up tax money that we should be allowed to keep for ourselves.

Let the free market take care of ’em. It’s the American way. Besides, it’s right there in the Constitution.

POSTED IN: 2010 Campaign (44), Culture Wars (199), Economy (197)

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April 16, 2010

Chan Lowe: Charlie Crist's Veto

velveto1.gifYesterday, when a reporter asked Gov. Crist if his veto of the teacher merit pay bill meant that he was planning an independent run for the U.S. Senate, he said, "That's the last thing on my mind right now."

This is why Charlie Crist generates so little passion in the electorate. Even if you are one of those people who welcome his veto decision, you know that his senate campaign is the very first thing on his mind. You resent that he thinks you're so clueless you don't realize it.

Just a week ago Monday, as you may recall, he was championing the bill as a responsible way to make teachers accountable and generally improve the academic achievement of Florida's students.

What a difference eleven days can make. Once the orchestrated groundswell started shaking the foundations of the state capitol, Charlie began to dither. Maybe the first thing he did was to pick up the phone and call his political brain, incumbent Senator George LeMieux. Together, they may have weighed the pros and cons of alienating this group or that with a decision Charlie could no longer avoid making. Maybe the relative merits of the merit pay issue factored into the conversation somewhere. Maybe.

Then, with steely conviction, Charlie vetoed the bill as detrimental to teachers and students.

Which way will he go the next time there's a controversial decision to be made?

Keep a finger to the wind.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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April 15, 2010

Chan Lowe: Confederate History Month

confed.gifSo maybe the declaration of Confederate History Month was just the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell using code to assert that his state was not about to knuckle under to the overlordship of the federal government (particularly when it came to reforming health care for its citizens).

After all, the Confederacy, so they say, was all about the preservation of “states’ rights"-- which in turn was code for preserving the South’s “peculiar institution” of slavery.

You don’t need to be a cryptologist to detect the tone-deafness here, particularly when the man sitting in the White House is African-American. That’s assuming the governor was only being insensitive, and not intentionally sending a more pointed message that resonated merrily in the ears of his more extreme constituents.

Florida “celebrates” Confederate history, too⎯which is a little presumptuous since the state, before air conditioning was invented, was mostly swamp and didn’t count for much.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you are about to extol the virtues of a period in history that remains an open wound to a large percentage of the general population, maybe it’s best to just do it behind closed doors. Go ahead and be proud, but be private about it.

POSTED IN: Barack Obama (172), Culture Wars (199)

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April 14, 2010

Chan Lowe: Tax Day

real.gifOn this, the eve of Tax Day, some reflections:

The more local the government entity, the more people seem to understand the need to pay taxes. If it’s their own library, or school, or police and fire protection, they see evidence every day that their money is being spent for their benefit.

The federal government is another story. It’s so amorphous, the burden of expenses is spread so broadly and impersonally, that many lose sight of the fact that it’s just a larger version of their own county or town.

Statements like, “We’re going to take advantage of a federal program to pay for (insert local project here),” reinforce the idea that Washington is some other entity, a piggy bank we can raid that is continually being refilled by somebody else. When it pays, it means we don't have to.

Besides, unlike your locality, the feds can run a deficit, which means they can invent money as needed (even though it’s stealing from the future—but since we aren’t there yet, who cares?).

Even Republican members of Congress run from the idea of reducing popular “socialist” programs like Medicare to balance the budget. Average voters don’t understand why federal largess can’t perpetually extend to them, since the government runs on magic. Those who would tell them otherwise will be severely punished at the polls.

Average people also don’t understand why they have to pay taxes to Washington either, for the same reason.

So don’t blame Congress for the deficit. Go look in the mirror.

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April 13, 2010

Chan Lowe: Nuclear proliferation

gouge.gif
Remember how comfortable we all felt before 9/11?

We thought we were so safe from a foreign-based terrorist attack. Unlike the Europeans, we were separated by two oceans from all that ugliness. They'd never try it here. We were too well protected. Besides, they wouldn't dare.

Until the terrorists get their hands on a nuclear device--which they surely will someday--the whole idea of loose nukes remains an abstraction to us, as terrorism in general did on 9/10 (and deep down, we didn't think of Oklahoma City as "terrorism" in the strictest sense, because it was home-grown. It was a criminal act , performed by a nut job).

There are more important, immediate things to worry about, like the economy and how Kate Gosselin manages to remain on DWTS week after week, even though she dances like a sack of Idaho potatoes.

Meanwhile, losing sleep over the problem is one of the many things we pay Barack Obama to do for us.

We don't pay him enough.

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April 12, 2010

Chan Lowe: Will Crist veto teacher merit pay?

charliex.gifWill he or won’t he?

This is one of those delectable moments when a pol who has made a career out of being all things to all people has to find his backbone and actually make a decision that is going to infuriate someone, whichever way he goes.

For Charlie, it was supposed to be a walk to the U.S. Senate. But suddenly the upstart Marco Rubio galloped up on the right, thriving on the poisonous political atmosphere.

The very moderateness that was Charlie's hallmark has become repugnant to those who would nominate him in the primary.

Charlie must prove himself anew, and what better way than by defying the teachers' union?

On the other hand, there are a lot of teachers out there, and they have friends and families. If he signs that bill, they'll remember the kick in the teeth, and be out there militating faster than you can say, "Kendrick Meek for U.S. Senate."

When in doubt, the best thing to do--if you're Charlie--is dither until the last possible minute. Maybe the teachers will generate such an irresistible groundswell of public outcry that by Friday’s deadline, Charlie can don his populist mantle and declare that he was forced to listen to his “boss, the people.”

If so, look for him to run an independent campaign, because for a Republican, vetoing this bill is what the Romans used to call “crossing the Rubicon.”


POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258)

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April 9, 2010

Chan Lowe: Teacher pay reform

graduate.gifLet's give the Republicans in the state legislature the benefit of the doubt.

Let's say that they really are interested in improving the quality of education of Florida's schoolchildren, and not taking advantage of a fiscal crisis to do some union-busting.

In their short-sightedness, they're not thinking like the rat in the Skinner box, to recycle a simile.

If you make someone's livelihood dependent upon whether some snot-nosed kid is going to be able to answer the questions on a test correctly, then obviously that person is going to teach to the test, teach to the test (write that 100 times on the blackboard).

And those are the honest ones. We've already busted some bad-apple educators for giving their kids an unfair leg up with the FCATs. What makes anyone think the problem would diminish once people's actual salaries depended on the outcome?

There's no question there are some mediocre and/or burnt-out teachers who are only there because they're too difficult to get rid of. Is purging these few worth the universal damage in terms of limiting the scope of children's learning to the body of "knowledge" covered by some exam questions?

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Chan Lowe: Teachers commit theft

53191229-08192043.jpgSettle down, class.

It must be hard, as teachers, to be on the receiving end for a change, and even harder to squeeze into those miniature desks, but please pay attention…today’s lesson is very important.

Today we’re talking about the bad example you’re sending to children, which is that it’s OK to steal. Oh, yes, you committed a crime. It’s called “Intellectual Property Theft.”

To put it in clear, simple terms, just because you saw an image on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use in any way you wish. Take the caricature of Gov. Charlie Crist emblazoned on the signs carried by the marching teachers in Tallahassee (shown above).

When I first looked at the Sun Sentinel’s home page this morning, the image on that placard looked mighty familiar. Maybe that’s because it originally sprang from my own mind.

Funny…I don’t recall anyone asking my permission to use this COPYRIGHTED IMAGE before they printed up their signs (and let’s face it, you teachers know all about insisting that people first ask permission). No, they just right-click>saved it right off the web.

Not that I would have given them my permission, anyway, because as an editorial cartoonist I try to avoid sanctioning the use of my work by advocacy groups, even if I agree with them.

Which makes it all the more galling, since I have been a consistent and frequent advocate of the very group that just stole from me.

Shame on you all. Go stand in the corner.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258), General Topics (188)

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April 8, 2010

Chan Lowe: The mine tragedy

gamex.gifThey say these are the best jobs in Appalachia. Those who have them consider themselves fortunate.

Imagine what it would be like, though, to head into the office every morning and wonder whether today was the day the ceiling was going to cave in and crush you?

Would you still go to work? And what if you were told that breathing the office air over a period of years would leave you with permanent lung damage?

All so that a bunch of people you never even met could continue blithely plugging in their salad shooters, electric carving knives, smart phones, tanning beds, DVRs and whatever other essentials of life that require a plug.

Sure, the pay is good, but it isn’t all that good, considering. As long as we’re on the subject of being well paid, let’s consider another issue that’s in the forefront of the public cortex right now.

Tiger Woods, whose most worrisome occupational hazard is being beaned by a jealous, golf club-wielding wife (a completely avoidable risk), is poised to stage a miraculous comeback that we will all witness on our electrically-powered TV sets.

The product endorsements for which he will be paid millions will make absolutely no difference to my buying habits, I can assure you.

However, if one of those miners held up a product and swore that it worked for him, I’d probably give it a second and third look.


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April 7, 2010

Chan Lowe: Spirit starts charging for carry-ons

spirit.gifAnybody who’s ever taken a college Psych 101 course knows what behavior modification is.

The rat in the Skinner box gets to choose between two levers. If pressing one delivers a food pellet, and pressing the other delivers a mild electric shock, you don’t need a Ph.D. to hypothesize how the story is going to turn out.

A few years ago, the airlines started charging extra for checked-in luggage.

The bright-eyed junior exec who dreamed up that revenue stream evidently didn’t take Psych 101, because the obvious consequence was that everybody learned to cram as much as they possibly could into carry-on roller bags that sometimes, but not always, fit in the overhead bins.

Those that didn’t fit were checked at the scene without charge, so the rat/passengers learned they could get away with stuffing in a little extra. Meanwhile, stowing the extra bags ate up precious minutes while exasperated flight attendants shoved, sweated and cursed. Flights got delayed.

So the replacement junior exec⎯who clearly has studied psychology⎯wins a gold star for killing two birds with one stone: Rig the Skinner box levers so they both deliver an electric shock, and generate even more revenue by penalizing those who think they can’t travel without at least a toothbrush and a change of underwear. Bra-VO, future Spirit CEO.

Coming soon: dehydrated clothing.

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April 6, 2010

Chan Lowe: The gas shall rise again

recovery.gifThe inherent problem with capitalism⎯at least the American variant of it⎯is that for someone to win, it seems like someone always has to lose.

It’s wonderful that the Wall Street bonus babies can get obscenely rich, but at the same time, it’s not so wonderful that there are a significant number of people whose wages chronically lag behind the cost of living, and who work several jobs but still can’t make ends meet.

Not that socialism is the answer. Without a profit motive, there is a race to the bottom in terms of productivity. Nobody wins.

There is a story about Barcelona, the ideological center of the republic during the Spanish Civil War. There, for a short while, they tried pure socialism. A local opera house was issued the government decree that all employees would receive the same wages, from the stars on down to the box office ticket-taker.

Immediately, the star tenor went down to the ticket taker and dubbed him the new star tenor, as of that evening. The tenor would man the box office. The point was made that the new policy, while egalitarian, was bad for business.

So, each according to his abilities, but maybe with some restraints and regulations. Why not still allow the worthy to get plenty rich, but implement a more progressive tax system that takes more from those who will miss it the least? It won’t be enough to kill the profit motive, but it might be enough to forestall a revolution.

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April 5, 2010

Chan Lowe: Supreme Court fight coming

nominee.gifBefore my usual claque of commentators gets its nose out of joint, I will acknowledge that the type of behavior alluded to in this cartoon is practiced by both extremes of the political spectrum. It is inappropriate--and unhelpful--no matter who is doing it.

We happen to have a Democratic president and Senate right now, so the protesting of whomever is nominated to fill Justice Stevens' seat will be the province of Conservatives.

I think it was John McCain who said, "Elections mean something." It is the constitutional prerogative of the president to present a nominee in the event of a court vacancy, and it is the Senate's job to decide whether that person is qualified.

It made sense to the Founding Fathers. What wouldn't make sense to them are the ideological hoops we make the nominees run through, thanks to our poisonous political atmosphere, and the attempts to discredit them by digging through their pasts to find out if they talked back to their kindergarten teacher during recess.

One of these days, Justice Scalia, Roberts, Alito or Thomas will want to retire. Chances are he'll wait until a Republican president is in office to do so. This is as it should be.

Then, it will be the Liberals' turn to make a public display of their unreasonableness, which they will do without a doubt.

POSTED IN: Barack Obama (172), Culture Wars (199), General Topics (188)

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April 2, 2010

Chan Lowe: The new security policy

abdullah.gif
While the Obama administration, in a nod to the base, is splitting hairs over whether or not its new "intelligence-based" terrorist screening system is profiling, that's what it's beginning to look like.

Physical characteristics, where they're from... if those are going to be the criteria, then let's cut the doublespeak.

It used to be that we could afford the luxury of treating everyone as an equal threat, but with limited resources, and the consequences of a system failure so catastrophic, it may be time to rethink whether it's worth sacrificing Lower Manhattan just to ensure that someone's feelings don't get hurt.

If little old church ladies in tennis shoes had been found to be the preponderant cohort of those who performed terrorist acts, then it would make sense to single them out for special treatment. The innocent little old ladies who were searched unnecessarily would no doubt be grateful that we had focused our efforts on the most likely suspects.

I think many of us, in a perfect world, would wish to preserve the dignity of certain groups, and not ask that they be temporarily humiliated for the sins of a few among them.

In this imperfect world, how many of us are willing to risk our lives and those of our loved ones to defend that principle?

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April 1, 2010

Chan Lowe: Obama drills

chill.gifThe White House's chess game is verging on being a little too clever for its own good.

The calculation is that throwing a sop to the Republicans in the form of relaxed offshore drilling restrictions will buy cooperation from them later. In fact, they will be so disarmed by this gesture that they'll dance with Obama on more ambitious energy initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Democratic "base," which counted on Obama to rectify some of the environmental misdeeds of the Bush administration--and certainly not ape them-- will have nowhere else to turn in November.

Even if the Republicans don't play ball, their slapping of this outstretched hand will prove to the public that they are, indeed, the party of obstructionism, and it will punish them on election day.

There are two things wrong with this scenario: First, it looks like the Republicans, far from being charmed, are saying that the gesture is so flimsy, it's almost an insult. Saying "no" has worked for them so far. Why change the strategy now?

Second, what Obama did was just enough to infuriate the environmentalists. Yes, they have somewhere else to go on election day, which is to go hug some tree in the backyard rather than head to the polls.

The grand plan a gamble, and not even a smart one. He could well lose, and so will the environment.

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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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