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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September 30, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Republican deficit reduction hoax

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They must think we voters are stupid, and maybe we are.

Poll after poll shows that when Americans are asked what bothers them the most about their government, it’s that it’s too big and it’s spending too much. Running up debt to China that our children will have to pay. We gotta rein the sucker in somehow.

Then these same Americans are asked what government programs they’d like to do without. Social Security? Hold on a minute! I paid in to that. They can’t steal it from me now. Medicare? What, and make me cough up for Granny’s doctor appointments? Obamacare? Gotta say, I like the sound of that preexisting conditions stuff. Unemployment benefits? Not if I’m the one who’s out of a job. Et cetera.

On top of that, we all want to extend the Bush tax cuts. Some have even bought into the idea that if we extend them for the rich as well, they won’t bank the difference or buy an Italian yacht with it, but instead will plow the loot back into jobs (maybe they’ll hire an extra couple of undocumented landscape workers to tend their estates).

The goal, for those who tease us irresponsibly with notions of reducing the deficit, is to somehow glide through election season without having to divulge the truth: that it can’t be done without pain, and a lot of it.

They know that if they really begin to do everything they say, voters will scream bloody murder as their favorite handouts get gouged. They’ll take it out on the perpetrators next time around anyway, so why tell them the truth now?

Better yet, once the elections are over, why do anything meaningful at all? That deficit stuff was all just rhetoric; any smart person ought to know that. The ones spouting it certainly do. Stalling has worked pretty well for us up until now. Let's keep on kickin' that can down the road.

And, when all else fails, blame Obama. Twenty percent of Americans are willing to believe anything you say about him. That’s a good solid base to build on.

POSTED IN: 2010 Campaign (44), Economy (197)

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September 29, 2010

Chan Lowe: Crist, Rubio, Meek..oh my!

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It doesn’t hurt, once in a while, to say something nice about someone, which is what I am doing now.

I’m sure many readers aren’t even aware that George LeMieux is one of Florida’s two U.S. Senators. The other guy--the one who sounds like Foghorn Leghorn at slow speed--is Bill Nelson.

The reason you don’t know George LeMieux is that, once in office, he kept his head down and worked hard. Not for his reelection, because he came to Washington with the understanding that he was only a bench-warmer. Nevertheless, he took his role seriously.

That’s right…when Mel Martinez resigned back in August of last year, it was up to Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint a replacement. Since his own eyes were on the prize, who better but his loyal lieutenant, Mr. LeMieux, who could be counted on not to catch Potomac Fever and try to stay on instead of vacating the space for Charlie?

But that was back when Charlie was a shoo-in. Charlie was also a right-of-center Republican then, so naturally his appointee was somewhat conservative.

Sen. LeMieux visited with our editorial board earlier this year, and while I didn’t agree with many of his political stands, he struck me as a thoughtful, reasonable man. More important, he was that rare conservative who appeared to have humility and heart.

He gave us proof of that just last week, when he and the also retiring George Voinovich of Ohio broke ranks with the Republican “Just Say No” caucus to help pass a bill that would give tax breaks to small businesses and grease the skids for bank loans.

The Republicans, of course, were for this bill until Barack Obama came out in favor of it. Then they opposed it. Unfortunately for them, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn’t threaten LeMieux and Voinovich, because they each have one foot out the door.

So LeMieux voted for what he thought would be best for his country…not his party, not his own political ambitions.

What more could you ask for from a United States Senator?

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September 28, 2010

Chan Lowe: America's education slipping behind

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The problem with public education is that too many people view it like a business rather than a mission.

There is a huge trough of tax money to be dispensed by school board members who do not value this money the same way they do their own personal bank accounts; after all, it’s just there to be shoveled out, and they didn't have to earn it themselves.

Then there are the stakeholders; industries from school construction firms to textbook publishers that have a commercial interest in this vast pool of lucre. There are teacher unions whose job it is to collectively bargain for as much as they can while protecting the jobs of their members⎯the outstanding as well as the substandard. If they didn’t look out for the teachers, who would?

There are the taxpayers, some of whom resent that they have to pay for the schooling of other people's children, forgetting that it is the promise of universal education that has been the bedrock of our nation’s success.

And there are the children, who are ostensibly at the core of the whole enterprise. So often, their interests are overlooked in the melee generated by all the other parties grabbing their slice of the pie.

In a perfect world, all decisions about schooling would be made based upon one paramount criterion: What’s best for the children?

But that’s no way to run a business.

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September 27, 2010

Chan Lowe: Wexler endorses Charlie Crist

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Back when Robert Wexler represented my fellow Florida Congressional District 19 constituents in absentia, he was one of my favorite occasional targets.

I liked to give him some good-natured ribbing, portraying him as a reverse-carpetbagger who chose to reside in a cushy hurricane-free suburb in Maryland while paying lip service to the teeming and steaming condo communities back here in the hinterlands.

All that Robert (who used to list his in-laws’ place as his district home address until forced by embarrassing revelations to rent a Potemkin pad of his own) had to do was show up once a year before election day to press some flesh, while making sure that everybody’s government checks arrived on time.

I was sad to see him retire, sadder still when his mid-term retirement (to chase bigger bucks at a think tank) resulted in a special election to replace him that cost local taxpayers over a million dollars.

Fortunately for me, the holidays have arrived early this year. Robert has bestowed one last gift by briefly resurfacing in his old district to endorse famously former Republican Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate.

The self-described Fire-Breathing Liberal has, for reasons of his own, chosen to shill for a man who, up until earlier this year, was quite the conservative.

You have to respect loyalty to old friends. It’s that kind of quality that makes Robert such a mensch.

I would guess that the Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek, is using different words to describe him.

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September 24, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Everglades of the future

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The Everglades are one of those things we value in the abstract, like the great whales. We go “tsk, tsk” when we hear about their impending extinction, but since we don’t really see them very often, saving them gets lost in the welter of more clamorous needs.

Besides, we tend to pay more attention to events like wildfires, which provide compelling TV visuals. The whales and the Everglades are dying slowly. This doesn't make for tremendously entertaining viewing.

If it weren’t for conservation groups, the ‘Glades wouldn’t have a constituency at all. Alligators, mosquitoes and snakes are not lovable creatures. The plant life is⎯let’s face it⎯nowhere near as majestic and stately as an old-growth forest.

The fact that we need the Everglades to guarantee South Florida’s supply of fresh water is lost on many people. “I thought that’s what Lake Okeechobee was for,” many say. They don’t realize that the ‘Glades act as an enormous filter to take out the crud we pump into them from upstream.

The average South Floridian isn’t really going to care about the Everglades until he turns on his tap--and instead of drinking water, he gets a foul smelling, yellow-greenish liquid he’s expected to consume and bathe in.

Wait a second. That’s happening already.

Oh, well...maybe there's a wildfire to watch on TV.

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September 23, 2010

Chan Lowe: Crist and the gay adoption ban

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It really pains me to draw a cartoon like this. As I’ve said before, Charlie is a very nice guy.

Once he’s left a roomful of people upon whom he has worked his charm, everyone feels warm inside. Then they look around, and it dawns on them that there is no possible way all of them could have heard exactly what they wanted to hear.

In fact, they all heard very little, but it sure sounded good.

That’s the problem with Charlie. We’re electing a United States Senator here, not the toastmaster for a Jaycees banquet. We want our elected representatives⎯on occasion⎯to be statesmen, not just weak reeds who bend to every zephyr coming from the public opinion polls back home.

Sometimes real statesmen have to buck the trend. They have to see clearly into the future and vote their conscience, even if it may be politically harmful to their prospects.

And statesmen don’t tend to be nice guys. Lyndon Johnson didn’t get civil rights and Great Society legislation rammed through Congress by being a delightful dinner companion, although his so-called charm was his most terrifying quality. He did it by being the kind of S.O.B everyone loathed and feared.

Charlie doesn’t have to act all the time like he’s worthy of having his image added to Mt. Rushmore. I just wish he’d find some principles and stick to them for a while.

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Chan Lowe: Gay adoption ban crumbling

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In light of recent events, it's time to bring out this cartoon again, which I originally drew for the Sun Sentinel's editorial page in February of 2004.

That may seem a long time ago, but Florida's unique law banning gay adoption (it's the only state that still has one) was adopted in 1977 by a legislature swayed by the arguments of the notoriously homophobic Anita Bryant, who at the time was a Florida resident.

That was another era, and it looks like one Florida judge after another has decided that it's time to move into the 21st Century, along with a growing preponderance of the American people. This week, it was a state appellate court in Miami. Next, it will probably be our state Supreme Court, which should have trashed this archaic statute years ago.

Call it judicial activism if you want. The attitudes about gays in this country are becoming so settled that the only activists left are the bigots. Even the State of Florida can't decide if it wants to appeal the decision. If you want any further evidence that this law is unjust on its face, consider that Florida does allow children to be raised by gay foster parents.

POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199), Florida Issues (258), Local South Florida Issues (187)

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September 22, 2010

Chan Lowe: Invasion of the bedbugs

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Here in South Florida, we’re old hands at pestilence.

The Cuban Death’s-Head Cockroach, the Formosan Termite, the Indonesian White-Footed Ant, the Burmese Python, the Bahamian Curly-Tailed Lizard and the Ficus Whitefly are but a short list of the immigrants that have claimed asylum in our sheltering clime during the last few years.

We’ve all figured out a way to get along, and I’m sure we’ll do so with our latest scourge, the bedbug. Chances are, since the beast is impervious to chemicals, they’ll scrounge up another exotic creature that likes to dine on it, the way they did the Melaleuca Beetle, which was imported in turn to get rid of a foreign plant we brought in to drain the swamps so that we could build more developments.

Of course, whatever the crawly solution is, it will (as they all do) proliferate in our natural-predator-free environment and soon become a pest in its own right, requiring the importation of yet another remedy, and so on.

Are we beginning to detect a common denominator here? There’s one creature without whose presence none of these freak twists of nature might ever have occurred.

Too late for that, I suppose…although it’s the only pest I’ve heard of that, when left to its own devices, does a perfectly fine job of exterminating itself.

POSTED IN: Environment (46), Florida Issues (258), General Topics (188), Local South Florida Issues (187)

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September 21, 2010

Chan Lowe: Distracted driving

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As we all know, human beings are innately social. It is this gift of wanting to be part of a community that drew humans to organize in the first place. They assumed distinct individual roles that contributed to the common survival, thereby enabling civilization to flourish.

As civilization developed, societies became more efficient and moved beyond producing at mere subsistence levels. As the fruit of their labors, they began amassing surplus, or wealth. Since humans are also selfish, certain less efficient societies realized that someone else’s wealth could be theirs if taken by force. This was a lot easier than going to the trouble of amassing it in the first place.

Hence, warfare became a permanent stain on the development of the human animal. Man used his ingenuity to create tools of war that would multiply his abilities to overpower his foe.

Eventually, he created weapons of such potency that the mere use of them would guarantee the extermination of the entire species⎯an absurd concept.

On a much more individual level, selfishness and the natural need for social connection are at the core of distracted driving.

The notion that a personal message is so important that it is worth risking one’s own life and that of others to communicate it to someone else is the pinnacle of selfishness. It is also absurd, when it is only a minor inconvenience to pull over and stop driving while doing so.

On the other hand, if human behavior always made sense, think how dull life would be.

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Chan Lowe: Don't Ask, Don't Tell redux

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On this historic day, when the U.S. Senate is poised to further the process to repeal the infamous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays from openly serving in the military, it seemed appropriate to re-post a cartoon that first ran in this space in April of 2009.

By the end of today, we will know if Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to muster the sixty votes necessary to override a filibuster and pass the measure, which comes in the form of an amendment to a Pentagon appropriations bill that has already passed through the House, into full debate.

If not, the failure will largely be due to the efforts of Sen. John McCain, who once pledged that he would support the measure if it had the backing of military leaders. It now does, and he has not only reneged, but he is planning to lead the filibuster against it himself.

What happened to poor old John? I once respected him. Is reelection that important?

Since this cartoon was published, it has won some awards, was proudly worn on t-shirts by a contingent from Atlanta at a gay-rights march in Washington, D.C., and appeared on The Daily Show.

Here are my accompanying comments at the time of original publication. In my humble opinion, they are just as accurate today.

Tuesday Afternoon Update: The attempt has failed, 56-43. Thanks to the arcane rules of the Senate, a majority is not enough to prevent a filibuster. There is a slim chance something could be worked out during the lame duck session in December.

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September 20, 2010

Chan Lowe: Tea Party zealotry

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If you want an example of the ultra-right’s ability to flex its newly-pumped-up muscle in the Republican Party, go no further than Karl Rove’s embarrassing about-face on Fox News last week.

When confronted with the improbable news that Christine O’Donnell had won the GOP primary against the party’s designated standard-bearer in Delaware, Rove put on his independent news analyst hat and used words like “unelectable” and “nutty” to describe her.

By the next day, he was extolling her virtues and claiming that his statements of 24 hours earlier amounted to an endorsement. Sometime in between, Rove had gotten The Word.

Rove, of all people. The “genius,” credited by no less a figure than W., himself, as being the architect of two presidential election victories. One of the party’s most powerful generals.

His problem now? That’s the old party. The party that may have been ruthless in politics, but still used reason as its compass when formulating its strategies.

The Republican establishment is stunned and scrabbling to regain its balance after last Tuesday. As the hierarchy dutifully lines up to support the deeply flawed O’Donnell (minus her primary opponent Mike Castle, to his credit), they must contemplate the new reality; that in today’s poisonous voting atmosphere, the more unqualified⎯even unbalanced⎯a candidate appears, the more attractive he or she becomes as the runaway vehicle that will crash its way right into the U.S. Capitol building.

The bitterest pill for the former power elite to swallow is that they know she owes them nothing, particularly after the smash-mouth language they used against her in support of Mr. Castle. That’s why they’re now pouring money into her campaign in hopes of righting the imbalance, and setting the hooks for controlling her later.

Good luck with that.

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September 16, 2010

Chan Lowe: Florida energy rebates fizzle

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Maybe the most appropriate comment for this situation is the one made by Otter, the frat brother of the fat loser, Dorfman, in the classic movie Animal House:

“Face it, Dorfman,” he says as the boy looks over the smoking wreck of his older brother’s Lincoln after allowing his friends to use it for a road trip, “you f****d up. You trusted us!”

And “trusted” is what hundreds of people did when they went out to buy air conditioners and solar gear on the promise that the State of Florida would provide them with energy rebates to help defray the outlay.

Little did they know they would get caught up in a grudge match between outgoing governor Charlie Crist and a spurned Republican legislature bent on destroying his dream to become a United States Senator.

The arcane details are not that important—all we need to know is that ordinary citizens, as usual, are being used as pawns by state pols following their own petty and self-serving agendas.

Suffice it to say that if Charlie had remained a Republican and taken his chances in the primary, the legislature wouldn’t have dragged its feet in approving the use of federal funds for the rebates…a strategy designed to portray him as having gone back on his word.

So if you want to blame someone for this mess, blame the Tea Party. If they hadn’t supported Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate nomination, he probably wouldn’t have been able to mount such a strong campaign, thereby eclipsing the colorless Crist.

Charlie wouldn’t have bolted the party and gone rogue, and the legislature wouldn’t have sought revenge by punishing those who laid out their hard-earned bucks in good faith.

That was almost too easy.


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September 15, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Republican establishment takes it on the chin

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“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”

It's no longer the Republican Party of your father or grandfather. One has to laugh ruefully at the hubris of the mainstream GOP (conservative as it already is) in assuming it could co-opt the grassroots Tea Party movement and ingest it into the “big tent.”

This may end up looking more like the gnat wagging the party by its elephantine tail. Too late, the establishment turned on the upstarts and attacked them mercilessly, not realizing that every calumny leveled at them was tantamount to an endorsement in the eyes of angry primary voters.

The phenomenon defies all the standard, cynical political logic. These extremists can’t win in the general election, say the experts. Don’t people have any sense? Do they have a death wish?

The experts are playing by the wrong set of rules. Those who voted for the Tea Party candidates don’t care if they win, and they have no particular affection for the Republican Party in its current form. They would rather go down in defeat now, knowing that having flexed their muscles as an internal force, they will drag the party even further to the right the next time.

Eventually, Americans will be forced to vote for the new breed of conservatives because they have no other choice except (Horrors!) moderate Democrats. Moderate Republicans, practically extinct today, will have ceased to exist.

Then, both houses will be filled with members whose sworn oath it is not to cooperate with anyone who does not agree with them in every way.

You think we have gridlock now? In a few years, our current session of Congress will look like a Girl Scout sing-along by comparison.


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September 14, 2010

Chan Lowe: Cuba lays off half a million workers

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Welcome to the real world, Paisanos.

The appeal and the promise of the Communist Paradise was that everybody worked, no matter how menial or meaningless the job. Everybody got paid: Doctors, who spent years in training, made the same salaries as doormen. In the classless society, all citizens pulled the wagon together for the common welfare.

The only thing missing was incentive—a proportionate reward for initiative, creativity, and hard work. Oops…how do you account for laggards in Marxist theory, particularly when everyone is encouraged to lag?

The destitute central government may be laying off half a million Cubans, but fortunately it is rich in ideas. According to the AP, the newly unemployed can form cooperatives! Raise rabbits! Make bricks! Paint buildings! It’s a new model for a new century.

If you ask me, the only sure-fire Cuban business plan is a co-op that builds rafts equipped with compasses pointing toward Florida. Fortunately for the Cubans, the U.S. still considers them political, not economic, refugees⎯and we will welcome them with open arms to the Land of Opportunity, as we always have, no questions asked.

The Cuban government has said that salaries ought to be adjusted upward for those remaining employees who work hard and whose product is critical to the economy, although the current situation makes that unlikely. Those who lose their jobs will just have to sink or swim.

Sounds a lot like life here in the bastion of free enterprise these days. Our Cuban friends might want to think long and hard before taking that northbound cruise. There isn’t much of a market for rabbit meat up here.

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September 13, 2010

Chan Lowe: Rise of the Tea Party

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None of this would be happening if we weren’t feeling economically insecure.

When people are fat and happy, they don’t care much about politics. Why fix something if it ain’t broke? As long as you are free to splurge on flat-screen TVs, iPads, SUVs and vacation getaways, then finance your sprees by taking out another mortgage on your house, you don’t sit around whining about having your constitutional liberties taken away.

If those halcyon days were still with us, Sarah Palin would be just a better-than-average-looking footnote in history, Glenn Beck would be calling high-school football games for a small-town radio station, and Barack Obama would be sailing toward reelection in 2012.

Our current national unrest is evocative of that experienced in the 1920s during the runaway inflation in Germany, when families brought their life savings to the market in a wheelbarrow to buy a loaf of bread.

In those days, the anger and frustration reached such a boiling point that every political party had its own paramilitary wing composed of thugs who went out to crack heads in the streets. It was only a matter of time before the frantic and demoralized populace tired of their weak central government’s lack of ability to maintain civil order and provide them with a basic living. They ultimately turned to someone who promised deliverance.

The irony, of course, is that in so doing they sacrificed every personal liberty they ever had.

In other words, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs…in a much more far-reaching sense than merely determining which party might win a by-election in November.

POSTED IN: 2010 Campaign (44), Barack Obama (172), Culture Wars (199), Sarah Palin (40)

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September 10, 2010

Chan Lowe: Muslims, Gays and ignorance

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If you subscribe to the notion--as I do--that people fear what is alien to them and demonize that which they fear, then it would follow that education and exposure are the best antidotes for this poisonous formula.

There is a theory (not original with me) that the reason the coastal states, such as California, Oregon, Washington and those in New England tend to be the most progressive politically is that their port cities were exposed from their inception to commerce from around the world. With commerce came broader intellectual horizons and familiarity with foreign cultures. With familiarity came appreciation and respect.

The interior states, conversely, did not benefit from direct contact with the outside world. They were by nature more insular, grew to maturity in a cultural echo chamber, and as a result are less tolerant today of thoughts and influences unlike their own.

Maybe this is an overly general assessment, but I could not help but think of the above when I heard that Pastor Jones (as of this writing, still a “standby” Quran-burner…evidently there’s a continuing problem with static in the lines between God and His humble servant) bragged that he had not read the very book he intended to destroy. Nor, he claimed, had he ever met a Muslim until yesterday.

When I lived in Oklahoma decades ago, there was a minister very high up in the hierarchy of the Southern Baptist Convention who allowed as how God Almighty did not hear the prayers of a Jew, because those prayers were not routed through Jesus Christ.

Rather than condemn him, some Jewish groups got together and sent him on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for a couple of weeks. He came back a changed man, and publicly repented his earlier statements.

When we do not feel threatened, we Americans are, at heart, an inclusive people. Maybe that kind of exposure is all we really need to regain familiarity with our true nature.

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September 9, 2010

Chan Lowe: Fidel Castro admits failure

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Maybe the old coot is trying to get square with his maker before he heads off to stir up rebellion in the next world.

In any case, it looks like the long-running joke was on all of us; the many U.S. Administrations that tried to topple him, the Soviet Union that found him to be a most unruly client, and above all the Cuban people, who suffered and died for fifty years in the name of what even he, Fidel, has now admitted was a failed experiment.

Thanks to El Lider, the human race came within a hair’s breadth of playing the final joke on itself during the Missile Crisis. Oh, how he begged Khrushchev to loose those babies on us. We owe our continued existence today to the fact that the old Russian warrior had the sense to think of his own grandchildren before acceding to his request.

The aged dictator has finally acknowledged what everyone has known for years, that the political and economic system he imposed was bankrupt at its core. It’s cold comfort to the relatives of the dead, but you have to hand it to him—he even managed to outlast his Soviet patrons.

Castro’s legacy to the star-crossed Cuban people is little more than laughter and tears. From now on, they have earned the right to bring forth both in abundance whenever they hear the words, “Viva la Revolucion.”

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September 8, 2010

Chan Lowe: Burning the Quran

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When the Founding Fathers bequeathed upon future generations the perpetual gift of the First Amendment, they probably gave some thought to the downside.

Unlimited free expression, while clearly the cornerstone of a strong democracy when made use of by responsible citizens, also cleared the soapboxes for all manner of speech: seditious, hateful, ugly and divisive.

Evidently, they decided that the positives outweighed the negatives, that a society rendered strong by the exercise of individual freedoms would be better able to withstand recklessness within its ranks without having to resort to dreaded (and self-destructive) censorship.

The fact that the nation has been having a lively debate about the intention by a small church in Gainesville to stage a mass burning of Islam’s most holy scripture is testimony to the Founding Fathers’ wisdom. While the behavior of these people repels us and makes us wince, it is behavior we must endure for the sake of our collective welfare.

Muslims around the world who do not appreciate niceties like our guarantees under the Bill of Rights assume that by allowing the burning to occur, the United States is tacitly condoning the act. All Americans will be tarred by it.

If you have any doubts about that, just think for a moment how many Americans believe that all Muslims are terrorists, based on the acts of a handful of madmen back in 2001, and how many of us have been mailing copies of the Quran to Gainesville to help fuel the flames.

All that “hearts and minds” stuff we’re trying to do in Afghanistan? It’s back to Square One for us. Do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200.


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September 7, 2010

Chan Lowe: Charlie Crist, Independent

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Here’s how the scenario could play out this November:

A cracker from North Florida goes to the polls and faces three choices for U.S. Senator. “Shux,” he exclaims. “Meek?!!? A black Democrat? Sounds a lot like that commie Muslim we already got in the White House. Marco Rubio? Wonder if he’s even legal. Guess I’ll go with Crist. He ain’t done nuthin’ to tick me off.”

A retiree from the I-4 Corridor votes in Tampa. “Charlie’s that kind of moderate we always appreciated back in Ohio. I wonder if the Democrats are even running anybody, not that I’d vote for him anyway.”

In South Florida, a gay man makes a tough decision. “My heart’s with Kendrick, but I’d just be throwing my vote away. Rubio’s plain scary. I guess there’s no choice but to go with Gov. Man Tan.” Meanwhile, a snowbird from Queens connects the arrows for Crist because he’s heard of him.

The state and national Democratic Parties, while not openly supporting Crist, at least refrain from attacking him. They know Meek is a non-starter, but they can’t afford to anger blacks, who might stay home and withhold their votes for Democrats altogether.

Governor Charlie thereby squeaks into office, defying the early prognostications. Now the man who coyly answered direct questions about which party he would join in the senate, saying, “I caucus with the people of Florida,” (open mouth here, insert finger, and make a gagging noise) is open for business.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, once all the national results are in, discovers he’s one vote shy of a Republican majority. The GOP has already won the House in a landslide, and he’s willing to sell his own mother into prostitution to make this a sweep.

He extends the olive branch to Charlie. “All is forgiven, welcome back to the fold, and here’s a juicy committee chairmanship as a peace offering from the Republican Party. We love you, Charlie. Always have.

“Now, I’m sure we can count on your vote to convict Obama once he’s been impeached by the house, can’t we?”

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September 3, 2010

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott, slobber baron

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Politics is theater, as the saying goes. In the case of the Rick Scott for Governor of Florida campaign, we can interpret the expression as referring to actors who play leaders in public, but who neither mean nor believe the scripted words they utter.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Republican bigshots were pouring money into shoring up the faltering gubernatorial candidacy of Bill McCollum, the establishment candidate.

They financed attack ads focusing on the usurper Scott’s background as head of a health care company later found to have committed Medicare fraud. They asserted that the man was unfit to be governor.

How things change after a primary. It took a few days for the GOP leaders to recover from their drubbing, but then the wagons began to circle around the new star.

Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi and the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was particularly egregious in casting aside the old, outdated script. “That’s all water under the bridge now,” he said when asked about his earlier statements attacking Scott.

Sure, that’s politics. It’s theater. But you wonder if these players ever truly mean anything they say, if they can deliver their words so convincingly and yet retract them with such facility when circumstances demand.

It also makes you wonder if there is anything so unacceptable in a candidate that the leadership would actually draw the line and not support him once he won the primary. Spousal abuse? Child porn? Embracing universal health care?

Bill McCollum, at least, has refused to do what’s expected of him and has not pivoted to support his party’s candidate, continuing to claim that the man is unfit.

Some would say he is being a sore loser. I say he's just a lousy actor. In this case, it's something to be proud of.


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September 2, 2010

Chan Lowe: Obama's Middle East peace initiative

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We have a wry saying on the Editorial Board that there is only one editorial about the Middle East peace process. We just pull it out of the files, dust it off, change the name of the president in question, and run it again and again.

You have to give Obama credit for even trying, particularly since he has so much on his plate already. Failure, once again, is a distinct possibility. Nevertheless, the payoff is enormous for all parties involved if, somehow, this time, there is a real breakthrough.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu likes to say, it takes a hawk⎯a la Nixon in China⎯to forge a meaningful peace. In Mahmoud Abbas, he has a Palestinian partner to work with who certainly has his own problems, but who is not seeking to serve cynical ends, and who understands that Israel has certain requirements which need to be met before she can feel truly safe.

No president can call himself worthy of the office unless he makes at least a stab at resolving this intractable issue. So much follows from it; the end of killing would be enough in itself, but other benefits would include comity among our allies and a united front against the threat from Iran⎯the real enemy we all face.

What Obama is doing (in tandem with the extremely able Secretary of State Clinton) is much more than a stab. He’s putting a lot of political capital on the line. It’s a shame that the only people dumb enough to buy that garbage about his being a Muslim are Americans. If the Palestinians believed it too, it might help establish him as an honest broker (Don’t write in…I’m being facetious).

Our thoughts and prayers ought to accompany all the negotiators involved as they engage in their mission. There can never be too many attempts.

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September 1, 2010

Chan Lowe: The end of combat operations in Iraq

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Tuesday night, President Obama gave just about the only speech that could have been given to properly mark the transition of America’s role in Iraq.

He sounded like the maid stuck with cleaning up a hotel room the morning after it has been rented by a rock band. There really wasn’t much to say about the whole endeavor that was positive, except that our troops did their jobs superlatively. The whole subject is uncomfortable for us, because while our service members did their duty and in many cases made the supreme sacrifice, we’re at a loss to know what they did it for.

We’re at a loss because our leaders violated the sacred pact the civilian leadership has always had with the military: We will ask you to go into harm’s way on behalf of your country, and in return you can have faith that we will only ask you to do so if the cause is worthy, if the mission is clear-cut, and if it has a reasonable chance of success.

We went in because they said there were WMD. Well, there weren’t any. Then it was about democracy, and we “surged” to give the Iraqis time to form a government. They still haven’t formed one. The place is a hair’s-breadth away from anarchy.

We had intentions of building a Western-oriented Arab bulwark in the Middle East. The only thing the Iranians will lack after the last Americans leave is an engraved invitation to invade.

Americans like to win wars, particularly after they’ve spent a trillion borrowed dollars when there are pressing needs at home. With Iraq, there is no surrender at Yorktown, no signing ceremony on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, just a fizzling-out.

Years from now, after the accursed place recedes into painful memory, it will probably revert to what it was before: a dusty crossroads ruled by whichever warlord among its contentious populace happens to be the most ruthless.

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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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