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October 29, 2010

Chan Lowe: Dems kneecap Kendrick Meek

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Lest Florida manage to make it through an entire election cycle without some unique distinction, we have Bill Clinton’s eleventh-hour effort to talk Kendrick Meek into abandoning his senate candidacy to ensure that our state once again makes national news.

This goes beyond cynical. Political parties exist to enable the election of candidates who espouse the principles for which they stand. Using this criterion, there is no more faithful Democrat in the U.S. Senate race, from any state, than Kendrick Meek. Besides, he's been laying the groundwork for his candidacy for years, traveling the length and breadth of Florida and giving it his all.

Now comes Meek’s old friend and mentor Bill Clinton, taking him aside and recommending that he quit because he doesn’t have enough money to win.

Never mind that the national Democratic Party machine shorted the Meek campaign from the beginning because it didn’t have faith in his viability; the real crime here is that Clinton comes at the behest of erstwhile Conservative Republican (now Moderate Wet Noodle) Charlie Crist, who uses as his rationale the threat that if Meek doesn’t bow out and throw his support to Charlie, it ensures a victory by the hated Marco Rubio.

So the national party is willing to throw one of its own to the wolves in order to protect its majority in the Senate.

Here’s why this little caper is not only cynical but naive: It presupposes that Charlie Crist, who is rumored to have secretly assured the Dems that he would caucus with them, can be trusted to keep his word if elected. Anyone familiar with Charlie’s history can safely assume that he will caucus with whichever party gives him the better deal in terms of committee chairmanships and access to power.

Kendrick was wise to turn Clinton down. Only he seems to know that the Democrats have nothing to lose in standing by their man.


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October 28, 2010

Chan Lowe: A Florida Halloween horror

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I heard an interesting theory during our daily editorial board meeting this morning about why Rick Scott is doing so well in his race for governor against Alex Sink, despite the mountain of negative baggage the man carries around.

According to this theory, Charlie Crist is to blame. Evidently, when Charlie—way back during the primary season—forsook the Republican Party because he was losing to Marco Rubio in the polls, he so enraged the GOP rank and file for caving in to his own opportunism that they’re turning out in angry droves to vote for Rubio.

They’re going to teach the tanned turncoat a big fat lesson, and while they’re in the voting booth, full of venom, they’re going to vote Republican down the line, whether they’ve heard of Scott’s complicated past involving Medicare fraud or not…or whether they even care.

This is as plausible a scenario as any I’ve heard. It’s amazing that Scott has been able to get away with doing no editorial board interviews with any Florida newspaper, and refuses to comment on his past when asked, as if voters are being impertinent for wanting to know. His feet have never been held to the fire over his failure to provide tough, specific answers to the question of how he would balance the state’s budget.

He’s a pig in a poke. Nobody is saying that Alex Sink is any Lawton Chiles, but at least she has some experience in government. Are Floridians really ready to hold hands and jump off the cliff with this guy?


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October 27, 2010

Chan Lowe: Delray seniors run amok!

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This is one of those heartwarming stories that can only occur here in God's Waiting Room.

My colleague Maria Herrera reports that a senior citizens' current affairs discussion group meeting at the Delray Beach Public Library has become so noisy and fractious on a regular basis that it has finally been banned from the premises.

Civilized discussion, if one uses group members' behavior as a guide, includes telling one another to “shut up,” shouting things like “sit down, you old hag!” and lustily performing the South Florida Official Regional Hand Gesture. If this isn't colorful enough, bystanders can be treated to fisticuffs afterward in the parking lot.

True to form, the group reserves the lion's share of its ire for the spoilsport director of the library for shutting this superannuated Romper Room down. On this point, evidently, it has found unity.

My Scripture is a little rusty, but when Jesus said, “Again, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” this probably wasn't what He had in mind.

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October 26, 2010

Chan Lowe: The foreclosure debacle

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No one should be surprised that mortgage lenders have displayed the same devil-may-care attitude toward checking their foreclosure paperwork that they did when they made the loans in the first place.

It isn’t as though they’ve gotten soul transplants over the last three years since the boom went sour.

If you find yourself gripped by anger and frustration over what these cowboys have done⎯and continue to do⎯to our country, it helps to think of them as cockroaches.

Cockroaches are perfectly evolved life forms. According to scientists, they can survive anything⎯including nuclear Armageddon. When you leave out food and turn off the lights, they head for it. When you turn the lights back on, they scatter so fast you can’t possibly destroy them all.

This is what they are programmed for. It is all they do. They cannot change, for if they did, they would no longer be cockroaches. If you could somehow inject a sense of ethics into them, they would become ensnared in moral dilemmas over their behavior and die of starvation.

For this reason, we cannot judge cockroaches by accepted codes of human conduct, because to do so would presuppose freedom of choice on their part.

Until Armageddon occurs, we will always be in uneasy coexistence with the pests. That being said, we are under no obligation to encourage them in their activities.

So if we forget, say, to snap the lid down tightly on the Tupperware, we have nobody to blame but ourselves when they start feasting on the family pot roast. They just can’t help it.

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October 25, 2010

Chan Lowe: The failed "invisible" border fence

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If the idea of a high-tech “invisible” border fence was to keep furriners off the property on the cheap and to do so without prompting embarrassing comparisons to the Berlin Wall, it appears to have failed on both counts.

The fifty-three-mile-long boondoggle did, however, manage to funnel practically a billion dollars into the hands of contractors like the Boeing Corporation, so not everybody went away unhappy.

It seems the electronic surveillance equipment is unable to differentiate between trespassing aliens and ordinary ground clutter.

It makes one pine for an old-fashioned, inexpensive, low-tech solution—like the heart-stirring vision of Black Jack Pershing and George Patton galloping across the border at the head of a column of YOO-nited States Cavalry. You can bet your government-issue horse blanket they were able to differentiate between Pancho Villa’s band of desperadoes and ordinary ground clutter.

The romance of the American West aside, many of us would prefer a “real” fence along the entire border. The problem is that, while providing the visceral satisfaction of catching would-be border-violators in the act of scaling it like cockroaches trying to get out of a bathtub, it’s a budget-buster and doesn’t work all that much better than the “virtual” one, anyway.

Maybe the better solution would be to put into effect an incorruptible guest-worker ID program, and to place heavy penalties on businesses that employ illegals under the table.

In other words, eliminate the incentive.

Nah… “Fix the danged fence!” makes for a much better sound bite in campaign ads… right, Sen. McCain?


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October 22, 2010

Chan Lowe: Buying the midterm election

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The American body politic⎯quiescent, even oblivious in normal times⎯is restless and fearful due to economic uncertainty. In its currently aroused state, it has become prey to cynical self-interested forces. When people are angry, they are easily led.

For example, if it is a tenet of faith of one particular group that climate change is a myth, it makes sense that shadowy petrochemical plutocrats, who have so much to lose from environmental regulation, would give behind-the-scenes financial support, through patriotic-sounding front organizations, to candidates who espouse a laissez-faire regulatory philosophy (To the big money backers, all that Libertarian stuff about individual rights and Second Amendment gospel are window dressing. Being billionaires, they can simply buy all the rights they want).

Their shills in the media and in politics, all of whom have so much to gain, willingly spread the party line (As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money”). Their legions of listeners hunger for easy answers, which are cheerfully supplied in large helpings.

In the final days before the midterm elections, President Obama is playing catch-up, campaigning hither and yon to defend and explain his vision for the country. He and his party might not be in such a jam today if they had taken the trouble to do the plodding grunt-work of repetitive indoctrination from the beginning.

His opponents certainly did.

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October 21, 2010

Chan Lowe: Virginia Thomas, Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas

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The now-celebrated Virginia Thomas phone call to Anita Hill is one of those random occurrences that just pop up out of nowhere, and leave people scratching their heads.

Life⎯even official Washington life⎯doesn’t always follow a script, and we can neither plan for, nor rationalize, the caprices of the human mind.

The names Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill will be forever entwined in history, whether or not it’s fair to either party. Evidently, this fact has been eating at Mrs. Thomas for the last nineteen years, and in her defense, it’s often true that one feels the hurt of a perceived injustice inflicted upon a loved one more deeply than when it is inflicted upon one’s own self.

What is more disturbing than her questionable dialing practices is her high-profile involvement in conservative and libertarian causes, especially in an organization funded by anonymous sources. Of course, as an American, she has every right to do this, and no one is asserting that the ethical rules that apply to her husband also apply to her.

Nevertheless, it would be logical that anyone who is concerned enough about her husband’s personal reputation to ask for an apology from his accuser after almost two decades would also consider his reputation as an impartial jurist, and soft-pedal the partisan passion.

I doubt, however, that Mrs. Thomas looks upon this logically.

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October 20, 2010

Chan Lowe: The gradual erosion of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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I’m back. First off, I’d like to thank everyone who checked in on the blog while I was away recharging the batteries. I hope you enjoyed the vintage toons.

Onward to a topic that never seems to go away, regardless of the direction in which the country is moving. I ascribe it to the truism every politician is familiar with, which is that angry people are more likely to vote than those without a beef.

Surveys have shown that the military is no different than the nation at large, in that the younger the service member, the less likely the sexual orientation of one’s neighbor seems to matter.

Older members of the military are uncomfortable with the idea of gays serving openly, the same way that older members of the population at large have a problem with gays just being who they are. The reality is, older people are more likely to vote, so their sensitivities must be taken into account. Hence, the foot-dragging.

The military, as I’ve said before, is a great eraser of prejudice. If you can depend on your buddy to shoot straight and cover you, you stop caring about his or her color, creed, orientation, native tongue, or even what planet he or she may come from.

While we struggle through this uncomfortable period of transition, it might help to remember that the military exists to implement and facilitate national will through the projection of force. Since sexual orientation has been shown to bear no correlation to one’s suitability to serve honorably, it hardly seems germane to that mission.

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October 18, 2010

Chan Lowe: Offshore drilling

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 15, 2010

Chan Lowe: FPL rates

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 14, 2010

Chan Lowe: Right to die

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 13, 2010

Chan Lowe: The price of war

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 12, 2010

Chan Lowe: Iraq War

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 11, 2010

Chan Lowe: The national debt

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 8, 2010

Chan Lowe: Those were the days

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 7, 2010

Chan Lowe: Post-Katrina

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While I’m taking a break from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons that I drew for the Sun Sentinel’s editorial page exactly five years ago, to remind you what was occupying our thoughts back in those days.

Enjoy!


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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October 6, 2010

Chan Lowe: Is The Donald running for president?

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As a cartoonist, I heard the news that The Donald was considering a run for the presidency with alacrity. Politics have become all too ugly and cutthroat of late, and the introduction of some comic relief would be welcome. The nation desperately needs it

When I say “comic,” I’m not talking about the bad stand-up material of John Boehner’s, Sharron Angle’s, Rand Paul’s or Christine O’Donnell’s irresponsible statements, which are both oblivious and dangerous. I’m talking about a man who would view the undertaking with a sense of self-aware bemusement; as another hobby with prospects of success, like his Apprentice franchise. Above all, you know the man would have fun, and that he would do his best to bring the rest of us along for the ride.

You may remember that The Donald ran for president way back in 2000. His short-lived campaign was eclipsed by the Bush v. Gore post-electoral debacle, but I got at least one good cartoon out of him then, and fervently hoped that someday, our flamboyant Palm Beach resident would once again consider throwing his toupee into the ring.

Besides, even if it were only offered on pay-per-view, I would drop everything to watch one of those pre-primary group televised debates just to hear Trump turn to the former governor of Alaska and say, “Sarah, you’re fired!”


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October 5, 2010

Chan Lowe: Christine O'Donnell's witchcraft denial

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The media, both “lamestream” and proprietary, have it wrong when they use the term “anti-incumbent fervor.” The words aren’t specific enough to properly convey the mindset of a large proportion of this year’s voters.

The ire directed at current officeholders is really more of a resentment that there seems to be an entitled class of rulers, of beltway-savvy elites who don’t connect with the fears and aspirations of your average Wal-Mart shopper. The anger at government is about the distance that has grown between it and the people from whom it used to derive its legitimacy, before it fell into the clutches of special interests and individual self-interest.

The Democrats think they’re onto something by highlighting the zany comments of some of the wilder right-wing candidates as way of slapping lethargic voters upside the head.

This strategy could well backfire. Average Americans⎯upon hearing that someone dabbled in witchcraft, doesn’t believe in evolution, or thinks that government shouldn’t be telling a private business owner that he is required to allow minorities into his store⎯may respond by saying, “Yeah, by golly! I can identify with that!”

Best to ride it out. Let the nation have its convulsion at the polls, then sit back and enjoy the show. You think these candidates look clumsy on the stump? Wait until they galumph into the halls of congress, and are forced to confront the intricate, exhausting, inglorious and unlovely process of actually trying to run a government.

Who knows? They might even take a cue from one of their greatest avatars, throw up their hands and quit in the middle of their terms.


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

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October 4, 2010

Chan Lowe: Facebook and vestigial flippers

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Back at the end of December 1999, I drew a montage of sketches offering a cartoonist’s-eye view of what we had to look forward to in the coming century. I wish I could find it for you, but it’s buried somewhere.

Anyway, one of the drawings was of a slug-like figure enveloped in a cushioned cocoon of a body chair. There was a tube feeding nutrients into his mouth, and an electrode implanted in his brain through which all contact with the outside world occurred. Neither speech nor movement was necessary⎯all communication was done by thought waves.

His entire life could take place in the chair, and eventually his superfluous arms and legs would evolve into vestigial flipper-like appendages.

Little did I know how close we would be coming to that state of affairs by the end of the ensuing decade. Today, other than the acquisition of food and/or booze, there is no reason to leave our homes (particularly if we are unemployed), since all social interaction can now occur online.

Not only do we no longer need to be in the actual physical presence of anyone else, we have mastered the art of creating virtual personalities. By exercising control over the “information” we release about ourselves on our Facebook pages, and by judiciously managing our circle of “friends,” we are finally capable of projecting that image of ourselves to the outside world that we always wished we possessed.

There is no more living with the fear that we might allow our carefully-constructed façade to slip in an unplanned conversation or (gasp) in the course of a social evening out with friends. Unless we accidentally type something rash in a moment of reckless abandon, we and our electronic universe are safe from dreaded faux pas. No more spontaneity, no more surprises, no more uncertainty.

Now, that’s living.

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October 3, 2010

Chan Lowe: Reject Corner!!!

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Deep down in the nether regions of my brain, I knew this cartoon wasn't going to pass muster with my editor. I've worked on editorial pages long enough to know when I've crossed the line.

"Oh, come on," Mrs. Lowe-Down said when I told her the idea over breakfast.
"Your older readers will love it!"

"Yeah, but this is the editorial page, not a Mae West movie," I replied.

Nevertheless, I thought the idea was so clever that I sketched it up anyway and
showed it, tongue-in-cheek, to my editor, Antonio Fins. What did I have to
lose? It's his job, not mine, to determine taste issues in our section of
the paper.

Tony did not disappoint. Herewith, his response:

"Chan, Chan, Chan. How long have you been at this paper? By now, you know that cartoons with overtly sexual references, or double-meanings, don't get into print. Yes, values have changed and edgier content is getting into newsprint, but we still have to uphold certain standards.

"But, look, I get it. You need to push the envelope. And I need to stop the envelope and take all the fun out of your job.

"So, no."

What do you think? Was Tony right?




POSTED IN: Cartoon Rejects (15)

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October 1, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Afghanistan morass

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I haven’t read Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, yet, but enough has leaked out (all Bob Woodward has to do is belch and it becomes a weeklong media beltway story) to tell us that we’re really stuck.

Wars are always a confluence of pragmatism and politics. A political genius like FDR was able to unite the American people behind our involvement in World War II by laying out a clear purpose. In so doing, he provided the nation with a way of knowing exactly when it had achieved its objective.

It didn’t hurt his case that the Japanese pulled a sneak attack on the Pacific Fleet, or that we were fighting organized nation-states that knew how to officially surrender and cease hostilities when they were beaten.

In other words, in WWII the politics and the resoluteness of national will were not issues that needed tending, so we could turn our focus completely and wholeheartedly to prosecuting the war.

In the case of Afghanistan, we are bogged down building a nation whose “citizens” don’t even think of themselves as “Afghans,” and where the original purpose for invading⎯to root out al-Qaida⎯may no longer even be operative.

Besides, it appears that we’re losing. Americans hate to lose. What they hate even more is sacrificing American lives when they don’t see a clear purpose.

And in case we didn’t think things could get any worse, now we all know--thanks to Bob Woodward--that nobody in our leadership agrees on what to do to extricate ourselves.


POSTED IN: Barack Obama (172), International (86), War on Terror (50), Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (52)

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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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