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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December 31, 2010

Chan Lowe: In with the new year, same as the old year


Can you say, "jobless recovery?"

I have admitted before that I'm no economist, but I simply can't grasp, from a linguistic standpoint, how the two words can exist side by side. Maybe people who are disconnected from daily reality, like our members of Congress, can understand it.

In any case, have a Happy New Year!


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December 30, 2010

Chan Lowe: Blast from the past IV


While I’m away from the blog for a few days, I’ve pulled a few cartoons from five years ago for your enjoyment and edification.

Happy New Year to all my readers!


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 29, 2010

Chan Lowe: Blast from the past III


While I’m away from the blog for a few days, I’ve pulled a few cartoons from five years ago for your enjoyment and edification.

Happy New Year to all my readers!


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 28, 2010

Chan Lowe: Blast from the past II


While I’m away from the blog for a few days, I’ve pulled a few cartoons from five years ago for your enjoyment and edification.

Happy New Year to all my readers!


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 27, 2010

Chan Lowe: Blast from the past I


While I’m away from the blog for a few days, I’ve pulled a few cartoons from five years ago for your enjoyment and edification.

Happy New Year to all my readers!


POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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December 24, 2010

Chan Lowe: Fallout from the 2010 census


New York loses two congressional seats after the census reapportionment, and Florida gains two. So it only makes sense that as the electorate moves south to sunnier climes, their politicians should follow. Pols like mild winters, too.

What if, for example, Rep. Anthony Weiner, who represents New York’s 9th district (spanning parts of eastern Queens and Brooklyn), were to lose his seat in the game of musical chairs? If I were an outspoken firebrand liberal like Weiner, I’d move here and run in the Democratic primary for Robert Wexler’s old district, Florida 19. It probably even contains more than a few of Weiner’s former constituents, so right there he’d enjoy an advantage. Ted Deutch, the current rep, sort of disappeared into the fog when he went up to Washington.

Or maybe Weiner could run for one of the two new districts yet to be carved out of the Sunshine State. An advantage would be that he commands seniority and national name recognition, giving his new constituency instant clout.

But all this is just a parlor game. Weiner probably isn’t going anywhere, and here in Florida, there’s an endless supply of homegrown mediocrity to choose from.

POSTED IN: 2012 Campaign (85), Florida Issues (258), Local South Florida Issues (187)

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December 23, 2010

Chan Lowe: "Twas the night before Christmas..."


This cartoon is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t muddy it up with more commentary.

In an act of cross-pollination that would bring tears of joy to the eyes of the Sun Sentinel’s online editor, our award-winning business writer Paul Owers will be posting the above effort on the blog he co-authors, House Keys, as a Christmas gift to his long-suffering readers.

I say “long-suffering” not because of Paul’s writing, but because his job is to chronicle in exquisite detail the flounderings of the South Florida real estate market, which is one of the engines that drives our local economy. Well, it would be, if somebody hadn’t stolen the spark plugs.

If you wake up in the morning with a case of what Alan Greenspan once called “irrational exuberance,” one glance at Paul’s blog will immediately set you back in balance. I work about six feet away from Paul, and by the time he’s through doing the phone reporting for a story you want to slit your throat. Frankly, I don’t know how he manages to maintain his sunny demeanor in the face of such relentless bad tidings.

In any case, the black humor of this drawing, I feel, is a perfect fit. Since our readership probably doesn’t overlap much, we thought it might be a good idea to give each other’s blog a holiday plug.

And on that note, I’d like to wish my readers a better year in 2011. I think we all deserve it.


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December 22, 2010

Chan Lowe: A prayer for Sarah Palin


The big question, at least among the chattering classes, is whether or not Mama Grizzly will run for president.

I may come to regret saying this, but I think not. She’s having way too much financial success with her other endeavors, and why should she besmirch a good brand by becoming a candidate and having to face the ravages of rivals and the "lamestream" media?

Much more fun than speculating on the future meanderings of the Wilderness Princess is watching other Republicans duck and weave when asked whether they think she’s qualified for office. They’re handling her with kid gloves in the event she declines to go for the gold, because they don’t want to alienate her easily offended constituency. Her vengeful fans, everyone knows, will crawl to the polls if necessary to smite her detractors.

Should she actually run (a prospect the White House salivates over), people like Mitt Romney and Tim (Who?) Pawlenty will have to figure out how to discredit her with drive-by jabs in such a way that her image will sustain damage by a thousand cuts while leaving her attacker undiscovered.

Running against Sarah in the primaries will be a dangerous, delicate task. The stakes are high, too. The Holy Grail of the Republican Party—the unseating of Barack Obama in 2012—hangs in the balance, and will likely be lost if she wins the nomination sweepstakes.

Not to mention the carnage her general election candidacy will wreak on the down-ticket races. Yes, the resulting bloodbath could be more sickening than, say, the slaying of a caribou on a reality show.

POSTED IN: 2012 Campaign (85), Sarah Palin (40)

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December 21, 2010

Chan Lowe: DADT repeal and the home front


Last summer, I stayed in a motel in southern Vermont, right across the street from a VFW hall.

Actually, the “hall” was more of a shack, and had one of those portable plastic signs out near the street that said, “Thurs nite bingo.”

I think of this place now, because I know it is a sacred repository of true American values, values that are so cherished they were fought for in faraway lands.

I also think of it because I wonder how the first openly gay or lesbian veteran who goes in there and asks for a beer is going to be received. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that after some initial discomfort, that gay or lesbian vet and the others in the hall are going to discover that they have a lot more connecting them than separating them.

They’re going to find out that they share the same priorities, the same gut feelings about the country they served, and the same willingness to back those sentiments up by laying their lives on the line.

And maybe, just maybe, treating gay people exactly like everyone else will enter the pantheon of true American values worth fighting to protect.


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December 20, 2010

Chan Lowe: Death of the DREAM act


You have to wonder what kind of poison is coursing through Republicans’ minds right now for them to torpedo the DREAM act.

This is a hugely important issue to the fastest growing demographic in the nation, so it makes absolutely no long-term political sense for the GOP to brand themselves for years to come—if not forever—as anti-Latino.

In the short term, if they want to display their xenophobic bona fides to their base, what’s the point of doing it right after the election? Two years from now, everyone will have forgotten about the death of DREAM except the Latino community.

On the moral side, the idea of leaving young people, whose legal status is in limbo through no fault of their own, to twist in the wind is unjustifiable. Calling DREAM “amnesty” is disingenuous; the idea was to have illegal aliens earn their citizenship, and that’s exactly what the act would have provided for.

Many of the people who would be affected by this legislation are as American as native-born citizens. They speak English with no accent, and American culture is all they have ever known. In some cases, they don’t even speak the language of their parents. If allowed to assimilate legally, they would likely become wealth-producers, not consumers, particularly if they were to earn college degrees.

And what about the military service angle? On the same weekend that gays were finally allowed to serve openly, why kick another willing group of enlistees right in the teeth, when a nation fighting two wars needs them the most?

Is the need to fan the flames of prejudice in the electorate really that pressing? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Republicans to come up with a coherent, credible, equitable program designed to rid this country of its many problems? Now that would attract some votes.


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December 16, 2010

Chan Lowe: The McDonald's Happy Meal suit


The mom who just filed suit against McDonald’s for selling Happy Meals (aided and abetted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) claims that the fast-food giant has made it much more difficult for her to refuse the entreaties of her children and to provide them with a healthful diet.

This doesn’t cut it with me. I don’t have kids, but I was one once, so I’m familiar with the business end of parental discipline. My particular bête noire was liver and onions, and I felt that life was being terribly unfair to me when I was forced to eat said repulsive dish.

In retrospect, though, when I realized that no amount of wheedling and whining was ever going to change the situation (without exception), it provided a certain sense of stability. Stability and predictability are what kids really crave, anyway, even though they may not know it.

TALLY-copy.gifWhat is required, though, is that parents discipline their own behavior as well as the child’s. Take my dog, Tallulah, who is shown at right (an adorable basset-shepherd mix, in case you were wondering). Half the time I tell her to do something, she ignores me. This is not her fault, but mine for not putting in the time to train her properly (as Mrs. Lowe-Down frequently reminds me).

So my advice to the mom, to quote Nancy Reagan, is to “Just Say No,” and to say it consistently, rather than attempt to invoke the power of the nanny state to restrict a lawful product. Sure they’ll say they hate you at the moment. But years from now, they’ll come back to visit for the holidays.

And yes, I know dogs are different than kids. Tallulah doesn’t mind being seen with me in public, she doesn’t ask to be driven to the mall, and I never have to worry about whether she’s hanging out with the wrong element.


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December 15, 2010

Chan Lowe: The Great Cold Snap of December 2010


This story is a propos of nothing, but since today’s topic is Canadians, I’ll tell it anyway:

About twenty-five years ago, I was sitting in a bar in Toronto watching hockey (what else?) on TV when an older gent sat down on the stool next to me and ordered a Depth Charge, which (at least in this bar) appeared to be a shot glass of Canadian Club dropped into a mug full of Molson’s.

We started a conversation, and it came out that this guy was a survivor of the Dieppe Raid, which you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re a student of World War II history or happen to be a Canadian. In one day, over sixty percent of the assault force of predominantly Canadian troops in this operation were killed, wounded or captured. There are memorials all over Canada to the Dieppe Raid. In Windsor, Ontario, whose Essex Scottish Regiment suffered heavy losses, Dieppe Park with its beautifully tended flowerbeds lies in the shadow of Detroit across the river.

Our encounter took place during one of the many Quebec separatist eruptions, and I noticed that the old veteran spoke with a heavy French-Canadian accent.

“Are you French-Canadian?” I said.

“NON!” the man replied emphatically. “I am CANADIAN!”

It occurred to me that the Germans⎯not regarded as a nation of mediators⎯had managed to accomplish the near impossible, at least in this one individual case: the complete unification of Francophone and Anglophone Canada. In response to the Teutonic menace, the proud old vet, notwithstanding his heritage, had gone overseas to fight for King and country, no questions asked.

On that note, I bought my non-hyphenated Canadian friend another Depth Charge. It was the least I could do.


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December 14, 2010

Chan Lowe: The loss of Richard Holbrooke


Who is this guy? Why do an editorial cartoon about him?

Richard Holbrooke may not be a household name, but it isn’t for lack of the man’s effectiveness. He was one of the most consequential American diplomats of the last fifty years, a titan of a man who was well-known and respected in international and domestic power circles, and who goes to his final resting place with mammoth accomplishments to his credit.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkan Peninsula alone owe their lives to his tireless efforts in brokering the Dayton Peace Accords, using the power of his own words and personality to face down Slobodan Milosevic, after bullets failed to do the same thing.

He accepted a thankless task⎯trying to unravel the Gordian Knot of Afghan and Pakistani politics to find a sane way out for all involved⎯and died, tragically, with the task unfinished.

Richard Holbrooke didn’t tweet his fans every day, he didn’t have his own reality show, and he didn’t rouse crowds to a fever pitch with pop slogans. All that attention-getting would have been antithetical to his goals.

Instead, he did the real grunt work, toiling away in the brambles for the furtherance of his country’s interests, and even more nobly, for those of the world in general. We should always remember his name.


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December 13, 2010

Chan Lowe: The tax cut deal spreads the joy


Suddenly, now that the grand bargain has been struck over the Bush tax cuts, we don’t hear any whining out of the Republicans about budget-busting programs.

Remember, before the midterm elections, when President Obama was getting blamed for every penny of the deficit? It seems that since $700 billion of new debt is being incurred to finance tax cuts for the Republican Party’s most important constituency, the deficit is no longer a problem.

Oh, and let’s not forget that to Republicans, tax cuts don’t really have to be offset to balance the budget the way government programs have to be. You see, in the fantasy world of the Laffer Curve and Trickle-Down, tax cuts more than pay for themselves in increased economic activity. Just ask George W. Bush (but don't ask his father, George "Voodoo economics" Sr.).

I’d like to know what happened to the Tea Party during all of this. They were supposed to be flexing their muscles, forcing erstwhile spendthrift establishment Republicans to discover their penny-pinching side. They must have been off watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants or something.

The new cover line around Washington is that Congress is going to push for a top-to-bottom restructuring of the tax code, to create a fairer system that also stimulates growth.

I’m sure they’ll approach that with the same enthusiasm with which they’ve attacked the national debt.


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December 9, 2010

Chan Lowe: GOP gives seniors the shaft


If there were any doubts left in the minds of average Americans that congressional Republicans have made the servicing of their wealthy paymasters a higher priority than their solemn oath to serve the people, then yesterday’s vote on Social Security should have laid them to rest.

At a time when the cost of living for such necessities as medicines has been steadily rising, the Republicans’ sudden desire to deny a mere $250 special payment to the elderly and disabled is not just a display of cynical party politics, it’s inhuman.

Why, after a deal has just been crafted that will add $700 billion to the national debt in order to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, are the Republicans suddenly calling for fiscal responsibility over a further $14 billion expense that could not only make a difference between life and death for the neediest, but also return more than the original investment in increased economic activity?

And please, Republicans, spare us the bankrupt trickle-down argument. Nonpartisan economic studies have shown that tax cuts for the rich return only cents on the dollar in economic stimulus, because the wealthy are more likely to stash the money or spend it overseas or on foreign products. Social Security recipients, who live from check to check, will spend it immediately.

It’s true that Americans who depend on Social Security checks for a significant portion (or all) of their income are less likely to vote Republican. Is that a sufficient reason for politicians to leave their souls behind in the GOP cloakroom before entering the senate chamber?


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December 8, 2010

Chan Lowe: 'Tis the season for religious strife


As sure as bullets fall from the sky at New Year’s, here in Florida Thanksgiving means the start of religious protest season.

Yes, the holidays tend to bring out the essence of who we are as a people…petty, vindictive, parochial and selfish. What can I say that hasn’t been said already?

Well, there’s this: the Florida Turnpike Enterprise has now banned holiday displays of any kind from its tollbooths (which until now have been provided at their own expense and initiative by the toll-takers, presumably to add a little joy to an otherwise distasteful operation for all parties) because some Christians complained that Halloween decorations were Satanic.

My favorite is today’s legalistic twist from the Catholic League out of New York (we Floridians are perfectly capable of stirring up our own teapot tempests without outside interference, thank you very much), which has weighed in with a complaint that the City of Boca Raton, by placing a menorah, a Christmas tree and a “Happy Holidays” sign alongside one another in a public building is practicing discrimination against Christians.

According to the complainants, the Second Circuit Court in New York has ruled that the menorah is a purely religious symbol, while the Christmas tree (due to its pagan origins, one would assume) has been deemed secular. So placing a menorah alongside a tree without including a nativity scene is showing a preference for the Jewish faith.

I’m sure the city fathers and mothers of Boca Raton had this intent in mind when they sanctioned the holiday display. After all, they have nothing better to do than figure out obscure and nefarious ways for using public money to circumvent the U.S. Constitution.

I prefer to think they were all bitten by a rabid otter and cannot be held responsible for their acts. Notwithstanding that this is the holiday season in Florida, we should at least pretend to be charitable.


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December 7, 2010

Chan Lowe: Obama caves on Bush tax cuts


The Democratic base can go ahead and scream that Obama caved on the Bush tax cut extension, but the fact is that the Republicans were going to go to the mat on this one, and the President knew it.

Making sure that corporations and the rich pay as little in taxes as possible is the core reason for the Republican Party’s existence. For Republican members of Congress to give an inch on this matter would be tantamount to throwing up their hands and admitting that they are just being obstructionist because it’s fun.

If progressives think that they can shame Republicans by staging populist votes of principle that highlight their allegiance to the wealthy over average, unemployed Americans, then they are being naïve. When it comes to this issue, there is no shame. This is existential. As Deep Throat once said, “Follow the money.”

Besides, the GOP has an ace in the hole. There's all that other stuff⎯the social issues like prayer in the schools, the death penalty, abortion, gun rights, gay bashing⎯that’s just cotton candy the GOP picked up along the way to entice the rubes in the hinterland to vote against their own economic self-interest.

It’s been working, too. Wave the prospect of, say, gays getting married in front of some God-fearing, churchgoing taxpayer, and he won’t see that behind the curtain, his earnest, sincere vote to “take America back” is being twisted to empower cynical plutocrats who are happily picking his pockets.

Barack Obama’s greatest handicap is that, as President, he must be concerned with the welfare of all Americans, not just the ones who can buy influence. The Republicans, not being burdened with that responsibility (and moreover, not caring if everybody knows it), will always hold the strongest hand in negotiations.


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December 3, 2010

Chan Lowe: Boca Raton's rogue otter


The national media must be as sick and tired as the rest of us of reporting the same old dreck about how deep an economic hole we're in, and how the election just brought us (Surprise!) more of the same intransigence in Washington.

Why else would the story of Boca Raton’s rogue otter become national news? Our newsroom was getting calls from as far away as Oregon, where otters (at least, the seagoing kind) are practically the state pet.

I asked our Palm Beach County bureau chief why he thought the otter story had such “legs.” He shrugged and said that readers love fuzzy little mammal stories, even if the mammal in question is rabid.

We have plenty of other rabid creatures here in South Florida, many of which can be seen commuting on our roads every day, but unless I’m mistaken, otters are something unusual.

Maybe this one arrived (the way other uninvited fauna do) in a cargo container from some far-flung locale.

And then got bitten by a motorist.


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December 2, 2010

Chan Lowe: Unemployment benefits expire


You would think that one of the most important roles government can play is to act as a safety net for those who are out of work through no fault of their own.

You would think⎯now that the financial types who caused the economic meltdown have been made whole, are thriving, and are once again awarding each other obscene year-end bonuses⎯that the victims of their greed would finally get their turn at the trough to lap up what few slops were left.

You would think wrong, because our Republican friends in Congress have suddenly found religion when it comes to making sure things like unemployment benefits extensions aren’t given out unless they’re paid for in some other way.

Like so many newly minted converts, Republicans are selective in their fiscal sanctimony. They have no problem with extending unfunded tax cuts to those so wealthy they would barely notice them, anyway.

Nor does it prick their conscience when huge defense contracts that purchase weapons systems not needed since the Cold War⎯but whose components happen to be manufactured in a far-flung panoply of Congressional districts⎯can only be financed through further borrowing from the Chinese.

Even the wealthy are beginning to rebel against this heartless, feckless policy. According to Katrina vanden Heuvel, who wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post, some of our most well-off citizens have written to President Obama, asking him not to cave on the Bush tax cut extension that favors their bracket.

Not only do they feel that this is the time⎯of all times⎯when they should be paying their fair share of the freight, they understand that a healthy economy based on fiscal responsibility benefits all, and makes them wealthier in the long run. Their tax money, when spent on the unemployed, translates directly into economic activity.

If even their paymasters understand this simple truth, what’s keeping the Republicans in Congress from acting like human beings?


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December 1, 2010

Chan Lowe: John McCain and Don't Ask, Don't Tell


Since we’re in full confession mode this week, and I’ve already revealed that I’m harboring strangely positive thoughts about Hillary Clinton, I might as well go all the way and declare that I am deeply disappointed by John McCain.

Yes, ten years ago, when he was running in the Republican primary against W., I thought (as did many Americans), “Here is an honorable man. I might not agree with his politics, but he appears to have the integrity I find lacking in so many pols today.”

Somewhere between then and now, Big John sold his soul to the forces of darkness. We won’t even talk about his rank opportunism in plucking Sarah Palin out of obscurity—an act for which the nation still suffers.

Formerly a moderate on immigration reform, he demonized aliens in a craven⎯albeit successful⎯attempt to beat a rabid conservative in his recent reelection bid.

Now he plays the spoiler as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, using one dilatory tactic after another to block the open integration of gays into the military. He called for a study. It was completed, but the results did not comport with his wishes. He wants another study.

Two-thirds of service members surveyed say they don’t care about the sexual orientation of their comrades. The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs want DADT repealed. They attest such an action won’t harm the military in the long run. An overwhelming majority of Americans favors repeal. What dwindling group of troglodytes is McCain fronting for at this point?

Yes, John McCain served honorably in war, fighting to protect the sacred rights of Americans. Since that time, he seems to have forgotten that meant the rights of all Americans, not just the ones who vote in Arizona’s Republican primary.


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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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