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

The Lowe Down

previous December 2010 | Main | February 2011 previous

January 31, 2011

Chan Lowe: The Twitter Revolution


What’s going on in Egypt could never have happened ten years ago, or even five. Suddenly, with worldwide access to the Internet, people have a tool at their disposal that is so unlike any we have ever known, so “game-changing,” to use a tired but apt cliché, that the political history of mankind from now on now may well be upended.

I’m not ready to give Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Jack Dorsey of Twitter the Nobel Peace Prize just yet, but those are some potent weapons they inadvertently created. For thirty years, Hosni Mubarak has been able to rule Egypt, as strong men and caudillos have ruled other countries before him (and still do), by sheer force of arms.

He, and others, have accrued wealth, comforts and power for themselves, their families and cronies, by creating a corrupt system that robs the wealth of their own people. Anyone who complains or foments discord is taught a quick lesson, or worse, disappears.

Now, the masses can organize with an efficiency no one ever envisioned. Even without established leaders, the downtrodden and disaffected of Egypt were able, through “people power,” to forge themselves into a tsunami that has appeared, so far, to seriously threaten (if not topple) the entrenched forces of repression.

Westerners used to think of the Arab world as forever cursed to live under the yoke of despots. Without a history of enlightened democracy in their culture, its people had no models to follow, and lay open to victimization.

Thanks to the developments of the last week in Egypt and Tunisia, we have found that human beings don’t need models to change their condition. All they need, in addition to their anger and frustration, are hope and desire. Social media have given them the means.

Their rulers know it, too, and there are a lot of sleepless nights right now in Middle Eastern palaces of power.


Discuss this entry

January 28, 2011

Chan Lowe: No tea for Marco Rubio, thank you


Marco Rubio’s no fool. Florida’s freshman senator was a familiar face in state politics, and a leader in the legislature, long before the Tea Party reared its tri-corned head on the national scene.

His fiscal conservatism was a natural attraction for the Tea Party, and when they decided to adopt him as their poster boy, he was more than delighted to surf the wave that would drive newly-converted moderate Charlie Crist out of the Republican primary race and then go on to swamp him when he tried to run as an Independent With Name Recognition.

Now that Sen. Rubio is happily settling into the cushions of his senate office chair, he has decided (as they all do) that it’s a pretty cushy gig and he’d like to stay on for a few terms. This is why it should be no surprise that when certain senate Tea Partiers called their first caucus meeting, Rubio conspicuously included himself out.

Politically, it makes sense to take advantage of all gifts when running as a virtual unknown against a powerhouse like Crist, who was the odds-on favorite to win the race just a year or so ago. Once Rubio developed momentum as a Tea Party darling, he was further blessed that Crist ran a lackluster campaign and that the Democrat, Kendrick Meek, never caught fire.

Rubio (and this is where the “no fool” part comes in) also knows that a close affiliation with the Tea Party won’t win him reelection in Florida. It might in a state like Rand Paul’s Kentucky, but Florida is too diverse. What wins you reelection here is being the incumbent. By just having the word “Senator” in front of his name for six years, Rubio’s reelection is almost assured, unless he does something incredibly stupid--like continue to identify himself with the party of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who have been distinguishing themselves of late as living in their own unique historical time warp.

He can go on being an ultra-conservative, he just won't be a tea-drinking one.


Discuss this entry

January 27, 2011

Chan Lowe: Junking the color-coded terror alert system


Most of us have almost forgotten about the infamous color code alert system, which was best known not for its effectiveness, but for its tendency to produce fear and confusion.

The original concept was well intentioned. It was dreamed up right after 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t even printed up office stationery yet, and there was a need to demonstrate to the public that the government, specifically the Bush Administration, was doing something positive in the area of national protection.

What could be simpler, more visual, and more reassuring than a color code system? It was, in theory, easy to understand, and its graphic nature lent itself to television and Internet coverage.

The problem, of course, was that the chart was not accompanied by specific instructions on how we ought to conduct ourselves depending on the color of the day. Did a “high” alert mean that we were supposed to stock up on Velveeta and other non-perishables? Did “severe” mean we should apologize to everyone we had ever wronged and then blow the 401K and all our credit cards on a trip to the French Riviera? Or was it better to just sit and stew about it?

Worse, there were accusations that the system was being manipulated for crass political purposes, as alluded to in this cartoon.

It’s high time we said “good riddance” to this and other misbegotten schemes, like stocking up on duct tape and plastic film to protect us from biochemical attacks. The best protection is good intelligence and unflagging vigilance. Not perfect, by any means…but the best.


Discuss this entry

January 26, 2011

Chan Lowe: Taco mystery meat


About twenty years ago, I found myself in the backcountry of Tahiti as the guest of an older Polynesian gentleman and his wife (No, I am not making this up).

They were preparing a standard meal for those parts, which consisted of a hollowed-out breadfruit refilled with canned corned beef (It came out in French as “cor-ned bif,” since the can had come from Great Britain) and roasted over an open fire. It was the perfect marriage of traditional fare (breadfruit, as implied by its name, is an excellent source of starch) and food that had only become available once Polynesia was connected by trade to the rest of the world.

The man told me that before the traders and colonists came, the islanders had subsisted happily on fish, coconuts, breadfruit, bananas, some cultivated crops, and the occasional wild pig if they were lucky enough to corner one and bonk it on the head with a special weapon that looked like a club with a rock embedded in the head.

They still enjoy one item that they think of as their national dish, “poisson cru,” which is fish that has been marinated like ceviche in lime juice until it has been “cooked,” then soaked in coconut milk. It’s outstanding. Living on this simple, healthy diet, the locals prospered for generations with little illness.

Anyway, my host told me that the French colonists, along with their unique style of overlordship, brought with them their cuisine, which emphasized meats such as beef, lamb and pork, and heavy, rich, creamy sauces and butter. This was adopted by the Polynesians, especially the newly developing bourgeoisie, and became incorporated into the local menu. Gradually, heart disease and hypertension grew to be the most frequent causes of death among the natives.

My host told me that he, himself, had had a heart attack a few years before. He then spooned me out another generous helping of breadfruit and cor-ned bif.


Discuss this entry

January 25, 2011

Chan Lowe: Post office closings


The outcry over the U.S. Postal Service’s rumored closing of 2,000 post offices over the next two years reflects our dismay at the prospect of yet another slice of Americana fading into the miasma of rotting memories⎯like the ice-man, the gas station attendant and the bootlegger who made backdoor house calls.

The notion of the village post office⎯the warm, welcoming community center housing a half-bespectacled postmistress who knows everyone in town, as well as their business⎯is an indelible component of the national myth.

If you grew up in a big city like I did, your memories of the post office don’t reflect the same rosy, gemütlich glow. The lobby of my post office always smelled like a colony of feral cats lived behind the heating grate, and the sullen, silent lines of frustrated customers shuffling forward while slab-faced postal clerks served them at mollusk-like speed made the visit seem more like an episode of The Twilight Zone than The Andy Griffith Show.

Nonetheless, I said “rumored” in the first paragraph because I doubt Congress will ever let it happen. It’s easy to cut things in the abstract, but even conservative Republicans know that constituents have long memories when it comes to losing something dear to them, be it that post office or the military base down the road⎯cries for fiscal restraint be damned.

This is just the first shot across the bow. It’s the USPS’ way of letting members of Congress know it’s time to think about how they’re going to sell the continued funding of a losing operation that has no long-term future to the public.

Our representatives have plenty of practice; it’s no different than keeping a useless military weapons program alive because the components are⎯due to the connivance of the prime contractor⎯manufactured in as many home districts as possible.

Don't despair. Our legislators are skilled professionals. They’ll find a way.


Discuss this entry

January 24, 2011

Chan Lowe: Michele Bachmann rises


Just as we are finally becoming oversaturated with Sarah Palin, her tweets, her Facebook postings, her bull’s-eyes, her surveyor’s marks, her book signings and her narcissism, we learn that⎯like a female version of John the Baptist⎯she has only been preparing the way for the one who is to follow.

For a couple of years now, Michele Bachmann has lurked on the lunatic fringe, not exactly a household name. But she whose unabashed and unapologetic verbal bombs make Ms. Palin, by comparison, seem like a model of statesmanship is about to catapult herself onto the national stage in the form of a Tea Party (she is its self-proclaimed Grande Dame) rebuttal to both the President and the Republican establishment.

We already pretty much know what President Obama’s going to say, since it has been analyzed, prognosticated and leaked ad nauseam for the past week. Rep. Ryan, as the dispenser of the official Republican Party line, will likely revisit well-trod rhetorical pathways that we can practically follow in our sleep.

So, for sheer entertainment value and jaw-dropping, kick-you-in-the-head outrageousness, I plan to be tuning in to Ms. Bachmann’s online spewfest, which will be like enjoying a rich dessert after a meal of gruel.

It’s hard to top calling for a federal investigation of the subversive, anti-patriotic tendencies of Democrats in Congress, but if Ms. Bachmann really wants to run for president, as she has been hinting, she’ll have to one-up herself and deliver the cheesecake. Like all good politicians, Ms. Bachmann is fully aware that her real enemy is audience boredom.

As for Sarah Palin, we thank her for softening up the American people so that they can truly appreciate Rep. Bachmann’s gifts. Nevertheless, she’s had more than her fifteen minutes, and her act has gone stale. It’s time for her to take her millions and shuffle off into the obscurity she so well deserves…there’s a new girl in town.


Discuss this entry

January 21, 2011

Chan Lowe: Big mob bust


How long do you think the outbreak of brotherly love between the parties is going to last? Well, let’s call it the appearance of an outbreak. As we know, in Washington it’s all about projecting an image for the day’s news cycle.

My guess is that we’ll be treated to some unlikely seating arrangements during the State of the Union Address (i.e. Schumer/Coburn), and then things should rapidly deteriorate to normal.

Republicans are, no doubt, heeding the latest poll numbers, which show President Obama’s approval ratings surging. If their past behavior is any indicator, they’re heeding them and coming to the wrong conclusions.

Obama’s newfound popularity is originating from the public perception that he has begun constructively engaging his political opponents for the betterment of the country. He does this whether the opposition likes it or not, and it has taken them tactically by surprise.

Faced with their nemesis’ improving numbers, they are sure not to learn the lessons of the polls, which is that cooperation floats all boats. No, they’ll revert to the old playbook, which is to continue to attack the President and try to tear down his initiatives, rather than present us with their own reasonable alternatives (The clock is ticking on the Republican version of the Affordable Health Care Act, by the way).

Well, let them. Should the unemployment rate drop in any significant way by November 2012, the man upon whom they have been heaping so much blame for the economy will justifiably claim the credit for its continuing recovery, and they will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Alternatively, they could try to work with him, which may be asking too much of them on behalf of the country.


Discuss this entry

January 20, 2011

Chan Lowe: The Obamacare repeal vote


So the Republicans have dutifully thrown the Tea Party people their bone. Yes, it was absurd and a waste of time, and while the Republicans won’t talk about it openly, they know just as well as everyone else how foolish it looked to pass legislation that was going nowhere.

These are the same people who accused the Democrats in the last Congress of putting their own agenda ahead of that of the American people, which purportedly consisted of jobs, jobs and jobs. This is why they inserted “job killing” into the title of their legislation, as a head fake toward relevance.

They were paying off a political obligation, and one must fulfill one’s promises. Yesterday’s vote, however, doesn’t eliminate the crosscurrent that the establishment GOP finds itself caught in.

The whirlwind that was unleashed at last year’s town hall meetings may have been directed at Democrats, but the Tea Partiers are still angry, they have no party loyalty, and they know when they’ve been played. They are not going to be satisfied with a mere kabuki dance and then quietly go back to their caves until the next election season. They will continue to clamor for the meaningful action they feel is their due.

Meanwhile, the Great American Middle, which is the kewpie doll prize in the 2012 arcade game, won’t have much patience for obstructionist, petulant displays like shutting down the government rather than raising the debt ceiling.

It’s a nasty little dilemma the Republicans have created for themselves. They can behave like adults, work with the other side, look responsible, get things passed, and improve their chances to win the general election.

Or they can act like they can’t be trusted with matches (much less the American government), win their home district primaries, and blow the big one.


Discuss this entry

January 19, 2011

Chan Lowe: Grading parents


I’m not a parent, so I admit I’m not an expert in this matter, but I imagine the idea behind this bill is to help make everyone more aware that the education of a child is a cooperative effort between teachers and parents. The former are charged with formal instruction for several hours a day, while the latter need to provide the home environment that is critical to effective learning.

I’m sure the notion of teachers grading parents is well intentioned in theory, but we’ll see what happens when and if it’s put into practice. Will it be used constructively as an informational tool for parents, or merely create an animus between the two most important influences in a child’s education?

If enacted, will the process be misused by bad teachers to provide an excuse for their own ineptitude? Will children who find out their parents scored poorly use it as a reason to slack off? What criteria will teachers follow? How will they keep their own bias out of the assessment? Will there be allowances made for hardship as opposed to negligence?

Will parents try to game the system by flooding their kid’s classroom with supplies? Worse, will they become the dreaded “helicopter parents,” who hover over their child so closely that they actually impede a teacher’s ability to do his or her job effectively?

As with so much legislation, there can be unintended consequences when the rubber meets the road. If nothing else, this law⎯if enacted⎯should make for livelier PTA meetings.

Regarding that last sentence, see my discourse on the proposed open-carry law.


Discuss this entry

January 18, 2011

Chan Lowe: Gunslinging condo commandos


Lost in the impassioned arguments about the Second Amendment and the right to defend oneself from government and each other is the question of what “open carry” might do to the already fragile fabric of society.

Let’s set aside the prospect of someone opening fire in a restaurant and forty would-be heroes suddenly responding with a hail of bullets, only guessing at who actually began the conflict.

Instead, let’s talk about what makes us civilized, and what makes America free. Guns don’t make us free, much as the NRA’s literature would have you believe it. What makes us free is the ability to govern ourselves, to make laws through a democratic process, and the mutual understanding that we will obey these laws once they are enacted.

It is the expectation of redress of grievances, and trust in fairness as dispensed by our legal system, that keep our society stable.

The system lets us down all the time, but the ideal, and our commitment to it, remain. This is the real glue that binds us. It cannot be forced or enforced from the barrel of a gun.

Robust yet civil argument is the lifeblood from which the system draws its strength. This is why it is so unsettling to us when argument becomes uncivil; it means the system isn’t working. When it stops working, and the disaffected feel their views haven’t been given their proper due, they begin thinking of empowering themselves in ways not sanctioned by the system.

Wearing a gun is another way of saying that, ultimately, all disagreements have the potential of ending in violence if they don’t turn out to our liking. This is antithetical to the process the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Deep in its corporate-sponsored heart, you have to wonder if this is what the NRA really believes those learned gentlemen had in mind when they ratified the words, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”


Discuss this entry

January 17, 2011

Chan Lowe: Baby Doc returns to Haiti


Last year, American holy man Pat Robertson famously claimed that a wrathful God visited the earthquake upon the Haitian people because they had struck a deal with the devil two hundred years ago to gain independence from the French.

One would think that any group of people trying to free itself from the French was on the side of the angels, but this is no time to argue theology. I wonder, however, what the Rev. Robertson has to say about the return of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to his home turf.

Haiti remains a poverty stricken, cholera-racked nation that is trying to rebuild its infrastructure (such as it was before the quake), and that is still waiting for most of the countries that pledged humanitarian funds last year to pony up. Baby Doc could not have chosen a worse time to materialize in its miserable midst.

For him, of course, it’s a golden opportunity. Half the current Haitian population wasn’t even born when he was thrown out of office by popular demand a quarter of century ago, so they don’t remember the torture, the repression, the fear, the corruption and the disappearances that characterized the reigns of the Docs, both his and Papa’s before him.

They’ve heard stories about the relative prosperity of that time, and the political stability that the dictatorship provided. It’s similar to many Iraqis’ wistfulness about Saddam, now that they’ve lived for eight years under the mixed blessings of American benevolence.

When a nation’s predicament is dire, and shows no sign of easing, its people have been known to trade their freedom for stability, safety and food on the table (See what happened to the Weimar Republic in the 1930s).

Baby Doc’s arrival bears all the signs of another tragedy in the making for Haiti. His mere presence there amounts to a temptation for its beleaguered people. Now, Rev. Robertson, we’re talking about the devil.


Discuss this entry

January 13, 2011

Chan Lowe: Congress caves to the NRA


Since this has turned into Gun Theme Week, I don’t have much more to say beyond my discourse of a couple of days ago, except that if you are one of those people who worry about the tyranny of our federal government, you can stand down.

As long as the NRA exists, with its awesome fundraising power and ability to turn out single-issue voters when it counts, congresspersons of both parties will quake and cower.

Yes, our representatives and senators know that there is no justifiable need for extended clips. They know that assault rifles are an invitation to mayhem, but they also have a highly-developed sense of self-preservation that, sadly, overwhelms any impulse to do what’s best for their country.

You want to talk tyranny? It’s as clear as the view through your telescopic sight.


Discuss this entry

January 12, 2011

Chan Lowe: Allen West packs heat!


In the wake of the Giffords shooting, freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West has indicated that he possesses a concealed weapons permit, and plans to avail himself of it if and when he deems it necessary.

I suspect Rep. West has been packing a piece for some time, only he’s telling us about it now for deterrent purposes.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has the bizarre distinction of being Rep. West’s representative in Congress (thanks to the fact that he doesn’t live in his district), has said that she prefers relying on a robust law enforcement presence at her events for her protection and that of her constituents.

Neither one of them is right or wrong; the difference does, however, neatly exemplify the two representatives’ distinct views of the role of government.

In the first case, individual responsibility for one’s own welfare is the operating principle. In the second, government is expected to act as a popularly empowered umbrella entity for the collective protection and betterment of society.

To boil it down, Rep. West’s view of government is “in spite of,” while Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s is “because of.” One is apart from, one is a part of.

As I said, there’s no right way or wrong way to look at it. There are simply different ways. All we can do is work harder to understand and respect where others are coming from.


Discuss this entry

January 11, 2011

Chan Lowe: Guns of mass destruction


The Second Amendment is right there in the Constitution, so it’s an integral part of what defines us as Americans, whether we like it or not.

What it was put in there for, and its relevance to us today, is another story. Conservatives love to use the constructionist argument, that the Constitution is not a “living document,” open to continual reinterpretation by activist liberals who can twist it to mean anything they want at the moment.

Fine, let’s use that argument. When the Founding Fathers, fearful of an overreaching, tyrannical government, gave citizens the right to bear arms, their intent was to guarantee them the means to defend themselves and feed their families. They were thinking about muskets and long rifles, which require almost a minute, even by a skilled marksman, to reload one round.

They weren’t thinking of semiautomatic pistols with 33-round clips, or assault rifles, which are good for nothing except killing a lot of people in a hurry. So if you want to be a strict purist, that assault rifle you own really isn’t covered by the Second Amendment. If it were, there would be no legal limit, logically, to the firepower of the arms you could bear.

If somebody brought a small tactical nuclear weapon or a labeled vial full of anthrax to a campaign rally and strapped it openly on his hip, he’d be bearing an arm, and he’d probably be arrested. If you were in the crowd, no doubt you’d be happy about that. Yet, the assault rifle, the nuke and the anthrax are all weapons capable of killing masses of people. What’s the difference between them? Only a symbolic one, really.

The NRA’s slippery-slope argument is disingenuous, designed simply to scare people for fundraising purposes. Nobody’s ever going to take gun-owners’ weapons away. It’s in the Constitution. It doesn’t say anything in there about the right to bear an extended magazine or a “street-sweeper,” however⎯which is a modern, “revisionist” riff on the sacred original text.

It would be pretty if we could find some common ground on this issue.

We won’t.


Discuss this entry

January 10, 2011

Chan Lowe: The Tucson tragedy


It’s hard to speak of a “silver lining” when faced with a tragedy like the one that occurred in Tucson over the weekend, but if the nation undergoes an agonized and honest examination of its political climate, and how it got to be the way it is, some good might yet come of it.

There was immediate, and irresponsible, finger pointing in the wave of emotion immediately following the incident. We don’t yet know if the alleged gunman is simply deranged in his own right, or whether he was influenced by inflammatory anti-government rhetoric.

Nevertheless, it’s high time we did step back and look at the methods and arguments we use when we confront each other in the arena of ideas. One congressional leader accurately characterized the way the national discourse has been conducted of late as “I’m right, and you’re evil.” In the clash of emotions, we have forgotten that we’re all Americans, chasing the same goal, which is to create the highest-possible quality of life for ourselves and our fellow-citizens.

Yes, the shootings were senseless. The best way to accord them some meaning would be to use them as a catalyst to improve the way we treat and respect those with whom we disagree.

Of course, this presupposes that, for once, we are prepared to listen to our better angels. A tall order, but not an impossible one.


Discuss this entry

January 7, 2011

Chan Lowe: The iPad phenomenon


I have to confess that this latest wave of technology, hailed by the tech crowd as a “game changer,” will probably pass me by, and I’m not in mourning about it.

The tablet and the smart phone are becoming the hand-held fonts of all human knowledge, the Delphic oracle we approach for everything from road directions to TV shows to recipes to purchases to world news to things “not even dreamt of in your philosophy,” as Shakespeare put it.

I went to an improv club up north a few months ago, and the audience gathered in the vestibule during the intermission. An eerie silence reigned; nobody was discussing the recently shared experience. No talk of favorite characters, no reliving witty skits. Each audience member was an island, his or her face bathed in the blue glow of an iPhone or BlackBerry, while thumbs danced on screens and keyboards.

They didn’t even realize what they were missing. Or maybe they made the conscious decision that they prefer virtually connecting through their devices to real human interaction, with all its tonalities, subtle facial expressions, pheromones, body language, and uncertainty.

It’s their right, and they aren’t bothering me--at least, directly. But I don’t have to become one of them.

I will be delighted to misread my paper map on a road trip, make a wrong turn, and end up wasting half a day exploring the streets of some town I never would have stumbled upon had I been using my non-existent smart phone’s GPS.

I will experience the glory of looking up a word in my dictionary, and an hour later realizing that I’ve run across so many fascinating new words along the way that I forgot the original reason for my search.

Yes, I’ll joyfully continue doing things the hard way. Life, in my opinion, is too rich and full of happy accidents to spend it staring into a screen.


Discuss this entry

January 6, 2011

Chan Lowe: Fuel prices spike


First, a postscript concerning yesterday’s topic: Evidently, the country is so rent asunder that we can’t even agree on which version of the Constitution should be read aloud for the Republicans’ stunt in the House of Representatives.

They’ve decided to read an amended, Bowdlerized version, which edits out the infamous “three-fifths compromise” in Article One, wherein members of Congress are to be apportioned to free men, excluding Indians, and counting “all others” (meaning slaves) as three-fifths of a person. Rep Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois wanted it read, but the Republicans would have none of it. And you thought the document was sacred.

Meanwhile, as we helplessly watch gas prices shoot up again, and wonder why we didn’t unload that behemoth in the driveway when we had the chance, some observations:

There’s an argument that, had we long ago added a federal gas tax surcharge to artificially inflate prices, it would have encouraged us to buy more fuel-efficient cars, etc. while the revenues could have been used to develop alternative energy sources. At least the cash would have been kept at home rather than shipped to countries that don’t like us.

They do this in Europe, and it has been working to some extent. There are places over there, like Denmark, that have done such a good job of converting from oil that their economies are relatively immune to market spikes like this one.

But that’s European, which means it’s un-American. If we’re going to have a double-dip recession thanks to fuel prices, we’d rather count on the oil companies’ good faith to wean the nation off their product than entrust our money to the government, which would just squander it on something else.

Meanwhile, enjoy your new extra bedroom on wheels.


Discuss this entry

January 5, 2011

Chan Lowe: Hypocrisy in the Tea Party


It’s heartwarming to see that, even though the new House majority is supposed to be heralding a return to America’s philosophical roots as the Founding Fathers intended, good old-fashioned hypocrisy hasn’t gone out of vogue.

The Tea Party representatives appear to have found their places in the Washington minuet without too much trouble, hiring lobbyists to run their staffs and staging campaign debt retirement functions at fancy venues where checks are written and ears are bent.

The question, “Will they change Washington or will Washington change them?” was answered even before the swearing-in.

I’m sure the lobbyists/chiefs of staff, hired because “they know the ways of government,” view their naïve new bosses as rough clay waiting to be sculpted in their expert hands.

There are news stories that rank-and-file Tea Partiers out in the boondocks plan to keep up the heat on their new champions, to make sure they continue to uphold the principles they campaigned on. They’re going to call, email, even drop by for a visit.

Here’s some advice for them: Don’t waste your time. All those Mr. Smiths you just sent to Washington may not realize it yet, and you may not realize it either, but they stopped representing you the moment they arrived on the banks of the Potomac.


Discuss this entry

January 4, 2011

Chan Lowe: House Republicans charge!


There’s talk (maybe wishful thinking) among the liberal elite that the Republicans, flexing their new found muscle in the House, will overstep and hang themselves by wasting the country’s time indulging in conservative movement issues that are of little relevance to the general moderate public.

I disagree. Assuming that establishment Republican members of Congress are cynical, which is usually a safe bet with pols, I expect them to get the ideological stuff out of the way early and quickly to satisfy the extremists who helped them win a majority this time around.

They’ll go after “Obamacare,” make a big production of reading the Constitution aloud (minus the 14th Amendment, of course), and throw a few other sops to the ravening mob so they can then settle down and get back to core party business. This consists of making sure the rich get richer and that their hard-earned fortunes aren’t frittered away in taxes so that bloodsuckers like the elderly, poor, unemployed and uninsured get free handouts from socialist do-gooders and other subversives.

Look for them to return to hot-button issues like kicking out all the Latinos, doubting global warming and maybe even a soupçon of gay-bashing (if it’s still in vogue by then) around the spring of 2012, when they’ll need to rally the commoners and successfully convince them to vote against their own economic self-interest for the umpteenth time.


Discuss this entry

Chan Lowe: Reject Corner!!!


It is fitting that The Lowe-Down should ring in the new year by revisiting a popular feature, "Reject Corner!!!," wherein the sketch of a cartoon I thought was pretty good gets spiked by my editor before ever reaching print.

As for this one, it was the first idea I submitted yesterday, ultimately replaced by the cartoon you now see in my previous posting about Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration.

Editor of the Opinion Pages Antonio Fins (my boss), felt that this effort was too "mean spirited," and suggested that I have the governor wearing sponsorship labels on his clothing, rather than use his baldness as a vehicle to make my point. He thought the overall thrust of the idea was valid; he just felt the execution was overly harsh.

I argued that Rick Scott's baldness is the only thing many Floridians know about the man, since he was intentionally vague during press conferences, and refused to meet with newspaper editorial boards during his campaign. As I said to Tony, I felt that a lot of the power of the cartoon would be lost if I did not exploit Scott's most unusual feature. In fact, I'm looking forward to making use of Scott's physical characteristic for the next four years, which I believe is entirely within the purview of an editorial cartoonist (just like George Bush's ears, or Ronald Reagan's wrinkles, for example).

What do you think? Had you seen the above sketch in its completed form in print or in this blog, would you have found it too "mean spirited?"

For Antonio Fins' extended comments about the cartoon, please click below.

Tony's take:

No better way for an editor to welcome back his staff members than with
an immediate rejection of their work. But this one was an easy call.

The question of Rick Scott accepting corporate money to finance his
inaugural festivities came up during our editorial board staff meeting
on Monday. Several board members noted that Scott ran as an outsider, and
spent many millions of his own dollars to get elected, and that voters
fed up with old-style politics and corporate-funded campaigns found that
aspect of his candidacy appealing enough to send him to Tallahassee.

So, yeah, it seemed incongruous, to put it mildly, for Scott to turn
around and rake in corporate dollars to pay for his inaugural. A little
frugality at a time of recession, moreover, might have sent a better
message anyway.

Here's the thing. The cartoon Chan drew didn't reflect any of these

All it seems to do is poke fun at Scott being bald. To me, that's not
what cartoon commentary should be all about. It's not just an
opportunity to make fun of people, but to make a statement. And this
cartoon didn't really make a statement about the points above.

So I rejected it. Happy 2011, Chan!

POSTED IN: Cartoon Rejects (15)

Discuss this entry

January 3, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott Inauguration


This being the January right after the election, it’s time for Floridians to begin their four-year-long blind date with their new governor.

I say “blind date,” because we know so little about him.

To use a homely expression, we bought a pig in a poke—well, actually, he bought us to the tune of $3.89 of his own personal fortune for every man, woman, and child in the state.

In fact, you could probably march Rick Scott down any street in Florida and ask passersby who he was, and chances are they wouldn’t recognize him. You could even whisper a hint, like: “He’s the governor of a state,” and they might say, “Oh, YEAH…it’s Jesse Ventura after a year on Weight Watchers.”

We know no specifics as to how he will wrench the state out of its straits. We do know something about his business practices, but now isn’t the time to go and rehash tired old stories. We’ve already done that, and it didn’t make any difference. What we are left with is “Seven hundred thousand jobs in seven years,” and “Let’s get back to work.”

Actually, we did learn something new in the past few days. Gov. Scott is allowing a raft of high-powered special interests to foot the bill for his inaugural festivities. Outfits like Blue Cross Blue Shield, AstraZeneca, Wal Mart, AvMed, U.S. Sugar… I’m sure all they’re interested in is making certain that celebrants have the best possible time, but you’d think a guy who found a way to spend $72 million of his own money to get elected as an unfettered outsider could cough up a couple million more to convey the initial impression that he can’t be bought.

Gov. Scott says he’s going to run Florida state government like a business.

It’s beginning to sound like business as usual.

POSTED IN: Florida Issues (258), Rick Scott (16)

Discuss this entry

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.
Connect with me

Search this blog
E-mail newsletters
Get the news that matters to you delivered to your inbox. Breaking news, hurricane alerts, news from your neighborhood, and more. Click here to sign up for our newsletters. It is fast, easy and free!