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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March 31, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott's tax cuts


A recent poll has found that if the Florida gubernatorial election were held today, an overwhelming number of Floridians would vote for Alex Sink over Rick Scott.

This says a lot more about the electorate than it does about Scott. It isn’t as though he pulled a bait-and-switch. He always said that if he became governor, he would run the state like a business. We all knew that the business he ran paid a record fine to the U.S. Government for fraud, and we knew that he had no experience whatsoever in government. What more did we expect?

Scott’s idea of cutting corporate taxes at a time when Florida desperately needs revenue is so unrealistic that even the Republican legislators can’t swallow the trickle-down myth. They have to balance the budget, and even the most conservative Republicans know⎯deep down in their granite hearts⎯that generating revenue by creating a more favorable business climate would take more time than they’ve got. Besides, with lower taxes, you’d have to see some pretty phenomenal corporate growth for such a folly to pay off.

Of secondary concern to them is all the lives that would be rent asunder thanks to the budget-slashing necessitated by the Scott tax cuts⎯since we’re only talking about bloodsucking state workers, who cares anyway, right? Well, state workers do pay taxes, and they do collect unemployment when they’re laid off. Unemployed, they’re just as much a drain on the economy as out-of-work private-sector workers.

This is what happens when you put a businessman with no political experience in office. When a businessman buys an election, he forgets that actual people voted for him and that the people are his boss. To him, the money he spent on his campaign was an investment, and he now owns the company.

We never gave him any reason to think otherwise.


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March 30, 2011

Chan Lowe: Arm the Libyan rebels?


We’ve done so well until now. Let’s not go and shoot ourselves in the foot. What little we know about this ragtag band of so-called “freedom fighters” is that they come from a part of Libya that is a popular recruiting ground for al-Qaida.

The UN mandate empowered the coalition to “do whatever is necessary” to protect innocent civilians from harm. We’re already stretching that language to the limit with our aggressive action, regardless of how you euphemize it (Did William Tecumseh Sherman really say, “Kinetic military engagement is hell?”).

“It wouldn’t be prudent,” to quote a former president, not to find out for certain that these people aren’t arsonists before we put gasoline and matches in their hands. Let’s take note, also, that the materiel we would supply to them isn’t exactly of the simple point-and-shoot variety. It’s sophisticated, as befits weaponry for which the U.S. taxpayers paid plenty in order that our defense contractors could bedazzle the bejeezus out of our military procurement people.

That means we’ll need to send in “trainers.” Dozens of trainers. No, hundreds of trainers. No, thousands. No,…uh-oh.

There are already enough of our young people shedding blood elsewhere for questionable reasons, so let’s just stick to the planes, bombs and cruise missiles for now. Besides, the no-fly zone, even by itself, is good for business—those depleted stocks of bombs, bullets and missiles will need to be replaced, meaning buzzing factories in congressional districts all across our great land.

As that same former president said when he was selling us the First Gulf War, “It’s about jobs.”

There’s your reason, for those of you who don’t buy the humanitarian angle.


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March 29, 2011

Chan Lowe: Obama's Libya speech


In his speech about Libya the other night, President Obama hit all the right patriotic notes. After all, he was selling something, and there’s no better way to move merchandise than to butter up your customers.

Americans like to hear that they are an exceptional nation, and Obama, who has often been accused by conservatives of not properly accepting this notion, turned the tables and presented our exceptionalism as the key justification for intervening in the Libyan conflict.

For us to stand by and let Gadhafi massacre his own people, he asserted, would be to violate our very character as a people. It’s true that of all nations, we’re the ones most likely to involve ourselves militarily to protect the human rights of others, on the premise that to allow someone else’s rights to be trampled puts those of all in jeopardy.

While we can all agree that we’re something special, let us not confuse that with being a nation of saints. Sometimes, in order to preserve our security, we’ve had to hold our noses and prop up a few despots while violating some of our sacred principles. Just ask the Egyptians, the Filipinos and a few Latin American banana republics, to offer but a handful of examples.

The reasoning here is that we ought not to allow unrealistically (and naively) principled behavior to be the enemy of good outcomes. By making deals with the devil now and then, we can survive for another day to save the future for what we believe in. We come off a little tarnished, but the principle remains pure. Other peoples might cynically call this “hypocrisy,” but we know better.

Lord Palmerston famously said, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests.” Thanks to our military might and our founding ideology, we can, alone among nations, afford the luxury of making the preservation of universal human rights one of those permanent interests. And being human ourselves, we are sometimes less than perfect about upholding them.


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March 28, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott's drug testing


It isn’t like our state bureaucracy hasn’t been running smoothly since as long as anyone can remember. It has continued to thrive and--with the exception of some minor setbacks--expand, and as a self-sustaining organism, it is practically unparalleled in survivability.

So why would Gov. Rick Scott want to impose random drug testing on Florida’s state employee workforce? Has there been a drastic, worrisome reduction in red tape? Has it become unnecessarily easier for the public to interact with government? Are state workers suddenly showing suspicious signs of courtesy and helpfulness on the job?

It’s easy to understand why people in hazardous jobs need to be regularly and randomly tested. The unpredictability of randomness keeps, say, airline pilots from gaming the system.

When a state bureaucrat, on the other hand, commits an egregious human error, chances are it amounts to no more than an incorrectly filled-out form, one that gets lost in a mountain of hundreds of millions of similar documents. No lives are lost. In the leaky pipe that is state government “efficiency,” it is but a drop of water. Why go to the expense⎯the taxpayer expense, mind you⎯of administering drug tests when a state worker’s error is more likely to be the result of corruption or some other malfeasance?

I thought Rick Scott was going to redesign government and save us money. Not only will this scheme add a needless burden to the budget, it will wreak havoc with that intangible factor, morale. When that goes into the toilet, Scott and his wonderful experiment in streamlining will begin to look more like a kid who just blew up his chemistry set.


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March 25, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon VI


While I'm away from the blog, I'm posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is).

They also illustrate that some issues are never resolved; they just linger indefinitely.

I drew this after the passage of the USA Patriot Act and some other legislation that caused some people, generally on the political left, to worry that our constitutional rights were being eroded.

I find it ironic that five years later, it's the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement that is most worried about government's encroachment on constitutional rights.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 24, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon V


While I'm away from the blog, I'm posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is).

Katrina was one of the biggest disasters for George W. Bush's presidency, because while he had already managed to alienate a large segment of the American public (which didn't really matter; most of them were Democrats), it finally began to dawn on his supporters as well that he was incompetent.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 23, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon IV


While I'm away from the blog, I'm posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is).

Dick Cheney's shooting of a friend in the head during a controlled pheasant "hunt" was one of the many tragicomic events that occurred during the Bush Administration.

Another one was the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco, but sadly that happened more than five years ago.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 22, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon III


While I'm away from the blog, I'm posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is).

They also illustrate that some issues are never resolved; they just linger indefinitely.

We don't really know if the world would be better off, or more stable, if Saddam were still alive. The sad thing is that, after all that's happened, we don't really know.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 21, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon II


While I'm away from the blog, I'm posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is). .

Hard to believe it's been five years since Rush had his brush with the law. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to have harmed his career.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 18, 2011

Chan Lowe: Encore cartoon I


While I’m away from the blog, I’m posting some cartoons I drew exactly five years ago, in the Spring of 2006. They remind us of what we were thinking about back then (and highlight how short our national attention span really is).

They also illustrate that some issues are never resolved; they just linger indefinitely.

This cartoon, for example, will be just as current next spring as it was back in 2006. Remember that we were facing an off-year election that November, and it's standard Republican practice to stoke all the hot-button issues (immigration, abortion, gay marriage, Second Amendment, etc.) in the Spring to scare the base into turning out to the polls in order to rescue the Republic from certain ruin.

POSTED IN: Cartoons from Five Years Ago (38)

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March 17, 2011

Chan Lowe: Inflation's back


As if it weren't traumatic enough to watch the numbers add up at the checkout line scanner, our intelligence gets insulted by the ever-shrinking cans, the cereal boxes with two-thirds "product settling," the 1lb. pasta boxes and coffee bags that now say "12 oz." in small print, the spice jars with labels all the way around so you can't see how empty they are, and the "30 per cent water" on the meat packages.

After all that, they have the gall to raise the prices on those things, too.

POSTED IN: Economy (197)

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March 16, 2011

Chan Lowe: The tsunami...what really happened


Admittedly, this cartoon is speculative, but it’s certainly as plausible as the brave Minutemen who fired the shot heard round the world at Concord and Lexington, New Hampshire (Even then, the Colonials knew it was going to be the first primary state, and accordingly relocated the border with Massachusetts until the skirmishes were over).

Or as credible as how someone’s passion for his country prompted him to commit adultery (“Oh, God…oh, God…oh GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!”).

One of the oddities about listening to the utterances of people like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich when they address friendly crowds is that they can say the most preposterous things, and no one among their nodding listeners ever steps up to correct them, or bursts out laughing at their inanity.

Either the crowds, too, are ignorant and selective in applying their moral standards (Imagine if Obama had tried the “passion for my country” line), or they’re just dittosheep who bleat to the tune of Rush Limbaugh and the other right-wing broadcast candy. Those who dare to speak the truth will be cast out.

This blind acceptance may get the more interesting candidates a long way in the primaries, but historical gaffes like the Founding Fathers managing to eliminate slavery long before the Civil War was fought won’t cut it with independents. They don’t respect the concept of ideological purity, which is why they call themselves independents, and are (we hope) more clear-eyed in their judging of competency than the orthodox faithful. However one feels about Barack Obama, one cannot accuse him of being ignorant or in possession of an incurious mind.

The old polling question, “Which candidate would you rather have a beer with,” should be accompanied by another: “Which candidate would you want representing your country at the next G8 summit of world leaders?”


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March 15, 2011

Chan Lowe: Japan earthquake aftermath


In addition to the measureless destruction of once-picturesque cities and countryside in Japan is another scene that appears even more otherworldly to American eyes: the absence of violence, looting and general chaos in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Instead, survivors wait quietly and patiently in line for supplies, or help each other pick through the wreckage for other survivors. Above all, order is maintained.

A theory holds that it’s because they’ve all been forced to live, densely packed, for centuries. The code of politeness and acceptable behavior that the Japanese have created in order to coexist in such a small space has come to define the scope of their daily lives.

To them, personal accountability and the avoidance of shame are so important that throughout their history, ending one’s life was an accepted way to atone for a breach of the social code.

In America, by contrast, when role models go rogue, they get book deals and reality shows.

We Americans are a nation made up of individuals who hold their personal rights and freedoms sacred. In theory, at least, government rules us by our own consent, and no more than we allow it to. As individuals, we flourish in our uniqueness.

Until recently in Japan, the head of state was regarded as a god, the Son of Heaven. The Emperor was the embodiment of Japan and her existential national spirit, and his subjects considered themselves branches of that body, like fingers on a hand. While Douglas MacArthur did his best to expunge the Son of Heaven part during his postwar viceregency, that concept of the individual’s relationship to the national whole remains. It isn’t any better or worse, intrinsically, than our way of defining ourselves, just different. It manifests itself most at times like these.


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March 14, 2011

Chan Lowe: Japan's nuclear nightmare


When J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project, beheld the first atomic fireball in the New Mexican desert, he famously quoted a line from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

He had devoted his life for the previous few years to developing a theoretical process into a weapon of mass destruction. During the course of his work, he probably mused about the possible peaceful applications of the monster he had created, but he also knew that the difference between a weapon and a controlled power source was only one of degree and intent, not one of substance.

When you combine that with mankind’s record in battling the unforeseen forces of nature, it leaves you a little less credulous of the reassuring claims made by the nuclear power industry.

The Japanese probably know more about the effects of earthquakes than any other nation, and to their credit, the nuclear plant safety mechanisms they designed survived the earthquake part of their apocalypse. What they hadn’t banked on was that the backup diesel generators, which would have pumped water into the reactor vessels to cool the fuel, would be swamped by the resulting tsunami. Mere humans can’t think of everything.

Just when you think the Japanese people have had more disaster visited upon them than any nation ever deserved, this new horror looms above them. Even more tragically, they⎯uniquely among nations⎯are no strangers to the devastating capabilities of nuclear fission.


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March 11, 2011

Chan Lowe: Tragedy in Japan


The Japanese people are in our thoughts and prayers.

POSTED IN: General Topics (188), International (86)

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March 10, 2011

Chan Lowe: Republican cultural politics


Maybe the electorate is beginning to tire of the relentless talk about jobs, the economy and the deficit. If we Americans are known for anything, it’s the brevity of our national attention span.

Lately, we’ve been hearing the siren call (some call it “dog whistle”) of some old, familiar themes—mostly enunciated by Republican presidential hopefuls seeking to burnish their appeal with notoriously culturally conservative Iowa caucus-goers.

There’s been a resurgence of the hot-button social issues in congress, too, in the form of an attempt to cut Planned Parenthood’s budget, and the decision by the house to go ahead and defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court (since that amoral faux-Christian foreigner in the White House won’t do it).

I think it was the TV talking head Howard Fineman who coined the term “crazy tax” to signify the rhetorical tribute all GOP presidential candidates will have to pay to their base to have any chance of winning the primaries. The problem is that primary voters comprise only a motivated sliver of the full party⎯motivated, as in ideologically. Whoever bends over the farthest to present the most favorable image to them will have the heaviest lift when it comes to convincing moderates and other reasonable people that he or she can be trusted to keep an even keel if given the helm of the ship of state.

All Democratic strategists have to do is to start running that lucky winner’s own speech excerpts and primary ads back at him (or her) during the general election campaign, and further editorializing will be unnecessary. Gone are the days when a candidate can deny that he ever made a certain statement, or that it was taken out of context. Somebody always has a video camera or a cell phone running. Just ask President George “Macaca” Allen.


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March 9, 2011

Chan Lowe: Send in the Marines?


Will they never learn?

We’ve had troops mired for years in two theaters, and they’re spread so thin that the stress of repeated tours of duty is breaking them. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Secretary of Defense said that anybody who considers getting involved in another Middle East conflict ought to have his head examined.

Yet, the armchair hawks in congress are ready to go to war all over again in Libya, and they have the gall to chastise the president for moving too slowly. Sure, it plays well back home, where people are screaming about gas prices. But it’s President Obama who, if he gets us involved militarily, will be lying awake nights with those lives on his conscience.

Sure, it’s “just” a no-fly zone that they want for now. Planes get shot down, though. Pilots survive and are taken prisoner. John McCain, of all people, should know that. And if that pilot doesn’t survive, what will it say on his plaque at Arlington, “He died to keep pump prices down?”

Then, there’s the infamous “mission creep.” The Europeans are talking about mounting a humanitarian effort. These things need protection, which probably means U.S. Marines. They’re the only outfit with the training and logistics to pull off a job like that on short notice.

But protection detail has a way of spinning out of control. Didn’t the Vietnam War start off as a temporary deployment to protect the perimeter of an air base?

And what if we go in there to save the rebels, and it turns out they hate Americans more than Gadhafi? Talk about losing hearts and minds.

You'd think that after granting President Bush a free hand eight years ago to invade Iraq for specious reasons, the members of the senate who were around at the time would at least have the grace to keep their mouths shut now.


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March 8, 2011

Chan Lowe: Tallahassee two-step


Rick Scott⎯being both mega-rich and the former CEO of a health insurance company, (a) no longer knows what matters to average people, and (b) probably wouldn’t care if he did.

He is able to navigate in that ethereal world divorced from the daily concerns of basic survival and getting along in a community with one’s neighbors. In fact, Rick Scott can hole up in the governor’s mansion, dream up all manner of unworkable ideas and attempt to foist them on the state of Florida, like Lex Luthor from the Superman comics working his will on a miniaturized version of Metropolis that he has imprisoned inside a corked water cooler bottle.

The members of the legislature, most of whom are also Republicans, view the affairs of state through a much more mundane prism. Unlike Scott, who apparently isn’t concerned about getting reelected to a second term, they not only want to remain and prosper in politics, but they must also return frequently to their home districts to face constituents (a notoriously fickle lot).

As if that weren’t enough, State Senate President Mike Haridopolos is running for U.S. Senate. For that, he’ll need to appeal to all us bumpkins, not just those in his home district.

It is this difference in aspirations and world-views that will provide all the excitement in this year’s legislative session. Everyone knows that “Cut, cut, cut” is the war cry this year. At the same time, if some program dear to the hearts of local district voters is gutted, it won’t be Scott who hears the screams. For that reason, too, it will be hard for a state rep or senator to justify Scott’s desire to give massive tax cuts to state businesses when, say, schools are going begging.

Already, Scott’s stances on the prescription painkiller database and high-speed rail have left members of his own party fuming and scratching their heads. It’s easy to envision legislators turning Scott into a convenient scapegoat for all the state’s ills once the natives get restless.

As I said earlier, he doesn’t care. In the hands of a statesman, not caring about one’s reelection can be a powerful weapon for good. In the hands of lesser mortals, it can be the prescription for a train wreck of historic proportions.


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March 7, 2011

Chan Lowe: Gadhafi and fuel prices


This is what the Japanese dared to start a war over, back when they created the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in the 1930s.

Since the island nation lacked raw materials of its own, it determined that it was of vital national interest never to let its economy be held hostage to a shortage of natural resources and commodities.

Japan’s methodology in subjugating and brutalizing the peoples of a vast region was contemptible, but at times like these we can certainly appreciate her motives.

We like to think of ourselves as the most powerful nation on earth, yet our fragile economic recovery risks being strangled by, of all things, the reluctance of a semi-obscure North African madman to vacate his seat of power. Every day that he counterattacks and digs in is an extra day of turbulence and uncertainly in the world’s oil futures markets, with direct consequences to the prices of everything we consume here at home.

One could not blame the average American taxpayer for questioning the expenditure of so much of our treasure on the greatest defense machine in the history of mankind if we remain so vulnerable to discrete events in far-flung places.

One way out of this mess is to begin thinking of “national defense spending ” as something other than a series of jobs programs for defense workers scattered throughout a collection of congressional districts.

Hard as it might be for our representatives in Washington to get their minds around this, the fact is that every dollar spent on energy independence is a dollar we don’t have to spend worrying about keeping our oil supply lines open.

It’s up to us to educate our politicians that a salary earned by a voter manufacturing, say, photovoltaic cells consists of the same legal tender as a salary earned building tanks or bombers.

POSTED IN: Economy (197), International (86), Middle East (28)

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March 4, 2011

Chan Lowe: Newt Gingrich, candidate?


Newt Gingrich is a bloated example of an egomaniacal politician who has been around so long that he’s actually begun believing what his toadies and backers tell him.

“You’re the only one with the moxie, the brains, the ideas, and above all, the fundraising power, to beat the Pretender in the White House,” they whisper seductively into his ear. Since it’s what he wants to hear, why should he discount their sage advice?

Gingrich is such damaged goods that it’s hard even to know where to begin.

My favorite story about him, though, is when he brought divorce papers to his wife as (so she alleges) she lay recovering from cancer surgery in her hospital bed. At the time, he was cheating on her. Later he was steppin’ out on his second wife with his future third wife even as he led the charge during the Clinton impeachment hearings. You can’t get much more breathtakingly hypocritical than that.

Of his past marital behavior, Newt says he believes in a forgiving God, and that by implication, if He has forgiven him, then voters should, too. I’m not sure all the evangelicals who tend to vote in Republican primaries would agree with this line of reasoning; they’re still having trouble forgiving President Obama for being a Muslim born in Kenya, and he isn’t even guilty of those things.

Then there’s the personality issue. I think Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post put it best when he said, “He frightens the children.”

I hope Newt goes all the way and officially runs, because he’ll keep things interesting. He’ll lose, but he’ll lose dirty, and he’ll fry all his colorless Republican primary opponents to a crisp as he scorches the earth behind him.


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March 3, 2011

Chan Lowe: Anti-gay funeral protests


What the Westboro Baptist Church people are doing is so repugnant, so outside the bounds of human decency, that many of us hoped the Supreme Court would blow them out of the water.

Surely, we thought, their vicious hate speech and bizarre antics at military funerals⎯mocking the idea of military service to one’s nation and subjecting the families of the dead to further misery⎯constitute an abuse of the First Amendment.

Navigating their way through this fog of anger, however, eight justices of the Court realized that the beauty of the First Amendment lies in the fact that it can’t be abused. Other than crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater or inciting to riot, just about anything goes.

They made a compelling argument, too, as to why Westboro’s right to spew its ugliness is just as precious as Martin Luther King’s right to give his “Dream” speech on the National Mall: The church members are addressing an issue in the national discourse, and they are doing it in a place that enjoys a particularly sacred status in the Constitution…the public street.

It is at these very moments, when almost one hundred percent of us hate what we hear, that the reaffirmation of freedom of speech is so important. The ACLU realized this when it fought for the American Nazi Party’s right to march in Skokie, IL⎯and lost much of its financial support in the process. The content-blind principle must be applied to all situations at all times, or else human nature’s natural impulse to cherry-pick issues becomes irresistible.

Justice Alito ought to be respected for issuing his dissenting opinion, but he was allowing his heart to get in the way of his head. It’s an understandable slip, particularly in this extreme case. Burning the American flag as an act of protest is just as offensive to our sensibilities, and that is exactly why flag burning should not be made an exception to the First Amendment.

We can love the First Amendment or hate it, depending on the circumstances, but it’s ours. The inherent and inviolate broadness of the protection it provides is one of the many things that continue to make our country the envy of the world.


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March 2, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott, contrarian


Rick Scott ran on a platform of platitudes and generalities, like “Let’s get back to work,” and “Seven hundred thousand jobs in seven years.”

He was short on details, and as a candidate refused to meet with newspaper editorial boards⎯a time-honored vetting process that would have smoked out some specifics, or determined if there were any at all.

Instead, Mr. Scott was long on bucks, and money talked…at least in this last election.

He is smarter than we give him credit for, because had he met with a few experienced journalists with institutional memories, he might have been asked questions like, “What is your position on high speed rail in Florida?”

In the course of his answer, the gubernatorial candidate might have been forced to reveal that he would spurn federal funding and the jobs that came with it, in direct contradiction to the pro-jobs line he was peddling.

Had he been asked about Florida’s pill mills, for which our state is rapidly becoming more nationally recognized than for its beaches and sunshine, he might have disclosed that he was against instituting a prescription database, which would have helped to shut down the doctor-shopping that attracts all the wrong kind of tourists.

Had we voters known all this in advance, Scott might well have lost even if he had spent twice the amount he did to buy his office. Now he’s our governor, and his own Republican legislature is rising in revolt against his inexplicable, imperial decisions.

Yes, he’s much smarter than we give him credit for.


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March 1, 2011

Chan Lowe: Oil prices spike


Here we go again. We’ve been through so many gas price boom cycles that we know the script by heart: The lefties will say “We told you so,” and call for fuel tax hikes and business credits to be applied to developing alternative sources of energy, and they’ll get nowhere. The conservatives will first figure out some way to blame Obama, and once they’ve dealt with that priority, they’ll call for planting rigs right on Waikiki Beach if that’s what it takes to become energy independent.

Hardly anybody ever talks about this topic when fuel prices are low. That, of course, would be the best time to slap on a federal fuel tax, when it would do the least damage to the economy. Nobody in congress is willing to commit political suicide just yet, however. Better to play it safe and wait, so that high prices caused by disturbances in Libya, of all places, will result in our paying the same kind of “tax,” only to the Saudis and Venezuelans rather than to Washington.

The body politic only becomes agitated and focused when the pain hits it in the wallet. Then, of course, it becomes susceptible to demagoguery. Enter the shills for the oil industry, who argue for drilling in ANWR and other politically sensitive locales. They know none of this oil will make a difference for twenty years, and even then, of only a couple of cents per gallon.

One thing they have learned from President Obama, however, is never to let a crisis go to waste. Those cheaper, domestic wells will be producing long after the sense of crisis goes away, and we’ll still be hooked on what they’re peddling. Since oil is a world commodity, the oil companies can charge the same high prices for oil they don’t have to cart in from overseas.

Let the dance begin.


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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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