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

The Lowe Down


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September 30, 2011

Chan Lowe: West/Wasserman Schultz flap, Round II

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Verrrry classy. It’s not that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a shrinking violet—as fellow South Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings put it, “Debbie can take care of herself”⎯but what Rep. Allen West is accomplishing with his schoolyard comments is the further poisoning of the already toxic atmosphere in Congress.

As the figureheads of what amounts to their own personal corporate pyramids, members of Congress can easily forget that it isn’t all about them. They have been sent to Washington to do the nation’s business, and smart-mouth lines like a fellow congressperson making him want to vomit not only diminish Mr. West, they erode what is left of the comity needed to get anything done for the country.


It’s bad enough that members of opposing parties rarely socialize outside of work (an activity that used to prevent them from demonizing each other), but Mr. West and Ms. Wasserman Schultz are reported not even to be on speaking terms. Is this the way the constituents of their interlaced districts expected them to behave? Does their vitriolic relationship benefit the residents of South Florida in any way?

Nobody is asking them to go out for a candlelit dinner together, but a minimum of respect for the fellow holder of a federal office isn’t too much to ask. If you have something puerile to say about a colleague from the other side of the aisle, Mr. West, at least confine it to your own party’s cloakroom.

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September 29, 2011

Chan Lowe: Chris Christie...GOP savior?

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That aroma wafting through the air is the sharp odor of desperation mixed with the bitter stench of frustration. The economy is in lousy shape, and with the help of small acts of political sabotage here and there, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better by November 2012. The Chosen One presents a plump target up on his throne: He’s low-hanging fruit ripe for the plucking.

Yet, at this opportune moment, when the stars are in perfect alignment, the only generals the GOP can find to lead the charge are a buffoon whose English syntax follows rules known only to God and a guy who looks and sounds like he escaped from the animatronic Hall of Presidents at Disney World.

No wonder they’re on their knees begging Chris Christie to step in and save the day. What’s most amusing is that in their panic, they’re repeating the same blunder they made a few months ago. Remember when the movers and shakers, disappointed with the existing field of mediocrity, latched on to Rick Perry without knowing anything about him except that he looked good on a horse? Then the damaging information about his pay to play schemes, his softness on immigration, and the HPV fiasco began to dribble out.

It’s happening again with Christie. Now that he’s the hot tamale of the moment, the nation’s media are starting to dig into his record in a way they never have before, and like most human beings, his background has a few blemishes.

This is good for Chris Christie. If he’s serious about waiting until 2016, anything unpleasant can be dealt with and swept out of the way now. In five years, it’ll be ancient history, settled long ago.

That isn’t to say the waiting game doesn’t also have its risks. Paging President-elect Rubio.

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September 28, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Scott's crummy poll numbers

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We voted for him because he spent so much of his own money on media buys that he practically became a member of our families during those last weeks and months before election day in 2010.

After that assault, we⎯being Floridians⎯connected the arrows on our ballots for him because we’d heard of him more than his opponent. We knew almost nothing about him, except for a few cries in the wind about some shady Medicare stuff in his past. Nothing, that is, except his catchy slogan, “Let’s get to work!”

Sounds good enough to me, we all said with a shrug before heading back to Dancing With The Stars with our bowl of pork rinds.

Now, ten months later, surprise, SURPRISE! We don’t particularly care for him. He’s done a lot of boneheaded things, like resist a prescription drug database until he was forced to establish one. And refuse government money for a high-speed rail system that would have brought a lot of jobs to the state. And require welfare recipients to undergo drug testing at great expense, when statistics show their incidence of abuse is below the state’s average (probably because they can’t afford drugs, Duh.)

My journalistic colleagues, after finally being allowed to meet with Mr. Scott (he refused to visit editorial boards as a candidate), have come away with the impression that he is a lightweight who is out of his league. Since he has no previous experience, he makes stupid mistakes because he doesn’t know any better.

Gov. Scott’s incompetence is not his fault. It’s the fault of the voters of the state of Florida. Next time, we might want to do our homework.

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September 27, 2011

Chan Lowe: Living people on postage stamps?

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Since selling special editions of stamps to collectors is one of the few bright spots in the U.S. Postal Service’s ledger these days, it makes sense that the USPS would try to maximize that source of revenue.

Considering that Americans are so consumed by their ideological divisions these days, however, you have to question whether dropping a long-standing ban against allowing living people to appear on postage stamps is the best idea for the country.

Once people die, they become less controversial, especially with the passage of time. Putting the likeness of Ronald Reagan on a stamp today doesn’t cause nearly the brouhaha it might have right after his term had ended, or while he was still serving as president.

There’s always the possibility something will backfire, as happened so spectacularly about ten years ago when the publishers of Time Magazine decided to hold a worldwide online vote for Person of the (20th) Century. They were expecting to put Winston Churchill, or maybe Gandhi on the cover. Instead, the Turks organized a nationwide email campaign and managed to score an overwhelming victory for local hero Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, simply because they were the only ones who cared enough about the contest to vote en masse. It was like stuffing the e-ballot box for Sanjaya in American Idol a few years ago (God help the United States if the post office takes that example seriously).

One could easily see a well-meaning postal service holding an online vote and having to award a stamp to the likes of Pat Robertson or Michael Moore. It could lead to protest stamp-burnings on the steps of post offices all across America. This might be a good way to sell more stamps, but more strife is the last thing we need right now.



POSTED IN: Culture Wars (199), General Topics (188)

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September 26, 2011

Chan Lowe: Perry receives the Mark of Cain

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Rick Perry’s descent in Republican popularity polls has been nothing short of breathtaking. It’s as though the far right, in its zeal to embrace anyone who had a chance of unseating the hated Pretender in the White House, woke up the morning after a heavy date with a supermodel and saw her for the first time without any makeup.

Not only has he shown himself to be so remarkably inept on his feet that he makes George W. Bush look like William Jennings Bryan, Perry has committed the unpardonable sin of being morally suspect on some issues that are sacred to his rapidly eroding base.

How can somebody call himself a Christian conservative, as Perry does, if he performs a reasonable and generous act like allowing the children of undocumented aliens (who live in the state through no fault of their own) to attend Texas universities and pay resident tuition fees? Where in the Bible did Jesus say, “Blessed are the illegal immigrants, for they, too, are the children of God?” Don’t bother to look it up. You can’t find it, ’cause it ain’t in there.

And how about abominations like trying to protect the health of girls by mandating vaccinations to prevent them from catching HPV? Now, shots for polio, measles and the like are one thing, but he should have known that the best defense against cervical cancer and other types of filthiness is for a young lady to keep her knees clenched firmly together. He may have repented for that little faux pas, but that doesn’t mean conservatives are going to forgive him and let it drop. They smell potential victory in 2012, and are not into forgiveness.

Instead, they've decided to send Mr. All-Hat-No-Cattle a little message in the form of a whuppin’ in the Florida Straw Poll by a man whose chances of winning are even more remote than Perry’s, but who knows how to check the right boxes—that person being Herman Cain.

And, since Cain has no experience whatsoever in government, he has a pristine, sin-free record. That's the best of all possible qualifications for heading a vast, complex bureaucracy encompassing many stakeholders... just ask Florida Governor Rick Scott.

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September 23, 2011

Chan Lowe: The Troy Davis execution

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The problem with the death penalty is that it’s imposed by human beings. I don’t know if Troy Davis was really innocent or guilty, but the problem is that I don’t think anybody else does for sure, either.

I do have a feeling he would have gotten a much “fairer” shake if he resembled the person in the cartoon above, and that’s where the human part comes in.

Those who would, say, cheer when Rick Perry is identified as the killingest governor in Texas history look upon the death penalty as the worst punishment society can visit upon an evildoer. I beg to differ. The criminal may or may not regret his crime (it appears Davis did not, for he steadfastly maintained his innocence even past the point when most guilty parties would relent, which raises serious questions), but after the cocktail has been administered, he has been put out of his misery, guilt or whatever, and entered the Great Void.

I would suggest you make his life a living hell for its natural span, so that he can have plenty of time to contemplate his acts. Whatever happened to chain gangs breaking up big rocks into small ones, day after day? Did the courts determine that was cruel and unusual? Then how about decades on death row as your appeals swing this way and that, when death is repeatedly dangled before you, then snatched away, then dangled again? Is that not cruel and unusual, as well?

The advantage to my idea is that if we humans discover we’ve made a mistake⎯which has been known to happen⎯we can set the person free with a nice apology. If, by some fluke, evidence is uncovered that exonerates Troy Davis at this point, then we're the ones who will have to live with the guilt.


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September 22, 2011

Chan Lowe: Bibi's stamp of approval

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It’s in keeping with the bizarre way the 2012 elections are shaping up that the most important endorsement any candidate of either party has managed to land so far is from a foreigner.

Considering that President Obama cannot win reelection without Florida’s electoral votes, and that our recession-ravaged state could easily swing either way a year from now, anything that might get disillusioned Sunshine State Obama voters off their sofas and down to the polls could spell the difference between national victory and defeat.

This is purely anecdotal, but I talk to a lot of people down here in New York’s sixth borough, and their sentiments about the president’s handling of Israel⎯and the Middle East conflict in general⎯range from bewilderment to disappointment to anger to disgust. “He hasn’t even visited Israel as president yet. What’s he thinking?” one person said to me. Symbolism means a lot in this thorny corner of politics.

The ’67 borders speech was a loser, for sure. Nobody heard the accompanying “land swaps” part, because they were so apoplectic that he’d even brought it up, they shut down and stopped listening.

So now that the elections are looming again, it’s time to think about mending fences. For that, you need the man with the ultimate street cred in the Jewish community, the Prime Minister of Israel. They know his imprimatur doesn’t come cheap. For him to say that what you’ve done is a “badge of honor,” you gotta deliver.

Obama made a cold political calculation in a no-win situation. His pro-Israel stance on the Palestine statehood question didn’t make him any friends in the rest of the world, but he was astute enough to remember that the rest of the world is not registered to vote in Florida.

So, he delivered.

POSTED IN: 2012 Campaign (85), Barack Obama (172), Florida Issues (258), International (86), Local South Florida Issues (187), Middle East (28)

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September 21, 2011

Chan Lowe: The death of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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It’s ironic that the demise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, while a victory for individual rights in America, actually gives the country another black eye.

At least we used to be consistent in the way we officially treated gays. Gay members of our armed forces had to keep their private affairs and proclivities in the shadows while their straight colleagues enjoyed their lives in the open. The official view of them was that they were depraved. It wasn’t just a passive rule; gay service members lived in continual fear of being “outed” by someone else and summarily discharged in disgrace. We don’t even have to go into the tragic loss of talent this represented at a time when our nation needed it the most.

At the same time, we denied those who put their lives on the line the very rights that they were defending for the rest of us. The combination of DADT and the federal Defense of Marriage Act was abhorrent⎯but there was, at least, a certain twisted reasoning to it. If gays weren’t fit to serve, it followed that they shouldn’t be allowed to claim the basic right to marry.

Now we are left pointing only to DOMA⎯the institutional discrimination in our national code against an entire class of people, simply because of whom they are. As of yesterday, there no longer exists even a fig leaf to justify it.

Those of us old enough to remember the Vietnam years might also recall that there was a time when, in many states, twenty-one was the minimum voting age, yet the draft sent many younger people overseas to their deaths. The cry went up, “If we’re old enough to fight, we’re old enough to vote,” and that simple, compelling logic finally won the day.

Thanks to the repeal of DADT, we can now use the same moral argument to assure gays their constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as equal protection under the law. Jefferson’s locution, “unalienable rights,” may sound archaic to the modern ear, but as of yesterday, it is even more charged with meaning.

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September 20, 2011

Chan Lowe: Obama's "class war"

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“Class war.” How absurd. House Speaker John Boehner has said that pitting different income levels against one another is “not the American way.” He conveniently omits that America has been in a class war for years now, and the top 1 percent has been winning it to the detriment of the lower 80 percent. For his sponsors, it is very much the American way.

Obama’s advisers have tried, perhaps naively, to present the president as a reasonable compromiser, hoping that Republicans would respond in kind. That might have worked 50 years ago, when everybody saw benefit in getting along, but the problem now is that petulance and intransigence have been overwhelmingly effective in today’s politics. All that strategy did was to make him look weak.

The key, then, is to be equally petulant and intransigent, but in a way that resonates with the vast swath of the American people. The top one percent, while they do have most of the cards stacked in their favor, still have only one vote each, just like the poorest among us (at least, those who haven’t been disenfranchised by Republican vote suppression efforts).

Progressives understand why the wealthiest ought to pay proportionately more than the rest of us in taxes. After all, they’d hardly miss the money. Not everybody agrees with the progressive viewpoint, however. So an easier argument to make, and a much harder one to counter, is that they ought to at least pay the same amount as the rest of us. Being forced to defend wealthy people’s lower proportional tax burden shines a spotlight on how craven the Republicans really are.

Of course, the Obama plan has no chance of passing. Joblessness will continue to be unacceptably high until the 2012 election. Its sole cynical goal is to shift the blame for this mess to the other side, and to make sure it sticks by election day. It doesn’t do much for the people who are currently unemployed, but when you’re dealing with bought-and-paid-for toadies who refuse to give an inch, it is—sadly⎯the last, best hope for the country.


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September 19, 2011

Chan Lowe: Beach renourishment "insanity"

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As those who write letters to the editor are fond of telling us, Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

When Einstein took time off (if you’ll pardon the expression), he visited corridors of thought never previously navigated by the human mind, and if his vacation began running short, he simply slowed down the clocks (Nice trick if you know how to do it). His getaways probably didn’t involve pitching an umbrella, setting up his beach chair, cracking open the cooler and happily digging his feet in the sand.

For, if it did, he’d understand the rationale behind beach renourishment. Tides ebb and flow--and coastlines, when left to themselves, alter their contours and profiles ad infinitum, subject to dynamic whim. For us mere mortals to slow down the clock involves dredges, pumps and pipelines, and the spending of much tax money just so that we might take a stand at the shore and shake our fists in the face of Mother Nature.

By Einstein’s definition, what we do year after year is insane; but if he realized that beach renourishment brings tourists who spend more money than it costs to our hotels, restaurants and attractions, then maybe the great scientist, were he still with us, might come up with a “Special Theory of Insanity” tailored for us Floridians.

In gratitude, I’d even buy the old coot a beer at the Elbo Room.

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September 16, 2011

Chan Lowe: Barack Obama and the Solyndra scandal

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Most self-respecting administrations, at this mature point in their terms, are reeling from at least one crippling scandal. But, as in so many other departments, the Obama Presidency has let us down.

This Solyndra brouhaha does involve the not-insignificant amount of half-a-billion dollars of taxpayer money (talk about shovel-ready), but size matters little compared to whether there is any sex involved, and there doesn’t seem to be any here. We might have derived more energy benefit out of the money by burning it directly rather than investing it in a shaky solar panel company, but on the surface, at least, it appears to be more of a case of boneheadedness than malfeasance. It’s a dry, uninteresting scandal, not even rating a “-gate.”

I’m sure the Republicans will do all they can, however, to get to the bottom of it and broadcast their findings. It’s their job, and Democrats would do the same if the situation were reversed.

It’s just so tame compared to, say, Scooter Libby (even his name is more exciting than “Solyndra”) and the outing of Valerie Plame (no sex there, either, but she was hot. See “Oliver North, Iran/Contra and Fawn Hall”).

Of course, the gold standard of presidential scandals is the Lewinsky affair, and we will probably not be lucky enough to see its like again in our lifetimes. All the same, it would be uplifting--and a welcome distraction from our economic problems--if the Obama White House would give us something juicy to chew on.

He owes it to the country.

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September 15, 2011

Chan Lowe: The new poverty numbers

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I’ve indulged in a thought exercise lately. What if, in 2012, a disgruntled and notoriously fickle electorate, fed up with high jobless numbers, decided that it had had it with the Obama Administration’s flounderings and voted in a Rick Perry or Mitt Romney as president? What if all the so-called anti-voter fraud laws promulgated by Republican legislatures in the various states worked as intended, disenfranchising core Democratic voters so that both houses of Congress went Republican (and a filibuster-proof Senate were created)?

If we gave the Republicans the full set of keys to the store, with unfettered access to every nook and cranny, what would they do with the privilege? Would they whack taxes on wealthy “job creators” and corporations to absolute zero? After all, if lower taxes theoretically (if not empirically) create more jobs, then logically no taxes whatsoever ought to yield a tidal wave of them, bringing in so much revenue from a newly employed middle class that the ban on upper-level taxes can continue indefinitely.

As for the poor (since we know that in a purely capitalist society, there is freedom to fail as well as succeed), they would be given responsibility for themselves, and be allowed to die if sick or starve if hungry. And folks would cheer, as did the crowd the other night at the CNN/tea party debate (“Let ’em die!”) when candidate Ron Paul articulated this very same policy in his own semi-articulate way.

Those among the elderly who had been smart enough to sock away some extra money during their prime earning years would be able to afford medical care as the effects of age ravaged their bodies. Those who hadn’t, well, see above.

Once all was neatly arranged in the new conservative utopia, the wealth gap in our country would gradually become so yawning that the haves would be forced to retreat behind fortified walls in order to protect themselves and their belongings from desperate have-nots.

The have-nots, frustrated with their plight, would eventually find among themselves a champion. And then, Viva la Revolución.

Oops. There’s a flaw in this plan somewhere.


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September 14, 2011

Chan Lowe: Dems lose Weiner's district!

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Talk about having the whole shebang blow up in their faces! Back during the height of Weinergate--or Twittergate, or whatever silly name you care to put on it--Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic congressional leadership were falling all over themselves to railroad America’s favorite exhibitionist out of office.

They could perform with such sanctimony because they knew with certitude--to borrow one of former Congressman Weiner’s more famous utterances--that his district would remain in Democratic hands, as it had since the 1920s. There is no grandstander like a pol who can pontificate risk-free. Had Weiner’s NY 9 been less politically reliable, the calls for his resignation would, no doubt, have been much more muted.

Enter Middle Eastern politics. After Barack Obama’s classic misstep regarding the future Palestinian state and the pre-1967 borders, supporters of Israel, who constitute a formidable bloc in the area in question, suddenly found their long-simmering suspicions about the president confirmed. The conservative Republican in the race managed to somehow link his opponent to Obama’s policy, and voila! The rest is history. Blood is thicker than political labels or entitlement programs.

Next year, reapportionment will obliterate District Nine. Meanwhile, let’s hope the locals appreciate the way their new half-term congressman votes on matters like gutting education funding and Medicare. Ah, to be a fly on the wall during those town-hall meetings!


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September 13, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rick Perry's HPV problem

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Gov. Rick Perry is taking heat from conservatives over his signing of a law mandating anti-HPV vaccinations for Texas girls, which shows how easy it is to run afoul of principles that can’t even stand alongside each other.

Either you don’t mind a robust role for government in people’s lives, or you do. Perry did a sensible thing--a progressive thing--by requiring the vaccinations, but what those on the right are complaining about is that his law included an opt-out for parents, rather than an opt-in. One would assume that only a minority of parents are so benighted that they would sacrifice their children’s health because of the belief that an HPV shot increases the likelihood of sexual promiscuity. Therefore, an opt-out makes more sense from a public health standpoint.

Furthermore, if government is too intrusive when it mandates a vaccination, why is it not too intrusive when it intervenes in a very personal decision about carrying a child to term, particularly when, in the latter case, we’re talking about females of all ages?

One could say, “Well, preventing abortion is a matter of saving a life.” Preventing a girl or woman from dying of cervical cancer is also a matter of saving a life. Is there a difference?

One can only conclude that those who want government to stay out of the decision to vaccinate, yet butt in when it comes to telling a woman what she can do with her fetus value the unborn more than the born.

Talk about inconsistency. No wonder Rick Perry got himself into a fix.

POSTED IN: 2012 Campaign (85), Rick Perry (7)

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September 12, 2011

Chan Lowe: The insult of NFL blackouts

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I’ll admit to knowing nothing about the business of sports, but it strikes me that there is something fundamentally wrong with a business plan that requires a stadium to sell out for a professional game before local fans of that team are allowed to watch a game on TV.

If the owners have to resort to that kind of strong-arm tactic, then maybe they’re peddling something defective. Who wants to sit out in the elements freezing, or broiling, or getting rained on in seats that are so far away from the action that the players look like little dots on a mat, when high-def television allows the typical NFL aficionado to visually undress a cheerleader as if he were within smacking distance of her pompons?

Or maybe it’s just that the tickets and ancillary refreshments are too expensive to be worth leaving the security and comfort of one’s lounge chair for.

Since so much revenue is to be made from TV, anyway, why don’t they just scrap the crowds altogether, and have the teams play in a large white room over which a virtual stadium has been digitally superimposed, with a roaring sound track running in the background? Think of the money that will be saved by property-tax payers who won’t get shaken down by owners to finance new sports palaces.

It makes sense to me, but then I’m the kind of person who watches a PBS documentary during the Super Bowl.

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September 10, 2011

Chan Lowe: Gallery of post-9/11/01 editorial cartoons

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I have put together a gallery containing some of the editorial cartoons I drew for the Sun Sentinel's opinion page in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, for those interested in revisiting them.

As I dug through my archives, a wave of memories long buried came back in a rush, and made me realize how much has happened since to distract us from those events of a decade ago. I hope viewing these cartoons does the same for you.

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September 9, 2011

Chan Lowe: Ronald Reagan and today's Republican Party

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My dog Tallulah and I enjoyed watching the Republican debate the other night. For us, political debates fulfill the same role that watching Survivor does for those who don’t have to do this kind of thing for a living. Tallulah’s ears, I noticed, picked up whenever Rick Perry weighed in. As I said to Mrs. Lowe-Down, it must have been a Pavlovian response to that conservative dog-whistle of his.

The way the organizers set up the debate, the candidates who ranked highest in the polls were positioned in the center, with the also-rans trailing out to the edges. I found it ironic that each of the eight (was it eight?) wannabes was falling all over him- and herself to invoke the sainted Ronald Reagan’s name. If Reagan were running in the Republican field today, he wouldn’t even be allowed on the stage. He’d be way out in left field somewhere near the restrooms.

The man knew how to compromise when compromise would achieve results. He raised the debt ceiling. He hiked taxes when he had to. He never took his eye off the ball, which was to do what he thought was best for the country. He had his own way of interpreting what was best, certainly, but he always kept an open mind regarding other people’s interpretations. Respect, that’s what Reagan was about.

So there was no place in the Reagan Presidential Library the other night for a candidate who was willing to depart from strict ideological purity in the name of pragmatism. Of the group, Jon Huntsman may come closest to appearing reasonable, but look what’s happening to him: Most primary voters don’t even know how to spell his name correctly.

Instead, Rick Perry got a roaring ovation from the bloodthirsty crowd for his accomplishment of executing more people than anybody else in the field, or maybe in history--I can’t remember. If Ronald Reagan were alive, he probably would have turned off his hearing aids.

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September 8, 2011

Chan Lowe: The anniversary of 9/11

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Ten years seems like a long time, but drawing this anniversary cartoon reminded me of the anger, sadness, mistrust, paranoia and panic of the period immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Remember the anthrax scare, and the run on Cipro? Remember when American flags sprouted on every house and car? Remember when those seeking to curtail the Bill of Rights were using the phrase, “The Constitution was not meant to be a suicide pact?”

Even more poignant was a fleeting moment when all Americans were united, for the first time in our memory, as one nation. No black people, no white people, no brown, red or yellow—just Americans, banded together in the face of a common threat to our way of life. And, in our naivete, we thought the unity would last.

For better or worse, America has moved on from those days, a changed nation.

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September 7, 2011

Chan Lowe: The President's big jobs speech II

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When you get right down to it, there isn’t much a president can do to affect the economy in a government that is both divided by design and, as in our current situation, politically.

It ultimately boils down to “optics,” which is political jargon for how something looks to the average citizen—for example, giving a ballyhooed speech in hopes that prospective 2012 voters will come away with the impression that the president actually has his hands on the controls of commerce and is playing them like the stops of a pipe organ.

His only tools—or weapons, if you wish⎯are cajolery and shame. Judging by recent events in Congress with the debt ceiling debacle, cajolery is out as far as Republicans in the House are concerned. They will not countenance anything that might help burnish President Obama’s image with the public, even if it happens to be best for the country.

This leaves shame, which is also tricky because it is a concept that is foreign to many on the far right (“You lie!”). What the president can do, though, is to propose a jobs program that is so sweeping, so grandiose, and so packed with tax cut goodies that the public will be persuaded of its effectiveness if it’s given a chance, and Republicans will be exposed as the obstructionists they are for turning down something they mostly agree with. If the average voter can be convinced that right-wing orthodoxy is the one thing standing between him or her and getting a job, then Obama has a chance.

Success and final passage will then rely on the post-speech sales pitch to the American people, which is something we know Obama is good at, otherwise he wouldn’t be working this thankless, dead-end job in the first place.


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September 6, 2011

Chan Lowe: The growth of prescription "pharmacies"

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Maybe the conservatives are right. Maybe big government is getting in the way of our recovery. Pill mills, after all, have been one of the few bright spots in Florida’s economy.

First, Governor Business-Friendly suddenly got religion and decided, after all, to allow a prescription database in order to cut down on abuse. That certainly put a crimp in business. Then they passed a law saying that a pill mill can’t both write a prescription and fill it. So now the state and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration are flooded with proxy applications to open drugstores that—let’s face it⎯aren’t concerned with peddling bunion pads and Preparation H.

And what do they do? They deny them! This is real employment, folks. Small business…the backbone of America! And, as we know, it’s a growth industry that appears to be recession-proof. It can’t be outsourced to India. It brings a steady stream of clientele from other states directly into our neighborhoods. These people have to eat and stay someplace. I heard of one operation right around the corner from Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale where clients actually had pizzas delivered to them while they waited in line.

Let’s not forget this draconian policy has ripple effects outside Florida, too. How about all those mom-and-pop drug mule operations that cruise down I-75 from Appalachia, catch a few rays, grab the merchandise and high-tail it home? They’ll have to go back to cooking meth in the tobacco barn.

I might remind everyone in Washington that Florida is considered a swing state in the next election. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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September 2, 2011

Chan Lowe: The President's big jobs speech

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This is one of those times in our nation’s history when I wish women were running things. No, by that I don’t mean that through some cruel twist of fate, a President Bachmann faces off against a Speaker Pelosi after next November. Those two ladies have lived and succeeded in the cage match of Washington politics for too long, and already have too much testosterone thumping through their veins.

I’m talking about sensible, mature women who don’t view the stewardship of this country as a zero-sum game. The kind of women who first sit down together and pull out pictures of their grandchildren, ooh and aah over them, and then leave them out there on the table so that they never forget what their meeting is really about.

After the pleasantries, they listen carefully to each other (an art which has been lost of late), take all their concerns into account with respect even for those they don’t agree with, and work out a way to make things happen where everybody wins something. It is possible, if one keeps one’s eye on the ball rather than on one’s own ego and the scoreboard.

Men, unfortunately, are not capable of this. Whether they realize it or not, their self-image is so fragile and so in need of constant care and feeding that they almost always put its welfare before that of the country they purportedly serve. In their minds, the two become conjoined, and they lose sight of the fact that what is best for one may be harmful to the other. To give way on anything erodes one’s sense of manhood, which is an imaginary construct important only to the possessor.

This, not incompatible ideology, is what is at the core of our governmental gridlock.

If you agree, you know what to do come the next election.

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September 1, 2011

Chan Lowe: Rep. West considers leaving the Black Caucus

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This development shouldn’t come as any surprise. The Congressional Black Caucus⎯all Democrats except for Rep. Allen West⎯comprises, for the most part, members of Congress who represent black constituencies and fight for black interests and aspirations.

Rep. West is a tea party-backed conservative who ran in a politically split district that is majority white. He happens to be an African American, and while he does not downplay his heritage, he tends to identify himself more by his ideology and military background than his race.

While the Congressional Black Caucus views the relationship of its constituents to government as a constant struggle for attention amid competing demands upon national resources, and a fight to redress institutional wrongs of the past, Rep. West has indicated that government entitlement programs perpetuate the culture of dependency into which he feels the African American community has allowed itself to fall.

His views are legitimately held, but nevertheless are a bad fit with the Black Caucus and everything it strives for. Rep. West should not feel compelled to belong to the Black Caucus simply because he is black, particularly if his ideas fail to resonate with any of the other members. The Caucus, as far as I know, has not asked him to leave, although the differences between them have become more pointed of late.

Maybe Rep. West would be doing all sides a favor by respectfully quoting the famous Groucho Marx line: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

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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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