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The Lowe Down


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February 27, 2012

The Lowe Down is moving!!!

This is it. You've all been warned. As of today, there will be no new postings on this platform. If you would like to continue reading and receiving my blog, The Lowe Down, please use this simple URL: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/chan

Thank you for your continued interest.

Chan Lowe

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February 24, 2012

Chan Lowe: The Afghanistan Quran-burning

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When you consider that there exists no coherent strategy for conventionally “winning” the war in Afghanistan, and that the only way we’ll ever exit that morass is if we somehow convince the natives to cooperate with us on a permanent basis, you realize what a tragedy the Quran-burning blunder really was.

We’ve been involved in that star-crossed chunk of real estate for over ten years now. Many families have lost loved ones who volunteered to fight for American freedoms, and were let down by a succession of civilian leaders who either never knew or lost sight of our strategic purpose for being there.

Maybe all the money, time, effort and lives we’ve squandered over there were starting to pay off in terms of convincing the locals we were working in their best interests⎯that’s a matter of debate. What we know for sure is that the fateful trip to the Bagram incinerator probably set us back several years in that fight.

No matter that the commanding U.S. general as well as President Obama personally apologized to the Afghan people (and yes, conservatives, there are times when it’s appropriate to “apologize for America”), nobody over there is going to believe we’re truly sorry, because there are too many incidents where American servicemen urinated on Afghan fighters’ bodies or used the Quran for target practice for anyone to think otherwise.

To them, we’re infidel invaders, and we’ll eventually leave just like everyone else has in the long, violent history of the area. It isn’t surprising that two American soldiers lost their lives yesterday to a turncoat in the puppet Afghan Army that we finance and train. For our Afghan clients, the American Way holds sway only as long as palms keep getting greased, and sometimes even that isn’t enough to stem the anger.

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February 23, 2012

Chan Lowe: The Republican crusade

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Here in America, the land of the free, we freely pass laws designed to showcase our detestation for those unlike the majority (for example, my former home state of Oklahoma passed legislation banning Sharia Law⎯as if it were a real threat to the Sooner State, or as if the legislators even knew what it was they were outlawing). The same with sanctimoniously titled and thinly disguised legislation like the “Defense of Marriage Act.”


It is ironic that America, alone among Western nations, rivals the more fervently Muslim countries for intermixing religion with politics. Candidates for president must continually affirm and reaffirm their faith in (a Christian) God, attest to the importance of prayer in their decision-making process, and even, at times, profess their willingness to impose their piety and strictures upon others.

Ronald Reagan, Jr., who is a pretty sharp guy, was once asked if he had ever considered running for political office. With that moniker, some allowed, he’d be a shoo-in. The question alone displayed the asker’s ignorance that the younger Reagan is an ardent progressive, but that aside, Reagan offered a wry and wise answer: “I could never run for public office in America,” he said. “I’m an atheist.”

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Chan Lowe: The Lowe Down is changing its address

For those of you who enjoy (or even detest) your daily fix of The Lowe Down, the tech wizards inform me that it is being migrated to a new platform. I'm not sure what this means, but if you would like to continue receiving the blog, please use this new address: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/chan-lowe/, or simply sun-sentinel.com/chan

If you have an RSS feed, you might want to sign up again for it at the new address. You will notice the layout is different. If the cartoon appears small and is off to one side, just double-click on it to enlarge. There's also a big, fat ad in the middle of my comments, placed there to appease the Gods of Free Enterprise. Just scroll past it to catch the remainder of my deathless prose.

Sorry for the inconvenience. I'll keep you posted with any further developments, even if I don't understand them.

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February 22, 2012

Chan Lowe: Obama, Lin and Clinton collide in Miami

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I never thought I would be drawing Jeremy Lin. I’d heard his name bandied about, but since I don’t follow sports, I had to ask my editor who he was.

When the Sun Sentinel news desk found out that⎯by coincidence⎯an incumbent president, a former one, and more important, the sports flavor of the month would all be in Miami on the same day, it was decided that we would do a full court press (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to commemorate the serendipitous event.

My editor, Tony Fins, and I batted the subject around. He opined that Obama and Lin had something in common. They had both come out of nowhere and become instant media darlings.

It occurred to me that Clinton, too, fit into this category. He grew up poor in Arkansas, did well in school, ended up at an Ivy League college, and the rest is history. Lin is the son of Chinese immigrants, also got into an Ivy League school, and was not even mentioned the last time the Knicks played the Heat in Miami. Now, thanks to his recent accomplishments, everybody in the country (except, obviously, me) knows who he is. Barack Obama, the self-described “skinny kid with a funny name,” gained admission to Harvard, gave a memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and became America’s first African-American president an incredible four years later.

When political candidates throw out the usual boilerplate about America being the “greatest nation on Earth,” maybe we should reflect more deeply upon those words. We aren’t great because of the swagger that comes with military might. We aren’t even great because of our political system (certainly, not these days).
What makes us great is that ineffable quality that is embodied by these three men who happened to be in the same city on the same day. Each is a giant in his own field, and each attained success due to his own talent and ability in a nation that still rewards merit.

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February 21, 2012

Chan Lowe: Kristin Jacobs runs for Congress

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When you look at government ethics, some see the law while others see the loopholes.

Take, for example, Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs’ recently announced effort to replace the fleeing Allen West as District 22’s congressperson. When my colleague Anthony Man asked whether she’s planning to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists who do business with Broward County, she makes no bones about it. Yes, she said. That’s what you do. It would be political suicide not to.

Now, this isn’t illegal, but it sure has a strong odor. “That’s what you do” is so woven into the fabric of the system that Ms. Jacobs feels no need to explain it, or even to wince at the question.

More significant was Ms. Jacobs’ answer to the question about whether she would resign her current post to run for Congress. Her answer? A firm “No.” When pressed, she said she wanted to preserve her options.

Two thoughts come to mind here: If you’re a county commissioner running for Congress, no lobbyist in his right mind is going to pony up the cash for your campaign unless you remain in office. That’s the only way you still have the juice to make the contribution pay off for the donor. It’s a tacit admission that money does, in fact, buy influence (we all knew that, but pols rarely own up to it publicly).

Second, Ms. Jacobs denied that holding onto her commission seat meant that she had doubts about winning the congressional race. Should she win, Gov. Scott will doubtless appoint a Republican commissioner to replace her.

That’s tantamount to reaching out to her Democratic constituents with one hand⎯asking them for their money and their votes⎯and giving them the finger with the other.

She’ll fit right in on Capitol Hill.

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February 20, 2012

Chan Lowe: The "Stolen Valor" law

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When the Founding Fathers conceived the First Amendment, was their intention really to shelter the lies of those who misrepresented their military service? What about burning the flag in protest? Or picketing military funerals and condemning the honored dead to eternal damnation for defending a country that coddles gays?

Probably not⎯at least, not specifically. But they also knew that for healthy discourse⎯the kind essential to the safe steering the ship of state⎯to flourish, all the odious by-products also had to be allowed on board. If you start drawing a line, the line-drawing can quickly become arbitrary and self-serving.

The argument in favor of making “stolen valor” speech illegal is that charlatans who brag about bogus military heroism are doing such harm to those who won their medals legitimately that it actually damages the republic. What is the distinction between that and a politician running for president who makes cynical promises he doesn’t intend to keep, or who slanders his opponent in order to gain an advantage? Which, in the end, is more of a threat to the country?

If decorated vets could get past their hurt and anger (and I’m not arguing that those feelings aren’t legitimate), they might see that what they heroically risked their lives for was not a qualified, limited version of the Bill of Rights, but the whole gorgeously sloppy, unvarnished body of principles that welcomes good as well as ill⎯as long as it’s expressed freely.

My guess is that the issue is being whipped up because it plays well with the home folks during an election year. That, too, is an exercise of free speech, and ought to be protected.

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February 17, 2012

Chan Lowe: Rick Santorum, cultural throwback

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If Rick Santorum really wants to litigate the morality of contraception, that bus left the depot about forty years ago.

He seems to be laboring under some misconceptions about it, too, one being that only unmarried women use birth control. Evidently, they are relying on it as some kind of “get out of responsibility free” card so that they can indulge their libertine ways and contribute to the moral decline of the Great American Nation. Considering that at least one of the Founding Fathers was known to chase his slave around the property while not caring a fig as to whether she was using birth control or not, one has to wonder how much more declining there is left for us to do.

Another delusion Mr. Santorum, and so many of his ideological brethren, suffer under is that only men are capable of making decisions about issues concerning their womenfolk. Women rank in their world-view as somewhere near the status of personal property (remember all that “obey” stuff in the marriage vows?). Witness a congressional hearing about contraceptives the other day wherein all the testimony was provided by men.

Mr. Santorum can espouse whatever quaint convictions he wants to, but the majority of the electorate that happens to be female may have something to say about whether they want such a cultural throwback as their leader.

This is the kind of issue that is so deeply felt, it actually gets voters off their butts and out to the polls. If the Republican Party goes with its heart and gut and nominates Rick Santorum rather than the anamittronic candidate, it had better be willing to pay the price. And that goes for all the down-ballot races, too.

POSTED IN: 2012 Campaign (85), Culture Wars (199), Rick Santorum (1)

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February 16, 2012

Chan Lowe: Mitt heading for the junk yard in Michigan?

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Yes, Mitt Romney did at least wait until after he had dropped out of the presidential nomination race in 2008 before he wrote the op-ed piece in the New York Times wherein he argued that Detroit automakers ought to be allowed to go bankrupt.

That doesn’t mean that his free-market rant still wasn’t both short sighted and in monumentally poor taste to boot.

Even the most laissez-faire business tycoon might admit to the wisdom of saving an industry that employs so many hundreds of thousands of primary, secondary and tertiary American workers at a time when the nation is reeling and desperately needs to preserve what manufacturing capability it still possesses. After all, a depression is one of those rare economic events from which even the wealthy don’t benefit. Sometimes, the ends really do justify the means.

On the other matter, a man who owes his wealth, privilege and sterling upbringing to an industry of which his father was one of the titans (not to mention governor of its home state), displayed remarkable tone-deafness in the service of burnishing his own concocted reputation for being “severely conservative.”

Finally, one has to question the judgment of a potential president who is so incapable of visualizing subsequent moves in the chess game that he didn’t consider his future need for Michigan’s support in the 2012 primaries. Did he really think he was so irresistible that he’d have it all sewn up by now?

How would you like a guy with those smarts planning the nation’s next war?

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February 15, 2012

Chan Lowe: Is it right to blame the cops?

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The moral outrage over the Sun Sentinel’s multi-part expose about scofflaw cops and take-home perks is, in my opinion, misdirected.

Of course it’s offensive when those whom society entrusts with the sworn duty of protecting it abuse their authority. It’s particularly galling when they do so with impunity, due to an understanding of mutual protection between law enforcement personnel from different jurisdictions.

But they’re human. Give a human a little authority, and he develops a swagger. He would have to be a saint not to. There’s that gun. There’s the knowledge that they carry so much clout that the average citizen may wet his pants when he’s pulled over. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The only thing that reminds law enforcement that they serve the people⎯and not the other way around⎯is effective oversight and the certainty of sure and swift punishment in the event they get the equation backwards.

It’s like when your dog has an “accident” in the house. It isn’t the animal’s fault; it’s bad pet stewardship on the part of the owner. If government officials⎯who employ law enforcement personnel in the name of the people who elected them⎯don’t keep the leash taut, cops will come to believe that their authority and that nice take-home perk were given them as divine right for simply being more worthy than the next guy.

If you don’t like what you’ve read in the series, throw out the elected bums you have now and replace them with ones who promise to do their jobs the way they’re supposed to.

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February 14, 2012

Chan Lowe: The march of gay marriage

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Depending on your point of view, the recent federal appellate court decision in California and Washington State’s passage of a same-sex marriage law are either further signs of national enlightenment or two more steps down the road to America’s perdition.

History, and time, appear to be on the side of the pro-gay marriage forces, because polls reflect that as the population regenerates, only older Americans continue to embrace a prejudice on the topic. Even younger evangelicals don’t seem to have a problem with it. Ultimately, a Supreme Court decision will make it the law of the land, because justices are products of their environment. A decision that would perpetuate discrimination against one group in our society for its sexual preference will someday seem as outdated as barring the vote for women.

The only question is not whether it will happen, but how quickly. What we ought to marvel at, aside from the speed of the transformation in the national attitude, is that our Constitution is so elastic that it can be effectively applied in situations the Founding Fathers could never have anticipated.

It’s a reaffirmation that our bedrock national document is a work of collective genius, and an argument that those who would freeze it in amber are working at cross purposes with its “original intent.”

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February 13, 2012

Chan Lowe: The polo magnate adopts his girlfriend

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The mockery that wealthy polo magnate John Goodman has made of the institution of adoption has once again attracted world attention to South Florida, and as usual, for all the wrong reasons.

What makes his act even more of a travesty is that Mr. Goodman has cynically taken advantage of a legal process that, until just a couple of years ago, was barred in Florida to couples that happened to be gay. Yet, the same state that feared gay parents would somehow “infect” children, or worse, assumed that they were really pedophiles who only wanted children in order to satisfy their base urges, has breezily allowed a grown man to adopt his adult girlfriend in order to protect a portion of his fortune.

Then there is the secondary question no one has even considered: Presumably, Mr. Goodman intends to have the kind of relationship with his newly adopted daughter that, to put it delicately, is officially frowned upon between parent and child in this state.

You have to wonder just what was going through the mind of the Miami-Dade judge who approved this unholy legal move. Maybe he was thinking, “At least, he isn’t gay.”


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February 10, 2012

Chan Lowe: The birth control brouhaha

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If you use your imagination, you can almost hear the political gears grinding in the Oval Office over this decision. Valerie Jarrett and Kathleen Sibelius are arguing passionately for the preservation of women’s rights. You owe it to them, Mr. President⎯not just politically, but on principle. It’s everything you stand for in a nutshell.

At the other end of the sofa, Bill Daley and Joe Biden⎯two veteran Catholic pols who should know⎯imploring him to let this battle slide and live to fight another day. “The blue collar types won’t go for this,” they counsel, “even though their wives all use birth control. The Republicans’ll turn this into a ‘war on religion.’ They’ll make the slippery slope argument!”

Evangelical feelings weren’t even considered. After all, their hatred is visceral, and how many times can you vote against the same candidate?

Daley and Biden, of course, were right from a political standpoint. The White House, in its self-centered myopia, thought it could tough it out until some Democratic senators who are facing tough reelection battles, like Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Bill Nelson of Florida, started screaming that standing tough would cut the knees out from under them.

So the White House didn’t exactly cave, but it bent. It’s hoping the nicety about insurance carriers rather than employers offering the birth control will quiet the waters.

It won’t. This was way too great a gift to the other side. That doesn’t mean the righteous opposition isn’t overreacting, mind you. Most women feel they’re entitled to birth control coverage as part of their health care.

And why shouldn’t they? You don’t hear any faith-based institutions screaming about covering Viagra. It’s only fair to give the ladies a fighting chance.


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February 9, 2012

Chan Lowe: The perils of cruising

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Personally, I don’t know why anybody would want to take a cruise, but maybe I should check with my newspaper’s advertising department to see how much coal the cruise industry shovels into the engine room before I go and make a sweeping statement like that.

Viral diseases, crimes of violence, theft, seasickness, weight gain, liver damage, possibly getting stuck at the dinner table for the entire journey with people who deny the theory of evolution…sounds like the kind of vacation from which lasting memories are made.

Be sure to send pictures.

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February 8, 2012

Chan Lowe: Mitt Romney loses big

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You need an ego that stretches from sea to shining sea to even contemplate running for the presidency of this great land, but you also require a hide like a rhinoceros.

Imagine what it must be like to put yourself up on display, election cycle after election cycle, spend a considerable amount of your own fortune to service your ambitions, approach friends and strangers with hand outstretched, ask them to be enablers for your self-indulgence, tramp from hotel to hotel in out-of-the-way places (a lot of them snowy), eat rubber chicken day after day in banquet halls with incredibly boring people, and find out that after all that trouble, most folks still don’t like you.

This is what has happened to poor Mitt Romney. Lord knows he tries to connect, but there’s that darned animatronic thing about him that leaves folks cold. Bill Clinton, several sources have reported, was capable of making every woman he encountered think she was the only one in the room. In the hands of someone less flawed, this talent might have made him President of the World.

But Romney⎯God bless him⎯passes through a crowd like a hole in the air. The clothes have no emperor.

I wonder if he watches the returns from places like South Carolina, Minnesota (a state he won last time around), Missouri and Colorado (next door to UTAH, for crying out loud) and weeps softly on his wife’s shoulder, wondering if the last fifteen years or so of his life have been steeped in folly.

Probably not. That ego of his, which is as broad and deep as his support is not, takes over and sustains him. The biggest obstacle he ever had to overcome was to convince himself that he was suitable for holding the office in the first place. It’s all been downhill from there.

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February 7, 2012

Chan Lowe: The Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad

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If you saw the now-famous Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad, you would probably agree that it’s hard to find it offensive, unless those who do your thinking for you on cable TV and talk radio told you to be offended.

Under certain circumstances, one can say that individuals interpret different events through the prism of their own belief systems, life experiences and upbringing. But to find something objectionable about this shamelessly pro-American ad, delivered by an American icon, can only be attributed to political cynicism and a touch of defensiveness.

I speak of Karl Rove⎯Republican strategist, architect of two George W. Bush victories, and holder of the questionable sobriquet, “Turd Blossom,” conferred by his former boss. He found the ad “offensive,” and sounded off about it on⎯where else?⎯Fox News.

You’d think this guy, after reaching the pinnacle of his profession, would just retire and shut up, already. Maybe he spied a cheap opportunity to spin the ad into an anti-Obama rant. Maybe he felt that Mitt Romney’s op-ed piece a few years ago in the New York Times urging that Detroit be allowed to fail couldn’t go undefended from Mr. Eastwood’s steely gaze. Rove said this is what happens when government is allowed to mess with private enterprise; the ad was was Chrysler’s payback to Obama for saving its bacon. If that is so, why is Wall Street so against the man?

Mr. Eastwood, a long-time Republican and libertarian, disagreed. He claimed the ad was non-partisan. I tend to give a man who packs a .44 Magnum the benefit of the doubt. I suggest that Mr. Rove put a sock in it and do the same.

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February 6, 2012

Chan Lowe: The Komen faux pas

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As I’ve said before, it’s seductively easy for an organization to take its eye off the ball and elevate its self-preservation to a position above its original mission.

This is particularly true of outfits that feel their purpose here on Earth has been blessed by the angels (as in the cases of the Roman Catholic Church and the Penn State football program, mentioned in the hyperlink above). The more outwardly sacrosanct the mission, the more the mere mortals involved in that organization are able to rationalize their activities in the servicing of it.

The Komen Foundation, whose mission is without question a noble one, allowed itself to become overly sensitive to political currents, which in the area of women’s reproductive health can be treacherous to navigate. One might also say that it has grown so large and unwieldy that its numerous partnerships with many commercial enterprises have hobbled its ability to act independently, and in the best interests of those it purportedly aids.

This black eye may have done the outfit a lot of good, or at least will have if the organization’s leaders decide to learn from it while they are so furiously trying to clean up the damage they’ve done to their beloved charity's image in the name of ensuring its survival.

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February 3, 2012

Chan Lowe: Mitt Romney's concern for the very poor

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And they accuse Barack Obama of not being able to speak without a TelePrompTer. Every time Mitt Romney goes even slightly off script, he utters inanities so maladroit that they almost sound like he spent time polishing them.

It’s actually painful to see Romney step on his tongue with such regularity. Sure, he’s rich⎯but so was FDR, who had a similar upbringing, went to the same schools, and also grew up in posh, protected surroundings. Nevertheless, he had a finely tuned politician’s ear for the vernacular and the daily concerns of those less privileged, and those with no privileges whatsoever.

These are the big leagues. Even a would-be “conservative” Republican needs to at least pretend for a few months that he cares about the plight of the poor, for if he doesn’t, not only will he lose, he’ll drag the whole down-ballot slate into the toilet with him.

You can bamboozle the booboisie (an H.L. Mencken creation, not mine) into voting against their own best financial interests by dangling eye candy like gun rights, gay marriage, school prayer and the denial of climate change and evolution in front of them, but one thing they will not forgive is a candidate who says he is not concerned about them. Who looks like he’s detached and aloof. Who doesn’t even play touch football on the lawn of the family compound. Who tosses off $10,000 bets the way you’d toss away an empty packet of chaw.

Even if you have no intention of being the president of all Americans, it’s unwise to tip your hand so soon.

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February 2, 2012

Chan Lowe: Allen West jumps districts

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Well, at least we know what it’s all about, now. It isn’t about faithfully representing the people of Florida District 22, because he just coldly abandoned them.

It isn’t about never shying away from a challenge, which is what Congressman Allen West was crowing just a few weeks ago when the Florida Legislature redrew his district to include more Democratic voters.

It’s about putting his career in Congress first and foremost. It’s been about that ever since he first decided not to run in his own home district. Evidently, the war veteran found the self-described “Jewish mom from Plantation,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz, more fearsome, even, than Iraqi militants.

Somehow, I don’t think carpetbaggers hopping hither and yon in search of U.S. House districts that will elect them is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they conceived of “citizen legislators.” While Congress may appear to be one sometimes, it isn’t a traveling circus.

My editorial board colleague Gary Stein summed it up thus: “If West keeps moving north, soon he’ll be running for Prime Minister of Canada.”

All this is further proof that once these professed anti-government types get a taste of the heady atmosphere in Washington, D.C., they lose no time succumbing to its seductive charms. Like their more entrenched brethren, they come to need that fix.

At least Mr. West seems to have learned something about politics during his short career. Word has it that he’s actually going to be taking up residence in his new district. I’m sure Ms. Wasserman Schultz will miss her favorite constituent.



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February 1, 2012

Chan Lowe: Romney wins ugly in the Florida primary

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It’s obvious what Mitt Romney’s advisers decided to do in Florida. In order to prevent fatal wounding by a thousand cuts over a period of months, they elected to win quick and, if necessary, to win dirty. Yes, in the short run, those suffering the nine-day scorched-earth lead-in to the Florida primary might conclude that Romney was, as Newt put it, ruthlessly “carpet-bombing” with negative ads and presenting nothing positive about his own vision for America. But negative advertising has been proven over and over again to work, even though voters claim to dislike it. By November, general election voters wouldn’t even recall the Florida ugliness, so went the reasoning.

With attackers from his own party out of the way, Romney would have the luxury of attacking only President Obama (always a crowd pleaser), and unveiling his own rationale for wanting to be president (we’re still waiting).

Romney’s people weren’t counting on the durability of Newt’s rage. Had Romney won in an honest, clean way, Newt might have gracefully folded his tent and offered his support in exchange for a juicy cabinet post. But they also knew that Romney’s support was so lukewarm that he ran a high risk of losing unless he went nasty.

Had they studied their history, Romney’s advisers would remember that they were dealing with a man who became so miffed at being seated in the back of Bill Clinton’s Air Force One that he shut down the country in retaliation. They kicked him too hard and too often, and now he’s going to worry at Romney’s heels like a rabid terrier all the way to the Tampa convention, and maybe beyond.

This primary reminds me of one of the Godfather movies, when Michael Corleone visits the village of his father’s birth in Sicily for the first time. He notices that there are only women to be seen in the town. “Where are all the men?” he asks his guide.

“All dead from vendettas,” the guide answers.


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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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