Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#NY26 ... Done and done

It gives me great pleasure to know that this is very likely, almost definitely, nearly beyond the shadow of a doubt my last column in which I mention the special election in the 26th Congressional District.

It annoyed us for a few months and now it’s going to annoy the pundits and major political parties for months to come as they try to discern what it means and each side does everything they can to pretend to learn from it, while eventually overplaying their hand.

For example, shortly after the election last Tuesday, the Democrats had discerned that it was all about Medicare and have already come up with a strategy for 2012: Hang the Paul Ryan budget plan on every Republican member of Congress, as well as every candidate for everything from the presidency to dog catcher in every small town across the United States.

The Republicans, meanwhile were already attempting to claim that their stunning defeat had little-to-nothing to do with the Ryan plan and their plans to change Medicare — even before the votes were counted last week.

They went into overtime trying to downplay the Medicare effect as soon as the election was over, with Speaker of the House John Boehner saying, “When you look at what happened in this election, you’ve got a third-party candidate who spent nearly three million dollars attacking the Republican candidate. I could be somewhat critical of how the campaign was run, but the fact is we didn’t win it. And part of, the small part of the reason we didn’t win clearly had to do with Medicare.”

That’s correct, they’re blaming Jack Davis for the loss. I’ve even seen some people saying that Davis “finally got his wish” to wrest that district from GOP control. These people are either not paying attention or just plain delusional. Well, of course, they are, they’re politicians.

Both Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter supported eventual winner Kathy Hochul in her bid to take the 26th District. Slaughter even said afterward that she had a spare bedroom if Hochul needed a place to stay in D.C.

Of course, Democrats support Democrats. That’s what they do. It’s like the world’s most annoying fraternity. But with redistricting coming up in the very near future, I wonder how tight their relationships really are. Odds are, the 26th gets gobbled up by Slaughter’s 28th and Higgins’ 27th, which means Hochul will end up at odds with one of her two supporters, depending on where she decides to locate in the district — unless, of course, one of them decides not to run in 2012.

By the way, there was much ado made on Election Day about the fact that Hochul doesn’t live in the district she’s about to represent. She didn’t have to. She doesn’t have to. And the fact that her residency was the GOP’s closing argument told me long before the polls closed that Hochul was going to win it.

•••


I hope you had yesterday off of work. I hope you enjoyed it with loved ones. I also hope you appreciated it. This country exists because of the sacrifices of brave men and women throughout our history. Their sacrifices make everything else possible.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Everything's going to be illegal in New York

It's getting to the point where they only thing you're going to be allowed to do is stay at home ... in your bedroom ... under your covers ... with the lights off. As long as those covers are made out of natural fibers.

If there's one thing lawmakers know how to do, it's make laws that make life difficult. Let me introduce you to a law that would NEVER exist if John Boehner were in New York. The anti-tanning law. Yep, some state lawmakers want to outlaw tanning beds ... because they're bad for you. I think most people KNOW that tanning can be bad for you. They do it anyway. It's not up to the state to make sure we only do good things. Otherwise, ice cream and beer would be illegal, too. Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't give them any ideas.

Leave it to the imaginations of teenagers. They can figure out how to get high off anything. And as a result, "anything" will eventually become illegal. Take, for example, bath salts. If used improperly, they can cause hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior in addition to chest pain, increased blood pressure and increased heart rates. In other words, they can amplify the teenager-ness in kids. And the state wants them off shelves. Why not just outlaw teenagers. Now THAT, I'd vote for - having one myself.

Heck, in New York City, you can't even smoke outside!

Fortunately, some people actually want to DE-criminalize something and I'm all for it. The push is on to allow wine sales in grocery stores. Of course, liquor stores hate this idea because it would cut into their profit and allow grocery stores - who are apparently all owned by big communist conglomerates - to make more money. I don't think "saving liquor stores" is really a reason to not allow grocery stores to sell wine.

Actually, the state is considering de-criminalizing a second thing: MMA fighting. Yes, mixes martial arts is brutal and bloody. But if two adults want to put themselves through that torture, it isn't up to the state to protect them from themselves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Note to voters:

Finally it's time to move on

It’ll all be over soon.

Like most people in Western New York — especially the media, I have to presume — I’ve been looking forward to today for quite a while. After tonight, we don’t have to worry about commercials for or against any of the candidates in the special election for the 26th Congressional District. After tonight, I don’t have to worry about Kathy Hochul and Jane Corwin blowing up my email. After tonight, I can delete the #NY26 saved search on my twitter. After tonight it’ll all be over.

I hope.

I thought the same thing a week ago today about the school budget votes, particularly the sports complex vote in the Lockport City School District. And last Wednesday afternoon, I still wasn’t sure if that proposal had passed or failed. So there is a possibility that tomorrow morning, I’ll still be waiting, wondering and watching as candidates bring in high-priced lawyers from Washington much like George W. Bush and Al Gore did in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.

The polling numbers lately in the 26th district seem very close, with one poll over the weekend showing Democrat Kathy Hochul with a 4 percent lead, which was within the margin of error, and a second showing her a six-point lead, just outside the margin of error. Please, God, don’t let there be a recount. The voters of Western New York have suffered long enough.

For members of the media, especially those covering the election — which I’ve done a bit of this time around — election night is an awesome thing. I enjoyed election nights when I worked in radio, but there’s something about working in a newsroom on election night. Waiting for polling numbers to come in from places you’ve never heard of.

I’ve heard “jokes” before that war is God’s way of teaching us geography. Elections do the same thing for members of the media. Analyzing congressional districts might not sound fun to you, but there are maps of the 26th district on people’s desks in newsrooms across Western New York.

I’ve enjoyed seeing stories I’ve written picked up by other news outlets across the state, as well as seeing stories written by people I know and respect spread out across the state.

Because of the nature of this election and the potential implications, all eyes are on us today. Media outlets I love to watch and read have been talking about the same things I’m talking about. The same things you’re talking about. It all makes the world very small, and more importantly, centered around us.

There have been days in the past few weeks where I have wished that Chris Lee had just kept his shirt on, but what’s done is done.

It’s time to move on.

Thankfully.

Hopefully.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wild, wacky #NY26 special election nearly over

With one week to go in the race to see who will take over the 26th Congressional District from the guy who took his shirt off, there is seemingly no end in sight to the silliness that encompasses the special election.

Last week, we saw Jack Davis mug some poor kid — or so it appeared. Jane Corwin, meanwhile got the key endorsement of 20 Republicans you’ve never heard of, who all just happened to be military veterans. And one faction of the Tea Party claimed that the other faction of the Tea Party was fake. Oh, and Kathy Hochul did something, although, to be honest, I can’t remember what. Ian Murphy, meanwhile, was declared irrelevant by Channel 2, and apparently, 98 percent of those taking polls in this race.

I can only imagine how sick you all must be of watching the television ads for this race, with each candidate saying that the others want to maim old people, eat children, raise taxes, shackle pregnant women and bring Stalin back to life.

I’m sick of the commercials and I don’t even watch much television. Just be thankful you don’t get the direct emails from the campaigns like I do. One day last week, I swear I got 192 emails from the Hochul camp. One email every 15 minutes. All day long. By the time I was done reading one, another popped into my inbox.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating just slightly. A little hyperbole never hurt anyone. Or that would be what these campaigns are indicating, at least.

I’ve gone back and forth during this race from “This is the best thing ever” to “can this be over yesterday, please?” A friend of mine who makes a career out of politics told me “in the world of politics, we call that love.”

I can tell you that I spent far too much time over the weekend checking in on the race to see who did what, who said something stupid, and how the Internet had reacted to whatever had been done and said. I even forced my kids to watch the news Saturday just in case something important happened. It hadn’t. Poor kids were forced to learn current affairs for no reason.

As a warning, things will get worse before they get better. The campaigns with the money (all of them except Murphy’s) still have a lot to spend and only seven days to do it in. That means more television commercials, more direct mails, more candidate events and more emails.

Also, don’t think for a second that “video-gate” was the last big surprise in this race. I’m sure that someone will announce Friday or over the weekend that the other candidates idolize Lee Iacocca — or were the second gunman on the grassy knoll — or something.

Take solace in knowing that one week from today it will all be over, at least until the next election.

To my readers in the Lockport City School District, don’t forget to vote today. There are some big issues on that ballot and it’s up to you, but if you don’t vote, you’re leaving it up to someone else. And, frankly, it’s all too important to leave up to someone else.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Republicans say, "Check, please!"

I predicted this would happen. Now that the 86 percent of America believes that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, coupled with that whole "killing Osama bin Laden" thing, the GOP realizes that 2012 is not the lock they were hoping for. In fact, it's going to be damn hard for the Republicans to take back the White House next year.

Mike Huckabee decided over the weekend to jump ship, followed Monday morning by Donald Trump. Fortunately, Newt Gingrich has figured out Twitter. And Sarah Palin has figured out the postal service.

Not that any of it matters. Isn't the world supposed to end on Saturday? I'm a little confused. I thought the world was supposed to end on Dec. 21 of next year?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Corwin endorsement announcement leaves out some details

GOP candidate in the 26th Congressional District, Jane Corwin, did her best Wednesday night to react to today's endorsement of war veteran David Bellavia for Jack Davis by gathering the endorsement of 20 military veterans in Congress.


She failed to note, however, that they're all Republicans. Yep, I checked ... and you can, too. One would hope that the endorsed GOP candidate would get the endorsement of Republican Congressmen, especially considering she just got the endorsement of the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.


Does she assume we're stupid? I wonder if any news outlets will run with this.


(press release below)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Contact: Matthew Harakal 
Phone: ###-###-####
Corwin Endorsed by 20 Military Veterans in Congress

WILLIAMSVILLE -- Jane Corwin, candidate for New York's 26th Congressional District, today was endorsed by 20 military veterans elected to the House of Representatives last November.
The group issued the following joint statement: 

"Veterans in Western New York have a strong voice and tireless advocate in Jane Corwin.  As the proud daughter of an Air Force Reservist, Jane knows firsthand the sacrifice and dedication our men and women in uniform make on behalf of our great nation every day. In the New York State Assembly, Jane's record of protecting veterans was second to none. We are eager to have her join our historic House Republican Freshman Class in Congress. Jane Corwin will fight with us as we try to repay the debt of honor owed to those who have bravely defended our freedom."

The full list of military veterans that endorsed Corwin includes the following:
Allen West (FL-22)
Veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom

Mike Grimm (NY-13)
Marine

Christopher Gibson (NY-20)
US Army Colonel

Rick Crawford (AR-1)
Former U.S. Army Sergeant

Tim Griffin (AR-02)
JAG Corps Major

Steve Womack (AR-03)
Colonel - Arkansas Army National Guard

Jeff Denham (CA-19)
Air Force Veteran

Richard Nugent (FL-05)
Served in the Air National Guard
  
Sandy Adams (FL-24)
Served in the US Air Force

Adam Kinzinger (IL-11)
Air Force Veteran

Larry Bucshon (IN-08)
US Navy Reserves

Todd Young (IN-09)
US Navy Captain

Mike Pompeo (KS-04)
Served in the US Army

Jeff Landry (LA-03)
Desert Storm Veteran

Andy Harris (MD-01)
US Navy Reserves Commander

Chip Cravaack (MN-08)
US Navy Reserves

Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
US Marine

Joe Heck (NV-03)
US Army Reserve

Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Vietnam Veteran
   
Bill Johnson (OH-06)
Retired Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Air Force

Some thoughts on the 26th ...

With less than two weeks to go before the special election in NY's 26th Congressional District, things are REALLY heating up.

First, we've got an endorsement of Jack Davis by David Bellavia ... and an unendorsement of Jack Davis by Bob Lonsberry. We've got Jack whining that the girls are being mean to him. And Ian Murphy being uninvited from a Channel 2 News debate. We've got Jane Corwin bringing Speaker John Boehner in to stump for her. And none other than Donald Trump saying if Jane loses the election, it's Rep. Paul Ryan's fault.

It's all very hard to keep up with. But, gosh, it is a LOT of fun.

It would seem to me like the Bellavia endorsement could give Jack Davis the few points he needs to make this a three-way horse race. The most recent polls have Jane Corwin leading Kathy Hochul and Davis by 36-31-23 ... and then Hochul leading Corwin and Davis by nearly the same figure 35-31-24. If Jack takes three points from each of those candidates, it's 32-28-30, which would put the whole thing within the margin of error. Keep in mind, Davis IS pulling from both candidates, so my theory there is plausible.

This past weekend, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, who at one point was considered a leading candidate to be the Democrat in the 26th race, announced he'd be running for Erie County Executive against Chris Collins.

I can't help but wonder why Poloncarz would make his announcement with two weeks to go in the special election. He couldn't have waited just a few weeks? Could his announcement take any wind out of Hochul's sails? Or is he hoping she has some coat tails of some sort? Will they be campaigning together over the next couple weeks? I really just don't get it. Any clues would be appreciated.


Thirteen days. It's bound to be interesting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Winning headline of the day ...

The eyes do funny things ...

Click on the photo ... and then stare at the dot in the middle of it during the countdown ... keep staring after the countdown and you'll see something that's not there. This is UBER cool.

Trump covers America

Dressed for success

It’s good to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. Do something different — just because it’s different.

It’s even better to step out of your comfort zone for a worthwhile cause, which I’ll be doing this Friday night at the Palace Theatre.

Modeling is a career I’ve never considered, primarily because I’m ugly and out of shape. But it’s what I’ll be doing Friday as I grace the runway at the Palace Theatre as part of the Peaches-N-Crème Fashion Show and Comedy Hour, a fundraiser for Relay For Life.

As if being a male model weren’t out of my comfort zone enough, I’ll be donning a dress to do it in.

Yup, Scott Leffler in drag.

Fortunately, I’m not alone. There’s about a dozen other guys joining me in gender bending for a cause.

For me, it started about six weeks ago when I got an email from Anne Scinta LaSota, team captain of Maurice’s Relay For Life.

Anne told me she was trying “to recruit men that know how to have fun, have great personalities, are well known to the community, secure enough in their manhood to wear women’s clothes and willing to help me make this a great and profitable night.”

She went on, “While I was talking to people this evening your name came up as someone that not only fits the type of person we’re looking for but also someone who would love to do something like this especially for such a good cause. So ... (with my fingers crossed) what are your thoughts?”

I was at first taken aback by the fact that my name came up in a discussion of guys who might like to cross-dress. But after the initial shock passed, I thought, “Hey, it’s for charity.”

The reasonably priced tickets are available at a reduced cost in advance, or buy them at the door. They can be purchased at Maurice’s on Transit Road, Caruso’s Hair Salon, Peer Plumbing and Heating or from any of the MANgels (that’s what they’re calling us models).

The MANgels include myself, David Hinton, Jay Zimmerman, Dick Scinta, Jerry Buzzeo, TJ Gray, Tommy Shanley, Joe Runfola, Kyle Greiner, Brian Hopkins, Brian Bailey, Andrew Mullen, Zak Persichini, Mike Gagliardi, Andrew Rodems and Rick Leiker.

Although the event starts at 7:30 p.m., doors open at 6 to allow people to look over the baskets in the basket raffle, purchase 50/50 tickets and presumably get good seats for a show that I am quite certain will only happen once — at least with this particular cast of characters.

Aside from the fashion show, there will be comedy provided by Nick Siracuse, and the whole thing will be hosted by Kiss 98.5’s Shannon Steele.

And, of course, all proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, to be held at Emmet Belknap on June 18.

So to summarize, if you want to see me in a dress, come out to the Palace on Friday night.

And to make sure I never live it down, we’ll be sending a photographer so there will be thousands of copies of it.

Hit me up for tickets at my email address found on the "contact page." And thanks.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Good to know ...

Now THAT'S news ...

Winning headline of the day ...

Minor changes ...

The ever-evolving website that is scottleffler.com got some minor revisions this evening.

You may note that the banner at the top of the page is gone. It had shrunk in the last revision, when I pretty much got rid of frames. I decided that "pretty much" wasn't good enough and deleted the banner frame altogether, giving a cleaner look and preventing some of the link issues that had been occurring, particularly with the twitter feed at right.

I updated the contact page, making it fit in better with the rest of the site and adding social networks to it, including twitter, facebook, foursquare, untappd and getglue. If you're unfamiliar with GetGlue, I must recommend it. It's like FourSquare for TV, movies and music. Untappd, meanwhile is basically FourSquare for beer.

The forum went away ... for now. Until I can figure out a better way to integrate it. Also missing, the links page. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Disturbing ...

Winning headline of the day ...

If Fox News had existed throughout history













Images copyright, Pundit Kitchen.

Reflections on bin Laden

It was really the plane going into the second tower that got everyone’s attention.

I had gotten an alert on my computer from MSNBC about the plane going into the first tower and thought it odd. Details were bizarrely sketchy at the time. Was it a real plane? Or just a prop plane?
Obviously it must have been an accident.

But then a few minutes after 9 o’clock, Flight 175 out of Boston crashed into the second tower — and all hell broke loose.

I was home with the kids. We lived on Niagara Street in Lockport at the time. We were safe. But as the morning progressed, panic swept across the country. Everything seemed like a potential target.

My wife worked in Niagara Falls and all I wanted was for her to come home where it was safe. I remember fear unlike any I’d ever felt before. The sky was falling. All I wanted was for my family to be safe, and I felt like I had no control over it whatsoever.

America changed that day.

I have to imagine that most people feel like Sunday night was the other bookend to Sept. 11. What began with planes crashing into buildings, ended with Navy SEALs and CIA paramilitary forces killing the world’s most famous terrorist following a firefight in Pakistan.

That chapter of our life is complete.

I’m glad he’s dead. But I don’t feel any safer.

•••

The president was barely done speaking Sunday night when the conspiracy theories started to fly saying that we’d had bin Laden for a week, but were waiting for the right time to announce it.

Apparently, according to the nut job conspiracy peeps, we held off announcing it so we didn’t ruin the royal wedding. And the best time to make such an announcement? Sunday night during “Celebrity Apprentice,” of course.

Also, I saw some opining that it was “convenient” that President Obama would make this announcement when his numbers were in the tank. Maybe he should have waited to catch bin Laden?

I did notice the president himself doing a little politicking. Anyone else notice the emphasis of “at my direction” during his announcement Sunday night? He wanted no one to doubt that he gave the word. Over time, I imagine the story will morph just a bit and the president himself will have caught bin Laden bare handed and taken him out personally, despite having only a pointy stick.

Speaking of politicking, I got an email from Kathy Hochul’s camp Monday morning.

It said: “I commend President Obama for his decisive leadership and the special forces who carried out this operation for their tireless work.”

Note to Kathy Hochul: No one cares if you commend the president. His coat tails will not get you elected.

I hadn’t gotten a press release from Jane Corwin as of the time I was finished writing this column.

Obviously that’s because she doesn’t share Hochul’s glee in the world’s top terrorist being caught. Or at least I’m expecting to get an email from Hochul soon, stating as much.