Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brewing 012913

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the Constitution is dead. And the Boy Scouts may reverse a policy banning gay scouts and scout leaders.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Immigration reform may actually happen — or not

I’m really excited this week because there is a new topic in the world of politics. I was getting a bit brain-numb on the topics of gun control and the economy so this new order of business snuck in just in time.

After years of doing not-much on the issue, Congress has decided to tackle the problem of immigration reform. A “gang of eight” — consisting of Republicans Mark Rubio of Florida, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado and New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer — have come together to tackle the issue just as a majority of Americans say they want the issue addressed.

Over the weekend it was announced that a new new Associated Press-GfK poll has found that more than 60 percent of Americans now favor allowing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. That's a huge jump from just two years ago when  only 50 percent supported the idea.

“We have a long way to go, but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough,” Schumer said Monday, adding the Senate could pass the bill by late spring or summer.

Democrats, of course, have pushed for immigration reform for a long time. Republicans, it would seem, have decided to join them in this effort because they’re realized that they have a reputation as the “old white-guy party” and old white guys are dwindling in numbers compared to women and minorities.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put in a subtle jab at the GOP, while thanking them for their change in position on the subject. “(Democrats) have been doing this alone,” he said. “It’s good to have some friends and partners in this effort.”

Even Karl Rove is praising this bipartisan effort. In what I would call a rare moment of candor, he even acknowledges that it will “bear some political fruit” for the GOP.

In November, President Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic, while Mitt Romney gained just 27 percent of that demographic. And worse for Republicans, 89 percent of the GOP vote overall was from whites, while 11 percent was from non-whites. Comparatively, Obama’s vote was 56 percent white and 44 percent non-white.

In other words, if the GOP had actually pulled some votes from people other than old white guys, they might have had a shot in 2012. And they’re hoping that if they dust off their image and come out as being more forward thinking on the immigration issue, they might increase their odds in 2016.

And if I can figure this out, surely Chuck Schumer and the brass in the Democratic Party can do the same. Which makes me wonder if they’ll consider putting a poison pill in the eventual legislation — something Republicans will hate — forcing the rank-and-file members of the Grand Old Party to vote it down, thereby allowing the Democrats to claim they fought for immigration reform but they couldn’t win against those dastardly Republicans.

Sadly politics means looking for the bad in everything good.

Scott Leffler thinks immigration reform would be good. But he’s not holding his breath. If he does hold his breath, he’ll update his Twitter — @scottleffler.

Brewing 012813

Paul Ryan says Bill Clinton would have fixed economy. And immigration reform is a thing again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Here we go again - again

We are now officially into the second term of the 44th president of the United States. Despite all odds, Barack Obama was reelected in November and sworn into office on Sunday, hoping to fix what ails the world in his second four-year stint as president.

I was lucky enough to attend Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and had hoped to attend his second one — the public version, at least — on Monday, but as happens, life got in the way.

I didn’t vote for Obama. Not the first time around. And not the second. And while I don’t think he has the answers to everything, I certainly hope he does well.

This country needs help on a variety of matters and we’ll need to pull together to do so. We’ll need to remember that there is no Democratic States of America. Nor is there a Republican States of America. Red states and blue states all end up with the same president. And for the next four years, that president is Obama.

We may have fundamental disagreements as Americans. Everyone has their own interpretation of what this country is, what it was founded on and what it should be in the future. There is plenty of room for disagreement. In fact, it’s quite heartening to see that we can disagree and still all stand for the same flag.

Of course, during his inauguration address, the president laid out a basic framework of what he wants this country to be. Just as predictably, his opponents on the right came forward with why they disapproved of his vision. Again, these disagreements are to be expected and are very healthy.

What’s not healthy is the amount of hatred and vitriol that each side continues to lob at the other. From the right’s point of view, anyone who supports Obama is anti-American and must hate freedom. From the left’s point of view, anyone who doesn’t support Obama is anti-American and must hate freedom.

I wish we could have taken the day off to just be American. There are very few days when we simply get to celebrate what it means to live in the best country of the world. Even the days that should be set aside to do that — Independence Day, for example — have been tainted with partisan rancor.

Four years ago, standing on the Mall with my then-11-year-old daughter, I was awestruck by how awesome it was to be an American. I was overwhelmed with patriotism as we installed Obama — despite my having not voted for him. And I was hopeful that the bitterness of the Bush and Clinton years may end.

The past four years proved that the bitterness and division remained. But this Sunday we began anew — again. And I hope we can unite. Before we fall apart.

Scott Leffler is incredibly naive, but in a cute, childlike way. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.

Brewing 012213

It's all about the inauguration — which Ralph Nader called "political bullshit" — and the debt limit explained.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brewing 011613

The president seems to be picking up steam and the GOP looks sillier all the time. Know who else looks silly? Donald Trump and the NRA.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Brewing 011413

NRA says no gun deal will happen because they "have the votes." And Scott goes on a bit of a rant about people that say "No one I know voted for Obama."

Crisis mode is the new black

It seems to me like more and more we’re not normal unless we’re in the midst of a crisis.

I don’t know if it’s the effect of American Idol or it we were all raised on WWF or what, but more and more it seems like anything non-life-threatening is just boring to us.

First is was the end of the world prediction. Then the next one. Then the Mayan one. Then the Fiscal Cliff. And now we’re worried about the debt ceiling. Again.

Government shutdowns are the new norm and the possibility that we might know where our next meal or paycheck is coming from is just so passe. If we’re not living on the edge these days, it’s like we’re not living.

From the crisis that was the election to the economic crisis that followed in the months after, we’re glued to our TVs and newspapers wondering what horrible tragedy may meet us next.

I can’t help but wonder why. What is it we get out of it? Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I have a deluded view of the world and I’m the only one intrigued by these things.

In fact, there are people all around the world — even here in the US of A — that not only don’t know what the Fiscal Cliff is all about, they probably have no clue who won the American election. I either pity them or am jealous, I’m not sure which.

The latest grand plan, although I’m not sure whose plan it is, is to mint a trillion dollar coin to deal with the impending debt ceiling doom. A trillion. That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it. It looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000.

If you worked for the next 70 years, you could easily save up a trillion dollars. Assuming of course, you didn’t eat … and you made $274.7 million a month. And some change.

To be completely honest with you, my life is kind of boring. I wake up. I eat. I putz around. I go to work. I come home. I putz around. I sleep. I repeat. On weekends, it’s a little more exciting because I actually get to spend time with my kids. And we watch movies where things blow up.

But movies where things blow up are not nearly as compelling as the possibility that the fabric of society completely unravels. Which is where we’ve constantly been for the past few years.

I mean, really. Your life pales in comparison to the impending doom predicted by some Mayan thousands of years ago who created a calendar which allegedly foretold the end of the world, right?

So we take the latest crisis and we hang on in hopes that it will be more exciting than the last crisis, which — let’s be honest — was a little ho hum, right?

Maybe some day we’ll go back to just living our lives. Going to work. Sleeping. And watching Bourne movies with the kids.

Until then, bring out the trillion dollar coin.

Scott Leffler majored in sarcasm in college. He had a double minor in apathy and lunch. Feel free to make a futile effort of following his twisted logic on Twitter @scottleffler.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brewing 011113

I think we’ve gone too far. Schools are becoming prisons. And America is becoming a police state. And we’re not just allowing it. We’re asking for it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Brewing 011013

Obama’s popular vote totals are the first time since Eisenhour’s reelection in 1956 that anyone has gotten more than 51 percent of the popular vote twice ... and other things that will piss Republicans off.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Brewing 010913

Topics include Alex Jones, Piers Morgan, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton and birthers. Oh joy.

Monday, January 07, 2013

I feel guilty about my happiness

So a bunch of millionaires finally figured out how to divide their pie after months of name calling, pandering, pouting and finally “negotiations.”

Personally, I have no use for a bunch of whiny millionaires complaining that they’re not making enough money playing a game that every kid I knew growing up would play for free. And yet … I’m looking forward to watching them play.

Personally, I have no use for a bunch of whiny millionaires complaining that they only get half of the revenue made by the product of the previously mentioned millionaires. And yet … I’m glad they got it resolved.

I want to boycott hockey. In fact, I had decided to boycott hockey shortly before the New Year. I decided that I would not wear any NHL paraphernalia until the league got its act together and there was actually some hockey being played. I feared I would have three less t-shirts, two less long sleeve shirts, one less jersey and about a dozen less baseball caps to wear until at least the fall.

But then the stark realization apparently smacked all those millionaires in the face that if they don’t bake a pie, there’s nothing for them to split. As such it looks like I’ll be wearing Buffalo Sabres garb come mid-January.

And I’m quite pleased about that.

That said, I hope there are people with better resolve than me. I hope there are some hockey fans out there with the discipline to make this league and the players pay for robbing us of three months worth of joy.

There have been many news stories about NHL fans potentially boycotting the rest of the season. Or at least the first week. Or first game. Maybe they’ll just show up late. But probably not. The arenas will be full. Because we’re lemmings. And that’s why they knew they could get away with their shenanigans.

As a side note, I had a thought that I feel almost silly for thinking: This will be the year the Sabres win the Stanley Cup. And I don’t want them to.

Sure, you could make the argument that we’ve been longing for a Cup and this community needs a win. But the 2013 Stanley Cup will come with an asterisk. It will come with the notation that it was a shortened season. And as such, whoever wins it will be branded and “kind of” NHL champions.

I’d hate to see that sort of a mark on the Sabres record. Especially with it being their first Stanley Cup win ever.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. They still haven’t dropped a puck.

Scott Leffler is a hockey fan who is looking forward to watching millionaires skate around on perfectly formed ice rinks. Share his joyful disappointment on Twitter @scottleffler.

I tested it, too. It works.

Brewing 010713

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Brewing 010213

First day of the new year. Topics include the fiscal cliff, Hillary Clinton's blood clot, Justin Bieber's Ferrari and general mayhem.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Anything is possible with a new year

Happy New Year.

It seems crazy to think that it’s 2013 already. It was just 1997 a couple weeks ago it seems. But then life moved into hyper drive and suddenly … bam! 2013.

As much as I want to think it’s still 1997 sometimes, I’m constantly reminded that I’m getting older. Some examples: I hurt my back a week ago — putting on my shoes. And I wrecked my knee on Sunday — sledding with my family.

Yep, I’m definitely not getting younger, that’s for sure. Of course, to be fair, I distinctly remember being rather accident prone in 1997, too — when I nearly cut my finger off with a spatula.

I don’t make resolutions for New Year’s. As my oldest put it the other day (she was born in 1997, by the way), if you want to improve something about your life, why wait until the first of the year to do it?

But we’re fascinated by calendars. Just ask all those people who stood on rooftops on Dec. 21 waiting for the world to end. And I’ve been drawn to dates for a long time. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is an easy one to remember. I remember where I was, with who and what was said, even. Mostly good memories, but not all.

I’m hoping that 2013 is filled with good memories. Last year was kind of a mixed bag. I did some things right and I screwed some things up in a manner that only myself and Clark W. Griswold are capable of. Look kids! Big Ben. Parliament.

It seems that at the end of every calendar year, we have a tendency to look back and smile at the things we did right. And plan to do better next year with the things we did wrong. Just like we did in 2011. And 2010. And 2009. Etc. Ad nauseum.

Who knows though. Maybe this is the year I win the lottery. If so, I should probably start buying tickets. Maybe that could be my resolution: to waste more money buying lottery tickets. Sounds like poor planning to me, though.

Maybe this is the year the Bills make the playoffs. Maybe this year the NHL will decide they actually want to play some hockey. Maybe this year … anything is possible.

That’s what’s so interesting about changing the calendar from December to January. Anything is possible.

Scott Leffler is an optimist and a dreamer. He shares his hopes on Twitter @scottleffler.