Thursday, September 26, 2013

GOP denial of science is frightening


About 5,000 years ago there was a great Egyptian empire. They created some really cool things. They used pulleys and levers to create massive buildings and monuments. They used rope trusses to strengthen their ships. They made paper and pottery. Glassworks, medicine, and astronomical mapping were all commonplace. And some believe that they even had working batteries and electric lights. That was all thousands of years before the birth of Christ.

Other empires built on what the Egyptians did for a while. And then *poof* — suddenly technological advancement stopped. Hello, Dark Ages. Somewhere around the 5th Century A.D., people just stopped being smart. And then there was a point where being smart was absolutely frowned upon. Smart people were obviously heretics because God likes us stupid — or something.

Fortunately, we found our way. Art, architecture, and industry all advanced eventually and now we have computers and space ships and cures for all sorts of diseases. Knowledge is power. And it makes us better.

But alas, some out there think that knowledge is dangerous and technological advancement and scientific learning are something to be feared — or at least ignored. Those people, I have found — by and large — are mostly Republicans.

Yes, I’m picking on Republicans again this week. They just make it so easy.

I type in my Google search bar “Republicans deny” and the autocomplete gives me some very interesting options. The first five in order are:

• Republicans deny global warming
• Republicans deny science
• Republicans deny climate change
• Republicans deny funding for embassy security
• Republicans deny evolution

Trying the same thing with Democrats, nine of the first 10 options were either “God” or “Jesus Christ.” I’m not sure what that says about Democrats but at least they don’t deny science.

So my thought here is that if Republicans get their way, we’re headed back to the Dark Ages. We’ll be refusing technological advancements left and right while teaching our children the Bible in science class.

Personally, I am a man of faith. I believe that there is a God. I also believe in evolution. Not necessarily that we “came from apes,” as the anti-evolution crowd likes to say, but that we are not the same beings were were millions of years ago. Mind you, I think that “millions of years ago” existed and the world was not created a mere 6,000 years ago as some radicals would insist. And not only would they insist it, they would insist that my children be taught such drivel — in science class!

There’s nothing that says that you must choose between God and science. There’s room for both. But one is a matter of faith and the other is, well, science. One should be taught at home. And the other should be taught in school. Faith should be explored. While knowledge should be expanded.

What I want to know is how does “the Earth is flat party” keep getting elected? How dumb do you have to be to vote for someone who doesn’t believe that dinosaurs were real? Yes, I realize that not ALL Republicans deny science, but a Gallop poll from three years ago says that 52 percent of Republicans polled believe in “strict creationism” and that the earth is less than 10,000 years old.

And we elect these people to make decisions for us …

Scott Leffler believes in dinosaurs, evolution and love. Also, Twitter. Follow him there @scottleffler



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Looney GOP keeps playing same Tunes


Shouldn’t there have been a point at which Wyle E. Coyote — super genius — realized that maybe he wasn’t actually that bright and was never going to catch and eat the Road Runner?

Over the course of about 50 cartoons, that stupid coyote devised more and more elaborate plans to catch his nemesis — or on a few occasions, Bugs Bunny. On a few occasions, the coyote was actually able to catch the Road Runner briefly, but he always got away.

The coyote was always his own biggest enemy, oftentimes falling prey to his own traps and looking foolish in the end.

In his book “Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist,” Chuck Jones said that there were certain rules to the Road Runner/Wyle E. Coyote cartoons which he and the writers strictly adhered to. One of those rules was that “The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic.” According to the book, "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim."

Jones also said that the coyote should be a sympathetic character. He wanted us to want him to catch that Road Runner. He wanted us to feel bad when he fell off cliffs. Or dropped a boulder on his own head.

I guess I should have read the rules when I was a kid because I didn’t feel bad for the coyote. I never wanted him to eat the Road Runner. Just like I never wanted Sylvester to eat Tweety. Or Tom to eat Jerry. Or the dog to get the best of Foghorn Leghorn. Or … well, you get my point.

I just got increasingly angry with the coyote for being such a numbskull. I mean, how many times do you have to make yourself look stupid before you realise that you look stupid? Can we agree that 50 times is enough? What about 40?

Allow me to introduce you to House Republicans — super genuis.

Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act was signed into law three and a half years ago — and more importantly since the GOP took the House in 2011 — there have been 40 separate votes to essentially kill Obamacare.

In fact, a story in The New York Times stated that the House has spent as much as 15 percent of all of its time on the floor focused on repeal. Fifteen percent of Republican congressmen’s salaries over that time cost us about $17 million, based on numbers from the Congressional Research Service.

But they’re hoping that the 41st time will be the charm. They feel that they’ve devised a newer, bigger, better, faster, Rube Goldberg machine that will drop everything they need into place and allow them to finally get their way with that stupid Road Runner … er, Obama.

This time they’re offering up the entire economy in exchange for Obamacare, threatening to allow the U.S. to default on its loans unless the Democrats willingly give up their prized healthcare reform.

We’ve been here before. The GOP has threatened to shut down government on a number of occasions. They’ve even succeeded a couple times. But just like the Road Runner, the government always seems to get away in the end. Just as it will this time.

Is there going to come a point where House Republicans realize they look stupid spending all their time focusing on one bill that’s now been law for three and a half years while refusing to do anything to actually fix the healthcare system, help the economy, or the long forgotten middle class?

"A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim."

Maybe not.

Scott Leffler loved Looney Tunes growing up. And as an adult. He also thinks that most cartoons are smarter than House Republicans. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler. Beep. Beep.




Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some things should just be avoided


I have no idea what’s going on in Syria. I’m not sure what’s going to end up happening. But I know that the whole ordeal bugs me. I know that I’m not in favor of bombing another country in response to their (allegedly) gassing their own people. Killing people in retaliation for them killing people makes no sense to me.

Yes, as I’ve pointed out before, I’m a peacenik.

I thought that Piers Morgan put it best the other night following President Barack Obama’s speech.

“Isn't the message to other brutal dictators, 'when you slaughter your people, don't use gas,’” the CNN host asked.

That’s been one of my points all along. Dead is dead. People who die from Tomahawk missiles are no less dead than people who die from Sarin gas. So I don’t see how we can claim the moral high ground.

My advice to my congressman: Stay out of Syria unless you have reason to believe that Syria wants to come here.

•••

I was downright annoyed Wednesday as I scrolled through my social media feeds.

The only thing worse than the sunny-day patriotism on my Facebook and Twitter feeds on the 12-year anniversary of the attacks on America was the open use of the national tragedy to score political points.

How dare some people use the death of thousands of Americans as an excuse or reason to sound off on matters completely unrelated.

Look. I get it. Some people hate Obama. And Muslims. And anyone else who doesn't look, talk, act and dress like them. That's not a valid reason for people to make a fool of themselves. They're embarrassing themselves and our country. And in short, these people are why the world hates us.

•••

I have — at times — some obsessive compulsive characteristics. For example, I cannot walk past my mailbox without checking it. No matter what time, day or night. And no matter how many times I walk past it.

Once a day — at most — my OCD pays off and there’s mail in the box. Thursday afternoon it paid off at about 3 p.m. when I had a catalog selling Christmas decorations.

Now, I love Christmas. Always have. I’m sure I always will. From the day after Thanksgiving until Dec. 25, I listen to Christmas music, eat Christmas cookies, gaze at my beautifully lit Christmas tree and basically bask in the glow of the season of good will.

But from Dec. 26 until Thanksgiving day, I steer clear of Christmas. I cringe when I see Christmas decorations in January — unless they’re on the clearance shelf. And I equally cringe when I see them in September.

I’m guilty, as my family knows, of whistling Christmas tunes in July. It’s a signal that I’m particularly happy. But it’s an unintentional reflex, not something I plan out.

Now, I understand that in order to get people to buy their Christmas stuff in order to wrap presents in time, they have to order them early enough. But September? It’s just too early.

Scott Leffler is frequently random and usually annoyed. Both are easily seen on Twitter where you can find him @scottleffler.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I should have avoided Facebook

The only thing worse than the sunny-day patriotism on my Facebook and Twitter feeds is the open use of a national tragedy to score political points.

How dare some people use the death of thousands of Americans as an excuse or reason to sound off on matters completely unrelated.

Look. I get it. You hate Obama. And Muslims. And anyone else who doesn't look, talk, act and dress like you.

That's no reason to make an ass out of yourself. You're embarrassing yourself and your country. And in short, you're why the world hates us.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Obama’s politics opened up can of worms


President Barack Obama pulled a bit of political genius out of his magic hat when he sought Congressional approval to use military action in Syria, putting the onus on Congress to decide whether we should go all “America” on their … posteriors.

In doing so, he climbed up on his stump and used the bully pulpit to tell Congressional leaders that if they didn’t go along with his plan to use force in the Middle Eastern country, we’d look weak. Congress never likes looking weak and as such will likely approve the measure overwhelmingly.

Right?

Well just hold on a minute there. There’s a large contingent of Congress that is opposed to military action in Syria, mostly for legitimate reason — but some for political purposes of their own.

As of the writing of this column, no less than 14 members of the House of Representatives have said that if Congress disapproves of military action and the president goes through with it anyway — which he has said he may — that they’d consider that to be an impeachable offense.

So would I.

At first I was impressed with the president’s decision to ask Congress for permission to use force. It is, after all, what he’s supposed to do according to the Constitution. I thought, “Wow. How refreshing to see a commander in chief who follows the law.”

Then the politics occurred to me and I realized that he wasn’t so interested strict Constitutionalism as he was in spreading the blame for a military action that we just plain shouldn’t be involved in in the first place. If Congress says yes, then no matter how poorly it goes, he can say, “But you told me to!” If he acted without asking then the blame is completely on the White House.

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, put out a press release Tuesday night stating “It is not the time for Americans to be subjected to the potential of yet another unwinnable overseas war.”

I agree, but would add that it is never the time for such an action. Especially if we’re not being threatened. And we’re not.

Some would say that if we allow Syria to get away with mistreating their own people, we could have another Hitler on our hands. It seems to me that that line of thinking has embroiled us in countless “wars” and “peacekeeping efforts” over the last seven decades, stretching our resources thin and diminishing our resolve.

If Higgins — a liberal Democrat in a very safe district — isn’t going to support intervention on behalf of his Democratic president, then who will? Maybe the GOP. Maybe no one. The vote is yet to come.

One other note on President Obama’s use of the bully pulpit: It kind of makes him look like a bully. If he succeeds in convincing Congress to go along with him, we’ll all look like bullies. And if that happens, our latest military intervention will do nothing more than create more enemies.

Scott Leffler is a peacenik. He lives in Lockport with his hedgehog, who also opposes war. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

Blowing the dust off the forum ...

Back in the day ... when I was but a wee lad ... this website had a pretty active forum ... complete with posts, replies, arguments and drama ...

I'm not looking to revive the drama aspect, but I thought I'd post a few things to the forum and see what turns up.

First attempt - a poll on the ongoing crisis in Syria and what you think the U.S. role should be in the regain - specifically in regards to the president saying we need to take action against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against its citizens.

So please take a minute and vote. Or take two minutes and comment, too.