Saturday, March 24, 2012

McCarthy: House Majority Whip cites fatal flaw in Obamacare, calls for bureaucrats to stay away from healthcare decisions

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip) provides us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Two years ago, Americans watched as Democrats forced Obama’s trillion-dollar healthcare law through the House, despite the cost nearly doubling to $1.8 trillion now and objections to how it would affect families’ personal healthcare decisions.  While I remain committed to fully repealing ObamaCare, I applauded bipartisan support in the House to repeal one of the most egregious ObamaCare creations:  the little-known, but potentially far-reaching, Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB is a 15-member panel of unelected and unaccountable government bureaucrats appointed by the President and charged with reducing Medicare costs, which could result in de facto rationing of care for seniors, unless a supermajority in Congress votes to override its proposals. This unprecedented government-imposed rationing scheme is symptomatic of the broader ObamaCare premise that government must expand its reach into personal healthcare decisions.  When government over-intervenes, our individual freedoms and our personal choices are taken away.

  "Leaving Medicare services and payment decisions in the hands of unelected administrators would likely limit patient access to healthcare services and reduce quality of care and innovation. Many physicians already struggle to serve Medicare patients, and I’m concerned payment cuts to doctors and other healthcare providers who serve older Americans will adversely affect patient care. Over the last five years, the number of physicians unable to accept new Medicare patients has doubled. Low reimbursement rates have led to nearly 20% of doctors - 31% being primary care physicians - to restrict their number of Medicare patients. And, because TRICARE is tied to Medicare reimbursement rates, our military personnel will likely see similar impacts on their access to healthcare.  IPAB will only exacerbate this problem - this is unacceptable.

 "Congressional Democrats and over 400 organizations representing physicians, seniors, veterans, small businesses, healthcare providers and patients joined my Republican colleagues and me in an effort to repeal IPAB. I am pleased that Thursday, the House passed the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act (H.R. 5) to repeal IPAB and implement commonsense medical liability reforms to reduce frivolous lawsuits.  According to a Harvard study, over 40% of medical malpractice suits lack merit, and studies show that “defensive medicine” costs over $200 billion annually, driving up healthcare costs.  This bill’s medical liability reforms would save the federal government an estimated $48.6 billion, of which $45.5 billion will go directly toward paying down our debt. These reforms will preserve the doctor-patient relationship, make healthcare more affordable, and stop unaccountable government bureaucrats from the inevitable march toward rationing healthcare.

 "I continue working with Congressman Paul Ryan to get our nation’s fiscal house in order by putting together a responsible budget that reforms our tax code and tackles our debt.  I will also unveil an energy policy package next week that provides an all-of-the-above approach to domestic energy development to alleviate pain at the pump, create new American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  We cannot wait to address our debt and energy needs. Now is the time to put solutions forward and get America back on track."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RIP Trevor Jones and a reader notes some really bad form at the St. Francis confirmation evening

  * ... RIP TREVOR: Bakersfield police officer Trevor Jones was just 23 years old and a week shy of being married when he died of a heart attack. One of his classmates at Stockdale High School was Jolie Brouttier, who recalled Jones a "friend to everyone, always funny and positive, the best powder puff cheerleader, and one hell of a backflipper." On graduation night at Stockdale, Brouttier said Jones performed a "stand-jump backflip right before receiving his diploma." As she noted: "Remember to express to your friends on a daily basis just how much they mean to you, whether you are young or old." (photo courtesy of Jolie Brouttier)

* ... BAD FORM: Just when you think you have heard everything comes this example of really bad form, passed along to me by a close friend who requested to remain anonymous. The incident happened last Monday at the St. Francis Confirmation, held at Harvey Auditorium Monday.  "We had the misfortune of sitting in the upper balcony, second row, behind a family that didn't think it was the slightest bit inappropriate to change their baby's diaper, not once, but twice, between the 'Prayers of the Faithful' and the 'Preparation of the Gifts!' When the mass was over they started to walk out the row,  leaving the diapers under their chair. I politely asked if the diapers were theirs and reminded them that at that late hour, it wasn't likely a custodian would be coming in. The guy started yelling at me. I thought I was going to be stabbed at my daughter's own Confirmation." (file photo of diapers)

 * ... GENE: Gene Thome is the owner of Bear Moutain Sports gun and ammo shop and he can also happen to belt out a country song with the best of them. Which perhaps explains why he is among the special guests invited to Nashville to attend the opening of the Bakersfield Sound exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. When I last heard from him, he was heading to lunch with the legendary Red Simpson and then on to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, one of Nashville's iconic country bars behind the old Ryman Auditorium. (photos courtesy of Gene Thome)

 * ... PENNIES: Here's a feel-good story about young people reaching out to others. This one involves Caroline Edmonston, a junior at Garces Memorial High, and her sister Marisa, a seventh grader at St. Francis. They have started a "Pennies from Heaven" project to help those affected by the recent Midwest tornadoes. All money raised will be donated to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Henryville, Indiana, one of the areas hardest hit. The girls are hoping to make a difference, one coin at a time.  Spare change can be dropped off at the St. Francis School office, 2516 Palm Street, or at father Craig Edmonston's law office, 2204 Truxtun Avenue.

* ... MEXICALI: Sibyl Azbill read my earlier piece on the downtown Mexicali Restaurant and believes the building housed a nightclub called "Good Friends Inn" during World War II. "I'm not sure but I believe the Good Friends Inn started on Edison Highway where it had an all black orchestra. My brother was quite a tumbler back then and had some issues there!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bakersfield Sound exhibit opens in Nashville at the Country Music Hal of Fame

 This billboard greeted Gene Thome, owner of Bear Mountain Sports, at the Nashville Airport. The exhibit on the Bakersfield Sound, featuring Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and other local greats, is running at the Country Music Hall of fame.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bako Bits: Ashburn says he will step down from state board if he wins election to county supervisor, and a little history quiz courtesy of Mary Kay Shell

 * ... ASHBURN: Roy Ashburn has had a change of heart about remaining on a state board if he is successful in his race to serve as 1st District county supervisor again. Ashburn told me Tuesday that - if elected - he will step down from the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, an appointed position that earns him $129,000 a year. "I want to clear that up," he told me. "There has been some misunderstanding and I want people to know where I stand."

* ... MEXICALI:  Here's a trivia quiz for all your Bakersfield old timers. Before it became known as Mexicali, the downtown restaurant operated under the name Herb King's. Before it was Herb King's, what was it known as? The answer from former mayor Mary Kay Shell: "It was called the Drink-o-Link Drive In before Herb King took it over. Maybe Drinkolink was all one word. I can't remember!" (staff photo of Mary Kay Shell)

 * ... TRAIN: More reader input on the miniature train that used to ferry passengers at Hart Park. Leslie Torrigiana said it was her grandfather, J.M. Van Cleave, who built the train. "I don't know the year. My mother has told us many a fun family story that can't be repeated in the paper about train passengers. My mother and her siblings were at Hart Park the day the train took its first trip around the track.  There were many spectators as the train pulled away that day. The train took riders across a wooden bridge and through a dark tunnel. My grampa went every weekend to service the train and his family rode for free."

 * ... SPOTTED: A woman walking three small girls to Standard School is spotted wearing pajamas, a robe and slippers. Said Linda Welch: "I think some people carry casual Friday just a little too far."

 * ... CALORIES: Some interesting (and alarming) statistics on how Americans consume calories from The New York Times' Jane E. Brody. Brody noted that Americans are consuming billions of calories unwittingly and often between meals. For example, a Double Gulp 64-ounce cup of soda at a 7-Eleven has a full 800 calories, and some bagels now pack up to 600 calories. At one New York restaurant, a personal size pizza contained 2,100 calories, the amount "the average woman needs in a day." Is it any wonder we are a "full size" nation?

 * ... TAFT COLLEGE:  Sheri Horn Bunk, now executive director of the Taft College Foundation, tipped me off to a grand opening reception this Friday of the school's new Campus Art Gallery.  On display will be the works of two established artists, entitled 'Women Working' which will include watercolors by Nancy Dawson and sculpture by Betty Younger. It's open to the public and begins at 5 p.m. Bunk says there will be music and poetry readings and a "special dramatic surprise."

 * ... WHO KNEW?: Courtesy of the Kern Economic Development Corporation: "The statue of Father Garces on the Garces Circle was commissioned in 1939 by the Works Project Administration of the Great Depression. He was sculpted out of limestone by John Palo Kangas, who also did a sculpture of our beloved Colonel Baker."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government push for pension reform; hear its founders on Californian Radio KERN 1180

 * ... CAL RADIO: Kern Citizens for a Sustainable Government is a newly formed organization devoted to supporting policies that balance the need for growth with responsible spending. Since forming a few months ago, this group has proved to be a steady voice in holding our local and state officials accountable for their votes and actions. On Monday, I will be chatting with two of the founding members, J.P. Lake and Patrick Wade, on Californian Radio KERN 1180 at 9 a.m. Tune for to hear their priorities and concerns going into this election year. Here is Lake on the group's mission: "Unless all of us get involved in changing our government, politicians will continue to enact poor policy and regulations. Maybe you know the saying: 'Nothing changes, if nothing changes.' For us, change means working to raise public awareness, education and participation in the creation of laws and regulations and the election of public servants."

 * ... SNAIL MAIL: A reader submitted this example of service from our Post Office: "I just received a thank you note that was postmarked Dec. 30! Two and a half months later it arrives across town!"

 * ... SAM THE HIPPO: Clarine Seymour is a local resident who passed along her knowledge of Sam, the hippopotamus who once lived at Larson's Dairy. Turns out Claire published a children's book called "Sam, The Hippo No One Wanted."It tells the story of how Sam came from the Jungle Compound in Thousand Oaks and was virtually homeless until the late John Barber, owner of Barber Pontiac, heard about Sam, purchased him and gave him to the Bakersfield Zoo. He stayed there for a while and eventually was moved to Larson's Dairy where there was a cement pond filled with water. When plans for a bigger zoo never materialized, Sam was sold to an animal trainer and once appeared on a television commercial for Cal Worthington Ford.

 * ... SPOTTED: A posting on Twitter: "Spotted: Little Caesar's car in Taco Bell drive-thru. Must have had enough of pizza pizza."

 * ... WINE TASTING: If it's March you know we're in the middle of the prime season for fund raising. And on Saturday, March 24, one of my favorite events will be held at Motor City Lexus from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's the 4th Annual Wine Tasting with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. More than 20 California wineries are featured along with live music and culinary from many of Bakersfield's finer restaurants. Only 550 tickets will be available and the cost is $40 in advance or $50 at the door, and can be purchased at Imbibe Wines and all Coldwell Banker locations. Thanks to Coldwell's John Mackessy for sharing this.

 * ... TOP GUNS: Some of the top competition shotgun shooters in the country will converge on Kern County later this month for the 31st annual Ken Barnes Open Skeet Championships. The tournament will be held at the Kern County Gun Club March 30-April 1. The event is named after local Realtor Kenny Barnes, one of the all-time great skeet shooters and a member of the Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Bill Black of Taft says you might be a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember that the Mexicali on 18th Street was Herb Kings before it became the Mexicali... (and)
the Imperial Hotel on 21st Street later became Maison Jaussaud's at their new location on Union Avenue."