Friday, October 25, 2013

McCarthy: Obamacare is not ready for prime time and the early flaws are just the tip of the iceberg

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip and a Bakersfield Republican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week was filled with news reports on “glitches” associated with the Obamacare website. However, the problems being created by this law go well beyond technical difficulties. To hundreds of thousands of Americans losing health coverage because of Obamacare, it is not a “glitch.” It’s not a glitch when hard-working Americans receive letters informing them that they and their families will no longer be able to keep their current health care plan – a fundamental promise this President made to us when Obamacare was being rammed through a then-Democrat controlled Congress.

 "While the Administration continues to hold press conferences to tell us ‘it’s being handled,’ it is unlikely that they will read these letters or listen to the stories that are unfolding from this unfortunate reality. As October 1st approached, the Obama Administration assured the nation that everything was running smoothly with Obamacare. But unfortunately, it is now clear that the fears that many Americans had about this law were in fact well-founded.

  "Even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the exchanges “didn’t have enough testing” and that the exchanges “needed five years of construction.”  She explained that HHS only had two years to construct the program with “almost no testing.”  If that is indeed the case, then why did Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration insist on rolling out the exchanges years before they could be ready, and not agree with many in Congress and millions of Americans that Obamacare should be delayed?

  "Not only is it very difficult for individuals to get past the first steps of signing up, but the system’s coding appears to be corrupted and is channeling inaccurate applicant information, raising the risk of improper payments, and worse, risking the loss of coverage and opening applicants up to the potential of their identities being stolen. The Obama Administration has spent over $500 million in taxpayer money and counting to develop this website, more money than Apple spent to develop the iPhone, and more money than Facebook and Twitter spent combined to develop their sites.  This type of mismanagement is unacceptable and those responsible must be held accountable.

  "Now elected officials from both sides of the aisle agree with what I have believed all along: Obamacare is not ready for prime time and Americans should have gotten the same delay that the President unilaterally gave businesses. And this week, as many American households received letters cancel
ing their coverage, we know that the President was wrong when he said, ‘if you have health care and you like it, you can keep it.” No Rose Garden infomercial can hide what Americans are experiencing: hardworking families and workers are losing their private plans or are being told that they now must pay higher premiums because of this Un-affordable Care Act.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BPD's Tony Martinez battles an illness and more details on the administration's new rules on deporting illegal immigrants

 * ... SICK BAY: Tony Martinez,  the Bakersfield Police Department community relations officer and a tireless promoter of our city, is suffering from a rare neurological disorder. He broke the news on Facebook, posting this message: "Emotionally it was easier to send a text message then to call and say
"It's time to clear my desk...I need to move on.' These past months looking through literally hundreds of photos brought back so many good memories. What I saw in them is that if in work and life you make it fun and surround yourself with good community partners, positive people, an equality hard working wife and family 'nothing is impossible' so to you I say 'Thank You.' In June the Lord blessed me with Miller-Fisher Syndrome and now wait to see what he has planned for me." Keep Tony and his family in your thoughts.

 * ... IMMIGRATION: Don C. Craib wrote to question why The Californian has not more fully covered the new regulations prohibiting some illegal immigrants from being deported. "These include illegal aliens who are parents or legal guardians (1) who are primary caretakers of minor aliens (including minors in the country illegally); who have a direct interest in family or child welfare
proceedings; and (3) whose minor children are physically present in the U.S. and are citizens or legal permanent residents. I follow immigration issues quite closely and, for the life of me, I
can't remember reading about these changes in your paper.  It is incomprehensible that you would not publish this information because it gives millions of illegal aliens the right to stay in this country."

 * ... BAD FORM: From a reader who asked that her name be withheld. "Doctor's staff screwed up my appointment; not even written down. Okay we all make mistakes. I guess the words 'I'm sorry for the inconvenience' are no longer proper etiquette. I certainly haven't heard them in a long time. Sad.
Please don't use my name, I love my doctor and will not change to another."

 * ... TRASH: Jerry Beckwith spent a few days in Colorado, enjoying the fall colors and snow, and returned with these thoughts: "We didn't see roadside trash or graffiti anywhere. Drivers use their blinkers to signal lane changes - and turns. On 75 mph freeways, drivers use the No. 1 lane for passing and then return to the right lane. Witnessed no road rage or overly aggressive driving the whole time and not to mention fuel was $2.99 on the reservation and $3.22 at Costco."

 * ... MINTER FIELD: One of best - and free - events in town is coming up next weekend when Minter Field holds its annual "fly in." It is set for Saturday, Nov. 2, beginning at 7 a.m. There will be warbirds, tail draggers, jets, sports planes, ultra-lites and helicopters. There is also a pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. that costs just $5. Otherwise, admission is free.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More on the hysteria over hydraulic tracking and Cal State Bakersfield brings Tesla founder Elon Musk to campus for a presentation

 * ... GASLAND: One of the themes coming out of last week's West Kern Petroleum Summit was the need for the oil and gas industry to do a better job of debunking the hysteria over hydraulic fracking. As noted by columnist Lois Henry, one of the most inflammatory anti-fracking "documentaries" is called "Gasland," produced by environmental activist Josh Fox. In it, he shows someone lighting their faucet on fire, which he blamed on fracking. The truth is, however, that in some parts of the country with large deposits of coal and minerals, methane is routinely leaked into the water supply, with or without
fracking, allowing the water to be lit into a flame. Rivers and ponds in these areas have been set afire for years and it has nothing to do with fracking, but that didn't stop Fox from presenting it that way. Speaking on First Look with Scott Cox Tuesday, Henry noted that Fox is now making Gasland 2 and has a deal with HBO for more anti-fracking documentaries. Her view: she is not opposed to regulating fracking, but base your decisions on science, not emotions. If you want a more balanced view of fracking, rent the movie "Fracknation."

 * ... APPROVAL: Not surprisingly, a new polls shows widespread frustration with both Congress and the president. Conducted by CNN, the survey "indicates that the approval rating for Congress remains near an all-time low. Only 12 percent of those questioned say they approve of the job Congress is doing, just two points higher than the historic low in CNN polling. And 86 percent give federal lawmakers a thumbs-down, also near the all-time high. Forty-four percent say they approve of the job the President is doing with 52% saying they disapprove."

 * ... MUSK: I was excited to hear that Elon Musk is coming to Cal State Bakersfield as part of its distinguished speaker series. The South African-born Musk is a true entrepreneur and one of his latest projects has been the electric Tesla car. He also has been involved in projects as diverse as space launch vehicles to the online payment system PayPal. He will appear on campus on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

 * ... ART: Ever want to see your own painting on the cover of BakersfieldLife magazine? The magazine is soliciting art for its cover in December. The cover must represent the holiday season in Kern County and can be no larger than 16 X 20. Entries are due on Tuesday, Nov. 12, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ALl of the artwork will be displayed at Metro Galleries on First Friday, December 6. It  will then be judged by a panel of community members. The winning artwork will be on the magazine cover in December.

* ... SPOTTED: Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis was spotted at a local gym working out the other day. The North High School graduate is recuperating after foot surgery.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Debunking some of the hysteria around fracking, praising good service and remembering the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps

 * .... FRACKING: Hats off to the folks out at Taft College for putting on the West Kern Petroleum Summit last week. It was an important event in light the growing political opposition to fracking, which has been happening in the Kern oil fields for years without apparent risks to anyone's safety. If you
didn't read Lois Henry in the Sunday Californian, where she debunked some of the myths surrounding fracking, you should. As Lois said, the environmental hysteria around fracking is dangerous, because "ultimately, fear, not truth, drives policy. Fracking has taken that formula to new heights bordering on hysteria."

 * ... NEW STORE: Bakersfield loves a new store, which explains what greeted me when I stopped by the new Hobby Lobby last Friday. Opened less than a week in the old Mervyn's center, Hobby
Lobby is a paradise for anyone into arts and crafts. When I visited, there were at least 30 customers waiting at each of the four cash registers open.

 * ... GOOD SERVICE: It's always nice to hear that our local merchants are keeping residents happy.  Reader and friend Dr. Bob Smith could hardly contain his enthusiasm about his recent experience with local car dealership Motor City Lexus. He wrote: "From product specialists Justin Hartley and Natalie Hierlmeier to Joey Salcido and Tim Miller in finance to sales manager Cherif Guirguis and general manager John Pitre, I could not have had a more pleasant car-buying experience!"

 * ... GOOD FORM: And there is this cheery note from a reader named Chuck, proving once again how many good people there are in our community. "Recently we were visiting our favorite lunch spot the famous In -N-Out on Stockdale Highway being in the drive-up line we were behind a very nice looking Toyota hybrid. As we came up to pay window we were told our order had been paid for wow what a surprise! We read and hear about this goodwill gesture but wow really happening to us is really a shock. We were not able to thank this person being in this line but did manage to do a thank you wave as he was driving off."

* ... MARINES: My earlier blog about the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Navy drew this response from reader Don Taylor. "Please don't forget the 238th birthday of our beloved Marine Corps on Nov. 10. The Second Continental Congress authorized a Corps of Marines at Tunn's Tavern (where else?) in Philadelphia on Nov. 10, 1775. Come celebrate our birthday on Friday, Nov. 8, at Kern County Veterans service office at 1120 Golden State Avenue. Chow (breakfast) at 8 a.m. and a ceremony and cake cutting at 10 a.m. . All veterans are invited!  OOOORAH and Semper Fi."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Tim Hanlin, Foothill High class of 1968, remembers when his family moved here from Akron, Ohio, in 1964 so his father Geary could help open the Goodyear Bakersfield plant for making seat cushions for the brand new Ford Mustangs being assembled in San Jose. "The plant was located on Shepard Street near the White Lane/Stine Road intersection and employed many workers for many years. I was near there the other day and remembered how in 1964 there was absolutely nothing at all around the plant but dirt as far as the eye could see.  What a difference today.
 My dad, a WWII navy veteran, is now 91, and my mom just turned 90 last month.  Both are still doing very well here in Bakersfield, and I'm the first to realize that at 63 I'm a very lucky guy."