Friday, September 12, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy supports President Obama's plan to destroy the Islamic State

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy brings us his weekly post from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

 "This week, we remember the thousands of innocent Americans who died on September 11, thirteen years ago while also remembering the four Americans who died on September 11, 2012 while serving our country in Benghazi, Libya.

 "We will never forget the lives lost in New York, the Pentagon, on Flight 93, and those who fought and died to protect America in the years after. We must be constantly vigilant in our fight against terrorism, and we must reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to fighting this deadly scourge again today.

 "Our nation is threatened once again by the renewed rise of terrorism around the globe and particularly in the Middle East. We did not ask to fight a war on terrorism, but war was declared on us. America desires peace but we will not sit idly as our citizens are executed and our homeland and allies are targeted. America has defeated great evils before, and I know our great nation can do so again.

 "The American people heard from the President directly on the necessity for America to act to eliminate the threat ISIL poses to our country and our allies. The threat these terrorists pose to the United States and our allies cannot be tolerated, and I support the President taking military action in Iraq and Syria to combat this organization. But more must be done.

 "We must recognize ISIL is but a symptom of a broader terrorist threat that has been ignored for too long by this Administration. Preventing the next 9-11 requires us to confront the reality that al Qaeda has metastasized, and that radical terrorists operating out of sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere pose a growing threat to the United States must be destroyed.

 "If our efforts to combat this scourge are to be successful, it will require a level of commitment to this fight against terrorism not yet seen by this President. The Administration briefed Congress this week further on the President’s strategy, and Congress will do the vigorous oversight required in the days and months ahead to ensure that it is sufficient to meet this threat.

 "A President who has made ending the war on terrorism the central focus of his foreign policy must now make winning it a priority.  I stand ready to work with the President to destroy ISIL, win this fight, and ensure America’s continued safety.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If it's a new day, it's time for a new telephone scam making the rounds in Kern County, some really great customer service at Albertson's and recognizing the folks who care for our pets

 * … SCAM: Our nation is awash in telephone scams and Kern County residents continue to be targeted. Consider this note from reader Wes Wells: "I just wanted to share a recent telephone scam that really upset my wife today. When I came home she was on the phone with a representative from the
Department of Legal Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Treasury who was threatening her with a bench warrant over unpaid taxes from 2007 in the amount of $9,875. They were trying to get her to take out an 'Instant Text Voucher'" in the amount of $3,948 as a settlement and provided a call back number to confirm. Upon calling back, the person on the other end had a strong accent and in English challenged us to call any law enforcement authority. So we did. An officer at BPD said they have received hundreds of similar complaints. So I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (the real one) and then contacted a Congresswoman (a real one, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren) who represents a district covering the (408) area code in the San Jose area to report the same information. It seems that these scams should be easier to stop if the phone companies that serve these areas could act more quickly to discontinue service to the offending numbers. Someone, somewhere has got to pay a phone bill when they sign a contract for a land line or a cell phone contact."

 * … GOOD FORM: Here's your "feel good" nugget for the day, this one compliments of Caroline Read. She took an elderly friend shopping recently to the Albertson's at the corner of Gosford Road and Stockdale Highway. All the woman wanted was three bananas. "I parked the car to run in and get them," she said. "She wanted me to lock her in and not roll the windows down.  I couldn’t leave the car running to provide air conditioning … so I opened the windows a crack, locked the car, ran in, found a clerk, handed her $5 and said, 'I need three bananas. I have an elderly friend in the car and I can’t leave her there.  It’s too hot.'  I ran back to the car and turned the air conditioning on and watched for the clerk. Pretty soon, she came running out, waving the change and the bag of bananas! Now I ask you, is that local and personal service? ?

* … PETS: Kudos to the folks over at the Coffee Road Animal Hospital who took care of my ailing cat recently. Kern County is blessed with many competent veterinarians, and I have always felt there is a special place in heaven for those among us who care for our pets, whether they be veterinarians, vet techs, receptionists or volunteers at animal shelters and rescue organizations.

 * … DROUGHT: In all the discussion about our long drought, many folks are going to drought tolerant landscaping to save water. Kathy Beck wrote to say the California redwood trees are simply wrong for this area of our state. "The poor trees are stressed, turning brown, dying or dead. Here is what this tree requires: 20 gallons a month PER INCH DIAMETER of the trunk. That's right… read it again. So a 12 inch diameter trunk requires 240 gallons of water a month to be happy, healthy and green. They are a northern California tree and they do not require thinning .. .it only stresses out the tree more and makes them branch out funny. The city needs to remove all of them… those who continue to survive will only require more water. We just removed our tree in our front yard, as it was turning brown, the math on our tree said it required 720 gallons a month to be happy."

 * … SERVICE: I haven't met Rick Chesire over at Hearing Aids Today, but he sure has a big fan base. Consider this note from Connie Stewart: "Rick is always happy to help with any problem you might be having.  Beside being a good business man he is an outstanding, caring young man. I would recommend Rick to anyone."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nashville songstress heads to Bakersfield for a Sunday concert, more concerns about the drought and a Liberty High graduate punts for the Buffalo Bills

* … CONCERT: Don't forget about a very special concert coming up this Sunday over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. The show features a folk indie band out of Nashville called Nora Jane
Struthers and The Party Line. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the concert starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door. I suspect this may be one of the best shows yet sponsored by a group of friends who formed a group called Passing Through Productions, devoted to bringing live music to out town.

 * … DROUGHT: Diana Nelson is one of a handful of readers who reached out to me about the long drought facing California. "I really don't think people understand how serious it is. My husband and I redid our backyard last winter, replacing all of the thirsty plants and lawn with drought tolerant plants, with the exception of three redwood trees that act as a screen, and a dwarf orange tree. We have not got it perfected yet, but we have gone from watering every day to watering for the most part twice a week during the summer… We are going to work on the front yard this winter. This works for us because we do not have children or grandchildren in the area. Plus we wanted to cut down on the maintenance cost, attract birds, bees, and butterflies, and use less water."

 * … MORE DROUGHT: Patty Orsburn of Tehachapi agrees. "I took my kids to play at North of the River's Polo Community Park and was so sad to see the grass not only well watered but very flooded in many areas! I understand trying to keep the parks somewhat nice, but come on NOR, there are communities running out of water, turn your sprinkler timers down!"

 * … PUNTER: District Attorney Lisa Green is an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills, and last week she flew to Chicago to watch the Bills take on the Chicago Bears. To her surprise, former Liberty High School and UC Davis grad Colton Schmidt had been signed by the Bills as the team's punter just days before. "His family (mom, dad and siblings) lives here. Anyway he had a great game (ESPN punter of  the week). After the game one of my friends who traveled to the game and had seats behind the Bills bench yelled out 'hey Bakersfield'  and Colton came over and talked with my friend for a few minutes. Thought you'd like the story about a Bakersfield kid making it in the pros."

 * … EAST ROTARY: If you treat yourself to one pricey charity event of the year, I'd recommend the upcoming "Elegant Evening of Wine" benefitting the Joe Alexander Scholarship Foundation of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield East. This years event 's planned for Saturday, Oct. 11, at the downtown home of Mark and Sue Ashley. Meir Brown of Cafe Med will be pairing the food and wine as usual, and the Ashley home will provide a beautiful setting. Individual tickets are $175 each and sponsorships are available. Call Vernon Varner for more information at (661) 979-5788.

 * … GOOD FORM: William Goldman is another satisfied customer of Hearing Aids Today and its owner Rick Chesire. "When I moved to Bakersfield,four years ago, I needed a new hearing aid. After calling three places, I knew Rick was the man for me. He goes out of his way for everyone. He's even done emergency repairs for me on weekends."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A chance encounter with Joan Rivers, the last minute heroics of USC's Andre Heidari and head over to The Padre Hotel for some remarkable flatbread

* … JOAN: I ran into John Pryor at the John Brock Awards dinner last week and he shared his own personal experience with the late comedian Joan Rivers. John and his wife Meg were in New
York City a few years ago when they stopped for lunch at a small, intimate restaurant. "We were a little early for lunch so we were the only customers until in came Joan Rivers with a lady friend -- and her dog. She came over to our table and asked if it was okay with us that she had her dog with her in the restaurant. We responded of course, and were amazed at her concern for the sensibilities of others.
Then another lady entered the restaurant, saw Joan Rivers, and went directly back to the kitchen -- out of our sight. A few minutes later, the lady left the restaurant without saying anything to anyone.
Then the chef emerged from the kitchen to give Rivers a handwritten note from the lady.  Rivers jumped up from her table and said she had to catch that lady who had written such a wonderful note to her.  She ran out of the restaurant and returned a few minutes later to say she caught up with the lady and had thanked her profusely. Does that sound like the Joan Rivers you see portrayed on TV?"

* … DROUGHT: Are we taking the drought seriously here? One reader, who asked that I not use her name, doesn't think so, at least compared to what she saw in Cambria recently. "All restrooms at the beaches and state parks we visited, including Hearst Castle, and the public restrooms in the east and west villages of Cambria had been closed and were replaced by port-a-potties and wash stations.  Many eating establishments had their restrooms open for use of the sinks only, you still had to go outside to use the port-a-potty. They also had signs posted around town reminding people of the drought. Now if we could just get people in this town to stop overwatering their yards. We walk in our neighborhood early mornings and the water wasted is incredible."

 * … HEIDARI: It's fun to watch the Bakersfield connections on the USC Trojans make such a positive difference. This weekend it was Andre Heidari, the Stockdale High graduate, who made a 53-year-old field goal to win the game against Stanford. Last year, Heidari kicked a 47-yarder to seal the game against Stanford. And of course, the Trojans are led by former Centennial standout Cody Kessler.

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: Most local restaurants offer some kind of flatbreads, but few do it as well as The Padre Hotel downtown. The flatbread offering changes daily, depending on the chef's choice, but make sure you try the vegetarian dish featuring eggplant.

 * … GOOD FORM: Mark Sheffield wrote to compliment the folks over at Hearing Aids Today for going above and beyond in customer service. Turns out his mother, who is 91 and in hospice care, had a hearing aid that was broken. "I decided to go by  Hearing Aids Today and talk to Rick Cheshire whom I have used for several years, not having much hope of saving it since there was a small piece missing. Rick looked at it and told me to come back in a few hours. When I returned it was working and looked like new. Here is the nice part, when I tried to pay him he refused the money and said he was only interested in helping keep her comfortable in the short time she had left. I told him we were all very thankful and he said tell the man upstairs."

 * … JAYWALKING: Jaywalking is problem across town - whether it's Ming Avenue or White Lane - but it is near out of control downtown. Gabrielle Lopez is a downtown business owner who has had enough. "Today when I was coming to the store, I was at the light at 19th and Chester heading east. I saw this guy in a white tank top heading north on the other side of the street. He answered his phone as my light turned green. He never stopped to glance at the fact that he could have been walking into a car, he never even paused…just kept on like it was the sidewalk. Honestly, what the heck is wrong with people? Try paying attention when you are walking on a STREET with CARS. You are the one who will get hurt in that accident. And it is YOUR fault for not paying attention."