Friday, March 6, 2015

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: The presidency of Barak Obama is one based on the singular principle of overreach

 Rep. Kevin McCarty, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week placed the inter-workings of the Supreme Court on high display. On Wednesday, I went to the Supreme Court and heard oral arguments for a lawsuit on the legality of a key provision of
Obamacare. The case, King v. Burwell, is another challenge to the law that was forced through Congress by the Obama administration. Should the Court rule against the law, it is imperative that Republicans respond with a health care plan of our own that increases choice, lowers costs, and gets the government out from in between you and your doctor.

  "Earlier this year I established a working group to develop an alternative to Obamacare should the Courts strike it down. A day before the Court heard the arguments this week, the Chairmen of three House committees released an editorial that outlines the House plan. When the Court issues its ruling, the House will be prepared to present a way forward to the American people.

 "Just as was the case with Obamacare, the president has defined his presidency as one of overreach.

 "Late last year, the President issued an executive action that rewarded illegal immigration. And just a few weeks ago a federal judge in Texas struck it down and placed an injunction on its implementation. As the judicial review is underway, I believe that the legal case against the president’s executive action is strong. Without any willing partners in the Senate in which we gave them over a month to craft an alternative to House passed legislation, and with arcane rules that allow Senators to hide behind a 60-vote threshold instead of working out differences in a conference committee, I would not play politics with our security when the Senate is unable to act.

 "The Congress heard from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on just how unsafe the world is.  The security of our nation is my greatest concern.  Threats from terrorist organizations such as ISIS must not and cannot go without a strong response and we must be vigilant.

 "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress was an important moment for our country and for Israel. Iran’s aggression and support for terrorism throughout the Middle East and around the world is real. An overly concessionary approach to negotiations will not convince Iran to change their ways. We must have a strategy that increases the financial and diplomatic pressure on Iran, bolster the weakened credibility of our military option, and confront the growing threat of Tehran and its terrorist proxies.

 "In my conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and my discussions with our military and intelligence officials, the threats to our nation are real and I will continue to work to ensure that we take these threats seriously.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A new study links a good night's sleep with a higher risk of strokes, more on that Los Angeles County waste being spread in Kern County and loving those Girl Scout cookies

 * … SLEEP: That good night's sleep may not be so good for you after all. According to a new study published in Neurology, sleeping more than eight hours a day may put you at a higher risk for stroke.
That's right, folkjs who get more than eight hours of shuteye a night were 46 percent more likely to have had a stroke. The results came from 356 people studied over a 10-year period.

* … BIOSOLIDS: Retired oil executive F. Lynn Blystone raised a good point with this note to me: "Does anyone wonder why injection wells are being shut in despite no adverse results to the aquifers for decades while Los Angeles can truck tons of waste every day and spread it on the surface to percolate?"

*  … GIRL SCOUTS: You know it's the season for Girl Scout cookies when a colleague tells you:
"I'm not going to lie. I had Thin Mints with my coffee this morning. A whole sleeve."

* … WRESTLING: The Kevin Costner film glorifying the McFarland High School cross country team was certainly awe inspiring, but it's not the only inspirational story in Kern County. Consider the wrestling team at Golden Valley High School which has won its league championship again this year (that makes three in a row) and went undefeated in league dual meets. The Bulldogs have qualified three individuals for this weekend's CIF state wrestling championships. Johnny Hunter has qualified at 170 pounds, Julio Fuentes at 182 pounds, and Nimrod Quintanilla (known as Nimbo) at 285 pounds. The team finished 10th at the Central Section Grand Masters wrestling tournament last week out of 70 plus schools. The Golden Valley Bulldogs are coached by Aaron Wherry, Joe Rojas and Jom Poteete.

* … HOPE: Gloria Stevens is an English teacher at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Delano, and shared these thoughts after her family experienced several thefts. "I was beginning to get frustrated and thinking, 'What is this world coming to?' Then, my daughter lost her key ring which included her car key, house keys, sister's house key, mailbox key… you get the picture. We searched and searched, retracing her steps of the last few days. Nothing. A month later the library on Ming Avenue called her and said someone had turned in a set of keys. Her library card was on the keyring and whoever found them thought that the library could trace them to the correct person. This has greatly renewed my faith in the goodness of some people. Thank you to the person who took time out of their day to help someone out."

* … NORTHEAST: All the new businesses opening in the southwest can make folks in other parts of down feel downright neglected. Consider this noter from Elizabeth Trainor: "I was reading your blog in the Californian this morning and your remark about the opening of two new stores and a restaurant in the southwest interested me. I have lived in the northeast, just off Panorama Drive, for thirty years and a more neglected part of Bakersfield with regard to stores would be hard to find. If the community in the southwest goes nuts for new businesses, you can imagine how we would feel if just one good new store opened here. We have several shabby strip malls, a boarded up shopping mall, a Target, a Walmart and several grocery and drug stores. Not unfortunately the much missed Green Frog market.  I drove down Buena Vista last week and on nearly every corner a new shopping center was either just built or in the process. Our supervisor is Ken Weir and we have never seen or heard from him over the years. I tried to e-mail him about some issues before the last election but was unable to discover his e-mail address. Apparently the only time he becomes animated during meetings is when the words 'Bluffs' and 'development' are used in the same sentence! I wish he would put forth some effort in trying to bring new businesses here. We are part of Bakersfield and pay our taxes, but we are all but ignored by local politicians. Perhaps if we wanted a sports complex we would get a better hearing."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On the importance of Netanyahu and the Jewish state, Kevin McCarthy, hysteria over fracking, disinformation and TurboTax scams… all that and a little more

 * … ISRAEL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu' delivered a blunt, 40-minute speech to Congress laying out the risks that Iran poses to the very existence to Israel. Was it political theater or an honest attempt to warn the world of the threat of a nuclear Iran? Count Rep.
Kevin McCarthy among those who welcomed hearing from Netanyahu, and McCarthy was also among dozens of congressmen and senators who showed up at the annual American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier in the week. In a time of increasing tension between Israel and the Obama administration, the annual convention of this powerful lobbying group is a must-visit venue for politicians who support the Jewish state. In world affairs, there are few more pressing issues that the role of a secure Israel in the Middle East. Also attending the conference and watching the action close up were retired Bakersfield endodontist Dr. Bob Smith and his wife Marcy.

  * … FRACKING: Keeping up with the half truths and outright distortions over hyrdaulic fracturing can be a full time job, and now a new group called Environment California has just added to the problem. The group produced a cartoon video that should win an Oscar for its distortions, including calling fracking a "dangerous and new" drilling technique (it has been around since the 1940s) and claiming fracking injects toxic chemicals into the underground water supply. As I have said, we should all welcome an honest debate on the use of fossil fuels, but spreading distortions like these does little to promote a healthy and sober debate.

* … SPOTTED: On Twitter was this post: "I always say 'morning' instead of 'good morning.'  If it were a good morning I’d still be in bed instead of talking to people."

 * … COMPLAINTS: And I spotted this sign in a local antique shop: "The deadline for complaints was yesterday."

 * … ONLY IN BAKO: How excited do we get about a new restaurant in town? Consider this: families were posing to have their pictures taken outside the new Johnny Garlic's at The Marketplace this weekend.

 * … SCAMS: Cybercriminals have hacked into TurboTax to file fraudulent tax returns in Utah and other states, and now it looks like it has come home here to California. A local executive told me her TurboTax return was compromised when someone filed a tax return using her personal data, but the invasion was caught before she was out any money. "It's a nightmare," she told me. "The worst is dealing with the IRS and working with that bureaucracy to make it right." At least 19 states have suffered from similar fake tax filings.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: From Ronal Reynier: "You are a Bakersfield old timer if you remember Freddie's Cafe; all three of them. There was Freddie's on the Circle where you could watch and laugh at out of towners going around and around the circle. We once watched a car make the trip five times. I think that was the record. Then there was Freddie's on 24th Street and he ended with Freddie's Top of The Hill. My step-mother Zola was his cook for many, many years….Many Hollywood people would stop at the circle for breakfast when in town. The most famous was Ward Bond, not for his acting but for his breakfast order. Try eating this: four eggs over easy, six bacon strips, six link sausages, double hash-browns, one breakfast steak medium rare, three slices of toast, coffee and orange juice. My step-mother said that sometimes he would sub two pancakes for the toast."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thieves strip a classic century-old home of everything down to door hinges and faucets, and some not-so-great news about the health of Baby Boomers

 * … CRIME: Thieves broke into an empty home downtown recently and picked it clean, right down to century-old door handles, hinges and faucets. Apparently the insurance adjuster told the owner that
the company would not reimburse her because the house sat idle waiting for a remodel. Really? One neighbor's advice: "Drag in a twin bed, throw some towels in the bathroom, leave dirty clothes in the corner and add a toothbrush on the sink for good means… only THEN call the insurance company."

 * … BOOMERS: If you are a certain age that qualifies you as a member of the Baby Boom generation, consider these Boomer health statistics from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: 52 percent report no physical activity, 72 percent have one or more chronic diseases, 42 percent have high blood pressure and 24 percent have a walking disability. And, by the year 2030 there will be a 673 percent increase in knee replacements. Suddenly I don't feel so well.

 * … RETAIL: The three busiest businesses in down this weekend had two things in common: they all just recently opened and they are all in the Southwest. This is a community that goes nuts for new businesses, and you could see it at BevMo! and Sprouts Farmers Market at The Shops at River Walk and at the new Johnny Garlic's at The Marketplace. Next up: Nordstrom Rack will open on March 26 right next to Sprouts.

* … OVERHEARD: "I almost hit four zombies last night," a man tells a friend. "You know, all those people in dark clothes that jaywalk at night. They are everywhere."

 * … KUDOS: I headed over to Woolgrower's this week to help celebrate the birthday of Evelyn Johnson, the beloved long-time secretary at the Rotary Club of Bakersfield. Evelyn broke bread with a number of former, current and future downtown Rotary presidents, including Tracy Walker Kiser, Rob Noriega, Duane Keathley, Steve Williford, Rogers Brandon, Ben Stinson, Steve Sanders, Pat Collins, Greg Gallion and David Morton. She has been secretary for the downtown club for 57 years, longer than most folks stay in the workforce, and she never misses a meeting.

 * … JUNIOR LEAGUE: Congratulations to the Junior League of Bakersfield on 50 years as a member of the Association of Junior Leagues. Founded as Community League of Kern in 1952, this local group has given $1.4 million dollars back to the community, invested more than a million volunteer hours, and helped in some way nearly 200 local programs and projects - including Community House, Lori Brock Children's Museum, CALM.  Members will gather for a golden gala this weekend when the League will commemorate its 50th by giving out a $50,000 grant to one local non-profit. This Friday evening, March 6, the public is invited to drop by its stately headquarters at 1928 19th street to help toast its milestone."