Saturday, March 14, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: President Obama faces a defining moment on Iran. Will he show real U.S. leadership or will he make the world an even more dangerous place?

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

"At the end of the month, the Obama administration will run into a deadline to reach an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the limits of its nuclear program. The majority of Americans and their representatives in Congress are clear on their requirements for this deal: at no point in time should Iran
be able to build a nuclear bomb. But as reports of an emerging deal indicate, this injunction on an Iranian nuclear bomb may only last for ten years. That is simply unacceptable.

 "Iran’s active state sponsorship of terrorism has isolated them from the free world. This isolation creates a sense of obscurity for many Americans who were not old enough to remember the Iranian hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981 or who view seemingly sporadic terrorist attacks in the Middle East as simply part of the region. But within this public isolation, Iran has operated through terrorist proxy groups to exert their will and fuel sectarian conflict in the Middle East. This active engagement in terrorism has killed potentially thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan and destabilized the region.

  "United States and other world leaders have responded to Iranian aggression by issuing tough sanctions on their ability to take part in the global economy. As the sanctions were intended to do, the Iranian economy began to crumble, creating unrest with the Iranian people living in economic distress. This has forced Iran to the negotiating table to end their pursuit of a nuclear weapon and reassess their support for terrorism.

  "With Iran at the table, President Obama faces a defining opportunity to reassert America’s leadership in the world and to close the book on Iran’s malevolent hegemony. But as reports indicate, he is failing to rise to the occasion. He and his Administration have even forgotten that it is the economic pressure from sanctions that even brought Iran to the negotiating table.

 "Iranian leaders have been involved in efforts that have killed Americans and innocent women and children. Should a void of leadership arise in the Middle East, they will look to fill it—as they have already started to. If the Administration grants Iran global legitimacy and eases economic pressure but fails to force Iran to surrender their intention to build a nuclear bomb and support of terrorism, the world will never be the same. Iran’s influence will only increase, and a race within the region to match the Iranian nuclear capacity would almost surely occur. This is not the world order that President Ronald Reagan commanded through American leadership and it is certainly not one Republicans in Congress will stand for. America must lead because when we do not lead, the world becomes unsafe.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The lessons of the tragic murder-suicide in Stockdale Estates, celebrating Kern County's almond industry and dealing with California's long drought

* … SUICIDE: The tragic apparent murder-suicide in Stockdale Estates (the grisly details of the story and names the victims hardly need to be repeated) serves as a sober reminder of the
emotional pain and anguish that so many of us privately carry. The lesson: it doesn't take much to muster a little kindness to our friends, neighbors and the random strangers that pass through our lives. May we all be aware of the burdens that each of us bear.

* … ALMONDS: Did you know that California (and Kern County in particular) supplies virtually all of the U.S. grown almonds, walnuts and pitacchios? The state, according to the Agriculture Department, produces 82% of the globe's almonds and ships about 70 percent of them overseas.

* … DROUGHT: Diane Arends responded to reader Gene Bonas' comment about how long it takes to get hot water from his home's east side to west side. "My husband's solution is that he uses an old plastic container and fills it with water while waiting for the water to get hot.  He then uses that water to fill the bird bath and water a flower bed. We also don't take as many showers as we used to and installed a shut off valve on the shower head. We also practice 'if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down.'"

* … MORE DROUGHT: And Bryan Williams added this: "Call me a bad citizen - but I did have winter rye planted in my front yard this winter.  Because of my dogs eating my sprinkler master system, I have had to water my lawn with a sprinkler attachment on the hose for months. However - I have not watered my lawn since September! The winter rye has been green and beautiful since that time surviving off of only the rain we have received and the dew in the morning. My water bill for the months since it was planted has hovered around $25. Thanks Mother Nature!"

 * … MEMORIES: Risk management consultant John Pryor is the go-to historian when it comes to Stockdale Country Club, and he assures me that the club never served as a hospital. (An earlier reader claimed her great grand-father's birth certificate said he was born at the club) Said Pryor: "As former historian of Stockdale Country Club for many years, I can assure you there is no reference in its recorded history since the 1920s that mentions any Stockdale Country Club Hospital. However, I can assure you there are multiple historical references to Stockdale Country Club hospitality -- a long-standing and key element of the Club's culture and staff quality that continues to this day."

* … KEEP: The Camp KEEP Foundation is hosting its annual “Wine Camp for KEEP” fundraiser to raise money to help send kids with financial needs to Camp KEEP. The event is Saturday, April 25, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a private residence in northwest Bakersfield. There will be food, wine and live music from Roadhouse Revival. Tickets can be purchased for $40 at any local Sparkling Image Car Wash location or by calling (661) 636-4629.

 * … HEALTH: Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 21, for the 6th Annual Bakersfield Health and Fitness Expo. It will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rabobank Theater and is absolutely free. Among the exhibits will be an obstacle coursae for kids offered by Terrio Fitness, a child identity program hosted by the Kern County Sheriff's Department, free adult health screenings by Dignity Health and lots of live demonstrations on Zumba, Hot Hula, personal defense, spinning and healthy cooking. ANd of course some adorable former strays from Marley's Mutts will be on hand for sloppy kisses."


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Former residential home builder Kyle Carter readies for a run for mayor, celebrating the small-town feel of Bakersfield and noting some good form about town

 * … MAYOR: Mayor Harvey Hall's term in office doesn't expire for another year, but already folks are lining up to replace Hall if he chooses not to seek reelection. One name mentioned frequently is Kyle Carter, the former residential home builder who was recently elected to the Kern Community College District. Carter is deeply involved in the community and has recently been investing in downtown properties. He successfully sold the company bearing his name before the recession hit, and he would no doubt be a formidable candidate. Meanwhile Kevin Burton, who runs the foundation over at San Joaquin Community Hospital, is also eager to run. "It's all Kevin talks about," said one of his friends. Hall has served as mayor since 2000 and told me he would announce his intentions in February of next year.

 * … SMALL TOWN: Another reason to celebrate our "small town" feel comes from reader Aneta Adams: "Over the weekend, I caught two of the Bakersfield episodes of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  You know it's not Bakersfield if you don't see someone you know! At KC's Steakhouse, it was Howdy Miller and Gary Crabtree. At Mama Roomba, it was H.A. Sala. How did the restaurants choose the patrons for the show? I also caught the episode with Salty's. Both were good representations of Btown!"

 * … BAD FORM: Emily Shapiro was in res room at Barnes and Noble when she spotted this example of bad form. "In an era of water depletion, conserving water is of the utmost importance. However, this past Saturday around 5 p.m. at Barnes and Noble I noticed a patron in the ladies room who after washing and drying her hands left the water running full blast. Not only is it bad manners, but the lack of consideration for others is astounding."

 * … WATER: Reader Gene Bonas' note about the length of time it takes hot water to reach the other end of the house drew this comment from Lee Altmar, himself a former sailor like Gene. "A trick we used when I lived in Santa Barbara during the drought of the 1980s was to keep a 5-gallon bucket or two in the shower. We would fill the bucket(s) while waiting for the water to get hot, then use the water for cleaning (e.g., dishes and floors). The fun thing about Bakersfield is that, in the summer, it takes even longer for the water to get cold enough to use. I've had to brush my teeth with water that was almost boiling."

 * … NORTHEAST: Penny Young responded to a reader's rant about the lack of new retail in the Northeast. Said Penny: "Needless to say, we enjoy your column for all the voices and personalities and events and tidbits that come to light. Today Elizabeth Trainor was spot on about the feelings of northeast residents and our lack of shopping while there are such exuberant openings on the other side of town. However, I think she was a little hard on Ken Weir, our Councilmember Ward 3. It appears she misses some of the information published in The Californian. Very recently Mr. Weir organized a public forum at the new Paul Cato Middle School where he brought together directors of 5 agencies connected with development in the NE, (transportation, parks, etc.) It was enlightening, well-received, well-attended, and well-reported by Theo Douglas. It's easy to miss things, and I am sorry that Ms. Trainor has 'never seen or heard from him over the years.'  If  Ms. Trainor Googles Bakersfield City Council and clicks on the first link, she will be able to solve her problem of being 'unable to discover his email address.' (These comments are not meant in a smarty tone, but just to give more balanced perspective.)"

 * … MEMORIES: Here's a puzzler from reader Cheryl Hyde Reid: "I recently obtained my great grandfather's death certificate.  It states that he died at the Stockdale Country Club Hospital in 1940.  I was born here in 1947, and don't remember that hospital.  Does anyone else recall a Stockdale Country Club Hospital?"

Sunday, March 8, 2015

This comes under the 'you're really not going to believe this' department but the student government at UC Irvine bans Old Glory from its office space lest someone be offended

 * … OLD GLORY: I had to read the story twice out of disbelief but there it was: students at the University of California, Irvine, voted to ban the American flag from a student governmenet office
because it might offend someone. That's right, the Associated Students of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) voted to remove all flags – including Old Glory – for fear it could be offensive. And check this out: part of the student government resolution noted that “the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism” and its display “does not express only selective aspects of its symbolism but the entire spectrum of its interpretation.” Huh? Thankfully, the student executive council voted to rescind that resolution after the flap became public, but it heads back to another vote with the broader student government association.

* … LITTER: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I suppose we should be happy that a city in Louisiana ripped off the anti-litter awareness slogan and logo that was developed here in Bakersfield. The slogan (Litter, it's beneath us) was the brainchild of Californian editor Robert Price and the logo was designed by Californian graphic artist Glenn Hammett. It has now shown up in Shreveport as part of its Great American Cleanup.

 * … BAD FORM: My friend Bryan Kelley was driving west on Highway 178 recently and found himself behind a raised pickup truck. "I spot a two seat convertible coming up behind me in the left lane going three shades of grey over the speed limit. The diver is  a young woman with her hair tied up on top of her head. She drives past me and the driver of the pick-up flicks his cigarette out the window. It flies through the air and lands in her hair. Oblivious, she keeps up her speed and passes the pick-up and is gone. I see her again at the Chevron station at the foot of the 178… she is outside of her car… she found the cigarette. I am sure that if I stopped I could have added a few new words to my vocabulary."

 * … SPOTTED: On a friend's Facebook page was this post: "At the Starbucks drive-thru this morning at 5 a.m. I waived a Range Rover through in front of me because we hit the entrance at the same time from different angles. The Range Rover paid for my drink for me. Thanks for making my morning nice person. The person who stole my three flats of flowers from my yard last night… Boo, you won't ruin my day."

 * … WEST: Congratulations to Rachol West, a sophomore forward on the San Jose State University women's basketball team who was named player of the week for the Mountain West Conference. The Garces Memorial High graduate is the younger sister of Nikki West, who was player of the year with the CSUB Road runners a few years back. She ranks second on the team in 3-pointers (36) and is the leading shooter from distance (.343).

 * … WATER: Gene Bonas is a retired Navy submariner and friend and he shared this note about water conservation: "I timed how long it took to get hot water from the east side of my house where the hot water tank is to the west side where our master bath is. It took two minutes to get hot water to the sink and another 15 seconds to get hot water to the shower. That's a lot of wasted water. Maybe it's time to grow a beard and shower every second or third day. I've already adjusted lawn watering, and I didn't sow rye grass this year. I bet a few of your readers can come up with creative suggestions on cutting back water use in and around the house. I guess I'm an old timer because I can remember back to the 1940s and 1950s when we had plenty of that stuff called rain!"