Saturday, April 4, 2015

House Majority leader casts doubts on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, says the country's history of deceit makes it a bad partner

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority leader, responds to the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.

"Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced a framework with Iran on its nuclear program.

"I am profoundly concerned by initial reports of the framework that has been established for a
comprehensive technical deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding its nuclear program.  In coming weeks, Congress will subject this framework and the Obama Administration’s Iran policy to significant scrutiny and carefully weigh legislative options.

"It is hard to see how any agreement that allows Iran to keep operating an industrial-scale centrifuge program or continue conduct advanced research and development into more efficient centrifuge designs can be said to ‘cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon,’ as the President stated.

Iran’s decades of deceit do not inspire confidence.  Complete disclosures of the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program must come at the beginning of a final agreement, and a truly invasive inspections and verification regime must emerge in the technical agreement.

 "Finally, I remain concerned the Obama Administration continues to ignore the growing threat Iran poses to American interests and allies in the Middle East.  Iran’s support for terrorism, its burgeoning missile force, its rampant proliferation activities, its violent bid for hegemony, and its efforts to destabilize the region continue unabated. Relieving sanctions and pressure on the regime in Tehran at this pivotal moment in the region risks emboldening a regime whose violent sectarian agenda is at the source of so many of the region’s crises.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the nuclear negotiations, the United States and its international partners must confront Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East from Yemen to Gaza.

 "Also, Governor Brown issued mandatory water restrictions for our state this week. This order from the governor should not only alarm Californians, but the entire nation should take notice that the most productive agriculture state in the country has entered uncharted territory. We have experienced extreme drought conditions in years past but thanks to the most sophisticated water system in the country that captured and stored water during the wet years for use during the dry years, our communities and farmers survived. Unfortunately, state officials have turned their back on this proven infrastructure system.

The governor’s order is the culmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis. Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years.

These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities, and state high and dry. These rules and regulations must be changed.

My House colleagues and I have acted aggressively to enact legislation that would have helped protect us from the current situation. In 2011, and again in early 2014, the House passed comprehensive water legislation to increase the amount of water we could capture and store. Unfortunately, the Obama and Brown Administrations and Senators Boxer and Feinstein opposed these proposals. As the drought continued to worsen, the House passed emergency drought legislation in December of 2014 to allow us to capture storm and rainwater from early season storms. That too was blocked by the Senate.

It is time for action, and House Republicans are developing another legislative proposal to help put California water policy back on the path to commonsense. This time I hope Governor Brown, Senator Boxer, and Senator Feinstein will join my colleagues and me in this effort.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Friday Bako Bits: more on those rattlesnakes about town, big time Spring events are coming up and Metro Galleries features best of the best show

 * … RATTLESNAKES: Rattlesnakes are common in our area, but the long drought seems to have brought out more on the bike path, roads and hiking trails. Here is some sound advice on how to deal with them while protecting your pets, compliments of Tommie Sue Self. "We live out in
the northeast, Rio Bravo area where there are lots of rattlesnakes and other wild critters. So, we have our two dogs get  annual rattlesnake venom and separate Leptospirosis immunizations from awesome Dr. Rose Rakow or other great vets at Stiern's Veterinary Hospital. The Leptospirosis is to protect them from what's commonly carried by all the coyotes, skunks, rabbits or other wild critters we have roaming around out here. That time several years ago when fire burned the mountainsides above the Kern River Canyon, the fire also drove a lot of mice etc. out of the hills, inundating us that spring/summer. The rattlesnakes followed, and showed up in folks' yards, garages, or on the streets and in vacant lots. That convinced us to add the rattlesnake shots to our dogs' regimen. If a rattler does bite them, they'd still need to see the vet, but they're not likely to die if immunized."

 * … EVENTS: Are you ready for event season in Bakersfield? If not, get out your calendar and consider some terrific events coming our way. First up is the return of the Macaroni and Cheese Festival at Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday, April 18. On Thursday, April 23, three members of the Desert Rose Band (Chris Hillman, Herb Pederson and John Jorgensen) will be in town as part of Rick Krieser's acoustic Guitar Masters series. It is set for Bakersfield College with tickets going for $32, or $17 for students, available at Vallitex. On Saturday, May 9, the Kern County Nut Festival returns at the Kern County Museum, followed by a huge day on Saturday, May 23, when Imbibe Wine and Spirits will host a craft beer festival at Cal State Bakersfield and George Martin's rock and country concert will be competing for your attention at the Kern County Museum.

 * … BEST OF THE BEST: Meanwhile, the Metro Galleries is celebrating its eighth anniversary in business with a terrific "Best of the Best" show at its 19th Street location. The show opens today and will feature some of the most popular paintings that have been sold at the gallery. Make sure to stop by this weekend to check out some really terrific art.

 * …DRILLERS: Two Bakersfield High Drillers held a reunion of sorts in Scotland this week. Cooper Adamo, son of Felix and Teresa Adam, and Katy Baker, daughter of Rob and Sally Baker, shared memories when Cooper showed up as part of the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Concert Tour. Katy is there wrapping up her second year of a five-year veterinary program at the University of Glasgow. Katy and her boyfriend, Erich, attended the BYSO concert at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, reporting that Coop and his fellow musicians did Bakersfield proud. Katy is a class of 2006 Driller and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Cooper is a junior at BHS.

 * … SMALL WORLD: Local businessman Scott Mitchell was visiting San Antonio recently with his wife Teresa when he ran into a stranger in the Riverwalk area. "He asked if I was local or a tourist. I said tourist from Bakersfield, and he replied that he loved Bakersfield because his favorite musician was from there! It is Monty Byrom, and he knew a lot about Monty. I told him that I would try to get the message to Monty that Eddie from San Antonio is his biggest fan."

 * … MORE GOOD FORM: And I will end with this uplifting story from Warren Junior High, where one of their students, Brandyn Tinlin, is battling cancer. Each year the school holds its own Relay for Life event before spring break, but Tinlin's disease brought it home in a special way. Said principal George Thornburgh: "We challenged our students and had the theme of Be Brandyn Strong.  Over the years we have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer society. Well, this year our kids hit a homerun. As of this morning the Wildcat Family has raised almost $10,000 in a few weeks and we strongly believe we will go over $10,000 by the time we finish counting. We also have a surprise visitor.  For the first time this year Brandyn will actually get to step foot on our campus and walk (actually he is confined to a wheel chair) with his fellow Wildcats. We also hope that Brandyn will get to present to our student body the final amount of our efforts right before the walk."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thieves find a new way to break into garages, it's rattlesnake season around town and a huge weekend with Easter, Cirque du Soleil and Fleetwood Mac

 * … THEFTS: Here's a new technique that thieves use to break into our garages, and pay special attention if you own bicycles or motorcycles. A friend who lives on Country Club Drive in the
northeast awoke to find his two very high end mountain bikes (worth some $18,000) gone from his garage. The thieves, it turned out, punched a hole into the garage door and used coat hangers to release the emergency manual pull for the garage door. The whole process likely took just a few minutes. The quick fix: use a zip tie to anchor the emergency pull. Meanwhile, there has been a rash of home burglaries in the downtown area, including several where thieves entered through windows that were cracked open to enjoy the cooler weather.

 * … RATTLESNAKES: The warming weather ushers in snake season, and already they are out on our hiking and riding trails. Pat Bentley was walking her Airedale on the dirt path west of Coffee Road when she came upon two rattlesnakes. "Usually I let her off the leash when we're away from the path. For whatever reason, I didn't this time. Thank God! I was about 10 yards away when I saw them. They didn't move until I bent to get a stick. The scary part was how FAST they moved then. Like lightening. I knew there was a reason that I'm totally snake-phobic! Needless to say, she won't be off leash at all from now on."

 * … SPOTTED: A colleague posted this on Twitter: "Discovering mid-bite that the Jelly Belly is cinnamon rather than the Very Cherry you expected — life is made of these disappointments."

 * … WEEKEND: This is a huge weekend for our local restaurants, so if you are planning to be out and about, make your reservations now, particularly if you plan on being downtown. Besides being Easter weekend, Cirque du Soleil is in town at the Rabobank Arena and Fleetwood Mac will perform there for a sell out crowd on Monday.

 * … WINGS: Wings of Rescue is a terrific organization that flies stray dogs and cats to loving new homes. This note came from organizer Kristi Townsend: "I would like to thank the people of Kern County for their recent flood of donations to Wings of Rescue. They will be doing another massive airlift in April. In addition to spay and neuter, Wings of Rescue has been a very cost effective way to save countless dogs and cats and send them to their forever homes in other states. Please, can we keep a good thing going?"

* … ACHIEVER: Hats off to Kylee Koland Hoelscher who will graduate from Cal State Long Beach in May with an MFA in creative writing. The daughter of Pamela Koland, she is 1997 graduate of Bakersfield West High School and a 2001 graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, with a BA in English.

 * … MEMORIES: Here is a blast from the past complim's ents of retired teacher Gail Oblinger: "How many people remember when the bookmobile used to be a regular feature at the Hillcrest Shopping Center? That was maybe in the 1970s. It came once a week in the late afternoon. If for some reason you missed getting there, it would be on Mt. Vernon Street in the Freddie’s Top o’ the Hill parking lot on a different day. Lots of the same adults and children showed up each week, and pretty soon everyone knew each other and it was a social time as well as book check out.  In summertime, folding chairs were set out and  children’s movies were shown in the parking lot at dusk.  Sometimes little craft programs were included.  I made a cornhusk doll there. "

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Welcome to our abbreviated Bakersfield spring, sure to be followed by intense heat, which brings out the snakes along the road

 * … WEATHER: How great has our weather been the past week? I slept with my windows open
(making my tabby a happy cat) and I picked up the unmistakeable scent of meat on the grill throughout my downtown neighborhood. But it won't last long. On a bike ride to Woody on Saturday, I spotted no fewer than six snakes (two dead and four alive) sunning on the Granite-Woody Road, a sure sign that heat is on its way. Meanwhile, closer to home Californian photographer Felix Adamo snapped a picture of a rattlesnake on - where else? - on the bike path extension called Rattlesnake out at Hart Park.

 * … HOMELESS: Homeless encampments are cropping up in the dry Kern River bed west of Yokuts Park, the first time in my memory that this has happened that far toward Cal State Bakersfield. This is all accompanied by litter, trash and abandoned shopping carts that unfortunately the city has to periodically clean.

 * … WATER RATES: My comments about my sky-high monthly water bills drew this response from Sandy Dralle: "I just want to second the story from the woman in downtown. I am a single senior citizen living in East Bakersfield who pays $90 a month to California Water Service which recently raised the price by 12%. My friends in the more affluent Southwest are on meters and only pay $30 - 50 a month for water. Now they want us to conserve water and pay the same price. I don't mind paying for what I get but do resent paying for what I don't get."

 * … MS: I ran into my friend Ray Karpe the other day, a local businessman who also serves as a director on the Southern California Multiple Sclerosis Society Board. Karpe said researchers are in the early stages of trying to develop a reliable and effective way to measure the progression of MS. It is believed that finding new ways to measure MS susceptibility and progression will help scientists better understand the biology of the disease and identify treatments. Although the results are years away, The National MS Society is encouraged by this hopeful new development.

 * … SANDSTONE: Tim Horton sent me this message: "I read your column with regularity even though I live in Texas now. I remember the Sandstone on Truxtun as my grandpa would take me there after a trip to get my free roll at the Pyrenees bread store across from what is now thr Salvation Army in old town Kern. The reader is correct; they had everything in that store. I was always fascinated by the tree he referred to. That's one of the best memories I have of being with my grandpa. He would be over 100 tomorrow. Thanks for reminding me."

 * … MORE SANDSTONE: Add this from reader Mark Thompson: "Saw in Bakersfield Observed about the old Sandstone store. As a child I LOVED going there with my dad. As for the sequoia tree, in Kettleman City there is an awesome new place called Bravo Farms.  In their lobby is a cross section of an old sequoia with the dates of significant history events tagged to the rings.  Pretty awesome place, with BBQ and a ton of antiques.  Word of warning though, do not drink the water, soda or tea as it tastes terrible due to the LOUSEY water in the area."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: House budget includes better choice for our veterans, who deserve better care from the government they served

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

"To achieve great things, you must start from a strong foundation. You have to have a vision, but you also need the means and structure to achieve that vision. The vision for this nation that we have in the To turn that vision into action, Congress needs to pass a budget. Passing a budget is not only a showing of competence but it is also a document that lays out the path to achieve that vision.
House of Representatives is a freer and more prosperous America that empowers the individual, not Washington.

"This week, the House of Representatives passed a budget that ensures Washington lives within its means, doesn’t raise taxes on the American people, and sets the stage for a strong American future--a future with a simpler and fairer tax code,  a market-based health care system that empowers the patient, and one that doesn’t mortgage our children’s future with more reckless spending today.

"These pro-growth policies were combined with responsible support for our nation’s defense. As our nation and our allies face increasing threats from terrorists in the Middle East, Iran attempting to achieve the means to build a nuclear bomb, and aggression from countries such as Russia and Iran that threaten the sovereignty and democracy of free nations, House Republicans increased support for the men and women in our military.

"With our priorities on paper, the next several months will be spent fine-tuning our broad path forward to achieve the conservative policies that will grow America’s economy from the ground up while reducing Washington’s influence in our daily lives. Known as the appropriations process, this is an exercise that will demand Congress’ focus until a budget in detail can be presented to the President.

"Our focus will not be exclusive to appropriations over the coming months. There is simply too much to do (or rather undo) to free our neighbors from the harm government has done.

"Perhaps the most egregious example of the failures of the bureaucratic state is the inefficiencies of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). And for our community, this failure was magnified by our local veterans having to travel all the way to Sepulveda to receive care while passing multiple medical facilities along the way. Not only is that wrong, it is maddeningly inefficient.

"That is why offering veterans choice to seek private care that is closer to their homes was a big part of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability (CHOICE) Act that Congress passed, and the President signed into law last year. However, the VA’s rigid definition of distance eligibility still left many in our community ineligible for the program.

A"fter pressure from Congress, the VA smartly made the commonsense adjustments to open the program for many vets that live in our community, and communities across the country, that face long distances to receive VA care. This announcement is a big win for veterans in the west.

"So as House Republicans continue to plot the path forward for a brighter future, we will remain committed to holding our government accountable today. Important victories from the most recent VA announcement to the decision by the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agency to back down from its plan to harm our 2nd Amendment rights are examples of the value and importance of remaining vigilant on Washington’s bureaucracy while working to achieve the vision for tomorrow.