Friday, October 30, 2015

McCarthy: President's move to send small numbers of U.S. troops to Syria falls short of serious, comprehensive action

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

 "On Friday, President Obama announced that the United States would be sending U.S. Special Operations Forces into Syria to help fight ISIS. The President’s decision comes after years of neglect of our Syria policy and a failed Syrian training program. Putting small numbers of troops in Syria is yet another tactical move in the absence of a comprehensive strategy for Iraq, Syria, and the broader
Middle East that does nothing more than create the appearance of serious action. What the President has failed to address is a proper response to increased Russian-Iran cooperation in Syria, including Russia’s willingness to help Iran smuggle weapons to Iran’s proxies in the civil war. Instead, the President is rewarding Iran and Russia by accepting their place at the negotiating table. Ultimately, this follows the now-familiar pattern of President Obama tolerating our enemies and neglecting our allies.

 "This abdication of leadership extends beyond our foreign policy and to the failure to lift American families up to a more prosperous future. Just this week we learned the economy in the third quarter of this year expanded by a meager 1.5 percent. 

 "This puts us on track to have yet another year of slow, nearly imperceptible ‘recovery’—a recovery so slow that the American people can’t even feel it. Each and every day, with every new economic measure, it becomes more and more obvious just how much President Obama’s economic policies have failed to help the American people. Wages are down, costs are going up, labor force participation is low, and people are struggling just to get by. More of the same obviously won’t work. House Republicans have passed bills with new ideas to cut regulation, create jobs, and grow our economy. These bills trust the people to improve our nation, not the government. If the President started signing these bills instead of obstructing Congress, the American people would again start feeling the benefits of a growing economy.

  "From here at home to across the globe this Administration has made our future more uncertain. But in the House, on the heels of the election of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, we will continue to fight for the principles that have made the United States the greatest nation on earth.  


Thursday, October 29, 2015

What do you do when a neighbor neglects his dog, a local boy starts for the Baylor Bears and hats off to a couple of local restaurants

* ... BAD FORM: Here is an ethical question for you: what do you do when your neighbor's pit bull  keeps getting loose, runs the streets without a collar, and the owners seemingly could care less about its welfare? This happened to a friend who, three straight times, found the dog in the streets and
returned him to its owners. Once, she even offered to have the dog fixed, but the owners refused. "Is it illegal not return a dog to irresponsible owners?" she asked. "He is a pit bull mix and I'm worried these people are going to use him just to breed or God forbid make him into bait for dog fighting. Not sure what to do."

 * ... CAMPBELL: Cody Kessler isn't the only Bakersfield product making a splash in college football. Consider Grant Campbell, the starting linebacker for the No. 2 ranked Baylor Bears. A graduate of Garces Memorial High School, Campbell played two years at Bakersfield College before transferring to Baylor. Keep an eye on him as the Bears try to make the four-team playoff.

 * ... THE MARK: If you haven't driven by The Mark restaurant on 19th Street recently, it's worth doing. The parking lot next door has been converted into an outdoor dining area, called The Park at The Mark, and it is a dazzling display of white lights and striking signage. Here's to the owners who have gone a long way in sprucing up our downtown.

 * ... EWINGS: And speaking of restaurants, reader Lynn Simmons wrote to tell me that Ewings in Kernville has been remodeled and is worth a visit. "It's quite an event with a view that you will never forget... please inform everyone!"

* ... SCAMS: And the email and telephone scams just keep coming. Consider this one from Barbara Mullen who received a scam email from Bank of America. "I called the B of A and was transferred to the fraud department. After checking, they said there was nothing wrong with the account and was told not to open the attachment, that it was a scam probably to get my banking information. A few days later, I got a phone call which showed up as the U.S. government so I answered it. The man was foreign and said he was from Microsoft and wanted me to go to my computer and open it, which I did not, in fact hung up on him. This is the second call I've received from someone saying they were Microsoft and detected something wrong with my computer. I sincerely hope no one else bites on these calls."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The sinking of the Titanic must have been a miracle to the lobsters in the kitchen."

 * ... FUND RAISER: Looking to donate to a good cause while getting some exercise? Then consider showing up at Yokuts Park this Sunday with your bike for a Breast Cancer Awareness Ride sponsored by the Kern Wheelmen. The cost is just $5 (for $10 you get a pink water bottle) and you can ride as far west on the bike path as you desire. All proceeds will stay local and benefit Link for Life. The ride starts at 9 a.m.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A local attorney proposes a bike path for Round Mountain Road, more on local postal theft and bacon lovers rise up to defend their pork

 * ... BIKE PATH: I ran into local attorney Phil Ganong this week and he floated an idea that makes a lot of sense for those who use Round Mountain Road for running or cycling. Ganong owns
property along Round Mountain (his home is the near top) and he is willing to donate enough of it to build a bike path to keep cyclists off the road, which is heavily used by oil maintenance trucks. "I'd like to challenge other land owners to join me so we could build something that would keep everyone safe," he said. "I'd like to dedicate it to people like Doug Bentz (a former ski shop owner who died last year) and Norm Hoffman," the popular Bakersfield College professor and fitness instructor who was hit and killed by a motorist on Fairfax Drive in 2001. It's an idea in its early stages but one worth of consideration by the county. (photo by Derek Smith)

* ... POSTAL THEFT: I bet we all wish we had a mail carrier like the one who serves Ken Beggs. Said Beggs: "I wanted to let you know of an action taken by my mail carrier. I received a phone call from my mail carrier asking if I posted a letter in my my box. Yes he called me. I'm not going to give you his name because he would probably get in trouble for calling. He said our mail flag was up and no letters were in the box. He was worried that someone may have taken our out going letters. I told him the neighbors children were playing around our mail box and must have put it up. I thanked him for being concerned. Who does that nowadays? We have the best ever mailman."

* ... BACON: So now the World Heath Organization says that processed meats - and that means bacon and sausage - may cause cancer. First it was milk that was bad for you, then eggs (thank goodness eggs made a comeback), then almond milk (consumes too much water) and now the target is processed meats. As the comedian Albert Brooks quipped: "World Health Org says processed meat causes cancer. Pigs respond, 'You put your family in a grinder and see how healthy it is.'"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If I had a dollar for every time I thought about you, I would start thinking about you."

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on whoever left two large Taco Bell soda cups, assorted used napkins and paper food wrappings plus - ready for this? - a soiled diaper - in the parking lot of the Target near the Park at Riverwalk. A trash can was a mere 30-second walk away.

 * ... MARINES: This is for all you Marines who served in the Korean War, compliments of veteran John D. Mixon: "With regard to the Marine at the Rio Bravo County Club, as submitted by Rick Tomlinson... I too, was a Marine with the First Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir battle during  November-December 1950 in North Korea, and thought that I was the only survivor of that famous battle that lived in Bakersfield. I would be very interested in knowing who that person is, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would run a short sequel and perhaps he may see it, and give me a call. You may print my cell phone number (661) 889-1179. Of the 15,000 marines that participated, I suspect that after 65 years, there are fewer than 2,000 of us still alive. Best regards, and Semper-Fi."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Homeless camps crop up on the dry Kern riverbed, Cody Kessler shines in the USC victory over Utah and is the housing market headed for a downtown?

 * ... HOMELESS: Homelessness is not a problem that is easy to solve or is one that is going away anytime soon, but runners and cyclists along our bike path say they have never seen so many
homeless camps along the dry Kern river bed. Said a friend: "In 12 years of running the Kern River bike trail, I have never seen any homeless camps set up from Yokuts and west. Over the past few months I can now count at least six that are in or near the riverbed  from Yokuts all the way to the field across from CSUB."

  * ... HOUSING: Are we seeing the end of the California housing juggernaut? That is the question that local appraiser Gary Grabtree asked me when he passed along a new study showing a softness in the market in some pockets of the state. “When you take a step back and look at sales volumes over a longer period of time, they remain weak,” said Madeline Schnapp, Director of Economic Research for PropertyRadar. “Lack of inventory and declining affordability are holding sales back." According to PropertyRadar’s report, the median price of a California home in September was $405,000, which was down 2.4 percent from a revised $415,000 in August. It was also down 2.6 percent from the 2015 high of $416,000 in July. More disturbing: "According to PropertyRadar’s report, the counties with the largest price declines were Contra Costa (-5 percent), Kern (-5.2 percent) and San Mateo (-3.3 percent).

* ... COMEBACKS: This is a country that believes in second chances, so it was good to see Cody Kessler and the USC Trojans dispatch No. 3 ranked Utah 42-24 this weekend. Kessler was playing against his friend Jared Norris, also a Centennial High School grad, who didn't see action because of an injury, adding more intrigue to the highly anticipated game. USC has had a rough couple of weeks, including a couple of unexpected losses and the firing of coach Steve Sarkisian because of a drinking problem.

* ... PORCH PIRATES: It looks like we are not alone in experiencing the theft of postal packages left on our front porches. The CBS Morning News ran a story on the rash of "porch pirates" hitting communities across the nation, and it will only get worse during the holiday season.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Break the ice in a crowded elevator by asking how much everyone weighs."

 * ... MORE TWITTER HUMOR: "Whenever I have a panic attack, I put a brown paper bag over my mouth … and drink all the vodka inside … It seems to help."

 * ... ROTARY: Heads up to all you local Rotarians: Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Michael McCarthy will speak at the Twilight Rotary meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Hors d' oeuvres and cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m. and the bell rings at 6 p.m. McCarthy writes an occasional column for The Californian.