Friday, March 4, 2016

House Majority Leader McCarthy: President Obama puts us all at risk by trying to close Guantanamo and Congress will fight all attempts to close it

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

"There is a clear contrast between President Obama and the House. While we continue to pass bills to keep Americans safer, the president is presenting an unlawful and unwise plan to close Guantanamo
Bay. And with the news of a Bakersfield Army Reserve unit being deployed to Guantanamo I thought it’d be appropriate to discuss why the president’s policy puts America at risk.

"Simply put, the president’s track record of releasing detainees is atrocious.  Many of the detainees he has released have rejoined the fight and pose a significant threat to the homeland. These are not “low-level” terrorists as the administration has claimed.

For example, Ibrahim al Qosi, a senior al Qaeda operative and close associate of Osama bin Laden, was transferred from Guantanamo in 2012. Since then, he has not only joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but has become one of its leaders. In December, al Qosi urged Muslims to carry out deadly attacks on the U.S., specifically New York City.

He is not the only one.

At least three of “Taliban Five” released in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have “re-engaged” with their old terrorist organizations. Prior to the exchange all of these detainees were deemed “high risks” to the U.S. and its allies by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

 "To make matters worse, last month Spanish and Moroccan police arrested a former detainee who is suspected of being part of an ISIS cell in North Africa. Authorities described him as “a leader who was trained in handling weapons, explosives, and military tactics.” These are exactly the kind of people we shouldn’t let out into the world or into our country.

According to James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, 196 former detainees are either confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight. That's a recidivism rate of nearly 30 percent. This is unacceptable.

The best place for Guantanamo detainees is in Guantanamo. Congress will continue to fight against the president’s desire take us back to the failed pre-9/11 law enforcement approach to counterterrorism. We have passed and President Obama has signed legislation barring him from moving detainees to the United States. Even Obama’s own Attorney General Loretta Lynch, reiterated it would be illegal for the president to transferring detainees to the U.S.

Congress is resolute. We will not sacrifice U.S. national security for the sake of a misguided campaign pledge. That is why we are forever indebted to the service of the 120 men and women in the 422nd Military Police Company who will serve as guards during their one-year deployment at Guantanamo Bay.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

When Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio aren't making millions acting, they are lobbying to shut down all oil and gas exploration in California, and access is being curtailed to the local Jar Trail

 * ... HOLLYWOOD: As if the oil and gas industry didn't have enough to worry about, now comes a group of Hollywood celebrities who are pushing to end all oil production in California by the year 2030. That's right, actor Mark Ruffalo is leading the push, engaging other celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio, Norman Lear, Rashida Jones and Diane Kruger to pressure the governor. According to a story in the magazine Good by writer Tina Daunt, Ruffalo said: “If Governor Brown is going to walk around saying that he is a climate-change hero, then by God, we are going to hold him to his word,” says Ruffalo, who has formed a group called Hollywood United for a Healthy California with “a goal of freeing California from oil and gas extraction.” Once again hydraulic fracturing, which state regulators and even the EPA has declared as safe as practiced in California, is the convenient boogyman for the anti fossil fuel crowd. (Photo courtesy of Good magazine)

* ... JAR TRAIL: If you are thinking of climbing the Jar Trail at the mouth of the Kern River canyon, beware that you might be trespassing on private property. According to James Nickel, whose family owns extensive acreage on both sides of road, hikers have been destroying fences, littering and even painting graffiti on rocks so he and other property owners are going to close off access to the Jar Trail. It's near impossible to access the trail without trespassing, so this decision may bring an end to the popular hike. Nickel called it "regrettable" but in the end said the property owners "had no choice."

 * ... GOOD ADVICE: I was struck by this quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in talking about her late friend Justice Anthony Scalia: "He told me he attacks ideas, not people." Seems like good advice this election year.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Some people are like Slinkys … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.'

 * ... KERO TV: More management upheaval in the local television market: Pete Noll is out at as vice president and general manager of the Scripps-owned KERO (23) TV station. Scripps ousted Noll along with a human resources director and the head of promotions. No word on who will succeed Noll. Loll lasted at KERO TV less than a year.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Christine Christensen was with four "senior ladies" enjoying a lunch at the Hidden Cafe downtown when a stranger picked up the tab for their meals. "He held the door open for us, we thanked him and told him he was a gentleman and to thank his mother ... When we thanked our server and asked for our bill she told us the gentleman had paid for all five. To our Knight in Shining Armor, a big thank you."

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Gaggles of drunk, 50-something women who should know better disrupt a local concert, and Bike Bakersfield's Adam Kahler gives his rescue pit bull a first class lift

 * ... BAD FORM: Is there anything worse than paying top dollar for a concert and then seated next to a group of loud and obnoxious drunks? Local Realtor Michael Richert had this experience when he attended the Jennifer Nettles concert at the Fox Theater. "We had six, drunk 50-60 year old women who came in behind us and were the most obnoxious group talking about their last text from their
boyfriends, and what was on Facebook and who was seeing who. Something I’d expect from a high school crowd and not the Fox Theater at $75 per ticket.  Everyone in our row asked in several ways for them to be quiet so we could listen and nothing would stop them. It was so rude to all the performers. Complaints were made to the Fox employees but nothing. Finally, we got up and moved to open seats further back. There, we encountered three more groups of people who were so drunk that they were falling down in the aisles and around their seats all the time yelling and fighting about everything except the concert and performers. Again, these weren’t kids, all grown adults. I just can’t picture ever going back to the Fox Theater for a concert. I was embarrassed for the performers and what was to be a great night turned into something that was not. I usually go to LA for concerts so this was my 1st at the Fox in 18 years of living here. I’ve been told that 'it’s just how things are at the Fox.'  I really wish it had been different."

* ... BIKE BAKERSFIELD: If you spot a fit young man riding a bicycle and towing a white pit bull around town that would be Adam Kahler, the new director of Bike Bakersfield. Kahler, a Bucknell graduate who left the energy industry to pursue his passion, made the bike trailer out of PVC to pull Winston, a pit bull he rescued in Shafter a couple of years ago. "He loves it. He just sits back there like he is in the back of a pick up truck. I did flip it once, which he did not like," he said. If you see Adam and Winston around town, give them a friendly honk and wave.

 * ... JAR TRAIL: The Jar Trail is a steep hike at the foot of the Kern River canyon, but its popularity seems to have caught up with it. Listen to this from reader Nancy Vibe: "I have bad news about the Jar Trail and hiking in the canyon. There are some evil people taking advantage of the hikers. My husband and a few friends parked their vehicles at the Upper Richbar parking. Off they went for an awesome morning of hiking. They returned to busted out passenger windows, missing car registrations, insurance cards and house keys! Luckily my husband Mark had house keys and his ID on him. (he never takes his wallet). But the friends were not so lucky. They spent the rest of their Saturday getting their homes re-keyed! Be smart people... they will have your address and the keys to your house and can clean you out before you get home!"

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Unless you tripped and smacked your face on the treadmill, no one wants to hear about your workout."

 * ... FOUNDATION: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation is kicking off its spring cycle of giving with a focus on arts and culture. The Foundation is accepting applications beginning this week and all applications are due by Friday, April 1. Go to to find out more about the kind of projects that will be funded.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bass Pro Shops in negotiations for a new store at the Hosking Road interchange, two local guys stage another local mountain bike race and when did sagging skin become "gravitational descent?"

 * ... RETAIL: There is a lot of movement in the retail sector as new businesses head to town. Bass Pro Shops, which wanted to open years ago before the economy tanked, is negotiating to purchase a parcel of land on the northeast corner of the new Hoskings Road interchange, which is almost
complete. I also heard the other day that Walmart has purchased property for a neighborhood market at the corner of Brimhall and Allen roads. And lastly, I learned that they will start moving earth for a new hotel and some small retail shops at that huge 15-acre parcel at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road across from the Trader Joe's shopping center.

 * ... KUDOS: Unless you are into competitive cycling, you may never have heard of Sam Ames or Keith Barnden, but these two guys are putting Bakersfield on the map in a big way. Ames and Barnden (SamBarn productions) are staging some of the most popular mountain, cross and road bike races in the west, including the Foothill Classic mountain bike competition this Sunday out at Hart Park. A few weeks ago, they put on the Rock Cobbler, an incredibly tough 100 mile race that put even the best endurance athletes to the test. The number of out of town cyclists and their families that descend on Bakersfield for these events is impressive.

* ... SPOTTED: In a doctor's office in the Southwest is a sign promoting cosmetic surgery for "gravitational descent." I believe we used to call that "sagging skin."

 * … SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The best part of a best friend's job should be clearing your computer history if you die."

 * … PADRE:  The Padre Hotel is known for frequently changing its menus and offering new treats, and a menu is about to roll out. I am told it will feature bringing back some of the all-time favorites, like the Padre's signature nachos that were dropped from the menu some months ago, but let's hope they keep one of my favorites: a healthy choice kale salad (with eggs, onions and tomatoes) that is not to be missed.

 * ... FOODIE: It looks like Victor's Mexican Grill will be one of the tenants in a new building going up at F and 20th streets. Signage went up this weekend and the building looks close to completion. And if you are looking for a deal, make sure you clip the coupon in Sunday's Californian for a "but one lunch or dinner" at KC Steakhouse and get meal one free.

 * ... PAY IT FORWARD: Sandy Dralle shared these thoughts on the "pay it forward" theme in a local drive through. Said Dralle: "Recently I paid the guy behind me for letting me in the line first at a drive through. He was alone so I figured he was buying a quick drive through lunch just like me. When I handed my credit card to the employee, she said: 'He is paying for a bucket meal for four. Do you still want to pay for him?' I was a bit surprised but decided that if you are going to do 'a random act of kindness' you can't put a price tag on it. Besides the bucket meal was on sale, which turned out to be a good deal for both of us!"