Thursday, January 21, 2021

Billboards pop up in Kevin McCarthy's hometown saying he "must go," state Sen. Shannon Grove is ousted as head of the GOP in the state Senate, and South High School looks to get rid of its "Rebels" nickname

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... LOCAL POLITICOS: Two of the most prominent elected officials in Kern County - Congressman Kevin McCarthy and state Sen. Shannon Grove - are both facing political pressure because of their unwavering support for former President Donald Trump. McCarthy, of course, has been widely vilified for supporting Trump's unverified claims that the election was stolen, and on Thursday he told Politico that he believed that Trump did not "provoke" the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. That

triggered a harsh response from his old mentor, former Congressman Bill Thomas, who labeled McCarthy a "hypocrite" and others have piled on as well, questioning whether McCarthy's future as a leader with the Republican Party will go unchallenged. And now, here in his hometown, someone is erecting billboards attacking McCarthy, a virtual unheard-of scenario not long ago.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: As for Grove, it looks like her pro-Trump credentials at least partially led to her ouster as leader of the GOP in the State Senate. The Republican caucus ousted Grove from the leadership position this week, opting for the more moderate state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita after the Republicans lost two seats in the Senate.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My iPhone battery died and I have to wait 2 days for a new one like some kind of pioneer woman."

 * ... CSUB GIFT: Here's some good news for CSUB: it turns out a former Bakersfield resident has donated $500,000 to the CSUB athletics department to support the 10 women's teams at the university. The gift came from Shelly Carlin, who was a member of the national championship softball team at UCLA in 1981. Athletic director Ziggy Siegfried said the gift will lead to the establishment of the Athletics Director's Women's Excellence Fund, and will help CSUB softball reach the allowable maximum for scholarships (12) for the first time in program history. Carlin previously worked as chief human resources officer at Motorola and earlier pledged $170,000 to the school's softball program.

 * ... SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL: South High School, long known as home of the Rebels, has decided to abandon its nickname for something more politically correct. In a decision that undoubtedly will not be welcomed by many of South's alumni, the school administration said it was looking for input for a new suitable nickname. The South High Sycamores? Whatever the new name, you can bet it will be a phrase that will pass the political correctness test.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Facebook page Kern County of Old comes these classic old pictures of downtown Bakersfield back in the day.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Kevin McCarthy can please no one: Not the radical right, certainly not the left and not the moderate center of the GOP. Plus can you still shed the coronavirus even after vaccination? And a horrendous accident on Alfred Harrell Highway

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: The political fate of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, now into his eighth term in Congress, has never been more uncertain than it is now. And not because he is in immediate threat of losing his seat, but rather because never before has the popular congressman known simply as "Kevin" or "KMAC" around town come under such intense criticism. Consider for example the appearance of McCarthy's longtime mentor, former Congressman Bill Thomas, on KGET where he labeled McCarthy a "hypocrite" for

supporting the lies perpetuated by President Trump. It was a remarkable scene: Thomas seated next to KGET's Bob Price, taking his protege to task for not only voting against impeachment but for challenging the election results just hours after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by an angry mob. Thomas labeled the vote on impeachment "hypocrites and heroes, "noting that Rep. David Valadao had voted for impeachment. while McCarthy sides with the president. And then, on Sunday, McCarthy was the subject of a New York Times analysis in which it cited the Thomas criticism but also added that McCarthy was under fire by the extreme right of his party for not doing enough to defend the president. Said the Times: "Democrats and some Republicans called on him to step down. The anti-Trump Lincoln Project released an ad calling him a 'pathetic enabler' and urging his staff to 'pack up your desk and leave that loser behind.' A scathing Sacramento Bee editorial denounced him for having 'a soulless lack of principle' and for abusing his authority 'to promote big, dangerous lies about the election.' But in his home district — one of the most conservative in California — Mr. McCarthy has been under fire for not being loyal enough. The split illustrates the gulf between the national outrage over the violence at the Capitol and the local hold the president still has on conservative parts of the country. Mr. McCarthy’s district, which includes the city of Bakersfield and most of Kern and Tulare counties in the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento and north of Los Angeles, is a place where oil, agriculture and MAGA dominate." To be sure, McCarthy's support in the 23rd District is solid and even critics like Ken Mettler (mentioned in the Times article as a voice of the extreme right) have little chance of unseating McCarthy. But for the first time, McCarthy finds himself in the precarious position of pleasing no one - not the left, not the moderate wing of the GOP as seen in Bill Thomas, and not the radical right representing by Mettler and his ilk. Stay tuned.

 * ... BILL THOMAS ON THE RADIO: We will hear more from former Congressman Thomas this Tuesday when he appears on The Richard Beene Show to talk about the future of the Republican Party, the crisis facing our nation and his ideas on how the GOP can rebuild in a post Trump world. Thomas will come on at 2 p.m. Tuesday on NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM.

* ... CORONAVIRUS: Here is something to consider while you wait for your Covid-19 vaccine: once you are fully immunized, there is a chance you might still have the live virus and pass it on to others. That's the word from medical experts who are cautioning that there mere fact that you have been vaccinated does not mean you are done shedding the virus. The reason? Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines simply suppress the virus, and experts simply don't know if an asymptomatic person who has already been vaccinated may still be able to pass it on to others. That's way, the experts tell us, that reaching "herd immunity" (where 80 percent of the population has been vaccinated) is so important.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Lots of jokes about the My Pillow guy but ask yourself this: does anyone know who Biden’s pillow guy is?  we’re about to have a president who has no advisors from the pillow industry, let that sink in."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Wow so when a dog humps someone's leg, it's cute and funny but when I do it, I'm not allowed to enter the church again. Is it because I'm brown?"

 * ... CAR ACCIDENT: Did you hear about the accident on Alfred Harrell Highway this weekend in which a 24-year-old driver was killed? The woman was east bound behind the wheel of a Ford Expedition when she apparently lost control and the truck flipped multiple times. Nine children were inside - the vehicle was not made to seat that many - and all miraculously survived. The children were between the ages of 5 months to 15 years.

 * ... MEMORIES: And just take a look at the old Kern County Courthouse around 1910 with the Beale Clock Tower in the background.