MCCARTHY

If there are two things that don't mix, they are politics and social media. That ugly recipe was on rare display this week when a Kern County teacher, Shannon M. Barnes, posted a picture of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy having lunch in Santa Monica and implying he was "toasted" drunk. That triggered a flurry of reactions, with Kevin's wife Judy Wages McCarthy weighing in to defend her husband. "Whether done by a child or an adult, bullying is wrong," she wrote, adding her husband doesn't even drink. "I didn't post a lie about someone being drunk in public. Instead this person posted a lie about my husband being drunk in public. Why? Divisive politics. Stop. Please. Take responsibility." Barnes later took down the original post (only after the Democratic Women of Kern asked its members to come to her aid because of "a lot of hate from little Kevin's fan base," but the responses didn't stop there. Even Connor McCarthy, Kevin and Judy's son, weighed in, posting a long and thoughtful response and saying the picture was taken while his father was celebrating his daughter's 21st birthday party. He added: "In all honesty I found the first post pretty hilarious. I've only seen him drink alcohol three times in my entire life."

MARIJUANA

Nobody is watching the county debate over marijuana closer than Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who has not hidden his distaste for the idea of legalizing the drug. "I will follow the law," he told me on KERN NewsTalk this week. Youngblood's fear: even if the state and county impose regulations on pot shops, an underground market with even more powerful cannabis may flourish. Meanwhile, Youngblood said the mountains of Kern County remain hotspots for illegal marijuana farms cultivating pot on private property.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Here's some good news for local drivers: the city has completed its renovation and repaving of California Avenue between H and Oak streets. The project, a major headache for folks who live in Oleander, was thankfully completed before students return to Bakersfield High School on Aug. 16.

SPOTTED ON TWITTER

Coffee does a good job of waking you up but accidentally dropping your phone on your face does an even better job.

OVERHEARD

At Cafe Med recently a young married woman is confiding to her girlfriend: "We get along great. I just tell him what he wants to hear and most of the times he isn't listening anyway."

SPOTTED

A local teacher expressed this lament on social media: "I prefer the homeless downtown to any jerk in a lifted truck. They are friendly, more interesting, and don't look at you like you're a freak."

CHRIS ARNADE

Chris Arnade is a former Wall Street banker who spent the past two years traveling the country and spending time with the least fortunate among us. His last stop on his cross country sojourn: east Bakersfield. Some of his observations: "If you are at the bottom of a system that those at the top claim is fair/just ... well their claim is pretty much intended to be humiliating ... The word I keep coming back to, what I see in so many 'back-row' communities, is humiliation. And as a result, a desire for respect ... If that small chance is missed it means a lifetime of feeling looked down on. Because America is a meritocracy, so it was clearly your fault ... For many, getting out requires threading a narrow needle of opportunities starting from an early age. You must do everything right. No mistakes."

OUR COUNTRY

And Jim Milledge added this about the economic disparity in our country: "I am not homeless, but I can give you an example or two of why we are in financial trouble. The haves are growing by leaps and bounds. Example: I am retired from ATT. I have not received an increase in my pension for almost 20 years. At the same time, the CEO for ATT has a total compensation package that exceeds $25 million a year. The haves have forgotten the have nots. Second, we need to give people a hand up, not a hand out. Many of the poor are generation poor. They need to help themselves or we will have to carry them for eternity."

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at rsbeene@yahoo.com. His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.

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