Reader: Well, Robert, you may be an expert on the Bakersfield Sound, but as a political pundit you basically suck. Your article on Kevin McCarthy ("McCarthy needs to catch a different train while he can," Oct. 6) was an indication of your total hatred of President Trump. It began the day that he defeated your idol, Crooked Hillary, for the presidency. Since then you have featured in your op-ed page every Trump hater that you could scrounge up. You looked under every rock to unearth those propagandists masquerading as journalists. We had to endure the same old lies and fake news that these reprobates could make up. And then you feigned how fair and balanced TBC was, and you claimed that you featured an equal number of conservatives. More b---s---!
How naïve do you think your readership is? Your laughable attempt to spin your liberal bias is an example of your contempt for those who don't buy into your delusional attempt to intimidate Kevin McCarthy and all of us who detest your left-wing progressive mantra under the guise of responsible journalism. That's not in your DNA, Robert. You should rebrand TBC as the west coast edition of The Washington Post.
— Jack Balfanz
Price: Under-rock inspections haven't been necessary, Jack, because these "propagandists" you speak of are out in plain sight and quite vocal about their objections to this president. I'm not talking about left-leaning columnists like Leonard Pitts — readers already know where he's coming from. I'm talking about dyed-in-the-wool, impeccably credentialed conservative columnists, some of whom we've used, some we haven't: Max Boot, L. Brent Bozell III, David Brooks, Mona Charen, Ross Douthat, Michael Gerson, the late Charles Krauthammer, P.J. O'Rourke, George Will — and the list of conservatives who have been uncomfortable with Trump from the start goes on. Even National Review editor Rick Lowry, who normally does his best to avoid — artfully in many cases — criticizing the president, wrote this week that Trump's behavior in "the Ukraine controversy" was "foolish and improper." Trump supporters have portrayed some of these prominent pundits as turncoats; the assault on Will, at one time perhaps the most respected conservative voice in America, is especially ridiculous. And the vilification of conservative conscientious objectors continues: Even some Fox News commentators have started asking hard questions of the president, and he is not happy about it. Et tu, Fox?
And it's not just journalists.
Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W. Bush, signed an August 2016 letter declaring that Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being” — an unprecedented vote of no confidence of a leading Republican candidate. Eric S. Edelman, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security aide and a top aide to Robert M. Gates when he was secretary of defense, was among them.
Are they all reprobates, too? Do they also need the esteemed Jack Balfanz to set them straight?
What we have here is not an abandonment of conservative ideals but a deeply, inexplicably entrenched cult of personality.
The real gripe I tried to express in the column that you reference, Jack, is not so much with Trump as with McCarthy. The House minority leader from Bakersfield, when confronted with straightforward questions about the president's behavior, deflects, flip-flops, omits, filibusters and fictionalizes. I gave some examples in that Oct. 6 column and not one person has disputed any specific one of them, opting instead for the tried-and-true "once an idiot, always an idiot" comeback. (See below.) The McCarthy I once knew is better than this. Much better than this. Or is my political naiveté showing?
Reader: Trump Derangement Syndrome has hit you hard and locked in on your brain. Just another run-of-the-mill, angry Trump-hating newspaper rider. I think you and your liberal friends have misplaced your pacifier and need to suck on it some more.
— Greg Gellman
Price: Either very few people know the meaning of the word "liberal" or they don't care what it actually means. By "liberal," Greg, are you referring to the preference among most Democrats for government-aided or -managed solutions to certain economic issues, as opposed to the preference among most Republicans for market-based solutions? Or are you referring to liberal views on social issues, such as LGBQT rights? Neither, I suppose. Like our friend Jack, you're just tossing out a handy, all-purpose insult.
My column on McCarthy's relationship with Trump has nothing to do with the political-economic or political-social spectrums. Zero. Nada. Zip. I criticized McCarthy for defending Trump with nonsensical and evasive statements. We could easily insert a Democratic president and Democratic sycophants and every point I tried to make would be just as valid. The issue is not ideology or policy decision-making; it's honesty and fair play. It has nothing to do with "liberal" anything.
One of many ironies in Trump's support among those who claim to be conservatives is that the protectionist policies he enforces with tariffs are most often advocated by left-leaning governments with unions to satisfy; right-leaning governments generally support free trade. What do you make of that, Greg?
Reader: I wanted you to know how much I appreciated your article on Kevin McCarthy. You nailed him. His response was totally off point — the economy that already was getting better and is temporarily better because of the tax cut for the rich, and a (meaningless) housing council, justify total Trump sycophancy?
I had just sent McCarthy a similar if not as eloquent email a day before I read your piece. He has no worry about being re-elected and so can lead and uphold truth and law; but all he is doing is trying to become speaker — a personal goal not helping his constituents. Keep up the great work.
— Chris and Cynthia Smizer
Price: Executive Editor Christine Peterson suggested I give McCarthy the opportunity to respond prior to my column's publication so that we could pair the two for readers. I'm glad I did so. McCarthy's simple recitation of Trump's accomplishments, as he sees them, seems to convey that the ends justify the means. Or, as Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote this week: "The complete triumph of outcomes over process, of outcomes over character, of outcomes over institutions will produce a degraded politics that is dangerous to democracy itself. Republican supporters of Trump are now faced with urgent, unavoidable moral questions: Are there no limits? Are there no lines?"
Reader: My sister and I decided during our twice-weekly commute today, having read your Oct. 6 essay on McCarthy, and his response, that it is you who should run against McCarthy. Keep up the good work.
— John O'Connell
Price: The only other person who thinks that's a fabulous idea is Kevin McCarthy.
Reader: Robert Price has been off the beaten path for a long time, once an idiot, always an idiot. He's smug, feels good about his commentaries and his beliefs. Because you write for The Bakersfield Californian doesn't mean you are correct. I mean, really, Mitt Romney? Come on.
— Susan Wykoff
Price: My Mitt Romney reference, for those who may have missed it, was simply this: Trump's removal from office does not mean the GOP loses the White House in 2020. The Republican bench is reasonably strong; Romney is perhaps the most prominent possible candidate. Last week, however, Trump — undoubtedly sensing this — called Romney a "pompous ass." So it's nice to see you're following the cues, Susan.
Reader: Nice to see Lois Henry’s byline, and pretty incredible reporting on water problems. Since I’m watching season 3 of Goliath, I found it especially troubling — almond farmers and stealing groundwater galore. Very distressing.
Too much distressing, disturbing, depressing developments these days. We are witnesses to history. Heavy sigh.
— Pamela Wildermuth
Price: Among Lois Henry's several gifts is the ability to make water issues interesting. We're glad she is back, even in a limited capacity.
Reader: I tried to call you last month when your fine, well-written article ("Where We Live: 25 years after the Battle of The Marketplace, Haggin Oaks is at peace," Sept. 1) was published but did not manage to reach you. My name is Leon Lim and I used to live at Sisteron Court, Haggin Oaks, and was a member of the Southwest Community Action Committee, or SCAC. I paid the Fresno lawyer’s fee to make the lawsuit filing against Castle & Cooke possible.
SCAC was not against growth, but was organized to protest Castle & Cooke’s “bait and switch” of the development design. We were told in the beginning that they would build an upscale, small-footprint, Georgetown-type shopping center. But they switched to a sprawling regular shopping area with a gasoline station at the center and a fast food restaurant at each corner of the property. We won the lawsuit and amongst other things made them take out the gas station, fast food restaurants and got Castle & Cooke to upgrade the design to the quality of their Seven Oaks Country Club with the brick veneer, etc.
As you know, Bakersfield is very pro-growth and usually gives the contractor/developer free rein on design, quality, etc., and doesn’t worry about the environment too much. This idea is supported by all the powers that be in Bakersfield. So the SCAC was ridiculed in trying to change what mighty Castle & Cooke wants to do. None of the Bakersfield law firms were willing to support us with the lawsuit. Even large law firms from Fresno turned us down. We finally found a Fresno lawyer who was willing. But we think he was a bit nervous and not willing to take it on until we paid him the entire estimated cost of the lawsuit up front.
The Marketplace would not look as it does today without the lawsuit. Even without getting the credit, SCAC is happy we did what we did. May I have your comments, please?
— Leon Lim
Price: Members of the Southwest Community Action Committee (or, derisively by supporters of The Marketplace, SWACKOs) were widely portrayed as unrealistic, private-property-rights-hating rabble rousers. But the fact that, one, the group was largely successful in court and, two, a quarter century later the Marketplace remains Bakersfield's most attractive, welcoming and successful shopping center tells us a lot. The SCAC, difficult as it may have made life for city officials and some in the development community, did the city a service.
Reader: Robert, your recent Rio Bravo article ("Where We Live: Rio Bravo didn't win the university but it kept the character," Sept. 29) was a very interesting and an enlightening bit of history about Bakersfield. My wife and I learned a lot about the history of the area in which we live: The Castle & Cooke-developed part of Bakersfield and the location of the college finally west of Highway 99. It so happens that we bought the Haggin model of the homes offered in The Greens of Seven Oaks for our retirement home in 2001. Congratulations for a fine piece of journalism.
— W. A. Waddell
Price: Thanks, Will. Last December, when I set out to write about the neighborhoods of Bakersfield for my "Where We Live" series, I didn't realize I'd be mining such deep reservoir of local history, much of it previously reported but largely forgotten. Who wants a copy of the book?
Reader: As a “recovering musician,” I appreciated your article on Scott B. Bomar’s Bakersfield Sound project ("Bakersfield Sound 10-CD set is both entertainment and encyclopedia," Oct. 2). I had a western swing-traditional country band here in town during the 1970 and ’80s, Texas West, so anything related to what we played always catches my attention. Thanks!
I was wondering if you could give me a little more detail on what will actually be going on with Scott Bomar at CSUB and over at Buck's Crystal Palace. I’d sure like to take one in.
— Billy Joe Sheets
Price: Scott did an amazing job on this project, "The Bakersfield Sound: Country Music Capital of the West, 1940-1974," a 299-track set that comes with 224-page hardcover book. It retails for $195.
Two events celebrating its release are coming up. Bomar will be at CSUB's Walter W. Stiern Library on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m., and I will be joining him. It's free and open to the public. Register to attend at www.eventbrite.com/e/scott-b-bomar-the-bakersfield-sound-registration-71733329319.
The following night, Oct. 16, Bomar, along with Bear Family Productions and Citizens Preserving History, will host a CD Release Party at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace. Doors open at 5 p.m. and music starts at 7 p.m. There's no cover charge, and the restaurant and bar will be open. To RSVP, call 661-328-7560. Fuzzy Owen, Merle Haggard's longtime friend and manager, will be signing copies of his new book that night as well, with his collaborator, Phil Neighbors.