• By Dr. Randal Beeman

Since the Fall of 2001 the United States military has conducted operations all across the planet, including major (unsuccessful) wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and numerous smaller wars, including our current undeclared war on the government of Syria.

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In the wake of the mass school shooting in Florida, some have expressed concern about calls for stricter gun laws. From House Speaker Paul Ryan to local opinion writers, the proclaimed concern is there will be a knee jerk reaction to the tragedy. In this view, the problem is mental health an…

City planners can't pass up all that easy money from those federal and state grants, can they? These feel-good bike and pedestrian projects won't help us travel on our dilapidated roads one iota.

  • The Bakersfield Californian

One by one, funerals are being held for the murdered 17 students and teachers of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the latest mass shooting in a growing list of carnage, they were gunned down by a mentally unstable, vengeful young man who was able to buy an assault weapon.

I wish Kevin McCarthy would at least consider the position of White House chief of staff if it were offered to him. Having spent 20 years in the Air Force and 15 in the federal civil service, I've often heard the phrase, "promoted out of the job."

  • By STEPHEN MOORE

Congressional Republicans have been raked over the coals in the last two weeks for slamming through budget caps and inflating government spending and debt by another $300 billion. The criticisms are well-deserved.

What are we to do about shootings in schools and other public places? How do we balance long-held constitutional rights with the public safety of a free and open society? Do we even have the right to arbitrarily possess any type of firearm? It appears that lately a preferred firearm of mass …

Immediately after the school shooting in Florida last week I said that if Barack Obama were still president he would take full responsibility for the failures of the FBI to stop the shooter before he committed his deadly mission, but that most likely Donald Trump would do the opposite and cr…

On the day of the Valentine's Day massacre in Parkland, Fla., local officials had protocols, emergency response plans and high school security all in place. But the security staff and fencing around the campus was still inadequate. They needed additional school security — armed officers.

The NRA does not control the government, it supports the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. Which means we the people have a right to protect ourselves from enemies foreign or domestic and that right shall not be infringed upon.

One of Rep. Kevin McCarthy's challenges is choosing between local agriculture interests and the far right’s views on immigration reform. He’s paid well to represent local interests so the result should be interesting.

Robert Price's Feb. 18 column on first responders ("We've counted the immediate victims, but a second wave of them is inevitable") is not gonna help put a end to gun violence in America. Gun violence is a part of American culture, with over 30,000 deaths every year. These numbers are facts t…

  • By Aaron Steenbergen

On Feb. 7, The Californian reported that “KHSD board rejects pay hike,” and the story was both informative and revealing. Informative in that we learned how our board voted. Revealing because it showed a weakness in its understanding and a proper recognition of the standard board remuneratio…

  • The Bakersfield Californian

HIT: Who knew that when Bakersfield firefighters rescued Jack, a small dog, from a house fire last July and resuscitated him that they were technically breaking a state law? The state’s veterinary license law prevents firefighters and paramedics from treating the animals they often rescue, i…

  • By Froma Harrop

"Darkest Hour" follows Winston Churchill's struggle to rouse Britain to confront the Nazi menace. Winning the war was step two. Step one, the movie's theme, was to get the country to agree to wage war.

Another school shooting. Children were murdered. Lives were upended forever. "Thoughts and prayers" were mumbled from afar. Americans with differing political views lobbed haymakers at one another. We've read this story before, and we know it probably won't be the last one like it.

  • By MARC A. THIESSEN

The indictment issued last week by special counsel Robert Mueller shows a conspiracy of stunning sophistication by Kremlin-connected Russians, posing as American citizens or using stolen U.S. identities, to influence the 2016 presidential election.

  • BY JOE MATHEWS

If California’s train deniers are right—that no one ever rides trains here, that Californians prefer to drive or fly, and that high-speed rail is a boondoggle that won’t attract riders—then how do you explain my wife’s public humiliation?

Recently, our family was on Amtrak from San Diego to L.A., when an announcement came over the sound system: “Mrs. Mathews, we have two of your children here in the café car. Mrs. Mathews, you should never let your children walk unaccompanied on an Amtrak train.”

Mrs. Mathews, upset at the scolding, looked for someone to blame: me.

Her accusation was based on an overly limited reading of the facts. True, I had been in charge of our two older children when they went to the café car. But she missed the larger context, which both absolves me and debunks the idea that Californians are train-phobic.

The Pacific Surfliner that day was mobbed: with every seat taken and passengers standing in the aisles and stairwells. So when I took those two hungry boys in the direction of the café car, the crowds were so thick I couldn’t squeeze through. The boys, now nine and seven, are very skinny and insisted on continuing on, despite my pleas, beginning a memorable adventure.

Our story may be singular, but the situation is not. Crammed Amtrak trains are commonplace in California. California is now home to three of the busiest intercity train lines outside the Northeast Corridor of the United States. The Pacific Surfliner has three million riders annually on trains from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, America’s second busiest passenger rail corridor.

Two others are in the top ten: Capitol Corridor, from San Jose to Sacramento, has 1.6 million yearly riders, and the San Joaquins, serving Central Valley cities that train deniers claim have no taste for rail, tops 1.1 million annually.

All told, Amtrak carries 12 million riders in California each year. Amtrak would like to accommodate more of us, but service is limited by the lack of tracks and the fact that Amtrak must share tracks with commuter rail and freight. Amtrak even publishes guidance on its website on how to avoid overcrowding. Among the advice issued on the Pacific Surfliner: avoid riding on Fridays and Sundays, when trains are especially crowded.

The sardine-like state of Amtrak California suggests that, contrary to claims of train deniers, high-speed rail would be popular. Studies in other countries suggest high-speed rail draws people from driving and flying, and inspires people to take trips they otherwise wouldn’t. And why not, given California’s scenery? Take the Capitol Corridor across the Delta, or peer up to the Sierra from the San Joaquins. Over the holidays, I was on a Pacific Surfliner along the Ventura County coast as the sun set over the Channel Islands. Even the off-shore oil platforms looked beautiful.

Amtrak is not perfect; the cars could be cleaner, the trains faster, the Wi-Fi more reliable, and then there are those crowds. But that argues for more rail infrastructure, not less.

After being shamed, Mrs. Mathews ordered me to retrieve her children from the café car. But I couldn’t reach it through it all the passengers in the aisles and stairwells. I found a conductor, but he couldn’t get through the crowds either. He had me wait until the next stop, where I could get off the train and re-board directly into the café car.

I asked the conductor how often the train was this crowded; he said this was standard for evening trains on weekends. And on late summer weekends when the horses race at Del Mar, things are even more jammed, he said.

The next station was only 10 minutes away, but then the train stopped because we were approaching a stretch of single track, where we waited for two trains to pass before us. After all that, it was a half-hour before we got to the station and I could get to the boys, who I found covered in chocolate chip cookie crumbs. From there, with a conductor’s assistance, we got back off the train again and sprinted up to board at the car where my wife and their little brother were. It took us five minutes to navigate the 40 feet to their seats.

Don’t let the train deniers win. More train service—including high-speed rail—can’t get here fast enough.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.

 

  • By Al Williams

Chevron has operated in Monterey County for over 70 years, and in Fresno and Kern counties for over 100 years. For our Chevron family and yours, we spend considerable time and effort conducting our operations in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner that meets or exceeds regulatory req…

  • By MICHAEL GERSON

Billy Graham was easily the most influential evangelical Christian of the 20th century -- a man at home in the historical company of George Whitefield and John Wesley.

The Florida school shooting could have been prevented if just some of the many people who knew of the shooter’s mental condition would have taken the situation seriously. Several school shootings have occurred prior to this, but common sense lessons on how to prevent more tragedies have been…

  • BY RICH LOWRY

If only Joe McCarthy had lived to see this moment, when it is suddenly in vogue to attribute large-scale events in American politics to the hand of Russia and to inveigh against domestic subversion.

U.S. citizens need to take a moment for self-examination. We were manipulated to elect a president out of fear. Fear of socialism, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. We elected a self-serving opportunist who has no moral values, or political experience. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton; I…

  • BY BOB FRANKEN

Mark the date on your calendar: March 24. It's a Saturday. It'll be a test for the up-and-coming generation. For that matter, it will be a test for the United States of America and a system of government that gets many failing grades because it has corruption baked in.

Every bishop, chaplain, monsignor, pastor, preacher, rabbi, and vicar, every sermonizer of every religious belief known to man, has to wish their devotees would follow their teachings and discipline as adamantly, loyally and blindly as Americans follow the doctrine of the NRA.

Tehachapi mountain man Norm Haughness, featured several times in Community Voices, is an obvious Donald Trump hater. But his Jan. 16 article went too far when he called Trump's base "ignorant racists."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s accomplishment cannot fail to impress. He nailed the Russian interference: Facts, names, dates, places, documents.

We at last have someplace to put the blame for the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Do we point to the liberal gun laws of Florida which allowed a possibly mentally deranged 19-year-old to buy guns? Under California gun laws he would have never been approved. Do we put the b…

Now that Robert Mueller’s investigations have resulted in 18 indictments and three guilty pleas regarding Russian tampering in the 2016 elections, the president can no longer call the Russian effort a “hoax,” “fake news,” or a made up story by the Democrats. It wasn’t some 400-pound hacker s…

I believe plenty of Americans, strongly encouraged by the GOP and championed by Donald Trump, are either ignorant or unappreciative of the fact that the core issue behind rampant gun violence and reoccurring mass shootings is money. If it were not for the money, we could have a dialogue abou…

The United States has a higher prevalence and lower treatment rate of serious mental illness than a number of other developed countries, an indication that we are not doing nearly enough for that segment of our population. What does this reflect about our society?

I have been sitting and starring at my computer screen for two days wanting to say something about the school shooting tragedy in Florida, but, as a grandmother of six, I just could not find the words. Then I read the letters in Monday's paper and really got mad. The letter-writer ("We have …

It is clearly time for the Veterans Administration to act; veterans need a new or newly renovated outpatient clinic in Bakersfield. Local veterans have waited through the last three presidential administrations for a new clinic. Several plans to build a new facility have made their way throu…

  • By Froma Harrop

Our generally strong economy has yet to cast its blessings on American farm country. Incomes there are headed for their lowest level since 2006. And farmers are going deep into debt to keep their heads above water.

  • The Washington Post

In the coastal village of Inn Din, located in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, also known as Burma, two groups long coexisted, Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. The villagers fished in the Bay of Bengal and raised rice in paddies. But what happened at Inn Din on Sept. 2marked a turning point…

When a student, as troubled as this Florida shooter is, is expelled, the person should be compelled by law to have mandatory therapy. I don't mean an anger management course. I mean one-on-one daily therapy with a qualified psychologist paid for by the county or state. Ideally, the student s…

Once again – a school shooting. We will hold vigils, fly the flag at half-mast, light candles, and release balloons. The country will feel sympathy and shock, those closest to the victims will feel indescribable emptiness and grief that will last a lifetime. And yet nothing will change.

Another school shooting and, as usual, people want to blame the gun, the president and the NRA. Yes, this is a tragedy and, yes, something must be done to curb and stop this violence. Everyone agree?

If you need an AR-15 assault rifle for self-defense, I strongly suggest you move. I think young adults and kids (and some adults) are fixated with these guns because many weapons like them are used in computer shooting simulator games.

  • By Christine M. Flowers

In the mid-1960s, I knew an elderly Greek fellow who tended to fig trees in front of his home at the end of our block. My recollections of our neighbor are hazy, but the thing that sticks with me is how gentle he was.