Washington

The Darrell Issa “Town Hall” is What Democracy Looks Like

  [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5gFwhdu41M[/embed] I was excited to participate in last night's jam packed Town Hall in Vista, even though our so-called Congressman, Darrell Issa, was a no show.  In particular, even though the main topic of discussion was protecting the Affordable Care Act, I went to speak about climate and energy issues, because when we're thinking about our health, our environment is also very important. Darrell Issa (whom I like to call "Sneaky Darrell") once said in regard to climate change, "… we have to make sure that when we recalibrate what’s happening, why it’s happening, how much it’s happening, we need to ensure that we get a careful relook at the figures so that we’re accurate." (more…)

Washington

Four Things to be Thankful for This Presidents’ Day Weekend

On Friday, C-SPAN released its 2017 Presidential Historians Survey, which evaluated each of our presidents in several categories, including public persuasion, moral authority, relations with Congress, and much more.  Here are four things we can be thankful for from some of the presidents who historians ranked as much better than average. Abraham Lincoln embraced his political opponents with kindness and empathy. Most Americans are familiar with the remarkable story of Abraham Lincoln, who ranked #1 in C-SPAN’s presidential survey.  Lincoln finished first in several categories and no lower than third in any of them. (more…)

Washington

Issa’s Plan to Put Nuclear Waste in Corporate Hands a Big Mistake

Note: this commentary was originally published today in the Times of San Diego. My family and I live less than a 15-minute drive from the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Like many local residents, we care deeply about removing high-level radioactive waste from the current spent fuel pools and dry cask storage to a permanent, secure facility. My Congressman, Darrell Issa, has sponsored a bill, the Interim Consolidated Storage Act, that would allow federal dollars to be funneled to private corporations to provide so-called “interim storage.” The main company behind this bill is Waste Control Specialists, a Texas firm founded and led by billionaire investor Harold Simmons until his death in 2013. (more…)

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Yesterday, we marched. Now, we all must hold Washington accountable.

Yesterday, for the first time since the election, I felt renewed optimism for the future of American democracy. My wife and I started our morning in San Clemente, in the southernmost part of Orange County.  During and after his Presidency, Richard Nixon lived in this beautiful, historically conservative coastal town.  When we arrived at our meeting point, we were amazed to see five large buses packed with fellow South Orange County Democrats.  We were united by a common love for our country and a willingness to take action.  This effort was different than anything I’ve ever seen in South Orange County, where I was raised and have lived most of my life. Our caravan headed to Santa Ana, in the heart of Orange County, where we saw the largest local political demonstration in recent memory.  Over 20,000 patriotic, progressive Americans of all backgrounds gathered to celebrate our shared values.  As we now know, this was a drop in the bucket compared to the 750,000 who marched in Los Angeles, the 500,000 who marched in Washington, and the millions of others who marched in big cities and small towns throughout the United States and around the world. (more…)

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Thank you, President Obama

On the night of your last speech in office, here are some thoughts from the heart. President Obama, thanks so much to you and your wonderful family for the last eight years. For so many of us who have believed in you and were inspired by your campaign and by your administration, we're grateful for all the things you did. (more…)

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More on Darrell Issa’s “Midnight Rules Relief Act” – a Dangerous (and Perhaps Unconstitutional) Scheme Against the Public Interest

On Friday, I interviewed constitutional law expert Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law.  Among other things, Dean Chemerinsky and I discussed the “Midnight Rules Relief Act,” which passed the House last Wednesday and is pending before the Senate.  This bill will allow Congress to overturn, with a single vote, executive branch regulations finalized in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing Presidential administration. I had a hunch that the Midnight Rules bill might be an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers, and Dean Chemerinsky agreed, adding that a legal challenge is warranted.  Constitutional issues aside, after reading several analyses and reviewing many of the regulations in question, I am extremely concerned that the bill is a gross overreach of Congressional authority that violates the public interest.  To those reading this post, please get all the way to the end and let me know if you agree. (more…)

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My Interview with Constitutional Law Expert Erwin Chemerinsky about the “Midnight Rules Relief Act” and the Age of Trump

On Wednesday, the new Congress passed the so-called “Midnight Rules Relief Act,” which will allow it to overturn, with a single vote, executive branch regulations finalized in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing Presidential administration.  The effort was spearheaded by Congressman Darrell Issa, who represents North San Diego County and South Orange County (where I happen to live). Congressman Issa didn’t bother to ask constituents like me about this bill.  Had he done so, I would have questioned whether such a move violates the constitutional separation of powers. To get an expert opinion on this issue, as well as perspective on the upcoming Trump Administration, I spoke earlier this afternoon with Erwin Chemerinsky, a leading constitutional law scholar and Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law.  Dean Chemerinsky was my professor in 2003-2004 when I was a student at Duke Law School. (more…)

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Why We Must Care About the Secret House Republican Vote on Ethics

As legendary coach John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”  Last night, during a national holiday, in one of the first acts of the new Congressional session, House Republicans conducted a secret, surprise vote to gut the Independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).  Those who voted for the measure should be ashamed, particularly members who have made a career investigating the alleged ethical lapses of their political opponents. OCE was created in March 2008 as a non-partisan watchdog in the wake of multiple Republican lobbying scandals (think Jack Abramoff).  Among other things, when Congressional staffers see their bosses engaging in potentially illegal or unethical acts, OCE allows them to confidentially disclose the behavior without losing their jobs. House Republicans sought to destroy this independent watchdog and replace it with self-oversight – an “Office of Congressional Complaint Review” (sounds much less incriminating).  According to the Washington Post, “Under the proposed new rules, the office could not employ a spokesman, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee, which would gain the power to summarily end any OCE probe.” (more…)