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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…)

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Five books to help you stay motivated in the age of Trump.

Watching Donald Trump take over Washington has been very tough for so many who were heavily opposed to him.  While we focus on holding Washington accountable, we must also take a deep breath, stay strong, and gear up for what comes next.  So, in no particular order, here are five books I’ve read that have helped me stay motivated and inspired to stay involved in the process.  I’m planning to read each of these again in the weeks ahead. (more…)

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A car that emits only water vapor.

My family is excited to get the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell electric car in the coming month (especially my four-year old son, as you clearly can see from the picture). This amazing car gets 366 miles of range, takes only 5 minutes to fuel up, and emits nothing but water vapor.  Honda is offering aggressive pricing with free fuel, among other incentives. Like all Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), the Clarity runs on hydrogen, which can come from a variety of sources, including renewable solar, wind and biogas. Along with breakthrough vehicles like the Toyota Mirai, the Clarity will help bring a new generation of zero-emission transportation to the mainstream. Hydrogen and fuel cells provide an intriguing solution to our clean energy future. Much of the innovation being done in this area is in my home turf of Orange County and San Diego. UC Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center is among the leading think tanks on the hydrogen economy, and UC San Diego has the largest renewable fuel cell project in the country. Both campuses are leading the nation in clean energy innovation. (more…)

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A Christmas gift for my Congressman.

Yesterday, I mailed the below letter to my Congressman, Darrell Issa, along with a 144-page book called Climate Change for Beginners.  It outlines the basic science of climate change and some responsible steps we should all take to reduce our own emissions footprint, and can be read in less than two hours. If you want your very own copy or would like to send one to your crazy uncle (or your representative), click here. I sincerely hope the Congressman reads the book and passes it along to Donald Trump, who hopefully will appreciate the cartoon illustrations!


December 15, 2016 The Honorable Darrell E. Issa U.S. House of Representatives 2269 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Congressman Issa: I write as your concerned constituent and a clean energy advocate.  My business and legal experience has been focused on accelerating the transition towards more sustainable and efficient power generation and transportation options.  I sit on the board of the Center for Sustainable Energy, based in San Diego, and co-founded Sustain OC, an Orange County association focused on sustainability and clean technology. I am hopeful that you and President-elect Donald Trump will recognize the positive economic impact of strong federal clean energy policy.  Our district is filled with established companies and startups that would embrace the opportunity to provide the region with clean, reliable, affordable electricity and related services, if only given a better chance to compete. (more…)

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Common sense immigration reform in the age of Trump.

This is a picture of my grandpa, Henry Bringas, from the June 9, 1951 edition of Billboard.  Grandpa's story could only happen in America.  But I wonder if it even would be possible today. While you wouldn't know it from my last name, on my mom’s side, I am the grandson of Mexican immigrants.  In 1904, my grandpa was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico.  At age 14, he legally crossed the border, eventually making his way to Los Angeles.  Several years later, he married my grandma, who had been born in Durango before coming to America at age two. Grandpa taught himself English and worked as a traveling salesman.  In the late 1930’s, after a chance meeting with a representative for Wurlitzer, he began a long career distributing jukeboxes and vending machines.  Through the hard work of grandpa and his two brothers, Bringas Brothers Music Company was a success.  Grandpa used the profits from his small business to buy commercial property in Downtown Los Angeles.  Having not graduated high school himself, he sent all five of his daughters to college and bought a dream home for my grandma, which she lived in for several decades. At age 50, grandpa became an American citizen.  It was the proudest day of his life.  He loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a committed Democrat, with a picture of JFK hanging in his office. Grandpa is no longer with us, but I’m quite sure he would be disappointed by Donald Trump's rhetoric. (more…)