The calls started late on Tuesday, November 4. I received five of them before midnight. They have continued unabated since. It’s an assured ritual that occurs like clockwork every two years – new members of Congress calling me for the sort of advice and information not found in the traditional freshman briefings offered on Capitol Hill. And again, as I have every two years for quite some time now, I cry “enough!” Stop calling my home! Stop trying to shoehorn yourselves or your top banana into the appointment schedule at my office! You all ask the same questions, anyway, so here’s my biannual Advice to Congressional Newbies post. What you want to know about those “confidential issues,” the answers to [...]

 

To the greatest extent possible, I have been avoiding the company of Democrats since Tuesday. I am, after all, a policy consultant, not a confessor, a psychiatrist, or their mother, but despite that, there has been no shortage of disappointed Democrats wanting to cry on my shoulder this week as if I were one or the other. Republicans, on the other hand, have been coming dangerously close to dislocating their shoulders as a result of enthusiastically patting themselves on the back. To hear them talk, one would expect Ronald Reagan to rise from the tomb presently and lead a triumphant procession of Tea Party true believers and free-market conservatives down Pennsylvania Avenue from Capitol Hill to the White House, there [...]

 

My imported sports car has hands-free cell phone service, but just to be safe, I always pull off and park at the first opportunity after taking a call. And that’s exactly what I did, driving along the George Washington Memorial Parkway to my home in Great Falls, Virginia on Friday night after work. Caller ID was blocked, so I had no idea who it was as I drove into the scenic overlook at the top of the hill after the turnoff to Spout Run. Not that I ever let something like that keep me from picking up on a phone call. Tom: Hello, who’s this? Voice: Tom Collins? Tom: This is he. Voice: I need some advice about a problem [...]

 

Deer mating season has begun here in Washington – I almost hit one while driving down the George Washington Parkway to the office yesterday just after dawn. The frost’s not quite on the pumpkin here yet, but unquestionably, if you’re a randy young buck, this is fine weather to chase nookie through the spectacular fall colored woods. Driven to madness by gushing hormones, the poor dumb creatures are heedless to danger – not unlike human teenagers, actually. This time of year, they bound across busy highways and suburban streets, lost in the heat of the chase – or flight, as their gender dictates, and, of course, routinely fail to look both ways before doing so. Consequently, their corpses are a [...]

 

My very last consultation last Friday was with Rabbi Mordechi Dovid Slivovitz of Silver Spring, Maryland, recently elected President of the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Organization National and International Council. Frankly, I’ve never seen him so upset. “Oy vey ist mir,” he wailed as he plunked his ample, ovoid frame down on the couch with an air of complete anxiety and consternation, “the worst crisis since the Doheny glatt kosher scandal has erupted, right here in Washington DC – and in Georgetown, no less!” “You are referring,” I presumed, “to the arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel, of Congregation Kesher Israel, the most prestigious upscale Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the entire National Capital area?” “What else?” Slivovitz shrugged. “The entire Jewish community [...]

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