Rose and Katje both called me this week to chat and drop hints about bringing their families over to my place in Great Falls, Virginia for Sunday dinner.  Their motives were different, of course.  Katje’s husband, my dear younger brother Rob Roy, wants to hang out at my place this weekend and next so he and their son Jason can watch the NCAA tournament on the truly bodacious oversized HDTV in the game room downstairs while availing themselves of the collection of twenty different brands of designer beers I happen to keep stored there in a jumbo glass door bar cooler.  Rose, on the other hand, stuck out there in the wilds of Fairfax with her brother-in-law Arthur and both [...]

 

With the Ukrainian Crisis in its second week, the Dalai Lama visiting Washington amid protests both diplomatic as well as on the streets, and the Conservative Political Action Conference in full swing, those would have been quite sufficient to keep Gretchen and me working twelve and fourteen hour days all week, including up until ten at night Saturday.  But on top of all that, as luck and United States foreign policy would have it, Secretary of State John Kerry chose this week to send each and every US ambassador explicit instructions to make climate change their top priority, and quote, “…promote concerted action at posts and in host countries to address this problem.”  Sheesh!  As if there weren’t enough people [...]

 

My four o’clock appointment on Wednesday was with Richard Branleur Couilles-Baiser, formerly of Montreal, Quebec, but today the chief industry lobbyist for the International Alliance of Holiday Cruise Ship Associations, a trade organization headquartered here in Washington DC.  He strode smartly into my office, tossed his briefcase on the coffee table and perched jauntily on the couch. “Nice to see you again, Tom,” he opened.  “It’s been a while.” “I don’t believe you’ve become a stranger on my account,” I japed. “No, you can’t be blamed for that,” he smartly returned.  “It’s just that the IAHCSA board doesn’t like to shell out for hourly fees like yours unless the situation is… well, pretty damn dire, actually.” “That’s certainly understandable,” I [...]

 

Yesterday, my sister-in-law Katje called and dropped some serious hints that I should invite her little family over for dinner at my place in Great Falls, Virginia.  It made sense – she and my brother Rob Roy both work for Whizzonator-YoYoDyne Information Systems, one of the huge gaggle of federal contractors and subcontractors that created HealthCare.gov, the Obamacare Web site, which rolled out October 1.  So by now they are both worn to such a complete frazzle from trying to get it to work properly, neither of them can manage going to the Safeway, buying food, bringing it home and preparing it for themselves and their son Jason.  But likewise, all three of them are utterly tired of sending out [...]

 

Maybe there were several hundred thousand federal workers with nothing to do this week, but Gretchen and I have been as busy as one-armed paper hangers.  Apparently, there’s nothing like the economic repercussions of a government shutdown combined with the impending financial cataclysm of a US government default to increase the demand for nearly every kind of advice.  All week I’ve been explaining our inscrutable Constitution and its eccentric legislative system to rich, worried foreigners and then coming up with various strategies for them to avoid going down the tubes along with Uncle Sam.  Even the Danes, who are the only other industrialized democracy to have a debt ceiling, are completely gobsmacked by what we do with ours here in America.  They created theirs [...]

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