May 302016
 

My eleven o’clock consultation on Friday was with Dr. Dhoti Bandarkochaak Ladochus Janthabhalu Machikne, Special Delegate Designate for Tourism at the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Once in my office, he perched on the couch in front of the picture window overlooking the White House and took a sip of the masala chia Gretchen had provided at my instruction. “After recent events,” he opened, “we had hoped that the spring 2016 mountaineering season would have had a less tragic beginning.” “The last couple of years have been pretty rough,” I concurred. “The Khumbu Icefall disaster in 2014 killed sixteen Sherpas, then an avalanche tore through base camp during the earthquake of April 25, 2015 and caused twenty-two […]

Apr 142016
 

This afternoon, I had a consultation scheduled with Dr. Jose Baboso Verga Pendejo y Grandmaricón PhD, Principal Economic Attaché for International Banking and Finance at the Embassy of Panama here in Washington DC. We were supposed to discuss the effects of depressed petroleum prices on the exchange rates of reserve currencies with particular emphasis on the Chinese Yuan in light of its recent designation as such by the IMF. But the long face he pulled when he plunked down wearily on the couch in my office told me otherwise. This gentleman had something else on his mind, and it wasn’t at all pleasant. “Tom,” he wailed, staring up at the ceiling in despair, “thank your lucky stars you aren’t a […]

Feb 012016
 

Last Tuesday morning, I was visited by Dr. Singe Saleté, Federal Policy Consultant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “I’ve been waiting nearly a week for an opening in your schedule,” she complained as she seated herself in the chair immediately in front of my desk. “It appears you are a very difficult person reach. Is it always this hard to see you?” “The last ten days have been especially tough,” I explained. “Because of the snow storm, everyone with an appointment on Friday the twenty-second wanted to move it to one of the days earlier in the week, and everyone with a Monday appointment this week wanted to move it to today or tomorrow. The inherent chaos created […]

Jan 052016
 

Like most other federal facilities that aren’t directly concerned with law enforcement or national defense, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a vast tract of land near the town of Burns in eastern Oregon, was closed on Saturday, January 2, 2016 in observance of the New Year holiday weekend. There’s an administration center there, consisting of several rustic stone and wood frame buildings set in an otherwise deserted, essentially uninhabited, high Western plains landscape. Under cover of darkness that night, a group of individuals, some of whom, at least, were armed, occupied those buildings, subsequently notifying whoever would listen that they comprise a militia with serious issues regarding the relationship between the citizens of the United States of America and its […]

Nov 192015
 

This morning, my ten-thirty AM consultation was with an economist from the USDA. We spent about an hour and ten minutes discussing the ramifications of the Renewable Fuel Standard and its impacts on the corn market. Manufacturing fuel ethanol from corn was a stupid idea when it got started during the Carter administration, of course, and it’s a still a stupid idea today, but stupidity never kept the US government from doing anything the farm lobby and agribusiness happen to want. There was still plenty of analysis remaining, but my guest cut things off twenty minutes early. “Thanks, Tom,” she said with a smile as a gentleman whom I had never met opened the door to the reception area and […]