Apr 032017

“Does the name Elizabeth Tamariz Nunes mean anything to you?” Gretchen texted me during my eleven o’clock appointment with the Japanese Special Envoy for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Technology. “Because she’s called three times since 8 AM and says she needs one of your free telephone consultations right away!” “No problem,” I texted back. “Book her for the first available slot.” “OK,” Gretchen replied, “that would be 1:30. Who is this yammering [peach emoji], anyhow?” “She’s married to the US Representative for the 22nd District of California, who’s a total conservative [eggplant emoji].” I typed. “They’re Republican dairy farmers.” “Makes sense,” Gretchen quipped, “all morning, she’s been udderly annoying.” Nunes: Hello, is this Tom Collins? Tom: It is indeed. Nunes: […]

Mar 192017

The British, as we know, have a well-deserved reputation for phlegmatic stoicism. So I was more than merely surprised when Smedley, a veteran economic and financial attaché at the Embassy of the United Kingdom here in Washington, suddenly blew up at me during our regular bimonthly consultation at my office on Friday afternoon, right in the middle of a very interesting and productive discussion of bilateral trade balances following a projected implementation of the Brexit. “What’s the matter with you Americans?” he suddenly demanded, standing bolt upright, slamming his left hand down on my desk while gesturing with his right at the picture window behind the couch. “How could you put someone like… that… in the most powerful position in […]

Mar 052017

Thursday afternoon, Gretchen took an urgent call from Ben Carson, requesting an immediate consultation. “The name sounds familiar,” she remarked, “Wasn’t he one of those sixteen other bozos besides Trump who ran for president as Republicans last year?” “That’s correct,” I confirmed. “Dr. Ben Carson is a famous pediatric neurosurgeon who came up the hard way on the wrong side of the tracks in Detroit, struggling with a terrible temper and valiantly overcoming a tendency toward violent behavior and assault with deadly weapons, at last finding Christian faith and using it to humbly rise to the top of the medical profession, later to become a darling of the American conservative movement.” “Oh, now, I think I remember him,” Gretchen remarked. […]

Feb 192017

“There’s a guy named John Birch, like the tree, he says,” Gretchen told me early on Friday. “He’s asking for one of your free initial consultations – on the phone. He’s called twice this week already, trying to get an appointment earlier than the first week in March.” “John Birch, huh?” I responded. “Sounds like some Republican trying to use a clever alias.” “Alias?” Gretchen said, scrunching her nose up in a characteristic cute gesture emulating her reaction to barnyard ammonia fumes at the farm she grew up on in Pennsylvania Dutch country. “What’s clever about somebody calling themselves John Birch instead of their real name?” “I said he’s trying to be clever,” I pointed out, “not actually doing it. […]

Feb 012017

Tuesday evening, I was relaxing at home, alone with my cat Twinkle, reading Harpers, The Atlantic, Scientific American and The Economist when the phone rang. Caller ID showed that it was the cell number of my brother-in-law Hank, from whom, at that point, I had not heard anything in quite some time. Tom: Hank? Hank: Tom? Tom: Who else would it be? Where are you? Hank: In West Virginia. Tom: Right. Look, Hank, Obama’s not the president anymore. He’s gone. He’s history, okay? So why don’t you and Shannon quit preparing for Armageddon and come down from the hills? Because if Obama was the Antichrist, he sure did a rotten job, didn’t he? Rose misses you. Arthur misses Shannon. And […]