Cookie, the Cat who Bit Me & Congress, the Sect that Hates Us

By David Himmel

UPDATED: July 28, 2017, 6:13 a.m.

"You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit."
— Ronald Reagan

When I was a little kid, my grandparents had a cat named Cookie. They called him Cookie because he looked like an Oreo: black all over with a white patch on his neck and down his chest. Cookie was a nasty sonofabitch.

He rarely interacted with my grandparents' other cats, Micah and Sylvester, though he lorded over them with a bully's temperament throughout their small ranch house. He didn't seem to have much affection for Gramma or Grampa either, even by cat-affection standards. He didn't care about anything other than being fed and having fresh litter in the box for him to clump up. Anything that he could perceive as a threat to his hold on intimidating power, he would lash out at. And he perceived everything as a threat including sweet, helpless grandkids.

Gramma told me to be careful around Cookie. And more importantly, Gramma made sure that Cookie stayed far away from me. I loved petting and engaging with Micah—well, engaging as much as one can with a cat, anyway—and Sylvester, whenever he got past his fear of children and emerged from his hiding places. But when it came to Cookie, I minded my own business and gave the cat a wide berth, and he respected that distance enough to help maintain it.

But then I grew comfortable with our arrangement. We all did—me, Cookie and Gramma. And one day, he and I got close enough where I could pet him. And that's what I did. I managed to get a single stroke of his back before he turned and bit me on my cheek. I shrieked. Cookie darted off into the darker end of the hallway, startling Sylvester who bolted from his comfortable shadows to keep away from the tyrant. Gramma came running to my aid, striking out with her feet as a preemptive way of booting the cat off of me, if that had been the case. She doctored my wound, which wasn’t much, though it did break the skin some, as she scolded and cursed at Cookie who had reemerged to saunter back and forth in front of us. He glared into the bathroom at me from the hallway. This was his house.

Cookie and I never had another run in.

Instead, he set his sights on my baby brother, Steven. Maybe it was months later, when back in that darker part of the hallway, just outside of Gramma and Grampa’s bedroom, Cookie had cornered Steven, who was just a toddling baby in OshKosh B'gosh overalls and Buster Brown shoes. He hissed—his back arched, his tail taught and vertical, his brow furrowed, his fangs exposed. Steven wailed, “Gramma! Gramma!” And Gramma came running. She had been here before.

“You leave that baby alone!” she hollered as she kicked Cookie away and scooped Steven up into the safety of her arms.

Cookie didn’t last much longer in his comfortable position where he could abuse his privilege and the things in his family—feline and human alike.


The members of Congress, generally, are a cat that terrorizes its counterparts and bullies helpless, fearful people. The majority of the United States Congress is Cookie; a nasty sonofabitch.

Congress hates us. The proof is there. It's there in the way they've abandoned George Washington's warning to avoid dedication to the party system because it "serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions."

Yes, The O.G. President George wrote this during a far different time than we live in today. A time when it took two minutes to load a single shot of the most advanced weapon. A time when men wore wigs and makeup and stockings—styles that we attribute today to women or dandies and snowflakes. Things are different now, yes, but Washington was spot on about the parties.

There's always been partisanship. However, it seems that partisanship has reached critical mass—that thing Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his very fucking boring book, The Tipping Point. Parties. Power. Influence. Money. These are the things the current Congress cares about. Consider the debate over healthcare.

It's been a topic on the floor of the capital for decades—generations. Only President Barack Obama was able to oversee a Congress getting something passed. And passing something doesn't make it the best thing for We the People. The ACA is greatly flawed. Everyone knows that—or should. But it was pushed through via the democratic party. And in the seven years since, republicans have cried foul and championed the cause of repealing it and replacing it with something better, something that benefits all parties. They had seven years to come up with something. Seven years. The better part of a decade. An entire U.S. Senator's term plus one year after reelection. Four reelection cycles for U.S. Representatives. And what have they given us? Nothing.

And now they're in a mad scramble to get something—anything—passed or repealed because that's the promise they made to the electorate that put them in the capitol time and again. And it's finally become clear that those people in place to make real change and improve on the great ideas of the Founding Fathers can't get a damn thing done. This was their ultimate opportunity to prove that America really is the greatest country on earth, and that the sentiment is not just post-World War II marketing bullshit.

Yes, The O.G. President George wrote this during a far different time than we live in today. A time when it took two minutes to load a single shot of the most advanced weapon. A time when men wore wigs and makeup and stockings—styles that we attribute today to women or dandies and snowflakes. Things are different now, yes, but Washington was spot on about the parties.

The GOP never bothered to really think of a better way to help the American people pay for or receive quality healthcare because they never cared. Why would they? They were making their $150,000-plus annual salary, enjoying the free lunches and cocktail parties and glorified attention that comes with being an elected official in the United States government. And those who retired, or hope to retire, likely did so, or will do so, not as upper-middle class citizens but as millionaires.

How? And why?

How? Because there are clever ways special interest groups and individuals can pad the pockets of our public servants. And why? Because the system We the People created is so true to democracy and capitalism that those in the know can manipulate it like a can of fresh Play-Doh.

But wait... The Democratic Party is no better. Where the GOP is overly confident it will never lose power, the democrats are terrified to step into the ring or even step up to its own shadow.

Party politics. It's killing us.

Because neither party, at any point when it comes to refining healthcare in the United States, has addressed the real problem: insurance companies. It is the insurance companies that hold the cards; own the guns and the bullets and administer the licenses; they own the best stretches of the Monopoly board. We are all beholden to them because we allow ourselves to be. There is no reason in the world that health insurance cannot be issued, treated, managed and handled the same way as every other type of insurance. 

Strike that. There is a reason. Greed.

And that is the reason our government—that sect committed to everlasting power—has never addressed the really-real concern: us—We the People. Greed is the gasoline that fuels the insurance companies and the senators and representatives. The proof is in the disaster we're both living in and facing. Our friends and family, all of us, are at risk. We're at risk financially and our health is at risk. Meanwhile, those employed by the U.S. government—specifically, elected officials like those in Congress—enjoy the comforting knowledge that their employer-provided, socialist healthcare will keep them and their families alive and well for as long as the good lord will allow. 

Or for as long as Gramma will allow. Because Congress is Cookie—a vicious, hateful, scaredy cat with everything to gain and everything to lose. A miserable animal that shits not far from where it sleeps and takes for granted its friends, the real power that allows it to thrive, that abhors reason and kindness for the sake of convincing itself it is the wise king of the jungle.

The reality is that it is a stupid, mean old cat with little knowledge of the world outside of it's own tiny little house.

If only Gramma could get to the offices of these wretched kittens and kick them into the wood paneling of the ranch houses so many Americans live in like she did with Cookie when he cornered my baby brother Steven, maybe then we'd have some real work get done in the favor of the people.

Last night's rejection of the limp efforts of the GOP can be considered a win, sure. But keep in mind that Cookie wasn't always biting me and frightening Steven to death. Sometimes he just did his cat thing—ate, crapped in a sandbox, hacked up a hairball—and we all were glad when he did. So we should celebrate the Senate for saying "No" to was at the very least, a big, fat nothing, and at the very best, a disaster for the American people.

But don't get too comfortable. Congress is Cookie and Cookie will bite.