Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Fable

The Fable of
The Wolf and the Human

The wolf was walking along the sidewalk looking as best he could to be a large but friendly dog. He came across a man sitting on the curb and looking sad. A terrible tragedy appeared to have occurred. The wolf was aware of the reputation wolves had and knew the risks posed should his identity become known. Still, he was not without empathy and he was always in search of a good story.

“What’s wrong, man? You don’t look well.”

The human looked at the wolf and smiled confidently.

“You don’t fool me. You talk like a human, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I know a dog when I see one. And don’t think for a moment that I think you are a friendly dog. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that looks can be deceiving.”

“I guess I can’t pull the wool over your eyes,” said the wolf who still looked like a dog and spoke like a human. “As I was saying, you don’t look well. What’s wrong?”

“Everything is wrong. A terrorist attack. A human has done great harm to his own kind. He has killed innocent people. He has destroyed all that was good and replaced it with evil.”

“I have heard of these terrorists, you speak of. They multiply like rabbits, I am told. Do you know what group this one belonged to?”

“This group? That group? What difference does it make? For all I know, he could have been a lone wolf.”

As he spoke these words, the human could have sworn he saw the dog cringe.

“I’m sorry. I meant you no harm. I know many people associate dogs with wolves—think they are one and the same. I assure you, I am not one of those people. Wolves are evil. Everyone knows this. Dogs—even one as large as yourself—are man’s best friend.”

“It’s the phrase itself. Lone wolf. I know what you humans mean when you speak it. A deranged individual, a loser, a man not so much without a heart as one without a soul. Someone for whom, life has no value. A monster able to create great destruction which greatly exceeds the measly little space he occupies in his very large world.”

The human was at a loss for words. He had never heard a human speak so eloquently, much less a dog.

“I suppose you are right. I haven’t thought about it much. Terms get thrown around a lot.”

“Do you know what I know about wolves?”

“I wouldn’t think you’d know anything about wolves.”

“And I don’t think you know anything about anything. So I will tell you what you don’t know. Wolves don’t kill other wolves. We don’t do so as individuals, nor in packs. We certainly don’t raise armies.

“In all of the animal kingdom, there is only one species that kills its own kind, and it does so in every imaginable way possible. Humans are, in fact, the most dangerous animal on the planet. They are a danger to themselves and to every other animal. They kill as lone individuals and as armies and everything in between.

“To call a lone human killer a lone wolf is an insult to every good wolf who has ever lived.”

“So now, you speak for wolves?”

“So now, I speak as a wolf.” As he said these words, his legs stiffened, his back arched and his muscles became taut. He raised his head until his eyes met the human’s eyes in what could only be described as a terrorizing moment.

The human realized for the first time that he was talking to a wolf. The first thought to cross his mind was that he did not have his gun with him. It was the second time in the last few minutes he had harbored that thought.

If I had my gun, I would shoot this bastard before he kills anyone.

That was the thought that popped into his head when he first saw the terrorist. What didn’t occur to him was that if the terrorist didn’t have a weapon, he wouldn’t need one, and no one would have died.

The wolf, who was very perceptive and thought he might even be endowed with a sixth sense, could only laugh and shake his head.

“You humans don’t have a clue. You kill every living creature you come across, including yourselves, and then brag about your great genes.

“Do you know that all of the species of animals alive today have been around longer than humans? They will still be here long after you are gone. Most of the animals that aren’t here are gone because of humans.”

“Not the dinosaurs.”

“No, not the dinosaurs, but it’s interesting that you bring them up. The dinosaurs were a victim of fate but they never succumbed to folly. They were around for over 165-million years. Humans have only been here for 200,000 years. Know why the dinosaurs lasted so long?”

“I haven’t thought about it.”

“They didn’t have trigger fingers. For all this time, humans have thought their thumbs were what separated them from all the other animals. I got news for you. It’s that trigger finger that’s going to do you in.”

“So we’re the bad guys?”

“You said it, not me. I’ve got another question for you. Do you know who kills most wolves?”

“Let me guess. Hunters? Human hunters?”

“Yeah, only we don’t call them hunters—or humans. We call them lone humans.”

With that, he lunged at the human, sinking his teeth into the human’s neck, using his paws to fight off the human arms that were flailing about like twigs in a hurricane. When the fight was over, the wolf dragged the human into an alley, where he left it for the rats to dispose of.

As he walked away, he turned back once and sneered.

“Now, that’s what a lone wolf terrorist attack looks like.”





Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The weight of a bad promise

This article appeared in the Virginian-Pilot, on July 30. They made one change replacing, "They gave us images of Uncle Sam in an ob/gyn clinic, donning rubber gloves and preparing to do what our current president has bragged about doing without gloves." with simply, "They gave us images of Uncle Sam in an ob/gyn clinic.” I kind of expected the change but it would have been interesting to see Republican “Fake news” (the ad) featured alongside the real news (Trump on tape) that he and his supporters would like us to forget.     

THE MOST COMMON defense I’ve heard for the Republican “Repeal and Replace Obamacare” bills, whether they be from Senators or Congressmen, is that they made promises to their constituents and they must keep their word.

President Obama also made a promise—to the country as a whole—to extend health care coverage to everyone, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. He kept that promise. Interestingly, Republicans on the day he was elected promised their base they would have nothing to do with this effort, and on day two and every day afterwards, continued with their “Repeal and Replace” promise.

Republicans warned about death panels. They gave us images of Uncle Sam in an OBGYN clinic. They continually tell us the richest country in the world can’t afford to do what every other country in the world does routinely. They are at a loss as to why drugs costing $70,000 in this country only cost $7,000 in other countries. Worst of all, they appear to seriously believe that money spent on poor, elderly, and sick people can be better spent by millionaires and billionaires.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we promise to deceive.

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t go this way. How about this one?  Don’t make promises if you can’t keep them, or if you shouldn’t keep them.

Promises always make life difficult.

I know this from watching Law and Order, the History Channel, and listening in on any interview with any Republican politician on any news show.

The cop shows up at a crime scene, feels remorse for the helpless victim and says something that makes his partner cringe. “Don’t worry ma’am. We’ll get the guy who did this.” He might have the best intention, but he can’t predict the outcome of the case and his partner let’s him know this.

General MacArthur, when driven from the Philippines promised, “I shall return.” Luckily, for him, he was able to keep that promise but it didn’t come about easily and the cost was high.

Then you have the GOP for the last seven years, promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. Unlike the poor cop on the beat, or MacArthur boarding a boat, they didn’t have what you might call honorable intentions. The driving force behind their promise was to stick it to Obama.

“Repeal and replace” has become the holy grail of Republican politics. Every Republican in every state in every district for the last seven years has been running against Obamacare.

How has this ruse paid off? What has it gotten them?

Well, it’s taken a while, a lot of money, and a lot of bad faith promises, but they finally have complete control of the federal government—Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, and a fair share of the state governments. What they are learning, in the words of the titular head of the party, is that health care reform is harder than anyone thought. Repeal and replace is even harder still.

Yet, all we hear from these opportunists is, “We made a promise—to our constituents—and we have to keep that promise.” What their constituents are telling them is, if they replace, “Repeal and replace,” with “We’re going to take away your health insurance,” many of those constituents are prepared to replace their elected officials.

There are good promises and there are bad promises.

If you make a good promise, work hard to achieve it, but eventually fail, people will be mad but they will probably understand. This is the way it was for a long time for politicians trying to extend health care benefits until Obama finally succeeded in doing so.

On the other hand, if you make bad promises, work extra hard, even fanatically hard, to achieve them but keep coming up short, sensible people are going to say maybe you should rethink the original promise.

This is the problem with health care in America. Too many people don’t have coverage. Drugs are too expensive. Pharmaceutical companies are motivated more by making a profit than making people better. So are insurance companies. Scam artists are taking advantage of patients, insurance companies and government agencies to make a crooked buck.

A promise to fix these problems will go a long way to making people forget Republican s have spent the last seven years trying to fulfill a bad promise.