Our times represent, at least for me and many of my friends, such a bewildering mix of right-wing ascendancy, liberal cooptation, euphemism, doublespeak, intergenerational rivalry, two-party politics in which the parties trade sides on key issues virtually every month, and incomprehensible economics that it is hard to read the daily papers without the growing suspicion that one has gone mad. Just as you thought you understood what is happening in Iraq, the Sunnis and Shiites start fighting each other with a level of ferocity that makes our presence there practically irrelevant. As soon as you thought you had Bush’s economic program figured out—lavish tax cuts to the rich, deregulation for the chemical industry, symbolic concessions for everyone else—his administration proposes something completely out of character, such as universal health insurance, financed, to be sure, by taxing the relatively few “gold plated” employer-paid group benefits. Oy, veh. (Translation: Ay, caramba). It goes on and on.