"Lord lady... you are so far left, you're off the dial," said a recent email from a person who identified himself only as "Mattei."
"Bemoaning the president, day after day," he wrote. "Just stand in the corner and stomp your feet, crybaby... 2008 is going to put you over the edge."
That's what I'm afraid of.
We're living in a time of smoke and funhouse mirrors, of prestidigitation, of democracy as three-card monte. Watch the middle card, folks, keep your eyes glued to the middle card. And when they turn it over, it's never really the Queen, is it?
Keep your eye on the horrors of gay marriage and you don't see the billion-dollar no-bid contracts going to Halliburton. Be terribly afraid of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and don't notice that the convicted con man who misled the war-hungry administration now controls all the oil in Iraq.
We're not allowed to see photos of American soldiers' coffins. Is it really to protect the privacy of the dead, as the Bush administration claims? Or is it because someone might count them up and find out they number considerably more than 1,645?
Bush stumps across the nation shilling for a phony Social Security "reform" policy that will, in effect, destroy Social Security. There's no support for his plan - not even the most dedicated right-wing Christians, who believe Bush is the anointed one of God and homosexuals should be burnt at the stake, are willing to back him when it comes to explaining to their own grandmothers that they're going to lose their precious checks.
Why, then, the huge push from Bush? Why does he squander his precious "political capital?" Does he really believe this is the right time to start a national debate on Social Security, or is there something else, something he doesn't want the American people to focus on?
Like, perhaps, the health care industry? We now have a for-profit industry that serves us death through indifference.
We've diverted the bulk of health care money from the caregivers to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and perhaps Bush doesn't want us to notice that insurance costs have gone through the roof. Or that approximately 81.8 million Americans - one out of three people under 65 years of age - were uninsured at some point of time during 2002-2003 (according to a report from the Lewin Group using U.S. Census numbers). Or that insurance companies force doctors to sell their services so cheaply that they run patients in and out like cattle. Or that underpaid hospitals have drastically cut back on their staffs, and throw patients out long before they are ready. Or that some people are already choosing between food and heart medicine. Or that no one can face the flood tide of red ink in the near future for Medicare and Medicaid.
Another example of smoke and mirrors is the administration's gleeful flaying of Newsweek over its now-retracted story about Guantanamo - the one about interrogators who tear up and throw the Koran in the toilet. The story is not new. Did Newsweek's little version of it become a major media event because, otherwise, newspapers would have been reporting on the British intelligence memo, otherwise known as "the smoking gun," which proves the Bush Administration jiggered the truth about Iraq's complicity in 9/11 and its weapons of mass destruction to get us into war? Bush lied and thousands died and few seem to care.
That's the main question, isn't it? The right-wingers do something outrageous - say, threaten "nuclear" war in the Senate to put Bible-besotted judges on the bench. And we - and by "we" I mean progressives, liberals, Democrats, or anyone with common sense, really - react. And by the time we have gotten some of the real story out there, we're exhausted and they're doing something even more outrageous.
We're always two steps behind. How can we stop them from playing three-card monte with people's lives?
Well, as they say in football, the best defense is a good offense, especially since offense is the only game this Administration knows. The problem is that the opposition is stupefied, inert. Where are our leaders? Al Gore? John Kerry? Did these guys run for anything except their own egos? Did they believe anything they said?
Only Howard Dean is speaking out today, and if the Democrats had any guts, he would be our president right now.
The Democrats are still chasing the past while the right-wingers are creating a new, cruel and bloody future for the world. It will take enormous power and energy to wrest it from their hands and send it spinning off in a more benign direction. But when Republican spokesman Dan Allen said last Friday that the Democrats have "no agenda, no solutions, and no ideas," he was, sadly, telling the truth.
If we don't get in the game and kick some Republican right-wing ass pretty soon, Mattei is going to be as very, very right as he is very, very wrong - and 2008 is going to put all of us over the edge.
Joyce Marcel is a freelance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.