The Tournament of Roses Parade You Didn’t See
New Year’s Day saw the 114th annual Tournament of Roses Parade, whose 2003 theme was “Children’s Dreams, Wishes and Imagination.” Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club originally staged the parade in 1890 to showcase the city and the benefits of its year-round warm climate. Professor Charles F. Holder, an original club member said: "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."
Since then, the pageant has grown from a small city effort to an unparalleled extravaganza of bands and floats from sponsoring communities, corporations, and organizations who parade their little slice of paradise in front of millions of viewers.
There are a few slices, however, that you didn’t see. Let’s tune into our commentator for a full report:
The Bush Administration Float: The theme of this year’s astounding float is: Because We Can. The overall parade theme of Dreams, Wishes and Imagination is also particularly relevant as the Bush administration has realized every dream and wish an administration could ask for, beyond its wildest imagination. The drivers of this float are Karl Rove and Dick Cheney who are in constant contact by headset with the Carlyle Group.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see this year’s Bush Administration float because it has been deleted from the original parade route - removed from public viewing like the thousands of governmental documents and much of the goings-on in this administration. However, yesterday there was an unannounced private procession down the very narrow Special Interest Alley, where a handful saw the float.
Earlier today, one of those who saw the float agreed to speak anonymously. He reported the Bush float is covered almost entirely with beautiful orange and brown Touch-Me-Nots, native only to America. To provide accent, the front of the float is covered with lovely Daisies. Correction. I read that wrong. My apologies - that would be Daisy Cutters, the front of the float is covered with Daisy Cutters – one of the weapons used to so effectively decimate Afghanistan.
The spectator stated Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Anticipatory Self-Defense, stood at the very head of the float, like a giant hood ornament, quietly stroking the giant bunker buster missile he straddled between his legs. Apparently, Rumsfeld appeared particularly satisfied. Behind him was Paul Wolfowitz with his finger poised on the Preemptive Strike Button, which, by the way, is made entirely of Impatiens.
The underside of the float is covered with the 8,000 pages Bush removed from the Iraqi Declaration before it was given to the UN. I bet UN members are wondering where those pages went.
The anonymous bystander also reported that during the viewing, the Bush float apparently ran over several members of the Democratic Party. The Democrats’ own float lost direction and has completely stalled. So sadly, it had to withdraw its entry into this year’s parade. Not wanting to be left out of the pageantry, however, those clever Democrats have put their prostration skills to good use: all the Congressional Democrats have taken jobs as speed bumps all along the parade route.
This float won the Grand Marshall’s: “Best Self-Interested Corporate Plutocracy Masquerading as a Democratic Government Float” Award.
Past Friends of Iraq Float (also called the We Couldn’t Have Done it Without You Float): This magnificent float is sponsored by the corporations who so proudly helped support Iraq’s biological, missile and nuclear weapons programs, according to the Iraqi Declaration. It includes such businesses as: Dupont, Hewlett Packard, Honeywell and Rockwell, to name but a few. If they’d let you look, I bet you’d find these and other corporate names in those 8,000 deleted Iraqi Declaration pages on the underside of the Bush float.
Donald Rumsfeld was asked (but declined) to sit atop a huge makeshift sand dune made out of crushed figs and dates to honor the special friendship he provided Saddam Hussein when Donald was special envoy to Iraq back in the ‘80s. Don personally met with Hussein, not only wooing him while he knew Saddam was using biological weapons against Iranian troops, but also giving him some of the technology to do so. What a good friend Mr. Rumsfeld can be!
Country of Turkey Float: When not on parade, this float is parked at the door of the European Union, waiting to cross the threshold. But, it isn’t sitting idly. Notice the platform covering most of it. This is the U.S. staging area for ground attacks on Iraq. And can you see that giant pipe running right through the float? Gosh, that looks unstable. Anyway, this pipe will allow U.S. corporations – many directly connected to the Bush administration, including Cheney’s Halliburton and Rice’s Chevron - to have control of the lucrative Caspian oil reserves, circumnavigating the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Sounds like a huge cash cow, doesn’t it? Well, what a coincidence: look at the billions and billions of U.S. dollars in military and financial aid and IMF bailout money that covers the rest of the float. With all that papering of those U.S. billions, you can’t even see the human rights violations underneath! This float won the Grand Marshall’s prize for “Most Favored U.S. Lackey Nation of the Moment.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics Float: This is the last parade for this tried and true float. It used to be covered with informative, easy-to-read, readily accessible statistics about massive layoffs happening throughout the country. These stats were widely and consistently used to assess the health of corporate America. But with the economy flagging and layoffs continuing, the Bush Cartel made sure this float sunk by taking away its funding. It’s just another in a long line of causalities in the war on freedom of information the Bush Cartel is waging against the American people. Bush wants you to doubt the reality all around you as he blocks easy access to documents that could provide a reality check when he says fictitious things like: “the economy is strong and growing.”
The North Korea Float: What a tenacious float this one is, ladies and gentlemen! Would you look at that adorable baby water deer made exclusively of missile parts! The entire float, years in the making, was developed with technology that might one day create missiles that could reach as far as Hawaii and beyond. Imagine! Notice the US statesmen in the grandstand too busy looking at Iraqi oil fields, shaking hands with Israel and helping support and rearm egregious human rights violator, Algeria, to see the North Korean float go by. Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, William Burns, gushes: “the U.S. has much to learn about the ways to fight terrorism” from Algeria. Is Burns talking about Algeria’s torture practice of attaching electrical wires to penises and vaginas or the regular raping of women by police?
The North Korean float won the Grand Marshall’s “Most Creative Use of Tall Grasses and Plutonium” Award.
Osama bin Laden Float: This float got a lot of attention last year. But, it isn’t much of a crowd pleaser anymore. Moving right along…
Treasury Secretary John Snow Float: This float is almost completely covered with the 10.1 million dollars John Snow’s CSX owes the IRS. CSX is the second largest property-tax deadbeat in New York City. Just another wrongdoer Bush has appointed to help run our country. While only working for CSX for 25 years, Snow has credited himself with 44 years of service, providing him with a 2.47 million dollar yearly pension until the day he dies. And that is only the beginning of his perks.
How clever Bush was to appoint a person so incredibly creative with money - albeit dishonestly and inequitably - to run our country’s treasury. Snow may not be able to do his job of balancing the U.S. budget, but he’ll fit right into the current administration because he is no stranger to running a deficit. He is leaving CSX with more debt than it has had in years! This is the Grand Marshall’s winner of “The Most Barefaced Hypocrisy Float.”
UN Weapons Inspector’s Float: Well this one isn’t much to speak of: there’s nothing on it. Zilch. Nada. The Bush Cartel promised it would be covered with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and biological weapons by parade day. But, no such luck. Not to worry. As we speak, the Bushies are feverishly manufacturing something – anything - to put on it.
Afghanistan Float: Despite a dilapidated infrastructure, this float somehow made it to the parade. It is completely covered with Poppies, Poppies and more Poppies. This impressive parade entry is skippered by Afghan warlords who, after the parade, plan to drive it right down the opium trade route, making opium available very soon at a den near you! This float, no doubt, was modeled after (and aided by) the American entrepreneurial spirit!
Corporate Media Conglomeration Float: Well, this has to be the biggest float ever seen in all of the 114 years of the parade. Would you look at the girth on that thing? By God, I do believe it has eaten every newspaper, radio, television, and cable station in its path. Before you know it, due to the extraordinary deregulation about to take place (that will eviscerate the old regulations designed to limit acquisitions to help maintain a fair, diverse and impartial media) it will be so bloated with new media assets that this baby won’t even be able to make it down the parade route. It’s just going to have to sit, enormous and happy, controlling all the information we Americans get, ensuring there is no diversity in presentation, no dissent and that it only speaks for corporate and governmental concerns. Just think: we may not get any real, impartial news at all! What power! Guess we better be nice to the guys driving this one, because no doubt we’ll be broadcasting from its haunches next year.
The Bottom Forty Float (also known as the Income Disparity Float): This float pays homage to the average worker. Somehow, it’s always one of the last floats on the parade route. It’s covered by the less than one quarter of one percent of the nation’s wealth held by the bottom 40% of the country. (The upper 10% of the population holds over 70.9% of the wealth.) I know this float might be hard to look at, as it’s bleak and barren. But try to focus on that tiny speck of assets by the wheel that just fell off. Can you see it? No? Well, I suppose that’s because it’s getting smaller as we speak.
In recent years, the net worth of our country’s richest has continued to grow, as the net worth of the bottom forty has declined by 76%. As you can see, workers are scrambling double-time on the float, some falling off, some scrambling to get on, trying to keep it together with whatever they can: pink slips and the quarterly reports of hugely depreciated 401Ks.
The workers thought they’d be able to cover the float with their pension funds. But the Treasury Department has proposed new pension rules, protecting employers from age discrimination suits if they convert traditional pension programs into a new type of pension fund that reduces benefits for many older workers. Many of these workers have labored loyally for their company for much of their lives, expecting the old benefits. Oh well. Another perk for the corporations. Maybe Treasury Secretary Snow had to cut other people’s pension to fund his.
We’re sorry to say, floats that traditionally have been the backbone of this parade can’t participate this year because they’re simply too dilapidated due to funding cuts, privatization or the special interest-driven relaxation or change in many laws. A few of them are: the U.S. Education Float, the U.S. Health Care Float and the U.S. Environmental Protection Float. Well, here’s hoping we’ll be able to find U.S. children educated and healthy enough once they grow up to make new floats to take the old floats’ place.
Speaking of children, here is the Iraqi Children Float: In keeping with the theme of this year’s parade, this float represents the Iraqi children’s dreams, wishes and imagination. On this float is a simple, solitary letter written by a 10-year-old Iraqi girl named Sima, addressed to the American people. It reads: My wish for the New Year is for the sanctions that have killed over a half a million of my brothers and sisters over the last decade by robbing us of clean water, food, medical supplies and basic necessities to be lifted. You may not be fully aware of these sanctions, but they and the promise of war have made my life indescribably hard and they have left me so afraid, I have lost my imagination.
But I ask you, the American people, as you sit in your homes watching the beautiful floats go by on your TV screen, to realize what is really going on; to use your imaginations and put yourselves in my shoes for just a moment; to envision how very frightened I am – we all are- knowing my home, my neighborhood, my mother and father and brothers and sisters are about to be ripped apart and killed because of a war that is about nothing but greed and power; a war that has nothing whatsoever to do with me or my family, or my friends and neighbors. Many of us don’t like Saddam Hussein. Killing me to control him will not make you safer. In fact, it will probably make you much less safe. I ask each and every one of you to do what you can to stop this war and give me a chance at a future. That is my dream and my wish. Thank you. Happy New Year, Sima.
Carol Norris is a freelance writer and psychotherapist. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.