Opinion » Mail

December 14 - December 20, 2006

stop Picking on parades

I understand it must be extremely frustrating to you to even go on living now that Bill Sali is your congressman, but to dis the Meridian holiday parade? (BW, Xmess on Main Street, December 13) You should be ashamed. And if your daughter even reads your column, I imagine she's either crying in her room, or, more likely, has told you what a miserable grinch you are.

You evidently have never figured out that a great part of the joy of being a parent is learning to see the world once again through the insightful eyes of a child. It's a chance to be a kid all over again--to set up a model train around the Xmas tree, eat cookies and drink milk, and see Santa as a metaphor of what could be.

Granted, this comes from a Republican. But as a pro-choice, Pagan, gay-tolerant Republican I like to feel that I am a free thinker. I proudly voted for Kate Kelly again as my state senator. I'm proud to have Dave Bieter as my mayor, and could have easily voted Democrat on a number of other occasions if you fools would offer up a candidate who was even a half-ass decent public speaker. But no, you had to give us Al Gore, John Kerry, and Jerry Brady. No wonder you folks lost.

But let's leave politics for another day. I would like nothing more than to sit down over a beer (I hope you don't think beer is too Republican and have lunch some day. So back to the parade. Here's a response, point by point.

First, you complained about the line of police, emergency vehicles and fire trucks. Noisy, sure, but little kids love that stuff. And as the father of a daughter who has been a paramedic for two and a half years and was an EMT for four years before that at 24, and this year married a wonderful man who is a firefighter--well let's just say I'm a VERY proud pop and grateful for the wonderful job those people do. I couldn't. Then the street sweepers. Little kids love those weird things and I'm grateful to live in a city where the streets are so clean--visit L.A. or Seattle. Several elected officials--someone has to do it, and I really enjoy living in a state where I get to say hi to these people on the street rather than have them hiding somewhere behind a bunch of security people. Shiny vehicles with people promoting their businesses--I call them "employers," and if they are only fillers, a longer parade is a better parade. So what if the old cars have been in the parade since you were a kid. Even as an adult, I appreciate classic cars, especially when the cars these days all look the same and have little character. And to keep a classic piece running for years and years takes a lot of effort. Those leather-clad bikers on their Harleys represent thousands and thousand of toys to needy kids over the years. Long before filling buses for Toys for Tots, I remember watching the Hell's Angels bring stuffed animals to the Pasadena City Hall until the event got so large they had to move it to Dodger Stadium. But you did seem to like the horses. I played clarinet in marching band in junior high in a number of parades when I was young. And you said that your daughter's band was the next to last entry in the parade. We wore white shoes, and I can tell you--following horses was no great thrill. And you left before Santa came by. Shame on you. You deserve a lump of coal in your stocking, although I can think of a better place for it.

--Keith Palmer,


Bill Cope's X-mas parade observations (BW, Xmess on Main Street, December 13) point out an interesting fact regarding most civic, or public, celebrations. These celebrations start out spontaneously, and have a fun, local feel at first, but they always get co-opted by the Chambers of Commerce, the Rotary Club, you can fill in the rest. I extend the posit beyond Christmas and Independence Day parades to the ubiquitous niche "festivals" most towns flog. Here in the mountain West, it involves rodeos, mountain oyster eating contests, and of course, the universal Oktober Fests. East of the Mississippi, the genre may include a slightly different mix. You may see a Popcorn Fest, or Corn Husking Madness Week. One small burg I knew of was a small wide spot on U.S. 30 that dispatched slag haulers to the many local steel mills. Yeah, they had Slag Hauler Fest. But in the small Indiana town we used to live in, sometime in the early '80s, a lady invented what has become a festival icon: OZ FEST! This is the original as far as I know. The lady, Jean Nelson, opened a shop in town called The Yellow Brick Road offering gifts, etc., all relating to the Wizard of Oz. By the early '80s, Jean organized the first, as far as I know, Oz Fest.

Our son was 5 at the time. Perfect timing for him. We drove to town on fest day and enjoyed the sealed-off downtown, food, music and the march of the Munchkins parade. They were really, really good! They even had their own little live marching band. And after the parade, the Munchkins mingled with the kids in the town's old shaded central park. Everything was free, easy and fun. We returned to the fest for several years after that, but inevitably the "Bill Cope"analysis began to set in. The parade grew with all the agents and local politicians dominating the parade. And after the parade, you had to pay to get into the closed-off center of town. And, get this: the Munchkins had "people" you had to get through before your kid could talk to a Munchkin! I never knew Munchkins had people??!

Well, by that time, son was getting old enough to not care about it anyway, and besides that, Oz Fest had become something to avoid; Thousands of "outsiders" from places like Michigan to the north, and "Ill-annoys" to the west would descend on "our town" for days on end. I tell ya', you couldn't get to the bank for G-d sake. The years rolled by, leaves blew in the autumn winds, pages of calendars peeled away and the year 2002 came upon us all, Munchkins included. Then one fine summer day, Oz Fest rolled around again. I thought, why not get out the bike, to avoid the monumental parking problems downtown, and ride in to see the Munchkin parade? I positioned myself on a good corner and waited. After a long delay the high school marching band, realtors, financial advisers, politicians, Oz Fest Queen and King all rolled by. The fire trucks drenched everyone and then threw candy to the kids. And finally, the march of the Munchkins! It was oddly silent, and the little live band of Munchkins had been replaced with recorded music that was too low to hear. What could you hear? The shuffle of tired little feet on pavement of the ones that were still walking, and the ones that couldn't were pulled along in a trailer by a riding lawn mower, drowning out their little music and song even more. I think I had witnessed the last of the originals. Whatever, the scene could only be described as a melancholy dirge of sadness and loss on the final forced march to the grave. Today I Googled"'Oz Fest" and the home page screams: 2007 Oz Fest already in the works! Not being a cynic, like Cope, I find myself oddly pleased to hear this. Where do they get the "replacement Munchkins" anyway? I don't really know. Children or grandchildren, I suppose. Or perhaps there is a vast, hidden underground Munchkin/Oz Fest industry, keeping these little guys and gals employed, fat and sassy. I sincerely hope so! Keep marching, gang!

--Chris Morris,



It's time for all the whiny, comsymp, pinko-liberal Bush-bashers to shut up about Bush's alleged failure to have a strategy for his war against Iraq.  In point of fact, our illustrious leaders Messrs. Bush and Cheney do have a strategy for Iraq; in fact, it's a multiple-layered strategy.

As reported last year in Newsweek, to battle the so-called insurgents, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld unleashed the so-called "Salvador option."  In the '80s, under President Reagan, the U.S. funded right-wing death squads in El Salvador to kill leftist guerillas and their supporters.  Now the Bush team reportedly wants to arm and train Shiites and Kurds to kill Sunnis, even going after them in Syria and Iran. Not only does this tactic kill insurgents but it helps unleash the Muslim version of The Thirty Years' War that tore apart Christianity. 

Also, by putting too few troops with too little armor into Iraq, Bush ensured that the terrorists would target them instead of attacking the U.S. again.  This has allowed Bush to keep reducing taxes for the rich since there was no need to pay for more troops and no need to pay for costly defenses of the mainland. Eventually, Bush and Cheney hope to tap into the Iraqi oil thereby enabling American oil companies to profit handsomely and Americans can continue to drive their gas-guzzlers without worrying about getting gas.

So, Bush Bashers, don't worry, Dear Leader does have a strategy--and it's guaranteed to make American corporations quite rich while greatly reducing taxes for them!  It's a win-win for everyone except the Iraqis and America's lower classes but who cares about them?  They didn't vote for Dear Leader!

--Gary L. Bennett,


In early November, an editorial calling for Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced as secretary of defense showed up simultaneously in the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times. Distributed to members of the U.S. armed forces throughout the world, these publications stated that President Bush must "face the hard bruising truth [that] Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress, and with the public at large." Only days earlier, Mr. Bush stated that he wanted both Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney to remain in their posts for the remaining two years of his administration. As he spoke, more troops were being killed and wounded in a war that has degenerated into a civil conflict between Muslim factions competing for power. Then, one day after the Republicans suffered what Mr. Bush himself called a "thumping" on Election Day, Rumsfeld's resignation was announced. To replace him, Mr. Bush turned to Council on Foreign Relations veteran and former CIA Director Robert Gates, a move that does not bode well for the troops caught in a civil war between Islamic factions. Iraq is no place for American forces no matter who is secretary of defense.

--Frank M. Pelteson,

Las Vegas 

Idaho Legislature

The whole world is watching you. You have committed a crime against the Constitution of the United States. Failing to comply with your state laws against fraud in your legislature could get you some federal jail time. Once again, we have a democracy in these United States. If you are going to write laws, live by them.

--Ed Scanlin,

Medford, OR

Note: Ed, Please drop us a line and give us more detail. We are confused.