United Colors of America
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August 15, 2004: Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announced today that the nation was on lilac alert with a cream overwash after reports that forces in the military were refusing to bomb civilian targets in Iraq. "Sources tell us that they claim such activity would be ugly," said Ridge, adding that such a position was clearly the work of homosexuals carrying out the mandate of Al Qaeda. He further charged that certain members of the military consider the depleted-uranium-clad armored personnel carriers to be an ugly green. "We're a primary-colored nation,'" said Ridge. "People who don't like those colors have no right to be here. Or there, for that matter." Asked why homosexuals would work for Al Qaeda, the President said from Pentagon headquarters in Crawford, Texas, "Contrary to what you are hearing from them, these sneaky attempts to muddle the American people will not be amolarated by us. We are not emulsifiers, and we stand firm on that position."
September 2, 2004: Citing a possible conspiracy to spread the influenza virus throughout the United States via the nation's daycare facilities, the Bush Administration has placed the nation on a ducky-yellow and baby-blue alert. Congress is investigating allegations that the widespread movement to create daycare centers was a strategy by Al Qaeda agents posing as feminists, working mothers, and women in loose-fitting comfortable slacks in the aisles of Toys "R" Us to wage biological warfare against the productivity of the United States. Women fitting these descriptions have been taken into custody. Many were found carrying purses full of snuffly tissues and unwashed pacifiers that are being held as evidence.
September 23, 2004: The nation was placed on vibrant-verde-pistachio alert after reports that a substance found atop tacos in Phoenix may have been a chemical agent spread by terrorists seeking to weaken the nation's resolve. Conflicting reports have emerged. Citing unidentified sources, reporter Cokie Roberts said that the substance may instead have been disguised as pistachio ice cream atop handmade waffle cones. Security has been tightened around hospitals and taquerias in the area, and the governor has called out the National Guard to supervise Arizonan snack-and-dessert decisions. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, an expert since the crisis posed to his administration by a suspect blob of guacamole on a Chicago sidewalk in the months after 9/11, has been called in as a consultant.
In a separate matter, 7,452 Indian and Icelandic nationals, Iranians, Turks, Ibos and Inuit indigenous tribespeople were released from custody under a special bill passed by Congress this week, the "Au Pair Provision Act of 2004," which seeks to remedy the nation's childcare crisis with in-home care for those who can afford it. The immigrants had been incarcerated during the Christmas season's crimson crisis, which focused on people from countries that either bordered Iraq or began with the letter "I." Saudi citizens in the US had been exempted under the Very Special Relationship, Emulsifiers and Emolients Act.
October 2, 2004: Citing a newly potent conspiracy to undermine the stability of the administration by asking inappropriate questions about an array of national security and human rights matters, Homeland Security Department officials have placed the nation on a smudgy-black-and-white alert with front-page color. A number of female news columnists, otherwise due to be kept under observation during this alert, had fortunately already been detained under the ducky-yellow and baby-blue alert, while six reporters documenting Donald Rumsfeld's link to secret prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Uzbekistan have been held under the new Wartime Treason Act.
October 27, 2004: As America moves into the second week of a public color-palette crisis at the edge of a presidential election, experts convened in an emergency round-table conference at the White House to determine what color the current alert should be raised to. Former employees of the Martha Stewart empire held to their position that it should move to a sort of raw sienna with a warm pumpkin-y color around the edges and argued with Condoleezza Rice that it was an alert far more harmonized to harvest time than early spring. Several security guards from Home Depot, brought in because miscommunications between the FBI and CIA led them to be identified as "Homeland Security color-coding experts," opined that it was really more of a taupe-beige-cream crisis, possibly the interior latex color called Charleston Bisque. From political asylum in Burkina Faso, Martha Stewart sent a message stating that "I cannot countenance calling sienna what is clearly an Umbrian ochre-umber." Court-martialed prisoners from the August lilac crisis were offered early release if they would testify about the color issue. They released a statement that they still think bombing civilian populations is ugly.
November 1, 2004: The nation has shifted from late last week's aubergine-chartreuse fashion crimes alert to a brown alert after investigators with the FBI uncovered a "vast and spreading conspiracy" on the part of immigrants to become citizens, register to vote, and vote for the people who best represent their interests. Tomorrow's election will be suspended indefinitely.
Rebecca Solnit is the author of 'Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities' and seven other books, including the award-winning 'River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West.'