IT'S MORNING IN AMERICA  7:30 am April 21, 2011

New Terror Alert System Has Only Two Colors: ‘Elevated’ and ‘Imminent’

by Riley Waggaman

The Wonkbot returns? IMMINENT!

  • Janet Napolitano has had a major breakthrough, people! A few days ago, Janet slipped and hit her head on her bathroom sink while trying to drink out of the toilet like an animal does, and bam!, an image of the flux capacitor a terror alert system with only two terror-colors appeared in her head. It was magic: one color was Elevated, and the other was Imminent. (Janet quickly realized that this new Terror Rainbow would create enough Panic to power her DeLorean torture machine, which she could use to transport Bradley Manning to rape prisons in the future.) Uh. Anyway, new terror alter system, guys! And now there is officially no such thing as a “Low” or “Guarded” Threat Level — these levels are not even remotely possible — since we are going to be fighting imaginary bogeymen until the Earth is gobbled up by a black hole, or a giant radioactive tsunami wipes out the federal government, or maybe both. Ha-ha. Oh crap. [NPR]
  • Some big, bold changes are coming to Cuba! (Another illegal invasion? Maybe! You must clicky click and find out!) [The Globe and Mail]
  • “Stricter” enforcement of the twenty-kilometer evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has now been put in place. Time to go, this time for real! [CNN]
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Hola wonkerados.

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Serolf_Divad April 21, 2011 at 7:36 am

Wow, that's like Baskin Robins simplifying its menu down to Chocolate and Rocky Fucking Road, people!!!!! Fuck vanilla, fuck strawberry, fuck that fucking "wedding cake" sugary barf-pudding abomination. Just answer me this one question: Do you want awesome or do you want AWESOMER!!!!

I, for one, will take AWESOMER… every time!

Nothingisamiss April 21, 2011 at 8:35 am


Lascauxcaveman April 21, 2011 at 10:50 am

Rocky Road works for me.

roomfilledsmokemate April 21, 2011 at 7:47 am

How 'bout 'completely fucked' (polka dots) and 'not at all fucked' (no polka dots)? Also–can 'elevated' be periwinkle?

Nothingisamiss April 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

Could we just paint the toenails of small children with or without polka dots? Because that would also make Glen Beck cry (again.)

freakishlywrong April 21, 2011 at 7:48 am

I think a real terror alert system really should also include "Religious Right wing conservatives" and "Teahadists". That already scares me and makes me want to duct tape my windows.

arihaya April 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

this is good news for Boehner,,, we will always be in ORANGE situation now

Terry April 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

The old color coded system gave people the false belief that at some point the threat level would be minimal. This is new system is an admission that this crap ain't going to be over any time soon.

hollywooddood April 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

But what color is it when I'm supposed to get into the kiss my ass goodbye position?

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

Black; 'cause that's the color you'll see when they put the bag over your head and whisk you bodily away to the Alaskan gulags.

trampndirtdown April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am

I thought we went to terror alert black Nov. 4 2008.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

Well played, sir. Well played.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 8:09 am

Before you know it, we'll be down to one level: "State of Emergency." And, much like Robin Williams, it'll have but one setting: on.

Janet Italiano don't play that multiple color shit, no siree. There's a new Minister of Love in town, and this one has a severe, aggressive, threatening haircut.

Preferred Customer April 21, 2011 at 9:14 am

In fairness, Robin Williams actually has two settings: On and Cocaine. As with the proposed terror alert system, they are hard to distinguish from one another and neither is very pleasant.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:17 am


I think the only difference in On and Cocaine is that in the latter, you can't get a word in edgewise.

Zvi_Bleindmeis April 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

Cuba is preparing to install a new leader: Ry Cooder!

(Or was that a wry cooter? Looking at you, Barbara.)

FNMA April 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

Or Marc Ribot Y Los Cubano Postizos.

BaldarTFlagass April 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

Perez Prado is angry at this suggestion.

Barb April 21, 2011 at 9:23 am

Morning! "wry cooter?" I guess that's better than sourdough, eh?

Zvi_Bleindmeis April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am

Attagirl, Barb. We always want to see the outrageous coming through the wry.

Barb April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

Yeah, the coffee is starting to kick in. It's going to get ugly here real soon.

horsedreamer_1 April 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

The Buena Vista Socialists Club.

Moonbatting Average April 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

We've gone to plaid

BaldarTFlagass April 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

I think we should go to some system based upon Spin Art, like at the carnival when you were a kid.

Lascauxcaveman April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

"Plaid Alert" would be a pretty good name for a rock band.

tcaalaw April 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Please, assuming that's a Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law reference, the correct level is "Blackwatch plaid." (Followed, of course, by the cover of Rush's Moving Pictures album.)

CliveWarren April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

Imminent = Buy duct tape.

Elevated = Buy other stuff.

iburl April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

"The new alert system starts with the premise that the U.S. is at an elevated state of risk for attack. "

What a beautiful day. The sun is shining, 86°, the birds are singing, gentle breeze and an elevated state of risk for a terror attack. Another beautiful day in Amurika.

CliveWarren April 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

Shorter premise: "Watch out, there's mooselems about."

deanbooth April 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

I was kinda, sorta hoping there wouldn't be rape prisons in the future. I'm so naive.

widestanceroman April 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

Don't worry, these will be from the praaahvite sector so will create gobs of jerbz.

SorosBot April 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

The new threat levels are Don't Panic and Fuck Yeah Panic.

GunToting[Redacted] April 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

Seems more like "Panic" and "Extreme Panic." I suspect this is a federal bailout for makers of anxiety medication.

V572..whatever April 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

No, I think they're as follows:

(1) More DoD spending
(2) More DHS spending
(3) (1) and (2)

Texan_Bulldog April 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

What was with all those stupid colors under Ridge & Chertoff? If you want something done without the frills, get a large asexual woman who looks like she could beat the shit out of you to do it.

mereoblivion April 21, 2011 at 9:03 am


mrblifil April 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

Sounds a lot like my Orgasm Warning System, which I devised myself. Copyright infringement?

Limeylizzie April 21, 2011 at 8:50 am

You beat me to it, it sounds like my states of sexual arousal.

SheriffRoscoe April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

So henceforth when the government says "imminent", we should start thinking about getting our mouths away from the cock, unless we want to deal with the cleanup?

hollywooddood April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am

Will Americans understand a system that's not based on colors? I'm skeptical.

Monsieur_Grumpe April 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

They could have at least created a level called “Everything is cool”, “Have a nice day” or “Relax have a homebrew”. Yeah, I know, I’m an optimist.

ifthethunderdontgetya April 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

Welcome Back, Wonkbot!

I know it's serious, because why else would you get up at 7:30 A.M.!!??!

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:02 am

The Wonkbot never sleeps. At least not how us humans define such an action. Much like the common bottlenose dolphin, Wonkbot half-sleeps, cycling down one drive at a time but while always leaving one on.

CliveWarren April 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

"Wonkbot half-sleeps, cycling down one drive at a time but while always leaving one on."

Or non-RAM sleep as it is called.

Chillwaver April 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the downfisting trolls for finally coming out yesterday.

freakishlywrong April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

Why do they downfist? What's the obsession? I don't go over to any of the Godawful "Big" sites and just cold downfist. I don't go over anyway, but that's another post.

trampndirtdown April 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

You can't explain it.

James Michael Curley April 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

Forget it Jake! Its Chinatown.

Chillwaver April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

They are under the impressions that:
1. We give a shit.
2. We are going to go to Breitfart's moneymaking sites and do the same.
3. Makes up for their shortcomings in life (lack of education, low income jerbs, obesity, diabeetus, ugly wives, closeted homosexuality, etc).
4. It helps towards their non-existing "Conservative Revolution" that will ultimately get the "Negro" out of the WH is '12.

jus_wonderin April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

I really think that when one is on dial-up, actually typing and "submitting" a comment would take hours.

That, or they are too dumb-ass stupid to think of anything to say.

Downfist for Freedom!!!

KeepFnThatChicken April 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

Slow, and stop.

Goonemeritus April 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

This reminds me of a sailors take on the traditional Beaufort scale for Cape Horn. He suggested it be modified to three levels, fucking windy, really fucking windy and oh my fucking God.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

Meh. The color-coded system was racist, anyway. I mean, Red as the highest level? What were we to expect? An imminent Injun attack on the fort?

CapnFatback April 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

Now how will I know how terrified to feel when I eat a yellow M & M?

PsycWench April 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

Napolitano must have worked at the National Weather Service at one point, because they have a similar idea with hurricane warnings, tornado warnings, etc: have two levels and scare the crap out of people because "watch" and "warning" sound an awful lot alike.

Terry April 21, 2011 at 9:15 am

I used to live on an island along the Gulf Coast. The highest point of the island was pretty much a median down the main road in town, otherwise a big wave from either side would roll across unimpeded by topographic features. I learned to interpret those hurricane warning levels as:

Watch: Start packing my nice stuff just in case
Warning: Load the car and join the crowd on the freeway

The difference between the NWS warning system and the DHS one is that the NWS one isn't monkeyed with by politicians.

freakishlywrong April 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

"monkeyed with" is right up there with "popinjay". Beloved classics.

widestanceroman April 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

I look forward to relative terror indexes, like the "feels like" temperature readings.

"Sure, it's Elevated out there today, but it feels like planes are crashing into you."

PsycWench April 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

Sure, like the wind chill factor. Except it would just be chill factor.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

that was so wrong in all of the right ways.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am

Is there any other kind?

weejee April 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

The politically incorrect, the Cleveland's Indians & Chief Wahoo, Stanford's Indians, and my alma mater's Chief Illiniwek (whether they are still the Fighting Illini is still being debated).

BZ1 April 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

Newsflash: Cubans can now drive 1970s AMC Gremlins!

DaRooster April 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

Classic car if ever there was one. My buddy tried to outrun the cops in our small town in one… went about 10 minutes, wrong way down one ways and all while I was telling him,"Dude, we are in a Gremlin. Just pull over." He never did… but then stopped at a stop sign…
My first arrest!! Woohoo!

horsedreamer_1 April 21, 2011 at 10:12 am

Are you a Gin Blossom?

DaRooster April 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

More of a "Whiskey Bud" I guess…

(although I do like the Gin Blossoms… especially "Can't Call It Cheatin', She reminds Me Of You")

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

I wouldn't wish those wheeled coffins on my worst enemy.

Speaking of AMC, guess who ran the company for a time during the 50's and 60's…?

AJW@[redacted] April 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

¡Jorgé Romney!

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 10:30 am


Republican George gave Michigan its state income tax, was a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, and eventually denounced the Vietnam War. Today, they'd call the guy a flaming liberal.

AJW@[redacted] April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

Sounds like a veritable utopia compared to life under rick snyder, though.

glamourdammerung April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

Today, they would call Richard Nixon liberal.

PsycWench April 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

I'm imagining that the Cubans have a leadership podium with a sign "You must be at least 75 years old for this ride"

weejee April 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

And that differs from the US Senate how?

Lost_Teabaggers April 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Hey now, the Republicans took care of that with their young guns, a bunch of can-do 30-something young guys with fresh, new ideas who'll put some life in the congress with all their youth!…not those stank-ridden 60 year olds whose corpses litter the floor now! These are YOUNG guys! Oh….you mean they average 55 and over? Fuck me!

freakishlywrong April 21, 2011 at 9:14 am

Isn't Marco Rubio Cuban? Just sayin'.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

They should just do what they've wanted to do since 2000, and that's install Elián González as the new Castro and be done with it, already.

horsedreamer_1 April 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

Elian's not much younger than Wills. Maybe they can do a joint transfer of power in Cuba/second-in-line wedding in Britain event. Juan Carlos of Spain can preside at the first, & with Elizabeth of UK there for the second, the swarthy Iberians & haughty Lobsterbacks can bury the hatchet from 1588 (defeat of la Armada Invencible).

Lost_Teabaggers April 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Speaking of Elian, remember back when the whole repatriation was going to happen that the wingnuts were screaming he was going to be murdered and anally raped by Castro, personally?

Fast forward years later….apparently not only is Elian happy to be with his father, he's also college educated and doing things in Cuba. Had he been kept here, knowing our open-minded wingnuts he would have been propagandized with a daily and continuous bombardment of Limbaugh, would have grown up self-loathing being Cuban, and probably living in someones basement and anally raping small children (Limbaugh has that effect on people, psychologists literally call the disorder Limbaughism and 99% of his listeners suffer from it). Just goes to show how impeccably correct the right is, doesn't it?

Lost_Teabaggers April 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Nominally, though in truth back during the Elian drama we should have just given Rubio as a toss-in, sort of like a Cuban to be named later.

Barb April 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

Just do away with the terror alerts. There should be one level, "pray and then bend over and kiss your ass goodbye" Then, as everyone is praying, silly creatures that they are, there should be an announcement that praying is futile. God does not answer knee-mail!

gef05 April 21, 2011 at 9:29 am

Too elitist, Janet. Try

Feels like foreigner at Wal Mart
Feels like foreigner renting next door

BarackMyWorld April 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

Other rejected threat levels:

"Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

"Go ahead and start looting Wal-Mart."

"Oh God, oh God, we're all gonna die."

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:42 am

Others considered:

"Grab your guns."

"Prepare yourselves for the Coming of the Lord; Jesus is revving up the Harley."

LesPaultard April 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

"What was that flas……………"

weejee April 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

Follow-up on the Trig kerfuffle: Adweek has a nice series of volleys between our beloved editor Ken, Slate’s retarded David Weigel, and Adweek's Dylan Byers, where Ken just rulez. Well played Bishop Kitty.

Negropolis April 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

Asked for clarification about whether he was serious or joking about consequences for Steuf, Layne emailed to say Steuf would be punished "In the exact way politicians (other than Palin) are always punished: He accepts full responsibility for his actions."

Ken, that is just awesome. You've handled yourself well in all of this. I can't fault you for a thing on this particular issue. I do admit knowing there'd be some kind of blowback from that post, though. Even I was a bit uncomfortable, but not so much because of content, but just knowing how close it was to the edge in our society.

V572..whatever April 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

I was just going to ask our esteemed editors where Herr Stuef was this morning, ha ha.

jus_wonderin April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

Papa John’s Pizza???

When did they advertise on the site? I guess I know whose pizza I am NOT going to buy.

TsunamiAli April 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

There was a kerfuffle? See, I actually do honest work for a couple of days and i miss all the fun /sad

glamourdammerung April 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I see our troll pal Peter Ingemi has to get a whine in on there. Kind of funny since last time he was here, he was on a crying jag because I said something mean about a white supremacist (that they were a white supremacist).

DaRooster April 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

I was going to plan a trip to Japan… but since I'm on the Cali coast I'll just wait for it to melt loose and float over here.

Bless them folks, it still is hell over there.

seppdecker April 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Does Napolitano think most Americans even know the words "elevated" and "imminent?"

Plus, there should be a W-flavored "Go shopping!" level, so folks know they're clear to run to Walmart and resupply on corn syrup.

baconzgood April 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

I missed Wonkbot.

jus_wonderin April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am

I am with ya. Wonkbot has a comfortable personality which becomes a hole in the soul when absent.

TsunamiAli April 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm


James Michael Curley April 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." — Douglas Adams

FlownOver April 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

"Elevated" and "Imminent" are colors within the visible spectrum only of more highly evolved beings.

I, for one…

Ohforcripessake April 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

I feel safer already!

AJW@[redacted] April 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

I'm sorta confused, since if there was one person in our gummint that would've understood rainbow-colored threat levels, I'd have thought Janet would be that one.

mavenmaven April 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

The only warning system that works in Merka is one that tells "conservatives" to defend the "honor" of Trig Palin. They should just flash His picture over and over again.

weejee April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am

Well I am an olde, but yer Mum has me by a dozen. While I was at Illinois in 1966 we played da pre-tree Stanford Indians (we lost BTW – had to look that up).

jus_wonderin April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

These new levels are great to me. Basically because they are easy to remember. If the threat level is "elevated" I am reminded of my Aunt Ella, who strolled through life with a devil-may-care attitude. However, if the level is "imminent", I think of my Uncle Emmett, who had the…."OH MY FUCKIN" GAWD, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE"…attitude.

See, easy.

jus_wonderin April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

BTW: How is this new threat level system going to work to get Republicans elected? I mean, really, you can't just announce a brighter, bolder color before elections as was done before.

glamourdammerung April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

They should have had "exceptional" as the default alert name.

DahBoner April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am

Too complicated!

Remember "Occam's razor" and keep the explanation simple:

Yesterday was "420" day….

MinAgain April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

We all know what the third level is…BOOM!

alaninthecastro April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

So we're saving 60 percent on paint, while still keeping the citizenry in a constant state of fear. Who says there's no difference between the two parties?

Steverino247 April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am

Elevated and Imminent? Sounds like a clinical discussion of coitus.

hagajim April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

How the hell are us color challenged supposed to deal with this…I just barely figured out what the hell muave looks like….what color is imminent?

SkinnyNerd April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

She knows that Scott Walker is on the loose. We are all under attack.

GOPCrusher April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm

And abject terror is so 2001.

ttommyunger April 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Prefer: 1. Driddle your knickers.
2. Shit a Wildcat!

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