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My life is empty without terror alerts

By Michael Wolraich, Special to CNN
  • Michael Wolraich sad to report that Homeland Security dropping color-coded terror alerts
  • He says for eight years, he's rushed to computer every morning to learn the terror level
  • He says we need more color warnings, not fewer; maybe mocha for Bigfoot sightings
  • Wolraich: DHS is well-funded; surely it will come up with terror warning system we'll all love

Editor's note: Michael Wolraich is a founder of the political blog and the author of "Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual."

(CNN) -- I am sad to report that the Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to scrap the beloved five-level, color-coded terrorism advisory system in favor of a new two-tiered system that may or may not have colors.

To many Americans, the Homeland Security Advisory System has long been a force of comfort and guidance.

For the past nine years, I have woken up each day and immediately raced to the computer to find out if the security level had finally dropped from yellow (significant risk of terrorist attacks) to blue (general risk of terrorist attacks).

I have a bottle of champagne and some blow horns prepared for the occasion. I used to have blue helium balloons, too, but they shriveled back in 2004. Of course, I never expected to reach green (low risk of terrorist attacks) in my lifetime. Green is a utopian ideal to aspire toward like world peace or a cure for baldness.

Critics of the old color-coded system charged that it failed to provide information to Americans about what to do in the event of a heightened terrorism threat. This allegation is nonsense. Everyone knows what to do.

Napolitano announces new alert system

When the threat level goes up to orange (high risk of terrorist attacks), you write your congressperson to demand more wiretaps and bombing of Middle Eastern countries. When the threat level goes to red (severe risk of terrorist attacks), you duct-tape the windows shut and report dark-skinned acquaintances to the police.

Other critics have expressed concern that there are simply too many colors, since we've never actually used the bottom two threat levels. But I suggest that the problem is not too many colors; it's too few.

Americans love colors. That's why the news shows have fancy maps with colorfully shaded areas to show "blizzard warning" or "leans Republican" or "Atlantic Ocean." Instead of eliminating colors, I propose that the DHS embrace a new multicolored system to tell Americans exactly what threat to prepare for.

For instance, here a few color-threat combinations they might consider:

Pink: Pinkeye outbreak

Silver: Aggressive squirrels

Pale Green: High risk of alien abduction

Mocha: Possible Bigfoot sighting

Sparkly: Disco revival

White: Zombies!

Red: Socialism! (with chance of scattered anarchy)

Candy Cane: Socialist zombies!

In a news conference today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano offered few details about the planned two-tier system, but she promised that it would be "built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you -- the public -- we will tell you."

I applaud DHS's commitment to telling us, the public, about threats that could affect us -- of course, terrorism really isn't a laughing matter.

But hope that Napolitano will also consider that we, the public, would appreciate a little color in our government's communications regarding our safety.

DHS is a large, well-funded department with lots of experts on a lot of things.

I'm confident that with more time, resources and extensive use of focus groups, DHS can produce a terrorist warning system that everyone will love.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michael Wolraich.