Deep End: Reign of Terror 

Attack alerts based on feelings … nothing more than feelings.

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{::INSERTAD::}It turns out Homeland Security honcho Michael Chertoff’s statement that he had a “gut feeling” there would be a terrorist attack in America this summer was not just another bone-headed blooper by another nincompoop in the Bush administration. Chertoff’s “gut feeling” comment was a calculated attempt to scare the bejesus out of the American populace.

With President Pinhead’s approval ratings plummeting—besides Barney the Dog and Laura the Wife, the only people who support Bush are Cheney, Gonzales, Scooter and 17 coma patients in a care facility a mile outside of Waco—the Bush administration is desperately trying to distract voters from its corruption, lies, high crimes and misdemeanors.

“We make no apologies,” said smirking former Fox News fear-monger Tony Snow from the podium in the spiffed-up White House press briefing room. “We are shameless fear-mongers. When Secretary Chertoff referred to his gut feeling, he was merely giving a preview of the new terrorist-alert scale that we are implementing immediately and forthwith.”

Snow called for the lights to be dimmed and directed the attention of the press corps to the screen behind him.

“Before I explain the new system to you, let me say that the old color-coded scale was a total failure. It was confusing to quite a few people, including the president. He could never remember which was worse, yellow or orange or red, and on several occasions the Secret Service or Laura or Barney had to physically restrain him from calling the vice president in the middle of the night to ask him which was worse, orange or red or yellow.

“We had trained Barney the Dog to bark once for yellow, twice for orange and three times for red, but the president didn’t go for it because he thought Barney was trying to show him up.

“We also experimented with other systems before coming up with what you see on the screen, which we have termed the Chertoff Somatic Scale, in honor of the scary-looking bald guy. We tried animals, sports teams and food groups, but the president could never quite get the hang of any of them, even the food-group scale, known informally as the Asparagus Algorithm. We thought we had a real winner with the food-group code, especially since the highest threat was symbolized by a pretzel, which everyone knows almost killed the president when he tried to swallow it whole while watching a football game.

“Just a superficial glance at the chart should make clear the advantages offered by the Chertoff Somatic Scale. It is simple to understand, and it’s really scary. You’ll notice that we keep everything on a sensory level. Nothing abstract, nothing that requires decoding. It’s good for the Homeland Security guys, since they no longer have to gather intelligence, assess risk and calculate the probability of imminent attack. Anybody can set the threat level, and the American people will react accordingly with the appropriate level of mindless fear. The great thing is we can keep this war going until the president retires to Crawford, Texas, and wear spandex bike shorts around the clock.

“Let’s go through the Chertoff Somatic Scale, starting from lowest threat to highest. Gut Feeling is the lowest level and, like all the levels, you let your feelings do the talking. Don’t confuse Gut Feeling with indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux. Nor is Gut Feeling a Burning in the Bosom, which is proof positive of the presence of the Holy Ghost. We’ll leave that for Mitt Romney to explain when he moves into the White House in 2009.

“The next level of threat is a Funny Feeling. This is a general sensation of malaise, not necessarily localized in the abdominal region. It could manifest itself in an inner ear disturbance, and you may experience symptoms of dizziness. By “funny” we don’t mean funny ha-ha, but funny like in weird or even creepy.

“Next we have Strange Feeling. When we say we have a strange feeling terrorists are planning an attack, we are moving into the autonomic nervous system. Your palms may sweat, your mouth may go dry. You might get goose bumps, the chills or even run a slight temperature.

“Finally, we have Sick Feeling. Now we’re getting into really scary territory. Here we approach Kierkegaardian dread. At this level you may experience excruciating gastro-intestinal cramps and explosive diarrhea. When Chertoff says he has a sick feeling terrorists are about to attack, you’d better grab your Imodium and run for your lives.”
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