True Thankfulness -- Plus, Christmas Comes Early

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From the NYT just now:ColorCode.png

Merciful heavens, we give praise and thanks -- if we are indeed saying goodbye to this:

dhs-threat1.jpg

What is wrong with the familiar monotone "The Department of Homeland Security has determined that the threat level is 'Orange' " announcement and mentality?

1) It is meaningless. You hear that at the airport in San Antonio, when there's a threat in Baltimore?

2) It is unhelpful. What exactly are you supposed to do? Apart from being worried?

3) It is ignorable, since it hardly ever changes. It's been "Orange" since the summer of 2006. It has never been "Blue" or "Green." The U.S. "surges" in Iraq and then withdraws; it has Bush and then Obama; a Republican majority in both Houses, then Democratic, then a Republican House again; it changes strategy in Afghanistan; it has an "underwear" bomber and then introduces new machines -- and through all this time, we are steady at "Orange."

So we have movement on the lamentable color codes; and the TSA backing off strip-searches of uniformed pilots; and today's apparently low-stress day at the airports... perhaps there is a common-sense way out of the security-theater ratchet? I'll hope so, and on that positive note bow out until next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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