Politics & Policy

Ill Wind

Hurricane Irene and other disasters

It’s hot and sunny here in liberal La-La Land today, as it is nearly every day, which means I’m out on the pool deck, writing another of my little epistles to the wingnuts, while Ginger is slathering on the suntan lotion and reading Das Kapital in the original Austrian. Talk about a dissertation on the state of bliss!

Meanwhile, I’m keeping up with what’s going on back east with my next-generation smartphone and enjoying every minute of it. An earthquake in Washington? As luck would have it, I was driving up Coldwater Canyon in my new Jaguar on my way over to the Valley when I heard the news. Well, not exactly heard: I knew something was up when I saw all the other drivers swerving across the road and laughing their heads off. So I immediately flipped on Air America — or maybe it was ABC News — and chortled right along.

Now, around here, we eat five-point-something temblors for breakfast, when we even deign to notice them. A sharp shake, a little rattle, and then we roll out of bed as if nothing had happened. But you clowns! Fleeing into the streets, pointing up at the skies; to my cinematic eyes, it looked like a scene from yet another remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, when Gort is rampaging up and down the Mall with a lissome Patricia Neal (Olivia Wilde in my remake) draped provocatively over his arm while the mother ship hovers overhead and Washingtonians flee for their lives.

So you got a few cracks in the Washington Monument. Big deal. As we men of the ultra-moral Left know, the monument’s been cracked since Abraham Lincoln first imported slaves from Africa and then made them sit in the back of the bus. Cracked since the southern Republicans turned Bull Connor and his water cannons loose on Barack Obama’s mom and dad at Selma. Cracked since —

Okay, so that was the Democrats. Big deal. As is well known, they all instantly converted the year Tricky Dick had George Wallace shot, leaving them no place to go except Humbert Humbert, but those Jesus-lovin’ hillbillies were put off by Lolita and so the dark night of fascism once again descended on Amerikkka.

And now you’ve got this hurricane thingummy. As I just wrote mere moments ago as part of a new retro-futuristic musical I’m writing:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! 

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout 

Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!

Okay, I’ll admit, that’s from King Lear by somebody named Shakespeare, but so what? You know our motto out here: Good writers borrow, great writers steal. Anyway, it’s not like he’s sacred or anything.

I’ve given those lines to one of my characters, a super-top-secret agent of Hope and Change I’m calling “Mike Bergbloom,” whose mission it is to destroy New York City by a diabolically cunning adaptation of the Cloward-Piven strategy: After getting his hands on the deadly Karl Rove Hurricane Katrina Disaster Machine, he creates a weather event called “Irene,” threatens death and destruction, demands the total evacuation of Manhattan and then — and here’s the genius part — shuts down the subway system, thus forcing thousands of folks on the Lower East Side to walk to their summer homes in the Berkshires!

Well, you can guess what happens: No one can get a taxi, and so the city experiences a level of civil unrest not seen since the Rethuglican Draft Riots. Bergbloom is named Mayor for Life by a grateful populace after troops loyal to His Serene Majesty the Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, Master of the Greens, Bringer of Kinetic Military Action, Vacationer-in-Chief, Slayer of Osama, Atomizer of the Economy, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago, arrive to restore order.

Our third act’s highlight comes when the Emperor Hussein emerges as a deus ex machina, floating down from Air Force One to gently land on top of the Empire State Building, from which he addresses the nation and blames everything on *^%#BUSH#@&^! And I mean the lot: not just the economy and foreign policy, but also racism, sexism, ageism, heightism, weightism, carnivoreism, antidisestablishmentarianism, homophobia, tridecaphobia, hydrophobia, and glossolalia, among other things.

I’m very proud of having written this speech — even prouder than I am of stealing from Shakespeare — so pay attention: “America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.”

And then an amazing thing happens: Nobody applauds. In fact, nobody even heard him, because everyone has fled the city, including the Emperor’s own elite Palace Guard, led by Howard Fineman and John Heilemann. It’s just him and Bergbloom standing there, looking at each other. Finally, the mayor speaks: “You know, I’ve heard that song before.”

Then the waters of the Hudson redden, and flies and locusts swarm around their heads. Boils form. A frog plops down from the sky; in the distance we hear the ominous thunder of stormy weather.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. There may or may not be a sudden attack by aliens, or NATO airplanes, or Glenn Beck. Or I may just hold the moment as Barry looks out over his former empire and wonders how it all went so wrong. The Japanese tsunami, the sinking economy, man-made global warming, the truncated Martha’s Vineyard vacation, Fox News — such an unprecedented run of bad luck.

You know what I’m calling it, don’t you? When the Wind Blows South: This Time, It’s Really Serious. With music by Harold Arlen and additional dialogue by William Shakespeare and Sam Taylor.

— David Kahane still believes in The One, but is soliciting disaster-preparation advice just in case the worst happens and Michele Bachmann becomes president. You can help him out by becoming one of his alleged “friends” on Facebook or by writing to him at kahanenro@gmail.com.

Since February 2007, Michael Walsh has written for National Review both under his own name and the name of David Kahane, a fictional persona described as “a Hollywood liberal who ...


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