Ben Stein's Diary

The Homecoming

Some deep thoughts upon returning from Sandpoint.

By 7.2.12

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Thursday
Back in L.A. We flew in from Sandpoint yesterday. It is a long trip and I am tired. Plus, I had an extremely disturbing talk on the phone with a dear friend of 33 years. He has gotten mixed up in a terrible mess about borrowing money. Now he's being prosecuted for criminal fraud. It looks as if he's going to prison for years.

This man is the kindest, gentlest soul I have ever known. He obviously made serious mistakes --extremely serious -- but they do not seem to me to rise to the level of criminal. The state sees it differently. They have the power and the money and he has nothing now. So, this sweet, touchingly sensitive soul is probably going to be in prison. I am just in shock. It depresses me terribly and frightens me. What does one do when he faces the state?

 The imbalance of power between this man -- any man -- and the state -- is terrifying. Reason enough to be a libertarian.

I was so upset that when I stopped to buy gasoline at the Shell station at Federal and Santa Monica, I started to drive off with the gasoline hose attached to my car. Really embarrassing. It only cost me sixty bucks. But I was extremely humiliated. The manageress speaking to me in Spanish and then calling someone about me and laughing hysterically was a nice touch.

I drove out to Malibu. The weather was perfect, cloudless sky, no humidity, light breeze. When darkness fell, the stars glittered mightily in the night firmament. I slept with my Julie Good Girl, then came home very late.

On the way home, I had a lengthy talk with my old pal DeAnne Barkley, who lives in Hawaii. She asked a good question: how could George Romney, Mitt's pop, have run for President when he was born in Mexico? I guess it's because his parents were U.S. citizens already. But I am not sure.

DeAnne lives a quiet life on The Big Island but at one time she was the most powerful woman in television. She co-invented the made-for-TV movie. When I first came to Hollywood, she was a pal to me and she has been ever since. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Friday
Up early to be on Fox News with Jenna Lee. She is a super-smart TV news woman. My absolute fave is Dagen McDowell, but Jenna Lee is right up there. Fox manages to find extremely smart and beautiful women for its news.

Everyone is buzzing about the Supreme Court upholding Ms. Obama's health care plan. It doesn't surprise me. The Supreme Court can say that black is white and white is black and can just select whatever "precedents" it wishes to make its case. It all comes down to legal realism. Judges just do what they please and then claim that the historical precedents required it. That's the way people act in media, too. The media powers just say that what they like is the truth and also important and really, it's just what they feel like saying. Same with financial traders. They just trade for momentary advantage and then say that they do it because of big economic trends.

 But as to Obamacare and Chief Justice Roberts, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," said Mr. Dylan and neither did Mr. Roberts.

Then I did Cavuto on Business. Our host, Neil Cavuto, gets funnier every week and I have gotten to just love the whole panel, Charles Payne, Charlie Gasparino, Dagen McDowell, Adam Lashinsky, all of them. But Neil is breathtakingly smart and funny.

Then back home for a nap. But no such luck. Everyone has troubles:

Our housekeeper's daughter is extremely ill with diabetes and in severe pain. We keep sending her to doctors and nothing works. She is a spectacularly fine young woman and we are in agony over her troubles.

Our messenger, Helen, has some dreadful headaches that no medicine can touch. She cries constantly and it breaks my heart.

Our son has a stomach flu and I feel as if I am getting it, too.

Our son's dog scratched our granddaughter.

Everyone on this planet wants money from me and I have a lot less than anyone thinks and that's scaring me.

I did finally manage to sleep. Big Wifey lay next to me reading a book called The Crown Jewels, about Soviet spies in the UK and the KGB files on them. Wow. There were a heck of a lot of traitors in Britain. Why did they do it? There are way too many angry, crazy, envious people out there. My mother used to say that envy explained everything, and maybe it does. A wise man said that in some crackpot way, the Nazis envied the Jews, even as they depicted them as rats -- literally as rats. Come to think of it, why do people hate us Jews so much? We are just people, only a little more so.

I thought these DEEP THOUGHTS, looked at Alex in profile for a long time (more beautiful even than Greta Garbo), then walked back to the house (I had been in my office), put on my immense blue floral swim trunks and headed towards our pool.

Tommy's light brown Cocker Spaniel, Buglet, started to bark with anticipation. My large German short-haired pointer, Julie, went ballistic with thrills. Alex's pointer, Zelda, turned in circles as she barked with excitement. Why? Because they know that when I go to the pool, I often (always) pick up a tennis ball and throw it for them. They run all around, tussle over the ball, then bring it back to me as I am swimming. I pause and throw it over and over again.

Often, when the ball lands, it hits pool furniture or a tree and bounces back into the water. Buglet and Zelda look sad but Julie Good Girl just leaps into the water and swims like Mark Spitz to retrieve the ball. She puts it in her mouth, swims to the steps and jumps out. Then she shakes herself.

Today, just once, as she shook herself, the water came off in a vertical sheet. It was caught by sunlight coming through a magnolia and lit up like a watery rainbow growing out of the back of an angel dog from heaven, the end of my rainbow.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.