Ben Stein's Diary

Orange Juice Unlimited

Who could have dreamed of it a century ago?

By From the May 2010 issue

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SATURDAY
Well. Here I am at the Mission Bay Hilton in San Diego. I don't feel well. Maybe I have a touch of food poisoning. Or maybe a stomach bug. There is one going around and I guess I got it. Actually, now that I have been given the miracle of Tazo Refresh Mint Tea by my sister, I can get through it all right. This tea is truly God's gift. I have no idea how it works, but it soothes my stomach miraculously well. My sister has given me all kinds of good tips, especially about exercise and tea.

I got dressed and had a light but delicious breakfast, then headed over to the conference center here at the hotel. I am to give a speech at a huge gathering hosted by my pal Ray Lucia. It is about investing. He has an immense crowd of well over 1,000 people today and my job is not really to sell them anything, but to give them a general overview of the economy.

<p> My view of it is that the recession was caused by the insensate carelessness and greed and contempt for ethics of the big players on Wall Street.

It was not the small homeowner. It was not the small builder. It was Wall Street playing games with housing finance instruments that killed the housing market, killed Lehman, and sent the nation into a panic.

The people who did the collateralized mortgage obligations, sold them to pension funds, then sold them short, then bought credit default swap insurance on them, are just amazing. They are a law unto themselves. They manipulate every price they come near, sell out their own customers, spend millions burnishing their images, then again, betray their customers the first chance they get.

This includes the very biggest names on The Street.

The people doing these deals get fantastically rich, and then they get appointed to high government posts, and meanwhile, their only interest is in making money for themselves.

The part that really fills me with horror is that after this kind of massive, nationwide economic terrorism takes place no one, and I mean no one, gets punished. It is fantastic.

Enough of that. I don't want to give myself a stroke. On to a happier subject.

I love speaking in San Diego.

Invariably, there are a lot of military families there and invariably, they are polite, encouraging, and have children also in the military. Let's drink to the hardworking people. Let's drink to the salt of the earth. Let's drink to the wavering millions, who need leaders but get gamblers instead. I think that's from a Rolling Stones song. In fact, I am sure it is. Their lyrics bear endless study.

I gave my speech, got lots of nice people asking for autographs and photos, and then packed my bags and headed home.

My bug, or whatever it is, was attacking me like mad and I slept a fitful sleep in the car. (I was being driven, obviously.)

There are some people out to get me. I know I am paranoid and nutty, but this is really happening, and I don't like it. There are people who are not feeling quite well who really want to hurt me and it's scaring me plenty. Well, I won't say anything more except to quote my idol, the young Bob Dylan:

Someone's got it in for me.
They're planting stories in the press.
Whoever it is, I wish they'd cut it out quick,
But when they will, I can only guess....

Really, the whole world could benefit from a study of Bob Dylan's early works. My late pal Garth Wood used to say Dylan was the greatest poet of the 20th century, and how right Garth was.

And how I miss Garth, dead at his own hand, lo, these 10 or more years. The pain is acute still. I loved Garth. Hey, that reminds me of another song, this one by Neil Young:

I sing this song because I loved a man,
I know that some of you don't understand....
Gone, gone, the damage done....

I would like to see a department of 20th-century song analysis at UCLA.

Home to my beloved wifey, the light of my life, the angel of my whole lifetime, the goddess who walks on water. She has a smile that lights up the whole world. Plus she has my dogs, Brigid and Cleo, and they mean everything to me also. You cannot imagine how I love those dogs. German Short-haired Pointers. I love every hair on their bodies. They wiggle and waggle their whole bodies when I get home.

I got in bed and read my beloved Wall Street Journal.

Wow, bad news. Mr. Obama now hates Israel because the Israelis want to build 1,600 apartments in their own capital city, Jerusalem. Russia hates Israel, too. So do the Europeans. So does Ban Ki-moon, a Korean who is secretary-general of the UN. They cannot agree to do anything about a murderous dictatorship in Iran that is racing toward getting nuclear weapons, but they can agree to hate Israel for building apartments in its own capital city.

I just love every aspect of this: Israel being condemned by Russia, which just invaded and despoiled its neighbor Georgia just for the heck of it. Israel being condemned by Russia, with a human rights record that would give Genghis Khan pause.

Israel being condemned by the EU, which 66 years ago watched with glee as its Jews were being mass murdered. That is pretty rich.

The really astounding part of this is that in the Bush years, we could expect that the U.S. would veto any resolution condemning or sanctioning Israel. But now, with the avowedly pro-Palestinian president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, in office, there is literally no one to stand up for Israel.

And the even more beautiful part of this is that the Jewish vote in the U.S. went for Obama by about 80 percent versus 20 percent for McCain. And McCain was a diehard Israel supporter. So, I just love this. Israel is about to get really badly humiliated in the UN very largely because American Jews elected a pro-Palestinian president when we could have had a pro-Israel president.

This is so painfully cruel I cannot believe it. When are American Jews going to realize that the Republican Party is far better for Israel than the Democrats? Think of Richard Nixon, who saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War even as the hounds of the left -- many of them Jewish -- were tearing his flesh. Think of Nixon, who risked war with Russia to save Israel. And what thanks did he get? A kick in the teeth. Think of the much missed George W. Bush, who stood up for Israel in its wars in Gaza and Lebanon when no one else did. And the Jews of the left hated him.

Well, now we have Barack Obama and Israel is friendless.

TUESDAY
A spectacular day in Rancho Mirage. Just perfect. Blue skies. Warm. Dry. Light breeze. I got up, swam for a long time, had a modest breakfast of yummy yogurt and toast and orange juice and got dressed. Then I got into my car and headed off for my 12-step meeting.

Every part of this is amazing to me. I get to wake up in a free country. My great-grandparents, in Russia, could not have imagined such a thing. I get to swim in a heated pool under palm trees. In their wildest dreams, my ancestors in the shtetl could not have conceived of such a thing. Then a step into a hot shower just gushing clean, steamy water. How many millennia has man been on the planet and for how brief a span have we had hot water for the masses on demand? Not for a heartbeat. But I get it.

Unlimited fresh orange juice. Fresh baked goods. Fresh butter. All on demand in any quantity I wish. Who could have dreamed of it a century ago?

Then a ride in a car...not just a car, but an air-conditioned car with XM radio so I can hear songs from my childhood as I watch the palm trees glide by. And I am on perfect, absolutely perfect roads without potholes.

It is really amazing, once again, and we usually take it for granted. Plus, in the back seat are my gorgeous dogs, Brigid and Cleo, fast asleep. Peaceful.

After the meeting, I went to drive some golf balls. There were some annoying young people on the range, but overall, it was gratifying. Now, most of the time I actually hit the ball and it goes somewhere roughly where I want it to go.

Then, I got into bed to listen to Mozart. Again, here is this once in history genius, Wolfie Mozart, and I get to hear him in perfect fidelity while looking out at the pool and the golf course and the mountains with my dogs next to me. All for pennies. I still use a CD player with ordinary head-phones and it sounds just electrifying. Lately I have been listening to Laudate Dominum over and over again and it's perfect, too.

I just want us all to think of what we have going on in this glorious America. Maybe Obama is a problem. Maybe bad times lie ahead. But God has shed His grace on us. If we don't believe it, we are worse fools than I thought.

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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.