Ben Stein's Diary

Desert Smack

A disturbing weekend -- not to mention Mr. Obama's unconscious thoughts about his country.

By 8.12.13

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Sunday
Wow. It is hot. I am down here in Rancho Mirage and it is hot. Not as hot as it could be, but plenty hot. Maybe 105 degrees Fahrenheit. I came down here last night with Julie Goodgirl to say good-bye to a friend who is leaving a long stint of rehab for heroin addiction and is now about to go to college. She is a lot older than usual college age, but she has had her problems.

Now, thanks to God and to the 12 steps programs, she is going to college in P., a city in the upper Midwest that F. Scott Fitzgerald described as “the warm center of the universe.” I was there once. It seemed like a nice place but far too cold in the winter. She grew up there so I guess she’s used to it.

I had sushi with her last night. She looked happy and confident. I just pray for her night and day. Heroin is a cruel addiction. Plus, heroin changes a person. It makes a person into a different kind of person. Luckily, this woman still seems like a wonderful fairly young person, so let’s hope. It is an uphill struggle, though. Tasting smack is like tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I drove her back to her “sober living” house in a subdivision in Indio. I had never been to Indio before and I imagined it as all cotton fields. No, it’s all car dealerships and strip malls. Well, why not ?

I was extremely sad to say “good bye” to this woman. To me, she still seems very vulnerable. I guess that contradicts what I just said a moment ago. Maybe I’m the vulnerable one. Anyway, God bless her.

I read that heroin use is spreading like mad all around the upper middle class youth and maybe the rich youth, too. I guess that some fools will soon be saying we should legalize heroin use, just as we have marijuana abuse. I have seen it up close and personal: legalizing marijuana is a disaster. It isn’t funny and it isn’t cute and it’s killing the youth of this country. Heroin use is even worse.

Is life really that tough on young people? Do they really need to be high to face life? My pal, Mr. X., who is in prison, tells me that he sees two and three generation heroin user families and that the users don’t ever want to quit. They just love the way heroin makes them feel. So, they bow down and become slaves to it. I have seen that, too, and it rarely ends well.

Prayer. A real belief that God is with us at all times and that we can turn to Him in our times of sorrow. That’s what gets people through the day and the night. Plus having a good big dog to lie next to and cuddle. As I am writing this in the study of our home in Morningside Country Club, Julie is lying on a couch next to me and the upholstery has spots like leopard skin. The sunlight of late afternoon is coming through the plantation shutters on Julie and she looks like a haze of perfect love, devotion, and calm. How I love that animal. She offers everything I want.

Anyway, after I took my pal home, I went to a grocery store to buy my old person’s fruit -- prunes -- and then came home and swam. It was a perfect night and a perfect temperature in the pool. I swam for a long time, maybe past one a.m. Once, an immense meteor shot through the sky and lit up the night, then burned out, maybe over Kansas. Maybe over Indio. Maybe over the 14th green.

I took a shower, took my immense quantities of fiber, and got into bed with Julie. Then I got out of bed and lit the fire in my fireplace. I read some prayers over the phone with my wife, who stayed in L.A. Then I read The Mourner’s Kaddish in Hebrew and in English, for my parents and for all who have died recently: Jim Meagher, DeAnne Barkley, Peter Flanigan, and for Garth Wood and Peter Feierabend, whom I miss cruelly every single day.

Off with the lights and I fell asleep almost instantly with Julie in my arms. Happy, happy joy, joy.

This morning, I met a young woman from a very fancy real estate firm who wanted to see our house. She was startlingly young and startlingly alert. She wants to be a high pooh-bah in real property and for that, you have to start young, I guess. She told me about her life -- father abandoned her, no contact with him for years at a time.

How can that possibly be? How can a father abandon a child? I really just don’t even understand that a little bit. What could make a man do that? Yet so many do. Not only blacks but whites, too. What happened to being a man? What happened to stepping up to the plate of one’s own responsibilities for one’s own actions? How did men in this country get so weak? Was it drugs? Was it just plain laziness?

I looked at this beautiful real estate agent and I thought to myself, “What must she have suffered? What could her feelings have been like when she realized that her father had abandoned her?”

How children in that situation must hurt. Yet this woman was well dressed, smiled often, asked intelligent questions. She has to be bleeding like mad inside, though. I think she wants to be an actor and I think she’ll make it.

Then, off to my two p.m. 12 step meeting. To my surprise and delight, the woman who is heading off to college was there, but she was not at all friendly and basically cut me dead. I suspect it’s because she knew I would yell at her for smoking cigarettes before the meeting and at the break. For whatever reason, I did not like being cut dead at all. It reminded me of junior high school, the worst place that free Americans ever go except when they have cancer.

Good luck to her anyway.

The other people at the meeting were happy to see me, though. I had not been there for a couple of months and they all asked about my goddess wife. I appreciated that very much.

Then, off to Mission Hills Country Club to have some Szechwan Chicken Wings. The clubhouse was totally deserted but the wings were heavenly. A few people did appear eventually and they told me a sad story about how a woman I know at the club has been pretending to be my wife and charging meals and alcohol to me. I hated hearing that. I’ll get it straightened out with the club, but it’s a shame that this woman has degenerated into theft.

Maybe it’s not theft. Maybe it’s more like panhandling. I do have the feeling that pretending to be someone else and charging food to his account is not legal. Maybe I am wrong about that, though.

I was feeling pretty low about this when I got a series of hilarious texts from my dear pal Phil DeMuth. I had told him we were going to allow him and his family to live in our house in Beverly Hills when Alex and I died (if our son did not want to live there) so long as they cared for our household pets for as long as they lived.

“I just bought a sea tortoise for a pet,” he texted me. “They live for over a hundred years.”

“The will only applies to the care of our pets,” I told him. “Not to your pets.”

“The pet is a gift for you and Alex,” he said. He is a clever fellow.

Phil is BY FAR the best investment manager I have ever had (except for Buffett). He’s a genius and he works relentlessly. He doesn’t pay me, so I think I am allowed to say that if you have a meaningful amount to invest, you are making a serious mistake not having a talk with Phil. He is prudent, extremely conservative, and his fees are virtually nil. He is a sort of gift from on high for investors, if they seize the opportunity. He makes money.

Those texts cheered me a lot but I am bound to share with you something, dear readers:

I am terrified about the future of this country under Barack Obama. He -- to be sure with Congressional GOP help -- is gutting our defense to the point that we are begging North Korea or Iran to go to war with us. Our Navy, Air Force, and Army are running on fumes. If it takes tax increases to get the military back to strength, let’s have the tax increases. But it’s more than that. His foreign policy of intentional weakness has made us a laughing stock to the world. Just a few years ago, we were the world’s only superpower. Now, we could not stop either Iran or North Korea from wreaking havoc. Now, Putin sneers at us and the Chinese must know that the future belongs to them.

Phil DeMuth said long ago that the only thing that mattered to America about Obama were his unconscious thoughts about this great country. Now, we know what he wants: a weak America, a humbled America, an America in health care chaos, an America where the fires of black anger against white America are endlessly stoked by Minister of Fear Holder.

I had better stop now. I want to rest. Maybe I am just saying all of this because I’m overtired or because I am a white person clinging to guns and God. Who knows?

I must be a very bad person for having these thoughts about Mr. Obama.

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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.