Skyfall Times Seven | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Skyfall Times Seven
by

Sunday
I awakened here in Rancho Mirage, looked out the window of my bedroom and could not believe what I saw. There was my pool, with its light blue tiles and light blue water, and a few palm trees, and then the golf course, and then some other houses, and then the mountains and then the sky. It is amazingly beautiful. Blue skies, occasional jet contrails. Great stuff. Better go back to sleep.

I did that for a while, then swam for a long time. I watched the contrails and thanked God for my wife, my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, my Julie Goodgirl, the light of my life. I thanked God for every soldier, Marine, sailor, Merchant Marine, Air Force warrior, and every cop, every firefighter, every teacher.

I thanked God for my parents, their parents, my sister, and all the Denman ancestors (those are my in-laws), pals like Wlady and Bob and Phil and the girls and women who illuminated my days and nights. As I swam, I tried to imagine what life was like for my ancestors in the tenth century. It must have been horrifyingly bleak and frightening.

They probably lived in some hellhole in Eastern Europe where they starved, were cold and dirty, and beaten and killed by Cossacks whenever the Cossacks felt bored. I wonder if they could have even conceived of the way their descendant lives. When I was a child, I could not have even dared think of living the way I live. At most I thought I might have a little ranch house or ’50s modern the way my parents did, in Silver Spring. How did I get this life? A gift from God, every single bit of it.

By the way, I won’t have it much longer. It is just too tiring to maintain as many homes as we have. I can’t afford all of the time and effort required to manage this many houses. Plus, I am tired of all the travel. I really enjoy business travel more than “vacation” travel. I like meeting people. That’s what I like to do. I am a small town politician at heart. My ideal job would be just to mosey around town asking people how they’re doing.

Anyway, I made my spectacular brunch — scrambled egg, sausage, orange juice, English muffins, ate it, got dressed, and raced off for my 12-step meeting.

The weather was perfect. 70 degrees, zero humidity, light breeze. Perfect.

There was only a small crowd at the meeting and I was asked to “lead.” That means I get to talk about myself, my favorite subject. I mostly talked about what a bad, bad, boy I have been in the past, in my substance-abusing days. I cannot believe the terrible things I did. Just awful, involving drinking and driving. It is a miracle that I am alive.

It is all a gift from God. I wonder what my ancestors thought about God as they lived in some horrible hovel with chickens nearby. They probably prayed constantly. If anyone has any idea of how Jews lived in Eastern Europe in the tenth century, please let me know. (On the other hand, there were all of those super good looking Russian and Ukrainian girls floating around, I imagine. Wow, they are really a marvel.)

At the meeting, we loitered for a time talking about tax problems. We have them in a big way. It looks as if even once income taxes go up to Clinton levels, still that won’t be enough. We have to be realists: supply-side got us into a deep hole. Now, we have to pay the piper to get out of it. We owe that piper a lot of money and our good times, tax-wise, are over forever. Sad, but that’s what happens when we make mistakes. We have to pay for them. Please don’t bother writing me telling me what a horrible person I am for not recognizing that low taxes pay for themselves by generating economic growth. That’s just a fairy tale, for one thing, and the longer we believe it, the deeper in the hole we go.

Yes, I know this contradicts Friedman, but I also know Friedman was occasionally wrong. He thought, for example, that the post office was a real threat to freedom. He was a thorough genius and a great man, but even great men are often wrong. Thomas Jefferson had his slaves whipped when they didn’t work hard enough. He encouraged them to produce children so he could sell them. He wasn’t a saint, and yet he was Thomas Jefferson.

(I read about this in an article in Smithsonian Magazine, a truly great journal.)

One of my vows for this year is to not think of men and women as Republicans or Democrats but just as people and not to judge them until I hear what they have to say. In fact, why judge them at all? Why not just go to the Westfield Mall in Palm Desert, buy note cards with little kitties on them for my wife, then come home and sleep with my wifey and my dog next to me and the fire in the fireplace?

Meanwhile, B languishes in prison. I got a letter from him saying they were in lockdown and a number of the prisoners were screaming obscenities all night long. It sounds dreadful. Plus my pal A is going into what might be called a “fugue” state and my pal M is broke and wants to borrow money from me.

Even my wife was crabby last night because she was so tired. We had been to see Skyfall for the seventh time and I think she was a bit angry at me for forcing her to see it so many times. I can’t help it. I would see it every day, if I could.

It is the best story I have ever seen about sibling rivalry for a mother’s love, and about how cruel mothers can be. The “villain,” played PERFECTLY by Javier Bardem, truly was justified in wanting immense revenge. I have never seen a villain who was so thoroughly wronged and who simply could not be faulted for doing the harsh things he did. The director, Sam Mendes, should get best director for this. The performance he got out of Bardem was unique.

But to get back to the point, I did not pick up my wife’s gambit. I just said that I knew she was tired and hungry and we would get her some food and put her to sleep. Even saints can get crabby when they’re hungry and tired. So, I fed her roasted chicken, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, peas, and gravy, and she went to bed, and was happy.

For my part, I swam and watched the stars. They are the exact same stars my ancestors watched in Samarkand or Kiev or Bilsk or somewhere else. But how great to see them from a heated pool. No one deserves to live like this. NO ONE. Thank you, God.

I do have a few little questions, though.

Mr. Obama has a cousin or an aunt or something on food stamps and welfare. Why doesn’t he help her? He has a half brother who lives in total poverty in Kenya in a tin hut a few feet wide with no heat or cooling or plumbing. Why doesn’t Mr. Obama help him? It has been reported that he helps neither, and yet he is a multi-millionaire. What does that tell us about him? Nothing nice. Can you even think if that were Bush 43? The media would crucify him. And why don’t we blame Mr. Obama for his spectacularly wasteful spending and his addicting millions of Americans to welfare? He gets a pass from the MSM while Bush 43 gets strangled. I miss Bush 43. He had charisma. I saw him on TV two nights ago talking about how immigrants not only helped our economy but also enriched our national soul. Inspiring.

Speaking of crucifixion… how long will we old people tolerate Ben Bernanke crucifying us on the cross of zero interest rates? He is essentially sucking our blood to give free money to his pals on Wall Street. He is robbing us of the chance to earn a sane return on our money supposedly to stabilize the economy. But we all know that the banks are not lending except to the government even with the ZIRP. The policy doesn’t accomplish anything for the ordinary citizen and impoverishes us old people. The banks were not worried about interest rates. They were scared of a worldwide insolvency. They still are. So let’s allow interest rates to rise, and maybe some old people will be able to live off their savings. It amazes me that there has not been a major revolution about this attack on the elderly.

Well, never mind. Time to get out of the pool, watch the Military Channel, and then sleep. Sometimes sleep is the only answer.

Ben Stein
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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.
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