Getaways

HERE I AM OUT IN MALIBU. I came out last night to check on things at our house. Right after I got here, a monsoon-like rain began to pour down. Just horrific. Scary. Luckily, I was happy as a clam inside my warm, toasty home.

But I could not stop thinking about the U.S., New Zealand, Australian, and British soldiers fighting in Burma during World War II. They were in real monsoons, day after day, leeches all over them, Japanese soldiers preparing to kill them, sick with dengue fever, malaria, dysentery, exhausted, hungry. Yet they fought on and on and on.

I could not stop thinking about U.S. forces in Vietnam in the jungle. Stepping on pongee sticks designed to poison them and kill them, mortared, sniped at, exhausted, shunned by the country that sent them there. Yet they fought magnificently and fought the Communists to a victory that Congress then snatched away from them.

They did not have a toasty home to return to. They did not have clean pajamas and shrimp. They had nothing but courage.

Well, I know I am a broken record on this subject, but I am enraged that Mr. Obama is proposing steep cuts in military benefits in terms of retirement health care and family health care. That is the last thing we should be cutting.

This has all become even more of an obsession with me than usual upon watching The World at War over and over again. I respectfully tell you that while the series has a distinct left-wing slant, and insanely includes Alger Hiss as an expert on U.S. defense policy without identifying him as a spy, The World at War is a work of genius. You must watch it.

 

I tried to read a long article by a woman with a beautiful Irish name in the Atlantic. I could not finish it for all of the self-reference, but then I thought, “Well, we writers are self-referential. What the heck.” It was a fine article.

Then I read a long, long, long, long article in another issue of the Atlantic by a simply beautiful woman named Kate Bolick, editor of Veranda magazine, about why she is single at the old age of 36. I really had to laugh. Kate, 36 is not old. It is very, very young, and you are a stunning and brilliant woman, and if you want to get married, you will. She goes into all kinds of strange history and economics and sociology to explain why she’s not married. It reminds me of Marx writing Das Kapital just as a way of venting his envy of his rich relatives who were kapitalists. What a lot of damage that horrible man did.

Kate, let yourself off the hook. You have a great career. You are gorgeous. You are young. Do not work so hard trying to prove a simple point: it is hard to find a good man. It is especially hard when you have been raised by a feminist, confused mother; she apparently was. Kate, be happy. You are a triumph as a human being. A genuine triumph.

By the way, the author tells of her ex-boyfriend asking her to help pick out his clothes for his wedding to another woman. How strange that is. I wonder if Ms. Bolick realizes how much that tells about him.

Then she really upset me by talking about how young people now have something called “the hook up” where they get roaring drunk, then go home and have sex with someone they hardly know and then talk about how inadequate their “partner” was. How horrible. What a cruel world this has become. “The hook up” sounds thoroughly awful. I greatly would prefer time with Julie Good Girl.

Anyway, I had (as noted) shrimp for dinner, then decided I was too tired to drive back to Beverly Hills, so I slept out here in Malibu next to my wonderful German short-haired pointer, the aforementioned Julie Good Girl.

I awakened this morning to hear on the radio about that Obama gaffe when he was talking to Mr. Medvedev of Russia. Apparently Medvedev was complaining that the U.S. was still seeking to defend itself with a missile shield. Obama promised that once he had won the upcoming election, he would disarm at a pace the Russians would like.

It is terrifying that he’s President.

Reagan had the totally right idea: use our scientific prowess to defend the nation and our allies from ballistic missile attack. Of course, the Soviets didn’t like it. That was the whole point. But why throw away a good chance to keep the nation and the West alive? I never saw the rationale in that. Never. I guess Mr. Obama is just doing his whole plan: betray Israel, spend us into bankruptcy, enlarge the welfare rolls to include the whole country, make us all wards of the state, disarm us, demoralize the military. Speaking of Marx …

But I don’t think he’s a Marxist. He likes money a lot. So does Mr. Axelrod. He’s no Commie. He is a full-scale capitalist. They’re all socialists for everyone else and kapitalists for themselves.

I am not feeling very well. I think I have the flu. Everyone I know has it, so I guess I have it, also. Plus, I am sad that my wifey is not here with me. She stayed in town to go to a panel on the Holocaust, but it turned out to be a panel on Women’s Image in the Media. She must have stayed a long time because that is a big, big subject. Women have pretty much gained at least equality with men in the media.

Lots of women anchors, newscasters, stars, spokespersons. (I love that woman on the Progressive ads. Flo. Really funny.) Also lots of channels devoted to women’s issues.

I am fascinated over and over again when I read about how Mr. Obama appeals to women and the GOP doesn’t. I guess Mr. Obama appeals to women who like abortion and the GOP appeals to women who like babies. It doesn’t seem as if the divide is sex. It’s ideology. I know I have said it before. By the way, I am endlessly fascinated with the efforts that we Americans go to in order to save a life that’s stranded at the bottom of a well or in a cavern. I am amazed at how we prod our health care system to take better care of us so we can save lives. And I agree with those goals.

But we could save about one million lives a year if we did not have abortion on demand. That would be the single largest lifesaving step we could take. But we don’t, because we don’t recognize babies as being human beings until they’ve been born for a few hours. They can be killed as they are being born, but not long after being born. This strikes me as wickedness. Plus, it’s extremely anti-life. Health nuts, and Obamacare supporters: Want to save lives? Stop aborting 4,000 babies each day.

As you can tell, I am now officially “anti-party” and I guess this will come back to haunt me. The Thought Police are already after me because I think God had something to do with creating life. Now I am really in trouble. Reagan had all of this so totally, completely right.

I lay down in my bed, covered with dog hair, Julie next to me, and looked at the perfect blue Malibu sky and ocean. An immense hawk with a fork in its tail glided by completely on a 180 degree horizontal. It was immense. Maybe a three-foot wingspan. Maybe more. It looked intense. I only saw its eyes for an instant, but they were blood curdling. Birds of prey. There are a lot of mice out in the woods next to our house. A banquet for hawks. To the Thought Police birds of prey, I am a mouse. Thoughtcrime does not “entail” death. Thoughtcrime is death. Orwell.

But those birds are simply magnificent. They have not tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, unlike man.

TUESDAY

I FELT TERRIBLE LAST NIGHT, but I also felt like a change. So I had my messengerette, Helen, drive me down to the desert. It was a stressful experience. She is not a great driver, and she veers madly from lane to lane. Plus, her car is too small. I hate this feeling of vulnerability. But we have to get used to it. Soon, the government has ruled, we will all have to have cars that get 56 miles per gallon. How will they do that? Won’t the cars have to be terribly light? Won’t that put the drivers and passengers of those cars at risk?

I very much agree with the goal of reducing air pollution, and I do not want global warming from cars if that’s where it comes from. But I also do not want anyone I love getting killed in a car crash.

I think I am giving the wrong impression here, though. I read this and I see that I complain too much.

I actually like my life a lot. I got here last night, watched and listened to a panel talking about the Supreme Court argument on Obamacare, then watched The Untouchables, then swam in the moonlight.

This morning, I awakened and swam. A man with a tractor/lawn mower was mowing the golf course and a hummingbird was flying a few feet from where I swam. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backward. My Julie Good Girl was lying nearby looking at me. Overhead, big jet liners glided onto the landing path for Palm Springs International Airport. Much higher up, there were half a dozen contrails from high-flying jets framing the azure sky above the Santa Rosa Mountains. Bougainvillea bloomed at one end of the pool and the scent of grapefruit trees was everywhere. Like perfume, only better.

My endless thought is, “How long can this keep going on?”

I must stop thinking like that. Instead, I will concentrate on gratitude for every instant and every person and every dog in my life. And for this blessed America, the sum of man’s desires.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer in Beverly Hills and Malibu.

Stein, Benjamin J.

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