Ben Stein's Diary

A Power Outage Is Like Obama

Flashlights won't save us.

By 8.6.14

Ben Stein
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Saturday
Dies irae. Alex and I got into Sandpoint late last night. Our connection in Seattle was quite delayed. That meant a cruel wait at the Horizon gates. Those are the slum, public housing gates of the airport. Tiny little chairs crammed together so that we paying passengers are galley slaves in the SEA-TAC galley.

Luckily for me, I found a charging station for my phone and at it was a charming woman in her mid-thirties. She told me about her life. The main point I got from it was that she had made a terrible mistake by not going to college. Instead she had worked at a clothing store and skied. Now, about to enter middle age, she is divorced and her career options limited to retail store management in Spokane.

Why anyone would turn down the chance for an education beyond high school, especially when it’s so heavily subsidized, is totally beyond me. There are just no negatives to acquiring education at the taxpayers’ expense.

Better pay, more interesting work, more chance at self-expression… why not do it, especially since college and graduate school are so much easier than working?

I didn’t press the point with my fellow pilgrim, though. She obviously knew her mistake.

In Spokane, Hertz did not have the cars I had ordered and didn’t really seem to give much of a damn about it. That used to be the best rental car branch I knew of. I guess there’s new management. I got a Buick and while it’s a fine car, why do they even ask what kind of car I want if I am not going to get it?

On the way up to Sandpoint, I realized that I had no flashlight in my Buick. I am super phobic about breaking down in the dark with no flashlight, so I stopped at the Walmart near Hayden Lake to buy one. As usual, the staff were incredibly helpful. But the other customers were terrifying. Not at all like the friendly folk at the Walmart near Sandpoint. These were enormous sallow men and women, grotesquely obese teenagers, horribly tattooed women in sun dresses at 10 PM. These were the Jukes and the Kallikaks. Their RV’s were parked in the Walmart parking lot. Terrifying, especially in Walmart’s ultra-bright jail line-up lights.

By the time we got to our home, we were exhausted and mentally crushed from the trip and the sights at Walmart, Hayden Lake.

But, Mr. Buffett’s trains went by gloriously and we felt happy as we drifted off to sleep.

Sandpoint is not at all like Hayden Lake, and I am sure Hayden Lake is wonderful, too. But those subterranean creatures at the Walmart — wow, I don’t want to see them ever again.

Saturday
The aura is collapsing. Maybe it has to do with the moral catastrophe of the Hamas war on Israel and the media’s siding with the aggressor, Hamas. Maybe it has to do with the blatant anti-Semitism sweeping Europe. Whatever little bits of European guilt over the Holocaust are long gone. Now, the Arabs who dominate street life in much of Europe are getting ready for a new Thousand Year Reich, maybe a million year Reich which they call the Caliphate. And they’ll get it in Europe because there is no one to fight back. There will be no miracles in Spain or Vienna. The Arabs will immigrate and procreate themselves into dominance in Western Europe. All those chateaux and green, rolled lawns and bewigged heads of judges? In a hundred years, it will all look like Baghdad. And the Christians who so happily caved in to the Islamists will be outlawed. Christianity will exist only outside Europe and the Middle East. And the nuclear bombs of France? Where will they go?

Europe has tried so many times to commit suicide. But America always saved Europe. Not this time. This time there is no turning back. No U.S. landing at Normandy — nor for that matter Russian assault on Budapest — is going to save Europe from the Islamists. That won’t bring peace, though — just endless murders, rapes, and bombings, the hallmarks of militant Islam. This time it will be in Whitehall and along the River Spree and the Quai d’Orsay. It can’t be stopped.

Critical Islamist mass has been reached in Western Europe. Now we are just awaiting the explosion. And Europe did it to itself by importing the Islamists. It is later than any dare think.

So, Alex sensibly slept all day. Tim Farmin and I took the Cobalt out on Lake Pendoreille even though there were ominous clouds to the west. We sailed merrily to Ivano’s Del Lago in Hope, roughly 15 miles away by sea. As usual, Ivano’s was confused but cheerful. Our food was glorious. But off to the west, the sky was getting extremely dark. Tim suddenly said, “Let’s go. Right now.”

We ran to the boat, revved it up, and raced like mad men across the top of the lake. The sky was growing too damned dark too damned fast. I noticed other Cobalts racing along to my right and left heading for safety in Sandpoint. Then the wind began to pick up and even the powerful Cobalt bucked in the troughs and swells.

The squall hit just as we reached the anchorage at the Seasons and Tim sternly suggested that I step aside and let him park it. The wind was leeward at a level of violence I had never seen before. Tim — even Tim — had difficulty parking the boat but finally did.

“What do we do now?” I asked him.

“We get the hell out of here,” he said.

We walked briskly into the building just as the power went out. No elevators. Only a few lights. I got winded fast. By the time we got to our apartment on the top floor, I was short of breath. Alex had candles going and had laid out a few of our flashlights.

I am a maniac about preparedness for power outages so we had the lot — transistor radios, incredible hoards of batteries, water, dozens of flashlights.

Even so, I missed the power. Our apartment without power is like America with Obama. No light, no motive force, no air-conditioning, a lassitudinous emptiness everywhere.

America with Obama at the helm — like one of those horrible cruise ships that lose power, lose the ability to steer, lose sanitation — is a floating, sad mess to its inhabitants.

Tim went home. I listened in the dark to the BBC blaming Israel for civilian casualties in Gaza, calling Israel a criminal state. The precise equivalent of calling Britain a gangster state — as Goebbels did — because the Brits dared to fight back and caused civilian deaths in Hamburg and Berlin and Essen and Düsseldorf. Only the Brits really did use terror bombing to kill as many civilians as they could. We rightly laud them as the saviors of civilization. But Israel has killed hundreds — not hundreds of thousands as we and the Brits did — and no one in America or Britain, or almost no one, called the Allied air raids on the Reich war crimes.

Always a double standard against Israel… Israel is always wrong on the BBC and in the New York Times. And Hamas, who started it, and who could always end it for good just by agreeing to be a partner in prosperity with Israel — well, yes: They do shoot rockets at Israel from schools, homes, mosques, hospitals. But we have to have patience and sympathy for them. And the Jews cannot shoot back at them. They are not Jews.

Anyway, far from Khan Younis, it was quiet in Sandpoint. Not a light on. Occasional freeway traffic. No trains. Darkness, darkness. No power, once again.

I fell asleep listening to some BBC snob and awakened at 5 when the power went back on. Imagine how great I felt to switch on the A/C. Imagine how great it would feel to have a real leader in the Oval Office. Imagine an America with power.

Tuesday
Power is back on everywhere. I had lunch with an incredibly brave former very high policeman in San Francisco, now living in Sandpoint, and his beautiful wife. There are an awful lot of retired law enforcement people here in Sandpoint. You can see why. There is basically no crime here. This is a safe town to walk around in at almost any time. You cannot believe that, can you? But it’s true.

We rested and then Alex, Tim, and I went out to Bottle Bay for an early supper. It was like a dream come true. The servers were helpful and beautiful. The Bottle Bay Burgers were heavenly. The boaters getting gas were all cheery. It’s heaven here.

Now, I have to go to bed. I have to pray for the soul of Richard Nixon, the greatest peacemaker ever to sit in the Oval Office, the man who opened up China, who ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POWs, signed the first strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia (which Putin is sneering at), created the EPA, gave us the last balanced budget any Republican ever gave us, and, above all, ended chaos and anarchy in the streets and on the campuses.

Tortured, tormented, crucified by the scribes and the Pharisees. He was made to leave office forty years ago. The loss was catastrophic. Ask the Cambodians.

Why do the peacemakers always get killed?

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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.