Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Uncle Sam Does Not Like You

By 7.15.14

Monday
I cannot believe this. There are clouds in the sky and teeny tiny drops of rain are falling. Just a few tears from heaven, but still, rain here is nonexistent, so, baby, I’m amazed.

Wifey and I met Phil DeMuth for lunch at a sushi place in West Hollywood. The room is a triangular shape and today there is a horrible smell in the air. My lungs are closing up and I feel asthma coming on. I’m pretty sure it’s floor polish or maybe one of those HORRIBLE air cleaners that squirts some VILE smell into the air every few seconds. Poison gas, at least to me.

I gave the waitress a twenty (not her fault about the air) and we left in a great hurry. We walked across to L.A. Buns, an outdoor Mexican café. We ordered and watched all of the gay people walk by. The food — cheese enchiladas for Alex, burgers for Phil and me — was tasty and filling and cheap.

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Fault Is Not Israel’s

By 7.14.14

Saturday
Back in L.A. I miss Sandpoint but the heat there was a killer. Just murderous. Except at night roaring across the neck of the lake on my Cobalt. That part of the day has a perfect climate.

Well, no lake here in Beverly Hills, but I do have my dog, Julie Goodgirl. And I have my swimming pool. Julie often just jumps in and swims alongside of me, an almost perfect event.

I had lunch today at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel with a very smart friend whom I will call P. Some of the local gentry are boycotting the hotel. The reason is that the owner of the hotel, whom I believe is the Sultan of Brunei, endorses Sharia Law. That kind of law is extremely tough on women and gays. So Hollywood people are boycotting the hotel.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Cause and Effect, Mr. Kerry

By 7.9.14

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Every morning I get up at about 5 a.m. I go out on my deck and take pictures of the lake and the sky and the Selkirk Mountains. Then I worry about America and Israel and then I watch my wife breathing and then I try to go back to sleep.

The lake and the sky always look fabulous. Not just good, but fabulously calm and enticing and reassuring. It is a different story inside my head. Fear of financial insecurity. The certainty that America is collapsing as a world leader. The endless whipping up of class envy and race baiting by the Obama administration. Stomach upset. The sad spectacle of my once slim and menacing self now overweight and gray haired.

However, I usually go back to sleep until noon, then feed my old self, nowadays mostly with Thomas’s English Muffins. Get dressed and go for a walk. Today’s walk was around the park at City Beach. It was mobbed with happy families, smiling, grilling, laughing, showing off their young bodies or hiding their old bodies. It is cruel to be old.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Sandpoint When It Shimmers

By 7.8.14

Monday, July 7
Another perfect day in Sandpoint. Instead of my usual late sleep, I got up, had a modest breakfast, and went for a walk along City Beach. Hardly anyone was there and the lake was glass. I was sitting at a table looking at the water when a woman with her gray hair tied in a pony tail — always a bad sign — sat down unbidden across from me. Another bad sign.

“You’re Ben,” she said. “Right?”

“Right.”

“I used to see you around and now I never do,” she said. “I used to see you on TV and now I never do.”

“I’m on quite a lot,” I said. “Fox, CNN, CBS. Many places.”

“In fact,” the woman said, “I thought you were dead.”

“Why on earth would you think I was dead?”

“Because I haven’t seen you on TV for such a long time,” she said.

“I just told you I am often on,” I said. “Besides, I suppose there are people who are both not on TV and not dead.”

The woman drew a heavy sigh. “Would you like to have breakfast with me?” she asked.

“No, thank you.”

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Ben Stein's Diary

What Happened?

By 7.7.14

Saturday, July 5, 2014
Still here in Sandpoint, Idaho, and it is too darned hot. It’s often hot in the middle of continents in summer and this is no exception. The real problem is the humidity though. We left D.C. to escape the humidity. It was unbearable, like being in a steam room with your suit and tie on. We do not have much humidity in L.A., but we sure have plenty of it here in North Idaho this summer.

However, it’s all fine. There are hundreds of friendly people out on City Beach, many wanting to say hello and pose for pictures with this old fellow. There is incredibly tasty kettle corn. And there is Lake Pendoreille, limitless cool blue expanse of water, blue sky, clouds, and mountain forests. My brilliant, world-traveling sister, called me to report on her just concluded trip to Tanzania. She generously noted that while it was beautiful, it was no more beautiful than North Idaho, and then added, “No place is.”

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Ben Stein's Diary

They’re Planting Stories in the Press

By 7.5.14

July 4, 2014

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.
They say I shot a man named Gray,
And took his wife to Italy.
She inherited a million bucks,

And when she died,
It came to me.
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.
People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act.
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images, and distorted facts…
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the back roads heading south.
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.…

The ultimate genius, Bob Dylan, of course.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Drinking It All In

By 6.26.14

Wednesday
I am in Malibu. This is my first day off in a long, long time. It has been an extremely busy spring for me. This has included speaking and visiting my son and his family, including beautiful Kitten (daughter-in-law) and Coco, granddaughter. It has taken me to all corners of the nation. I have been in some of the worst hotels I could ever have imagined, and some of the best.

Oddly enough, the worst hotels, by far, were in cities where the people in the audiences were the friendliest. In a few cities, like Orlando, Houston, and, above all, Charlotte, I had great hotel rooms and lovely, jocular audiences.

Just very recently, I had the best audience I have ever had in my life in Charlotte, and a super room at the Ritz Carlton. That Charlotte audience, of well-to-do businessmen, medical people, businesswomen, lawyers, were so alert and hip I was inwardly crying with happiness. They got all of my jokes, got all the historical allusions. I just totally loved my time with them and I was floating when I was done.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Making Friends and Enemies

By From the June 2014 issue

Thursday

Almost every day I run into some kindly soul who asks me if I am still doing Win Ben Stein’s Money. The answer is no. I haven’t been doing it for about fourteen years. The kindly inquiring soul then usually asks what I am doing if I am not doing a TV show.

I say that I write for two magazines regularly, appear every week on Fox News and once every several weeks on CBS Sunday Morning, and write speeches and travel an astonishing amount to deliver them. Usually, I am extremely exhausted after I give a few speeches on the road so then I have to rest for a good long while. I lie in bed with Julie, and I am happy.

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Ben Stein's Diary

My Father Was My Foundation

By 6.13.14

Father’s Day is upon us, and so, naturally, I am thinking of my father. I am thinking of him in particular about the subject of employment. Very recently, a friend lost his job through no fault of his own. He is terrified of what his parents may say to him when he tells them. I keep telling him that losing a job with no fault is not a moral issue, but it does no good.

In the meantime, I am thinking about how it is now Summer. And I got almost every summer job I ever had — in my youth teenage and college age children worked in the summer instead of going on safari as they do now — through my father’s connections. My mother helped a lot, too.

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Real Economic Problem

By 6.10.14

I see that the high muckety-mucks of monetary and fiscal policy are in an uproar about Federal Reserve policy. Is there too much money being shoveled into the economy? Is there too little? If the Fed decides to reverse course and tighten money, what is the best means to do it? Interest rate rises? Reverse repurchase agreements with banks? (I won’t bore you with what those are. I’m not sure myself anyway.)

But as to me, I don’t see a lot of inflation except in luxury goods and groceries, and who needs groceries, so let’s not worry about that.

And I am not wildly concerned about unemployment. As far as I can tell, almost anyone with minimal skills and a willingness to pick up and move to North Dakota or Midland, Texas, can get a job. The real problem is an acute shortage of skilled, energetic workers except in very rare cases.

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