Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Alcohol and Sexual Assault on Campus

By 9.17.14

Tuesday
This just occurred to me as I was lying on my bed in my home in Malibu, trying to draw some air-conditioned breaths as the heat wave continues. I was listening to a story on the radio about student misconduct and these little bitty thoughts crept into my heat-stroked brain:

I, your humble servant, had the great pleasure of graduating from Columbia College in New York City in 1966. It gave me a fine education and good friends so I have affection for it. I had my first romantic relationship of any meaning there. It was a powerful experience and I still have vast affection for the woman I was involved with (although she won’t speak to me — she’s a Democrat).

I was thus greatly concerned when I read that the students at Columbia are suffering from a string of sexual assaults and are demonstrating about it. I read that this phenomenon — sexual assault among students — is a national epidemic. Mr. Obama is treating it as a crisis and devoting government attention to it. And it is a serious matter.

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Ben Stein's Diary

You Cannot Bomb Away Insanity

By 9.16.14

Monday
The heat here in L.A. today is torture. Hot as blazes and humidity. Just crazy hot. Over 101 here in Beverly Hills, and that is rare. I dragged myself to me 12-step meeting in an airless chamber where there usually is modest air conditioning if I bribe the manager of the building. But today, barely a whisper and the heat was like being whipped. It reminded me of days in Maryland and D.C. before air conditioning. Hell.

Is there any honor great enough for the men who invented air conditioning? Is there are prize big enough? The Internet is a nuisance. Jet airplanes are their own torture. Space travel is a mirage, so far. But air conditioning — there is a work of God’s genius in man.

After the meeting I walked a few blocks to Citibank to reactivate a dormant account. I earn .10 percent interest on that. Is that cool or what? That the bank takes in deposits at price X and then lends them out again at 45 times X. That’s what the Fed has given us and it’s great for bankers and I LOVE bankers, but maybe we depositors could just get a few pennies more.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Popping Off From Coast to Coast

By 9.13.14

Friday
I am back in Beverly Hills after a grueling trip. I don’t feel well so I am going to just give you a few snapshots of what’s been happening in my life.

One. I gave a speech in Orlando to a large (maybe 900) group of super smart construction engineers. They were mostly involved in energy projects and mostly from Houston, one of my absolutely favorite cities, a muscular, powerhouse super city.

After the speech, which was incredibly early in the morning, I took a long, glorious nap in my hotel room for about three peaceful hours. Long naps are far better than nighttime sleep. Then off to the hellish Orlando airport and a flight to Charlotte that was an oven. Why can’t the airlines and airplane manufacturers figure out how to air condition a plane?

At CLT, I met up with Big Wifey, who had flown in from LAX. We got some excellent meatball minestrone soup in the US Air Lounge, and then our diver, Bob Noah, took us in our lordly rented Camry to Greenville, South Carolina.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Let Me Get This Straight

By 9.2.14

Labor Day
This was an educational summer. We learned this summer that when terrorists kill Jews, that’s legitimate anger and frustration. When Jews defend themselves, that’s genocide.

We learned that Europe, which Henry Ford called “that slaughterhouse of nations” or something similar, is still chock a block with anti-Semites who are wildly happy to join hands with the emerging Muslim majority in Europe to torture the Jews.

We learned that the elite media, especially the New York Times, will turn on Israel and the Jews and seek to curry favor with the enemies of Jews and of America in any way they can. (Yes, of course Jews own the New York Times but the Jews who own the Times are white Jews.)

Big stuff.

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Ben Stein's Diary

There Is No Weather Here

By 9.1.14

Sunday
Here we are back in L.A. In Beverly Hills, to be specific. The weather is glorious. Maybe a bit too hot but the air conditioning takes care of that. Both wifey and I have had some respiratory thing. It has laid her low and it makes me a bit tired. I bring her take out Mexican food and frozen yogurt from little places in gay West Hollywood. That’s how she stays alive.

I have been working on my bills and taxes. Boring, maddening work. How anyone who spends as much as I do has avoided bankruptcy is a miracle.

Today, I worked like a myrmidon on a speech for some super-smart engineers, then went to a little café on Sunset Plaza all by my little self to have some calf’s liver. It was heavenly, although contemplating the idea of eating a calf’s liver right now makes me feel sick to my stomach. How did I do it? Crazy.

As I sat out on the sidewalk and watched people go by, people of all races, speaking many different languages, looking menacing in many different ways, I felt a super-powerful wave of missing Sandpoint. I have been back from Idaho for one week now and I am ready to go back for good.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Decline and Fall of Obama’s America

By 8.23.14

Friday
One of the great privileges that any literate man or woman or transgender can have is to read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I had that privilege — at least to read it in an abridged form — about thirty-five years ago when I was confined to bed in Aspen, Colorado. The book, as witty and sarcastic as it is learned, makes the point — among many others — that Rome was doomed when its Emperors became steadily more stupid, cowardly, self-obsessed, short sighted, lazy, and grandiose.

Starting roughly 150 years A.D., the emperors were so bad that when each emperor died — often by murder — the citizens would rejoice. They thought that the old emperor was so bad that the new one would have to be better. Within a few months, they would be longing to have the old emperor back.

This is exactly what we are now seeing in Barack Obama’s America. We are seeing a President so bad that he makes even the worst prior ones look good (except for Jimmy Carter, who is beyond redemption). I would like to humbly offer a few examples.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Popping the Asset Bubble

By 8.18.14

Sunday
My brain is racing. I have too much on my mind. Money, money, money. No, not my own money, which I spend so fast it’s like a fast breeder reactor. Except that those reactors somehow make more fuel and I don’t. Well, that metaphor won’t work. Let’s try another. No, not my money, which is my usual shame because my mother would die if she saw how fast I spent it, like a drunken sailor coming off a nuclear submarine. (There is that nuclear analogy.) But the nation’s money. That’s what I am worried about.

The Fed Chair, Dr. Yellen, has advised that she plans to see the short term Fed borrowing rate rise from .25 percent to 2.5 percent within about two years. This would mark the end of a fantastically long period of the Fed keeping interest rates at essentially zero.

My mind goes back to the great economist, Edward F. Denison, of the Committee for Economic Development. Dr. Denison wisely told my Pop that if an interest rate goes from one percent to two percent, that’s not a rise of one percent. That’s a rise of 100%.

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Moral Decency in Disintegration

By 8.16.14

Friday
A trip up to the charming town of Sandpoint. It went well except that our flight from SEA to Spokane was postponed for an hour. We took an earlier flight but then my wife’s luggage was not in Spokane. We had to wait two hours for that. We passed the time at a fine local Spokane restaurant called the Rusty Moose. Good food, good service.

We sat at the bar and next to us were two soldiers. One of them was quiet. The other was talkative. He wanted to know if I thought there was much of a future for civilization.

“We Americans come from the Enlightenment,” he said. “But how many other countries have the values of respect for law, respect for human dignity, respect for the individual that we have?”

“Maybe Israel and the UK,” I said.

“Right,” said the soldier. “That was my count, too.”

This is a conversation I have been having often. People just come up to me and ask me if I think civilization has a future, if I think human decency has a future.

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Robin Williams, R.I.P.

By 8.12.14

I never worked with Robin Williams. Once in a great while I would see him at a Hollywood watering hole, but that was a long time ago. And he always made me extremely uneasy when I saw him on the screen, large or small. He had a frantic, wildly manic quality to him, like a toy soldier that had been overwound and would walk into walls and fall down and just keep walking. Hyper beyond sanity.

He was — from what I heard — a deeply thoughtful and sad man. His thoughts made him sadder, so he turned to alcohol and drugs. His appetite for both was the stuff of legend. Like almost all alcoholics and drug addicts and many, many, many comedians, he had powerful feelings of self-hatred and self-loathing and suicide. I see it in my colleagues here. I have seen it work its evil way into killing three of my best friends.

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Ben Stein's Diary

A Peacemaker Who Never Had It Easy

By 8.9.14

So, now it’s forty years since Richard Nixon resigned. The Peacemaker. Humiliated. Spat on by people not worthy to empty his bedpan. Disgraced for rumors of rumors of rumors. Even now, forty years on, a genuine genius, a man of character, George Will, an American icon of intelligence, gets roped into repeating the hoary chestnut that Nixon purposely prolonged the war in Vietnam before he was elected in 1968 to deprive Hubert Humphrey of the prize. There’s no story there except that even so brilliant a prize as Will repeats pool hall gossip about Nixon that has been disproved a million times, most recently in Pat Buchanan’s superb new book on the 1968 campaign, The Greatest Comeback.

The seductiveness of urinating on the grave of a historic figure of peace is apparently overpowering.

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