Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

My Christmas Peace Initiative

By 12.10.15

Now, it’s Christmas Time. The season of peace or so it should be. But it’s not. We as a people and a nation are under attack by sick, angry men and women. And they are winning. If they can make the leading GOP candidate say that no Muslims should be allowed in this country, they are winning. If they can make us shut our hearts to our own basic principles, they are winning. I pray it does not happen.

Let me go back a short space in time: In 1966 and 1967, I was an unhappy young man. I was a student at Yale Law School and I hated it. (I later grew to love it but that’s another story.) I was taking all kinds of perfectly legal drugs that doctors prescribed that messed with my brain and made me feel bewildered.

At that time in history, there was a lot of terrorism going on, largely from a group calling itself the Weatherman Collective, later renamed the Weather Underground, named for a line in a Bob Dylan song. Gail Sheehy wrote a killer article about them in New York Magazine and it compelled me to try to imagine what kind of people would do such things.

Ben Stein's Diary

What a World

By 12.6.15

So.… It is Thursday and I am in Vegas. I got here this afternoon to get ready for a cocktail party for a super group I am speaking to at 7 tomorrow morning. I am at the Aria Hotel, a fairly new place with superb views.

My lecture agent met me at the lobby door, which was unbelievably kind of him. There were a couple of little problems, though.

One is that this hotel, like most big Strip hotels, has fantastically long, depressing halls. I had a bell man but it was still a long walk. Too long.

The far worse, incomparably worse, problem is that I have a pal named Al who meets me at LAX and helps me with my trip. He’s been my pal and comfort for at least fifteen years. He told me this morning that his wife died last week. I knew her. She was a beautiful woman named Lila. She’s been fighting cancer like a champion and had every kind of treatment imaginable. She had a lengthy period of recovery. But just recently she got much worse. Ten days ago, she told Al she could not fight anymore, held his hand, fell asleep, and never woke up.

Ben Stein's Diary

The Past

By 12.3.15

America is going through a major bout of self-doubt.

A few examples, mostly from our students at our fine colleges and universities.

It has been “discovered” by some Princeton students that the long-time President of Old Nassau, Woodrow Wilson, yes, that Woodrow Wilson, was sour on blacks, to put it mildly. He made sure the armed forces were segregated, for one thing, and basically refused to talk to black citizens of distinction at all.

So the modern Princetonians are furious. They should be. Mr. Wilson’s behavior was atrocious. The only thing is that he was head of Princeton roughly a century ago. He died in the office of the President of the U.S. about 95 years ago. What are we supposed to do about him?

Then there are the students at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. They have found out that there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus. Yes, he wrote the Declaration of Independence. But it turns out that this Virginia planter of some 200 plus years ago, like all other southern planters, owned slaves. He might well have had a sexual affair with a slave.

Ben Stein's Diary

What’s Happened to Racism?

By 11.18.15

I am getting to be a pretty old guy. I just had my 71st birthday. There are some terrible things about getting old. You have to get up often in the middle of the night. You get tired walking through the airport. Instant romance becomes a sad joke.

But you do get a sense of perspective, and that used to be worth something.

For example, in my generation, growing up in Maryland and DC, we had a darned good idea of what racism was. My elementary school, beloved Parkside, in an almost unbelievably beautiful setting, was segregated. Black children, or “colored” as they were usually called, were barred by law from attending.

The only black man on the premises was the janitor, Willie, a kindly old fellow endlessly sweeping the halls.

The buses in Maryland were segregated and blacks sat in the back. The buses in DC had only just been integrated and they still had a faded white line separating the formerly all white parts of the bus from the black parts. Older black people usually made their way to the back.

Ben Stein's Diary

Big Brother as N.Y. Attorney General

By 11.9.15

Sunday Night
Oooh. It is cold and rainy here in Greenville, South Carolina. We are here visiting our son, Tommy, his incredibly beautiful wife, The Kitten, and their daughter, the beguiling 4-year-old Coco. This has been an exhausting trip.

First, we flew to DC about a week ago. The flight was fine but my head ached from the cabin being first too warm, then too cold. Small, first world problems, to be sure.

Ben Stein's Diary

What Could Be More Important?

By 10.31.15

Many, many years ago, when I was a speechwriter for Mr. Nixon at the White House, my father, Herbert Stein, was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. He was a brilliant man and a loving, devoted father to my sister and me.

One day in 1974, I needed a statistic for a speech. My father and I both worked at the Old Executive Office Building. I trekked up two flights of stairs and went in to see my Pop, who was, as always, deep in thought.

“Pop,” I said, “may I ask you for a little bit of help finding a number, if you’re not too busy on something else.”

My father put down his Kent cigarette and looked at me with his soft brown eyes.

“Benjy,” he said, “what do you think I have to do that would be more important than helping my one and only son?”

That has stuck with me every hour of every day.

Ben Stein's Diary

Reflections in the Pool

By 10.26.15

This has been another hot day here in glorious L.A. I got up, swam, threw the ball for my Julie by the pool as I swam, got out, showered, got dressed. My wife is still not well and she was sleeping.

As I swim, what I see is a cloudless light blue sky (I swim on my back), a long line of Cedars next to my pool, my dog pacing furiously, two fake ducks, my white stucco house from the 1920s, a famous playwright, Clifford Odets, who wrote Waiting for Lefty, used to live here, and I endlessly think, “Hey, this is great. I love this. Who gets to live like this?”

Don’t get me wrong. I am not at all rich. I am just a hard working guy who had some major lucky breaks. I am rich in gratitude. Rich in blessings. The main one was being born in the USA and growing up in the best time ever to grow up — as my brilliant sister says, she grew up in the best time ever to be a woman, to be a Jew, and to be an American. I also had successful and helpful parents and friends. I really cannot imagine how much more difficult my life would have been without a power player as my father.

I’ll just give you a few examples:

Ben Stein's Diary

There’s No Defense for These Two

By 10.24.15

Now, for a few notes about the world we live in. Ever since I learned about Barack Obama’s tormented childhood, I waited for the wackiness to come out. Abandoned by his black father and his white mother. Coddled and loved by his white grandparents. Trying to be white for years, then figuring out that the percentages were with playing the race card.

That man, with all of that turmoil inside him, was never going to be a healer. He was angry. You cannot be abandoned by your father and mother without being angry unless you have come to find some God in your life, which Mr. Obama clearly has not. Plus, if he were at peace, he would not have married a woman as furiously angry at her country as he did.

So, as my pal Phil said, all that counted was his unconscious agenda. We soon knew what that was: to loathe America. To apologize for America before the worst tyrants of the world, to refuse to adequately defend America.

Then, that was compounded by the sad truth that he was desperately inexperienced in foreign affairs and defense and economics.

Ben Stein's Diary

Standing the Heat

By 10.12.15

The heat wave continues. I guess Mr. Obama is right. Global warming is happening. At least in this part of the globe. The sun is dazzling, pounding against the stucco walls of our house in Beverly Hills. I mean, it is scorching. So what if it’s unnaturally cold elsewhere? It is hot where we movie stars live.

I slept in the air conditioning for a long time. Then I awakened and stared at my Julie for about an hour. That dog is so beautiful it’s hard to believe she is real. White with brown and liver colored spots. A long, regal nose. Soft, forgiving brown eyes. Just a dream.

I answered texts for hours. Mostly they come from various women I know who want my advice with agents or with investing or just want a handout. I am a soft touch although as I get older and closer to eternity, I am less soft a touch. I want to leave something to my granddaughter. Why? I don’t know. I guess it’s just custom. She is a sweet girl, though. I hope the Islamic War Against Women doesn’t affect her. That’s the real War Against Women. The one that Hillary makes up is paranoid fantasy.

Ben Stein's Diary

In Black America

By 10.8.15

At this moment, voices are raised in controversy about taking in immigrants from the chaos and violence in the Near East and Africa. Just for little me, it is a bit too complex to understand. Why would we, broke as a government, take in hundreds of thousands of new dependents whom the taxpayers will have to support at a cost of tens of billions? Why would we take in immigrants many of whom, by tradition, are imbued with extremely unfortunate attitudes towards women, violent hatred of Jews, and, as a culture, hatred of Western values? Why especially when we will have to be paying for them? The data is clear that about 90 percent of them will be on the government dole indefinitely. How many of them are ISIS and Al Qaeda plants? It is all complicated indeed.

But what really seems crystal clear to me is that we have our own problems here at home with people who are already Americans. Let’s tell an unpleasant truth: this country is two Americas, a white America, which is by and large doing well, with some large exceptions, and is fairly happy with their lives — and a black America, which is in crisis mode:

Just to take a few items: