Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Dereliction of Duty on a Grand Scale

By 10.2.14

Two days ago, I came upon the front page of the New York Times for Tuesday. Now, the NYT. That’s a big paper. Prestige paper. I hate it, but it’s the big dog in the newspaper world.

And what is the lead story on page one? Armed intruder scaled a fence in front of the White House — and believe me, I worked at that White House a lot. I know that fence and it’s damned high. Then he ran across the North Lawn, supposedly one of the most heavily patrolled stretches of earth on the planet. Then he walked into the front door of the White House, which was unlocked with no guard at it. Then he ran down the main hall, and into the East Room, the most august room in the White House — and he was carrying a long knife. Finally he was tackled by a White House policeman after he was in an even more intimate room, the Green Room, used for very high powered receptions.

Again, he was carrying a knife. Mr. Obama was not there, but that’s not the story. The story is about high-level government incompetence.

Ben Stein's Diary

I LOVE CARS — The Greatest Invention of Mankind

By 10.1.14

So… It is a beautiful, spectacular day here in Los Angeles. I am sitting at my desk and looking out at the swimming pool and I am thinking a DEEP THOUGHT:


I don’t just like cars. I don’t just think it’s good to have a car. I LOVE CARS. And I include trucks there, too, of course. I LOVE CARS!!!!

The car is the greatest invention of mankind. The car is what makes all of the difference in life.

Before the car, man was pretty much just an insect. He burrowed and crept along the ground. He moved very slowly. He was subject to the cold and the heat and the rain and the snow and the sleet. He was pitiful. Even once he had the horse, he was still outside. He was still going to get pneumonia and die if he rode around in the winter. He was going to get soaked if he rode in the rain.

Even if he or she were an Emperor or an Empress like Napoleon or the Tsar or Queen Victoria, he was going to have a miserable bumpy ride in a carriage, lurching back and forth, getting miserable and nauseated and still sweltering in the heat and freezing in the cold.

Ben Stein's Diary

What Does He Know About Climate?

By 9.26.14

It is 7.30 AM, very very early for me. I cannot sleep. Even with Julie next to me breathing innocently. It is because of some bad corned beef I got recently. When my intestines are in an uproar, I get crazy.

I awakened and read FDR and the Jews, a terrifying tale of the racism that was a commonplace in this glorious America even a couple of generations ago. My grandparents were avid Prohibitionists and Republicans and my mother just hated the WPA and the lefties — there is a book in her life — and of course my Pop was a Stiglerian, Frank Knightian free marketer. But when I learned that Reagan adored FDR, I started liking him, too. Wow, he was handsome.

But let’s move on to other subjects

The whole civilized world, however much is left of it, was staggered recently by the beheadings of two Americans named Foley and Sotloff and a Brit named Haines. Perfectly normal names, but they died in a horrible way, heads slowly cut off by a lone Islamic State butcher in the desert and then images sent to the world by the morally blind Internet.

Ben Stein's Diary

Alcohol and Sexual Assault on Campus

By 9.17.14

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

You Cannot Bomb Away Insanity

By 9.16.14

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

Popping Off From Coast to Coast

By 9.13.14

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.

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

There Is No Weather Here

By 9.1.14

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

Decline and Fall of Obama’s America

By 8.23.14

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

Popping the Asset Bubble

By 8.18.14

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%.