Ben Stein’s Diary

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.

Ben Stein's Diary

The World Thoroughly Off Kilter

By 8.7.14

I was driving through Sandpoint today listening to the BBC. The weather was perfect, warm cloudless skies, light breeze, no humidity. As I listened to one of the BBC’s typical in-your-face Kim Philby impersonators, I had a vision of the truly evil conspiracy against Israel and the Jews that is being hatched at the UN, at the BBC, and in the White House and its latrine, The Department of State.

The “world” community is asserting, with the connivance of Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry, that Israel is purposely killing civilians in Gaza. The White House is calling recent deaths in Gaza “appalling” and “inexcusable” to attempt to get across the idea that when civilians die as a result of Israeli action, that action was intended to kill civilians.

Ben Stein's Diary

A Power Outage Is Like Obama

By 8.6.14

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?

Ben Stein's Diary

More Than We Bargained For

By From the July/August 2014 issue

MondayHere I am in New York City. The weather is perfect. Last night I had a fine flight up on a tiny little U.S. Air regional jet. Its air conditioning was broken and it was an oven, but I slept most of the time anyway.I checked into my usual room at the Marriott Essex House on Central Park South. For decades it was a Marriott, and then an Arab hotel firm bought it, spruced it up, and ran it for about ten years. Now it’s a Marriott again and it’s just great. The doormen, bellhops, and desk people are all kind and remember me from stays over many years. It feels like home.I met up with the college-age daughter of a close friend from Los Angeles. She’s a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary at Columbia University and also takes many courses at the School of General Studies at Columbia. She was right on time and we went out for a walk in the balmy evening of New York in spring. The girl and I discussed President Obama’s concerns about rape on campus. She was extremely concerned about the situation, too.

Ben Stein's Diary

We’re Going in the Wrong Direction

By 7.30.14

Tuesday–July 29, 2014
It is all happening again. Wild anti-Jewish mobs shouting, “Death to the Jews” in Berlin, threats against Jews wearing yarmulkes all across Europe, homes of prominent Jews attacked. “Celebrities” in Spain denouncing Israeli “fascism” for Israel defending itself.

Europe. And now that Europe is fast becoming a Muslim and Arab continent, there will be no turning back. The illness of Islamist hatred and fundamentalism is loosed upon once mighty Europe from within and the organism has no defense mechanism. Europe as a home of liberal ideas about the dignity of the individual will be only a memory by the time my 26-year-old son is middle aged. It is a catastrophe of historic, world-ending dimensions.

Ben Stein's Diary

Stoned Crazy at the ‘New York Times’

By 7.28.14

Sunday—Beverly Hills
I awakened this morning to a cloudy sky. Off to swim while pausing every minute or so to throw the ball for Julie. We have had no rain in just about forever, and even any rain at all would be a Godsend.

Then, breakfast, and while my English muffins were toasting, I opened the New York Times. With suitable sounding of clarions, bugles, coronets and drums, the Times announced that its mighty “Editorial Board” would now be endorsing the legalization of marijuana. This was announced with as much solemnity as if there had been an actual sighting of the Lord God Jehovah at Union Square.

The Times “Editorial Board” has decided that the federal ban on marijuana is all too much like the Volstead Act, which enacted Prohibition on alcohol. It is creating a new, immense class of law breakers, and filling up prisons with marijuana law breakers, who turn out, by the cunning of racism, and through no fault of their own, to be largely black.

Ben Stein's Diary

Castrated by Our President

By 7.26.14

Travel with a three year old is exhausting. Wifey, our daughter-in-law, “The Kitten,” and our three-year-old granddaughter left Sandpoint about noon yesterday. We hated to go. The sky was a dramatic silver gray and the wind blew the cottonwoods against the windows and Mr. Buffett’s trains roared by. It was what I always wanted.

But we have to return the Kitten to our son and we have to return his daughter, too. So, an uneventful flight to Seattle from Spokane, a brief snack in Seattle, and then, WHAAM!!

Just as we boarded the 7:25 PM flight to LAX, the beloved Coco-Puff was slammed by a bad stomach ache. That would be bad enough for any of us big boys. Or girls. Intestinal disorders while traveling should be illegal. I have suffered from them all of my life.

Ben Stein's Diary

A Day of Nausea

By 7.23.14

Sandpoint, Tuesday, July 21, 2014
Rain. It is startling to see rain on my window pane. It is an extinct phenomenon in California. Just a few drops on the glass here are intoxicating. Will it ever rain again in Sunny Cal? It had better. Someone will make a fortune trucking in water. But it won’t be me.

I awakened with a nasty intestinal virus. Why? I don’t know but my wife had it two days ago so it’s going around. As my pal Phil always says, just a touch of nausea makes life deeply unsettling, destroys all sense of proportion, robs you of your vitality. That’s just a touch of nausea. My Tazo Refresh Tea helps, but I need lomotil as well.

I slept very late, then answered e-mails. As I saw the rain hovering over the lake, I read the encouragement of those who have been angered by my rough treatment in the media. The one I treasured especially was from a woman of roughly my age. Many years ago, she had a middle-aged pregnancy through an affair with a married man in the construction trades.

Ben Stein's Diary

Performance Art Indeed

By 7.22.14

Monday, Sandpoint, Idaho
A trying day but a rewarding day. The smoke has returned somewhat but temperatures are pleasant and a delightful breeze blows across the lake and the beach. I lay out on the balcony for a while, then came inside to nap with my Big Wifey by my side.

My “smart phone” rang and on the other end of the line was a gossip columnist from New York City. She had a smear item on me. In brief, this is what it’s about.

About five months ago, as I was walking through SFO to get into my car, I met a young woman who was extremely excited to meet me. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. She told me she was a “performance artist” but hinted at some scary parts of her life. She said she would like to be a writer and asked if I could help. We exchanged texting addresses and off I went in my car. I spent fewer than five minutes talking to her in a busy airport terminal.

Ben Stein's Diary

Clearing the Smoke

By 7.21.14

July 19, 2014
Another hot, smoky day. The brown air sears the lungs. The sky is ominous, choking, dense. It is Saturday and I slept late and look forward to a lot more sleep. But I have miles to go before I sleep again. I am having the devil’s own time with slow downloads. I think I need a new computer. A trip to Staples to look around. Very nice people, but that store is extremely low on every kind of supply I was looking for. I wonder what its future is.

I bought a computer but Citibank would not let me charge it on my Citi MasterCard. There was some fuss about an earlier order. It took a lot of telephone struggle with a fraud department clerk to get things straightened out, or so I thought.

Then, a short jaunt to the Walmart. You can make all the fun you want of that store, but the people who work there really want to help. They search and search with you until they find what you need — in my case, immense quantities of Fiji Water. I find Fiji genuinely tastes better than any other brand.