Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

I Love Capitalism, American-Style

By 7.27.15

It has been a quiet day in Sandpoint. Alex and I slept late, as always, and then, while Alex was asleep, I made a huge rib roast. I had bought it a few days ago and been making my plans. Lemon pepper. Seasoned salt. (One of man’s great inventions.) Sliced onions. Preheated oven to 350 degrees. I slid it into the oven and a fantastic smell filled the condo.

Then I made immense Idaho baking potatoes, sliced outer space chives, and put the ensemble on the table. Ooops. Alex said she preferred to sleep longer than to eat bloody rare meat at the ungodly hour of 3 in the afternoon.

Never mind. I ate some and it was great. Alex soon came to her senses and wanted some, too.

Ben Stein's Diary

A Rainy Summer’s Day

By 7.25.15

Rain is falling all over the lake, as far as I can see. Still a magnificent sight. Gray and white and then green mountains as far as the eye can see.

My wifey is still asleep at 12.30, which is normal for her. We are being visited by Mike and Nancy Visser, our handsome/beautiful couple from Calgary, and their two super gorgeous daughters, Payton and Megan. I am a bit groggy from staying up last night watching a fine documentary about World War I until way too late.

The documentary is simply called “World War I in Color.” It has got to be nine hours long. If it were a million hours long, it could not capture the horror of that war. The suffering, pain, loss of life, starvation, crippling terror of that war is just plain beyond what we in our pajamas at lunchtime can imagine.

Whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself — which I often am — think of being in a trench getting shelled, gnawed on by rats, in total shock, in agony, then being ordered to “go over the top” into a hail of shell fire and machine gun bullets and certain death.

Ben Stein's Diary

While Obama Leads America to the Gallows

By 7.22.15

Alex and I got up here Saturday night. It was a grueling trip, as always. You fly to Seattle from LAX, then change to a tiny little commuter plane to Spokane. Saturday’s had six SCREAMING boys with their indolent mother right behind us. Thank you, dear God, for my Bose headphones. They saved my life again.

Then, a roaring trip from Spokane to Sandpoint. We stopped to get Panda take out in Coeur d’Alene, and then raced to Trinity Restaurant, right on the water in Sandpoint for delicious roast chicken.

The next day was hot and humid, but I took my usual stroll along City Beach in Sandpoint. It is a glorious sight to see so many families, church groups, young people, old people, taking in the sun and splashing in Lake Pendoreille on a peaceful day.

There is so very much peace here it’s invigorating to take it all in. Many people, usually older men and women, asked for photos, and as always, I happily obliged. I always wanted to be the cool kid in Junior High, and now I am The Cool Kid in Sandpoint, which is probably the coolest town ever in history.

Ben Stein's Diary

In Black America

By 7.15.15

This is not about Iran.

This is about another war.

So, now the Battle Flag of the Confederacy has been furled and taken away from the state capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. That’s a good thing. It was insulting to black Americans and indeed to everyone who believes in human equality under law. It should have been gone a long time ago. People who find it appealing to have Civil War memorabilia should be able to have it, and I do, along with many other Civil War items, but as a symbol of government, it does not belong where it was.

But, if I may say so, that was an easy win. Dylann Roof, the psycho shooter who waved the Stars and Bars on video, made it all horribly inevitable.

But what does it really change for black Americans?

Black children are still far more than twice as likely as white children to grow up in a home with only one parent. Does anyone think that taking down the Dixie flag will affect that?

Ben Stein's Diary

The Sandpoint the New York Times Missed

By 7.9.15

So, it’s Thursday. Wifey and I are packing to go back to L.A. for a while. Then, if all’s well, we will come back here to Sandpoint. I have been feeling extremely punk lately. I think I have had some malady for about 35 years now and I never can get ahead of it. It hits me extremely hard when I am in the heat. Just devastates me. And there has been so much heat lately it drives me insane.

Still, I love Sandpoint. I had some little bits of business to do yesterday — Vanderford's book store, the ultimate store, Sandpoint Super Drug, the Safeway, my very favorite grocery store, Dairy Depot, world’s best milkshakes. They all know me and greet me by name. I love it. This is small town life as it is supposed to be lived.

I visited at dinner with my dear Sue Hatch and her charming husband, Larry. We ate at Ivano’s, and the food there was close to perfect. No, that ain’t right. It was perfect.

I am embarrassed to say that earlier in the day I was short to my wife over the subject of money. I blame her for my own wild, insane extravagance. I begged her forgiveness and I hope I got it.

Ben Stein's Diary

Listening to My Life Coach

By 7.7.15

We had a fabulous July 4 here two days ago. The sun was blazing and the air was humid. But the parade was packed. Mobbed. Great enthusiasm for everything about the flag. Just generally great spirit everywhere.

Afterwards, I took my brother-in-law, Melvin, age 78, as healthy as an ox, brilliant lawyer, to Taco Bell. He had never been there. He was well impressed, as well he might be. Tasty food. Low prices. Great air conditioning.

Then, an early dinner at Ivano’s in downtown Sandpoint. The food was amazing. Chicken breast with little nuts and cream sauce. It never fails to amaze me how much food is available in America. The whole human condition of scarcity of food has been erased for tens of millions, maybe billions, of people in the developed world. Freedom from want indeed.

There is much more to do, but what’s been done is miraculous. Thank you, America’s farmers and ranchers and truckers and railway workers and chefs and servers. It is all good news except for the animals.

Ben Stein's Diary

Don’t Be a Stranger

By 7.1.15

Tuesday–Sandpoint, Idaho 
Alex and I flew up here Saturday. I had been feeling ill for some days. Then I hurt my leg badly tripping on some railroad tie outdoor stairs in Malibu. That was on Friday. I went to bed Saturday assuming I would be too ill to travel. But when I awakened, I felt decent. The only really horrible parts of the trip were when Alaska had our plane dazzlingly, sickening hot on the runway in LAX, and then when Horizon did the same in Seattle.

Oh, also it was a total stunner what it cost to rent a lowly Chrysler at the Spokane airport. I think I will buy a car for up here. These rentals are cruel.

And how can the airlines be permitted to keep the planes so hot? Is there no protection at all for us passengers at this point? There is no other venue where confined persons not under criminal custody are kept so hot. It is insane. Criminal.

Ben Stein's Diary

Amazon Goes Orwellian

By 6.25.15

In the uber great masterpiece foretelling our time, the protagonist, Winston Smith, works at the Ministry of Truth. His job is to destroy all references to predictions by Big Brother that did not turn out right, statistics that are inconvenient, and mentions of persons that Big Brother has — through the Ministry of Love — murdered. He simply drops the reference in the one newspaper copy that exists into the Memory Hole and it’s burnt up instantly.

It’s part of the plan of IngSoc, English Socialism, to destroy anything inconvenient in the past that might even slightly upset its totalitarian rule. Their mottos: Who controls the past, controls the present. Who controls the present controls the future.

Ben Stein's Diary

I Love South Carolina

By 6.24.15

A few humble thoughts on race, violence, and South Carolina.

The crimes of Dylann Roof were spectacularly horrible. To murder in cold blood nine men and women who were praising the Lord is unfathomably evil. There is simply no excuse for it. The moral power and restraint of the Charleston black community is historically magnificent. Nothing less than that. The love and forgiveness of the victims’ families is breathtaking, one of the great moments in human history.

And while I don’t think that the rebel battle flag flying over the statehouse in Columbia had anything to do with Dylann Roof’s horrible crimes, the flag has to go on government property. For black citizens, taxpayers, voters, soldiers, war widows to have the flag of an army that fought to maintain their ancestors in chains, as less than human, is painful and cruel. That flag has a place in museums and homes and restaurants but not on the statehouse lawn.

Ben Stein's Diary

Wedding Bell Bliss

By 6.23.15

June 23, 1968 was fantastically hot, as is usual for D.C. in the summer. I was living in an adorable rented house on Benton Street, NW, in what is called Glover Park. I got up, put on my white tie and tails, or morning coat or whatever it was, and drove over to Arlington to Fort Myer to go to the chapel. I believe my friend Joel Block drove me to the event.

I was nervous. Extremely nervous. I was 23 and I was getting married. True, I was getting married to the most beautiful girl in the world, but marriage is a big step.

It is a terrifying step. Just want to let you know.

The chapel was well air conditioned. There were a lot of flowers. My grooms were my brother-in-law, Melvin, my pals Duncan Kennedy, now a superstar law professor at Harvard Law School, Joel, Marvin Goldberg, who had been my friend since kindergarten, Calvin Kline, still a close friend, and I do not recall who else.