Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

An Oxford Education

By 5.22.15

So… It is Thursday night and I am in Greenville. I just had an incredibly good meal at the Commerce Club in downtown Greenville. Tommy and his wife, the spectacular Kitten, were there, and my angelic granddaughter, Coco, almost 4. And my perfect wifey, and my pal Bob, and Tommy’s pal, Matt. We were on the 17th floor overlooking the upstate of South Carolina. The sky turned pink and gray and the fried chicken was outstanding. So was the service. Coco was in a rare mood. The Kitten told us a story. A few days ago, Coco came to her with a sheet of paper with some writing on it, not really saying anything.

“This is a letter to my school from my mother saying I don’t have to go to school tomorrow,” said Coco.

“But, I’m your mother, and I don’t remember writing that,” said The Kitten.

“I know,” said almost 4-year-old Coco. “That’s why you have to sign it.”

A born lawyer.

I had just come from a street fair on Main Street. Happy, happy, happy men and women. Music. Diet Pepsi. Really happy, cheerful, smiling, healthy-looking. This is a happy place. Don’t miss out on it. Happy place in a sad world.

Ben Stein's Diary

Partnering With Warren Buffett

By 5.11.15

A few years ago, as my wife and I flew from Spokane to Seattle, I found myself seated next to a dentist. He told me his story. He had started as a dental student buying — along with his father — small rental apartments and using his youth and skill and strength to renovate them.

Then he rented them out. He soon had a number of them. Yes, they took a lot of time, and for a period of time he was awakened by irate tenants whose toilets were blocked.

But, eventually, he had enough apartments so that he did not need to attend to these matters personally. He had managers and repairmen who dealt with all but the biggest problems.

The net of it was that now, in his fifties, he had a large number of apartments. He had given some to each of his children, and they now had rental empires of their own.

I was extremely struck by his story. It was a perfect story, or so it seemed, of how to establish oneself as a rich person.

But lately, many competing thoughts have entered my mind.

Ben Stein's Diary

Lead Is a Lousy Excuse

By 5.4.15

Herewith a few more respectful thoughts about Baltimore.

First, I am happy to see that now that all decent habits of law enforcement and prosecution have been tossed out by Marilyn Robespierre Mosby, Esq., a sort of calm has returned to one of the most violent cities in America, Baltimore. The sacrifice of the most basic precepts of law have allowed blacks and whites to sing “Kumbaya” together over the dead letters of the Constitution.

But look at something that might scare you even more. Observe how incredibly little it took for that poor confused, weak state’s attorney to fold on basic principles of law. The night roughly one week ago when the riots and looting exploded in some neighborhoods of Baltimore, there were over a thousand marchers. But at most, at the absolute most, a few hundred thugs set fires and looted liquor stores and burned other stores. No one was killed and as far as I know, no one was critically injured. The violence was over by the next evening.

Ben Stein's Diary

Raider Mosby

By 5.3.15

A few notes on what we have learned about law, race, order and the media after Baltimore, the largest city in my home state of Maryland, whose gleaming white stoops once stood for a city’s pride in its law and order and self-discipline.

First, Marilyn Mosby should not be allowed to be a law clerk, let alone a state’s attorney/prosecutor. To prosecute police officers EXPLICITLY to please a mob (“I have heard your cries about ‘no justice, no peace’…”) is exactly the opposite of what a prosecutor should do. That is, to prosecute only when the facts and law demand it. To press charges because a gang of thugs loots liquor stores and promises to loot more liquor stores if charges are not pressed is exactly lynch mob justice. It has nothing to do with the sacred rule of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Usually prosecutors will show at least hint of impartiality in an important case. Ms. Mosby went straight for the jugular and basically said, “The thugs are my bosses and I answer to them and not to the Constitution.” This is a dangerous woman. She bears watching.

Ben Stein's Diary

Baltimore Breaks Down

By 4.28.15

There is not much good that can be said about the riots and looting in Baltimore. There was a complete breakdown of law and order in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Innocent people’s homes and places of business were destroyed. The police were attacked and sometimes badly injured. The political leadership of the city of Baltimore completely ran and hid for a good twenty-four hours. The vacuum in political leadership in turn castrated the police and made the whole idea of law into a bad joke.

Let’s be clear: The people who were looting the liquor stores were not political protesters. They were thugs and gangsters. They have no legitimacy as political actors whatsoever except as villains and persons motivating a much stronger law enforcement response the next time.

Yes, of course it’s a disgrace for a man who was physically fit — or seemed to be — to go into police custody for a nonviolent crime and wind up dead. Of course there has to be scrutiny of police actions whenever a suspect dies or is injured in police custody. The guilty must be held to account.

Ben Stein's Diary

Obama’s Jet Lag Diplomacy

By 4.20.15

Now, here’s a continuing problem. Once again, someone has created false, fake Facebook “posts” ostensibly but not really from me. This has been going on for years. I don’t even have a Facebook page. I never made one. I don’t know how to make one.

But some evil person made one years ago that has a photo of my wife, falsely says that’s me, and says I live in a “domestic partnership,” while in fact I have been married since 1968.

Some wicked liar made up a post of me saying I was gay about two years ago. This led to a barrage of e-mail saying how great it was that I was gay!!! But it wasn’t true.

Then there have been other fake “posts.” Today’s are about yours truly supposedly saying that there are such things as “chemtrails” of chemicals sprayed into the air by some mysterious entity to make us stupid. I never said any such thing and I don’t believe it.

There’s also some fake “post” of me supposedly saying Chelsea Clinton should be the next ambassador to Libya. I have seen this one floating around the Internet, but I never said it or sent it.

Ben Stein's Diary

What Would Nixon Do?

By 4.16.15

Your humble servant had the great privilege of being a speechwriter and lawyer for Richard Nixon in the last year of his presidency, 1973-74. I am well aware that he was forced from office and that the powerful people of that era had a low opinion of him.

I am also aware that few would question that in terms of his foreign policy achievements, he and his foreign policy guru, Henry A. Kissinger, working with Brent Scowcroft, were in a class by themselves: opening Red China, wrestling out détente with the Soviet Union, saving Israel and laying a foundation for a durable peace between Egypt and Israel, negotiating a peace treaty ending — temporarily — the war in Vietnam, bringing home the POWs.

These were gigantic triumphs, showing a mastery of diplomacy and defense and a hard-earned scholarship in how the world works.

Ben Stein's Diary

Is He Really This Foolish?

By 4.11.15

Friday Night
So, here I am in Rancho Mirage. I was dismayed today because recent windstorms have knocked leaves into my swimming pool. These have jammed the filters and shut down the heater. So when I got into the pool around noon, it was cold. I was shivering as I swam. I thought, “This is not good for a 70-year-old man to be shivering as he’s swimming.” So I got out and hollered for the pool man.

Not much after that except for a deelish chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr. There were many young men eating at the restaurant speaking a language I had never heard before. It turned out it was Polish. They were a good-looking, but wildly drunk bunch here for the rock concert known as Coachella. Just so drunk it was prison time for them for sure if they were pulled over. Not jail. Prison.

My wife and I shopped at Vons. Wow, there is a lot of stuff for sale, and, wow, is it expensive. I am just staggered when I pay for my groceries every single time. How do people who are not rich afford to live?

Ben Stein's Diary

Utterly Evil and Very Smart

By 4.6.15

Easter Sunday
So, where do we begin? In the early 1970s we had the Shah of Shahs running Iran. He was our pal. The Nixon and Ford administrations supported him. Then came the worst President in the history of the country, Jimmy Carter. Obama is like Lincoln compared with Carter. He encouraged Ruhollah Khomeini and the radical Islamists. He threw our dear pal, the Shah, under the bus. He would not even allow the man to come to the U.S. for cancer treatments after he was deposed until all hope was lost.

We basically knocked down the barricades that had kept the Islamists in exile. How did Khomeini thank us?

Against every possible international precedent, his thugs seized the U.S. Embassy and its personnel. The Americans were kept imprisoned, often blindfolded, for 444 days. That was what Khomeini thought of the appeasing Jimmy Carter.

Only as Ronald Reagan was being sworn in did Khomeini release the hostages. That was what the Islamists thought of strength à la Reagan.

Ben Stein's Diary

Obama’s Ephemeral Middle Class

By 4.1.15

A few thoughts as I watch my dog, Julie, snore in her sleep in my bed.

Our fearless leader, President Obama, talks a lot about helping the middle class, and about helping Americans who are not middle class get into the middle class.

It is a great goal and I am sure that Mr. Obama’s pollsters and advisers and those of the Democratic Party have reason to believe that “middle class” is a phrase that resonates well with Americans.

So President Obama has various plans and agendas supposedly to help Americans elevate their class status or at least maintain their class perch.

The problem with all of these is that there is literally not a single major thing that the federal government by itself can do to elevate large numbers of Americans’ social status.