Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Two Hours From Beverly Hills

By 3.26.15

Let me tell you why Big Wifey and I love Rancho Mirage, and the whole Coachella Valley, roughly the area from Palm Springs east to Indio, so much.

We started living here on a semi-permanent basis, which is to say we bought a condo at Mission Hills CC, in about 1979. It was a small two bedroom overlooking a grassy lawn and then a billion tennis courts. At that time, the desert was different from what it is now. There were immense empty spaces where I would walk my Weimaraner dog, Mary, and practice target shooting.

There were blocks and blocks of small houses with bougainvillea all around and no traffic. My wife and I would ride our bicycles for hours. There were no shopping centers of any size east of downtown Palm Springs.

The air was dry and clear. The sky was always blue. Once in a while there would be romantic lightning storms.

In downtown Palm Springs there was a Saks and maybe (I am not sure) a Bullock’s Wilshire and a few other luxury stores.

Other than that, there were a plethora of date shake stands, the Ocotillo Inn, La Quinta, and endless vistas.

Ben Stein's Diary

Don’t Compare Nixon to Hillary

By 3.25.15

So… Alex and I have been down here in Rancho Mirage, in what was once desert and is apparently about to be desert again if this drought doesn’t end. We drove down late Friday and were virtually comatose Saturday from the drive. When you are 70 years old, a high-speed drive on Highway 10, with thousands of other cars racing along next to you, is exhausting. Plus, when I got here, I had to watch “Cops” and “Lockup.”

These are important shows. They tell us there is a violent, anti-social criminal class among us, and we owe the police our lives, literally, our lives, for protecting us. There is a civil war going on in America. We have an immense criminal class, disproportionately nonwhite, committing terrifying crimes and even non-terrifying crimes, and the police are our first and last line of defense.

Ben Stein's Diary

Fraternities Saved Me

By 3.13.15

In the wake of the horrifying behavior of some members of a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma recently, we are hearing that the whole fraternity system is flawed and we should be done with them. To my way of thinking, that is nonsense and I would respectfully like to tell you why, at least for me.

My first stories of fraternities were deeply upsetting. My father, who became a famous economist, was a dishwasher at a fraternity at Williams College to help pay his way through college. At that time, and for long after and before, that fraternity and all of the frats at Williams did not admit Jews. I asked my Pop how he felt about it. “I just felt grateful that I had a job and could go to the best small college in the country in the middle of the worst Depression in industrial history,” he said.

One of the members, Richard Helms, who ate off the dishes that my father washed, later became head of the CIA and one of my Pop’s closest friends.

Ben Stein's Diary

Nothing Short of Miraculous

By 3.12.15

I am a fairly old guy by now, and very little that I see on the news startles me. But a few days ago, I was jolted down to my socks by the story of a horrifying racist chant by drunken fraternity boys of the SAE chapter at the U. of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma. It was repulsive and it was incredibly stupid. The boys who were singing that song—on camera—should be in rehab, not at a university.

I know Oklahoma, and I have spoken there many times, and Oklahomans are wonderful, fair-minded people, and Norman’s campus is a fine bunch of men and women. Those nut cases on the bus don’t belong there and now they’re gone.

But when I was watching coverage of the event on some news networks, I was just as startled by the way the networks handled it. They arranged for black people to come on the shows to say that this incident showed that no progress had been made in racial justice since the police beatings in Selma, Alabama, fifty years ago.

That is just nonsense, and while we expect idiocy from drunken frat boys, we expect more from national networks.

Ben Stein's Diary

Bibi’s Raw Courage

By 3.5.15

A few thoughts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress yesterday:

I was moved almost beyond belief by the Congress’s reception of the leader of the Jewish state. They greeted him as a hero, and head of a hero nation, both of which are true. Netanyahu is the son of a pioneer of Zionism. His brother was a super hero of combat at Entebbe, killed there. His own combat record is almost incredible. This is a man with courage.

The state of Israel has given the West and the world of democracy its only clear victories post-World War II: the 1956 War, the 1967 War, the Yom Kippur War — all of these were wars between a state of law and freedom versus states of unfreedom. The ’67 and ’73 wars were wars between Soviet-armed and Soviet-controlled states and a free Western state. The Israelis, and their main friend, the United States of America, won every war decisively. There are no other similar cases after WWII.

Ben Stein's Diary

This Man Is Dangerous

By 3.2.15

Let’s be clear about this: Barack Obama is a great disappointment. I knew he was going to be trouble back in 2004 when he gave his first national speech and talked about the need for the U.S. to help the Palestinians. It’s not that the Palestinians don’t need help. They desperately do. But they are already getting a huge amount of help from the USA. Their problems are of their leaders’ making. They could have two prosperous states on either side of Israel.

Instead, their leaders have chosen war and terrorism and poverty and have blamed it all of the USA and Israel. When a man like Obama, who is no Kissinger, but is not a complete idiot, starts spouting the Palestinian stuff, you know he’s into USA-hating and Israel-hating in a big way.

So, he starts out with a message of anti-Israel and anti-U.S. incitement and that’s how he keeps going.

He starts out as President saying he’s going to straighten out the mess Bush 43 made, and instead he makes things a lot worse.

Ben Stein's Diary

So Little to Complain About

By 2.17.15

Orlando. I flew down here from Charlotte yesterday. I had been staying with my big wifey in Greenville, SC, to visit our son, Tommy, whom you all know, gorgeous daughter-in-law, The Kitten, and sweet sweet sweet Coco, our granddaughter, and our beloved Poinsett Club. The trip was a disaster for my wifey, who came down with a bad flu after flying. But our super fabulous driver, Bob Noah, who is really like more of a little brother to me than an employee, a voraciously eating little brother, made our trip easier and it all went well. He drove us with his usual flair. We stopped at a Burger King in Lawrenceville, Ga., where the whole crew was excited to meet me and took my picture.

Good news.… Tommy has gotten so clever and so apt in his phraseology that I believe he surpassed me some time ago. I love that kid soooo much. He really is a philosopher in some ways. And our daughter in law, The Kitten, is so beautiful it should be illegal. And our granddaughter is a dream. Enuf bragging. (That’s what we grandparents mostly do.)

Ben Stein's Diary

A Few Sunday Thoughts

By 2.8.15

I was just going to talk about how Barack Obama is not a historian or an Imam. At least he was not elected to be an Imam or a historian. He is PRESIDENT. His job is to lead us and to be our cheerleader. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, FDR didn’t say, “Well, look at the way we treated Asians. Look at our embargo. Look at our help to Chiang Kai-Shek. Let’s think about how we want to respond. Maybe they should have the Pacific.”

That’s a President.

Obama reaching back into some insane history file in his head to equate the Crusades to the way that ISIS treats hostages… that’s not Presidential. It is just plain stupid. And whips up our enemies.

But I won’t talk about that. Instead, I will talk about how insanely blessed I am to have the wife I have. How it’s the highest and best use of every minute of every day to spend time with her. How no matter what mistakes I make, she stays loyal. How I made at least one important decision in my life: to love and worship her, and how God reached down from his Holy Throne to make her the goddess she is and let me have her for every day. And every day I have with her is a miracle.

Ben Stein's Diary

Anti-Semitic Outrage at UC Davis

By 2.7.15

A few days ago, at the campus of the University of California at Davis, a campus northeast of San Francisco with about 35,000 students, the student association of the campus voted to advise the UC system to “divest itself” of stocks in companies that, in their words, “aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and (quoting here) illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.…”

This was bad enough, because Israel is the only law-abiding democracy in the Middle East, and so far as can be determined, Arabs, who make up about a fifth of its population, make no effort to leave to go to “Arab lands.”

But it’s come to be standard at college campuses, many of which are now hotbeds of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic venom. But what came after is really a stunner. Some scummy little rats spray-painted swastikas on the exterior walls of the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Ben Stein's Diary

Burying Uncle Bob in Arkansas

By 2.4.15

There is a great line from a song about Medgar Evers by my hero, Bob Dylan. It talks about his funeral, at Arlington National Cemetery (he was a Korean War hero). The line goes something like this, “they lowered him down as a king...” The line endlessly goes on a loop inside my brain as I think about Uncle Bon Denman, whom we are burying today in Little Rock.

Wifey and I flew in to LIT last night and rushed right over to the Capital Hotel, where our son was already ensconced. He had insisted on coming over from Greenville, South Carolina, and we thought he should. How many hero great uncles will he have? We had a huge suite, costing far more than I can afford, but that’s my travel agent, who never stints with my money. Our son was down the hall. We ordered room service, although I don’t remember what, and then we went to sleep.