Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Some Gratitude, Anyone? Anyone?

By 12.9.14

Hi. I make a habit of reading the Op-Ed pages of the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal day by day. I love those pages. I got started in journalism by writing for them, pieces in defense of Richard Nixon, whom I still love, by the way. I learn a lot from them on some days.

But, what I notice about the op-eds is that they are almost always complaining about something: race relations, economics, sexual oppression in the Times and lack of a free market and excess taxes and regulation in the Wall Street Journal. To me, this totally misses the whole point of life in America and I can summarize it in a moment.

Many years ago, I said to my Dad, “Pop, it occurs to me that we Jews live better in America than Jews ever have anywhere and at any time in history.”

My Pop, a genuinely wise man, said, “Benjy, that’s the whole point of America. Jews, Irish, Blacks, Polish, Italians, Asians… we all live better here than anywhere else in the history of mankind. That’s the story of America.”

Ben Stein's Diary

Something Sick Is Happening

By 12.5.14

A few humble thoughts about the recent anger and disturbances in New York and elsewhere about alleged police brutality.

1. The crowds in Gotham were tiny. Hundreds at most. Maybe a few thousand for a while. But the MSM is going crazy as if it were a major event.

Your ancient correspondent remembers walking in anti-war demonstrations in Fun City, where I now am, where there were millions. These demonstrations are peanuts.

2. But they are mostly peaceful and that is a triumph. A genuine victory for America and decency.

3. You get a good idea of what’s going on if I tell you that I was at the Harvard Club for most of the evening and it was totally silent, with the usual collection of eccentrics. Then I went to the Yale Club, where the University of Virginia was having a wild, loud party in the lounge, with many UVA co-eds or alums in super-high bad-girl heels.

Both clubs are near supposed major loci of demonstrations, but you could not tell it from what I saw — which was nothing.

This tells you nothing about police behavior but a lot about how much the beautiful people care about it.

Ben Stein's Diary

Rainy Day Rage

By 12.3.14

What a dreadful day. The rain, for which we had all prayed, has made traffic a nightmare. Plus, it is just strange to wake up and have the sky dark. That has not happened in a long time. There are the palm trees and the jacarandas, but no blue skies. No candy. Just gray clouds down to the deck and an incessant rain. I have to fight to remind myself to be grateful. That’s how stupid I am. I have everything but I am still too stupid and selfish to be grateful when something I desperately need comes along.

I did errands for most of the day. Then I went to buy some iced tea for my wife at the Pavilions. I was waiting for a parking space when a man in a truck started to back up rapidly towards me. I honked at him and he stopped. He glared at me, then pulled into a space near me. He walked towards me.

As I got out of my car, I said to him, “I’m sorry for beeping at you, but you were backing up towards me. I beg your pardon.”

Ben Stein's Diary

It Can’t Rain Hard Enough

By 12.2.14

This will be short and sweet. We got back Saturday night to LAX. The passengers milling around the baggage carousels looked desperate, terrified, unhinged. Why? I can well recall when I flew to LAX in the 1970s. The terminals were open air. The passengers looked happy and relaxed. Now they look as if they are fleeing Islamic State.

Maybe they are. Maybe that’s why they look so scared. We have so many immigrants in LA now. Many from the Middle East, fleeing bad situations, fleeing for their lives. Some of them live near me in Beverly Hills. No matter how rich they are — and they are often rich — they look fearful.

Their grandchildren may look happier. Maybe. Meanwhile, in my mind’s eye, I go back to Greenville, where the passengers and their families look happy. I miss Greenville. I miss Jean playing the piano at the Poinsett Club. I miss the waffles at the Waffle House.

I want to look and feel relaxed. Hard to do if you are me and have so many people asking you for money.

Ben Stein's Diary

Flying Into Integration

By 12.1.14

So, a roundup of the week. On Monday, wifey and I flew to Atlanta. The people at LAX looked as usual — frantic, worried, frightened, angry. They took their seats and kept on looking tense. I fell asleep for most of the flight.

Except — I awakened and looked at the fine Delta in Flight Entertainment choices. To my delight, there was a film called Nixon on Nixon. It was highly edited, wildly biased, not at all representatives of what Nixon supposedly thought and believed, based on the tapes.

The excerpts themselves were a total scream. I liked especially the parts where the authors of the film tried to make Nixon look like an anti-Semite. Yes, indeed, they had a ton of Nixon quotes calling Jews familiar derogatory names.

But they also completely forgot to mention that most of Nixon’s top policy choices were Jewish — including Arthur F. Burns at the Federal Reserve and Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser. They also forgot my dear old Pop as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Ben Stein's Diary

My Wife

By 11.30.14

I have many good things going on. By far the best is my wife, the world’s finest human being — the most patient, most tolerant, most forgiving, most generous. She is a saint. Beyond a saint.

How did she come into my life? It is a story of God’s kindness to me:

Thanks to a wonderful college fraternity experience at the Alpha Delta Phi, I met a lovely girl at the beginning of my senior year at Columbia in 1965. She was a super girl named Mary.

But she was controlling. Great person but controlling.

The summer after that senior year, I worked at the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency within the State Department. My father got me the job.

On July 4, 1966, the State Department hosted the Junior Foreign Service Officers’ Ball. Black tie. Rooftop of the State Department. Unsurpassed view of the fireworks over the Washington Monument. I was thin and cool. I was self-confident.

Ben Stein's Diary

A Ferguson Thanksgiving

By 11.27.14

Thanksgiving Day. Here I am in beautiful downtown Greenville, South Carolina. The sky is speckled with clouds and the town is beautiful, It has been a terrible few days. Two days ago was my 70th birthday, and wow, was I sick. Food poisoning? Intestinal flu? Who knows but it was HORRIBLE.

Plus, I don’t like being 70, although the alternative is worse — maybe. Maybe I will be in paradise. No, I am already in paradise. I have my Big Wifey here in Greenville with me. I have my son and my INCREDIBLY beautiful daughter in law, The Kitten, and my cruelly, unbearably cute granddaughter, Coco. Plus I have my dear friend and driver, Bob Noah.

Plus, back home in Beverly Hills, I have my dog, Julie, my dear, dear friend Phil Demuth and my nag, Michael Chinch.

In New York, I have my super sister and her super family. In Idaho, I have my brave Tim and Penny, the people at Bottle Bay and the fab restaurants, the magnificent Vissers, the best looking family on earth, my favorite store on earth, Sandpoint Super Drug, the whole town of Sandpoint, which represents heaven to me. If the eternity were Sandpoint in July, that would be awfully nice.

Ben Stein's Diary

In the Time We Have Left

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

This cannot be happening. Just can’t be. I am in my condo at the Shoreham Towers getting my toenails cut by my manicurist, Mickey, a beautiful but not young woman. I am too old and my eyesight is too poor to really see my toenails well enough to clip them.

I switched on my TV, to Fox News. There are two people talking about the most gruesome genocidal massacres I have ever heard of or at least in a long, long time.

ISIS, the wildly insanely cruel, fanatical radical Islamist group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, is apparently killing as many Assyrian Christians and Chaldean Christians as it can get its hands on. It is killing young boys by cutting their heads off slowly with a pen knife. It is raping young women, then selling them into slavery.

Ben Stein's Diary

70 Years Young

By 11.22.14

This is really hard to believe but it’s true. I am writing this just before midnight on Friday night. If I live, in roughly 72 hours, I will be 70 years old. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT AT ALL!!!!

It seems like just yesterday I was a small child walking along Sligo Creek, playing army with David Scull, listening to Carl Bernstein playing Buddy Holly on the guitar. It was just days ago, surely, that I went to those glorious, Gatsbyesque parties at the Alpha Delta Phi House on W. 114th Street with Mary Just, and then down to the Tower Suite or the Stork Club for cocktails.

And wasn’t it just moments ago that I was a student radical at Yale Law School, harassing the professors and making the girls swoon?

Weren’t my wife and I the glamorous student rebels on Lynwood Place in New Haven? Didn’t we hurl contempt at the pig power structure as we entertained Fritz Lang in the Sterling Law Buildings?

Ben Stein's Diary

Terror in Jerusalem

By 11.19.14

A day of horror. In Jerusalem, two Palestinian terrorists took up meat cleavers, knives, and a pistol. They attacked a small shul. In a quick rampage, they killed four rabbis who were unarmed, praying, hacking them to pieces. They also killed an Israeli policeman and wounded three more before they were killed by Israeli police.

On the same day, several older women claimed that they had been raped by the brilliant comedian, Bill Cosby. One by one these older women claimed that Cosby had drugged them, then raped them — then drugged and raped them over and over again as they traveled around the country with him. They knew they had been raped, but they kept traveling around the country with him, getting drugged, getting raped over a course of years. Was this rape? Could it possibly be rape under any normal definition of rape? How can it be rape if the women kept coming back for more? Maybe I am misunderstanding this story, but it sure looks as if we have some major publicity seekers on the move. Surely I must have it wrong.