Counting My Blessings - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Counting My Blessings

Oooh. It has been a frantic few days. I flew to Orlando on Monday for a speech. All went well. The group was delightful and my hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes was bright and pleasant. Nice way to live.

Then on Wednesday, on my trip back, one nightmare after another. My travel agent had changed my flight and not told me. She quickly put me on another flight but I had to rush like a banshee to get across that hellacious airport, the worst on American soil, to get to my flight.

I was helped immensely by a woman who works for American. She is from the Caribbean and a firm Believer in God, and she worked miracles. Her name is Vina, and she is an angel. She told me I must never say I am “lucky,” always that I am blessed and I totally agree.

I made my flight but I did not have an aisle seat. That makes me insane. I hate rushing at airports. And I hate being locked in. But the guy next to me was a nice guy with enormous health problems in his family and he was extremely considerate. He is CFO of Dave & Buster’s, a restaurant chain favored by my son. It sells food and also allows you to buy time on complex video games.

It is a simply great business model.

The flight to DFW went well except for extreme turbulence for about an hour. I got off the plane, had some incredibly good food at TGIF, then went to my gate for my flight to Ontario Airport, my favorite airport in California. Ooops. It had been moved to the exactly farthest away place in all of DFW. Up to the Skytrain and off we went.

I made that plane, too, but I was unhappy at all of the confusion of the day. Too much rushing around, as the villain in Skyfall says. I hate rushing.

Anyway, when my driver was there waiting for me, I was ecstatic and had a great ride home. Ontario Airport, boys and girls. Try it. You’ll like it.

But when I got home, my wife was fast asleep and just sort of staggered around the upstairs in her sleep. God bless her.

Now, it’s Saturday. Yesterday, Friday, I had an amazing experience. I was at a fine Italian restaurant on the Strip and saw across the dining room a beautiful woman who looked vaguely familiar.

I asked her what her name was and she said, “Diora.”

Yay. It was Diora Baird having a salad with some friends. She’s the most gorgeous movie star there has ever been. I am happy to say I met her at the Beverly Center when she first came to town about twenty years ago or roughly that. She was with her mother and both she and her mother were stunning. Now, she’s become a big star and she’s still friendly and cheerful. Look her up online. Diora Baird. They don’t make them any prettier except for my wife, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter, and my dog, Julie.

So, that was nice.

Then, I slept and soon it was dinner time. I ate with Larry Klayman at Craig’s, a hip new place. The food was great. On the way out, I ran into a stunningly beautiful TV star named (I think) Donna Mills. She was the star of Knot’s Landing and she was a pal of my late pal, DeAnne Barkley. We talked for a minute and then I went to check on my condos that I own (God knows why) at the Shoreham Towers in West Hollywood.

Disaster. The floor was flooded. Some jerk below me had clogged up his kitchen drain and water was backing up into my kitchen sink, overflowing. What a mess. This problem has been going on way, way, way too long. We got a plumber over there, and it’s dry now, but what a mess. I guess I will just have to suffer and speaking of suffering….


It is falling like a stone. I know why. It’s not because of cheap oil. That’s a blip in the National Income Accounts, although very hard on my pals in Midland and Houston. No, a big fall in oil would not drag down the whole stock market. Oil is just not big enough for that.

China? Again, as I keep saying, our exports to China are large compared with how much money I have. Very very large. But again, just a blip if they fall by 20 percent. Is it the tiny rise in interest rates? No, because the earnings yield on stocks is still far higher than the earnings yield on bonds.

No, it’s the traders. They love fear. They see major weakness in the Chinese markets and they try to import it here so that they can make money with their short sales and complex options.

Economists do not set prices. Treasury Secretaries do not set prices. The President does not set prices. Nope.

The traders set prices and they make a lot of money if they can move the price down a lot quickly.

Our economy is slowing down, but it’s not at a crisis point. Maybe it will be some day, but Joe Smith in the trading pit in Chicago doesn’t know yea or nay. He just knows where the trading is going and he or she pushes to get into the slipstream and move the price down further.

Does it have any connection with reality? Yes. With the traders’ reality. They can get rich very quickly if they can pump enough fear into the market. That’s what they’re doing right now.

How long will it last? Who knows? Until they sense they can make more money moving it up. But in the very long run, stocks are great. I am not sure I will live that long but in the meantime…

And now to go back a few days….

Tuesday night I made the huge mistake of watching Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address. He said that except for gun violence here at home, everything is great.

The man is thoroughly delusional. Really?

At least 80 percent of the black eighth graders in Chicago cannot read. Same with math. Black gang members are killing each other and their neighbors at the rate of at least (at the very least) 100 per week. Mr. Obama, sir, that’s where the gun violence is coming from in majority measure. Why, Mr. Obama, do you NEVER mention gang violence? Why do you never mention the collapse of the black family? Why do you never mention the disaster of young black men killing each other over a few words shouted from a passing car?

Why do you never mention that blacks commit roughly 40 percent of felony crimes in the U.S. for which prison is required and are only 13 per cent of the population?

You are a black man. The nation looked to you as an example of black success and hoped you would be mentor to the black population. You are missing in action.

Lots of golf. Lots of hanging out with billionaires. Lots of ultra-expensive trips for Michelle and the lovely daughters. But a nonstop tour to plead with gangs to put away the Glock? Did you ever even consider that?

And what about this nonsense about how militarily strong we are? Yes, we spend a lot on defense compared with has-beens like France or Britain. But if the North Koreans invaded South Korea, could we stop them? If Russia invades the Baltic states, could we stop them? If Iran invaded Saudi Arabia, could we stop them?

We cannot even stop the illegal immigrants on our southern border? How the heck could we fight a real war?

I ask you this, Mr. President: how many combat-ready soldiers and Marines do we have right now? Combat ready. Not clerks. I bet the answer is far less than 200,000. And that’s an invitation for Mr. Putin to go crazy.

By the way, Mr. President, much of that money for defense goes for pensions. How much real war-fighting capacity do we have? Not much.

And now Mr. Obama talks about how prosperous we are? Seventy percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And by the way, we actually are very prosperous compared to any other large country. But that’s no thanks to Mr. Obama. The measures that saved us were Bush measures, not Obama measures: TARP, flooding the country with money, Zero Interest Rates.

Mr. Obama has consistently taken the side of the criminals against the police. Refused to work with the GOP. Has been contemptuous of human life. Why does he love abortion so much? I can understand reluctantly accepting it. But to scream with happiness about it? Incomprehensible. And he thinks he’s doing good?

Well, I have to turn it over to God. God makes all the big decisions. I decide what’s for lunch. And now I think I will swim. God bless Vina.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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