Moving About the Country - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Moving About the Country

I respectfully apologize to Professor Alfred Kahn, who died recently. I know his lovely daughter, Hannah, a powerfully gifted dancer, so the apology goes to her.

Prof. Kahn, as head of the FAA under Jimmy Carter, led deregulation of the airlines. I have long railed against the overcrowding, lack of decent service, and general failure of what airlines should be like, and I laid the blame for that at the feet of the deregulators, especially, Professor Kahn.

I was wrong and he was right. I know that because in the last few weeks, I have discovered the miracle that is Southwest Airlines. Incredibly low fares. Top grade service. Above all, friendly, smiling flight attendants, male and female, and all levels of service way beyond what I could have expected.

One of my pals, a super-smart man at a mortgage company, told me that Southwest had a policy of hiring the happiest people they interview. It pays off. The friendliness with which us passengers are greeted is phenomenal. I am a fool not to have started flying them sooner.

Just in the past few weeks I have flown them to Phoenix, to Denver, and to Nashville. The service is impeccable and the flights are right on time. I only wish (as I said) I had discovered them sooner. They are what deregulated airline travel should be. (Did I mention they serve no real food, hence no disappointments?)

So, I was wrong and I am grateful that there is a Southwest. As their ads say, “You are now free to move about the country.” It would not have happened without Professor Kahn.

By the way, I also have some other words of praise. In Nashville, wifey and I stayed at the Hermitage in downtown Nashville. It is as good as a hotel can be. Beautiful rooms, fine service, friendly people, overwhelming lobby.

Now, here I swerve off course a bit. About four years ago, I went to an exhibit of photos of the Civil Rights Era at the Nashville Public Library very close to the Hermitage. I have long wanted to get a book of those photos or blow-ups of some of them. I would pay a pretty penny for those if any reader knows where to find then.

In the same vein, I beg my readers for help with a quote from something I read in high school. It is from a poem and it says something like, “No matter how much you paint your face, you cannot add one moment to your allotted hours, NOR CALL BACK TIME IN ITS WINGED FLIGHT.” (Paraphrase.)

If anyone knows where this comes from, please let me know. Thank you.

A spectacularly beautiful day here in Beverly Hills. I swam in the morning, had a modest breakfast, then went off to lunch with my old pal, Michael Shamberg. He is a successful producer and a great guy. We disagree about almost everything, really just everything, from gluten allergies (which I do not believe are real) to eating sugar (I am for it, he’s against it) to who gets credit for TARP.

But, he is a thoroughly likable and talented guy. Plus, like moi, he spends large amounts of time in gratitude for the amazing life we get to live here in America. It is beyond belief, absolutely beyond all imagining, how great our lives here in the USA are. BEYOND BELIEF.

My wife and I are on our hands and knees in gratitude all day and night.

At the beginning of the Battle of Midway, a number of U.S. pilots flying obsolete, pitiful bi-plane torpedo bombers with torpedoes that didn’t work attacked the mighty Japanese fleet. It was a suicide mission. They were all shot down and killed. They knew they would be. But they distracted the enemy enough for the U.S. dive bombers to get into position to deliver the death blow to that Japanese armada. How can we ever thank those men and their families enough? How?

I get to swim in my warm turquoise pool of a life thanks to them and millions like them.

God bless them for all eternity.

Anyway, then off to my shrink. We spent most of the time talking about how hard it is to bring up children in today’s permissive, praise-the-kids-no-matter-what environment. There are just too many kids pretending to be musicians, to be artists, to be writers, who just have no clue how to do a day’s work. Is this a national phenomenon? I don’t know.

I just love talking to my shrink. 

Then to my office to get my mail. In the lobby, I saw a woman whom I know slightly. She introduced me to a young woman pal of hers who had a small baby with her. I made goo-goo noises, and asked about the baby’s father.

The woman looked stricken. The story was that the woman had had a brief affair with a young Marine, gotten knocked up, and then the Marine had been tragically killed in Iraq. HOW HORRIBLE. I referred her to, which can get her counseling and government benefits. God bless Bonnie, who runs TAPS.

Then home for a nap (best part of my day). My ancient Brigid slept with her old, pitiful head on my shoulder as I slept.

We will soon both be far away.

Then dinner at Nonna with wifey. It is her birthday. She’s the best soul on earth. A perfect angel and just since the end of May, she has finally turned her will and her life over to God. We are very happy. Thank you, God.

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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