Ben Stein's Diary

No End to This Cruelty

Desert sandstorms, and then the news from Boston.

By 4.16.13

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Monday
I awoke after a fitful night’s sleep. I had driven in from Rancho Mirage after a delightful few days at our home in the desert. The climate was good. The views were good. I did have possibly the worst meal of my whole life in some ways at Fleming’s Steakhouse, a spot I usually like, but that was just because of one rude hostess. But I also had some great meals at our modest clubhouse and at the immense clubhouse right next door at Mission Hills.

The best was my 12 step meetings, though. They offer me so much help it’s almost incalculable. In a small room, we gather to praise God’s healing powers and to ask Him for guidance day by day, moment by moment. Then we share our experience, strength and hope, and we pray. I leave these meetings on a cloud. Some day I am just going to take two months and do nothing but go to these meetings and swim and lie in bed with my dog. That’s more than enough for me.

But the trip home last night was terrifying. A windstorm came up at about 7.30. One of the curses of the weather in the desert is fierce winds. Last night’s were the fiercest I have ever seen. I was in my car and even though it’s a heavy beast, I was being blown all over the road. My car was being pounded by sand and rocks. The sky was a Biblically threatening blue-orange-pink-gray.

However, inside the car, all was quiet and peaceful except for the sound of the sand and rocks and wind hitting the car.

The wind abated after Morongo and I stopped at the Taco Bell in Calimesa. A group of high school students were sitting near me. They kept whispering, “Hey, that guys looks a lot like Ben Stein.”

Then another would say, “Ben Stein wouldn’t be at Taco Bell.”

So, naturally, I told them I was my own self. They knew all about me. They asked about Nixon, about Ford, mostly about why and how Clear-Eyes works so well. All four of the kids were carrying little bottles of the miracle product.

One of them asked me if I wanted to invest in a real estate investment trust he is starting. He is 19. I told him maybe we would wait on that.

Anyway, I got home and had (as I said) a fitful night’s sleep. I miss my pal B. terribly. He writes me brilliant, poetic letters from “boarding school,” as he calls prison. They talk about allowing yourself to feel joy just because you are free and allowed to own your own possessions. They truly move me and make me ashamed of my own fears and cares. He elevates everything he touches.

I used to talk to him for about an hour per day, so you can well imagine how much I miss him. Plus, I used to talk to DeAnne Barkley for a long time a couple of times a week. The LA Times finally had an obituary about her by a fine writer named Elaine Woo. It was a good write-up but the opening line was silly. It was about how DeAnne broke “the glass ceiling.” She would have had no interest in that whole subject. She had no use at all for women who played the gender card to get ahead. She simply loathed it when women avoided responsibility by crying or by talking about their periods. She believed in the best person getting the job, period (or not period).

So, I was sitting in my office feeling low and lonely and then I noticed my computer was not working. Then I noticed that our new dog, JoJo, supposedly house broken, had suffered an “accident” on an oriental carpet that Alex and I have had since our honeymoon. I was really angry after making some effort to clean that up. (A clear impossibility.)

So, I lay down to check my e-mails on my phone and then a miracle happened. I had an e-mail from my dear pal, S/Sgt John Quinones, who is about to leave the Army, or maybe he already did.

Here is what he wrote to me: 

Ben,

I am retiring from my beloved military come 12April. As that day approaches and passes… I have come to remember the good times and bad while serving. I also come to remember those who have supported us and remember one of the most memorable things that myself and my men remember regarding those individual supporters. Here is one of the memorable experiences that you have given us while I was deployed...

We were all headed out to conquer the streets of Fallujah during the second rush. Although the fighting in the streets would be the initial, more exciting part of the story and could be a novel within itself, I just want to touch upon the comedic part of the memory. During this part of the summer, we were caught in the middle of serious sand storms. Fighting will not stop if a timeout is requested because you have something in your eyes. No way… I remember one of my pals asking me about the care package Ben Stein sent to me… I thought about it and remembered… At that time we were jokingly saying to each other in Ben Stein's memorable monotone voice saying clear eyes dry eyes clear eyes and so on.… It was hysterical at the moment. I remember I had a few bottles on my person. I passed those little clear bottles like candy to my men. We actually did use them to flush our eyes out with no belief on them working to flush the sand out of our eyes. But little did a few infantry men know… they worked! We would normally clown around and just punch everybody in attempts to make them cry to clear their eyes, or simply dump water on them. But since we had Mr. Ben Stein’s Clear Eyes, I actually ordered a lot of them for my guys during our summer months deployed. I have been deployed about 5 times and always kept them on my packing list. For some odd reason, Ben Stein’s monotone voice stuck in everybody’s head. All I would hear is "Bueller, Bueller, anyone… Bueller?" I would always hear that as a joke followed by "clear eyes dry eyes." It was always humorous to hear all of my Soldiers attempt to sound like the great Ben Stein. My pals always ask me if he really sounds like that… I always reply maybe. Perhaps it’s a secret!

Because I knew the Great Ben, everywhere I went; it was always "Bueller" or "Clear Eyes."

Ben Stein,

You are the most wonderful man I know and the most fabulous supporter of the United States military. Whether it’s the care packages you send to keep us going, or just to hear the simple words that everybody knows from you… Bueller or Clear Eyes…. I thank you. Your products worked, your movies worked. But just to know that you were there… kept us going.

I retired. I am tremendously happy to know that you had my back.…

Thank you and God bless you, your family, and the United States of America!

Bueller.… Bueller.…!

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed. Obviously I do not deserve even one millionth of the praise he lavished upon me, but I was still very happy about it. Again, though, I am well aware that the praise was wildly beyond what was merited. Wildly.

I felt better then and napped for a while. I awakened to find my computer man here fixing the damned thing and right up on the screen popped the horror story about the bombing in Boston. Is there no end to this cruelty? I guess not. Just horrible.

I watched accounts of the tragedy and then started to read the day’s newspapers. WTH? We are offering the immense concession of direct talks with North Korea as a payment to them for their nuclear brinkmanship? That’s not how we are supposed to deal with ultra-aggressive slave labor regimes. This is embarrassing.

I give Mr. Kerry credit. He did ask the North Koreans to disarm. That’s a pretty good one. They must be falling over laughing in Pyongyang. But I give Mr. Obama credit. He said he would have a weak, kowtowing foreign policy, and he does. He did not lie about that.

So, the stock market took a big tumble off of meaningless static from China and from fears of terrorism. Gold is way down now, far below where the gold bugs thought it was headed. As my brilliant pal, Phil DeMuth, said when we spoke this afternoon, “It’s hard to say what the right price of an asset is when it has no earnings. Hard to say what P should be when we have no E.”

Phil is amazingly smart.

But back to Boston. I see that one of the networks seems to believe this is the work of white supremacists. Incredible.

Still, how deeply unsettling. How heart-breaking. Just sickening.

There are a lot of sick, angry people out there. What will the world be like in five years when North Korea had infinitely more nuclear warheads and better rockets ? It will be a horror show. What will it be like when Iran has nuclear weapons and ICBMs? Please don’t tell me that whopper about how Obama is going to stop them. He never will and the mullahs know it. And what will become of America when Obama has disarmed us, as he openly plans to do? There will be no more glorious America. These truly may be the final days, the end times. I guess at some level, possibly a very deep level, Mr. Obama does not want America to survive. The Manchurian Candidate. I pray I am wrong.

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About the Author

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.