Ben Stein's Diary

Canceled Reservations

UPDATED: Rain and cold and Russia invades Crimea.

By 3.2.14

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Saturday
Wow, this has been a crazy few days. Wifey and I drove down to the desert two nights ago. It was uneventful, but when we got to our house in Rancho Mirage, the garage door would not open. I tried to lift it manually. No chance. Okay. Not a big deal.

I unpacked and put on my bathing suit getting ready for my favorite part of the trip, swimming under the stars. Guess what. The pool was ice cold. Had the heater stopped working? If so, why? I instinctively knew the answer. The pool man needed money, so I would need a new heater at staggering expense.

I went to sleep after watching for the millionth time about the incredible heroism of U.S. sailors at Midway and Leyte Gulf. What a pitiful creep I am to complain about getting gouged by resort repair people when I am at peace in my quiet bedroom with a roaring fire and my dog by my side. So, to sleep with a better attitude.

But, sure enough, on Thursday the pool man lifted the immense heater from its bunker and mournfully told me it needed to be replaced. The sum involved made me stagger. It hurts to get ripped off. But that is my fate all too often.

Then a trip to my fine dermatologist to have a growth removed from my eyebrow. “Give me lots of novocaine,” I begged him.

Of course he didn’t and the pain was cruel, but it was only for a few seconds. Again, not that much to complain about. And I felt great that the growth was gone and the doctor said it “probably” was not cancer.

Then a trip to the druggist to get some antibiotics. Half an hour getting jerked around by a breathtakingly incompetent group of people at an immense pharmacy. As far as I could tell, not one customer left happy. Is this Obamacare? I don’t think so. I think it’s pure incompetence and bad training.

I drove a few miles to another pharmacy. There, a Korean pharmacist, a beautiful Hispanic assistant, and a huero cashier got the job done in no time at all.

Then over to Mission Hills CC for dinner, or so we thought. No. Not going to happen. The very young people running the funereal dining room said they had run out of food and never mind that we had a reservation.

“Wait,” I protested. “We have a reservation. We’re on time. How can you turn us away?”

“Oh, we turn away a lot of people,” said the “manager.” “The reservation system doesn’t work.”

“Okay,” I said. “Just make us cheeseburgers.”

“No,” said the grinning “manager.” He added, “We have no food.”

What? How can that possibly be ? What will they serve for breakfast or lunch tomorrow? But, no is no, and we were sent away. I have to give that young man credit, though. He has now won the award for worst service in the desert. Congratulations, young man.

We got sushi and went home to watch on RT.TV about how the new Ukrainian government is run by Nazis and fascists and ultra rightist racists. Plus, honest Russian citizens are getting hurt by Ukrainian street toughs.

Right out of The Führer’s playbook. Invade to protect the Volk from scary Czechs or Poles or Ukrainians. I told my wife we could expect a Russian invasion of the Crimea in minutes and sure enough, there it was on the news maybe an hour later. But how did RT.TV get all of that video and those scripts from Moscow so quickly? Who the heck owns RT? I guess it must be owned by Mr. Putin, directly or indirectly. (It turns out that it is.)

It is without question an organ of Russian propaganda. Maybe it should have a warning label. Kind of amazing that it appears spewing hate of America and lies about capitalism night and day. It does have some cute girls, though, so we have to like that.

And, the Russians still have not gotten the credit they deserve for fighting the Nazis and maybe we should think about that.

On Friday, I felt dazed from the surgery on my forehead. Maybe the novocaine is affecting me. I slept and then had a simply great swim, courtesy of my fabulous new heater. I had better rethink my anger about the pool man. He may be a goniff, but my pool is warm.

Actually, now I love him.

Long nap, and then into the car to ride home in the rain. We have all been praying for rain and here it is. As we drove home we listened to the BBC talking about the Russian invasion of the Crimea. The announcer told us, just as we pulled over in Calimesa for Taco Bell food, that Mr. Obama had ordered V.P. Joe Biden to call the new President of the Ukraine and reassure him of our support.

Alex and I burst out laughing. “Why didn’t Obama have Bozo the Clown call him?” asked Alex. “He carries more weight than Biden.”

Actually, I think Obama is playing this right. This is not our fight. I don’t want to see America involved at all. And the Russians have a good claim to the Crimea. Plus, Mr. Putin will soon find that he has bought himself a huge steaming platter of horse manure. Now he will have another region near the Caucasus (a bit near) where the people will hate him, Russia and Russians. The Crimean Tatars HATE the Russians. They are tough and they know where to get guns and bombs. So, Vlad, you have now bought yourself hatred, anger, and bloodshed, the usual price for empires of captive people. And, Mr. Obama, you were right to stay the heck out of it.

Let Chuckles the Clown be the point man on this. No, I mean Bozo. But maybe this gives us a clue why we need a major league military. There are some scary people out there. They like to make trouble. We need a very big stick.

But here’s my main point. When wifey and I strolled into Taco Bell, it was cold and rainy outside. The place was completely empty except for the staff. If I had been there by myself, I would have felt miserable. Lonely and pitiful. But with my big wifey sitting across from me, I was in heaven. This is important stuff. Lonely is terrible. Big wifey is great. I took a photo of Alex eating at the empty Taco Bell. A Nighthawk in the Calimesa Taco Bell with her fellow Nighthawk a few feet away. We Nighthawks do not like to be alone.

Today, a great 12 step meeting and now to take my fiber and go to sleep. No wars in the Crimea, please. It’s been tried. Let Putin grasp the nettle this time.

Sunday
I have had time to think about it. That’s because our flight to Orlando today was canceled and I got to spend a day napping until our red eye tonight.

Plus, I got to talk to Wlady and Aram about it. So, now we know the real situation. The crux is that because Obama has habitually been so weak and pusillanimous that no one fears the United States any longer. If Obama had a more “muscular approach” to foreign policy (as Aram put it) in earlier years, Putin would not have gone into the Ukraine in the first place. Now, it’s impossible to do anything about it.

But also now, every other aggressor nation sees that it can be bold and take what it wants and Mr. Obama will not do a thing about it. China will take whatever islands it wants that Japan also claims. God only knows what North Korea will take. Iran will (correctly) see itself free of any shackles. Mr. Putin will feel unabashed about taking more of the former USSR. After all, he now knows for sure he can get away with it. International relations will be in chaos and the law-abiding democracies will be thrown on the defensive for the foreseeable future.

But what to do about it right now? For one absolutely sure thing, end the sequester and have no more defense cuts and start building it all back up again to a level where the bad guys would really fear to misbehave.

It’s all very depressing.

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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.