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Tony J Bender

Tony J Bender is a writer from rural Venturia, N.D. He is the publisher of the Ashley (N.D.) Tribune and the Wishek (N.D.) Star. He has written a weekly column, That's Life, for 25 years, which is published by various papers. He has published two novels and three collections of his columns.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Travels With Tony

Our first Uber driver was a former journalist, so the midnight conversation from Pittsburgh International Airport turned to the unprecedented attacks on the press by the president.

Wearied by weather delays, airport sprints and the uncertainty of our travels, India and I were content to let him deliver a treatise I knew by rote — the preposterous notion journalists intentionally get things wrong … the differences between the opinion page and the front page … the top secret cabal that keeps conservatives out of journalism school … the incurious nature of sheep and men …

We counted 11 Uber drivers, a microcosm of America, as part of our four-day trek around Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where India will attend West Virgina University in the fall.

There was beautiful Chinita with the splendid braids, who was recovering from a car accident and was driving because she could no longer handle physical labor … there were college students picking up money for tuition … and Russell, a West Virginia lifer whose Uber profile said he was a great conversationalist but wasn’t.

A former FBI agent from D.C. shared his insights into the bureau as he ferried us across Morgantown. Comey had botched things by skewing the trajectory of the election with the Hillary email announcement, he said. And the two fired agents who displayed unprofessional disdain for Trump? “They had it coming.”

I had one question. “Is Bob Mueller a straight shooter?” He looked over at me intensely as the light changed. “Absolutely. Incorruptible.”

My favorite was the retired ballerina, who had danced professionally for 21 years in the company of luminaries like Baryshnikov and Nureyev and now taught other dancers. She was tiny and lithe, blonde-gray hair in a ballerina’s bun, lively eyes, with a boisterous laugh I was delighted to coax out of her several times with prairie wisecracks.

Later, I wondered why she was driving. Boredom? Financial necessity? If so the latter, it wouldn’t surprise me. Art is so seldom justly rewarded — this wondrous thing that illuminates the very best in humanity, showing our species in full bloom, like tulips in the spring, providing hope, beauty, inspiration, perspective, truth and mystery. I wished I had seen her dance.

Jahm from Uzbekistan and I engaged in discourse about Russian history, from the Mongols to the Romanovs. A gold tooth flashed when he spoke from a bearded jaw. I mined the words from his rich accent like gemstones. That ride wasn’t long enough.

The longest ride, but not in miles, was with Thomas, a patriot driving a Nissan. Well dressed in a button down shirt and slacks, he was a former coal miner, failed restauranteur and air conditioning specialist who, at 58, couldn’t land another job.

Early in the ride, because we were from North Dakota, I assume, he floated a comment about the unfair treatment Trump was receiving in the press and said something disparaging about Hillary. “Well, I really wasn’t a fan of either candidate,” I said noncommittally, and that shut him down for a while.

But later, another entreaty about the media’s attacks on the president, and this time I took the bait. The president, I said, was acting on some conservative principles I could live with. “But I despair over what he’s doing to the office — the ugliness and divisiveness he encourages. His dishonesty. His intellectual laziness. The way he alienates our allies.”

And so it came, like a flood, the rebuttal. Thomas told me he listened to a lot of conservative talk radio and so seemed well-schooled on the Deep State. Along with his defense of the president, he opined that 9/11 was an inside job, Obama, the Manchurian Candidate, was a Muslim born in Kenya, and that climate change was a hoax.

I attempted to gently amend some of the more egregious misstatements. I cited facts about the death of coral reefs, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, the increased intensity of storms and the acceleration of CO2 in the atmosphere that coincided with the Industrial Revolution — the reality that the growing season in North Dakota had gotten longer in my lifetime.

“Most scientists agree climate change is happening,” I said.

“They’ve been bought off,” he countered.

“All of them? And to what end? Not everything is a conspiracy, Thomas. Read.”

He didn’t read newspapers. It’s all fake news, anyway, he said, repeating the president’s mantra, and then he went off on CNN.

“You’re killing me, Thomas,” I said, and that’s when I revealed my occupation.

“Why would you support attacks on the First Amendment, which is more critical to your freedom than any other part of the Constitution?” I asked.

“Journalists defend your freedom every day, just as soldiers do. You think six-shooters and the Second Amendment will save you from a corrupt government? You know what will? Truth. Facts. They’re out there. You just have to be willing to open your eyes.”

By then, we were at the motel. We pulled the bags out of the trunk and wished each other well. I slapped him on the back and said, “Keep an open mind, Thomas.”

He smiled and chuckled. I liked him. I really did. And I think he liked me.

“I’ll keep an open mind, too,” I added, as I turned away.

I tipped him well. But not as much as the ballerina.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Heidi-Kevin Show

OK, people, I’m warning you, I took Ambien, so anything could happen. Then again, I might simply nod off.

It would be much worse if you nodded off. Now would be a perfect time for that energy drink, or if you want something less stimulating, crack cocaine.

I now keep my energy drinks in a gun safe because of what is cryptically known as “The Incident,” which took place in 2003, during a birthday party for preschoolers at our house. The best way to describe what happened is to imagine a locked room filled with 19 cats, 14 laying hens, a Roomba and Gary Busey.

Technically, this column has nothing to do with energy drinks or Gary Busey. So why bring it up? A couple of reasons. One, Gary Busey needs the publicity, and two, I am contractually obligated to produce 750 words each week. The good news is, I get paid $100 a word. (This is how you make $800.)

It’s a very strict contract. I don’t really understand it all but according to my agent, it’s intertwined with international trade, geopolitics and veterinary science. All I know is once when I stopped at 500 words, the soybean market plummeted, Russia annexed Crimea and my neighbor’s cat choked on a mouse.

It may be the effects of the Ambien, but it feels like I woke up in Bizarro World today, where Superman is evil, Lex Luthor is the good guy and George Costanza works for the Red Sox.

Last week, we learned that the Koch Brothers, the Darth Vaders of conservative causes, donated to Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign. Yes, that Heidi Heitkamp — the one whose votes in support of Trump policies are insufficiently sincere, according to conservative radio talkers in North Dakota. The same Heidi Heitkamp who may have personally pulled Will Gardner’s pants down and pushed him in front of windows at an North Dakota State University girls dorm.

Why are we still talking about Will Gardner? Because Republicans won’t let it die! This issue is like a vampire. Or more appropriately in this case, Lazarus. It keeps rising from the dead.

On talk radio, we’ve learned that God can forgive anything — peeping, infidelity, lying, violations of the Emoluments Clause, Russian collusion, excessive golfing — anything except gayness and liberalism. We’ve also learned that college girls are seductresses — modern-day sirens shipwrecking otherwise devout Republicans on the rocks of desire. Only one man is immune. Mike Pence. He’s like college girl kryptonite.

Inexplicably, last week, Kevin Cramer joined the Apologist Choir of Holy Holiness, which has been suggesting Gardner was clutching his Catechism while the former GOP secretary of state candidate was leering at coeds, panting like a wiener dog on a hot day.

Personally, I was done talking about this, but now that they brought it up, what drives a man to voyeurism? Energy drinks? A bad Internet connection?

And what drove Cramer to shoot himself in the foot? Was he trying to impress the NRA? Did his left foot cause him to sin? At any rate, it prompted his campaign manager, Pat Finken, doing his best Sarah Huckabee Sanders impression, to issue a statement explaining what Cramer really meant, which was that he didn’t really mean what he said, thereby illustrating that he’s the perfect politician for these perilous times.

Meanwhile, Heidi’s campaign campaign strategy seems to be that she’s Donald Trump’s BFF and almost as good a Republican as Cramer, except she doesn’t support window peepers.

You might think that as a progressive pointing this out, I’ve lost my mind or failed to read the daily top-secret talking points sent to all liberals, but the reality is, in a state in which 11 out of 10 people are expected to vote Republican in November, Heidi is doing exactly what she needs to do, much to the chagrin of unrealistic, idealistic Democrats and insane conservative talk show hosts.

That whole last sentence was an exercise in redundancy. It also made me $6,900. If only Heidi had supported the tax cut.

Cramer, apparently rattled by Heitkamp’s recent photo-ops with Trump and the fact that they Snapchat daily, also further distanced himself from common sense by criticizing Trump’s legislative director. I’m not saying he’s come unglued, but he’s looking as grim as a man drinking unsweetened Kool-Aid. Someone should hide his shoelaces. On the bright side, he didn’t call Ivanka Trump any bad names.

Kevin Cramer is being out-Republican-ed by Heidi Heitkamp, and that ain’t easy.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — What Makes America Great

In the interest of differing viewpoints, Bocephus M. Snodgrass is filling in for Tony J Bender this week.



Hey folks, Bocephus M. Snodgrass here. The M stands for ‘Murica, just like me.

You know what makes ‘Murica great? ‘Muricans. I’ll tell you one thing, my great-great-great grandpappy didn’t come here from halfway ’round the world just to have a bunch a immigrants ruin everything for the rest of us.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with that NYC lawyer who doesn’t want to be subjected to diversity.

And I suppose you heard what happened in Harvey, Mont.? How those two senoritas were talking Spanish or some other gobbledygook in the convenience store? Tell me, how convenient is it when you can’t understand what folks are sayin’? What if they were plotting to blow up the sheep barn? You know how them Muslins are.

Look, I’m not prejudiced. I like burritos as much as the next guy, but when in Rome, do like the Romans do. Speak American. And then don’t get all lippy with the Border Patrol just because you happened to be born in the U.S. of A. The Border Patrol’s got rights, too, you know.

Every Memorial Day, when I remember how those brave men and women (but mostly men) of the Border Patrol have sacrificed to keep ‘Murica great again, I get a little choked up. I love that 21-gun salute. Because it scares Mexicans. And it keeps the schoolkids on their toes.

Speaking of guns and kids, I’ve had it with all the whining about school shootings. If kids weren’t so busy staring at their cellphones, they’d see the shooters coming. Nobody teaches personal responsibility anymore. You know, had our soldiers been on their phones all the time, we’d have lost in Vietnam.

You know what the real problem is, don’t you? Libtards. They put transgenders in the bathrooms and took Jesus out of the classroom, and he had a pretty good G.P.A., too. I tell you what, you post Jesus or Chuck Norris at the door with an AR-15, and we’ll all feel better. Teachers should be packing heat, too ― the one’s who aren’t Commies, anyway, which come to think of it, would leave us outgunned. For sure, you can’t arm the Spanish teacher.

None of this would have happened if:

A. God didn’t get expelled.

B. Everybody homeschooled.

C. They stopped teaching revisionist history. For instance, the North didn’t win the Civil War. We just ain’t finished, yet.

D. Schools didn’t have so many doors.

E. Everyone would stop being such snowflakes.

F. They taught the Second Commandment in schools: “Thou shalt not take our guns.”

I don’t know what comes after F. I never got a grade lower than that.

People forget what this country was founded on: Guns … Jesus … and Freedom of Speech, except when you’re talking smack about Guns and Jesus. You should read the Consternation of the United States sometime. Maybe you’d learn something.

We have a long way to go, but at least The Precedent has made the NFL great again. He convinced the owners to stand up for America by forcing the players to do the same. Every time a player kneels, an angel weeps. Also when you punt on fourth down with just inches to go.

It all comes down to the principles we hold dear … the freedom to make your employees stand when you want them to, just like the good old days … the freedom to worship the military branch of your choosing … except maybe the Coast Guard. Seriously, Dunkirk had cooler boats.

This is about respecting people in uniform, who sacrificed everything for your right to conform. You know why fighter jets fly over the stadium before game time? Because freedom. Also to keep Colin Kaepernick out. And so Bill Belichick can get pictures of the other team’s game plan.

Players should stand to respect police officers, too, except for black guys who are already on the ground getting tazed because they’ve got a tail light out. Stop resisting.

None of this freedom could be enforced if we didn’t have a strong leader who isn’t afraid to crash your company’s stock price in 280 characters or less. There are two things keeping us free right now ― the NRA and Twitter.

When the president pulls out his Twitter, people wet the bed. That’s power. God Bless America.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Potpourri

Laurel or Yanny?

Weird week. Everyone was weighing in on the Laurel or Yanny question. Some heard the robotic voice on the Internet say “Yanny”, others heard “Laurel.” Others thought their iPad was possessed by Stephen Hawking, Linda Blair or M. Night Shyamalan.

The president heard “covfefe”. As for me, I distinctly heard, “Paul is dead.” and I think, in the background, “I Dreamed a Dream,” from Les Miserables.

There was some speculation that the differences in what people heard were based on the recorded frequencies. There seemed to be greater discrepancies between what women heard — “Yanny” — and what men heard: “It’s second and three, and the Packers are driving …”

The Royal Wingding

Well, there was lots of excitement about the royal wedding last week. All kinds of celebrities were invited — George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Elton John, Laurel and Yanny, Laurel and Hardy, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, which is appropriate, because I find the hubub somewhat of a mystery.

There’s obviously a gender gap at work here. Maybe for women it plays into a fairy tale Prince Charming fantasy. It’s unfamiliar territory to me. In any relationship I’ve ever been in, I’ve always been The Beast, and once, Quasimodo, which, until I did some research, I thought was a term of endearment.

People seemed captivated by the smallest details of the royal wedding. One woman’s Facebook post pondered the question: “Beard or no beard?”

I answered, “No show.”

Wow. Some people can’t take a joke.

For the record, beard, and it went splendidly with Camilla Parker-Bowles’ hat.

Peepin’ Will

Go figure this one. North Dakota Republicans endorsed for scretary of state, Will Gardner, who in 2006, as a 29-year-old married father of two, was caught with his zipper down outside the window of an North Dakota State University girl’s dorm. Prosecutors said he had peeped in numerous windows. I’d like to see the ink blot test on this guy.

I guess the North Dakota GOP didn’t know about the “The Weible Hall Incident” until last week. Apparently, Republicans were so eager to retire Al “The Ancient Mariner” Jaegar and his abacus-based software system, they didn’t do any vetting. Gardner looked good in a suit, and Jaeger had mustard on his tie, so they went with the new kid. Besides, his zipper was up and everything. Still, it should have raised suspicions when R. Kelly gave the nomination speech.

Now, Gardner is playing the victim card. I guess it was mostly just a misunderstanding, and the cops got it wrong. Another damned witch hunt. On Sunday, he decided to withdraw from the race.

Fundraising hadn’t gone too well for Gardner. It helps if you don’t start each call with, “I know what you did last night.” Still, it might have worked out. Depravity is pretty much a plank in the GOP platform these days. It all starts at the top. It’s one of those trickle-down deals. And we do mean trickle down. If elected, Gardner would probably have kept a very close eye on things.

What climate change?

We all know climate change is fake news, but the atmosphere averaged 410 parts per million of carbon dioxide last month, the highest ever — at least since the mid-Pliocene Period, which according to Al Jaeger, was really hot. It’s inarguable that sea levels were 66 feet higher 3.6 million years ago — unless you’re a fundamentalist science-denier who thinks the world is only 2018 years old and that Jesus rode into Jerusalem to visit the U.S. Embassy on a brontosaurus.

Meanwhile, the president has defunded the NASA carbon-monitoring program because what you don’t know can’t hurt you, which is pretty much the theme of this administration. EPA Director Scott Pruitt was so excited when he heard the news, he actually went back to mingle with the folks in business class.

Keep the graduation speeches short

I used to write a column filled with advice to graduates each year, but I’ve stopped. For one thing, I don’t know how to get this on Snapchat. And then I realized that when I was that age, I had everything figured out, and I’m guessing these kids do, too. Over time, though, things have a way of unfiguring themselves. It’s like there’s a cat in my head unwinding a ball of yarn.

I’m not a fan of graduation speeches. I think the only speech I’ve ever enjoyed was by a really drunk best man at a wedding. Until the fight broke out and the cops came.

I don’t go to baccalaureate, but I do pray before every graduation: “Dear Lord, please make the commencement speaker’s speech short.”

Carpe diem. (I think that means “Seize the Carp”.)

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Another Kerfuffle

I’d like to begin this week by saying, “That darn Heidi Heitkamp.”

I’m referring, of course, to last week’s column in The Forum in which Mike McFeely ever-so-gently, in his curmudgeonly way, suggested that fellow columnist Rob Port might try writing about someone other than Heidi Heitkamp.

Like maybe Joel Heitkamp. I mean, I ain’t exactly Sherlock Holmes, but if I were going after dirt, I’d start digging in his backyard. Someone once asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” he said.

Joel has more skeletons in his closet than Jeffrey Dahmer. Far be it from me to cast aspersions, but I had lunch with him once, and he ordered fava beans and a nice Chianti, and for the record, that’s not even on the menu at Burger King.

It’s true that Rob Port has broken more than a few news stories over the years, but so far, all he has on Heidi is that she cheated at Parcheesi in fifth grade, has too many freckles and is bad at handshakes. Meanwhile, I know for a fact that Joel Heitkamp once robbed Willie Sutton. With an AR-16.

You could write for months just about prom night. There’s a version of the Steele Dossier on the bathroom walls at Hankinson (N.D.) High School. Joel’s senior year reads like “Fifty Shades of What the Hell!?”

But you know what they say — “You can lead a columnist to water, but he probably can’t swim.”

Personally, I refrain from talking about other columnists except for Tammy Swift, who has the cutest curly blonde hair ever. And while I’m at it, I’d like to thank Roxane Salonen for casting out my demons — I’m a Republican now — and I’m really sorry about the carpet. Roxane is my spirit animal, which, if you think about it, is really messed up.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, I believe one should “Speak no ill of a fellow columnist,” although these days in the White House I think it’s “Speak no ill of a fellow Communist.”

But I’m giving McFeely a pass on this one. This was more of an intervention. Not that I think Mike is the right guy for the job. If he showed up in my living room and gave me a hug, I think I’d start drinking more. They probably should have sent Roxane Salonen to Rob’s house. With a tarp.

This is getting worrisome. When Jake from State Farm called Rob and asked him what he was wearing, the answer was “Heidi Heitkamp’s pajamas.” That can’t be comfortable. Heidi is so folksy, she wears burlap, and according to the TV commercial I saw, Crocs.

If you dealt with as much chaffing as Rob Port, you’d lash out, too.

The problem with picking a fight with Rob is you’re going to need a thesaurus. (For you South Dakota State University grads, that’s not the dinosaur that ate the lawyer in Jurassic Park.) Rob has a propensity for using big words. Like propensity.

On this one, the smart money is on Port. McFeely knows just one big word. Kerfuffle. I don’t know what that is exactly, but it sounds like something you’d need a trained pig to sniff out in French forests. Or something you do after eating fava beans. Or a colorful nickname for an Austin Powers villain — Kerfuffle Carbuncle.

McFeely’s column went virus on the interwebs, but surprisingly, many liberals were critical of him. They weren’t exactly rushing to Port’s defense, but they felt that it was too little, too late. Apparently, McFeely should have attacked like a rabid dog (or Shawn Hannity) the instant Port showed his conservative leanings. Which was at birth. He only suckled from the right.

And the narrative is McFeely should have been even tougher on him.

Wow. Democrats have gotten so grumpy these days I can’t tell them from Republicans. Except in coffee shops and on the highway. At Starbucks, Democrats are the ones ordering soy caramel macchiatos, and Republicans are the ones making black people leave. Except for Kanye.

On the road, you can tell them apart because conservatives drive Cadillacs and liberals drive hybrids. Democrats will stop traffic to move a turtle. Republicans want to make it legal to drive over protesters or at least waterboard them.

One of my hobbies is cruising the Whole Foods parking lot with Make America Great Again bumper stickers. I put them on every Prius I see.

I slap PETA stickers on Suburbans parked at gun shops.

In my own small way, I feel I’m bringing us closer together.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — From Soup To Nuts

I had a pretty good week. My lawyer, Sly M. Ball didn’t get raided, and his paper shredder is working just fine. It’s powered by a V-8 Cummins, which gets terrible mileage, but thanks to the rollback of fuel efficiency standards, he won’t have to deal with a solar-powered model.

The problem there is twofold. First of all, most of the shredding takes place at night, and then there’s the issue of sun pollution. Solar panels attract way too much sun and are a major cause of global warming. If there is such a thing. And we know there isn’t because we’ve had a long winter in North Dakota. Case closed.

But I digress. This column is headed in more directions than a presidential tweet.

My point is, Sly is a great lawyer — the kind of guy who would reach into his pocket and pull out $130,000 or brass knuckles, whatever’s necessary, while performing the Art of the Deal. He’s a lot like a Boy Scout — always prepared, evolving on gay rights, and loves animals.

Take for instance the time I got a little behind on “insurance” payments. A lot of guys would have gotten rough, but you know what, Sly didn’t even bring it up. He just dropped off a fresh 5-pound carp wrapped in the fake New York Times and scratched Gus The Wonder Pug’s ears. “Nice pug you got here,” Sly said, “It would be a pity if something happened to him.”

Not many guys care that much. Anyway, the debt is settled. Mexico paid for it. And I’d like to say typing is not impossible without thumbs, butIdostrugglewiththespacebar.

Another big break I got last week was that I wasn’t mentioned in James Comey’s new book. He had a whole chapter on hand sizes, and I think I would have measured up if not for the absence of opposable thumbs.

Comey might be the next James Joyce, but because of his disloyalty to President Trump, he deserved to be fired. It’s like that time I got pulled over exhibition driving. “Where’s your sense of loyalty, officer?” I said. And then I fired him on the spot.

But there’s good economic news out of Washington, D.C. EPA Director Scott Pruitt is single-handedly driving down housing costs in the swamp by negotiating a condo rental from a lobbyist for less than the cost of a room at Motel 6. Motto: “We’ll leave the interrogation light on for you.”

Then, budget hawk Paul Ryan retired from Congress after the Congressional Budget Office calculated the nation could celebrate it’s first trillion dollar defecate in 2020, a celebration that could be bigger than the bicentennial. Instead of confetti, we’ll throw soybeans because we’ll have a lot of them. Said Ryan between squats, “My work here is done.”

Meanwhile in North Dakota, the Republican Deep State held an impromptu pillow party for Tom Campbell, who offended Gov. Burgum by trying to buy an election. He and Kevin Cramer were also upset about Campbell attempting to circumvent the sacred GOP convention process. I’m not saying things got swampy, but Campbell had to waterski home.

Campbell won’t be running, but there will be an ethics measure on the ballot, a concept so puzzling to Republicans not even Rob Port could come up with the definition. “It is a precipitous conundrum of the adjudication of the delineated hypotenuse of misanthropy,” he said. “And frankly, I am outraged, something … something … Heidi Heitkamp!”

Al Carlson was equally outraged when he heard about the measure. “And who’s gonna pay for that?” he demanded. Not Harold Hamm, that’s for sure.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

I was just wrapping my head around this Tide pod trend when I learned that condom snorting might be a thing. Now, I’ll have to sit down and have a talk with India about this.

When we discussed the dangers of Tide pods, she assured me she had no intention of eating our laundry detergent because, and I quote, “You don’t even buy the good tasting ones.”

Although I vowed not to become one of those parents complaining about “kids today” who talks about how I had to run uphill both ways in a blizzard when I went streaking, which was what we did for kicks, I can’t help myself.

It’s not like teens are reading this, anyway. Unless we can figure out a way to get it on Snapchat. However, just in case, let me explain that streaking had nothing to do with hair coloring.

We were also big on mooning. Which had nothing to do with astronomy. All I know is, Bernie Witte had to explain to his parents on the way to church one Sunday why there were butt prints on the windows of their 1972 Impala.

Where will it all lead? With all the frothing at the mouth that comes from eating Tide pods, those kids may grow up to be Fox News analysts, Philadelphia Eagles fans or Old Yeller. As for condom snorters, I don’t know.

You know what we did with condoms when I was a teenager? We kept them in our billfolds until they wore rings into the leather like we were carrying miniature cans of Copenhagen. No one actually ever used one because sex hadn’t been invented, yet.

I guarantee you our forefathers didn’t snort condoms. (Not on my side of the family, anyway.) They did cool stuff like dissemble Volkswagens and reassemble them on the roof of the school over the weekend. Or sneak a 4-H milk cow up the stairs and leave her in study hall overnight, which was equally cool, and hey, no assembly required!

A public service announcement is in order. First of all, don’t do it. It’s completely unnecessary. Even during the height of the sexual revolution, not one nostril ever got pregnant.

Second, it could result in death, which is often fatal. Or worse, you’ll have to face your parents in the E.R. as the doctor extracts a Trojan from your nostril. The five buck bet you won is not going to cover the deductible. Another failing of Obamacare.

But if you choose to snort one anyway, go with the lubricated ones. Don’t use the studded ones or the French ticklers, unless you’re really stuffed up.

Buy a name brand. Avoid those 75-cent glow-in-the-dark condoms at truck stop bathrooms. If you need it to glow in the dark in order to find it, you’ve got enough problems. I can’t imagine how bigly small your hands must be. It will look like there’s a firefly in the room.

Then again, it is possible that there really is no such thing as glow-in-the dark condoms. Think about it. It’s the perfect scam. You insert 75 cent, but nothing comes out. Are you really going to complain to the clerk at Kum & Go that the glow-in-the-dark condom vending machine stole your money? I should think not.

Although Poison Control has reported only one case of intentional condom inhalation in five years, that’s no reason not to panic. We can’t assume this thing has petered out.

The important thing to remember is that today’s teenagers are a real problem. In conclusion, hey, you kids get off my lawn! (Shakes fist.)

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Current Events Quiz

AIR FORCE ONE ANNOUNCEMENT — “Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some … uh … turbulence. As we continue our steep descent into anarchy, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position and that your seat belt is securely fastened. Before we crash, we’d like you all to fill out this brief questionnaire, the results of which will be shared with Cambridge Analytica.

1. Song President Trump often sings in the shower:
A. Hotline Bling.
B. My Ding-a-Ling.
C. 50 Ways to Fire Your Mueller.
D. It’s the End of the World (And I Feel Fine)

2. A better choice for national security adviser than John Bolton:
A. John Belushi.
B. Michael Bolton.
C. Edwin Starr.
D. Dr. Evil.

3. Things John Bolton wants to blow up:
A. North Korea.
B. East Korea.
C. West Korea.
D. North by Northwest Korea.

4. Things Donald Trump wants to blow up:
A. The soybean trade with China.
B. Apparently the stock market.
C. An inflatable love doll named Chesty.
D. The prenup.

5. Where is Mike Pence these days?
A. Undisclosed location in The Swamp.
B. Not dining alone with Stormy Daniels, that’s for sure.
C. The bullpen.
D. Cowering in a dark closet repeatedly mumbling to himself, “Out, damned spot …”

6. Solution to a vexing political problem:
A. Tweet firing.
B. Build a wall.
C. Woodchipper.
D. Russian Agents and poison.

7. Things to expect in a brawl between Trump and Joe Biden:
A. A folding chair will be involved.
B. Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.
C. Each touches the other inappropriately.
D. A sleeper, which everyone knows is really an illegal choke hold.

8. Why so many women voted against Hillary:
A. Pressure from their Republican husbands.
B. Believed they were voting against Sir Edmund Hillary.
C. Thought Trump was the Lesser of Two Weasels.
D. Tom Campbell bought their votes.

9. Why did hundreds of thousands of kids march in the streets on Saturday?
A. Late for Trump’s inauguration.
B. I dunno, but it’s a slippery slope.
C. Fox News: If we didn’t report it, it didn’t happen.
D. Practicing for the invasion of Iran

10. What President Trump offered Putin last week:
A. Congratulations.
B. Aid and comfort.
C. Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
D. What’s behind Curtain No. 3.

Bonus: The president is banning them from military service:
A. Transgenders.
B. Transformers.
C. Transients.
D. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Answers: 1. C; 2. C; 3. D; 4. C; 5. C; 6. D; 7. C; 8. C; 9. B; 10. B; Bonus: D.

Grading: 11-9: Fine, smarty-pants, but how’s your March Madness bracket looking? 6-8 correct: It’s like you’re psychic. Or a member of the Deep State or something. 3-5 correct: Well, you did better than Kushner. 0-2 correct: Yes, Mr. President, you are a genius. The most bigly smart genius in the world.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — In An Alternate Universe

SOMEWHERE IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE — White House Press Secretary Oprah Huckabee-Winfrey said today that President Barack Obama had won an arbitration case against porn star Stormy Daniels, who is suing the president to release her from a gag order.

Her attorney said a gag order wasn’t really necessary. “She gagged throughout the entire affair.” Daniels plans to return $130,000 she was paid to keep her mouth shut — a first in the industry — because the agreement with the president, under the pseudonym, Golden Schauer, was never signed. In a tweet, Obama denigrated Daniels for giving “lousy arbitration.”

Meanwhile, outraged Christian evangelicals across the country, led by Franklin Graham, staged a 17-minute walkout from churches across the country out of respect for the 16 women who have accused Obama of varying degrees of sexual misconduct, and another minute for Daniels, to represent the typical duration of her trysts with the president. Graham, a well-known cracker, said, “We want someone in the White House who represents our family values. Pretty much any white guy would do.”

Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Obama’s business records to examine possible ties to Russia that might leave him vulnerable to blackmail. So far, Mueller has indicted 19 people, including four of Obama’s advisers.

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn and campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Former Obama campaign aide Rick Gates agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and false statements. The president’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was indicted on money laundering among other charges related to dealings in Ukraine. At the party convention, the campaign sought to soften an anti-Russian party platform, which called for arms shipments to Ukrainians to fight against pro-Russian separatist forces.

Obama staunchly rejects any connection to Russia and his campaign. “There is no collusion,” he said. “Fake news! And why aren’t we talking about Donald Trump’s e-mails?” He has not addressed his reluctance to enact tough sanctions against the guy sitting on his bed who weighs 400 pounds and is believed to have meddled in the 2016 elections.

Weeks ago, the partisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee closed its investigation without exhibiting any. They declared the president to be “a really good guy once you get to know him,” sparking outrage across the aisle.

Even members of the president’s own party were willing to speak up on the condition of anonymity. “Wasn’t there a time when Russia was the enemy and we were the party of fiscal responsibility?” asked a senator, speaking from the shadows in a parking garage. “We need to boldly stand up against this tyranny.”

Turnover in the White House has far exceed that of any previous administration, because, explained Huckabee-Winfrey, “The president is sick and tired of having to take advice from his advisers.”

Last week, the president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet, and then, because he was on a roll, he tweet-fired Parks and Recreation supervisor Amy Poehler.

Twenty six members of Obama’s administration have been fired, canned, let go, resigned, forced out or surreptitiously poisoned to death by Russian agents. In another tweet, the president called them all “loser sons of bitches.”

CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow has been hired as Obama’s top economic adviser to replace Gary Cohn, who, as a free trade advocate, opposed the president’s burgeoning trade war with every country except Russia. Because Kudlow is so consistently wrong in his predictions, it is believed the president’s strategy will be to listen to Kudlow and then do the exact opposite thing.

Despite the turmoil, Obama’s support among his base remains unshakable. “If you want to drain the swamp, you’ve got to break a few eggs,” said Odie McDonald, a North Dakota farmer, who remains solidly behind the president despite indications the president intends to slash farm subsidies for rugged individualists like himself who are staunchly against socialism.

McDonald said in spite of a looming trade war that could further decimate commodity prices and increase the cost of machinery, he would continue to vote the same way his daddy did. Like his father, McDonald drives a 1962 Buick and has a rotary dial phone.

Senior citizens who wanted a president who golfs less and supported Obama because “they wanted something different” also continue to pledge unwavering support to him despite rumblings about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and heating assistance programs, to pay for a tax cut that will add $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

“We all gotta die from something,” said Ina Notting, from Nottapottapissin, Mississippi. “It might as well be from lack of health care.”

“People should stop being such snowflakes,” she added, gasping for breath between words because of a persistent cough that is probably nothing. She plans to vote the same way she always has for as long as she lives.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Quotes From The Gun Debate

  • “Good morning, students. It’s time for announcements. The lunch menu today is hot dogs with macaroni and cheese. The vegetable is ketchup. Take that, Michelle Obama! Miss Swiffer from fourth grade will be walking point during recess. Also, I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” — The  Principal.
  • “Even if you took away all the guns, people would still die of things like old age.” — Guy Next to You at the Bar.
  • “Guns are not the problem.” — Lone Gunman Spraying Bullets From a Rooftop.
  • “Hold my beer and watch this.” — Good Guy With a Gun Who Accidentally Shot Off His Own Penis.
  • “The media should just stop giving kids ideas.”  — The Only Network Covering the Massacre Responsibly.
  • “Where’s my penis?” — Gunshot victim.
  • “I need to open-carry my AK-47 to make sure Chipotle gets my fajita just the way I like it.” — Quiet Loner Who Kept to Himself and Seemed Like a Nice Guy.
  • “Without bump stocks, teachers will be helpless to defend the classroom against all the guns we helped put on the streets.” — The NRA.
  • “Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country and it still gets cold in the winter.” — Gun Enthusiast and Climate Change Denier.
  • “You never see this kind of violence in Antarctica.” — Flaming Liberal.
  • “Every American has the right to own an M-14. It’s the 2nd Commandment.” — Guy. Who. Just. Won’t. Stop. Talking.
  • “Save the children!” — Pro-Choice Democrats.
  • “Save the guns!” — Pro-Life Republicans.
  • “There is no silver bullet.” — Radio Talk Show Host.
  • “Yes there is.” — The Lone Ranger.
  • “I need a 100-round clip because there might be more than one coyote.” — Dude Who is a Bad Shot.
  • “I remember when everyone drove to school with a bazooka in the gun rack.” —Guy Who Thinks He’s Your Friend.
  • “I need a Bushmaster to defend myself against a tyrannical government. Go Trump!” — Man in Fatigues and a “Don’t Tread on Me” Shirt, Buying MRE’s at the Army Surplus Store, with a Bulldog on a Leash that has a Kerchief Around it’s Neck.
  • “When we were kids, we had to wear bread sacks on our feet every day on the way to the Killing Fields.” — Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
  • “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” — Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner.
  • “We need to bring Jesus back into the classroom. With an Uzi. — Satan.
  • “Thank God I was packing heat.” — Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL.
  • “If only my Secret Service Agents had been armed.” — Ronald Reagan.
  • “Murca!” — Bare Chested Guy on Facebook Holding an AR-15 Aloft Like Rambo.
  • “Why won’t anyone hunt with me?” — Dick Cheney.
  • “We’re selling a lot of Kevlar.” — Banana Republic CEO.
  • “We’re rethinking our logo.” — Target CEO.
  • “I shot Vince Foster. And Billy Graham.” — Hillary Clinton.
  • “If they can’t get guns, they’ll use butter knives and ladles” — Talk Show Caller.
  • “Sandy Hook never happened. Neither did the Holocaust. The moon landing was faked, and Elvis is alive.” — Alex Jones.
  • “No, I’m not,” — Elvis.
  • “Gun deaths are actually down.” — Man Consoling Grieving Family.
  • “A well-regulated militia.” — The Constitution.
  • “Thoughts and prayers.” — Every Politician.
  • “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” — 400 Ministers since Sandy Hook.
  • “I’m proud to be an American.” — Lee Greenwood.

© Tony Bender, 2018