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

RON SCHALOW: Poor Paranoid Lying Port

My buddy, Rob Port, used the coveted space for his Sunday column to set up a hypothetical Festivus pole, air his grievances and sob over his keyboard. My sources say he paced in the hall for a solid 45 seconds before getting winded and falling into a heap of self-pity. The feats of strength portion of Festivus was canceled, due to a lack of strength.

It is a Festivus miracle that anyone would waste money on this rube.

The headline and copy exemplified why he isn’t taken seriously, and many people consider him an embarrassment to the newspaper industry, worldwide, and Forum Communications in particular. I’m just generally embarrassed for people with no self-awareness or shame. Ferrets also have no self-awareness or shame. They are the Ports of the animal kingdom.

It’s as if he impersonated a real journalist and a real higher education expert, in a debate at Minot State University. Oh, right. Port did that and wore his finest checkered shirt and what appeared on video to be skinny jeans. The dull-witted one argued with people who have degrees up to their knees.

It’s doubtful that Port understood most of the words, but he was pleased with himself anyway. That’s the type of person we’re dealing with\ and partly explains his column of victimhood woe.

Let’s dissect this dead carp. Port’s words are in quotations.

“COMMENTARY: CRITICS CRY SHUT UP, BUT MY CRITICISM ON SENATOR IS SOUND”

What critic said shut up? He doesn’t know. Port’s Heidi obsession cannot be summed up as sound. It’s not. If you’re into the 109 degrees of separation game, laced with venom, Rob’s your dude.

“MINOT, N.D. — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and her network of operatives and supporters are out to make me Public Enemy No. 1.”

The youngster never names any of these operatives involved in this conspiracy. He usually calls these imaginary people “surrogates.” The word surrogates, appears in 7,436 Heidi hit pieces.

And he isn’t No. 1. He wishes. Port’s just a lackey.

“The problem is that the senator’s approval numbers are tanking ahead of what promises to be the most vigorously contested election of her life.”

 The Portweasel just made that up. His mediocrity is the problem.

“The solution, it seems, is to paint yours truly as a big, bad bully who just won’t leave poor Heitkamp alone.”

The Portweasel just made that up.

“Remember, this is a U.S. senator we’re talking about. As one of just 100 members of that legislative chamber, she is one of the most powerful political figures in the country. She has a war chest stuffed with millions in donations which funds, among other things, a campaign staff eager to mau-mau anyone critical of their candidate.”

Mau-mau? OK. Port is eager to mau-mau anyone critical of Kevin Cramer. Kevin can say nothing too stupid to get the mau-mau thing from his third favorite media sycophant.

“Lately, though, Heitkamp has taken the posture of a victim in the face of criticism from me. Her staffers, who never bother to respond to my requests for comment or interviews, routinely contact my bosses encouraging them to shut me up. The state’s opinion pages frequently feature letters to the editor from Democratic operatives whinging on about a supposed “obsession” with the senator.”

Heitkamp has never mentioned the blogger’s name, to my memory, but Rob can fantasize about keeping her up at night. Heidi doesn’t consider Port at all. He’s a hack who thinks he deserves some respect because JoeMN, Orville and a small cast of turkey vultures,who circle the polluted pond on his blog, are waiting to attack anyone who might leave a factual comment. These mooks hang on his every word, or at least try to sound out the headline.

“Even my colleague, Mike McFeely, is doing his part for Heitkamp under the guise of promoting professional standards. In a recent column, he was floating the scurrilous idea that I might be paid off by Republicans. He claims that a political commentator like me writing a lot about a candidate in what promises to be the biggest political brawl in state history is somehow unbecoming of someone in our profession.”

McFeely is not Jr.’s colleague (that implies some level of equality), and he wasn’t doing anything on behalf of Heitkamp. And he didn’t float anything. As McFeely stated, readers have wondered about his obviously adhesive relationship with Kevin Cramer. How many lies is that, so far?

“There’s a simple explanation for why all of this is happening: My criticism of Heitkamp is sound.”

 No it isn’t. Sorry, you little hombre.

“It’s resonating with the public.”

It’s not.

 “It’s become inconvenient to Heitkamp’s efforts to get herself re-elected.”
Wrong again. Voldeport (copyrighted by Kris Wallman), thinks a lot of himself.

“Thus, it must be removed. Or diminished.”

Thus, the thin-skinned one doesn’t understand the issue. Drama queen.

“Hilariously, there seems to be little concern from my critics about the senator’s brother operating a Fargo-based radio station as a de facto campaign headquarters. When Joel Heitkamp was riding herd on Heitkamp’s opponent in 2012 — former Republican Congressman Rick Berg — there were no complaints from our friends on the left.”

Port complained, and since I listened to KFGO before that election (did Robbie?), and to call the radio station as a de facto campaign headquarters, is ridiculous. Another lie. I’m sure it sounded true during a fever dream brought on by mayonnaise malaise.

“The hypocrisy is so thick you could cut it with a knife.”

I love cliches.

“You’ll notice that the bulk of the criticism of my coverage of North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race is not focused on what I’m writing. There are few rebuttals offered for the points I’m making. Rather, we are being treated to tantrums from people who are upset that I’m writing anything at all.”

Also, not true. Weasel boy is throwing the tantrum in this comedy.

“I dislike dedicating a column like this to some food fight with a bunch of politicos and campaign operatives, but I felt I owed you, the audience, a rebuttal to the smear campaign against me.”

Gosh, thanks, I did feel owed. Port knows how to smear, but not enough people care about him to call anything a campaign.

“I choose topics because they matter. My critics want me to shut up because they know those topics matter.”

Another miss. Have another bottle of cough syrup.

“One truth I’ve learned in 15 years of writing about politics is that you usually get the most flak when you’re over the target.”

Writing is a strong word.