Unheralded

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Our Gang’s Got a Hole in It

We all know how this works. The older we get the more often we’re reminded of it. Each entrance begets an exit. We contemplate these things as grandparents and parents get slow and gray, as we track the lines in our face in the mirror some mornings. But I never imagined a world without Gary Edwin Schlosser in it. Gare …


Unheralded

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Gaslighting Of America

By now, video of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial has been examined more closely than the Zapruder Film, and the gaslighting of America is complete. You really didn’t see what you saw. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in his ongoing inspirational battle against the First Amendment, encouraged lawsuits against the media for misinterpeting the video. “Those kids did nothing wrong,” …


TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Politics Of Beer

The campaign for 2020 is in its infancy, but I’m close to eliminating one candidate — Elizabeth Warren. Not because she’s a Harvard professor or any of the inevitable pretense that comes with academia. It really comes down to inauthenticity. Her painfully awkward live streaming on New Year’s Eve was an attempt to ingratiate herself to “regular folk” by opening …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — North Dakota Politics

Every legislative session, there should be kiosks in the malls to sell Lisinopril because Lord knows my blood pressure sure goes up. In North Dakota, any maniac can propose a bill. Well, not just any maniac off the street — elected maniacs. Take, for instance, Senate Bill 2136, sponsored by Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, that would force schools to offer …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Dance Shaming

I’m no psychologist, but Republicans seem unnaturally obsessed with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’ve spent an inordinate amount of time telling everyone what an inconsequential airhead she is. She was dismissed as “a little girl” by GOP strategist Ed Rollins. I dunno, a 29-year-old knocking off a 10-term incumbent sounds consequential to me, but then I find Tomi Lahren …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Wake Up, North Dakotans

I’m going to type very slowly so you can keep up. Don’t get me wrong, I used to think North Dakotans were even more above average than residents of Lake Wobegone, blessed with sound cognitive abilities. According to some legislators, I was wrong, so I’ll try to keep this as monosyllabic as possible. Republicans in the North Dakota Legislature have …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — End Of The Year Quiz

I’m on an early deadline. Happy New Year, folks! Out with the old and in with the new! And that has nothing to do with cleaning my refrigerator. True story: A couple of years ago, my daughter discovered some Italian dressing with an expiration date that coincided with Obama’s inauguration. Really. Since it was basically oil and vinegar, I insisted …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — A Christmas Tale

In the spirit of the season, we bring you one of Tony J Bender’s columns from 2002. The teapot whistled, and the old man rose from his rocking chair by the window where he watched the sunrise. He pulled two cups out of the cupboard, a force of habit developed over 53 years. He filled one cup, dropped an Earl …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Self-Reflection

I begin today in a self-reflective state of mind at the urging of Kevin Cramer, who took umbrage over criticisms of Precedent Trump’s un-Christianlike behavior at George H. W. Bush’s funeral. Trump didn’t sing, recite the Apostles’ Creed, or offer Michelle Obama even one piece of candy. Apparently, he was fearful of violating her nutritional guidelines. Since she left Washington, …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Liberals Are Gunning For Your Freedom

I’ve about had it with snowflakes and it’s barely December. I saw on Fox News that the #MeToo movement is trying to stamp out romance. What’s under assault is the revered seasonal classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” A Cleveland radio station took the song off the air under pressure from radicals in pink hats because it’s about a guy trying …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Thanksgiving Fails

Far be it for me to complain, but I’m going to complain. Whatever happened to Thanksgiving tradition? There was a time when we remembered the reason for the season — Columbus discovering the Pilgrims. And it was more than an excuse to buy LED televisions the size of garage doors. We didn’t say, “Happy Holidays,” we said, “Happy Thanksgiving,” and …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Thanksgiving Quiz

Hey slackers, did you really think you were going to get away without a current events review before the semester ends? Oh, no — Jim Acosta is back, so you know the fake news spigot is going to be running wide open. Pull up a desk, kids, stow the cell phone, grab a No. 2 pencil, eyes straight ahead and …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — A Car Ride For Life

Bob and I sat, our motorcycles idle, among a quiet group of veterans, waiting for stragglers. But no one came late. Most of us had been there early enough to stretch our legs. A few of us smoked. The veil of fog faded away from the black and green hues of the Black Hills. It looked like rain. Hell, it …

TONY BENDER: “Badass Grandmas’ Take Measure 1 Fight On The Road

The “Badass Grandmas” toured south-central North Dakota on Oct. 23, with stops in Napoleon, Wishek, Ashley, Hague, Strasburg and Linton. Dina Butcher, a former Republican candidate for North Dakota ag commissioner, and Ellen Chaffee, a Democrat and former president of Valley City State College and Mayville State College, are the grandmas who represent North Dakotans for Public Integrity, a coalition …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Last Hunt

I just learned this morning of the death last April of an old friend, a fellow named Tim Williams, from Ohio. I say “friend” even though I only knew him a little. His dad, Tommy Williams, also from Ohio, and my dad, “Doc” Fuglie from Hettinger, N.D., were friends and occasional hunting buddies. Tommy loved to hunt pheasants and ducks …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Integrity Matters

Heidi Heitkamp has had better weeks. She’s probably had better train wrecks. “Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” John Lennon sang. “Strange days, indeed.” Last week, her campaign, scrambling for momentum, included in a newspaper ad the names of 127 women purported to be sexual abuse victims. The ad called out Kevin Cramer for his insensitivity to the …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Pre-Election Quiz

I don’t know if you’ve been following along but there’s this thing 58 percent of Americans do the first Tuesday of November. And no, it’s not check the mailbox for a welfare check as some might have you believe. It’s called it an election, although some people refer to them as train wrecks. The last election should have been sponsored …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Transcript

SEPT. 27, 2018, WASHINGTON — Senate Judicial Committee Chairman Charles Grassley is seated. Brett Kavanaugh fastidiously adjusts the items on his desk. Cory Booker snaps a selfie. Jeff Flake nervously chews a Lifesaver. Lindsey Graham pages through the latest edition of Good Housekeeping. GRASSLEY: (whispers) “Where’s my gavel? Sen. Feinstein, did you swipe my gavel?” FEINSTEIN: (snores softly) “Huh, wah? …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Move Over, Dorian Gray

I spent more time on my fantasy football picks than the Senate has on Brett Kavanaugh. No matter how it turns out, I’ll have another chance next year. But the Supreme Court is for keeps. If the 53-year-old nominee serves to the age of 90 like Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr. did, he’ll reign until 2055. Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Reefer Madness

It isn’t often that you can vote against the Apocalypse. This November voters will be on the front lines to defend the state against the Armageddon that has befallen eight states and the District of Columbia — legalized recreational marijuana. I’ve witnessed the carnage with my own two bloodshot eyes in Colorado. Everyone is running around like Cheech and Chong …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Do You Know Your News?

I’ve been thinking about the poor sap who will have to document recent events in future history textbooks — assuming, of course, that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos doesn’t strike history from the curriculum or make Speaking in Tongues the official language by then. The chapter may start something like this: “In 2016, Vladimir Putin managed to slip acid …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — A Tale Of Two Queens

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but there will be rioting in the streets, the stock market will crash, and we will all be very poor if they decide to impeach Cara Mund. The current Miss America and former Miss North Dakota is embroiled in a catfight with ex-Fox News Queen Gretchen Carlson. Catfight? Isn’t that term sexist or …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Analyzing The Measures

The problem with democracy is when citizens start sticking their noses into the government’s business. No state is more under siege than ours. There are four measures on the November ballot placed there by malcontents. As if we can’t trust the Legislature to do what’s best for oil billionaires. That sort of thinking threatens to undermine our way of life. …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Back-To-School Quiz

Hello class, it’s that time of year. The wheat harvest is on, the leaves will be turning soon, and NFL players are beginning to kneel. It’s time for the Tony Bender Back to School Super Brain Quiz. 1. Why won’t Kevin Cramer agree to more debates? A. Stall Ball always works out so well. B. How many ways can you …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Robins

Mama Robin built a nest a scant 6 feet from the front door this year. Brave girl, that one, or perhaps just trusting. The azure eggs were visible just below eye level, and India and I watched the progression from broken shells to featherless, famished babies with gaping mouths, as their gaunt, overworked mother retrieved worms and bugs from the …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — GOP Needs To Change Mascots

Gov. Doug Burgum joined 30 other governors last week in support of Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice, which is — if you’re a Republican — about as shocking as going to a midsummer tent revival and proclaiming your love for Jesus. Even if you’re only there to pick up sweaty Baptist chicks. Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven and Senate …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Inadvertent Surrender

It can happen to the best of us — to the worst of us, even. You say one thing, but you meant something completely different. Like that time Churchill meant, “We shall always surrender!” President Trump, fresh off of his triumphant Surrender Summit in Helsinki, says what he meant to say when asked whether Russia had undermined the 2016 election …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — R.I.P. Ed Schultz

If he was gonna do it, Ed Schultz should have expired July 4. It would have fit his sense of theater. After all, he was a football All-America quarterback and in many ways reflected America itself — high achiever, pugilistic, self-centered, generous, mercurial, brilliant, reckless and fearless. It was one of the few times Ed missed his mark. Then again, …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Big John

Jimmy Dean didn’t write that song about Big John Schlosser. But he should have. And they don’t erect many statues to folks in small towns. But they should. It would take a lot of bronze because John was big. That’s the thing about small towns, they grow bigger-than-life characters like John. Maybe it’s the air, the soil, the sky … …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — And The Winner Is …

There was an election last week and Democracy lost. Just 19.66 percent of eligible North Dakotans voted — 114,340. Meanwhile, the winner, Apathy, recorded 467,301 yawns. The only place with lower turnout was North Korea. Isn’t it obvious now that we need more undocumented immigrants to do the voting Americans just won’t do? Even more disconcerting was the revelation that …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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

Because America leads the world in news, it is incumbent upon us to periodically review current events so that when an undocumented immigrant stops you on the street and asks, what the hell is going on, you’ll know. This may also come in handy on your ACT, SAT or POS test. 1. According to former North Dakota GOP chairman and …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — State Of The Union

Well, the groundhog saw his shadow, so six more months of Mueller. The president might have basked for a while in the glow of his triumphant State of the Union address, of which a whopping 43 percent of Democrats and 109 percent of Republicans approved. Instead, he released The Memo, which instantly changed the tune from Kumbaya at a campfire …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Sometimes There Is No Spring

T. S. Elliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, but I’d argue that. It comes in the winter. Winter is more than a metaphor for the twilight of a life, the final whirl of child’s windup toy as the coiled spring inside releases the last of its energy and it freezes in suspended animation, a monument to a life …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Breast Of Times

It’s been a couple of interesting weeks when it comes to what women can and can’t do in North Dakota. In Wahpeton, there’s a communitywide debate about the Oasis Bar’s request to permit lap dancing. Meanwhile, at Chick-fil-A in Fargo, a woman was kicked out for breastfeeding her baby. Let’s start there. This is a place that makes a living …