Charlie Sheen announced today that he's HIV positive. But he doesn't deserve lionization, according to this writer.
Charlie Sheen announced today that he's HIV positive. But he doesn't deserve lionization, according to this writer. (Photo: Helga Esteb /

I don't feel sorry for Charlie Sheen

Am I supposed to feel sorry for Charlie Sheen? 

Let me be clear. I don’t feel having HIV should be stigmatized. We’re well past that point as a society. I lived through the ‘80s, and I remember how it used to be; people with HIV are human beings who should not be shunned. And, of course, we should have some degree of empathy for anyone who’s sick. He was certainly a very good actor once as well.

Thus, I also feel some empathy for the central tragedy of Charlie Sheen as a public figure, for the fact that his early promise ("Platoon," etc.) descended into a pit of porn star-fueled debauchery, squandered talent, bizarre rants about "tiger blood" (takes on new meaning) and the like, and now illness. I also feel a certain empathy for anyone in the throes of addiction.

But I’m not going to lionize Charlie Sheen because he’s now sick. I don’t feel sorry for alleged women beaters, sorry. I find it hard to feel sorry for a guy who is a known woman beater, whose "girlfriends" are an endless stream of porn stars, and who – and this is the worst part – might have played Russian Roulette with people’s lives. He’s probably the worst spokesman for the HIV-positive cause. We should have shunned him as a public figure years ago for allegedly beating women and calling them repulsive names.

His debauched lifestyle of drugs and porn stars is repugnant, but that’s his problem. This is America, and if you want to bring porn stars home to the parents, that’s your right. But don’t ask me to feel sorry for you if that doesn’t work out so great in the end. Knowingly exposing people to risks of infection? That, frankly, should be a problem for law enforcement. And if he wasn’t a celebrity – if he was just some guy without power or fame – there’d be a police investigation by now instead of a big, softball interview with Matt Lauer.

Think I’m being too harsh? Well, you don’t get to go around society knowingly endangering other people’s health. Did he …

The RNC forced media members to use the Wi-FI password "StopHillary" Tuesday night. What might be the next password?
The RNC forced media members to use the Wi-FI password "StopHillary" Tuesday night. What might be the next password? (Photo: David Bernacchi)

The Wi-Fi passwords they should have made the media use

One of the funniest twists to come out of the GOP debate in Milwaukee was the fact the Republican National Committee forced reporters to type "StopHillary" if they wanted to use Wi-Fi to send their dispatches from the UWM Panther Arena. Come to think of it, it was kind of a microaggression.

Usually you see such subliminal messaging in advertising, and sometimes it works. For example, way back in 1957, an advertising man claimed he snuck words like "drink Coca-Cola" into movies at a New Jersey theater to see if it would make more people buy Coca-Cola at the concession stand. It did

So, this got me thinking. Although "StopHillary" was an inspired choice, what could the RNC force the media to type next time? And what should the DNC make the media type?

Put your suggestions in the comment thread. Here are my top 10 suggestions for RNC and DNC media W-iFi passwords:


1. BenghaziBenghaziBenghazi

2. AdmitItYou’reAllaBunchofLiberals

3. LetJebTalkMore

4. ReinceisaStrategicGenius

5. PleaseDestroyTrumpForUsRightNow

6. ReaganForever

7. FoxNewsKochBrothersAlec

8. Don’tStopBernie

9. PresidentRubio

10. HillaryLiedPeopleDied


1. FreeStuff

2. Don’tFeelTheBurn

3. WarOnWomen

4. NotThatYouAreNowButDon’tAskHillaryAnyHardQuestions

5. CarsonHitHisMotherWithaHammer

6. PresidentTrump

7. LotsandLotsofFreeStuff

8. What’sWrongWithSocialismAnyway

9. RepublicansAreEvilRacistsWhoHateWomen

10. FreeStuffFreeStuff

Gordon Lightfoot performed at The Pabst Theater Wednesday night.
Gordon Lightfoot performed at The Pabst Theater Wednesday night. (Photo: Nick Semrad)

Thank you, Mr. Lightfoot

Thank you, Mr. Lightfoot.

There was a time that I needed Gordon Lightfoot’s music. Something about the words and melodies resonated with me emotionally. I used to play his songs over and over again during a time that I needed them, and they’d always pull me out of whatever was on my mind. The melodies connected with me as I fell asleep to them; the lyrics spoke to me. But that’s what great music does.

So, it was a privilege to hear the great Canadian songwriter and folk rock singer (arguably the country's best ever) take the stage at The Pabst Theater on Wednesday in Milwaukee.

It was fitting that Lightfoot was in Wisconsin in November. If you don’t get that reference, then you don’t remember the words of the iconic Lightfoot song, "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which stands at the heart of his catalogue: "That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed, when the gales of November came early. The ship was the pride of the American side, coming back from some mill in Wisconsin." Few songwriters have done better to capture the soul of the Great Lakes region and its people.

It turns out, though, that the "witch of November" is age. There’s something rather insidious about the way that age zeroes in on a person’s greatest gifts. Other than the iconic few, where the lyrics are so well-known that the audience could and did (somewhat) sing along, many of the songs Lightfoot performed on Wednesday were, if we are brutally honest, hard to distinguish from one another anymore.

That’s what happens when it’s tough to discern the lyrics because of the softness of the performance. Lightfoot’s greatness rests in his melodies, sure. But it has really always rested in his writing. His songs tell stories that capture the spirit of a lost ship (and really its people and the places they came from) or they connect on an emotional level about subjects we all can understand (love, loss). Yet, this is also a man who, according to newspapers, was in a coma and learn…