Category Archives: entertainment news

Hillary is right: We’ve got serious sexual conduct issues to answer

Harvey Weinstein, the film producer and mentor to the stars, apparently has a serious problem  on his hands. He stands accused of sexually molesting women. He is seeking help for his problem, but his career likely is toast — as it should be.

Then we have another notable individual, the president of the United States of America, who’s actually acknowledged groping women and, in effect, committing sexual assault.

Hillary Clinton addressed both men’s issues in a United Kingdom television interview.

As The Hill reported: “Look, we just elected someone who admitted sexual assault to the presidency. So there’s a lot of other issues that are swirling around these kinds of behaviors that need to be addressed,” Clinton said when asked if she had heard rumors of Weinstein’s behavior before the bombshell reports. “I think it’s important that we stay focused, and shine a bright spotlight, and try to get people to understand how damaging this is,” she continued.

No one should dismiss what Weinstein has been accused of doing. That he would check himself into a rehab clinic is an acknowledgment that he has done what many women have accused him of doing.

The astonishing aspect of this is that while the media are zeroing in on Weinstein we seem to have looked askance at what the leader of the free world has admitted doing. The “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump admitting in 2005 to hideous behavior with women raised a ruckus for only a brief period before this fellow was elected president of the United States.

Do values matter?

Many of us talk all the time about “values” and their impact on contemporary culture. We expect our elected leaders to be paragons of virtue. We bristle — or at least we used to bristle — when they don’t measure up.

Donald Trump has defied every conventional norm one can name in his quest for the presidency.

Should we be alarmed at what Harvey Weinstein is alleged to have done? Certainly. But what about the president?

‘We all make mistakes?’ Seriously?

Harvey Weinstein hasn’t said much in public since these allegations surfaced about sexual harassment and rape.

The longtime film producer, mentor to many of the film industry’s superstars and a deep-pocketed Democratic Party financial donor, is in serious trouble. Stars are dropping him like a bad habit; politicians are donating money Weinstein sent them to charities relating to sexual harassment.

So, what does this guy say about his hideous alleged behavior?

“Everyone makes mistakes,” he said this week while piling into an SUV. Yes, Harv, everyone makes mistakes. You know, things like bouncing a check, or being late with a credit card payment, or running a red light in a busy intersection.

Not “everyone” sexually harasses women or tries to rape them.

We aren’t talking about a simple “mistake,” dude. We are talking, though, about sexual predation.

Sordid past catches up with this mogul

Harvey Weinstein once was called “God” by award-winning actor Meryl Streep.

Well, it looks like Streep’s version of “God” has taken a mighty fall and he’s feeling it right where it hurts.

Weinstein is a once-notable agent to the stars and a big-time Democratic Party donor. It turns out the fellow’s got a seedy, sordid and salacious past.

Allegations of sexual harassment — and even rape — have emerged to sink this guy, who this week was actually fired from the company he co-founded. Actors have bailed on him left and right. Women have come forward to accuse him of seeking to do naughty things with and to them.

To make matters worse — and yes they can get worse — Weinstein’s wife has announced she’s leaving him.

Oh, and then there’s the political side of it. All those Democratic pols, particularly the women who run for or who currently occupy public office? They’re donating the cash that Weinstein gave to their political efforts to charities, notably those that deal with women who are abused or harassed.

I get that we’re talking virtually about allegations. I haven’t heard of anything that’s been proven.

But this big-time big hitter is paying the price he likely ought to pay. All those allegations — they appear to be countless — seem to add up to a disgusting and disgraceful past that has caught up with this guy.

‘Vietnam War’ finally brings a lump to the throat

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick did it. Finally.

On the second to last night of their epic PBS documentary film, “The Vietnam War,” they brought a lump to my throat. They made me swallow hard. As in swallow real hard.

The moment struck me as I listened to a former Vietnam War prisoner tell of his release from captivity by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.

His name is Hal Kushner. He was an Army physician who was taken captive by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. He then was taken to Hanoi.

Kushner would be released in March 1973, two months after President Nixon announced the signing of the ceasefire that ended our combat involvement in the Vietnam War.

Kushner told of being greeted at Clark Air Force Base, The Philippines by an Air Force officer who said, “Welcome home, doctor.”

Kushner’s voice choked up as he remembered looking at the jet transport that would fly him and his fellow former POWs across the Pacific Ocean. He saw the letters “USAF” painted on the plane. “I saw this big C-141, this beautiful white bird, with the American flag emblazoned on the tail,” he said. They were going home.

The sight of those men hugging each other, toasting each other and kissing the flight nurses aboard the aircraft made my eyes well up as I watched this landmark series march toward its conclusion.

“The Vietnam War” has filled me with many emotions. Some nostalgia over my own meager involvement in that war; some anger at the way our returning warriors were treated when they came “home”; more anger at the sight of Jane Fonda yukking it up with North Vietnamese soldiers while sitting in an anti-aircraft weapon they used to shoot down our aviators; revulsion at the sight of all the carnage that occurred throughout the war.

The sight of those POWs coming home? That evoked another feeling altogether. I’m prone to sappy reactions at times, even when I watch actors portraying human emotion. I tend to forget that they’re pretending.

Not this time. What we saw was real. Man, it was good.

More bombs did not produce ‘victory’ in Vietnam

“The Vietnam War” is coming to a close this week. I refer, of course, to the landmark public television series, not the actual war.

What are the takeaways from this epic production directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and broadcast on PBS? I have so many of them, but I think I’ll focus briefly here on just one of them.

It is that the Vietnam War required us to redefine victory.

We fought the communists in Vietnam for more than a decade. We killed many more of the enemy than we lost so very tragically. We emerged victorious from many more battlefield encounters than the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese. As we have learned in the Burns-Novick epic, U.S. commanding Gen. William Westmoreland was obsessed with “body count”; he insisted that the media report that the enemy suffered far worse than our side did.

Merrill McPeak, a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War who later became Air Force chief of staff, noted correctly in the documentary that the United States dropped more ordnance on the enemy than we did in all the combat theaters of World War II. Think of that for a moment. American air power dropped more explosive tonnage on the Vietnam communists than we did against the Nazis, the Italians and the Japanese.

What we didn’t do and the reason we “lost” the war was because we lost our political will. The Vietnamese were fighting on their turf, defending their homeland, battling an enemy they considered to be “invaders.” They had more to lose — and to gain — than we ever did. Thus, it was their fight to win.

Are there lessons to carry forward as we continue to fight an even more elusive enemy, those terrorist organizations that have declared “death to America!”? Yes, certainly.

One profound lesson should be for U.S. politicians — or one in particular — to cease implying that defeating an enemy is “easy.”

We cannot just keep dropping bombs and sending young Americans into cities, killing enemy fighters and then expect the enemy simply to give up. We tried that in Vietnam. It didn’t work out well for us.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have provided a masterful piece of documentary television. Just as Vietnam was the first war to be fought “in our living rooms,” my hope is that the educational benefit that’s being delivered to us via PBS will assuage some of the pain we felt as the fighting raged.

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Politico has provided a fascinating look at a conversation involving President Lyndon Johnson and U.S. Sen. Richard Russell. The Burns-Novick documentary doesn’t report on it.

Take a look at the story here.

PBS ‘Vietnam War’ episode misses a key element

I remain utterly transfixed by the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary series “The Vietnam War.”

It contains some of the most compelling television I’ve ever witnessed and I am so proud of PBS for its longstanding commitment to this type of educational broadcasting.

Having tossed out that bouquet, I want to offer this barb at what I witnessed tonight.

The series tonight focused on the Tet Offensive, which the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese launched against dozens of South Vietnamese cities on Jan. 31, 1968. “The Vietnam War” rightly points out that Tet likely was the political turning point, the singular event that turned American public opinion solidly against that bloody conflict.

Tet also produced what arguably was the most singularly graphic moment in that war. It was the photo of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan’s summary execution of a Viet Cong suspect.

Loan was head of South Vietnam’s police department when he found the suspect and shot him dead on a Saigon street. The picture would earn a Pulitzer Prize for Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams. It also would deliver a lifetime of misery for Gen. Loan, who was vilified because reporting of the incident at the time failed to the tell the whole story.

I wish the Burns-Novick documentary would have told us tonight about the media’s role in demonizing Loan.

You see, Loan shot the man dead because the suspect had been part of a VC hit squad that killed a colleague of the general — and his wife and six children. Loan knew about what had happened to his friend and his family. His men arrested the suspect. Loan ordered one of his officers to shoot the suspect; the officer balked.

So, Loan took out his pistol and shot the man in the head.

Nguyen Ngoc Loan had snapped. He proved to be a human being subject to human emotion,

“The Vietnam War” didn’t tell the whole story tonight, nor did it explain why — because of the lack of full reporting in the moment — that picture came to symbolize the absolute horror of war.

However, by golly, I am going to watch the rest of this utterly spell-binding television event.

I am hooked.

Now the ‘Vietnam’ series is getting serious

PBS is taking a couple of days off leading us down the trail of tragedy that was the Vietnam War.

Episode Four aired tonight and I was gripped by a brief segment contained within it. I’ll need a couple of days to catch my breath before the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary special returns Sunday night.

“The Vietnam War” is walking us through the war year by year. Tonight it took us to the end of 1967. In January of the following year, the Tet Offensive erupted — and it changed everything.

Tonight, though, we saw a brief segment of a young Navy aviator being questioned by his captors in Hanoi. The aviator was lying on a bed, telling the world that he loved his wife. He was in great pain, having been injured when he parachuted from his stricken jet fighter into a Hanoi lake.

John McCain III would spend more than five years as a prisoner of war. He would be tortured, beaten to within an inch of his life. He would be put in solitary confinement. He would be offered an early release, but would refuse it because he didn’t want to give the enemy a propaganda tool, given that his father, Adm. John McCain Jr., was a senior Navy officer. Nor did he want to dishonor himself in the presence of his POW brethren. He would be tortured anew for his refusal to be released early.

And, yes … I thought of how the current president of the United States disparaged McCain’s heroic Vietnam War service while he was running for the presidency. Donald John Trump Sr. didn’t serve in the military during that terrible conflict, yet he blurted out that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

I am reminded of a brief segment at the 2008 Al Smith Memorial Dinner featured Sens. McCain and Barack Obama, who were in the middle of a tough campaign for the presidency. The event is done in good fun and it raises money for the Roman Catholic Diocese in New York in memory of the late New York Gov. Al Smith.

Near the end of his hilarious comic riff, Sen. Obama took a moment to tell the audience that “few Americans have served their country with the distinction and honor” that John McCain has demonstrated.

The PBS documentary and the segment with Sen. McCain lying on that Hanoi bed was tough to watch. It simply reminded me, though, of what heroism looks like.

Trump gives political ‘cred’ to entertainers of all stripes

I just heard a recorded interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in which the governor said late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel “is not a serious person.”

Why, I never …

Kimmel has become a point man for the effort to block the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with what critics call an abomination. Kimmel recently went on the air with heartbreaking news about his infant son being born with a heart defect. The funnyman then urged members of Congress and the president to ensure that all Americans can have affordable health insurance regardless of their income level.

He has established the “Kimmel Test” for health care overhaul.

But he’s just a celebrity, right?

Sure he is. However, he owes his newfound political credibility to the celebrity/entertainer in chief, the guy who’s now the president of the United States, Donald John Trump Sr.

Think of it for a moment or maybe two. Trump joined the 2016 presidential race with zero public service experience. He’d never run for public office. Then he ran for president. And won!

He gamed fame first as a big-ticket commercial real estate developer. Then as a beauty pageant owner and host. Then as a reality TV star.

Now he’s the head of state, head of government, commander in chief of the greatest nation on Earth. Along the way, this cult figure/politician has given credibility to any other such political novice who wants to enter the public service arena.

Kanye “Kim Kardashian’s Husband” West? Kid Rock? They’re considering running for president and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert’s TV show’s monologue is devoted exclusively every night to commenting on Trump. Now we have Jimmy Kimmel become a spokesman for health care reform.

Donald Trump likes to take credit when he doesn’t deserve it. I’ll give him loads of credit, though, for paving the way for other entertainers who want to follow him from the world of glitz and glamor into public office.

On the hunt for PBS signal

DURANGO, Colo. — I’m so mad I could spit.

We hauled our fifth wheel recreational vehicle into the Rocky Mountains for a long weekend, getting away from the hustle, bustle and some of the tussles of the world.

But surely — clearly, without a doubt — we could land in a spot that picked up the Public Broadcasting Service.

Oh, no. Didn’t happen.

We’re in Durango, cooling our jets until the morning arrives. I am missing the premiere episode of a landmark television event, PBS’s epic series “The Vietnam War,” put together by the great documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It’s going to run for 10 days.

I am sort of reminded of a comment the late pro football coach Bum Phillips once said of Orange, Texas, where he was born. “It’s not the end of the world,” Bum said in a Playboy magazine interview, “but if you get up on your tippy toes, you can see it from there.”

That’s kind of how I am feeling this evening as PBS is airing “The Vietnam War.”

I’ve published several posts on this blog commenting on the importance of the series to a generation of Americans, many of whom served in that war. I am one of those Americans.

I won’t let it depress me. We’re shoving off tomorrow for another location — in Albuquerque — where I am certain we’ll get PBS in our fifth wheel. I know this because we stayed there the other night en route to Durango. By golly, I watched some PBS programming while we were parked there.

I am going to pray that the weather doesn’t get in the way. You are welcome to wish me luck. Oh, and be sure to watch it yourself.

These heroes did not ‘die in vain’

Americans might be asking themselves once again a question that crops up as the nation examines its history of armed conflict.

The lingering question might present itself as PBS airs its landmark documentary series “The Vietnam War,” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which premieres on Sept. 17.

The question focuses on whether the 58,000 Americans whose names are etched on that black stone wall in Washington, D.C., died in vain. Was their sacrifice wasted?

I will not tolerate such a question. I won’t stand for it!

The Vietnam War did not end well for the United States of America. We lost our will because the enemy we were fighting in Vietnam kept up the fight despite the grievous losses they suffered on the battlefield throughout the southern portion of Vietnam.

The war shredded the nation’s emotions. It tore at our collective heart. We didn’t know how to lose. Indeed, the Vietnam War arguably redefined “winning” and “losing” in the minds of many Americans.

To my point about dying in vain …

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall contains the names of men — and a handful of women — who left behind a story. Their loved ones grieved and perhaps are still grieving their unspeakable loss. Did those Americans die in vain? Did they make the supreme sacrifice, pay the ultimate price for no good reason?

These heroes all died in service to their country. We never should measure the loss of brave Americans on faraway battlefields against the rightness or wrongness of the policy that sent them into harm’s way. These warriors did their duty as they were ordered to do. Their patriotism was unquestioned. Nor was their love of country.

I’ve been able to see the war memorial three times. The most recent time was just this past June. I defy anyone to walk along that wall, examine those names etched in the black stone and believe they are memorialized because they died in vain.

I am not going to engage in a debate over whether our enemies in all the wars this country has fought deserve to be honored in this manner. This blog post is about our men and women. It’s about our young service personnel who followed lawful orders.

The PBS special well might ignite this discussion once again. Fine. Let’s bring it to a full boil. I’ll stand forever by the notion that no one young American ever — not ever! — dies in vain when they are serving the nation that orders them into battle.

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The first five episodes will air nightly on Panhandle PBS from Sunday, Sept. 17, through Thursday, Sept. 21, and the final five episodes will air nightly from Sunday, Sept. 24, through Thursday, Sept. 28. Each episode will premiere at 7 p.m. with a repeat broadcast immediately following the premiere.