Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Friday, March 31, 2006

Is He Guilty If She Lied?

Marvin Villereal is facing felony charges of first degree sexual assault for sleeping with a 19 year old girl. Why? Because she's not 19, she's 14. In a twist that makes this story unique in the annals of statutory rape cases, her mother is coming to his defense, saying her daughter "did manipulate him, she did lie to him about her age. I feel she is destroying someone else's life." The prosecutor says that doesn't matter: "If the individual is older than 19 years of age and the victim is younger than 16, it is statutory rape, and ignorance of her age or mistake of that is not a defense."

On my show this afternoon, only one caller thought this guy should be prosecuted. Everyone else in the on-air jury said they'd find him not guilty. One suggested that the girl should be held responsible for entrapping him.

A few guys shared similar personal horror stories, including one guy who did jail time after he met a girl in a bar and took her home -- she'd been there having a drink, so he assumed she was at least 21, but she was underage, using a fake ID. So even if he'd checked her driver's license, a impractical suggestion some others made, he still could have been charged.

In an age where parents are letting their tween girls dress like prostitots, this problem will only get worse, and more guys will find themselves facing a situation they never dreamed of.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hayseed Dixie in studio

Hayseed Dixie was back on my show this afternoon playing live in the studio -- Barley Scotch on guitar, Don Wayne Reno on banjo, and Dale Reno on mandolin. They did a couple of songs off their new album, "A Hot Piece of Grass" -- another collection of hillbilly versions of classic rock songs from Led Zeppelin to Black Sabbath to Van Halen -- plus some Hayseed Dixie originals. I also had them do a screaming version of "Dueling Banjos," which was written a half-century ago by the Reno brothers' father (and they explained the history of how it ended up in "Deliverance").

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lance Williams, Barry Bonds book co-author


Here's my conversation with Lance Williams, one of the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote "Game of Shadows," the book that exposes steroid use by Barry Bonds and many others. I asked him what Bud Selig can and should do about Bonds, what the reaction has been from the Giants and Bay Area fans, whether the authors had to have Deep Throat-like meetings with sources to talk about confidential government documents and sealed grand jury transcripts, and the sad stories of the effects steroids have had on younger athletes.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Jeff Cesario

The comedian and host of ESPN's "Reel Classics," who has written for "The Larry Sanders Show," "On The Record with Bob Costas," and "Dennis Miller Live," talks with Paul about steroids and other sports issues (check out his sports parody site), his marriage to a younger woman, Michael Jackson's mother, and more.  Listen to the conversation here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

James Randi, Doing Better

James Randi is recovering nicely from his heart attack and double-bypass procedure of a couple of months ago, hopes to be back in action in a couple of weeks and has, in the meantime, posted an audio message about his condition.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chris Bliss & The Bill of Rights


Chris Bliss was back on my show this afternoon with an update on his project to put Bill of Rights monuments in every state in the country, beginning with his home state of Arizona, where he has engendered bipartisan support. He welcomes your contributions and hopes to start similar projects in other states soon, including Missouri.

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Give That Soldier A Flag

Roger Studdard is an Army specialist currently serving his second tour in Iraq. While there, he told my KMOX colleague Jon Grayson about a problem he had run into with the office of the Governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt. Roger wanted a little something that would remind him of home, so on February 6th, he wrote to a staff member in the Governor's office:

I am sending this letter in regards to my home state of Missouri, in which I hold a substantial amount of pride in being from. The point of this letter is that I am requesting a full sized Missouri flag. I think that this is a modest request from someone in my situation. It is well known that I am proudly serving the United States of America, and I want to also show that I am proud to be from and serving the great state of Missouri as well. I hope you will grant this request for a combat tanker and fellow Missourian.
Roger was stunned when he received this reply on official letterhead from the Office Of The Governor, dated February 10th:
Thank you for your correspondence dated February 6, 2006.

We appreciate your request for a free Missouri state flag. Unfortunately due to the current state budget restrictions, we are unable to grant your request. I recommend you contact one of the merchants listed on the enclosed document for further assistance.

Again, thank you for contacting our office. If we may be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Sincerely,
Joseph Taylor
Constituent Services Liaison
Attached to the letter was a list of companies that sell the flags.

When Jon told me this story on the air yesterday, I was shocked and outraged. I told him that I could open up the KMOX phone lines and within one minute get a listener who would be willing to get a flag and send it to Roger.

All of the lines lit up immediately. Adam Piel, a listener and a Missouri taxpayer, was on the first line I picked up. He agreed to buy a Missouri state flag and send it to Roger as soon as I could get his mailing address.

Problem solved, just that quickly.

To make it even better, several minutes later I got a phone call on the air from Mary Kay, who works in the office of State Rep. Neal St. Onge. She, too, was surprised at the response from Mr. Taylor in the Governor's office, particularly since Governor Blunt is still an officer in the Naval Reserves.

Mary Kay told me that she would be more than happy to make sure that Roger not only gets a Missouri state flag, but one that has flown atop the statehouse in Jefferson City, along with a certificate of authenticity.

Sure, that's a political PR move, but it's a good one -- in the office of every other politico in the area, they must have been banging their head and wondering, "Why weren't we smart enough to call Paul and get this good-guy publicity injection from KMOX?" And I'd rather the flag go off to one of our men with boots on the ground in Iraq than to some lobbyist with a comfy office here.

The bottom line is that, since Joseph Taylor blew this one, I'm coordinating with both Mary Kay and Adam to have them each send a Missouri flag to Roger. He can hang one in his quarters and give the second to another Missourian he comes upon -- call it the "Constituent Services Field Office."

Update 3/16/06: The flags are in the mail for Army Specialist Roger Studdard in Iraq, and Governor Blunt's office admits that they blew it.

After the segment of my KMOX show yesterday about the soldier and the flag, I heard from Carrie in Rep. St. Onge's office the next day:
Just wanted to let you know that Spc. Studdard's flag was flown over the Missouri State Capitol this morning and we're in the process of mailing it to him this afternoon.
Adam Piel, one of my listeners who volunteered to help out, also called me that afternoon to say he'd just returned from the post office, where he had mailed Spc. Studdard a Missouri flag he had just purchased.

I also heard from Spence Jackson, Governor Blunt's communications director:
Heard about yesterday's show. This was a mistake on our part. We should have referred the soldier to the Missouri House of Representatives which has a program in place to get Missouri Flags for people who request them.
I pointed out to Spence that instead of "referring" Spc. Studdard to the House, the Governor's office should have just taken care of it themselves.

I asked if Joseph Taylor, the Constituent Services Liaison who had initially denied Spc. Studdard's request, had been fired. Jackson said no, but Taylor's supervisor has made sure that he and everyone else in the office knows what to do the next time they get a request like this.

Now we're waiting to hear from Spc. Studdard when he receives the flags, and then I'll be able to report that this matter is closed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race 9"

Phil Keoghan, host of "The Amazing Race," was back on my show this afternoon to talk about season nine. With the contestants headed for Moscow tonight, we talked about the challenges of being in a country where you can't even read the signs because the alphabet's different. We also discussed how hard it was for Phil to stay ahead of the teams racing from location to location, how size matters, and why -- so often on the race -- teams are allowed to catch up and bunch up at airports and other venues.

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Previously on Harris Online...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Paul Harris on WB11 Tonight

Rick Edlund has asked me to contribute commentary to WB11's newscast and, for some insane reason, has decided to actually broadcast it.

It will be on their 9pm News tonight. You've been warned.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jeffery Leving, "Father's Rights"


Here's my conversation with Jeffery Leving, an attorney who specializes in representing men in divorce and custody disputes. He says the system is biased against fathers, who have become stigmatized by the proceedings. Leving, author of "Father's Rights," took calls from several guys who need help and discussed related issues.

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The Fluffernutter Lesson

When I saw a story about a Fluffernutter lawsuit today, I was rocketed back to my boyhood when I learned a valuable lesson from my mother.

I must have been 7 or 8 years old and, like all kids that age, wanted my parents to buy me at least 50% of the things that were advertised on Saturday morning TV. Unfortunately, my parents were very good with the one word that can ruin a child's wish list: "No." It had even gotten to the point where I would start asking, "Mom, I saw this great commercial for...." but before I even mentioned the product, she would reject my request.

Of course, I was undeterred, absolutely sure that I could wear her down for something I wanted. One Saturday morning, I thought I noticed a crack in the armor, and I went for it. After seeing the Fluffernutter commercial for the umpteenth time, I begged Mom to please buy me some Marshmallow Fluff when she went to the supermarket later that morning. To my amazement, she said, "Okay."

I was so used to getting the other answer that I kept pleading my case, which consisted entirely of, "Aw, c'mon, Mom, pleeeeeeeze???" When she re-confirmed that she would add Fluff to her shopping list, I was as happy as a boy could be: There would be a Fluffernutter for lunch today!!!

If you're unfamiliar with the product, Marshmallow Fluff has been around for about 75 years. It's a marshmallow cream that comes in a nice big jar. I'd never known anyone who had actually tasted Fluff or had a Fluffernutter, but hearing that jingle over and over again had convinced me that it had to be the greatest taste anyone could ever imagine.

Several hours later, just about the time the cartoons were over, I heard Mom return to our apartment from the supermarket. I raced into the kitchen, tearing the paper bags apart, desperate to find that jar of white magic.

Somehow, Mom calmed me down and told me to sit at the table. Then she brought out the essential ingredients for a Fluffernutter: two pieces of white bread, a jar of peanut butter, and there it was, a wonderful jar of Marshmallow Fluff! You see, a Fluffernutter was just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but with Fluff in place of the jelly.

Mom carefully spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread -- she knew just how to do it so she didn't tear the bread -- and then smeared some Fluff onto the other piece of bread. She put the two together, cut the sandwich in half and presented it to me.

Every muscle in my face formed a huge smile as I savored the moment. As far as I knew, I was about to become the first kid in our apartment building -- maybe even in the entire apartment complex -- to eat a Fluffernutter. This was a historic moment.

I reached out and brought the sandwich to my lips, took a big bite, and.....Yecch! Blech! Feh! Ack! It was terrible! I spit the mouthful of gooey dreck onto the plate as Mom asked, "What, you don't like it?"

That was an understatement. Like most kids, I couldn't stomach a lot of food my parents forced upon me, like brussel sprouts, lima beans, and (ugh!) liver -- but this was worse! This was a horrible taste plus major disappointment, because it was Fluff! All the kids in the TV commercials loved Fluffernutters! All of my friends knew the Fluffernutter jingle!

That's when I noticed a sly smile on Mom's face. She'd suspected all along that I wouldn't like a Fluffernutter, but she'd decided to teach me a lesson, a lesson about raised expectations for all those products I wanted from all those Saturday morning commercials. I started to cry.

Mom understood my disappointment as she took the rest of the Fluffernutter sandwich and threw it away, replacing it with a delicious, classic PBJ and a cold glass of milk. Ah, comfort food.

I learned my lesson that day. And it stuck with me, too. Nearly an entire week, until the next Saturday morning, when I saw these really cool new sneakers called PF Flyers. They were amazing! The kids in the commercials said they helped them run faster and jump higher! I ran into the kitchen to tell Mom how cool they were and beg her to buy me a pair.

She answered calmly, "Sure, honey, as soon as you finish the jar of Fluff. It's on the top shelf of the refrigerator."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Scott Ritter on Iran and Nukes

Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector, was back on my show this afternoon to talk about Iran and the nuclear threat. Ritter said that Iran is nowhere close to having nuclear weapons capabilities, and explained how different that is from having nuclear energy and power plants. He also said that the IAEA inspections were making sure of that before the Bush administration pushed the matter into the UN Security Council in an attempt to impose tough sanctions against Iran. Ritter sees parallels between that decision and the moves made before the US went to war with Iraq based on similar claims and supposed threats.

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In all the appearances Ritter has made on my show through the years, he has never led me wrong and, even when other "authorities" have made opposing claims, Ritter has been proven correct every single time. That's why I go to him on matters this important -- because someone has to inject facts into all the saber-rattling you're hearing from both Tehran and Washington.

Previously on Harris Online...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gloria Allred

This afternoon, I talked with famed attorney Gloria Allred about her autobiography, "Fight Back and Win: My 30-Year Fight Against Injustice." We discussed several of the clients she has represented, from Nicole Brown Simpson's family in the OJ trial to Hunter Tylo in the "Melrose Place" pregnancy case, and many others.

Since Gloria is fond of making sure her cases get a lot of media attention, I asked whether that helps or hurts with a public jury pool in the new information age. We also talked about some of the attorneys she has faced, whether she ever refuses a client because she disagrees with their cause, and why she took the side she did in the Terri Schiavo case last year.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!


Also on Harris Online...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chris Matthews

Here's my conversation with Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball."  He's giving a speech tonight at Westminster College to mark the 60th anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech. I asked him if there's anyone around today who rises to that level of statesmanship, and we discussed other stories in the news -- welcoming India into the Nuclear Club, the continuing blame game over Hurricane Katrina, President Bush's historically low approval numbers, and more.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Simon Cowell's Brother Tony


This afternoon on my show, I talked to Tony Cowell -- yes, he's Simon's brother -- about his new book, "I Hate to Be Rude, But...the Simon Cowell Book of Nasty Comments." Tony is 9 years older, but sounds exactly like his brother in both tone and content.

He says that Simon's not putting on an act and doesn't have anyone writing his material, it's all off the top of his head. We also discussed Simon's relationship with Paula Abdul, whether he's a bigger star here or in England, and what it was like growing up with a younger brother who has no filter between brain and mouth.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Charles Fishman, "The Wal-Mart Effect"


Here's my conversation with Charles Fishman about his book, "The Wal-Mart Effect."

 I asked him how hard it was to get information about the company, which is notoriously secretive about its business and puts pressure on its business partners to keep quiet, too. We also discussed how to measure whether Wal-Mart is good for a community and whether consumers care about any of the criticisms of Wal-Mart as long as they get low prices. As for how they do business with their product providers, Charles told an amazing story about Wal-Mart, Vlasic, and the $2.97 gallon jar of pickles.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Bill of Rights vs. Simpsons


An AP story this morning says more people can name the members of "The Simpsons" family than can name the rights spelled out in the First Amendment. Not only that, one in five think it includes a constitutional right to own a pet. How can that be?

One reason is that Americans are exposed to "The Simpsons" much more than they are to the First Amendment, or the rest of the Bill Of Rights. What's the last time you saw them? That's why it would be a good idea to have the Bill Of Rights publicly displayed in every schoolroom, courthouse, and government building. After all, these are the core values and laws that framed the founding of our nation and still inspire us today -- the rights that protect us, the citizens, from the government infringing upon our freedoms, and make us different from every other nation on Earth.

That's the idea behind the campaign my friend Chris Bliss has started, to get a Bill Of Rights monument on statehouse grounds across America -- a much better idea than those granite Ten Commandments blocks. His website, MyBillOfRights.org, accepts donations for the cause (but no one may donate more than $100, so have a seat, Mr. Abramoff) and his first project is in his home state of Arizona, where he has managed to get bipartisan support.

In his alternate universe, Chris is a comedian and juggler, who appeared in a benefit comedy concert I did several years ago as a fundraiser for Children's Hospital and recently used the concept to raise money for the Bill Of Rights project. Now, he has also become an internet star, as video of one of his performances has been rocketing around the web via e-mail (it has now been picked up by Google Video). Chris tells me that, as of Monday, his site has had 200,000 downloads and counting, with emails so far from Latvia, Turkey, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Israel, Finland, Holland, France, Canada, and China (Beijing).

Interesting that in China, the citizens can watch Chris juggle to a classic Beatles song, but they couldn't even find out about the Bill of Rights project, because they'd be blocked by Google, Yahoo, and other internet companies that have sold out to the Chinese government. Maybe Chris needs to put a Bill of Rights monument in Tiananmen Square.