Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT
Also: Thursday 5/26, 10am-Noon CT

Friday, May 27, 2016

KTRS Friday


I'll be back on my 3-6pm CT show at KTRS today. Along the way, Colin Jeffrey and I will review "X-Men: Apocalypse," the documentary "Weiner," and other showbiz news. Of course, you'll get another opportunity to play my Harris Challenge, and I'l have a brand new batch of Knuckleheads In The News®. Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via KTRS.com.

Amanda Marcotte on Bernie, Hillary, and Trump

A few days ago, I posted a link to Amanda Marcotte's column, in which she says Bernie Sanders has to drop the notion that everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe. I liked it so much that I invited Amanda to discuss it on my radio show. We also delved into whether Hillary Clinton's e-mail problem will cost her any votes, why Sanders' getting a role in developing the Democrat platform doesn't mean much, and why Donald Trump was never going to debate Sanders (despite what he told Jimmy Kimmel).

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

Kavin Senapathy, March Against Myths


Several cities had Marches Against Monsanto last weekend, but in more than a dozen of them, they were met from people from March Against Myths, who were there to spread facts and debunk lies about GMOs. I support groups that fight back against anti-science and pseudo-science nonsense, so I invited March Against Myths co-founder Kavin Senapathy, who calls herself a quack-fighting mom and science advocate, to discuss how their counter-protests went and the reaction they received.

We also talked about whether food containing GMOs should be labelled as such, how anti-Monsanto protestors are like anti-vaxxers, and how the biggest problem is that most people don't understand what GMOs are.

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

Previously on Harris Online...

The Truth About Self-Driving Cars

Over the last few years, we've heard claims that we're very close to having self-driving cars. Several of the big automakers are investing in Uber and Lyft in hopes of developing robotic vehicles that can transport us -- and companies like Google continue to do research into autonomous vehicles. But my guest Steven Shladover, head of Partners for Advance Transportation Technology at UC/Berkeley, said in a Scientific American piece that while self-driving cars may be coming, they won't be in the way you've been led to think. Among the questions I asked him:

  • Do automated cars have trouble with unpredictable road problems like construction, a parked car pulling out, and severe weather?
  • Will we ever get to the point where we don’t even have to own cars, just order a robot driver?
  • Siri doesn’t always understand voice commands — what if self-driving car's computer doesn’t?
  • Is this a software problem?
  • Are humans better than computers at driving?
Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

John Opdycke, Open Primaries

John Opdycke is president of Open Primaries, a group that wants to force the Democrats and Republicans to allow everyone to vote in their primaries, rather than the closed system that's been in place for years. I asked him why it would make a difference, how he's going to get them to change a system that keeps them in power, and whether such reform would have more impact on presidential or statewide primaries.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

KTRS Thursday


I'm going to fill in for Martin Kilcoyne today 10am-Noon CT on KTRS. My guests will include:
  • Amanda Marcotte on why Bernie Sanders has to stop saying everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe;
  • Steven Shladover on The Truth About Self-Driving Cars;
  • John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries;
  • Kavin Senapathy, of a group that debunks myths about food containing GMOs.
Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via KTRS.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Picture Of The Day

Serena Williams does some trick tennis shots with a bunch of YouTube guys. Whenever I see shots like this, I wonder how many takes it took to get each one...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Best Thing I've Read Today

Amanda Marcotte says Bernie Sanders has to drop the notion that everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe:

The fact of the matter is that Sanders has been campaigning for nearly 13 months now. He not only had a chance to make his pitch, but he had a chance to make it to the most sympathetic audience possible: Democrats, who already lean left and are far more open to the concept of socialism than the country as a whole.

Democratic voters had months to hear and consider his theory of change, and the majority of them voted for Hillary Clinton anyway. At a certain point, one has to consider the possibility that she just had a more appealing pitch to the voters.

But Sanders seems unwilling to admit this, instead resorting to insinuations that the game has been rigged against him.
Marcotte concludes:
In reality, most people who disagree with Sanders are not bamboozled or corrupt. In most cases, they simply have different priorities or values. Republican voters aren’t being tricked by the Republican party into voting against their own self-interests. If the party was that good at manipulating the voters, it’s impossible to imagine Trump would be the nominee. No, they really are conservative and put a value on maintaining racial and social hierarchies over policies that would improve their economic wellbeing.

Nor are Democrats somehow cheating some silent majority of socialists out of the nominee of their choice. Sanders had a chance — he even outspent Clinton for most of the primary race — and the voters just had more faith in Clinton’s theory of political change. If Sanders is as big an advocate for the people as he claims to be, he really should work harder at respecting their intelligence.
I'll talk this over with Marcotte this Thursday at 10am on KTRS. Meanwhile, read her full piece here.

All The Way


I saw Bryan Cranston as LBJ on "All The Way" on Broadway a couple of years ago and walked out astounded at his talent. Here's what I wrote at the time:
Cranston plays Lyndon Johnson from shortly after he became president in November, 1963, until he was elected to his own full term in November, 1964. The centerpiece of that year was the Civil Rights Act, which Johnson cajoled through Congress. The political resistance came from within his own party, as the racist South (the so-called Dixiecrats like Dick Russell, Strom Thurmond, and Robert Byrd) lined up against him on one side while civil rights leaders (like Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and Stokely Carmichael) tugged from the other.

The actors portraying those men, as well as the women who play LadyBird Johnson and others, plus Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover, all give solid performances, but it is Cranston's energy that drives the show. He's on stage for virtually the entire three hours, and his LBJ is in constant motion, even when sitting down. It's a powerful, densely verbose performance that must leave him drained nightly.

There were a couple of times where I thought I heard echoes of Walter White, another Cranston character who didn't suffer fools gladly and used his wits to stay one step ahead of his opponents. Many in the audience were no doubt drawn to "All The Way" because they knew Cranston's talents from his years on "Breaking Bad" -- and wanted to see him play LBJ as The President Who Knocks. Whether it's his celebrity or the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act that's putting them in the seats, they end up with a helluva history lesson.
Now, that production has been turned into an HBO movie, which debuted Saturday night, and it's even better. Opening up the story from the confines of the stage allows director Jay Roach -- who also did the brilliant "Recount" and "Game Change" -- to provide a bigger canvas for Cranston and his co-stars (Bradley Whitford, Frank Langella, Anthony Mackie, Melissa Leo, Stephen Root, Joe Morton), and they take full advantage of it.

While Johnson was rightly demonized for the Vietnam War -- "All The Way" includes a couple of scenes about the Gulf Of Tonkin lie that escalated US involvement and led to tens of thousands of soldiers' deaths -- his legacy also has to include his Great Society agenda of medicare, the Peace Corps, the immigration act, the national endowment for arts and humanities, and especially the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Ironically, his successes came at a cost, as the Democrats lost the racist south due to the latter two pieces of legislation. I'd bet that many viewers who don't know their history will be surprised to see that it was Dems who were the segregationists of that era. Today, those former Dixiecrats make up most of the Republican base. They're probably also shocked to see that a Democrat president was able to cajole GOP members of Congress to join him in getting things done.

As it did on the Broadway stage, the television version of "All The Way" serves as an important history lesson and a terrific piece of entertainment. If you missed it this weekend, look for it all month on HBO.

Worth A Link

  • Here's why Lindsay Graham has to be near the top of this year's list of political hypocrites.
  • In a year of tributes to legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully, here's a good one from Jason Gay.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Graduate


When I was a kid, I saw my first major league baseball game in Yankee Stadium. I saw my first NFL game there, too, because it was the New York Giants' home field.

In 1985, when I was doing mornings for NBC's flagship FM station in New York, one of the women in the Yankees front office was a regular listener who invited me to come to a game. I went with a friend and was shocked between innings to look up and see "The Yankees Welcome Paul Harris Of 97 WYNY!" on the scoreboard.

Each of those events happened in the old House That Ruth Built, but last week I went to the new Yankee Stadium for a much more important ceremony -- my daughter's graduation from New York University. Thirty thousand of us filled the seats to watch the pomp and circumstance, the speeches, the honorary degrees for Billy Crystal and Congressman John Lewis, and the excitement of all those new graduates in violet robes.

The next day, we attended the smaller commencement for Gallatin, her school within NYU, at David Geffen Hall -- which used to be called Avery Fisher Hall, and before that Philharmonic Hall, where my parents took me to see Leonard Bernstein conduct Young People's Orchestra concerts fifty years ago.

My mind was flooded with circle-of-life thoughts, not just because of my history with the buildings, but because NYU is where my father got his doctorate and my brother got his law degree. Unlike them, however, she's not a native New Yorker -- having been born in Virginia and grown up in Missouri -- so she's the first in my family to graduate from an out-of-state college.

My wife and I started saving for our daughter's college education almost from the beginning, and it seems like not so long ago that I was driving her around several states looking at universities she might want to attend. For twenty years, starting in pre-school, we've been very involved with all aspects of her education, because we know how important it is to her future. Now, our jobs are mostly done, and we have to sit back and see what path she follows.

I'm still coming to terms with it, but I certainly couldn't be prouder of what she's accomplished and the smart, independent woman she's become. I can't wait to see what she'll do next as she fills in her own circle of life.

Worth A Link

  • "Donald Trump would put the bully in bully pulpit" -- my brother Seth Harris in this NY Times piece.
  • Mark Joseph Stern on a bad day at the Supreme Court for racist prosecutors, employers, and congressmen.
  • Meet Kavin Senapathy, one of the founders of March Against Myths, which tries to clear up misconceptions about GMO food.

Movie Review: The Nice Guys


A good buddy action comedy starts with one important element: chemistry. Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy had it in "48 Hours." So did Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in "Running Scared," Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin in "Midnight Run," and even Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the first "Rush Hour."

In "The Nice Guys," the chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling is more along the lines of Jay Leno and Pat Morita in "Collision Course." In other words, no chemistry at all. Shane Black, who wrote and directed "The Nice Guys," should know better, considering he had Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in "Lethal Weapon."

"The Nice Guys" takes place in the late 1970s, which means a soundtrack full of disco dreck and wardrobe choices from The Polyester Institute. The plot starts with porn star Misty Mountains dying in a crash where she is thrown from the car with her shirt open, breasts exposed for no reason. Soon Gosling (as a private eye) and Crowe (as a guy who essentially goes around hitting people) get involved and the story bogs down with a missing woman and her connection to LA's dense smog and the auto industry.

I get the feeling Black was trying to develop something along the lines of Robert Towne's "Chinatown," where the story matters less than the personalities of the protagonists as they try to unravel whatever the hell is going on. Unfortunately, Gosling and Crowe's timing is awful and their characters' personalities so uninteresting that they can't overcome the cumbersome plot.

Oh, "The Nice Guys" also isn't funny. So what is it? A mess. How else can you explain Black's choices to put Russell Crowe with a fat gut in a Hawaiian shirt or have Ryan Gosling do a Lou Costello impression next to a dead body for absolutely no reason?

Do yourself a favor and skip "The Nice Guys." Instead, spend your movie dollars on a buddy action comedy that works -- Key and Peele in "Keanu."

I give "The Nice Guys" a 4 out of 10.