Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Mea Culpa of the Year
I think I sort of felt the way everybody did. We felt like we wanted
to do something, because something terrible had been done to us. We
did not understand exactly why, all we knew was something terrible,
something heinous, something obscene had been done to us. So, while
it didn't necessarily make as much sense to go in to Iraq as it did
perhaps to go into Afghanistan, I like most everybody else felt
like, yes, we need to do something. We need to do something. And as
the weeks turned into months, turned into years, and one death
became a dozen deaths became a hundred deaths became a thousand
deaths, then we began to realize, you know what, maybe we're causing
more trouble over there than the whole effort has been worth.
- David Letterman
Beast of the Month - December 2004
Tom Daschle, Ousted Senate Minority Leader
In your article, you seem to assume that the Demo leadership should
represent some form of opposition force to the corporate-political
cartel fronted by the GOPs. But the Demos receive their funding,
and presumably their marching orders, that same cartel. Only one
real, functioning party exists in the US today, the DemoGOPs, aka
The War Party. Pushing for new, more determined leadership for the
Demo faction is pointless. The destruction of the Demo faction, and
its replacement by an actual opposition Peace Party, is necessary.
Anything less is mere pissing-into-the-wind.
Diebold demands that HBO cancel documentary on voting machines
Film saying they can be manipulated 'inaccurate'
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
By MICHAEL JANOFSKY
Diebold Inc. insisted that cable network HBO cancel a documentary
that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the
program inaccurate and unfair.
The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut Thursday, ,
five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims
that Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be
manipulated to change voting results.
"Hacking Democracy" is "replete with material examples of inaccurate
reporting," Diebold Election System President David Byrd said in a
letter to HBO President and Chief Executive Chris Albrecht posted on
Diebold's Web site. Short of pulling the film, Monday's letter asks
for disclaimers to be aired and for HBO to post Diebold's response
on its Web site.
According to Byrd's letter, inaccuracies in the film include the
assertion that Diebold, whose election systems unit is based in
Allen, Texas, tabulated more than 40 percent of the votes cast in
the 2000 presidential election.
The letter says Diebold wasn't in the electronic voting business in
2000, when disputes over ballots in Florida delayed President Bush's
victory for more than a month and raised questions about the
reliability of electronic voting machines.
"We stand by the film," said Jeff Cusson, a spokesman for HBO, which
is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
"We have no intention of withdrawing it from our schedule. It
appears that the film Diebold is responding to is not the film HBO
David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold, said the company bought another
firm, Global Elections, in 2002 that served about 8 percent of
balloting in 2000, including voters in Florida. The company, which
hasn't seen the film, based its complaints on material from the HBO
Web site, Bear said.
This is Diebold's second recent defense of its system. On Sept. 26,
Byrd wrote to Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone,
saying a story written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "Will the Next
Election Be Hacked?" was "error-riddled" and that readers "deserve a
better researched and reported article."
The HBO documentary is based on the work of Bev Harris, the Renton
woman who founded BlackBoxVoting.org, which monitors election
accuracy. In 2004 the attorney general of California took up a
whistle-blower claim filed by Harris against Diebold and settled
with the company for $2.6 million in December.
Kris Kristofferson on Iraq, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and life as a
red state outlaw
By Peter Hyman
BACK IN THE OLD COUNTRY Kristofferson performs in Dublin, Ireland
Ask Kris Kristofferson how he feels about being typecast as a
cowboy, and he'll tell you, "Every time I read about a Western being
made, and I'm not in it, I feel a keen sense of personal loss."
Director Richard Linklater did not disappoint, casting the 70-year-
old grizzled, gravely-voiced actor as a rancher in the upcoming Fast
Food Nation. It's the latest role in a film career that spans 35
years. But Kristofferson is no Hollywood cowboy. A 2004 inductee
into the Country Music Hall of Fame, he is one of the original
singer-songwriters of Nashville's Outlaw Country movement, having
penned such classics as "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Sunday Mornin'
Comin' Down." Following a tour stop at Carnegie Hall to promote his
new album, This Old Road, the reluctant icon took a break to talk to
Radar about getting his start as a janitor at Columbia Records,
landing a helicopter on Johnny Cash's lawn, and the "hood ornament"
currently occupying the White House.
RADAR: You just played Carnegie Hall. That's quite an honor.
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON: I played there once years ago, but yes, it is an
honor. Maybe it's a sign of the apocalypse.
You once said that Dennis Hopper playing golf is a sign of the
apocalypse. He's a pretty big duffer these days.
He also has lunch with Newt Gingrich. If you had known Dennis back
in the day, all this would have seemed impossible. Dennis was crazy.
I met him when he and Peter Fonda were coming off Easy Rider, and it
was quite an experience for me. Later, I was hired to do the music
for Dennis's film, The Last Movie. One of the stuntmen quit, and I
took over since I could ride a horsemy first acting job. It was a
crazy scene down there in Peru. Dennis even got a priest defrocked
in one town where we were filming.
He seems to have transformed into an upstanding citizen.
Well, if he hadn't changed he'd be a dead man by now.
What about yourself? At 70, here you are with a new album, a world
tour, and a couple new movies coming out. You're not exactly living
the staid life of a Boca Raton retiree.
I do still have eight kids to support. I think I'll do concerts
until they throw dirt on me.
Let's go back to the beginning. You were a Rhodes Scholar, a
military man, and a prose writer who was supposed to teach English
literature at West Point. How'd you end up a country legend?
I got out of Oxford and went into the army for five years. On my way
back from Europe in '65, I went to Nashville to visit a relative of
my platoon leader, who happened to be a songwriter. And she showed
me around town for a couple of weeks. I was totally infatuated with
the whole life, so I resigned from the army and went to Nashville,
much to the horror of my family and friends, and started at the
As a janitor at Columbia Records, right?
Yes. And as such, I was the only songwriter in Nashville that could
be in the studio when Bob Dylan was recording Blonde on Blonde,
because there were police around the building. He was there in the
studio all by himself, sitting at a piano with those dark glasses
on, writing songs. At the time, they were business-like about the
sessions. You were expected to record three songs in three hours,
and he just went all night long. The band was off playing ping-pong
and cards, waiting for him. In the morning, he'd call them in and
they would record another smash.
Johnny Cash is another person you met as a janitor.
That's right, and I pitched him every song I wrote, but he never cut
one. So, I hatched a plan to get his attention. I was briefly in the
National Guard, so I knew how to fly helicopters, and I landed one
on his lawn. If I hadn't known him he'd have probably shot me out of
You've always been very outspoken about politics, and this new album
is no exception. On one song you refer to a "billion dollar bombing
of a nation on its knees." Another asks, "Am I young enough to
believe in revolution?" Are you?
Well, I think if I can ask the question, then I am. I'm shocked by
where our country is compared to where we were when I grew up,
during and after the second World War. We've become what Eisenhower
warned against, which is a military industrial complex, where we can
unilaterally attack a defenseless nation unprovoked. There are
650,000 Iraqis who have died, and we can never make it up to those
people. It's a whole different place from the land of the free and
the home of the brave. Even if it was working, it would be
indefensible to do this to people.
Do you feel conflicted about being a Texan, given that you're so
vehemently opposed to Mr. Bush, the Lone Star State's favorite son?
He's just the hood ornament. It's the machine under him that's
really scary. What bothers me about all of this is that none of them
ever served in the military. Do I feel a conflict? I have been booed
in Texas, but I still love Texas.
You have blue state leanings, but you've spent a lot of time in red
state territory. How do you reconcile those two parts of your
Well, I've pissed people off in both of them, so I don't know. In
the red states, I'm getting booed less these days, so maybe people
are actually being transformed by what's going on. It takes a real
blind mentality not to see how we are acting.
You also sing about the burden of freedom on the new record. How has
this notion changed from the definition put forth in your song, "Me
and Bobby McGee"?
[Singing] Freedom's just another word.
That's the one.
Well, freedom is a double-edged sword. Absolute freedom would be no
emotional ties to anything. That's what I was talking about
in "Bobby McGee," thinking about how the guy was free, but how it
also cost him. And that's still true. I have the freedom to say what
I want, but it can cost me. And the burden of freedom is still the
The song is one of the most played songs in the history of modern
music. It's been covered by everybody from Gordon Lightfoot to the
Grateful Dead to Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Yes, it appears on Hewitt's fourth album, which is entitled
BareNaked. I'm surprised you don't have a signed copy.
Well, I'm a little out of the loop.
Do you have a favorite version?
I've got a bunch. I was glad that Roger Miller cut it first. I love
Janis's version. I love Jerry Lee Lewis's and Willie's. I haven't
heard every version of it.
But you obviously get a residual every time it's played. Someone
must keep track of all the various versions, right?
Well, yeah, they're supposed to be. I hope they are, for my
Was "Bobby McGee" based on a real woman in your life?
No. It was an idea that was given to me by Fred Foster, who owned
the record company and the publishing house I worked for. I've never
written a song on assignment, except for this one. I wish I could
say it was based on a true story, but what I was thinking about most
of all was a scene in the Fellini film, La Strada.
You were at the crossroads of the outlaw country movement. Of the
members, who was the most outlaw?
I might have been the first they called that, but the first one who
was an outlaw was Willie Nelson.
Willie seems to be keeping the flame lit, so to speak, having
recently been busted for possession of marijuana in Louisiana.
God, I laughed when I read what he said about being glad they were
not carrying a pound of spinach or they'd all be dead. It was also
funny when they listed the ages of all the people who were on the
bus. Willie has always gone his own way. I don't think there is a
person in law enforcement that isn't aware he smokes. I wouldn't be
surprised if his recent anti-war songs moved him even higher up on
the watch list. But Willie will survive.
You seem to lament the loss of the old days on the new record. Does
that outlaw spirit live on anywhere in country music today?
I'm sure it does, but, as with anything that gets marketed to a
bigger audience, it gets watered down. Country music has gotten very
popular, and that's the price it's paid. It might have been harder
for Johnny Cash to make it today. But any place that has such a
strong tradition of songwriters, as Nashville does, has the ones
that are fighting to be like Willie and Johnny. And, as I said
before, Willie will survive.
Pollock painting sold for record $140 mln: report
A painting by artist Jackson Pollock has been sold for about $140
million, which would make it the highest price ever paid for a
painting, The New York Times newspaper reported on Thursday.
Citing experts who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Times
reported that Hollywood mogul David Geffen had sold the
painting "No. 5, 1948" to Mexican financier David Martinez in a deal
brokered by Sotheby's Tobias Meyer.
If the Pollock painting sale is confirmed, it would surpass the
previous world record price paid for a painting, which was set in
June when cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder paid $135 million for a
1907 portrait by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt.
Geffen, Martinez and Sotheby's were not immediately available for
The Times described Martinez as a "megabuyer" of modern art who had
purchased works by masters such as Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko
in recent years.
"No. 5, 1948" is about 4 by 8 feet and features Pollock's drip-and-
pour style in a tangle of red, yellow and blue.
By William Saletan
Sunday, October 29, 2006; B02
I once had a friend who listened to Rush Limbaugh three hours a day.
He was a Republican operative. He sat in my apartment, wearing
headphones, while I worked. He swore that if I put on the headphones
for 10 minutes, I'd be hooked. So I put them on.
Inside the headphones was another world. Everyone in this world
thought the same way, except for liberals, and they were only
cartoon characters, to be defeated as though in a video game. In the
real world, my friend was unemployed and had been staying with me,
rent-free, for two months. But inside the headphones, he could laugh
about welfare bums instead of pounding the pavement.
I thought about that last week when Limbaugh went after his latest
target: Michael J. Fox. The actor, who has Parkinson's disease, has
been appearing in ads for candidates who support government-funded
embryonic stem cell research. The ads promote such research as a
potential cure for Parkinson's and other diseases.
On Monday, Limbaugh played one of the ads for his audience. "In this
commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease," he said
of Fox. "He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an
act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray
any of the symptoms of the disease he has. . . . This is really
shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or
he's acting, one of the two."
Where had Limbaugh seen Fox? "I've seen him on 'Boston Legal,' I've
seen him on a number of stand-up appearances," he said. He pointed
to Fox's autobiography. Fox "admits in the book that before a Senate
subcommittee . . . he did not take his medication, for the purposes
of having the ravages and the horrors of Parkinson's disease
illustrated, which was what he has done in the commercials,"
In the book, Fox explains his life in the real world -- the world
his body inhabits, as opposed to the make-believe world Limbaugh saw
on television. Fox describes how, during "the years I spent
promoting the fiction that none of this was actually happening to
me," he learned "to titrate medication so that it kicked in before
an appearance or performance. . . . I did everything I could to make
sure the audience didn't know I was sick. This, as much as anything,
had, by 1998, become my 'acting.' " When he came out of the
Parkinson's closet, Fox recalls, he chose "to appear before the
subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion
demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease . . . be
seen as well as heard."
Here we have two completely different notions of reality. Fox's job
is to portray characters in movies and on television. For him,
Parkinson's was an invasion of the fake world by the real one. The
medication, designed to hide this from the audience, became part of
the fiction. In going off his meds, he was dropping the act.
Limbaugh's life story has gone the other way. His job is to explain
politics, a branch of nonfiction. But for him, the fake world has
overtaken the real one. He thinks "Boston Legal" is reality.
Anything that doesn't match this must be "acting." If you go off
your meds, you're not revealing your symptoms. You're "portraying"
Radio, television and the Internet greased Limbaugh's descent into
fantasy. Years ago, a profile described him "holed up in his New
York apartment with Chinese takeout and a stack of rented movies."
In another profile, he "complained that he has virtually no social
life." Click the video links on his Web site, and you can peer into
his world. He sits in a soundproof studio. He never has to go
In Limbaugh's world, "there never was a surplus" under President
Bill Clinton. AIDS "hasn't made that jump to the heterosexual
community," and cutting food stamps is fine because
recipients "aren't using them." Two years ago, he said the minimum
wage was $6 or $7 an hour. Last year, he said gas was $1.29 a gallon.
Limbaugh has particular trouble distinguishing reality from
entertainment. The abuse at Abu Ghraib "looks just like anything
you'd see Madonna or Britney Spears do on stage," he told his
listeners. Last month, he defended ABC's Sept. 11 movie against the
document on which it purportedly relied: "The 9/11 commission
report, for example, says, well, some of these things didn't happen
the way they were portrayed in the movie. How do they know that?"
Last year, Limbaugh, who used a tailbone defect to get out of the
Vietnam War draft, accused a Democratic candidate of having served
in Iraq "to pad the resume." He charged veterans -- including former
senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.), who lost his legs and an arm in
Vietnam -- with trying "to hide their liberalism behind a military
uniform . . . pretending to be something that they are not." When
war is just a television show, a uniform is just a costume.
Liberalism is real; losing your limbs is a pretense.
Which brings us back to stem cells. Limbaugh says Fox's ads dangle a
prospect of imminent cures "that is not reality." He's right. But
the ads convey another reality: a man dying of a disease that might
be cured more quickly if the government dropped its restrictions on
research funding. Limbaugh dismisses this as a "script" being
followed by Fox's "PR people" and "the entertainment media." Script?
Entertainment? This is life and death.
I have another friend. He has Parkinson's. I've seen him on good
days and bad days. That's how I know Fox isn't faking. My friend
doesn't see the destruction of embryos as a dangerous price to pay
for stem cell research. I do. But if you worry about the embryos,
you had bloody well better look into the eyes of the people dying of
these diseases. You had better ask yourself whether slowing research
that might save them is an acceptable price for your principles.
If you can't -- if all you can see is "acting" -- then you need more
help than they do. Fox's disease can only take your body. Limbaugh's
can take your soul.
William Saletan covers science and technology for Slate, the online
magazine at www.slate.com.
Van Halen, Stooges, R.E.M. Among Rock Hall of Fame Nominees
October 30, 2006
Nine nominees for 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
have been announced.
Van Halen, R.E.M., the Stooges, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious
Five, Patti Smith, the Dave Clark Five, the Ronettes, Chic, and Joe
Tex are the nine nominees for 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame. Announcement of the nominees will go out to over 500
voters who will help choose who will be inducted in January 2007.
According to the museum's website, the Foundation "generally inducts
five to seven performers each year." To be eligible for nomination,
an act must have released its first single or album at least 25
years prior to the year of the nomination. All five inductees will
be represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in
Prince Bringing Purple Reign to Vegas
Nov 01, 2006
Prince fans, fire up that Little Red Corvette and head for Las
Vegas: the purple one will be performing there every weekend
starting Nov. 10.
The diminutive rocker will play Friday- and Saturday-night shows at
a nightclub inside the Rio hotel, spokeswoman Alissa Kelly said
Tickets for the 21-and-over shows cost $125 and will be available
beginning Nov. 2.
Prince will also host Wednesday-night concerts at the club by other
The Grammy winner, who once changed his name to an unpronounceable
symbol, will perform at the club indefinitely, Kelly said.
Prince joins a growing contingent of songsters who have settled in
Vegas hotels as regularly featured acts, including Celine Dion,
Elton John, Barry Manilow and Toni Braxton.