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Kinky Friedman’s Ten Commandments

Posted on Oct 30, 2007
Kinky Friedman
AP photo / Rick Vasquez

James Harris and Josh Scheer

The always entertaining Kinky Friedman, author most recently of “You Can Lead a Politician to Water, but You Can’t Make Him Think: Ten Commandments for Texas Politics,” tells Truthdig why the Internet is the work of Satan, why politicians are “stuck on stupid” and why even God couldn’t beat the Republicans in Texas.


James Harris: This is Truthdig.  James Harris here with Josh Scheer.  And today we welcome Kinky Friedman, renowned singer, songwriter, columnist, and now the author of the new book “You Can Lead a Politician to Water, but You Can’t Make Him Think: Ten Commandments for Texas Politics.”  Certainly the longest book title I’ve seen since the Bush administration began.  But, Kinky. ...

Kinky Friedman: [Laughs.]  It’s a long title and a short book.

Harris: Thanks for joining us.  Before we get into this book—when we started off here you were telling me that the Internet is the work of Satan.  What are you—?  Come on!  The work of Satan?

Friedman: First of all, for a creative person, I don’t think it’s any good.  If you’re writing fiction, or something, it kind of makes you be mediocre.  You realize you can fix everything.  And that’s not a good mentality.  The best is to just write the page and if you don’t get it just the way you want it, then you tear it up and throw it in the fire.


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Harris: Start again?  So it kind of takes some creativity from the kids?  I could stand with you on that.  But the “work of Satan,” though?

Friedman: Sure, it does  ‘cause a theater kind of person thinks, “Well, I didn’t get this part right, but I’ll punch it up, I’ll fix it later, I’ll get that character right.”  It may work for doing your taxes or doing numbers.  The other problem I know about the Internet is, people are talking to 15-year-olds that are really ...

Harris: 38 or 60?

Friedman: ... vice cops in San Diego or something, and a guy is pretending to be 50 years younger than he is and all kind of weird stuff going on.  And then the rest of the people are just deciding who is the best “Star Trek” captain.


Harris:  Don’t get all evangelical on me.  Don’t tell me it’s the work of Satan.  I know some bad stuff goes down, but—.

Friedman: [Theatrical voice.] The work of Satan.

Harris: [Theatrical voice.] And Jesus will save you!  [Normal voice.] Well, Kinky, tell me about this book, “You Can Lead a Politician to Water but You Can’t Make Him Think.”  Why did you choose the title and why is this book different?  We know these guys aren’t that smart.  What are you giving us new here?

Friedman: Well, the title was suggested to me by my spiritual adviser for the [recent Texas] campaign, Billy Joe Shaver, who also gave me the slogan, “If you don’t love Jesus, go to hell.”

Harris: [Chuckles.]

Friedman: But we know we’re living in George Washington’s worst nightmare.  The Crips and the Bloods, as I call them, the bullies on the playground, have created a bipolar system here that George Washington never wanted to see.  All he wanted was common sense and common honesty, in government, neither of which we have today.  So you wonder why health care is not going to go through, the same reason immigration didn’t.  Politics.

Harris: It just comes down to politics and politics just being, just stupid, the whole process.  Is it?

Friedman: Yeah, they’re stuck on stupid, and poly means more than one and ticks are bloodsucking parasites.

Harris: [Chuckles.]

Josh Scheer: That’s a good line from your book.  I want to ask you because you talk a lot in the book about apathy.  And you talk about Bill Hillsman, who was doing Jesse Ventura’s campaign, helped you with your campaign, talking about breaking apathy.  And I think the percentage you had in the book was 29 percent [of] Texas voters actually voted.  How do you get people excited about elections?  How did Jesse Ventura do it?  I know that you also talked about the debates, that he had 16 to your one.  How can we get involved?  How can the average person get involved and create a system less apathetic.

Friedman: Well, first of all, the average person now that is pretty disgusted with the politicians is definitely the majority in this country.  It’s like Mark Twain’s time.  When Mark Twain said there’s no native criminal class in America except the U.S. Congress.  We realize these people are not lawmakers; they’re lawbreakers, and that the longer you’re in, the more experience you have in politics, the worse you get.  And we just can’t trust somebody that’s been a public servant for 20 or 30 years

Harris: You can’t—.

Friedman: I think there’s a lot of things we could do.  Some states are doing them now.  Texas is not.  Same-day voter registration is one.  Never re-elect anybody, is always a good idea.  And I’d like to do what Australia did.  I would’ve been [Texas] governor by a landslide if we’d had mandatory voting like Australia has, which is not like Saddam Hussein had.  All this is is you’ve got to show up at the polls, you don’t have to vote, but you’ve got to get your name checked off, and if you don’t show up, you pay a nominal fee of maybe 50 bucks, a fine.  That’s resulted in about 97 percent of eligible Australians voting, and it has just really decimated political corruption in Australia.

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By Ruby McKenzie, April 16, 2008 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
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I love Kinky Friedman!  A brilliant, witty, clever and entertaining man.

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By Dr Wu--the last of the big-time thinkers, November 17, 2007 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment
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Kinky slept in the Clinton White House;he slept in the Bush White House. Sadly, he sleeps around.

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By pro choice lib, November 15, 2007 at 5:09 am Link to this comment
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Kinky ran because he got loads of money from the Bass family.  Do you really think the Bass family want Kinky as governor?

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By Kim Loughran, November 14, 2007 at 3:05 am Link to this comment
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Kinky advocates mandatory voting as practised in Australia. Sure, it spreads the responsibility. But his claim that this has ‘really decimated political corruption’ indicates that Kinky a) has never been in Australia, b) has never read anything about Australian politics, and c) is just another politician betting that nobody can check his statements. Politics in Australia is rife with corruption, back-stabbing, factionalism, media-pandering, vilification and fear-mongering. Don’t give up your daytime song-writing job, Kinky.

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By Not Tellin You, November 7, 2007 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
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By mike beuershausen, November 5, 2007 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment
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No, the Republican Party can’t be defeated in Texas as long as jerks like Friedman run as independents to break up the anti-GOP vote. The only way Perry could have won last November is if the vote was split several ways. My only question is: How much did Friedman take from corporate interests to get in and stay in the race? Five million (or more) is a drop in the bucket to the corporate interests that own Perry. Friedman—an overrated asshole if there ever was one—sold out the public, no doubt about it. Period.

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By nils cognizant, November 4, 2007 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment
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Australia as example of highminded government? Man, you just lost your library privileges, Kinky.  John Howard, running Australia for maybe 10 years now as his personal feifdom, is a prime example of what is wrong in many Western governments. One of his early actions as monarch was to strip Australians of their right to own firearms. This hardy race, and their protectors, the police, all bent over like bisexual sheep and allowed their weapons to be rounded up by Howard’s henchmen. This same worthy (Howard) subscribes to the goofy notion propounded for two centuries by Britain and the USA that pounding small, helpless countries into submission is a practice to be honed and encouraged. The fact that this amounts to crass moral cowardice seems to have escaped the consciousness of Aussie(etc) citizens and their military leadership. Finally, this bag of assholes, the Australian government, pushed New Zealand to retract its longtime firm policy of not allowing nuclear weapons to be carried by ships or aircraft within its territorial boundaries. In effect, trashing principles it had held dear and which had been destined to encourage civil thought.

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By Bill Blackolive, November 4, 2007 at 11:03 am Link to this comment
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Kinky, half the people in the US do not vote and I bet it is more than half in Austin among educated types.  Your large error was saying W is sincere because he is good to his dog.  And 9/11 is inside so what do you think you want to do, anyway.

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By Bill Blackolive, November 4, 2007 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
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Kinky, I know people who know you, and I can tell you your mistake was saying W. is a sincere person because he is good to his dog.  Hey, take some acid and get clear.  Half the people over here - this land of barbarians - do not vote because of the dumb shit.  Goddamnit, besides 9/ll is plainly (W. plainly a liar and person you would avoid on the street) inside.

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By Bill Blackolive, November 4, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
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Kinky, I read a book among your fiction, enjoyed it briefly ok, knowing people who know you.  Generally you are real enough but I will now tell you the one large mistake you have made was saying W. is a sincere person because he is kind to his dog.

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By HonestAbe, November 2, 2007 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
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Now I know why Kinky wears a cowboy hat!

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By PaulMagillSmith, October 31, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Despite appearing to be an insider it’s obvious Kinky has learned to think outside the box.

I especially aprove of his approval of making voting mandatory (with a paper trail of course).

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