Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dammit, We Lost Molly Ivins, Too

"The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet.
It requires a certain relish for confusion."

Molly Ivins, Texas liberal columnist extraordinaire, died today at age 62.

We here in the second most redneck state in the U.S. ought to lower the flags, too. I always looked forward to reading her columns online. And I plain out thieved her term "The Lege" to describe that bunch in Juneau.

It's always seemed like we needed an Alaskan writer like her to truly tackle politics up here. Or at least make them seem funnier.

I've had some ill will1 towards Texas for saddling us with Dubyah, but those feelings have been mitigated over the years by my discovery of the good things about the second largest state in the nation, like Austin, Ann Richards, Bob Wills music, The Meat Purveyors, some cool blogs, their particular way of doing barbecue, and the wit of Molly Ivins.

Molly Ivins had a fine gift for turning a phrase and the kind of old-school liberal politics that I admire, not the nebbish, p.c., focus group, sissified Democratic milquetoast kind, but of the tough-as-nails, United Mine Workers Association, populist school. And she was snort-whatever-you're-drinking-out-your nose funny. I first got acquainted with her writing in her essay on how Ann Richards became governor of Texas and have remained a faithful reader ever since.

Perhaps her greatest talent was her ability, her demand that we keep on laughing even in the face of some abysmal, corrupt governing.

And let's not forget that she called it on Dubyah before he got into office.

A few select quotes from About.Com and other places. But better yet, go read a few of her collections of essays:
  • Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory.
  • Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother? Oh, it's just that your life is at stake.
  • I still believe in Hope - mostly because there's no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas.
  • One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn't waste a lot of time thinking about the people who built their pyramids, either. OK, so it's not that bad yet -- but it's getting that bad.
  • In the real world, there are only two ways to deal with corporate misbehavior: One is through government regulation and the other is by taking them to court. What has happened over 20 years of free-market proselytizing is that we have dangerously weakened both forms of restraint, first through the craze for "deregulation" and second through endless rounds of "tort reform," all of which have the effect of cutting off citizens' access to the courts. By legally bribing politicians with campaign contributions, the corporations have bought themselves immunity from lawsuits on many levels.
  • I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years.
I'm totally bummed that she didn't live to see the end of Dubyah's presidency, but at least she got to witness the last election.

Rest in Peace and keep em' laughing, Molly.

1The ill will springs not just from Dubyah. I overheard a couple of Texans up here with the military a few years ago talking about how what a great place Alaska is. "Yeah," said one of them. "We ought to take it over and call it Texas II." You'll have to pry my frozen poopsicle stick from my cold, dead fingers first, pal.

Photo at:


Deirdre Helfferich said...

The loss of Molly Ivins is a great loss to the literature of the nation. She was a rip-roaringly funny woman, sharp as a poke in the eye, and right on the nose with her insight and wit.


CabinDweller said...

I can't tell you how bummed I was upon getting the news. Maybe, if this isn't your goal already, you ought to develop something of an Alaskan Observer.

Ishmael said...

A very fine eulogy for Ms. Ivins. The list of Texans I can stomach is pretty darn short and she at the top (along with Bob Wills, Mark Cuban, Willie Nelson, and my buddy James up in Nikiski).

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Re Alaskan Observer--I'm a-working on it. The Republic's been around for eight years now, and getting sharper and better each year, but it's still not quite in the big leagues (says I, thinking of my 500-odd circulation, har har).

Just need them sharp-tongued commentators, hey what?

CabinDweller said...

Hmmmm. An intriguing idea.