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De mortuis nil nisi... oh fuck it, just nil

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday January 31, 2007 10:21 PM

I've been bashing the late Molly Ivins here from time to time, and I'm so out of it I didn't know she was quite sick. Now she's dead, and the news made me feel little remorseful. Only for a minute, though; Molly's pulse had hardly stilled before a remarkably smarmy item from The Nation landed in my inbox:


The warmest-hearted populist ever to pick up a pen with the purpose of calling the rabble to the battlements, Ivins understood that change came only when some citizen in some off-the-map town passed a petition, called a Congressman or cast an angry vote to throw the bums out.
Oh just shoot me. Shoot me. This is what makes change happen -- passing a petition, calling a congressman, throwing one set of bums out in favor of another? On the contrary, this is just exactly what ensures that change won't happen.

More cloying funereal ipecac:

If anyone anywhere was picking a fight with the powerful, she was writing them up...
... unless the powerful they happened to be picking a fight with was the Democratic Party oligarchy:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/10/05/ivins.texas/index.htm .

.. the Kinky Friedman candidacy is worn thin and no fun. Besides, we actually have a good chance to get [Republican] Rick Perry out of office.... This could be the Alamo of elections.

For those, like me, who believe in music and laughter in politics, Kinky Friedman appeared to be a natural -- and besides, how hard can it be?

It turns out, a little harder than Kinky is willing to make an effort to go. In an excruciating interview with the Dallas Morning News, Friedman not only got about half his facts wrong, but also demonstrated that he does not understand school finance or taxes....

Okay, okay, the lady is dead, and was at death's door when she wrote these depressing words. I will say this for her: she was, when she was herself, a livelier writer than anybody who ever appears in The Nation (The Magazine For Bien-Pensant Insomniacs) except Gore Vidal and Alex Cockburn. And she wasn't naturally stupid. When she was stupid -- which was pretty often, lately -- let's be generous and attribute it partly to her health; but even more, and more consistently, alas, to her never-questioned commitment to the Democratic Party.

That ancient institution has many sins justly laid to its charge, and not the least of them is that it makes smart people really, really dumb -- and really, really boring.

RIP, Molly. If there's anything to reincarnation, I hope in your next go-around you don't have that monkey on your back. I would like to be more generous, but the waste of great natural talent and energy spent futilely supporting amoebas like that Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas -- does anyody even remember his name? -- it makes me want to tear my clothes off, set my hair on fire, and run screaming down the street.

Comments (6)


But give Molly credit for standing up to AIPAC.


AUSTIN, Texas—One of the consistent deformities in American policy debate has been challenged by a couple of professors, and the reaction proves their point so neatly it’s almost funny.

A working paper by John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, called “The Israel Lobby” was printed in the London Review of Books earlier this month. And all hell broke loose in the more excitable reaches of journalism and academe.

For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious—that there is an Israel lobby in the United States—Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of “kooky academic work.” Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them “liars” and “bigots.”

Of course there is an Israeli lobby in America—its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.

Several national Jewish organizations lobby from time to time. Big deal—why is anyone pretending this non-news requires falling on the floor and howling? Because of this weird deformity of debate.

In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.

Ma Tambo died yesterday. That's more than enough cause for mourning.

owen paine:

yes father ms ivins had her better innings

lets call her transitional

now its too clear to continue

no more playing by the rules

this game of orthrian peek a boo
has to go

reject the duopoly


anyone but an orthrian

owen paine:

molly's last column


"We are the people who run this country.
We are the deciders
and we need to raise hell. "


Yes, RIP, Molly.

I never went out of my way to read her, but when I did, what struck me in recent years was how depressed she sounded. She reminded me of that old, bottled-up rage heard around shelters. There was always another chorus of let's-go-team in her, but the cheer was a tired rattle. In all likelihood she knew the "team" had changed like any salary cap revamp--her Aquarian homies traded for well-toned Clintonians, the sad joke being it was just the boys of summer gone to complacent sods and on sentimental afternoons they still let her hoarse up the old cheers before getting down to business.

Anyone remember the glory days of 2000, when Molly did her obligatory angst piece about how her 3rd party vote elected Nixon and that was why nobody should vote for Nader ?

Alexander Cockburn had a column in the Nation around the same time that excorciated Humphrey for playing along with the farce in Vietnam when he could have attacked Nixon and his cronies instead. Of course, to attack Nixon was to attack his own party for the same behavior, which was why he couldn't do it. Cockburn was quite blunt in blaming Humphrey for his own defeat, for prizing the power that came with supporting the status quo over the power that would come from being President. I wonder what Ivins had to say about that, if anything ? That column was a major eye-opener for me.

I had a couple of her books, even shook her hand at a lecture in 1991, but I gave them away in 2001. I didn't want apologists on my shelf anymore no matter how well they wrote. The only reason Ehrenreich is still there is because they're mr_xeno's books, not mine.

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