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Happy Birthday Molly Ivins! Jesus, If You Could SEE This Shit.

Culture

Today is Molly Ivins's birthday, and when we finally make this a more just world, it will become a national holiday. As it is, we'll keep celebrating it right here at Wonkette and do what we can to keep alive the spirit of Texas's greatest contribution to American humor and political commentary. She'd have been 74 today, and while we don't believe in an afterlife, we sure understand the impulse. It's a goddamned shame Molly missed the last election, which would have left her whomperjawed. And can you imagine what she'd make of that fool Ted Cruz, trying to make fun of handsome Beto O'Rourke for ever being young and learning from his mistakes?

If someday we wake up in an Elysian field where we find Molly Ivins and Ann Richards drinking beer and sharing profane observations on doings back on Earth, we'll be very happy to have been wrong.


We are not inclined to think the universe has a proper sense of fun or fairness, given the simple fact that we lost Gilda Radner at 42 and Molly Ivins at 62, while Henry Kissinger still walks this earth in his nineties and has so far escaped prosecution for war crimes.

There's never a bad time to quote Molly Ivins, so let's light some birthday candles, have some of those cakes we like, and remember a woman with a unique talent for looking at public idiocy, holding it up to the light, and blowing it to rags and atoms with a few words. Our list is slightly revised from previous years' versions, so as to keep you on your toes.

  • There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity -- like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule -- that's what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it's vulgar.
  • It's hard to argue against cynics -- they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.
  • Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there's nothing you can do about being born liberal -- fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed.
  • The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it's not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point [...] Poor people do not shut down factories. Poor people are not in charge of those mergers and acquisitions in which tens of thousands of people lose their jobs so a few people in top positions can make a killing on the stock market.
  • [If] we can make ourselves believe that poor folks are responsible for their own problems, then the rest of us are absolved of any responsibility for them [...] The reason we like to blame the victim is because if it's not the victim's fault, why then, it could happen to anybody. It could even happen to you. And that is scary.
  • I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point -- race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.
  • I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.
  • [Molly on then-President Ronald Reagan] If he gets even more sedate, we will have to water him twice a week.
  • [On Pat Buchanan's "culture war" speech at the 1992 GOP convention] Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German.
  • Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
  • On a personal note: I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I intend to recover. I don't need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done.
  • We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!" [from her final column]

We can only imagine what she'd make of the current broken-down circus in the White House. We bet Donald Trump would come up with a particularly lame Twitter nickname to try to insult her with -- to which she'd reply with a column of far better ones, both for herself and for him. After all, she gave us "Shrub" Bush when W became Texas governor, and, for his successor Rick Perry, "Governor Goodhair."

If you tire of the New York Times lecturing us on the need to be civil when Trump is putting children in cages, feel free to go back to Molly's own thoughts on the matter, when there was a minor dustup over something Bill Clinton said about the old racist turd:

The lead on two TV networks was that he had waxed somewhat sarcastic on the subject of Sen. Jesse Helms. Anyone who can limit his reaction to Helms to mild sarcasm deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. That poisonous old hate sow, suckling all the little hate pigs -- if ignorance is bliss, that man must be ecstatic (My own civility has distinct limits).

As for the New Cruelty, we looked for some of her thoughts on immigration, and needless to say, she reliably came down on the side of the powerless, and had nothing but scorn for those thinking of ways to Git Tuff. In 1994 she said it's always been a matter of who politicians can scare, at a moment when California was freaked out about immigration but Texas was much more sanguine:

Now, are we to assume that Texans have suddenly become more tolerant, less racist and less xenophobic than Californians? Not a safe bet, in my opinion. The difference is that California's economy is in the toilet and ours is on the upswing. And there you have the entire history of the U.S.-Mexican border in the proverbial nutshell.

Now, of course, the economy is on an upswing -- but mostly for millionaires -- and even with record low unemployment, Republicans want to deport everyone, even citizens who were born here. It's become a reflex. In 2006, Molly noted again the same lies she'd mocked a dozen years earlier:

You gotta admit, prejudice is as American as apple pie. I hear tell these Mexicans keep crossing the border so they can get on welfare and get healthcare and all these goodies. Funny, we don't have goodies in Texas, but they keep moving here to work anyway.

Big surprise -- you can find the same bullshit today on Twitter, all those lazy Mexicans taking our jobs AND lying around on welfare all day.

Oh, but even if Molly were still with us now, we worry that recording of children crying for their mamas and papis in a Texas CPB lockup would kill her. She never had to see her America sink that low.

What would Molly say if she were here now? She'd be disgusted, but even more, she'd be pissed. The kind of pissed that has to be turned into action, because the one thing she would never tolerate is moping. She'd be incredibly proud of the Women's March, and of the Parkland kids. She'd remind us we've gotten through some damned dark awfulness before, and we have no choice but to push on through the current stupidity.

She'd remind us that Americans really are better than this bunch of crooks in power. And she'd remind us to laugh, because a well-honed sense of the ridiculous is vital for survival. She'd be out there in the streets with us:

So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

Our country's suffering from a Molly Ivins deficit. Go get yourself some Molly Ivins books: We're fond of her first big bestseller, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? as well as the election-year warning that she co-wrote with Lou Dubose, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush,and the posthumous collection, Molly Ivins: Letters to the Nation.

We'll close with a favorite: Here's the first time Yr Dok Zoom -- and a lot of us outside of Texas -- ever heard of Molly Ivins, her 1986 MacNeill-Lehrer Newshour piece on Texas and its many fine examples of Public Ort, which they rebroadcast as a memorial in 2007. Enjoy:

"What does mankind do when faced with the challenge of ugliness? Man creates ort, is what he does." And that's what Molly Ivins did, for a whole career we were lucky to witness.

And now, beloveds, you may OPEN THREAD.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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photo by Dominic Gwinn

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