"One Last Party for Molly"

The Melancholy Ramblers and others played at the Scholz Garten while friends shared beer and barbecue on February 4, after Molly Ivins's funeral in a photo by the Austin American-Statesman's Larry Kolvoord which accompanied Patrick George's February 5 article, "One Last Party for Molly."

Back on September 15, 2006, Alternet published Ivins's "Remembering Ann Richards" about a long-ago political do at the Garten:

everybody who was anybody was there meetin' and greetin' at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock's personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, "Bob, my boy, how are you?"

Bullock said, "Judge, I'd like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer."

The judge peered up at me and said, "How yew, little lady?"

Bullock, "And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department." Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie's palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. "And who is this lovely lady?"

Ann beamed and replied, "I am Mrs. Miles."

On September 26, 2006, when Howard Dean arrived at the Garten to campaign for Democrats in his 50 state strategy for the Novemer Election, Democratic Party politics sure had changed.

At the Statesman, you can find a photo gallery with additional shots by Rodolpho Gonzalez (who took the photo from yesterday's entry) and Kolvoord. You can also find audio files of tributes by :

Sheila Lennon, who is features and interactive producer of projo.com, the Web site of

The Providence [RI] Journal has compiled reports on the memorial from Austin bloggers at her blog, Subterranean homepage news, which she started in 2002.

Kinky Friedman, who graciously admits that he didn't always agree with Ivins had eulogized her February 4 in the Los Angeles Times as essay as

a truth-seeking missile.

Meanwhile Theresa Alexander had this tale to offer about Ivins at the public memorial at the Texas Observer:

Everyone who knew her has a favorite “Molly” anecdote. For me it was the one she described to a group of her friends in Dallas about the endless summer of tracking and reporting legislative elections in South and West Texas (late seventies, early eighties?). Almost every meal was in some diner or other served by waitresses with teased peroxide up-dos and huge starched, folded handkerchiefs hanging out of their pockets or cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Once when she feeling very tired and hungry she ordered the usual fare - meat and potatoes - thinking that she hadn’t eaten a non-fried vegetable in weeks. There was, however, a healthy-sized portion of parsley garnishing the plate. Out of desperation she popped it in her mouth — at which point the gum-chewing waitress admonished her: “Why, hon, if I’d a-knowed you was gonna eat that I’da washed it.”

Joseph Burgess wrote in:

I live in Kentucky, where the bottom-of-the-deck political climate rivals that of Texas, where many folks can trace their family trees back to some ancestor getting run out of the Bluegrass state for various crimes and misdemeanors. What Molly Ivins wrote and said showed that she and I — born four years before she was — shared pretty much the same political and social outlooks. For much more than a decade I have read her columns and exclaimed — “damned right!”

In trying to sum up Ivins, whom he knew only through he writings, he called her

the lately late progressive and idealistic champion of little folks, of poor folks, of set-upon-by-the-rich-and-powerful folks, of forgotten folks, of ordinary folks, of shortchanged folks, of Constitutional rights and guarantees, of justice and fairness, and more — . . . the lampooner and harpooner of the five-percenters, the fixers, the neo-John Birchers, the neo-Gilded Agers, the neo-Robber Barons, the grifters and grafters, the chicken-hawks, the political humbugs, the anti-Constitutionalists and pro-corporatists, the new-world-order ideologues, the self-servers, the power-grabbers, and worse who have gained so much ascendancy in recent years.

Gary Hart (yes, the former Senator) even signed in on the page, rather than with the celebrities here. There's also a collection of Ivin's work. When I look at Ivin's August 21, 1970 essay for the Observer, "South towards home" and realize that she had been a news reporter in Minneapolis and just three years out of school, prior to returning to Texas, I'm amazed at just how good a columnist she was from get-go.


One fan on the tribute page talks about how he would email Ivins with his reactions to her columns and she would always write him back. I have been reading her essays since the eighties and I never wrote her, not once, not even after I had been lucky enough to hear her lecture at Radford University March 21, 2001.

So, Molly Ivins, this post is truly for you. Your words continue to bring your voice alive from the page and we write back to you, even though you vanished from our realm. You live on in your effect on us as we struggle to continue your work.

And if there is an afterlife, as Bill Moyers describes it as "that great Purgatory of Journalists in the Sky," I picture so much potential contained in our thoughts and our love for you that our energy travels out to whereever you may be.

As invisible as electrons, our energy travels out, even as tangible contact is never again possible.


Chicken Pluck

The photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez from the Austin American-Statesman and picked up by AP, is of Molly Ivin's niece, the literary agent Margot Maley Hutchison (email, bio).
Looking at Hutchison laugh as she tells stories about her aunt at the February 4 memorial service, I'd have like to have heard what she said. The stuff the press recounted was pretty bland. Maybe I can ask Pogoer (Wes Eichenwald), a fellow Ivins fan, who being in Austin actually stopped on by the church.

Hutchison, named after Molly's mother, is the daughter of Molly's sister, Sara. You can find video and the story from KVUE, Austin about the church service, and video, story from News 8 Austin about the party afterwwards at Scholz Garten, where Molly infamously had crashed a no-press party for Clinton by borrowing a tee shirt from the owner's daughter and serving the Prez a beer. The Texas Observer has a tribute site up and Ron Weddington, who litigated Roe v. Wade with his then-wife Sarah, recounts this story:
Molly’s audacious pursuit of a story was illustrated when just-elected Bill Clinton had a luncheon with politicians, movie stars and big contributors in January, 1993 at the famous Austin watering hole, Scholz Garten. The press was excluded and Molly was beside herself as she sat outside the banquet room with those of us who hadn’t been invited. I suggested that she pose as a waitress, never dreaming she would do it.
But she did. The proprietor’s daughter, Stacy Bales, provided a Scholz’s tee shirt and a tray of beer and Molly managed an interview with Bill before security escorted her out. (Not one of the Secret Service’s finer moments)

Molly later quoted Bill as saying that he felt like a dog who had been chasing a car and then caught it. What to do now?
There are no separate permalinks per entry, so I can't even begin to tell you how to find it online.

I hadn't planned to write about Molly Ivins again, until I stopped by Aldon Hynes's blog Orient Lodge and found a post based, in part, on our email back and forth: "Random Stuff: Media, Games, Wind, Coal and psychology" that mentions resources I provided him on MTR. While there I read his "Amanda Update" about the John Edward's campaign's blogmaster who quit after being assailed by the right.

My take on the situation made me think of Ivins and I posted the following as a comment on her entry at Salon.com.*

Although I'm a progressive activist who blogs regularly and has enjoyed some of Shakespeare's Sister's and Atrios's posts, I'm not an avid follower of all the stylish blogs, referring more regularly to the more fact-based, say Confined Spaces and Secrecy News . And after reading a few entries at Pandagon, I'll admit to preferring the less coarse, but equally hard-hitting non-blog writing of the late Molly Ivins.

So, this whole debacle with the R's could have blown over without my noticing it, like a tornado over in the next county. Then I read an entry by a colleague who's involved himself in political blogmastering. He's from a generation older than the 30-somethings and he's more scruffy than the khaki-wearers that Marcotte writes about as being the guys whom folks imagine when they think of bloggers who join campaigns.

Marcotte writes she was aware the she "didn't exactly fit the image." My question: how is that image to change if folks like Marcotte quit, allowing themselves to be driven out of a job by the "noise machine."

My advice: toughen up, gal! Your narrative leaves me wondering what candidate would want to stand behind someone only to have her quit?

Remember, the New York Times's Abe Rosenthal had to fire Molly Ivins to get her out of the big boys club. And she bragged forever after about not having shown "due respect and deference to the great dignity" of that paper. Her offense? She had called a chicken slaughtering festival in New Mexico a “gang pluck.”

More on Ivins tomorrow...


NRC completes North Anna Impact Statement

December 15, NRC issued a news release saying it had completed its environmental impact statement on Dominion Resources proposed expansion of the North Anna plant.
The report contains the NRC's finding that there are no environmental impacts that would prevent issuing the ESP.

The EIS, combined with the recent issuance of a final Safety Evaluation Report on the application, marks the end of the staff's technical review on the North Anna ESP, although additional steps must be completed before the NRC reaches a final decision on the matter. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board must conduct a mandatory hearing on the matter before the Commission can reach a final decision on issuing the permit. The NRC expects to finish this process for the North Anna ESP by the end of 2007.
Things are moving fast indeed. On January 5, the licencing Board issued an order setting its hearing for next Thursday February 8.

On January 3, Unit 1, Dominion Energy's 925-megawatt nuclear plant at North Anna, shut down due an electrical failure that reduced the flow of feedwater to the steam generators, according to the Reuters story the next day, "Dominion sees Va. North Anna 1 reactor back soon"

My flying back from Chicago December 23 on a one-way ticket purchased the day before drew the terrorist protection folks into action, but evidently there's no need to shield nuclear power plants for terrorist attacks. Go figure.

The 9/11 Commission report (See :The Attack Looms," p. 245)
During the Spain meeting, Atta also mentioned that he had considered targeting a nuclear facility he had seen during familiarization flights near New York--a target they referred to as “electrical engineering."
Public Citizen and San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace filed a lawsuit in 2004, challenging the NRC's 2003 security requirements, which were adopted behind closed-doors with the nuclear industry and without public participation. In September 2004, the Committee to Bridge the Gap filed a petition for rulemaking to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requesting that existing nuclear plants be required to construct "Beamhenge" shields - consisting of steel I-beams and cabling - around sensitive parts of the facilities so an incoming plane would hit the shield, and not the reactor, spent fuel pool or other critical targets. A two-minute animation of the vulnerability of reactors to air attack, and how to protect them, narrated by Martin Sheen, can be viewed at http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/

Despite receiving more than 800 comments in support of the petition (including by eight state attorneys general) and almost none in opposition, the NRC rejected the proposal, asserting that "mitigation" measures and evacuation plans for surrounding areas to lessen public radiation exposures could be activated after a plane crash that results in the release of radioactivity.

Te Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the to to revise its "Design Basis Threat" defining the terrorist threat against which reactor operators must be prepared to protect. Congress specified that the rulemaking must consider the events of 9/11, attacks by multiple coordinated teams of a large number of attackers, attacks from the air, and the use of explosives of considerable size and other modern weaponry, among a number of other factors.

On January 26, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, had written the NRC that
communities that surround existing plants need to be confident that the NRC, as the regulator charged with nuclear safety, did all it could to ensure that plants defend against current security threats. In particular, communities should be assured that the plants are prepared to defend against large attacking forces and commercial aircraft.
And yet on January 29, the NRC voted January 29 to approve a rule which fails to require protection against attacks by airplanes or by more than a small number of attackers on the ground, arguing that The NRC also rejected any requirement to protect against attacks by groups arguing that 9/11 should be considered four separate, individual attacks involving only the number of terrorists in a single plane.

Michele Boyd, legislative director of Public Citizen's Energy Program criticized the rule:
Rather than requiring measures to prevent a plane crash from damaging ulnerable parts of a nuclear plant, which would be the smartest course, the government is relying on post-crash measures and evacuation plans to attempt to mitigate' the public's exposure to radiation....Fire prevention is always better than fire fighting. Nuclear terrorism prevention is far more prudent than trying to reduce radiation exposures after the fact.
Daniel Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, said
Rather than upgrading protections,the proposed rule merely codifies the status quo, reaffirming the existing, woefully inadequate security measures already in place at the nation's reactors.
Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service added.
We are shocked that the NRC would even consider disregarding aircraft attacks on existing reactors with so many operable airfields within 10 miles of most nuclear power stations....Given that it is impossible to react to a fast-breaking event such as a local private plane laden with explosives, structural defenses against aircraft attack must be inserted into regulations - if not by NRC, then by Congress.