"I swear to God, it's all going on the sidewalk."
He swiveled around in his seat to look me straight in the eye,
As Micah drove me from the Netroots Nation party at the House of Blues back to the Rio, he told me how Clark county had the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country.
"Me, my house, I bought it in 2005 for $235,000. It dropped over a 100K. I can't make those payments no more. So I pay what I can and try to get the bank to work with me, to modify the loan, but they don't know what they're doing. Three months I've been doing this, then last month I find out they sold it at auction. Nobody told me, I find out by mail. They sold it for $95,000."
By now, we've pulled up at the Rio. But I don't want to get out of the cab, and Micah isn't in a rush either.
Micah has lived in Vegas for 20 years, and he'd never seen it this bad. His income was shaping up to be half this year what it was last year, and that last year it was half what it was from the year before. People still come to Vegas, but they don't spend much money beyond the crap tables. If you're a service worker living off tips - waiters, casino performers or, like Micah, a cab driver, - you're getting killed.
"My whole neighborhood looks like a ghost down. You can go a whole block and see only one house with the lights on. Everything else is boarded up, smashed windows, you name it. I got $30,000 of improvements I put in that house. $30,000 of my savings. And they don't even tell me they were going to sell it."
Micah stops then, looks down at the steering wheel. I think he's done and I should pay him and go, but he suddenly turns around in his seat to face me. His eyes are wet.
"This weekend I'm going back there with a crowbar. I swear to God, it's all going on the sidewalk. Everything."
I literally don't know what to say. Just that morning I sat through the foreclosure panel with Senator Markley and Elizabeth Warren, but at that moment, with reality staring me in the face, I don't have a fucking thing to offer this man.
The silence is uncomfortable. I pay my fare and add an extra $20.
It's the least I can do.
This was my first Netroots Nation. I came alone, with no agenda and no goal beyond the vague idea I should be doing something this election year. But my fired-up-and-ready-to-go got up and left the building sometime between the time Scott Brown was elected and Bill Halter lost the Arkansas primary.
I will leave it to greater minds than mine to say what this weekend meant and where we, as a community, go from here. But I can tell you this - after spending three days hermetically sealed in a Vegas convention center with activists, bloggers and elected officials from all over the country, if I've learned one thing, I've learned this.
The work is far from over. As Al Franken put it, we'll have to work twice as hard just to keep what we have.
No, I'm not happy with how things have turned out since 2008. But I didn't give up six months of my life and work my ass off to get Obama elected to have it taken all away in 2010 by the likes of Rand Paul and Sherry Angle.
My fired-up-and-ready-to-go may have gotten up and went, but the cost of doing nothing is too high.
So I will grind my ass back into gear and do what I can to keep pushing the Democrats we have in office now to do the right thing, and work like hell this summer and fall to keep the American Taliban from sinking our country so deep we'll never recover. We've got less than a 100 days, people. Let's get to it.
For Micah, and millions like him, it's the least we can do.
Below are my photos from the weekend. These are the wonderful people, citizens, who inspired me this weekend. I hope looking at their faces, you'll be inspired by the commitment, the joy and, yes, even the hope, they shared as a community.
First, thanks to everyone for the kind words. I'm overwhelmed by your generosity. And thanks for the helping me to correct typos and put names to faces. This really helps. But thank you most of all for remaining committed in 2010.
In 2008, Markos said "Leave it all on the road.". This year, I say leave it all on the sidewalk!
Netroots Nation organizers said over 2,100 activists came to Vegas this weekend.
They were the young....
.....and the not-so-young.
They were LGBT (Get Equal organizers Autum Sandeen, Robin McGehee and Heather Cronk)
Activists of color (DC activist Michael Crawford)
Those who didn't let physical disabilities define them. (Nurse Kelley)
Exmearden and Scottie Thomaston
They came from all over the country to learn, network, connect and activate.
The California Caucus
Ruby's List founder and former CA-OFA staffer Ruby Reid.
"Failifornia" panel discussion
Courage Campaign's Andy Kelly and Eden James
SEIU's Natasha Chart and Rebecca Saltzman
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka smiles as the audience sings him "Happy Birthday" as he takes the stage.
There were bloggers and front-pagers from Daily Kos
Calitc's Robert Cruishank (aka "eugene")
Dave Dayen and Marcy Wheeler from FDL, and Jeremy Koulish, director of the Carrots and Sticks Project.
Mike Stark holds up his weapon of choice, a flip-phone/camera
FDL's Gregg Levine live-blogged many of the panels.
A few people brought their computers.
Others just brought the love.
The community quilt booth in the main exhibition hall.
Everyone found at least some time to goof off.
Daily Kos front-pagers come in FIRST for the Chairman's quiz night.
Team "Demon Sheep" a close
My team, who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, didn't even make it into the top 5.
Meet your event organizers
Adam Bonin (sorry Adam, but you do have a passing resemblance to Glenn Beck - at least when you're wearing a suit)
And of course there were the ELECTEDS........
West Hollywood Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath.
Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter
Markos leads the panel discussion, "Why Primaries Matter". Governor Halter and DFA's Arshad Hasad looks on.
Senator Al Franken
MSNBC's Ed Schultz (not elected yet, but one can hope)
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
Nancy Pelosi introduces a video message from President Obama
Nancy Pelosi answers questions submitted via the web, text messaging and from the audience.
One question submitted from the audience.
Lt. Dan Choi reacts as Nancy Pelosi tells the audience that Congress is working to repeal DADT. Choi had only learned the day before he had been discharged under the policy. Any congressional action will have come to late for him.
Lt. Dan Choi displays the email he says his family received, informing them officially of his discharge.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards receive a standing ovation at the "Undoing Citizens United" panel.
Senator Jeff Merkely talks about the foreclosure crisis as Elizabeth Warren looks on.
Senator Harry Reid
Senator Reid acknowledges Lt. Dan Choi in the audience.....
This is right after Lt. Choi jumped on stage to talk to Reid face to face. In a brilliant and moving piece of street theatre, Choi handed Reid his Westpoint graduation ring. Reid agreed to keep it until the day Don't Ask Don't Tell is repealed once and for all.
Who wants some karaoke?
Dante Atkins sings "House of the Rising Sun"
"They're Coming to America"