Probably won't be posting to this blog all week. However, the road trip to DC will be chronicled here. Hopefully I'll do a good job of updating it.

Don't let anyone elect Tom Schieffer while I'm gone.

mean rachel

I'll Never Let Go of Your Hand

When my sister was in town this week, she got some footage of my mom and me playing the song that my sister and her husband danced to at their wedding. It's called "I'll Never Let Go of Your Hand." This was our first take at it.

Well Peter denied and Judas betrayed
I'll bear with the roll of the drum
And the wind will tell the turn from the wheel
And the watchman is making his rounds
Well you'll leave me hanging by the skin of my teeth
I've only got one leg to stand
You can send me to hell
But I'll never let go of your hand

Non-Native Species

Both the curse and the blessing of being a native is that while you benefit from the people a great city like Austin attracts, you feel claustrophobically rooted when they tumble away, scattering themselves to the edges of the next metro area that attracts them.

Indeed, my upcoming road trip will be equal parts hilarity, madness (mainly on the part of the one year-old dog we'll have in tow), and bittersweet. My good friend Christina (Chrisy) is leaving Texas for the mystical Washington, DC -- a place to me that has only appeared in images of marble, cherry blossoms and fine-quality suits. Chrisy came to Texas five years ago, hoping to save money for a trip by living with her parents, who had recently moved here as well. As a retired Army brat, Chrisy had no problem assimilating to Austin -- in fact, Chrisy was like a non-native invasive species, an exotic Burmese python snaking her way into the warm, evergreen hills. She's a conservationist, so I hope she'll understand why I call her a non-native species, in the best of ways. She knows they thrive and prosper.

She thrived here -- and I was fortunate enough to get to be a part of her time here.

The first time I knew of Chrisy was when we crossed paths at the Elgin Veterinary Clinc, when I used to take horses there during the day to be pricked with long, shining needles and injected with hyaluronic acid to cure their aches and pains. Chrisy was working at the time as a vet tech, yet another part of her plan to save money to travel abroad.
She was the only person at the veterinary clinic who had an easy, slow pace about her -- she was happy to pet a horse on the neck and wait for the next set of stocks to be available. Everyone else, including myself I'm sure, was always in a hurry.
The next time I ran into her was at a horse show later that fall, when she helped me load a fence into the bed of a truck. It was freezing cold, and she had on an Ohio State sweatshirt. We struck up a conversation, and she mentioned she was looking for a job in marketing. She called the stables I worked at a week later, hoping to network her way into a job at my mom's office. She didn't, but it didn't stop us from being friends.
I had recently undergone a bit of a life transformation related to my dear friend Shirikins, who had convinced me to move in with her. We were having a housewarming party and I invited Chrisy. She showed up at 10:30 PM, alone, ready for anything as long as it wasn't a shot of tequila.

I thought she had to be the coolest person I'd ever met.

From there, we spent more Valentine's Days together than either of us probably care to remember. We drove to Coupland Dance Hall and learned to two-step; tamed mechanical bulls and galloped horses at McKinney Roughs; we ate queso and drank margaritas all summer long one year. One time I drove with her to obtain a small furry puppy for her mom. She listened patiently when I bemoaned my past relationship to her, and didn't ever tell me I was dating an asshat until I was ready to hear it. I eventually did the same for her. We have fought like sisters and driven along sunsets. We've climbed Enchanted Rock, eaten bar-b-que in Llano, and seen Vanilla Ice play on 4th Street. One particularly lonely year, we had a date night where we reenacted our perfect date: we took a box of sangria and Milano cookies to watch the sun set over Austin from the top of Mt. Bonnell.

Acquaintances come and go, but there are only a few certain people you can talk about everything with, and Chrisy is one of them. She would go anywhere, do anything and say anything -- sometimes even to her detriment. But for as much as it could drive me nuts, it's one of the reasons I love her. And equally why I'll miss her.

This will be my second friend I've driven away with, only to fly back to my native roots a few days later. I'll have one on both coasts now, deposited neatly in their new land, digging in their heels and growing.

Good luck, Chrisy! And if you ever need some queso and a margarita, I'll be here.

We're getting very good at losing.

This afternoon, Reps. Coleman, Dunnam, Gallego and Farrar, stomping on the heels of Ted Kennedy's death, had a big shiny press conference to announce their endorsement of Democratic candidate for Governor, Tom Schieffer.

This morning I read Harold Cook's remembrance of Sen. Kennedy and was reminded of the stunning lack of courage in our political system. This afternoon, I read Twitter and was reminded of the stunning lack of judgment.

This guy doesn't reflect any sort of Democratic values. None. What experience does he have? After returning from his appointments abroad, he had to use a Texas Monthly magazine to remember where the good bar-b-que joints were in Texas. That's like using a Playboy to learn how babies are made. He hasn't passed a single bill for Texas people since the '70s. Not to use his name in vain, but Rep. Elliott Naishtat is more qualified. And, oh yeah, I know this is easy to forget when you're constantly being reminded of it (and being told by Schieffer and others that it's in the past and that it will somehow help us), but he's a Bush guy. Why would any of our Democratic legislators endorse even the general concept of this man being our next Governor?

Schieffer does not represent our party's values. A little measured judgment on the part of our House leadership would be, I don't know, courageous.

"I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it."

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy
February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009
"And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it. And we can do it again."
- Ted Kennedy; 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech; August 25, 2008

Great post at Letters from Texas on lions and cowards.

Summer Ain't Over 'Til This Fat Lady Stops Sweating

Y'all gotta know by now I'm a native Austinite. And while for most of my life I've said with a condescending air with regard to the cold New England winters, "I'd rather be hot than cold" or "Yeah, but you don't have to shovel sunshine," I'm about over this summer heat.

This summer seems to have really taken it out of me to the point where I have stopped blow-drying my hair (who needs a blow dryer when you can walk outside and get 2600 watts of hot air?) and I don't think I've looked at a weather forecast since I went to Boston for my sister's wedding.

What's the point? It's like John McCain weather. More of the same.

So I'm sitting in my air conditioning, which might as well be gaseous gold for what electricity costs these days, and wondering at what point the idea of an "evening walk" will be appealing. Running has recently been named one of the 7 Hot-Ass Hobbies of this Highly Hot-Ass City. Parking my car at the gym just means it'll be 124 degrees when I come out. I'm even afraid to leave my fiddle in my car for more than a few minutes, as if I'm carting around a Labrador. The most exercise I get these days is the brisk 50 meter dash I do from my car to my office twice a day.

Needless to say, this Texas summer and I need a break from each other. Like, yesterday. Or maybe back in June. Am I alone? Is anyone else about to wilt like a geranium in a crumbling hanging basket?

Well, either way, don't look to me for help. It's not my day to water.

Weekend Affirmations

A few weeks ago, I went on the 2nd Annual Bus Route #3 Pub Crawl. Austin Chronicle writer Lee Nichols created this event last year for his 40th birthday, which I also attended. This year's crawl was much tamer but they say with age comes wisdom. Check it Nichols' writeup here, or in this week's paper version. If you're like my aunt and soon-to-be uncle, you just might be inspired to do your own version of the crawl.

Speaking of which, congrats to my Aunt Stella and Kevin on their recent engagement and forthcoming wedding.

I'm going on a road-trip from Austin to Nashville to Philly to New York City to DC in about a week with a couple of girlfriends and a dog. And possibly a cat. I'll be blogging the trip with picture and text updates on this blog, which I created with a great new mobile blog platform called Posterous. Incredibly easy to set up and it integrates with all social networking platforms, including my Twitter, Facebook and even Flickr.

Rick Perry is delusional.

I rode a horse this week for the first time in 2 years. My parents will be happy to hear that apparently you can't flush eighteen years worth of riding lessons down the drain by not riding for two years. You can, however, walk around like a cowboy for three days straight afterward.

Zilker Park's "Great Lawn" Reopens Today

Check out Austin's newest homogenization, Zilker Park's "Great Concert Venue Lawn."

I'll be sure to stop by before it gets trampled to dust during the sold-out ACL Fest. Councilman Mike Martinez also has a cheerful ground-level pic with the Mayor that he tweeted.

Speaking of water conservation, I wonder how much water it takes to keep this sucker emerald?

Almost looks like they own the water company.

Rep. McCaul Ranks #7 on Austin Top Water Users List

Looks like someone's least favorite Texas Congressman, Michael McCaul, isn't very conservative when it comes to one vital thing -- water. Chances are, similar to his pork-stuffing habits in Congress, he's not too worried about paying the bills.

From the Statesman (emphasis mine, h/t to ManShack):
The home of U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is listed as the No. 7 user in May, when 135,000 gallons were consumed. He said a leak in the underground sprinkler system was to blame.

"Unfortunately we didn't know it until my wife's plants began to die," he said in a statement. "We fixed it immediately."

But McCaul, whose Westlake-area lot measures 1.8575 acres, appears to be a consistently heavy user: His property consumed 93,000 gallons in February, 90,000 in March, 96,000 in April, 130,000 in June and 115,000 in July. Seven people live at the home.
On a related aquatic note, Democrat and former McCaul opponent Larry Joe Doherty is helping to organize the South Central Texas Water Conservation Convention in October. Water conservation experts will convene in Brenham, TX to educate the public about the growing problem of water scarcity, which Doherty told me in a recent conversation he believes will be the issue of my generation.

Wake Me Up When It's 2020

The past and the future on 6th and Lamar.


With candidates like these, who needs opponents?

Sen. Kirk Watson, who many were hoping would make a white horse prince run for Governor, announced on Friday that he would instead be seeking reelection in the Senate. Ambassador Schieffer, who never has anything else to report other than his thoughts on what other people are doing, issued a statement and tweeted about Watson's announcement, clearly relieved.

So now Texas Democrats find themselves between a rock and a Bush supporter, which is something that I think we should be used to by now. I overheard someone at happy hour last night say our "electable" statewide candidates are "all waiting until after 2010." I thought they were all waiting for 2010?

Nevertheless, we do have what I'll be calling "Kinky Bushfest 2010" to look forward to. Oh, and that other guy with the handlebar mustache is also running.

Based on my amateur analysis of the political landscape, I'm thinking the following: if Schieffer starts working on a little silvery stubble, and the Kinkster keeps his facial coiffe going, then we theoretically could just line them all up and vote based on our mustachioed political leanings. Do you like Thompson's long, slender curl following the lip line? Or are you more of a moderate straight-edge type, known as the "copstash," that Kinky often likes to sport?

With candidates like these, who needs opponents?

An Open Letter to My Fellow Bloggers Attending Netroots Nation

Dear Texas Netroots 09 Bloggers,

Due to schedule conflicts, I am unable to join you in Pittsburgh this weekend for Netroots Nation 2009. Which is really disappointing, mainly because I'd finally convinced myself that Pittsburgh was a city worth traveling to.

Having been last year when Netroots was in Austin, I learned a thing or two that I thought I'd share with you.

1. Set two alarms each night - Even Al Gore is hard to wake up for when you're still schnockered from the night before.
2. Wear comfortable shoes and clean underwear - this is just a good general rule of thumb.
3. Always collect and wear on your person lots of buttons and quirky hats at these events as they attract the media.
4. The best panels are the ones no one else goes to.
5. When ambushing a former Presidential candidate for a picture, don't ask questions, just smile.
6. The people you meet the first day are probably the people you'll hang out with the rest of the weekend. Don't try to change this, just go with it.
7. If you go to any panels where Jeremy Scahill is speaking, prepare to be depressed afterward.
8. But you might just write something you love because of it.
9. Have fun.
10. Take ibuprofen.

I hope this list helps you, Texas Bloggers! By the way, my friends from last year's NN, Jim Walsh from Wired for Change and Matt Compton from the DLCC will be speaking tomorrow morning from 10:30-11:45 AM tomorrow on Local Campaigns and the World Wide Web. Should be a fun one!


How Six Degrees of Tom Schieffer Relates to the Town Hall Mobs

Cross-posted on the Huffington Post.

I've got nothing against Republicans. Well, I do find them kind of boring and grumpy and clearly not thinking straight on the old "Who controls my ovaries?" issue, when I'm the one who has to endure menstrual cramps every third Saturday. However, do not, I repeat, do not get me started on the subject of George W. Bush.

If you are pals with George W. Bush, you are ipso de facto up to no good. And by "pals" I'm referring to anyone other than Cindy Sheehan who has been to his Crawford ranch. As my friend out in Denver might say, you are up to some "no tells-ies."

Because, Ambassador Tom Schieffer, you wannabe-Democratic-nominee-for-Governor of Texas, hoping to skim past the primary, you have friends who are "no tells-ies" of your own.

You know those violent and crazy town hall mobs? It's now being reported that former Columbia/HCA CEO, Richard Scott and current chief executive of the lobby group Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR) is working with American Liberty Alliance and American Majority. All of these groups are united in fighting the health care reform battle. "Fighting," in the summer 2009 sense, means sending out notices about town halls and prodding the craziest extremists you can find on your mailing list to disrupt the aforementioned town halls. The conveniently named "CPR" is not just organizing these "made for YouTube ambushes," as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow points out in the video below but, "they've also been taking credit for them."

Why should any Texan with a photo ID care about Richard Scott? Well, maybe because Scott was an investor in the Texas Rangers baseball team back in the 1990's. In fact, he was in the same investment group as George W. Bush and Ambassador Tom Schieffer, who's now running for Governor of Texas. As a Democrat.

It's enough to give this yellow-dog Democrat a heart attack—if I could afford it.

In the first video, skip to 4:30 for a fun "Six Degrees of Schieffer" moment. In the second, that bald guy on the right is him -- skip to 2:54 for some juicy, health care gossip. But don't forget -- "no tells-ies."


Man I wish she'd run for Governor.

Awesome quote from story in the New York Times:
Senator Van de Putte of Texas said the only bad reaction she’s gotten over her “wise Latina” T-shirt came from a man at her sports club in San Antonio, who angrily yelled that he was also wise. “I said, ‘Great! Get a T-shirt!’ ”

Chris Bell Mea Culpa

I came across an interesting note on Facebook from former Congressman, former Gubernatorial candidate and former State Senate candidate, Chris Bell, today. The title was "No More Fakebook" which intrigued me so I clicked through. It's about three paragraphs too long, it's rather bizarre, and it's interesting. For all of those reasons, I'm posting it here:

Dear Friends,

I have a painful admission to make. I have been on Facebook since 2006 when I ran for governor - but not really. My campaign staff set up and maintained the page and even after all the campaigning ended, Matt Zeis at Lone Star Strategies, my fundraising firm, was kind enough to keep it going. So, for me, it was more like Fakebook.

It has led to an extraordinary sense of guilt and shame. People would tell me they had sent me emails via Facebook or saw me on Facebook and I would have to hang my head and mumble, "Well, that's really not me." Or like yesterday when my friend Sallie Alcorn assumed I knew about something because I "must have seen it on Facebook" but of course I had no idea what she was talking about.

Then today, Matt asked me if I would send something out to all my friends on Facebook to help one of their clients build her Facebook base or Face Base, for short, and yes, you could refer to my effort in sending the message out as a Face Based Initiative. This request sort of peaked my curiosity and I finally asked Matt how many Facebook friends I have. When he told me I have over 4,000, my guilt and shame soared. I haven't been that popular since high school! Imagine, thousands of people kind enough to become my social networking friends, waiting daily for some sincere expression of gratitude or friendship while I continued to hide behind the more advanced technological skills of Matt Zeis who obviously could maintain the page but who could never be expected to convey the warmth and kindness needed and deserved by my thousands of friends.

So today I said enough is enough; it shall be Fakebook no more. I shall go to Matt's office and I shall learn. I shall actually know my own password and I will begin to communicate myself. I shall look at the pictures people have posted. In fact, before writing this note, I even went so far as to crop a picture that I saw and liked and made it my new profile picture. How liberating!

My only concern is whether I will be able to maintain this torrid pace I have maintained these past few hours or will I soon succumb to laziness and procrastination and let messages go unanswered, proposed friends hang in limbo, photos become dated and irrelevant. Of course I will - sometimes. But other times, I really am going to try to be a good Facebooker.

In all seriousness, I do think this offers a great way to keep up with others in a world and in a city where that just seems to become increasingly difficult. As I announced at the beginning of this year, in addition to continuing as Of Counsel to Patton Boggs and developing business among those looking for representation in DC, I started my own Houston based litigation practice. As I hoped, it has proven to be the perfect balance. With all the change going on in Washington, there are a lot of folks in need of representation on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, there have been quite a few people who have asked me to represent them in civil litigation matters in court - sort of a mixed bag, everything from breach of contract to invasion of privacy. And I'm loving it. I called my former partner and great friend, Annette Henry, the other day after a particularly satisfying day at the courthouse and she asked, "Don't you wonder why you ever stopped?" Not really. At the time, I was ready for a break but now it's exciting and challenging again. And I'm getting to collaborate with some great people: Annette and I are handling some securities matters again - just like the old days when we tried to help as many investors wronged by stockbrokers as possible. And Ashish Mahendru and I have several interesting cases together and are proving to be a good team - if I say so myself.

As for politics, I'm having a good time helping others just like so many of you were kind enough to help me. As fundraising reignites in the coming weeks, I'll be co-hosting and attending a number of events for different candidates. And almost every week here of late, I have appeared on the local FOX-TV affiliate's early Friday newscast, a segment they call FOX Face Off (yes, another face based initiative) opposite former Council Member and now talk show host Michael Berry. And I do mean opposite but while we disagree on whatever the big weekly topic is, we keep it civil and it has actually been a lot of fun. Check it out some Friday.

That's enough for now but I wanted to share a lot to get past some of the guilt and shame discussed earlier. I promise I'll be back. And yes, it really will be me. It's all honest to goodness Facebook from now on.



Socialize This

Today is the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. In Burlington, Vermont, the home state of Jody Williams, whose work work in creating the International Campaign to Ban Landmines earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, it was also Nuclear Disarmament Day.

For me, it is a disheartening day when we should reflect on the sad state of affairs in our country. Our complacent nature to invest billions of dollars in military spending rather than the health of our own citizens will someday be our own undoing.

For a sobering look at the real cost of another socialized program, also known as 'national security,' I encourage you to read Forrest Wilder's report on the anti-war movement in the Ft. Hood area in this month's Texas Observer, Injured Hearts, Injured Minds. If the subject matter intrigues you, I also recommend picking up a copy of On Killing by Lt. Col. David Grossman, which explores the "psychological cost of learning to kill." And if you think you have to be enlisted in the military to learn to kill, you're wrong. We are all subjected daily to a barrage of distanced violence.

We have numbed our country to the true price of life. Why should it surprise anyone, then, that our fight to live has become so expensive.

Nut Up or Shut Up

Editor's note: This is the first in a weekly, monthly, annually or one time only series called "Nut Up or Shut Up" in which I pick various persons, corporations, political puppets and YouTube celebrities who either need to grow a pair or go away.

CNN Refusing To Run Health Care Ad Critical Of Insurance Industry

Why? Because the ad apparently "does not comply" with CNN's "clearance guidelines" because it "unnecessarily singles out an individual company and person." Unnecessarily singles out a person or company? Isn't that called...um...advertising? Nike Swoosh. Tiger Woods. George Foreman's Grill. This might explain why I watched CNN for about two hours the other night and nearly every commercial was a house ad for the next show or segment.

However, CNN not wanting to run the ad probably has more to do with the fact that the person being singled out is the CEO of Cigna, Ed Hanway, who makes $12M a year and, conveniently, more money PER DAY than the average Amercian makes all year.

Watch it and weep.

From the AP (hope they don't charge me for this):

"A spokesman for Democratic candidate Tom Schieffer declined to comment."

While it's nice to know that both Hutchison and Perry are against "it" ("it" in this case being any successful program that puts money in the pockets of Americans, tangibly stimulates the economy and helps the planet), I sure would like to know what our Democratic candidate thinks of Cash for Clunkers. Message to Schieffer: You're running for Governor. Start acting like it. You're embarrassing me.

Annoying Austin Twitter-ebrity Andy Roddick

So you lost Wimbledon but got to meet The First Dog as a consolation prize. Well I got to meet The First Dog's Master once. Which clearly means tennis is overrated. So there.


Here's an on-point political cartoon from Ben Sargent's Loon Star State, poking fun at Tom "Bush League" Schieffer. This new series of cartoons is exclusive to the Texsas Observer and best of all, on the Observer website you can sign up to receive the series in your inbox.

They don't guarantee to pay for a new computer screen when you spit coffee and/or whiskey all over it laughing.

Tom Schieffer acting Bush league in the Texas Governor's race

Monday Mean Rachel Music and TPA Roundup

Over the weekend, one of my Twitter followers, @amyeandrews, suggested I film myself playing the piano. I don't know @amyeandrews personally and clearly she doesn't know me, otherwise she wouldn't have asked me to record my piano playing. But I did, and below is a bit rusty, shortened version of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes." I've been working on some new songs (and a new instrument!) lately, so I have been neglecting the Tao of Billy Joel.
But...no excuses. Happy Monday. For political junkies, the TPA Roundup is also below.

Here we are in August, and like every other week it's time for another Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup.

TXsharon needs your help to Expose This Dirty Video.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out KBH and the GOP for using racism and the NRA to get out the vote in 2010. Having a competent, experienced Latina judge? Not important.

Off the Kuff reminds us that Governor Perry's consistently wrong decisions regarding unemployment insurance will cost the state two billion dollars, maybe more.

McBlogger takes a look at a lawsuit against TRS and discovers losses, possible corruption and a nightmarish problem for the Republicans in 2010.

John Coby says you better think before you trust a republican with your family's health care.

Mean Rachel decides that Democratic gubernatorial candidate is still too Bush League for her tastes.

Our governor is living the life of the rich and famous. It does so on our dime and on the "dimes" of his fat cat contributors. Libby Shaw gives us the ulgy details over at TexasKaos, Our Kept Governor to the Unemployed: Eat Cake.

Why did Ciro Rodriguez vote against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill and then suddenly flee the House? And why is he taking grip-and-grin meetings with David Dewhurst? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs would really like to know.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells why he believes that the smart money is on Texas Governor Rick Perry picking Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to replace U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison if she resigns before the end of the year.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted a video he made that will take only 39 seconds your life to watch. Also, Neil made a post marking the third anniversary of Texas Liberal. Texas Liberal has run 1500 page views a day so far this year and had racked-up over 725,000 views since it began. Thank you blog reading public!!

WhosPlayin notes that the City of Lewisville is cancelling its Cinco de Mayo celebration for 2010 due to budgetary concerns.

Dembones at Eye On Williamson points out Rep. John Carter's latest nuttiness, Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter.

Mike Thomas at Rhetoric & Rhythm reviews Debra Medina's campaign video and deems her the Sarah Palin of South Texas.

Teddy of Left of College Station was forced to evacuate his home in Bryan due to a warehouse fire that was burning toxic materials, but was able to return to his home the next day. Before the evacuation Teddy was able to write about Michael Vick’s return to the NFL, and whether or not he deserves a second chance. Left of College Station also covers the local and progressive events in the Bryan-College Station this month.

If nuclear power companies are already having trouble with their credit ratings, why are Texans rushing to throw them billions for plants that even the builders can't finance themselves? Good question, says Citizen Sarah at Texas Vox.

The Manatees and the Sharks

As I listened to Congressman Lloyd Doggett speak at the Kerr Community Center in Bastrop today, I studied the aged, concerned faces of the congregation. They were old Democrats – they cross their legs, and put an arm around their wife, and dab at sweat from their foreheads. They wear hopeful t-shirts ("Together We Can," the battlecry of the Bastrop County Democratic Party) and drink iced tea. A woman pushed pens with fake flowers glued to the top, collecting names for her sign-in sheet. We are, I thought, like manatees.

Pushing at the front door were the sharks. Angry, vociferous and often literally snarling, they brought signs which the police quickly told them they couldn’t bring in—it was a private building and the owner's rules. Posterboard screaming "OBAMACARE: EUTHANIZE OLD PEOPLE" was shoved through the doorway before the cop quickly threw it out. If it was a message for our President or a judgment on his policy, I couldn't quite tell. The sharks were allowed in, as long as they didn't bring signs. The door slammed shut.

Doggett had already endured being run off from a South Austin community meeting earlier today. He looked relieved that the crowd was now under control, with his fingers interlaced and hands crossed over the microphone at times, as if he was saying a prayer that the teabaggers would stay quiet.

None of them did. One laughed—violently—whenever Doggett attempted a joke. It was one that bordered on disturbed, forced to the point of painful, and meant only to disrupt. That same man interrupted Doggett so many times that the Congressman addressed him tersely: "If you want to be treated respectably, act respectably, sir!"

Another woman who had brought her family of four stood in front of me wearing a t-shirt that read this on the back:
"Gun Control: The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her own pantyhose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound."
Doggett answered questions from the audience on a variety of topics, but most of the conversation was dominated by the healthcare debate. His talking points typically ended in a downturn, with Doggett conceding that the reform measures could have been better. Doggett seems to want to fight for progressive ideals but he appears too quick to compromise for the sake of bipartisanship. The Texas Congressman appeared much of the time as a caricature of his own sound byte—"progressives demand a third of a loaf and end up with a heel." He even distributed a photocopy of his recent commentary in the Austin American Statesman entitled "How an imperfect bill helps you,” a bulleted attempt to rationalize for the bill being “no panacea.”

Doggett ended his forum with a reminder of a local Bastrop man who, after Doggett last spoke in Bastrop, passed out fliers about "The Austin Strangler." He told the audience that despite the man's anger, “he's a hard worker,” and that progressives should start mobilizing for their cause as well. When a Democrat shouted, "We're angry, too," everyone laughed.

Are we angry? We seem all too happy to gnaw on the heel of our bread and read fluffy editorials on how an "imperfect bill" is reform. We trade talk radio for Obama rhetoric, and forgive our anointed politicians for bending to industry giants. We gape at the opposition party's demands, rather than forming our own. We are often like manatees, unwilling or unable to defend ourselves. We stare at the sharks and think “That will never work,” and only later wonder why we were wrong. Maybe progressives are in fact angry. What’s unclear is when we’ll start doing something about it.