Does Hell Have A Kitchen?

Audio Transcript: Dean Conference Call

A few days back I found out from the DNC site about this event that was being organized all over the country, over a thousand of them. I looked for one in the city. I looked for one that had the most people signed up. And the best ones had three or four.

And then I stumbled out of an unplanned siesta, and I was confused. I thought I had already missed the DNC event, and so I was looking for the info on this hip hop event I was to go to, and instead I realized the hip hop event was the evening after, and I had not missed the DNC event, and the one in Hell's Kitchen had 32 people signed up. And I was like, wow. That is bigger than the biggest DFNYC crowd. And this was great that it was in a living room and not in a bar.

The DFNYC Mixer is two evenings later.

Abhishek Mistry with DFNYC lives in Hell's Kitchen. I knew it was somewhere along the Manhattan western seaboard, but I did not know exactly where. Going by the name you would think the neighborhood has to be pretty rundown. But the place is a stone throw away from Times Square, center of the known universe.

I walked up to the house. Up the short flight of stairs there were two love birds kissey kissey. I did not mean to interrupt but the damn place had no doorbell, or anything like that. I banged on the glass door, then on the window. It so happened I was at the wrong house. I was supposed to be at 411, this was 441. I apologized to the couple.

"Never mind. We were loitering anyway," the young woman said. I felt bad.

Inside there was a sign up sheet, and all this food and drinks. I don't like sweet stuff, most of the stuff looked sweet. But there was chips and salsa. Now we are talking, I thought. There was beer, but I stuck to Coke. A few rounds of coke.

Host Alisa Roost asked if someone could take notes. I volunteered. After the event I promised I would write it all up and email it to her. So here goes.

--- 50 state strategy
--- precinct leader, 50 more votes
--- less than 2,000 Dem voters
--- $5 per month to Dems
--- Dean, 87% gave less than $200
--- I am frustrated with the DLC
--- DNC plus the state parties
--- Reid, Durbin
--- last six months, half way
--- a permanent national grassroots organization
--- local candidates, plus grassroots
--- precinct, door, vote
--- corporate funded republicans
--- 7 + 6 battleground staes, 7 lost, 6 won
--- If there were 10 votes more per precinct, 3 more states would have gone Democratic
--- 55-45 they can't cheat, 51-49, they seem to be able to
--- If there were 50 more votes per precinct, 6 more states would have gone Democratic
--- Bush at a 36% approval rating
--- 2004 Senate races
--- pessimistic voters just stay home, they don't vote Democratic
--- 2004 Senate 9 + 2
--- 1o more votes per precinct, and we would have had 3 more Senate seats
--- 5o more and we would have had a majority in the Senate
--- people vote with people with whom they have relationships

--- Alisa Roost, Dean in Iowa, Illinois, DLC sucks
--- Owen, 7 years in India, anthropologist
--- Laura, musician, PA
--- Scott, from Chicago, 20006, Contract With America
--- Laura, started with the Kerry campaign, with the convention
--- Becka
--- Alisa, NY to CA to NY, very involved in the Kerry campaign, organized 2 fundraisers, $100,000 for the party, turn the White House blue
--- Amia, 4 years in DC, California, Virginia county, blue for the first time in 40 years
--- Jim, Midwest when it was still Democratic, John Kerry, PA
--- Ruth, Kerry, PA, Santorum is vulnerable, Spitzer is safe, Pataki is gone
--- Michael, with ATT, between jobs now
--- Larry, u.e.s.
--- Regi, 4th year medical student, Albert Einstein Medical School,
--- Kris, one year ago from DC
--- Melissa, work for mainstream media, NBC, former Deaniac, college in Philly, Boston
--- ____, became US citizen to vote against Reagan, worked on the Dukakis campaign but my husand does not mention that

--- 2004 Governors races, lost 5 won 6
--- 100 more votes per precinct, and we would have won all but 2
--- grassroots activists, precinct volunteers, precinct captains
--- volunteer, recruit, host, run, attend, create
--- NY state party
--- buy Democracy bonds
--- writing letters to the Editor
--- helps shape their priorities, do write to the media,
--- phone number of county chair
--- Robert Donovan, party machinery in Chicago
--- Moveon not organized enough, too top down
--- local Democratic clubs
--- storefront
--- FL, can vote for 2 weeks
--- Allentown, only an hour away
--- dropout activist, make it fun, build relationships, have fun
--- there is this other half of the country that needs to start reading, thinking
--- getting people registered to vote
--- the idea of getting out the vote
--- regardless of the candidate
--- Kerry won all three debates, but still lost
--- no clear stand on the environment
--- 3-5 friends in CA, switched to Bush, born again values
--- (1) don't only react, put them on defense, we control the dialogue, (2) election fatigue
--- overkill with Moveon
--- most important decision not made at the polling booth but by an opaque clique
--- get the Dems the spine, we got Dean, now we got the top and the bottom, we just need to get the middle, the in between
--- (1) relationship building, ice breaking, team building, get to know each other exercises as important as policy talk, (2) do events, blog events, that way NYC progressives impact the country, otherwise we preach to the converted (3) all progressive groups need to collaborate, okay to have separate groups, but need to create a synergy
--- invading a country not behind 9/11 was wrong
--- there is no universal insurance
--- Gulf Coast is under water
--- u.w.s. -- my best use of time will perhaps be going to PA, here in the Upper West Side 90% are already voting the right way
--- good organization not enough, what about the message?
--- off election year, energy goes down
--- Times Square, organize, as in here, meet a real Democrat, a NY Democrat, get your picture taken with me, for the tourists
--- New Deal, Great Society -- organization did it
--- We need a simple message
--- their was lower taxes, smaller government
--- Republicans registering Democratic votes and deliberately messing up the paperwork

--- conference call with Dean
--- 1000 kick off meetings -- a lot of enthusiasm
--- rebuild the Democratic Party
--- rebuild New Orleans
--- core Dems on this call
--- 4 steps (1) VA, NJ and many other local seats won, (2) November 7, 2006, (3) Governorships, MS, KY, (4) 2008, the big one.
--- 20 countries on this call
--- 47
--- bring in volunteers, then contact people who don't vote
--- making common cause with things we do agree on
--- Democracy bonds, $10, $20, that is $20 million a month for the party
--- a house party in Alaska
--- Indiana
--- this corrupt administration
--- Together America Can Do Better
--- strong on defense
--- strong public education
--- honesty in elections
--- tell the truth
--- Tom Delay, Bill Frist, Scooter Libby
--- November 7, Peloisi, Speaker, Reid, Majority Leader
--- Let's go get 'em
--- Texas is a Democratic state, people just have not seen the light yet
--- run it as locally as you can
--- don't be afraid to do things that need to be done

--- Dems have yet to articulate our message
--- stop watching Republicans implode, come up with your own message (caller)

--- balanced budget
--- jobs that stay in America, renewable energy jobs

--- we should never run away from the moral values debate
--- kids going to bed hungry is immoral
--- we are people who will happily give up our tax cuts for the needy, we are moral

--- electoral fraud
--- 2 bad ones in a row, Secretary of State, FL
--- OH, another targeted state
--- African Americans, have to stand in line 3 times longer to vote
--- restoration of Jim Crow
--- voting machines, a big problem
--- they can be reprogrammed easily
--- get rid of paperless voting machines

--- this president makes them feel smart
--- group pictures

--- mailing list, google group
--- 1000 lives lost to Katrina
--- people relate to him emotionally, to Bush
--- I have friends who are Christian
--- Who would you rather have a beer with, Kerry or Bush?
--- blue states contribute 70% of the country's wealth
--- indoctrinate, into the Bush Army
--- Can you imagine Bush at the Kennedy Center?
--- Muhammad Ali, near death
--- stem cell research

--- if there were over 1,000 events tonight, and each had only 20 people on average, that is 200,000 people, that is huge

I offered to clean up. Alisa said no thank you. She instead said if I wanted to take some of the food home. She offered the half empty 2 liter Coke bottle. I took it.

I walked to the train station with Regi. He was at Cambridge University for one year. He had his stint at Hunter College. He is now at the Albert Einstein Medical School. He did not know Howard Dean earned his medical degree there. Regi is black. And angry. Right before we went underground, he went on a refreshing tirade against the Supreme Court.

"Why are we stuck with one Supreme Court judge for 50 years? Why don't they get more like 8 years? This constitution was written when people like me were picking cotton. I guess you can say Stalin and Saddam killed their own people. Here we do have rights, but that is why it is so important to protect them from these judges."

Even in New York the white progressives would get a failing grade from me on race. The number one reason is that they freeze when they have to discuss it. So I am glad Regi talked. I like that. (The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power)

My parting thought: Where does it say in the Bible that a DNC Chair can not run for president? If a Senator or a Governor can, so can a DNC Chair.

The train stopped and all New Yorkers out of a sense of decency vacated the train so I could sit and think in peace. Then I realized that was not so. The train had hit its last stop and was resting. I was on the wrong train.

New Yorkers move around town underground like packets of data on the internet.