Start me up


We now know:

1) Having spent $1.16 million per delegate, Mitt Romney is now toast. His conversion to conservatism was unconvincing -- except perhaps to the men and women of easy virtue at National Review -- and a significant proportion of evangelical Christians will refuse to vote for a Mormon. So Mitt was wasting his money from the start. I kept saying that, but at the time, nobody else, save Thompson, was plausible either.

2) Nobody really knows who is in a better position to win the Democratic nomination. In my bones, I think Hillary is the favorite because I think her organization is more experienced and more widely in place. She also appears to have a firewall of women, Hispanics and the less-well educated, and my guess is, she's more popular with the superdelegates. I think it is clear that Barack is more electable against McCain than Hillary as he competes for Republicans and independents and she does not, though the fact that Hispanics do not vote for Blacks in large numbers is really troubling. But Clinton turns out her opponents in a way that Barack does not, so that brings the advantage back to him, and explains all the red-state endorsements. Obama is going to win states Clinton will not win, or at least appears as if he might. He is not going to lose any states she will win, even if he lost them to her last night.

3) Barring some unforeseen event, I'd pick McCain as the slight favorite over Clinton going in and Obama as a toss-up. That is terrible news, given how unpopular Republicans have become, and how they should be run out of town on a rail for supporting the catastrophic-in-every-way leadership by Bush and Cheney and the incompetents and crazies who surround them, but the media, and the public tend not to hold candidates responsible for their parties; crazy, but true. What's more, antiwar voters are picking McCain despite his promises of hundred years' war. What's more, the media love McCain and are willing to forgive him everything, save perhaps the old "live boy or dead girl" dilemma they still talk about in Louisiana ...

4) Hillary has agreed to debate on Fox News, after refusing to all this time. I think after MoveOn endorsed Barack (together with the Kennedys, The Nation, etc.), she's decided to run as the centrist/establishment candidate and give up on the netroots. Back when Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean, I thought his calculation was based on the fact that Kerry would lose and the next election would be a DLC vs. MoveOn contest and he was claiming MoveOn. Well, the DLC is dead and it would be unfair to tag Hillary with their hatred of liberals, but that's what we have now, with Barack as Al Gore. (Of course, a Gore endorsement might remake this entire contest, but I think we can be certain that's not coming.) Hillary's decision to do it this way is odd, however, given the fact that Rupert just dissed her with the New York Post's endorsement of Barack. I mean, think about it. Does a single Democratic primary voter take his or her direction from the New York Post? Then what's the point of the endorsement? To dis Hillary, nothing else....

5) Running mates? Again, I dunno. Clinton/Obama in either combo makes no sense. The ticket needs a white male. Jim Webb would work well for either one. So would John Edwards, and Joe Biden. Chris Dodd makes a lot of sense for Obama but not for Clinton. For McCain, if he's worried about Limbaugh-like lunatics staying home, he will have to go to his right flank and pick an anti-immigrant demagogue, though Huckabee could work here, he's also a high-risk choice because of his (endearing) personality quirks and total and complete lack of understanding of foreign affairs. Otherwise, he should go north and make himself competitive in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, though I don't have any names in mind for that. Tom Kean is too liberal and would be a Democrat anywhere else but the Northeast.

On another note: A friend brought me to a party last night of funders and ex-secretaries of things and I have to say, I think it had the highest concentration of multimillionaires and billionaires of any room I've ever been in. Given that the Dow lost 2 percent of its value yesterday, a significant number of these people had a few million dollars less than they did the day before. And yet I didn't hear anyone mention the Dow at all. All the talk was of the election. I walked home across the park wondering what would have happened if those millions, which were of no real concern to the people in the room and would not have any significant effect on their lives for having disappeared, could have been put to use for the millions of people who desperately need it. Then again, I don't know how you'd make it happen. Increase taxes on the extremely wealthy and they just move their money abroad, alas ...

Why does Bill Clinton still fascinate the press, but George W. Bush bore them? Because for the media, the suggestion that Clinton has an oversized ego is far more upsetting and newsworthy than Bush's proven track record of incompetence. Read more here.

Mellencamp over McCain:

"We're not playing it anymore." -- McCain campaign statement to The Washington Post, after John Mellencamp's publicist reminded McCain that the singer "identifies very strongly with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party."

Enough about politics: Well, I got this guitar, but I can't really say I've learned how to make it talk yet: CUNY News profiles yours truly focusing on said guitar lessons, here.

And I see from Backstreets that now that the iTunes Store exclusivity is over, you can find the video for "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" for free at and

Speaking of Bruce, I am still in the market for a decent single in Seattle on March 29. I also have a couple of crappy singles I'm not using for Nassau Coliseum if someone wants to buy either one, email in the space below. (And the vintage Taxi Driver poster is still available for purchase too.)

Also: Don't you wish you could have been there for this? (Petey was.)


I've been in a period of late where I am discovering so much new music, I can't really keep up with all of it. In the coming days and weeks, I hope to be able to find time to do short reviews of newish albums by Tift Merritt, Vampire Weekend, Josh Rowse, Joe Henry, Kathleen Edwards, Fey Ray, Pieta Brown, Miranda Lambert, Richard Hawley, The National, Levon Helm, the Detroit Cobras, Arthur Alexander, and Feist.

In the meantime, I wanted to note that the fourth and final concert in the New York Guitar festival is happening tomorrow night at the Merkin Theater in Lincoln Center. I saw the ones dedicated to Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn and was not feeling well enough to the one for Merle Haggard, which I hear was great. Tomorrow night's is a bunch of great people you know and many you don't paying tribute to Lefty Frizell, in the most casual and cooperate circumstances imaginable.(Jorma K has played all of them and at the last one, I discovered the talents of Laura Cantrell and Jen Chapin, among others.) I can't go because Chris Barron, who used to be the guy in the Spin Doctors, is doing a benefit for PS 166 at 7 p.m., and then I'm going to the Allen Room at Jazz@LC, my favorite room in NY, to see Brad Meldau and Joe Henry as part of the American Songbook Series. So if you've got nothing to do on Thursday night, go to one of those things. If you want more info about the PS 166, which is to buy new instruments for the music classes, write below and we'll get it to you. The rest you can Google ...

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Bob Thena
Hometown: Easton, PA

Dear Dr. Alterman,

I agree very much with the thoughts expressed by William N. Osborne in his note to you. As my wife would attest, I have been against the all-volunteer armed forces since they came to be in the 70s. She used to scoff at my reasons but she doesn't any more.

I have always felt that one of the most dangerous things that could happen to this country is the development of an insulated professional officer corps. One that is detached politically, intellectually, and morally from the country at large. While it is true that during the draft there were always those who managed to stay out of the service (several administration figures come to mind) the armed forces during that time better reflected the country then it does now because of it. I believe the officer corps also reflected the country better then simply because of the varied make-up of the troops under their command.

The question I have been asking for years has been what if American society broke down due to a natural, economic, or political upheaval and the army was called out or decided on its own to put down the populace? Would the officers of today's army side with the population and uphold the Constitution, or would a cabal of officers similar to the ones Mr. Osborne describes move to stage a coup? Would the rank-and-file soldiers who have gone through a continuous barrage of right-wing philosophy be more likely to shoot their fellow Americans during such a crisis and support a military coup? I think officers like LTC Bateman would stand up for the America he swore to protect. But are there enough Batemans in the army to stand up to a rogue officer class? I don't know. But don't tell me that it can't happen here.

I believe that service in the military is an honorable profession. I believe service to your country can bring forth the best in a person. I believe that the answer Mr. Osborne is looking for comes in the form of a return to mandatory national service for all Americans. I truly believe that if a draft had been in effect in 2003, we would not have invaded Iraq.

Name: Carl Conetta
Hometown: Project on Defense Alternatives

Dear Eric:

The Project on Defense Alternatives has just completed a major update to its web resource pages, adding about 800 links to recent full-text articles online. And we've just posted several essays on the current U.S. security policy debate.

On our main page, you will find (center column): "9/11 and the Paradox of American Power" as well as a revised and annotated version of "A Prisoner to Primacy." Also on this page (in the right-hand column) are our updated resource pages on Iran, Iraq, India, and U.S. security policy.

PDA's larger policy libraries each have their own pages. Together they provide links to more than 15,000 full-text articles, reports, and documents. The pages are War Report, Occupation Distress, Chinese Military Power, Defense Strategy Review page, the RMA page (military transformation), and Terrorism/Counterterrorism/Homeland Security. They can be accessed on our home page (left-hand column) or here.

Hope you find these materials interesting and useful.

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