Have to say, I was a Merle Haggard fan long before it was cool outside country music circles, and even back when he was performing White Working Class Reaction songs like “Okie from Muscogee” and “Fightin’ Side of Me.” Don’t quite know why I liked the guy so much, but I do have a close association of the song I featured at Daylight Video with a late-night drive over icy roads in Northwest Georgia, and those sort of things stick with you.

Here are some much more contemporary midday news/views treats:

* Jason Zengerle has a massive story at New York on HRC’s presidential prospects from just about every conceivable angle. It’s exhausting, but exhaustive, too. More about it later.

* Another massive piece from Columbia Journalism Review: an investigation of Rolling Stone‘s disastrous coverage of alleged sexual assaults at the University of Virginia.

* Scary Times article on groundwater depletion by California farms, and perhaps-too-late controls being imposed.

* Rand Paul going all out to depict presidential campaign as unconventional, even when it’s not.

* Greg Sargent points out that a pro-plaintiff decision in King v. Burwell will place exceptional pressure on Scott Walker and other prez candidates currently serving as governors.

And in non-political news:

* Yankees down 5-0 early to Blue Jays in first MLB game of the season.

As we break for lunch, here’s some more early Merle, focusing not on crime and prison or cheatin’ but on that other country music staple: drinking. Here he is with the Strangers performing “The Bottle Let Me Down” in 1968, with some fine guitar and steel guitar licks.

YouTube video

UPDATE: Okay, sorry, yes, the MLB season started last night, but ESPN is still calling this Opening Day. You can tell I’ve lost interest this year since my team (the Braves) is dumping all its best players.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.