WATCH OUT NOW…HISTORY IS ABOUT TO START COMIN’ AT YA’ FAST….

I don’t think I’ve ever tagged anything a must read on here, but this, from Glenn Greenwald,  comes pretty close. Turns out the Security State not only saw Donald Trump as the biggest threat to their hegemony since Jimmy Carter, and thereby resorted to operational tactics from the (long forgotten–by the media and the public at least) 1980 playbook–they even used some of the same people. If you don’t care to read the whole thing, the last paragraph will do.

It’s over folks. It matters not that Carter was a somewhat decent man and Trump a thoroughly indecent one. Nor that Carter was an Evangelical Democrat and Trump a Pagan Republican.

Because life’s just a Warren Zevon song now. Take your pick:

OKAY SO THIS IS NOT GOING THE DIRECTION I THOUGHT….BUT I’M STILL NOT CONVINCED I’M WRONG…

In my post of last week, I noted that the mainstream media had finally gotten on to an idea I’ve had for a year and some conservative bloggers have been bandying about for at least a few months: namely that the FBI had planted someone inside the Trump campaign no later than the Summer of 2016. Though Kim Strassel first broached the subject in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times has now taken the lead and tossed up the name of Stefan Halper, an American academic based in London.

That’s not who I had in mind as a “plant” though, based on interviews she’s given this week, it’s evidently who Strassel (and others) had in mind.

I’m sure they’re not wrong about Halper’s role–he’ll have one hell of a lawsuit if they are–but his role is not that of either a spy or an informant. He seems to be a cutout–someone not in the Trump campaign who the FBI and/or CIA could rely on to brace those who were.

Those who were included (but may not be limited to) Carter Page and George Papadopolous, two men who have been in the news quite a lot.

The lengths to which the media (across the board) and the usually more insightful online bloggers have gone to insist none of these were actual “informants” (including the Times, which specifically misused the term to make it seem like Halper is such when their own reporting insists he’s only a handler–someone who, at most, might gather information from an informant) is curious.

It’s been known for months that Carter Page was not only a known FBI asset, but was specifically helping them in a case that involved a Russian while he was “Volunteering” to be part of the Trump Campaign.

It is likely, however, that Page, who was part of Trump’s campaign, was not an “informant” either.

An informant would be someone who was inserted into the campaign for the purpose of uncovering evidence of illegal (or at least unethical) behavior, and reporting back to a prearranged handler.

From the reporting so far available, Halper was not that sort of handler.

He was the sort who arranged to have meetings with low level Trump operatives for the specific purpose of making them appear dirty because why else would they be meeting with the likes of him, a known go-between for both the FBI and the CIA?

If you’re having a little trouble following along, you’re not alone.

In all the sound and fury that’s been building for a year while Team Mueller and Team Trump stalked each other, I still haven’t seen one person suggest the obvious–that Carter Page was placed in the Trump campaign (by the FBI, though possibly at the CIA’s suggestion) not to be a classic informant, but to follow orders and meet with enough sketchy characters (Mr. Halper included) that the FBI could use his presence to get a FISA warrant on somebody–if necessary, him.

Since Page was in fact who they got the warrant on (in October, 2016, after failing to produce enough evidence even for a Star Chamber filled with their own hand-picked judges in June), the only other possibility is that the FBI went looking for someone–anyone–they could produce on the spot as a surveillance subject that would satisfy the court they were on to something…and just happened to find one of their own assets conveniently positioned right where they needed him to be!

Even I don’t think the FBI is so incompetent they’d leave something like that to chance.

Either way, it’s a good thing Donald Trump’s not Hitler.

Because if this clown car was all that was standing between us and the next Hitler, we’d all be better off shooting ourselves in the head while guns are still legal.

As it is, whether anyone goes to jail in the next year-and-a-half will depend on what it always depends on.

But you’re my readers, and a great deal smarter than the average bear–so you already knew that….

BEFORE I GET LEFT BEHIND….

The thirty-five months that have passed since Donald Trump announced he was running for president have made me almost regret I didn’t start a political blog on the spot. I say “almost” because it would have meant giving up this blog and any chance of writing or publishing fiction, plus attracting a bunch of abuse from “partisans” and other weirdos (probably from both ends–I’m that kind of guy when it comes to Politics).

Still, once in a while I find myself wondering why neither the media nor the host of political blogs/twitter feeds I follow on a regular basis have managed to notice something.

To that end, it was interesting to come across a story today (from Kim Strassel in the Wall Street Journal–sorry it wasn’t behind a pay wall but now it is, so I’m not linking) that was the first to suggest something I’ve assumed was obvious for at least a year: That the FBI planted someone inside the Trump campaign in 2016.

I even have a pretty good idea of who that someone has to be–I’m not saying the name, though, because I don’t want to impugn the integrity of anyone on the basis of a gut feeling when there’s even a slim chance they might be innocent. Let’s just say that, if his name comes up again, I’ll refer back to this moment. And, if I’m wrong and it’s someone else, I’ll happily admit I’m wrong.

I assume that some reporters (including Strassel) can put two and two together as well as I can, though, and are holding back on publishing the obvious name for the same reason I am (well that and libel laws).

I just hope they aren’t holding back on actual reporting.

Because I’d really hate to think the only reason the new era’s muckrakers aren’t eager to track down the FBI’s mole in the Trump campaign (or White House?) is because, in an age when every major “news” organization must at least be suspected of being an intelligence asset, they’re not too sure who their editor works for (and that would certainly not exclude the WSJ, as fiercely anti-Trump as any other news organization, right up until the moment they figured out he had a chance to win).

I mean, that’d be depressing….

A LITTLE SUNDAY READING….

David Cantwell has a piece in Rolling Stone celebrating the fortieth anniversary of a landmark year in country music. Most of the albums he recommends challenge or overturn that era’s conventional marketing categories…all while yielding big hits–most becoming staples. Based on the half I have in my collection and what I’ve heard of the others, I (as usual) heartily endorse his choices.

My only nit to pick is his preference for Bonnie Raitt’s version of “Angel From Montgomery” over Tanya Tucker’s….them’s fightin’ words!

Against that, and what really matters, a thousand times yes on Jeannie Kendall…

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS JOURNALISTIC MALPRACTICE?

…And, if there is, what would the appropriate penalty be?

Anyone who ever doubts the depth of the shock Donald Trump delivered to the political system (and the supposedly no-longer-extant Establishment behind it), would do well to read this analysis of the 2016 election–delivered a few weeks before election day by the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza.

For those who may not want to read the whole thing (and my still bleeding eyes are strong evidence it may not be good for your health so consider yourself warned) here are the key points that got my interest, all these months later:

Over the past 72 hours, polls have come out in AlaskaTexas and Utah that show Trump narrowly ahead of Hillary Clinton. That comes on top of data that suggests Republican-friendly states likes Arizona and Georgia are already a jump ball between Clinton and Trump….

Simply put: Trump is not just in danger of losing, he is in danger of causing a fundamental reorganization of the electoral map that could set back Republicans for a number of future elections…..

The problem for Trump is that the group of people who support him is not now and never has been large enough to get him anywhere close to the 270 electoral votes he needs….

Cilliza nicely sums up established thinking, as of Oct. 14, 2016. But there’s no need to pick on him. If one were to decide that journalistic malpractice included substituting wishful thinking (bordering on delusion), for reportage, then he should have been fired the day after the election (more on that in a moment). Only problem is–you’d have to fire his entire support system as well. All the editors and publishers who supported him–and the dozens of like-minded “journalists” who spouted similar pablum (and who accepted polls that were designed to bring them the results they wanted as “news”).

That would have meant just about everybody–including the bulk of the actual pollsters who provided the underlying mush that could then be reported as news, and half the talking heads Fox News (the only place where there was something of a bloodbath, though, even there, everyone was careful to pretend it was for different, completely unrelated reasons).

And how mushy was the underlying mush? How delusional was Cilizza’s reporting?

This mushy. This delusional:

Cillizza identified five “shocker” states, where Trump could lose historical Republican advantages, and five “purple” states, considered true swing states (with Arizona, oddly, placed in both categories), which, by definition would fall Clinton’s way if the “realignment” he was effectively predicting–and encouraging his ideologically pre-selected readership to embrace as a hard truth (the bit where he reminds folks it’s not a done deal yet is the kind of weasel-tongue I was taught to avoid the first week of my junior college journalism course–and every week thereafter).

Here’s how the election held twenty-five days later actually played out in those “toss-up” states which were going to “cause a fundamental reorganization of the electoral map.”

First, those where he “narrowly led”:

Alaska–Trump by 15.2%
Utah–Trump by 18.6%
Texas–Trump by 9.2%

Next, the “jumpballs”:

Georgia–Trump by 5.7%
Arizona–Trump by 4.1%

Then, finally, the swing states that were practically guaranteed for Clinton by Cilliza’s logic:

Florida–Trump by 1.3%
North Carolina–Trump by 3.8%
Ohio–Trump by 8.6%
Arizona (again)–Trump by 4.1%
Nevada–Clinton by 2.4%

Hey, one out of nine ain’t bad!

But we shouldn’t forget that states Cilizza and the world within which he remains safely ensconced didn’t even put Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin in play. Trump won them all.

And, as of today, there is no credible evidence Democrats can flip even a single state in 2020.

Outside the polls, of course.

No wonder so many people done gone crazy.

WHAT I MIGHT BE ABOUT TO GET UP TO….

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. The hardest part about blogging (for me at least) is deciding what to write about. I always have a few longing posts incubating. Some sit for months or even years before the mood to polish them off strikes.

But mostly, ideas come and go. Several times a day. Sometimes more. The hardest part is avoiding politics. I know I write about them here and there, especially the Age of Trump, but it’s not what I want this blog to be about. If I ever decide to go heavy on it, I’ll start another blog–probably called No Comfort here. That should put me at the top of the charts!

This week been more interesting than most, because I’ve become self-conscious about the process. Here I sit wondering whether I should write next about Cyndi Lauper (or just She’s So Unusual, or maybe Twelve Deadly Cyns, or just “Money Changes Everything,”) except I really need to get back to John Ford or Elvis and I’ve got that Handy Ten on Golden Age Westerns to finish off plus my favorite Various Artists box set (Philly Soul) and six or seven other topics to consider, when all of a sudden, just this morning (early, before the sun came up), I’m listening to the Byrds and thinking This, this is what I should be writing about, and then Vivien Leigh pops into my head and I ask myself how it’s possible I’ve been writing this blog for six-and-a-half years without ever attempting to do her justice (given that no one else has managed it, should’t I at least try)?

And, you know, the chances are at least fifty-fifty, the next thing I write about won’t be any of those things.

It probably won’t even be about the paradigm shift I see happening in the two major political parties which will either lead to a reversal of voting bases (like 1980) or priorities (like 1932) or the elimination of one or the other to be replaced by something new (like 1860).

It probably won’t even be my response to Terry Teachout’s long interview about the Band, where he opined, among other things, that their first two albums were the only “adult” music being made at the time (1968-70) in what I like to call Rock and Roll America.

Boy, will I have something to say about that some day….unless, by chance, all the “some days” become consumed by all those other things I’m sure I’ll have something say about…

BECAUSE THERE HASN’T BEEN ONE IN A WHILE….(Occasional Sports Moment #32)

And because, if you read the linked article, you can get a bit of a window into how we live now. I confess when I saw the video on Ttwitter (linked by almost everyone I follow), my first thought did not run to the negative…nor did any of my subsequent thoughts.

And Columbus has had an NHL team…for eighteen years?

Crazy.

Strongly advise you listen with the sound off, as the accompanying commentary is a little too redolent of how we live now….among the Brain Dead.

HOW NEAR A THING….

Rarely in warfare has the arrival of a single officer on a battlefield been more timely and consequential than Hancock’s at Gettysburg. One of his subordinates gave the picture: before he came, “wreck, disaster, disorder, almost the panic that precedes disorganization, defeat and retreat were everywhere.” After he appeared on Cemetery Hill, “soldiers retreating stopped, skulkers appeared from under their cover, lines were re-formed”: in place of a rabble seeking Cemetery Hill as a sanctuary, an army with a purpose–under a leader who could lift it to extraordinary efforts–confronted the Confederates.

There was something dominating and inspiring about Hancock. The men of his corps were essentially the same as those of any other, but at the end of the war they could say that the Second had captured more enemy guns and more enemy colors than all the rest of the army combined. After Grant had taken command and had gone through the Wilderness, Hancock could tell him proudly that the corps had never lost a color or a gun, though oftener and more desperately engaged than any other. The Galena tanner was to use the corps cruelly at Cold Harbor, but it nevertheless finished the war, and with a record of a larger number of engagements and an aggregate of more killed and wounded than any other corps in the Northern armies.

(High Tide at Gettysburg, Glenn Tucker, 1958, p. 192)

It’s a theme of the egalitarian part of American identity that individuals make no difference. One person is as good as another after all, before the tide of history as before anything else.

It’s a fiction of course.

Winfield Scott Hancock is now remembered by Civil War buffs, fans of Ron Maxwell’s battle films (Gettysburg and Gods and Generals) and virtually no one else.

And yet, at every moment when it seemed victory was in the Confederacy’s grasp during the crucial spring and summer of 1863, Hancock was there to save the day. Historians debate the “high tide of the Confederacy”. Some say the first day at Chancellorsville, some the first, second or third days at Gettysburg. At some point on each of those days, the Confederate armies seemed on the verge of routing and destroying the Army of the Potomac which was the guarantor of the Federal government in Washington D.C.

At the crucial point on each of those days, it was Hancock’s leadership that determined the outcome and saved the day. It was his men who rallied and staved off Stonewall Jackson’s charge at Chancellorsville after the Confederates had collapsed the Union flank with a brilliantly conceived and executed surprise attack; his presence (after George Meade gave him the command ahead of two higher ranking generals who were already in the field) that stabilized the panicked Yankee retreat on the first day at Gettysburg and held the crucial high ground for the Federals (according to Tucker, it was literally Hancock’s decision both to take a stand at Gettysburg and where exactly the stand would be made); his decisions regarding troop movements that stymied Lee’s furious attacks on both flanks on the second day; and it was Hancock who held Cemetery Ridge (where Lee had correctly surmised the Union line would be both weakest in manpower and least expecting an attack) against Pickett’s Charge on the third day.

Though he never commanded an army–his various superiors considered him too valuable to recommend for promotion elsewhere–one could make a strong case that Hancock was at least as essential to the preservation of the Union as Lincoln or Grant.

After the war, he was the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1880, losing a close election to James Garfield (the popular vote was the closest in American history, though Garfield won pretty comfortably in the Electoral College–naturally, allegations of fraud were thrown about in the close states, especially New York–there is nothing new under the sun). As the Hero of Gettysburg was a strong supporter of states’ rights, the opposition painted him as a man likely to hand back the Union victory to the post-Reconstruction South (which voted for him overwhelmingly).

Such is politics.

Garfield was assassinated a few months into his presidency. Hancock continued his military service until his death in 1886, by which time he had, among other things, served as president of the National Rifle Association.

Such is life.

A few statues have been erected in his honor and there’s an elementary school named after him in his native Pennsylvania.

Removing statues of Union heroes is a thing these days, so visit while you can. Because, however bad you think things are, you can rest assured they’d have been a whole lot worse without him.

THE PAST STARES BACK…(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #134)

…From the pages of a book:

The Eleventh Corps had an unenviable reputation in both armies. It was preponderantly German, made up mainly of immigrants who had fled their mother country during the uprisings of 1848, and who were drawn to the Federal cause by their leaders, notably Benker, Schurz, and Franz Sigel. Being chiefly artisans, most of them had settled in the North. Their ardor for the cause could not be expected to equal that of soldiers possessing an American heritage. Their inability to speak English caused Confederates to believe they were mercenaries like the Hessians of the Revolutionary War. Antiforeign sentiment was still rampant at the outbreak of the war because the heavy immigration  had depressed wages in the 1850s and crowded the slum areas of Northern cities. The antipathy had its expression in a wave of nativism and, politically, the Know-Nothing Party, which had made substantial headway for a time in the decade before the war.

(High Tide at Gettysburg: The Campaign in Pennsylvania, Glenn Tucker, 1958)

That quote is from pages 124-125 of my edition. The battle is just being joined. Thus far, Tucker’s history has offered dozens of similarly concise descriptions of the Federal and Confederate units converging on the southern Pennsylvania farmland in the summer of 1863, and the matrix of political, military and economic considerations that brought them there. I hope he does as well by the battle itself, because so far it is the best kind of history….the kind that respects how little things change underneath, irrespective of how obsessed we are with the latest, newest and shiniest surfaces.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018…

This is an especially strong class. I was a surprised that Johnny Gimble wasn’t in long ago…but then the Country hall does have strict guidelines and standards. Ricky Skaggs made a joke at his induction about not having to explain to people anymore why he wasn’t in the hall. And I’m strong for Dottie West any day of any year. A class all country music fans can take to heart.

One of the architects of Western Swing…

The savior (almost single-handed) of bluegrass…

And the woman who survived horrific child abuse (including sexual abuse) to become one of the great voices of her generation, racking up dozens of hits on her own across two decades (more than a few of which she wrote), plus many more with her three Hall of Fame duet partners, Jim Reeves, Don Gibson and Kenny Rogers. She was also the first female country singer to win a Grammy.

She even wrote jingles. Then made hits from them….

They broke the mold on these three. The Hall did itself proud this time around.