Eyes of the World (with Comment by Steve)

Chatting at a Claremont Institute event ten years ago, Steve Hayward blessed my love of the Grateful Dead. Steve is an expert consumer not only of prog rock, but also of jam bands. He even sent me his own compilation of favorite numbers by the jam band String Theory stringing it out.

Essential Dead member Jerry Garcia died in rehab in 1995. The surviving members of the group have reunited for what are to be their final (“Fare Thee Well”) concerts this weekend in Chicago. (Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio is sitting in for Garcia. Bruce Hornsby is joining in on piano.) The shows are advertised as a fiftieth anniversary celebration, but Tracy Swartz puts it this way in the Chicago Tribune: “It’s the end of the road for the Grateful Dead.”

I loved the Dead even before I began to understand them. Anyone who knows anything about the history of American popular music would hear Garcia’s love of folk and bluegrass espcecially, but also of country and blues, in their best albums and in their live performances. Garcia was an American original and a genuine folk/bluegrass nut. His friendship with mandolin maestro David Grisman preceded the formation of the Grateful Dead. Garcia even called on Grisman to contribute a few of the grace notes to the Dead’s American Beauty album.

I only saw the Dead perform once, at Dillon Stadium in Hartford on July 31, 1974. It has lived vividly in my memory ever since. I believe it was the tour in which the Dead featured their pioneering Wall of Sound setup. The Dead and the sound were great.

I listen to the Dead frequently on the Sirius/XM Grateful Dead channel. The Dead excelled in their live performances and they seem to have preserved every show they ever played on tape. The channel is built around their live performances.

A few weeks ago I was goin’ down the road feelin’ good, to vary a Dead phrase, listening to the Dead on Sirius/XM. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself listening to the 1974 show I had attended in Hartford. It sounded even better than I remembered it (though I hadn’t recalled vocalist Donna Godchaux being unable to hit a note; she is simply terrible).

Looking around online at home, I was even more surprised to find the concert posted here. Given the holiday weekend, I thought some readers might want check it out just for fun. Among other things, if you have a taste for the Dead, you won’t want to miss their sinuous 18-minute take on “Eyes of the World.” I thought wow! then and I think wow! now.

STEVE adds: As events would have it, I actually scored tickets to the Fare Thee Well show at Santa Clara last Sunday, but wasn’t able to make it so I donated my tickets to a charity auction. Seeing that Bruce Hornsby was going to play keyboards on these revival shows sent me back: I saw several shows in 1991 when Hornsby filled in after the Dead’s third keyboard player, Brent Mydland, died of an overdose. (The Dead went through more keyboard players than Spinal Tap did drummers.) The Hornsby-backed shows were better than the last few years of Mydland, I thought. And as one commenter below notes, they could have simply awful nights.

A few years after Jerry Garcia died, I happened to sit next to Hornsby on a coast-to-coast airplane flight, and talked to him at length about the music scene and much else. (If Power Line existed then and did podcasts, I’d have signed him up.) I asked why the post-Jerry members didn’t stay together in some form, and Hornsby said: “Bob [Weir] and Phil [Lesh] don’t get along very well. But it might happen some day.”

I think this ride took place in 2000 if memory serves, because Hornsby had a “Bill Bradley for President” pin on his shirt. So we talked about that, too. Bradley is a liberal, but at least he isn’t Al Gore. Good of Hornsby to see that much.

What Real Feminism Looks Like

In these days of such confusion over everything having to do with gender and sex, it is a relief to be able to bring you this public service announcement. From RightWingNews, it’s The 20 Hottest Conservative Women in the New Media for 2015. There are a couple of friends of Power Line on the list, and if you haven’t kept up with this non-Trumped up pageant, there are helpful links at the bottom for the list from the last three years.

Meanwhile, if you want to know what real feminism looks like in action, check out this story that crossed the wire yesterday:

Mom gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire 

Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A California woman and the newborn she gave birth to alone in a Northern California forest are recovering after a harrowing weekend.

Amber Pangborn, 35, went into labor last Thursday. While driving to her parents’ house, she tried a shortcut, but took a wrong turn and ran out of gas in the Plumas National Forest.

“I thought we were going to die,” she told local television news station KCRA-TV. “And there was no cell service, there was no … there was nothing.”

Forced to give birth in the forest, Pangborn had to shield her premature newborn from mosquitoes as well as swarming bees she said appeared attracted to the placenta.

By Saturday, a desperate Pangborn started a fire to try and signal for help, but quickly lost control of the flames.

“Like, the whole side of the mountain caught on fire. I was looking at Marisa and was like, ‘I think Mommy just started a forest fire,’” she said.

The fire, however, succeeded in attracting the attention of the Forest Service, which dispatched a helicopter to the area after receiving word of low-lying smoke.

After finding mother and baby in their vehicle, crews transported both to a nearby hospital. Pangborn, who has three other daughters, has recovered. The baby is receiving additional care, but is “doing great,” according to Pangborn’s mother

Does Global Warming Cause Transgenderism?

Over the years it has been a familiar trope to point to examples of homosexuality in certain non-human species as a way of reinforcing the normality of it in homo sapiens, but why isn’t our Latin species name sufficient poof proof? And is “transgenderism” really an ism? Whatever.

Anyway, what to make, then, of this story from the current issue of Nature magazine:

Sex reversal triggers the rapid transition from genetic to temperature-dependent sex.

It seems certain reptiles in Australia have figured out how to change their sex when the weather gets hot. Turns out scientists discovered most of these self-mutants in . . . Queensland. C’mon people! This has to be a troll job!

From the abstract:

Sex determination in animals is amazingly plastic. . .

Seems to be increasingly so in humans these days, too. But anyway. . .

Sex reversal has not yet been demonstrated in nature for any amniote, although it occurs in fish and rarely in amphibians. Here we make the first report of reptile sex reversal in the wild, in the Australian bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), and use sex-reversed animals to experimentally induce a rapid transition from genotypic to temperature-dependent sex determination. Controlled mating of normal males to sex-reversed females produces viable and fertile offspring whose phenotypic sex is determined solely by temperature (temperature-dependent sex determination).

There’s a predictable punch line coming, naturally:

The instantaneous creation of a lineage of ZZ temperature-sensitive animals reveals a novel, climate-induced pathway for the rapid transition between genetic and temperature-dependent sex determination, and adds to concern about adaptation to rapid global climate change. (Emphasis added.)

So you can add Caitlyn Jenner to the list of things caused by global warming, although I’m sure further research is needed. Is there anything global warming can’t do?

Why the Trump Bump?

So Donald Trump is surging in the polls, despite the near-universal scorn of the party establishment, the media, and most conservative leaders. Everyone hates The Donald, it seems, except, you know, actual voters. More than a few of our loyal commenters here have pushed back against our criticisms of Trump.

The real surprise would be if Trump hadn’t surged in the polls. Americans of all parties, but especially conservatives and populists of what is sometimes called the “angry middle,” almost invariably take for the outspoken outsider—not just a governor or some non-Washington person running as an “outsider,” which almost all successful presidential candidates have done now for nearly 50 years. (Which is another reason why Hillary can’t win—she’s too much of a Washington/Establishment insider.)  We like their candor, flamboyance, and the novelty of a non-politician running for office. It’s one of the time-honored tropes of modern American politics.

In 1992, it was Ross Perot, who briefly led in the polls until he unleashed his crazy. (And he still got almost 20 percent of the vote.) John Anderson played this role a bit in 1980 from the center-left.  There were boomlets back in the 1980s for Lee Iacocca, then coming off the Chrysler turnaround that conveniently featured lots of TV ads featuring . . . Lee Iacocca! He flirted with the idea and I think commissioned some polls. Michael Bloomberg has thought about it, and might yet run as an independent or even a Democrat if Hillary implodes sooner rather than later. Last time in the Republican contest it was Herman Cain who dazzled for a while before fading. It looked like Ben Carson’s turn this time, except he’s got very credible competition for that slot from Carly Fiorina (who continues to impress, let me hasten to add), and now Trump.

But notice something: a genuine, non-politician outsider has never won the presidency. Never happens. The closest you can come is Herbert Hoover, but he’d been secretary of commerce for eight years. It’s not going to happen this time either, though I think Fiorina as a running mate is a real possibility. We like these flamboyant, novelty candidates for the respite they provide from the dreary regularity of the known field, but they never stick.

There are reasons for this. At the end of the day most voters actually prefer blandness to candor, or at the very least candor and outspokenness eventually costs you more votes than it gains, as the accumulation of mistakes and controversies take their toll.  This is not to say that a person of strong views can’t get elected; they merely need to have considerable political skill to be successful at it. See: Ronald Reagan. Does anyone discern Trump’s latent Reaganesque political skill? Me neither.

Maybe Trump serves a useful purpose in creating some more space for the other candidates to take some chances. A Trump card indeed. But don’t bet the house on him.

What Obama Could Learn from the EU

What do the Greek crisis and the arms negotiations in Iran have in common? We keep extending the deadline and talking further in deference to the crazy people causing the problem. Only in the case of Greece, the EU has finally reached a point of “No” and meaning it, stopping the socialist centrifuge reducing the Greek economy to its constitutent parts.

But the Obama foreign policy titans continue to extend the deadline for a deal with Iran, while its nuclear centrifuges keep spinning furiously. Obama needs to learn to say “No” to the Iranians and walk away. The Iranians correctly sense that Obama can’t or won’t do this, and as such enjoy maximum negotiating leverage. I’m sure by now they’re offering to throw in a nice rug for John Kerry’s yacht.

It’s an amazing day when the European Union shows more resolve and spine than the U.S. government, but by now we should expect it from Obama.  Of course, the EU is dealing with someone who appears to be certifiably crazy (or angling for a cabinet appointment in a Bernie Sanders Administration), as this Reuters report makes clear:

A defiant Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks on Wednesday to reject an international bailout deal, wrecking any prospect of repairing broken relations with EU partners before a referendum on Sunday that may decide Greece’s future in Europe.

Less than 24 hours after he wrote a conciliatory letter to creditors asking for a new bailout that would accept many of their terms, Tsipras abruptly switched back into combative mode in a television address.

Greece was being “blackmailed”, he said, quashing talk that he might delay the vote, call it off or urge Greeks to vote yes.

The remarks added to the frantic and at times surreal atmosphere of recent days in which acrimonious messages from the leftist government have alternated with late-night offers of concessions to restart negotiations.

“Surreal atmosphere”? That would go double for the U.S.—Iran talks, too.

Men not at work

The new unemployment rate announced this morning was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent last month. The AP story is here; the Bloomberg story is here. The economy is said to have added 223,000 jobs last month, but the decline in the unemployment rate is, as usual deceiving. The decline in the unemployment rate reflects the continuing decline in the labor participation rate: “The participation rate, which indicates the share of the working-age people in the labor force, [fell] to 62.6 percent, the lowest since October 1977, from 62.9 percent” (Bloomberg). “The result is that the proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to a 38-year low” (AP). Thirty-eight years takes us back to 1977, the unhappy dawn of the Age of Carter.

Via Geoffrey Norman/Weekly Standard.

The Sharpton angle

Suppose they put together an MSNBC panel to comment on the political scene and Al Sharpton didn’t come? I’m guessing that the panel’s average IQ wouldn’t be affected, but the entertainment value would decline precipitously. On the Morning Joe panel featuring Sharpton this morning (video below), Bernie Sanders was the topic of discussion. Sharpton noted Sanders’s “popularism.” And he wasn’t even trying to read off a Teleprompter!

I can mock him all I want — the mockery would never be enough; he is an utterly contemptible figure — but after a brief audio interruption, Sharpton likens Sanders to Gene McCarthy, precisely as I did this morning. I’m filing this under “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” and trying to shake it off.

Via David Rutz/Washington Free Beacon.