Amid all the uproar over the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to drop charges against Jacob Zuma, it’s worth noting that state prosecutorial cronyism is not the unique domain of South Africa. The U.S. recently exhibited similar tendencies, and ended up with a similar result. Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was convicted of corruption shortly before last November’s election. Recently, though, the charges were dropped due to claims that the federal prosecutor’s office mishandled the case. Stevens lost his re-election bid, though he very well may have lost had he not been convicted at the time. Like Zuma, the facts still seemed quite damning whether or not he was convicted in a court or not. Perhaps the main difference is that in the Stevens case, the U.S. government appears to have suppressed evidence, whereas the Zuma case was more a matter of interference in the general protocol and procedure of the prosecution. You can listen to my interview with political analyst Adam Habib about the NPA decision here.

Anyway, to those who think this is an example of South Africa “going to the dogs” or, as the more timely lament goes, “the way of Mugabe,” it’s helpful to remember that long-established democracies still encounter similar situations to that currently facing the South African legal structure. Then again, who am I to say the U.S. isn’t also going to the dogs.

Don’t tell that to my man Bob Dylan. He is characteristically — and wonderfully — out of his gourd in this new interview. He seems positively smitten with Barack Obama.

He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage – cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse.

Way to just come up with words that refer to almost every different region of Africa, Bob. Later he muses on Obama’s literary abilities in Dreams From My Father:

His writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things. He’s looking at a shrunken head inside of a glass case in some museum with a bunch of other people and he’s wondering if any of these people realize that they could be looking at one of their ancestors.

Then Dylan puts on his Jewish mother hat and second-guesses Obama’s latest career choice:

In some sense you would think being in the business of politics would be the last thing that this man would want to do. I think he had a job as an investment banker on Wall Street for a second – selling German bonds. But he probably could’ve done anything. If you read his book, you’ll know that the political world came to him. It was there to be had.

You can also hear the Obama-ified “I Feel A Change Coming On” at the same link as the interview.

Will.I.Am may be the new Bob Dylan, but is Dylan now positioning himself to be the new Barack Obama? According to a Norwegian online record store, the title of the singer’s much-anticipated (at least in my mind) new album will be called “I Feel A Change Coming On,” which is slated as the title to one of the songs on the album. Dylan was rather eloquent in his praise of Obama’s victory on election night last November during a concert in Minnesota (though it sounds a little more insane aka Dylanesque if you can track down the audio):

I was born in 1941 — that’s the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well I been livin’ in a world of darkness ever since. But it looks like things are gonna change now.

The album, according to the site, will be released on April 27 in Europe. Given that in the U.S., albums are released on Tuesdays, that would have the album scheduled to be released on the 28th. In which case, those crafty enough to find the music by more unscrupulous methods can probably do so no later than the 21st. According to a Rolling Stone report, the album features some members of Dylan’s touring band, as well as Los Lobos’ freakishly good multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo playing accordion on every track.

Another interpretation of this album title might be that the whole thing is just a continuation of that abomination of a Pepsi ad that aired during the Super Bowl.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the subtitle of the album is something closer to Pepsi’s new “Refresh Yourself” slogan, rather than the Obama-ified, “Yes We Can.”