Monthly Archives: July 2008

Dog owners like McCain better?

According to an AP-Yahoo! News poll:

An AP-Yahoo! News poll found that pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain’s corner.

“I think a person who owns a pet is a more compassionate person — caring, giving, trustworthy. I like pet owners,” said Janet Taylor of Plymouth, Mass.


[John McCain] has a veritable menagerie, including Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and a bunch of saltwater fish.

On the other hand, the poll found that among people who don’t have pets, Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 34 percent.

But that still leaves McCain looking strong, since the majority of homes have a pet.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that 63 percent of American homes include a pet, including 88 million cats and 75 million dogs.

Both of those groups lean toward McCain: 43 percent to 34 percent for dog owners and 41 percent to 38 percent for cat owners.

While he doesn’t currently have a pet, Obama has reportedly promised his daughters a dog once the campaign is over.

Even in this, it seems, Obama is all about hope and promises!

I’m not sure what to make of this poll, especially since where I live dog owners are almost guaranteed to be liberal (but maybe that’s because where I live almost everyone is guaranteed to be liberal). I can say that New York City has at least one good conservative mutt, pictured above, naturally.

Money blues

So, as previously mentioned, Bob Dylan’s next release will be Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Volume 8.

It’s being released as a 2-CD set, currently priced for pre-order at $18.99, and then also as a 3-CD set, currently priced for pre-order at $129.99.

That’s right: the third CD, with 12 additional tracks, costs a cool $111.00. And we’re supposed to weep for the music industry.

OK, in addition to the third CD, you get:

  • “150 page deluxe hardcover photo book of Bob Dylan ‘singles’ from around the world”
  • “60 page booklet with stunning rare photos and in-depth notes”
  • “7” vinyl single of ‘Dreaming of You’ and ‘Ring Them Bells'”

Still, the folks who dreamed up this sales and marketing strategy are well aware that there are a class of people out there called completists who will feel obliged to purchase the deluxe 3-CD set largely for the purpose of owning that third CD. It’s a crime. I mean, c’mon, photo books and commentary on Dylan: you can walk into any bookstore and find shelves full of that stuff. You shouldn’t have to buy a big expensive load of it in order to also purchase his music.

The world being what it is today, lots of people will just choose to buy the 2-CD set and download the third CD somewhere. And no doubt some will decide to just download all three while they’re at it. I don’t know what the answer is for the music industry, if there is any one answer, but it certainly can’t be this.

More endorsements for Barack Obama

Barack Obama has a page on the photo sharing site called Flickr. On his profile, there are words of praise for him from fans far and wide. Here’s a few (these are comments that have to be approved by the user, i.e. Obama’s campaign, by the way):

zanalee says:
“Everywhere I go in NYC where I live, I feel this amazing spirit of support for you. I have never been so excited about a presidential candidate in my life! I wear my Obama button proudly. A woman on the train today told me I reminded her she should be wearing hers and she pulled it out of her bag and put it on right there! How amazing! What a wonderful feeling!

Mark Klotz says:
“My self and many other Canadians would like to see Barack Obama become the next president of the United States. What great change this would bring throughout the world! I wish Barack Obama all the best!”

single0tom says:
“i am a village guy from india .. i have been using internet for 8 yrs and finally i met a super power here. that is BARACK OBAMA.. he is beynd my all words..we can see the pic of his great support from inside and outside usa .. we all knew he is the right person for USA president”

sarahfru says:
“Barack is the only person on my contact list that is going to save the world. Thankyou, Barack, now maybe I won’t have to move to France.”

.Rabea. says:
“I am an Egyptian guy..
currently Usa is not my favorite country..
Yet, I really see the change glowing out from your eyes and you seem like a balanced, responsible, and strong person and leader..
I wish from all my heart that you win the elections and be a president,,
If you win, I hope you change the bad image of Usa in billions of peoples’ eyes..
and if you didn’t win You’d still be a great person in my opinion and many many others like me who believe in hope and peace..”

Christian et Cie says:
“If I was American, I’d vote Obama!!”

jazzman24 says:
“I can hardly wait for January 20, 2009, that’s when our country will rise to GREATNESS that it has missed for over two centuries!
Barack Obama will spend the next eight years making these United States Of America a place where ALL are created EQUAL!!!!!!”

Some might say, “Well, what’s the point? What’s the point of quoting these hyperventilating fans of Barack Obama? Their nuttiness has got nothing to do with him.” Well, I think it has everything to do with him. This kind of bizarre and unrealistic adulation comes straight out of Obama’s own rhetoric. “This is the moment. We are what we’ve been waiting for.” Etc. etc. He’s been quoted today as saying: “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.”

The combination of his supporters’ inflated view of Obama with his own inflated view of himself is certainly funny, but perhaps it will become less and less funny as we near the real possibility of his being elected on this weird Salvation platform.

Be My Baby: Obama gets the definitive celebrity endorsement

Barack Obama has been endorsed by the creator of the famous “Wall of Sound” production method, i.e. the accused murderer Phil Spector. Spector wore a “Barack Obama Rocks” badge in an appearance at a hearing in preparation for his upcoming trial in the shooting death of an actress named Lana Clarkson. (This is the second attempt to try Spector in this case; the first ended in a mistrial.) The story is reported today in an LA Times blog.

I like Phil Spector. Neither this endorsement nor any possible future conviction for murder will make me throw away those recordings of the Ronettes and the Crystals and so on. Geniuses have their flaws. You’ve got to take the crunchy with the smooth. In Phil’s case, he’s never lacked for the crunchy elements.

And speaking of great men and their flaws, there was a story yesterday on Barack Obama’s address to UNITY ’08, a convention of four minority journalism associations. There are no doubt a number of things worthy of comment in terms of what Obama said, but look at this part of the report on his appearance:

Obama, who appeared tired in his first major appearance since returning Saturday from a 10-day trip abroad, met with a receptive audience at the Chicago convention. Some journalists had waited three hours for the 40-minute appearance.


Obama, who acknowledged that he needed a nap, stood up to say farewell to the audience of journalists, many of whom gave him another standing ovation.

Let’s get this straight. We’re told that Obama returned on Saturday from his overseas trip. The address was on Monday. He “appeared tired” and “acknowledged that he needed a nap.” Just imagine for a minute that this story had been written about John McCain. We would never hear the end of the jokes about how the 72 year-old senator needs his naps. Actually, they wouldn’t be jokes. I think there are those who would use such an occurrence to seriously question the Republican candidate’s vitality, health and strength. No doubt at some point during this campaign such an issue will be raised, perhaps prompted by some gaffe or incident of some kind. All I’m doing here is pointing out the double-standard in advance.

Tell Tale Signs

The news is out: Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series, Volume 8 will be released on October 7th. Edna Gunderson in USA Today has the full track listings, various details, and a video clip from a 1993 performance of Ring Them Bells: Bob Dylan reveals many facets on ‘Tell Tale Signs’.

The two-CD, 27-song set, out Oct. 7, contains previously unreleased studio recordings, demos, alternate takes, live tracks and rarities spanning 1989 to 2006, a rich period that generated the lauded Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Modern Times and Oh Mercy. A third 12-track disc is part of a limited-edition deluxe set in a hardcover slipcase with a book with photos of all of Dylan’s singles. The 27-song version also will be issued in a limited-edition four-LP set.

Listeners will discover a wealth of fresh material and multiple versions of songs with altered lyrics, moods and styles.

And the site has been revamped and relaunched once again. You can get an mp3 of the previously unreleased Dreamin’ Of You (a new single!) there after jumping through a few hoops. It includes many lines that were later used in Standin’ In The Doorway.

Addendum: And let’s include the track list here too. Continue reading “Tell Tale Signs” »

How’d they know?

When I went to YouTube a little while ago, there was a list of video clips headed “Recommended for You.” Top of the list was the clip below of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison performing This Train Is Bound For Glory. It’s apparently from a Christmas show in 1977, and they dedicate the song to Elvis, as he’d passed on that same year. Just goodhearted fun.

Bob Dylan likes his trains, and likes mentioning them in songs. Some phrases from this song ended up in his tune Tryin’ To Get To Heaven.

Some trains don’t pull no gamblers
No midnight ramblers, like they did before

Cuil is not cool

There’s a new search engine called “Cuil” which is debuting and attracting a lot of press, as a possible competitor with Google. From my admittedly selfish perspective, I’m not impressed. Aside from its terrible slowness (obviously the servers are overloaded today), I can’t say very much for its accuracy when a search for the simple and familiar term rightwingbob retrieves a page of results that does not even include this very website!

The very first result (which on Google would be this website) is a profile for someone on the Free Republic message-board who calls himself “rightwingbob”. Be assured that this person is not related to your friendly host here. And I don’t think that he’s, you know, that Bob either. There are other “right wing bobs” out there who also happen not to be me. Not being a litigious type, I take a live and let live approach to these other bobs, but, as the saying goes: accept no substitutes.

Anyhow, I’d say that the folks at have a lot more tinkering to do.

What good

On YouTube you can see and hear Bob Dylan and his band performing his 1989 song, What Good Am I?, from a concert in 1995.

It’s somewhat interesting to contemplate that the guy who wrote a verse of such unadorned simplicity as the following:

What good am I if I’m like all the rest,
If I just turned away, when I see how you’re dressed,
If I shut myself off so I can’t hear you cry,
What good am I?

… is the same guy who wrote:

The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep,
They wait for you.
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin’ from my broken cup
And ask me to
Open up the gate for you.

Hollywood conservatives meet secretly; plot non-America-hating ventures

With names like Gary Sinise, Pat Boone: this is clearly a wave that has only begun to crest. Full story by Amy Fagan in the Washington Times.

“It’s a growing movement, and word is getting out that there’s many of us in this business …,” said 1950s singer Pat Boone, one of the few conservatives to talk about the movement publicly. “If certain studio execs – hirers and firers – learn that this is a movement and growing, and that some of these people that they hire are of this inclination, these people could be unemployed.”


“A Friend of Abe is someone who has reverence for those who serve in our military and believes that American liberal democracy is a unique success, different from others, and it’s worthy of the respect of our popular culture … of Hollywood in particular,” said screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd, who helped organize Friends of Abe luncheons when they began four years ago.


Actor Kelsey Grammer, a Republican, is aware of the group but won’t comment further, his publicist said.

Talk about blacklists!

Obama fails to add one to the Victory Column in Berlin

It’s remarkable that he went there. I don’t mean that it’s remarkable that Barack Obama went to Berlin to make a speech (although it’s odd, which is something like remarkable); I mean that it’s remarkable that in that much-anticipated speech he chose to criticize the United States. There was no need. He could have given a nice speech and talked about so many things, without having to go there — that is, to criticize his own country in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens. Did he think he needed to earn their votes? I honestly thought he was more politically astute.

Sorry! It brought to my mind, for a moment, that website that was put up in the wake of the 2004 election, where Americans were invited to post photos of themselves apologizing to the world for the re-election of George W. Bush. Many gladly complied, like the urbane gentleman pictured to the right.

Now, I know that what Obama said today was considerably more nuanced. He said:

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

What’s to argue with? Am I saying that America has perfected itself? Of-course not. (Further to the point, I don’t believe America ever will perfect itself.) But the place to talk to crowds about what improvements arguably need to be made to the American experiment is in America. And that goes double — nay! quadruple — if you are a candidate running for the office of president of the United States. You can say to someone, “Well, of-course America’s not perfect, and the senator was merely trying to be frank and trying to be empathetic to his foreign audience, blah blah,” but people react to this kind of thing on a visceral level. Why, when engaged in a campaign to win the votes of American citizens in November, would Barack Obama go overseas and implicitly apologize for America’s imperfections to an enormous crowd of Germans?

It remains to be seen whether this will resonate or be remembered at all as the campaign progresses. But it didn’t help him one bit, and it was an entirely unforced error on Obama’s part.

On another note, I wonder if he’s succeeded in putting Massachusetts in play?

As we speak, cars in Boston […] are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Woah! Sounds like we need to put a checkpoint up at the Ted Williams Tunnel and start arresting people for genocide!

(OK: the redacted part is “and factories in Beijing”, but, again, Chinese citizens have no votes in November.)

Actually, in contrast to the statement about America’s imperfections, this one shows some political astuteness. There is nothing Barack Obama could say that would make him lose Massachusetts in November. He should probably utilize Bostonians as a euphemism for dumb Americans as a rule from now on.

(No offense intended to readers from that part of this fair land.)

Down in the flood

Thanks to Marek for the link to a piece by Brian Doyle in The American Scholar: Was that Bob Dylan my sister met on a weir above Woodstock? It’s too short to quote — best read it all.

It’s a little bit hard to know what to make of the story, but it sounds too strange not to have some kind of truth in it. Elvis

Speaking of strange but allegedly true, there is this story (via Expecting Rain): Elvis lives: in 2000-year-old-carving.


Well I never

Jim Geraghty catches something today and makes an accurate observation:

If the President Had Said This, It Would Have Been a Bushism

“You know, it’s always a bad practice to say ‘always’ or ‘never.'” — Obama, speaking in Amman today.

Full transcript of Obama’s remarks here.

The way Barack Obama is being treated by the media has gone well beyond parody. Nevertheless, I think that one can get too preoccupied with the triumphant pre-presidential world tour he is now on, and the way it is being covered. Photo-ops in July don’t win elections in November. Most of the people who matter in November’s election — the great unwashed swinging voters — are all but oblivious to political news at this stage. True, the images might be present in their peripheral vision and create this vague impression that Barack Obama is visiting trouble-spots and meeting with important people, which helps counteract or inoculate against the perception that he is inexperienced. However, there is way more than enough time between now and the election for alternative impressions to come to the fore.

John McCain, it is said, is close to naming his choice for VP (or else he is gaming the media). I continue to believe that he needs to use his VP selection to assuage conservatives, many of whom are feeling pretty disenfranchised these days. He needs to pick someone who could be a straight-down-the-line conservative successor, rather than a “maverick” or a “moderate,” in order to give conservatives a kick to mobilize for November. (Why shouldn’t conservatives be thinking of 2012? Hillary is.) Some persist in saying that Mitt Romney would be the bone that conservatives want thrown to them. This is the thinking of numbskulls. If Mitt Romney were a solid conservative choice, he would have won the nomination. It’s as simple as that. His various flaws don’t need renumerating here and now, but he still has them, and he will not galvanize conservatives. Who will? Well, McCain got the nomination: that makes it his job to come up with the VP, not mine. It is for me merely to judge how well he did.

A common theme of election commentary recently has been how close these two presidential candidates appear to be — relatively speaking — on the issues. This is due to McCain’s “moderation” to begin with, and then Obama’s recent attempts to tack to what people call the “center” on a variety of issues. To the extent that this is true, and to the extent that it becomes the perception of the electorate, it is bad news for John McCain. If people feel that both will do more or less the same thing on a variety of pressing issues, then the election becomes even more of a beauty contest than elections usually are. And Barack Obama will win a beauty contest.

Again: the election is neither being lost nor won in July. But the way that these perceptions eventually settle down will be crucial.

It reminds me of the fact that there are many who believe that John McCain — being a maverick moderate and all — is about the only Republican who could stand a chance of winning this November, given the unpopularity of President Bush and Republicans generally (put aside the fact that the Democratic-controlled congress is the most unpopular political entity of all). However, with the way that Obama is seeking to blur his positions just enough to seem pretty close to McCain’s, it suggests to me that the Republican party would ultimately have stood a better chance with a more straight-forward conservative, whose policy distinctions from Obama would have been much more crystal-clear. Think of energy, oil drilling, etc. But, it’s spilled milk. The Republican party just failed to generate the right conservative candidate, and McCain proved that tenacity can often be the most important factor of all. We’re going to see how that works out for him later this year.