Plain As The Nose On Their Faces

Not many people know it, but I have a super power. I can see through words to see the intent behind them, in political speeches, campaign advertisements, OP/EDs.

Well, to be honest, it isn’t all that super. It comes from about 25 years of writing speeches and coaching people. But still, it’s pretty cool.

Today, The New York Times published an “obtained” copy of a storyboard for an anti-Obama TV ad produced by Strategic Perception, a political public relations firm founded by Republican ad man Fred Davis, and funded by Chicago Cubs owner and long-time conservative cause bankroller Joe Ricketts. The link to it is here.

Looking it over gave me a clear “ah-ha” moment. I know how the Romney campaign is going to work, what buttons they’ll try to push and to whom.

You can flip through all the pages of the storyboard, but I’d like you to pay special attention to the photographs of the actors/models who stand in for “real” Americans. See the character types they represent. Notice their ages, ethnicities, apparent walks of life. Notice, too, who’s missing.

Get it? Isn’t it perfectly obvious? Do you see now how these political consultants conceive their candidate’s path to victory in the election?

I see you there, Fred, hanging out with your dark-suited, white-shirted pals. You’re not so clever. I know just what you’re thinking.

An Incomplete Satisfaction

As I’d thought, the settlement between BP, and Gulf residents and businesses will not, it seems, ever come to public trial. The New York Times reports that lawyers for the parties are close to a final agreement and the trial, scheduled to begin on Monday, will be “adjourned indefinitely.” 

The Times article states:

The two lawyers who led the plaintiffs’ steering committee, Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, said, “This settlement will provide a full measure of compensation to hundreds of thousands — in a transparent and expeditious manner under rigorous judicial oversight.”

“Full measure of compensation,” perhaps, but this settlement will deny to people whose way of life has been significantly threatened, if not for all intents and purposes destroyed, the opportunity to face BP executives in open court, watch them testify and respond to questioning.

The expedited financial settlement was important for these people, and must have been quite literally irresistible, but it doesn’t come free. As is typically the case, it’s America’s working people who will assume the risks, cry the tears and bear the burden of crises created by the self-serving decisions of others.

A Don With Style and Class

Sadly, I have to note the passing of Don Cornelius, father of TV’s Soul Train, the show that introduced many a young person of my generation to some of the greatest music being made that wasn’t always available on the crappy AM radio of the type I regularly listened to.

‘ “Soul Train” was one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history and played a critical role in spreading the music of black America to the world, offering wide exposure to musicians like James BrownAretha Franklin and Michael Jackson in the 1970s and 1980s. ‘

– from the New York Times obituary, 2/1/12

Watching Cornelius’ program formed in many, myself certainly, a deep and lifelong appreciation for new and alternative musical forms, including: soul, funk, jazz and the blues. (In my particular case, credit also goes out to my old friend Melecio Magadluyo.) Soul Train also showed me how to dance, something I’ve still not really mastered.

Cornelius and his show were both international style icons. His voice (Here, in a clip from Soul Train, interviewing James Brown and a very young Al Sharpton.) was often heard being imitated to hilarious effect by cracking-voiced junior high school boys but his connection to his community, his business acumen and his appreciation of the era’s uncertain economic and political conditions were taken very seriously.

Rest in peace, Don Cornelius; I’ll listen to some very hot music today in your honor.