Friday, February 08, 2008


Let the record show that CNN is not above the demagoguery and audience-baiting that Fox News perfected. I'm not talking about Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, that's been going on for a while. I'm talking about their regular news people. Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton shot six people yesterday, killing four of them, before Kirkwood police shot and killed him. He has a history of clashes with the Kirkwood City Council. He received a number of parking violations stemming from his business concern - an asphalt business, I think. A friend was quoted by the Post-Dispatch as saying Thornton didn't want to be treated like "a slave." He was known as a gadfly. His family, in interviews with the Post-Dispatch, has suggested that he was goaded into the rampage by his treatment at the hands of the city council. Of course that's ridiculous. It's also bizarre - the family seems largely unrepentant for his actions. I'm not going to pass judgment - there seemed to be plenty of misplaced anger going on in that circle for quite a while. I am going to pass judgment on CNN anchor Tony Harris - and frankly, CNN in general, for having their field correspondent interview Thornton's brother. It doesn't matter that Thornton's brother said some particularly clueless and heinous things, statements that put the onus for the killings on the Kirkwood City Council - his brother murdered four people yesterday before he was killed. Why put any relative of his on the news not even twenty-four hours later? Harris incompetently cut off the interview as Thornton went on, and remarked in evident disgust that Thornton smirked as the camera pulled away from him. It was a petty moment of self-righteousness on Harris' part
, and made the entire Thornton family look culpable for Charles Thorntons' rampage. I fully expect to see one of the Thornton clan lined up like a fish in a barrel for Bill O'Reilly in the coming days, and surely his producers will be aware of this CNN interview.

I'm curious, too, that these murders haven't been as widely - or perhaps, compulsively - covered as others. The mall rampage in Nebraska this past December, for instance, preempted programming on all the major news networks. Was it just the case that since none of the news-commentary programs were showing at the time, this wouldn't become a major story? Does a station's schedule play into what is deemed major news? I don't care one way or another that there wasn't a breaking news tag for what happened last night, I just rather expected to see a news alert from Kirkwood on CNN - the mayor and some council members were shot (some of them killed), after all. Maybe it was just the wrong demographic.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Obama Rally

I'm too tired to think of anything funny. I went to an Obama rally at the Edward Jones Dome Saturday, and it was anti-climactic. It was poorly planned, to begin with. We stood around, painfully, for two hours. It was very uncomfortable to be crowded by people like that - I developed a bit of claustrophobia in that crowd. Barack was tired, and I've heard everything he's said before. That's not a knock - they're called stump speeches for a reason. But I went with great enthusiasm and left with a sense of malaise, though a lingering feeling that maybe I'd just done something worth doing. And that's pretty much it - I went there to go there. I'm familiar with his policy positions, I'm voting for him tomorrow. I was too far away to feel much connection, and was too tired by the time he finally took the stage to emotionally invest myself in the moment. Political boosters are strange types. I've shied away from boosterism ever since I was six and my mom taped cardboard placards for Dukakis in the windows of our Mazda. That car, in the summer - it was like a Dukakis emblazoned tomb back there (which is probably how they would have defined his campaign, too).

Sure, I've been an enthusiastic liberal all along, getting into stupid and pointless arguments with the many conservatives at my high school and college. But I've always shied away from any actual involvement with the Democratic Party. It came to a head when I walked out of a college Democrats meeting at Marquette - they were so polite, and unexcitable. Too buttoned down. It looked and felt like a meeting for the College Republicans, but with a few more minorities. Maybe it's just a distrust of establishment figures (the people who micromanaged Al Gore's campaign, who foisted John Kerry on us, who told us Obama was too inexperienced to handle the Republicans).

Don't get me wrong, I'm very enthusiastic for Barack Obama and his potential presidency. I've sat transfixed in front of the television, deeply moved by his speeches after his historic wins in Iowa and South Carolina. But I wasn't feeling it Saturday. Maybe it goes beyond that - I was rather out of sorts with my friends, too. But should you be moved, anyway, by an event that, by design, discourages spontaneity? I went, I'm glad I went. I saw Barack Obama. The hope of a generation. Likely, I would have been greatly moved if he'd just won the Missouri or Illinois primary. But there I was, surly, asking why I couldn't be as I felt I should be.