Mark Finkelstein has a B.S. from Cornell University, an Ed.M. and a J.D., magna cum laude, from SUNY Buffalo, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law. In 2011, Mark moved to Pecan Plantation, Texas from his long-time home in Ithaca, NY where he hosted "Right Angle," an award-winning local political talk show. Mark is an aviation buff and holds an instrument rating.  Mark spent ten days in Iraq in November, 2006, mainly in Anbar Province. Email: mark.finkelstein@gmail.com
 

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
October 19, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

Non-political junkies might not have noticed, but Reince Priebus got in a real zinger against Debbie Wasserman Schultz today. In a joint appearance on Fox News Sunday, DNC Chair DWS claimed that the key question for voters will be "who has my back?"

Shot back RNC Chairman Priebus: "the President hasn't had anybody's back: not even your back."  That was a reference to the Politico story, "Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz," reporting on President Obama's disdain for Debbie. Since 2012, the White House has wanted to dump DWS as DNC Chair. She is so shut out of meetings with the president that, according to Politico [emphasis added] "the DNC chairwoman stakes out the President of the United States at the end of photo lines at events and fundraisers." DNC chair as virtual stalker?  Not a pretty picture.  And there was Reince to remind her about it.

October 18, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT

It's clear that the liberal media will latch on to any argument, even the most patently nonsensical, to oppose a travel ban on people from Ebola-affected countries. Take today's Good Morning America where co-anchors Paula Faris and Dan Harris accused Americans of "hysteria" over Ebola and concoted an anti-travel ban argument flying right into the face of the facts.  

Speaking of flying, the oblivious duo asserted that a flight ban makes no sense since Ebola can only be passed via contact with bodily fluids. But surely Faris and Harris know that Thomas Eric Duncan had no such symptoms when he boarded a plane to the US, where he proceeded to infect at least two people before dying.  Thus the only way to ensure that infected people don't get into the US is to impose a general travel ban: hello?

October 17, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT

The web page for MSNBC's The Cycle has the chutzpah to describe co-host Abby Huntsman as a "conservative."  Whatever happened to truth in advertising?

On today's episode, Huntsman again demonstrated why the conservative tag doesn't fit.  As a guest offered up a laughably lame analogy in arguing against a travel ban on people from Ebola-affected countries, Huntsman was quick to weigh in with an approving comment.

October 17, 2014, 8:18 AM EDT

The last time we looked, Barack Obama was President of the United States, not of some other country.  So if a ban on travel into the United States by people from Ebola-ravaged countries in West Africa would help America, isn't it President Obama's obligation to impose it, even if it might hurt those African countries?

On today's Morning Joe, HuffPo's Sam Stein twice acknowledged that the ban might "help America." Yet he argued against the ban on the grounds that it would hurt West Africa and make it harder to track people fleeing those countries. You sensed Sam's heart wasn't entirely in it, and when he finished Joe Scarborough thanked him, saying he was going to hit Stein's weak offering out of the park, as that SF Giants batter did last night in the ninth.

October 16, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I live, the Ebola outbreak is very much a local issue. Playing tennis with some buddies this morning, I remarked during a break: "can you imagine what a disaster this Ebola thing must be for Texas Presbyterian?  Who's going to want to go there?  The whole hospital could go out of business!"

Pretty obvious, no?  It would be akin to the financial disaster that would befall a restaurant if someone who dined there died of food poisoning. Well, obvious to you and me, perhaps.  But not to Ed Schultz.  On his MSNBC show this afternoon, Schultz repeatedly blamed the profit motive for the hospital's shortcomings.

October 16, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

At the top of today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski mentioned that no one from any of the several Obama-administration agencies dealing with Ebola was willing to come on to defend the government's bungled handling of the crisis.

Not to worry: the show two found super-staunch Obama admin defenders in Dr. Emily Senay, consulting doc for PBS and CBS, and Todd Frankel of the Washington Post.  When Nicolle Wallace pointed out that the Obama admin had no excuse for not foreseeing the scenario that has played out given that it was the precise plot of "Outbreak" 20 years ago, Senay snapped at Wallace that if she was interested in Hollywood "hysteria," she should "stick with Netflix."  Later, the feckless Frankel's Pollyanish argument against closing the borders was so absurd that it prompted Mika to wryly observe "that sounds like luck to me."

October 15, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

It was one thing for Joe Scarborough to make the case for Mitt Romney, arguing that these frightening times demand the kind of competence Romney offers.  

But on today's Morning Joe, it was stunning to hear a New York Dem like Donny Deutsch say something very similar. According to the ad man: "There is a psychological reason to go to Mitt Romney, and that is: wow!  We kind of made a mistake four years ago. We get to do a do-over. He was right about Syria, he was right about a lot of things."

October 14, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT

As we reported here on NewsBusters, during a recent Morning Joe appearance Chuck Todd twice said that Dem candidate for senator from Kentucky Alison Lundergan Grimes "disqualified herself" for refusing to say whether she voted for Barack Obama for president.

On  Chris Hayes' MSNBC show tonight, Todd said he was "sick to his stomach" when he saw that his comment had been used in an ad for Mitch McConnell.  But interestingly, instead of blaming the McConnell campaign, Todd tagged Grimes, saying she had "invited this on herself" by her refusal to answer the simple question.

October 14, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

Those who see Leon Panetta as a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton just got some more ammunition for their argument.  Last week, Panetta helped distance Hillary from President Obama's foreign policy failures by blasting Obama for mistakes in Syria and Iraq.

But today, discussing the foreign policy issue on which Hillary is most vulnerable--Benghazi--Panetta suddenly became very forgiving.  Appearing on the Diane Rehm show, Panetta declared "nobody is to blame for Benghazi." The relevant part of the interview begins at 33:30.

October 14, 2014, 7:39 AM EDT

Chris Christie might have millions of admirers across the country, people who love the Jersey governor's blunt style. But among the Republican media and political elites who populate Morning Joe, Christie's a no-hoper.

That's what Joe Scarborough divulged on today's Morning Joe.  Said Scarborough: "off the air in Republican circles . . . nobody thinks Christie can win."[

October 13, 2014, 11:21 AM EDT

"All our kids"—well, except for the ones who won't have a chance to build a life at all, thanks to Wendy Davis' ardent support of abortion . . .

As a loyal member of the Wendy Davis email list, I just received today's fundraising message from the campaign, touting the fact that First Lady Michelle Obama has cut a radio ad for Davis. The email highlights the portion of the ad in which Mrs. Obama says Davis supports education "because she wants to give all our kids a chance to build a better life for themselves and for their families."

October 11, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT

Melissa Harris-Perry proudly portrays her MSNBC show as "Nerdland."  But has it devolved from a cozy academic coffee klatsch for lefties into something else?

To discuss the issue of relations between police and black Americans, with the backdrop of Ferguson and a shooting this week in St. Louis, Harris-Perry had as a member of her panel Mychal Denzel Smith. On the one hand, Denzel Smith would appear, as a writer for The Nation, to fit the Nerdland bill.  But a review of his Twitter feed reveals that two days ago Denzel Smith tweeted: 'F---.The.Police." And late last month he tweeted "I'm for prison abolition."

October 10, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Whatever liberal leanings he might have, sometimes the political animal in Chuck Todd just can't contain itself.  Take today's Morning Joe, where Todd absolutely annihilated Alison Lundergan Grimes, Dem candidate for senator from Kentucky, for her refusal to say whether she voted for Barack Obama for president.  

Todd ripped Grimes as "ridiculous," then twice declared that she had "disqualified herself."  Ouch!  Even Mika Brzezinski was embarrassed by Grimes' cringe-worthy performance, as you'll see in the screengrab.

October 10, 2014, 7:32 AM EDT

Remember when dissent was patriotic?  When people like Hillary Clinton screeched that "we have a right to disagree with any administration?" Forget about it.  That's so, like, 2003. You know, when George W. Bush was President.  

Things are different today.  Now, criticizing a sitting president is wrong. Very wrong.  Just ask Joe Scarborough, who on today's Morning Joe accused Leon Panetta of a "lack of character" for criticizing President Obama in his book and public appearances.

October 9, 2014, 8:08 AM EDT

Elite Dems across America might be scuttling away from Barack Obama.  But the president can count on at least one man to stand by him: MSNBC's Thomas Roberts.  On today's Morning Joe, Roberts accused Leon Panetta of criticizing President Obama for base motives: "getting paid" off his book, and currying close ties with Hillary Clinton.

Roberts' lame attempt to undermine Panetta came after Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin [citing Ron Fournier] said Panetta's criticism of Obama echoes what elite Dems from Washington to Hollywood are saying in private—but are afraid to express in public.

October 7, 2014, 8:28 AM EDT

Early in today's Morning Joe, teasing Chris Matthews' upcoming appearance, Mika Brzezinski admonished "you two be nice now." They weren't.  Yet again, the two MSNBC hosts came to verbal blows.  The detonator wasn't political differences.  Instead, the two MSNBC hosts squabbled over personal supremacy like a pair of eighth-grade boys in the schoolyard.  Matthews was on a riff, offering a extended rundown of his predictions on the various Senate races. 

After going down the entire list of contested races once, giving his predictions, Matthews circled back to go over them yet again.  Scarborough had enough, but Chris didn't want to let Joe stop him, and the squabble was on.

October 6, 2014, 7:48 AM EDT

Remember this the next time you see a report by Ayman Mohyeldin.  The man NBC sends to report on doings in Muslim countries around the world can't say which extremism—Christian, Jewish or Muslim—poses the greatest current threat to civilization.

When Joe Scarborough posed that very question to the NBC reporter on today's Morning Joe, Mohyeldin punted. Instead of talking about current threats,  Mohyeldin reached back almost 1,000 years, countering with talk of the Crusades.

October 2, 2014, 9:07 AM EDT

Not saying President Obama should be jittery about Andrea Mitchell jumping the White House fence anytime soon.  Even so, the prez would have reason to be concerned if such a generally staunch ally as Andrea openly laughed at his lack of credibility.

View the video and judge for yourself.  On today's Morning Joe, Republican Rep. Matt Salmon predicted that President Obama would send ground troops into Syria sometime after the November elections. Andrea asked "despite the president's promises?"  To which Salmon replied "he also promised if you like your insurance you can keep it.  Come on."  Much mirth and hilarity on the set ensued. Andrea can be seen laughing heartily.  Was she doing so at Salmon for spouting GOP talking points, or was she laughing at President Obama's lack of credibility?

October 1, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT

On his MSNBC show today, Schultz gave an emphatic "yes" in answer to this question from a viewer: "do you think the hateful rhetoric from Republicans puts President Obama and his family in danger?"

Really? Are there any Republicans in particular that Schultz wants to see charged as co-conspirators with White House fence scaler Omar Gonzalez?  Does Ed favor restrictions on Republicans' free speech rights?  Can Schultz cite examples of the sort of "hateful rhetoric" he has in mind?  We don't have the answers to any of those questions.  Ed contented himself with blithely answering yes to the viewer's question, thereby making an ugly and unsubstantiated accusation.

October 1, 2014, 8:27 AM EDT

Imus would call it a "tension convention." There was palpable friction among members of the Morning Joe team today on the question of whether Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was an affirmative action hire. By the end, the almost unfailingly affable Willie Geist was smirking in frustration at Mika Brzezinski.

When Brzezinski first broached the sensitive-for-liberals subject, she suggested that she was going to go further than her male colleagues dared. But by the time she circled back to the topic, Mika had for some reason lost her nerve. She was suddenly so cautious that Donny Deutsch chided her for raising the issue "softly." Things came to a head when Mika, suddenly trying to sound tough, asked Willie whether it was "illegal" for her to ask why Pierson got her job. Willie, having suggested no such thing, could only smirk and look off camera for support in response to Mika's non sequitur of a question.