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.  He spent ten days in Iraq in November, 2006, mainly in Anbar Province. Email: mark.finkelstein@gmail.com
 

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
April 29, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

Yesterday, we reported on how just after playing a clip of the pastor who delivered the eulogy at the Freddie Gray funeral leading the congregation in an impassioned chant of "no justice, no peace!"Joe Scarborough claimed that the riots that ensured were "something that no one inside that funeral could have ever have wanted." The chant wasn't the pastor's only incitement.  He also told the congregation that "somebody is going to have to pay" for Gray's death. 

So when that pastor, Jamal Bryant, appeared on today's Morning Joe, don't you think Scarborough would have challenged him over his incendiary remarks?  Think again. There was not a word of Bryant's incitement.  To the contrary, Scarborough gushed: "we were all moved by that extraordinary eulogy you gave a couple days ago," and a bit later former RNC Chairman Michael Steele thanked him for "your voice in this time in the city." 

April 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

Let's begin by answering Andrea Mitchell's question. "How would it have appeared" if Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had called the Maryland governor to request National Guard troops just afer Freddie Gray's funeral? It would have appeared that she was doing her job, protecting people and property, rather than being overly concerned with photo-op politics.

On her MSNBC show today, Mitchell asked Rep. Elijah Cummings to explain why the mayor waited three hours after the rioting started to call the Governor for help.  Good question.  But when Cummings criticized "Tuesday morning quarterbacking" and mentioned that the Gray funeral had just ended, Mitchell backed off.  She thanked Cummings for his "context." Andrea then apologetically added "you're right: how would it have appeared if she called up the National Guard as the funeral was taking place?"

April 28, 2015, 8:54 AM EDT

At yesterday's funeral service for Freddie Gray, Pastor Jamal Bryant ended his eulogy by leading the congregation in a highly-charged chant of "No justice! No peace!"  Yet immediately after playing the clip of that moment, Joe Scarborough claimed that the riots that ensued were "something that no one inside that funeral could have ever have wanted."

Had Scarborough listened to his own clip? If not, why not? If so, what does he think "no justice, no peace" means?

April 27, 2015, 8:39 AM EDT

How bad are things getting for Hillary when the best defense some supporters can muster is that there was no corruption because Bill bilked the people who thought they were bribing her?

Last week, we reported on Hillary fan Dorian Warren suggesting that Bill was "running serious game on many of these countries saying oh, I'll talk to my wife, give me the check, and then never mentioning [it.]" On today's Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle made that same argument, claiming there was no quid pro quo because knowing Bill, he took the money saying "yeah, sure, I'll call him for you, and he'll never call."  Interestingly, Mika Brzezinski wasn't buying, saying that Newt's allegations of bribery "made sense."

April 25, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

Of all the rotten reasons not to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, we'll give the booby prize to the one offered by Paul Raushenbush, a HuffPo religion editor and ordained American Baptist minister. On today's Melissa Harris-Perry show, Raushenbush imagined that in twenty years, Tsarnaev might become "a spokesperson for reconciling Islam with America. We don't know what this life is going to lead to." Anything's possible, but surely Tsarnaev's sentence should not be based on this sort of idle speculation.  

What made Raushenbush's argument particularly galling was his statement that "the idea of ending any life for any reason is for me just not something I want done in my name."  I Googled, and sure enough Raushenbush supports abortion rights. You don't want "any life" ended in your name?  You don't know what a life that is ended might lead to, Rev. Raushenbush?

April 24, 2015, 8:43 AM EDT

There's an understandable tendency not to take Donny Deutsch too seriously. He can come across not as a credible political analyst but as a guy more interested in his abs and biceps and the next lady at the next Hamptons cocktail party.  But let's give Donny his due: as an ad man, he at times offers interesting insights on politics seen in terms of brands and marketing. He also serves as a credible bellwether for a certain segment of the East Coast Dem donor class.

And so it was noteworthy that on today's Morning JoeDeutsch declared that the string of scandals surrounding Hillary "really, really puts a dent in her candidacy and I really believe people are going to want to turn the page on Hillary Clinton." In contrast, Deutsch depicted Rubio as the candidate that people strongly associate with the future, making his candidacy "easy to manage. All he's got to say is 'future, future, future, future.'"

April 23, 2015, 7:13 PM EDT

Even by James Carville standards, this was bizarre. Toward the end of his appearance on Ed Schultz's show today, Carville called Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer "this anti-Disney, gay bike bar Glenn Beck or whatever this guy is."

Maybe Carville will come back and explain what he meant.  It's true that Schweizer was a contributor to one of Beck's books.  And Schweizer is the author of "Disney Betrayed," which criticizes the company for various things including sponsoring "Gay Days" at their parks.  But a casual viewer might well have come away with an entirely different understanding of what Carville was implying. Note also the way Carville's voice jumps by a couple of octaves when asked what advice he'd give Hillary's handlers.  Jittery, James?

April 23, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT

On today's Morning Joe, ardent Hillary Clinton fan Howard Dean ran into a buzzsaw when he tried to defend her against serious charges of conflict of interest by going after the authors of the stories rather than the substance of the allegations.

Joe Scarborough ripped Dean's "comic-book politics" and called his conduct "unbecoming."  New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters accused Dean of maligning his fellow reporters, and Mika Brzezinski taunted Dean, saying "you can go on your little jihad against the author, but it's not going to change the facts."  

April 22, 2015, 5:55 PM EDT

Serious question: what did Mark Halperin mean when he said that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio "may be playing a more dangerous game than he realizes" by refusing so far to endorse Hillary?

On today's With All Due Respect, Halperin prefaced his ominous observation by saying that there is "furor in Hillary Clinton's camp" over the matter.  De Blasio's omission certainly is striking, considering that he was Hillary's campaign manager when she ran for Senate from New York. 

April 21, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT

This was pretty funny. William Shaheen, Hillary's New Hampshire co-chair and husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, appearing on today's With All Due Respectboasted that he knows where Hillary stands on 10 different issues. 

But when hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann put Shaheen to the test, asking him where Hillary stands on the Keystone Pipeline and the Trans Pacific trade deal, Shaheen had to sheepishly admit that he didn't know Hillary's view on either issue, despite his boast and having specifically said that he knows where Hillary stands on trade.

April 21, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

How bad are things getting for Hillary when a defender is reduced to arguing, in response to the Clinton Cash allegations, that Bill might have been a dishonest bag man, not letting Hillary know that people were giving him money in an attempt to influence her?!

On today's Morning Joe, responding to the Clinton Cash revelations, MSNBC contributor Dorian Warren said that Bill Clinton "could have been running serious game on many of these countries saying I'll talk to my wife, give me the check, and then never mentioning [it.]"

April 19, 2015, 1:29 PM EDT

Sure, it was tongue in cheek. But still, it revealed an underlying truth . . . On today's Face the Nation, when Bob Schieffer wondered why the Dems have fielded only one presidential candidate, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank responded by suggesting that Schieffer himself should go for it.

Milbank said there was a "real opportunity" for someone to run against Hillary by filling the Elizabeth Warren slot and then observed that Schieffer would "have some free time after this summer" [since he has announced his retirement.] Schieffer began a Shermanesque response: "if nominated I would not" before dissolving in laughter. Yes, Milbank was kidding, but the notion wasn't absurd in the sense that he knows that Schieffer is a solid liberal. The joke would have fallen flat had he suggested Schieffer fill a conservative slot in the Republican primary.

April 18, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT

Maureen Dowd's Sunday column ostensibly centers on the problem of Hillary's persona being alternatively too masculine or too Chipolte-granny feminine.

But in passing, Dowd discharges a major diss in the direction of President Obama. Analyzing lessons learned from 2008, Maureen writes [emphasis added] that "Hillary saw the foolishness of acting like a masculine woman defending the Iraq invasion after she fell behind to a feminized man denouncing it."  Barack Obama: feminized man.  Ouch.

April 18, 2015, 12:52 PM EDT

I have a sneaky feeling that MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt isn't a registered Republican. Even so, there's little doubt that at least for now Marco Rubio is winning the Kasie Hunt primary.

In successive appearances on the Up with Steve Kornacki and Melissa Harris-Perry shows this morning, Hunt made clear that Rubio was her standout in the Republican field assembled this weekend in New Hampshire. On "Up" Hunt called Rubio "the strongest candidate in telling a story . . . really somebody to watch."  A bit later on MH-P, Hunt hailed Rubio as the person who "stood out to me the most."

April 17, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT

Howard Dean can't handle the truth.  Rather than discussing the implications of Hillary Clinton kicking off her campaign by handpicking the "everyday Americans" she spoke with at her first event in Iowa, Dean dissed the Daily Mail, the source of the story.

On today's Morning Joethe volatile former Vermont governor scoffed "it's the Daily Mail. Why would you believe this?" Why, Howard? Well, for starters, the Mail quotes one of the participants by name and at length about the vetting process he underwent prior to being ushered into Hillary's presence. And if the story were inaccurate, don't you think Hillary's minions would be screaming bloody murder and trotting the attendees to refute the claims?  Crickets, anyone?

April 16, 2015, 10:09 AM EDT

Mary Anne Weaver appeared on today's Morning Joe to discuss her New York Times Magazine cover article "Her Majesty's Jihadists." On the one hand, Weaver paints a striking portrait of the radicalization of young Muslims in the UK, reporting for example that there are more British jihadists than there are Muslims serving in the British military. But when asked what could be done about the problem, did Weaver criticize the radical clerics preaching a poisonous strain of Islam?  Nope.  She pointed her finger at the West 1. criticizing insufficient "integration" of Muslims into British society; 2. criticizing a new security law in the UK clamping down on people joining jihadist groups; and 3. saying that Muslims feel they are "under attack" from "indiscriminate bombing led by the US," in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

April 15, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

This was ugly.  On his MSNBC show this evening, Chris Matthews criticized Jeb Bush, who will be speaking at Liberty University, for "stooping" to "that evangelical crowd"  

Let's play some political madlibs and imagine that instead of "stooping to that evangelical crowd," Matthews had criticized a candidate who spoke at an Islamic center for "stooping to that Muslim crowd."  Cue the cries of religious bigotry! 

April 14, 2015, 8:38 PM EDT

You're a TV show host, and your guest has just suggested he'd like to "do" something to a sitting US senator such that he doesn't even want to describe it on air. Think you might challenge him about it?

Not if you're Ed Schultz.  On this evening's Ed Show, renegade "Republican" Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell and a big supporter of President Obama's Iran deal, was complaining about Democrats who have questioned the deal.  According to Wilkerson, the problem is people who are too "enamored about the State of Israel." Singling out Chuck Schumer, Wilkerson says "you've got guys like Chuck Schumer, whom I'd like to -- I won't say what I'd like to do to Chuck."

April 14, 2015, 9:21 AM EDT

Can you imagine if in 2008 a prominent conservative media member had said that Barack Obama looked like a "little boy" compared to John McCain?  The echoes of liberal outrage would still be resounding today.

But there was Mika Brzezinski on today's Morning Joe saying of Marco Rubio "that's a little boy." Mika made the invidious comparison to Hillary's service as senator, First Lady and Secretary of State.  Scoffed Joe Scarborough: "hearing this from two people [Mika and Donny Deutsch] that worshipped Barack Obama in 2008 is laughable."

April 13, 2015, 8:57 PM EDT

We conservatives have countless beefs with Chris Matthews.  But in contrast with the current crop of liberals inhabiting MSNBC, the American left at large—and the Oval Office—Chris is much more of an old-school Cold Warrior, and, dare I say it, a patriot.

And so it was that on this evening's Hardball, Matthews flatly declared "I hate" the Castro regime. How many other denizens of the left—from Rachel Maddow to Barack Obama—can you imagine saying the same? Matthews thus aligns himself more closely with Ronald "Evil Empire" Reagan than with Barack Obama, who just today was hailed by Tom Friedman for being able to see America from Iran's perspective.