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
November 3, 2014, 9:26 AM EST

During a Morning Joe appearance late last month, Chuck Todd, as we reported, described the congressional race on Staten Island as a "fight between mob families." Not a great idea for a guy who not long before saw his comment that Alison Lundergan Grimes had "disqualified herself" made into a Mitch McConnell ad.

Back on the show this morning, Todd offered an unqualified apology for his "mob families" hit, calling it "bad, wrong" and  a "cheap slur."  But that didn't stop Joe Scarborough from trying to turn it into a joke and make things about himself.

November 3, 2014, 5:45 AM EST

C'mon man! That's no way for a plucky VP like you to talk just two days before the elections!  As a loyal member of the DNC email list, last night I received a message from Joe Biden that sounded decidedly down in the mouth; frankly fatalistic.

Here's how Good Ol' Joe opened [emphasis added]: "No matter what happens on Tuesday, I'm proud of you, Mark."  "No matter what happens?" Not exactly a bold prediction of victory! Particularly when it was followed by this: "You've helped to keep us in this campaign." Just kept us in it?  Don't you remember when Hillary threw her hat in the ring for 2008?  She boldly declared that she was "in to win!"  Now that's confidence!

October 31, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

Comedy gold! As the co-founder of the Daily Show, Lizz Winstead might be a funny lady. But what she came up with today was surely an unintentional laugh line. Appearing on Joy Reid's MSNBC show this afternoon, Winstead blamed Wendy Davis' impending thrashing in her race for Governor of Texas on . . . "redistricting."  

Lizz, last time we looked, there is no districting—"re" or otherwise—when it comes to statewide races. The entire state is one big district that gets to vote for Governor. Oh, and for good measure, Lizz laid the rest of the blame on "the media." Right.  In a state where the major newspaper in three of the four largest cities have endorsed Davis.

October 31, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT

Did the editor of Politico's Daily Digest notice that the arrangement of the two top stories this morning played directly into the Dem playbook?  We sure did.

The first headline is "Democratic donors prepare for disappointment," and the sub-headline reads "The plan is to shift focus to 2016, when Democrats face a much more hospitable Senate map."  And sure enough, Politico's very next story obliges Dem desires.   The headline: "Why a GOP Senate could be short-lived," and the sub-headline reads "A half-dozen blue-state Republicans could be in trouble during the 2016 elections."

October 30, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

Could this be the most cynical statement of the campaign season?  The woman whose recent wedding President Obama attended is okay with stoking the racial fears of black Americans—if that's what it takes to drive them to the polls and secure Dem victories. Alex Wagner devoted a segment of her MSNBC show today to the naked appeals to the racial fears of black Americans that Democrats are making in campaign ads.  Wagner discussed Dem ads that seek to stoke black fear toward Republicans by invoking Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

You might think Wagner would have condemned these ugly tactics, explicitly aimed at driving Americans apart based on their race.  Think again. To the contrary, Wagner concluded the segment by saying that it shouldn't have to be the kind of threats contained in these ads that get people to vote, "but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it."

October 30, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

You really have to watch the clip of President Obama strutting his self-righteous anger at states that are imposing Ebola quarantines.  I, Barack thunders that such quarantines reflect a lack of leadership, and "that's not who I am."  Thank you, sir, for letting us know what a strong leader you are.  

On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough scalded President Obama's self-righteous hypocrisy.  Mockingly quoting the President, Scarborough said "'This is America. And we do things differently'—unless it's in Barack Obama's own government, the military." Where of course a quarantine is being imposed on soldiers returning from Ebola hot zones. In the unkindest cut, Scarborough cast Obama's hypocrisy as "a Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker moment."  Ouch.

October 28, 2014, 8:12 AM EDT

If on national TV you pass along from a "friend" an extremely damning charge about someone's morality, do you have an obligation to identify that "friend" or provide some sort of substantiation for the charge?  Nicolle Wallace apparently doesn't think so.

On today's Morning Joe, speaking of Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, Wallace blithely passed along the charge from an unnamed "friend" from Tallahassee that "these are two guys who are the least tethered to any sort of moral compass that have ever run against each other."  

October 25, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

Let she who is without geography sin cast the first globe!  On her MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow mercilessly mocked Darrell Issa for confusing Guinea with Guyana. The Republican congressman made his mistake during a discussion of the country in which the latest Ebola outbreak began.  Issa said it was "Guyana," a South American country, whereas in fact it was Guinea, a West African one.

Fair enough.  Issa should have gotten his countries straight.  But of all the hosts in the MSNBC lineup, Rachel Maddow should have been the last to have the chutzpah to highlight Issa's blooper.  For you see, just last month, Maddow made a big geography blooper of her own.  During a discussion of President Obama's then-impending trip to Estonia--a Baltic country--Maddow went on—repeatedly and at length—about the last time a president had visited . . . the Balkans.

October 24, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

"Well, it is Friday night."  That was Al Sharpton's sheepish way of excusing the not-suitable-for-network-TV line that a guest had just uttered on this evening's Politics Nation.  Australian satirist Josh Zepps' zinger came during a discussion of a video ad in which young girls drop repeated f-bombs, supposedly in furtherance of feminism.

The ad was produced by a clothing company trying to cash in with t-shirts bearing PC messages against sexism and racism.  Zinged Zepps: "I'm offended by the shamelessness of the cheap ploy of the people that got them to do it  . . . There's something about this company that rubs me the wrong way. They sell t-shirts for men that say 'This is What a Feminist Looks Like.'" Read the racy rest of Zepps' comment after the jump.

October 24, 2014, 9:37 AM EDT

Asked to comment on the recent ax attack in NYC by an apparent lone wolf jihadist that left a rookie cop critically injured, Republican congressman Peter King had some very tough words for the New York Times.

Appearing on today's Morning Joe, King condemned the Times for having "smeared" the police and spread the feeling that "the police are an occupying force, that they're profiling Muslims, they're going after Muslims." According to King, deranged lone wolves like the ax attacker are prone to respond and be inspired by such talk.

October 24, 2014, 7:54 AM EDT

You've probably seen the video.  In Chile, a man boards a bus and twice tries to rip a purse away from a woman.  When he fails, he tries to flee, only to get his arm stuck in the door. Whereupon the driver subdues him with a few swings from his handy bat.  When the bus finally stops, the police are there to greet the miscreant and lead him away.

When Jimmy Kimmel played the clip on his show, the audience reacted with cheers.  But when Morning Joe aired it today, Mika declared herself "disturbed." When Mika asked why the clip was enjoyable, Joe Scarborough explained the obvious: "because justice won out."

October 23, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

On her MSNBC show today, Alex Wagner found it "surprising" and "distressing" that some were seeing the attack on the Canadian Parliament by a Muslim convert as a "terrorist act."  Wagner was joined by CAIR's Nihad Awad who said that anyone claiming "that there is an islamic component" in the attack shows either "ignorance or hostility" toward Islam.

Another guest claimed the attack was "much more like ordinary crime."  Right.  No Islamic extremism here.  Zehaf-Bibeau was probably just planning to get the Members of Parliament to empty their pockets.

October 23, 2014, 8:16 AM EDT

Today's Morning Joe offered a sinister sneak preview of how the MSM will defend presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whatever the cost to integrity or decency.   The topic was the way that Hillary orchestrated the trashing of Bill's many women. Joe Scarborough argued forcefully that this should be remembered when as a presidential candidate she rails against the "war on women."

But there was HuffPo's Sam Stein, dismissing Hillary's calculated campaign against Monica Lewinsky as merely a "personal family matter."  Then it was the turn of MSNBC's own Thomas Roberts to cover for Hillary.  Roberts argued that despite her powerful position as First Lady of Arkansas and later of the United States, Hillary was simply a "spouse" who wasn't on a government "payroll."

October 22, 2014, 8:31 AM EDT

Add Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the list of Dem politicians running away from Barack Obama.  Kind of ironic, no, given that DWS is Chair of the Dem party and President Obama is its standard bearer? On today's Morning Joe, repeatedly pressed by Joe Scarborough as to whether voting for Dem candidates means a continuation of President Obama's policies, Wasserman Schultz refused to answer.  Instead, the DNC Chair trotted out shop-worn lines about Obama not being on the ballot, Dems "having your back,"  etc.   

After she departed, Scarborough got in a goodbye shot: "It's ridiculous. People that voted with the president 95, 96, 97, 98% of the time can't say his name."

October 21, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT

Did Chuck Todd just do it again?  His comment a couple of weeks ago that Dem Alison Lundergan Grimes "disqualified herself" for refusing to say whether she voted for Barack Obama was quickly made into an ad by the McConnell campaign.  On today's Morning Joe, Todd made a highly quotable claim about another race.

Todd described the campaign for a congressional seat in a district located in Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn as  "a fight between mob families."  That sent Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough scrambling to disassociate themselves from the Meet the Press moderator.  And at the end of the segment, Mika told Todd: "I think you might have made another ad!"  Retorted Todd: "I'll never come on the show again."

October 20, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

Greatest, latest parlor game: watching liberals pretzel-ize logic in arguing against a travel ban on people from Ebola-affected countries.  We've noted a few examples here, here and here.

October 20, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

Tart-tongued Tina Brown is at it again. On today's Morning Joe, seeking to explain why Republicans are doing surprisingly well with women voters this year, Brown said: "they had their rabies shots."

October 20, 2014, 8:28 AM EDT

Don't know what Dorian Warren's been smoking, but we can guess what he's been reading: Rolling Stone, and in particular a recent column in which Paul Krugman claims that Barack Obama is one of the most "successful presidents in American history" [ed.: not a typo].

On today's Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor Warren said he'd be happy to call his Vegas buddies to bet that "history will be very, very good to Barack Obama."   Warren was responding to Joe Scarborough's suggestion that history will lump Obama and George W. Bush together for their lack of effective leadership.

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.

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?