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 13, 2015, 8:50 AM EDT

Ronald Reagan: "My idea of American policy toward the Soviet Union is simple, and some would say simplistic. It is this: we win and they lose." Thomas Friedman on Barack Obama: "He actually knows what America looks like from the outside in. And he can actually see America even to some point from the Iranian perspective."

So whom will history record as being more effective in countering America's adversaries? The "simplistic" Ronald Reagan, or that cosmopolitan sophisticate, Barack Obama? Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Friedman apparently thought he was praising Obama, but Joe Scarborough wasn't so sure, asking "is it an admirable quality for us to have a president who can look at the world through the eyes of a regime that you and I both know has been the epicenter of terrorism since 1979?" 

April 11, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT

Imagine you're a Cuban who has somehow managed to catch the cablecast of Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show today.  The topic is President Obama's opening toward Cuba. You're scraping by on the average Cuban monthly salary of $20/month and are thrilled at the prospect of getting a better-paying job if and when American tourists start coming in numbers.

Then suddenly you hear Harris-Perry fretting that there could be a "downside" for Cuba in letting in those American tourists.  They could be a "plague" for Cuba. Impose their cultural "hegemony."  !Ay caramba!  

April 10, 2015, 8:07 AM EDT

For Iran, Mike?  On today's Morning Joe, reliable Obama fan Mike Barnicle managed to keep a straight face while lauding the Iran deal as an "extraordinary feat." He did so despite poll numbers displayed showing that a huge majority of Americans don't think the ayatollahs will keep their promises.

Let's see: sanctions lifted while centrifuges keep spinning and nuclear scientists beaver away in hardened, bomb-resistant facilities.  Extraordinary, yeah.

April 9, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT

Are we talking Frequent Flyer Miles, Hillary's record of "success" in such places as Benghazi, Syria and Yemen, or just what?

On today's With All Due Respect, Bloomberg's Melinda Henneberger claimed that when it comes to foreign policy, none of the Republican presidential hopefuls "can possibly come up to the level of the former Secretary of State."  Host John Heilemann had teed up the question by citing Hillary's "huge resume" in the area. Heilemann also indulged in some classic Upper West Side snobbery, saying that when Scott Walker goes abroad, he's either "selling cheese or buying cheese."

April 7, 2015, 8:44 PM EDT

Let's be clear: on today's With All Due Respect, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann were very complimentary about Kelley Paul's performance today in introducing her husband Rand at his presidential announcement speech.  They described her as a big asset and anticipate seeing a lot more of her on the campaign trail.

That said, the duo said something that boggled my mind, claiming that as good as she was, Kelley was "not at Michelle Obama's level."  Back in April, 2008, a full year later in that campaign cycle, this NewsBuster wrote about Michelle's shockingly angry performance on the stump [view the item and above all the video here], and asked if the MSM would report it.  Of course they didn't. As I recall, Michelle was "disappeared" from big public appearances for some time after that fiasco. IMHO Kelley is light years ahead of Michelle at this stage.

April 7, 2015, 9:34 AM EDT

Much of today's Morning Joe was devoted to a discussion of Rolling Stone's failed journalism on the UVa story. Maybe Mika Brzezinski should look in the mirror: she began her interview of Wendy Sherman, the chief US negotiator on the Iran deal, by offering her "congratulations."  Even Sherman herself had the sense to suggest that congratulations were not yet in order.

In contrast, Joe Scarborough actually tried to get Sherman to answer an important question: how much advance notice of inspections does the deal give Iran? Sherman skated away faster than Apolo Ohno, refusing to answer other than to claim that "we will have the access we need to ensure that we have the time to make the decisions that we need."  Very reassuring, coming from the architect of the disastrous North Korean negotiations, which of course led to the Norks going nuclear.  Readers are urged to read the linked article: who knew, e.g., that Sherman is a former Emily's List director?

April 6, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT

I hadn't before seen Will Leitch, the Deadspin creator who now writes on politics for Bloomberg, in action.  But on today's With All Due Respect, I found him funny and affable.

Even so, he made one left-leaning assertion so absurd it was too much even for show host John Heilemann.  Running parallel with the NCAA tourney, Bloomberg has been running a bracket of 64 non-presidential candidates.  In the Final Four, Jon Stewart defeated the Pope and Tina Fey took out Warren Buffett.  Asked to explain the results, Leitch alleged that Fey and Stewart have a "universality that maybe not everybody has, frankly including the Pope."

April 6, 2015, 9:21 AM EDT

Last week, NewsBusters brought you "Stumped," as April Ryan struggled to cite a single foreign policy success by her super-fave, President Obama. In the best Hollywood tradition, this morning we bring you a sequel--Stumped II: Syria!

On today's Morning Joe, lugubrious lefty Eric Alterman of The Nation mag was stumped when Joe Scarborough asked him what the US should do about Syria. After humming, hawing and a couple of false starts, Alterman asked how much time they had.  Right, as if if only he had more time.  Shades of that SNL skit in which President George H.W. Bush tries to skate away from a question only to be informed by the moderator that he had plenty more time. 

April 1, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

Sometimes you just want to shake the TV and say "enough with the cutesy facial expressions, already: spit it out, Mika!"  Morning Joe mavens will know what I mean: Mika Brzezinski has the annoying habit of letting a series of sighs, raised eyebrows and facial tics substitute for a clear articulation of her position on a given issue.

There was a prime example of the phenomenon on today's show, when after rolling a clip of Bibi Netanyahu criticizing the prospective Iran deal, Mika announced that she would "reserve" comment, satisfying herself yet again with dramatic pauses, grimaces, etc. [see example below].

March 31, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

On today's Morning Joe, liberal Republican Nicolle Wallace sought to slough off a Politico article reporting that Jeb Bush is losing the influential "Laura Ingraham primary." Claimed Wallace, who served as Jeb's press secretary when he was governor of Florida, Ingraham "hates everybody.  She always hates the Republicans more than the Democrats at this point, too."

Wallace even suggested that Ingraham's criticism of McCain [for whom Wallace also worked] and Romney contributed to their defeats: "will we ever wonder what effect that has in the outcome; both guys lost?  Do we think it's good to cheer down our own side? I just wish we spent as much time cheering against the Democrats."

March 30, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

Not even a lifeline could have helped her . . . There was a telling moment on today's Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough challenged April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks to cite some of President Obama's foreign-policy successes.

Ryan was reduced to replying "that's kind of tough. Hmm, that's a tough one . . . I have to really ponder that."  

 

March 29, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT

Two days ago I ordered online a used copy of Milton & Rose Friedman's classic "Free to Choose," hoping a liberal loved one would be willing to read it. That doesn't look like it's going to happen, so now I'm tempted to send the book to Barney Frank—since it's apparent that, like many liberals, he doesn't understand the most basic notions of how free markets work.

On Steve Kornacki's MSNBC show today, Frank described business creators as being "given privileges." Barney then added this mind-boggler: "there's only a limited amount of space, there's only a limited amount of businesses. Your being there means somebody else wouldn't be."  

March 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

This had to be one of the more telling moments about the emptiness of Hillary Clinton's campaign.  When Mika Brzezinski asked Morning Joe panel members today to describe Hillary's message "in ten seconds or less," they burst into laughter.  "Why is that funny?" demanded Mika, surely knowing the answer: that Hillary stands for nothing much more than "it's my turn, dammit!"

But that didn't stop Anne Gearan of the Washington Post from piping up, claiming "I can answer that.  It's 'I'm on your side and they're not."  As Newsbuster Ken Shepherd has detailed, Gearan has been "ready for Hillary" for a long time. But in fairness, perhaps Gearan is on to something.  Hillary really is on your side . . . assuming you've donated a minimum of a million bucks to the Clinton Foundation.

March 26, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

Mark Halperin just compared the way Hillary has been foisted on Dem voters to the empty "choices" that Cubans have when it comes to their leaders.

On this evening's With All Due Respect, when Dem strategist Steve McMahon claimed that Dems are happy with "the" choice they have in the person of Hillary,  Halperin retorted "like the way Cuban voters are happy with their choices."

March 24, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT

Morning Joe went on the air in 2007. Think of all the outrage-provoking people and events that have popped up in the ensuing eight years.  Yet in the memory of this Newsbuster—who's been blogging the show since its debut—rarely has Mika Brzezinski seemed more upset than she was today on the subject of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  

Just what is it that drives Brzezinski so batty about Bibi? Mika gave a little hint when she challenged the integrity of her guests for declining to join in her blasting of Bibi: "I just want to know what you're all afraid of. I do."  Hmm.  Mika apparently thinks there's something about the Israelis, or their friends in the US, that frightens American reporters and pundits from speaking their minds.  What might that be?

March 23, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

Warning: readers are advised to hide the sharp objects before viewing the clip of Morning Joe's review of the Middle East today.  The picture painted is one of the utter failure of US foreign policy, leaving a devastated, deadly region in its woeful wake.

We open with President Obama's "mission accomplished" moment from last year in which he called US policy in Yemen "successful." Cut to Jim Miklaszewski saying that the White House had to order US special forces out of the country, leaving us with absolutely no leverage. Then to Iraq, where two experts say Iraq as a country is finished and falling under the hand of Iran's radical Quds forces.  On to Israel, where even Richard Engel chides President Obama for the churlish way he has perpetuated his public spat with Bibi. Donny Deutsch sounds a political note, observing that many Dem-leaning Jews—including big donors—side with Bibi, thus presenting Hillary with a big challenge for 2016. 

March 21, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT

Bracket busted? How about a nice Marxist critique of the NCAA tournament? Call it the theory of surplus value in high-tops . . . 

On Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show today, David Zirin, sports guy at the far-left Nation mag, called the NCAA tournament nothing less than "the organized theft of black wealth."

March 18, 2015, 8:27 AM EDT

Things got chippy on Morning Joe today after Amy Holmes of The Blaze pointed out that President Obama has personalized and publicized his conflict with Benjamin Netanyahu in a way he hasn't done even with despots like Kim Jong Un or the Castro brothers.

When Holmes added that "only Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be the focal point of this president's ire," former Obama spokesman Gibbs called Holmes' statement "the silliest thing I've probably heard in a long time."

March 17, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

Imagine the secret scene inside the White House if Bibi Netanyahu had lost tonight: President Obama popping the bubbly as Samantha Power and John Kerry danced an Irish jig? There's no denying that the Obama admin ardently davened [prayed] for Bibi's defeat.  Top Obama campaign aides had been dispatched to Israel for that very purpose. Indeed, there are even allegations that the Obama admin had underwritten the effort to defeat Netanyahu.

But in a classic MSM bit of hypocritical hand-wringing, on this evening's With All Due RespectJohn Heilemann lamented that he was "saddened" to hear that an adviser to Netanyahu said that his victory would be "a defeat for Barack Obama."  

March 17, 2015, 8:15 AM EDT

Imagine you're David Brock, James Carville or Lanny Davis.  Stop: no!  Can't do that to our Newsbusters readers. Let's just picture someone in the Hillary camp—even Herself. He/she's settled in front of the tube this morning, Grande, two-pump Vanilla, Non-Fat, Extra Hot Latte in hand, and tuned to fave show: Morning Joe.

Suddenly, from an array of people, you hear these phrases: "in jail for five to ten years"; "Clinton fatigue especially among Democratic primary voters"; "perjury charges"; "I'm still not certain she's going to be a candidate"; and more and more people in the inside [saying] they don't think -- they're not so sure she's going to run."  What the? You double check just to make sure you haven't—God forbid—dialed Fox News.  But no, it's MSNBC!