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
July 18, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

It was strange.  Joe Scarborough had just completed a comprehensive indictment of failed American foreign policy  around the globe.  But at the very moment when he should have laid those disasters at the feet of the sitting President of the United States, Scarborough came down with a bad case of . . . cold feet.

Scarborough laid out to David Gregory a tour d'horizon of failed American foreign policy from the Middle East, to Iran, to Russia/Ukraine, describing it as "one disaster after another. One strikeout after another."  But perhaps fearful of where the ineluctable logic of his comments was taking him, Scarborough suddenly made nice, saying "of course that is not directed to President Obama."  Really? Who's been in the White House for the last six years?  View the video after the jump.

July 17, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

But enough about me.  Let's talk about how you feel about me . . . Maybe Barack Obama should modify his famous New Age-y line, uttered after the 2008 Super Tuesday results, to read "I am the one I have been waiting for." In recent times, it's become an entertaining parlor game to count the number of self references in President Obama's public statements.  

The latest opportunity to play the game comes via a fund-raising email the prez sent out this morning. Defiantly entitled "I Won't Apologize," the short message contains by my count no fewer than 11 self-references [12 if you count the URL for the fund-raising link]—a self-adoring assortment of I, I'm, I'll and me. View the complete email after the jump.

July 9, 2014, 7:52 AM EDT

Bartender—send a double Wyborowa with a Zoloft chaser to the nice lady at the end of the table.  But seriously, relax, Mika.  Four months before an election in which they are poised to triumph, congressional Republicans are not about to muddy the waters by trying to impeach President Obama.

But on today's Morning Joe, that reality did not prevent Mika Brzezinski from getting verklempt and asking for time to compose herself before introducing a segment on impeachment talk from Sarah Palin and Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst.  View the amusing video after the jump.

July 4, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

So how did Good Morning America open its Fourth of July show today?  Fighter-jet flyover?  Small-town Independence Day parade? Inspiring video of America's beauty from sea to shining sea?  Guess again.  GMA featured rapper Jason Derulo [I never heard of him either], jet skiing past the Statue of Liberty.

And which song did GMA place at the top of the list when it displayed a smartphone with Derulo's hits? Why, "Talk Dirty" [mistakenly entitled "Talking Dirty" by GMA].  A song so foul and misogynistic we couldn't possibly display the lyrics, but you can read them here if you like. View the video after the jump.

June 30, 2014, 8:24 AM EDT

Hobby Lobby's objection on religious grounds to paying for abortion-causing contraceptives for its employees reminds Eugene Robinson of segregationists who cited the Bible in support of their views.  In his great magnimity, Robinson allowed that the Hobby Lobby case "is perhaps a bit different." But if the WaPo columnist didn't think the segregation analogy were relevant, he presumably wouldn't have cited it in the first place on today's Morning Joe.

There was also a point of light on the show.  Donny Deutsch, after announcing that he was "far from a conservative," nevertheless went on to make the explicitly free-market argument that "nobody is forcing anybody to work at Hobby Lobby."  View the video after the jump.

June 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

Someday, Barack Obama might make a fine professor somewhere.  In the meantime, someone should remind him that he's still President of the United States . . . If President Obama thought he was going to score some easy media points by sitting down for an interview with Mika Brzezinski last Friday, he was badly mistaken.  Morning Joe aired the interview today, to bad reviews by its guests.

Dem Donny Deutsch didn't want to say--but said--that Obama looked "checked out," and seemed like he "wants to go home."  Mark Halperin observed that Republicans resonate when they say that Obama is not "taking control." Commenting on Obama's long disquisition on the complications of the Syrian situation, Halperin observed: "it's up to the President of the United States to take some bold action to try to address [problems] and not just sit and say here's why this is hard, here's why this is hard." It's as if Barack Obama sees himself in the faculty lounge, offering exquisite insights on the problems of the day, rather than in the Oval Office, with the obligation to address them. View the video after the jump.

June 19, 2014, 7:32 AM EDT

Looks like it's not just in Iraq where civil war is breaking out. Seems that it could also be happening at MSNBC, with Iraq ironically being the flashpoint.

Two nights ago, Rachel Maddow condemned TV shows that book original Iraq war hawks like Paul Bremer. Maddow specifically called out her very own MSNBC for having given Bremer air time.  And just where had Bremer appeared on the Lean Forward network? Morning Joe.  So you have to imagine that Joe Scarborough might well have had Maddow in mind when on today's show he said "I don't know why some people are so intellectually weak that they're afraid to actually listen."  Sniped Scarborough: if people "wanted to watch people just saying what they--what everybody else in a little circle believe, they could watch certain shows on prime time cable." Wonder which show Joe had in mind?  View the video after the jump.

June 17, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

Liberal vs. neo-con.  Isolationist vs. interventionist.  The clash over Iraq strategy between John Heilemann and Bill Kristol on today's Morning Joe had it all.  

Things got heated as Heilemann assailed Kristol's call for intervention as "absurd."  Kristol responded by suggesting that Heilemann's invocation of "American blood" was a cheap "rhetorical line."  View the video after the jump.

June 12, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

Q. How do you know that Barack Obama's feckless foreign policy poses a serious threat to the security of the free world?  A. When a leading foreign policy voice of the Washington Post agrees with a leading foreign policy voice of the Wall Street Journal that such is the case.

It happened on today's Morning Joe, when WaPo's highly-respected David Ignatius agreed with a WSJ op-ed by Daniel Henninger, "While Obama Fiddles," that darkly concludes: "past some point, the world's wildfires are going to consume the Obama legacy. And leave his successor a nightmare." Said Ignatius: "those are harsh words from the Wall Street Journal, but I think there's a lot of truth to them." View the video after the jump.

June 11, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

For a guy who claims "I don't want to demonize my opponents," Michael Eric Dyson does a dynamite job of it!
 
And thus, guest-hosting on MSNBC today for Ed Schultz, Dyson ripped Republicans who express "all this Christian rhetoric that we're sanctified and saved and believe in the righteousness of God," yet have the audacity to disagree with him on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. View the video after the jump.

June 10, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT

Sure, Mika Brzezinski is a big Fauxchohantas fan who'd love to see Senator 1/32nd take on Hillary Clinton.  But regardless of her motivation, credit Mika for courageously critiquing Hillary.

In a segment on today's Morning Joe about Hillary's "dead broke" blunder, Brzezinski scolded Hillary defenders Jeremy Peters [NYT], the egregious Thomas Roberts, Eugene Robinson and Joe Scarborough.  Mika accused them of being "afraid" of the Clintons, of tiptoeing around them, and of holding their fire in hopes of being granted an interview with Hillary. View the startling video after the jump.

June 7, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

Mark Jacobson may have set a new standard for dumb defenses of the Bergdahl deal.  Appearing on MSNBC's Up With Steve Kornacki today, scholar and Afghanistan veteran Jacobson suggested that opposition to the Bergdahl deal arises out of the soldier's religion and politics. He made a mind-boggling analogy: "My parents freaked out when I went to Afghanistan both times. If I had been captured. Do I want someone to say this nice Jewish kid over in Afghanistan, a little bit liberal, not really sure if we're going to go get him? Absolutely not."

What?? If a soldier, whatever his religion or politics, had served, to quote Susan Rice, with "honor and distinction," and a deal to retrieve him were on the table that wouldn't seriously jeopardize our national security interests, can anyone conceive that we wouldn't make it?  The objections to the Bergdahl deal arise out of the very high national security price exacted in exchange for someone who seemingly was at best AWOL, if not a deserter.  Giving the lie to Jacobson's lunacy was fellow panelist Jack Jacobs, who objected to the Bergdahl deal.  Jacobs, by the way, grew up a nice Jewish kid in NYC, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. (Video below.)

June 5, 2014, 9:21 AM EDT

Q. When it comes to the release of five of the worst of the worst Gitmo detainees, what does Eugene Robinson know that the Pentagon doesn't?  A. That President Obama must be defended at all costs and in every circumstance.

How else to explain his mind-boggling claim on today's Morning Joe that the impact on the war of the release of five senior Taliban officials would likely be "negligible."  Incredibly, Robinson was only willing to put "senior" in skeptical air quotes [see screengrab after jump].  The WaPo columnist's claim sparked controlled outrage from Joe Scarborough, and energetic disagreement even from former Obama car czar Steve Rattner.  View the video after the jump.

June 4, 2014, 8:28 AM EDT

Psst: David Gregory! You can stop auditioning to fill Jay Carney's White House spokesman spot. President Obama has already appointed someone else.  Given his rotten Meet The Press ratings, it's understandable that Gregory would be prospecting for his next position. Even so, his performance on today's Morning Joe was pitiable.

With even liberals like Mika Brzezinski, Donny Deutsch and John Heilemann dumping on the Bergdahl deal, there was Gregory as President Obama's lone defender. Thus: Dianne Feinstein has criticized the lack of consultation?  Meh: she's been critical of the Obama admin on other things. And twice Gregory made the argument that Commanders-in-Chief, whatever the circumstances, just don't leave soldiers on the battlefield.  That was too much even for Heilemann, who argued that there are limits to what a C-in-C should do, particularly when the soldier in question might have been a deserter.  View the video after the jump.

June 3, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT

Who the hell was President Obama rescuing: Bowe Bergdahl or the Taliban terrorists themselves?  

The questions arises out of the mind-boggling defense of the Bergdahl deal proferred on today's Morning Joe by Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, who argued that by dint of the deal, "the President managed to get five guys out of Gitmo, which is a goal."  Well, at least President Obama didn't have to send Navy Seals in helicopters over the Gitmo fence to rescue the Talibans.  He achieved his goal with a mere stroke of his mighty pen.  

View the video after the jump.

June 2, 2014, 8:34 AM EDT

You really have to watch Brian Schweitzer in action to get just how much of a blowhard he is.  By the end of his appearance on today's Morning Joe, even Mika Brzezinski seemed mortified by the antics of her fellow Democrat.  And Bill Kristol's expression of utter disdain for the former Montana governor was worth the price of admission alone.

In the course of his appearance, Schweitzer--defending President Obama's deal for the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl--declined to call the five senior Taliban members released either terrorists or war criminals.  Even the Daily Beast, in the person of reporter Eli Lake, has called the five "some of the worst of the worst," and "considered [by the Pentagon] to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated."  When talk turned to domestic politics, Schweitzer dabbled in some anti-Ted Cruz birtherism, repeatedly alluding to the Texas senator's birth in Canada. View Schweitzer's clown act on the video after the jump.

May 21, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

Red Alert at the White House! How bad is the VA scandal? Bad enough to make even such as Sam Stein question liberalism. The VA scandal is getting so grievous for the Obama admin and for the liberal project at large that it has led even liberals to reconsider their most cherished ideological beliefs.

On today's Morning Joe, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post wondered "is liberalism, is progressivism, in this instance the right thing" given that the additional money the Obama admin spent on the VA has not yielded results?  View the video after the jump.

May 13, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

There was a real dust-up on today's Morning Joe over Benghazi and the House select committee empanelled to investigate it.  In the move-on-nothing-to-see corner were Chuck Todd and Donny Deutsch.  Opposing them was Nicolle Wallace, who made an impassioned case that the Obama admin's cover-up of the talking points that the White House furnished to Susan Rice, falsely blaming the attack on an internet video, merits anger and investigation.

As MRC's Jeffrey Meyer has noted, Todd has been on a tear trying to downplay Benghazi and disparage the select committee.  But in his determination to defend all things Obama, Todd today ran badly afoul of the facts.  He claimed that the false talking points weren't worth caring about since the Obama admin stopped citing the internet video within "two days." Could Todd truly have forgotten that two weeks later, in a formal address at the United Nations, President Obama was still talking about that infernal video?  View the video after the jump.

May 6, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

Has Morning Joe sunk to a new vulgarity low? On today's show, Joe Scarborough told a guest that being interviewed by himself rather than Mika Brzezinski represented "sloppy seconds."

Scarborough's crude comment was made in response to Walter Isaacson's complaint, after his previous appearance on the show, that Mika had not been present and he had to content himself with Joe.  "Sloppy seconds, that's horrible," said Scarborough. H/t Mike S.  View the video after the jump.

May 5, 2014, 7:34 AM EDT

¡Ay caramba! Imagine the cries of offensive ethnic stereotyping or worse if Fox News had observed Cinco de Mayo by having one of its yanqui persons of pallor stagger across the set in a sombrero while chugging from a bottle of tequila?

But it happened on MSNBC, so the PC police probably won't make a peep.  At today's transition from Way Too Early to Morning Joe, there pranced producer Louis Burgdorf with his Halloween-store sombrero and pint bottle.  WTE host Thomas Roberts encouraged Burgdorf "to drink the whole thing and eat the worm," meaning either it was mezcal not tequila or Roberts just doesn't know his south-of-the-border booze.  View the video after the jump.