Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Parrots, dogs, small planes, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
December 11, 2015, 7:38 AM EST

Jon Meacham is no conservative. The Pulitzer-winning historian is, after all, a former editor of Time and Newsweek. Which makes his declaration about President Obama that much more damning.

Asked on today's Morning Joe for a historical analogy to Barack Obama, Meacham harkened back to Jimmy Carter: "three years into his administration, [Carter] giving a speech about this very subject, saying that there was a crisis of the American spirit . . . And a lot of people thought that there wasn't a crisis in the American spirit, there was a crisis in the American presidency. And I think that's the analogy that comes to my mind."

December 10, 2015, 8:19 AM EST

The last person you'd imagine backing Donald Trump's Muslim ban might be Mika Brzezinski. Yet on today's Morning Joe, a reluctant Mika came close to doing just that. Brzezinski springboarded off the news that the visa screening program failed to stop Tafsheen Malik from entering the country although she was already radicalized at the time.

While professing her opposition to the plan, she called the news "incredibly disturbing." When former Obama car czar Steve Rattner admitted that the process in place "had failed," Mika suggested: "are you saying something that might be in line with Donald Trump's policy?" Mika went on: "I'm not sure Donald Trump's concept is good for our country," but "we just had a slaughter." Concluded Brzezinski: "someone tell me something better than what Donald Trump is saying," adding sarcastically "and there's got to be something better because everybody has been sitting here for days, just lambasting him."

December 10, 2015, 6:01 AM EST

What does it take to get a member of the MSM to praise a Fox News host?  Simple: trash Donald Trump. On yesterday's With All Due Respect, co-host John Heilemann declared "I have always like Shep Smith, and I like him more today than I've ever liked him before."

So what had Shep done to enhance Heilemann's fondness for him? On his show on Tuesday, during a dialogue with Wall Street Journal editor John Bussey, Smith tore Donald Trump, and his plan for Muslims, to shreds. Smith called the plan unlawful, unconstitutional, fear-mongering, racist and "crazy." He claimed Trump "lied" about Muslims cheering 9/11, and described the Donald as a "carnival huckster" who "represents the worst, darkest part of all that is America." Reading between the lines, you might suspect Shep doesn't like Trump very much.

December 9, 2015, 7:43 AM EST

From the woman who brought you Benghazi, the Russian reset, the bungling of the Arab Spring, and the disregard for national security that compromised classified email material . . . 

Yet , incredibly, Joe Scarborough today extolled Hillary's foreign policy credentials, claiming--not a typo--"what an amazing brand she would have to offer the American people right now. Even Republicans that are in search of a unifying, strong leader against ISIS." Scarborough did so after citing Trent Lott and David Petraeus' praise of Hillary's hard work and knowledgeability as a senator. That might be.  But how can anyone possibly look at Hillary, one of the most polarizing figures of our times, and someone responsible for a series of foreign policy flops, as a "strong, unifying leader against ISIS?" 

December 8, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

Call Ayman Mohyeldin "the Duke Ellington Reporter" in homage to the jazz great's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Or perhaps you could say that Mohyeldin had his Pauline Kael moment, after the New York Times movie critic who, as legend has it, averred she couldn't understand how Nixon won since she didn't know anyone who voted for him.

Isn't a reporter supposed to, you know, get around and speak with people with a range of views?  Not Ayman. On this evening's Hardball, Mohyeldin said that "every single person I've spoke to" said [Trump's Muslim immigration plan] would be "disastrous." But just a bit earlier in the show, Michael Steele cited a poll showing that 56% of Americans believe that Islam is incompatible with American values. Mohyeldin apparently didn't have a chance to chat with any of the majority of Americans. Not surprising, coming from the man who called American Sniper Chris Kyle a "racist" who went on "killing sprees."

December 8, 2015, 8:08 AM EST

One of James Taranto's tongue-in-cheek tropes at his Best of the Web Today column is "We Blame George Bush." As Wikipedia describes it, the trope "is a play on the perceived tendency for many of his detractors to lay the blame for pretty much anything" on Bush. In a recent example, "We Blame George W. Bush" was placed over a headline reading “Slipping Into a Food Coma? Blame Your Gut Microbes.” 

And lo and behold, from today's Morning Joe comes a real-life example of the phenomenon. Mika Brzezinski blamed Donald Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from the US, on in part—you guessed it—George W. Bush. In fairness, Mika did also blame the Obama admin. She argued that foreign policy blunders not just by the Obama administration but "by the George W. Bush administration"  created feelings that Trump is tapping into. For Mika to reach back to blame Bush for Trump's proposal, when even liberals praise him for going out of his way, for example, six days after 9-11, to declare "Islam is peace," etc. is something between outrageous and hilarious.

December 7, 2015, 6:57 PM EST

For a moment there, it looked like John Heilemann might go Absolut Olbermann and call Donald Trump a "fascist" for his proposal which would for the time being bar the entry of all Muslims into the United States.

But Heilemann backed off that f-word. While noting "some will say fascist" about Trump or his policy, Heilemann declared "I'm not saying that." Instead, he settled for asserting that there are "many voters in the country who are in fact reactionary" and that there is no way to describe Trump's policy "other than reactionary." 

December 7, 2015, 7:43 AM EST

Given the Morning Joe reviews, if President Obama's terrorism speech were a Broadway show, it would have closed after one night. From Richard Haass to Richard Engel, Joe Scarborough to Willie Geist, the prez's performance was universally panned. 

And in the cruelest comment of all, Mika Brzezinski reported that "I watched it with my youngest daughter who's very, very interested and we were waiting for the address, and sat together and watched. And when he was finished she got up and left. She goes: I don't really know what the point of that was." Mr. President, when you've lost Mika's daughter . . . But hey, look at the bright side: you could fire up Air Force One and still make an afternoon tee time in Palm Springs.

December 6, 2015, 9:18 PM EST

Maybe you're a liberal, reluctant to accept Charles Krauthammer's conclusion that President Obama's speech on terror tonight was a "complete failure." Fine. But there's no getting around Richard Engel, whom no one would accuse of conservatism. Speaking with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, the bleak assessment of NBC's chief foreign correspondent was that President Obama laid out "the same strategy that hasn't been working for last several years."

After a point-by-point takedown of Obama's weak tea, Engel concluded "the course of treatment that he laid out for this sick patient with cancer with no immediate cure does not seem like an incredibly strong prescription." Ouch.

December 5, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

They would have used a photo of her in an NRA cap, but none was available . . . Man, it's getting hard to navigate the nuanced shoals of political correctness. Now, even the ineffably sensitive New York Times has run afoul of the rules, as propounded by Melissa Harris-Perry. On her MSNBC show today, Harris-Perry griped that the Gray Lady had run a photo of Islamic terrorist killer Tafsheen Malik wearing a hijab. As per H-P, the Times was sending a message that "this is what terrorism looks like." 

Damn those anti-Muslim bigots of the New York Times! But seriously, what was the poor Times supposed to do? What if it had photoshopped the hijab off Malik? Harris-Perry might have complained the paper was suggesting that there was something offensive about the garment. Sometimes you just can't win with the PC police.

December 4, 2015, 11:46 AM EST

It was a priceless TV moment. Here was law professor Sahar Aziz on Jose Diaz-Balart's MSNBC show complaining about anti-Muslim bias in the US and insisting we don't know the motive behind the San Bernardino massacre. Aziz called the San Bernardino attack a "workplace violent act," pointing to the lack of any claim of responsibility or link to a terrorist group.

But literally seconds after Aziz signed off—without so much as a commercial break—NBC's Pete Williams came on to announce that just before the attack, the wife in the terrorist couple, Tashfeen Malik, "posted a statement of support for the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on a Facebook page." Williams added that such expressions of support for ISIS and for ISIS leaders, "does seem to follow a pattern that has been used in other ISIS-inspired attacks." It's okay, Professor Aziz: retroactive correction accepted!

December 4, 2015, 7:44 AM EST

Yes, it's fair to report Ben Carson's problems in pronouncing "Hamas," as a reflection of his lack of foreign policy fluency. But despite being billed as an MSNBC political "correspondent," on today's Morning Joe Hunt mocked Carson in a manner more befitting a late-night comedian trolling for laughs from a liberal crowd.

After rolling a clip of Ben Carson addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition yesterday in which Carson's pronunciation of "Hamas" left something to be desired, Hunt cracked "there were some questions afterwards in the room whether he was talking about the terrorist group, or the Middle Eastern food staple." Washington Post columnist Gene Robinson gleefully piled on, saying that when he was in Gaza he had "some very good hummus" and "I also met with a member of Hamas." A sighing, seemingly sympathetic Mika Brzezinski observed "it's just too easy."

December 3, 2015, 9:36 PM EST

Rudy Giuliani has said that if you can't figure out that what happened in San Bernardino was an act of terror, "you're a moron." But from Chris Hayes, to the FBI, to a representative of the Muslim community, to a Mother Jones reporter, to President Obama himself, one thing emerged from Hayes' MSNBC show tonight: they're all terribly confused and cautious about what possibly could have been the "motive" of the San Bernardino shooters.

Check out the video montage. It would be comical but for the heinous circumstances—and the unwillingness of the country's political, media and religious leaders to call out radical Islamic terrorism when they see it.

December 3, 2015, 11:47 AM EST

Maybe Martin O'Malley could come up with a list of all the constitutional rights which, as president, he would suspend. On Jose Diaz-Balart's MSNBC show today, discussing the rights of Americans to buy guns, O'Malley said "the very fact that Paul Ryan would start talking about due process and these sorts of issues, I mean I think is outrageous" in the wake of San Bernardino.

During an appearance earlier in the day on Morning Joe, Ryan had discussed the need to respect due process in the context of politicians, including President Obama, who complain that people on no-fly lists are not ipso facto prohibited from buying guns. Ryan pointed out that some people are placed on such lists mistakenly.

December 2, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

Money-grubbing ghouls. How better could you describe Howard Dean's group, Democracy for America? They can't even wait for the blood to dry before exploiting the slaughter in San Bernardino for dollars. 

This NewsBuster just received an email from DFA admitting "the tragic situation in San Bernardino is still going on." And yet, because Republicans respect the Second Amendment, DFA accuses "Paul Ryan and the entire Republican party" of "aiding and abetting terrorists," "standing with terrorists," and being people who "enable terrorists." Of course it's all about that button at the bottom of the email: DONATE.

December 2, 2015, 7:17 AM EST

UPDATE:  Later in the show, Scarborough quoted from this item on the air. Wallace sarcastically commented "Finkelstein likes me a lot." Video clip at foot.

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If Nicolle Wallace wants to attack Donald Trump, there's nothing wrong with that.  And the way she "pre-tweeted" Trump's counter-attack on her, saying she was too stupid to keep her job at The View, was actually rather witty.

But on today's Morning Joe, Wallace made a bad mistake. Rather than focusing her fire on Trump, she attacked the millions of decent Americans who support him.  According to Wallace, Trump is "tapping into the most sinister sentiments in the country."  Joe Scarborough pushed back, pointing out that Wallace's own father is an avid Trump fan. "My father is listening to his dark angels," replied Wallace.

December 1, 2015, 9:54 AM EST

Here at NewsBusters, we usually reserve popcorn-popping for times when Democrats are scrapping among themselves. But in this strange political season, it looks like we could be in for some Orville Redenbacher moments among Republicans, too.

On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough mentioned having watched some of Megyn Kelly's Fox News show last night, and claimed that Kelly was "vicious" in going after Donald Trump. In the unkindest cut of all, Scarborough said Kelly "sounded like Rachel Maddow." View the video of Scarborough's statement, followed by clips from last night's Kelly File. You'll see that Megyn doesn't crack the slightest smile when Steve Hayes describes Trump as akin to "a dog with diarrhea." And a skeptical Kelly is all over Roger Stone when he attempts to defend Trump.

November 30, 2015, 12:16 PM EST

Ruth Marcus has come close to blaming Republicans for the Colorado Springs shootings. Appearing on Jose Diaz-Balart's MSNBC show today, Washington Post columnist Marcus said that "the Republican candidates . . . have been part of the inflamed and inflammatory rhetoric about Planned Parenthood, about the sale of baby parts, about dismembering live babies . . . I think it's a fair conclusion, especially based on his . . . alleged mentioning of 'no more baby parts,' that this kind of rhetoric helped create this environment."

Really? Is there no room for people--without being accused of inflaming people to commit murder--to express their opposition to abortion and to the largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood? To state what the videos indisputably demonstrate: that among other things that PP was in the business of selling baby body parts? 

November 30, 2015, 9:37 AM EST

Growing up in a quiet Jewish neighborhood of the Bronx, I was about as far removed as could be from the gun culture. But as a five or six year old, I would beg my parents to take me to visit the toy store a few blocks away so that I could gaze longingly in the window . . . at a toy six-shooter.

I share my story because I think it's typical. Of course there are exceptions, but from time immemorial the great majority of little boys have been drawn to toy weapons while little girls have largely been attracted to objects familial and domestic. At least until now. According to Yahoo Finance reporter Jen Rogers, who in an article entitled "Toys and gender: How things are changing this holiday season" recently wrote "if you think Barbies are for girls and Nerf weapons are for boys, you must be living in 2014."

November 29, 2015, 7:46 AM EST

It was one of those stunning live-TV moments revealing the seamier side of TV news.  Pat Brown is a criminal profiler who has taken a principled stand on media appearances about mass murderers. She will not discuss individual criminals, their motives, etc., believing that to do so only increases the number of mass murders. 

But when Brown appeared on CNN's New Day this morning, co-host Christi Paul immediately tried to engage her in a discussion of Colorado Springs shooter Robert Dear's possible "anti-government" views. Retorted Brown: "I'm a little disturbed because I made an agreement with CNN to appear this morning only under the condition that we do not talk about the particular shooter, use his name, or show his face." Undeterred, Paul tried to lure Brown into a discussion of the shooting investigation, but again Brown rebuffed it There the interview ended, but co-host Victor Blackwell came on to claim that the agreement had been honored because neither Dear's photo nor name had been used.  Didn't use Dear's name? Really? Have a look at the screencap, Mr. Blackwell.