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
August 15, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

The look on Al Sharpton's face was that of a mischievous cat who had just swallowed the canary. It came right after the Right Reverend concluded his remarks about Rand Paul and Hillary on today's Morning Joe.

Sharpton's gist was that, by speaking out on race [in a Time op-ed] in ways unaccustomed for Republicans, Paul presented a challenge to Hillary to clarify her own civil rights record.  Sharpton suggested that "many of us in the civil rights community" question the Clintons on race, citing triangulation, the Sistah Souljah moment, and Hillary's position on the Omnibus Crime Bill.  View the video after the jump.

August 14, 2014, 8:17 AM EDT

Inevitability, my eye.  If Republicans can't defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016 [assuming she gets there], they should be brought up on charges of political malfeasance.

So lacking is Hillary in the most basic of personal political prerequisites that even Morning Joe called her "canned" and cringeworthy.  The panel was commenting on an excruciating clip of Clinton prior to her hug-it-out dinner with President Obama last night.  Watch it if you dare, but the panel's point was a larger one--that there is something about Clinton's public persona as to be seriously off-putting.  View the video after the jump.

August 13, 2014, 9:37 AM EDT

President Obama is more "forceful" and "stubborn" about playing golf than he is about pushing through his policy agenda.  That was Dana Milbank's take on today's Morning Joe.  

As Joe Scarborough described it, earlier this week the normally left-leaning Milbank enjoyed a "12-minute honeymoon" with conservatives after his Washington Post column called Obama's decision to go golfing while the world burned an example of "tone deafness" if not outright "stupid stuff."  Milbank doubled down on the notion today with his suggestion that the president cares more about making it to the first tee than enacting his policy positions.  Milbank seemed frustrated with Obama's fecklessness. But if the president's love of the links keeps him from pushing his policies, conservatives should be saying "play on, Mr. President!"  View the video after the jump.

August 10, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

Fore left! Q. Is there any news professional who doesn't know that, out of respect for military families, President George W. Bush gave up golf not long after the Iraq war started?  A.  Yes.  Dan Harris, weekend Good Morning America co-host.

Harris' ignorance—or intentional disregard of the facts—was displayed during a segment today's GMA after Jonathan Karl reported that President Obama hit the links within an hour of landing at Martha's Vineyard and just hours after making a statement about US attacks on ISIS forces. After Karl said that Woodrow Wilson, in office during WWI, had played more golf than any other president, Harris claimed "George W. Bush played his fair share of golf during the Iraq war as well."  In fact, as noted above, W renounced golf in August, 2003, saying "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf . . . I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."  But defending Obama was apparently more important for Harris than the facts.  View the video after the jump.

August 9, 2014, 10:26 AM EDT

Today's New York Times op-ed page includes a wide-ranging interview on foreign policy that Thomas Friedman conducted with President Obama.  Let's break down some of the low-lights.  Excerpts from interview in italics, with my comments following. And sure, when President Obama said "I don't worry about Israel's survival," he explained his insouciance in terms of Israel's military might.  But was he telling a deeper truth?

Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.

LOL.  Yup, lions laying down with lambs any day now. So is Obama really saying that the US will not be involved in the Middle East ever again?  And how does he square his statement with the attack he ordered on ISIS?  Isn't that all about vanquishing them? More after the jump.

August 7, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

It's different when the MSM puts a Republican inside a bullseye, because, uh . . . Remember when in 2011 voices on the left from Keith Olbermann to Paul Krugman to the Huffington Post among many others suggested that Sarah Palin was at least partially to blame for the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords because Palin had put out a map of House seats with bullseyes depicting districts, including Giffords',  that Republicans were targeting?  Krugman for example wrung his hands over the "climate of hate" that Palin and others on the right were supposedly fomenting, and predicted growing political violence in the years ahead.

Will those same leftists condemn the Daily Beast, which today featured a photo of Rand Paul inside a big red bullseye over a story headlined "Rand Paul = Democrats’ Enemy #1."  Enemy #1?  Bullseye?  Oh, the humanity! View the photo after the jump.

August 4, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together." Joe Scarborough: My critics are "morons, and I can call them that."  The notoriously thin-skinned Morning Joe host is at it again.  Scarborough typically dings those who dare differ with him as Cheetos-chompers living in their mothers' basement. But Scarborough escalated the hostilities this morning, declaring that those who criticize his stance on Israel are "morons," and that he has been pro-Israel since the days that his critics were having their behinds wiped by mom.

Scarborough had caused a firestorm last week when, as NewsBuster Connor Williams reported, he accused Israel of "indiscriminate" attacks on Gaza.  Scarborough again made the "indiscriminate" accusation this morning, and no doubt anticipating additional criticism, launched his pre-emptive strike.  View the video after the jump.

August 1, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT

Do Gaza civilians support Hamas' military operations that use them as human shields and store weapons in their schools and mosques?  Ayman Mohyeldin would have you think so.  On today's Morning Joe, the NBC reporter claimed that among Gazans, Hamas' military wing is "very highly revered."

To which Israeli spokesman Mark Regev had a stunning comeback: "I mean, if you walk down the street in Gaza with an NBC camera and you ask people, well, was Hamas shooting from this building that the Israelis targeted? No, everyone will say, of course, not. Because you have a regime that is ultimately authoritarian and violent to its own people and they have that ability to control the message. It's like walking down the street in Cuba with a camera and saying do you like Fidel Castro? What can people say?"  View the video after the jump.

July 31, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

Latest dispatch from the Department of Too Much Information: Thomas Roberts wants you to know that if diagnosed with low-T, he would take a testosterone supplement "without hesitation."

More surprising is Roberts' reckless attitude.  Asked whether testosterone's possible health risks would dissuade him from taking the hormone, Roberts replied: "No. I want to live today, I will borrow from tomorrow."  Roberts' startling admission came during today's Morning Joe segment on Time's current cover story, "Manopause," which looks into the testosterone-supplement boom and its associated dangers.  Roberts' statement shocked his fellow panelists. View the video after the jump.

July 30, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

There are days when Mika Brzezinski will surprise you.  Take Morning Joe today, and Brzezinski's comments on the news that ESPN had suspended Stephen A. Smith for a week for his comments about women "provoking" domestic violence.

Said Mika: "I think it's too bad we can't have a conversation without people exploding, because I think he was trying to make a point. It might have been inartful but there was a point to what he was saying that is absolutely valid and has value."  Surprising, no?  View the video after the jump.

July 29, 2014, 7:39 AM EDT

Everyone knows how safe the streets of Washington, DC are [where as of 2010 violent crime was three times the national average], and how DC criminals scrupulously respect the District's very restrictive gun-control laws. So of course the last thing you would want is to permit law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.  Why, that would only lead to the Gunfight at the DC Corral.  No, better to keep all the guns in the hands of criminals.  

Such seems to be Eugene Robinson's logic.  On today's Morning Joe, the Washington Post columnist bemoaned a federal judge's ruling that DC's total ban on public carry is unconstitutional.  According to Robinson, "Congress and the courts are essentially saying no, go ahead, shoot it out." View the video after the jump.

July 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Churchill: Never give in. Never, never, never.  FDR: The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.  Obama: Fore left!  Sometimes public service demands too much of a man.  Take poor Tony Blinken.  Appearing on Morning Joe today, President Obama's  Deputy National Security Adviser actually claimed that the president was exhibiting "extraordinary leadership" in putting pressure on Russia over Ukraine.

Yes, so "extraordinary" that even as Blinken was being introduced, news was breaking that the Putin-backed Ukrainian rebels had resumed their terrorist ways, shooting down two Ukrainian military planes. View the video after the jump.

July 22, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

The man who suggested that the US shoot down Israeli airplanes is at it again.  Surveying the Israeli/Hamas conflict, Zbigniew Brzezinski couldn't summon up one word of condemnation for Hamas' intentional targeting of Israeli civilians with thousands of rockets and mortars.

Instead, Jimmy Carter's national security adviser had harsh words for only one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Brzezinski said he didn't include Netanyahu in the category of leaders man enough to negotiate, accusing the Israeli PM of having "scuttled" peace efforts--again without a word of criticism for Hamas. Zbigniew ended his anti-Israel tirade by decrying that "the ideologues, hard-liners, the ones that promulgate confrontation are in charge, and that's what's so hard and so disgustingly destructive."  Any disgustingly destructive hard-liners in Gaza, Zbig?  View the video after the jump.

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.