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
July 9, 2008, 12:55 PM EDT
Got to be good looking
'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now
Over me—The Beatles, "Come Together" (1969) [YouTube]

Bob Herbert just doesn't get it.  As Noel Sheppard has noted, in his NYT column today Herbert accuses Barack Obama of "lurching right when it suits him, and . . . zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash." The NY Times columnist goes on to condemn the candidate for "pandering to evangelicals;"  agreeing with Justices Scalia and Thomas on a "barbaric" interpretation of the 8th Amendment; and playing a "dangerous game" with his "shifts and panders."

No, no, no, Bob!  That's not what's happening at all.  Obama isn't flip-flopping.  He's simply fulfilling his pledge to bring us together. What makes Herbert's obtuseness all the more infuriating is that enlightenment was just a stroll down the corridor away, to the office of Gail Collins.   Herbert's fellow Times columnist explained what is really going on during her appearance today on Morning Joe.

View video here.

July 8, 2008, 9:36 PM EDT

You'd think Chris Matthews might wish Howard Wolfson well on the news that the former top aide to Hillary Clinton has joined Fox News as a Dem analyst. Think again.  The Hardball host has ungraciously predicted that the move to Fox could spell the end of Wolfson—and in doing so revealed his own pop-culture roots.

Here was Matthews on this evening's Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Fox News loves presenting itself as the alternative to the other news networks. Roger Ailes, the guy behind the network, figures that the Hillary campaign needs a new home, now that she's out of the race for president. So, abracadabra, Howard Wolfson, the voice of the Hillary campaign, has just been hired by—you guessed it—Fox News. Wolfson has just signed a contract as a regular contributor. He told the New York Times, quote, "it is important to have a strong progressive voice on the network." Well I think it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  Reminds me of a movie: it's called Howards End.

View video here.

July 8, 2008, 6:42 AM EDT
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Obama's campaign, said Monday that the altered seal would not be used again. She said it was only intended for that event, in which Obama held a round-table discussion with Democratic governors. -- AP story, June 23, 2008 [emphasis added]

Hat tip teoman.

Add Obama's pledge to drop the faux presidential seal to his list of "inoperative" statements.  The image shown here [and another seen at foot after break] are taken from the current version of "Fight the Smears," an official Obama website that purports to debunk false rumors about the candidate. 

July 6, 2008, 1:18 PM EDT
Why would the New York Times divulge information that could prove harmful to the national security of the United States?  Because, so consumed is it by hatred of President Bush, that the paper actually wants America to lose.  Such is the considered opinion Jim Pinkerton expressed on yesterday's Fox News Watch.  The case in point was an article the Times published on June 30, 2008, Amid U.S. Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan, which quoted from a "highly-classified Pentagon order" describing internal disputes at the Pentagon over plans to capture Osama Bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda.
JIM PINKERTON: We endanger national security when you leak sources and methods. For example, the story that Cal [Thomas] alluded to before, about the wiretaps across the world.

JANE HALL: That's a different deal.

PINKERTON: OK. I think—just a hunch—that the New York Times hates the Bush administration so much that they want us to lose, that's what I think.
View video here.
July 5, 2008, 3:54 PM EDT

Add Monica Conyers's name to that list of Dems run afoul of the law whose party affiliation the MSM fails to mention.  Conyers, the Detroit City Council President Pro Tem, a Democrat and an Obama supporter, has made unwelcome headlines before, from getting into an argument with an eight-grader to allegedly threatening to shoot an aide to the Detroit mayor.  Now things have taken a turn for the worse. According to the Detroit News in an article today entitled Bribe probe ensnarls Conyers:

Federal investigators have electronic surveillance evidence that allegedly links Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers with receiving a payment or payments in connection with a city-approved sludge contract.
Ruh-roh.  Conyers is the wife of John Conyers, the Dem Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who continues to toy with the notion of seeking to impeach President Bush.  So how did this morning's Today show report the story? 

View video here

July 4, 2008, 6:51 AM EDT

New chapter in the lack-of-love fest between Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow.  As noted here and here, the pair have clashed in the past. The GOP-congressman-turned-MSNBC-host and the Air America personality got into it again on last evening's Race for the White House, with Joe [guest-hosting for David Gregory] eventually accusing Rachel of perfectly capturing the Clinton cackle.

View video here.

The point of departure was Maddow's insistence against all evidence that Obama hasn't softened his out-of-Iraq-in-16-months position.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: The exact quote here, Rachel, and again, Rachel, you are obviously the only person here that did not hear this quote from the campaign manager, quote: "we will be --
Cut to Maddow, laughing heartily.
SCARBOROUGH: -- out of Iraq at 16 months, at the most." And then [Obama] went ahead and said yes, "because I'm the Commander-in-Chief, but I will still listen" --
Back to Maddow, literally doubling over in laughter.
SCARBOROUGH: -- "to the generals when it comes to tactics." It would strike me as funny, too, if I had no response to that.
And a bit later . . .
July 3, 2008, 2:39 PM EDT
Wha-h-h-h? This has to go down as one of the stranger non sequiturs from a pundit of national standing.  Responding to a study that concludes that burgeoning multiculturalism threatens national unity, David Broder takes solace in the fact that 34 years ago, the American body politic booted Richard Nixon from office.  

In his column of today, One Nation No More?, Broder comments on the study, E Pluribus Unum, recently released by the The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

July 3, 2008, 7:49 AM EDT
I have said consistently that I believe the Second Amendment is an individual right. -- Barack Obama, June 26, 2008

In some ways, the Supreme Court term that just ended seems muddled: disturbing, highly conservative rulings on subjects like voting rights and gun control . . . In another sharp break with its traditions, the court struck down parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law. After seven decades of holding that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is tied to raising a militia, the court reversed itself and ruled that it confers on individuals the right to keep guns in their homes for personal use. The decision will no doubt add significantly to the number of Americans killed by gun violence. -- NYT editorial, A Supreme Court on the Brink, July 3, 2008 [emphasis added]
How far left is the editorial board of the New York Times?  Far enough that, when it comes to the Second Amendment, Barack Obama would seemingly qualify as "highly conservative" in its eyes.  

The gist of the Grey Lady's editorial of today is to warn voters that the Supreme Court is just a vote away from a conservative majority. The paper instructs voters to keep that grim prospect "firmly in mind when they go to the polls in November."  In the course of its scare-mongering, the editorial liberally sprinkles terms sure to send a shiver down lefty spines: "highly conservative," "a far-right majority," "cold-hearted," "dedicated members of the conservative movement," "the conservative bloc," "far-right bloc," 'one more conservative appointment would . .  push [the Court] even further in a dangerous direction."

July 2, 2008, 6:41 AM EDT
He ain't triangulating, he's my post-partisan.  That's Eugene Robinson's innovative new MSM means of covering for Barack Obama.  As Obama sprints toward the center and away from many of the positions that won him the nomination from the liberal Dem base, WaPo columnist Robinson has suggested that the nominee isn't engaging in the kind of cynical "triangulating" that made Bill Clinton famous.  No, Obama's just being the post-partisan he really was all along.

Robinson trotted out his theory on last evening's "Race for the White House" on MSNBC in reaction to Obama's announcement, mirabile dictu, that far from junking Pres. Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives—long a target of the secular left—a President Obama would actually expand the program! Sounds like a cynical ploy to some.  But not to Robinson . . .

View video here.

June 30, 2008, 9:01 AM EDT

Andrea Mitchell depicts Wesley Clark's cracks about John McCain's heroism as a gaffe.  Bloopers that will cost him any chance of being picked for the Obama veep slot.  But surely the seasoned MSM hand knows better than to imagine that Clark was freelancing.  Clark's were anything but impromptu remarks, made, say, late at night to a foreign reporter in a hotel cocktail lounge in some far-flung land.  To the contrary, Clark took his shots in the brightest of limelights—those of a Sunday morning talk show—speaking with the venerable Bob Schieffer.  Clark was explicitly there as an Obama campaign surrogate. 

Moreover, Clark had made similar comments before, as a guest on Morning Joe earlier this month [YouTube of earlier appearance].  So the Obama campaign was well aware of his views. If it had any qualms about him expressing them, surely he would have been warned off.  Thus, far from representing a gaffe, Clark's comments must be seen as reflecting Barack Obama's calculated strategy—and that is precisely how the McCain campaign has interpreted them.

So why would Andrea Mitchell turn up on Morning Joe today lambasting Clark for his "stupid" and "dumb" remarks?  You don't suppose she was trying to inoculate Obama, give him cover, some plausible deniability, so that the remarks get the maximum attention without Obama's fingerprints being seen on them?

View video here.

Here's how it went down on Morning Joe today [note: the Face the Nation clip of Clark was actually aired after Andrea's comments, but I've placed it before so people can see precisely what he said]:

June 27, 2008, 9:41 PM EDT
Michael Smerconish is thinking of voting for Obama.  The Philly talk radio host let it be known while subbing for Dan Abrams on tonight's "Verdict" on MSNBC.  He actually did so, chatting with Ron Reagan, while criticizing Obama's flip-flops.  But the bottom line is the bottom line.
SMERCONISH: I want to think big picture, and I want to do so by showing you a piece of that which was published in today's Washington Post by Charles Krauthammer, if we can put that up on the screen:
The truth about Obama is uncomplicated. He is just a politician . . . When it's time to throw campaign finance reform, telecom accountability, NAFTA renogiation or Jeremiah Wright overboard, Obama is not sentimental.  He does not hesitate. He tosses lustily . . . By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.
That's Charles Krauthammer.  Ron, I voted for the first time in 1980 for your dad. I have never voted for a Democrat for president. I voted for plenty of Democrats, but never for president. I've not ruled it out in this cycle, because I like this guy. But the events of the last 10 days or so make him seem status quo, make him seem like just a run-of-the-mill politician.

View video here.

June 26, 2008, 7:24 AM EDT

See Bonus Video at foot: Mika Victimized by Retching Rover!

In polite liberal circles, Ralph Nader's suggestion that Barack Obama "wants to talk white" and avoid appearing like another Jesse Jackson is infra dig.  Take, for example, Joan Walsh's reaction on yesterday's Hardball.  Said the editor of Salon.com:

I don't think that racism is too strong a word for what he said.
Added NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:
It's a lousy, reprehensible comment.
But as uncomfortable as Nader's statement might make some people, could there be a kernel of truth to it? Joe Scarborough seems to think so. And even Prof. Michael Dyson—Obama fan and commentator on matters racial—seemed to acknowledge that "ghetto-speak" would hurt Barack, going so far as to imitate the kind of street accent that could damage the candidate's campaign.

View video here.

June 25, 2008, 6:20 PM EDT

Donna Brazile & Bill Bennett, CNN Who cares if Barack Obama won't protect a child who is born alive after an abortion?  Gas is over $4/gallon! 

So argued Donna Brazile when Bill Bennett pressed her on the matter today.  The issue arose during a post-Obama press conference kibitzing session on CNN's Situation Room.  Bennett was making the point that the complaisant media in attendance had failed to press the candidate on tough issues.

View video here.

June 23, 2008, 8:44 PM EDT
If we're going to promote a candid discussion of race in our country, we can't jump down the throat of everyone who ventures onto the racial minefield.  Rather than finding offense in Roger Simon's suggestion that choosing Bobby Jindal as his VP running-mate would hurt John McCain among racist voters, I propose we simply analyze it.  Here's what Simon said on this evening's Hardball, as guest host Mike Barnicle led the Politico reporter and Newsweek's Howard Fineman through a tour d'horizon of possible VP picks.
MIKE BARNICLE: Interesting new Republican face, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

ROGER SIMON: Interesting.  Young.  Very young, almost too young to run, not quite, he gets over the constitutional limit. But I gotta raise the delicate subject: if you're John McCain, and you know that you're going to get an 'x' percentage of votes based on race, do you pick a dark-skinned vice-presidential candidate, who some people are going to say–wrongly—is black, is a Hindu converted to Catholicism, who's an Indian-American? You know, none of that should matter in American politics, but is it a safe choice, or is it a choice that is going to get everybody chattering? I think McCain is going to go for a safer choice than that.
View video here.
June 23, 2008, 4:45 PM EDT
The MSM is sure to have a field day with McCain advisor Charlie Black's statement that a terror attack on U.S. soil "would be a big advantage" to the Republican candidate. McCain has been quick to dissociate himself from the remark, and surely Black would have been well-advised not to make it. Predictably, CNN's Jack Cafferty has been leading the charge against Black. In his "Cafferty File" question this afternoon, the CNN commentator called Black's remark "breathtaking in its stupidity" and asked viewers whether Black should be fired.

View video here.

But does Cafferty, in all his outrage, realize that Hillary Clinton made a remark almost identical to Black's? Here's Hillary, in a report from . . . CNN entitled "Clinton: Terrorist attack would help GOP" [emphasis added]:
June 23, 2008, 12:40 PM EDT

Mike Barnicle has some campaign advice for John McCain: don't say anything about Obama's questionable connections. The former Boston Globe columnist, with a heartfelt second from Mika Brzezinski, wants the world to know that he's heard enough about Reverends Wright and Pfleger, not to mention Bill Ayers, and thinks McCain would "win a few points" for staying away from all that stuff and concentrating on the important issues facing Americans—like better batteries.

Barnicle made his suggestion on today's Morning Joe in commenting on an audio clip of Obama warning a crowd this past Friday that the Republicans will, among other misdemeanors, play the race card against him and accuse him of having a "feisty wife."

View video here.

June 20, 2008, 7:24 AM EDT

Not a mere hell-freezes-over-moment.  Call it–in honor of Chinese Olympic diving which made the NY Times today–a a triple-twisting forward three-and-a-half flying pig, pike position.  An MSM reporter has condemned socialist big-government programs, adding a pitch for unrestrained free-market forces.  Check the end of this item for a factoid making the moment even more remarkable.

CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera made the stunning statement on Morning Joe today while reporting on a change in Chinese policy that should lower the price of crude oil world-wide.

View video here.

June 19, 2008, 7:39 AM EDT

It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.

View video here.

An article in yesterday's New York Times, After Attacks, Michelle Obama Looks for a New Introduction, claimed that just such a makeover was planned:

Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript].  The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
June 18, 2008, 6:30 PM EDT

The dog ate my transcript.  

That's roughly what Susan Rice's response to a pointed question from Laura Ingraham amounted to. Give credit to Rice, Obama senior foreign policy advisor, for appearing on Ingraham's "Just In" FNC show today and taking on the host in a freewheeling conversation.   But she and her candidate are really going to have to learn to do better than the feeble dodge she offered.

The subject was the recent phone conversation between Obama and Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari.  ABC's Jake Tapper reports that after the call, Obama claimed that Zebari "did not express" any concern about the Dem candidate's plan to withdraw U.S. troops.  But Zebari told the Washington Post "that he had some frank talk for the candidate: 'The foreign minister said ‘my message’ to Mr. Obama ‘was very clear...Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.’"

That led to this exchange between Ingraham and Rice.

View video here.

June 18, 2008, 8:58 AM EDT

It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.

Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in.  In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism." 

Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange: