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:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
March 4, 2008, 9:03 PM EST

Touchy, touchy, Chris!

Palpably stung by Ken Blackwell's observation that Republicans had lost their way by running like Reagan but governing like Carter, Chris Matthews -- former speechwriter to the president from Plains -- cracked back by playing the Abramoff card and claiming Republicans are more corrupt than Dems.

Blackwell, the impressive former Secretary of State of Ohio and past candidate for Buckeye state governor, was Matthews' guest during this evening's MSNBC election coverage. Blackwell was discussing what it would take for Republicans to win in 2008.

KEN BLACKWELL: My view is this, Chris, that we got off track. We started to campaign like Ronald Reagan and at times govern like Jimmy Carter. And as a consequence, people, people really questioned whether or not we were true to our message . . .
Ken's comment clearly cut Chris to the quick. He tried to parry.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I just don't think Jack Abramoff worked for the Carter administration, Ken, did he?
View video here.
March 4, 2008, 8:25 AM EST
Has the Clinton campaign been caught engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Latinos? Jake Tapper suggests it has. ABC News' Senior National Correspondent reported from Texas this morning. After airing footage of Hillary on the stump reminiscing about her days in Texas back in 1972 working on the McGovern campaign, Tapper continued.
JAKE TAPPER: That experience may the reason why Clinton's campaign asks supporters in Spanish-language TV ads to show up at tonight's caucuses 15 minutes earlier than it asks supporters in English ads, suggesting to some Hispanic political observers that the Clinton campaign thinks Latinos might be a little tardy.

¡Ay caramba!

View video here.

March 3, 2008, 9:59 PM EST
"We'll deal with him later." -- Clinton co-chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, on Mark Penn.

"It's disgusting for him to do this . . . that's just disgusting." -- Clinton supporter Hilary Rosen.

Mark Penn sleeps with the fishes. Metaphorically speaking only, of course.

On this evening's Tucker, Clinton's chief campaign strategist came in for some industrial-strength opprobrium from two prominent members of Team Hillary for his attempt to flee what might be a sinking ship.

View video here.

March 3, 2008, 4:13 PM EST | Photo by Elaine Thompson/APOpening paragraph from the item by NYT reporter John Holusha in the paper's house blog The Lede on the eco-terrorists who burned three new homes north of Seattle today [emphasis added]:
For people who are anti-sprawl activists — or have baser motives — a new-built house sitting empty in a previously rural area evidently makes a ripe target for an attack by fire.
Consider also the item's headline: "House Fires With a Message in the Northwest." Yes, think of it as a bonus. Not just a housefire . . . a housefire with a message!
March 3, 2008, 9:04 AM EST

Here at NB, we're not normally in the business of feeling sorry for MSMers like Harry Smith. But I can't help but express some sympathy for the Early Show anchor at the prospect of the feminist, Clintonite wrath that is likely to descend on his head after a comment he made this morning

Among the metaphors most likely to drive feminists up the wall is that of the angry woman yielding that symbol of domestic serfdom, the frying pan. But in discussing the prospect of Hillary's anger at Bill for his responsibility for her possibly impending defeat, Smith invoked . . . you guessed it. Harry was coffee klatsching with Dem consultant Joe Trippi and pollster Frank Luntz this morning, and it was the latter who first described Bill as a drag on Hillary's campaign. The issue was whether Clinton could stay in the race if she splits the Texas and Ohio primaries tomorrow.
JOE TRIPPI: I don't think she should get out if she wins Ohio and loses Texas but I think there will be pressure there.
FRANK LUNTZ: It didn't help her that her husband said that she's got to win both.
LUNTZ: Bill has been -- I feel sorry for him the night, if she does pull out, he should not be at the home in Chappaqua.
That's when a chuckling Smith put his foot in it, even providing the sound effects.
March 2, 2008, 10:29 AM EST

Brit Hume has some blunt advice for conservatives: lay off McCain if you don't want a Dem president.

At the very end of today's Fox News Sunday panel segment, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was first to make an argument along similar lines.
BILL KRISTOL: I'm more conservative than John McCain but I think it would be a mistake for him to just make himself into an orthodox conservative in this election. The reason he is a stronger candidate than a lot of other Republicans would be is that he is a little bit heterodox. He's got his own views, he shouldn't back off on that, I think, actually.
Hume then framed the issue in dramatic terms:
BRIT HUME: And if the conservatives don't want a President Obama or a President Clinton, they ought to get off McCain's back and let him campaign as whatever he wants to, and campaign from the center.
February 29, 2008, 6:54 AM EST
It's enough to make Hillary yearn for a tough hit piece about herself . . .

If there's anything worse for a candidate than being attacked by the press, it's being ignored. Yet that is precisely the fate that's befallen Clinton, as per Charles Mahtesian's item in this morning's Politico: Clinton Seeks to Regain Spotlight.

Opening lines [emphasis added]:
There was a time not long ago when Hillary Clinton dominated the discourse in both parties’ presidential contests.

Now, she’s struggling to get her message out and remain part of the campaign conversation . . .
February 28, 2008, 9:45 AM EST

Not that Time's in the tank for Obama or nuthin'. Not that its new cover merely depicts Barack with an other-worldly aura, asks the question whether experience matters and answers it largely in the negative.

No, it gets much better. The magazine's editor goes on Morning Joe and cites a study comparing a new nurse with a nurse who has 35 years of experience. And he lets us know that not only did the experienced nurse not perform any better than the rookie, she actually wound up . . . killing the patient faster!

Time editor Rick Stengel [a former Bill Bradley speechwriter] today made his regular Thursday-morning Morning Joe appearance to tout the mag's new cover story. This week's, as you'll see from the screencap, is "How Much Does Experience Matter?", with that ethereal glow surrounding Obama's noggin.

February 27, 2008, 8:18 PM EST

Of all the qualities Hillary might have emphasized to her advantage, can you imagine basing her campaign on her "warmth" and "likability"? Chris Kofinis can. The former communications director of the John Edwards campaign appeared on Tucker Carlson's show this evening.

Kofinis offered his only-slightly premature post mortem of the Clinton campaign.

February 27, 2008, 6:15 PM EST
In the course of offering a tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr. on this afternoon's Hardball, Chris Matthews made a surprising revelation: that he came to political consciousness as a WFB conservative.

You'll find the transcript of the Hardball host's remarks below, but I'd encourage you to view the video, here. See if, like me, you're struck by the heartfelt nature of his comments.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you want to influence someone, get to him or her in high school. It's my experience that people at that age are the most impressionable, the most searching for guidance, for example, for purposes. It was in high school that I came under the charm and the influence of William F. Buckley, Jr., the dashing, charismatic young conservative who wrote God and Man at Yale, McCarthy and His Enemies, and founded the wistful, precocious, companionable monthly, National Review. As a high schooler, I could tell you which drugstore got National Review first. I went to hear Bill Buckley at a meeting of the Montgomery County Young Republicans. It was from National Review that I gained my early affection and appetite for political philosophy and argument.
February 27, 2008, 11:03 AM EST

Advice to Camp Clinton: if it's not too late, remove all sharp objects before viewing the tape of this morning's Early Show. The CBS program served up a thorough trashing of Hillary's debate performance, capped by the unkindest cut of all from a Dem/MSM perspective: analogizing Hillary to Bill Cunningham, whose tough talk about Barack Obama in introducing John McCain yesterday prompted the Arizona senator to disassociate himself from the conservative radio talk show host.

CBS White House correspondent kicked off the avalanche of bad press for Hillary by offering this debate review:

JIM AXELROD: Clinton tried new ways to knock him off stride . . . But Obama seemed to slip nearly every thing she threw at him . . . Obama had the easier job than Clinton. All he had to do was avoid a major gaffe. And it what may very well be the last debate of this campaign, he seemed to handle that job breaking very little sweat.

February 27, 2008, 7:55 AM EST
If one image can illustrate why Barack Obama is on the verge of winning the Dem presidential nomination, this one from last night's debate could be it.

View video here.

Not only does it represent the epitome of good-natured cool, it comes in stark contrast to the patented glare that Hillary aims at those who draw her ire. We've often illustrated the death-ray genre here at NB; you'll find a representative image after the jump from last night's debate.

Obama's gesture speaks largely for itself, but let's don our amateur body-language expert hat:
February 26, 2008, 7:48 PM EST

Now that David Shuster has returned from MSNBC exile after the Clinton campaign complained about his comments on Chelsea, will Tucker Carlson's be the next head Camp Hillary hunts?

Senior Clinton advisor Kiki McClean comprehensively rapped Carlson's knuckles this evening over comments Tucker made about Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer.

View video here.

February 26, 2008, 5:28 PM EST

What is it with these Hillary surrogates putting themselves in the limelight? Bill has famously turned the focus on himself, in effect giving Hillary's concession speech on a recent losing night and more recently exhorting people to elect "me."

Today it was Madeleine Albright's turn. Speaking with Wolf Blitzer on this afternoon's Situation Room ostensibly for purposes of promoting Hillary Clinton, Madame Secretary managed to use the "I" word 20 times in under four minutes. Throw in one "my" and another "myself" and that's more than a score of self references.

View edited video clip here.

February 26, 2008, 8:28 AM EST
The worm has certainly turned when Bill Clinton's former press secretary goes on a local TV show, calls Hillary a b---- in so many words . . . and a national news show then chooses to air the footage. It happened on today's Good Morning America in the course of a conversation that co-anchor Robin Roberts conducted with Cokie Roberts and Matt Dowd.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Many are wondering how far she can go in attacking Barack Obama. Even President Clinton's former press secretary Dee Dee Myers made a comment about it being harder for a woman to walk that fine line. This is what she said.
Cut to clip of Myers in a recent appearance on NY1, the NYC cable news channel.
DEE DEE MYERS: I think so many women in positions of authority -- and she's certainly one of them -- have to walk that fine line between being authoratative and being a bitch [worded bleeped during GMA airing]. And she you know, she hasn't always succeeded. I think it's hard for a woman to succeed.

View video here.

February 25, 2008, 10:41 PM EST
Tucker Carlson, on his MSNBC show this evening, describing the Clinton campaign's press relations . . .
TUCKER CARLSON: They're awful to the media: let's be totally blunt. They're awful to the press. They treat the press like enemies. [Clinton Communication Director] Howard Wolfson's always calling around threatening people. Threatening people! News organizations! They do that! People hate you if you do that. I mean, they've earned the enmity of the press, in my view. They have. I mean, it's been hard but they've done it.

View video here.

The affable Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post tried to defuse matters, to no avail . . .

February 25, 2008, 8:34 PM EST

The airwaves have been filled today with the clip of an angry Hillary saying "shame on you, Barack Obama," and another of Clinton mocking the notion that, to believe Barack, "celestial choirs will be singing."

But on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews unearthed yet another clip of Hillary at her harshest. And after playing it, a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth Matthews ripped the Clinton campaign strategy. Words won't do justice to Clinton's fingernails-on-blackboard tone, but here's what a raspy-voiced Hillary said in the video Matthews played.

HILLARY CLINTON: Quit misleading people about what I do. [Ed.: shades of Bob Dole's unsuccessful line to George H.W in 1988: "stop lying about my record.'] Quit telling people what is not true about my plan. You know, come on: enough is enough! Let's get real here, and compare exactly what both of us stand for!
View video here.
February 25, 2008, 9:02 AM EST
Here in Ithaca and no doubt in other liberal bastions across the land, you can still see cars festooned with those bitter bumper stickers: "Re-Defeat Bush!" and "Bush: Selected, Not Elected!" Those sentiments remain reflected in an MSM still smarting from Florida 2000. All of which made Ann Curry's words on this morning's Today, announcing the ascendancy of Raul Castro in Cuba, so ironic.
ANN CURRY: In the news this morning, we begin with Cuba and its [first] new president in nearly half a century. Raul Castro was officially chosen on Sunday to take over from his brother Fidel who announced his retirement last week.

View video here.

February 24, 2008, 3:34 PM EST

Might the MSM be miffed at the prospect of Ralph Nader making problems for the Dem candidate?

Ralph Nader will always have a place in Republicans' hearts for his yeoman work in Florida in 2000. But Democrats and the MSM apparently aren't looking so kindly on the hard-left crusader. Consider this comment from CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider [file photo] on this morning's Late Edition, commenting on Nader's announcement on today's Meet the Press that he was again running for president.

JOHN KING: Is there a niche for Ralph Nader that could actually have an impact on the race?

BILL SCHNEIDER: It's a disappearing niche. In 2000 when he ran, he got about 2.8 million votes. In 2004, he got fewer than half a million votes. I imagine anyone left who's going to vote for Ralph Nader are probably people who wouldn't vote if Ralph Nader weren't running. They're the real die-hard. He really has gone over the past eight years, back in 1996 as a green candidate. He's gone from being a revered, national icon to something of a public nuisance.


February 24, 2008, 9:02 AM EST
If that sound isn't the fat lady clearing her throat, it might be the MSM humming Hillary's dirge. Consider, for example, ABC national political correspondent Jake Tapper's Good Morning America segment today on the differences in tone between the Obama and Clinton campaigns. After playing footage of an angry Hillary waving allegedly misleading Obama campaign literature and then of a relaxed Obama laughing it off, Tapper had this to say.
JAKE TAPPER: There's a difference between a winner's confident stride and the strained scurrying of the also-ran.
View video here.