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 15, 2008, 7:11 AM EDT
Mika Brzezinski might be an Obama backer, but she really should sit down with Hillary Clinton. The woman who turned $1,000 into $100,000 could clue her in to the workings of the commodities markets.  Be it cattle or crude oil, the concept's the same: these are "futures" markets in which prices are set on traders' expectations of what conditions will be some time down the road.

Mika's need for urgent remedial help on the matter became evident during the first minutes of today's Morning Joe.  Ostensibly fulfilling her news-reading function, Mika veered from the prepared text to inject her own editorializing to the effect that lifting the offshore drilling ban today wouldn't lower gas prices for ten years.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Time for a look at some of today's top stories.  President Bush is calling on congress to lift its ban on offshore oil drilling. On Monday the president ended a long-standing moratorium on the practice, saying new drilling would ease pressure on fuel prices [going off-script to inject her own views] -- in about ten years.  Critics argue the production of gas from the offshore --

View video here.

July 14, 2008, 9:58 PM EDT

Not that she is, but if Michelle Obama were in fact a Black Panther, what's the big deal?  So seems to think Michelle Bernard.

Anyone who imagines that Bernard brings conservative balance to the MSNBC panels on which she regularly appears should think again.  Yes, Bernard is head of the Independent Women's Forum, an organization with strong conservative roots.  And true, Bernard served on the 2000 Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee.  But as the Daily Howler has documented [see 1/3 down page], her pronouncements on Hardball have often been supportive of Barack Obama.  

More evidence of that was on display tonight when Bernard condemned the New Yorker cover in harsh terms and then, incredibly, seemed to say that there would be nothing wrong if the cover's caricature of Michelle Obama as a Black Panther were grounded in reality!

View video here.

July 14, 2008, 5:35 PM EDT

A couple days ago at the gym, listening to a Hugh Hewitt podcast and perhaps not paying as much attention as I should have while pedaling away, I heard Hugh mention that Barack Obama doesn't understand the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What was Hugh referring to? As the British would say: the penny just dropped.  A few minutes ago, CNN's Situation Room played a clip of Obama saying this about his plan for Iraq:

BARACK OBAMA: I'm going to call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and give them a new mission, and that is to bring the war in Iraq to a close.  We are going to get out.
There's only one problem.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff does not have operational command of U.S. military forces.  That authority resides in the commanders of the various Unified Combatant Commands.  CENTCOM is the command with responsibility for Iraq [and 26 other countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan].  Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Pres. Bush's appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as CENTCOM commander.  Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is the new US commander for Iraq, replacing Gen. Petraeus. Those are the people, along with the Secretary of Defense, to whom the orders Obama spoke of would be issued.

 View video here.

July 14, 2008, 7:21 AM EDT

Look for Mika Brzezinski outside the Danish embassy.  True, the Danes had nothing to do with the New Yorker's publication of the Obama cover. But what more time-honored locale to protest an irreverent cartoon of a figure adulated with religious fervor?

Mika has condemned the New Yorker cover as "dangerous."  Why dangerous?  Mika doesn't quite say.  But by darkly musing about unspoken perils that derive from the mocking of Obama, she would apparently place irony about her candidate off limits. Mika sounded the alarm on today's Morning Joe.

View video here.

July 12, 2008, 1:07 PM EDT
In 2006, I was invited to attend the annual Television and Radio Correspondents Dinner in Washington, DC.  Before and after the big shindig, all the major news organizations throw parties in the same hotel.  I attended the Fox News event, and Tony Snow was there.  

I had never met Tony and he didn't know me from Adam. I was just a neophyte blogger from this new site, NewsBusters.  Nevertheless, Tony greeted and spoke with me warmly, and I had a very powerful sense of someone who, in a manner rooted in his religious faith, truly cared about others.  As I stood on the fringe of the crowd as many others spoke with him, I witnessed the same outpouring of caring and concern coming from Tony toward all that he met.  There was an palpable aura of loving-kindness that emanated from him.

July 10, 2008, 8:06 AM EDT

See Bonus Coverage at foot: Barnicle accuses Jesse Jackson of "corporate blackmail."

Two veteran members of the Senate, two entirely different treatments from Andrea Mitchell.  Reverence for Ted Kennedy; scorn for Strom Thurmond. Guest hosting in Mika Brzezinski's spot on Morning Joe today, Mitchell, emotion in her voice, hailed Kennedy as "valiant" and a "hero."  As for Thurmond, Mitchell mocked that he wasn't alive even when he was in the Senate.

View video here.

The reference to the late South Carolina senator arose in the context of a discussion of the way in which, with the nomination of Barack Obama, the torch of Dem leadership has been passed to a new generation, whereas the same isn't true in John McCain's GOP.

July 9, 2008, 9:25 PM EDT

If there's one person in the NBC news stable who combines solid analytical skills with a commitment to fairness, it could be political director Chuck Todd.  Evidence thereof comes from no less a certified conservative source than Tom DeLay. Appearing on this evening's Hardball just after Todd had offered his breakdown of the electoral map, DeLay allowed that he "can't dispute" any of Todd's analysis, prompting Chris Matthews to exclaim "that's a development for us here: objective truth for you!"

So what was that Todd analysis that DeLay didn't dispute?  There was much to it, but for present purposes let's focus on this: Todd can't see how Obama wins without Pennsylvania, and that having former governor Tom Ridge on the McCain ticket would help deliver the Keystone State.  The catch is that Ridge is pro-choice, which in turn poses the question of whether pro-life Republicans would revolt if McCain chose him for the veep slot.

View video here.

You'll find the transcript below. I'd be particularly interested in getting the take of pro-life readers.  I offer my own two cents at the foot.

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.