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
March 15, 2008, 10:32 AM EDT

I've enjoyed Tucker Carlson's show and can't let it pass into history, as it did last night, without a mention here. MSNBC has said that Tucker will remain at the network as an at-large commentator, and I have a feeling that, liberated from show-host concerns, he might become even more uninhibited in the expression of his quirkily conservative/libertarian views.

So let's usher Tucker out by focusing on one of our favorite nemeses, Rosa Brooks, the liberal LA Times columnist who appeared on the show's final episode. The unreconstructed Obama apologist offered the lamest excuse yet for his failure to have disassociated himself earlier from the ugly rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Barack simply wasn’t paying attention in the pews.

View video here.

March 15, 2008, 8:55 AM EDT

How's this for a balanced Today panel to discuss the impact of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's extremism on Barack Obama: two liberals who agree it shouldn't hurt him, with one suggesting the situation might even help Obama?

The panel discussion was preceded by a segment narrated by Lee Cowan, the NBC correspondent covering the Obama campaign who has admitted "it's almost hard to remain objective" about Barack. Cowan buttressed his case in that regard. After playing the clip of Rev. Wright using the n-word to make an invidious comparison between Obama and Hillary, Cowan claimed the words were "old." True--if Cowan considers December, 2007, when Wright uttered them--ancient history.

Then it was on weekend co-anchor Amy Robach's interview of Michael Dyson and Melinda Hennenberger. Dyson, who as Robach noted is an Obama supporter, is a Georgetown professor and MSNBC political analyst. He has in the past garnered headlines for his fierce criticism of Bill Cosby, claiming among other things that Cosby "battered poor blacks" with his calls for self-reliance.
March 14, 2008, 12:28 PM EDT

On today's Morning Joe, Obama fan Mika Brzezinski did her best to defuse the spot of bother Barack is in over the extremist statements made by his personal spiritual advisor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.

Over the course of the three-hour show, Mika variously and repeatedly:

  • mentioned that Obama has already distanced himself from Wright.
  • pointed out that the Clinton campaign has its own race-related problems, as with Bill in S.C. and the recent Ferraro flap.
  • insinuated that the Clinton campaign might be behind the recent emergence of the Wright tapes.

And then there was my favorite. Mika speculated that the sermon in which Wright used the n-word to make an invidious comparison between Hillary and Obama might have been six years old. That's right. Brzezinski imagined that Wright might have taken to his pulpit to excoriate Hillary back in 2001 or 2002, at a time when Barack was a mere Illinois state senator and the presidency not even a gleam in his eye.

View video here.

March 13, 2008, 10:50 PM EDT

Who cares if our next president has chosen as his "spiritual guide" someone who calls on God to damn America, and believes the US brought 9-11 on itself? Completely off track! Let's get back to the important stuff. You know, like the fine print of the candidate's plan to nationalize health care.

That in a nutshell is Anderson Cooper's kvetch about the controversy over the outrageous statements made by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the pastor of Barack Obama's church and the man Obama has described as his spiritual guide and advisor.

Cooper made his comments on his 360 show this evening.
ANDERSON COOPER: Is this just the kind of thing that happens in campaigns? It seems we're almost at a point now where it's this or other issues for the Clinton campaign where people are just latching onto anything to strike a blow against their opponent. All this seems to have nothing to do with actual issues that the country is facing which these candidates should be talking about and we probably should be talking about.
And a bit later . . .
March 13, 2008, 7:11 PM EDT

Even Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's uninhibited house libertarian, was a bit taken aback. But good Dem Bill Press has had the, um, gumption to say what others may have thought about Hillary Clinton: that she has "balls of brass."

Press's comment came on this evening's Tucker in the course of a discussion of Clinton's shameless assertion that the Michigan primary was "fair" despite the fact that the DNC had agreed it wouldn't count and that Obama's name did not even appear on the ballot.

TUCKER CARLSON: You know this term "Orwellian"? Everything's "Orwellian." But rarely do you hear a statement that is in fact Orwellian. That actually reaches the threshold of "war is peace," "hate is love" and it's this right here. Hillary Clinton talking about the Potemkin primaries in Michigan and Florida and saying this: "If you're a voter from Florida or Michigan, you know that we should count your votes. The results of those primaries were fair and should be honored." They were fair in Michigan? Barack Obama was not on the ballot!

View video here.

March 13, 2008, 10:40 AM EDT

At the end of a Good Morning America segment today about Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., an Obama campaign representative complained that John McCain's pastor had not been similarly "vetted." If that's true, then ABC or some other media outlet surely should and will do so.

Let's imagine that upon vetting, McCain's pastor is found to have made statements that were the mirror-image of those that Rev. Wright has made. How long would McCain remain a viable candidate? Judge for yourself, based on Rev. Wright's statements as exposed in the GMA segment that was the result of work by ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. GMA aired a number of clips from sermons Rev. Wright gave at his Trinity United Church of Christ.

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"

View video here.

March 12, 2008, 8:25 AM EDT

Jim Cramer is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" normally lets his emotions show over matters financial. In August, for example, he went ballistic at Ben Bernanke, pleading with the Fed chairman to lower interest rates in the face of widespread home foreclosures.

This morning, however, Cramer got verklempt not over the discount rate but at the falling fortunes of his friend Eliot Spitzer. Cramer went to Harvard Law with the embattled governor and his wife Silda, and over the years has defended Spitzer against the torrent of criticism directed at the so-called sheriff of Wall Street for his high-handed tactics.

Cramer appeared on this morning's Today to discuss with Meredith Vieira
yesterday's dramatic Fed move. But at the end of the interview, Vieira
raised the Spitzer situation, and that sent Cramer to the verge of
tears. The transcript below doesn't do justice to just how emotional
Cramer became, so readers might want to view the video.
March 11, 2008, 9:40 PM EDT

Forget the popcorn: it could take a case of Cognac and a humidor of good cigars to fully savor the warfare that's breaking out in Dem ranks. Who could have predicted that Keith Olbermann would be accusing a prominent Clinton team member and former Dem VP candidate of making a "clearly racist" statement evoking the apartheid era in South Africa? And yet . . .

On this evening's Countdown, Olbermann and Newsweek's Howard Fineman were discussing Geraldine Ferraro's remarks about Obama and the way the Clinton campaign, far from denouncing them, sent out campaign manager Maggie Williams to try to turn the tables, accusing Obama of "false, personal and politically calculated attacks" for having the audacity to complain.

View video here.

March 11, 2008, 5:15 PM EDT

In a revealing moment of MSM elitism, WaPo editorialist Ruth Marcus, discussing the decision of Silda Wall Spitzer to appear with her husband Eliot yesterday, wanted people to know Mrs. Spitzer is a Harvard law grad and a "serious" person, not a Tammy Wynette type.

Marcus was interviewed by Contessa Brewer on MSNBC this afternoon, and the pair turned to the question of why political wives tend to appear with their husbands who have been caught up in sex scandals.
RUTH MARCUS: I just don't think that we should also lump all these women together. And to use a line that got Hillary Clinton in some trouble back in the 1992 presidential campaign, Eliot Spitzer's wife is not some Tammy Wynette, stand-by-your-man kind of woman.
She continued . . .
March 10, 2008, 7:56 AM EDT

If Hillary Clinton's latest gambit--floating Obama as her VP--were a play not a ploy, and the Today crew the theater critics, they would have left at intermission to begin penning a blistering pan.

Interviewing Tim Russert, Matt Lauer kicked off the kicking around of Hillary's idea.
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about this idea. Is it being floated seriously? Is this light-hearted, and who's behind it?

TIM RUSSERT: Well the Clintons are behind it, and New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin said today that he talked to a Clintonista who said it's an attempt to belittle Barack Obama, that if they can suggest that he can be Vice-President, it's an indication that who should be President?

LAUER: Yeah, but couldn't it backfire? I mean, he's ahead in the delegate count, she needs a miracle. Might it not come off as ignorant, or arrogant, not to be too harsh?
March 9, 2008, 1:03 PM EDT
Look for NOW to be setting up picket lines outside Rush's Southern Command, protesting the way Limbaugh has demeaned mature women, writing them off as the "hot-flash cohort."

Outrageous! When will these right-wing men realize we will no longer tolerate their misogynist --

What? It wasn't Rush? It was that avatar of elite liberal thought Tina Brown, writing in Newsweek?

Never mind.

Here's how Brown put it in Hillary and the Invisible Women [emphasis added]:
March 9, 2008, 9:32 AM EDT

Ads like Hillary's "it's 3 AM" work--and that's a problem. At least in the view of David Wright it is. As I described here, the ABC reporter doesn't work particularly hard to keep his Obama light under a basket.

Wright-the-ABC-Obamacan was back at it today. GMA ran a segment featuring Casey Knowles, whose image as an eight-year old was used in Hillary's ad. Knowles has since grown up to be an active, 17-year old Obama supporter. To set up the interview with Knowles by Bill Weir and Juju Chang, Wright narrated a segment about the ad itself.

Wright spoke as a brief clip of the ad played in the background.
March 8, 2008, 9:52 AM EST
It's turning into quite the morning for, uh, outing double-standards in the media. First was my item mentioning that Bob Herbert of the NYT had accused Hillary Clinton of "opening a trap door" under Obama. Readers are invited to imagine the PC outrage if a conservative had expressed the desire to do the same to the Illinois senator.

Now comes Mike Allen of the Politico. In his Playbook column of this morning, Allen offers this quote from Jann Wenner's over-the-top endorsement of Obama in Rolling Stone:
We have a deeply divided nation . . . A new president must heal these divides . . . Like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama challenges America to rise up, to do what so many of us long to do: to summon 'the better angels of our nature.'
Allen's suggestion to Wenner in reaction to his breathless prose: "Get a room!"
March 8, 2008, 7:53 AM EST
"The opening of a trapdoor and the sudden snap of a hangman's noose at dawn yesterday brought an extraordinary end to a political era in Iraq." -- Opening line from The Guardian's report of the execution of Saddam, Dec. 31, 2006

"Senator Clinton never gave a second thought to opening the trap door beneath her fellow Democrat." -- Bob Herbert of the NYT, Confronting the Kitchen Sink, March 8, 2008 [emphasis added in both citations].


When Bill O'Reilly, in an impromptu response to a phone caller's question, said that he didn't want to "lynch" Michelle Obama, critics on the left from Media Matters to Keith Olbermann were outraged. Star Jones condemned O'Reilly's statement as "racist, unacceptable and inappropriate on every level."

March 6, 2008, 9:58 AM EST

This is getting entertaining. . .

With Hillary firmly in the race after her Texas and Ohio victories, the Dems are setting about forming that circular firing squad for which they're famous.

Evidence comes from this morning's Today show. First, goodbye Obambi, hello Rambo-ama. Then, DNC Chairman Howard Dean on the hot seat, snapping at David Gregory, calling his suggestion that a nominee decided by party elites would appear undemocratic "complete nonsense."
March 5, 2008, 7:04 PM EST

Obama still has his fans in the MSM, or Hillary her detractors . . .

Appearing on this afternoon's Hardball, the seemingly mild-mannered Evan Thomas of Newsweek took a surprisingly tough shot at Clinton, disputing the very premise of her now-famous "it's 3 AM" ad. Discussing Hillary's comeback, Evans offered his blunt assessment with no real prompting.
EVAN THOMAS: What I don't get about this ad, the whole idea about 3 AM is you want coolness and detachment, right? She's not cool and detached. She's either really hot and angry, or she's icy cold and tough. But I don't think of her as cool. I think of Obama as being the cool, detached guy. Now maybe he doesn't have the experience, but I think if you peel this onion, there's something about it that just doesn't make sense to me. She doesn't strike me as the person who's the cool, detached, steady person at the other end of the phone.
March 5, 2008, 4:42 PM EST

The last time I wrote about Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, I described her as "ever-smiling." Scratch that. The Dem congresswoman from Ohio and Hillary co-chair just jabbed at MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell during a discussion of who is responsible for circulating the story about the Rezko trial: the media or the Clinton campaign.

At one point, things got heated enough for Tubbs Jones to tell O'Donnell "you know what? I'm enjoying talking to you but you can't talk on top of me in order for me to answer your question."

March 5, 2008, 11:37 AM EST

When Christopher Hitchens came on today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough began by inviting him to comment on "last night's" results. Quipped the famously hard-living Hitchens: "I'm still thinking of it as this morning's result. I hope it doesn't show." Unfortunately for Christopher, it did. See screencap.

But whatever price Hitchens was paying for indulgences of the night before did nothing to blunt his acerbic wit. The quondam Englishman turned naturalized American offered acid observations about both Dem contenders. Hillary was first in his sights. He described as "slightly sinister" her listing during last night's victory speech of Florida and Michigan among her primary wins, since by DNC rules those contests counted for nothing. By his lights, her inclusion of the two states portends nasty arm-twisting to come.

Then there was this: "Anyone who like me when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."

View video here.

March 5, 2008, 8:51 AM EST

Barack Obama had a rough night in Texas and Ohio, and some are even taking a contentious press conference he recently endured as a sign the MSM might be turning on him. But the junior senator from Illinois can still count on one MSMer in his corner: Robin Roberts. A few weeks ago, as I noted here, the GMA co-anchor conducted a softball session for the ages with Obama.

Today, Hillary Clinton made the rounds of all the morning network news shows. The toughest questioning by far came from Roberts, in this exchange.
ROBIN ROBERTS: What do you think the negative ad factor, how did that help you in this race? Because leading up, you did have some negative attack ads, and can we expect to see more of that in the days and weeks ahead?
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.