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
April 14, 2008, 9:21 AM EDT

Q: Since when does an MSMer care about "decorum"?

A: Since it can be used to take a shot at the woman who would deprive his guy of the Dem nomination.

ABC's David Wright is a devoted Obama fan, as NewsBusters has noted here, here and here. Discussing on today's GMA Hillary's foray into a working-class Indiana bar over the weekend, Wright not only faulted Hillary for her lack of decorum, but even managed to work some class warfare into the mix.

View video here.

April 14, 2008, 6:49 AM EDT

Do we all get free wooden shoes? Barack Obama didn't say. But he does have an Impossible Dream to cut poverty that would make Don Quixote proud. Put people to work . . . building windmills. His idea came in response to a question at last night's Compassion Forum on CNN from Jim Wallis, a leading member of the religious left whose focus is "social justice." Wallis wanted Obama to commit to a new War on Poverty.

View video here.

JIM WALLIS: As you reminded us a week or two ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed 40 years ago, he wasn't just speaking about civil rights. He was fighting for economic justice. Was about to launch a poor people's campaign. Yet, four decades after the anniversary of his death, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged and 1 in 6 of our children are poor in the richest nation in the world. So in the faith community, we are wanting a new commitment around a measurable goal, something like cutting poverty in half in ten years. Would you commit -- would you at this historic compassion forum, commit to such a goal tonight and if elected, tell us how you would mobilize the nation, mobilize us to achieve that goal?
Surely, you'd think, the candidate wouldn't fall into that big-government trap. Think again . . .
April 13, 2008, 2:10 PM EDT

Should Hillary make it to the White House, don't look for Bill to be taking an early twirl on the Inauguration Ball dance floor with Nancy Pelosi. Appearing on today's Face the Nation, Madame Speaker made a nasty joke at the former president's expense.

Host Bob Schieffer [who might have experienced some schadenfreude this week with all the talk of Katie Couric being pushed out of the Evening News anchor chair he kept warm for her], asked Pelosi what might have prompted Bill Clinton to resurrect the issue of Hillary's tussle with the Tuzla truth. He had famously chalked it up to the tribulations of a tired 60-year old late at night. In answer, Pelosi sardonically suggested Bill might have had a senior moment of his own.
April 12, 2008, 8:51 PM EDT

You might think MSM support for the raid by Texas state authorities on the polygamist compound in Eldorado would be a slam dunk. After all, the religion involved is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not just Mormons: fundamentalists Mormons! Throw in patriarchy and allegations of exploitation of young women, and surely the feminist-inspired liberal media would be cheering on the bust.

But not so fast. Support this intervention, and perhaps a precedent is established for restrictions on unorthodox family arrangements of a more PC tint.

Take the comments of Jonathan Turley on today's Good Morning America. The George Washington law school professor went so far as to strongly suggest that the ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. And co-anchor Bill Weir was anything but unsympathetic to Turley's arguments.
April 12, 2008, 7:56 AM EDT

CORRECTION: This item originally cited Ace of Spades as having uncovered that Obama's mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, a man with Communist roots. It was in fact Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media. I regret the error.

Religion is the opiate of the masses. -- Karl Marx, 1843

It's not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to . . . religion . . . as a way to explain their frustrations. -- Barack Obama, 2008
Has anyone else pointed out the striking similarity between Barack Obama's recent statement about tough economic times driving people to religion and that of another person who preached change: Karl Marx?

Obama added guns and xenophobia to his list of proletarian elixirs for bitterness. But the fundamental point remains: Barack apparently doesn't take religion, his own or anyone else's, too seriously. It's not a search for truth or an attempt to live in accordance with God's word. It's just a way to get by, a stupefacient that helps proles endure the pain of living in an economy unfairly dominated by the "haves." Karl would concur.

This morning's Today did take up the controversy that Obama's remark has kicked up. View video here.

April 11, 2008, 9:01 PM EDT

Not that it comes as a surprise, but should Chris Matthews reveal his pro-Obama rooting interest as blatantly as he did today?

On this evening's Hardball, the man who gets a thrill from Barack expressed "concern" that Hillary might have a stronger-than-expected finish in the Pennsylvania Dem primary. Matthews was reading the tea leaves with two Keystone State pros: Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer and veteran journalist Larry Kane. After Kane reported that the Obama people are more optimistic than they're letting on, and believe it's going to be a "close finish," Matthews let his Obama slip show in this exchange with Polman.
April 11, 2008, 8:34 AM EDT

Must be something about midnight. Sometime between 11 PM and 3 AM, Hillary Clinton is transformed from a sleepy sexagenarian who can't keep her facts straight into a bold Commander-in-Chief dealing decisively with the crisis of the moment.

We all know about Hillary's 3 AM mastery. As for 11 PM, Bill Clinton went on the campaign trail in Indiana yesterday and chalked up his wife's problems with the truth of Tuzla to the senior moments that afflict people of her age at that time of night.
April 9, 2008, 8:51 PM EDT

A week ago I was mystified when Chris Matthews went out of his way to butter up Ed Rendell when the Dem Pennsylvania governor appeared on Hardball, and described the schmoozing here. Now, call it mystery likely solved. According to one account, Matthews has approached Rendell for help in a possible 2010 U.S. Senate run. That seems an ever-more-likely scenario, given Matthews's decidely non-Shermanesque response to a suggestion that he's well-positioned to make a run against Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010.

The "Hardball" host's intriguing comments came in response to Philly-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who speculated on Wednesday's show about the possibility of a Matthews Senate campaign.

Unexpectedly, the former Tip O'Neill aide declined to tamp down the rumor:

April 9, 2008, 6:27 AM EDT
As accusations against Americans go, surely there's none more serious than that of responsibility for 9/11. Yet Maureen Dowd has seen fit to level just such a charge against Condi Rice en passant: as a simple afterthought, no explanation offered.

There I was this morning reading Maureen's musings on yesterday's hearings with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Pretty standard Dowd fare: a couple Shakespearean quotes pressed into service, a snippy sobriquet [dubbing Petraeus and Croker the "Surge Twins"], when suddenly came this [emphasis added]:
April 7, 2008, 7:15 AM EDT

Update 8:20 AM: Why Hillary's Hospital Story Matters. See at foot.

Joe Scarborough and David Shuster came not to praise Penn but to bury him . . .

Chatting on today's Morning Joe, the host and the MSNBC political correspondent agreed that the mistake in firing the chief Clinton campaign strategist was that it didn't come nearly soon enough.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: For the Clintons, not a good weekend. Mark Penn, bounced out, my question is why now? They should have done it a long time ago. Good news, bad news?
April 5, 2008, 9:05 AM EDT

Like characters in a Currier & Ives scene, a gentle snow has covered the Clintons. Make that a gentle Snow . . .

On yesterday's Hardball, Chris Matthews, smelling a rat, was livid when he learned that the Clintons had failed to file or release their 2007 tax return. But on today's Good Morning America, Kate Snow managed to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of the Clinton's delay. Far from depicting it as a means to evade the promulgation of inconvenient facts, Snow painted the procrastination as proof of the Clintons' humanity. Compare and contrast . . .

HARDBALL APRIL 4TH

DAVID SHUSTER: As far as the details we do not have the details from last year. We don't have those specific consulting fees for last year.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I was predicting [that] . . . now Joan [Walsh of Salon.com], it seems to me everybody wanted to know where the Clintons got their income. Is there any sticky income? We're not getting that information. The one thing we were promised to get.
April 4, 2008, 8:27 PM EDT
On the flimsy pretext of this being the season when HS seniors get their college acceptances, a New York Times column has set about asking current college students about their plans for future sexual conquests.

Stephen Dubner handed his 'Freakonomics' column over to his assistant, Nicole Tourtelot, this week. She asked five collegians five questions. Three of them were innocuous: who's paying for your education, how do you view cigarette smoking, what's your dream job?

But then came:
  • How many more people do you think you’ll sleep with before you get married?
  • How many would you like to?
April 4, 2008, 11:13 AM EDT

As a loyal Clinton campaign email subscriber, rarely a day goes by that I don't hear from Hillary or Bill. It's good to know they're thinking about me. But today brings some very troubling news: Hillary is WAY behind on her fundraising goal for TV airtime in Pennsylvania. [screencap below page break]

The gist of today's message from Hillary is that we supporters are being given a cafeteria list of PA campaign expenditure needs, and get to designate exactly where we want our contribution to go.

I had been torn between door hangers and yard signs, when I decided to check out some of the other options, and . . . YIKES! As you'll see from the image, the budget for TV airtime in Pennsylvania is $2.5 million, but Hillary has raised only $129,947. That works out to only 5.1% of the goal!

April 3, 2008, 10:36 AM EDT

Appearing on Morning Joe a couple weeks ago, Time editor Rick Stengel was quick to blame the controversy over Rev. Wright's past remarks on "the incredible ignorance of white Americans" about what goes on in black churches.

But the Time editor wasn't quite so forgiving when it came to the past of the current pontiff. Appearing on today's Morning Joe to discuss Time's cover story on Pope Benedict XVI's impending visit to America, Stengel blithely referred to the Pope as having been the Vatican's "hatchet man" during his years as a cardinal.
April 3, 2008, 7:23 AM EDT
As excuses go, it was right up there with "but oshifer, I was too drunk to see that stop sign." That's the league in which I'd put the defense of Barack Obama over the Rev. Wright mess that Mika Brzezinski offered this morning.

Responding to Chris Matthews' question on yesterday's Hardball as to why he never left Rev. Wright's church, Obama claimed "I never heard [Rev. Wright] say those things that were in those clips." On today's Morning Joe, two of the three panelists weren't buying. The genial Willie Geist came down off the fence where he often resides to frame the issue.
WILLIE GEIST: The fact remains, a lot of people, and these are people we've all talked to, say "if I went into a church with my children, and the pastor said 'God damn America' and the rest of these things, you just wouldn't go back to that church." There are other places to go.

That's when Brzezinski began her bad Johnnie Cochran impression.

View video here.

April 2, 2008, 4:04 PM EDT
On its face, Hillary's email to supporters that just arrived in my inbox is a call to the highest civic values. In support of her demand to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, Hillary righteously writes [emphasis added]:
No matter where you were born or how much money you were born into, no matter the color of your skin or where you worship, your vote deserves to count.

But let's consider this a bit more closely. Has anyone previously suggested that the reluctance to seat the delegates from Florida or Michigan has anything whatsoever to do with the race or religion of voters there? Can Hillary allege with a straight face that this is some nefarious plot against voters of a certain hue or denomination? Of course not. We all understand what this is about. Obama doesn't want to seat the delegates because it would help Hillary in the delegate and popular vote count. And the DNC is reluctant to do so because the two states flouted party rules in moving up the dates of their primaries.

Note also Hillary's specific formulation. She could have simply written "your religion" but instead opted for "where you worship."

April 2, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT
ABC has served warning: use the Rev. Wright against Barack Obama at your peril. Be prepared to be accused of "raising the race issue" to hit "below the belt."

ABC's David Wright, a certified Obama fan/Hillary critic based on this past performance, issued his edict on today's Good Morning America.

Riffing off Hillary having compared herself to Rocky Balboa running all the way up those steps in the first movie, Wright first fairly pointed out the irony of the analogy: Rocky wound up losing the fight. Pushing the boxing metaphor, Wright then landed his haymaker:
DAVID WRIGHT: In its approach to superdelegates, the Clinton campaign may be close to hitting below the belt. Clinton's top delegate hunter Harold Ickes told an interviewer he's raising the race issue with superdelegates, arguing that Obama's controversial former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, makes him unelectable.

View video here.

March 31, 2008, 7:39 PM EDT

Ed Rendell is too truthful to be a good vice-presidential candidate. Just ask him. The Pennsylvania governor and Hillary supporter was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. Wrapping up the interview, host Chris Matthews broached his availability as Veep.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats have a shot at carrying Florida on the best of conditions this year?

ED RENDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Particularly when the issues about Social Security are fashioned. I think this is going to be the best chance we've had to carry Florida since 2000.

MATTHEWS: I think Hillary has a better chance than Barack in Florida.

RENDELL: No question.

MATTHEWS: But I think Barack has a better chance if you're his running mate. Would you be available, Governor, to be a running-mate with Barack Obama--
March 31, 2008, 9:27 AM EDT

When This Week assembled a round-table of four liberals versus one conservative yesterday, I kvetched. Maybe I should have cheered. ABC's idea of balance looks good compared to that of CBS. This morning's Early Show preview of the Bush admin's plan, to be announced later today, to regulate the financial industry was essentially conservative-free. OK, to be absolutely accurate, there was a brief clip of Treasury Secretary Paulson saying the plan would protect the Fed's balance sheet and US taxpayers.

But in her set-up piece, CBS's Kimberly Dozier emphasized the negative: "critics say it's win-win for banks, not the consumer. Less regulation, but no new legal limits to stop questionable lending practices or to stop the shell-game financial structures that led to the current mortgage debacle." The only expert she aired was University of Maryland economist Peter Morici who griped that under the plan: "[banks] can still engage in sharp practices that got them in trouble. There's no reason to believe that this regulatory format will keep the kind of crisis we just had from happening again. Nor will it get us out of this recession."

Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez took the baton from there. She first interviewed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who claimed Congress had already given the Fed "massive" regulatory authority. Dodd predictably blamed the current situation on "a failure of leadership." Then it was on to Rodriguez's in-studio chat with CBS News biz correspondent Anthony Mason who--surprise!-- was also a critic of the plan.

View video here.

March 31, 2008, 7:56 AM EDT
If only we were all Norwegians, we'd have the high taxes we need and all the welfare we want. But because America is diverse, we selfishly worry that members of other ethnic groups might benefit from our tax dollars. As a result, our taxes aren't high enough and our welfare spending too low.

That in a nutshell is Eduardo Porter's thesis in his NY Times column of today, Race and the Social Contract. Porter, a graduate of Mexico's UNAM who began his journalism career with the Mexican news agency Notimex, is now a member of the NYT's editorial board.

Porter believes that the US needs to make "big investments in the public good" to deal with the "enormous challenge" of "globalization." But that goal is thwarted by our selfishness that in turn is prompted by our diversity.

The columnist begins by noting that, when it comes to taxes and public spending, we rank toward the bottom among developed countries. Now, you might cheer that fact, but Porter sees it as a bad thing. And he cites a number of studies suggesting that in ethnically homogeneous countries, citizens support higher taxes and public spending levels because they're confident their cohorts will be the beneficiaries. But in the more diverse USA, "racial and ethnic antagonism all too frequently limit" public spending.