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
May 29, 2008, 9:03 AM EDT

Was George Soros behind the publication of Scott McClellan's book? Meredith Vieira had the perfect opportunity this morning to find out—but chose to punt. The Today co-anchor certainly had the time: her much-touted exclusive interview with the author of What Happened ranged over the show's first two half-hours. But even when McClellan himself put the issue on the table—citing his publisher by name and alluding to its philosophy—Vieira failed to pursue a line of questioning that could have put matters in an explosive new light.

As MRC's Brent Baker has detailed, McClellan's publisher, PublicAffairs:
is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”
Baker also notes that PublicAffairs is the publisher of no fewer than six books by Soros himself, and that McClellan's editor, Peter Osnos, who acknowledges having "worked very closely" with the author, is a liberal pundit in his own right.

Finally, Little Green Footballs has documented that there are several Perseus companies that actually include "Soros" as part of their name, as in Perseus-Soros Management, LLC.

Put it all together, and there's every reason to wonder whether Soros isn't behind McClellan's manifesto. But given the golden opportunity to pursue the matter, Meredith chose to move on. Here's the relevant exchange, which came during the second half-hour of this morning's Today.
May 28, 2008, 6:38 PM EDT
I haven't seen Chris Matthews this excited since a Barack Obama speech sent a certain sensation skyward.

The Hardball host is in an absolute frenzy over Scott McClellan's allegations. So much so that guests on this evening's show are having a hard time expressing themselves as Matthews expounds at length. Ari Fleischer finally called Chris on it. And while David Gregory didn't express his ire in words, his facial expression left little doubt as to his annoyance at being cut off in mid-sentence.

The screencap shows Gregory's grimace. But be sure to view the video here to get the full effect. A bit later, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared. He could be seen on many occasions attempting to speak, only to be submerged in a sea of ceaseless Matthews chatter. Talk at one point turned to VP Cheney's involvement in policy-making. Fleischer was again repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to talk, and finally had enough.
May 28, 2008, 8:09 AM EDT

You pathetic little people of the blogosphere. You're nothing more than "nitwits at home with [your] computers" who've deluded yourselves into imagining you're "part of the news media." Just ask Mike Barnicle. The former Boston Globe columnist broke the tough truth to us on today's Morning Joe. WaPo editorial writer Jonathan Capehart was "so glad" to agree.

Capehart was in full courtier mode to Mika Brzezinski, anchoring the show during Joe Scarborough's extended absence awaiting the birth of a child home in Florida. When executive producer Chris Licht read a viewer email critical of Mika, Capehart leapt to her defense, and it was then that Barnicle and he sniffed at the pretenders of the pajamahadeen.

View video here.

May 27, 2008, 10:13 PM EDT
CNN classifies Campbell Brown as an "anchor," but that apparently doesn't prevent her from riding to Barack Obama's defense on a high-profile issue. On this evening's Election Center, Brown seconded a guest's assertion that the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's erstwhile refusal to wear a flag pin was "nonsensical" and "ridiculous."

The topic was the matter of Obama's patriotism as a campaign issue. CNN contributor and ardent Obama supporter Roland Martin [he who gushed over Rev. Wright's address to the Detroit NAACP] addressed the flag pin flap [note: remarks taken from transcript.]
ROLAND MARTIN: First of all, John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin. Hillary Clinton doesn't wear a flag pin and there are people who wear flag pins who call themselves patriots who led us into a war based on faulty intelligence. At some point, people need to use their brains. We have somebody who is an American. Who is a sitting United States senator. Who is running for president. How do we sit here and define somebody's patriotism? The reality is, he is an American. And so I have a problem with anybody, Cliff [Cliff May, fellow panelist], me, or anyone else, saying, you know what? I need to see how much a patriot you are and you are. There is no litmus test. A column on CNN.com the other week said make wearing the flag pin the 28th amendment because we sit here and move the ball back and forth. It's a nonsensical issue to say how do you define patriotism. It is ridiculous.

CAMPBELL BROWN: Roland, I—on that issue—on the flag pin, I couldn't agree with you more.
May 27, 2008, 6:56 AM EDT

If NewsBusters were ever to use in its promotional material a photo this unflattering of Hillary Clinton, we'd be accused of the worst kind of sexism, of unfairly attacking a candidate based on her looks rather than her views. Check out the image of Hillary that MSNBC used in its promo of tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews that aired at 5:59 AM EDT today just before Morning Joe came on the air.

Hillary, shot from below to highlight her wattles, lit like something in a horror flick about to emerge from a closet wielding an ax. If there's a less-becoming snap of Hillary in MSM circulation, I haven't seen it.

View video of promo, and Carlson's comments, here.

May 26, 2008, 6:47 AM EDT

Ah, Memorial Day in Ithaca, NY, a town that looks upon Berkeley, CA as suspiciously conservative. OK, perhaps not quite, but Ithaca is so liberal than in her 2006 Senate primary [bet you didn't know there even was one], Hillary lost the City of Ithaca to a [very] little-known far-lefty named Jonathan Tasini. So liberal that a certain NewsBuster lost a 1990s mayoral bid to the then incumbent, a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

May 24, 2008, 6:32 AM EDT
My circle of friends lost a fine man, a husband and father of several children, to brain cancer not long ago. He fought with courage and optimism, and received fine treatment, but the disease simply proved too strong. I sympathize with the plight facing Ted Kennedy, his family and loved ones. I'd add that in the course of the current coverage, I've learned of Kennedy's admirable history of extending kindnesses to many, putting him in something of a different light for me.

That said, I cannot help but comment on Bob Herbert's NY Times column of this morning, Tears for Teddy. The gist is that this is but the latest of many challenges that Kennedy has faced. And it's certainly true that the senator's life has been touched by more than its fair share of tragedy.

Even so, read this line, the one the Times placed on its op-ed web page to promo the column, and see if the same thing doesn't come to your mind as did to mine:
The press will tell you that this is Senator Kennedy’s toughest fight. I don’t even know if that’s true. Who knows what the toughest fight has been for someone named Kennedy?
May 23, 2008, 10:27 PM EDT
Breaking news! A parallel universe does indeed exist, and either John Harwood or I inhabit it. The irrefutable evidence came this evening, as Harwood of CNBC/NYT claimed that Michelle Obama will be—albeit slightly–more of an asset to her husband's campaign than will Cindy McCain to that of her spouse.

Here was Harwood's response on this evening's Race for the White House to a question from host David Gregory about the respective roles the two spouses will play in the coming campaign.
JOHN HARWOOD: Yes, look, I don't know how you match up spouses, and obviously people generally speaking aren't going to vote on that. Cindy McCain looks a little bit more exotic, she's a little richer than Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama has a little bit more of the average, middle-class housewife look about her, she's got young kids. So, I'm not sure there's a big advantage for either side, if I had to give any I'd say slight advantage to Michelle Obama.

View video here.

May 23, 2008, 9:59 AM EDT

Barack Obama—kibbutznik?

Of all the ways the presidential candidate sought to connect with Jewish voters at Congregation B'nai Torah in Boca Raton yesterday, perhaps the most heartfelt seemed these lines:

BARACK OBAMA: As I learned more [about the Zionist movement], I found I had a deep affinity with the idea of social justice that was embodied in the Jewish faith. There was a notion–tikkun–that you could repair the breach of the past. There was a notion, embodied in the kibbutz, that we all had a responsibility to each other. That we're all in this together. That hope can persevere even against the longest odds.
View video here [link is to RCP clip; cited remarks from 0:30-2:50.]

May 22, 2008, 10:58 PM EDT
In a political season in which Barack Obama has delighted in playing the age card—see "lost his bearings," "wander around," and multiple mentions of McCain's "half-century of service," Democrats are now demonstrating that they're even willing to use an opponent's superannuation on each other.

There I was in my upstate NY home this evening, innocently watching the Yankee game, when this ad by Dem Rob Andrews, targeting primary opponent Dem Frank Lautenberg, the–very–senior senator from New Jersey, appeared . . .

View video here.
May 22, 2008, 10:44 AM EDT
Zbigniew Brzezinski says that since we talked to Likud, we should talk to Hamas. And Kevin Spacey, who has trouble keeping his disputed primary states straight, suggests that his "Recount" plays it straight, despite evidence to the contrary. All that and more on today's Morning Joe. In reverse order, let's begin with Zbig's appearance, and consider this statement.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I have joined a bi-partisan group of some prominent Americans including Paul Volcker, Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton, and some others, in saying that talking to Hamas is a necessary course of action. You know, we talked to Likud when Likud was advocating the total incorporation of the West Bank into Israel. And today Likud accepts a two-state solution. Hamas will evolve, but it will not evolve if it is continuously ostracized and threatened.

View video here.

May 21, 2008, 8:26 PM EDT
Charlie Crist, Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney better hope John McCain isn't banking on Tony Blankley for guidance on his Veep pick. Newt's former press secretary is blah—at best—on all three.

Blankley, also the former editorial page editor of the Washington Times and who continues to write a column there, made his remarks on MSNBC's "Race for the White House" this evening as part of a panel reacting to the news that McCain has invited the three governors—past and present—to meet with him over the Memorial Day weekend.

ON CRIST
DAVID GREGORY: What would Governor Crist bring to McCain's ticket?

TONY BLANKLEY: I don't think he brings much. I think if McCain can't carry Florida on his own, he's not going to carry it. He needs to carry something else. I doubt, I don't think he brings much to the ticket.

View video here.

May 21, 2008, 10:39 AM EDT

As political rituals go, the phony denial of interest in the VP nomination is among the most annoying. So credit Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for unequivocally stating their willingness to serve as McCain's running mate.

But please, politicians out there, spare us the feeble non-denial denials such as the one Jim Webb offered up on today's Morning Joe. Isn't Webb supposed to be Mr. No-Nonsense Macho Man? After all, he was on the show to tout his new book, A Time to Fight, and to talk up his rough 'n tumble Scots-Irish roots. But judging by his wimpy response to the Veep question, perhaps the book should be renamed A Time to Fumfer. His reply to Mika Brzezinski's question on his interest in the Veep nomination has to go down as one of the lamest of an already-lame genre.

May 20, 2008, 9:31 PM EDT

Even before I heard Chris Matthews mention it, it struck me too . . .

Among the visuals a big-time campaign carefully choreographs is the human backdrop when the candidate speaks—particularly when it's a matter of an important, nationally-televised speech. So it's very hard to imagine that it was coincidence that the crowd visible behind Hillary this evening as she gave her Kentucky primary victory speech . . . was comprised 100% of people of pallor. Kibitzing with co-anchor Keith Olbermann immediately after Clinton's comments, Matthews mentioned it.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I thought a giveaway line was "who is best positioned to win in November?" That is not exactly a self-crediting commentary. When you position yourself in politics, it's a deliberate effort to try to find a space, not necessarily your own passionate position, or your real position, but to find a place, to triangulate, to try to find a place that appeals to a certain percentage of the voters that will carry you over. And to advertise yourself as the "best-positioned" is not really a statement of authenticity, it's a statement of political positioning. It's a Dick Morris phrase, if anything. It's certainly an odd way to portray it.
I think I know what she's saying, which is "I'm perhaps stronger on defense, perhaps I'm white, perhaps I'm appealing to the working class." I do think it's interesting that her entire crowd was white tonight. That was interesting. Usually they try to mix it up a bit, up near the lectern on purpose, to give it a sense of random selection. It didn't look very random there.

View video here.

May 20, 2008, 11:35 AM EDT
Doesn't Mika Brzezinski have any Republicans in her Rolodex? With Joe Scarborough home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby, Mika has been filling in as anchor, and I sense doing much of the show's booking [mention is often made of her work in that regard]. Today's guest lineup consisted of six Dems/liberals versus a sole Republican, brought in almost at show's end.

Here's the list, in order of appearance, of today's political guests coming from outside the NBC/MSNBC family [Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell also appeared as guests, and Harold Ford, Jr. and Pat Buchanan served as panelists]:
  • Jonathan Capehart--WaPo editorial writer
  • Ted Sorensen--former JFK speechwriter
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin--historian and former LBJ aide
  • Tom Daschle--former Dem senator [check out the spiffy red spectacles]
  • Terry McAuliffe--Clinton campaign chairman
  • Jon Meacham--Newsweek editor and contributing editor of the center-left Washington Monthly
  • Mitt Romney--former GOP presidential candidate
May 20, 2008, 8:21 AM EDT

Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?

Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.

The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:

View video here.

May 19, 2008, 6:29 PM EDT
Can it be coincidence that on the day it's reported that Keith Olbermann is feuding with Chris Matthews, the Hardball host goes out of his way to shine up the clown prince of Countdown?

As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, the New York Post, in the course of reporting today that Olbermann has been "lashing out" at his network's talking heads, stated that Olbermann's "feuding with 'Hardball' host Chris Matthews is nothing new."

So on this evening's Hardball, how does Matthews promote tomorrow night's primary coverage that he will be co-anchoring with Olbermann?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Remember, tomorrow night with Keith Olbermann, we're going to be working together for complete coverage of the Oregon and Kentucky primaries. As I said, for me it's Christmas morning. I don't know how it feels to Keith.
May 19, 2008, 6:52 AM EDT
Paul Krugman is over in Berlin, and—surprise!—concludes that Europeans have things better figured out than we benighted Americans do. The gist of his Stranded in Suburbia in today's NY Times is that dense cities like Berlin, which offer good public transportation, are the solution to the high gasoline prices we are seemingly stuck with. Krugman contrasts Berlin and Atlanta:
Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.
So why don't more Americans choose to live in big cities? After citing the current lack of good public transportation and the durability of suburban housing, Krugman points his accusing liberal's finger at his fellow Americans [emphasis added]:
May 18, 2008, 12:12 PM EDT

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has long been an indispensable voice of conservatism. As President Bush said in 2003 in awarding the Medal of Freedom to editorial page editor Robert L. Bartley shortly before his death, he—and by extension his editorial page—has been "a champion of free markets, individual liberty and the values necessary for a free society."

But there is one area in which the editorial page's policy diverges strikingly from conservative orthodoxy, and that is on the matter of immigration. To varying degrees, the paper's editorialists have argued in favor of a more flexible attitude toward immigration. That tendency reaches its apotheosis in the recently-released book by WSJ editorial board member Jason Riley: Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders.

Riley appeared on this weekend's Journal Editorial Report on FNC to discuss his book with host Paul Gigot and make the case that borders should indeed be opened. Riley seemed surprisingly passive in the defense of his controversial proposal, and I personally came away unpersuaded. Here was the exchange.

View video here.

May 17, 2008, 9:10 PM EDT

Hasn't the MSM learned anything from the unfortunate episodes of John "stuck in Iraq" Kerry and Stephen "if you don't read you've got the Army" King? Apparently not. Once again, the liberal media, this time in the form of the AFP, has perpetrated the canard that the our military is the last resort of the poor and uneducated. An AFP article of May 16 reported the story of Army sergeant Matthis Chiroux, who has refused deployment to Iraq, claiming he considers it "an illegal war."

Chiroux has said that he was "from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school."

And how did AFP describe such young people? As:

[T]he kind of young American US military recruiters love.

BS, I'd say, based on everything I know about military recruiting. But let's let Bill Carr—the Dep. Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Policy [pictured here]—respond, as he has in a NewsBusters exclusive.