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:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
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.
March 30, 2008, 3:12 PM EDT
Have a look at the screencap from today's This Week, then please answer this serious question: has ABC no shame? How does the network justify a round-table consisting of four liberals against one conservative?

Let's review the batting order:
  • Robert Reich: Clinton's former Labor Secretary comes from the leftward reaches of the Dem party. He's a co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine.
  • Paul Krugman: Like Reich, a very liberal professor of economics, and a NYT columnist.
  • Donna Brazile: Dem activist, Gore 2000 campaign manager.
  • George Stephanopoulos: The show host was a senior political adviser to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and later became Clinton's communications director.
  • George Will: conservative columnist and [since we're talking batter order and this is Opening Day after all] baseball aficionado.

View video here.

March 30, 2008, 7:41 AM EDT

Mort Kondracke got one thing right: Rush Limbaugh would go Krakatoa . . .

The resident moderate of The Beltway Boys has counseled John McCain to offer the VP slot to Christie Todd Whitman. Mort made his move during last evening's show-ending "Buzz" segment.
MORTON KONDRACKE: Two new McCain Veep ideas: first, he should offer the Vice-Presidency to Colin Powell, who may well not take it. If not Powell, then Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey. Rush Limbaugh would go Krakatoa but independents will like it, women will like it, and so will African-Americans, the whole package.
March 29, 2008, 8:57 AM EDT
Just when you thought the conflagration over James Carville's Judas analogy might be dying down, here comes Derrick Z. Jackson to pour gasoline on the flames with a return-fire Judas shot of his own.

Readers will recall that when Bill Richardson endorsed Obama, Clinton fan Carville chose Good Friday to say:
Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.
Offered the chance to apologize or withdraw his remarks, the cantankerous Cajun declined, choosing instead to rub in his remarks:
I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it. I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.
Enter Obama fan Jackson with his column of today, On race, Clinton misses the call, in which the Boston Glober sees "signs that [Hillary] will continue to skate the thin ice of race politics and risk the Democratic Party falling through." He saves his Judas shot for last [emphasis added]:
March 28, 2008, 10:14 PM EDT
He calls it Hardball, but again tonight Chris Matthews showed he's a softy when it comes to Barack Obama. Chris was crestfallen when NBC News political director Chuck Todd laid out the case, chapter and verse, that political payback, even revenge, explained Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama as much or more than the "spiritual" reasons Chris so wanted to believe in.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.

View video here.

March 28, 2008, 11:36 AM EDT

When is a billion-dollar loss a bonanza? When the person suffering it is one of those greedy Wall Street types the MSM loves to hate. Check out how, in opening this morning's show, Today cast the situation of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne:
MATT LAUER: Payday! His company imploded and thousands of stockholders went bust, but the Chairman of Bear Stearns cashes in and gets $61 million dollars. Will there be a backlash?

Watching the intro, I assumed the Chairman, despite Bears' fall, had received some kind of bonus or golden handshake. It wasn't until Maria Bartiromo came on later that we learned that Bear Chairman James Cayne, far from receiving a bonus or bonanza, had incurred one of the worst personal financial losses in the history of the street.

March 28, 2008, 8:14 AM EDT
People are figuring Hillary Clinton out. And that's a problem. At least, it is if you're Hillary Clinton. That's a theme of Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column of today, Getting Mrs. Clinton. Along the way, the indispensable Ms. Noonan dispenses numerous valuable insights into Hillary's persona. From our NewsBusters perspective, of particular interest were these paragraphs on the way the MSM has come to view her, and vice versa [emphasis added].
Many in the press get it, to their dismay, and it makes them uncomfortable, for it sours life to have a person whose character you feel you cannot admire play such a large daily role in your work. But I think it's fair to say of the establishment media at this point that it is well populated by people who feel such a lack of faith in Mrs. Clinton's words and ways that it amounts to an aversion. They are offended by how she and her staff operate. They try hard to be fair. They constantly have to police themselves.

Not that her staff isn't policing them too. Mrs. Clinton's people are heavy-handed in that area, letting producers and correspondents know they're watching, weighing, may have to take this higher. There's too much of this in politics, but Hillary's campaign takes it to a new level.
March 27, 2008, 6:38 PM EDT
"After me, the deluge" (après moi, le déluge) -- popularly attributed to Louis XV

Look for Chris Matthews to start calling her "Louie." The Hardball host was as roiled as Robespierre today at Hillary Clinton's threat to take the Dem party down in a convention credentials fight over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates.

In the course of an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News yesterday, Clinton made clear her intention to take things to a floor fight if necessary, and went so far as to preemptively undermine Barack Obama's legitimacy as a candidate if he doesn't go along with her proposal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. That set Matthews off, though it was panelist Tucker Carlson who supplied the most colorful language, describing Hillary as a "kamikaze" who is "ready to wreck the party."

View video here.

March 27, 2008, 8:15 AM EDT

"How much of a surprise is it that they can actually get inside the embassy? How fortified is that?" -- Diane Sawyer, 3-27-08, commenting on reports mortars and rockets had fallen inside Green Zone.

Someone get Diane Sawyer a crash course in indirect fire. Discussing this morning the recent flurry of rocket and mortar attacks landing inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, Sawyer supposed that the insurgents had somehow breached the perimeter themselves and fired from inside the US embassy compound!

March 26, 2008, 8:24 AM EDT

Time to lace up the skates and cut some rhetorical figure-eights. GMA has quoted a Dem official as saying that in her desperate quest for the nomination, Hillary Clinton is down to "the Tonya Harding option." ABC senior political correspondent Jake Tapper cited the skating simile in his Good Morning America segment this morning.

JAKE TAPPER: It is mathematically possible, improbable yes, but possible for Senator Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. What concerns Democratic officials in Washington is what Clinton will have to do to Senator Barack Obama in order for that to happen. One Democratic official told ABC News it is “the Tonya Harding option.”

Cut to clip of Harding, skating at the 1994 Olympics, as Tapper continued.

View video here.

March 25, 2008, 10:05 PM EDT
Hardball had some fun this evening at Hillary's expense over the mystery of The Sniper Who Didn't Fire. Credit Politico's Roger Simon with the most devastating remark.

Hillary's heroic claim has been that "we used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady." Simon said what in retrospect might be obvious but something I hadn't previously heard anyone else observe.
ROGER SIMON: She says I was there because it was too dangerous for the President. It was too dangerous--so he sent his wife and only child? It makes no sense.

View video here.

March 25, 2008, 8:59 AM EDT

Salesman on train: How far you going, friend?
Harold Hill: Wherever the people are as green as the money, friend. -- The Music Man, 1962
Among the many gaps in my knowledge is a broad unfamiliarity with Broadway musicals. So when Chris Matthews said that Bill Clinton would make a perfect Harold Hill in The Music Man, I scampered Googleward and discovered that the Hardball host had just called the former President of the United States . . . a con man. Appearing on today's Morning Joe, what set Matthews off was footage of Clinton slickly making the case to an Indiana crowd yesterday that Hillary is the only Dem who can win in November.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's not get into Cloud Nine here and start thinking the way Bill Clinton wants your mind to think.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: But, but, but, but --
MATTHEWS: That was delusionary that speech, yesterday.
It was a bit later that Chris made his Music Man analogy.
MATTHEWS: Let's remake the Music Man, I think I've got a great guy to play him, Harold Hill. Let's, I'm serious, I'm dead serious. Meredith Willson's been waiting for this guy to come along for years. He'd be perfect as the Music Man.
March 25, 2008, 7:10 AM EDT

Update | 3-26: I wasn't the only one to be impressed by Brooks' column. This morning he was accorded the honor, rare for a Republican pundit, of a solo Today show apperance, and followed it up with a Morning Joe visit.

Sometimes you read something so simultaneously insightful and eloquent that you just have to share it with others. That's how I feel about David Brooks' column in today's New York Times, The Long Defeat.

Brooks begins by convincingly making the case that Hillary's chances of winning the Dem nomination have dwindled to a paltry 5%.

Yet all signs point to her soldiering on to the bitter end. As Brooks puts it: "Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near." By protracting the fight, Clinton would seriously harm Barack Obama's general election prospects. Brooks asks: "why does she go on like this?" and gives this, in my opinion brilliant, answer:

March 24, 2008, 8:50 PM EDT

I count Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace among the fairest and most incisive interviewers in the business, and hope his tenure at Fox News is a long one. Anyone who can relentlessly cross-exam Mitt Romney on his changed position on abortion the way Wallace did a while back, then turn around and have Bill Clinton near the point of taking a poke at him, is doing his job and playing no favorites. But should Wallace ever wish a change of venue, never fear: MSNBC apparently can find a place for him.

Wallace made some news when, appearing on this past Friday's Fox & Friends, he criticized the hosts for dwelling longer than Chris thought appropriate on Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person."

On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews devoted a segment to the exchange. Eugene Robinson, the affable WaPo columnist and MSNBC political analyst, suggested that refuge awaited Wallace should he need it.
March 24, 2008, 10:27 AM EDT

While Chris Matthews was waxing so rhapsodic about Barack Obama over on MSNBC this morning that he made Mika Brzezinksi ask if the Hardball host had endorsed him, Matt Lauer was doing his bit on NBC, wondering whether Hillary would be seen as having stolen the nomination if she managed to get it.

The Today co-anchor interviewed Bill Richardson, who's gotten more media mileage out of his Obama endorsement than a Prius coasting down a New Mexico mountain. Lauer's suggestion came toward the end of the segment.
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about political reality. Right now as we stand, with the delegate count, the popular vote count, the state-by-state count. Do you see any scenario under which Senator Clinton could win this nomination where it will not appear to large numbers of Democrats as if the nomination were stolen?

Richardson wouldn't bite on Lauer's controversial suggestion.

March 24, 2008, 9:13 AM EDT

Good thing Chris Matthews was down in DC and Mika Brzezinski in NYC this morning. Had they been in the same studio, it might have taken Springer-show security to pry them apart. Such was the level of bad vibes that cropped up between the MSNBC pair during Matthews' appearance on Morning Joe today.

The first incident to incite Matthews' ire was Mika's suggestion, after an impassioned Matthews plea to forget the Clintons and focus on Obama, that the Hardball host had done what it certainly sounded as if he had: endorsed the junior senator from Illinois. That drew a denial and an if-looks-could-kill glare from Matthews seen here in the screencap.

Later, Matthews got very miffed that Mika was about to end the interview of Hillary spokesman Howard Wolfson without letting Chris pose any questions.

View video here.

March 23, 2008, 2:08 PM EDT
It would be enough to make Rev. Jeremiah Wright's accusation that the government created AIDS for purposes of perpetrating a black genocide sound almost rational. OK, scratch that. Nothing will render reasonable that morsel of moonbattery. But has the Rev. Wright's replacement suggested that NPR is . . . a Republican front operation?

As per this Fox News article, the theme of today's Easter sermon at the Trinity United Church of Christ was “How to Handle a Public Lynching,” the victim in question being the Rev. Wright. The controversial pastor's successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, lit into the national media, coming up with a string of plays on their names to express his contempt: