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:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
December 2, 2007, 8:09 AM EST
"A camel is a horse designed by committee." -- ascribed to Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis.

Perhaps the only thing more likely to yield ungainly results than a committee designing a horse is a Democrat designing a Republican presidential ticket. David Broder tries his hand at it in his WaPo column today, "Principles Amid the GOP Pack. The result is a double-humped dromedary known as McCain-Huckabee.

December 1, 2007, 8:50 AM EST
OK, this is getting downright weird. Not one, not two but now three Gail Collins columns within three weeks dealing in one way or another with Rudy Giuliani's sentimental attachments. On November 8th came the suggestively-headlined "Pat Loves Rudy," about the Robertson endorsement. As observed here, that column contained Collins lurid allusion to Rudy "busy committing adultery." Just two days later, as noted here, Collins captioned her column about the Kerik indictment "Rudy and Bernie: B.F.F.’s" ["Best Friends Forever," in the lingo of groovy gals like Gail].

November 30, 2007, 9:49 PM EST

Keith Olbermann: new Puritan? Perhaps.

Unless memory fails it's hard to recall Keith condemning Bill Clinton for his flings on grounds of morality. But when it comes to a Republican presidential candidate, has the Countdown host gone Cotton Mather on us?

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter was Olbermann's guest on this evening's Countdown to discuss the issue of Giuliani's accounting for the expenses of his security detail accompanying him on trips to Long Island, assertedly for purposes of visiting his then girlfriend and wife-to-be Judith Nathan.

View video here.

November 30, 2007, 8:25 AM EST

So that's why they call it "the graveyard shift."

There's little the MSM likes more than to report the latest thing that's bad for us. Today's news brings a double-header of doom: night shifts and salt.

First, the AP reports that the UN's World Health Organization will soon list working the night shift "as a 'probable' cause of cancer."

Then Reuters informs us that the Center for Science in the Public Interest, arguing that excessive salt in Americans' diets is a major factor in high blood pressure and increases risk for heart disease, is urging stricter regulation of salt by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

November 30, 2007, 7:15 AM EST
A conservative comedian [yes, there are some], appears at a venue in a heavily-white suburb at a campaign event for a white candidate and tells his audience composed overwhelmingly of people of pallor they'd be embarrassed if they supported a black candidate and the white candidate won, saying "Oh no. I can't call him now. I had that black guy. What was I thinking?"

What are the odds the MSM would laugh it off?

But when Chris Rock does the equivalent on behalf of Barack Obama, the MSM raises nary an eyebrow. Rock appeared last night at an event for Barack Obama at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater and said:
"You'd be real embarrassed if he won and you wasn't down with it. You'd say, 'aw man, I can't call him now. I had that white lady. What was I thinking?'"

View video here.

November 29, 2007, 7:24 AM EST

Update | 8:05 AM: Hillary's Howard tries to weasel out. See update at foot.

Like Rudy and Romney going after each other over immigration last night at the GOP debate, MSNBC was taking some jabs at rival CNN this morning on the issue of the gay questioner who turned out to be a member of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that no one at CNN was aware of retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr's involvement with the Clinton campaign.

View video here.

November 28, 2007, 7:19 PM EST - Media Research CenterTheir infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad . . . Be assured, Baghdad is safe, protected. There are no American infidels in Baghdad . . . There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad. -- Saddam's Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, AKA "Baghdad Bob."

Not bad, Bob. But if you want to see how flackery is done at its supremely sycophantic best, you should have tuned into tonight's "Tucker" to catch Lanny Davis's act, as he defended Bill Clinton's claim to have opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning."

View video here.

November 28, 2007, 4:36 PM EST
The Pew Research Center finds there has been a dramatic, double-digit jump in the percentage of Americans who believe that the military effort in Iraq is going well. You are the Washington Post. How do you play the story?:
a. You run a front-page story headlined "Study Finds Surge in Positive Public View of War Effort"; or
b. You run a story on page A10 headlined "Military Progress Doesn't Make War More Popular."
November 28, 2007, 8:45 AM EST
"You sort of have to be a little careful. There's a whole campaign handbook of things that you say to dismiss polls. But you should mire them in a little bit of truth." -- John Zogby, responding to criticism by Mark Penn, chief Hillary Clinton strategist, of Zogby's online polling.

Mark Twain, famously warning against getting into a spat with newspapers, said "never pick a fight with someone who buys their ink by the barrel." To his chagrin, Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist, is learning a modern corollary: never pick a fight with someone with three hours of national airtime. And for gosh sakes, don't use arguments in picking the fight so false as to be child's play to disprove, and don't leave obvious fingerprints when you try to intimidate the networks.

View video here.

November 27, 2007, 11:59 AM EST

Talk about damned-if-you-do . . .

On this morning's Today show, Matt Lauer discussed with Tim Russert the Middle East peace conference that began today. After years of MSM criticism of President Bush for not getting more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian situation, how does Lauer react when the president undertakes an historic initiative bringing together leaders of all the area's countries for the first time? You guessed it.

View video here.

November 27, 2007, 9:09 AM EST

Update | 10:25 AM -- Zogby says Penn should know better . . . Clinton campaign #1 user of Zogby results. See entire Zogby response at foot.

Presaging the kind of press control a President Hillary Clinton might try to impose, a member of her inner circle scolded Joe Scarborough today for having the audacity to mention a poll with results unfavorable to Clinton.

Yesterday, Zogby International released a new poll indicating that in a general election head-to-head match-up, Hillary Clinton would lose to all of the leading Republican contenders by a 3-5% margin. Even worse from the perspective of Clinton heading into the Dem primaries, the same poll shows Barack Obama beating each of the Republicans by 5-7%.

Chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn was a guest on "Morning Joe" during today's 7:30 ET half-hour. Nothing could be more natural than for Scarborough to raise these newsworthy results. But Penn wasn't pleased.

View video here.

November 26, 2007, 8:12 PM EST

Widows and orphans, beware: the Republicans are coming!

That was the upshot of Chris Matthews's observation today about two Republican front-runners.

View video here.

Financial Times US Managing Editor Chrystia Freeland has become a "Hardball" regular of late.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: The other thing that people worry about is if someone forecloses on their home, and that's the issue we haven't really seen raised too much in the Rudy-Romney debate. I think as we move into 2008 and the economy looks a lot grimmer, that's going to be another important battleground.
November 26, 2007, 7:38 AM EST
Was that Mike Huckabee on "Morning Joe" today -- or John Edwards? The former Arkansas governor found an odd way to refute charges he's not a true conservative, indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of the former North Carolina senator.

Mika Brzezinski hit Huckabee with an excerpt from Bob Novak's column of today. Here are the opening paragraphs from Novak's False Conservative:
Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle.
November 21, 2007, 10:46 PM EST

If Alan Colmes turns up at your Thanksgiving get-together sporting a couple shiners and a re-arranged smile, don't press the poor guy if he claims to have walked into a door. The FNC host just got clobbered by a certified DC heavyweight -- Bob Novak.

Novak was a guest on this evening's Hannity & Colmes. Colmes first questioned the venerable reporter about the item he published this week regarding the Clinton campaign's claim to have a scandalous story about Barack Obama. For the record, Novak stated this evening that since first reporting the story, "I've had substantiation from another source, another very, very good source, who with his own ears heard Clinton people putting out" allegations about Obama.

That's when Colmes decided to press his luck. Mistake.

View video here.

November 21, 2007, 8:56 PM EST
Moral relativism alert: a professor appearing on this evening's Hardball has declared that a US attack to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would be handing Iran "their very own 9-11." Jo-Anne Hart, of Lesley College and Brown University, was a guest on this evening's Hardball. Host Chris Matthews set us up the bomb with a leading question.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What do you think were the lessons, the WMD lessons of Iraq? Going to war over WMD to a large extent. What did we learn?
View video here.
November 21, 2007, 8:22 AM EST

David Shuster and Mika Brzezinski demonstrated on today's "Morning Joe" that there's no good-news Iraqi lemon they can't press into bad-news lemonade.

View video here.

Thanksgiving is a time for reconciliation, so let's show some sympathy for our liberal media friends. It's been a tough 24 hours for them. Yesterday, articles appeared in the New York Times and LA Times reporting the dramatically improved security situation in Iraq.

Today brings another blow, as Thomas Friedman suggests that beyond the military successes, there might be an informal kind of political accommodation going on in Iraq that he refers to as an "ATM peace."

November 20, 2007, 4:34 PM EST
As the first anniversary of its grand declaration fast approaches, does NBC continue to believe that Iraq is in a state of civil war? Readers will recall that as we described here, Matt Lauer opened the Today show on November 27th, 2006 with these words:
Good morning. Civil war. A bloody weekend of sectarian clashes in Iraq and no sign it's letting up.
A bit later, Lauer portentously declared:
For months the White House rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war. For the most part news organizations like NBC hesitated to characterize it as such. After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war.
November 20, 2007, 8:57 AM EST

Update | 10:48 AM ET -- Mystery Solved: Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht has emailed me to say: "Mika was reading research emailed from a segment producer to her Blackberry: specifically, the Bloomberg News article re: Townsend says election is potential terrorism target."

Have a look at the screencap. It's Mika Brzezinski scrolling what looks to be her Blackberry as she poses a hostile question to Fran Townsend, President Bush's top White House adviser on terrorism and homeland security.

Townsend, who has announced that she's stepping down after four years in the Bush administration, appeared on today's "Morning Joe." After some conversation with Willie Geist, Mika Brzezinski took over, peppering Townsend with a series of challenging questions on everything from the failure to capture Bin Laden to waterboarding.

Mika appeared to have Blackberry in hand throughout. When it came to her last, and nastiest, question, she was busily scrolling it as she read off its screen.

View video here.

November 20, 2007, 7:22 AM EST
The President's escalation strategy has failed. We need to stop refereeing this civil war, and start getting out now. -- Hillary Clinton, statement of August 23, 2007

As many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results. -- letter to Pres. Bush from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, June 12, 2007

That's not a cement mixer you hear. It's the collective Dem gnashing of teeth. Things have gotten so bad -- meaning good -- in Iraq that now even the New York Times is reporting it. Have a look at Willie Geist -- sitting in for Joe Scarborough -- opening today's "Morning Joe" by holding up the paper's front page to display its headline: "Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves."

View video here.

November 19, 2007, 2:57 PM EST

Americans would love the President Bush that Rush Limbaugh has had a chance to spend time with. That was one of Rush's concluding comments in a unique simulcast of his show that he conducted with Martha MacCallum on Fox News Channel this afternoon from 1:30-2 PM ET.

View video here.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The president is a fine man, I like him. He's incredibly upbeat. He's so different in person than the guy you see on television.