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
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.
March 4, 2008, 8:25 AM EST
Has the Clinton campaign been caught engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Latinos? Jake Tapper suggests it has. ABC News' Senior National Correspondent reported from Texas this morning. After airing footage of Hillary on the stump reminiscing about her days in Texas back in 1972 working on the McGovern campaign, Tapper continued.
JAKE TAPPER: That experience may the reason why Clinton's campaign asks supporters in Spanish-language TV ads to show up at tonight's caucuses 15 minutes earlier than it asks supporters in English ads, suggesting to some Hispanic political observers that the Clinton campaign thinks Latinos might be a little tardy.

¡Ay caramba!

View video here.

March 3, 2008, 9:59 PM EST
"We'll deal with him later." -- Clinton co-chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, on Mark Penn.

"It's disgusting for him to do this . . . that's just disgusting." -- Clinton supporter Hilary Rosen.

Mark Penn sleeps with the fishes. Metaphorically speaking only, of course.

On this evening's Tucker, Clinton's chief campaign strategist came in for some industrial-strength opprobrium from two prominent members of Team Hillary for his attempt to flee what might be a sinking ship.

View video here.

March 3, 2008, 4:13 PM EST
NewsBusters.org | Photo by Elaine Thompson/APOpening paragraph from the item by NYT reporter John Holusha in the paper's house blog The Lede on the eco-terrorists who burned three new homes north of Seattle today [emphasis added]:
For people who are anti-sprawl activists — or have baser motives — a new-built house sitting empty in a previously rural area evidently makes a ripe target for an attack by fire.
Consider also the item's headline: "House Fires With a Message in the Northwest." Yes, think of it as a bonus. Not just a housefire . . . a housefire with a message!
March 3, 2008, 9:04 AM EST

Here at NB, we're not normally in the business of feeling sorry for MSMers like Harry Smith. But I can't help but express some sympathy for the Early Show anchor at the prospect of the feminist, Clintonite wrath that is likely to descend on his head after a comment he made this morning

Among the metaphors most likely to drive feminists up the wall is that of the angry woman yielding that symbol of domestic serfdom, the frying pan. But in discussing the prospect of Hillary's anger at Bill for his responsibility for her possibly impending defeat, Smith invoked . . . you guessed it. Harry was coffee klatsching with Dem consultant Joe Trippi and pollster Frank Luntz this morning, and it was the latter who first described Bill as a drag on Hillary's campaign. The issue was whether Clinton could stay in the race if she splits the Texas and Ohio primaries tomorrow.
JOE TRIPPI: I don't think she should get out if she wins Ohio and loses Texas but I think there will be pressure there.
FRANK LUNTZ: It didn't help her that her husband said that she's got to win both.
HARRY SMITH: Right.
LUNTZ: Bill has been -- I feel sorry for him the night, if she does pull out, he should not be at the home in Chappaqua.
That's when a chuckling Smith put his foot in it, even providing the sound effects.
March 2, 2008, 10:29 AM EST

Brit Hume has some blunt advice for conservatives: lay off McCain if you don't want a Dem president.

At the very end of today's Fox News Sunday panel segment, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was first to make an argument along similar lines.
BILL KRISTOL: I'm more conservative than John McCain but I think it would be a mistake for him to just make himself into an orthodox conservative in this election. The reason he is a stronger candidate than a lot of other Republicans would be is that he is a little bit heterodox. He's got his own views, he shouldn't back off on that, I think, actually.
Hume then framed the issue in dramatic terms:
BRIT HUME: And if the conservatives don't want a President Obama or a President Clinton, they ought to get off McCain's back and let him campaign as whatever he wants to, and campaign from the center.
February 29, 2008, 6:54 AM EST
It's enough to make Hillary yearn for a tough hit piece about herself . . .

If there's anything worse for a candidate than being attacked by the press, it's being ignored. Yet that is precisely the fate that's befallen Clinton, as per Charles Mahtesian's item in this morning's Politico: Clinton Seeks to Regain Spotlight.

Opening lines [emphasis added]:
There was a time not long ago when Hillary Clinton dominated the discourse in both parties’ presidential contests.

Now, she’s struggling to get her message out and remain part of the campaign conversation . . .
February 28, 2008, 9:45 AM EST

Not that Time's in the tank for Obama or nuthin'. Not that its new cover merely depicts Barack with an other-worldly aura, asks the question whether experience matters and answers it largely in the negative.

No, it gets much better. The magazine's editor goes on Morning Joe and cites a study comparing a new nurse with a nurse who has 35 years of experience. And he lets us know that not only did the experienced nurse not perform any better than the rookie, she actually wound up . . . killing the patient faster!

Time editor Rick Stengel [a former Bill Bradley speechwriter] today made his regular Thursday-morning Morning Joe appearance to tout the mag's new cover story. This week's, as you'll see from the screencap, is "How Much Does Experience Matter?", with that ethereal glow surrounding Obama's noggin.

February 27, 2008, 8:18 PM EST

Of all the qualities Hillary might have emphasized to her advantage, can you imagine basing her campaign on her "warmth" and "likability"? Chris Kofinis can. The former communications director of the John Edwards campaign appeared on Tucker Carlson's show this evening.

Kofinis offered his only-slightly premature post mortem of the Clinton campaign.