Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
August 20, 2008, 1:11 PM EDT

Remember the good old days?  Back during the Dem primaries? When Barack Obama was such an electrifying orator that women were regularly fainting at his rallies?  Ah, how times have changed.  Instead of knocking them out with his other-worldly aura, Obama's now . . . putting them to sleep.

Check out the woman in the lower-right hand corner of the video to your right, from CNN today during a live broadcast of Obama on the stump in Virginia.  No, I didn't catch her in mid-blink. 

As you'll see in the video, as Obama expounded on the horrors of the Bush economy, the woman falls into, then struggles out of, the arms of Morpheus.  (Watch video full-screen for best viewing.)

August 20, 2008, 7:45 AM EDT

Don't want to take Rush's word for it?  How about Mark Halperin's? The editor of Time's "The Page" thinks the choice by John McCain of a pro-choice running mate would be nothing short of a "disaster." Halperin expressed his view during an appearance today on CNN's American Morning.

KIRAN CHETRY: What about some potential running mates for John McCain?  Because there's been a lot of talk all over talk radio.  A lot of people are saying if he tries to go with somebody who's pro-choice like a Lieberman, that that would be it for the base: a big deflation for the convention.

MARK HALPERIN: Look, so many of the people who go to the convention in St. Paul are going to be pro-life, and very strongly pro-life.  I think it would be a disaster for him to pick someone who was not in agreement with the party platform on abortion. 

View video here.

Added Halperin . . .

August 19, 2008, 9:15 PM EDT

That didn't take long.  Tanned and rested on his first day back from vacation, Chris Matthews suggested on this evening's Hardball that under the guise of the "inexperience" charge, John McCain is handing out "permission slips" to racists to vote against Obama.

Matthews put his poisonous point to Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.  Isn't he [McCain] handing out permission slips to vote against Barack?  "Inexperience" is my favorite.  Because you could have all kinds of problems with Barack Obama: ethnically, politically, culturally, class—I don't know what the adjective is for class, but "classily."  And you can have every problem in the world with Mrs. Obama. But you could hide it all under, not hide it all, you could present it all under one word: "you know, I've got nothing against him.  He's a bright young man with a quality education, interesting new ideas. But he's not quite ready yet." And that's a fair critique which covers all your reasons for opposing him.

View video here.

August 19, 2008, 5:30 PM EDT

Wolf Blitzer for one apparently doesn't think Tom Ridge's pro-choice position should disqualify him as John McCain's VP pick.  The former Pennsylvania congressman and governor was a guest on this afternoon's Situation Room, and Blitzer began by playing a clip of Rush Limbaugh urging McCain not to pick a pro-choice running mate, saying it would "obliterate all the progress that he experienced" at the Saddleback forum.

Ridge surmised that "Rush and everybody else hopefully can see that there's a clear choice regardless of the vice-presidential candidate. A choice that says that John McCain is needed now as president of the United States in this perilous time."

That's when Wolf made a more muscular case on Ridge's behalf.

WOLF BLITZER: And if he did pick you, he, the president, he'd be calling the shots.  You'd be the vice-president.  You'd be doing whatever the president asks you to do.

Ridge was only too happy to agree.

View video here.

August 19, 2008, 1:59 PM EDT

If Barack Obama is looking for an elder statesman with national security credentials as his running mate, my two cents say he should pick Sam Nunn. The conventional wisdom, though, has Obama leaning toward Joe Biden.  If the senior senator from Delaware is indeed tapped, we can expect that mere milliseconds will elapse before some MSM outlet labels Biden a "moderate" or a "centrist."  

We thought it might be useful to do a little prophylactic exploration of the Biden record.  Given his long tenure in the Senate, he's earned literally hundreds of interest-group ratings over the years. But here is a representative sample, as culled from the invaluable Project Vote Smart. Although his "grades" have of course varied from year to year, overall we find—surprise!—that Biden is a garden-variety  liberal.

  • NARAL - A [2006]
  • Planned Parenthood - A [2006]
  • National Right to Life Committee - 0% [2005-06]
  • National Taxpayers Union - F [2007]

Continues . . .

August 19, 2008, 8:32 AM EDT

If your child's school were invaded by Columbine-style killers, methodically murdering students in cold blood, would you want teachers to shoot to stop them?  Gayle Fallon wouldn't.  For that matter, Fallon doesn't think teachers "have it in them" to even try to save their students' lives. Fallon, the president of a teachers union in Houston, TX, made her views known during an Early Show segment this morning conducted by Harry Smith.

The topic was a decision adopted by a rural north Texas school district to permit teachers to carry guns in the classroom.  Harrold, TX School Superintendent David Thweatt explained that the decision was prompted by the school's close proximity to an interstate and its remoteness—thirty minutes away from law enforcement—factors presumably making it a tempting target.  Thweatt made clear that all guns have to be approved by the school board and teachers have to undergo extensive safety and related training.  None of that mattered to Fallon.

HARRY SMITH: Gayle, when you first heard about this, what was your reaction?

GAYLE FALLON: Initially I thought it was a joke.  However, after a couple of media calls, we realized it wasn't and we were asked whether our district would consider it, and it was absolutely no way would we consider it. One of the things that hit me is, you know, Columbine and the other incidents were generally initiated by students. Now, I've been around teachers a long time.  They don't have it in them to aim at a student and kill him. They'll freeze.  Nor would I want them to.

View video here.

August 18, 2008, 9:38 PM EDT

Not that there was any doubt that McCain walked away the winner from Rick Warren's forum, but when David Shuster cracks that Obama was lucky not too many people were watching . . . Subbing for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball, Shuster kibitzed Saddleback with Dem Steve McMahon and Republican Todd Harris. Shuster made his surprising remark at segment end.

DAVID SHUSTER: I think it also revealed that John McCain's going to be a much better debater than a lot of people think.  And maybe also in some sense, Barack Obama is lucky in a way that Saturday night was Michael Phelps' night and not a night when a lot of people were paying attention to politics.

A bit later, Shuster used Phelps to work in an obligatory swipe at President Bush.  After rolling tape of a clearly-excited Phelps mentioning that it was "pretty cool" that the president had taken pictures with him at the pool after the 400 individual medley race,  Shuster pounced: "even cooler for the president, who's probably happy that someone popular wanted to get a picture with him."

View video here.

August 18, 2008, 2:00 PM EDT

As NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth has noted, over the weekend NBC News political director Chuck Todd, previewing the Saddleback forum, suggested it represented an opportunity for Obama to forestall "personal hatred" of him by evangelical Christians.

Todd has now contacted NewsBusters to express regret over his choice of words.  

Todd's initial remark was made to Andrea Mitchell during a pre-game special edition of Hardball on Saturday:  

CHUCK TODD: It's just not, it's just not his comfort zone. So it's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama.

Todd today contacted NewsBusters, acknowledging:

August 18, 2008, 6:07 AM EDT

Andrea Mitchell's floating of the Obama-camp accusation that John McCain cheated by overhearing Obama's responses at the Saddleback forum, as NewsBuster D.S. Hube reported, isn't the first time the NBC correspondent has made herself propagator-in-chief of Obama's conspiracy theories.  As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has now written NBC to protest Mitchell's behavior.  Here's an excerpt from his letter to NBC News president Steve Capus [emphasis added]:

[I]nstead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.

In asserting a "pattern" of such behavior by Mitchell, what did Davis have in mind?  Almost surely it included a very similar stunt that Mitchell pulled in connection with Obama's cancellation of his planned visit to injured troops while in Germany for his speech in Berlin.  As I noted here at the time, Mitchell passed along the Obama camp's unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that McCain had pulled strings with Pentagon buddies to have them withdraw permission for the visit. 

View video here.

August 13, 2008, 11:24 PM EDT

Elizabeth Edwards authorized a friend to attack John Edwards over his infamous "she was in remission" interview on Nightline.  That's the stunning assertion of Sandra Westfall, the "People" magazine writer who authored the article [excerpt here] containing the friend's crticism. Westfall was a guest on tonight's Verdict with Dan Abrams.

DAN ABRAMS: Sandra, let me start with you. Is it fair to say that the story that you guys have in this week's magazine is effectively Elizabeth Edwards' side of the story?

SANDRA WESTFALL: You know, she authorized her brother and her best friend to speak to me on her behalf.

View video here.

August 13, 2008, 10:09 PM EDT

Never Again!  Not the Holocaust.  We're talking about the MSM's determination not to let Barack Obama be "Swiftboated." In successive segments today, CNN provided a perfect example of the phenomenon. First, a one-sided trashing of Obama Nation, the anti-Barack book by Jerome Corsi, who co-authored Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.  In the succeeding segment, anchor Suzanne Malveaux worried out loud to Paul Begala that Barack Obama might not be responding fast enough to attacks against him, thereby "falling into the same trap as John Kerry."

Introducing the first segment, Situation Room anchor Malveaux didn't hesitate to make unequivocal claims as to the Corsi book's inaccuracy.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: There's a new book out about Barack Obama, and it is not flattering. The facts are mixed with accusations about Obama that are misleading or just flat-out wrong. Yet despite all of this, there is concern that author's claims might catch on with some voters.  Our CNN's Jessica Yellin joining me now, and Jessica, the author even admits that there is an agenda here behind this book.

View video here.

August 13, 2008, 8:30 AM EDT

Did Maureen bury the lede? The ostensible subject of Dowd's column of this morning, Yes, She Can, is the way that Hillary, with a big helping hand from Bill, is undercutting Obama and casting a shadow over his upcoming convention.  But tucked down as her 12th paragraph comes this [emphasis added]:

The Clintons know that a lot of Democrats are muttering that their solipsistic behavior is “disgusting.” But they’re too filled with delicious schadenfreude at the wave of buyer’s remorse that has swept the Democratic Party; many Democrats are questioning whether Obama is fighting back hard enough against McCain, and many are wondering, given his inability to open up a lead in a country fed up with Republicans, if race will be an insurmountable factor.

Dowd might be a thorn in many a side, but the New York Times columnist surely has a wealth of well-placed Dem sources.  When she blithely states as a fact that a "wave of buyer’s remorse has swept the Democratic Party," is that not some pretty big news?

August 12, 2008, 2:26 PM EDT

From a non-Jew, it would smack of anti-Semitism.  From Eric Alterman? You be the judge.

The author of the Altercations column at Media Matters has a running complaint:  Rick Klein, editor of The Note at ABC News, pays too much respect to the work of other Jewish pundits. Jennifer Rubin, one of the chief bloggers at Commentary's "Contentions" blog, was Alterman's first target, in his August 1 column [emphasis added throughout]:

I realize I may be the only person in the world to care about this, and I only care a tiny bit, but what does Commentary's Jennifer Rubin have on The Note's Rick Klein?

I realize that Mr. Klein is, in many respects, a fully-worked ref, citing right-wing publications that have proven consistently wrong about everything throughout the past eight years -- following the requisite ABC advertising which justifies the expense of the effort to his corporate overlords -- while ignoring those on the center-left who have proven right. But even so, Commentary? Come now. The guy cites her every day. Are they dating? Did his mother lose a bet to her mother playing canasta in Boca?

August 11, 2008, 8:53 PM EDT

Chris Matthews:  Back With an Obamania Vengeance . . .

If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, perhaps he should appoint Chris Matthews Commissar of Gosplan, the Commission charged with developing the economy's Five Year Plans.  The Hardball host, back from vacation, displayed the enthusiasm of a dutiful apparatchik in praising an Obama ad that in turn amounted to a pitch for central planning.

During the "ad wars" segment on this evening's Hardball, Matthews first played a McCain ad that hit Obama over his plans to raise taxes and his lack of readiness to lead.  After Andrea Mitchell suggested that the ad is "the wrong tone for the [NBC] Olympics," during which it's playing, Matthews wondered whether McCain is "the Grinch that stole the Olympics," and suggested a "taste test," comparing Obama's ad.  Here's the ad's text:

VOICEOVER: The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind [images of electricity-generating wind turbines.]  The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels.  The hands that build today's cars can also build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Barack Obama: a new vision for our economy. Fast-track alternative fuels.  Create five million jobs developing home-grown energy technologies. Because America's future is in our hands.

View video here.

August 11, 2008, 3:12 PM EDT

Quite a feat: CNN has pulled off the MSM equivalent of describing a spiral staircase without using one's hands.  It has managed to produce a segment on "honor killings" and related violence in the UK . . . without using the word "Muslim" or "Islam." CNN Newsroom anchor Don Lemon introduced the segment this afternoon at 1:37 PM EDT.

DON LEMON: Women forced into marriages, or killed for having the wrong boyfriend.  So-called "honor crimes" are often committed by fathers or brothers when daughters do something that supposedly brings shame on the family.  It's on the rise in  Britain, and authorities, they are very worried about it.  Our Paula Newton reports.

View video here.

August 11, 2008, 8:21 AM EDT

Conservatives are more racist than the population at large, and John McCain plans to "viciously" stir up racism to beat Barack Obama.  That is John Heilemann's belief, as propounded in his New York magazine article, The Color-Coded Campaign, and spelled out in a CNN appearance today.  The author even broke out the trite "Wonder Bread America" epithet to describe that portion of the country not lucky enough to be NYC.

Interviewed by Kiran Chetry on "American Morning" today at 6:32 AM EDT, Heilemann's jumping-off point was the question of why Obama's lead over McCain is smaller than the 10-15 points by which Dems are generically leading Republicans nationwide.  Heilemann gave short shrift to the possibility that Obama is a weak candidate, given his lack of experience and most-liberal-in-the-Senate record that puts him at odds with the electorate.  He focused instead on what he claims is an under-reported factor—Obama's race.  It was there that he equated conservatism with racism.

JOHN HEILEMANN: During the Democratic primaries during the exit polls we would ask people whether race was an important factor for them. And somewhere, in places like New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, 10 or 12 percent of the vote said race that was an important factor and voted for Hillary Clinton. And that's for many people a reasonable proxy to tell you about what the numbers were like for people who voted for Hillary because she was white, didn't vote for Barack because he's black.  And that number will be larger in the general election because general election is a more conservative electorate than the Democratic primary electorate was.

View video here.

August 9, 2008, 6:50 AM EDT

Just one paragraph tucked toward the end of a column.  But Judith Warner's words offer a revealing insight into how liberals view economics and the world at large. In the lefty mindset, making it isn't a matter of doing or making something of value.  It comes down instead to contriving to get a piece of the action, a share of the wealth that some undefined other has created in some undescribed way.

The gist of Warner's column, Compassion Deficit Disorder, is that Americans have become increasingly cranky and suspicious of how others are gaming the system.  She cites Michael Savage's accusations that the reported outbreaks of autism, asthma ADHD are false epidemics, the result of doctors and parents conniving to produce false diagnoses that yield increased services or welfare.  Warner also points to high school students applying to college who dream up minority status of one sort or other to work affirmative-action levers to their benefit.

August 8, 2008, 5:19 PM EDT

David Shuster, arbiter of journalistic standards?  The MSM didn't bother to pursue the Edwards story, yet Shuster, he of "pimped out" fame, had the chutzpah to look down his nose not once but twice on the National Enquirer during an interview this afternoon with Barry Levine, its Executive Editor. Levine, speaking with Shuster on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:20 PM EDT, laid out a number of open issues, including paternity and the source of funding for Rielle Hunter's living arrangements. 

BARRY LEVINE: I think this story is far from over in that regard.

DAVID SHUSTER: And finally I mean, I mean, as a newsman, and I sort of, take that term, sort of liberally for some of your critics, in terms of how they would describe the National Enquirer, but nonetheless, you did get the story right.  In your estimation, where is the next aspect to this story for the National Enquirer?

View video here.

August 6, 2008, 10:23 PM EDT

Be with you in a sec. Gotta finish this bag of Cheetos.  Man, what a mess down here in Mom's basement. Let's see, where were we? Barnicle.  Right. Bloggers. Doesn't think much of us. On this evening's Hardball, decrying the decline of bi-partisanship, Barnicle put much of the blame on the blogosphere.

Subbing for Chris Matthews, Barnicle had as his guest historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The jumping off point was a clip of Obama saying he could imagine naming McCain as his head of Homeland Security.  Barnicle wondered whether that was feasible in what he sees as a hyper-partisan age, and pointed the finger largely at bloggers.  Kearns Goodwin suggested that despite the difficulties, she could imagine either of the candidates reaching out to his opponent.  That prompted Barnicle to let loose on bloggers, casting them as largely a bunch of loons with too much time on their hands.

View video here.

August 6, 2008, 5:06 PM EDT

Hat tip bigtimer.

Joe Scarborough has estimated that 95% of the elite media will pull the lever for Barack Obama.  Even so, evidence continues to mount that the MSM is beginning to view the Dem candidate with a more discerning eye.  The latest example comes from an unexpected corner, that occupied by NBC correspondent Martin Savidge.  As NewsBusters has reported, on everything from climate change to Jesse Helms to the Jena Six, Savidge has consistently toed the liberal media line.

But on MSNBC this afternoon, interviewing an Obama supporter, Savidge surprisingly suggested that Obama was "a bit of a liar" on the subject of oil industry donations that he and John McCain have accepted.  

View video here.