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: mark.finkelstein@gmail.com
 

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
December 6, 2007, 12:12 PM EST

Pat Buchanan was very moved. Chris Matthews "heard greatness this morning." Joe Scarborough said Romney "hit it out the park." But with his speech on faith this morning, Mitt clearly didn't make a believer out of Sally Quinn, doyenne of the DC establishment and wife of former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee.

SALLY QUINN: I have to say that I'm really stunned because I think it was an obliteration of the idea of the separation of church and state. He eliminated anybody who was a doubter, an atheist, an agnostic, a seeker. It's like, if you believe in God or Christ, if not, you're not.

View video here.

December 6, 2007, 8:09 AM EST

After the Venezuela referendum, I 'd been waiting for the first MSMer to make an invidious comparison between Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush.

Didn't take long:

"[D]emocracy was alive and vital in Venezuela on Sunday in a way foreign to President Bush’s America."

That's Roger Cohen writing in today's New York Times, reacting to Chavez's apparent acceptance of the referendum results that turned thumbs down on his "reforms" that would have effectively made him dictator.

The Times's "International Writer-at-Large" is careful to temper his praise of Chavez with some boilerplate criticism, calling him a "strongman" and a "menace." But, time and again, Cohen returns to his theme: that democracy is more alive and well in Venezuela than in the U.S. under President Bush.

Excerpts:

December 5, 2007, 8:23 PM EST
Following the recent GOP debate in which CNN chose to air a YouTube question putting candidates on the spot as to their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, there was much breast-beating as to the inappropriateness of religious tests for office.

But that didn't stop Tucker Carlson's two liberal guests this evening from taking potshots on religious grounds at President Bush and Mitt Romney.

View video here.

Liberal talk radio shot host Ed Schultz was first, mocking President Bush's faith:
December 4, 2007, 12:07 PM EST

Can I get an "argh"?

As detailed here, "Abu Omar al-Baghdadi" was long-ago outed as a figment of al Qaeda-in-Iraq's imagination, a transparent attempt to give a home-grown flavor to the foreign-controlled AQI operation by claiming that the non-existent Baghdadi, supposedly an Iraqi, was AQI's leader.

But despite the debunking of the bogus Mr. Baghdadi, the environmentally-sensitive Reuters recycles him today in its story "Al Qaeda-linked leader orders Iraq bombings".

December 4, 2007, 8:13 AM EST
That Hillary Clinton -- such a prankster! Yes, if there's one thing Hillary is known for, it's her great sense of humor and light touch. So when she included Barack Obama's statements as a third-grader and kindergartner in her press release for purposes of demonstrating he was lying when he said he hadn't long harbored presidential ambitions, we should have all realized it was just one more of Hillary's rib-ticklers. Too bad that gullible old MSM let itself get spun.

That in essence is what Mark Penn [file photo], Hillary's chief strategist, would have people believe about the press release Clinton put out two days ago. Penn appeared on today's Morning Joe, and talked soon turned to the release. No fewer than four times, Penn tried to pass off the to-all-appearances dead serious kindergarten citation as a "joke":
December 3, 2007, 10:37 AM EST

Update 12-03 | 1:55 PM: Barack fires back; claims Hillary becoming "more desperate and negative by the day." See complete update at foot.

Are Hillary's internal polling numbers telling her staffers that she's in big trouble? That's the provocative theory that Chris Matthews floated on today's Morning Joe.

Host Joe Scarborough asked what could have caused Hillary and her senior aide Howard Wolfson to go on the attack against Barack Obama this weekend, respectively questioning his character and accusing him of maintaining an improper political "slush fund." In response, Matthews conjectured that Hillary's helpers have looked at the polling data . . . and seen her support "crashing."

View video here [with apologies for mediocre video quality.]

December 3, 2007, 7:36 AM EST

Returning to the airwaves this morning after a seven-month exile, Don Imus seemed intent on demonstrating two things. First, that he was unequivocally contrite concerning the comments he had made about the Rutgers University women's basketball players that resulted in his firing. Second, his contrition notwithstanding, he wasn't going to change his irreverent ways when it came to the country's political leaders.

To prove his iconoclastic bona fides, Imus concluded his monologue by observing "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, and Hillary Clinton is still Satan."

Listen to audio here [with apologies for the mediocre sound quality.]

But before ending on that defiant note, he took several minutes to describe his meeting with the women of the Rutgers team, and the way the entire experience had changed him.

Excerpts from Imus's remarks:

December 2, 2007, 12:31 PM EST
The Democrats are better at understanding the impact of globalization on working people in America. The wages that have been arrested and halted in their growth, while, you know the boys in investment banking are making 10 times the average income of an American. I think the Democrats understand the consequences of it more than the Republicans and, frankly, another disagreement I've got with Republicans is that they are compulsive interventionists. They seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from what happened in Iraq when they are talking about doing the same thing in Iran. -- Pat Buchanan, November 29, 2007

The next time you hear the MSM defending itself against charges of a lack of balance by pointing to Pat Buchanan's presence on its panels, remember his statement above. On globalization, Pat echoes the Seattle street protesters, seasoned with some John Edwards "Two Americas" rhetoric about Wall Street fat cats. On foreign policy, Pat sounds like someone auditioning for Secretary of Peace in Pres. Kucinich's cabinet.
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
NewsBusters.org - 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.