Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Parrots, dogs, small planes, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
April 6, 2016, 10:46 AM EDT

Did Huma vet the questions in advance . . . or maybe write them? Talk about your weak, servile interview. This was pitiful. Given the chance to interview Hillary Clinton on today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski failed to ask a single tough question. Nothing about the email scandal. Nothing about the transcripts of her big-dollar speeches to Wall Street. Nothing about having lost seven of the last eight races to Bernie Sanders.

Instead, Joe and Mika lobbed a series of super-slow softballs. Examples: it must feel good to be back in New York and sleep in your own bed. Multiple questions as to whether Bernie is qualified to be president. Wondering whether Bernie should get out of the race [this the morning after he crushed her in Wisconsin]. Asking if Bernie is a Democrat. They might just as well have skipped the interview and read from Hillary's latest press releases. Joe and Mika squandered the opportunity to put Clinton to the test. A shame.

April 5, 2016, 7:14 PM EDT

Was it good-natured ribbing by John Heilemann, or unvarnished venom? On today's With All Due Respect, Republican Dan Senor made the case--at length--as to why Paul Ryan would make a great candidate to oppose Hillary Clinton. But Senor then proceeded to claim that Ryan would not seek the nomination because the Speaker doesn't think it's "appropriate."

Heilemann responded with a flurry of "lying" accusations: "stop telling your lies on television . . . stop with the lying . . . lyin' Dan Senor." 

April 4, 2016, 12:14 PM EDT

Welcome to the club, Mika: file this one under A Liberal Discovers Media Bias . . . Back in 2012, George Stephanopoulos was somehow permitted to moderate a Republican primary debate, and proceeded to harangue frontrunner Mitt Romney on the arcane matter of the right of states to prohibit contraceptive sales, thus abetting the Dems' "GOP War on Women" narrative. Republicans were rightly outraged.

Now, in an ironic twist, it's the turn of some liberals to doubt Stephanopoulos' ability to serve as an impartial moderator . . . of a Dem debate. On today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski repeatedly expressed skepticism at the notion of Steph moderating a debate between Hillary and Bernie Sanders, given that George served as a senior aide to President Clinton and has been a donor to the Clinton Foundation. 

April 1, 2016, 12:17 PM EDT

It is a tragedy when any member of the US military is killed in combat. This is of course true regardless of race. But since Al Sharpton and an MSNBC guest have chosen to racialize and politicize the matter, it's incumbent to set the record straight.

On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough pointed out that Hillary has been much more hawkish and interventionist regarding foreign wars than Sanders. New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas then said "and the people who die in those coffins by the way have a racial make-up that is much browner and blacker than the rest of the country." Sharpton gave that notion a big amen, saying "there's no doubt about it." Actually, there's a lot of doubt about it. In fact, the statement is false. As eminent military historian Victor Davis Hanson has documented regarding US military deaths, "in almost all cases, the white death ratio approximated or exceeded the percentages of whites in the general population."

March 31, 2016, 7:42 AM EDT

Joe Scarborough came close to calling Donald Trump a fraud when it comes to his late-in-life switch from being strongly pro-choice, including supporting partial-birth abortion, to being pro-life. On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough flatly called Trump's 180-degree flip on the issue, coming when it did, "impossible."

Scarborough's comments came in the context of Trump's statement [later amended] to Chris Matthews during a town hall yesterday that he supported some form of punishment for women having abortions. Said Scarborough: "Unless you have some religious experience on the road to Damascus which I haven't seen in Donald, it's just impossible!" Here's the clip of Tim Russert's 1999 interview in which Trump [53-years old at the time] described himself as "very pro-choice" and explicitly said he would not ban partial-birth abortion.

March 30, 2016, 7:41 AM EDT

MSNBC might have to build a deeper tank . . . so Cokie Roberts can dive into it for Hillary. On today's Morning Joe, Roberts of NPR complained about the resources the FBI is devoting to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's misuse of email.  Carped Cokie: "Don't they have other problems? There's no crime in the country they should be worrying about?"

Roberts' timing could hardly have been worse. Just moments before, Joe Scarborough pointed out that last week it was revealed that 22 of the emails on Hillary's server "were so sensitive that the State Department said releasing them would cause grave danger to the United States national security." Not worth investigating, Cokie? Really?

March 29, 2016, 6:53 PM EDT

Imagine that a senior Hillary aide--not to mention Hillary herself--were indicted over the email scandal. In a million years, could you imagine John Heilemann asking what such person would have to do to prove his or her innocence? Neither could I. But on today's With All Due RespectHeilemann asked a Florida criminal defense attorney [not Lewandowski's lawyer]: "What is the legal standard? What does Corey Lewandowski have to prove, to prove his innocence?" 

Attorney Whitney Boan politely pointed out that under the Constitution, Lewandowski doesn't have to prove or disprove anything, and that to the contrary the burden is on the State of Florida to prove the charge "beyond a reasonable doubt." Heilemann was appropriately contrite, saying "you're right to call me on having gotten that thing backwards, and thank you for doing that." But the presumption of innocence is ninth-grade civics stuff. That Heilemann would have ever asked such a question in the first place suggests some serious bias. 

March 29, 2016, 8:55 AM EDT

Methinks the Goldberg doth protest too much . . . Twice during his appearance on today's Morning Joe, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg claimed that he wasn't there to "flack" for President Obama on foreign policy . . . but then proceeded to do just that.

The Atlantic recently published a long piece by Goldberg on Obama's foreign policy, based on the author's interviews of the president and some of his top national security aides. In his first flack, Goldberg defended Obama's cool-dude shades-wearing, wave-doing attendance at a Cuban baseball game and his tangoing in Argentina in the immediate wake of the Brussels bombings: "he's philosophically committed that terrorism will not defeat us." In his second flack, he defended Obama's giving up on the Middle East, claiming the president was being "practical" and "understands the tragic limitations of the American presidency." [Thank God Ronald Reagan didn't realize he could never bring down that wall.]

March 28, 2016, 2:59 PM EDT

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski had a jolly old time mocking Ted Cruz on today's Morning Joe. After playing a clip of Cruz refusing to say whether he'd support Trump given The Donald's attack on his wife, Joe imagined Cruz rehearsing his words before a mirror.

Scarborough went on to approvingly cite David Axelrod, who had said that Cruz seems "staged" even when defending the honor of his wife. [Granted, Axelrod's protege Barack Obama is so much smoother with his prevarications.]

March 26, 2016, 11:10 AM EDT

No one can in good faith dispute that Planned Parenthood sold baby body parts. It has been carefully documented. And there's that video of a Planned Parenthood official fantasizing about buying a Lamborghini with the proceeds. The capper is that PP President Cecile Richards announced not long ago that PP would no longer take money for body parts. As Michelle Malkin marvelously put it in her headline: "Planned Parenthood will stop taking payment for baby parts their defenders said they never sold."

Note my trick phrasing: no one "in good faith" can dispute that PP sold baby body parts. That excludes MSNBC's Joy Reid. On MSNBC this morning, when Kellyanne Conway, head of a pro-Cruz super PAC, attempted to raise the issue of PP's sale of baby body parts, Reid repeatedly shut her down: "That story was false. That story was false. That story was absolutely false. It was a false story . . . that story was false, so that's not a factor."

March 24, 2016, 9:06 AM EDT

Get that gal a Valium. Make it a double . . . "Melodramatic" doesn't begin to describe Mika Brzezinski's histrionic hand-wringing on today's Morning Joe. Mika is in meltdown, on the brink of a political nervous breakdown.

Mika's recurring theme [abetted by the panel] was horror at the spectacle of Ted Cruz's call for special attention to Muslim neighborhoods, and the spat between Cruz and Trump over their respective wives. At one point Mika claimed that Americans are "really scared" by the political situation, and later called for a "crisis candidate" to step in. Uncle Joe Biden to the rescue?

March 23, 2016, 8:51 AM EDT

One of James Taranto's recurring categories in his WSJ Best of the Web Today column is "the soft bigotry of low expectations."  We have a great candidate for it from today's Morning Joe, as, expressing the sentiment of Americans at large, Joe Scarborough asked: "why can't our president be as tough as France's president?" Ouch.

From Scarborough to Mika Brzezinski to Nicolle Wallace, Rudy Giuliani to Michael Hayden, the condemnation of President Obama's weak, shades-wearing, wave-doing, grinning response to the Brussels outrage was relentless. Most brutal and disturbing of all was the assessement of former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who said of Obama's response: "that wasn't a mistake, that wasn't weakness, that was policy, that going to the ballpark and spending less than a minute commenting on the attack. I believe in his heart of hearts the president's policy is that is not that big a deal. There are other things that are more important and that was what he was messaging."

March 21, 2016, 9:01 AM EDT

Talk about your Hobson's Choice . . . on today's Morning Joe, Nicolle Wallace, citing GOP consultants, suggested that--other than social conservatives--Republicans concerned with foreign policy should consider supporting Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Hillary supporter Harold Ford, Jr. could be heard chiming in with a "well said."

Wallace was echoing the argument laid out by Joe Scarborough: that on a range of issues from foreign intervention to Israel, taxing the rich to breaking up the banks, Clinton's positions are closer to those of the GOP establishment than Trump's. But Joe, Nicolle and those Republican consultants are forgetting one overriding concern . . .

March 18, 2016, 7:38 AM EDT

It hurts to discover your political hero is just another sell-out hack. And so it was for Mika Brzezinski today, confronted with the reality that her idol, Elizabeth Warren, whom she was promoting for president as early as 2013, has apparently sold out in return for a spot in a a prospective Hillary Clinton administration.

Today's Morning Joe rolled a clip of Fauxcahontas repeatedly dodging Norah O'Donnell's straightforward question: should Hillary release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches? Lieawatha gives the lamest of non-answers, saying "the candidates are doing what they should do in a primary." Whatever. Said a disillusioned Mika: "she was completely circumventing the question. I'm not sure I would have continued the interview and you guys know that I'm good on that. But that was no answer. There must be some negotiation under way." 

March 16, 2016, 9:11 PM EDT

On today's With All Due Respect, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg broke some news, saying she thought President Obama "got a message from Republicans via backchannels that they would probably move this [Supreme Court] nomination after the presidential election."

Let's game-plan this out. If it means that Senate Republicans would move to confirm President Obama's pick of Merrick Garland even if a Republican were elected president, it would be a huge backstab of the Republican base. But if Republicans would only move Garland if a Dem wins, thus depriving Hillary or whomever of the chance to nominate an unreconstruced radical, then it could be a crafty maneuver. Totenberg added that once Obama got such a concession, Dems would "work very hard" to get other concessions, forcing a hearing and a vote.

March 16, 2016, 10:17 AM EDT

Riffing off a clip of Ted Cruz welcoming Marco Rubio followers to his fold, Mika Brzezinski went on an extended critique of Cruz's mannerisms on today's Morning Joe.

Steve Schmidt joined in, accusing Cruz of "oozing insincerity." Joe Scarborough pretended not to know what the others were talking about, facetiously wondering "what are you talking about? You didn't think that was from the heart?"

March 15, 2016, 10:08 PM EDT

When it comes to understanding Jewish neo-cons, Chris Matthews doesn't know a bagel from a hole in the ground . . . Speaking on MSNBC after Marco Rubio announced the suspension of his campaign, Matthews claimed that neo-cons like Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz will find Ted Cruz unacceptable and will instead support Hillary Clinton.

Let's put it this way: the day any of the above-named neo-cons endorses Clinton over Cruz, I will gladly send Matthews 10 lbs. of the finest lox and throw in a tub of first-class gefilte fish. Feh on your flawed prediction, Chris. Has Matthews been following any of the above lately? True, they detest Trump. But there's no reason they couldn't support Cruz. And Kristol has openly spoken of supporting a third-party conservative candidate if Trump's the GOP candidate. Speaking as something of a Jewish neo-con myself, this NewsBuster's odds of supporting Hillary over Cruz are approximately equal to those of me eating a ham sandwich at the Wailing Wall at high noon on Yom Kippur. 

March 11, 2016, 6:19 PM EST

Has Al Hunt ever heard of de mortuis nil nisi bonum? Apparently not. On the day she was laid to rest, Hunt found it necessary to repeatedly assert that Nancy Reagan "was not a good mother."

Interviewed by John Heilemann on today's With All Due Respect, here was Hunt: "she was a formidable person. Sometimes unpleasant, not a great mother, but she loved her Ronnie and had great political instincts . . . She was not a good mother. I think actually Patti Davis, as moving as she was today, if you really listened to it, all was clear: she was not a good mother. She was devoted to Ronald Reagan, and anything that got in the way was a distraction."

March 10, 2016, 8:41 AM EST

Joe Scarborough usually sets the tone on Morning Joe. But today, Mika Brzezinski took the lead, booting Florida Governor Rick Scott from the show for his refusal to comment substantively on Donald Trump's statement yesterday that "Islam hates us."

As Scott repeated various bland statements about Florida, Mika could be heard muttering "wrap it" and "no, no." After a final try at getting Scott to respond, Mika curtly announced "we will move on now. Thanks." When the show returned after a break, Mika excoriated Scott, calling his performance "weak, sniveling political wavering," saying he was "pathetic" and that he shoudn't be governor if he couldn't answer the question.

March 9, 2016, 9:00 AM EST

Laugh line of the morning comes from Cokie Roberts' Wikipedia entry: "Some have questioned Roberts' objectivity as a journalist." Some, indeed. On today's Morning Joe, NPR-ite Roberts, her eyes flashing with anger, asked Donald Trump whether he was "proud" of promoting racism among schoolkids: "There have been incidents of children, white children, pointing to their darker skinned classmates and saying 'you'll be deported when Donald Trump is president.' . . . Are you proud of that?" 

Calling it a "very nasty question," Trump replied "I'm not proud of it because I didn't even hear of it. And I don't like it at all when I hear about it." Roberts said that it's been reported in many papers, presumably alluding to articles such as this and this. You've got to read the transcript and view the video to get the full effect.  Cokie's doing it for . . . the children.