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:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
April 11, 2008, 8:34 AM EDT

Must be something about midnight. Sometime between 11 PM and 3 AM, Hillary Clinton is transformed from a sleepy sexagenarian who can't keep her facts straight into a bold Commander-in-Chief dealing decisively with the crisis of the moment.

We all know about Hillary's 3 AM mastery. As for 11 PM, Bill Clinton went on the campaign trail in Indiana yesterday and chalked up his wife's problems with the truth of Tuzla to the senior moments that afflict people of her age at that time of night.
April 9, 2008, 8:51 PM EDT

A week ago I was mystified when Chris Matthews went out of his way to butter up Ed Rendell when the Dem Pennsylvania governor appeared on Hardball, and described the schmoozing here. Now, call it mystery likely solved. According to one account, Matthews has approached Rendell for help in a possible 2010 U.S. Senate run. That seems an ever-more-likely scenario, given Matthews's decidely non-Shermanesque response to a suggestion that he's well-positioned to make a run against Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010.

The "Hardball" host's intriguing comments came in response to Philly-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who speculated on Wednesday's show about the possibility of a Matthews Senate campaign.

Unexpectedly, the former Tip O'Neill aide declined to tamp down the rumor:

April 9, 2008, 6:27 AM EDT
As accusations against Americans go, surely there's none more serious than that of responsibility for 9/11. Yet Maureen Dowd has seen fit to level just such a charge against Condi Rice en passant: as a simple afterthought, no explanation offered.

There I was this morning reading Maureen's musings on yesterday's hearings with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Pretty standard Dowd fare: a couple Shakespearean quotes pressed into service, a snippy sobriquet [dubbing Petraeus and Croker the "Surge Twins"], when suddenly came this [emphasis added]:
April 7, 2008, 7:15 AM EDT

Update 8:20 AM: Why Hillary's Hospital Story Matters. See at foot.

Joe Scarborough and David Shuster came not to praise Penn but to bury him . . .

Chatting on today's Morning Joe, the host and the MSNBC political correspondent agreed that the mistake in firing the chief Clinton campaign strategist was that it didn't come nearly soon enough.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: For the Clintons, not a good weekend. Mark Penn, bounced out, my question is why now? They should have done it a long time ago. Good news, bad news?
April 5, 2008, 9:05 AM EDT

Like characters in a Currier & Ives scene, a gentle snow has covered the Clintons. Make that a gentle Snow . . .

On yesterday's Hardball, Chris Matthews, smelling a rat, was livid when he learned that the Clintons had failed to file or release their 2007 tax return. But on today's Good Morning America, Kate Snow managed to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of the Clinton's delay. Far from depicting it as a means to evade the promulgation of inconvenient facts, Snow painted the procrastination as proof of the Clintons' humanity. Compare and contrast . . .


DAVID SHUSTER: As far as the details we do not have the details from last year. We don't have those specific consulting fees for last year.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I was predicting [that] . . . now Joan [Walsh of], it seems to me everybody wanted to know where the Clintons got their income. Is there any sticky income? We're not getting that information. The one thing we were promised to get.
April 4, 2008, 8:27 PM EDT
On the flimsy pretext of this being the season when HS seniors get their college acceptances, a New York Times column has set about asking current college students about their plans for future sexual conquests.

Stephen Dubner handed his 'Freakonomics' column over to his assistant, Nicole Tourtelot, this week. She asked five collegians five questions. Three of them were innocuous: who's paying for your education, how do you view cigarette smoking, what's your dream job?

But then came:
  • How many more people do you think you’ll sleep with before you get married?
  • How many would you like to?
April 4, 2008, 11:13 AM EDT

As a loyal Clinton campaign email subscriber, rarely a day goes by that I don't hear from Hillary or Bill. It's good to know they're thinking about me. But today brings some very troubling news: Hillary is WAY behind on her fundraising goal for TV airtime in Pennsylvania. [screencap below page break]

The gist of today's message from Hillary is that we supporters are being given a cafeteria list of PA campaign expenditure needs, and get to designate exactly where we want our contribution to go.

I had been torn between door hangers and yard signs, when I decided to check out some of the other options, and . . . YIKES! As you'll see from the image, the budget for TV airtime in Pennsylvania is $2.5 million, but Hillary has raised only $129,947. That works out to only 5.1% of the goal!

April 3, 2008, 10:36 AM EDT

Appearing on Morning Joe a couple weeks ago, Time editor Rick Stengel was quick to blame the controversy over Rev. Wright's past remarks on "the incredible ignorance of white Americans" about what goes on in black churches.

But the Time editor wasn't quite so forgiving when it came to the past of the current pontiff. Appearing on today's Morning Joe to discuss Time's cover story on Pope Benedict XVI's impending visit to America, Stengel blithely referred to the Pope as having been the Vatican's "hatchet man" during his years as a cardinal.
April 3, 2008, 7:23 AM EDT
As excuses go, it was right up there with "but oshifer, I was too drunk to see that stop sign." That's the league in which I'd put the defense of Barack Obama over the Rev. Wright mess that Mika Brzezinski offered this morning.

Responding to Chris Matthews' question on yesterday's Hardball as to why he never left Rev. Wright's church, Obama claimed "I never heard [Rev. Wright] say those things that were in those clips." On today's Morning Joe, two of the three panelists weren't buying. The genial Willie Geist came down off the fence where he often resides to frame the issue.
WILLIE GEIST: The fact remains, a lot of people, and these are people we've all talked to, say "if I went into a church with my children, and the pastor said 'God damn America' and the rest of these things, you just wouldn't go back to that church." There are other places to go.

That's when Brzezinski began her bad Johnnie Cochran impression.

View video here.

April 2, 2008, 4:04 PM EDT
On its face, Hillary's email to supporters that just arrived in my inbox is a call to the highest civic values. In support of her demand to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, Hillary righteously writes [emphasis added]:
No matter where you were born or how much money you were born into, no matter the color of your skin or where you worship, your vote deserves to count.

But let's consider this a bit more closely. Has anyone previously suggested that the reluctance to seat the delegates from Florida or Michigan has anything whatsoever to do with the race or religion of voters there? Can Hillary allege with a straight face that this is some nefarious plot against voters of a certain hue or denomination? Of course not. We all understand what this is about. Obama doesn't want to seat the delegates because it would help Hillary in the delegate and popular vote count. And the DNC is reluctant to do so because the two states flouted party rules in moving up the dates of their primaries.

Note also Hillary's specific formulation. She could have simply written "your religion" but instead opted for "where you worship."

April 2, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT
ABC has served warning: use the Rev. Wright against Barack Obama at your peril. Be prepared to be accused of "raising the race issue" to hit "below the belt."

ABC's David Wright, a certified Obama fan/Hillary critic based on this past performance, issued his edict on today's Good Morning America.

Riffing off Hillary having compared herself to Rocky Balboa running all the way up those steps in the first movie, Wright first fairly pointed out the irony of the analogy: Rocky wound up losing the fight. Pushing the boxing metaphor, Wright then landed his haymaker:
DAVID WRIGHT: In its approach to superdelegates, the Clinton campaign may be close to hitting below the belt. Clinton's top delegate hunter Harold Ickes told an interviewer he's raising the race issue with superdelegates, arguing that Obama's controversial former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, makes him unelectable.

View video here.

March 31, 2008, 7:39 PM EDT

Ed Rendell is too truthful to be a good vice-presidential candidate. Just ask him. The Pennsylvania governor and Hillary supporter was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. Wrapping up the interview, host Chris Matthews broached his availability as Veep.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats have a shot at carrying Florida on the best of conditions this year?

ED RENDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Particularly when the issues about Social Security are fashioned. I think this is going to be the best chance we've had to carry Florida since 2000.

MATTHEWS: I think Hillary has a better chance than Barack in Florida.

RENDELL: No question.

MATTHEWS: But I think Barack has a better chance if you're his running mate. Would you be available, Governor, to be a running-mate with Barack Obama--
March 31, 2008, 9:27 AM EDT

When This Week assembled a round-table of four liberals versus one conservative yesterday, I kvetched. Maybe I should have cheered. ABC's idea of balance looks good compared to that of CBS. This morning's Early Show preview of the Bush admin's plan, to be announced later today, to regulate the financial industry was essentially conservative-free. OK, to be absolutely accurate, there was a brief clip of Treasury Secretary Paulson saying the plan would protect the Fed's balance sheet and US taxpayers.

But in her set-up piece, CBS's Kimberly Dozier emphasized the negative: "critics say it's win-win for banks, not the consumer. Less regulation, but no new legal limits to stop questionable lending practices or to stop the shell-game financial structures that led to the current mortgage debacle." The only expert she aired was University of Maryland economist Peter Morici who griped that under the plan: "[banks] can still engage in sharp practices that got them in trouble. There's no reason to believe that this regulatory format will keep the kind of crisis we just had from happening again. Nor will it get us out of this recession."

Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez took the baton from there. She first interviewed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who claimed Congress had already given the Fed "massive" regulatory authority. Dodd predictably blamed the current situation on "a failure of leadership." Then it was on to Rodriguez's in-studio chat with CBS News biz correspondent Anthony Mason who--surprise!-- was also a critic of the plan.

View video here.

March 31, 2008, 7:56 AM EDT
If only we were all Norwegians, we'd have the high taxes we need and all the welfare we want. But because America is diverse, we selfishly worry that members of other ethnic groups might benefit from our tax dollars. As a result, our taxes aren't high enough and our welfare spending too low.

That in a nutshell is Eduardo Porter's thesis in his NY Times column of today, Race and the Social Contract. Porter, a graduate of Mexico's UNAM who began his journalism career with the Mexican news agency Notimex, is now a member of the NYT's editorial board.

Porter believes that the US needs to make "big investments in the public good" to deal with the "enormous challenge" of "globalization." But that goal is thwarted by our selfishness that in turn is prompted by our diversity.

The columnist begins by noting that, when it comes to taxes and public spending, we rank toward the bottom among developed countries. Now, you might cheer that fact, but Porter sees it as a bad thing. And he cites a number of studies suggesting that in ethnically homogeneous countries, citizens support higher taxes and public spending levels because they're confident their cohorts will be the beneficiaries. But in the more diverse USA, "racial and ethnic antagonism all too frequently limit" public spending.
March 30, 2008, 3:12 PM EDT
Have a look at the screencap from today's This Week, then please answer this serious question: has ABC no shame? How does the network justify a round-table consisting of four liberals against one conservative?

Let's review the batting order:
  • Robert Reich: Clinton's former Labor Secretary comes from the leftward reaches of the Dem party. He's a co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine.
  • Paul Krugman: Like Reich, a very liberal professor of economics, and a NYT columnist.
  • Donna Brazile: Dem activist, Gore 2000 campaign manager.
  • George Stephanopoulos: The show host was a senior political adviser to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and later became Clinton's communications director.
  • George Will: conservative columnist and [since we're talking batter order and this is Opening Day after all] baseball aficionado.

View video here.

March 30, 2008, 7:41 AM EDT

Mort Kondracke got one thing right: Rush Limbaugh would go Krakatoa . . .

The resident moderate of The Beltway Boys has counseled John McCain to offer the VP slot to Christie Todd Whitman. Mort made his move during last evening's show-ending "Buzz" segment.
MORTON KONDRACKE: Two new McCain Veep ideas: first, he should offer the Vice-Presidency to Colin Powell, who may well not take it. If not Powell, then Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey. Rush Limbaugh would go Krakatoa but independents will like it, women will like it, and so will African-Americans, the whole package.
March 29, 2008, 8:57 AM EDT
Just when you thought the conflagration over James Carville's Judas analogy might be dying down, here comes Derrick Z. Jackson to pour gasoline on the flames with a return-fire Judas shot of his own.

Readers will recall that when Bill Richardson endorsed Obama, Clinton fan Carville chose Good Friday to say:
Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.
Offered the chance to apologize or withdraw his remarks, the cantankerous Cajun declined, choosing instead to rub in his remarks:
I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it. I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.
Enter Obama fan Jackson with his column of today, On race, Clinton misses the call, in which the Boston Glober sees "signs that [Hillary] will continue to skate the thin ice of race politics and risk the Democratic Party falling through." He saves his Judas shot for last [emphasis added]:
March 28, 2008, 10:14 PM EDT
He calls it Hardball, but again tonight Chris Matthews showed he's a softy when it comes to Barack Obama. Chris was crestfallen when NBC News political director Chuck Todd laid out the case, chapter and verse, that political payback, even revenge, explained Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama as much or more than the "spiritual" reasons Chris so wanted to believe in.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.

View video here.

March 28, 2008, 11:36 AM EDT

When is a billion-dollar loss a bonanza? When the person suffering it is one of those greedy Wall Street types the MSM loves to hate. Check out how, in opening this morning's show, Today cast the situation of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne:
MATT LAUER: Payday! His company imploded and thousands of stockholders went bust, but the Chairman of Bear Stearns cashes in and gets $61 million dollars. Will there be a backlash?

Watching the intro, I assumed the Chairman, despite Bears' fall, had received some kind of bonus or golden handshake. It wasn't until Maria Bartiromo came on later that we learned that Bear Chairman James Cayne, far from receiving a bonus or bonanza, had incurred one of the worst personal financial losses in the history of the street.

March 28, 2008, 8:14 AM EDT
People are figuring Hillary Clinton out. And that's a problem. At least, it is if you're Hillary Clinton. That's a theme of Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column of today, Getting Mrs. Clinton. Along the way, the indispensable Ms. Noonan dispenses numerous valuable insights into Hillary's persona. From our NewsBusters perspective, of particular interest were these paragraphs on the way the MSM has come to view her, and vice versa [emphasis added].
Many in the press get it, to their dismay, and it makes them uncomfortable, for it sours life to have a person whose character you feel you cannot admire play such a large daily role in your work. But I think it's fair to say of the establishment media at this point that it is well populated by people who feel such a lack of faith in Mrs. Clinton's words and ways that it amounts to an aversion. They are offended by how she and her staff operate. They try hard to be fair. They constantly have to police themselves.

Not that her staff isn't policing them too. Mrs. Clinton's people are heavy-handed in that area, letting producers and correspondents know they're watching, weighing, may have to take this higher. There's too much of this in politics, but Hillary's campaign takes it to a new level.