Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
February 5, 2016, 8:59 PM EST

¡Muchas gracias, señor Matthews! If Bernie Sanders becomes the Dem nominee, the GOP might wind up having to pay royalties to Chris Matthews .  . On this evening's Hardball, Matthews aired what he himself said could be an anti-Bernie Republican ad, cobbled together from clips of various radical statements Sanders has made over the years.

In Chris' commercial, Sanders is seen saying he's a socialist, confirming he's not a capitalist, admitting that he applied for conscientious objector status, indicating that he would raise taxes to somewhere between 50 and 90%, and preaching political "revolution." Workers of the world, unite behind Bernie!

February 5, 2016, 6:10 PM EST

With all due respect, indeed! On the Bloomberg TV show of that name that he co-hosts with Mark Halperin, John Heilemann today reported that the current and former governors in the GOP field--Bush, Kasich and Christie--think Marco Rubio is a "punk."

Clarified Heilemann: "when I say 'punk,' they have the same view that Hillary Clinton had of Barack Obama [in 2008]: line-cutter, punk, man of no accomplishment." It's hard to imagine the dignifed Jeb calling Rubio a punk, but in his interiew on CBS today, Jeb did flatly assert that Rubio had accomplished "nothing" in the Senate. Readers will also remember that yesterday, Joe Scarborough grilled Rubio-endorser Rick Santorum, who struggled to name a Rubio accomplishement in the Senate.

February 5, 2016, 8:19 AM EST

Then why the hell weren't those "top journalists" shouting it from the top of the evening news and in banner headlines? . . . On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough said "as we were leaving Iowa, I heard from a lot of top journalists who whispered "you know Bernie won." I heard that time and time again. 'You know Bernie won.'"

With Scarborough asking "where is this, Bolivia in the 1930s?" and Steve Schmidt saying it was "shady as hell," the blame was laid at the feet of the Democrat party, which runs an intentionally murky process so it can control things. No doubt. But what about the responsibility of those "top journalists" to blow the whistle? Why did they "whisper" and speak "quietly?" How might this campaign be different if the day after Iowa the headline had been either "Bernie Wins" or "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Throws Iowa to Hillary?"

February 4, 2016, 8:22 AM EST

Joe Scarborough has denied having it in for Marco Rubio. But on today's Morning Joe, he went on an anti-Rubio rant so protracted that one segment wasn't enough to contain it. Scarborough first called Rubio the "Republican Obama," who's been marketed like a "bag of potato chips," and the "emptiest suit" in the campaign. After a commercial break, Scarborough hectored Rick Santorum, who has just endorsed Rubio, repeatedly challenging him to name Rubio's accomplishments. 

By all means, let's carefully examine the record of all candidates. But for Scarborough to deny that, for whatever reason, he has a grudge against Rubio is a joke. Can anyone remember the last time Joe attacked Hillary or any other prominent Democrat with such sustained vitriol?

February 3, 2016, 7:18 PM EST

Of all the things you can call John Heilemann, one thing you cannot is "clandestine Republican operative." So it might be a sign of just how frazzled the Hillary campaign has become that her spokesman has in essence accused Heilemann of being a GOP catspaw.

On today's With All Due Respect, Heilemann pressed Clinton spox Brian Fallon as to whether Hillary would call herself a liberal. Fallon sought refuge behind the term "progressive." When Heilemann persisted, Fallon snapped "you're asking me because you want the RNC to clip this and turn it into a 15-second ad." Paging Richard Hofstadter's Paranoid Style in American Politics.

February 3, 2016, 7:37 AM EST

Donald Trump normally projects the image of a guy with only one gear: warp drive. But on today's Morning JoeTrump made an interesting admission, saying that in Iowa, "I sort of just went through the motions a little bit." According to Trump, he went less than flat-out in the Hawkeye State because he had been told he couldn't win, until a poll at the very end of the campaign indicated that he could.

Note: there was an odd moment at the very beginning of the phone interview. When Mika Brzezinski began by asking "let's talk about Iowa. What happened?" there was an awkward pause on Trump's end. "O-k-a-a-a-y," he eventually responded. The pause was so strange that Joe Scarborough asked "can you hear us?" Trump said he could hear fine, and the interview went on from there. So . . . was Trump distracted, or might he have been annoyed by Mika's entirely reasonable opening question focusing on his second-place finish in Iowa?

February 1, 2016, 8:59 AM EST

Hillary Clinton's criminal defense attorney made a surprise appearance on today's Morning Joe, saying . . . oh, wait: that wasn't Hillary's lawyer--it was Andrea Mitchell. Same difference.

Relying on her sources, Mitchell asserted "I don't think there is the legal culpability here."  Andrea first suggested that Hillary lacked "intent." Joe Scarborough pushed back hard, noting that the statute also criminalizes being "reckless" with classified material. Mitchell then switched to a truly absurd argument. Noting that the official State Department system had been hacked, Mitchell said that Hillary's "defense could well be the whole damn system is vulnerable." Shot back Scarborough sarcastically" "good luck with the Justice Department on that."

January 29, 2016, 7:48 AM EST

With news of the death of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, let's borrow a line from another group of the late '60s, Buffalo Springfield: "there's something happening here." What it is ain't exactly clear, but it doesn't seem to bode well for Hillary Clinton.

Today's Morning Joe featured an ominous exchange between Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin. The notion was that a variety of sources--from a senior network exec, to top Obama admin officials, to FBI agents--are saying the same thing: the FBI investigation of Hillary is much further along than most people realize. Listen to Halperin: "the body language among some Obama administration officials is, this is more serious, and something's going to happen."

January 28, 2016, 7:16 AM EST

On today's Morning Joe, a seething Mika Brzezinski ripped Bill O'Reilly for his failure, during his interview of Donald Trump on last night's Factor, to defend Megyn Kelly against Trump's attacks on her. Trump has called Kelly a "third-rate reporter," a "lightweight" and "not good at what she does." Rather than challenging Trump over his criticism of Kelly, O'Reilly spent the segment importuning him to change his mind and appear at tonight's debate.  At one point, as we noted here, O'Reilly even resorted to citing the biblical tenet of forgiveness, to which an unyielding Trump shot back that the Bible also speaks of "an eye for an eye."

Brzezinski suggested O'Reilly should have retorted: "excuse me? You're talking about her intellect? She's a lawyer . . . she's a mother of three. You do not undermine the credibility and the intellect of my colleague." Concluded Mika: "where was that, Bill? That was lame!" 

January 27, 2016, 9:02 PM EST

Despite his ongoing feud with Fox News, Donald Trump honored a previous promise and appeared on The Factor tonight. Bill O'Reilly tried a variety of tactics to convince Trump to participate in Fox's GOP debate tomorrow night.

Nothing was working, so O'Reilly played his trump card, citing Christianity: "the tenet of forgiveness . . . don't you think that's the right thing to do?" Shot back Trump: "it probably is. But it's called an eye for an eye I guess also."

January 26, 2016, 7:58 PM EST

Imagine that in some future presidential election, two Mexican-American candidates are vying for the Dem nomination. The Dem frontrunner announces he won't participate in the next debate. And a conservative pundit sneeringly says "who's going to watch a debate between the two Mexican guys?" Now imagine all hell descending on that hapless conservative for his breach of political correctness.

Will anything similar befall Chris Matthews? Of course not. But on Hardball this evening, as news was breaking that Donald Trump won't participate in Thursday's debate in protest over Megyn Kelly's presence on the panel, Matthews said "who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?"

January 26, 2016, 7:54 AM EST

Disabled, divorced, with a degree, working several jobs yet making less than $10,000 a year. Struggling to pay bills. Unable to buy presents for her children. Waiting for her disability to come through. Dependent on her parents. That was the sad story that a woman told Bernie Sanders at an event in Iowa yesterday.

On today's Morning Joe, after airing that clip, a visibly moved Mika Brzezinski challenged the panel as to who between Sanders and Hillary Clinton would "be there" for the woman. Mika didn't answer the question herself, though she has been a Bernie booster.

January 25, 2016, 9:26 PM EST

If he wants, Chris Hayes can crow about the refusal of a Houston grand jury to indict Planned Parenthood. But for him to claim, as he did on his MSNBC show tonight, that PP did not sell baby parts is absurd. As the videos revealed, not only was PP selling body parts, one of its officials joked [we have to hope] that she wanted to get as much money as possible so she could buy a Lamborghini.

To support his claim, Hayes relied on the Orwellian decision of a Houston grand jury today to indict not PP, but the makers of the videos exposing their sales of baby parts. Chris conveniently failed to mention that one of the prosecutors in the Houston DA's office is a Planned Parenthood board member and fundraiser. 

January 25, 2016, 7:36 AM EST

Somebody slap an 'L' on Bill Clinton's forehead . . . Slick Willie has been called many things: a grifter, a snake-oil salesman, even an alleged rapist. But one label that hasn't been affixed to him is the L-word: loser. Until this morning.

On today's Morning Joeafter airing Bill Clinton's recent attack on Bernie Sanders, Scarborough said "I know I'm listening to a loser." Continued Scarborough: "I'm listening to somebody that's losing, that's saying 'oh, they've got better slogans, oh, they've got better this, their polls may be a little higher now, or oh, they may be more angry, but --' I've heard that form of speech a thousand times. And it's never good for the one giving it."

January 24, 2016, 11:37 AM EST

It's not easy to get to the left of Bernie Sanders.  He is a self-described socialist, after all. But hats off to Chuck Todd: he's managed to do it! On today's Meet the Press, Todd, citing Ta-nehisi Coates, challenged Sanders: why aren't you for reparations . . .  because of slavery for African-Americans when you're calling for economic justice on so many other levels? Why do you stop short on that issue?"

Sanders gave a long-winded answer offering his solutions for African-Americans and pointing out that President Obama and Hillary Clinton also oppose reparations. But Todd wasn't ready to let go: "you still haven't answered the question why you weren't in favor of reparations." Sanders' is well-known to have relatively weak support among African-Americans. Todd was clearly picking on a sore spot. Somewhere Hillary Clinton is smiling.

January 22, 2016, 6:41 PM EST

Question: what would happen if a Republican pundit called Michelle Obama "mean" and suggested President Obama "unleash" her on an opponent? On With All Due Respect today, co-host Heilemann said that whereas her public image was that of a "lovely and matronly figure," First Lady Barbara Bush was in fact as "mean" and tough as anyone, and said he'd like to see the Bush campaign "unleash" her on Donald Trump.

Heilemann's comment, which we'll stipulate he presumably meant as a compliment in his own way, came in the context of a Jeb campaign video in which Mrs. Bush praises her son as a problem solver--but also takes an unsubtle shot at people who talk "about how popular they are, how great they are." Take that, Donald! Heilemann said he would like to see the Bush campaign "unleash" Barbara on Trump, saying she "might be the one best able to stand up to him." Question: what would happen if a Republican pundit praised Michelle Obama by calling her "mean" and suggesting President Obama "unleash" her on an opponent?

January 22, 2016, 8:28 AM EST

National Review was created by the great William F. Buckley, Jr., the brilliant pioneer of the modern conservative movement. Throughout the current presidential campaign season, NR has been a consistent critic of Donald Trump, whose conservatism it views with, to say the least, skepticism. And so it was entirely consistent for NR to publish "Against Trump," a special edition appearing today that assembles essays by an array of leading conservatives, including our own L. Brent Bozell.

That said, "Against Trump" came in for a barrage of criticism on today's Morning Joe. John Heilemann called it an "in-kind contribution" to Trump, by depicting him in precisely the way he prefers: as pitted against the Establishment. And Nicolle Wallace said it was a "stupid move and a stupid piece" that risks splitting the conservative media from the conservative base.

January 21, 2016, 8:14 AM EST

Hillary Clinton's defense lawyers made a stunning appearance on today's Morning Joe, asserting that David Petraeus' mishandling of his emails was "worse" than what Hillary did, and arguing that she should not be charged. Oh, wait: those weren't Hillary's lawyers: they were NBC's Chuck Todd, and politician-turned-professor Harold Ford, Jr.

Can anyone recall this level of naked partisan advocacy by an MTP host? And when Ford would not stop telling Joe Scarborough that he "had" to agree with Todd, Scarborough eventually snapped at Ford "you're a gd lawyer."

January 20, 2016, 8:35 PM EST

Hey Chris Matthews: is GloZell qualified to be President of the United States? How about John Travolta or Joy Behar?  

On his MSNBC show this evening, Matthews attacked Sarah Palin's legitimacy as a Trump endorser by questioning her presidential qualifications. GloZell, Travolta and Behar are all Hillary endorsers. So how about it Chris: which of them could you imagine in the Oval Office? Trump advocate and former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault demolished Matthews' absurd attack, saying she was supporting The Donald for president, not Palin or anyone else.

January 20, 2016, 8:15 AM EST

Hillary's in hot water. Needs Fauxcohantas. That, in a nutshell, was Mika Brzezinski's argument on today's Morning Joe. At the end of a segment highlighting the way Bernie Sanders has gone after Clinton for the massive "speaking fees" she's received from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, Mika concluded: "the only person that can help her now is Elizabeth Warren, and she's going to have to make her her running mate. There's no other way around it."

As we noted here and here, Mika has long been a Lieawatha fan, urging her to run way back in 2013. If Warren can't top the ticket, Mika wants her to at least get the consolation prize of the VP slot. Question for readers: how would a Hillary/Warren ticket play in the general election?