Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
November 29, 2008, 6:21 AM EST
At this time of year, columns like Derrick Z. Jackson's of today condemning the materialism of the Christmas shopping season are as traditional as Budweiser's Clydesdale-drawn sleigh commercial.  And part of me is sympathetic with Jackson's call for people to spurn the malls and curtail their gift-giving budgets.  

But this of all years, did the Boston Globe columnist consider the disastrous consequences for the economy and the lives of millions of Americans if people were actually to heed his advice?  Apparently not. Jackson's radical suggestion [emphasis added]:
I have a suggestion for these holidays. The average American, according to the government, consumes six times more energy than the world average. Take whatever you spent on gifts last year, slash 5/6ths of it, and see what you can do with the rest - unless of course you make a charitable donation. You're broke anyway, right, so what's the harm?
November 28, 2008, 8:05 AM EST

Is Harry Smith sad that the Mumbai terrorists missed their intended American and British targets and hit Indians?  Strange as it sounds, it's hard to interpret his remark of this morning otherwise.

Smith was discussing the attacks on the Early Show with CBS terrorism expert Jere Van Dyk when he made his bizarre observation.

November 28, 2008, 7:15 AM EST

It's a good thing Barack Obama was elected.  Otherwise, the nation's glum Thanksgiving mood might have been downright funereal.  At least, that's the impression the New York Times gives in its decidedly downbeat article about the holiday.

"In Lean Times, Comfort in a Bountiful Meal" tells the story of people from coast to coast virtually weeping into their turkey and cranberry sauce.  Whether it's a Los Angeles illustrator whose work has fallen 50%, a youngish Ohio husband and wife who've both lost their jobs, or even an equities trader on the Upper West Side who can't bear to open his personal investment statements, the prevailing mood is blue.

With one bright exception: at least we have Obama.

November 27, 2008, 10:57 AM EST
Joe Conason's column should be as chilling to conservatives as it is meant to be comforting to liberals.  His message: don't be distracted by the centrist-seeming appointments Pres.-elect Obama has made to his economic team.  He remains as committed as ever to his radical agenda.

Conason's commentary appears this morning at Rasmussen Reports.  Key lines [emphasis added]:
[W]hen liberals point to Summers and other members of the Obama team, crying betrayal, they misunderstand the strategy behind those appointments. The most important thing to remember about the president-elect as he prepares to govern is that he takes the long view -- and that he knows how to make a reasonable case for radical change. He has not taken one step back from the commitments he articulated during his campaign.
November 27, 2008, 9:58 AM EST

Barbara Walters invites Great Leader to "give" Thanksgiving message to "the people."  Great Leader obliges: be inspired by . . . me.

Check out the clip of Barbara Walters's interview of the Obamas, aired on GMA today, and tell me whether you find something off-putting in the way Walters poses what is, after all, a very banal question. And then there's the President-elect's self-centered answer . . .

View video here.

November 27, 2008, 8:18 AM EST
When it comes to environmental wackiness, how far gone is the New York Times?  Perhaps all we need to know is that in its editorial of today the Times calls the Kyoto Protocol [emphasis added]:
a modest first effort to control global greenhouse gas emissions.
Modest?  In terms of benefits, yes. According to Junk Science, it's widely acknowledged that the complete implementation of Kyoto would lead to a temperature saving of 0.07 °C by the year 2050. But there's nothing modest about Kyoto's cost.  Junk Science estimates that to lower global temperatures by 1 °C would set the world economy back . . . $100 trillion.

But that's just a green hors d'oeuvre as far as the Times is concerned.  The Grey Lady is counting on Barack Obama to head down that path, and sees encouraging [to it] signs that's just what he has in mind.

Excerpts from Save the Economy, and the Planet:
November 26, 2008, 12:23 PM EST
Some wag dubbed the Prius the "Pious," for the smug self-righteousness of its greener-than-thou owners.  CNBC ran a segment this morning highlighting an even pricier form of conspicuous green consumption: the installation of geothermal wells in Manhattan as an alternative form of HVAC.

Narrating a segment that would have had Veblen nodding in approval, CNBC's Bertha Coombs observed "for many, it represents bragging rights in the pursuit of green luxury."  That segued to a clip of New York magazine's Jesse Oxfeld explicitly making the conspicuous consumption point.

View video here.
November 26, 2008, 9:51 AM EST

Why does Sarah Palin continue to receive so much media coverage?  Peggy Noonan has a theory.  The Wall Street Journal columnist believes the MSM is up to what she considers "mischief": attempting to make Sarah Palin the face of the Republican party.

Noonan propounded her premise during an appearance today on Morning Joe.

November 25, 2008, 9:12 PM EST
Governor: John?  It's the Governor here.  Say, you guys there at the Bristol Press are doing a great job. Top notch.  But there is that one reporter of yours making a big stink over our proposal to increase the state income tax.  He really doesn't get what we're trying to do to help our state move forward.  And you know, that bill to renew your paper's subsidy is coming up next week. I'd hate to see it get bogged down in the fuss over this.  Know what I mean?

Editor: Um, yes, I know, sir.

The conversation is imaginary but the possibility is real.  At least, it is if the proposal of seven Connecticut state legislators were ever to be adopted.  As reported at the BristolToday blog, the seven have written a letter to the state's Commissioner of Economic and Community Development asking for state "help" for two struggling local newspapers in their districts.  [H/t FReeper abb.]

November 25, 2008, 10:08 AM EST

Paul Krugman has been making the rounds of the network morning shows, urging the government to "go big" in spending to revive the economy.  His only concern is that Obama might not be planning to spend enough.  Heck, even FDR wasn't a big enough spender in his book.  View Krugman's weekend GMA appearance in which he says that here, the episode in which, as discussed here, Krugman of all people had to talk Kate Snow down from her fantasy of Obama "forcing" the Bush administration to adopt his policies.

None of the network shows had anyone on to debate Krugman.  But the Early Show did invite Jim Rogers in today to give very much the other side.  The legendary investor's take: let the banks fail.  The massive bailout underway will put our country in hock for decades.  Almost 20 years later, Japan has still been unable to get out of the hole it dug when it, like the US now, decided certain institutions were too big to fail.

November 24, 2008, 7:28 PM EST
President and Mrs. Bush couldn't be handling the transition more graciously.  But rather than celebrating the peaceful transfer of power that is the hallmark of our democracy, Hardball has announced a new feature, "Final Daze," intended to mock W as we count down his last weeks in office.

Mike Barnicle, sitting in for Chris Matthews, announced the new segment on this evening's show.
MIKE BARNICLE: And that brings us to a new, regular item we're starting tonight called "Final Daze."  President Bush has 57 days left in office, and many are asking "where's Dubya?"  With the economy tanking and the country looking for guidance from the guy who's still president, here's what we got today.
View video here.
November 24, 2008, 3:29 PM EST

Update 11-25 8:20 AM: Morning Joe Makes SNL References -- see discussion at foot.

Call it "The Wild 'n Crazy Guy–Billionaire Style."  Maria Bartiromo's interview of Saudi Prince Alwaleed, the largest shareholder of Citigroup, is literally a Saturday Night Live skit waiting—begging—to happen.

CNBC's Bartiromo conducted the interview by remote this afternoon. When the camera went to the prince in Riyadh, you might have expected to find him in a TV studio, or perhaps in his business office, maybe even in one of his palace rooms.  But no, there he was sitting outdoors, apparently by his stables, with seated camels and sleek horses very visible in the background.   And rather than being attired in business or traditional Saudi dress, the Prince was duded up with an open collar, tinted glasses and a scarf warding off the desert's cool night air.  He could be seen occasionally fingering what appeared to be golden worry beads.

View video here.

November 24, 2008, 7:18 AM EST

Transcript from press conference of Pres. Barack Obama, Feb. 12th, 2011:
CNSNEWS.COM: Mr. President, when you first took office you promised to create 2.5 million jobs by January, 2011.  But the Labor Department report issued yesterday indicates that in fact 1.7 million jobs were lost during that period.  Why did your plan fail?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Ah, but it didn't fail. To the contrary, we succeeded beyond all expectations.  You misquoted our promise.  We said we would create or "save" 2.5 million jobs.  And a report prepared by my White House team being distributed to you demonstrates that had we not taken the bold steps we did back in 2009, we would by now have lost 5.8 million jobs.  We therefore in fact saved 4.1 million jobs, more than 50% greater than the number of jobs we promised to save.  So our program has been a huge success.  Let's see, Keith, you had a question?
KEITH OLBERMANN:  Yes, Mr. President.  You are so wonderful, sir.  Please comment, if you would, sir.

The "or save" makes Obama's plan virtually fail-proof. No matter how many jobs are lost, Obama will always be able to claim that things would have been much worse were it not for his plan. To his credit, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd pointed out the verbal sleight of hand on today's Morning Joe.

November 23, 2008, 1:11 PM EST

Tom Brokaw: talk show host or DNC enforcer?  Barack Obama and Harry Reid were willing to let bygones be bygones, letti

November 23, 2008, 10:03 AM EST

In an MSM eager for the advent of the Age of Obama, Kate Snow may have taken the cake.  The weekend GMA co-host almost sounded as if she were calling for some kind of coup d'etat, musing whether Obama should be urgently "forcing" change before he takes office. How over the top was Snow?  She had to be talked down from her fin de regime fantasy but none other than . . . Paul Krugman.

ABC reporter John Hendren set the tone for the notion that time is dangerously a-wasting.

JOHN HENDREN: As with Hoover and FDR, the ideological gap between Bush and Obama could be too broad to bridge, leaving us with two more months of costly economic drift.
A little later, interviewing Krugman, Snow made her startling suggstion.
November 22, 2008, 8:05 AM EST
For years, little would upset liberals more than the suggestion they were less patriotic than other Americans.  The crowd spewing "Bush-Hitler-Genghis-Khan-baby-killers-AmeriKKKa-Ho-Ho-Ho-Chi-Minh"? Great patriots, all.  Bill Ayers trampling a flag?  Dissent is patriotic, dude.

But now that Barack Obama has been elected, comes an admission, unintended as it may be. Yeah, maybe we weren't so much before, but it's cool to be patriotic. Now.  Such can be seen in Derrick Z. Jackson's Boston Globe column of today, 'It's OK to be an American now." From Jackson's opening paragraph [emphasis added]:
Before Obama's victory speech in Chicago, the crowd of 125,000 people said the Pledge of Allegiance. In my 53 years I have never heard such a multicultural throng recite the pledge with such determined enunciation, expelling it from the heart in a treble soaring to the skies and a bass drumming through the soil to vibrate my feet.
November 21, 2008, 7:53 AM EST

Whoever had the brilliant idea of making Capricia Marshall a guest on MSNBC's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" last night was probably hiding from host David Gregory when the show ended.  Marshall turned out to be the least forthcoming guest I have ever seen on a political talk show.  The aide to Hillary Clinton put up a smiling stonewall that would make G. Gordon Liddy—who chose a stiff prison sentence over Watergate stool-pigeonhood—proud.

Marshall is the director of Hillary Clinton's political action committee, Hillpac, and former social secretary in the Clinton White House.  Gregory had her on in the clear expectation that she would dish on Hillary's prospective appointment as Secretary of State.  But Capricia was tighter than the proverbial clam.  Try as Gregory might, Marshall wouldn't give up the smallest shadow of a hint of a scrap of a tidbit about anything of interest.  Her big revelation? She's excited about the inauguration.  Gag Gregory with an NBC "Yes We Can!" commemorative Obama-campaign DVD.

November 20, 2008, 8:09 AM EST
Drumstick or breast for accused daddy killer?  Details at 11!

If that wasn't quite how the Early Show played it, it's not far off. Of all the angles to promote its coverage of the story of the eight-year old accused of killing his father, CBS highlighted the issue of . . . where the boy would celebrate Thanksgiving.

View video here.
November 19, 2008, 9:57 AM EST

Barney Frank favors bailing out the Detroit automakers over letting them go into bankruptcy.  Chief among his concerns is that bankruptcy might "bust" the unions. You know, those organizations whose contract demands have put Detroit on the brink of extinction.

The Massachusetts Dem, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was interviewed by Maggie Rodriguez on today's Early Show. He appeared alongside Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Al.), ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, who favors letting the automakers reorganize under Chapter 11.

November 19, 2008, 7:53 AM EST

Amidst all the sanctimonious do-gooderism and global-warming alarmism that is NBC/Universal's "Green Week," it's good to see that at least one network minion has managed to maintain his sense of humor.

Morning Joe's Willie Geist became something of a sensation with his spoof electioneering for John McCain on the sidewalks of Manhattan's ultra-blue Upper West Side.  In that same spirit, Willie ventured onto the streets of midtown yesterday, asking folks how they were celebrating Green Week, and posing provocative questions. Sample: "Do you think global warming is kinda hogwash? I mean, look how cold it is today."  He got some amusing answers and met some colorful characters, including one dazed and confused fellow who turned out to be none other than Mike Barnicle.