Mark Finkelstein

Mark Finkelstein's picture
Contributing Editor

Lives in Granbury, Texas. 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein

H/t reader Harry S.  Imagine that a prominent media conservative jokingly hoped, in any way shape or form, that a member of the Dem presidential ticket would be shot.  How long until the MSM and various others demanded he be fired, a Secret Service investigation launched, etc?

But when Bill Maher jokes about Sarah Palin being shot? Silence, except for the raucous laughter of the studio crowd.  Maher offered up his violent fantasy on this past Friday's "Real Time" on HBO in the "Exit Strategy" segment, devoted to exploring foreign countries to which people might consider moving in the event of a McCain victory.  India was the subject of the week, which led to Maher's invocation of recincarnation, and his "hope" for how Sarah Palin would come back . . . .

Prices shouldn't be set by supply and demand.  They should be determined by, well, what prices "should" be.  That's the innovative theory Maggie Rodriguez propounded on today's Early Show.

The Early Show anchor's unique take on economics came in the course of a segment on the falling price of gasoline.  Rodriguez lamented to co-anchor Chris Wragge that grocery prices weren't falling along with gas prices.  In Maggie's view, grocers who set prices based on demand rather than on what prices "should" be are the culprits.

I thought Sarah Palin did more than fine on Saturday Night Live [Noel's got the video here]. In particular, during her Weekend Update appearance Palin displayed a speaking poise and polish exceeding that of the other candidates on both tickets.  But Republicans who agree to appear on such shows put themselves in the lap of the liberal media gods.  And those lesser deities abused their power last night, running a nasty joke at Clarence Thomas's expense during Weekend Update shortly before Palin appeared.

The set-up was the fact that, in a dissenting opinion published this past week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts employed the style of a hard-bitten detective novel.  That set up this . . .

View video here.

Someone should explain to ABC: it ain't "dirty" if it's true.  GMA got the collective vapors this morning over the robo-calls the RNC and McCain campaign are making, informing voters of Barack Obama's close association with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.  

In GMA's book, there's no real difference between these calls—which Cokie Roberts alluded to as "dirtier" tactics—and the calls made against McCain during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.

Except there is a difference.  A big, fundamental one: what's said in the current calls is true.  Obama did work closely with Ayers. What was said in the 2000 calls against McCain in South Carolina was false: he didn't father a black child out of wedlock. He and wife Cindy adopted a Bangladeshi child.

View video here.

I think he said "I wished we had done more."  He never said "bomb more."  I think you have to be careful there. In terms of anti-war activism  . . . Let's get the facts straight . . . He didn't say he wished he had bombed more. -- Chris Matthews to Pat Buchanan, Hardball, October 17, 2008

''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' -- from No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives, New York Times, September 11, 2001

Trying to defend Barack Obama's association with Bill Ayers, Chris Matthews has tried to distort Ayers's words that by fate were published in the New York Times on September 11, 2001.  According to the Hardball host, when Ayers told the Times that he "wished we had done more," he meant only anti-war activism, not bombing.  A lot of things were destroyed on 9-11, but unfortunately for Matthews, not the online edition of that New York Times article. It survives and can be seen here and in an image after the jump.

They [the RNC] are calling voters, cold calls, and saying to them, what about William Ayers and the close working relationship he had [with Obama], which is not true by anybody's count . .  . It certainly is a mischaracterization of the relationship. -- Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), MSNBC 10-17-08.

Andrea Mitchell, meet Stanley Kurtz . . .

It's turning into Andrea Mitchell Day here.  Earlier, I noted how Mitchell, measuring the drapes for Obama, predicted that he would run a "bipartisan" administration.  Now Mitchell has ridden to Obama's defense, denying that he ever worked closely with Wiliam Ayers. 

View video here.

You might know Barack Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, a hyper-partisan who toed the Harry Reid line an amazing 97% of the time. But Andrea Mitchell sees in Obama a bipartisan president in the making. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Mitchell came close to speaking of an Obama presidency as a given, just managing to curb her enthusiasm. And wait till you see the people she cited as evidence of Obama's bipartisan proclivity.

View video here.

Has Mike Barnicle called Sarah Palin stupid?  Seems that way.  In a Huffington Post column that Mika Brzezinski read on today's Morning Joe, Barnicle, referring to Palin, wrote of the:

preposterous pronouncements of a woman whose candidacy is an insult to intelligence.

Let's deconstruct.  The normal formulation is an "insult to our intelligence," used to describe an assertion that is obviously unbelievable. For example, you might say Barack Obama insulted our intelligence when he claimed against all evidence during this week's debate that his only tie to ACORN is his past representation of the group in a lawsuit.  But when Barnicle writes that Sarah Palin's candidacy is an insult not to "our" intelligence, but to intelligence itself, it's hard to read that other than as suggesting Palin is something other than smart. Throw in his reference to "preposterous pronouncements" and there's little doubt that the person Barnicle intended to insult is Palin herself. Mika seemed to acknowledge that Barnicle meant to slur Sarah, observing, after reading that last line, "that's rough stuff."

Imagine that Chris Matthews was interviewing the former head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, someone who helped engineer the election of a Republican House member after the incumbent Dem had been caught in a sex scandal.  Now imagine that same Republican was currently stuck in a sex scandal of his own, and just that afternoon a credible report emerged that he might drop out of the race.  What are the odds Matthews wouldn't have raised the new scandal with the former RCCC chairman?  About as good as Keith Olbermann suddenly endorsing McCain-Palin after tonight's debate, you say?  Agreed.

Yet when Matthews had Rahm Emanuel on his show this evening, the Hardball host failed to raise the matter of Tim Mahoney with Emanuel, the hyper-partisan Dem and former DCCC chairman.  This despite the Politico's report that Mahoney might be dropping out, he who won Mark Foley's seat after the Republican was forced out of the race in 2006 after sordid details emerged of his text messaging with male House pages.

There was one amusing moment: after defending William Ayers as a "distinguished professor," Emanuel balked at calling him a "good guy" on the grounds he didn't know him.  Right.

View video here.

The Nobel committee can stop looking for next year winner of the Nobel prize in economics and hand the thing right now to Harold Myerson.  The WaPo columnist's effort of today, Gods That Failed, is Krugmanesque, reading like an extended gloat at the expense of believers in free markets. Ha-ha, mocks Myerson, your god of unregulated capitalism is dead.  Just like Communism failed, so has your system. You half expect Myerson to end with a self-satisfied "nah nah nah nah nah!"

From Myerson's opening paras [emphasis added]:

In 1949, a number of famous writers, among them Arthur Koestler, André Gide, Richard Wright, Stephen Spender and Ignazio Silone, wrote essays explaining why they were no longer communists. The essays were collected in a volume entitled "The God That Failed."

Today, conservative intellectuals might want to consider writing a tome on the failure of their own beloved deity, unregulated capitalism.

There's just one small problem with Harold's hypothesis: it's based on an entirely false premise, one that I'm sure NB readers will quickly spot.  The current mess was caused not by too little government regulation, but too much.

On what should be the crowning day of his professional career, one hopes for his sake that Paul Krugman wasn't watching Morning Joe.  For news of his economics Nobel was met by the crew with ridicule that even Mika Brzezinski couldn't resist.  Andrea Mitchell tried to uphold the Krugman honor, but—as seen in the screencap—even she couldn't suppress a smile at the award's arrant absurdity.

Joe Scarborough piqued Mika's curiosity with his teasing of the news, while guest Jim Cramer saw the award as confirmation that America is well on the way to socialism.

View video here.

Was the current economic situation caused by too little government intervention in the financial markets—or too much?   I'd say the latter.  Washington used Fannie/Freddie as a political piggy bank, causing it dole out loans to people who had no business receiving them.  And because Freddie and Fannie's obligations enjoyed the implicit guarantee of the federal government, they were able to obtain funds at lower rates and become by far the biggest dog on Mortgage Street.  That in turn caused private-sector banks to lower their lending standards in order to be able to compete. Throw in the Community Reinvestment Act—another major bit of government meddling that forced lenders to compromise underwriting standards—and you had a recipe for the current unpleasantness.

But the Washington Post, in the person of Anthony Faiola, sees too much capitalism, not too little, as the problem.  According to his official WaPo bio, he "writes about the forces of globalization" for the paper.  Faiola's article in today's WaPo is entitled The End Of American Capitalism?—and it seems clear he'd love someday soon to be able to remove the question mark.

Labor costs the Detroit Three substantially more per vehicle than it does the Japanese. Health care is the biggest chunk. GM, for instance spends $1,635 per vehicle on health care for active and retired workers in the U.S. Toyota pays nothing for retired workers - it has very few - and only $215 for active ones . . . Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle - costs that the Japanese don't have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle. -- Fortune magazine, January 26, 2007

Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. -- Official Obama website statement on labor [emphasis added].

As noted here earlier, Joe Biden agreed with Ann Curry this morning that mentioning Obama's connections with Rev. Wright and William Ayers constituted an "ugly" tactic.  Biden raised the stakes during his Early Show appearance, telling Harry Smith that daring to breathe Ayers's last name, or using Obama's middle one, is "mildly dangerous" and an "incitement."

Biden also managed work in the boast that he would be the go-to guy in an Obama administration.

You're an MSM anchor.  For the last couple days, Obama spokesmen have been out there denying their candidate knew of William Ayers's terrorist past when Obama launched his political career in the Ayers living room.  You now have the opportunity to interview Obama's VP running-mate.  So naturally, you ask him to confirm or deny the campaign's assertion of Obama's ignorance, right?

Trick question.  I did say "you're an MSM anchor." No, when Ann Curry had Joe Biden on Today this morning, she couldn't even bring herself to mention Ayers by name.  Far from challenging Biden as to the truth of the campaign's denial, she teed up the notion that Sarah Palin is using "ugly" tactics by daring to raise the Obama-Ayers and Obama-Wright connections.

Update | Hail Halperin: See incredible video at foot.  Pressed by Mark Halperin, Robert Gibbs admits Obama continued to associate with Ayers after learning his past.


H/t Melody N. An Obama spokesman adamantly insists that in 1995 Barack Obama was the most clueless man in Chicago. Andrea Mitchell thinks talk of Barack Obama's ties to an unrepentant terrorist is a "distraction." Rudy Giuliani doesn't. Mitchell is happy to take the New York Times's word for the fact that Obama and William Ayers weren't close.  Rudy, not so much.

After the former NYC mayor made the case on today's Morning Joe as to why Ayers matters, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs came on, called Giuliani a liar, and flatly denied that—when beginning his political career in his living room—Obama knew Ayers was a terrorist.

View video here.

Good thing Nancy Pfotenhauer wasn't in the same studio with Harry Smith this morning. The Early Show anchor might have broken out his hickory stick.  Like a hectoring school marm, Smith scolded McCain adviser Pfotenhauer for what he deemed her insufficient citation of a New York Times article tracing Barack Obama's affiliation with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers.

Wagging a stern finger at Pfotenhauer across the airwaves, Smith repeatedly interrupted her, demanding "what was the conclusion, what was the conclusion?"

The Associated Press has long been a bastion of liberal bias. But has it now sunk to the level of a left-wing blog in the throes of Palin Derangement Syndrome?  Yes, suggests the Morning Joe folks.  In a rare bit of unanimity, the panel condemned and ridiculed AP for its "analysis" item, "Palin's words carry racial tinge."  According to Douglass K. Daniel, the item's author, Palin's criticism of Barack Obama for his association with Ayers somehow carries "a racially tinged subtext." See Warner Todd Huston's earlier discussion here.

Mika Brzezinski questioned the strategic wisdom of the McCain campaign's playing of the Ayers card, but even she joined in the excoriation of the AP.

View video here.

A beautiful woman, at once a scheming, ambitious right-wing ideologue, and the powerful, evil forces behind her, plot to seize the presidency from the man—foolish enough to have made her his running-mate—who may be concealing just how seriously sick he is, both physically and mentally!

As the stuff of straight-to-video filmmaking, not bad, perhaps.  But as the theory of an ostensibly serious column in America's newspaper of record?  And yet, that is the paranoid picture Frank Rich paints today in Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain.

Annotated excerpts:

[T]he 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race . . .  and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

Watch in horror, as the scheming woman plots behind the muddled McCain's back!

If that isn't quite egg we spot on Kathleen Parker's face, perhaps it's the product seen at the right . . . 

Last week, Parker became, overnight, liberals' favorite non-liberal pundit for her column calling on Sarah Palin to step down from the GOP ticket. She described Palin's interview performances as painful, cringe-inducing, and filled with "BS." Concluding that Palin is "clearly out of her league," Parker suggested Palin announce she was quitting to spend more time with her newborn.

Parker is back with her post-debate column in today's Washington Post. The very headline, "Sarah Palin's Bridge to Somewhere," is a tacit admission that Palin has a political future.  "What did they do with the other Sarah Palin?" is Parker's opening line.  It sounds almost like a complaint, as if Parker is dismayed to have the Palin that made the author famous pulled out from under her.