Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Parrots, dogs, small planes, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
September 2, 2008, 9:32 AM EDT
Imagine the outrage in feminist circles if a conservative columnist had mockingly analogized a sitting Dem governor to an animal.  But Richard Cohen has said as much of Sarah Palin.  And I predict you won't hear a peep from the Kim Gandys or Naomi Wolffs of the world—much less from their allies in the MSM.

Cohen begins his WaPo column of today by dismissing Palin as "a sitcom of a vice presidential choice and a disaster movie if she moves up to the presidency."  After noting Newt's defense of her nomination, Cohen continues [emphasis added]:
It's a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse.
September 2, 2008, 7:30 AM EDT
No, not Chris Matthews to Keith Olbermann.  That media odd couple have already begun to kiss and make up. Instead, it was Joe Scarborough who authored the line this morning, directing it at Obama spokesman Mark Bubriski.  The cause of Joe's ire was this email statement Bubriski released to the Miami Herald [emphasis added]:
Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer.
The Morning Joe crew was unanimous in roundly condemning the Obama campaign tactic, rallying around Buchanan, one of its own, who was present on the set.  Bubriski was riffing off a similar allegation made by Bob Wexler, a south Florida Dem congressman.  

View video here.  It's perhaps the longest video clip I've posted, but hope you'll agree the content justifies the length. Joe unleashes on Bubriski [calling him a "jackass" for good measure] three minutes in.
September 1, 2008, 8:49 PM EDT
It's a love-in, man!

Looks like the grown-ups at NBC/MSNBC have taken the kids aside and told them to kiss and make up.  After the embarrassing "tension convention" [to quote Imus] at the DNC amongst Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough, we've already seen the Countdown host plucked out of the GOP convention, under the convenient excuse that he would be anchoring—back in NYC and safely removed from St. Paul—the coverage of Hurricane Gustav.

When Olbermann and Matthews appeared on split-screen during the 7 PM EDT hour this evening, they were clearly on their best behavior. The dueling duo traded kind words, culminating in Olbermann's credulity-cracking claim to "miss" his erstwhile antagonist.  Chris got things off to a conciliatory start.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Joining us now from the site of the convention, Chris Matthews from St. Paul. Chris, good evening.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Good evening, partner.
View the video, here Was that an amiable grin on Chris' lips, or the sardonic smile of someone who's been taken to the woodshed?
September 1, 2008, 5:28 PM EDT

Bristol Palin's pregnancy is a "damaging revelation " that has caused Sarah Palin's image to "suffer." Says who? Says ABC News, in an article by Rick Klein and Jennifer Parker.

In Palin Pregnancy Rocks Political World, Klein and Parker report reaction from a variety of Republican and traditional-values sources.  Every one, from Dr. James Dobson to Grover Norquist to Chuck Donovan of the Family Research Council to a pro-life delegate to the GOP convention who said "the fact that her daughter's keeping it and marrying the father is wonderful," had a positive reaction.

But what do they know?  Declare Klein and Parker [emphasis added]:

Palin's image may suffer further if more damaging revelations come out in the coming days and weeks.
September 1, 2008, 3:53 PM EDT
Given Hurricane Gustav, the GOP convention—and the MSM's inherent inclination to underreport good news from Iraq—a major story is not getting the attention it deserves.  Here's how President Bush described the development [the photo shows U.S. Marine Maj. Gen John Kelly and Anbar Governor Maamoun Sami Rashid signing the handover papers.  (AP Photo/Wathiq Khuzaie, Pool)]:
Today in Iraq, responsibility for security in Anbar Province was transferred to Iraqi civilian authorities. Iraqi forces will now take the lead in security operations in Anbar, with American troops moving into an overwatch role. Not long ago, Anbar was one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq. Al Qaeda was in control of almost every major population center, and its leaders intended to turn Anbar province into a safe haven from which to plan and launch further attacks against Iraqis and others in the region, as well as here at home.

Today, Anbar is no longer lost to al Qaeda - it is al Qaeda that lost Anbar. Iraqis - like countless other Muslims across the world - witnessed al Qaeda's brutality first-hand and rejected it. As a result, Anbar has been transformed and reclaimed by the Iraqi people. This achievement is a credit to the courage of our troops, the Iraqi Security Forces, and the brave tribes and other civilians from Anbar who worked alongside them.
On this red-letter day, will the MSM take a walk down memory lane and cite the various members of the media and the body politic who declared the surge a failure and Anbar lost?  Being the obliging souls we are, here's a handy compendium of citations, starting with one from the vice-presidential candidate so acclaimed for his foreign-policy expertise.
September 1, 2008, 12:20 PM EDT
The MSNBC promo bills the network as "the place for politics."   Looks like it's the place for rib-ticklin' comedy, too.  Check out Keith Olbermann's side-splitter from the ad:
KEITH OLBERMANN: This is one of those turning-point-in-history American elections.  We as citizens must at some point ignore partisanship.  Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world, but that merely, we may function.

VOICEOVER: MSNBC: The place for politics.

View video here.

September 1, 2008, 11:43 AM EDT
Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"?  You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times.  In  Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
August 30, 2008, 9:00 PM EDT

Are PUMAs racist?  Colbert I. King seems to think so.  In his WaPo column of today, A Suicidal Choice for Clinton Supporters, King delivers a laundry list of reasons why, in his opinion, it makes no sense for Hillary fans to support McCain.  Since he brooks no rational justification for good Dems to desert Obama, by process of elimination, King apparently sees racism as the explanation.

Here's King's punch line [emphasis added]:

So what's drawing Hillary Clinton's die-hard fans to John McCain? Is the attraction only skin-deep?

In an election pitting McCain against the first major-party African-American presidential candidate in history,

August 30, 2008, 3:28 PM EDT
It was more like 10 AM than 3 AM. Somewhere, a phone was ringing, to announce the news that John McCain had selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. And the immediate response of Barack Obama's operation was intemperate and inappropriate. Obama found himself apologizing, calling the reaction "hair trigger." He and Biden subsequently made the more gracious kind of comment that should have been offered in the first place. Senators get to "revise and extend" their remarks when they've said something dumb on the floor. That's not always the case for presidents. A "hair trigger" reaction to a real crisis could have disastrous consequences.

Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton snidely when the news broke:

Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same

Compare and contrast with the gracious, statesmanlike ad McCain aired on the day of Obama's acceptance speech. Obama eventually realized that his campaign's intemperate reaction was out of line. According to the AP, Obama "blamed the mixed messages about McCain's choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on campaign aides with a "hair trigger."

August 30, 2008, 9:49 AM EDT
You might have thought Bill Weir would have learned.  Yesterday, CNN's John Roberts was roundly condemned for suggesting Sarah Palin might neglect her Down Syndrome baby while running for VP.  But Weir, the weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, posed a very similar question this morning. Coke Roberts, to her credit, called him out on it. Weir's guest during GMA's opening half-hour was McCain political director Mike Duhaime.
BILL WEIR: I must ask.  Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the senator and the governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?

MIKE DUHAIME: In terms of her personal life?  You know, to the extent people want to look at her, she's got an incredible life story: five children, the son going into the military, she's got a  --
Weir brusquely interrupted, virtually shouting.
WEIR: She has an, she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?
Click on image to view video, or wmv here.
August 29, 2008, 5:27 PM EDT

Of all the criticisms an apparently panicky Dem party has heaped on Sarah Palin in the hours since her selection was announced, Keith Boykin [bio] has come up with perhaps the unseemliest.  The former aide to President Clinton has accused Palin of being an "affirmative action" pick.

Boykin, a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard Law, was debating the selection with Republican Joe Watkins at the end of MSNBC's 4 PM EDT hour. After some preliminary jousting, Boykin dropped his bomb.
KEITH BOYKIN Let me just say something about this choice.  The reason why she doesn't help, quite frankly, is because it's an insult.  It's an insult to women. I spoke to several women today at the Democratic National Convention who said it's insulting John McCain would pick somebody—an affirmative-action candidate basically—who is not qualified.
August 29, 2008, 2:24 PM EDT
What kind of impact has the Palin pick had on MSM coverage? We've gone from wall-to-wall adoration of last night's speech, to—literally within hours—Andrea Mitchell having to remind viewers of some guy named Barack Obama.  Mitchell was kibitzing the choice of Palin with Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson and Time editor Rick Stengel. Not merely did the liberal [see here and here] Stengel praise Palin, he even compared her favorably with . . . Hillary Clinton. And Mitchell closed the segment by acknowledging that Obama had been "overshadowed."
RICK STENGEL: She has a very, very appealing story, and one of the things that is very winning about it is that it's like the Founders' view of democracy. I mean, she is a citizen legislator. She started as a hockey mom, as someone who was going to PTA meetings. It's a very compelling story.  It's very unlike, by the way, Senator Clinton's story, who was married to a President of the United States. She's married to a commercial fisherman.

ANDREA MITCHELL: And all this breaking news about the Republican ticket.  Barack Obama—remember Barack Obama?—after his successful kick-off and his acceptance speech last night, he's now kicking off his general election campaign. Obama and his running mate Joe Biden, now about to land in Pittsburgh, where they will launch their bus tour, their bus tour of the Midwest. Pennsylvania only the first stop on the Democrats' "Road to Change" of battleground states, I should say. They're going to be in Ohio and Michigan over the weekend. Sunday in Michigan, then Detroit, also Michigan, on Monday.  All of this of course now, overshadowed by John McCain's surprise pick of Alaska's first female governor, Sarah Palin, as his female running mate. Republicans are matching the Democrats' history-making ticket with one of their own.

View video here.

August 29, 2008, 10:25 AM EDT

Peggy Noonan made a serious point about MSNBC's slanted coverage, and I suppose seriousness compels me to mention it first.  But please do yourself a favor and stay tuned for the description of Peggy's un-PC laugh line that could be the best guilty pleasure of the campaign season. Joe Scarborough opened today's Morning Joe with an ode to the wonderfulness that was Obama last night.  He was entirely in tune with Olbermann's claim that the speech was beyond criticism.  All the adoration apparently annoyed Peggy, and she made a point of providing a counterweight when she appeared later in the show.
PEGGY NOONAN: Well, it was a bit of a "flop-a-lini" to tell you the truth.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Wow!

NOONAN: There were things about it that didn't work. Six months from now we're all going to remember the event. We're going to remember the Parthenon, the 60,000 people, the confetti shot out of the cannon.  We're going to remember all that.  We will not, I think, remember what he said.  I think there was simply a number of problems with it . . . I'm actually putting a little edge on my criticism just to make up for the fact that on MSNBC last night somebody said, quote, "it wasn't a speech: it was a symphony." I'm sorry; I won't even name who did it. I am here to balance that bit of fatuous -- fatuous suck-upping!
August 28, 2008, 10:46 PM EDT
How does Keith Olbermann view pre-Obama America?  Apparently akin to the Soviet Union, and South Africa under apartheid.  Here was his statement from the top of tonight's DNC coverage.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It is an iconic night in history: we'll all remember this night as long as we live. This is the night that the first Western government, the first Western political power, or party, has nominated an African-American, someone of African heritage, to lead the country. It's something that took a long time to happen, almost like an old Polaroid film developing. But here it is.  It happened officially last night, and tonight it is crowned, this achievement.  And it's going to happen at a football field.

KEITH OLBERMANN: And it happens as suddenly in some respects as the Soviet Union crumbled or apartheid was beaten in South Africa.  These seemingly invincible hurdles that could never be overcome and within a short period in our historical timespan, suddenly they're gone. And almost nobody saw it coming. Certainly no one at all saw it coming more than four years ago.

View video here.

August 28, 2008, 8:05 AM EDT

 

Update | 10: 30 AM:  Scarborough acknowledges Biden's 'F' rating.  At 8:36 AM EDT, Joe said that "a blog" had attacked him, noting Biden's 'F' rating from gun owners. View video here, which also contains Chuck Todd's statement that even Dems acknowledge Biden's speech "wasn't great."

--------

Joe Scarborough and the rest of the Morning Joe crew actually had my sympathy this morning. Amidst all the infighting at MSNBC, including demands for Joe's head in Olbermann-friendly circles, one could sense that the panel was on its best behavior.  During the opening hour, a subdued David Shuster—who had openly fought with Joe just two days ago—was there, but just barely.  A conciliatory Scarborough could not have been more enthusiastic in his praise for yesterday's DNC proceedings, from Bill's speech to the historic fact of the nomination of an African-American.

But if my impulse is to cut the Morning Joe folks some slack today, I have to draw the line at the whopper Joe got off at 6:45 AM, in which he claimed that Biden's presence on the ticket will help reassure gun owners that Obama won't take their weapons.

Click on the image to the right to see what Joe had to say, then compare it with Biden's record on gun ownership.  As you'll see, the contrast couldn't be more stark.

August 27, 2008, 10:50 PM EDT

Few Republicans have made it onto MSNBC air during the network's Dem convention coverage, but even that is apparently too much for Keith Olbermann.  As Chris Matthews was interviewing GOP consultant Mike Murphy in the interlude between Bill Clinton and Joe Biden tonight, Olbermann could be heard off-camera angrily demanding "let's wrap him up, alright?"

It was Murphy's surmise that, in the privacy of the polling booth, Bill and Hilary would pull the lever for McCain that seemed to set Olbermann off, prompting him to call for the hook.
MIKE MURPHY: I think Hillary and Bill Clinton are the happiest people in town because they came, they both crushed in good speeches, and they left.  And now they can go do what I would bet money they'll do which is quietly vote for John S. McCain. I believe that. I believe it.  I believe it.
August 27, 2008, 8:49 PM EDT

Another chapter in the ongoing Matthews-Olbermann feud?  Yesterday, a catfight broke out between the two when Olbermann suggested Matthews had stolen an idea from two female pundits, and later made a hand gesture mocking Matthews gabbing [YouTube here, h/t Undercover Black Man].  Were the warring duo at it again this evening?

You be the judge.  Click on the image to the right to view the video..

Again co-anchoring the MSNBC desk with Olbermann tonight, Matthews was just about to throw it to Luke Russert out on the convention floor.  The son of the late Meet the Press anchor was interviewing young convention delegates.  In light of the reported desire of both Matthews and Olbermann to grab the Meet the Press anchor chair, the opportunity to interact with Luke might be seen as a valuable plum.

Matthews appeared to be reading a script from his laptop, when he suddenly stopped. Olbermann picked up the thread and threw it to young Russert.  A furious expression crossed Matthews' face and he began to shake his head and mutter, until his image was blotted out by a prominent NBC logo.

August 27, 2008, 5:19 PM EDT

Between Maureen Dowd's column of this morning and Norah O'Donnell's questioning of an Obama spokesman this afternoon, it looks like Barack's halo is losing its glow in some MSM sectors. Obama spokesman Bill Burton was O'Donnell's guest just after 3 PM EDT, and she read to him from Dowd's column, which he jokingly professed not to have read.

NORAH O'DONNELL [reading Dowd]: "Ed Rendell compared Obama to the passive-aggressive Adlai Stevenson and told the Washington Post that Obama gives six-minute answers and "is not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with."

Boos from the pro-Obama crowd in Denver.

O'DONNELL: There is this sense that he is not the easiest guy to identify with: the Republicans say "celebrity." And already today I'm hearing from Republicans that Invesco Field Thursday night, he is going to be stepping out from some Greek-columned stage that we have pictures of [see screencap], and he, this god-like deity once again. How are you going to combat that criticism that the Republicans say, once again, Barack Obama, uh, is, um, trying to be god-like?

View video here.

August 27, 2008, 9:50 AM EDT

The Barnicle clan should be grateful Mike landed the MSNBC gig.  It could have been tough making ends meet had he chosen a career in used-car sales.  I base that on some hilarious footage from today's Morning Joe, as Mike failed to persuade a Hillary fan to back Barack.  And don't miss Mike Murphy's brilliant analysis, at the end, of what was missing in Hillary's speech.

At 7:35 AM EDT, a Hillary supporter, Judy Duvall of Fort Collins, CO, was brought by the set, still sporting her Hillary button.  Under questioning from Joe Scarborough, Judy said that Hillary's speech was great but hadn't convinced her to support Obama.  A bit later, after Republican consultant Mike Murphy had offered his IMHO-brilliant analysis of Hillary's speech [see below], Judy was brought back to the set to permit Barnicle to make his case.

View video here.

August 27, 2008, 7:26 AM EDT
Keith Olbermann has forgotten the figure-skating judge's cardinal rule: be sparing in the marks you award early contestants, to leave room for the favorites who perform at the end.  After his gushing appraisals of Michelle Obama's and Hillary's convention speeches, how can Olbermann possibly top it in his praise of Biden's and Obama's to come?

Mixing metaphors here, let's compare the baseball scoring the Morning Joe crew gave Hillary's speech at show-opening today with Olbermann's assessment of last night.  As you'll see, they range from solid single to Keith's grand slam.  As for utility infielder Mark Warner's "keynote": has he considered giving up baseball and taking up knitting?

View video here.