Tom Brennan 
Member since Mar 26, 2013


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Re: “A reluctant endorsement for Hillary Clinton

First, I take exception to comments here, and in FB sharing of Mary Anna's editorial, that question her motives. Usually in private, on occasion in public, I have complained about what I observed to be her paternalistic tendency to shush legitimate indignation about abuses of power, excess entitlement, and insularity on the part of self selected Democratic party "elites." This is particularly true at the local level, in a community with seriously broken civic and political institutions. I'm hardly a Mary Anna shill.

One expects a bit more spunk from an alternative newspaper, but there has been a rightward drift by "alternative" press across the country since the 1970s. There are reasons for it. Moreover, a close examination of Publisher Towler's career in Rochester journalism and politics, reveals a sensibility evident in her editorial. Recall her service as a delegate for Jimmy Carter in 1976 (the "pragmatic" centrist choice in a field of liberals), her frequent defense or white washing of closed processes in local party affairs, her defense of de-democratization/privatization of public schools, and her finger wagging advocacy of a blatantly undemocratic mayoral selection process in 2011 (a vigorous contest would scare off developers, Ms. Towler explained). Her editorial endorsements in local Democratic primaries often leave the impression she thinks we are selecting a prom court.

I do not review this to assail her personally. She is a gracious and civil woman, and a talented businessperson. Never the less, the editorial was signed, and I believe it is consistent with a well intended, well established, misguided approach.

The endorsement editorial made the case for Sanders, and against Clinton, quite eloquently. I could not put it better (I might throw in Clinton's support for privatizing prisons). Nobody disputes Clinton's experience. Nobody disputed James Buchanan's experience. The heart of Mary Anna's argument is: Sanders supporters, we agree about practically everything, but it is hopeless. Settle.

Don't single Mary Anna out. Rolling Stone made the same case. My brother, who is more liberal than I am, makes this case.

This participation in one's own oppression is the result of decades of watching Right Wing bullying seem to carry the day. I'm sure this shapes Hillary's more limited view of what is possible. I have every sympathy for these people, but they are making a tragic error. Give up what you believe, so you can win. Then, when you don't win, you are told you didn't give up enough. To Hell with that.

I am not among those who claim Hillary is the Devil. Over the top attacks on her have helped her more than hurt. I appreciate her. I'm not voting for Trump or Cruz or GOP mystery meat in November. This is a dispute among friends, and been a remarkably civil contest.

The heart of the dispute is about what is possible. I think the actual evidence favors Sanders. Yes, McGovern lost 49 states half a century ago, more due to aberrations: Eagleton & the Wallace shooting -- than ideology. The Mondale/Ferarro exercise in establishment caution and identity politics also lost 49 states, more recently. The 1990s are over. The Clinton GOP Lite approach has only yielded a more militant, shameless, and corrupt American Right wing. That approach has produced 3 GOP landslides in 1994, 2010, and 2014. Obama won twice by expanding the electorate, and capturing the young (and young at heart).

For months polls have show Sanders far out performing Clinton in November match-ups. Clinton will not win big. Sanders might, in an era where establishment insensitivity (both parties) to the the yanked away ladder of upward mobility in America is reaching critical mass. In light of all this, it simply does not due to say: Yes, but you know the GOP will smear him (They smear everybody: Swiftboating, Birtherism). This is a democracy, so give up fighting for what you believe, even in the face of compelling evidence the public agrees with you.

This contest will continue in the Democratic party, whatever the 2016 outcome. It will play out at the state, local, and national levels. It will be between the limited, more cynical view of what is possible, perhaps held by more tired people, who are more concerned about their own comfort and status -- and people who know that is indeed a democracy, and the primary is exactly the right time to defend your values and beliefs.

21 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 04/06/2016 at 4:11 PM

Re: “New York's big choice

Great comments by Carrie. "I'm tired of being told we can't do better." That is the heart of the matter.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 04/06/2016 at 2:07 PM

Re: “[UPDATED] Telephone poll asks about Barnhart, Warren

Really Gary? Part of the corrupt Albany system is the ability of incumbents and insiders to buy some good will with projects like you cite, and escape competitive elections by piling up money, usually from people who want things they shouldn't get. Harry is a rather typical product of this, moving from the staff to an assembly seat. It is notable that despite a huge financial advantage, and the support of a closed and anti-democratic local Democratic party establishment (which has all but destroyed the party's viability locally) he would not have won his first primary had he face one opponent rather than two. His support for mayoral control (after hiding his position in that primary) is not forgotten either. Is it hard to imagine anybody better, or is failure of imagination another shortcoming of some of our leaders? I don't agree with everything Rachel has said or done, but has done more than her share of the only real journalism still done in Rochester. She shows two qualities in short supply in Albany right now: Courage & Integrity. I'd be surprised if she ran, but if she did, she'd wipe the floor with him. Albany needs new blood, and Harry is exactly the sort of hack we need to replace.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Tom Brennan on 12/09/2015 at 7:29 PM

Re: “[UPDATED] Telephone poll asks about Barnhart, Warren

She would be a distinct improvement over Mr. Bronson.

6 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 12/08/2015 at 7:04 PM

Re: “The comeback: Molly Clifford's running for City Council

Ellen "Molly" Clifford's entire career -- including patronage appointments to city jobs she proved ill suited for -- is connected to her role as a party and campaign operative. She now insists that her record in these roles is off limits in weighing her bid for city council. While people could indeed "care less" about the petty factionalism that drove almost every action Clifford took in local politics, they are rightly concerned about the integrity and good faith of people in positions of public trust . The issue is not who anyone preferred in the last mayoral primary. Many fine individuals differed about that. What offended many people, supporters of both candidates is this: Clifford sought the leadership of the 28th district, where she did not live, after the winner of the mayoral primary was known. She then secretly worked against the winner of that primary, abusing that position of trust, when her personal financial stake in the outcome was reasonably presumed, and responded abusively and arrogantly when (at first courteously) questioned about it. She then ignored the requests of committee members for a copy of party rules, which might have resolved the situation. The result was massive committee primary challenges last year, with former County Chairperson Clifford holding her own committee seat by only a single vote. Needless to say she was not reelected Leader. However, she is now running for the city council for the district she just moved into last year. She had not lived in the NW for decades. The conduct is typical of her. The NW deserves better. For City newspaper to report on this topic, and overlook these facts, is journalistic malpractice .

13 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 02/26/2015 at 7:44 AM

Re: “The comeback: Molly Clifford's running for City Council

Christine has left important information out of this story, including Clifford's carpetbagger status in the Northwest, and ethical questions surrounding her conduct in party leadership positions, which are quite apart from honorably express differences in mayoral candidate preferences. I will address them here shortly, after double checking a few things. Furthermore, Mr. Plonczynski is not a NW resident, and the NW does not require his instruction in these matters. His last foray into NW civic affairs, his last of many unscrupulous intrusions, was last summer, when he invoked the serious illness of a NW party committee member to denigrate NW residents for participating the primary and petition process in committee selection. A committee member was ill, so how dare people take part in the democratic process. That was his argument. It was disgusting. And typical of him. It surprises me that somebody this lacking in common decency and good judgment has the nerve to show his face in public, let alone instruct other communities in how to run their affairs.

12 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 02/26/2015 at 6:38 AM

Re: “Endorsements 2014

A note to express appreciation for the handling of the Gubernatorial endorsements. I have often thought City newspaper has shown poor (or perhaps just timid) judgment, particularly in local politics. However, you have usually allowed people to say so, at least on line. That is no small thing. In the absence of agreement about the race for Governor, the approach taken here is fair, and most likely to provide your readers with the greatest range of information to make their own choice. Well done.

I think Ms. Towler has it more nearly right here. Cuomo will be reelected, because the Republicans have not bothered to run a serious candidate, or support that candidate. While Cuomo is not a bad Republican himself, and it is certainly legitimate for Lefties to hold back support on that basis, the truly disqualifying issues about Cuomo are ethical. The state has been hurt too badly, for too long, by an entrenched culture of heavy handed abuse of power and process. It simply must be confronted.

Finally, I had no idea City was so widely read by 2nd Amendment enthusiasts, whose comments reflect such concern for your success as one of the last print outlets. So much for my theory that you were only read by a few snobs in the SE part of the city. Having grown up in Hilton, where we still like to shoot em up for the tourists, I feel like I am at a reunion reading these comments, and it is nice to see them feel welcome to join the fray here.

Tom Brennan

2 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 10/21/2014 at 1:31 AM

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