Tom Brennan 
Member since Mar 26, 2013


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Re: “After Trump’s ‘triumph’: warnings and lessons

Ms. Towler makes some perceptive comments about the need for Democratic party leadership to change the attitude it conveys to who could be their strongest supporters. The problem afflicts the local party establishment as well. The condescension and entitlement described is present in the local party establishment as well, and with all due respect, this posture is often excused and supported by CITY newspaper. CITY supported Clinton against Sanders, claiming she was "more electable," contrary to compelling evidence otherwise. They joined establishment Dems in support of such quackery as Mayoral Control of schools (replacing elected school boards with appointed ones), they dropped any pretense of fair play in Bronson/Barnhart primary, they supported the imposition of a Democratic mayoral nominee in 2011, without consent from rank and file Democrats (with grotesque results) -- and have generally covered up and/or dismissed numerous issues of fair process and civility within the local democratic party. It would be difficult to overstate the hostility and bitterness this has engendered. This must be addressed and corrected.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 11/16/2016 at 7:14 PM

Re: “Barnhart responds to CITY's Assembly endorsement

Good point. We do tend to be more indignant when our own side is slighted.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Tom Brennan on 09/16/2016 at 7:57 PM

Re: “A depressing campaign nears its bitter end

As she often does about non-local matters, where preoccupation with her own status and proximity to power in Rochester clouds her vision (IMHO) , Ms. Towler nails it. The corrupting role of money, and militant Know nothingism that has captured the once great Republican party are daunting. Here we are, September, and it is not even clear Clinton defeat the biggest clown a major party has nominated for president, probably in history.

I hope she wins. She still can win. My expectations for her presidency, based on her long career, are low. But I think this is an occasion to again remind people that we had an alternative. Sanders was an authentic progressive, an accomplished and successful politician, a break from the past -- and her far out-performed Clinton against Republicans in every poll, over many months.

Despite this, establishment Democrats, timid and cynical Democrats (and Mary Anna shamelessly covers for them at the local level) shoved Clinton down our throats. Obsessed with identity politics, beholden to the same money the GOP is, comtemptuouss of democtaic process and cowed by decades of defeatism -- this where we are. When is enough enough?

5 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 09/08/2016 at 7:54 PM

Re: “Barnhart responds to CITY's Assembly endorsement

Sorry to impose on CITY's hospitality again. Will be brief, in reply to comments by kgib and fgf (if those are their real names) -- both of which took issue with what I wrote.

The first made the dubious assertion that Mayor Warren's endorsement of Bronson was something CITY readers would not find curious -- because incumbents always endorse incumbents. This is not accurate. You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of divisions in the Democratic party in connection with this Mayor. While prefaced with a derisive "duh," kgib displays a pretty shocking ignorance of the most fundamental realities of Roc Dem politics today. I'm content to let CITY readers make their own judgment as to the meaning of Warren's support of Bronson. Some will approve this, some won't, but few are likely to think it is unimportant.

fgf asserted that there was no other reason for Ms. Barnhart to mention being contacted to buy ads, other than to assert a quid pro quo. While Ms. Towler seemed defensive about the topic, the point could simply have been that CITY places greater urgency on selling ads than doing competent and fair journalism.
This does not make CITY exceptional. Many so called alternative newspapers have gone down this road.

As to the assertion that declining standards of balance and fair play in other media outlets somehows excuses it here, I think most readers will find that a weak argument.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 09/08/2016 at 7:37 PM

Re: “It's Bronson, hands down

Big shock. The newspaper that is wrong about everything else is wrong about this.

City readers should remember:

Mayor Warren has endorsed Harry Bronson. Bronson concealed his position on mayoral control of schools, prior to his last primary,. then supported it. Some of his on line supporters write of private assurances that he has shape shifted his position again. Like Bronson, City concealed their position on this issue, until after elections where it was a crucial issue, elections about which they editorialized. At some point an honest issue difference is not the problem -- trust is.

It was this newspaper that wagged its finger at the public and said a democratic mayoral nomination selection process in 2011 would scare off developers. Rochester's fearless progressive alternative newspaper strikes again. I could fill a book with examples of this sort of thing.

Amid labored efforts to create an impression of accomplishment, attributable to an obviously undistinguished legislator seeking his fourth term, City remains insensitive to two important public concerns.

The first is increasing displays of contempt for fair play democratic process in our civic and political life.

The second is epic bi-partisan corruption in Albany.

Bronson's campaign has no apparent understanding of the first concern.

Mr. Bronson is heavily invested in the power arrangement that sustain the second.

The best Harry could do was lament the "mistakes" of his "brother" -- an assembly speaker now off to prison. The best Harry's supporters can do is denigrate Rachel Barnhart's lengthy and very widely recognized record of courageous public interest journalism. Born arsonist? This would be funny if it were not so sad. City readers are too thoughtful to fall for this. City newspaper itself is capable of far better.

12 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 09/03/2016 at 5:04 PM

Re: “Barnhart responds to CITY's Assembly endorsement

Jeremy is entitled to his opinion. City is entitled to its institutional voice. But it a violation of any concept of ethical journalism to write this kind of article and not include opinions from both sides. Everyone has a right to be heard. Not everybody has earned the right to be taken seriously. The publisher assures us that editorial policy has nothing to do with ad sales. I accept that. Barnhart did not assert that it did. But there are many departures from fair play and good judgment, reflected in this newspaper's coverage of local politics, particularly local Democratic politics. I address a few of these matters in a comment about the main story. It has been a sad thing for many of us to witness. The publisher assures us that integrity is a valued asset of theirs. But if candidates, activists, and community leaders experience time and again that they have not been treated fairly, that will undermine the influence of a newspaper. I think this is an occasion for introspection on the part of Ms. Towler, which we are not seeing here.

25 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Tom Brennan on 09/03/2016 at 4:34 PM

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

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