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People incarcerated for low-level offenses in El Paso County are tasked with moving bodies of Covid-19 patients to mobile morgue units in refrigerated trucks outside the Medical Examiner’s Office in El Paso. Photo credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

If you read the title of this post and already decided you disagree with me, please consider that my goal is not to shame you, or ruin anyone’s holidays. I get no joy out of asking people to spend their holidays at home and avoid gathering with members of other households.

The holidays are sacred to me — especially so because my grandmother passed away just two days before Christmas when I was in middle school, and my grandfather passed shortly before Thanksgiving last year. …

And left more than a few behind

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San Francisco’s Columbarium is one of very few remaining burial sites in the City.

The last time I saw my paternal grandfather Maynard in-person, he strongly recommended I visit the Columbarium at the intersection of San Francisco’s Lone Mountain and Inner Richmond neighborhoods.

I’m not sure if the suggestion was motivated by a recognition of his own mortality, or simply our shared interest in old, unique places — maybe he knew the Columbarium is home to a memorial honoring one of my personal heroes, Supervisor Harvey Milk.

When my grandpa followed up during a phone call a few months later I felt guilty that I hadn’t yet found the time to visit the 122-year-old burial site. I lived barely over a mile away, but I was juggling a full course load at the University of San Francisco and a nearly full time gig managing the campaign for a local ballot initiative. …

How the race to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate exposes the fault lines in the Democratic Party.

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Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP

In March, 2019, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee threatened to blacklist any strategists, consultants, or other vendors who supported primary challenges against incumbent Democrats.

Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s bid to unseat Senator Ed Markey.

Why would the Speaker of the House, the most powerful elected Democrat in the country, so blatantly contradict the policy her own party rolled out just last year? Because this is about politics, not principles.

Why would a political veteran deliberately spark an intra-party debate with barely two months left until a referendum on the future of democracy? The cynic in me says that as far as party bosses are concerned, power always trumps democracy, and they see Kennedy as a viable alternative to challenge Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should she run for President one day. …

Shahid Buttar, who is challenging Speaker Pelosi for the second time, gave conflicting answers when asked if he identifies as LGBTQ.

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Last year, Congressional candidate Shahid Buttar told a reporter “I don’t understand the Board of Supervisors.” He must have been very confused at this meeting,

In an article published in the Bay Area Reporter on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Congressional candidate Shahid Buttar “said he does identify as queer,” explaining that “I am kind of femme. I reject traditional gender roles.”

In a questionnaire submitted to the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club for the club’s March 2020 primary endorsements, when asked if he identifies as LGBTQ, Buttar wrote “no.”

When I spoke to Buttar this afternoon to clarify whether he identifies as queer or not, he said “the boundaries of what queer encompasses are something that I aim to be respectful of as an ally and I don’t want to claim an identity.” …

Students demand answers following a botched public safety incident at the University of San Francisco.

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The student attempted to break into Gilson residence hall (pictured above) while screaming threats, racial slurs, and other profanity.

As a student at the University of San Francisco, I am deeply disturbed by the way the school handled threats of gun violence made by another student on Sunday. For over four hours, the University was aware of threats of gun violence against the school, but did not notify the campus.

To be clear, these are the facts, as confirmed by USF officials (sources available here):

  • At 3:36pm a student notified public safety of threatening messages posted on social media.
  • At an unspecified time after the initial report, USF Public Safety determined that the posts did not constitute “a threat to the general campus community.” …

A productive Pride month activity

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On March 8, Chelsea Manning was sent to jail after she refused to testify before a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

When served with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury, she issued the following statement: “The grand jury’s questions pertained to disclosures from nine years ago, and took place six years after an in-depth computer forensics case, in which I testified for almost a full day about these events.”

“I stand by my previous testimony. I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.” …

Why ultimate power isn’t necessarily a good thing

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Wikipedia describes Tony Robbins as an “author, philanthropist, and life coach.” The towering 59-year-old has dominated the self-help scene for decades, releasing his first infomercial over 30 years ago.

Robbins has delivered live seminars to millions of people over the years, while offering smaller, pricier retreats for his better endowed fans, and dabbling in a number of other business and philanthropic ventures. The only estimate of Robbins’ net worth is on, where he is valued at approximately $500 million.

Robbins has already been the subject of various controversies, most notably when he told a crowd last year that “if you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else, you haven’t grown an ounce. …

The US has abandoned all pretense of moral superiority

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On Monday, the White House announced that President Trump issued the eighth pardon of his administration to former Army Lieutenant Michael Behenna.

Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone for killing Ali Mansur in 2008. Mansur had been questioned about a roadside bombing that killed two members of Behenna’s platoon. Following the questioning, Behenna was ordered to return Mansur to his village in Iraq.

Instead, Behenna drove Mansur to a remote location, stripped him, interrogated him, and shot him.

Behenna was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison, but an appeals court reduced his sentence to 15 years and he was released on parole in 2014. …

His abusive behavior should not be excused

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On November 27, 2018, Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood decided to barge into a men’s restroom. Once inside, he began to harass a student, yelling and demanding that he exit the stall and use the urinal, therefore exposing himself.

Livengood blocked the door while making these demands, and told the student “I’m not going to lie. You freak me out.”

If Livengood had entered the bathroom, cornered a student who isn’t transgender, and demanded that they expose themselves, he would no longer be a high school administrator.

Instead, because he victimized a transgender student and hired a high-priced lawyer, he gets to continue working in a role where he interacts with minors every day. …

His hit list “looks like the sort of list that our commander in chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning.”

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On Thursday, Judge Charles Day said that the Coast Guard lieutenant who is accused of plotting the murder of numerous critics of President Trump should be released from jail.

According to CNN, “Hasson’s defense attorney will propose options for supervised release at a future hearing.” This decision comes just over a month after the lieutenant was indicted on weapons and drug charges, but not terrorism or attempted murder charges.

The lieutenant allegedly “amassed an arsenal of rifles, handguns, bulletproof vests and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. …


Jackie Thornhill

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” — Kurt Vonnegut

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