Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years Ago?

“Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.”

Ronald Reagan

The Time Kamala Harris Lived in Champaign-Urbana

Kamala Harris in Champaign Urbana
A young Kamala Harris (pictured right), with her sister Maya (middle) and Lisa Gottheil (left) in Champaign-Urbana.

I learn new things about my hometown all the time.

Via Seth Fein:

Here is a photo of my friend Lisa Gottheil, with Kamala Harris and her sister, Maya (in the middle) when they were living in Champaign, or perhaps visiting after having moved away. It’s hard to know for sure exactly when the photo was taken, but it was taken on Pond St. in Urbana, and it seems like the heart of the Midwest summer, and the get up is fairly patriotic, so let’s just call it the 4th of July circa 1972 or so, which will make this photo even more apropos.

Their father, an immigrant from Jamaica, is Donald Harris. He was a professor of economics at [the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]  and then went on to Northwestern, Wisconsin, and finally, Stanford. Her sister Maya — a prominent lawyer and Hillary Clinton policy advisor — was actually born here (in 1967). Their mother was Shyamala Gopalan Harris, also an immigrant from India, a breast cancer researcher, before she passed in 2009.


Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble

John Lewis:

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

COVID-19: Rural Texas Hospitals Brace for Impact

Sophie Novack for Texas Observer:

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas have grown more than six times since May 25, when many Texans were out celebrating Memorial Day, breaking new records nearly every day for more than a month. A record 9,610 people were hospitalized in Texas as of Wednesday, with a high of 98 new deaths reported since the day before. Abbott’s insistence that hospital beds statewide were plentiful means little in a state as big as Texas: An open bed in El Paso is little help for someone severely ill in Starr County, more than 700 miles away. Regional totals show a dire situation. The nine-county Gulf Coast trauma service region in East Texas, which includes Beaumont and Galveston and is home to 1.3 million people, had a single ICU bed available as of Wednesday. The 12-county Coastal Bend region of more than 630,000 people that includes Corpus Christi had three. In the mostly rural West Texas region spanning 17 counties from the Mexico border to north of Midland and Odessa, where 527,000 people live, there were 27 free ICU beds. And in the four-county Rio Grande Valley, home to nearly 1.4 million people, there were 25

Rural hospitals across the state have been stretched thin for years, underfunded and understaffed long before the pandemic hit. At least 20 small-town Texas hospitals have closed since 2013, more than double any other state. More than one-fifth of Texas’ 254 counties have just one doctor or none at all. Large swaths of the state, with populations that trend older and sicker, do not have enough hospital beds, health care equipment, specialists, or medical staff to combat an infectious disease outbreak.