In his State of the State address on Tuesday night, Governor Tony Evers stated that he was keeping one of his campaign promises and was instructing Attorney General Josh Kaul to remove Wisconsin from the federal lawsuit to declare the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. The Republican leadership who control the majorities in both houses stated that the governor no longer had authority to do that as a result of the legislation that was passed during their lame duck sessions last December.

Today Governor Evers walked back his statement and said he was simply withdrawn his authority to participate in the suit. Apparently this nuance is acceptable but won’t affect the state’s standing in the lawsuit.

So…with the status quo in full effect…and a new blow to potential bipartisan co-operation having landed in Madison…where do we go next?

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers Wednesday walked back a vow he made to withdraw the state from the Affordable Care Act lawsuit less than 24 hours after making the commitment in his first State of the State address.

“The governor has not directed the attorney general to take any specific course of action, he has simply withdrawn his authority for this lawsuit,” Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement.

Evers’ reversal comes after the release Wednesday of a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau that splashed cold water on the governor’s plans to withdraw Wisconsin from an ongoing multi-state lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ACA.

The memo, sent to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, states there is no legal way for the new governor to fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw the state from the suit. 

“There is thus no provision … allowing the governor to request, require or approve the attorney general to compromise or discontinue an action,” LRB attorney Sarah Walkenhorst wrote. “It is only the Joint Committee on Finance that has the authority to approve any compromise or discontinuance of an action in which the attorney general’s participation was requested.” 

Lay on, Macduff

In case you haven’t seen the news yet, Executive Director Scot Ross has decided to leave One Wisconsin Now. He will surely be missed…but he’s been an advocate for clean and open government in Wisconsin for twelve years and deserves our thanks!!

One Wisconsin Now and Institute announced today Executive Director Scot Ross has decided to leave the organization after nearly 12 years of helming one of Wisconsin’s most oft-quoted progressive organizations. Ross will be departing at the end of the month take a position in the private sector and One Wisconsin will name a successor in the near future.

“I had the best job in Wisconsin politics because I got to deal with the best people in Wisconsin politics,” said Ross. “One Wisconsin Now and Institute led the way for progressives on research, communications and rapid response. We rewrote the research and communications rulebook every day at One Wisconsin and my talented friends here will continue to use their voices to fight for truth, justice and equality.”

Thanks Scot!

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Without a doubt Rudy Giuliani’s mental state is totally off the grid…and many people wonder how he keeps his job as President Donald Trump’s lawyer. Well that’s his title…it’s unlikely he’s actually doing any lawyering. But while he’s out front on all of the networks and news shows, totally off the leash…everyone is talking about Rudy Giuliani…and nothing but Rudy Giuliani. Another perfect diversion…nicely played!

Matthew 2:13-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Flight into Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

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On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2019…America still hasn’t reached the society that it aspires to. The Other Talk from the NY Times:

We sat at a dirty table covered in used napkins and crumbs, leftovers from the guests who dined before us. My father took a clean napkin, swept the trash away and sat silently. He didn’t often accompany me on trips to the mall — in fact, I can’t recall a time when he had before, and he wouldn’t after.

On a typical day, he would drop me off at the side entrance and wait in the car while I walked around. When I was done, I would find him in the car, napping or reading a newspaper (always divided in quarters). But today, he parked and walked inside with me. He offered to buy me a pretzel — another thing he didn’t typically do — and asked me to sit and eat it with him.

When I was 13, I couldn’t resist a warm pretzel, so I obliged. There we sat: me, pretzel in hand, and him, staring off intensely. Finally he turned to me.

“Hey babe,” he said. “I want to talk to you about something.”

I looked up. My dad never wanted to “talk” about things. In fact, his modus operandi was to not talk. He was just there — and that was always enough for him to feel like he was checking off the boxes of being a good father.

In an earnest voice, he looked at me and said, “You’re black.” He said it so sternly that I thought that this remark may have been the end of the talk.

“I’m sure you’ve already had encounters in life that tell you what this means,” he said, “but I want to talk to you about it.”

No fluctuation in his voice, no change of tone. His demeanor commanded my attention. I sat silently and listened.

“The first thing people see when they look at you is your skin color.

People will look at your skin and all they will see is black. It doesn’t matter what you accomplish in life. If you become a doctor, a lawyer, a movie star — they will look at you, and the first thing they will see is your blackness.”

He stared at me intently. I stared back at him. I didn’t touch my pretzel.

“You are going to have to work 10 times harder than white people,” he said. “You are going to have to fight to be treated equal. Even to be treated fairly. And when you do, you will still lose. And when you win, they will call you the N-word (only he used the full epithet). They will try to make it impossible for you to succeed, and when you do, they will try to undermine your success. They will make fun of your nose, and your hair and the way that you laugh, in order to defeat you. You can’t let them. You just have to keep going harder.”

My father wasn’t wrong. At 13 years old, I had already had numerous encounters related to the darkness of my skin.

Like the winter of second grade, when I was playing on a patch of ice before the first bell rang at my school in Utah, where I grew up. I slid my feet on the ground, pretending I was a professional ice skater. A few minutes in, an older boy came over and pushed me off the ice. He scowled at me and yelled, “Get off the ice!” punctuating his command with the racial slur my father had warned me of. I just sat there.

Or later in elementary school when we learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My teacher told us how back then black people couldn’t drink at the same water fountains as white people, and I sat in agony as all of my white-skinned peers peeked over the tops of their textbooks looking at me — the only black kid in a sea of white. Later, as we left to go out to recess, I stopped at the water fountain to get a drink, and then watched the white girl after me used her sleeve to wipe the fountain before taking a drink herself.

My father’s words have come to me often, and I’ve realized how profound they were.

They came to me when I was 16 and joy riding around town with my white best friend and our two black guy friends. The officer who pulled us over made only the black kids put our hands on the dashboard, telling us we better not move them. My arms trembled from adrenaline, and from holding my arms straight out in front of me for 20 minutes. I was afraid of what would happen if any of us decided to put them down.

They came to me last March, when I was having beers with friends at a local bar in San Francisco, where I now live. After the white bouncer picked on my friend for accidentally bumping him on her way out, I stuck up for her, and he replied, “Oh I’m sorry, what do you want me to say? ‘Yessa massa’?” The bar refused to fire the guy.

My cousin Brandon, who’s from Oklahoma, got the talk from his sister when he was 15. He remembered it the time a bouncer at a club refused to let him in because he was wearing Vans, although his white friends who were let into the club a few minutes before him were wearing the same shoes.

My friend Regg grew up in Brooklyn and heard the talk from his parents, both retired N.Y.P.D. officers. He’d remember their words as he’d work to not become a target for police. No sagging pants. No untied shoes. No special handshakes to avoid being misinterpreted as a gang member.

My friend Brittany from Iowa received the talk when she was in preschool. Her mother gave it to her after a hard day at school, when she told her mother she wanted to be white so she could “look and be like everyone else.”

My mentor Nicola gave her daughter the talk when she was 8 years old, after they’d moved to Utah from Georgia. After her baby girl raised her hand in class to tell her first grade teacher about her naughty classmate, the boy responded by saying, “Get that black girl out of here!”

My friend Justin received the talk when he was in first grade and living in Pennsylvania. His mother told him that she named him Justin so that when he was older, he wouldn’t be immediately judged when he put in a job application. She had wanted to name him Raheem.

Another dark body. Another talk. Another story.

When I think back to this conversation with my dad, I wonder what had happened to inspire him to have the talk that day. We have never been close. Some relationships become too strained for mending.What life encounter reminded him that he needed to sit me down and explain the rules of being black in America? What thread of injustice did he bear witness to? What life experience forced this reminder of his own blackness? Maybe it was a lifetime of experiences.

It doesn’t matter because this talk — this unfortunate, imperative and vital conversation — was a guide. A signpost. A warning. And that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? Prepare their children for the world. The beautiful, complicated and sometimes racist world.

At the end of our talk, my father said, “I want you to remember, you are lucky to be black. It is special. God only allows it of the strongest of us, because we can handle the struggle. Be proud, but be careful.”

I remember that, too.

Shaquille Heath is a communications professional and writer. She’s black and she’s proud in San Francisco.

This morning a number of Facebook friends shared a post from The Independent UK website. I have seen other stories from this site a few times and have probably been guilty of sharing them.

But this morning’s story just seemed too weird to me. After the all over the media blitz the past two days of the young Catholic man in the MAGA hat confronting a Native American who was attending a different rally in Washington it wasn’t u

The odd story was reporting on an email from the young man’s mother saying that her son had been called names and harassed by ‘Black Muslims’ while attending a pro-life, anti-abortion rally. Why that excuses his behavior is beyond me given the Christian tenet of turn the other cheek but that’s a digression for another time.

But thinking the article’s content as odd, I did a Wikipedia search for The Independent UK (it has a US online version as well) and found this:

The Independent is a British online newspaper.[1] Established in 1986 as a politically independent national morning newspaper published in London, it was controlled by Tony O’Reilly‘s Independent News & Media from 1997 until it was sold to Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev in 2010.[2] (emphasis mine)

So at this point I don’t know if we can trust The Independent as far as we can throw them. I don’t intend to rely on them for supporting documentation here at Blogging Blue going forward. And I am not going to grace them with hits by linking to their sites in this article today either.

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No walls! No Walls! No Walls! No Walls

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This barely made a blip in the media. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stuffed it in a two inch column with no photo. This article is from the Wisconsin State Journal:

Gov. Tony Evers has picked for Wisconsin State Patrol superintendent a 30-year veteran of law enforcement who will be the first African-American to hold the post.

Maj. Anthony Burrell, who was recognized for his response to the 2015 shooting death of a state trooper, will take the post effective Sunday. He succeeds former Superintendent J.D. Lind, who retired last fall.

Evers, in a statement, cited Burrell’s “long and decorated history of public service.”

“Under his leadership, the Wisconsin State Patrol will continue to prioritize the safety of Wisconsinites and help build stronger communities,” Evers said.

Extra credit reading: So No One Gets Credit for This?

I mean…really…it is time. I realize that former Governor Scott Walker couldn’t accept it prior to his run for president in 2016…it would ruin his conservative cred nationally. But really, we are wasting Wisconsin tax dollars in the meantime…$1 billion so far since the Affordable Care Act was passed. And it’s not like other red states haven’t signed on…quite a few have…and couldn’t go backwards now if they wanted to…the average American wants the coverage. As a matter of fact, Wisconsin is actually in the small minority of states that haven’t accepted the Medicaid expansion.

I really don’t think that any of the current Republican elected officials have plans for offices beyond Wisconsin…so the Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin shouldn’t put them at any risk. So let’s get this thing done…let’s follow Governor Tony Evers’ lead and pass a bill to improve the lives of fellow Wisconsinites.

And guess what? The money we save could help solve the budget issues Wisconsin will be facing this next budget cycle. Projected savings in the next budget are projected to be $280 million while the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum projects a $2 billion shortfall with Wisconsin just treading water. So accepting the expansion is also fiscally responsible…which should be an easy sell to the GOP’s electorate.

Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday he would plow ahead with plans to expand a health insurance program under Obamacare despite Republican opposition, but gave up on a campaign pledge to dissolve the state’s economic development agency. 

Republican lawmakers hailed the Democratic governor’s decision to abandon — at least for now — his proposal to replace the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. with a traditional state agency focused on stimulating business growth. 

While plans for the economic development agency have been set aside, Evers and Republicans remain at odds over expanding health insurance to low-income people using Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. 

Evers said he saw the plan as essential because it would provide insurance to 76,000 more people while saving the state $280 million over two years because the federal government would pick up more of Wisconsin’s health-care costs.

Republican leaders said they would not go along with Evers’ plan to provide BadgerCare Plus to more people using Obamacare funds. 

“Expanding government-run health care is a non-starter,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester. 

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said he also believed Evers’ idea would not gain traction. It was a stronger stance than the one he expressed a month ago when Fitzgerald said he wouldn’t rule the idea out. 

Government run healthcare? Outside of the Veteran’s Administration hospital system, I am not aware of any health care resources owned by the government. Medicaid pays for healthcare…private doctors and clinics and hospitals still provide it. So Speaker Vos is blowing smoke here. BTW: does he plan on foregoing Medicare when he retires (or do former legislative members get some cushy healthcare package for life?).

And who got to Senator Fitzgerald? As the quote above says he was open to the idea a month or so ago.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald signaled Thursday he wouldn’t rule out using federal dollars to expand Medicaid — a move long opposed by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers and demanded by Democrats and Gov.-elect Tony Evers.  

Fitzgerald told reporters in a wide-ranging interview that there isn’t much support for accepting the federal money to make the expansion among his GOP caucus, but that it’s also too early to say he would oppose doing so. 

So Ladies and Gentlemen! Let’s improve healthcare coverage in Wisconsin. Let’s use some federal funds to do so and free up Wisconsin tax dollars at the same time. And let’s try a little bit of bipartisan co-operation to start off the new legislative session…Wisconsin will thank ALL of you for it.

Extra credit reading: Demand That Wisconsin Join The Medicaid Expansion Club

In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the divergence of opinions in Madison, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had this to say:

“I’m not going to negotiate by Twitter. I think that’s kind of BS,” Vos said. 

Speaker Vos, could you share this with the White House? We’d love it if someone in the Oval Office felt the same way.

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