Monday, March 28, 2011

ALEC is Hazardous to Our Health Care

I carried a new sign to the Capitol Square yesterday:

It says:
ALEC is hazardous to our health care - protect Medicaid & insurance mandates!

So what is ALEC? I actually had an oblique reference to it in my last post -- it's the organization that distinguished professor William Cronon wrote about so convincingly in the blogpost that caused the Wisconsin GOP to start a witch-hunt into his university e-mails two days later. One small excerpt from Cronon's writing to set up the explanation:
If it has seemed to you while watching recent debates in the legislature that many Republican members of the Senate and Assembly have already made up their minds about the bills on which they're voting, and don't have much interest in listening to arguments being made by anyone else in the room, it's probably because they did in fact make up their minds about these bills long before they entered the Capitol chambers.

ALEC is the organization that provides the text of those bills on which they have already made up their minds, marching in lock step with no room for debate. ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council (their site has been up and down since Cronon's post was published, but it is up as I type now). It's a membership organization with a secret membership list of Republican legislators and business interests. Not just anyone can join: Republican legislators can join after being vetted, paying $50 per year in dues. Businesses pay thousands of dollars for a seat at the table. Then those conservative legislators and the deep-pocket business partners sit down together and draft legislation that then shows up, with minor modifications, in state-houses across the country.

This is how, when they get majorities like they have in Wisconsin, they can move so fast and so ruthlessly. The legislation is all ready-made from out of state!

Now, as Cronon pointed out in his piece, there's nothing wrong with like-minded folks getting together and strategizing about legislative goals. On the other hand, what makes ALEC different and frightening, as Shawn Doherty of Madison's Capital Times sums up the objections, is
the corporate and wealthy interests behind ALEC (which others note include the billionaire Koch brothers) are far more organized, coordinated, and stealthy than anything we've seen before in this country.

Doherty has been doing amazing investigative work on a fast-shifting landscape on the health beat here in Wisconsin, and I hope she wins awards for it. She's the one who broke the story on the impending GOP bills I wrote about earlier this month, the ones that would smash not only the autism-insurance requirement we worked so hard so win, but also every other insurance mandate in Wisconsin as well.

Guess what? The mandate-busting bills are ALEC bills.

Doherty makes this connection via an ALEC publication called The State Legislator's Guide to Repealing Obamacare (.pdf) [alternate Google-space copy here in case the ALEC original goes down.] From Doherty's post:
Also included in ALEC's list of model legislation are proposals aiming to undo the power of health mandates, which the guide complains are "often steamrolled into existence by politically active interest groups."

That's us, friends, a politically active interest group. You better believe it. Except that we don't have the deep pockets and conservative credentials that it takes to buy a seat at the table where the legislation is being templated.

Hence the ALEC bills that are waiting to be introduced in Wisconsin, LRB0373 and LRB1529. From Doherty's post again:
This legislation, dubbed "Health Choices and Opportunities" by authors Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, Sen. is similar to what the ALEC guide calls the "Health Care Choice Act for States," which allows people to purchase health insurance across state lines. In 2010, according to the guide, 19 states introduced such legislation, and Wyoming enacted it.

That's what my new sign is all about. I want to see "ALEC" pop up on as many signs at the Capitol, and in as many bitter jokes, as quickly as the name "Koch" did when the funding connection and the prank call between a fake billionaire brother and Gov. Scott Walker made the news. This needs to be a well-known part of the conversation, on everyone's lips, part of the argument as to why we need to vote JoAnne Kloppenburg into the Wisconsin Supreme Court April 5, and recall the 8 eligible Republican State Senators who are forcing this ALEC legislation down our throats, and then recall Scott Walker when the time comes.

There's an interesting tension here when it comes to talking about ALEC. On the one hand, Bill Cronon did it and got a huge heavy-handed response just two days later. As a university employee myself, it makes me at least a smidge-bit nervous about blogging too, though I'm doing so early in the morning on a personal computer on my day off! But the more of us who spread the word, the harder it will be to come after us all... I am Spartacus! (There are folks at the university who are now including all the open-records-demand keywords in their sig files on every message: "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, Mary Bell." Just in case someone asks, y'know.)

On the other hand, I've got friends in legislative-related jobs who have known about ALEC for years. It's not as if the organization's existence and its mission are secret, or else they wouldn't have a web site, etc! Plus, again in Doherty's article, she interviewed WI Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who took an almost nonchalant approach:
But so what, asks Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, when I call him about my discovery. Fitzgerald says he has been a proud member of ALEC since he first became a legislator in 1994, and is currently the Wisconsin State Chairman. State lawmakers have always turned to such national organizations for help brainstorming ideas and crafting legislation, Fitzgerald says. "These groups are about exchanging ideas between different state legislators from around the country to be sure we're not isolating ourselves in Wisconsin," he tells me.

Which is it, guys? Harmless collaboration or sinister plot? Until the open-records intimidation-demand on Prof. Cronon is withdrawn, I'm going to have to go with the latter. Especially since the legislation resulting from ALEC templates is so radically hazardous.

Which takes me back to our trip to the Capitol yesterday. This time it wasn't just me -- it was me and both daughters, Joy's first protest participation. There wasn't any formal protest planned, but these days there is a constant ongoing protest during daylight hours, a small but determined trickle of people circling the Capitol Square, carrying signs and encouraging one another in our resolve.

The following photo (a little freaky-looking with blurred faces but it was too good not to post!) was taken by a fellow protester we met on the Square, a stranger who turned out to have Mennonite connections back in my hometown Kansas community.

Keep an eye on ALEC. This story is still being written.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keep Calm and Protest On

Joy has a very useful new "word."

Actually, it's a cleverly generalized new utterance of protest.

I think it started as a "don't fence me in" kind of thing. When she encountered a door she wanted to go through, but the plastic safety-knob was foiling her, she'd demand "open" with a loud "P...puh...puh!"

That "p...puh...puh" has now become her generic noise of protest, to be used whenever she isn't getting what she wants, whether the remedy requires "open" or not. Then if we can't get her re-directed, the next step is the explosive acts we're familiar with: swatting, self/others bite attempts, pulling out her own hair though I've got it chopped down to under two inches long now.

I think I spent most of yesterday saying "p...Puh..PUH!" And it got louder in the evening.

I awoke yesterday morning to news of a blog-post by a prominent professor of history at UW-Madison. William Cronon, an even-handed, mild-mannered, non-partisan scholar, had published a magnificent blog-post the other week, detailing his findings on what organizations were involved in the flood of look-alike anti-union, anti-immigrant, anti-Medicaid, pro-big-corporation legislation that's been coming down in Wisconsin and other states. His scholarly March 15 post, Who's Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? pulled the veil back on the secretive, well-financed national collaboration on the part of the Republican party that is resulting in... that which we've been protesting here.

Two days later, the Republican Party of Wisconsin set out to shut him up.

Wisconsin Republican Party headquarters served the University with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demanding all of Cronon's university e-mails since Gov. Scott Walker took office, containing any of the words "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell."

First they want to catch him using university e-mail for partisan political purposes, something he's way too smart to have done. But secondly, they want to intimidate Cronon and anyone else who works at the university. And thirdly, it seems clear they want to comb through all those e-mails to find some snippet that (when taken out of context) can be used to discredit and embarrass him.

Cronon's reponse to the absurd demand, Abusing Open Records to Attack Academic Freedom, was level-headed and lengthy.

So after a day stewing about this, we get the evening news. About THE BILL that was rammed through the Wisconsin legislature via dirty tricks. THE BILL that was blocked by a temporary restraining order that had us celebrating a week ago, because now it was going to have to work its way through the courts instead of being published into law on March 25 by the WI Secretary of State.

Guess what, friends. They don't give a fig for the rule of law.

They ordered the Legislative Reference Bureau, a non-partisan agency of the Wisconsin government that analyzes legislation and keeps the archive of what's been made official... to PUBLISH THE BILL INTO LAW. Even though only the Sec. of State can do that, and he's been enjoined by the courts not to do so. And then, even though the LRB and a number of others have said that this end-run does NOT make the bill law, Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has announced that they're going to act as if it's law anyway.


Once again, due to family obligations, we won't be on the Capitol Square this morning. Maybe we can take a trip there later in the day. I hope that the crowds are huge... and vocal... and continued non-violent, as we have so proudly accomplished through all these weeks despite the ratcheting up of the provocations.

Keep Calm and Protest On

Check out the lower button: Keep Calm, and Protest On.

I got these buttons on State Street the other Friday during my activist-date with JoyDad, an image that I had first seen on a portable sign at the top of Madison's State Street right near the Capitol. I loved it already without knowing its history. Now that I've looked it up, it resonates even more.

The underlying image is a poster that says Keep Calm and Carry On. The poster dates back to Britain of 1939, where (according to a well-sourced Wikipedia article) it was produced by the British government to raise morale under the threat of invasion. The poster was re-discovered eleven years ago and has been distributed widely since then.

Now, with the substitution of the word "Protest" for "Carry," it has become an iconic image of our Madison response. In many ways, it feels as if Wisconsin has been invaded by a hostile occupying force -- not through bombing but through stealth and lies and corporate financing.

Keep Calm, and Protest On. Here are the crucial upcoming voting-related priorities:

-- Vote JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court April 5.
-- Volunteer or donate to the recall efforts for the 8 eligible Republican state senators.

We won't bite. We won't pull hair, tempting as it is. We will keep calm, we will carry on, we will protest on. And we will win -- their very desperation is the best indication.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


There's some wonderful stuff going on with Joy, beyond the birthday party and swimming I talked about in the last post.

I haven't yet told you about the birthday card she decorated for her classmate. Poor Joy has not had a happy relationship with writing-utensils over the years. We keep trying to get her to make marks on paper, and she would rather do anything else -- crumpling the paper ranks much higher on her preference list than drawing on it. Even so, I've made her "sign" every card that's gone out under her name or from the family, usually a hand-over-hand mark made under protest.

But they've been working at school with drawing-on-paper. And look what she produced when I put marker in hand and held down the birthday card for her to "sign":

photo of birthday card decorated by Joy

All I did was hold the paper down. She did the spirals herself, no hand-over-hand involved except to help get the marker-cap back on.

But wait, there's more.

In our computer-bookmarks for years has been a fun baby-game site called Kneebouncers. The games are super-easy and work by just clicking on the screen or hitting any key. Unfortunately they recently went to a paid-subscription model, but there are still a couple of freebies, and we made a great breakthrough with one of those this weekend. The game is called Peek-a-bouncer, and to make it work, you have to click-and-hold (or push any key and hold). Then the curtains slide open and you see a funny face and a voice intones "peek-a-boo!"

Joy always tended to get frustrated with this game, because with the other games, all she had to do was a quick click to make things happen. In Peek-a-bouncer, if you just quick-click, the curtains barely budge and the voice gets cut off.

But on Sunday, after much hand-over-hand play, where I'd help her hold the mouse-button and I'd say the words "push-and-hold!" in the same tone as the "peek-a-boo!" -- she actually began to push-and-hold on her own. Experimenting with how much hold it took to create how much effect.

Oh, my goodness.

And then!

Last night Joy's newest barista (autism line-therapist) got Joy to turn a difficult evening around quite dramatically. Joy had been having a rough time, didn't want to be in any of our standard rooms, the barista was trying all the favorite stuff to no avail. They were working in Joy's bedroom when the barista as a last-ditch effort thought to ask her: "Break?" And Joy understood immediately, and dived on her own into her bed-tent, where she immediately set to work on putting herself back together. Over the course of 5 minutes in the tent, Joy stimmed herself from angrily-overwrought into pleasant-mood. The rest of the session then took place in pleasant-mood mode.

This is something we're going to USE. Again: Oh, my goodness.

[Bet you thought from the title of this post that JoyMama was going to be taking a bloggy break. Heh. Not a chance. You're stuck with me.]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two Good Days

Friday was a good day.

JoyDad and I both had the day off. Unpaid, since it was a required furlough day for me and he took a "moveable" furlough day. But still, a day off for the both of us, with both kids in school.

Several hours into our spring-cleaning & online activism, we got some lovely news.

The so-called "budget repair" law, passed in an undemocratic sneak-attack the previous week, had been put on hold by a Dane County judge!

Judge MaryAnn Sumi of the Dane County court agreed with Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne that the apparent violation of Wisconsin's open meetings law was sufficiently serious to warrant a temporary restraining order, preventing the law from going into effect until the court can hold a full hearing the week of March 28. (The law was scheduled to be published March 25, to take effect March 26).

JoyDad and I decided to go downtown and celebrate. After all, if the law were to delay our paycheck-whacks even one week, that's over $100 we'd have available again to pump back into the local economy!

So we went to the Capitol around noon. I carried a sign that thanked the judge on one side, and on the other said "Rule Against the Bill!" Got lots of thumbs-up and car honks. (In Madison these days, you don't just lay on the horn to support the protesters. Instead, you tap the horn to the cadence of the chant: "This is what democracy looks like!") We walked through the Capitol, and then joined a group singing protest songs at the top of State Street for a while.

Then we walked down State Street and found a restaurant with supportive signs in the windows, and had a lovely lunch. We made sure to tell them exactly why we felt able to do so, and why we chose them in particular.

And the sun was shining, and our crocuses were blooming in the flowerbed, and we felt some of the first real hope we've felt in an entire month of unrelenting bad news. Not that this is over, by any means. The majority party will appeal every step of the way, probably up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court if it gets that far. (Vote JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice April 5!) They can even take up the bill again from scratch, give appropriate notice, and presumably pass it again. But the public outcry would be immense, it would be an admission that they didn't do it right the first time, and the protest movement would only gain new steam.

And then! I took Joy to her swimming lesson after school, which is just about her favorite part of the week. I got to see her hoist herself out of the pool on her own, at the place where the water was too deep to get a boost from the bottom. I got to see her propel herself from one platform to another one five feet away, all under her own steam. I got to see her blow bubbles in the water (in between drinking it.) And I didn't even have to do a big clean up in the locker room of the generally-inevitable laxative effects of water-play -- she waited till later that evening!!

Saturday, too, was a good day.

Joy and I attended a birthday party for one of her classmates in the afternoon, an invite-the-whole-class affair. It was held at the apartment-dwelling of the birthday girl, probably about 10 kids in a small space with hard surfaces. The noise was pretty intense.

Joy, however, hung in remarkably well. We had a good 20 minutes before she began a big protest, and then we were able to go into the hall and walk the stairs and laundry-room for a while and calm down enough for a second try. I had provided ribbons for her own use, so the wrapped packages wouldn't be too much a temptation.

Since it was all classmates, they are well-acquainted with spending time with her and were very sweet. The birthday girl made sure that Joy got a turn with the blindfold from the pin-the-tail game -- we turned it into a peek-a-boo game, and then Joy did manage to take a turn sticking a tail onto the donkey (after everyone else was done, and without blindfold or spin.) At a later point I asked another little girl if Joy could play with some discarded paper from an unwrapped present. Not only did she bring that paper over, a minute later she came around again bearing a curly ribbon for Joy's use!

We made it through over an hour in total, long enough to enjoy some cake. Joy wasn't the only kid who cried during that time, and none of the other crying was caused by her. And as we left, there was another kid who was also overwhelmed by the noise -- the hostess was just calling his mom to come pick him up.

SO included. It felt great.

One more "good" to share.

Rose and JoyDad got to take a turn at the Capitol while Joy & I were at the party, but I got my turn in the evening. I joined an interfaith vigil that meets every night now for an hour at the Capitol, 7-8pm.

We weren't a big group, and we weren't allowed to light our candles -- a couple of law-enforcement fellows very nicely told us that they had their orders regarding the defacing qualities of dripping wax. (One of our number spoke up, "That's OK, these guys are public workers, they're on our side!" and got some discreet grins and nods from the cops.)

We held signs, and sang. Last night's organizers had also printed out brightly-colored slips of paper with relevant quotes from various scriptures and philosophers and other leaders and thinkers. We took turns reading quotes and then taped them into a collage. I also took some chalk and put one of the quotes onto the pavement:
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Among our number were two boys on the autism spectrum. One of them played a hand drum enthusiastically as we sang. He wrote his own message in chalk to the Governor on the Capitol's very front step after the vigil, just as I was leaving. I believe the message was taking a turn for the rude... but y'know, this young man has the right. He's among the ones who stand to lose the most.

Two very good days.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy 3.14!

In honor of Daniel Tammet, on the autism spectrum and holder of the European record for reciting the digits of pi from memory.

For your entertainment today, a song of pi. (Do give it a listen -- it's rather hypnotic!)

Happy Pi Day!

Update: Here's another musical rendition of pi, on YouTube even!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Medicaid and What Passed the WI Senate Last Night

Rose and I went to the Capitol for an hour last night. We stood with our signs as the crowd demanded to be let in and speak the outrage over the bill that passed the Wisconsin Senate last night. In a nutshell, the Republicans in the Senate replaced the so-called "budget repair bill" with just the supposedly non-fiscal items from the bill, so they didn't need a budget-level quorum to go ahead and have the vote. That's right folks, the "budget-repair" bill that passed last night is the non-budgetary stuff. (Shame on them. Shame.)

They intend to have the Assembly pass the bill this morning. They have the votes. Then the governor will sign it, and collective bargaining as we know it for public employees in the state of Wisconsin will be gone.

A version of the provisions surrounding rule-making on Medicaid was in the bill. However, it is not the full outrage that was in the original budget-repair bill. It appears they have blinked at least so far as to leave the standard administrative-rule making process intact. They did not give themselves the power to do it behind closed doors -- though the outlines of what they're now going to do in broad daylight are ugly enough.

Here's a quote from the Save BadgerCare Coalition Facebook page, from Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families:
the new version doesn’t give DHS any new rulemaking authority, yet they can still use rules to supersede nearly all of the portions of MA law, and they could probably use the existing emergency rule authority, but they would have to follow up by using the regular rulemaking authority, which improves opportunity for public input and more legislative oversight.

For anyone policy-wonky enough to be wondering "why do they need to do all this? Don't departments usually have broad rule-making authority anyway?" The answer lies in another measure that was passed by the Walker administration earlier in this "special session." In that measure, the governor increased his own power over administrative rule-making, decreasing the power of the departments. These provisions on Medicaid -- if I am reading correctly -- are now giving back that power to the Department of Health Services in particular.

[UPDATE: I should also highlight the important part of Jon Peacock's information about using the rules to supersede Medicaid-related statute (laws). This part is not the way things normally work in Wisconsin, and is actually quite a sweeping new authority. Ordinarily the Constitution is the top authority, statutes cannot conflict with the Constitution, and rules cannot conflict with statutes or the Constitution. This bill -- soon to be law -- makes an exception for new emergency rules about Medicaid, allowing them to trump statute. This is still undemocratic, it's still huge, and it's not well understood.]

Oh, and the bill also includes some tricky maneuvering that will repeal the powers given to the DHS regarding Medicaid, as of 1/1/2015. Which marks the end of the Walker administration. If he lasts that long.

I have added links to the text of the bills on my WI Budget 2011: Medicaid page. Keep checking there for further links.

A few more things to point out.

If Walker is recalled, and a Democratic governor is elected, that new governor will be able to make appointments to head all the agencies. Which would mean a Democratic-friendly replacement for DHS's Dennis Smith.
Pledge to Recall Scott Walker -- complete with donation form!

The first opportunity to stem this rising tide of damage will be to recall the 8 eligible Republican Wisconsin State Senators.
Sign up to help with the Senatorial Recall
Donate to Recall the Republican 8

On April 5, we will have the opportunity at the ballot box to reverse the conservative majority in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This will be immensely important as court challenges to various actions of the Walker administration wend their way to the high court. Vote JoAnne Kloppenburg!

Wear black today in solidarity (Thursday 3/10/2011). Contact your legislators. And come down to the Capitol if you can. There were protests around the clock last night.

Shame on the Walker administration. Shame.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Now They're Coming For Her Autism Insurance

First, they came for Joy's parents' paychecks.
[The increased benefits contribution in the so-called "budget repair bill" is equivalent to a 150% income tax hike for us, both state workers.]

Then, they came for her education.
[The proposed state budget contains close to $900 million in cuts to state aids for public schooling.]

Then, they came for her medical assistance.
[The $500 million Medicaid cut in the budget bill stands to be doubled by the loss in matching funds from the federal government, which would add up to a billion in unspecified Medicaid cuts.]

Now, they're coming for her autism insurance.

I've chronicled on this blog in some detail the years of struggle to force insurers to cover autism-related treatments here in Wisconsin. It took years of patient long-term advocacy (with some good old-fashioned hollering thrown in), but finally in 2009 it became law: insurers in Wisconsin were required to cover evidence-based autism-related treatments.

But now two new bills are circulating, expected to be introduced in the next week or two, that would undermine autism insurance and a whole series of other insurance requirements. Orwellianly-dubbed the "Health Choices and Opportunities" bills, they would set in motion a chain of events that would eventually allow the insurance commissioner to waive the mandates we fought so long and hard to put in place.

The ten hours per week of autism therapy that Joy now receives are covered by our insurance. This is coverage that her (currently-at-risk) Medicaid programs do not provide.

I am feeling bombarded.

And yet I know that as members of the middle class, with two cars and a modest home of our own and a job-and-a-half, we're still going to be relatively OK.

What of those who aren't OK now, or who are hanging onto OK by their fingernails, who will be far-far-less OK if all this passes?

This has all been sprung on the unsuspecting people of Wisconsin in the PAST THREE WEEKS.

Please help us spread the word, and keep us in your prayers.

OK, here's the political action steps, for those who are eligible and feel so moved. I never thought I'd be this openly partisan on this blog. But it's THAT important.

  • Join Russ Feingold's Progressives United political action committee (you don't have to live in Wisconsin to do this one!)
  • Sign up to be contacted to recall Governor Scott Walker once he's been in office for a year.
  • Visit Recall the Republican 8, a site dedicated to recalling 8 Wisconsin state senators. (I was hesitant about this at first; but they didn't run openly on this extreme an agenda.)
  • Vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg on April 5 for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Random Thoughts

It hasn't been the kind of week that serves coherence. So, today on Elvis Sightings, a heaping helping of stream-of-consciousness.

  • We all went to Grandma Judy's wake last night. It was so good to be with family, and to take part in this shared ritual of closure. Neither Rose nor Joy had ever encountered an open casket before. But Rose bravely went up to the front to "pay her respects" as we had discussed with her beforehand. Joy went up a little later in my arms. I think she might have been a little confused, as she reached out to Grandma Judy with an uncertain smile. I told her that it was time to say "bye-bye." She gave a small wave and an adorable spoken "bye-bye."
  • Goodbyes are so hard.
  • We had brought all sorts of tools and tricks to get the girls through the evening, from a portable DVD player & Baby Einstein to Rose's sketchpad and her little ZhuZhu-pet video game. But it was AuntieS who saved the day. She brought a brand-new travel set of the game Guess Who? that Rose could play with her cousin. For Joy, she brought one of those soft plastic bath-scrubby-poufs with a terry-cloth ducky in the middle. Once again AuntieS scored big, as she did with the curly-ribbons at Thanksgiving time. Joy spent the rest of the evening watching video and happily shredding the bath-pouf. Simply perfect.
  • JoyDad will represent our little family today at the memorial service and burial. It didn't make sense to try to chivvy the girls through a day as long as this one will be. I'll be there in spirit, though.
  • This all comes at the end of a long, hard week. It's been on my heart to join the amazing huge creative peaceful protests at the Capitol building, and re-fill myself with their hope and energy, but I've been unable for over a week. Schedule is part of it, and sickness even more. Both Rose and Joy were home from school most of the week fighting the flu, and I was trying to care for them and fight pneumonia myself. Thank heaven for antibiotics (for me), and for speedy recovery (for all of us.)
  • The events of the day in Wisconsin continue to seep into most everything we do. When I went to the deli counter last weekend, wearing my "Save Medicaid" sticker on my coat, the guy at the counter asked "So, what can I get for you? [pause] Besides a new governor?" When I went to the doctor with my complaint of sleeping difficulty and on-rushing bronchial issues, he asked me whether there was a movement to recall this governor who has pushed forward this extreme agenda so very far in excess of anything he'd campaigned on. I left with prescriptions for the aforementioned antibiotics, a sleep aid, and the doctor's personal e-mail address -- promising to send him the website address where he could add his name to the pre-recall database at (In this state an official must hold office at least a year before a recall can take place; at that time, there is a 60-day window to collect sufficient signatures.)
  • Healthcare workers and professionals are marching in support of Medicaid in Wisconsin today (Saturday), starting at 11am on campus at Library Mall. I wish I could join them, but I'm on childcare today. I'll be thinking of them, and looking forward to seeing pictures.
  • I was on childcare last Saturday as well, while JoyDad and brothers were helping GrampaK get some things taken care of. Let me be clear, I am ever-so-willing to hold up my end and do what needs to be done! but last weekend it meant that I ended up forgoing the opportunity to be in this political ad: I have not embedded the ad-video here because it is highly partisan, and frames the events in Wisconsin as a "war," terminology that I would personally prefer to avoid. But it's a powerful piece, and I would very much have liked to add my story and get a mention of Medicaid into the ad, something that did not happen in my absence.
  • However, it's not as if I'm lacking a voice this week. I've had the opportunity to have some of my writing published on a national level (under my real name, so no link here, sorry!) And that feels good.
  • After several weeks of high intensity, I do feel now that the initial frantic urgency of "Medicaid emergency and nobody even knows!" is receding. People do know now, and many other voices are being heard. It's time to take a deep breath, and move things to a level more manageable for the longer term.
  • Right after I write just one more blogpost / Facebook status / protest letter...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Memory of Grandma Judy

"GrammaJ" left this world for the next on Monday afternoon, February 28.

We will miss her so very much.

Grandma Judy