No Foolin’

Happy April Fool’s Day. This is not a joke.

No one seems quite sure why the first of April is called “April Fool’s Day.” The first reference to the day is in “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” In the story, a fox and rooster trick each other in turn.

So it is April Fool’s Day is an occasion for practical jokes. Some scholars believe the tradition began when the societies shifted the beginning of the calendar year from early spring (around the first of April) to January, leaving only “fools” to honor the older tradition.

However it began, it’s with us still and you may be fooled more than once today. There are several times this week when I had wished I was being fooled, but no, it seems I’m merely dealing with fools.

Yesterday is a good example. Barack Obama announced he is opening 167 million acres of the continental shelf to oil and natural gas drilling. This is something George Bush and Dick Cheney wanted to do, but didn’t have the nerve. I thought 2008 was supposed to be a “change” election. Didn’t know it was going to be change for the worse.

I know, I know, we’re going to hear from the usual pundits that this is the White House outmaneuvering the Republicans on energy issues. But it’s not. It’s caving in to the fossil fuel lobby. The reality is that the US and the rest of the world have to slash our greenhouse gas emissions and you don’t do that by expanding drilling any more than you go on a diet by launching a Twinkie binge. You’re a fool to think otherwise and any pundit that tries to convince you otherwise wants to play you for a fool.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker is neither a fool nor played for one. He ruled yesterday that neither the Bush nor the Obama administration (what’s that about change again?) are allowed to tap the phones of Americans without warrants.

The Obamanians picked up some sort of virus from the Bushies. The Nixon Virus (“When the president does it, it’s not illegal.”), I think it’s called. I didn’t vote to live in a police state in 2000 and I sure as hell didn’t vote to live in one in 2008. A Justice Department spokesperson said no decision has been made about filing an appeal. A word of advice: Don’t.

Fools closer to home (or not) include the Vermont Energy Partnership, which is taking out full-page newspaper ads this week, chastising the Vermont public for allowing the state Senate to vote to shut the state’s only nuclear plant, Vermont Yankee.

There are multiple forms of foolishness afoot here. First, the partnership tries to fool people into thinking it has something to do with Vermont. True, there are Vermont businesses foolish enough to join this bogus trade association, but most of the money for the partnership – and thus the ads it buys – comes from Entergy Louisiana, the out-of-staters who have yet to realize they’ve been invited to leave.

That invitation is the second form of foolishness. It’s over people! It’s been over for more than a month. The Senate voted 26 to 4 in February to shut the plant on schedule in March 2012 (although the smart money says it will shut in November 2011). Entergy Louisiana and its shill, Governor Jim Douglas (R-Lame Duck) persist in calling the vote meaningless, but if you buy that pap, you’re foolish enough to be interested in some irradiated riverfront property for a vacation home.

Third, of course, is you don’t run those kind of ads the week of April 1. It’s just sticking your head in the sand, leaving 120 pounds of butt hanging out for opportunists like me to kick. It is, however, consistent with Entergy Louisiana’s incompetent bungling of the mechanics of running a nuke plant and its tone-deaf public relations policy. Getting a 20-year license extension for that plant should have been a walk in the park. Instead, the executives at Entergy Louisiana orchestrated their own death march.

And for that, I thank them. No foolin’.

© Mark Floegel, 2010

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