Nel's New Day

April 1, 2015

Real Fools on April Fools’ Day

The history of April Fools’ Day, the first day of April, goes back at least to 1392 in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The focus of the day is to play pranks on people and then say “April Fool.” These days, GOP politicians are passing off their pranks as reality and then becoming fools themselves.

Fool for 2015 is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as he tries to dig himself out of having signed a bill into law that a large number of legal experts agree is discriminatory. In the span of six days, Pence flip-flopped at least five times, sometimes on the same day: he endorsed, endorsed a change, opposed a change, re-endorsed change, and moved on to oppose changes.

Pence has a history of being a fool. He killed a grant application bringing tens of millions of federal dollars for Indiana’s preschool programs, giving thousands of low-income families and at-risk children access to early learning programs. Upset by negative press, he declared that he would use tax-payer money to create “Just IN,” a news service run by his government to make pre-written news stories available to outside media. National ridicule and outrage from both the left and right for his propaganda machine caused Pence to drop his idea.

Earning the title “fool” on a fundraising trail for the presidential candidacy that he hasn’t declared, Jeb Bush changed his message on Indiana’s new law from “right on” to “a consensus-oriented approach.” Last week, Bush praised Pence, but today he said, “We shouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation,” Bush said. A wealthy supporter of Bush at the fundraiser, Bill Draper, said, “I don’t know what Jeb feels.” Could Bush’s “shift in tone” come from his being in Silicon Valley to raise money? Draper added, “In Silicon Valley, we are very liberal on the issues of gays and women’s rights, and we’re all sensitive to the apparent wording of the law.”

The fools in Congress passed a resolution to block federal rules from the National Labor Relations Board to speed up the time it takes to unionize workers from 38 days to as little as 14 days. Rules require employers to share workers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses with unions. President Obama vetoed the resolution based on the positive changes that unions have created.

As the fools in a House committee prepare to interrogate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the eighth congressional panel about the disaster at the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi where four U.S. citizens were killed, chair Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) called her into a private interview with the committee before May 1. Why secret? So that they can lie about what she said? Or so they wouldn’t be embarrassed by their behavior as so happens in House hearings? Or so they can say that she wouldn’t be transparent? Or they can leak just a bit to put her in a bad light? Or all of these? Clinton prefers a public hearing, but Gowdy claims that he wants it private because he’s not sure he has all the relevant emails. Sounds like an irrelevant, foolish reason.

Top fool in Alabama—and that’s hard to achieve—is Larry Stutts. After Rose Church, an Alabama nurse, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in 1998, she was discharged from the hospital in 36 hours, only to soon return because of complications. Church was treated and discharged from the emergency room, only to die 36 hours later. The family sued the OB/GYN for wrongful death, arguing that Church was discharged too quickly without necessary tests. Although the case was settled out of court, the state legislature unanimously passed “Rose’s Law” requiring a minimum of a 48-hour hospital stay for new mothers following normal, vaginal births, and 96-hour hospital stay for more complicated births, including C-sections.

When Stutts was elected to the state senate last year, his first action was to try to repeal “Rose’s Law” because he connected the 16-year-old law to “Obamacare.” He found six Republican men in the legislature to join him in the repeal attempt. The name of the doctor who settled out of court after Church’s death? Larry Stutts. The doctor also wanted to repeal Alabama’s law requiring patient notification when mammograms show dense tissue, a possible indicator of breast cancer. That law was written by his predecessor, Roger Bedford, after his wife’s cancer was initially overlooked by her doctors. Stutts says that he opposes “emotional legislation.” [Following national publicity, Stutts has pulled his withdrawal for overturning the maternity stay bill. He’s still a fool.]

During a debate about a measure to help prevent rapes on campus, state Rep. Mike Bocchino, fool of Connecticut, objected by saying that there are no witnesses to rape, and if there are, it’s a “really great party.” He did say that date rape is “disgusting,” but then so it what he said.

IJustNeedToPee-x400In 2013, trans first-grader Coy Mathis won a lawsuit so that she can use the girls’ bathroom in Colorado, and in 2014, Last year, trans student Nicole Maines successfully sued her Maine high school and can the same bathroom as other girls. Republicans in Nevada, Minnesota, and Kentucky are reacting to these successes with bills to deny transchildren the use the facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their self-identified sex. Not satisfied with mandating this embarrassment for transchildren, Florida Republicans have proposed a bill calling for a $1,000 fine and a potential prison term of up to one year for anyone trans person, including children, using any sex-segregated public facility in the state. Texas introduced legislation basing access to locker rooms on possession of the “correct” chromosomes. Both the trans people and the attendants allowing them to enter would face a felony charge and jail time. (Evidently Texas is more comfortable legislating bathroom use than people openly carrying guns and accidentally or intentionally shooting others.)

we need to peeAlmost 60 percent of the transgender people avoid going out in public because of worries about safe access to public restrooms. In the same survey, 54 percent said they had physical problems like dehydration or kidney infections from trying to avoid using public bathrooms. Trans people have started a campaign against the fools behind these bills with selfies on hashtag #WeJustNeedToPee that show how foolish they look in a bathroom corresponding with the biological sex at birth. Michael Hughes’ Twitter image (above left) had this message: “Do I look like I belong in women’s facilities? Republicans are trying to get legislation passed that will put me there, based on my gender at birth. Trans people aren’t going to the bathroom to spy on you, or otherwise cause you harm. #wejustneedtopee.”

Even more foolish are the Republicans who want to determine sex through chromosomes. According to a posting from the Intersex Society of North America:

“Maleness and femaleness are NOT determined by having an X or a Y, since switching a couple of genes around can turn things upside down. In fact, there’s a whole lot more to maleness and femaleness than X or Y chromosomes. About 1 in 20,000 men has no Y chromosome, instead having 2 Xs. This means that in the United States there are about 7,500 men without a Y chromosome. The equivalent situation – females who have XY instead of XX chromosomes – can occur for a variety of reasons and overall is similar in frequency. For these 15,000 or more individuals in the US (and who knows how many worldwide), their chromosomes are irrelevant. It is the total complement of their genes along with their life experiences (physical, mental, social) that makes them who they are (or any of us, for that matter).”

We know that science is not a strong point with many Republicans.

The fool in Missouri for today is legislator Jeff Pogue, who wants to return to the “social norms” of 1820. He wants to deny state funding for unisex bathrooms and for any “project, program, or policy that creates or attempts to create a gender-neutral environment.” In 1820, Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave state, and women could not vote. Missouri’s state motto is “Salus populi suprema lex esto” translated as “Let the good of the people be the supreme law.”

sex after sixty

Iowa debates are really boring, according to state GOP Rep. Ross Paustian. That’s why legislators passed around the self-help book Sex after Sixty during a debate about weakening collective bargaining rights for state teachers. Des Moines Register reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel tweeted the photo above. During the same session, state Republican Rep. Clel Baudler watched Netflix on his laptop. Paustian apologized to his constituents but claimed that he was fully engaged in the debate. After the Republicans survived the boredom, they all voted against the teachers. I would ask how lawmakers would react if the teachers, who have lost some of their rights, behaved in the same was as lawmakers because they were “bored.”

The root of the word “fool” is from the Latin follis, which means “bag of wind.”


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