First Monday and First Day in October

Welcome to October 2012, the next to last full month before Mayan Apocalypse in December, horsemen and horsewomen.

That McCarthy Era Red-baiting slogan
(and insult to pantheists, athiests and agnostics)

Two important American “anniversaries” and several World Anniversaries today (dates courtesy Wikipedia, commentary is my own):

  • 331 BC – Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Gaugamela.  — Important because it was the counterstrike of the Greeks and Macedonians against two major invasions that we remember to this day with such movies as “300” and “Alexander” in the theaters just in the last couple of years. It marks the beginning of the downfall of the Persian Empire, and it is ironic that we now face a nascent rebirthing of a NEW Persian Empire, even as we debate whether Iran ought to be attacked or economically crippled for daring to attempt to produce an atomic weapon. Film at Eleven.
  • 1791 – First session of the French Legislative Assembly. The first attempt at a “modern” democracy in Europe.  The first incarnation of a French Republic ultimately failed, but ultimately succeeded inasmuch as the French Republic stands as a well-established Republic today, and no hint of monarchy or dictatorship currently obtains. And, when you think about it, Napoleon’s dream of a Unified Continent, mostly governed by the Code Napoleon (a major step forward from the Medieval legal system in place on most of Continental Europe) has more or less now come to pass.
  • 1814 – Opening of the Congress of Vienna, intended to redraw Europe‘s political map after the defeat of Napoléon the previous spring. Ironically, the outcome of the first French Revolution, coincident with the “restoration” of the Bourbon kings, a short-lived epoch. La France was NOT going back.
  • 1880 – John Philip Sousa becomes leader of the United States Marine Band.  Which is the beginning of the world-wide misapprehension that the U.S. National Anthem is “Stars and Stripes Forever” composed by Sousa originally as a dance tune after his retirement from federal service, and probably a better song than the old drinking song that Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” was set to. Originally, “To Anacraeon in Heaven.” Drink up.

From the official Anacreon Society
webpage (click pic for page, here for lyrics)

First big American anniversary on October 1:  this is the day in 1957 that the Red-Scare Congress’ passed through because nobody had the guts to oppose it addition of “In God We Trust” which Eisenhower signed for the same reason appeared on U.S. currency. It has remained ever since, an insult to the intention of the Founders, always rationalized by federal courts as OK and not “an establishment of religion,” since it doesn’t specify WHICH “God” we actually trust (although it is rigorously monotheistic, implicitly rejecting any form of pantheism).

Funny about “establishment of religion,” since, while you can have a religion without god or gods (i.e. Buddhism), you can’t have a god or gods without religion. In the generic sweepstakes, the “establishment of generic religion” seems utterly at odds with the notion of a generic god, as logically contradictory as it is possible to logically contradict the plain language of the Constitution — but then, the Supreme Court has shown a marked propensity for the twisting of plain language, a la the plays of Aristophanes — most specifically, The Frogs and The Clouds — but then if they weren’t supreme rationalizers they wouldn’t be the supreme lawyers (pronounced in the South, properly, as “liars”) of the United States of America.

The original four Alter Boys as they see themselves:
Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito. (Penises to scale)

Which brings us to the First Monday in October, as the Supreme Court and the Alter Boys begin their annual attack on civil liberties and defense of plutocrats, anywhere.

This is our annual opening of the term of the Supreme Court, as presaged by the Red Mass, which six justices attended yesterday in Washington, D.C.: Sotomayor, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Roberts.

I intentionally reprised my 2007 column on the Red Mass last week in preparation for today, and I add prior columns on the Red Mass to the mix, since it is, in essence their anniversary, too.

Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer (not
a Catholic, but attending out of politeness) 
at the 2008 Red Mass

This year, a record number, two-thirds of our nine sitting Supreme Court Justices, attended Red Mass.

Six Supreme Court justices attend Red Mass
By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)–Six of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington on Sunday. The event’s speakers spoke about using faith in decision-making but largely stayed away from the controversial issues the court will face in the coming months.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan all attended the 60th annual Mass. This was Kagan’s first Red Mass.

Having six justices in attendance ties a record set in 2009. The only justices to not attend this year were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish. Kagan and Breyer, both of whom were in attendance, are also Jewish.

The annual Mass is an event put on by the Archdiocese of Washington and the John Carroll Society and aims to bring people together to pray for the members of the judiciary before the court begins hearing cases each year. It’s called the Red Mass because of the color of the garment worn by clergy…

And WHO is very active in the John Carroll Society?  (Formerly a board member, but now that her husband is Chief Justice …)

Meet our Board of Governors

Officers

Paul G. Scolese, President
Elizabeth B. Meers, First Vice President
Philip J. Ward, Second Vice President
Bernadette Semple, Secretary
David J. Evans, Assistant Secretary
John M. Lynham, Jr., Treasurer
Mary Ann Dmochowski, Ph.D., Assistant Treasurer
John J. DeGioia, Parliamentarian
Jane Sullivan Roberts, Historian [Mrs. John Roberts]
[…]

Jane Sullivan Roberts, wife of John Roberts
at his Senate confirmation hearings 

Here is the homily that the Archbishop delivered to remind these jurists how to follow “god’s will” in making their wise decisions. A snippet:

… We speak so often of the new evangelization, because we recognize that we must be its instruments in all that we do. The faith we hold in our hearts must motivate the decisions, the words, and the commitment of our everyday existence. That existence is extraordinary, because it is infused with divine grace. St. Thomas More said that he died the good servant of the King, but the faithful servant of God first. We, too, are faithful citizens only when we embrace the fullness of the principles of our faith and allow them to enliven and fortify our contributions to the life of the Nation. Or to draw on the eloquence of the Archbishop of Baltimore in a paraphrase: we must be loyal Americans by being bold and courageous men and women of faith and conviction regarding the ethical norms that guide society and its choices.

[…]

Our society must also rest on stable, clear foundations. Otherwise, we run the risk of sinking into the mire of one popular sound byte after another!\

Last January the Holy Father recalled for the Bishops of this region that consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good and the conditions for human flourishing are at the heart of every culture. “In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God.”

Cronin’s nurse knew that, as well. She recognized that the ultimate value was the eternal judgment rendered by Almighty God. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” [end]

Current Pope Roman Numeral Something

That Papal pronouncement is, of course, precisely WHY the Declaration was worded the way it was, to NOT invoke the Pope’s version of “God” nor the Christian version, for fear that one denomination or another might attempt to turn America into a Theocratic state. That is why the Baptists asked for the “religious establishment” clause in the First Amendment, known as “freedom of religion” (and FROM religion) because they were afraid that the Puritans would outlaw all practice in Massachusetts that was NOT Puritan, as most recently had Cotton Mather’s theocratic regime, which jailed Ben Franklin’s brother twice for the most innocuous of writings, and from which Franklin ran away to free-thinking and tolerant Quaker Philadelphia at age 16 to escape.

Just sayin’.

And one final note with a grace note. A landmark event in human history, protecting the psychological rights of minors:

Gov. Jerry Brown bans gay-to-straight therapy for minors
September 30, 2012 | 10:00 am
The Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting a form of therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation from gay to straight, the first law of its kind in the nation, officials said Sunday.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) introduced the measure based on his belief that so-called conversion therapy isn’t based on science and is dangerous.

“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Brown said in a statement. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

Lieu commended the governor and hoped other states would follow California’s lead.

“No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable,” Lieu said.

[…]

The bill, SB 1172, was opposed by Republican lawmakers as an intrusion by the state into the decision of parents about how to raise their children. The conservative Pacific Justice Institute has said it will file a lawsuit  …

This weekend (the grace note) , the fiftieth anniversary of James Meredith’s entry into Ole Miss University also marks an important moment in that struggle to allow people to BE people and to let it be known that categorical hatred of groups has no place in our society.

Courage.

===================

A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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