Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy Friday Fun-Day!

Shared by an FB friend. Enjoy!

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him:
"Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat.
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are -- or where you are going. You've risen to where you are , due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Neville Chamberlain aka Donald Trump

The former British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who famously was quoted as having achieved "Peace in Our Time" after giving away the Sudetenland (from Czechoslovakia, which objected to this action) is famous not for having achieved peace but rather for having enabled war.  Not only did he give Nazi Germany a portion of another country without it having to risk anything, he gave them the military capabilities and industrial strength of an iron-rich region of Europe and a famously productive tank works in Prague (which Germany soon annexed right after taking the Sudetenland).  Chamberlain felt he could "manage" Hitler, that Hitler's demands, while strong, were not entirely unreasonable given that he was trying to unify the "German People" under one governmental umbrella and if Europe gave in to these demands that would be the end of it and by doing so avoid another great war.  This lead to Chamberlain going down as the great "appeaser" of Europe.  A man who's actions did not avoid war but hastened it.

Donald Trump believes he can manage Vladimr Putin.  He believes Putin's demands about the Crimea (and presumably Georgia) were/are reasonable.  He believes Putin's aims of creating a homogenous Russia of ethnic Russians are reasonable.  Putin has modernized the Russian military.  He has threatened nuclear attack on Poland and the invasion of the Baltic States. He has bullied Byelorus and Turkmenistan (among others) of his neighbors, into being his puppets (like Hungary and Rumania were German puppets).  He HAS invaded Georgia, the Crimea and the Donbas (the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine).  He HAS assisted Bashar Assad with the brutal destruction of Alleppo and the slaughter of it's citizens.  Now Putin and Assad are "hammering" out a peace deal unilaterally because, quite frankly, Russia has NO fear of reprisal from the West given Donald J Chamberlain is about to be our President.  The oil sanctions, which have cost Russia dearly, will go away and Putin will undoubtedly feel safe in threatening, and perhaps attacking other of his neighbors.   Russia is not the kind of military power which Germany was in 1939, except, EXCEPT that it has nuclear weapons and is willing to threaten their use.

Donald "the Appeaser:" also is happy to appease Benjamin Netenyahu, the belicose PM of Israel who continued the aggressive conduct of Ariel Sharon, building settlements in the West Bank despite world-wide condemnation and prior agreement by the Israelis to not do so.  Netenyahu has become a co-belligerent in this dispute as the Israeli government clamped down more and more harsh controls on Palestinians over the past 16 years and built settlements in direct violation of their own promises.  Netenyahu complained that a "friend doesn't take a friend to the UN", well a friend doesn't come before the legislature of a friend and lecture them either.

Trump will give in to Netenyahu as well, He will turn a blind-eye to a two-state solution.  He will allow Netenyahu to bully the Palestinians and from it, we, the US will be seen as enabling the Israeli administration, it will be buttressing a leader who has repeatedly taken the most aggressive approach imaginable toward the Palestinians during the 8 years of the Obama administration.  Even so, with the Obama "abstain" vote on the UN resolution condemning further Israeli construction of settlements, Netenyahu has asked his own legislature to table further funding of settlements, in short, he got the message that the US CAN take another approach.  It CAN put Israel up for scrutiny by THE REST OF THE WORLD, including England, including France, including China, nations which are not unreasonable in their demands that Israel stop.  The US has stood by and protected Israel from that condemnation, in resolute adherence of respect to our ally, but that ally has poked us in the eye time and again by ignoring even its own long-term interest by abandoning the two-state approach and so risk war with its neighbors and on-going violence from the Palestinians.   The Arab nations have made it absolutely plain there will be no long-term peace with Israel without peace between the Palestinians and Israel and THAT requires a two-state solution.

Yet, Trumperlain insists he's going to "be a great friend" to Israel, meaning he's not going to push for an end to settlement construction, for a two-state resolution, and so that means he's going to appease the hard-liners in Israel and give them license to continue to obstruct any long-term resolution.  He's going to be a weak, facile lick-spittle to Netenyahu.  What's worse, is that in so doing, he's going to make war between Israel and it's neighbors more likely, not less. He's going to make terrorism in Israel more likely, not less.  There are some who will say there will be terrorism regardless, and that's true, but how much?  Between 2009 and 2013 there were ZERO civilian Israeli deaths to terrorism inside Israel, ZERO.  Since the re-engagement of construction and the isolation of Gaza, there have been dozens.  Simplistic arguments of requiring perfection in any solution does not change the fact that a FRIEND advises a friend that they are on a perilous course, and a friend may even become exasperated with a friend who repeatedly cuts off their own nose.  A friend does not meekly and slavishly simply cow-tow to anything their friend wants to do.  Friends give friends hard advice when they need it, rather than remaining deaf, dumb and blind as that friend rushes into a more war-like and war likely world.

Those people, Trumerlains and Daladierumpians alike, those who will be ass-kissers first, are weak people who embolden, not restrain, tyrants and fools.  Those people make war and terrorism and a violent world MORE likely, not less.   Those people are weak leaders, they think they're clever, but in reality they are just the tools of those tyrants.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thank You, Prince Charles, speaking on the BBC "Thought for the Day" radio segment about religious intolerance and populism

HRH The Prince of Wales - 22/12/16

In London recently I met a Jesuit priest from Syria. He gave me a graphic account of what life is like for those Christians he was forced to leave behind. He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq and how he feared that Christians will be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible. He thought it quite possible there will be no Christians in Iraq within five years. Clearly, for such people, religious freedom is a daily, stark choice between life and death.
The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.
We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.
And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.
All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s. I was born in 1948 – just after the end of World War II in which my parents' generation had fought, and died, in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. That, nearly seventy years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.
Normally, at Christmas, we think of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder, though, if this year we might remember how the story of the Nativity unfolds – with the fleeing of the Holy Family to escape violent persecution. And we might also remember that when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he, too, was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.
Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same - to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.
That’s what I saw when attending the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London recently. Here were a people persecuted for their religion in their own country, but finding refuge in another land and freedom to practise their faith according to their conscience.
It is an example to inspire us all this Christmastime.

It's Friday Fun-day, let's enjoy a little Schadenfreude

So not only do we have the failure of Donald Trump to be a success at anything, including the planning of his own inaugural festivities, we have Melanoma Trump being refused couture services by a variety of designers, domestic and foreign.

So far, there is the possibility that the Rumps have the Rockettes performing, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir --- and the Rockettes are iffy.  Otherwise there are a lot of no's and Hell no's.  City Pages has obliged by keeping a running list of those who refuse Trump.  Because this is an ever expanding list, we won't try to reproduce it here.  Suffice it to say I can't remember when there was such a massive refusal to perform for a president.

It goes down well as Trump and his surrogates repeat the lie that they have a mandate and that Trump's victory was a landslide.  More like a theft, given that there are abnormalities and irregularities in the recounts that have occurred so far, and that others have been blocked.  The Brad Blog, which you can access from our blog roll as well, covered it thoroughly.

There is far more driving challenges to the legitimacy of the contention that this presidency than there were ever valid questions about the Obama legitimacy in office.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Like White on Right, er, Rice

Image result for neonazi trump supportersThere has been a rise in white supremacy supporters, and other racists.  There has been a rise in supporters of religious intolerance, misogyny, and intolerance towards the LGBT.

This is not fictional, it is a factual.  But the right, well, the right keeps trying to pretend; they don't want us looking at the man behind the curtain, to borrow an analogy from the vintage movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The harsh reality is that the right, especially the Trump campaign, has been perfectly happy and willing to accept anyone, no matter how deplorable, on their side.  That has included the dregs, the same disreputable crowd that formed the John Birchers back in the mid 20th century, and worse.  And the respectable right (sarcasm) which has been so tolerant of driving out moderates, has looked the other way.

Watching the 2015 movie, Woman in Gold, I was struck by what that particular slice of history tells us about the rise of authoritarianism.  Helen Mirren's character observes how the Austrians welcomed the Germans, and only later tried to claim they were victims of them.  Now we see occasionally where the right is embarrassed, or in denial, about their political bedfellows. But it is too little, and it is way too late.

We have heard the accusation by our intelligence services of Russian meddling in our elections.  Vice News went further in connecting the dots between the neo-nazis and other deplorables and the mainstream Conservatives, including the proposed Trump administration.  I would argue the list below compiled by Vice News is far from exhaustive or encyclopedic.  Information like this makes it all the more important that we push back against conflicts of interest and that we push back against the influence and interference of other nation states and their governments intruding into our government.  And always, always, always, follow the money.  Because this is about all forms of power, and money is only one of them.

Austria's far-right party cozies up to Russia

The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party said his party had signed a friendly pact with the Russian government in Moscow on Monday and vowed to be “a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace” between the United States and Russia.  
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache also revealed in a statement that he’d traveled to New York a month earlier to meet with Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser.
Monday’s announcement sought to establish Austria’s growing populist party on the world stage, but it served the dual purpose of signifying Russia’s growing ties to Europe’s far-right movement.
“The FPO continues to gain international influence,” the statement said, although it did not not elaborate on the contents of the agreement with Russia.
Monday’s meeting in Moscow was also attended by the FPO’s recently defeated presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party.
Originally founded by Nazis shortly after World War II, the FPO has become one of Europe’s leading platforms against migration. Like many of Europe’s rising far-right populist parties, it also supports scaling back the European Union and cutting down on sanctions against Russia, which were imposed by the EU and U.S. governments in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.
Russia’s recent meddling in European domestic politics has stirred plenty of anxiety among EU leaders, who accuse Russia of funding these populist movements in an effort to weaken Western democracies. The issue was a major preoccupation among EU leaders during a summit in October.
Monday’s meeting is hardly the the first time Russia has been linked with Europe’s far-right populist parties.
  • France: The National Front Party (FN) borrowed 9.4 million euros from Russia to help fund its reelection campaign in 2014. FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has made her admiration of Russia well known — she famously supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and opposes the EU and U.S. sanctions. Earlier this year, Le Pen sought a 27 million euro loan from a Russian-owned bank to finance her presidential bid. 
  • Hungary: In May 2013, leaders of the far-right party Jobbik met with members of Russia’s parliament at Moscow State University. A member of the same party was accused in 2014 of acting as a Russian spy.   
  • Bulgaria: The leader of the neo-Nazi Ataka Party, Volen Siderov, traveled to Moscow in 2012 for Putin’s 60th birthday party and expressed support for the Russian president.
  • Slovakia: The far-right Our People’s party is an ally of Moscow. Leader Marian Kotleba sent a letter of support to Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader, Viktor Yanukovych, just before he was ousted in a popular revolution in 2014.
The meeting between Strache and Flynn took place at Trump Tower, where, according to the statement, they discussed ending the United States’ and EU’s “harmful and ultimately useless sanctions” against Russia. It is the latest indication that historically chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia will warm under the incoming Trump administration.
Several key members of Trump’s Cabinet have shown close ties to Moscow in the past, most notably Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has a history of friendly relations with Putin. Flynn has also expressed an openness to working with Moscow, and once sat next to Putin during an event.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice from Penigma

It's winter.  In other news, it has snowed in Hawaii and most recently in the Sahara desert.

Last night for the northern hemisphere it was the longest night of the year in darkness.  As of this morning, our days begin to get longer not in total hours, but in hours of daylight.

Happy Solstice rather than Happy Holidays.  Most every culture and/or religion has some sort of mid-winter celebration.

In appreciation of that, let us share in our many ways we celebrate this marker of the progress of our year

Monday, December 19, 2016

Macro and microcosm: my novel experience with a conned-servative Trump supporter

I acquired a new facebook friend who is a conservative Trump supporter.

He differs from many Trumpanzees in that he is an atheist, but in many respects we have the same conversations that would take place with other Trump supporters.  These have been surprisingly cordial and informative, once we get past some of the assumptions we BOTH have about the other person.  We are similar in age, but very different in employment background, most areas of interest, and especially in education.  W. is an excellent example of the white, blue-collar, K-10 educated male supporter of Donald Trump.

Over the weekend, the conversation wandered from a shared enjoyment of certain poetry (to my surprise) to the topic of race and criminality.  W. is convinced that black people are "crack-head animals" who are more inherently criminal because of their race. But W. is convinced he is not a racist, because he likes a few of the "good ones" [black people] he knows personally So in his thinking, acknowledging there are a few exceptions to the racial rule, like Condi Rice, or Colin Powell, or a few people he personally has known or worked with, excludes the possibility that his views of a majority of black people are racist.

W. does not really understand that the concept of race he holds is faulty, an artificial construct that does not really encompass much less explain human similarities and differences that he believes defines race.  W. regularly messages me for example with instances where someone commits a road rage shooting to assure me that while no individual had yet been identified, the shooter was certainly going to turn out to be black.  I refuse to believe anything about the shooter one way or the other; I'm comfortable waiting for that identification, without making those same assumptions.  W. further asserted with strong conviction that were the shooter to turn out to be white, because the victim was black, that there would be widespread looting (he used the word "shopping") by African Americans.

It is a fact that some statistics show a larger number of black Americans responsible for crimes generally and for violent crime particularly.  However there are also problems with the statistics inadequately covering rural areas where there are more white people.  The numbers are not definitive, and any interpretation of those flawed numbers that also involves a false understanding of both race and genetics cannot come to a valid conclusion.

For presuming to differ with W. I was of course called names, like a "deluded liberal" among others.  The legitimate objections I hold to his faulty conclusions, which include a practical and applied understanding of genetics and genetic inheritance was blithely dismissed as elitism and a compulsion to be politically correct. Any science which rejected his conclusion was denied while anything which was rejected by science that bolstered or supported his bias, no matter the quality of that source, was embraced.

I have two problems with the racism that I have encountered with conservatives, one is the "don't try to confuse me with the facts" response, and the other is the "I know it because I've seen it" response.  W. disparages black people for supposedly still using crack cocaine in large numbers, which statistically is not the problem it was at one time, from the mid 1980s into the early 1990s. At the same time W. unrealistically minimizes the dangers and illegality of a close white friend who snorts cocaine on a regular basis, and whom he admits is an addict.  W. even claimed not to be aware that it was possible to overdose on coke, or that it could cause heart attacks and strokes which might not be fatal but could certainly be massively debilitating.  No, the white guy shoving coke up his nose was -- in his estimation -- nothing like those animalistic black people.

I consistently see not only this failure of information as a recurring problem with conservatives, not only W., but a very superficial level of understanding and analysis.  Beyond that however I have seen a serious and recurring problem with applying a double standard to the conduct of those they like and those they don't like.  For example, W. has no problem with any of the well documented issues with the Trump charity, but is convinced that Hillary Clinton should be in jail for some vague misconduct that he cannot specify and for which he cannot cite a single statute, and believes that there is no benefits from the operation of the Clinton Foundation.

The stark reality of course is that the Clinton Foundation has done a broad range of public good, both in the US and overseas, and that while both Bill and Hillary Clinton have prospered during the existence of the Foundation, there does not appear to be any illegality involved so far.  The same cannot be said either for the benefits from the Trump Foundation, or the credible accusations of fairly blatant illegality, and Donald Trump has clearly benefited from an entity that spends other people's money (NOT his own) on toys like autographed footballs, on egotistical portraits, and on legal fees from Trump's for-profit businesses that run afoul of the law.

Pointing out those acts of misconduct by Trump elicit complaints that "Trump won, so I need to get over it".  They elicit complaints that I am a "poor loser" and that there is nothing wrong with what Trump did because he is "a smart man".

This blatant denial and the gleeful application of double standard, not only to Trump but to so many, many more issues and people, and the enormous accumulation of false information combined with the utter denial or disregard for anything that does not support the blind illusion and delusion of expectations about Donald Trump deeply concern me.  The failure of facts to persuade deeply concerns me because when facts are denied or rejected, there can be no finding of common ground, no meeting of the minds, and no reality based on the grasp of cause and effect.  I see a pattern of emotional thinking that deeply concerns me because it actively rejects logic and rational critical thinking.

As frustrating as these engagements with conservatives like W. are, I see value in continuing them.  There is some hope that if W and other conservatives decide they LIKE me enough to at least listen, to at least consider briefly before rejecting facts, that it will be possible to make gains in finding common ground.  And it serves to remind me to make a concerted effort not to dismiss the thinking of conservatives as bigoted without listening to why they feel the way they do.  It is by addressing the why of their feelings rather than the ways those feelings are wrong or invalid that we find any future reunification of the factions of this country.

But dear God, it is not going to be easy to find that "meeting of the minds", that common ground.  And if one more low information low education Trump supporter tells me to sit down, shut up, and relax because now the "grown ups are in charge", I might throw up.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It is international human righs day today, December 10th

Sadly with the rise of fascism in governments, not only in the US with our president elect and many of those on the right who are his advisors or in congress, protecting civil right, HUMAN rights is more important than ever. Our conned-servative fellow human beings are unwilling to accord those who they perceive as "other" and therefore less human, for their race, for their religious beliefs, for their socio-economic background, or for their gender or sexual orientation, among other pretexts for bigotry.

From the official UN web site:

Human Rights Day
10 December

Stand up for someone's rights today! Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack. We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media. The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity. It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Rest in Peace American hero and patriot, John Glenn

I will always think of him as he was portrayed in the astronaut story, "The Right Stuff" as the "clean marine".

John Glenn Low Res.jpg

Friday, December 2, 2016

It's Not Broken, so leave it alone

A 13th century French representation of
the tripartite social order
of the middle ages
Oratores: "those who pray",
Bellatores: "those who fight",
and Laboratores: "those who work".
I see where once again we have the religious right trying to justify their exclusionary and punitive tendencies when it comes to marriage, this time in Missouri.  This seems well-intentioned, but it is misguided.  Among the problems with the proposal outlined below is the factually inaccurate notion that marriage has ever been primarily a religious institution.  That is false.

Recognizing that same-sex marriage is a real thing, a commitment that has existed with or without the role of religion OR government  has not 'broken' the concept of marriage.  It's not broken, so our legislators should stop trying to 'fix' it.

Increasingly I am seeing the role of conservatives as one of trying to turn back time, to a time that never was, in their misguided desire to coerce and control their fellow human beings.  Sometimes that is an attempt to restore the worst of the mid-20th century, and sometimes it goes back further to something more approaching the middle ages.

Marriage has NEVER been primarily a religious institution. Period. Full stop. That is crappy religious right revisionist history.  Marriage has always been primarily about property, and inheritance, with wives and children usually being considered property under a large portion of European Christian history, not much different than livestock, aka 'chattels'.  To again review the history of our terminology, to better define and understand the concepts:
[the] meaning of chattel can excite considerable emotion, as it refers to humans as property, i.e., slaves. Chattel, slave and the less common bondman and thrall are all synonyms for a person held in servitude by another. Chattel and cattle both come to English from the same source: each is descended from the Medieval Latin word capitale, which itself traces to the Latin caput meaning “head.”
Rather Christianity intruded itself into the religion biz as the primary recorders of property contracts that existed as part of alliances through what were largely political and economic based marriages.

Anyone who is skeptical of this factoid should investigate the role of plural marriage and legal, official, government sanctioned concubinage in European history that continued almost to the era of our own American Revolution.  It's fascinating stuff, but doesn't get a lot of coverage in most American history classes; rather the entire absence of this area of study leaves a vacuum that is filled by the assumptions that the religious right would like to see that perpetuates their intrusion into the freedom of American citizens and residents. Ignorance is simply ignorance, and frequently the foundation for intolerance, not bliss.

God only is involved as the Christian church sought to control more aspects of human existence, as a sort of power tripping monopoly.  That this put it in recurrent historic conflict with civil laws and government is sadly something that too few Americans know and understand. 

That is a failure of our educational system that should be addressed, but that is a tangential discussion here.

Americans, and particularly those in Missouri who suffer under the misconceptions of red state schools, should acquaint themselves better with the historic lessons of conflict between civil government and religious establishment efforts to extend their control and influence, such as that between Thomas a Becket and Henry the II, or the role of the so-called "estates of the realm" like that of the French 'ancien regime' where the first estate in society, government and the economy was the clergy, which controlled large sections of property with equally large revenues culminated in the French Revolution.  In England, from the middle ages onward, there was a simplified two-tier system: the first estate - clergy - was combined with the second estate - nobility -  in the house of Lords, with the remainder all lumped into the "commons" (what we are now sometimes referring to as the 99% who are not obscenely wealthy and privileged.)

Write this off to my esoteric interests which have in the past included an interest in heraldry for a brief outline of the UK background to American government.  In the UK, in the parliamentary House of Lords, there is something called the Lords Spiritual, aka the Spiritual Peers, a holdover from the middle ages.  Those are the 26 bishops of the Church of England; the regular nobility are termed the Lords Temporal, (temporal: 1. relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular. 2.of or relating to time.); not to be confused with the wonderful UK fantasy fiction of the Time Lords and Dr. Who.  I've always wondered if the concept of the Lords Temporal suggested the notion of the old television series in the UK which one could argue has taken on a life of it's own.

Nobility and the religious hierarchy were co-equal in government for a very long time in English history.  After Henry the VIII invented the C of E (Church of England, aka the Anglicans in the US) during the Brit version of the reformation, that role of the clergy was institutionalized in parliament, in the House of Lords.  And it continues to the present, although a topic of some controversy, and one we in the US should consider as we contemplate the very good concept of separation of church and state.

That institution of religion in government is something we in the US heartily reject -- and in the UK that role of the religious "Lords" is still having an active involvement in the course of government, as seen here.
"There are no restrictions placed on bishops in terms of how they participate, no bar on them getting involved in process."
He added: "If you look back through history, they haven't had a self-denying ordinance on important issues."
The Lords Spiritual - not affiliated to any political party - date back to the 14th Century and, apart from a few years after the English Civil War, have been ever-present in the chamber.
In 1847 their number was restricted to 26.
And so endeth today's history lesson.

This is a misguided notion that is predicated on a Christian-centric and European-centric view of human history.  It ignores what the rest of the world has done, and it ignores all of the pre-Christian European experience of humans.

From Ozarks

Missouri Bill Could Diffuse Controversy in Gay Weddings

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) has pre-filed a measure that would replace marriage licenses with contracts of domestic union.
Berry tells Missourinet a controversial Senate resolution that died this year in a state House committee prompted him to file the legislation. The resolution would have protected churches and businesses from penalties for denying goods and services for gay weddings.
Berry calls his proposal a compromise that would diffuse some of the controversy in that resolution.
“There are many, many, many churches out there right now that will perform any kind of marriage and that’s great. That’s fine but when you take and define it and argue it as a government when it was originally religious, then you start having this other discussion that isn’t appropriate to begin with,” says Berry.
He says he is indifferent about the Senate resolution, which is commonly referred to as SJR39. The measure was sponsored this year by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis).
“We’ve gotten confused between government benefits and religious ceremonies and marriage has gotten caught up in that and it’s created tremendous controversy for lots of different groups,” says Berry.
He says his legislation would still allow the government benefits that apply to all married couples.
“I think what you would see is we would get back to government being in its role and religion being in its role,” says Berry. “Marriage has been, through history going back thousands of years, a religious ceremony not a governmental ceremony. So, that’s what this does and it applies to straight people, gay people, everyone exactly the same way.”
Whether or not SJR39 returns in 2017 is unknown but lawmakers expect it to come up eventually. Some conservatives are not expected to embrace Berry’s proposal, likely saying it doesn’t go far enough.
Marriage is a concept of a foundational commitment that is contractual and governmental, which MAY OR MAY NOT be spiritual as well -- as chosen by those entering into a specific marriage.  I don't see it as likely that any state, Missouri or other, will succeed in removing religious institutions from their involvement in sanctioning marriage.  Marriage, like government is of, by, and for people.

But that is not the same thing as bending over backwards to extend the control of religion into that institution.  We have ALWAYS had civil / non-religious marriage; marriage is no in any way dependent for existence on religion. It is first and last a decision made by two people to commit to each other.  That swearing to that commitment, that CONTRACT, might be taken more seriously for some people if it involved God as the implied enforcer of that contract is no reason to amend modern law to oblige the bigoted and narrow minded.  Frankly, given the high divorce rates in the so-called Bible Belt, it should be pretty obvious that God is NOT a successful guarantor of marriage, but the opposite, but neither should we interfere with the religious choice of those who still want a religious ceremony of marriage to be happy.

Marriage, whatever kind of legal marriage between two people -- just LEAVE IT ALONE.