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Is Mitt Romney For Same-Sex Marriage Equality Or Against It?

During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney made it clear that he is opposed to equality in marriage rights for heterosexuals and homosexuals. “I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” he said. Romney has made no statements to indicate a change of heart on the issue of marriage equality since.

However, as Romney moves toward a decision about whether he will run for President yet again in 2016, there is one indication that his hardline position on the issue may be softening. After he lost the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney rejoined the Board of Directors of Marriott, the big hotel company. With Romney on board, Marriott just made a big public move in support of marriage equality.

Joe My God takes note of a friend of the court brief filed jointly by 37 businesses – in support of a case being brought to the Eleventh Circuit Court, seeking the legal right for same-sex couples to marry in Florida.

In the amicus brief, the corporations state that, “State laws and constitutions denying marriage to gay and lesbian citizens are bad for our businesses,” and that, “Same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as opposite-sex couples. Married same-sex couples should receive the same benefits and responsibilities appurtenant to marriage as any other couple.”

Support for same-sex marriage rights now seems to be the corporate policy of Marriott. Given that Mitt Romney sits on the corporation’s Board of Directors, it looks like he is acknowledging, albeit passively, that marriage equality regardless of sexual preference is a good idea.

If Mitt Romney’s personal position on marriage equality has not changed, now he’s got to explain why he didn’t act to block Marriott’s support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Is it because support for same-sex marriage was a prudent business decision, even if it conflicts with his personal moral values? That’s an awkward position for Romney to put himself in, because it suggests that his attitude toward professional decisions is amoral – as would be his executive leadership from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, if he were elected President in 2016.

The very fact that Marriott has made this decision, and Mitt Romney hasn’t made a public comment against it, suggests three possibilities:

1. Mitt Romney is preparing to publicly reverse his position on same-sex marriage rights.
2. Mitt Romney has allowed his political persona to decay into an incoherent jumble.
3. Mitt Romney is not running for President in 2016.

My Membership In The Disciples Of The Temple Of Satan

temple of satan disciplesToday, I got the news that I have been accepted as a disciple in the Temple of Satan.

Do you know what that means?

Well, honestly, I don’t. I’m not sure if it means anything, necessarily.

What do you think that means?

666 kittens?

I welcome your thoughts.

Journalist To Be Executed For Blasphemy In Mauritania

In Mauritania, a journalist has been sentenced to death for the crime of blasphemy. The journalist, named Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, wrote an article that was critical of social inequality in Mauritania, and included a criticism of some of the decisions made by Mohammed, the central prophet of Islam, the dominant religion of Mauritania.

The judge in the case found that the defendant had “spoken lightly of the prophet”. The President of Mauritania has celebrated the verdict and death sentence, saying that Islam is “above freedom”. If the death sentence is carried out, Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed will be shot to death by a firing squad.

Jeb Bush Record of Dirty Leadership Revealed at Swisher Hygiene

Yesterday, I reported on the record of ineffective leadership that presidential candidate Jeb Bush has accumulated as Director at Rayonier, a natural resource depletion company based in Florida. Today, I’ll focus on the dirty management practices Jeb Bush was associated with at another one of his companies – Swisher Hygiene.

As at Rayonier, Jeb Bush held a position at the top at Swisher Hygiene, on the Board of Directors. From his place on high, Bush worked with his colleagues to squeeze the workers at the bottom of the company hierarchy, taking advantage of them to increase corporate profits.

Just as Jeb Bush led Rayonier to cut workers’ benefits, he presided over the implementation of a benefits package for Swisher Hygiene that was so paltry that angry employees quickly took to the Internet to warn other workers not to take a job at Swisher.

As President, George W. Bush worked hard to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. At Rayonier, Jeb Bush has pursued a similar approach, working to profit by reducing worker benefits. Jeb Bush applied this same strategy of concentrating elite wealth by providing inadequate benefits at Swisher Hygiene.

During Jeb Bush’s tenure at the company, one Swisher Hygiene worker complained of “Terrible benefits,” and “complete lack of communication from management of all levels”. Another protested, “Your benefits are so poor that you might as well not have any.” Bush didn’t listen.

Jeb Bush appears never to have taken the effort to get to know the practical, on-the-ground business at Swisher Hygiene. The result was a vague, drifting sense of confusion where a coherent corporate culture ought to have been. “This company appears to have no direction,” wrote one worker. “This is a sinking ship,” writes another. “A giant ship at sea with no rudder,” was the description of Swisher Hygiene given by another employee – while Jeb Bush was on the bridge.

Who has been responsible for the awful business environment at Swisher Hygiene? Once upon a time, a President of the United States coined the phrase, “The buck stops here”. In the corporate world, leaders at the top like Jeb Bush often claim credit for business successes, but run away from taking responsibility for failure. A protesting Swisher worker during the tenure of Jeb Bush called him on his bluff, however, writing that under Bush, “The corporate environment comes right from the top, and it is one of fear and intimidation.”

Top executives at Swisher Hygiene in Charlotte, North Carolina, over whom Jeb Bush had most direct responsibility during his time on the Board of Directors, have been described as leading the way in a culture of incompetence. “Management in Charlotte is totally incompetent, and clueless,” says one former manager at the company. “The clueless clowns in Charlotte, who are responsible for producing this garbage in, garbage out, situation cannot be reasoned with. It all comes back to trying to work for people whose only qualification to be in their job is someone knew them and liked them, and put them into a position of authority. Many of them are related to each other.”

Leaders who have obtained their positions because of powerful family connections… who does that remind you of?

jeb bush defendant swisher hygiene lawsuit

The business consequences of nepotism are grave. In the case of Swisher Hygiene, the company was plagued with scandal during Jeb Bush’s time in leadership. Though Bush had the legal responsibility to ensure proper financial management of the company, and personally added his signature to statements that the company’s finances were well accounted for, Swisher Hygiene was found to have created incomplete, unreliable, and even downright deceptive financial records and accounting methods.

Jeb Bush was himself individually named as plaintiff in a shareholder lawsuit after the company’s stock lost most of its value under Bush’s leadership (you’ll find him listed in the lawsuit as “John Ellis Bush”). The lawsuit described how Jeb Bush had “access to key adverse but undisclosed information about the Company’s business, operations, operational trends, financial statements, markets and present and future business,” but provided “false, misleading and incomplete information conveyed in the Company’s public filings, press releases, and other publications”. In other words, Jeb Bush worked with other members of the Board of Directors of Swisher Hygiene to deceive investors into buying stock in the company and retaining their stock, even though they knew that Swisher Hygiene’s financial condition was deeply flawed, as a result of their inept leadership. Furthermore, Bush did so “in violation of the federal securities laws”, and “directly benefited from the wrongdoing”.

Think about what Jeb Bush’s brother, George W., did when he was President. George W. Bush lied in order to convince the American people to support an unnecessary, poorly planned, and costly war.

In the case of Clarence Arsenault v. Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush lied to Swisher Hygiene investors in order to convince people to invest their savings in a stock that was worth only a fraction of the cost at which it was offered.

The two lies of the two Bushes differ only in scale. Jeb Bush has demonstrated, through his failed business leadership at Swisher Hygiene, that he has the same character flaws that led to the loss of thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars under his brother’s presidency.

Furthermore, the nature of Jeb Bush’s leadership at Swisher Hygiene shows him to be hostile to the interests of working Americans. Jeb Bush presided over the creation of an abusive corporate culture at Swisher Hygiene, resulting in reduced benefits for workers on the one hand and the protection of incompetent management on the other.

Take a moment to imagine what this management approach would look like when applied to the federal government of the United States of America, and you get a clear idea of why Jeb Bush must not become the next President of the United States.

A Plague of Frogs?

This morning, I found myself reading the Bible book of Exodus, which features six chapters describing ten plagues brought down upon the Egyptians by the god Yahweh in order to punish the Pharaoh for hemming in Yahweh’s favored ethnic group.

Almost all of the ten plagues of Egypt struck an eerie chord with me: bloody rivers, lice, flies, sick livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and dead babies inflict real, nasty damage. This Yahweh is no softy.

But then there are frogs. The second plague is… frogs. Frogs don’t kill people. They don’t kill livestock. They don’t eat crops. Frogs eat mosquitoes and flies and snakes and other nasty things that harass people and food. Sure, the god Yahweh sent frogs into people’s ovens, but people ate frogs in those days, so that would be more of a handy volunteer job for the household servants than a plague.

What’s the big deal with frogs? Why not a plague of typhus, or lava, or papyrus cuts?

As Deniers Cry “Global Cooling,” the Globe Warms in Autumn 2014

At the WyoSkeptic blog, a new post has been placed in the “global cooling” category, a category that contains dozens of entries. WyoSkeptic’s latest post “shows” that global warming cannot be happening because the town of Gillette, Wyoming shows little change from 1978-2014.

The difference between Gillette, Wyoming over the past 36 years and the worldwide network of temperature readings over land and sea for the past 134 years is the difference between Wyoskeptic’s data and the data gathered by NASA’s Goddard Institute.

Updated through November 2014, here is the record of November temperature change at the global level:

NASA's Goddard Institute Temperature Anomaly Readings for the Globe, November 2014

And updated through the end of November 2014, here is the record of Northern Hemisphere autumnal temperatures (September, October, and November) at the global level, changing from 1880-2014:

NASA Goddard Institute Temperature Anomaly Data reveal Record Warmth for the Autumn months of the northern hemisphere in 2014

That’s what global warming looks like. It undeniably exists — unless you think Gillette, Wyoming is the whole world.

Jeb Bush Work At Rayonier Shows Poor Management Skills

Jeb Bush is running for the 2016 Republican nomination to become President of the United States. He’s asking American voters to entrust him with the executive management of the entire US federal government.

Jeb Bush’s recent record in corporate management, however, shows him to be lacking in both skills and ethics. There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to Jeb Bush’s record of management missteps – so for today, let’s cover Bush’s recent involvement with just one company – Rayonier.

Rayonier is one of the largest private landowners in the United States. The company makes money by stripping the natural resources from forests, or selling them off to be developed as commercial property. Jeb Bush is on the Board of Directors of Rayonier.

Bush seeks to build the credibility of his presidential campaign by referring to his experience in the business world, but in the case of Rayonier, Jeb Bush’s experience in business management is deeply troubling.

One former employee at Rayonier explained that the company was difficult to work for because there were “too many unexplained changes in management”. Under Jeb Bush’s direction, management decisions at Rayonier are made from the top down, without input from employees. A current employee comments that the upper management is “reluctant to let go of lower level strategic planning or decision making”. Another reports that Rayonier’s leadership makes “hasty decisions in spite of employees closest to the issue.” According to this employee, Rayonier’s leaders, “often go for short wins without considering long term goals. This leads to communication gaps and poor decisions.”

Such accounts of the dysfunctional management culture at Rayonier paint a picture of Jeb Bush as a disconnected leader, unable to work effectively with concrete operations or to understand the perspective of rank and file workers. That’s a worrying leadership style, especially for a presidential candidate whose political career is already perceived as having been fueled by nepotism and economic privilege divorced from the lives of working Americans.

The treatment of employees at Rayonier under Jeb Bush’s leadership seems to be in line with the most cruel aspects of the right wing economic policies Bush has supported in his career as a politician. “Rayonier cares much more about production and productivity than it does about employees, says one worker. “Employees commonly work very long hours and over weekends and holidays. It is common for employees to be performing tasks and roles that would normally be handled by 2 or more individuals. Work/Life balance is non-existent. Not an enjoyable place to work.” The same employee also advises that Rayonier’s corporate culture is not accepting of worker feedback, and is downright hostile to whistleblowers. “Many employees fear retaliation,” the worker writes, calling Rayonier a “sweatshop”.

Complaints about poor benefits for workers at Rayonier are rampant. One report describes benefits that get worse year after year. Another describes “poor performance awards” and “lack of understanding when it comes to taking days off for family or medical related appointments”. This harsh approach of restricting benefits for full time employees fits all too nicely with Jeb Bush’s plans for cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

If his record at Rayonier is any indication of what Jeb Bush would do as President of the United States, forget about dealing with the problem of income disparities in the United States. We can expect the problems to get worse, given that “compensation is at the lower end for a company of their size,” at Rayonier under Jeb Bush.

The environmentalist group Altamaha Riverkeeper has filed a lawsuit against Rayonier, accusing the company of releasing millions of gallons of effluent onto the Altamaha River every day. “Despite a 2008 agreement with the state’s Environmental Protection Division, and readily available technology, Rayonier’s discharges continue to violate the state’s standards,” writes the Southern Environmental Law Center.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Rayonier, Jeb Bush refuses to acknowledge, much less apologize for, this massive pollution from his company’s mills. Bush also has not apologized, or even attempted to explain, his company’s involvement in greenwashing programs that set up fake “sustainable” initiatives in forestry that in fact perpetuate unsustainable practices.

If I worked at Rayonier, I wouldn’t support keeping Jeb Bush on the company’s Board of Directors. As a citizen of the United States of America, I won’t vote for Jeb Bush for President.

The Interview Hack – An Inside Job?

Here on Irregular Times, we often debunk the ridiculous conspiracy theories that political extremists concoct to justify their absurd ideologies.

Tonight, I have a conspiracy theory of my own to introduce. It comes after watching The Interview, a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

It’s a terrible movie. James Franco overacts beyond the point of winking satire and well into the realm of agonizing embarrassment for anyone who watches it. The screenwriters stooped to a pre-adolescent level of humor with an R-rated execution that wasn’t even remotely clever.

The movie was such an awful disaster that the only thing that could have possibly made it practical would be a gigantic PR stunt – the kind of stunt that would convince Americans that they would be lucky to see The Interview, and that in doing so, they would be taking a courageous stand against tyranny.

Over the last couple of weeks, Americans have heard about a hackers’ attack against SONY, the company releasing The Interview. The anonymous hackers were said to have gained access to embarrassing emails from SONY, and to threaten violence against anyone who would try to see the movie in theaters upon its Christmas Day release.

The hacking was rumored to have come from North Korea, supposedly upset because of the movie’s mocking of North Korea (though it mocks American culture perhaps even more often than it mocks North Korea). There was never any evidence released to the public showing that North Korea was behind the hack, but it seemed one likely possibility.

SONY shut down the movie’s release, saying it had been forced to do so by North Korea. There was a furious outcry, and before too long, Americans were demanding the right to see The Interview. Before long, SONY changed course and released the movie after all, and Americans flocked to see it, in theaters and online.

The Washington Post declared that, “The world should see it now, putting the sting of isolation on Kim Jong Un and his government.” Movie theaters sold “freedom fries” to go along with the film. The movie is set to make a killing.

I was one of those who went to see the movie. I went because I wanted to understand the material at the heart of the controversy. I wanted to grasp the cultural phenomenon that the movie had become.

What I saw was a piece of poorly crafted garbage. It was so crass and awkwardly immature that a 13 year-old would feel embarrassed to watch it. Most of the people I went to see the movie with stood up and walked out after the first 10 minutes. It was that bad.

What I saw wouldn’t “put the sting” on North Korea. Everybody in the world already knows what a crazy dictatorship North Korea is. What I saw was a flop of a movie that threatened to be “putting a sting” on SONY.

What seemed most plausible to me, as I watched James Franco clown his way through a terrible script, was that the SONY hack was an inside job. Somebody on the marketing team from SONY, it occurred to me, must have realized that The Interview was going to crash, and embarrass the SONY executives who had approved the film. So, someone within SONY did an inside hack, gathering enough mildly embarrassing material to make the hack look credible. Maybe they hired genuine independent hackers to do the job for them. The point is, they created the SONY hacks story as a PR gimmick, a way to transform The Interview from a flop into a cause, a movie that Americans would feel it was their patriotic duty to pay to see.

I admit I have no evidence at all to support this conspiracy theory. I don’t know that it is true in any sense. However, the idea that North Korea would really hack SONY and threaten film theater terrorism against this movie, when North Korea already gets huge amounts of bad press every day, doesn’t seem very plausible either, and I haven’t seen any evidence to support that theory, either.

I merely suggest that the people investigating the SONY hack, and the threats against The Interview, regard any suggestion with skepticism and consider alternative explanations. I have a feeling that there is more to the SONY / The Interview story than meets the eye.

New Blasphemy Encouraged By Burmese Buddhist Extremism

This month in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), three men have been thrown into jail and threatened with fines and a two-year prison sentence. Their crime: Blasphemy against Buddhism.

The owner and two managers of V Gastro Bar in The city of Yangon have been accused of creating an advertisement featuring an image of the Buddha’s head, with headphones on, surrounded by a psychedelic display of color. It’s a blasphemous image, say the Buddhists of Burma, and must not be allowed.

Myanmar’s Buddhists are also known for organizing riots against religious minorities and burning down their schools.

The idea behind Myanmar’s anti-blasphemy law is that, if freedom of speech about religion is squashed, religious people will never have to get their feelings hurt by seeing or hearing anything that contradicts their beliefs. That’s why, in response to the censorship, I’m reposting the image, which will be seen by many more eyes than it would have if only Buddhist extremists had held their righteous outrage in check.

Buddhist blasphemy

Does the Christian God Perform Miracles for Christians regarding Cancer?

On our webpage describing the cancer related “Matthew 4 Protocol” cancer cure scam by “naturopathic doctor” Mark Stengler, Rosemary Gibson leaves this comment:

“Oh my, these people. It is very clear to me what they are saying as far as Matt. 4. God IS our Healer. Fasting with prayer, (proper fasting) and TRUST in him is the message. REBUKE saten, out loud! Live on HIS Word, He will hear you. HE IS IN THE MIRACLE BUSINESS!”

If this were so, then we would see a reduction in cancer among the Christian faithful. But in a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, Andreas Hoff, Christine Tind Johannessen-Henry, Lone Ross, Niels Christian Hvidt and Christoffer Johansen find this is not so. Controlling for health-related lifestyles and behaviors, they find no difference in rates of cancer incidence between Christians and non-Christians. If Christians are praying to keep away cancer, it isn’t working.

Jim Webb Pursues Presidency With Anemic Communications

When Jim Webb announced that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he promised to wage a vigorous campaign. He said, in his announcement speech, “True leadership makes a difference. Results can be obtained, even in a paralyzed political environment, and in fact I believe we can un-paralyze the environment and re-establish a transparent, functioning governmental system in our country.”

Has Webb delivered on that promise of vigorous leadership? Not though social media. In the last dozen days, Jim Webb has issued just three messages on Twitter, including one retweet written by someone else.

There have been plenty of important issues during that time, and in regard to most of them, Jim Webb has had nothing at all to say.

Someone on the Jim Webb for President team might rationalize that now is the time for Jim Webb to be working behind the scenes, contacting donors so that he will have the money to effectively communicate with later. However, Webb has already made his big announcement and stepped out on the national stage, to have his actions viewed and judged by voters. Now is the time for him to put on a show and to share his vision – and if he’s creative and energetic, he doesn’t need a lot of money to do it. Jim Webb has tools like Twitter that would cost him nothing to use, but he is hardly even bothering to pick them up.