Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Last Call For Sour Virginia

The Virginia gubernatorial race is effectively tied and has been for two months now according to Five Thirty Eight's averages. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's lead has gone from six points to two since August and in October alone Republican Glenn "I'm Not Trump, But..." Youngkin has been within three points for the whole month.

Steve M. sheds some light on what the heck is going on over there, and the answer is that the news on the Right is vastly different from that on the Left and the Left remains unaware, thus unable to fight back in Virginia.
We all know that right-wingers often won't acknowledge the same basic set of facts as the rest of us. But the right doesn't just look at major news stories and disagree on the facts -- it also has a separate set of top stories that are unknown to the rest of us but are, to the right, harbingers of the end of civilization as we know it. Right now, several such stories are arousing anger on the right. They are:
Right-wingers think the existence of a provocateur on January 6 exonerates all the arrested participants (even though the participants were adults with free will who, if the story is accurate, were encouraged but not forced to become a rioting mob). They think the experiments partly funded by money from the National Institutes of Health are among the many signs of Dr. Fauci's limitless depravity (even though when Snopes looked into an earlier version of the story in August, it could find no evidence that Fauci had any personal involvement in the approval of the experiments, and even though it could find no evidence of animal cruelty.) They think the Loudoun school bathroom policy is linked to the assault even though it's unclear whether the assailant was actually a "skirt-wearing male student." (No one claims the assailant was dressed in a "genderfluid" was for the second incident, which took place despite the fact that the alleged assailant was wearing an ankle monitor.)

These are huge stories on the right. If right-wing voters turn out in big numbers for Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia governor's race or donate large amounts of money to Trumpist, Fauci-averse candidates, these stories are among the reasons why. And yet if you get your news from the mainstream media, you probably aren't aware of them at all -- which means that virtually all the available information on the stories is slanted or distorted in a way that favors the right.

A long time ago ago, in the early years of the last Democratic president's time in office, there were voices in the mainstream media arguing that the MSM should pay more attention to what the right-wing press was talking about. Many people on the left were repulsed by that idea, saying that the mainstream press shouldn't make bad-faith right-leaning media voices their "assignment editors." Some of that criticism makes sense -- the mainstream press shouldn't cover stories from the right-wing fever swamp the way the right-wing media covers them -- but it's still good for the mainstream media to be an honest counterbalance on stories that are being successfully turned into propaganda reaching a large portion of the country. If right-wing media sources identify someone they believe was a January 6 provocateur working with the FBI to sabotage the MAGA movement and that's not the case, wouldn't it be best if the mainstream media acknowledged the story's existence and debunked the right's reporting? If right-wingers and animal lovers think Anthony Fauci is sadistically okaying cruel treatment of animals and he isn't, wouldn't it be beneficial for that to be disproved? 

The problem is, every time the news tries it, it only further "proves" that the disinformation is correct and hardens the position of the right. Tens of millions of people refusing vaccinations alone are proof of the flaws with that theory.

But yes, these are the stories getting massive play in Virginia right now, along with the usual election period "Caravan of illegals!" story.

The entire right-wing noise machine has been improved and perfected over the last 25 years. The actual news can't compete anymore, and Virginia being even moderately close is the result.

The Inhuman Resources Department

Amazon, who I remind you is the second-largest private employer in the US, has an HR system so broken that thousands of workers get screwed out of pay, time off, leave, and benefits every day and often have to navigate a maze so dense and purposefully confusing that they effectively have no recourse, all so Jeff Bezos can make a few more billion.

A year ago, Tara Jones, an Amazon warehouse worker in Oklahoma, cradled her newborn, glanced over her pay stub on her phone and noticed that she had been underpaid by a significant chunk: $90 out of $540.

The mistake kept repeating even after she reported the issue. Ms. Jones, who had taken accounting classes at community college, grew so exasperated that she wrote an email to Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder.

“I’m behind on bills, all because the pay team messed up,” she wrote weeks later. “I’m crying as I write this email.”

Unbeknown to Ms. Jones, her message to Mr. Bezos set off an internal investigation, and a discovery: Ms. Jones was far from alone. For at least a year and a half — including during periods of record profit — Amazon had been shortchanging new parents, patients dealing with medical crises and other vulnerable workers on leave, according to a confidential report on the findings. Some of the pay calculations at her facility had been wrong since it opened its doors over a year before. As many as 179 of the companies’ other warehouses had potentially been affected, too.

Amazon is still identifying and repaying workers to this day, according to Kelly Nantel, a company spokeswoman.

That error is only one strand in a longstanding knot of problems with Amazon’s system for handling paid and unpaid leaves, according to dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of internal documents obtained by The New York Times. Together, the records and interviews reveal that the issues have been more widespread — affecting the company’s blue-collar and white-collar workers — and more harmful than previously known, amounting to what several company insiders described as one of its gravest human resources problems.

Workers across the country facing medical problems and other life crises have been fired when the attendance software mistakenly marked them as no-shows, according to former and current human resources staff members, some of whom would speak only anonymously for fear of retribution. Doctors’ notes vanished into black holes in Amazon’s databases. Employees struggled to even reach their case managers, wading through automated phone trees that routed their calls to overwhelmed back-office staff in Costa Rica, India and Las Vegas. And the whole leave system was run on a patchwork of programs that often didn’t speak to one another.

Some workers who were ready to return found that the system was too backed up to process them, resulting in weeks or months of lost income. Higher-paid corporate employees, who had to navigate the same systems, found that arranging a routine leave could turn into a morass.

In internal correspondence, company administrators warned of “inadequate service levels,” “deficient processes” and systems that are “prone to delay and error.”

The extent of the problem puts in stark relief how Amazon’s workers routinely took a back seat to customers during the company’s meteoric rise to retail dominance. Amazon built cutting-edge package processing facilities to cater to shoppers’ appetite for fast delivery, far outpacing competitors. But the business did not devote enough resources and attention to how it served employees, according to many longtime workers.

“A lot of times, because we’ve optimized for the customer experience, we’ve been focused on that,” Bethany Reyes, who was recently put in charge of fixing the leave system, said in an interview. She stressed that the company was working hard to rebalance those priorities.

The company’s treatment of its huge work force — now more than 1.3 million people and expanding rapidly — faces mounting scrutiny. Labor activists and some lawmakers say that the company does not adequately protect the safety of warehouse employees, and that it unfairly punishes internal critics. This year, workers in Alabama, upset about the company’s minute-by-minute monitoring of their productivity, organized a serious, though ultimately failed, unionization threat against the company.

In June, a Times investigation detailed how badly the leave process jammed during the pandemic, finding that it was one of many employment lapses during the company’s greatest moment of financial success. Since then, Amazon has emphasized a pledge to become “Earth’s best employer.” Andy Jassy, who replaced Mr. Bezos as chief executive in July, recently singled out the leave system as a place where it can demonstrate its commitment to improve. The process “didn’t work the way we wanted it to work,” he said at an event this month.

In response to the more recent findings on the troubles in its leave program, Amazon elaborated on its efforts to fix the system’s “pain points” and “pay issues,” as Ms. Reyes put it in the interview. She called the erroneous terminations “the most dire issue that you could have.” The company is hiring hundreds of employees, streamlining and connecting systems, clarifying its communications and training human resources staff members to be more empathetic.

But many issues persist, causing breakdowns that have proved devastating. This spring, a Tennessee warehouse worker abruptly stopped receiving disability payments, leaving his family struggling to pay for food, transportation or medical care.

“Not a word that there had ever been a problem,” said James Watts, 54, who worked at Amazon in Chattanooga for six years before repeated heart attacks and strokes forced him to go on disability leave. The sudden loss of his benefits caused a cascade of calamities: Because he was without pay for two weeks, his car was repossessed. To afford food and doctors’ bills, Mr. Watts and his wife sold their wedding rings.

“We’re losing everything,” he said.
And understand that despite staggering profits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, Amazon still says it's "working" on fixing these HR issues that are years and years old, having screwed over tens of thousands of its employees who have yet to get their owed back pay.

Odds are they never will see it, because Amazon can simply make the problem go away with the billions it has...except for actually paying its warehouse workers.

The largest company on earth can't fix its HR systems.

The Big Lie, Con't

Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth, as it has in Macomb County, Michigan.
The Macomb County Republican Party is on-board with former President Donald Trump’s assertions that 2020 presidential election was stolen from him as they released a statement saying his loss was “the culmination of a four-year coup.”

County GOP leaders last week endorsed two pro-Trump state candidates — Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state in the upcoming 2022 election. In announcing their selection, Republicans claimed Trump won the November 2020 election “by a wide margin.”

While taking a break from a weekly pro-Trump rally held near 23 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue in Shelby Township, county chairman Mark Forton stated his party’s reason for backing the pair.

“We endorsed them both because our president endorsed them,” the Chesterfield Township resident said. “That’s the reason we did it.”

Trump’s discredited allegations about a stolen election have been widely reported. His claims have been the subject of courtrooms, state governments and even Congress, which all affirmed the legitimacy of his defeat and the honesty of the process.

Yet the so-called “Big Lie” continues to divide the nation, with supporters lining behind candidates who take a stance for or against Trump’s assertions.

“We are determined to make the fraud of 2020 the issue of the election,” Forton said.

In a statement issued Oct. 21, the Macomb County GOP group referred to Trump as “our legally elected” leader.

Matthew DePerno, a Kalamazoo attorney, is the Macomb County Republican Party’s choice for state attorney general.TWITTER PHOTO

“The American people watched on election night and witnessed the culmination of a four year coup,” they said in the statement.

“President Trump has declared publicly that Michigan is the most corrupt state in the union,” the statement read. “After pushing for a computer audit for the last 10 months and witnessing numerous roadblocks by our own elected officials, we have discovered that he is right
Every one of these insurrectionists sddhould be removed from politics, but that who the Republican party is now, the Trump cult dedicated to the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
Everything they do now is "justified" by the "coup".
There's no limit to what they will try now. Arrest Democrats? Violence against them? Worse? Who knows? 

The Cold Civil War is going to turn hot faster than you think.


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