Link Roundups & LinkDumps

5 Things: Masks | Jan. 6 Committee | Omicron | American Democracy | Filibuster

This weekend I rang in the New Year with no working toilets in my apartment, so I’m not feeling particularly hopeful about the year ahead.

Early Friday afternoon we had some clog-related problem that knocked out the upstairs toilets in at least two apartments, including ours. This was annoying but not the worst, as we have a second half-bathroom we can use.

Friday evening we discovered that our downstairs toilet probably has a rotten wax ring, and is leaking a bit of water from the base on flushing, which means we really shouldn’t be using that one, either (but we did, because I certainly wasn’t going to be hiking a quarter-mile in the wind, rain and snow every time I needed to tinkle this weekend).

I called for emergency maintenance but that number didn’t work, which left us absolutely no way to contact anyone to have anything fixed. Awesome. Supposedly at least one toilet should be working correctly today, which will definitely improve the year by a significant margin.

Anyway, here’s some news.

😷 TPM: COVID Notes #8 (Special Masks Edition)

If you’re still wearing a cloth mask, you are not doing yourself any favors, particularly with Omicron rampaging across the US.

Cloth masks rely on everyone wearing a mask and wearing it properly, so if you’re in an area with no mask mandates, and you’re hip deep in fools who won’t wear masks and/or aren’t wearing them properly, you need to ditch those cloth masks and get yourself some N95s or the international equivalents (KN95s, etc.). You should at least get surgical masks and double mask with a cloth mask, if you can’t get N95s.

Early in the pandemic we said we wore a mask to protect everyone else, as the cloth masks are most effective at keeping your plume of disease-filled breath contained to you, or at least near you. So we all wore masks and kept back from each other. That’s not the case anymore. N95s, and to a somewhat lesser extent surgical masks, actually protect you from breathing COVID-contaminated air. You wear N95s to protect yourself. So if you’re in an area where idgits are not masking, you need to protect yourself. Get an N95.

Here in Oregon we have a mask mandate, and at least around my area folks have been pretty good about masking consistently and correctly, and that’s great. But again: Omicron is wildly more contagious than the previous variants of COVID-19 and it seems to linger in the air for longer than previous variants. So even here, where everyone is masking mostly consistently and correctly, we should be upgrading to double-masking with surgical masks, or getting N95s or the international equivalents.

Ditch the cloth masks and get yourselves better masks, folks.

⚖️ CNN: January 6 committee has ‘firsthand’ knowledge of Trump’s behavior during the riot from multiple sources

The Jan. 6 committee apparently has a bunch of text messages, memos, and witness testimony regarding Trump’s activities on January 6, 2021, while the insurrection was happening. The committee seems to think Trump was repeatedly encouraged and specifically asked to do something about the violence and invasions and so forth, and declined to do so, which they think is a “dereliction of duty.”

I’m not sure what all this will amount to legally, and I’m not finding a lot of information about it anywhere, either. Like, does this lead to criminals charges for anyone? Is there something the committee can do that will lead to Trump no longer being eligible for office? Does anyone go to jail over this? I dunno, and no one else reputable seems to have any guesses to offer, either. We’re firmly in “wait and see” mode, here.

🏫 Reuters: U.S. schools delay openings as Omicron pushes pandemic to record highs

Thousands of schools across the US are delaying re-opening after their winter breaks or going virtual since COVID-19 cases exploded over the holidays, thanks to Omicron.

I find all this deeply frustrating, and I’m not even a parent having to deal with it. We’ve been dealing with COVID for two years. We know how to deal with it: good masks, ventilation, distancing. N95s and distancing are easy, and we’ve had two goddamn years to get ventilation in schools and other public buildings up to safe standards. I mean, at a bare minimum, we should have gotten extra air purifiers running in classrooms by now.

It’s absolutely maddening that we aren’t handling this better.

🗳️ NPR: 6 in 10 Americans say U.S. democracy is in crisis as ‘The Big Lie’ takes root

“A new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that 64% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is ‘in crisis and at risk of failing.'” Hell yeah it is. Voting rights are under assault and Republicans at this point have basically publicly announced that they intend to cheat in and subvert every upcoming election in order to force more Republicans into office. They intend to commit voter fraud and take over, and once that happens, folks, American democracy is all. over.

Watching Democrats in office try and fail to handle this problem is crazy-making. I want to grab the nearest Democratic elected official and shake them until their teeth rattle while screaming “DO SOMETHING YOU ASSHOLE” into their face.

🏛️ TPM: Schumer Sets MLK Day Deadline To Consider Filibuster Changes, Ties Urgency To Jan 6 Anniversary

I think one of the most frustrating things here is that Democratic efforts to address these problems are being held hostage by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. And I keep thinking, y’know, if the Republicans were in this position, Mitch McConnell would have had these two by the scruff of the neck to march them out behind the Capitol Building for a quick viewing of the graves he’d already dug for them. Like, the GOP would not tolerate these shenanigans from their members.

I don’t know what there is to be done about these two. You gotta be careful because the Dems in the Senate got the majority by the skin of their teeth, and too much pressure might cause Manchin (or even Sinema, who knows) to jump ship and join the other side, and then we’d be really screwed. But I would like to see something happening, some kind of consequences for their power-mongering BS.

I would at least like to know that Schumer has added them to his “Screw These Guys Over As Hard As Humanly Possible The Hot Second I Get The Chance” list. Hell, I’d be happy just knowing he has a list like that.