Thursday, December 30, 2021

Omicron's prevalence turns out to be greatly exaggerated


Omicron, the newest COVID variant is sweeping across the plain. As Steve and I have pointed out in recent weeks, the evidence is mounting that Omicron is vastly more transmissible than the previous variants but with symptoms that are much milder. Experts believe that Omicron will become the dominant strain, but the CDC recently sharply downgraded its estimates of the progress that the variant has made.

Originally, the CDC had estimated that Omicron accounted for 73.2 percent of cases nationwide on December 18. That figure has now been revised down to 22.5 percent, an adjustment of more than 50 points and one that is far outside the normal 95 percent confidence of the agency’s figures and projections.

This doesn’t mean that Omicron isn’t coming, but it seems to be coming at a slower rate than was initially assumed. The newest weekly estimate for the week of December 25 was that Omicron made up 58.6 percent of new infections.

CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed explained to Politico that the correction was due to additional information, saying, “We had more data come in from that timeframe and there was a reduced proportion of Omicron.”

In the past, the US has not done as many tests to determine the different strains of the virus that are floating around the country. Typical COVID tests don’t determine the strain of the infection, special genomic sequencing tests are required to differentiate between Delta and Omicron.

The massive difference between the presumed level of Omicron and reality is important because if there is not as much Omicron as originally assumed then that means that there is a lot of Delta still around. Delta is not as infectious as Omicron, but it is more dangerous, especially to the unvaccinated. This presents a serious problem because many people may be forgoing mitigations under the assumption that Omicron does not present a threat.

Previous infection doesn’t seem to protect against Omicron. The same mutations that diminish the effectiveness of vaccines also work to confound the body’s defenses from previous infections. The first confirmed US death from Omicron was an unvaccinated Texas man who had survived a previous bout with COVID. By the way, it’s also possible to be infected by both strains of the virus at the same time.

If there is still a lot of Delta out there then we would expect to see hospitalizations and deaths start to rise following the rise in cases. As the chart below shows, that is exactly what we see (click the tweet for the full chart since the end is cut off in the Substack view).

This also explains why some hospitals around the country have experienced surges in cases that have overwhelmed their staffs and led to shortages of available beds and care. There is a direct link between low vaccination rates and COVID hospitalizations that put pressure on the healthcare system.

There is good news, however. One bit of good news is that if Omicron is tempering the current COVID surge then we can expect the overall rate of hospitalizations and deaths to fall below that of previous waves.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be a lot of hospitalizations, however, because a lower rate paired with Omicron’s increased transmissibility can still wreak havoc. The basic math here is like considering two different sizes of pizza. A slice of a very large pizza that is cut into a dozen pieces could still be as large or larger than a slice of a small pizza cut into only four slices.

More good news is that vaccinations still work and they work on multiple levels. Especially with a booster, the vaccines do offer some protection against infection by both Delta and Omicron. The best-case scenario is that a vaccinated individual will not get sick at all. So far, there is no conclusive data on exactly how effective vaccines are against an Omicron infection, and the cocktail of different vaccine combinations is going to make such calculations difficult, but we can see a lower rate of infection in statistics.

The second line of protection offered by vaccines is that they guard against a serious illness in the event of a breakthrough infection. In the majority of cases, it is people who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated who end up in the hospital or the morgue. As the charts below from the Georgia Department of Health show, the unvaccinated are about three times as likely to be infected and four times as likely to die of COVID-19. The results are very similar all over the world. (I’m going to predict that the death rate will climb over the next few weeks based on the near-vertical surge in cases since the end of November.)

I do believe that as more people are vaccinated and the virus mutates the raw numbers of vaccinated victims of COVID will eventually exceed those of the unvaccinated. This has already been noted in some smaller population samples. The rate of infections will continue to be higher for the unvaccinated, however. Again, it’s a question of the size of the pie and how many slices.

The pandemic is not over. Omicron is not harmless, although it doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as previous variants. As has been since the beginning of the pandemic, the key to staying safe is to exercise sensible precautions. That mainly includes getting vaccinated and washing your hands a lot, but it might mean wearing a mask in certain high-density settings as well.

Y’all be careful out there.


The CDC has updated its guidelines for COVID isolation and quarantine based on new science and the changing situation with the variants. Per the new guidelines,

People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.

Keep in mind that “asymptomatic” means no symptoms, not mild symptoms. So if you have COVID symptoms and not just exposure or a positive test then the new guidelines do not apply.

This is a good change that the CDC says is “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

Finally, I’ve used the term “smoking gun” several times to describe the mountains of emerging evidence that the Trump campaign was trying to steal the 2020 election. I hate to overuse the term, but what else can you do when Donald Trump’s trade advisor details how the plot was supposed to work in a public conversation?

Peter Navarro detailed the plot in his memoir and then went into further detail in an interview with the Daily Beast. Navarro also implicated the usual suspects like Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and of course, Donald Trump for their cooperation with the plan that they dubbed “The Green Bay Sweep.”

To be fair, Navarro says the riot was unplanned and actually confounded their plan to pressure Vice President Pence to block certification of the Electoral College votes. They didn’t want violence, they only wanted to steal the election.

Navarro’s incriminating admissions might come back to haunt him. It’s difficult to plead the Fifth when you’ve already told your story in a book and in the press. The situation reminds me of Ron White’s story about getting thrown out of a bar in which he laments, “I had the right to remain silent. But I didn’t have the ability.”

From the Racket

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The best and worst of 2021

Lately, it seems like each year follows the conventional wisdom about the weather in Florida. If you don’t like the weather in the Sunshine State, just wait and minute and it will change. Or so the oldtimers say.

In recent memory, it seems to be the same way with each successive year. If you don’t like what is happening at the time, just wait - and brace yourself - because it could always get worse and probably will. Have we hit rock bottom with 2021, a true stinker of a year? Who can say?

Photo credit:

When pressed to think about the worst of 2021, the continuing pandemic is the most obvious choice. Actually, it’s maybe not that obvious to a lot of us because a great many of us have been ignoring it for a while. Not long after I was vaccinated I put aside my masks and have only used them when requested for most of the past nine months or so.

In recent weeks, as Omicron has surged, I‘ve seen more and more people masking again. I’ve started wearing them occasionally myself when I know I’m going to be in crowded areas. Even though I’ve had my booster and realize that Omicron seems a lot milder than previous variants, I’d rather not deal with the hassle of getting sick and having to isolate (again) and rearrange my work schedule (again). I definitely don’t want to be responsible for spreading the virus to someone who might be more vulnerable.

Even though the pandemic seems to be winding down (thanks in part to vaccines and in part to Omicron), the Delta surge over the summer and fall shattered notions of a quick end to the pandemic. Vaccine resistance from a large minority also contributed to the continued spread of the virus and the rising death toll. As I write this, the global death toll stands at 5.4 million worldwide and 819,000 in the US.

The pandemic also ranks high on the list of the worst of 2021 because it contributed to so many other problems. The slow economic recovery, rising inflation, political discontent, rising crime rates, and a general malaise (to use a word that Jimmy Carter did not) can all be traced at least in part to the lingering pandemic.

Running a close second to the pandemic on my “worst of” list is the insurrection of January 6. The attack on the Capitol is not placed in its proper significance by a large number of Americans who want to minimize it and sweep it under the rug.

The US Capitol has been attacked on several occasions, including bombings in 1915, 1971, and 1983, but it has not been occupied by a hostile force since 1812. The Trumpist attack on the Capitol stands starkly alone in American history as a moment in which Americans attacked the seat of their own government. Not even Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army was able to accomplish what the Trumpist mob did in overwhelming the Capitol’s defenses and ransacking Congress.

What makes this all even worse is that the rioters thought themselves to be acting in defense of the Constitution when their political puppetmasters were really using them in an attempt to subvert the constitutional process. Many rioters were deluded by claims of stolen elections, but that doesn’t make their actions any less criminal as many have since realized. Hundreds of insurrectionists will be ringing in the new year in jail.

The third item on my list is also obvious even if it is almost forgotten now. The loss of Afghanistan was the worst moment of US foreign policy since… I don’t know, the fall of Vietnam? The loss of China in the Truman Administration? Anyway, it was bad. Very bad.

As I wrote at the time, we lost Afghanistan because both parties decided to stop fighting and lose the war. Donald Trump negotiated the pullout and started the withdrawal, but it’s fair to blame Joe Biden because he continued the same policy and followed through on it. The buck stops in the Oval Office.

What isn’t fair is to say that it would have been very different if Donald Trump had still been behind the Resolute Desk. Not only was Trump the architect of the withdrawal, but he also had a more aggressive timetable to leave.

And new information supports the notion that the withdrawal would have been just as disastrous under Trump. America and the world were surprised at the rapid collapse of the Afghan government, but a Wall Street Journal report from November detailed how Taliban moles had infiltrated all levels of the government. When the time came, Afghan cities weren’t attacked by invading armies from outside, they were seized from within. One harsh truth here is that it seems unlikely that the US would have prevailed even if we had elected to stay given how completely the Afghan government was riddled with Taliban spies.

Afghanistan was a disaster for Joe Biden, but that doesn’t make it a triumph for Republicans. No one came out of this looking good. No one, that is except the courageous Americans on the ground in Kabul and the dedicated US Air Force crews who rescued more than 124,000 people in the Afghan airlift.

It’s a little harder to come up with three good things about 2021. At least it’s difficult to list three things that aren’t personal because my life was pretty good in 2021 despite the national and global upheaval. My family has been healthy and happy. We’ve been blessed where so many others have had heartaches of many varieties. I’m deeply grateful for that.

Hands down, the best thing about 2021 was the widespread availability of the COVID vaccines. Vaccinations allowed us to start getting back to normal safely. A wealth of data is now available to show that vaccines greatly reduce the probability of becoming infected with COVID-19 as well as the probability of having a severe case that results in hospitalization and/or death.

I don’t agree with Donald Trump very often, but I do wholeheartedly agree with his recent statements that the rapid development of the COVID vaccines was a historical triumph. Countless lives have been saved around the world by these miracles of modern medicine.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’m going to go back to the insurrection for a second positive from 2021. Yes, we had a coup attempt and an attack on the Constitution, but we also survived it. And we did so with minimal violence and loss of life.

As bad as the insurrection was, it could have morphed into more widespread violence or a civil war. It is a testament to the professionalism of the Capitol Police that they didn’t just open fire on the rioters swarming their defenses. January 6 could have been much, much worse.

Finally, as a lifelong Braves fan, I’m going to invoke the World Series victory of the Atlanta Braves for item number three. The Braves hadn’t won a World Series since 1995. Prior to that, it had been an even longer drought with the franchise’s only two other previous championships dating back to 1914 in Boston and 1957 in Milwaukee.

The Braves have been known for years as “America’s Team.” A championship for America’s Team is a good omen for the country, right? Hopefully so.

We only have a few more days of 2021 left. God willing, 2022 will break our slump and turn out to be an improvement over the past few years. Things have to start getting better at some point, don’t they?

I’m tempted to say “good riddance” to 2021, but I’m reminded of “Click,” one of Adam Sandler’s lesser-known films. In the movie, Sandler’s character uses a remote to fast-forward to the “good” parts of his life. As a result, he finds that he has missed a lot.

The message of the movie is one that is relevant to us all, namely that no matter what is going on in our lives at the time, it is important to make the most of our time and spend our lives wisely. It’s the only one you get.


A few other bests include:

“Free Guy” - My favorite movie of the year was this Ryan Reynolds internet comedy. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a good, clean, fun movie that the whole family can enjoy.

“Ghosts” - The new comedy on CBS about a couple who live in a house haunted by a bevy of ghosts from different historical eras is really funny. It’s also something that the family can enjoy.

Private spaceflight - 2021 ushered in not one but two companies that offer private rides to space. I can’t afford a ticket yet, but it’s a start.

Electric autos - It seems as though I’m seeing Teslas and other electric vehicles everywhere I look these days. I haven’t plugged in yet myself, but I can see the day when I’ll be driving an EV of my own. I don’t think it’s that far off.

Passings: We lost a lot of celebrities and notable personalities in 2021. Thankfully, after the COVID deaths of 2020, it seems that many of this year’s fatalities were due to more normal causes. Just yesterday, we lost both John Madden and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Here are a few of the other people who went west in 2021:

Bob Dole - former senator and presidential candidate, war hero

Peter Scolari - an actor featured on “Newhart,” my favorite show of all time

Norm MacDonald - comedian and SNL actor

Prince Philip - husband of Queen Elizabeth but somehow not the king

Rush Limbaugh - pioneering conservative broadcaster

Hank Aaron - legendary Atlanta Brave

I’m going to leave you with Dave Barry’s Year in Review. I haven’t had a chance to read this year’s installment, but Barry’s annual take on the year has been a staple of my new year for as long as I can remember. Even without reading it, I recommend it unreservedly and I hope you enjoy it. I’ll hopefully have read it by the time you read this.

From the Racket

The war on Christmas

 An annual Christmas tradition has become the idea that there is a war on Christmas. Certain dark and nefarious corners of the country don’t want us celebrating or even saying “Merry Christmas” we are told.

Some elected officials, such as Lauren Boebert and Thomas Massie, seem to be expecting a literal attack on Christmas. Their digital Christmas cards show their families loaded for bear and ready to repel all grinches. Maybe that’s not the best representation of the spirit of Christmas.

Well, rest assured that the Biden Administration is not part of any alleged war on Christmas. In fact, the president and First Lady, both Catholic Christians, hosted a musical salute to Christmas that made its way to the internet this week. Far from pushing Christmas into the shadows, the message here is “We need a little Christmas.”

Ironically, quite a few of my Republican friends seem outraged by the display of Christmas cheer at the White House. Most don’t give reasons, but some do offer that they don’t believe that nurses should be allowed to sing and dance while some hospitals are overwhelmed with pandemic patients. But everyone needs some time off and not every hospital in the country is understaffed.

Once upon a time, there was a real war on Christmas. It was once illegal to celebrate Christmas in parts of the world, and believe it or not, it was Christian politicians who were responsible for the ban. The same Puritans who gave us Thanksgiving made Christmas illegal in Massachusetts for decades.

The backstory is that after the Puritans settled in New England, their brethren gained political power in England. Puritans gained control of parliament and overthrew Charles I in 1647 during the English Civil War. describes how parliament proclaimed December 25 that year to be a day of “fasting and humiliation” in repentance of sins. In 1659, the Puritan government of Massachusetts made it illegal to “be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way.” The crime was punishable by a five-shilling fine.

The Puritans objected to Christmas on several grounds. First, they noted that celebrations of Christmas were not biblical. That is, the Bible does not tell us to celebrate the birth of Christ. Second, they also did not like the fact that many Christmas celebrations involved drunken revelry and promiscuous sex. Think the class wild office party set in the 1600s. The Puritans likened to this celebratory behavior to pagan celebrations.

Add to that a Christmas version of trick-or-treating in which men would dress as women and go to the houses of wealthy people and demand food and drink. And not just any food and drink, but the good stuff. This tradition is hinted at in the carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” in which the carolers demand figgy pudding and say, “We won’t go until we get some.” If refused, the revelers would sometimes become violent or resort to vandalism.

The ban on Christmas was repealed in 1681, but Christmas remained unpopular in Massachusetts for many more decades. When the royal governor attended Christmas services in Boston in 1686, he was protected from protests by armed redcoats. Christmas did not become a public holiday in Massachusetts until 1856.

Like the people of colonial Massachusetts, we do need a little Christmas. We are badly in need of the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Jesus. We need the spirit of forgiveness and brotherly love that is supposed to come along with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

But we need to move beyond the baby in the manger. Like Ricky Bobby, we are too often stuck on the baby version of Jesus, who makes no demands on us. In contrast, the adult version of Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, and to give sacrificially to help the needy.

These things are not easy to do, but if we all followed Jesus’s advice, we would live in a better country and a better world. Let’s strive to follow his example in 2022 and beyond.


I’ll add that I don’t think that the phrase, “Happy Holidays,” is a sign of a war on Christmas. The fact is that a lot of people don’t celebrate Christmas, but that doesn’t mean they are godless heathens. Some celebrate Hanukkah, for instance. Often people say “Happy Holidays” when they don’t know if the person that they are talking to celebrates Christmas, not because they want to cancel Christmas.

“Happy Holidays” is a shortened version of “Happy Holy Days,” by the way. So even if someone says “holidays’ rather than Christmas, they are still acknowledging the religious origins of the celebration.

Personally, I don’t take offense at being told “Happy Holidays.” I usually say “Merry Christmas,” both as a general holiday blessing and as a response to “Happy Holidays,” but I have no problem saying, “Happy Hanukkah” if I’m talking to a Jewish person. Why? Because that’s what they celebrate. That’s what means something to them.

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone tell me “Happy Kwanzaa.” The vast majority of my black friends and acquaintances celebrate Christmas (although Kwanzaa is not a replacement for Christmas).

In the end, I’d say that accepting a greeting of “Happy Holidays” in the spirit that it is intended is a way of fulfilling Jesus’s commandment to love your neighbor. Don’t look for an offense where none is intended.

Finally, it has come to our attention that some of you have had problems getting your emails from the Racket News. We were not aware of this problem until a few days ago and hopefully, service has been restored.

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Merry/Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzadan from all of us here at the Racket News! May your holiday be blessed, happy, and safe!

From the Racket

The MAGA conundrum: Trump or anti-vax conspiracies

 I was looking forward to seeing an elderly couple at church yesterday, but they weren’t there. The pair are very nice people, but they are also strong Trump supporters and pandemic skeptics. When our city and church had a mask mandate, they wore masks that depicted Donald Trump astride a tank with a giant American flag flying in the background. I haven’t seen them wear a mask - not even a trumpy one - since the requirement was dropped in the summer of 2020.

Over the past few weeks, they’ve taken to arguing with me about vaccines. I try to keep politics out of church, but I don’t mind responding a couple of times before we agree to disagree.

The last time that I saw them was before Christmas when they said that they had just gotten over COVID after a three-week battle. I told them that I had gotten vaccinated and boosted, to which the wife responded, “I’m not putting anything in my body if I don’t know what it is.”

I wondered how they would have responded to Donald Trump’s announcement that he had gotten a booster shot. I mentioned last week that Donald Trump went public with the fact that, in addition to receiving the COVID vaccine last year, he has now received a booster despite the fact that he survived a bout with the Alpha strain of Coronavirus while he was president. Donald Trump apparently does not put his faith in natural immunity.

In an onstage interview with Bill O’Reilly on December 19, Trump acknowledged that he had gotten the booster jab. After a chorus of boos greeted the news, Trump defended his Administration’s work on the vaccines, saying, “Look, we did something that was historic. We saved tens of millions of lives worldwide — we, together, all of us, not me — we.”

“This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now,” he said. “Take credit for it.… It’s great. What we’ve done is historic,” Trump continued.

In a second appearance, in an online interview with Candace Owens on the Daily Wire, Trump responded to assertions by Owens that more people have died of COVID under the Biden Administration than the Trump Administration and that "more people took the vaccine this year" than when Trump was president.

Trump retorted, “Some people aren't taking it; the ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine, but it's still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you're protected.”

“Look; the results of the vaccine are very good,” Trump continued. “And if you do get [COVID-19 after vaccination], it's a very minor form. People aren't dying when they take the vaccine.”

Mr. Trump said that he doesn’t support vaccine mandates, but that he does think that the rapid development of the vaccines is a technological triumph.

“Forget about the mandates, people have to have their freedom, but at the same time, the vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind… I came up with a vaccine - with three vaccines,” Trump said. “All are very, very good; came up with three of them in less than nine months. It was supposed to take five to 12 years.”

I applaud the former president for (finally) coming forward to advocate for the vaccine that his Administration helped to develop. My chief complaint about Mr. Trump’s statement last week was that he should have been saying similar things consistently over the past year.

Trump’s pro-vaccine comments last week were not the first time that he has endorsed vaccines. On at least half a dozen occasions, the former president has said that he supports vaccines and told his followers to get their shots, but he has not been a strong voice in favor of vaccinations and his supporters remain one of the groups most resistant to vaccines. The elderly couple at my church is a good example, but I know many more in the same category. I know that not every Trump supporter is anti-vax, but I don’t know any anti-vaxxers who are not Trump supporters.

The question now is how these people are going to respond to Trump’s endorsement of the vaccines. Candace Owens, for one, is not getting on board the vaccine train. The right-wing talker responded to Trump’s claims in an internet rant, saying that the former president was too old to understand how to look things up on the internet and put too much faith in mainstream media reports about vaccine effectiveness.

Is this real life?

Quite a few other members of Trumpworld, from Alex Jones to Stop-the-Steal organizer Ali Alexander to pro-Trump cartoonist Ben Garrison to alleged QAnon founder and Arizona congressional Ron Watkins voiced their displeasure with Trump’s new outspokenness in defense of vaccines as well. Others, like MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and Lin Wood, are okay with vaccines are long as they aren’t mandated.

The entire affair sets up a problem of cognitive dissonance for Trump supporters. Do they trust the head of the MAGA movement or do they trust the voices who have spent the past six years telling them that Trump was great and could do no wrong? If the anti-vax, right-wing pundits are wrong about vaccines - and they are according to all available data - then maybe they are wrong about other things as well… like when they said Trump was great and could do no wrong.

When two voices that you trust completely suddenly give you opposite and conflicting information, which do you believe? The choice is especially stark when it can be a life-or-death decision.

Personally, I think that the anti-vax conspiracies are so ingrained into the MAGA psyche that most will kick Trump to the curb to hang onto their biases against the vaccines. There has simply been too much anti-vaccine propaganda from the right over the past two years for even Trump to overcome. There are a great many anti-vax or quasi anti-vax Republicans that are waiting in the wings to take up the MAGA mantle if Trump loses his followers. Ron DeSantis is the most obvious example.

Vaccines are not the only issue that could splinter Trump’s base. Immigration could do it as well. On several occasions including in the 2016 campaign and as president in 2018, Trump hinted that he could support a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants. His supporters would not follow Trump there and The Former Guy reversed himself on both occasions. A 2018 comment in which Trump said he would support restrictions on “assault rifles” was followed by a similar hasty retreat.

I don’t agree with Donald Trump about much and I find myself defending him even less. I do appreciate his spirited defense of vaccines, however. I’m happy to agree with him on this issue and I’ll even cheerfully credit his Administration’s role in vaccine development, but that doesn’t excuse his other problems and abuses of power.

Remember the elderly couple at my church? They credited their recovery from COVID to Ivermectin. Maybe it did. The evidence for Ivermectin is mixed at best, but the evidence for vaccines is incontrovertible. They may have survived due to Ivermectin, but my family is vaccinated and we had a 75 percent success rate for not catching COVID at all. My wife’s breakthrough infection last summer was substantially shorter than a three-week illness.

If we consider my extended family and friends, my wife’s breakthrough infection is the only one that I’ve encountered personally. None of my other real-world family or acquaintances have contracted COVID after getting vaccinated, but I know lots of unvaccinated people who have been ill and several who have died.

I’m sure that I’ll see more breakthroughs as Omicron spreads, but Donald Trump is right about the benefits of vaccination. It’s better not to get sick in the first place than to get sick and survive with Ivermectin. I hope that Trump’s base begins to see that.


The Tweet of the Day is from The Values Voter. Values Voter is a great follow, especially if you like statistics and figures. The tweet below refers to Jared Schmeck, a father from Oregon who spoke to President Biden on the phone on Christmas Eve as the president followed the NORAD Santa Tracker.

Biden told Schmeck and his family “Merry Christmas” and then Schmeck ended the call by saying, “Let’s go, Brandon.” The phrase, of course, is a code for “F- Joe Biden” and has been chanted at events ranging from sporting events to church services.

Schmeck uploaded a video of his “prank” call to YouTube and subsequently outed himself. He claims to have been threatened for his actions.

I categorically denounce any threats or retaliation against Mr. Schmeck, but at the same time, bad behavior begets bad behavior. If you’re on the phone with the president and basically tell him to F- off and then brag about it on the internet, expect some blowback.

As another Twitter user commented, play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for what you say, just that the consequences won’t be from the government.

The entire episode makes me think of Fat Albert’s rejoinder about school in the summer: No Class!

In case, y’all missed it, we realized last week that Substack apparently had an issue with the email editions of the Racket News. We apologize for any problems that you might have had getting your emails from Racket News. We were not aware of this problem until a few days ago and hopefully, service has been restored.

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From the Racket