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August 2021

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

President Biden has been taking a ton of flack recently for the way the evacuation from Afghanistan has been going. While the planning for the removal of all American personnel and Afghanis who aided the American military, NGOs and press appears to have been problematic, it should be remembered that the Trump administration boxed in Biden with it’s initial agreement to have all U.S. troops out by Christmas 2020. This was contingent on the Taliban’s promise to stop fighting and negotiate an end to the war and shared governing.

Trump and Biden both agreed that it was time for American forces to leave Afghanistan after twenty years and for the Afghan troops to defend their country from the Taliban on their own. They had been well armed and trained by the Americans but aside from the commando units have shown no determination to fight. In fact, they have taken off their uniforms and surrendered all theirs arms and equipment to the Taliban, afraid to resist the Taliban’s advances. This occurred in city after city adding even more urgency for America to evacuate all personnel. It also was a reminder of the foolhardiness of spending twenty years, several thousand American lives, and trillions of dollars supporting a corrupt Afghan regime that had little support from its population. Even President Ghani ran away instead of trying to rally the Afghan people and military against the Taliban.

With Kabul and the entire country now controlled by the Taliban, the United States has had no option other than to withdraw from the country. Much of the chaos surrounding the evacuation through Kabul airport has been because the Taliban has not kept their promises of allowing all foreigners and Afghanis who wanted to leave, leave. They have prevented their own citizens and foreign personnel from getting to the airport, the only open exit from the country. People outside of Kabul have had difficulty getting to the city because of all the checkpoints and roadblocks on the highways. People in the city have had problems reaching the airport, being turned back by the Taliban at the checkpoints they have established within the city. These actions were contrary to the promises they made with the Trump negotiators and that great statesman Mike Pompeo.

Thus Joe Biden and the American military have been caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they send troops into Kabul and the countryside to locate and evacuate any Americans, foreigners and Afghans who aided us and want to leave, and risk likely casualties to our troops? Or do we just evacuate those who are able to get through to the airport and leave the others behind? Either path is a losing proposition left by Trump for his successor. Why didn’t Trump try to end the twenty years war himself and evacuate all the personnel who needed to get out?

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Who Pays for Those Unvaccinated

Who Pays For Those Unvaccinated                                                                                                                                                                                        Robert A. Levine

We do. The entire population of the United States pays the price for those who are unvaccinated. The payment occurs in several ways. Those who are unvaccinated and become infected with Covid 19 can be hosts in which the virus can mutate, producing more variants which can be more deadly and more contagious. This is what happened with the delta variant which fortunately appears to be blocked by vaccinations. Thus those who are vaccinated appear unlikely to catch the disease and transmit it to others, though it still may be carried in the nasal passages by some. Unvaccinated individuals besides getting sick can also spread Covid 19 to those who are immune compromised and are impaired or unable to make antibodies to fight the disease. And in the future, it is possible that a mutant variant may override vaccination protection.

We also pay financially for those who are unvaccinated, catch Covid 19 and have to be hospitalized. Whether they are in the ICU or on the wards, their hospitalizations can be extremely costly, hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. If they have Medicare or Medicaid, the government pays the hospital bills for these patients with taxpayer dollars, yours and mine. If they have Medicare and supplementary insurance, the latter kicks in to pay some portion of the bills. If the patients have private health insurance, either paid for privately, or through their employer, the insurance will pay most of the bill aside from the co-pays and deductibles which may be quite expensive. This means that to remain financially solvent, Medicare and insurance companies may have to raise their prices in the future to cover the costs of Covid in those who are unvaccinated.

And many hospitals will lose money and possibly need federal support if their Covid patients are not covered by any insurance. Hospitals have also lost money by stopping elective procedures and surgery during the Covid pandemic when everything was focused on caring for Covid.

Since large swaths of the nation remain unvaccinated and that is their right, the rest of Americans should not have to bear the cost for them when they are sick and see a physician or are hospitalized. Perhaps legislation is needed, but it would certainly make sense for Medicare and private insurance companies not to pay for Covid or Covid related expenses in those who refuse to be vaccinated. They are certainly free to remain unvaccinated, but why should taxpayers have to foot their hospital bills and why should insurance bills increase for those who have taken proper precautions and been vaccinated. 

Science has shown that vaccination can prevent serious Covid 19 infections in about 95 percent of recipients. Why should those who disregard science for one or another reason be given a free ride if they are stricken with Covid and have to be hospitalized?  Why should the government and insurance companies pay for their desire not to be vaccinated and protect themselves and those with whom they are in contact? State legislatures or the federal government should act on this issue soon and perhaps the possible financial burden will encourage more people to be vaccinated than did protecting their health and regard for those around them.                                                                                                                                                     Buy The Uninformed Voter on Barnes and Noble or Amazon

Tulsa 1921 Revisited

Tulsa 1921 Revisited

            Robert A. Levine

During the Jim Crow era in the United States, stretching from the end of Reconstruction through World War II, lynchings were common in the South, analysts believing they averaged about three per week. However, there were also a number of massacres of multiple Blacks by whites occurring for various reasons. Envy of Black entrepreneurs and shopkeepers by poor whites was one of the driving forces as they did not want to see Blacks who were wealthier and more successful than they were. One of the most appalling of these racial massacres took place in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma over a century ago during about an eighteen hour period on May 31 and June 1, 1921. The Greenwood area of Tulsa with about 10,000 residents had been known as the Black Wall Street because of the large number of successful businesses and affluent men and women, some of whom lived in beautiful homes. Tulsa was a thriving city of about 100,000 people that was greatly segregated and had high crime rates. The oil boom flooded the city with money and many Southerners migrated there for jobs.

Prior to the vehement white action against Greenwood, there was a story circulating that a Black teenager had sexually assaulted a white female elevator operator and had been arrested by the police. When a white mob assembled around the courthouse and demanded that the sheriff hand over the supposed perpetrator to them, the sheriff refused, barricading the building and angering the mob. Seventy-five armed Black men gathered near the courthouse and asked the sheriff to let them aid him in protecting the teenager, but he turned them down. At the same time, the white mob at the courthouse grew to about 1500 men, many of them also armed. Some shots were fired and in the ensuing chaos, the Black men withdrew to Greenwood. More white Tulsans arrived at the scene and some of them were deputized by city officials and given weapons. Groups of these white men engaged in many violent acts against peaceful Blacks, including murder.

False rumors then spread that a major insurrection by armed Black Tulsans had started, with Black reinforcements from neighboring towns and cities. By morning, thousands of white men with weapons surged into the Greenwood section, looting and torching homes and businesses over an area of thirty-five city blocks. Firefighters who tried to put out some of the fires were threatened by the white mob and had to withdraw. Some days later, the Red Cross estimated that over 1200 homes were burned, with an additional 215 looted. In addition, two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels and numerous businesses owned by Blacks were destroyed by arson. Though the official count noted 36 deaths, historians have put the death toll at over 300, the vast majority being Black, and over 8,000 were made homeless. The Tulsa massacre was believed to have been one of the worst riots in American history, though it was virtually unknown until recent years.

Officials in Tulsa and Oklahoma downplayed the event right from the beginning, hoping to keep the stigma of the massacre from interfering with the city’s economic growth. The cover-up included removing the newspaper archives in Tulsa with reports about the riot, and removing the police and National Guard reports relating to the massacre. There was little about it in the history books and nothing about it was taught in the schools. From the 70s on, however, more information about the massacre was obtained by scholars and historians and in 1997, a state government commission was formed to investigate the massacre to present a reliable depiction of what had happened. Of interest, the Black teenager was released from jail without a trial when the white elevator girl denied that he had sexually assaulted her.

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