Chart of the Day: Uninsured Getting Covered

Here’s a Gallup poll Obamacare foes must get busy discounting (they could always dredge up the survey company’s famous miscall of the 1948 campaign) because it’s a clear sign the Affordable Care Act is doing the big thing it was supposed to do: Insure the Uninsured.

The percentage of Americans without health insurance has dropped to 15.9% so far in 2014, compared with 17.1% at this time last year.” — Gallup

Obamacare could get the credit, Gallup says. The sudden drop in the rolls of uninsured began showing up during the plan’s enrollment period, drawing nearly 10 million so far to sign up through it’s marketplace of insurance plans, or directly with companies. But it’s tough to know how many of those were previously uninsured. This Gallup survey is the best evidence that the uninsured are making their way into coverage plans.

Gallup says that at its current rate of decline, the number of uninsured Americans could soon fall to “the lowest quarterly level” since 2008 when the company began tracking this group.


Now It’s the Ukraine that’s Missing

Ukraine just fell off my Google News list of top stories, so I guess Russia swallowed it up too. Malaysia is still number one on the list of most-searched topics.

Now I’ll have to manually type in “Ukraine” to find the latest news about that. Damn these Putin land grabs, they can be a lot of trouble.

When I search “Ukraine” I still get 368 million hits on Google, so perhaps there’s hope for its sovereignty. But “Malaysia” gets much more, 619 million results, proving that something we don’t know – where the plane ended up – commands more attention than what we do know – that an almost defenseless nation is being choked into submission by a hairless tyrant.

Google News
Top Stories (8:30am ET)

  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Washington
  • HTC Corporation
  • Miami Heat
  • Pope Francis
  • Facebook
  • Osama bin Laden
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Novak Djokovic
  • General Motors

Durst on the New Cold War

Will Durst

Will Durst

By Will Durst
Now that the mumps, measles and polio are on the comeback trail as well, the Teens are starting to look like the 50s all over again. The future will be televised in black and white; comforting we early Baby Boomers who always remained skeptical of that whole multi-hued thing. And like the Twilight Zone was scarier in black and white, so was Nikita Khrushchev. As was Speedy, the Alka-Seltzer mascot.

The return of this Arctic Animus means all sorts of retro activities accompanying it; saber rattling. Nuclear standoffs. Propaganda, espionage. One inch wide ties. Poisoned tipped umbrellas and exploding cigars – right around the corner. And Hula Hoops, only now they come with an app.

This won’t be your father’s ideological confrontation however. … No, this is more like that boxing movie Hollywood recently released with Stallone and DeNiro. Two aging Mediocre Powers trying to rekindle a dubiously remembered time gone by in an age where you can watch Indonesian soap operas on your eyeglasses while walking over the street in an air conditioned skyway. … Read More

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco (“Comedy for people who read, or know someone who does”).

Senate Waterboards CIA

As underplayed stories go, this sandlot feud between the Senate and the CIA is a doozy. You’d think the mild-mannered Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who could face a chain saw without changing expressions, would gain more than a cycle or two of coverage for accusing the CIA of spying on her.

Aside from the fact that spying on people is the CIA’s job, when they start hacking Senate computers, as the California Democrat alleges, it ought to at least raise a hullaballoo about one of those thorny constitutional principles – like maybe the one about the branches of government keeping their hands off each other’s hard drives.

There are more than academic questions to tantalize the news media with this story. Way more. It’s about torture. This is about as close as Washington can get to settling into the couch with a plate of cheese fries for a slasher movie.

Peeved by the CIA’s interloping the Senate is on the verge of releasing what the agency wants to keep hidden: the gory details of the Bush Administration’s torturing. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein is sitting on more than 6,000 pages of stuff that could be Quentin Tarantino’s next script.

Both sides are whining to the Justice Department for an investigation. The CIA counters that Feinstein’s staff stole some of their documents. This week senators might vote to retaliate by releasing some of its report on past torture practices that Obama has outlawed.

Bush and Cheney bashers everywhere have a stake in this fight. Playing with this stuff would be like calling 1-800 for the greatest hits of those years. And torture supporters would get a chance to argue for all the good things that came from water boarding prisoners.

Apparently what the CIA really dislikes about the Senate report is that it understates the effectiveness of torture. In other words, they’re not embarrassed they did it, just that it might come out how little it accomplished.

Perhaps this story is just too retro for today’s news media. When Feinstein, who is actually a hawk in the war on terror, tossed this little bomb into the arena it didn’t go off.

Justin Bieber drooling on himself gets more coverage.

They Never Found Amelia Earhart

For all the wacko theories, some just shy of channeling Nostradamus, about the missing Malaysian airliner there’s always a chance it’s never found.

earhartUntil this story, I had not realized how much the searchers for Amelia Earhart are still trying. And just like the wild speculation about Flight 370, there’s no shortage of bizarre theories about her, including one that she was an American spy who returned under an assumed name and lived out her life in anonymity. Some think she and her co-pilot were stranded on a remote island that is still being searched for clues.

The expert consensus about Earhart isn’t so tantalizing – that she ran out of gas, crashed and sank. If that’s what happened in this case will we ever find the airliner?

Earhart disappeared on the opposite side of Australia from Flight 370, but in an equally vast and remote part of the Pacific Ocean. Off and on for nearly 80 years search teams with increasingly sophisticated technology have scoured every possible location. Promising artifacts are still turning up, but then widely dismissed.

A jumbo jet is obviously a larger object to spot than Earhart’s Lockheed Electra, which was under 40 feet long. But in the deep ocean it might still be a needle in a haystack. Malaysian officials have already said they don’t have the capabilities for such a task.

Titanic sank in 1912, found in 1985

Titanic sank in 1912, found in 1985

It’s tough to imagine that we can’t find a massive jet in this age of locating the nearest available parking spot with our cell phone. But if the Boeing 777 wreckage sank to the bottom of the Indian Ocean where search teams are now looking, it could easily be deeper than the Titanic’s resting place, which took seven decades to find.

Which means we might have to endure crazy theories about this mystery for a very long time.

Rejecting Passports? What a Wimpy Cold War This Is

It’s come down to this: House Speaker John Boehner is not allowed inside Russia. Nor are a slew of other U.S. officials. All in retaliation for President Obama’s so-called sanctions against Putin’s inner circle, barring them from entering the U.S.

I guess this means something in the world of diplomacy, retaliating against Russia’s theft of Crimea in this way. But it’s like telling a burglar he can never come back to your house.

In theory this hurts Putin because some of his rich buddies who do business in the West will put pressure on him to free up their passports. But it’s tough to imagine anyone putting the squeeze on this dude. As Robert Gates said, when he first looked in Putin’s eyes, “I saw a stone cold killer.”

If this is all there is to the new Cold War it won’t make very good television. We need more intrigue, the good old days of spies trained to live among us and undermine our values, like on the FX cable hit, “The Americans.” The writers of “Dr. Strangelove” couldn’t do much with this silliness. Telling some Russian mafia thug he can’t go to Times Square pales in comparison to Major Kong riding a missile.

And yes, this post is nothing but an excuse to play my favorite Cold War clip: