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.


Long Ago and Very Fresh

Spring 1971 found me a senior in college.  North and South Vietnam, body counts (American and North Vietnamese), Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Guam and SEATO nations were prime front page and six pm news content.  Earth Day was about to arrive amidst the student protests that were world-wide.  And, Tricky Dick was the most popular president, if you voted in 1968.

Blue Bronc

Blue Bronc

Popular television shows in the dorm were the Tonight Show, Laugh In and Columbo, part of the NBC Mystery Movie.  McMillian and Wife and McCloud alternated with the rumpled overcoat for the popular series.  We laughed a lot at how the television networks tried to portray students and student hangers-on and drugs.  Clothes were exploding in color and patterns.  The “hippie” movement was continuing on, but also changing as the first hippies were growing up.  Marijuana was very popular as were other drugs by those considered ‘middle-class.

Gasoline was $0.36.9 per gallon, less during gas wars.  There was a lot of oil flowing from the Middle East. VW advertised the 1971 Beetle having a 60 horse power engine and flow through ventilation, both desired by the Beetle driving enthusiasts of the day.  However, big Detroit Iron was going strong, powerful European imports were doing very well, and cars from Japan were showing good sales, leaving VW with declining sales.

The “peace talks” to end the Vietnam conflict were on going.  The draft lottery was continuing to fuel alcoholic binges by those with low numbers.  The man who would be retiring in 2011 as the last draftee of Vietnam, not the last draftee shipped to VN, to retire was about one year from his induction (in 1972).  The Vietnam War was extended into Laos with the Battle of Ban Dong.  I was still a few months from marriage and seventeen months until my own induction into the military.

draft-lotteryWhile watching the streaming videos of television programs from 1971 and listening to the top one hundred top hits of 1971, I am returned to the last few months living in the insulated province that is university.  However, I am also hit with the memories of the “draft parties”, which we held for those who received the infamous letter “The President of the United States Greetings: you are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States. . .”  That letter is ingrained in the brains of many men, and a few women, as it is the standard method of presenting your first order.

Today, I think of the troops sitting in Afghanistan and wondering how many of them could be shot and not have to be there for the “who will be the last man killed” lottery.  I think of those who will be providing the cover as they sit in the last truck or helicopter to leave.  Will they have a firefight on the way out?  Will the armored vehicle have to contend with IED’s?  Will the Taliban attempt to kill them?   And finally, will they be in the position I was in during the wind down and end of the Vietnam War – going back in?  The men in charge in the 1970’s, lately called the Bush neo-con’s, in the Pentagon, were putting together plans to go back into Vietnam.  I was going to be a part of that idiocy.

With the media focused on an aircraft that appears to have been hijacked by a crew member and then flown into oblivion rather than what is happening around the rest of the world, we are lacking for real news/information.  Checking in with television and newspapers around the world helps overcome the change of American news to American entertainment.  It helps if you can read other languages, but most have an English language edition.  And, IE and Firefox offer translation of webpages.  Those can be very funny though.  Give me my BBC Iplayer to catch up on the news.

Today, it is raining and I am watching a lot of video while thinking back forty-three years to a time that was a lot more tense and strained than today.  The Soviet Union was a threat to the world, and Europe especially.  A time when we had hundreds of thousands of troops in country.  The war was still four years from ending.  I think of a promise I hope to see fulfilled: To remove our men and women from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor

  • Taliban Attack Election Panel Headquarters Before Afghan Voting
    (New York Times)
  • Hamid Karzai’s tangled legacy: inept failure or anti-Taliban hero?
    (The Guardian)
  • US Army boss: Afghan pullout talk may encourage Taliban

What’s in Your Google?

Nash 2.5

Nash 2.5

Top ten Google News Searches
by Registered Republicans

* Kenya
* Stand Your Ground
* Bengazzi(sic)
* Adult diapers
* Black Helicopters
* Gold Standard
* Viagra
* Concealed Carry
* Gay Marriage
* Hand Basket + Hell

Top Ten Google News Searches
by Registered Democrats

* Hillary Clinton
* Bill Clinton + Current Girlfriend
* Ukraine
* Fallout shelters
* Global Warming
* Middle Class + Decline
* Best Low-priced Colleges
* Teen Pregnancy
* Migraine
* Hand Basket + Hell

Add yours in Comments

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor

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:

Guilt-Free Waffle Fries Are Back!

This is a relief. This might be the last time I’ll have to turn to the AP style book for the correct capitalization of “Chick-fil-A.”

chickfilaCEO Dan Cathy, son of the founder of this $4.6 billion chicken sandwich empire, is getting out of the gay bashing business after once condemning same-sex marriage and setting off a boycott frenzy that made his company more famous for his social views than for its yummy sandwiches and unique waffle fries (U.S. Patent No. 4937084).

It’s no more culture war collateral damage for him.

“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make,” Cathy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

To prove his newfound neutrality, Cathy didn’t bite when asked about the recent Arizona debate over a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay people.

“I think that’s a political debate that’s going to rage on,” he said. “And the wiser thing for us to do is to stay focused on customer service.”

Indeed, Mr. Cathy. Stay in the kitchen where you belong. Waffle fries for all!