Perry Self-Destructs Once Again

Tonight’s debate was another bad night for Rick Perry–probably his worst to date.  All Perry had to do was to avoid any major gaffe’s and the big story would be Herman Cain claiming to be innocent because of all the thousands of women he didn’t molest. Instead the story will be Perry’s inability to remember three things, coming after a recent appearance where he appeared to be drunk.

Someone needs to perform a min-mental status exam on Perry at very least.

Perhaps the biggest question of the night is who destructed more, Rick Perry or Joe Paterno?

The Advantage Of Running Against Bat-Shit Crazy Opponents: Obama Leading All Republican Candidates In Ohio

The conventional wisdom is that Obama is doing poorly in the rust belt and that will have difficulty holding on to states he picked up in 2008 such as Ohio. Polls a year out are hardly conclusive, but a Public Policy Polling survey does show that Obama has large leads over his potential rivals in Ohio:

One person who should be feeling particularly good about last night’s election results in Ohio is Barack Obama. On our weekend poll, which got the final result of Issue 2 correct to within a point, Obama led all of his Republican opponents in the state by margins ranging from 9-17 points.  After a very tough year for Democrats in Ohio in 2010, things are looking up.

Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates.  What makes that particularly notable is that his approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.

Obama continues to suffer from poor approval ratings in Ohio with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. But voters don’t seem to consider any of his opponents to be viable alternatives. Cain has the best favorability of the bunch at a still poor 33/43 and it just gets worse from there- 28/48 for Romney, 31/51 for Gingrich, 24/47 for Bachmann, 20/50 for Paul, and a truly woeful 17/58 for Perry. This field of GOP contenders just doesn’t seem to have much appeal to swing state voters.

Besides calling into question the predictions that Obama will lose Ohio next year, this poll also shows that there is limited correlation between approval ratings and ability to win a state. With the Republican Party now under the control of extremists who have moved far to the right of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it is possible that Obama can win states despite mediocre approval ratings. It is also very likely that Obama’s approval will improve once he is seen in a head to head contest with a bat-shit crazy Republican.

No, Obama Did Not Develop Plan To Tax Christmas Trees

No, the story being circulated by the right wing today that Obama was planning to impose a fifteen cent tax on Christmas trees is  not true, similar to other claims related to their imaginary War on Christmas. Steve Benen explains:

It seemed like a simple little idea. The Christmas tree industry, which has been struggling in recent years, wanted to fund a promotional program, encouraging consumers to buy real, rather than artificial, trees over the holiday season. The idea was for Christmas trees to follow in the footsteps of milk, beef, and cotton, all of which benefited from successful promotional campaigns.

To pay for the effort, the industry launched the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, asking the Agriculture Department to approve a 15-cent fee, per tree, on domestic producers and importers. It was requested by the industry, to benefit the industry, and to be paid for by the industry.

The Agriculture Department solicited public feedback, and most supported the proposal. This week, officials gave the industry the green light to proceed.

And that’s when Republican hacks decided to intervene.

Some loons decided the Obama administration wants to impose a new “tax” on Christmas trees because the president “hates Christians.” National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Rick Dungey tried to explain this “has absolutely nothing to do with Obama,” and “it’s not a tax,” but it was too late — the right-wing message machine had already kicked into gear

This fee was to be paid by producers at their request and would not be charged to consumers. Rather than get bogged down in explaining that he was not imposing a tax on Christmas trees, the Obama administration has delayed this proposal. ABC News also had more on the intent behind this plan:

The National Christmas Tree Association says the fee would fund a program “designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers” and is “not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.” According to the Federal Registry, the proposed Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which would be funded by the new fee, would launch a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” and to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.”

Herman Cain Appears To Mistakenly Believe Medicare Is A State-Run Program

Time after time when hearing Republican proposals to fix problems I find reason to question whether the Republican has any knowledge of that program or issue under discussion.This was the case again during Herman Cain’s health policy speech last week when it sure looked like Cain does not realize that Medicare is a federal as opposed to a state-run program. (An alternative, and less likely, interpretation is that he thinks Medicare should be transferred to the states). Here is a partial transcript:

The way that I am going to help all of us convince the American public that we’ve got to restructure Medicare and not just change the benefits and retirement age is to paint a real clear picture of the disaster path that we’re on. That’s #1.

Secondly, back to one of my guiding principles, talk to the states, talk to the doctors and find out what can we do first to reduce the Medicare bureaucracy that’s imposed on doctors and health care providers and hospitals. I believe, based upon listening to doctors, that there’s a lot that can be done.

Much of the over-regulatory burden that’s imposed by Medicare is driven by the fact that the bureaucrats don’t trust states and hospitals. I do. I would rather error on the side of trusting the states and maybe five of them won’t get it right, but that the other 45 are going to get it right and we all will benefit.

The standard Republican line of reducing regulation has some truth to it, but it is also simplistic–especially as Republicans overestimate the regulatory cost of Democratic regulations as opposed to the comparable cost of Republican-passed regulations. Simplifying regulations would be helpful and save some money, but this would be trivial compared to the overall problems in health care. These savings would not make up for the increased costs due to an aging population and new, more expensive medical technology. Solving all problems in Medicare would not resolve the even more serious problem in the private insurance market, which Republicans refuse to address. Of course to even begin offering solutions, Cain needs to understand the basics of how Medicare is run–such as that it is a federal and not a state program.

Republican Ideas Repudiated In Tuesday’s Voting

Voters across the country rejected Republican views, hopefully foreshadowing the 2012 election results. This includes the defeat of an amendment on the Mississippi ballot to place the state in control of every woman’s uterus. If this measure couldn’t pass in Mississippi it is unlikely to pass anywhere, but I would love to see the Republicans try to nationalize this issue next year. The anti-union law in Ohio and the attempt to restrict voting in Maine were also defeated. A recall effort against a Republican state representative in Michigan was also successful, giving  hope that Michigan will once again go blue. If only voters had paid more attention to what the Republicans stood for before voting for them in 2010.