Why Barack Obama May be Heading for Electoral Disaster in 2012

From the Telegraph. I really, really hope that this is true. Nile Gardiner seems to have good reason to believe that 2012 will be a close race with a strong possibility that Obama will not be re-elected, despite the opinion of many in Britain.

On a recent visit to London I was struck by how much faith many British politicians, journalists and political advisers have in Barack Obama being re-elected in 2012. In the aftermath of the hugely successful Special Forces operation that took out Osama Bin Laden and a modest spike in the polls for the president, the conventional wisdom among political elites in Britain is overwhelmingly that Obama will win another four years in the Oval Office. Add to this a widespread perception of continuing disarray in the Republican race, as well as a State Visit to London that had the chattering classes worshipping at the feet of the US president, and you can easily see why Obama’s prospects look a lot rosier from across the Atlantic.

I don’t know why they would think that. It seems to me fairly obvious that if the economy has not substantially improved over the next year, Obama will have a very tough race, even with the mainstream media in his corner. But even more than the state of the economy, the increasing anxiety many Americans (myself among them) are feeling about the future of this country will act against him. This is, I think, the whole reason the TEA party movement came into being. People are worried. They don’t like the direction things are moving in.

They were worried back in 2008 too and this is a part  of the reason a one term Senator with no executive experience was able to win the White House. But people know Obama now and too many don’t like what they see.

Gardiner finishes with some poll results that I think are worth quoting.

Unsurprisingly, the polls are again looking problematic for the president. The latest Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll shows just 25 percent of Americans strongly approving of Obama’s performance, with 36 percent strongly disapproving, for a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 11 points. In a projected match up between Obama and a Republican opponent, the president now trails by two points according to Rasmussen – 43 to 45.  The RealClear Politics poll of polls shows just over a third of Americans (34.5 percent) agreeing that the country is heading in the right direction, with nearly three fifths (56.8 percent) believing it is heading down the wrong track. That negative figure rises to a staggering 66 percent of likely voters in a new Rasmussen survey, including 41 percent of Democrats.

This race is really the Republicans to lose. Knowing them, I’m sure they will find a way to do just that.

Hadith

I’ve started to read the Hadiths lately. Hadiths are collections of the sayings and deeds of the false prophet Mohammed. They were transmitted orally from narrator to narrator for over a hundred years until they started to be written down. There are several collections of these anecdotes, with Sunnis and Shi’ites using different ones,  but the most reliable  among the Sunni is considered to be the collection of Sahih al-Bukhari, which is the one I am reading.

The Hadith are second only in importance to the Koran in Islamic theology and jurisprudence. In fact, given the obscurity of much of the Koran, the Hadith play a valuable role in explaining and illuminating the circumstances in which various portions of the Koran were “revealed”. Also, since Mohammed is considered to be the perfect role model for all Muslims, the Hadiths tell Muslims what the prophet did in various circumstances and so serve as a guide for Muslims.

Naturally, since it was over a century since the Hadiths were written down, it is likely that many anecdotes have been distorted in the transmission and many were even fabricated after the time of Mohammed. Islāmic scholars are aware of this and so they have classified hadiths according to how reliable they are considered to be. A hadith may be sahih (sound), daif (doubtful), or mawdu (fabricated). They also classify them as hasan (good) or munkar (denounced). Since the Muslim scholars were, of course, classifying these Hadiths before the development of modern Western textual criticism, the method they used was to examine the chain of narrators and compare the Hadiths to each other for inconsistancies. A Hadith from a more reliable or trustworthy chain of narrators is considered more reliable than one from a doubtful chain.

Each Hadith has two parts; the isnad, which is the chain of narrators, and the matn, which is the actual anecdote.  I can’t comment very much on the contents of the Hadiths yet, as I have only just begun to read the collection. The text is clearer and easier to understand than the Koran, which has many obscure parts. It is very repetitive, as often the same anecdote or saying will be repeated over and over through different chains of narrators with slight variations of wording. Some of Mohammed’s actions seem rather strange, given the huge cultural gap between the modern West and seventh century Arabia. I get the impression, sometimes, that Mohammed was obsessive-compulsive, or at least more than a little superstitious.

 

I’m not sure reading the collection from front to back is the best or usual way to read it. I get the impression that a collection of Hadiths is more of a reference work. Still, that is the only way I know to do it.

Paying a Bill in Pennies

I suppose it’s a common fantasy when you have some argument over billing with a company or utility, to pay the bill in pennies. Jason West of Vernal, Utah did just that over a disputed doctor’s bill of $25. The clerks at the doctor’s office were not amused and called the police.

Police said 38-year-old Jason West went to a clinic in Vernal, Utah, on May 27 to dispute an outstanding bill for $25.

“After asking if they accepted cash, West dumped 2,500 pennies onto the counter and demanded that they count it,” Vernal Assistant Police Chief Keith Campbell said. “The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor.”

West was cited for disorderly conduct and now faces a fine of $140. I wonder if he is going to pay that in pennies.