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Obama brings a little hope

The next President the HIV gang probably won’t vote for

Will Obama see past Samantha Power and rescue sanity in HIV/AIDS?

barackpresident.jpegWell, we admit it, for the last two months the presidential race has been far too fascinating for this blog to compete with for attention. However, watching the latest turns of one of the greatest insurgent campaigns in history, we now conclude that the outcome is inevitable, and that the next President of the United States will be Barack Obama.

Certainly Barack will be the Democratic nominee, judging from the front page obituary on Hillary’s campaign run by the New York Times today. Then there is the judgment of the betting site InTrade Prediction Markets, a source which is now recognized by John Tierney of the New York Times Science section, among others, as the best predictor of the future. InTrade odds for the Democratic nominee are currently (Feb 23) Obama 82, Clinton 15.

Oddly, InTrade doesn’t currently offer any bet on Obama winning the general election, but Clinton you can buy for 11 compared with 46 for only a month ago. No, wait – the bet is available, according to a crawl across the ad at the top: currently, Obama is at 55, and McCain 35, for the White House. For what it’s worth, we too imagine Obama thrashing McCain for reasons including Iraq, youth, change, broad appeal in bringing the country and the world together, superior fundraising and unstoppable momentum, with McCain bested even on the basis of sheer authenticity, the club with which Obama has crippled the Clinton campaign and reduced the unfortunate Hillary to the status of a deer in headlights.

Currently (Feb 23) the national polls are 48-40 for Obama against McCain. However, we admit we have no idea how much racial prejudice there is out there in the heartland, having been asked by two lads from Queens recently if our “New Yorkers for Obama” button meant that we were a “nigger lover”.

How accurate are betting site forecasts? One gauge was the Oscars tonight, where this morning No Country for Old Men was at 69 for Best Picture, and Daniel Day-Lewis was at 91 for Best Actor. Both have won.

Obama and AIDS

obama-aids-test.jpgOK, now that we know that Barack Obama will be the next US President (you heard it here first) , we wonder what difference this will make, if any, to the politics of HIV/AIDS.

For the benefit of new readers, we refer to the politics of the science of HIV/AIDS which are keeping a wingless paradigm flying high which has less justification in the scientific literature now than it had twenty years ago, which was none, when it was first launched without proof or justification by a known scientific rascal with enthusiastic White House backing for a quick solution to the gay community’s clamor for rescue from the impact of a new plague.

This is the paradigm which has gone on to become the best funded unfounded disease paradigm in history, its claims always faithfully recorded by an army of science reporters with the professional judgment of stenographers, and propagandized by the NIAID at the NIH and all other scientific and lay institutions with a censoring hostility to review that has kept it for 23 years victorious over all its critics, including the best scientist in the field.

This never proven, never justified, increasingly disproven paradigm, which provoked private guffaws from those in the know in the field when it was officially announced in 1984, has proved immune to a slew of peer reviewed scientific articles over the years rejecting it as impossible and thirty or more books explaining with crystal clarity to all and sundry how it is not only utterly inconceivable that HIV causes any illness at all in the long run, but that the notorious Virus to all intents and purposes doesn’t transmit from one heterosexual to another, so any global pandemic is utterly impossible.

So what chance is there that President Obama will hear of the critics and order some kind of independent briefing?

Will President Obama roll over the stone?

What possibility is there in the latest turn of events in the race for the White House that the new occupant, if it is indeed the strong minded, idealistic but still relatively naive Obama, will have any more intellectual or political curiosity in this arena than the illiterate George W. Bush, who is now following Rhodes scholar William Jefferson Clinton in using HIV/AIDS funding as a $30 billion paint brush to whitewash the stains from his political legacy?

Well, given the odds are that it will be Obama who will be sworn in next year, we suggest that a certain optimism is now warranted, and that it is not impossible – though still improbable – that.Anthony Fauci, Robert Gallo and John P. Moore will have to pack their bags and head for the nearest airport at some point in the next Administration.

Some reasons for optimism

Let’s list the reasons why Obama just might be open to new information on the validity of the infectious HIV/AIDS Meme of “global pandemic”.

1. Barack is a highly intelligent, literate man who can not only read books but actually write three of them, and has editorial experience to boot – at the Harvard Law Review, of which he was the first black president, as well as the training and experience in law (Harvard J.D. 1991, law firm in Chicago from 1993-2004)) that confers a sophisticated view of concealed human motives.

2. He is fully aware through experience how easily swayed the crowd can be by rhetoric and other fluent pronouncements from on high, having himself put this skill to good use on the positive side of the ledger.

3. Future President Obama, born in Honolulu, is both black and white, with roots in America (white mother) and Africa (black father from a poor village in Kenya who reached Harvard), an Indonesian childhood (age 2 to 10) in Jakarta, an elite prep school, Columbia University and Harvard education, and a name which coincidentally or not contains echoes of Iraq, Hussein (his middle name) and Osama. He seems more likely than most to perceive the possibility of misguided and racist politics distorting the claims of scientists benefiting handsomely from the promulgation of a widespread but questionable belief, especially a paradigm of disease which has so much criticism leveled against it from so many determined and respectable critics.

4. A man with early, hands on experience of street level community politics on Chicago’s South Side is more likely than a cosseted child of the privileged classes such as Bush or Hillary Clinton to be smart about the fact that scientists like anyone else are capable of playing the politics of self interest, whatever lack of bias they may profess in their field.

5. Obama’s ambition to remake established politics and its assumptions rather than accepting them and working to govern on that basis suggests he is likely to review HIV/AIDS politics if alerted by a credible source of the validity of criticism and the credibility of critics.

6. Thabo Mbeki will no doubt receive a respectful hearing from President Obama, though whether he takes him more seriously than Bill Clinton did remains a question.

7. Gays work in Obama’s campaign but the Senator is not entirely comfortable with gays, according to some gay commentary, and apparently gay rights are not included in his extensive written plan for change. According to
one report
during a Howard University debate he mentioned that the HIV test he’d had was with his wife in a manner interpreted by gays as a “frat boy moment”. If true this seems to make him less likely to go along with the widespread gay enthusiasm for their self-immolating belief system in HIV/AIDS.

Reasons for pessimism

However, there are reasons to doubt that Obama will find his way behind the curtain of HIV/AIDS unless he is successfully reached by an insurgent he can credit as knowledgeable:

1. To qualify the optimism we can sadly note that at the moment Obama is evidently as much a prisoner of standard belief in HIV/AIDS as virtually all other politicians and celebrities (the prominent exception being South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, due to leave office in a year), judging from his passing references to AIDS in his speeches. We presume he has never heard the assumption questioned, or even that it is doubted by anyone knowledgeable.

2. Obama has already exploited the standard line in HIV/AIDS politically, standing on the current paradigm to strike a leadership pose in Kenya where he took a very public HIV test, together with his wife Michelle. He then came up with support for the catastrophic notion of mandatory testing for all, sorry to say, though we calculate that this involves too great a risk of exposing their grand fallacy for the leaders of HIV/AIDS ideology to allow (it would call attention to the elephant in the room of US AIDS, which is that the prevalence of HIV in this country has remained constant at roughly one million positives in the total population for the entire duration of the epidemic).

3.Obama’s performance so far in addressing HIV/AIDS publicly seems as mentally disengaged as any other AIDS Meme-ridden leader. At the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and the Church, on World AIDS Day 2006, he gave a speech which detailed a story of one African after another dying almost immediately after diagnosis. This disconnect between anecdote and a paradigm where the “latent period” is supposedly an average ten years is so glaring that while recounting it Obama’s brain was clearly switched into neutral by the Meme:

Then one day, Leo received a phone call that her eldest brother had fallen ill. At first he told everyone it was diabetes, but later, in the hospital, admitted to the family it was AIDS. He died a few days later. His wife succumbed to the disease as well. And Leo took in their three children.

Six months later, Leo got another phone call. Her younger brother had also become sick with AIDS. She cared for him and nursed him as she did her first brother, but he soon died as well.

Leo’s pregnant sister was next. And then another brother. And then another brother.

She paid for their caskets and their funerals. She took in their children and paid for their schooling. She ran out of money, and she borrowed what she could. She ran out again, and she borrowed even more.

And still, the phone calls continued. All across her tiny village, Leo watched more siblings and cousins and nieces and nephews test positive for HIV. She saw neighbors lose their families. She saw a grandmother house sixteen orphaned grandchildren under her roof. And she saw some children go hungry because there was no one to care for them at all.

You know, AIDS is a story often told by numbers. 40 million infected with HIV. Nearly 4.5 million this year alone. 12 million orphans in Africa. 8,000 deaths and 6,000 new infections every single day. In some places, 90% of those with HIV do not know they have it. And we just learned that AIDS is set to become the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide in the coming years.

They are staggering, these numbers, and they help us understand the magnitude of this pandemic.

4. One misleading influence on Obama currently is Oprah who has shown a singular gullibility for years when it comes to all matters HIV/AIDS. Evidently she was overtaken by the Meme in the very earliest phase of its global spread. However, it seems unlikely that he will take her opinion seriously if he discovers the depth and breadth of the scientific critique.

5. A more important misleading influence is Samantha Power, who has become Obama’s foreign affairs guru and is one of the seven high level advisers on policy in his inner circle. As we have pointed out previously, Harvard professor and author Power has excellent liberal credentials based on her Pulitzer prize-winning book “A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide”, deploring the inaction of the US in past genocides and she currently is a sharp critic of UN and world inaction in dealing with Darfur. A typical entrenched Harvard/p2210364.JPGmedia guru whose fluency flows from uncritical absorption of conventional wisdom fueled by passionate liberal emotions, Power has proved as gullible as Oprah in the matter of HIV/AIDS, however, demonstrating her naivete in writing about South African politics for the New Yorker (see earlier post here). She has been part of Obama’s Brains Trust since 2005 as his tutor on foreign affairs, and recently published another book, “Chasing The Flame”, a biography of the UN official Sergio Vieira de Mello, which argues that the UN needs to be backed by the major powers to use more force in its peace keeping to separate combatants.

The banana republic of AIDS science

On these grounds it seems to us there is some reason for hope that once President Obama is installed he may support a review of the science and science politics of HIV/AIDS, with the ultimate result that it may finally be revealed publicly how the field is ruled by a lethal paradigm which is protected by political and social censorship and is unsupported by the scientific literature, indeed on the contrary, it is year by year further condemned by it.

On the other hand, there is no sign yet that Obama to date is anything but a conduit for the conventional wisdom in his policy planning on global disease, and his policy statement in October 2007, Plan to Fight HIV/AIDS, was entirely conventional in its assumptions:

Obama supports increasing U.S. contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, malaria, and TB so that our assistance is coordinated with aid provided by other governments and private donors and so that the burden on poor countries is reduced.

Provide Access Through Trade: Barack Obama believes that people in developing countries living with HIV/AIDS should have access to safe, affordable generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. He will break the stranglehold that a few big drug and insurance companies have on these life-saving drugs. Obama supports the rights of sovereign nations to access quality-assured, low-cost generic medication to meet their pressing public health needs under the WTO’s Declaration on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). He also supports the adoption of humanitarian licensing policies that ensure medications developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars are available off-patent in developing countries.

Achieve the Millennium Development Goals: As president, Barack Obama will double U.S. foreign assistance from $25 billion per year to $50 billion per year to ensure the U.S. does its share to meet the Millennium Development Goals, including halving the number of people who die of tuberculosis and/or are affected by malaria. In 2005, Obama cosponsored the International Cooperation to Meet the Millennium Development Goals Act. Barack Obama will target this new spending toward strategic goals, including helping the world’s weakest states to build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth. He will also help weak states to fight terrorism, halt the spread of deadly weapons, and build the health care infrastructure needed to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS as well as detect and contain outbreaks of avian influenza. Obama will dedicate as much funding to HIV/AIDS as possible – without cutting into other critical foreign assistance programs – to ensure a comprehensive fight against this global pandemic.

Any optimism that this will change assumes that Obama will reach the White House, of course, and may well be one reason why his candidacy may not get the gay support it deserves.

Whether he does or not, however, it seems possible that his success to date may inspire insurgents in other political arenas to redouble their efforts, including those trying to reform the dictatorial status quo in HIV/AIDS, which resembles nothing more than a scientific banana republic, ruled by a junta at NIAID exploiting the ignorance of the inexpert.

On the other hand, Barack Obama is a pragmatist, who might very well conclude, as some influential scientists and others have done, that some wars, however just, are not worth fighting. To quote his public statement on President Bush’s push to use force in Iraq in 2002:

“I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars,” he said. “What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

We like to imagine that Obama is one leader with the courage and motivation to grasp this nettle, however, if he is led to it.

12 Responses to “Obama brings a little hope”

  1. MacDonald Says:

    A truly dazzling display of scientifically based political prognosticism. However, the blog host, otherwise a veritable Dick Morris of the HIV/AIDS insurgency, seems to have underestimated the dirty tricks up the GOP sleeve. Were unalterable future history set on its present course, chances are Obama would become the new Decider In Chief. But what we have seen time and again is that the gullibility of most Americans is only surpassed by their paranoia.

    In the past, when the tide seemed to have been turning against autocratic dismantling of the Constitution by neo-conservative cold war dinosaurs and their offspring, the tough guy when in the shelter of mum’s basement pundits, stratagems such as a couple of anthrax laced letters from Pentagon’s own stock, rumours of Iran’s imminent status as nuclear super power and strategically timed appearances of Bush’s greatest ally, Osama Bin Laden, endorsing John Kerry have unfailingly reduced the freedom loving Amercan people to frightened chicks scrambling for the coop.

    What makes the blog host think the voters come the general election will not forget their youthful Democratic primaries rebelliousness and seek shelter under the hawkish wings of the proven terror warrior, Daddy McCain, at first word of a warrantless surveillance intercept from an undisclosed source detailing plans for a Hugo Chavez led invasion of Alaska?

    On a related note, has the blog host considered the possible advantages of aiming his considerable political influence at a slightly lower target than the likely president? I am thinking of someone like John Edwards, who professes deep resentment against the present corporate culture. Would such as he, out of the direct media focus and general bustle, not be more likely to lend an ear?

    My own choice would be John Kerry. He seems to be the least naive of all and sufficiently informed and intelligent to grasp the argument.

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    A dazzling comment, MacD. You are quite right – applying reason to politics in predicting the direction of the frightened herd of voters might be naive indeed, but we think that Obama versus Osama is written in the historical zeitgeist – come on, how could it have happened otherwise, this name coincidence?

    Osama’s Obie Kanobie propaganda laser sword will be totally shortcircuited by this name factor, don’t you think – and by the African-American-Asian world straddle of President Obama?

    We fondly believe that the US population trusts Obama to rescue them, since he is already a celebrity, which is the theatrical role on the social stage they are most used to listening to as authority.

    All the women outside the nunnery will come over to his rock star movement, also.

    PS: Just to expand a little in case we sound too facetious: Though Hillary Clinton is probably a worthy Senator it seems to us that she is a very poor Presidential candidate, and we are not surprised that the primary voters are now splitting 54% to 34% in Obama’s favor. In fact it baffles us how she can be retaining any votes at all at this stage, judging from her campaign performance. Claiming the advantage of “experience” over Obama has always seemed questionable to us given that it was not in the exercise of real leadership power, and she tripped up over health care reform in 1993 and over Iraq post 9/11.

    In playing the role of contender unlike Obama she doesn’t really convey the weight of a potential world leader in her speeches and in debate on CSpan, the only medium that carries them at length, other than CNN, which ran a debate platform the other night. Her mastery of policy detail comes off as sure but wonkish competence rather than flowing from her reputed transcendent passion for social ideals, partly we think because her face just doesn’t convey masterful leadership very well. Even as she claims it, she just looks popeyed and smiley face, and one is not surprised at all to hear her make silly and spurious remarks about “plagiarism” etc. as if they were valid key points.

    Any time Obama and she appear together he seems to gain in stature while she seems to lose it. Perhaps she just isn’t very good at media, since by all reports she is quite different in person. In a small way we found this in our own experience when we sat near the front a year ago at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting when she ran a panel on women’s goals. Quite honestly, she is remarkably cute for her age, which is sixty.

    We suspect that many people are relieved not to have to vote for two Clintons back in the White House again, which the arrival of Obama has made look very retrograde. Presumably their political capital and savvy will be available to the Obama administration, however.

    Perhaps the whole affair will persuade Bill Clinton not to take his own political savvy too much for granted, which could have at least one interesting consequence.

  3. Truthseeker Says:

    Sorry, MacD, didn’t really continue to deal with your point forecasting the US population will turn to McCain to save them from Osama. Guess our answer to that is that Bush’s eight years of screwing up Iraq and injustice on the home front will ensure that sufficient numbers of voters will carry Obama into the White House, even if they are afraid of Osama and he carries out a successful attack on American soil. But if that happens at the last moment we can see where you would be vindicated.

    But hey, we are optimists as always on this blog, and don’t expect Obama to be assassinated either, especially now that the New York Times has brought that widespread concern out into the open.

    Sadly, we have to admit that for Edwards or Kerry the issue of scientific truth in AIDS may not hit them where it hurts, as far as potential goes, or offer something to exploit, the only reasons why we can imagine any politician taking up this infernal subject.

    One of the reasons this debacle has continued for so long immune to correction is surely that it is like mentioning the dog has pooped behind the sofa at a grand dinner party, people would much rather change the subject, and leave it to the servants to clean up the mess as discreetly as possible.

    Quite who the servants are in this case is hard to say. Probably not leading politicians, unless their own people are being poisoned.

  4. MacDonald Says:

    Amen to that last paragraph, although IMHO it still remains to be seen if Bill Clinton is more than a political animal through and through as his right wing detractors claim.

    But you are quite right, Hillary Clinton does not appear as presidential or genuinely engaged as for example the unfortunate Benazzir Bhutto, who herself was not flawless by any means, or more to the point Obama’s remarkable wife. Neither is she as cozy as George W., so one is less inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    On Michelle: A Harvard and Princeton graduate who retains the physical aura of a sixties Motown star. As a man otherwise not easily impressed by middle-aged women, I dare say if she manages to bring out her potential, she could very well make the difference in a race both against Clinton and McCain, whose wife appears even less cozy than Hillary – and who overdoes the make-up for somebody already suspect for marrying a 17 year older extremely powerful man a month after he dumped his first wife.

    http://www.usvetdsp.com/mcaindiv.htm

    Compared to how comfortable the Obamas, and indeed Bill, are in their own skins (so to speak), Hillary is at a hopeless disadvantage with her stilted attempts at carrying herself majestically. Speaking of Ben Kenobi (or Obi Wan Kenobi, but definitely not Obie kanobie lol!) Hillary is amusingly reminiscent of another Star Wars, C-3PO,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-3PO

    as she prances about on stage with stiffly lifted arms and raised chin in a poor imitation of true grace and nobility. With such low acting skills Hillary should simply have insisted on being herself from the beginning and hoped people would like her for it instead of playing the matriachal authority to Obama’s unsophisticated youthfulness.

    What she has ended up with as a result of this failed PR strategy are, as you say, self-defeating potshots at alleged plagiarism and empty rhetoric. It is IMO an admission to lack of class if not wholesale bankruptcy when one has to make complaints of the opponent’s fabled rhetorical skills the basis for a critique of his substance. As we all know, the defenders of the HIV Church have long practiced the very same approach towards dissidents from Duesberg onwards.

    Having said that, one must not underestimate the power of such an argument when the target audience is an American public who has found George W. electable and trustworthy over and over in spite of all the glaring facts to the contrary precisely because he is a clumsy and unengaging speaker.

  5. MacDonald Says:

    The last paragraph I said amen to was 3 Comments up, namely this,

    “Perhaps the whole affair will persuade Bill Clinton not to take his own political savvy too much for granted, which could have at least one interesting consequence.”

  6. Truthseeker Says:

    Well put indeed, MacD. Particularly agree about Michelle Obama, the most impressively “comfortable in her skin”woman in politics for many years. Is it feasible to make her the nominee for Vice President? That should scoop up the remaining female vote (a tall young woman to me early on: “I’m a feminist, so I am voting for Clinton.”)

    The Obama snowball rolls on, too big soon for McCain to deal with, let alone Clinton. Tonight on Charlie Rose some thoughtful analysts of Iraq were speaking as if he was already President.

    My question to you is, what politician could possibly see any advantage in taking the lid off AIDS to show the political worms inside? Someone who wants to shaft Clinton, perhaps. Otherwise all I can think of is a man whose son/daughter/wife tests positive, by the usual chance. Possibly even himself.

    Come back Larry Craig! All is forgiven!

  7. MacDonald Says:

    It seems to be defining characteristics of politicians’ family members that they don’t go to Iraq and they don’t get AIDS, so the answer is, only a retired politician, or a politician late in his career who has a well-defined position in his communiity not likely to be jeopardized by being called a conspiracy theorist, and strong personal convictions, perhaps religiously rooted: A black civil rights based leader of Al Sharpton’s ilk.

  8. hhbauer Says:

    TS, MacD:

    I was an Obama fan from before his candidacy, having seen long interviews of him about his books. But re

    “So what chance is there that President Obama will hear of the critics and order some kind of independent briefing?”

    Someone he already trusts must bring the matter up with him. That’s the continuing problem in a nutshell. Dissidents are crazies, everyone knows that. There’s no reason anyone should of their own accord question that. Somehow a chain needs to built between one or more knowledgeable dissidents and one or more influential people, a chain in which each link depends on already-existing trust.

  9. Truthseeker Says:

    Very true, Henry, a bridge of trust made up of people without a weak link between any of them, covering each degree of separation. You have identified the exact need, I believe, the only solution to the problem of building up trust between dissident source of research and recipient leader, as long as all dissidents are known to be “crazies” as you say. However I do believe there are various qualifiers. One is any tendency, admittedly rare, for a political leader to think about such a topic for himself, which Mbeki showed was not impossible. Another is whether the fact that the credentials of the dissident himself can be established as impeccable, which was always Peter Duesberg’s trump card, and which is still his trump card, and why the paradigm defense squad never mentions him now if they can avoid it, which is most of the time, now that he has devoted himself to a more fruitful scientific path – which itself threatens to present them with the trump card yet again in play.

    Sharpton would not be of use even if he listened would he? He is more a figure from the past in black politics now that Obama has forged to the front, I believe. But perhaps you were joking, MacD? Hard to imagine that Sharpton would confer legitimacy on AIDS science debunking if he took it up, even with blacks!

  10. MacDonald Says:

    Of course he would be of use. And so would even more extreme characters. I was talking of exactly the kind of chain of people who listen to each other that you and Prof. Bauer were plodding on about just above. Black politicians at the top, or potentially going somewhere, have all kinds of connections with lesser, more radical figures. That’s as clear as I can make it.

    Forget about the top; If large or powerful segments of certain communities voice concerns, their elected representatives have to deal with those concerns no matter how crazy they are. There comes a time or two in every politician’s life where he has to pay more than lip service to the voters – briefly

  11. hhbauer Says:

    Sharpton would do nicely. I’ll settle for anyone who is visible enough to stir up a fuss sufficient to make some of the major media take the time to look at the facts.

    A friend of mine long ago suggested approaching the National Enquirer, claiming it was the first to break the media blackout on the fact that most ulcers are caused by bacteria. If the NE were to initiate contact, I would even talk to them.

  12. Baby Pong Says:

    Keep dreaming, TS. There’s no chance that Obama would rethink the paradigm. Zero chance. Look at who’s funding his campaigns.

    Nobody’s going to assassinate Obama, because the elite adopted him early in his career and love him. However, if he ever showed some independence and decided to question Aids, he’d be outta here; faster than you can say “lone gunman” a new Lee Harvey would suddenly appear to take the rap for the Bilderbergers who ordered the hit. Or, Obama would mysteriously get very sick, and die, from “Aids.”

    You guys are terminally naive. Obama is far more likely to demand mandatory testing than to rethink anything.

    He will use his position as Hitlery’s VP to push for that, in Africa and in the US. But all members of the government will be exempt from testing, though they will stage fake “photo ops” of themselves getting tested to fool the masses.

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