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It is Not Enough: African Ex-Slave Reparations in a Deeply Troubled Racist Plural America

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It is not that I oppose reparations for Black American  citizens with enslaved African slave ancestors; especially since my family would  certainly qualify . It is just that the framing of this complex paradoxical dehumanizing  societal issue is grossly inadequate for offering  needed remedies in  a deeply troubled   racist plural society with  deepening troubles ahead unless we awaken quickly from our delusionary denials of racial unfairness and injustices  and engage in authentic transparent difficult restorative justice conversations and actions of substance rather than of meager symbolisms of demographic  trickles of racial justice .

Countering racialized  differences with gun violence rather than having needed difficult conversations and positive  empowering  transformative consequences of who we are and who we are becoming as a racialized plural  nation with former racial minorities now increasingly  holding significant power and authority has become the  eyesore in contemporary America. It is the first cousin to the  current anti-critical race theory movement not effectively countered by a progressive sounding,  moderate, gravely stalled Democrat Party White House and cabinet which has largely drawn silent on its campaign promise to proactively address systemic American racism in its numerous dehumanizing forms and dynamics.  And if the Democrats do lose the House of Representatives and Senate in 2022 and in 2024 along with the White House, we are in for a long  freezing  cold winter of indifference  if not well planned covert and overt  hostility when it comes to racial injustices as well as efforts to continue to deepen  racial injustices backed up by a right wing leaning Supreme Court  proving to be disrespectful of human rights precedents.

This long winter  , possibly on the fast track , well  adorned warmly in traditional and new methods garbs  of racial oppression of a national Non-White majority will be made possible through voter repression and increasing spasms of White nationalist street violence as latest  versions of the long history of lynching in America though this time more bloody with Non-White push back. Black gun purchases are on the dramatic rise, lest we forget. And then as well we have the peculiar elephant in the room, of the growth of Non-White, noticeably Black  eligible voters who are refusing to vote, especially among the young who feel betrayed by older generations of all hues.  Thus, they have decided the ballot box is a hoax so why waste their time voting for anyone since nothing in their marginal status will change anyways? They do all the right things and are still subjected to glass ceilings and unreasonable, indeed unrealistic expectations more so than  their less than able and educated White peers in 

White spaces who still seem to move ahead of them in status and in pay due to their hue privilege derived from their Eurocentric ancestries. This observation is in sync with the astute claim in Sterling Yale Black sociologist’s most recent provocative book , BLACK IN WHITE SPACE: THE ENDURING IMPACT OF COLOR IN EVERYDAY LIFE that no matter our age or accomplishments, we Black folks in the minds of most White folks remain incarcerated in the racially inferior , crime infested, impoverished dilapidated iconic ghetto, no matter where we are actually from, as a sustained provisional status with only rare total trust.

This does not mean we are necessarily heading towards the race war both Non-White and especially White nationalists are hoping for in their delusional fantasies.  The break out of a race war is  doubtful unless the US military  and intelligence falls into the wrong hands of a future racist President as in the case of Trump but much more effectively worst who thus makes the essential inroads in the military and intelligence communities to do the such grotesque dirty work of effectively  fanning the smoldering coals of racial hatred with military and intelligence backup. And thank goodness, despite their mainstreaming during the Trump years, White nationalists remain a fringe population which by now has no support by the majority White population though jittery too about the consequences of what White nationalists fearfully call The Great Replacement.

If we are to prevent this long difficult winter in racial injustice from occurring which would be such a waste of time and human talents and actual lives, those of us who care need to more creatively and proactively organize our concern into movements of difficult conversations and actions essential for assuring that America becomes an  authentic democracy for all of us. This involves developing more effective, more high profile social  and traditional media campaigns involving  coalitions composed of ordinary citizens and leaders  of diverse cultural and class backgrounds and across political  persuasions drawn from all corners of American life such as business, faith, law, media, medicine, and the nonprofit sectors who” get it” and  thus understand the imperative to have the difficult conversations about the demographic plural manifestations of racism and our need to address it as a matter of the highest national priority . Nothing else in and about 21st century America, sinking so dramatically in global respect and prestige,will  go anywhere of great substance unless we take race and racism by their human destructive horns and destroy them for the future good of humanity. So, we must create effective policy making  advocacy venues to assure the difficult conversations just don’t end  as  how conversations  about  race and racism in America  usually end up  these days: as politically correct academic chit chat or sound bites for do nothing  and/or  feel good and/or guilty  public consumption. 

 The  absence of effective comprehensive imperative difficult conversations about the  well institutionalized ugliness of our  multi-centuries racialized past and present will continue to foster such a dehumanizing future  composed of  at best fractured superficial symbols of justice for selected oppressed racial populations while ignoring others unless we do something and now. Namely,  build multicultural  coalescing civil society venues advocating  to government  and non-government  institutions for the development of restorative justice for all of us not some of us since the monster of race as a dehumanizing myth impacts all of us, Whites and the various racialized Non-White populations in different and similiar historical, economic,  political,  social, and psychological fashions. 

 Restorative Justice in this sense goes deeper than reparations,  indeed,  reparations is just one major outcome of what Restorative Justice is as a long process of difficult conversations  including representatives from dominant and oppressed racialized groups; namely  the various roles of Whites as the historical perpetratoring population and those  roles of numerous racialized oppressed populations. This must be done as a painful process of  mutual perpetrator- victim transparency and accountability  in a society where well socialized ignorance about the plural dehumanizing impacts of the myth of race has sustained a historical racist nation in denial. 

As we observed in the ages of Black Reconstruction and Affirmative Action, which were federal reparations efforts,  government efforts to repair the damage of systemic  racialized injustices to  one or more racialized populations without antecedent deep public engagements about the sources of the wrong , the need to admit it as  form of accountability, apologize for it as a covenant to assure it doesn’t happen again , and rectify it through the restoration of the humanity of the racialized victim populations and thus the humanity of the perpetratrating population,  are bound to have mixed records, sow the seeds of misunderstanding and manipulation, and can ultimately fail. And such efforts tend to forget about perpetrator rights as well as responsibilities and victim responsibilities as well as rights which becomes another reason why the few times the federal and state governments have tried restorative efforts to deal with systemic racial injustices experienced by  noticeably American citizens of African, Japanese,  Latino,and Native American descent, they have had mixed and other wise weak or failed results.

 In more recent times, reparations movements targeting Black  Americans whose ancestors were enslaved have or will run into head winds of resistance since the definition of who is an African American can be   very problematic as well as the very definition of slavery and various  roles, spaces, locations , and times of what the enslavement of Africans in America was and in too ignored cases, still is. It is very much of an elite movement too largely in the hands of politicians  and  attorneys  with academics in tow. They  work  too often through  inadequate,  indeed  over simplistic understandings of  complexities of restorative justice processes ; just being focused on one demographic group rather than building a societal  coalition with other racialized dehumanized groups to address a horrific  societal tragedy impacting everyone; and entertaining quick monetary solutions to a  societal dehumanization problem which needs more than money tossed at it or other financial solutions like  education funds which sound good for public relations  though without critical fact checks.  Such framing of reparations for descendants of African slaves like myself  and members of my paternal and maternal families is an unfortunate distraction from the sort of more holistic multicultural restorative justice we Americans desperately need for all of us since all we Americans are dismally infected by the numerous forms and dynamics of race and racism which since colonial times has made us such a troubled racist plural society in routine denial wrapped in benign ignorance. 

It is easy to say the ongoing reparations  for ex-slave Black Americans and other fractured restorative justice and overly simplistic  efforts such as institutional leadership apologies for their institutions being build through slave labor; ethnic holidays and recognizing overlooked Non-White contributors ; renaming racist buildings and streets; and taking down racist statues and portraits, are better than nothing and at least are a good start when we need to do much better at this and quickly.  We  Americans both in the highest  policy circles and at our kitchen tables play around with racism all the time as conversations going nowhere  too much too often cognitively and emotionally ill-equipped to do such talking well let alone come up with adequate  solutions. It is because as citizens we are socialized to approach race and racism as taboo topics at best to be tiptoed around and watered down rather than having transparent difficult conversations about let alone realistic solutions.

Nevertheless, we need to wake up and smell the coffee. In this unfolding Digital Age with reams of  stock piled data driven studies and best practice transformation models,  we have what it takes in national and global civil societies to engage and go beyond traditional racial justice advocacy institutions to devise and institutionalize multicultural venues of much more effective racial  restorative justice advocacy in the USA and elsewhere in the world in sore need of it. What is missing , then, is our will to act, not the absence of strategic planning and action information.

 When will we stop being so paralyzed, so stuck in our outdated paradigms of concepts and actions ; cease being concerned solely about the mass suffering of only our own group , and get up and get  moving  to transform an entire racist plural America lest the long gray winter arrives?  When it comes to fighting for an authentic racially just plural America , among the concern for justice for all , we must cease being like the deer caught in the headlights in the midst of a freezing  midnight hour,   remaining gullibly  fixated on our own possible demise  with the most unfortunate consequences. Winter may be coming and a long cold one at that.Time to get moving.  Now.

Director ASARPI: The Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas Mauritius and South Africa former University of Mauritius SSR Chair of African Studies

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Should the West Assume Collective Responsibility for the Failure of Biden’s Visit to Saudi Arabia?

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In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets President Joe Biden, with a fist bump after his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, July 15, 2022. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

In July of this year, Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia for the first time as US president. It is well known that the primary goal of the trip was to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to alleviate the pressure caused by soaring global energy prices. Yet, it is worth remembering that when Biden punished Saudi Arabia for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2019, he described it as a “pariah” country, adding that he had no short-term plans to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. It is therefore unsurprising that Biden received fierce criticism, not only for failing to encourage Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, but also for fist bumping MBS. Nevertheless, some argue that the criticism is unwarranted. After all, it was the West as a whole that put Biden in such an awkward position.

Biden’s Recalibration of Saudi Policy Criticized by both Realists and Moralists

Simply put, political leaders often face the dilemma of either preserving their nation’s interests or upholding morality when handling international affairs. Realists tend to emphasize that political leaders inevitably need to negotiate with dictators in order to protect the interests of their citizens; human rights activists/moralists stress that political leaders must draw a clear line with dictators who have poor human rights records and should not betray the victims of said dictators for the sake of economic or geopolitical gains.

On one hand, the Biden administration disclosed a confidential CIA report which concluded that the Saudi crown prince was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. On the other hand, the US did not sanction MBS himself, only others involved in the killing. This response triggered criticism from both realists and moralists. Realists argued that infuriating MBS would be detrimental to the US in the foreseeable future, while moralists condemned the failure to impose direct punitive measures on MBS as hypocritical.

In terms of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, some realists feel that Biden was shooting himself in the foot, while other realists believe that Biden’s move may help US–Saudi relations in the long run, despite it being humiliating in the short term. From the perspective of prioritizing human rights, Biden’s meeting with MBS is seen as him going back on his word and surrendering to a dictator.

It is worth mentioning that Turkey played a significant part in putting Khashoggi’s murder under the spotlight; however, it is difficult to say if their motive for doing so was entirely altruistic. At the time, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was being heavily criticized by the US for his country’s human rights abuses, with Turkey itself being the subject of US sanctions. The disclosure of Khashoggi’s murder could have been a calculated attempt to embarrass the US: if the US decided to punish Saudi Arabia, it would suffer geopolitical losses, but if it tolerated Saudi Arabia’s actions, it would show the world that the US had a double standard in terms of its response to human rights.

Turkey had also hoped to use the case to undermine Saudi leadership in the Muslim Sunni bloc. However, given Turkey’s rapid economic deterioration in recent months, it urgently needs to ease relations with neighboring countries. This is partly why Turkey suspended Khashoggi’s murder trial, handed over the case to Saudi Arabia in April, and welcomed MBS to Ankara in June. These are just a few examples of Turkey’s abandonment of justice for its own politico-economic gain. As such, Biden’s visit was a little less dishonorable than Erdogan’s behavior because the US has not lifted its sanctions. That said, since the US proclaims itself to be the leader in defending global human rights, Biden’s compromising has led to severe criticism.

The Energy and Climate Crisis is Not Only Biden’s Fault

Of course, it is unfair to solely blame the Biden administration for creating the major crises which are currently faced by the West. For example, Russia was suppressing dissident journalists and human rights activists long before its invasion of Ukraine; however, neither Europe or the US imposed comprehensive sanctions on them or accelerated its efforts towards energy independence to reduce reliance on Russia. Furthermore, after Khashoggi was murdered, no European state vowed to boycott Saudi Arabian energy as did the US. Hence, it can be said that Western leaders did not show much determination to reduce their dependence on the energy of authoritarian regimes in recent years.

By this standard, Biden is not necessarily more hypocritical than any other political leader in the Western bloc. The recent energy crisis caused by the West’s imposition of sanctions on Russia is, in fact, a result of their lengthy practice of “dealing with devils.” The moral responsibility, therefore, should be shared by their leaders collectively.

It should be added that the West’s foreign policy is often not purely driven by either human rights or interests. Indeed, the US and the EU are signatories of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the so-called “Iran Nuclear Deal”), despite Iran’s notorious record of executing dissidents over the past 35 years. The original intention of the agreement was to use trade normalization as bait to lure Iran into gradually abandoning its development of nuclear weapons and improving its domestic human rights. However, the West did not make the deal on the premise that Iran’s human rights would improve significantly or overnight, it made compromises.

Shortly after Donald Trump became President, he unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal because he claimed that it was full of loopholes that allowed Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons in secret. Subsequently, Iran has been actively refining the enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons, while its domestic hardline conservatives have fully regained political power in recent years.

The question of whether the threat from Iran was caused by Obama’s relaxation of sanctions or Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal has been a hotly debated topic. It is also worth mentioning that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan of “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” which allows Israel to occupy most of the West Bank, are based on contempt for Palestine.

The Legacy of Trump’s Middle East Policy Constrains Biden’s Options

Biden showed his intention to revise Trump’s Middle East policy on both the US presidential campaign trail and at the start of his presidency. However, evidence suggests that Trump’s policy has gradually taken root. In addition, the geopolitical situation has changed drastically. Therefore, it is difficult for Biden to simply act as he wants, and even if he did, the results would not seem effective either.

Of course, some left-wing critics argue that the climate crisis is precisely the result of over-consumption of non-renewable energy. Hence, instead of begging dictators to increase energy production amidst the current energy crisis, the Biden administration should use this opportunity to promote clean energy and reduce global greenhouse gases emissions, despite the pain it will cause people in the short term. That said, the US mid-term elections are approaching, and forcing voters to reduce their energy usage at such a time will only make things more difficult for the Biden-affiliated Democratic Party. Therefore, whether such an approach is prudent is up for debate.

Last but not least, the claim that “The US would not face such a passive geopolitical situation if Trump was re-elected as the US President” is an assertion that cannot be proved. Trump is well-known for his unpredictability and capriciousness in handling US foreign affairs, despite his consistent tough stance against Iran and his partiality to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Based on his previous actions, Trump might backtrack on Ukraine’s accession to NATO, claiming to support Ukraine’s right to join NATO, but then echoing others’ position against NATO expansion. He might also recklessly respond to Russia’s military threats, which would make the global situation even more precarious. Ultimately, both Trump’s loyal supporters and his adversaries can find examples that support their respective arguments, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to inconvenient truths.

An earlier Chinese version of this article appeared in print on July 25, 2022 in Section B, Page 11 of Ming Pao Daily News. 

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How Bolivia’s 2019 coup exemplified millennia of global history

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Throughout thousands of years of human history, dictatorships have been the norm, not the exception, and all of them have been by the aristocracy, against the public. (Sometimes, the aristocrats are led by one person, a “monarch” or “Fuehrer” or etc.; but he or she then REPRESENTS the aristocracy, NOT the public.)

Aristocrats are the nation’s few super-rich; the public are everyone else.

Usually, the aristocracy ‘justifies’ its ‘superiority’ as being god-ordained, and they hire (donate to) some clergy to allege this in order to keep the public fighting for them and maybe dying for them, in their wars of conquest, against the aristocracies who control foreign lands. Another way to fool their publics is to declare that these conquests will ‘free’ those foreign publics by replacing their local aristocracy with the invading country’s aristocracy (a ‘better’ one; those others are instead being called “oligarchs”), and so creating an empire, which represents ‘us’ against the foreigners’ ‘them’, while also making those foreigners ‘free’ from their “oligarchs.” This is called ‘spreading democracy’.

Throughout thousands of years, aristocracies have operated this way, deceiving masses of people so as to create empires, which expand the local aristocracy’s thefts, from being merely thefts against their local public, to becoming thefts against an entire empire’s public (using those local “oligarchs” as their vassals).

Here is how this worked out recently in Bolivia:

On 11 November 2011, The U.S. White House issued this “Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales”:

The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.  After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.  The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution.  These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.  We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.

On 13 November 2019, the billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s Fox ‘News’ headlined “Bolivia interim president declares ‘Bible has returned to the palace’ amid growing uncertainty”, and reported

A day after brandishing a giant leather-bound Bible and declaring herself Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez set to the task of trying to steady a nation divided by bloody political disputes and create the stability necessary to organize national elections.

The 52-year-old second-vice president of the Senate claimed the presidency on Tuesday following the ousting of socialist leader Evo Morales due to alleged election fraud and resignations from several high-ranking successors that left a power void in the country.

“The Bible has returned to the government palace,” Añez declared as part of an effort to separate herself from Morales, who had banned the Bible from the site after he reformed the constitution and recognized an Andean earth deity instead of the Roman Catholic Church.

Then, two days later, on November 15th, Anti-War dot com bannered “Finally Got Him: The Bolivian Coup”, and reported:

The U.S. says it wasn’t a coup.

Trump’s official statement “applauds” the Bolivian regime change for preserving democracy. Trump identifies the event as “a significant moment in democracy” because it stymied Bolivian President Evo Morales’ attempt “to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people. …”

But all three White House claims are false: Morales didn’t go against the constitution, he didn’t override the will of the people and it was a coup.

If it wasn’t a coup, why was Morales forced from office by the military? Why was he driven out of office in Bolivia and into asylum in Mexico for the sake of his safety, while a coup leader announced that the police and military were hunting Morales down and putting Bolivia into lockdown? Why as he fled and sought asylum was his house ransacked, his sister’s house set on fire, and the families of his cabinet ministers kidnapped and held hostage until the ministers resigned? Though reported in the mainstream media as abandoning Morales, Victor Borda resigned as president of the Bolivian congress and resigned his position as MP because his brother was kidnapped to force him to do so.

If it wasn’t a coup, why did the opposition assume power before the legislature voted on approving Morales’ resignation as the constitution demands? Why did Jeanine Añez declare herself interim president in the absence of the quorum that is legally required to make that decision after meeting with the military high command for over an hour? And why did the opposition force Morales out and assume power before Morales’ term in office would end in January?

If it wasn’t a coup, why did Morales’ opponent, Carlos Mesa, begin his claims of fraud before the voting began, before he could know there had been any fraud? Why did Mesa insist, according to Mark Weisbrot, that he would not accept the election results if Morales wins long before the votes were even counted?

And why, perhaps most damningly, did a cabal of coup plotters discuss between October 8th and 10th – days ahead of the October 20th election – a plan for social disturbance that would prevent Morales from staying in power, as revealed by leaked audio of their conversations

Then, on 24 July 2020, the Twitter site of an American centi-billionaire, Elon Musk, received a tweet from an “Armani” saying, “You know what wasnt in the best interest of people? the U.S. government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there.” Later that day, Musk replied:

“We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

Why, then, was the Bible being presented, on 13 November 2019, as the coup’s justification?

Not enough suckers would have been fooled to support this fascist coup as having been a fascist coup — a coup by an aristocracy. It was actually even a racist-fascist coup, a “nazi” coup (a coup by a racist aristocracy), which aimed to steal from the native-Indian masses in Bolivia, for the benefit of the supremacist-White aristocracy there, who were subordinates, or vassals, of America’s own overwhelmingly White aristocracy, its billionaires, such as the racist-fascist Elon Musk. Fox ‘News’ had broadcast that biblical display to its own overwhelmingly White Christian audience so as to portray that theft against Bolivians as having been in service to their god and consequently ‘justifiable’. It’s simply the way that aristocracies have functioned, for thousands of years.

Then, on 14 July 2022, the “Declassified UK” investigative-news site headlined “EVO MORALES: ‘WE LAMENT THE ENGLISH WERE CELEBRATING THE SIGHT OF DEAD PEOPLE’”, and delivered from Matt Kennard a terrific, linked-to-sources, extensive interview with the U.S.-UK-Bolivian aristocracy-overthrown former Bolivian President, who explained, as Kennard’s summary at its front stated:

               • THE COUP: ‘The UK participated in it – all for lithium’

               • THE BRITISH: ‘Superiority is so important to them, the ability to dominate’

               • THE US: ‘Any relationship with them is always subject to conditions’

               • NEW MODEL: ‘We no longer submit to transnational corporations’

               • JULIAN ASSANGE: ‘The detention of our friend is an intimidation’

               • NATO: ‘We need a global campaign to eliminate it’

               • BOLIVIA: ‘We are putting anti-imperialism into practice’

Morales, while he had held power in Bolivia, had produced, for the Bolivian people, results that publics elsewhere could only dream of.

Of course, the U.S./UK regime will be trying to reconquer Bolivia.

History teaches lots of lessons, to whomever in the public is open-minded to it and who is lucky enough to become exposed to its truths (despite the aristocracy’s overwhelming censorship against those truths — which are historical truths).

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How Covert Talks Resurrected Joe Biden’s Programme and Stunned Washington

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

When news of President Joe Biden’s long-stalled domestic agenda broke out of Washington, it was the middle of the night in Saudi Arabia. Again.
The offender was well known. The enormous plan for the environment, taxes, and social safety net raised concerns from Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia. The news was received with annoyance and outrage in Jeddah, where Biden was holding tense meetings with Saudi leaders, but not astonishment.

Fortunes have changed after 13 days, two Covid infections, and a few acrimonious arguments. Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stunned the majority of Washington on Wednesday when they revealed that they had reached an agreement on a version of Biden’s protracted climate, energy, and tax agenda after restarting their negotiations in secret four days after they had broken down.


Manchin was sure to underline that the bill’s previous name, Build Back Better, had been dropped. It is less than half the size of Biden’s original bill. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is anything but a done deal because Republicans are uniformly opposed and several Democrats in the Senate and House have not yet signed on.

But the accord gave ambitions that many Democrats had mostly set aside fresh life after appearing dormant for months. The President’s legislative prospects are improving after a bill to increase US computer chip manufacture was passed on Thursday.

On Wednesday, after mostly giving up on formal meetings with Manchin after witnessing the senator repeatedly thwart his agenda, Biden spoke to the senator, who is spending time alone in the West Virginia highlands with Covid. Since December, they had not made a formal call on the Democratic agenda.

A day later, when news of the unexpected events was being announced in the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden observed, “The job of the government may be slow, frustrating, and sometimes even aggravating.” “For those who don’t give up, the hours, days, and months of arduous work eventually pay off. It is accomplished. Life is altered.”


The agreement on taxes and climate change was nearly entirely negotiated in secrecy, so when it was revealed on Wednesday in the late afternoon, many people were caught off guard. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota tweeted, “Holy shit.” “Stunned—in a good way, nonetheless.”

That mindset was a far cry from the Democratic Party’s attitude on July 14, when Manchin publicly undermined the energy and climate policies that had been the cornerstone of the Biden administration’s commitment to drastically cut carbon emissions.


The President’s domestic agenda suffered a setback two weeks ago, but the White House was hardly surprised given how frequently it had been dying during the previous year. By that time, senior administration officials had developed a highly dubious perspective on the discussions between Manchin and Schumer about restarting the President’s plans.


Biden had been largely exempted from the conversations, as he was quick to note himself.

When a reporter questioned whether Joe Manchin was negotiating in good faith on July 15 inside the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jeddah, he responded, “I didn’t bargain with Joe Manchin.” 

“I don’t know.” Concerns were raised regarding the most recent inflation statistics by the Senate’s most conservative Democrat. According to a report on July 14, inflation reached a 40-year high in June, rising 9.1 percent over the previous year.

Manchin recalled the meeting he had with Schumer after the two had been in secret discussions about renewing Biden’s climate agenda for three months: “When that 9.1 came in, I said, ‘I can’t, I just can’t do it.'” At that point, Chuck became irate.

It wasn’t always a cool, collected conversation.
Manchin admitted that occasionally his temper gets the better of him and that certain people had “let the dogs out” on him because he allegedly walked away from the agreement.

But by the next week, the two senators had cooled things down. On July 18, Manchin asked Schumer if he was still furious as they passed one another in a hallway of the Capitol.

“This is ludicrous,” I responded,” Manchin spoken. “Check our calibration and see if there is anything we can do. To his credit, he responds, “OK.”

Manchin approached Schumer that day with an offer: “Can we work together and attempt to put together a bill?” Schumer said at a news conference on Thursday. But even then, the timetable was hazy.

Manchin had previously stated that he would wait until he saw the inflation data for August before taking any action on the climate until September. Manchin was told unequivocally by Schumer that a climate agreement needed to be completed before then. I told them, “We’re not waiting for September as long as we finish it in August,” Schumer said.

Despite Manchin’s initial opposition, Schumer persisted with proposals that the West Virginian could back. The aide claimed that the senator eventually returned and expressed his willingness to proceed with an August deadline.

He made a few promises and gave some concessions that helped win his support. Tax increases on Americans with high incomes, which were supported by Biden and other Democrats, were excluded from the final bill. And Manchin has made it clear that he would not have joined the effort unless Democratic leaders made a commitment to pass legislation dealing with energy infrastructure permitting, which might make it easier for a shale gas pipeline in West Virginia.


Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers privately contacted Manchin to explain that the agreement would not increase inflation but would instead be deflationary. Summers had already offered early inflation warnings last year, frequently to the chagrin of the Biden administration.

In a CNN interview, Summers refrained from commenting on his private chats but provided reassurance in response to concerns that the law might increase inflation. He added on “New Day” that the bill “fights inflation and has a whole series of collateral advantages as well.”


Summers wasn’t the only one working behind the scenes for Manchin.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, informed reporters that the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania was providing analysis of the tax and climate pact to him and his staff.

Hickenlooper told reporters, “We knew that (Manchin) trusted Wharton and that he’d utilized that for modeling before. “So we asked them to act out this. After doing that, we received modeling indicating that this is not at all inflationary, and we submitted that to Joe.” 

Hickenlooper claimed he was seeking to add to the chorus of voices persuading Manchin that the agreement will lower inflation. Similar arguments were being made by other senators, such as Chris Coons of Delaware, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Smith, according to Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper said, “I was listening to whatever Joe indicated he had a problem with, and I was trying to fix it. I believed him when he said that inflation was the issue and that the rest could be resolved.


Senior officials at the White House were purposefully kept out of direct discussions despite being aware that important ones were taking place, according to administration aides. People close to Biden have been reluctant to involve him in yet another round of political battle for fear that talks would again break down.

In a radio appearance on Thursday, Manchin stated that “President Biden was not involved.” “I wasn’t going to let the President in because I didn’t think it was fair, and this situation very possibly could have been avoided. It had every chance of going wrong. I had to check to see if this was doable.”

It wasn’t until the very end of the deal that White House officials received a thorough reading of its contents. One insider told CNN that it was “extremely well-kept secret.” 

Biden and Manchin both contracted Covid over the past few days as the deal was coming together. Manchin was alone in his home state’s mountains while Biden worked from the White House.

By Wednesday, Manchin and Schumer had reached an understanding; they made the announcement just after the Senate passed the legislation pertaining to computer chips. Since Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had pledged to reject the microchip measure if Democrats introduced a package containing Biden’s agenda, several people considered the timing to be less than fortuitous.

According to Senate Republican Whip John Thune, “I think everyone got startled, definitely by claims that had been made by Democrats about this arrangement, and I believe there was some level of folks getting ambushed — not only on our side but on the Democrats’ side.”


You’ll have to speak with McConnell about that, he responded when asked if he handled the transaction well.

Democrats face what is likely still an uphill battle in gaining enough support for the package, even among members of their own party, despite their celebrations on Thursday. Schumer assured Democrats Thursday in a speech delivered behind closed doors that they were ready to enact measures they had been discussing for years.

The next 10 days will require us to stick together and put in long days and nights, he stated. “We must maintain focus and discipline in our messaging. It’ll be difficult.”

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