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‘Netanyahu sucks’ — says Mike Gravel, Democratic presidential candidate

Media Analysis
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The New York Times Magazine today has a funny/compelling story about the “Gravel teens,” two leftwing New York 18-year-olds who are running former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel’s improbable run for president at age 88, as he sits at home in California.

The teens, Henry Williams and David Oks, launched the campaign in March, publishing tweets under Gravel’s name. “Don’t tweet anything I wouldn’t say,” he said, handing over his login info.

Their goal is not to win the nomination but qualify Gravel for debates by garnering 65,000 donors, so that he can move the discussion leftwards. Left how? Reports Jamie Lauren Kieles:

Gravel’s platform, the most detailed of any Democratic candidate’s, includes a vast slate of issues that poll well with young voters: immigration reform, student-debt forgiveness, a Green New Deal, military-spending cuts, a policy of nonaggression abroad. Oks and Williams call Gravel a few times a week to approve any additions to the slate. Because Gravel isn’t really trying to be president, he can also afford to openly support reparationsthe decriminalization of sex work and the end of “Israeli apartheid” — policies considered urgent on the far left but largely ignored or rejected by the Democratic Party….

Broadly speaking, the Mike Gravel campaign is part of the same Democratic Socialist moment that elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 and nearly nominated Bernie Sanders in 2016.

If you go to Gravel’s website, you see that the Times does Gravel and the teens a huge disservice by failing to note how antiwar the entire thrust of Gravel website is.

“End the American Empire… The time has come… to fundamentally shift the dialogue of American politics. I’m running for president to force the tough conversation about the costs of endless wars…”

The Israel plank is one of a dozen aimed at generating a foreign policy of peace. Notice the url the teens chose for the Israel plank: http://www.mikegravel.org/issues/netanyahusucks/ And notice the political sophistication of the position: an end to military aid to Israel, the focus on the lobby and its influence, the slam at the passivity of the Democrats, the hat-tips to Ilhan Omar and Walt and Mearsheimer, and the call for a “mature” relationship with Israel. And yes: recognize a state of Palestine or call for a “plural state” with equal rights, that’s revolutionary.

For too long, America has given uncritical support to the Likud government of Israel, which has enacted racist apartheid-style policies designed to disenfranchise Palestinians. American leadership, both Democratic and Republican, has watched, both approvingly and passively, as Israel illegally annexed Palestinian land, encouraging further encroachment through billions of dollars in military aid, the placement of the American embassy in Jerusalem, and the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Groups like AIPAC wield far too much influence over our foreign policy, as critics like Rep. Ilhan Omar, as well as mainstream experts like Professors Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer, have highlighted for more than a decade. It is time to craft a foreign policy independent of undue influence by the Israel lobby, and to stop turning a blind eye to the injustices of the occupation.

The United States should:

Establish a mature, non-partisan relationship with Israel and its neighbors, including through multilateral mechanisms, to promote mutual peace, security and wellbeing.
End military aid to Israel.
Refuse to support laws aiming to stifle the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that cripple freedoms of speech and association.
Recognize Palestinian statehood or call for a plural state in which Israelis and Palestinians all enjoy full and equal rights in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Back in 2008 the Obama campaign had to pull an ad that appeared online linked to Walt and Mearsheimer’s book; and Obama threw the scholars under the bus. The next generation isn’t pandering.

Though notice that the Times relegates the Israel issue to a series of utopian proposals that it says are a third rail in politics, not its reasonable progressive list that includes immigration reform. Here is Gravel’s stance on the “puritanical” laws aimed at sex workers. Here’s the proposal for $30 billion a year from the government for reparations for the “systematic disenfranchisement of and discrimination against significant groups of people, whose descendants still suffer today.”

H/t Donald Johnson.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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24 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on June 9, 2019, 11:47 am

    As a practical matter, one has to wonder just exactly what Yankee imperialism has to gain by maintaining its Zionist cat’s-paw. Yes, the Zionist entity helps the Yankee aggressor to divide and conquer the region. But are those services worth the cost and the trouble? In other words, couldn’t the US dump the Zionist entity and still achieve its criminal designs on Iraq, Syria, Iran, and so on?

    • Misterioso on June 10, 2019, 8:46 am

      @LiberatePalestine, et al

      Jeremy Salt nails Kushner, Trump, Netanyahu, et al, to the wall:

      https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/palestine/3203-the-joke-of-the-century.html

      “The Joke of the Century” American Herald Tribune, June 7/19, By Jeremy Salt **

      “With fresh elections called by Benyamin Netanyahu for September, it is possible that the ‘deal of the century’ may never see the light of day. Condemned across the board by Palestinians, even supporters are backing away. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State, said recently it was a deal ‘only the Israelis could love’ and possibly ‘unexcutable.’ Still, for what it reveals of the minds that could come up with such a scheme, the ‘deal of the century’ is still worth examining.

      “The ‘deal’ would be the joke of the century were it not so seriously intended. Whether deal or joke, however, the bottom line is blackmail and even murder. If Hamas and Islamic Jihad don’t accept this deal, the US will allow Israel to ‘personally harm’ their leaders, in other words, kill them.

      “The full package is to be unveiled in late June but these are some of the details, as leaked from the Foreign Ministry to Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper, Israel Hayom, a propaganda conduit for the Netanyahu government. Adelson’s wife Miriam, Israel Hayom’s chief executive, is one of the richest women in the world, with an estimated personal fortune of $22 billion. She and her husband have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into their pet causes, the Republican Party and the state of Israel. Described in the US media as an ‘humanitarian’ and ‘philanthropist,’ this sponsor of Israel’s racist war on the Palestinians was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018, the highest US award that can be conferred on a civilian.

      “Some of the detail in the Jared Kushner ‘deal of the century’ may be kite-flying, to be modified before the formal release of the plan, so that it won’t look so bad after all, but the deadly intent, to erase Palestine forever and replace it with a strangulated state of ‘New Palestine,’ is not to be doubted.

      “As outlined in Israel Hayom, Israel would annex all the West Bank settlement blocs. Together with the isolated settlements to be brought within this land grab, Israel could be expected to seize most if not all of Area C of the West Bank, as assigned to full Israeli control in the long-moribund ‘peace process.’

      “This would give it up to 62 percent of the West Bank. ‘New Palestine’ would consist of Area A (about three percent) and presumably most of Area B, consisting of 24 percent, to make statehood even remotely plausible. The territory taken by Israel would include the fertile and well-watered Jordan Valley. Overall, the Palestinians would be left with about 12 percent of their stolen homeland. In practice, there would be no real change from the present situation. The ‘deal’ would simply ratify Israeli settlement and land seizures in a new pseudo-legal arrangement.

      “The West Bank would be connected to Gaza by a highway, to be funded mainly by China but with smaller financial contributions from South Korea, Australia, Canada, the US, and the EU. Egypt would lease land to ‘New Palestine’ for the construction of an airport and an industrial zone in Sinai. The Palestinians would also have a port. This and other infrastructural and administrative costs would be covered by $30 billion paid by the oil-producing Gulf states (70 percent, the US (20 percent) and the EU (10 percent).

      “A time frame of five years would provide plenty of room for the freezing of grants if the Palestinians misbehave, in the event of rockets still being fired into Israel or through their perceived failure to comply with the terms imposed on them, as interpreted by Israel, of course.

      “Israel would continue to oversee the ‘security’ of ‘New Palestine’s’ land and sea borders, so no change here either except the semantic. As the trump hand in negotiations would always be held by someone else – Israel, the US or Egypt or the donors to the various projects – the Palestinians would be perennially open to threat and intimidation and the withholding of financial grants.

      “‘New Palestine’ would have its capital in Jerusalem, most probably in the village of Abu Dis, which was brought within the municipal boundaries by Ehud Barak during the Camp David negotiations to create the fiction of a shared capital. In fact, Jerusalem would remain under the full control of the Israeli municipality and government. Palestinians would have no say at all in how the city is run.

      “East Jerusalem Palestinians would remain the citizens of ‘New Palestine’ but Israel would control their daily lives as before. Restrictions would be formally applied to real estate deals, so that Israelis could not buy Palestinian houses and Palestinians could not buy properties sequestered by Jewish settlers. In practice, given Israel’s determination to turn Jerusalem into a wholly Jewish city, except for Palestinian remnants, it is difficult to see this restriction being applied to the settlers, whom the occupier’s law allows to seize Palestinian property by the most dubious means.

      “Hamas would have to hand in all its weapons immediately. New elections would be held in a year. ‘New Palestine’ would have no army, only a lightly-armed police force. Having spent more than seven decades destroying the old Palestine – the real Palestine – Israel would take responsibility for the defense of the new, but the Palestinians would have to bear the costs of their own protection as calculated by Israel.

      “The Palestinians would have to accept that they have no right of return and naturally there is no mention of the hundreds of billions of dollars that is their due from the theft of their land and the destruction of hundreds of their villages in 1948-9. Hot on reparations from Germany, Israel has never shown any interest in paying back the Palestinians for what it has stolen and the lives it has destroyed.

      “If the Palestinians do not accept the ‘deal of the century’ the US will do everything in its power to make sure that no institution or country in the world gives them any financial support. If the PLO accepts the deal but Hamas and Islamic Jihad do not, the US would support any Israeli attempt in times of conflict to ‘personally harm’ their leaders. In other words, the US government would openly support their assassination.

      “As the US has always tacitly supported the murder of Palestinian leaders, the only change here would be the move from implicit to open support but either way, this is gangsterism pure and simple, put down in writing by the smooth-faced son of a property developer from New Jersey. Where is Tom Wolfe now that he is needed to put all of this into the only appropriate form, satire?

      “If Israel rejects the offer then it too would receive no more financial support from the US government. The notion that an Israeli government would reject an arrangement that gives it virtually everything it has ever wanted except the complete expulsion of the Palestinians is grotesque.

      “How astonishing it is that in the 102 dramatic years since the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, that after a century of massacres, murders and assassinations of Palestinians and other Arabs by the Zionists and their ‘western’ sponsors, after the resistance of young and old Palestinians generation after generation, and against the background of the complete illegality of Zionist actions, that this squalid deal is the best Jared Kushner could come up.

      “He clearly has no grasp of history. No doubt he discussed this at length with Ivanka. That the fate of Palestine could come to rest in the hands of these spoilt American juveniles, these Ken and Barbie dolls, who could be stood next to their waxen simulacrums in Madame Tussaud’s without anyone noticing the difference, is the measure of the complete bankruptcy of the United States in the Middle East.

      “How equally astonishing it is that Jared, or Ivanka, or Trump or his settler-supporting ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, could be so ignorant of history, so unaware of the human spirit as demonstrated not just by the Palestinians but by every occupied and oppressed people through the entire course of history, that they could have even thought the Palestinians would buy into this cheap realtor’s stunt. Buy now, because tomorrow it’s going to be twice as expensive. This is a bargain you Palestinians just can’t afford to miss. The vendor can’t hold off forever.

      “The racist, orientalist implications have been brought out by Haidar Eid and others. Dignity, honor, pride, justice, moral, legal and historical entitlement are all missing from Jared Kushner’s calculations. The money deal is on the table and the native better pick it up because this is the best he’s ever going to be offered and if he doesn’t he’s going to be whipped until he sees reason.

      ‘‘’I’m not here to be trusted,’ Jared said of the Palestinians in an Axio-HBO interview. ‘They’re gonna judge it based on facts and then make a determination .. When I speak to the Palestinians what they want is the opportunity to live a better life …. They want the opportunity to pay the mortgage.’’ Thus is the Palestinian problem reduced to the cash worries of a suburban American household.

      “In the Bible, an Esau returning hungry from the fields is said to have sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a ‘mess of pottage,’ which seems to have been a plate of lentils. In a similar fashion, Jared is about to put his offer to the Palestinians on the kitchen table: they will have to forfeit their birthright, but do they want the lentils or not?

      “He is not even sure the Palestinians will prove capable of governing themselves. That was the British line when they took Palestine from the Palestinians in 1920. They said they would hold Palestine until the people are ready for self-government. In fact, these liars were holding Palestine in limbo until the Zionists settlers had built up the numbers and were ready for self-government without the Palestinians.

      “Over decades the Zionist line was that ‘we have no negotiating partner.’ In fact, it was the Palestinians who never had a negotiating partner and do not have one now. Israel has ignored, undermined or debauched every single peace offer ever made. It has chosen all of Palestine over peace every time. Now along comes the ‘deal of the century’ to close off all remaining options and deliver the Palestinians into a formally structured Babylonian life of bondage to the state of Israel.

      “Palestinians have already responded by signaling to Jared that he can put his ‘deal of the century’ in a place where the sun never shines. This struggle will continue, fought within Palestine and from beyond its borders.”
      __________________________________________________________________________

      **Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

    • Misterioso on June 10, 2019, 9:31 am

      @LiberatePalestine, et al

      A lengthy, but must read PDF regarding the relationship between Zionism and the U.S.

      http://aaargh.vho.org/fran/livres3/ZionistCoverup.pdf

      “The Great Zionist Cover-up, A Study and Interpretation” by Edwin M. Wright**
      Originally prepared for and by request of the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.
      Copyright 1975.

      **Edwin M. Wright – General staff G-2 Middle East specialist, Washington, 1945-46; Bureau Near East-South Asian-African Affairs Department of State since 1946, country specialist 1946-47; advisor UN Affairs, 1947-50; advisor on intelligence, 1950-55.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 10, 2019, 11:35 am

        Thanks, Misterioso. I shall read that book later.

        The «deal» supposedly drafted by Kushner isn’t even worthy of notice. I’ll say this, though: even in US law (and presumably also the law, such as it is, of the Zionist entity), «Take this or I’ll kill you» cannot be the basis of a «deal». That sort of threat constitutes duress, and noöne has to respect a so-called contract extracted in that way.

      • DaBakr on June 10, 2019, 10:39 pm

        @lb

        Good point. Both as it applies to Israel and the Palestinian entities

  2. lonely rico on June 9, 2019, 6:07 pm

    >LiberatePalestine

    what Yankee imperialism has to gain by maintaining its Zionist cat’s-paw.

    You are confusing the cat with its paw.
    The interests of the US ruling class are those of their Zionist paymasters; Yankee imperialism in the Middle East coordinates closely with Israel’s needs and desires. Israel’s wish to sow strife and mayhem throughout the ME has been the guiding principle for the America’s never-ending wars of destruction in Iraq, Syria, Libya, soon Iran (God forbid).
    The cost to America in terms of money, lives, and moral authority has been enormous, while the cost to the communities and victims of this madness is incalculable and will not be soon forgotten.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 9, 2019, 6:35 pm

      It’s rather hard to see the US as a puppet of the Zionist entity. And more than a Zionist «wish to sow strife and mayhem» underlies the US’s wars of destruction in the Middle East.

      • oldgeezer on June 9, 2019, 9:11 pm

        @LiberatePalestine

        I can’t disagree that it is hard to see the US as a puppet of Israel.

        How do you see a puppet?

        There is no way the US populace as a whole would ever be a puppet of Israel. There’s no way the overall population of any country would ever be a puppet to a foreign state. Not even sure that’s a good thing since it prioritizes us over them whoever the us and them are.

        But as long as key politicians or a plurality of politicians are willingly behaving puppets because it benefits them, and to deny that many politicians are acting upon self interest, then a state can indeed be a puppet of a foreign state as individuals don’t really get a say. Only those who are elected.

        And yes, the US is currently a puppet of Israel. Name one other state a politician must bow down before. Name one other state who receives the same extent of lobbying time.Name one other state who has the same legislative protection. Said protection extending to what you may say in contravention of the constitution.

        The US is effectively a puppet.
        It’s a pet of Israel which obeys on command.

        If it were not for the Palestinian question, and considering I’m not a US citizen, I wouldn’t even bother to comment on it as it astounds me and gives me great laughs.

        I’m not picking on the US. My own country is equally bad.

        It’s an abomination.

      • DaBakr on June 10, 2019, 10:42 pm

        @og

        I think your engaging in whataboutism. What other state……..etc. Or doesn’t it work both ways?

  3. brent on June 9, 2019, 7:17 pm

    “Liberate Palestine” makes points commonly accepted but are not fully on a sound footing. Because America backs Israel does NOT mean it approves of its expansionism. Politically it tolerates it largely because its manipulated to do so. Also, it’s more accurate to say Israel takes than to say America gives. Accomplished through propaganda and manipulation of public opinion…. how politics and politicians are effectively managed in America. This can more easily be seen through the overview, not the immediate view. Read insights into this at https://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/02/how-israel-out-foxed-us-presidents-3/. More than a few see US ME policy having been orchestrated (of course there have bee MIC economic interests at play) by Likud interest in avoiding an agreement to enable expansionism and the interest in being a mini- imperial power. This is the primary explanation for ME wars, not oil which can be bought on the market. It’s a near certainty if these wars were against Israel’s interests, the story would be different.

    Not understanding these nuances have stood in the way of formulating a workable strategy to end the occupation. We’ve heard it hundreds of times, “Israel has the right to defend itself,” as s the goal posts and realities get changed to achieve expansionist objectives.

    The occupation will not end through using coercion or intimidation…. the opposite. It can end in a constructive way by sucking anger up and focusing on respectful co-existence which broadens the relationship with Jews who will and can modify Zionist goals.

  4. eljay on June 9, 2019, 7:59 pm

    Mike Gravel seems like a decent human being. If I could, I’d vote for him.

  5. RoHa on June 9, 2019, 8:48 pm

    I recall that Gravel ran for P years ago. I didn’t know he was still alive.

  6. Citizen on June 10, 2019, 6:26 am

    Gravel’s got some good interview videos out on social media, anyone not familiar with his take on things should watch a few of them.

    • Philip Munger on June 10, 2019, 1:37 pm

      I’ve known Mike for over 45 years. I interviewed him several times, for radio and blogs, between 1973 and 2011. He’s probably most famous outside of Alaska for reading the Pentagon Papers aloud in the U.S. Senate in late June, 1971, while serving in that body. Because of that, I sought him out on the subject of Chelsea Manning when she was arrested (she was then Private Bradley Manning). At the time – April, 2011 – he said:

      “My admiration for Bradley Manning knows no bounds. In fact the equivalent of being Bradley Manning would be being me, and [Daniel] Ellsberg being Assange. That’s the comparison.

      “And I was 41 years old when I released the Pentagon Papers [to the Senate]. You know, I’d been three days without sleep, and I was just afraid – scared to death – I didn’t know if I was going to go to jail or lose my senate seat, or what have you, and so I wound up, out of fatigue and fear and all of that, sobbing, when I’m putting the papers into the record. I was sobbing. I couldn’t get control of my emotions. So, when Bradley Manning – and I was 41 years old – when Bradley Manning was arrested, they turned around and said, “Well, he’s unstable.”

      “Unstable – Hell! – I was unstable!

      “He’s not unstable. He has the clearest vision of what his responsibilities [are] – when you go into the military, you swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, not to the captain, not to the generals, not to the president or the White House. You swear allegiance to the Constitution.

      “Manning was sitting there, watching all these daily reports coming back, and seeing that what was being said there was different from what was being said by the White House. And so, he had the guts and perspicuity to recognize “Do it, and do it right.”

      “And – knows the risk, knows the risk. If we don’t get him out some way…..”

      He’s a longtime critic of many aspects of U.S. foreign policy. He was the first Democrat to announce a candidacy for the 2008 Presidential election. He was an important provocative figure in the 2007 Democratic Party Presidential debates. During that campaign, he was way ahead of the curve on single payer health insurance. I would put Mike to the left of Bernie Sanders.

      I don’t recall Israel ever coming up specifically in any of our interviews or talks. Interestingly, he got his start in Alaska politics with the help of Barney Gottstein, one of the early AIPAC chiefs here. Barney’s son, David Gottstein, was a later statewide head of that same organization.

      It would be nice to see former Sen. Gravel get enough donations to qualify for the 2020 Democratic Presidential debates. I’ve donated.

      • Citizen on June 12, 2019, 12:02 pm

        AGREED.

  7. tamarque on June 10, 2019, 8:32 am

    What has not been mentioned is that Israel is a major surveillance/spy industry State. It has one of the largest such industries in the world and the US uses its services extensively And being fascistic, it has developed many strategies and tactics for mass social control. The US sends its military/police over there for in the field training. They contract for such training at home, too. It spies for the US in the ME and has no problem with extrajudicial assassinations world wide which they do as a proxy for the US. We give them weapons, allow their chemical weaponry and nuclear weapon development without any controls internationally. We allow/support their illegal attacks on States such as Syria and Lebanon. So the US gets lots of service from
    that State. And not to forget the ongoing selling of military weapons as they need to replenish their fortresses.

    • Citizen on June 11, 2019, 7:36 pm

      US worked with Israel to create Iron Dome missile defense system, and US tax payers funded that joint venture. There’s now a new bill floated out in Congress which has US Buying Iron Dome from Israel! TALK ABOUT HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT TOO!.

  8. Vera Gottlieb on June 10, 2019, 9:21 am

    Has been “sucking” for long time already.

    • Mooser on June 10, 2019, 11:24 am

      The first Democratic candidate who says something like; ‘You bet I support Israel, but Israel must do (or not do) certain things to keep that support coming’, will see their poll numbers go up 10 points.

      • Citizen on June 11, 2019, 7:40 pm

        Agreed. You need to add, “like any other country, including all our more real allies who have put troops on the ground to serve with ours in a common objective, countries who actually have mutual defense treaties with USA.

      • RoHa on June 11, 2019, 9:52 pm

        “including all our more real allies who have put troops on the ground …”

        Asking Israel to meet the same standards as Australia and Britain and Canada and France and New Zealand? I’m pretty sure that’s anti-Thingummy.

      • DaBakr on June 12, 2019, 11:13 pm

        @rh

        Name one international coalition that wouldnt have fallen apart due to Muslim hatred of Israel had Israel been included? Israel wanted very much to be part of the first and second war with Saddam but was sidelined by Bush ( probably wisely). In fact, the IDF would dive right in to help if it were possible. It already happens covertly because the dictators of the gulf states would fear for their lives were their citizens to find out. I think egyptians poll at some ridiculous number like 98% having an unfavorable opinion of jews, not just Israelis, but jews. So, overt troops like “Australian” boys and girls? Not happening. But don’t imagine Israel isn’t involved. You know how ‘involved’ zionists are reputed to be

  9. Ossinev on June 10, 2019, 1:42 pm

    @Misterioso
    “The West Bank would be connected to Gaza by a highway, to be funded mainly by China but with smaller financial contributions from South Korea, Australia, Canada, the US, and the EU. Egypt would lease land to ‘New Palestine’ for the construction of an airport and an industrial zone in Sinai. The Palestinians would also have a port. This and other infrastructural and administrative costs would be covered by $30 billion paid by the oil-producing Gulf states (70 percent, the US (20 percent) and the EU (10 percent).”

    Missing from this alleged list of “donors” and alleged “contributions” is the economically great and miraculous Zioland. As in they it would appear will be required to fork out SFA. Perhaps it would be perceived as being “Anti – Semitic” to suggest such a thing. As if the Zios should be expected to hand over any of their hard earned profits of crime as part of the deal given all that they have and continue to suffer. Oy vey!

    Also the question has to be asked. Have any of the purported “donors” actually been approached or have they agreed in any way to fork out this largesse when there is on the face of it nothing in it for them. China perhaps if Huawei gets some sort of Trump proof 5G contract ?

    Sounds like a classic case of smoke and mirrors Zio style.

  10. Arby on June 11, 2019, 9:04 pm

    The New Green Deal is not a good deal. Cory Morningstar has researched it thoroughly. That ‘a’ new green deal is needed is not in dispute.

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