tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 2, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EDT
this is standard operating procedure for presidents visiting america's various war zones. shortly after the 2008 election in which he was elected president, after the election but before the new president had been sworn in in december of 2008, then still president george w. bush took one of these surprise trips the, unannounced trips to background. it was december 14th, 2008. that's when this happened. >> yes. everybody calm down for a minute.
first of all, thank you for apologizing on behalf of the iraqi people. it doesn't bother me. if you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw. >> boy, if you were not surprised enough to find out that the president had surprise, gone to iraq, the president having a shoe hurled at him was definitely a surprise that day. when you look at the official transcript from this, we posted a link to it on our blog tonight. when you go through the transcript of this event, when you get to the part where the guy throws the shoe. it's described as audience interruption. understatement much. when president bush was in baghdad was to sign the agreement which committed the united states to end our war in iraq. it was an agreement that president obama then followed
through on. the last u.s. troops left iraq in december. today, in afghanistan it was not a status of forces agreement. it was called a strategic partnership agreement between the u.s. and afghan government but the idea is the same. it's to commit both countries to a plan by which the united states will end our war there. >> today i signed an agreement between the united states and afghanistan that defines a new relationship between our countries. a future in which afghans are responsible for the security of their nation and we build an equal partnership between two states. as we move forward some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. the answer is clear. our goal is not to build a country in america's image or to eradicate the taliban.
these objectives would require in many years, many more dollars and most importantly many more american lives. our goal is to destroy al qaeda and we on path to do exactly that. afghans want to assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. the agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the afghan people. as you stand up, you will not stand alone. within this framework we'll work with the afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014. counter terrorism, and continued training. we will not build permanent bases in this country. that will be the job of the afghan people. i recognize that many americans are tired of war.
as president nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to the family of fallen or looking into the eye offense a child that will grow up without a mother or father. i will not keep americans in harms way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security. we must finish the job we started in afghanistan and end this war responsibly. >> that was president obama speaking tonight live from afghanistan about the strategic partnership agreement he signed with afghan president, karzai, to spell out how america's longest war ends. unlike the end of the iraq war that bush signed on shoe throwing sunday back in 2008, the afghan promises continuing involvement for another ten years after the troops leave. that means training. that means some unspecified support. it's not supposed to mean
american war fighting. afghanistan has been in a continuous state of warfare for 30 years now. if we're involved until 2024, that means there's a 6-year-old alive somewhere in america today for who this speech and this agreement means they will be spending the summer of 2024 in kandahar. contrast that with iraq where we have an embassy now. the president's secret trip was not just to sign this agreement. the white house acknowledges that the president could have signed the agreement in washington. there was no technical need to be there the person. the other reason for the president to make this trip to afghanistan today is clearly because of today's date. >> we can report the president will announce that osama bin laden is dead. bin laden is dead. that's the major development tonight.
something the united states has sought to accomplish since the deadly attacks on 9/11. >> i want to take a moment and show you this picture. we showed it briefly, but i want to go back here. this is across the street from the white house in washington. >> usa, usa, usa, usa. ♪ for the land of the free and the home of the brave ♪ >> that was one year ago today. it's not an accident that the president is marking the anniversary of the death of bin laden by being in afghanistan. the 9/11 attacks on the united states were planned and directed and carried out by the al qaeda organization that was headquartered in afghanistan, that trained its membership in afghanistan. it was given sanctuary by the
afghan government and led by osama bin laden. that's why within three and a half weeks within the 9/11 attacks u.s. forces were on the ground in afghanistan. by five weeks after that the taliban was gone from the afghan capital and four weeks after that, a military operation in the mountains between afghanistan and pakistan was thought to have a chance of killing this man, killing bin laden. he was allowed to escape into pakistan, into the wind, to escape any real sense that the united states had a continuing bulls eye on him. >> i don't know where he is. i just don't spend that much time on it to be honest with you. i'm not that concerned about him. >> after losing bin laden, the bush administration never again got beat on him. george w. bush's former cia director told time magazine this week i can only speak with authority through february 15th, 2009, but at that point when people would ask, when is the
last time you really knew where he was. my answer was in 2001. a little over a year after losing him the bush administration had moved on in a big way. they had already started a new unrelated war in iraq. the defining assertion of the george w. bush era was the united states would now start preemptive unprovoked wars and be, we would fight terrorism not just by fighting terrorists, but by fighting the whole world. remaking the world in america's image. you're either with us or against us. we will topple unfriendly government. we will stand up new governments. we will stand up governments that never existed in areas where we're trying to install it. we will wage global war. they called it a global war on terror. a war justified by 9/11. as for the people that attacked us on 9/11.
>> i don't know where he is. i just don't spend that much time on it to be honest with you. >> when it came time for a new president after george w. bush, the democratic critique of that era's neo conservative adventures, specifically the barack obama democratic critique was that actually, bin laden is important. the idea of a global war to remake the world in our image is folly. what we ought to wage is war against those that attacked us on anything else. al qaeda should be the target. its leader bin laden should be a priority for the united states. the president should spend some time thinking about bin laden. that was the sharp break proposed by the new president after george w. bush. in all honesty to the chagrin of people that had been alarmed by executive power in the george w. bush administration. the obama administration has not represented a significant break from that. they expected the use of assess nation by drones.
the number of drone strikes spiked in 2009 once obama took over and in 2010 those already spiked numbers from 2009 doubled. this was not going to be a more pacifist approach. president obama tripled the number of troops in afghanistan. the obama administration has not thrown less american weight around and not thrown it away in a less unilateral authority. the obama administration has thrown american weight around in a much more specific direction. it was not a difference in aggression. it was a difference in focus. for this president it makes sense that on the anniversary of bin laden's death, he would put himself in afghanistan. because the news gods are numerologists, it's it perfect for us understanding the sharp and specific turn we have taken as a country on national security under this new
president. it's just as much key to understanding that that today's announcement about the end of the afghanistan war is not just on the anniversary of bin laden's death, this announcement today is also on the anniversary of this. >> this is an nbc news special report. a presidential address. here is tom brokaw. >> good evening. tonight president bush speaks to the nation from the aircraft carrier uss abraham lincoln, which has been at sea for almost ten months. >> a victorious commander in chief thanking all men and women in uniform for a mission accomplished. >> that was nine years ago today. the previous president put on a flight suit, pretended the fly a jet onto the deck of an aircraft carrier that was parked off the coast of san diego and standing under a banner that read mission
accomplished he declared that in the battle of iraq, the united states and our allies have prevailed. >> that was three months into a eight and a half year war. he was celebrated that we successfully invaded iraq. we started a simultaneously land war alongside the one he was still muddling through in afghanistan while he didn't pay much attention to bin laden. now with another presidential election campaign under way, the new president, president obama is celebrating in his own way having decapitated al qaeda and signed the frame work for the second of george w. bush's wars that he is ending. he also celebrating his good fortune of running against a republican opponent this year who chose as his spokesperson on these issues, today of all days, this guy. there he is in iraq before.
there he is here on today tv. the face of public relations for george w. bush's invasion of iraq now the face of national security public relations for the mitt romney for president campaign. joining us now is steve clemens from the new america foundation. he's washington editor at large. it's great to see you. thank you for being with us tonight. let me ask you, somebody that has not only been involved as a general expert but somebody specifically involved in trying to come up with the way this war might end in the afghan study group. what do you see as the president's significance to afghanistan today, him making this address to the nation, signing this agreement and doing it on the anniversary of the bin laden killing? how important is the anniversary here? >> i think it's hugely important. i think you framed the it absolutely right before that what the president has done is said what we spent so much treasure on and not only
trillions of dollars already but trillions of dollars in the out lays of future on something that was considered to be a strategic objective. lots of resources were thrown at that. the president is saying that conflict is coming to an end. he's beginning to frame the end state of that. tying this so directly to bin laden's demise and the roll up of the original core al qaeda network is giving him a chance to basically tell americans this war is over. you have to remember, as you've written in your own book it's hard to end war. not many presidents survive wars they inherit because it's so hard to shut them down because they come criticism to being appeasers or weak. what obama is doing is he is saying i was tough. i'm now showing strategic strength. it's a brave moment and important.
i think it puts obama in the history books because of how he is saying to john mccain, joe lieberman, we're not going to have a war. >> i made this case a little bit in the introduction, i can't assume that you agree. do you think the obama administration did have a different type of focus on bin laden and on al qaeda specifically. i was struck in john brennan's speech about drone warfare. he talked consistently and specifically about al qaeda, al qaeda, al qaeda. not that this is tactic that we used but that the united states reserves specific tactics against al qaeda in a way that represents a real focus. is that different than the bush
administration? >> i think what is interesting is the frame you had of president bush is he didn't spend much time speaking about him? his deputy national security advisor, his now security advisor and his adviser, part of that every day meeting is focused on very laser like focus on where are we at in rolling up the al qaeda network? where are we at the counter terrorism challenges? it's a remarkable focus of the president of the united states on a daily basis that most americans don't know about, hasn't been much written about. it's been part of the real big sea change from the bush administration. one of real problems we've had with al qaeda is it metastasized around the world. more than allowing him to escape, let all the trails go
dry. i remember talking to senior cia who often asked me the question do i really think he's still alive. there was at least a period of time, i don't think the bush administration ever fully stopped looking. i don't think the resources were there. i think barack obama came along and while i was opposed to the surge in afghanistan and thought it would create a lot of blowback, at the same time he doubled down realizing he had to get al qaeda. a senior white house official said to me because of my concern, steve, there's no way out for us in afghanistan. john mccain will ultimately win if we don't get bin laden. there's no narrative for us to leave afghanistan unless bin laden is shut down and captured or killed. >> once we get him, we know how
we will leave. that seemed the closing clause of that sentence. steve clemons. thank you very much for joining us. i appreciate it. >> thank you. nobel prize winning economist is here for the interview. that's still ahead. stay with us. ♪ surf's up everybody get your boards and your wetsuits ♪ free-credit-score-dot-com's gonna direct you ♪ ♪ to check your credit score before it gets too late ♪ ♪ and you end up strapped for cash ♪ ♪ patching your board with duct tape ♪ ♪ so hit free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ find out what credit's about ♪ ♪ or else you could be headed for a credit wipeout ♪ offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com™.
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any president of the united states given that information would have done the same thing, but i give great credit to the president. the point is, do you use that in political campaigns to attack your opponent. mitt romney would have done the exact same thing. i'm confident. any leader would have. to say that mitt romney wouldn't have is politicizing an event that all americans applauded. >> in the 2004 election there was an october surprise right before we voted. four days before the election, the election was november 2nd and four days before that on october 29th, 2004, bin laden released a tape threatening the united states just as americans were going to the polls. asked for comment at the time, senator john mccain said about that tape, he said about bin laden threatening the united states, quote, i think it's very helpful to president bush. it focuses america's attention
on the war on terrorism. that's very helpful. thank you mr. bin laden. your threats to the united states have focused americans on elected george bush. it's okay to say something like that if you are a republican. that was the same election, 2004 in which dick cheney declared a vote for the democratic candidate would be a vote for the united states to be attacked by al qaeda again. >> absolutely essential that eight weeks from today on november 2nd, we make the right choice because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is we'll get hit again. we will be hit in way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the united states. >> is that politicizing national security to say if you vote for a democrat you're voting for al qaeda to attack america? is that politicizing national security or is that okay if you're a republican?
in the next election in 2008 when john mccain was a candidate, you might remember the republican convention featured a long 9/11 tribute video. >> it is a war we never chose to fight and for too long we've looked the other way, but the enemy is wrong. this is war america will win. we'll have a president who knows how. >> as opposed to the democrat who doesn't want to win let alone know how. one of john mccain's central arguments for why he should have been elected instead of barack obama is that he said in 2008, he said that he, john mccain had a secret plan to kill bin laden. >> you're president of the united states. you vowed that you will capture bin laden and bring him to justice. we know that president bush has been doing the best he can. what would you do differently?
>> i'm not going to telegraph a lot of things i'd do because it might compromise our ability to do so. i know the area. i've been there. i know wars. i know how to win wars. i know how to improve our capability so that we will capture bin laden or put it this way, bring it to justice. i know how to do it. >> john mccain campaigned for president on the basis of his secret plan that he knew how to kill bin laden and barack obama didn't. then in real like barack obama killed him and john mccain said it's unseemly to campaign on something like that. obama announced a year ago that bin laden had been killed. there are with celebrations outside the white house. i remember seeing people climbing the lamp posts and the trees outside the fence. the crowd grew bigger and bigger as the night wore on. it started off as the people
that could get there the fastest. it was the fleet of foot at first. by the time i left, it was everybody. it was families with kids and baby strollers out in the middle of the night. it was older people. it was diverse. the street just kept filling up. it was one of those things you remember being part of. for the first time today we're experiencing the anniversary of the killing of bin laden. this is a day we will mark as a country. this is a new day we will mark every year on our national calendar. we'll mark the anniversary of being attacked, but we will also mark this day when the head of al qaeda was killed by american forces. because this is an election year, republicans have decided this year to say they are outraged by this. you heard senator john mccain a moment ago. mitt romney claimed himself disappointed. he said i think it was disappointing for the president
to make this a political item. how dare you commemorate the anniversary of killing bin laden. how dare you seek credit. this afternoon mr. romney spent the afternoon with rudy giuliani who was the mayor of new york city at the time of 9/11. together they visited new york city firefighters at a lower manhattan fire house today on the anniversary of the killing of bin laden. that was mitt romney's political campaign event. him on the campaign trail with rudy giuliani surrounded by cameras commemorating the anniversary of the killing of bin laden. see president obama doing that is very disappointing, but if you are a republican it's okay. ♪
mitt romney is the republican nominee for president. does that mean that mitt romney is the leader of the republican party now? you would think so, but when other republicans talk about him, that is really not the way it comes out. >> we're not auditioning for fearless leader. we don't need a president to tell us what direction to go. we want the paul ryan budget. be leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the house and senate. focus on selecting the most conservative republican who can win in the house seat and the most conservative republican that can win in the senate seat and pick a republican with
enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the united states. >> the real leader of the republican party is this guy. mr. p90x. paul ryan of the kill medicare budget fame. the beltway is in love with paul ryan. paul ryan's nemesis, the person who calls him a garden variety gop extremist. the new book contain a scary , but don't just listen to me. listen to these happy progressive customers. i plugged in snapshot, and 30 days later, i was saving big on car insurance. i was worried it would be hard to install. but it's really easy. the better i drive, the more i save. i wish our company had something this cool. yeah.
the new book contain a scary idea right in the title. mr. krugman's new book is called "end this depression now." you can call it a recession or the great recession which i probably did. paul krugman says this is a depression. we're used to think of it in terms of things collapsing, the economy falling off a cliff. this shows what happens to the economy in broad strokes terms in the great depression. that hollowed plunge is no place to be and neither is this
hallowed out plunge. that's a depression. it's defined by things falling down. you can also find something that goes up around the time of great economic calamity. this one thing starts going up. that one thing is the distance that you have to stretch between the average poor american and the average rich one, like this. this chart was included in a report by congress. we've added red circles to make it easier to see on tv. the distance between rich and poor in this country goes way up around the wall street crash of 1929 and the distance between rich and poor goes up around the end of the bush administration. correlated with depression. huge growth in the gap between rich and poor.
income and equality. why is this so? why do you have spikes? we're going to ask paul krugman that in a moment. first, one more idea to put on the table. it turns out that as income inequality has gone up, look at that. at the same time congress gets more polarized. that's the red line. congress becomes more partisan, less likely to compromise, less willing or able to get anything done. this chart belongs to the smart people at vote view.com. i thank them. this chart explains why we can't get anything done. income inequality creates its on weather. the gravitational pull of the rich become stronger when the rich are richer. political compromise has become almost impossible.
make the reason republicans will not fix the economy and congress can't fix the economy is because they think that fixing the economy would not help the richest people in the country and that's who's interests they feel they must serve. boing. joining us now for the interview is mr. paul krugman. he's a columnist for the new york times and his book is called "end this depression." >> glad to be on. >> why is income inequality a big gap correlated with economic catastrophe? >> when the economy is bad, the people with the least power who can't protect themselves. the most vulnerable get hurt. that's why the gab widens. the other thing is a polarized
political system, a system in which one party has been pulled way off to the right is not able to cope with the difficulties of the economy. we know how to fix. a lot of people have managed to fix. admitting the government is fix a depression is admitting the government can do good things. you might think maybe we have to tax rich people to pay for them. these hard lines, markets our gods, the rich have the answers. >> it does not surprise me there was an exclamation book at the title of your book. you can sense your increasing frustration that it's not that there are people in power who disagree with you on economic
arguments, but that economic arguments are now bad arguments. people who are right and who have been proven right still are not allowed to win the argument. >> it's been an amazing thing. the basic story i've been telling the, you would have been right about a whole lot of things. if you believe the wall street editorial page and invested, wow you would have lost a lot of money. austerity, cutting spending is good because it will increase confidence. take a look at spain and ireland. we've had overwhelming vindication of the ideas that say this is the time for governments to spend. this is not the time to cut back. deficits can wait. that's the argument that nobody wants to hear in power because it's inconvenient for inner circles. in the end it's inconvenient for the 1% or the .1%.
>> do you think there is, in terms of that graph, do you think it is that people who have more literal capital accrue more political capital automatically? you end up getting listened to more because you have money to spend on politicians. >> it's a mixture of things. it's the power of money. there's the revolving door. they are thinking about what will they do after they leave office. there's campaign contributions. i've been in meetings where you have the guys from wall street. they are impressive. they are smart, funny, rich. they have great tailors. they get treated seriously even if they just destroyed the world. they have a weight that bearded college professors don't in these discussions. there's a pull of power of wealth which you need to actively lean against. you try to convince politicians with good hearts that he may sound impressive, but he's not
on your side. >> do you see the arguments on the right changing in character. i was struck having read your book and seeing the profile of mitt romney's old boss. quoted having a small elite with vast wealth is good for the poor and middle class. that used to be what people like i would accuse people of believing. it's now the overt argument. >> you're watching the hereditary principle starting to make a comeback. i've seen that a bit from mitt romney. we used to think it was about equal chance at the starting line. it's of course people should have the right to pass advantages onto their children. this way to the 14th century. we're trying to get back to the old values of hereditary wealth and power. we've moved to a level of shamelessness.
the other thing to say is if you look at past economic debate, milton freedman would be on a the left side. he favored stronger aid to the poor and active policies to fight depressions. he would be considered an inflationary socialist in the debate. >> in terms of what you think we can do to end this depression now, you argue housing. you say housing was one of causes where we ended up but it's the thing that we have to tackle. >> it's one of things. three years ago, where do we spend? how do we stimulate the economy was hard? you had to find the right project. now all you have to do is reverse the terrible things we have been do i think the past three years. we've had massive layoffs of government employees at the state and local level. we've laid off 300,000 school teachers. we should have added 700,000 to
keep up with population growth. you have people you can put to work with no need to do anything adventurous. we can probably get the unemployment rate below 7%. that's the start. you also had this erhang of bad debt, which we have not tackled properly. it would help if the fed was doing more. right now is the time to be spending on useful stuff. it's easy. we could do this. if we had the political and the clarity, 18 months from now we could be solidly on the road to recovery. >> that's the recipe herein. thank you for coming in. >> thank you. right after this show on the last word, alex baldwin joins lawrence live. i'm going to have to talk to him about borrowing the haircut for this weekend.
president obama is trying to sneak communist code words past us again. how do we know this? wikipedia. that story is next. [ female announcer ] removing facial hair can be irritating. challenge that. olay smooth finish facial hair removal duo. first a gentle balm then the removal cream. effective together with less irritation and as gentle as a feather. olay hair removal duo. splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweetener with b vitamins, the first and only one to help support a healthy metabolism. three smart ways to sweeten. same great taste. splenda® essentials™.
back on march 24th of this year, rick santorum won louisiana. he won the louisiana state republican primary. rick santorum won with 49% of the vote. mitt romney got 27%. newt gingrich, 16%. ron paul, 6%. the great state of louisiana will send 46 delegates to the republican convention this summer. even though ron paul came in dead last, when louisiana sends its delegates to the convention, louisiana will become a dead heat between him and mitt romney. it is looking like right now, maybe 19 delegates for romney and 17 for paul. rick santorum is now out of the race, still having remaining ten that he got that march night. but ron paul supporters overwhelmingly dominated the louisiana caucuses this past weekend. almost three quarters of the republicans elected at caucuses in louisiana say they support ron paul for president. also this weekend, there was chaos at the republican caucuses in the great state of massachusetts. less than half of mitt romney's delegates were elected to represent him at the convention.
voters instead chose, ron paul delegates. they even rejected mr. romney's former lieutenant governor from his time as governor of the state. she lost as delegate so ron paul delegates could win. also this weekend, ron paul supporters in the great state of alaska quite literally took over the state's party's convention. ron paul guy won the state chairmanship. paul supporters were so fired up, just so loud that senator lisa murkowski, mitt romney supporters, could not deliver her planned speech in the room. neither could her guest, jim berasa. the crowd is chanting ron paul, ron paul, ron paul. and no one sells getting a word in edge wise. ron paul won for state chairman. beating the guy who is current alaska chairman whose had the job for a decade. six ron paul delegates will be sent to tampa. we have seen this ron paul plot are before.
remember the iowa republican caucuses this year. first saying romney won it. no, then that wasn't right. then tried it say it was a tie. then rick santorum was the winner. but then none of it mattered in any practical sense but the iowa caucuses did not allocate a single delegate. a state republican committee does that. a committee picks the delegates that go to the republican convention. last month ron paul supporters took over that committee. guaranteeing ron paul at least half, at least half of iowa's 28 tell delegates. so ron paul won iowa and by the way, a ron paul supporter chairs the iowa republican party as well. securing victories large and small that will have an affect on the republican party. if not the nominating process for president this year. ron paul's strategy hasn't been to convert nonbelievers or swing
romney delegates to his side the ron paul strategy is to get his own supporters inside to get them inside the process. and we cannot say we didn't see this coming. >> from the outside make positive change as not the party's nominee and as president -- being on outside. >> on the outside, from the inside. we don't win over the insiders by becoming like an insider. we win the inside over by making the outsiders become more appropriate -- >> making the insiders become more appropriate like making them take over state parties. in addition to the coos this weekend in alaska and iowa ron paul won more than half of the delegates in minnesota and washington state. yes, ron paul won minnesota and washington state. winning having his eyes on maine, missouri and minnesota as
well. if ron paul wins majority of delegates in five states his name will officially be entered in nomination at republican national convention in tampa. and there will be a lot of republican ron paul delegates there to cheer or do something when that happens. and then what? republicans fight it out like gladiators at the coliseum? i love this stuff. it's time to get going.
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the wisconsin state flag, wisconsin entered the union, as in the united states, not a trade union, in 1848. politico reported this scandal of the union flag in wisconsin but they were wrong. they issued a correction. the president may be a socialist union pig stooge kenyan whatever but standing near a flag with wisconsin 1848 on it was not that. mistakes happened, politico was embarrassed. they ran the correction, story over. now something similar is happening. >> i believe america is on the way up. thank you, god bless you. god bless the united states of america. >> that's the end of a seven-minute campaign video unveiled yesterday. it appeared to may be the birth of a new campaign slogan, forward. took less than a day to uncover the sinister origins of that. here is michael walsh of the national review, tying the
slogan "forward" to the name of the newspaper of germany's social democratic party. that's social as in socialist. walsh goes on to say, if you don't think david axelrod doesn't know this, you really ought to think again. victor morton notes that forward has a long and rich association with european marxism. his source, wikipedia. which is currently considered for deletion at wikipedia. you should check out its recent edit think of theory. it's really fun. the daily mail had this. lennon in a century of marxist radicals. obama's new campaign slogan forward along with handy side by side pictures of president obama and chairman mao. so that is happening. applying the raiser to this story, one time that the fear mongering leaves out of the analysis of the forward slogan which comes from some godless
pinko bent on everything free and american. forward is also the motto of the great state of wisconsin. it is actually on the flag. that union flag has the communist motto on it. and hey, look. wait, there it is on the official wisconsin state quarter. with a cow and ear of corn and wheel of cheese. yeah, that cow looks like a commy to me. i heard that trotski loved cheese. what is next sounds a little collective. david axelrod knows it too, i bet. . on the move. there are reports this morning a chinese dissident has left u.s. protection. president obama ushers in a ne