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I normally don't post opinion pieces but I think this guy pretty well sums up the situation.

The Rise of the Putin Doctrine

As the West celebrated 'soft' power, Putin went back to 'hard' power, using gas to cow his neighbors.

By Josef Joffe | NEWSWEEK

True, Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili is not a very smart president. A pro would not have walked into the trap the Russians and their local thug-in-chief (a.k.a. "president"), Eduard Kokoity, had set up in South Ossetia. A wise leader would have done some elementary intelligence work and then recoiled in horror. Across the border in (Russian) North Ossetia lay waiting Russia's 58th Army, steeled by annihilationist warfare in Chechnya and considered their best trained. It has 600 tanks, 2,000 armored troop carriers and 120 combat planes. Even if only half smart, the president could have saved his country from disaster by simply closing the Roki Tunnel, those two miles under the Caucasus Mountains that were the only way in for the 58th. In poured 15,000 men and 150 tanks, and that shut up the mouse that roared.

All true, and yet Saakashvili is not the main culprit, but Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin. It began not on Aug. 8, but in July—with a vast military exercise, "Caucasus 2008," as dress rehearsal for the invasion. As a flanking maneuver, Moscow handed out thousands of passports to South Ossetians (legally Georgians) to have a nice PR gambit ready: "What, aggressors us? We are just protecting the Motherland's citizens." So here we are—at the fourth Russian conquest of Georgia. The first bites were taken by Catherine the Great, annexation was completed by Aleksandr II in 1864 and, after three years of independence, Georgia was grabbed by the Bolsheviks in 1921.

So let's talk about "continuity." Continuity has to do with power politics, conquest and domination, the ways of states since time immemorial. And with Russian behavior as exemplified by its actions on Aug. 8. We now look back in disbelief at the Gorbachev-Yeltsin era of docility (1985–2000). How could we think that Russia would stop being Russia? You don't have to foam at the mouth as did Friedrich Engels, the granddaddy of communism, in 1890 when he targeted the "steely stamina" behind Russia's endless quest to make the country "vast, mighty and feared—and to pave the way to world domination." But you can listen to Aleksandr III, tsar from 1881 to 1894, who famously proclaimed, "Russia has only two reliable allies—its Army and Navy."

That phrase was repeated by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in 2003 at the time of the Iraq War, and it highlights what makes Putin tick. It's power and advantage; if you've got it, use it—panzers, pipelines and all. As the West turned to climate and hunger, as it celebrated "soft power" and the cracking of sovereignty under the hammer blows of humanitarianism, Putin went back to "hard" power, using gas to cow his neighbors from the Baltics via Belarus to the Ukraine, and tanks to reconquer what he claims is rightfully his. Today, it is Georgia. What will it be tomorrow? The ex-Soviet republic Azerbaijan, swimming on an ocean of oil? Kazakhstan, one of Europe's critical gas suppliers via pipelines running through Georgia, the last conduit not controlled by Russia? How about Kiev, now independent, but historically the very core of Russia?

Those who have chastised Saakashvili for tweaking the bear are also pleading clemency for Putin. They invoke Russia's humiliation in the cold war, the loss of its empire (14 out of 15 republics chose independence) and the forward march of NATO and the European Union across the former Iron Curtain. So what? Does this mean Russia has a right to an empire? That its ex-vassals from the Baltic to Bulgaria have no right to autonomy and safety?

Forty years ago, the Brezhnev doctrine proclaimed "once socialist, always socialist" as pretext for crushing the Prague Spring. Shall we now have a Putin doctrine: "Once Russian, always Russian?" Even the propitiators would not savor this kind of retro imperialism. Nor is the West as powerless as the hand-wringers pretend. The first order of business must be massive reconstruction aid to Georgia. Saakashvili may be a fool, but he is a democratic one, and he is a lot better than a Putin puppet. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was right when she pronounced in Tbilisi: "Georgia will be a member of NATO; it wants to be one."

Such confidence-building measures should also extend to the new NATO members. To avoid riling the bear, the alliance did not station its troops in Poland et al. Now is the time to build the infrastructure for rapid deployment and to practice swift reinforcement. It is more important to assure Poland than to pet Putin. Third, Russia must leave Georgia or face diplomatic quarantine and suspension of institutionalized dialogue. Isn't this awfully soft stuff? Yes, but it will be very lonely for neo-tsar Vladimir if, like Aleksandr, he wants to rely only on his Army and Navy. Win-win, to paraphrase Churchill, is better than war-war. Come to think of it, there is this American president who in his first term also thought that raw power would conquer all. Say hello to George W., Vladimir.

Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit in Hamburg and senior fellow of Stanford’s Institute for International Studies.

© 2008 source

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In all honesty - we've supported Georgia, fine. Georgia invaded South Ossetia, not so fine. Russia came into assist Ossetia, fine. Russia went into Georgia, not so fine. It's a fine line of balance and that's one of the reasons that I am SO excited about Obama because he IS going to deal with these things in a new way - with diplomacy. If I were living in Russia and I saw the US surrounding my territory (as in Poland, Georgia, etc) I wouldn't trust us either! I don't blame them for being nervous.

You know, it's worthwhile seeing the new Morgan Spurlock documentary "Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?"

I watched it as objectively as I could, and three rather, I think, important things were said in that film. One comment came from an Egyptian University student who said "The USA cannot afford to take the moral high ground because they support our Government, everyone in Egypt knows that, and our government is corrupt and abuses its power and does not practice democracy"

Another comment came from an Egyptian man in the street who said (basically) "What choice have we got?? On one side, we've got our corrupt undemocratic government being supported by the USA, and on the other side we've got Osama Bin Laden...what choice is there for us to make?"

The third comment came from Spurlock himself who said "To protect and maintain our freedom and liberties, we've sacrificed the freedom and liberties of other people"

I know there is another argument out there that claims that if the USA didn't support the regimes already in place in the Middle East, then those countries could fall prey to Islamic fundamentalism, but if we listen to people from these countries, we may find answers to questions that we're looking for

Maybe the Russians do feel surrounded by NATO. They don't know US intentions any more than what we know theirs. They may legitimately feel that they are next on the chopping block. It's difficult to perceive things unless you're in that situation. Many Arabs feel America is trying to take over the world, and even though America may not be, it might feel like that to them because of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and also because of the power and influence of American Consumer Culture and Corporations.

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You know, it's worthwhile seeing the new Morgan Spurlock documentary "Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?"

I watched it as objectively as I could, and three rather, I think, important things were said in that film. One comment came from an Egyptian University student who said "The USA cannot afford to take the moral high ground because they support our Government, everyone in Egypt knows that, and our government is corrupt and abuses its power and does not practice democracy"

Another comment came from an Egyptian man in the street who said (basically) "What choice have we got?? On one side, we've got our corrupt undemocratic government being supported by the USA, and on the other side we've got Osama Bin Laden...what choice is there for us to make?"

The third comment came from Spurlock himself who said "To protect and maintain our freedom and liberties, we've sacrificed the freedom and liberties of other people"

I know there is another argument out there that claims that if the USA didn't support the regimes already in place in the Middle East, then those countries could fall prey to Islamic fundamentalism, but if we listen to people from these countries, we may find answers to questions that we're looking for

Maybe the Russians do feel surrounded by NATO. They don't know US intentions any more than what we know theirs. They may legitimately feel that they are next on the chopping block. It's difficult to perceive things unless you're in that situation. Many Arabs feel America is trying to take over the world, and even though America may not be, it might feel like that to them because of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and also because of the power and influence of American Consumer Culture and Corporations.

I can't disagree with a single statement. This is so true and one of the reasons I am voting for Obama....it's a new world...we have to change our approach to achieve our goals....

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Hi all,

I watched it as objectively as I could, and three rather, I think, important things were said in that film. One comment came from an Egyptian University student who said "The USA cannot afford to take the moral high ground because they support our Government, everyone in Egypt knows that, and our government is corrupt and abuses its power and does not practice democracy"

Your 'objectivety' has been a miss,since you started posting.

Egypt,is the only middle east goverment to have realtions/reconize Israel.Period.

"Our goverment is corrupt and abuses its power and does not pratice domocracy"

:hysterical:

Welcome to Jungle!

Another comment came from an Egyptian man in the street who said (basically) "What choice have we got?? On one side, we've got our corrupt undemocratic government being supported by the USA, and on the other side we've got Osama Bin Laden...what choice is there for us to make?"

The choice you make.So the Egyptain people don't have the balls or brains to change things?Bull****!And it's all the USA's fault,again.O-k,.......

The third comment came from Spurlock himself who said "To protect and maintain our freedom and liberties, we've sacrificed the freedom and liberties of other people"

Has the DB,Spurlock ever read a history book? :blink:

Who the f' is we?Name some names.What about this; how about these other people demanding,their own freedoms and liberties?Oh right,....those A-holes from the USA,again,..

KB

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I am voting for Obama....it's a new world...we have to change our approach to achieve our goals....

Why do keep saying this? nobama proved yesterday it's going to business as usual, same old crap different colored wrapper. Point out to me anything he's done that supports your argument. Speeches don't count, talk is cheap. He voted with his party nearly all the time, where's the change from what was?

Edited by Uncle Bill
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Why do keep saying this? nobama proved yesterday it's going to business as usual, same old crap different colored wrapper. Point out to me anything he's done that supports your argument. Speeches don't count, talk is cheap. He voted with his party nearly all the time, where's the change from what was?

Let me just ask you a question. Are you happy with the state of our country right now? You know...the price of gas, the housing forclosures, the federal deficit, the bancruptcy of many, many long standing businesses, the worldwide perception of the US, the economy, the unemployment rate?

If you are...then vote Republican because your continuing happiness is guaranteed. B)

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Let me just ask you a question. Are you happy with the state of our country right now? You know...the price of gas, the housing forclosures, the federal deficit, the bancruptcy of many, many long standing businesses, the worldwide perception of the US, the economy, the unemployment rate?

If you are...then vote Republican because your continuing happiness is guaranteed. B)

But then the question is: "Will a Democrat really make the major reforms necessary to fix this country?"

That answer is no. Neither of the two parties is capable of doing so, save maybe a few people in their cabinets (like Ron Paul for the Repubs, or [to a far lesser extent] Mike Gravel of the Democrats..sort of)

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But then the question is: "Will a Democrat really make the major reforms necessary to fix this country?"

That answer is no. Neither of the two parties is capable of doing so,

You beat me to it wannabe, I don't have anything more to add. Same ol same ol. The song remains the same.

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But then the question is: "Will a Democrat really make the major reforms necessary to fix this country?"

That answer is no. Neither of the two parties is capable of doing so, save maybe a few people in their cabinets (like Ron Paul for the Repubs, or [to a far lesser extent] Mike Gravel of the Democrats..sort of)

Wannabe...what makes you say the answer to that question is "no"? I believe Obama can lead this country in change...at least he is going to try....the republicans don't even offer to try to change a thing...everythings just hunky dory to them....they don't even see a NEED for change...

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Wannabe...what makes you say the answer to that question is "no"? I believe Obama can lead this country in change...at least he is going to try....the republicans don't even offer to try to change a thing...everythings just hunky dory to them....they don't even see a NEED for change...

Which is why i don't support Republicans...

And it doesn't matter how much change Obama wants, he won't get it. The Democratic Congress will vote the same as it always has...which is liberal but not radical. Thus, nothing but minor (and temporary) reforms will be passed. Obama can want change, but that doesn't mean he'll get it

Edited by wanna be drummer
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Which is why i don't support Republicans...

And it doesn't matter how much change Obama wants, he won't get it. The Democratic Congress will vote the same as it always has...which is liberal but not radical. Thus, nothing but minor (and temporary) reforms will be passed. Obama can want change, but that doesn't mean he'll get it

You don't turn a tanker around 360 degrees in a minute.....things take time....the course changes slowly...I am confident Obama is going to 'steer' this ship into more peaceful waters....

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OK, I think I get it now, reading these posts. The nobama people want to change back to the same old democratic party way of doing things ( Biden, pelosi, reed, schumer et al), people like wannabe and myself want REAL change, a paradigm shift, a new beginning. I guess this change argument we are having is a semantics one.

Edited by Uncle Bill
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OK, I think I get it now, reading these posts. The nobama people want to change back to the same old democratic party way of doing things ( Biden, pelosi, reed, schumer et al), people like wannabe and myself want REAL change, a paradigm shift, a new beginning. I guess this change argument we are having is a semantics one.

Which frankly, I don't think will happen, because not too many people have the balls to vote for real change

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Which frankly, I don't think will happen, because not too many people have the balls to vote for real change

When I was young, 10 presidential elections ago, I had high hopes that things could really change, now I've all but given up. I secretly hoped nobama might represent some sort of change, but any hopes I had, small though they were, were dashed with the VP pick. It obviously will be business as usual.

Edited by Uncle Bill
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You don't turn a tanker around 360 degrees in a minute.....things take time....the course changes slowly...I am confident Obama is going to 'steer' this ship into more peaceful waters....

A captain can only be as good as his crew, and right now, Obamas Congress won't be passing legislature that fits his bill of "change".

It all starts with Congress...This will be same old, same old. No matter what change Obama wants, he will not get it

Edited to add: You really think Obama can, in a maximum of 8 years, turn this country around?

Edited by wanna be drummer
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When I was young, 10 presidential elections ago, I had high hopes that things could really change, now I've all but given up. I secretly hoped nobama might represent some sort of change, but any hopes I had, small though they were, were dashed with the VP pick. It obviously will be business as usual.

Yeah but that's just life really isn't it? The older you get, the more you give up, the less excited you are, the fewer hopes you have, the more you just accept.

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In the first days of the emergency, the ICRC flew hundreds of tonnes of food, blankets and sanitary supplies into the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

During his 3-day visit to Georgia and the Russian Federation, ICRC President Jacob Kellenberger saw the difficult conditions for himself and met some of the thousands of people displaced by fighting and in urgent need of assistance.

To find out more, visit: www.icrc.org/eng

Georgia/Russian Federation: ICRC continues support for conflict victims

The ICRC is continuing to support those affected by the armed conflict by meeting basic humanitarian needs such as access to safe drinking water and the provision of emergency non-food items such as hygiene kits, blankets and cooking utensils to the displaced. ICRC delegates are also beginning to respond to a large number of inquiries from people concerned about separated family members.

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/h...08?opendocument

Georgia

South Ossetia

The ICRC's team, which arrived in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on 20 August, continued its evaluation work on 21 August.

The team visited the main hospital and found that some of its buildings were damaged. An ICRC water and habitat engineer is meeting with hospital technicians to determine whether the ICRC can help improve or repair the facility's water and sanitation system. The team was told by doctors that all 223 people wounded in South Ossetia and taken to the hospital had been transferred to medical facilities in the Russian Federation.

ICRC delegates were able to visit more of the city, parts of which were destroyed. There are blown out windows, now covered by plastic, in some buildings. Electricity and water supplies appear to be up and running with occasional cuts. Other areas of Tskhinvali were not affected by the fighting.

There are some supplies, such as oil and fruit juice, in the stores but residents are mostly receiving hot meals from the Russian authorities.

The ICRC is beginning to see the scale of the needs outside the towns, and the extent to which families have been broken up by the conflict. ICRC tracing teams have seen their workload soar, as an increasing number of displaced people come forward in collective centres in places like Tbilisi to report missing relatives and to seek help for family members left behind at home.

The ICRC base in Gori is up and running

On 21 August ICRC medical and assistance teams based in the Georgian town of Gori were able to visit isolated villages north and south of the town for the first time.

It appears that it is mostly elderly people who have been left behind. They are living in very difficult conditions, and especially lack food. Some villages are without electricity. The organization’s visit was the first time the villages had seen any humanitarian aid in two weeks. The ICRC delivered a truckload of food to residents in several villages.

Bringing relief to the people

So far, the ICRC has provided food and material assistance to at least 7,000 people at 21 collective shelters in Georgia, including in Tbilisi, Gori and Zugdidi. In the capital, Tbilisi and other Georgian towns, the distribution of relief goods continues. It has restored access to clean water and improved sanitation conditions for an additional 3,700 people, bringing the total number of people assisted in Georgia to over 10,000.

The setting up of its office in Gori has enabled the ICRC to provide additional help to isolated villages near the town, where people may remain cut off from assistance. Around 1,000 people have received food and material aid from the ICRC in Gori so far (including people mentioned in the above total of 10,000).

The organization is continuing to support hospitals with medicine and medical supplies.

Family ties/people unaccounted for

The ICRC will remain in touch with the authorities in efforts to clarify the fate of people whose whereabouts are unknown and to help family members dispersed by the conflict restore contact.

It will also support the authorities’ efforts to ensure that human remains are properly identified, and where possible help to bring them back to their families.

Detainees

The ICRC continues to seek access to all those detained in connection with the conflict. It remains poised to assist as a neutral intermediary in the event of any release or handover of detainees, civilian internees or prisoners of war.

Russian Federation

The ICRC made its first visit to Dzinaga, a very remote mountainous area in North Ossetia, and noted that everything was under control. Officials and the ICRC observe that more and more people are leaving the Russian Federation to return to Tskhinvali and other parts of South Ossetia. Recent ICRC and Russian Red Cross visits to five collective centres in North Ossetia established that the number of displaced people is decreasing on a daily basis and that some centres are closing.

The organization distributed hygiene items to over 420 people at four collective centres in North Ossetia (in Alaguir, Urdson, Metallurg) on 20 August. This brings the total number of people assisted by the ICRC and the Russian Red Cross to over 1,000 in North Ossetia. In all the ICRC has helped displaced people at 10 collective centres.

The ICRC is helping the North Ossetian branch of the Russian Red Cross assess the needs of displaced people staying in private accommodation in North Ossetia. Overall, the number of people displaced by the conflict, who fled to the Northern Caucasus and are staying in 58 collective centres there, is around 4,200, according to the Russian authorities. The number of displaced people staying in private accommodation or with relatives in the Russian Federation is estimated to be around 13,000. The authorities say close to 18,000 people have already returned home.

From The Times

August 25, 2008

US Navy arrives in Georgia to deliver aid

Tony Halpin in Tbilisi

The United States Navy arrived off the coast of Georgia yesterday as the diplomatic row intensified over the continued presence of Russian forces in the country. The warship USS McFaul delivered 55 tonnes of humanitarian aid at the Black Sea port of Batumi, 50 miles (80km) south of Russian “peacekeeping” troops dug in around the city of Poti. Two more ships are expected to join the guided missile destroyer in a display of the determination of the US to support Georgia.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/worl...icle4602501.ece

USS McFaul Brings Aid to Batumi, Georgia

Story Number: NNS080824-07

Release Date: 8/24/2008 1:00:00 PM

By Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (CNE-C6F) Public Affairs

BATUMI, Republic of Georgia (NNS) -- USS McFaul (DDG 74) pulled into the port of Batumi, Georgia, Aug. 24 to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to the country as part of the larger United States response to the government of Georgia request for humanitarian assistance.

This represents the first U.S. Navy ship to arrive and deliver humanitarian assistance to Georgia.

"Our job was to get the supplies to Georgia as quickly as possible," said Capt. John Moore, commodore of Combined Task Force 367. "The entire crew of this ship realizes the significance of their efforts in helping to provide comfort to the people of Georgia."

McFaul delivered 82 pallets with about 155,000 pounds of supplies donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including hygiene items, baby food and care supplies, bottled water, and milk. Ships can carry much more cargo per mission than aircraft, which have a capacity of three to 12 pallets per sortie.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC 716) and USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) have also on-loaded humanitarian supplies destined for Georgia. Dallas left Souda Bay, Crete on Thursday with more than 76,000 pounds of relief supplies and will arrive in Georgia within a week. U.S. Navy C-9, C-40 and C-130 aircraft have flown tens of thousands of hygiene kits into the country over the past week.

McFaul, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is home ported in Norfolk, Va., and is on a regularly scheduled deployment in the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

http://www.navy.mil/swf/index.asp

Sixth Fleet Deploys Ships in Support of Humanitarian Assistance Mission

Story Number: NNS080821-04

Release Date: 8/21/2008 12:55:00 PM

From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Two U.S. Navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are getting underway to transport humanitarian relief supplies to Georgia. These deployments are part of the larger United States response to the government of Georgia request for humanitarian assistance.

USS McFaul (DDG 74) departed from Souda Bay, Crete, Aug. 20, and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC 716) will leave later this week. McFaul and Dallas are scheduled to transit into the Black Sea and arrive in Georgia within a week.

USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) is currently on loading humanitarian relief materials in her homeport of Gaeta, Italy, and will proceed to Georgia later this month.

The ships will deliver thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

These surface ships represent the first from the U.S. to participate in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Georgia.

Both McFaul, based in Norfolk and Dallas, based in Charleston, S.C., are on regularly scheduled deployments in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

http://www.navy.mil/local/naveur/

United States Navy Ship Arrives In Batumi, Georgia With Its Cargo of Humanitarian Aid

Hopefully this mission will proceed calmly without incident.

Russian Soldiers Wearing Georgian Military Uniforms?

The Crimes of Georgian's Army in S. Ossetia.

Edited by eternal light
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A captain can only be as good as his crew, and right now, Obamas Congress won't be passing legislature that fits his bill of "change".

It all starts with Congress...This will be same old, same old. No matter what change Obama wants, he will not get it

Edited to add: You really think Obama can, in a maximum of 8 years, turn this country around?

Uhhhh, yeah pretty much! Look at the drastic change GWB was able to make in 8 painful years!

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When I was young, 10 presidential elections ago, I had high hopes that things could really change, now I've all but given up. I secretly hoped nobama might represent some sort of change, but any hopes I had, small though they were, were dashed with the VP pick. It obviously will be business as usual.

I'm so sincerely sorry.....for me one of the saddest things I can see happen to anyone is to lose hope...someday....we'll all be together! :)

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I'm so sincerely sorry.....for me one of the saddest things I can see happen to anyone is to lose hope...someday....we'll all be together! :)

Hey don't worry, no big deal, I only lost the tiny hope I had that there would be even the slightest reason to vote for;

nobama.jpg

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Uhhhh, yeah pretty much! Look at the drastic change GWB was able to make in 8 painful years!

Any tool can make things worse quickly. It takes one hell of a person to make miracles happen in 4 years.

And again, just for clarifications sake, Congress will never be radical enough (with these parties in power anyways) to make any real and permanent change for this country. Barack Obama won't change anything. A third party Congress on the other hand will

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Any tool can make things worse quickly. It takes one hell of a person to make miracles happen in 4 years.

And again, just for clarifications sake, Congress will never be radical enough (with these parties in power anyways) to make any real and permanent change for this country. Barack Obama won't change anything. A third party Congress on the other hand will

I know where your coming from but honestly,that won't make a great deal of difference either. You just have to look at us up north to realize that a third party can at times slow down a government that's looking at radical change, it can also hinder forward movement period. I have at times felt that minority governments can be usefull but you must realize that third party's are bought and sold just like the big party's are. The only answer is accountability...period

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Any tool can make things worse quickly. It takes one hell of a person to make miracles happen in 4 years.

And again, just for clarifications sake, Congress will never be radical enough (with these parties in power anyways) to make any real and permanent change for this country. Barack Obama won't change anything. A third party Congress on the other hand will

Maybe I'm misinterpeting you...are you saying "It is impossible to do so why the hell even try?"?

Your negativity is becoming um....not very pleasant. Negativity breeds negativity. Positive thoughts create positive actions which create positive reactions which creates positive change. Why don't you try that for a while and see how it works for you?

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