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"BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Yeah, right."

Perhaps people there are technically 'more free', but their standard of living has declined to near barbarism, so to say that life has been an improvement for them would be pretty disingenious. They used to have the best education system in the middle east, Israel included, and had universal health care, too. Power and water were reliable and there was a secular government in place, even if it was a despotic one. Saddam, for all his faults, took pretty good care of people until they pissed him off. Remember, too, that most of the Iraqi citizens he killed were Kurds or Shi'ites that rebelled against him at the end of the last war and that he did so at least with the tacit compliance of the US. If you weren't in either of those groups, life wasn't too bad until the sanctions kicked in.

"[snip]scream comparisons of Bush to Hitler and suffer no persecution whatsoever."

Welcome to the rough side of freedom of speech. We lefties get the 'treason' label slapped on us as fast as the right-wing can open their mouths, pretty much, and it has gotten to the point where O'Reilly called Cindy Sheehan treasonous for camping out at Bush's ranch to try and get some answers. You have to have some giant balls to call a mother who has lost her son to the war treasonous, and it made my blood boil to hear that comment - probably as much as it makes your blood boil to hear the Hitler-Bush comparison.

That being said, every dictator slowly erodes the public's freedoms and it usually begins with little erosions here and there, not something big that would scare too many people. Small erosions like the Patriot Act, forcing protestors to protest in 'approved areas' that happen to be twenty miles from the event they are protesting, punishing people with dissenting opinions, putting party loyalists in charge of a supposedly neutral elections apparatus, petitioning to control broadcasting, the judiciary, etc. are all twigging people's radar. You should be glad that the canaries are singing now, even if you disagree with their opinions. The worm will turn and eventually it will be the righties out there protesting and demanding answers from a lefty administration. Wouldn't it be nice to ensure you have that right? As you yourself have said many times, once taken away, rights are never given back.
 

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This is a problem everywhere.



Find me a federal politician with a son/daughter in Iraq right now and I'll eat my hat ... yet they all publicly support it. Lots of people wave signs suporting Bush, but their kids won't line up at the recruiting office, either. The military is having a devil of a time filling spots, even if 51% of the population supported the war president.



My ex-girlfriend ran the Sierra Club for western Canada. She was astounded that I rode my bike to work whenever there wasn't snow on the ground. She had a fuel-efficient vehicle, but going that next step to be without a vehicle was too much to sacrifice. I advised her to move closer to her office and bike whenever she didn't need to drive for some media event. Yeah, whatever. She had a 1100 square foot house filled with stuff for one person and when I told her I purposefully lived in a bachelor pad so that all the things I owned fit into a standard bedroom, she was astounded.



Some people do, other just say they do. That is the story of the world.
 

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"Name one person suffering from the Patriot Act."



Too easy! A Canadian on holiday, Mr. Arar, was seized by the US Authorities with their reasoning being the ability to seize someone for questioning - without having to demonstrate cause - for a two week period. Straight from the Patriot Act, that one. His few days turned into a few months, during which he was flown to Syria on an unmarked jet, systematically tortured, and then flown back when the Syrians determined he had nothing to do with terrorism. He is currently suing the US government for their unstated policy of 'rendition' where the cowards who won't torture someone themselves send the victim off to a country that will gladly torture the person FOR them.



"Like at the Dmocratic National Convention?"



The national conventions are love-ins for the duly converted. I'm talking about public events that AREN'T tied to specific party. Where ever Bush speaks, he has the streets cleared, sets up a 'protest zone' that is nowhere near where the speaking will be happening, and leans on foreign leaders to make sure protesters are kept at their distance. In other words, dissent is OK as long as it doesn't cause a problem. I'm sure the Boston Tea Party would have been a blast if the citizens dressed as Indians were told they could only dump a couple of boxes of old tea and they had to dump them in an approved dumping pond built for the purpose twenty miles inland away from where the tea was brought into port. That protest would have gotten a LOT of attention, then.



"Name ONE."



Joseph Wilson and his wife. She was outed as a CIA operative by Karl Rove in retaliation for questioning the 'Nigerian' connection between Saddam and the nuclear materials he supposedly was in the market for. Wilson knew the document was a forgery and told the world that Bush was using forged documents to bolser his case for war. A few months later ... Plame gets outed and loses all chance of being a functioning operative for the CIA. Now THAT is treason, not some grieving soccer mom looking for answers.



To this list I would add Scott Ritter and Hans Blix, who both had the audacity to say that there were no WMDs. Ritter was fired for speaking that truth and Blix gets lambasted at every turn. Jay Garner was outspoken about how many troops would be needed to pacify Iraq, estimated high on how many years the US would be involved and advised that selling off the nationally-owned assets would only hamper the rebuilding process. As a result, he was in the job only a couple of months before getting sacked and replaced with Bremer, who sold off Iraqi assets to the highest bidder. Al-Sadr explicitly stated that his reason for promoting violence was in response to Bremer selling off anything of value the Iraqi's owned for pennies on the dollar. I would even include Powell in this group, because I don't believe for a second that his 'retirement' was voluntary.



"Like the Democratic election board that designed the Florida ballot that confused Democrats?"



Like Blackwell, who was the Bush-Cheney chairman in Ohio, being in charge of counting the votes in a key contested state, and delaying that recount until there was no possible way that the results could be overturned. He even held his recounts behind closed doors without other party's representatives present. Or Katherine Harris, now running for the Senate as a Republican, who ignored the recount going on in contested counties in Florida and certified the election results based on the Supreme Court decision to stop counting because Gore looked to be winning the recount. Like a nationwide adoption of voting machines made by Diebold, made without the option of a manual printout to verify voting results, when the CEO of Diebold himself publicly promised that he would deliver the election to Bush. That is just ridiculous partisan interference with an election.



"What petitioning to control the judiciary are you talking about?"



The Republicans are trying to stack the Supreme court for their ends right at this moment and are tossing up some pretty ridiculous names for consideration. Go to the GOP website and they openly admit a campaign to stack state courts to further their ends, too. Clinton did it, Bush will do it, and some nameless future Democrat will do it, but it still stinks that judges intended to be impartial are appointed specifically for their political stance.



"Oh, so it's a vague sensation."



To freedom loving folks, it is more than a vague sensation. I'll admit that I find it odd that folks who come out on the side of freedom pretty rabidly (you, longride) support someone who has done nothing but erode rights since he took office. I am mystified why this is.



1) Bush's Clean Air Act actually allows companies to pollute more.



2) The PNAC, the neo-con organization that everyone in the Bush Administration is or was a member of, has been touting an invasion of Iraq since Bush Sr. Their policy papers say Iraq and Iran need to be invaded to guarantee a supply of oil for the upcoming showdown with China for world dominance. We are honestly supposed to believe that invading Iraq had NOTHING to do with oil after reading those policy papers? LOL. Suuuuuuurrrrre we are in Iraq to promote democracy and bring freedom to the Iraqis.



3) The No Child Left Behind Act actually reduces funding to key child-poverty organizations.



4) Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMDs. The Downing memo proves that both the US and Britain knew that BEFORE they invaded.



5) The US was bombing Iraq several months before the request for a war mandate was taken before Congress.



Lie upon mistruth upon misdirection. How can you honestly trust this guy to safeguard your rights when his administration doesn't even respect you enough to tell you the truth?
 

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The issue here is that EVERY kid in the history of the world has taken risks, not just the outright morons, and experience has taught us to mitigate the worst of that risky behaviour so that we increase the percentage of teenagers that successful make it to adulthood, where they tend to reduce their risk-taking behaviour considerably with more wisdom and experience.



The morons will continue to take risks well into adulthood, long after the rest of us have calmed down, and tend to kill themselves off regardless of what laws are in place. In a sense, the laws are really meant for them, but for the kids we know are redeemable and will be productive members of society in the future. Nurse them through their crazy period, and then they are fine.
 

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I polled a couple of dealers in my area and all of them said that if they know in advance that a bike is going to be a person's first, they won't sell them a sport bike if they can help it. That restraint, combined with the difficulty getting insurance, helps to lower the amount of squids out there riding bikes well beyond their capabilities, but it it doesn't eliminate it.



Last night alone, I was challenged to a race by three different sport-bike riders as I tooled around town doing errands. I ride a Thruxton, so it isn't a sportbike by any definition, but it was as if the testosterone switch went off the minute a fellow rider saw me on the street. They would pull up next to me, give me 'the look' and then tear off down the street at twice the speed limit to prove to me how fast they were. It obviously isn't as hard as you think (or perhaps as it should be) to get a sport bike if I run into these folks this often.
 

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This is actually an eloquent argument.



Damn the tool and you remove that tool even when it is useful. Damn the user of the tool who happens to be using it inappropriately and you get rid of the behaviour you want to curb, but without getting rid of the tool altogether.
 

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Re: SS,DD

In Edmonton, my hometown, six riders died last year in motorcycle accidents. 4 of them were not licenced to ride bikes, had no rider training, and were 'borrowing' sport bikes from friends. Half of those involved alcohol. I think their mortality had more to do with their lack of riding experience, their lack of training and their lack of familiarity with the bikes than the actual bikes themselves.
 

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I just finished reading an article that cited three different crash studies: the Hurt Report and two from Europe. In all of them, only 1% of crashes occurred above 75 mph. The issue, then, isn't speed because even some 250cc scooters can reach that speed.



The two most likely crashes were cagers turning left in front of a bike, typically at less than 25 mph collision speed, and solo crashes at night where the rider rode off the road.



If we attempt to focus on just those two major collision sources, then the only real way to reduce those collisions is a two-pronged attack.



The first prong would be extensive defensive riding training combined with graduated licencing. This would reduce the first type of accident through successful avoidance and the second through increased familiarity with riding and a scaled exposure to bikes with higher limits. If you know the limits of the bike, you are less likely to ride off the road at night, right? If you know your own limits, you are less likely to ride while fatigued, drunk, stoned, etc. too.



The second prong would be more DRIVER training. The ultimate cause of the car-bike collisions seems to be driver error - they pull in front of a bike they don't 'see'. Training the rider to avoid these bad drivers is putting a band-aid on the issue; it will help, but if you want to remove the cause, you will have to focus on the drivers themselves. I would honestly advocate mandatory defensive driving courses and graduated licencing for cars, too, to help with this.
 

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I see your point but don't necessarily agree.



The insurance deterrent, because it relies on dollars to keep you off of that superbike, only affects those who can't afford the premiums or who are unwilling to pay them. If the world teaches us anything, it is that there is always some jackass willing to pay $100K to take a bite out of a prehistoric egg or $15K to eat a steak from an endangered species. If what you want to do is remove x behaviour, you can't count exclusively on a financial incentive to do the job for you.



Besides, a graduated licencing scheme represents, to me, the best compromise we can come to. You get 'nannied' only for a couple of years, have your inevitable scares on a smaller, lighter, less-powerful bike, and when you have ridden enough to become a better rider as a whole, then the nanny disappears. Over 20 and with a clean driving record? You can ride whatever the hell you want. That is a small price to pay in order to fend off the extremists that would prefer to ban sportbikes altogether, don't you think? It is a reasonable compromise and one that I think the public as a whole would agree to in a heartbeat.
 
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