Thank you, Museum of Communism

As a refugee from the former Soviet Empire I was overwhelmed by what I found in its former colonies. Knowing that my Cuban brethren are still trapped inside a grotesque relic of that totalitarian nightmare, and knowing that my parents had sent me to the United States so I wouldn’t end up in these places through which I was traveling, I couldn’t help but feel a constant twinge of something I couldn’t identify: a strangely mixed emotion–part sorrow, part envy, part gratitude, and part rage–that drew me inward and made me feel more like an exile than ever.

I must therefore thank you Czechs and Germans who were bold enough to rid yourselves of your oppressors twenty years ago. The legacy of your accomplishment brought me in touch with my own past in a very immediate way, and it gave me hope for the future of the ruined land I was forced to leave behind and from which I’ve been barred, along with my books.

I’m especially grateful to the Museum of Communism in Prague, in which I never set foot. I only saw posters advertising its existence, but that was enough for me. It knocked me off balance just to know that such a museum exists, in which I and every Czech over the age of twenty-one could be at once a visitor and an exhibit. You realigned my thinking and my center of gravity, Museum of Communism, as all great paradoxes tend to do.

~ Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana, in Learning to Die in Miami, pp. 305-306.

Canada, A New Addition To The Family Of Civilized Nations

The Velvet Revolution of 1989 brought most Czechs and Slovaks the first opportunity to speak freely, without fear of prison or loss of property, that they had enjoyed in fifty years.  We agree with Benjamin Franklin that the freedom to speak as one wishes is the lodestar by which one judges a nation civilized, or barbarous:

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

Indeed, the freedom to voice one’s opinion, no matter how foolish, is nearly as important as the freedom to bear arms as a check on tyrannical government.

So it behooves us to congratulate the people of Canada on their ascension to the ranks of civilized nations. Canada has abolished its national speech code, also known as Section 13 of the Human Rights Act:

For decades, Canadians had meekly submitted to a system of administrative law that potentially made de facto criminals out of anyone with politically incorrect views about women, gays, or racial and religious minority groups. All that was required was a complainant (often someone with professional ties to the [Canadian Human Rights Commission itself) willing to sign his name to a piece of paper, claim he was offended, and then collect his cash winnings at the end of the process. The system was bogus and corrupt. But very few Canadians wanted to be seen as posturing against policies that were branded under the aegis of “human rights.”

That was then. Now, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the enabling legislation that permits federal human-rights complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet,” is doomed. On Wednesday, the federal Conservatives voted to repeal it on a largely party-line vote — by a margin of 153 to 136 — through a private member’s bill introduced by Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth. Following royal assent, and a one-year phase-in period, Section 13 will be history.

To appreciate the horror that was ancien regime Canada, imagine a nation run like a modern American liberal arts college. Under the old code, the Canadian tribesman lived in fear that the merest off-color joke might provoke a lawsuit, in which he might be deprived of his property for offending his privileged betters. A Canadian might even be placed in a dungeon for recording an offensive message on the primitive Canadian device known as a  telephone answering machine.

It’s true that the savage Canadians are taking baby steps into the waters of liberty.  The repeal of Section 13 requires the assent of a person known as The Queen, a hereditary chieftain whose ancestors were given the office by virtue of their skills at tribal warfare. And the repeal doesn’t take place for a year, to allow time to adjust to life in a world where the Canadian cannot freely indulge his natural instinct to rob and imprison those with whom he disagrees.

Now, Rome was not built in a day. It will take the Canadian more than a year to emerge from his mud wattled hut, but this is a fine start on the road to a higher culture.

If you’re an American living on the northern frontier, and you see one of these primitives walking the street, gazing in awe at the majestic skyline, be sure to approach, cautiously, to congratulate him on his newfound freedom.

Spotted on Overlawyered.

Thanks, And An Update On The Status Of The Velvet Revolution Project

We appreciate the many links, comments, and new readers this site has gained in its twelve days of existence. It seems unfair to single out individuals, but we would like to thank Stacy McCain, Michelle Malkin, Patterico, and Instapundit in particular for driving a throng of traffic to this site, and more importantly, for links that weight Google’s (and Yahoo’s, and Bing’s, and Ask Jeeves’, etc.) rankings for the term “Velvet Revolution”.  We’ve gotten more traffic from Twitter, by far, than any of the sites named.

This is what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, as shown by a search inquiry from a Google server located somewhere in North America.

As you can see, Kimberlin’s “Velveeta Revolution” (as a wag at Stacy McCain’s site called it) occupies the coveted second and third places on a Google search for Velvet Revolution. This site is in eighth place, and gaining, thanks to you.

By far, our most popular post to date is “Brett Kimberlin and the Justice of Google” where we set forth this project’s goals of knocking felon Brett Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution (with which this site is in no way affiliated and by which this site is not endorsed) into search engine purgatory, replacing it with a site that honors the true spirit of the anti-Communist Velvet Revolutions of 1989 while documenting Brett Kimberlin’s many crimes and abuses of the legal system.

Our next most popular post to date is “The Aaron Worthing Case Has Been Dismissed!”, a weak attempt at satire.

You people don’t seem to have much interest so far in our musings on non-Kimberlin matters, but we hope to change that.

This bar graph depicts the site’s traffic from its first post, on June 6, 2012, to a couple of hours ago:

There actually was traffic, from God knows where, between June 6 and June 10, 2012. You simply cannot see it on the graph, due to the deluge of June 14.

Our first “spam” comment, for what it is worth, was received on June 9, 2012. Since then, we have received many more, along with quite a few nasty comments by supporters of Kimberlin, comments which were neither sufficiently alarming nor amusing to highlight in a front page post.

Where do we go from here?

From here it’s a long slog.

In order to succeed, we, the authors of Velvet Revolution (not affiliated with VelvetRevolution.US, Inc.), have to work. We have to write a series of interesting posts that inform, amuse, or entertain a number of readers sufficient to spread our message, that Brett Kimberlin is an arch-criminal who has hijacked the ideals of the true Velvet Revolutions of 1989, far and wide.

But you can help. As stated earlier, any link to this site, on any web page indexed by Google, any blog, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Tumblr, or on  新浪微博 assuming the censors let it through, increases this site’s Page rank, thus increasing the odds that anyone searching for information on the term “Velvet Revolution” will come to this site, rather than that of a convicted perjurer. (We assure you that none of us has ever been convicted of perjury.)

Of those, blogs are our primary target. We deeply appreciate links from weblogs, which tend to be frequently updated, draw more than a few eyeballs, and have permanent blogrolls. If you have a blog, have you considered adding this site, the original Velvet Revolution, to your blogroll? It costs only a few pixels and a few seconds of your time. Of course any site will do: If you’re the chairman of Pepsi, or the Dave behind daveshardwareofrapidcity.com, a link from your website to this site brings us closer to our goal.

At the same time, we are not offering to trade blogroll positions with you. This may seem unfair, and in fact it is unfair, but it’s part of the challenge we set ourselves when beginning this site. Websites linked on our blogroll will remain limited to those which, in our judgment, have covered the Kimberlin story fairly and well, or those which promote human rights, freedom, and individual liberty in a manner we judge effective. If you believe we’re missing something, please let us know.

Thank you.

Freedom (or: a Velvet Revolution) Begins at Home

Why does the NBA matter? Why does the US Open, Powerball, or Chris Brown matter?

These are some of the top Web searches for June 15, 2012 in the U.S., so they clearly matter a great deal to Americans.

Screw that. Point your favorite search engine at “Tank Man.”

June 5 was the anniversary of the Tiennamen Square uprising. On that day in 1989, a lone man stepped in front of the column of tanks that the government sent to suppress those of its subjects who had the temerity to assemble in order to petition for a redress of grievances.

We don’t really know who he was, but we know who he was not. He wasn’t some pampered, latte-drinking hipster with a smart phone riding the 2/3 down to the Village while ostentatiously “reading” a copy of Kapital and denouncing the “injustice” of the West.

But he wasn’t Jason Bourne or the Terminator either. So we know basically what happened to him: he made his last stand that day.

Tank Man was a true hero for this world. I wish I could command the atoms of this universe just enough to pull him out of time and bring him here, to a place that was founded to preserve what he gave his life for. We could shake his hand. But most importantly, we could get him on TV.

Then maybe we could get some Americans searching for him instead of Matt Cain. Lest we forget that freedom begins at home.

“We Will Make An Example Out Of You”

This is the Parable of the Boiling Frog.

Suppose one wishes to serve live-boiled frog at a fancy dinner. As epicureans know, the frog can only be appreciated  in all its juicy, succulent sweetness when it is cooked alive. But the frog is a wily beast. If we drop a frog into hot water, the frog will leap out of the pot, upsetting all our plans and enraging our wife in the process. We must boil the frog by degrees. If we submerge the frog into lukewarm water, only gradually raising the heat below our pot, the animal will be lulled to our stomachs. Never noticing each small rise in the water’s  temperature, the frog can be boiled before it ever realizes its peril.

Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that when a man tells the Tale of the Boiling Frog, nattering imbecile James Fallows of the Atlantic will surely arise to shriek, “THAT’S NOT TRUE! SCIENCE TEACHES THAT YOU CAN’T GRADUALLY BOIL A FROG BECAUSE THE FROG HAS A HIGHLY DEVELOPED NERVOUS SYSTEM THAT SENSES MINUTE CHANGES IN TEMPERATURE!”

Missing the point entirely. The truth of the Boiling Frog is this:

You are a frog.

Everyone you know is a frog. All of your friends, and all of your family, are frogs.

There are two kinds of people in this world: frogs, and frog boilers. There are about a hundred thousand frog boilers in the world. Vladimir Putin is a frog boiler. Barack Obama is a frog boiler.* Jamie Dimon is a frog boiler. At European Union headquarters in Brussels there are dozens of frog boilers.

Brett Kimberlin is a frog boiler, albeit an unusually stupid and clumsy one.

The rest of the world, all five billion of us, are frogs.

So whenever the cook slips up, and raises the temperature a little too high, it’s vitally important for us to leap about and croak. To warn fellow frogs of our impending doom.

This is the story of a family of frogs, John and Judy Dollarhite of Nixa, Missouri. The Dollarhites and their child are being scorched by the United States Department of Agriculture. As frogs of good will, we are compelled to croak at our government’s misconduct.

It started out as a hobby, a way for the Dollarhite family in Nixa, Mo., to teach a teenage son responsibility. Like a lemonade stand.

But now, selling a few hundred rabbits over two years has provoked the heavy hand of the federal government to the tune of a $90,643 fine. The fine was levied more than a year after authorities contacted family members, prompting them to immediately halt their part-time business and liquidate their equipment. …

The Dollarhites’ crime? Selling six hundred rabbits, a few more than allowed by the arcane, unread regulations of the USDA, to a pet store over two years.

For a profit of about $500.00, the Dollarhites have earned a $90,000.00 fine, and threatens from Government Bigfoots:

[I]n January 2010, another USDA official called, asking for a meeting with the Dollarhite family at their full-time business, a small computer store.

The inspector watched the store for an hour from his car before the meeting, and his physical appearance put off the small business owners.

“He was covered head to toe in filth. Jeans is one thing, but these were slicked. He had ‘Grizzly Adams’-style hair,” Judy Dollarhite said.

The inspector, whose name Judy Dollarhite could not recall, intimidated the couple, claiming to have interviewed their neighbors about their political beliefs.

Bob McCarty has more on the McCarty’s “business operation” (which has been described as something on the scale of a 4-H Club), and the disturbing behavior of USDA’s agents:

Eight weeks passed, and John decided to call Colorado Springs.  Immediately, he was given the number to a USDA office in the nation’s capitol.  He called the new number, and the lady he reached there was blunt, John said.

“She said, ‘Well, Mr. Dollarhite, I’ve got the report on my desk, and I’m just gonna tell you that, once I review it, it’s our intent to prosecute you to the maximum that we can’ and that ‘we will make an example out of you.”

There is no allegation that the Dollarhites ever mistreated a rabbit. By all accounts their rabbits were well fed and cared for. Their error is one of ignorance, ignorance not of laws passed by an elected legislature, but of regulations imposed by fiat of bureacrats all the way across the Empire country in Tsargrad Washington.

To their credit, the Dollarhites are not backing down. They’ve hired a lawyer to contest the fine, and been promised in turn that USDA will seek far more than $90,000.00 if it prevails, to punish the Dollarhites for exercising their right to be heard in court.

For daring to jump out of the pot.

Via Amy Alkon.

You never want a serious Seldon Crisis to go to waste.

Sometimes you’ve got a problem, and you think “I know! Central planning!”. Now you’ve got two problems.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/14/…

…By the end of the decade, Boston’s subways could grow so packed that trains would roll past waiting commuters, unable to accommodate more riders, a new report from a leading land-use think tank warns…

But without investment in more subway cars … and other tools to relieve MBTA crowding, scattered congestion will become widespread…

“What’s happening in Boston and other major urban markets is people want to live closer to the city,” said Don Briggs … “They want to be connected by trains. They want to drive their cars less”…

I am darkly amused by one article managing to capture three perennial tropes of our Hari Seldonesque urban planning betters:

1) No matter what direction the results deviate from the Five Year Plan, the solution is always the same: more government spending.

2) Every occurrence in the real world is explained by reference to one possible theory among many…the one theory that is most congruent with left wing ideals. “The proles are eating more grain and less meat? Excellent! They must be convinced by our educational posters!” Well, yes. That, or, you know, the fact that the Bureau of Livestock and Tractors accidentally injected all of the animals with engine grease before installing new tank treads on them… In this case, perhaps increased mass transit ridership is due to the proles FINALLY paying attention to the exhortations of their betters. Or, you know, it MIGHT have something to do with skyrocketing gasoline prices, declining employment, and global economic implosion.

3) Adjusting the price to the wrong level, and then having to scramble to deal with the “unforeseeable” results. Whether we’re talking about gasoline price controls in the 1970s, or eye-popping subsidies to the corrupt, unionized [ but I repeat myself ] MBTA, bureaucrats never tire of taking sledgehammers to pocket watches and then complaining that they need to tinker further to get the object of their attention really PERFECTLY adjusted.

I certainly don’t blame think tanks for pushing their own particular bugbears. That’s their purpose.

I do blame journalists for not calling think tanks on their BS, or at the very least making them prove their points.

When someone asserts “people want to live closer to the city”, that’s not the end of the conversation – that’s just the beginning.

“Says who?” is the next step.

Like The Nuge once said:

It’s like I’ve landed in “The Planet of the Apes,” and I have to teach people to wipe themselves after they shit

Then again, what do I know about journalism? I’m just a blogger, not a journalist.