About The Immigrant

I grew up in socialist Czechoslovakia. I have experienced what it is like to live in a society where citizens have no rights or freedoms. During the last three decades I was very fortunate to live in the United States. Unfortunately, I have begun to see some dangerous parallels between political development in the United States and that of pre-communist Czechoslovakia. It is those unsettling observations that prompted me to start this blog. I love this country – and I am The Immigrant.

Orlando – How Convenient

Predictably, just like after any mass shooting or terrorist attack involving guns, a gun control lobby used the Orlando tragedy to push a fury of new gun bills at state and federal level.

Interestingly, since this was an act of terrorism, committed by a self-proclaimed ISIS supporter who is a Muslim, the debate is about gun control and not terrorism. We cannot have an honest debate about terrorism, because it would create a backlash against Muslims… OK then.

In California, the old and tried rhetoric immediately came from the left: the gun laws we have don’t work to curb gun violence – look at Orlando! – so we need to have more of them. I love the logic of it – what we are doing does not work, so we need more of it. Even better, Florida laws have nothing to do with California laws. But the fact that Orlando slaughter is immediately used to push the agenda shows the exploitive nature of proponents of ever increasing gun ownership restrictions. Couple examples below:

Statement by California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles): http://sd24.senate.ca.gov/news/2016-06-12-statement-california-senate-leader-tragedy-orlando

LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-after-orlando-california-lawmakers-1465845424-htmlstory.html

In California, Democrats voted yesterday to advance eleven new bills, which would further increasing burden on legal gun ownership in the state. Brown is likely to sign all of them. (SB 869, SB 894, SB 1235, SB 1407, SB 1446, SB 880, AB 1664, AB 1673, AB 1674, AB 1695 and AB 2607)

Some of the new bills are bluntly aimed at more government control of legal gun owners:

  • SB 1235 – mandates registration of ammo purchases, and limits the purchase options to face-to-face (no internet orders).
  • SB 1446 – mandates legal owners of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds to get rid of them by selling to a licensed dealer, turning them in for no compensation or destroying them.
  • AB 1673 – expands a definition of a firearm to include firearm parts.
  • AB 1674 – expands the prohibition of purchasing more than one hand gun in any 30 day period to all fire arms.
  • AB 2607 – would let an employer or coworker seek a gun violence restraining order. The current gun violence restraining order law went into effect January 1, 2016. It allows concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO will temporarily prohibit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession. This power should not rest with anyone’s boss or coworker. The law enforcement already has the power, call a cop and let them sort it out.

The answer to gun violence, in my opinion, is to focus on violent people, not guns owned by law abiding citizens. Guns are tools that can be used for good or evil. Religion can be also used as a tool for good or evil. It can be used as a spiritual guide to moral, peaceful life, it can be used to control millions of people, and it can be used to radicalize (and control) people. The latter is what Islamic extremists have mastered.

So if you are of an opinion that to deal with our problem of gun violence is not to address the violence but to restrict possession of the tools the violent people use to commit crimes – the guns, would you apply the same logic to a tool of today’s terrorists – the religion?

Should in your opinion Muslims apply for a Muslim license like gun owners have to apply for gun license? Should imams be licensed and controlled by the government like gun dealers? Should Muslims be restricted to what Muslim texts they may buy? Should they only be allowed to buy one Koran every 30 days? That certainly sounds crazy to me – but so does punishing legal gun owners for actions of criminals.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country but we have plenty of gun violence – even a recent terrorist attack. No amount of gun laws prevented that. The solution to gun violence is not to push more gun laws that don’t work, but to invest in programs that do work. Yes, there are programs that work to reduce violence by a whole lot but you don’t hear about them much. (See my earlier blog for some references.)

Perhaps the gun legislation is not about public safety, but about destruction of the Second Amendment. If you are a member of a government elite, who does not want to serve but who wants to rule, the words in the Constitution like “We the people” or “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” are inconvenient.

Maybe that is why the movement to view the Constitution as something to be reinterpreted as time goes by is so strong in Washington. Maybe that is why Obama, after he swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States of America, referred to it as an “outdated document” that needed changing. Perhaps Obama never heard of a constitutional amendment.

America is the only country in the world whose constitution tells government what it is expected and allowed to do. The rest of the “free” world has constitutions that tell its citizens what they are allowed to do. We forget that difference – and we forget how many our people died defending that principle.

Constitution is not something to be “reinterpreted” by every administration to fit its agenda. It is the law of the land. And the Second Amendment is in it so that we the people have a way to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government. We are well on the way to tyrannical government so it only makes sense that there is such a push for the government to know who has what gun and who is buying what ammunition. The folks who gobble up the public safety argument are just useful idiots serving the government elite, as Saul Alinski would put it.

Policies That Reduce Gun Violence?

The past weekend brought the latest mass shutting. Over 100 people were shot in Orlando, about half fatally, by a self-proclaimed Islamic Extremist. Predictably, Trump immediately talks about the failure of immigration policy, while Clinton and Obama call for further erosion to the Second Amendment. Neither is going to work to save lives.

The access to guns in US today is more restricted than during any other time in our history. So why is it, that American society experiences more gun violence today than any time in the past? And what does it have to do with immigration if anything?

I know that over the last couple of decades, the gun deaths are down. However, the decrease in gun deaths is due to advances in medicine, which allow doctors to save more victims’ lives and not due to reduced violence in our streets.

What is the Root Cause of Violence?

I found a book titled “On Killilng” by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. I expected to read a discussion about effects of killing on soldiers who killed in combat – and I did find that. But Grossman also included chapters on killing in our cities by civilians, and offered a very plausible explanation I have not read anywhere else.

One of surprising facts he talks about is that it is very difficult to train soldiers to overcome the resistance to killing the enemy. He offers evidence and account from several wars dating back to the Civil War, that humans, even trained soldiers have an intrinsic revulsion to killing other humans.

He is not talking about the marksmanship but about actual act of killing. This of course presents a problem for our military leaders, because we need our soldiers to be able to kill the enemy soldiers if called upon.

To “inoculate” the soldiers against this natural resistance to kill, the military has special training. Soldiers are put through shooting simulations where the target is human like (as opposed to a bull’s eye), it depicts thread (Such as a crouching soldier with a ready to fire rifle), and it is presented quickly (pop-up targets).

These kinds of drills are repeated until the reaction to a thread becomes “automatic”, and embedded to soldiers’ muscle memory. This is a very short summary but the training techniques improved soldiers’ firing rates from 20% in World War II to over 90% in Vietnam and Korea.

Grossman then compares this aspect of the military training to what is happening in civilian lives and argues, that children and young adults who are exposed to violence in their neighborhoods, who watch violent movies and video games are also “inoculated” against resistance to killing through the same psychological mechanism.

The link between growing up in a violent neighborhood and becoming violent is frequently discussed. Grossman adds to it an equally well researched and documented but much less discussed link between consuming violent content in form of movies and video games and becoming violent.

Videogames, where the targets are high definition human figures, provide “training” similar to what soldiers are going through with one important distinction. In military, there are safe guards incorporated to the training, which are entirely missing in the videogames, movies and on the streets, such as being given the order to shoot. The order is part of the training and part of the “situation” that triggers the soldier’s “automatic” reaction.

According to Grossman, the soldiers who return to civilian life after battlefield experience do not exhibit anymore propensity to violence than general population. The same cannot be said about gang members who received their training from the ghetto and Hollywood. The videogames, violent TV programs and the “role models” on the street just teach young adults to shoot at who makes them mad.

Gun Restrictions Do Nothing to Curb Violence – What Does?

In August 2015, I have heard a piece on NPR about a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist who pioneered a new approach to decreasing violence. His approach is to treat violence as a disease. I looked it up on the internet and found a June 2013 article on The Trace website:  The Doctor Who Tries to Cure Gun Violence By Treating It Like a Contagious Disease.

In 2000, Slutkin, began to put his ideas about violence into practice, starting an organization called Cease Fire Chicago with the hope of reducing homicides and shootings in the city. The group trains people with knowledge of their neighborhoods and ties to likely perpetrators to prevent shootings, by identifying and mediating potentially lethal conflicts in the community before the shooting occurs.

The program, now called Cure Violence, has since been implemented in other cities such as Baltimore and New York and has helped reduce violence in some urban neighborhoods by 40 to 70 percent. It’s model is now being implemented across four continents and seven countries.

Holder, the former Attorney General under Obama, has called Cure Violence “the kind of approach that this Administration is dedicated to pursuing and supporting.” The Department of Justice characterized the program as one of just a few crime prevention programs that has a proven record of effectiveness.

Regardless of the evidence of the effectiveness of the Cure Violence inspired programs, the administration mostly just gave the lip service to the initiative. Obama did not support the programs in a long term. In January 2013, the administration met with clergy members to seek their support in his gun violence legislature. Unfortunately, the president was unwilling to include any measures like Cure Violence programs proven to decrease the inner-city gun violence epidemic. The pastors asked for $500 million to support the inner city programs but the president preferred to focus on further limiting gun rights and creating his own initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). See The Cure Violence Health Model & My Brother’s Keeper Initiative for more detail.

MBK was created in February 2014. After the first 90 days, the MBK task force delivered recommendations to use a three prong approach to curb violence: Place Based State and Local Engagement (the MBK Community Challenge); Private Sector Action (e.g. independent nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate action); and Public Policy review and reform (the work of the MBK Task Force). It focuses on Black, Latino and Native American Communities.

The MBK is not specifically focused on reducing violence like the programs mentioned earlier, though it includes it as it’s #6 objective. The MBK objectives for young people:

  1. Entering school ready to learn
  2. Reading at grade level by third grade
  3. Graduating from high school ready for college and career
  4. Completing post-secondary education or training
  5. Successfully entering the workforce
  6. Reducing violence and providing a second chance

It sounds like a good framework because it takes more holistic approach than Dr. Slutkin’s Cure Violence initiative.

I scanned the MBK Task Force One Year Progress Report and found no citations of progress in reducing violence the report. The MBK Task Force 2016 Report contained better news. Couple examples below:

  • Violent crime and homicide rates dropped nearly 25% during the six weeks of 2015 Grow Detroit’s Young Talent operation in Detroit.
  • Los Angeles funded Gang Intervention Program, and  recorded a decrease in homicides of nearly 50% from 2014to 2015.

Those are some encouraging results, though they come at a price. According to the 2016 report, since the launch of MBK, the private sector has committed more than $600 million in grants and in-kind resources, along with $1 billion in low-interest financing to support activities that are aligned with MBK priorities.

Regardless of what you or I may think of the MBK price tag, it proves that even our government can help reduce the gun violence, if they concentrate on root causes of the violence – the people.


What is the Cost of Sensitivity Toward Immigrants in US?

Earlier, I posted on a strange phenomena of Americans celebrating Cinco de Mayo. During my (brief) research, I came across a May 2nd article in Sacramento Bee about protest of about 100 mostly Latino UC Davis students – claiming that they did not feel safe on campus, because the employees of UC Davis Student Run Coffee House (known as CoHo) promoted an off-campus party Cinco de Drinko.

According to the Sacramento Bee article, The Facebook event page for Cinco de Drinko (now taken down) included a picture of four male students, wearing sombreros, trying to hop a chain-link fence while two female students in Border Patrol attire smile.

KCRA 3 News reported on the event – transcript below:


The planned party was quickly condemned by UC Davis officials and student leader and canceled. Administrators are reportedly looking into internal sanctions to punish the students responsible.

You would think that dealing with the students who organized the party would be appropriate response to a mild joke in bad taste. Not in California… Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said that education should be used to prevent similar controversies in the future. She suggested that instructional requirements could be changed to mandate a diversity course.

The idea made me wonder, how much America would pay for Katehi’s attempt to prevent future bad jokes about non-whites. According to UC Davis Tuition and Fees page, the estimated annual tuition for full time student is $13,902 for California residents and $36,780 for out of state students. Assuming 12-units per quarter (and 3 quarters per year), the cost of one unit is about $386 ($1,022 for out of state students). The cost of the proposed sensitivity course to students, assuming it is 3-unit course, would then be $1,158 and $3,065 for CA and out of state students respectively.

UC Davis has about 32,000 students on campus. Assuming (for simplicity) that all of them are CA residents, the cost passed to the future students every four years would be more than $37 million. The taxpayers, of course, would get stuck with even bigger bill. Assuming that the out of state students’ tuition actually covers the cost of the education (I have no idea if that is true), the cost to taxpayers would be over $61 million every four years for the total of over $98 million shared by students and tax payers.  I think that this figure is an under-estimate, because I am not even talking about cost of books or tuition increases. Also, if a student has to stay in school an extra quarter to fulfill this requirement, the cost to the student and the taxpayers would be much higher.

I hope that Katehi will back off the plan because plenty of similar plans have been put to test in all levels of government and they do not and cannot work. If the attempts to use law and forced “education” to eradicate the use of racially charged words, comments and jokes worked, the racism in USA would have been a thing of a past long time ago. The fact remains, that some people are and always will be racist and no amount of legislature and rules and education “addressing” the issue will change them.

By using laws, forced sensitivity classes, one-sided racially over-sensitive reporting, and other social engineering tools, most people are alienated from the process. If you are constantly told how insensitive, racist or unaccommodating you are to any group, how likely is it that you will appreciate that group’s plight?

As an example, look at illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, who were the target of the Cinco de Drinko joke. As an American, through your elected representatives, you allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, you invest in translators in court for them, you pay higher health insurance premiums because they use hospital emergency rooms, the list goes on.

Regardless of all that you are expected to do for the illegal immigrant community, not a week goes by without media coverage of some immigrant having a hard time crossing the border, or of someone who presented a racially insensitive depiction of a Mexican immigrant and has lost a job over it. Regardless of how the story ends, media’s interpretation of the events always seems to be that America is racist and unaccommodating to illegal immigrants from Mexico – and that America needs to clean up its act. So we are being taxed for the benefit of illegal immigrants and expected to treat them in very racially sensitive way, and at the same time, you are being told that you are a racist. By the way, the immigrants (illegal as well as those here legally) are certainly not required to treat Americans with any sensitivity.

That being the case, are you likely to think that illegal immigrants need more protection from insensitive jokes and more millions of your tax dollars, or are you more likely to feel that it is all just a propaganda showed down your throat? Has anyone’s mind been changed by the political correctness?

Bottom line is that most people who think that illegal immigrants don’t need more protection but need to get in the line to get here legally instead are not racist. They feel disrespected by illegal immigrants and duped by the government handling the immigration affairs on their behalf.

I am certainly not advocating for racism or unkind treatment of immigrants (or anyone) but I definitely think that it would help all of us immigrants get along in America better, if we became less sensitive to some (even insensitive) jokes about our culture, and instead became more sensitive to the customs of our host country. We need to appreciative of the tremendous opportunities that America is affording us and not just complain about how hard things are for us.

Here is my personal experience with assimilation. When I first moved to the United States, my sensitivities were offended on daily bases. My English was atrocious, so everyone seemed to have assumed that I was an idiot. I did not challenge their assumptions. I just kept learning and doing the best job I could at work and learn English as fast as I could. In a year, a lot less people thought I was stupid.

Americans also loved to tell me Czech jokes or tell them in my presence. The jokes typically either depicted Czechs as being stupid, as being backward communists, or they were some play on words – Czech versus check (What do you call a Czech immigrant? A bounced check! Ha ha ha!).

A favorite on the Saturday Night Live which I was reminded of often was Wild and Crazy Czechoslovakians in which Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd,  depicted Czechs and Slovaks as complete morons. It did not occur to anyone I know in the Czech or Slovak community to demonstrate and claim that we did not feel safe in the United States because we were made fun of on national TV (not just by handful of students on a university campus).

Thankfully, there were no new laws prohibiting Czech jokes, nobody demanded an apology from Saturday Night Live, nobody thought that Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd should attend a semester of diversity course, or that all future Hollywood actors should spend millions on getting “educated” on the issue. And thank God, no new agency of Czech Affairs was created at Americans’ expense.

Interestingly enough, the people exhibiting the most pleasure at putting me down seemed to be disproportionally those with roots in some other continent than Europe. Even the people I considered my friends happily joined in. Looking back at it today, I bet they did not even realize how they sounded. I bet a stupid Czech joke is really funny if you are a Mexican – or whatever other than Czech.

Eventually, I have earned other people’s respect through how I treated them and how I acted in general. As I earned people’s respect, the jokes and disdain snarls diminished.

Immigrants, ease up a bit, will you? If handling an insensitive joke on one college campus could potentially set Americans back some $25 million per year (if Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s “solution” is adapted), think about how much difference we can make across the US – by just not taking ourselves so darn seriously!

I am The Immigrant – and I love this country.

Cinco de Mayo – Why is it Celebrated in the US?

Last weekend many Americans have celebrated Cinco de Mayo – referred to by many, apparently incorrectly, as the Mexican Independence day. As an immigrant, I am perplexed by the event.

Sure, Mexican Americans (as all Americans) have every right to celebrate whatever they want.  The weird thing to me is that anyone wants to celebrate any state holiday of a country they left behind. I escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia to America. It would seem pretty stupid to me to celebrate any Czech state holidays – I celebrate American holidays. When I looked around the Internet for an explanation, I came across www.history.com, where I found the following information:

First, Cinco de Mayo is not a Mexican 4th of July. The Mexican Independence day is celebrated on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of the French in 1862, at the Battle of Puebla, one of the battles that took place during Franko-Mexican war. According to www.history.com, Mexico (which was in financial ruins) defaulted on debts to Europe. France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Mexico to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain settled with Mexican government, but France went to war over the issue.

Interestingly, not all Mexican provinces even celebrate the holiday – so why is it so popular in the U.S.? History.com reports that the holiday, which eventually evolved to be a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, was made popular in the U.S. by “Chicano activists… in part because they identified with the victory of indigenous Mexicans over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla.”

Even after the history.com’s lesson, I am still perplexed why would someone who has chosen to move to the U.S. because evidently the life is better here, be celebrating a battle over unpaid debt that happened in their country of origin 150 years ago?

I am not suggesting that Mexican Americans (just like any other Americans) should not stand up for their rights. I am questioning why anyone would want to associate their fight for equal rights with a foreign country, whose treatment of all of its citizens, not just minorities, is undeniably horrible. Is it not the reason why the Mexican American’s families migrated here in the first place? It’s like me coming to the U.S. from a communist country and organizing communist May Day parade. Someone of Mexican origin, could you please offer a comment with an explanation?

What seems even weirder to me is that American cities across the nation put up huge events to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and that many Americans of all backgrounds embrace the holiday – at least as an excuse to get smashed.

Not all celebration is done in a good taste, as demonstrated by some students at UC Davis last week. But when it is not, authorities move quickly to “remedy” the situation. According to Sacramento Bee’s May 2nd article, a Mexican-themed drinking party was promoted by employees of the student-run Coffee House at UC Davis and dubbed Cinco de Drinko. The Facebook page for the event reportedly included a photograph of four male students, wearing sombreros, trying to hop a chain-link fence while two female students in Border Patrol attire smile.

The event sparked a swift demonstration by Latino students, calling for a boycott of the cafeteria. The party was quickly condemned by the university leadership who said that the name “Cinco de Drinko” had strong racial connotation. The demonstrators told the Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi they felt unsafe on campus. Katehi vowed to use education to prevent similar controversies in the future, suggesting that instructional requirements could be changed to mandate a diversity course.

The event is presented as a proof of racism in America, not as a proof of how far Americans are willing to bend over backward to make sure nobody feels offended. Think about it. A few students made a bad joke, so Katehi’s solution is to force thousands of future UC Davis students, who played no part in the event, to take a diversity course. Is that what a country insensitive to its immigrants does?

I am an immigrant. Americans, please do not waste the resources your country cannot spare – and in my opinion should not have to spare – on protecting me from some of your citizens’ jokes or comments I may find offensive. My life is much better because you allow me to stay here, even with some of you making fun of me.

Thank you.

U.S. Freedom of Press under Attack


Reporters without Boarders rank nations according to freedom of press. The United States ranks 32nd out of 179 nations in 2013. 20% of world’s nations score better than (supposedly free) U.S. I think it is bad for a country that used to be an icon of freedom but the rank of 32 is actually an improvement over the last two years, when U.S. ranked 47th. (http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html).

As someone who lived in a country with no freedom of speech, the U.S. low ranking brings out old fears. The United States does not just trend behind traditional free press countries of Northern Europe like Finland or Norway, but it has fallen behind some former Eastern Bloc countries like Estonia (formerly part of Soviet Union), Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. U.S. also ranked worse than several African and Central American nations.

I immigrated to the United States from what was then Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) because of government oppression and suppressed freedom of speech. How ironic, that today the press is enjoying more freedom in both Czech Republic and Slovakia then in the United States. See the ranking comparison below:

Figures from this graph were obtained from Reporters without Boarders website

Figures from this graph were obtained from Reporters without Boarders website

See the Freedom of Press Index here: http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html.

The Barack Obama’s promise of the most transparent government is not reflected in the freedom of speech it affords to journalists. After a hopeful trend at the beginning of Obama’s first term, the ranking returned close to Bush era levels. While 2013 shows an improvement over previous couple of years, the trend is not likely to continue.

Consider the attempt by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to place “researchers” into newsrooms across America to conduct “study of critical information needs,” which one dissenting commissioner said would let researchers ”grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”

According to FCC website, “this research can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations).” The Research Design for the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs was put together for FCC by Social Solutions International, Inc. (SSi), and is available for download from the FCC website.

This is how communists in Czechoslovakia censored the media. It did not happen overnight, but eventually, each newsroom had a communist mentor, who decided what would be broadcasted, and spied on reporters to make sure they towed the line. Eventually, all the reporters were just government puppets, reading the government provided scripts. If a news anchor stuttered while pronouncing a Russian politician’s name or miss-pronounced it, his or her face suddenly disappeared from Czech TV screens.

While FCC is not overtly proposing that kind of censorship, at least not yet, I am hoping that it is clear to any free-minded American that in a free society, the government has no business of asking, let alone requiring, media to cooperate with it in any way.

It is the government who is obligated to report to press, not the other way around but evidently Obama administration did not get the memo.

Reportedly, this administration is a well oiled machine and has achieved unprecedented success in media manipulation. It went way beyond any (still deplorable) media manipulation employed by its predecessors. Here are some words from Mike McCurry, who was the press secretary to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, published by Politico:

“The balance of power used to be much more in favor of the mainstream press…  The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing. When I talk to White House reporters now, they say it’s really tough to do business with people who don’t see the need to be cooperative.”

And that is saying something, coming from a guy who was no stranger to putting Clinton in front of friendly reporters.

“They use every technique anyone has ever thought of, and some no one ever had,” New York Times White House reporter Peter Baker told Politico. “They can be very responsive and very helpful at pulling back the curtain at times while keeping you at bay at others. And they’re not at all shy about making clear when they don’t like your stories, which is quite often.”

Source: Politico – Behind the Curtain

Here are some links to reactions to Politico’s article – neither of which disagree with the main point that the media is being manipulated by the White House:

Here are some other links to articles depicting Obama’s administration heavy handed media manipulation:

The list above is by no means exhaustive but you get an idea. To those who may be quick to point out that the practice of press manipulation and stonewalling is not limited to current administration – I agree. I don’t care whose administration does it, it’s a problem. It was a problem under Bush, and it is even bigger problem under Obama.

Does it strike you as odd that the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” should start before elections? Whose “needs” is it going to “study”?

Do you think that preelection targeting of mostly conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status for closer scrutiny by IRS was a work of a small group of employees acting independently – or was it the administration’s (successful) effort to limit its opposition voices? Think hard because the IRS is targeting political speech again (02/21/2014).

Are you afraid yet? If you are not, you should be.

I am the Immigrant – and I love this country.

Update – 2017:

From the Reporters without borders website (https://rsf.org/en/united-states):

US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered several major obstacles over the past few years, most recently with the election of President Donald Trump. He has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, while attempting to block White House access to multiple media outlets in retaliation for critical reporting. Despite the bleak outlook under Trump, it bears repeating that his predecessor left behind a flimsy legacy for press freedom and access to information. Journalists continue to be arrested for covering various protests around the country, with several currently facing criminal charges. The Obama administration waged a war on whistleblowers who leaked information about its activities, leading to the prosecution of more leakers than any previous administration combined. To this day, American journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right to protect their sources and other confidential work-related information. And over the past few years, there has been an increase in prolonged searches of journalists and their devices at the US border, with some foreign journalists being prevented from any travel to the US after they covered sensitive topics such as Colombia’s FARC or Kurdistan

US Rank in 2016/2017:   41/43, respectively

Czech Republic Rank in 2016/2017:  21/23, respectively

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” – no more.

I thought that a government shutdown meant that the government would just stop providing services.  I was wrong. Here is an example of how wrong I was from the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.

I could see how the trash would not be picked up and the Library and the bathrooms would be closed during the shutdown. But I would not expect the see bunch of federal employees erecting the barriers by the entrance to the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, making sure that nobody walks on the path to the monument.

If the government is so broke that it is in danger of the default, why spend money on preventing its citizens from simply walking around the park? If the government is “for the people”, shouldn’t the government prioritize spending in a way that benefits the people? Evidently not.

I have heard stories on radio (Talk 650 KSTE, Armstrong and Getty Show – http://www.kste.com/media/podcast-the-armstrong-and-getty-show-armandgettypodcast/) about government employees being asked to go and close parks, paths – or whatever on federal land. In some cases, they were instructed to “make it as uncomfortable for public as possible”. Regrettably, you hear that scoop only on conservative radio. You would think that in a free society, such stories of government abusing its power would be on the front page of every paper, and Americans would be up in arms about it.

Here is another story of the government gone wild. Cliff House, a popular privately owned restaurant in San Francisco, was ordered to close, by Obama administration on October 3rd, 2013, because it sits on land controlled by National Park Service. Some 180 employees (the “little guys” that Obama claims to fight for) were out of work overnight, without warning.

Again, there is absolutely no reason for the government to act. No government action is necessary for the restaurant to run. But the government goes out of its way to make it as uncomfortable as possible for the public…

The Cliff House closing really made me wonder about how the feds came up with a list of ways to punish the people they are supposed to represent, for it’s own inability to do their job. How did they even come up with an idea to shut down Cliff House? It is a (relatively) small business, some 2800 miles away from Capitol Hill. Now I wonder, how many government employees were paid (and how much) by American taxpayers to search for any venue located on federal land, that they could close.

You probably heard the story reported about Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. There the veterans protested the closures (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/veterans-protest-closure-of-monuments-and-memorials/2013/10/13/adaf699c-342e-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html) – but it was reported that they were upset with lawmaker’s inability to compromise over the budget, not the fact that the government went out if its way to prevent them from entering their memorial.

When I visited the memorial (and government was operating), I saw no government officials at the memorial – you just walk up to the plates. There is no expense associated with keeping the memorial open. I get that it takes money to keep it up, but there is no need for anyone to be there for the vets and other Americans to visit their memorial.

But wait, maybe it is a government for SOME people, just not ordinary Americans. As reported in the USA Today, a week after World War II veterans were booted from their memorial on the National Mall, another, much more important group was cleared by the government to proceed with a concert and rally Tuesday on the Mall.

The  march was dubbed the “Camino Americano”. It was hosted, according to USA Today, by groups like Service Employees International Union and Casa de Maryland. Nancy Pelosi and other congressional “leaders” were trying to score political points at the rally. By now you probably figured out who the rally was for – the ILLEGAL immigrants!

I am an immigrant myself but I find it offensive that the same government that goes out of its way to boot the WWII vets out of the Mall, invites illegals to party there.

The concert was by the Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte, by the way. If these poor folks whose first act on the US soil was braking the US law want to be Americans, why not have a concert by an American band? Oh that’s right. Nobody bothers to learn the language of their host country (see related blog). They should have dubbed it the “Camino NO Americano”. (Here is a link to USA Today story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/08/government-shutdown-immigration-rally/2942257/)

Long story short, the US government has reached the point where it is no longer the government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is increasingly a government of politicians, by the lawyers, for themselves. Oh yeah, and screw the people.

Immigrant’s Choice – American’s Bill

I am an immigrant and I am grateful to be able to live in the US. I love this country – but sometimes it puzzles me.

I swear to you, that no American begged me to come here. On the contrary, I begged at the American Consulate in (what used to be) Yugoslavia to come here. Bottom line – we immigrants come here because we choose to – not because Americans ask us or force us to move here.

That being the case, you would think, that all of us immigrants should be grateful to you Americans for letting us start a new life here and escape from whatever awful situation we faced back in our home country, right? You don’t owe us anything for blessing you with our presence, right? Or do you? Believe it or not, somebody must think so, because there seems to be whole lot of mandate to accommodate our languages and cultures at American taxpayers’ expense. Astoundingly, there is no mandate for us to learn your language and accommodate your culture.

Did you know that you can take the written test for California driver license in at least a dozen languages? Shockingly, last time I drove (about couple of hours ago), all the signs on the road were still in English. It would seem that knowing enough English to understand the traffic signs would be a reasonable requirement for allowing someone to drive, but apparently, it is not.

Apparently, some bureaucrat at the California DMV figured, that the benefit to all Californians, of having a bunch of moronic immigrants driving around without having a clue what “Wrong Way” means, is worth the cost associated with translations and printing the forms in dozen different languages.

Californians rejoice! The income tax just went up, the car tax is back, the employment tax is back, and the sales tax just jumped to 8.5%! Regardless, your politicians keep borrowing money to fund nonsense like multilingual DMV tests, so that all of us immigrants, who chose to come here but could not be bothered to learn even the most basic English, can drive!

I feel very confident, that if all the DMV forms were only printed in English, none of my immigrant rights would be trampled upon. The last time I read the DMV booklet (written in English, thank you very much), it stated that driving on public roads is a privilege, not a right. Oh – my bad! I forgot about the economic recovery – if Californians pay for translators, the economy will rebound!

I thought that no government could come up with a worse idea than a multilingual test for driver license, until I heard a story on NPR during the last election. A guest was a Russian activist, who complained that there were not enough Russian translators at New York voter pooling stations.

The reporter saw no irony in any of this. Apparently, Russian immigrants, who can’t match a name to a bubble on a ballot without a translator (paid for by American tax payers), can make perfect sense of news in English to form an intelligent opinion about the candidates. The same reporter was perhaps blissfully unaware, that one of the requirements of becoming an US citizen is – you guessed it – to demonstrate sufficient English language skills to be able to function in society and perform your civic duties. So why would any American citizen need a translator? Maybe uttering “Я не понимаю” (= I don’t understand in Russian) passes for a sufficient English language skill during INS administered citizenship test in New York.

Good thing that American politicians can always borrow a few more billion from Chinese government to fund this nonsense — and leave it up to the future generations to pay the debt.

If you are an American citizen who can write (in English), I encourage you to write to your representatives in congress and ask them to write a bill that would really reform the US immigration policy. The bill which would require us immigrants to respect our host country. What is wrong with demanding that we

  • Obey the laws
  • Communicate in English (= no translators necessary to vote, drive, or appear at any court)
  • Contribute (= no sitting on welfare for years and years)

I love this country – and I am The Immigrant.

I love the US – and I want it to prevail

I grew up in Czechoslovakia under a communist regime. I have experienced what it is like to live in a society where citizens have no rights or freedoms. For the last three decades, I have been very fortunate to live in the United States. To this day, it still seems so incredibly unbelievable, that I live in America, the symbol of freedom and strength, and the world’s beacon of hope… I will always be grateful to all American taxpayers whose tax contributions made it possible for my family to come here and enjoy the great place that generations of Americans have built.

After my arrival to California, I used to marvel at the kind of a bumper sticker that read something like: “AMERICA – LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.” I certainly love America and if I can help it, I am not leaving it. But over the years, I realized that there was another interpretation to those words I used to love to quote. You could interpret the part about leaving America as leaving it alone.

The longer I lived here, the more I saw that majority of Americans were leaving America alone. And as everything else that has been just left alone, America seems to fall apart. I am not one of those people who think that America is doomed but I do think that America is doomed if it stays the course.

Another thing I came to realize was that I was also leaving America alone. As I begun to see some disturbing parallels between political developments in the United States and those of pre-communist Czechoslovakia, I would vent to some friends about it – but I did not engage in any meaningful way to change things.

I am embarrassed to admit that after all those years I have lived here, I am still not an American citizen. I think it is time for me to get going on truly becoming a full blown American and become a citizen – and to share the perspective of current events that Americans who grew up here do not – and cannot have.

For the lack of better idea about how to contribute, I am starting this blog.

I love this country – and I am The Immigrant.