Iraq the Model

This post at Iraq the Model brought tears to my eyes. How we have come to take our own liberty for granted. How sweet it was to watch 9 million people drink from the spring of freedom for the first time.

Beautiful.

UPDATE: Corrected typo on number of voters, and fixed link.

World cheers, Democrats boo

WTF? Just unbelievable political stupidity. If your heard John Kerry on Meet the Press you know what I’m talking about. And don’t get me started on Teddy Kennedy. Captain’s Quarters notes that despite their opposition to the invasion of Iraq, Chirac, Schroeder and Kofi F’n Annan had high praise for the Iraqi people’s courage in exercising their right to a free vote. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership in America has nothing to say but its retreat and run mantra. Ed Morrissey nails it:

Moderate Democrats must be puzzled and at least somewhat concerned that their leadership has allowed itself to become so infected with Bush hatred that they can no longer recognize opportunities to build trust with the American electorate on national security. The automatic gainsay of anything accomplished by the Bush administration has almost completely destroyed their credibility — and the measured and intelligent reactions of Chirac, Schroeder, and Annan shows how badly the Democrats screwed up today.

It really scares me to watch the Democrats self-destruct this way. A one-party system is dangerous. Without a brake applied by a viable opposition party, things could actually get ugly and the fears of the liberal left could become self-fulfilling prophecies. Where are the reasonable voices in the party? Is there no one to take the sage advice of Ann Althouse?

Here’s my advice to anti-war bloggers who want to avoid embarrassing themselves: express relief that the feared violence did not occur, happiness for the Iraqi people who got to vote, concern about the new government’s willingness to be fair to the people in the more violent areas who were deterred from coming out to vote, and reconfigure your anti-war position into concern about the great risk that was taken. Worry about the next war: the more success in Iraq, the more inspiration to take on bolder ventures, and the next one might go horribly. Like a defeated candidate, focus on the next election. I heard one commentator on NPR say that after the great success in voting for the Afghans, the Palestinians, and the Iraqis, it’s beginning to “look like a trend.” What if the neo-cons are right? Consider it — without your usual reflexive invective. If they turn out to be right, don’t you have to be happy that you were wrong?

One can only hope.

Remembering our allies

Parrot Check has a sad post this morning concerning the crash of a British C-130 transport. As we all celebrate the victory yesterday’s election represents, it is good to reflect on the ultimate sacrafice so many made to make this possible. America does not stand alone in the world. As we give thanks for all the good we have witnessed, let’s remember all the brave men and women of the Coalition Forces who made freedom in Iraq possible.

My weekend

Ok, here’s the Sunday night wrap-up:

Friday evening I took a walk into Itaewon. It was quite interesting. Now, as you might expect it has that touristy feel with a little bit (alright a fair amount) of “being close to a military base sleaze” overlaid. Still, I had a great time. I mostly just walked around to get a feel for things, but I was not wanting to stray into an “off-limits” establishment on my first night off base. Although I am not totally clear on what is and is not off-limits, by power of my amazing deductive reasoning I concluded those bars with the scantily clad women standing in the doorway urging me to come in for a good time might have been the places I was warned to avoid. Thankfully, my power of resistance is almost as good as my deductive reasoning, and I successfully maneuvered my way out of the area. Seriously, I am a little too old to be snookered into buying $20 drinks for ladies of questionable reputation.

I did find a nice hangout called the 3 Alley Pub. Filled with foreigners, and most of them were G.I.’s. The bar is run by a German guy, and so of course I had to drink German beer. Ate dinner there (Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and peas) and drank more beer. Met and chatted with a G.I. from Fayetteville who was sitting next to me at the bar. Nice guy. So I had some more beer while we talked. Shortly thereafter I realized I had consumed too many beers and I had a 2 mile hike back to the hotel. But I made it and woke up on Saturday fully dressed.

Saturday morning I met with a realtor (actually two of them) and they took me around to look at apartments. Saw several that were pretty nice, but one in particular struck my fancy. It is in Itaewon about a mile from where I work. One of my preferences is that I be able to walk to work should the fancy strike me (having concluded that I will need to buy a car). Driving here is a little intimidating. Sorta like a perpetual game of chicken. The realtor’s driving scared and impressed me in equal amounts, but she was oblivious to all the near misses. Many of the streets are very narrow and she was driving a rather large (by Korean standards) Oldsmobile mini-van. Anyway, the apartment I liked best is on a hill and has a decent enough view, but what I really liked was the comparatively large rooms and that it had a great patio with a table and some nice landscaping. It was the only place I saw that I could really see myself making into a home. Just had that feel about it somehow. Unfortunately, it was unfurnished and I had not planned on shipping any furniture over. The realtor is going to see what the landlord is willing to do regarding furnishing, so I await the result of that negotiation. I may reconsider and buy or rent furniture on the economy if necessary, but there are still a lot of places to look at. I have almost $45,000 per year to spend and will be signing a two year lease, so I should be an attractive tenant. Oh, and when you go looking for housing, be sure and wear slip on shoes. I was tying my sneakers repeatedly throughout the morning. You just don’t wear shoes inside a residence, even if that residence is currently vacant. And another thing, I didn’t see any carpets, all the floors are hardwood (which is nice, but I will need to buy some rugs).

The highlight of the day was being treated to my first traditional Korean meal. We went to this out of the way restaurant that was formerly a Korean home. It had the private dining areas separated by partitions. The LOW table with cushions to sit on. The grill embedded in the table for cooking. The real deal I had been reading about. So we had bulgogi, which is thinly sliced marinated beef, which “we” cooked at the table. And of course two types of gimchi (plain and spicy), and all kinds of side dishes and vegetables that I don’t recall the names of. Oh, and this soup that was to die for. Everything was delicious. Very unique and flavorful. I proved so inept at using metal chopsticks, that they had to bring me a fork. It was very embarrassing, but not unexpected. (Full disclosure, I am crappy with wooden chopsticks too.) My hosts were extremely gracious and tried to put me at ease, but I did feel like such a rube. Anyway, with a fork I was able to load my lettuce leafs with all kinds of Korean goodness, and owing to my big mouth was generally successful in not making too big a mess. They asked me if I wanted something to drink and I said how about soju (I had read this was a traditional alcoholic beverage, and thought I would impress them with my astute cultural insights). They did look astonished, and then the younger of the two realtors, Ms. Jeong, said “for lunch? I drink soju only at nighttime”. Fearing I had made another faux pas I said a beer would be fine. By then it was too late, because as their guest I would not be denied. The other realtor, Ms. Kim, who was driving would not drink, but Ms. Jeong and I put a pretty good dent in the bottle. She may have just been being polite, but she seemed to be enjoying herself. I did not get drunk or anything, but I did have a nice warm feeling by the end of the meal.

This is Ms. Jeong. You can just see Ms. Kim avoiding being photographed.

After dinner shot. You can see the cooking table, but if I had any sense I would have remembered to take a picture when that table was loaded with Korean delicacies. Sorry.

I brought the leftover soju back to my room. It is still in the refridgerator.

I also was tutored in some basic Korean social graces (beyond the need to learn to use chopsticks). For example, when you are served, two hands are used and you receive with both hands. And when someone fills your soju glass, you reciprocate and fill theirs. Oh, and it was pretty funny because I kept holding doors or letting them enter first until it was explained that I was the guest and I was supposed to enter first. All very interesting, huh?

Saturday night I was invited to join my boss and his wife for dinner in their home. His new boss has also just arrived in Korea, and she attended the dinner party with her husband as well. I had read that when you are a guest in someone’s home, tradition dictates that you bring a gift. Shopping options at the hotel are somewhat limited, but I brought a bottle of wine and a small box of Godiva chocolates, and that seemed to be appreciated. Walt (my boss) has a Korean wife, and I think her name is Mi Sung (I am notoriously bad with names generally, and Korean names are a real challenge). She made a wonderful pasta dish with clams in the sauce and I cannot begin to say how pleased I was to see silverware on the dinner table. So, we ate and drank wine, and chatted the night away. Sharon (Walt’s boss, and my second-line supervisor) and her husband Bruce have been posted overseas several times. Most recently Nice, Italy. Sharon spent several years in Okinawa and Bruce was raised in Japan, so this Korean adventure is just one of a series for them. Anyway, it was great to have a social evening with the folks who I will be working for. To know me is to love me and all that stuff. So when the evening was over around 11 o’clock (can’t forget that midnight curfew) we taxied back to the hotel. No one drinks and drives in Korea (well, some do obviously, but there is zero tolerance for it, and the legal limit is .05).

My gracious dinner hosts.

My new bosses, Walt and Sharon.

Today was really cold. I did my laundry and dropped my work clothes off at the dry cleaner. I walked over to check out the commissary and had lunch at a base restaurant. Lunch sucked, but I got to watch a little on the Iraqi elections on Fox, which was nice. I’m told the Yongson commissary is the largest outside the CONUS. (yeah, I’m really getting into these military abbreviations. That’s continental United States for those who wondered what CONUS is). Anyway, it is like any large supermarket back home. I didn’t buy anything, I just wanted to be sure all the requisite comfort foods I require were available. I should do alright from the looks of things. The tortillas which are a staple of my limited cooking repertoire were frozen, but hey, I can deal with a little hardship. It builds character!

So, that was my weekend. Back to work tomorrow and I plan to dive right in and start asserting myself. I finally got my permanent ID on Friday, so I’m officially employed as far as the Army is concerned. I am getting more comfortable with each passing day and I have finally adjusted my sleep pattern to the local time zone. Although it is still freaky to think about watching the superbowl on Monday morning. People here take leave and have big breakfast parties. Don’t know that I am going to do that this year, want to save my leave for travel.

Ok, more on my life later. Here are some photos I took this afternoon.

The Seoul Tower is the dominant landmark around here. I need to do the tour.

The Korean National Museum is still under construction. Just outside the fence on land the Army returned to the ROK. Pronounced rock. Meaning the Republic of Korea. I kept wandering why the General was talking about Iraq, then I used those powers of deduction and figured it out. Duh.

These high rises are right off post. I looked at an apartment in one, but it’s just not for me.

This is a little waterfall like thing that is part of the hotel landscaping. Just to prove that it is cold today.

A day may come…..

Sorry for the dearth of posting this weekend. I have been busy with both the interesting and mundane. I will update you all on my activities later tonight. Now, having completed doing the laundry (odd, my clothes used to magically appear washed and folded in my dresser drawers when I lived in the States), I am going to brave the cold and walk over to check out the commissary. Hopefully, I can snap a few pictures while I am out and about. It is sunny and relatively clear today (you can actually see the mountains that surround Seoul).

So before I go let me leave you with these words:

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you *stand, Men of the West!

Yes, you Tolkien fans will recognize the words of Aragorn. They seem particulary appropriate as we support the Iraqi people on the eve of their historic election. I found this post over a Mudville Gazette particularly moving. I think you will enjoy reading how the words of Tolkien still resonate as our brave soldiers stand tall in opposition to the forces of evil. (The Tolkien references are at the end of the post, but it is all good and I encourage you to read it.)

And while you are at it, frequent commenter (and daughter) Ashley pointed me to this blog, which is the newest addition to my blogroll. I do believe we are kindred spirits. Go have a look.

Back soon.

Great minds thinking alike and all that…

I previously posted talking about how the left is marginalizing itself through inflamed rhetoric and its refusal to take those extremists within the party to task. We could use a big dose of “not in my name” from responsible voices within the party. What is happening has gone way beyond mere dissent.

As usual, the blogfather at Instapundit has gathered some nice links that really make the point much better than I did. PLEASE take a few minutes and have a read. It’s important. Then come back and let’s talk about it.

I agree with Ashley, (a commenter on the previous post and coincidentally another family member) that the interests of the majority in the middle are not being served. As long as the Democrats keep embracing idiots like Ward Churchill (sorry, but not repudiating these America haters is tantamount to embracing them in my book) they will not be a viable opposition party….and that is not good for anyone.

Family matters

Some of the more interesting comments on my blog come from family members. By way of background, only my mother and I voted for the President. And my new found political enlightenment has been cause for much consternation, if not genuine concern for my sanity, amongst my liberal relations. Still, I press on with my efforts to speak the truth in the hope that eventually reason will prevail. It occurs to me that perhaps these intra-family debates are a reflection of the rhetoric that fuels the red/blue divide in our nation today. And maybe there is something to be learned in that.

Recently I posted a link to this video which provides what I thought was a rather funny depiction of some of the more extreme views of the Bush-hating crowd. I titled the post “The faces of the American left”. Which led my son Kevin to respond:

Yeah, that is a real accurate portrayal of the American left…just like Fahrenheit 911 is an accurate portrayal of Bush and the war. When are we all going to get past all these petty shots and focus on the important matters in our country? The election is over. Believe it or not…most people ARE over it! Bush won. Instead of taunting like Randy Moss after a touchdown why don’t we just focus on winning the war!

I actually agree with him for the most part. I don’t believe the mostly tongue-in-cheek video compares with Moore’s propaganda piece, but the extreme views of those on the fringes of the left (and right) do not accurately reflect the America I know and love. And while I don’t see anywhere near the level of taunting from the right that would compare to the whining of disaffected liberals, we on the right do need to gaurd against hubris and arrogance if we want to hold on to the hard won majority of the mainstream Americans. And yes, we can still argue and disagree vehemently amongst ourselves about the wisdom of various domestic and foreign policies. But we should be able to come together around the principle that our nation is at war and the recognition that our defeat would be a victory for tyranny. No true liberal is in favor of oppression. Freedom and democracy are values we can all cherish, regardless of our political leanings. It was gratifying to hear my son acknowledge this fact.

My daughter Renee had this to say:

Enough already! I did not vote for Bush and I disagree with many of his policies, but I am downright embarrassed by the juvenile whining currently emanating from the anti-Bush camp. Time to face the facts. If liberals spend the next four years addressing issues such as how to re-connect with rural voters, then they can seriously contend again in 2008. If instead they sit around debating whether Donald Rumsfeld or Darth Vader is more evil, then the GOP is looking at eight more years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Indeed. And my question to Democrats is where is the outrage? Why aren’t responsible leaders of the party standing up and renouncing the extreme views of groups that can only be described as anti-American. Instead, the Democrats pander to these folks and in so doing, alienate the vital majority of voters. It was disgusting to watch Senator (and former Klansman) Robert Byrd attack and demean Condi Rice in such a vile manner on the Senate floor. Or to hear Barbara Boxer weave a tale of lies and then have the audacity to call Rice a liar. And still they wonder why they continue to lose elections.

I honestly don’t care which party is in power provided that party is true to the traditional values of freedom and liberty, with no UN veto or “global test” regarding America’s interests and national security . As Superman might say, I’m all about truth, justice and the American way. When Michael Moore was given a seat of honor at the Democratic National Convention, the party lost my vote. If my children are a reflection of the more mainstream liberals in America, the Democrats might be in serious trouble for a long time to come.

I will continue my efforts to get the word out to any and all who care to listen. In the words of Kris Kristofferson:

And you still can hear me talking to the people who don’t listen
To the things that I am saying , hoping someone’s gonna hear
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about
Are things they could be changing , praying someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer and I’m bound to die the same
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul
And if I never have a nickel I won’t ever die ashamed
Because I don’t believe that no one wants to know.

(from To beat the devil)

cross posted at The Wide Awakes

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be bloggers…

Instapundit links to this story about the growing power of blogs and how some in the mainstream media are reacting to having their reporting fact checked by the blogging community worldwide. Here’s the meat:

If you don’t believe that bloggers are giving newspapers a headache, talk to Nick Coleman. A veteran newspaper columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman is in the middle of an old-fashioned feud with one of the leading conservative Web logs in the country.

So far, his battle with Powerlineblog.com — Time magazine’s “blog of the year” — has sparked an anger-spewing column by Coleman, an ombudsman’s clarification, and a threat by a leading bank to pull advertising from the newspaper.

Moreover, it has confirmed the growing ability of blogs to get under the skin of the mainstream media. “This is just the beginning,” an exasperated Coleman warns. “People need to pay attention to [bloggers]. To watch out.”

Nick Coleman, Dan Rather and their ilk are like the Wizard of Oz when the curtain was pulled back and the fraud was revealed. Except the Wizard was gracious about it.

Bad photography

Ok, these turned out worse than I imagined. Still, I promised some photos, such as they are. When I can get out and about in the daylight I can do better.

This is a lousy shot of the Seoul tower. I took it from the bridge that goes from South Post (where I’m staying) to Main Post (where I work)

Also taken from the bridge. This is the main drag into Itaewon. I’ll be traversing this road tomorrow as I make my first pilgrimage off base.

This is the building where I work. Sort of a modified quonset hut. It’s just as nice inside.

This is where I am living for the next month or so. Dragon Hill Lodge. It’s actually very nice.

And the sun goes down on another day in Korea. From my hotel room window.

Ok, that was a taste. More (and better) to come.

We the people…..

All right, this may get me accused of “waving the flag and banging the drum” again, but I do like it quite a lot.

Found this over at Euro Yank. A nice guy with a unique and interesting blog. We occasionally disagree on the issues of the day, but he is always the gentlemen. Hell, I steal things like this from him on a regular basis…..

Finished with Thursday

Here I sit on Thursday night drinking wine from a coffee cup. Day is done for me, and you readers back in the States will be waking soon to start your day. Sorry, you will have to wait to find out what is going to happen on Thursday. Under the terms of the International Dateline protocols I am precluded from revealing your future.

All right, enough with the BS. My day was pretty routine. I shared the webpage I found on the curfew [see post below] at work and it generated quite a bit of discussion. I just can’t get that worked up about it, but a couple of my colleagues are chafing at having their Constitutional rights infringed upon. Well, whatever.

Oh, I took my driver’s test. And passed. I missed four, which surprised me because I actually did study. Of course I don’t know which four I missed, but I guess I will find out some dark night when I turn the wrong way on a one-way street or something. So, I passed the test but I didn’t get the license. Yep, can’t get the license without my permanant ID. Went to HR and I am still not in the “system” so no ID is forthcoming. Good thing DoD has all the latest computer technology or I may never get that ID. I understand there are security reasons for this drawn out process, but come on, four days to input me in the database?

I did get my paperwork in for my salary advance. Now that I can get without being in the system, which makes no sense. Stopped by the JAG office to get a power of attorney and find out if I have to pay taxes to the Commonwealth of Virginia while overseas, but they can’t help me. No permanant ID. Ditto on my travel voucher. This is sorta like living in a Joseph Heller novel.

Oh well. I did meet with a major on a pending reorganization, and it was good to be back in the advice giving business. I am really anxious to start doing the work they brought me here to do full time, instead of spinning my wheels while waiting for that elusive ID. It just better be gold plated or something when I do get it.

I’ve been walking all over the base and I can actually find my way around pretty good now. Even took a short cut which gave me some confidence that I am gaining a sense of direction. Tomorrow I plan to venture into the infamous Itaewon district. Half of Itaewon is “off limits”, but I am a little unclear on which half. I am sure those helpful MPs will let me know if I stray off course.

I have taken a couple of pictures and I will try to upload them later tonight. They aren’t real good because it has been pretty much overcast all week. Plus, I have to be sensitive about using a camera on a military installation. They do take security very seriously here, and I am guessing they have reasonable cause to do so.

Enough writing for now, I want to go read my favorite blogs and find something that is actually interesting to share with you.

By the way, it really means a lot to me that y’all drop by to read me. It keeps me connected. I love your comments, even when you disagree with the obvious rightness of my viewpoints. Thanks!

Democracy in Iraq

The elections coming a week from Sunday are obviously critical to the effort to bring peace and stability to that troubled land. Are Iraqis capable of embracing democracy? Do they have the will and courage to make the necessary sacrafices to secure their freedom? Who are you going to believe, the NY Times or the citizens of Iraq?

Check out the results of this recent poll and draw your own conclusions.

From the always insightful gentlemen at PowerLine.

More on the curfew

Well, I came across a link to this webpage that is critical of the curfew imposed on DoD civilians.

As I have said before, I personally have no problem with the curfew, but I can understand the feelings of those who have a contrary view.

All I will (and can) say about this issue here is that there are legal and administrative processes available to those who feel aggrieved. Until this matter is resolved I believe we have both a duty and an obligation to abide by the command decisions of USFK leadership. It is a recipe for anarchy to only follow the rules you agree with. As federal employees, we have an obligation to “obey now, and grieve later.” I sincerely hope no civilian puts his or her job at risk by challenging the curfew in an inappropriate fashion.

hat tip: Lost Nomad