The President has been…

Accused of changing the rationale for ‘his’ war, and hounded for mismanaging it. Derided as an uninspiring public speaker. Belittled as an idiot. Blamed for dividing the nation. Charged with incompetence in his administration. Accused of trampling on the Constitution. Engaged in censorship and manipulation of the press. Mockingly compared with lower primates. Pressured for a key Cabinet Advisor’s resignation.

Yep, it’s a historical fact. Damn Republican too.

Abraham Lincoln.

Read this fascinating history here. Lots of great links.

Only in Texas

Alright, I’m finally clearing up my backlog of email. Sorry everyone, I have been “busy” at engaging in avoidance these past few days. My way of getting through the holidays alone was to just pretend it wasn’t happening. That and LOTS of time in bars. I guess you could say I traded holiday spirit for holiday spirits as it were.

Speaking of drinking, here’s a story from Texas. It was on the Internet, so it must be true!

Only a Texan could think of this …. from the county where drunk
driving is considered a sport, comes this true story.

Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a bar in Bandera, Texas.
After last call the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated
that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the parking lot for a
few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an
eternity and trying his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed
to find his car which he fell into. He sat there for a few minutes as a
number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.

Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a
fine, dry summer night) — flicked the blinkers on, then off a couple of
times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights. He moved the
vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still
for a few more minutes as some more of the other patron vehicles left.

At last, the parking lot empty, he pulled out of the parking lot and
started to drive slowly down the road. The police officer, having
patiently waited all this time, now started up the patrol car, put on
the flashing lights, and promptly pulled the man over and carried out a
breathalyzer test. To his amazement the breathalyzer indicated no
evidence of the man having consumed any alcohol at all!

Dumbfounded, the officer said, “I’ll have to ask you to accompany me to
the police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken.”

“I doubt it,” said the truly proud Texan. “Tonight I’m the designated

Just so you know, I never drink and drive here. A) I don’t have too, there are 73 bars within 6 blocks of my apartment (and no, I have not seen them all, maybe 20 or so) and B) Drunk driving is severely punished here. Which is a good thing, because the way these people drive when the are sober is scary enough!

Speaking of English

Since I am an abject failure in my Korean skill, it was reassuring to learn I was somewhat proficient in English.

How about you?

The Librarian
You scored 72 erudition!
Congratulations! You’re well above average when it comes to your
knowledge of English grammar, history, and literature. You may have
missed a few questions, but if you keep your studies up and stay away
from genre fiction, we’ll have you ready for Stanford in no time! Who
knows, we just might be reading your columns in Talk of the Town a few years from now.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 0% on erudition

Link: The Are You Truly Erudite? Test written by okellelala on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Christmas in Korea

Merry Christmas to all! Christmas is a little different here in Korea. Take Santa’s helpers for example:

I DID NOT shamelessly steal this image from Nomad, it was a gift! Right, Frank?

Anyway, I have not exactly gotten into the spirit of the season this year. I think it is natural to miss the familar and comfortable surroundings that are home and hearth, and this is my first Christmas overseas. But I’m doing alright.

Last night I rang in the holiday at Grand Ole Opry with my friend Jeff. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months, so it was good to get together again. We exchanged multiple beers as gifts and were in high spirits as the clock struck twelve. Nothing like a country bar to chase away the blues.

Well, there are places I’d rather be this morning, there’s no denying that. But there is much that is good in my life and the best gift of all is knowing that I have friends and family who are thinking of me today. Know that I am with you too, if only in my heart.

And what’s Christmas without a carol? Feel free to sing along….

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Just because

I’m still here, just hunkered down trying to keep warm. Sorry for the lack of posts, but unless you want to hear about my CIV gaming or what I’m watching on TV, there’s just nothing to report right now.

I do have this to share from the Mudville Gazette. Please take a few moments to read this father’s tribute to his soldier son. We have all been treated to Cindy Sheehan’s views courtesy of our MSM friends, but we don’t hear much about people like this.

I’ll be back.


That means cold. As in 12F as I write this. Well, I’m writing this inside where its toasty warm, but I will soon have to venture out and make my way to work. Hope the old hoopdee is up to the task.

Tried to do a little shopping last night, but there was stiff breeze that made the walking around just too damn miserable. Presents may arrive in the states late this year.

Nothing else to say today.

LTG is having a birthday!

Yes, dear reader(s) this blog turns one year old today. It’s been interesting experience to say the least. LTG has not turned out to be exactly what I expected or hoped for perhaps, but then life is generally like that, isn’t it?

I don’t have any particular insights to offer (which I guess pretty much sums up the last year of posting, eh?), but I do actually enjoy having the moments I spend here with you. I’m not sure I have met my own expectations of what I hoped to accomplish as a blogger, but I am not totally unsatisfied with the result either. There are many political bloggers who express perspectives I share much better than I am capable of doing. There are expat bloggers who are better able to document the “trials, tribulations, and adventures” of living in Korea in ways that entertain and enlighten. And of course, there are people who are actually leading lives that are infinitely more interesting than what I have managed to achieve. Not to mention the fact that my writing skills, while hopefully adequate, do not make LTG a must read.

So for the nearly 22,000 visits I say thank you. An insignificant number compared to many blogs, but more than I expected and appreciated more than you will know. It’s funny that a blog is so much more than an online journal. It is like a mother who makes you feel guility for not writing. Like a friend you don’t want to disappoint. Sometimes like a chore that you wish you could avoid. Once in a while its the bartender you confide your troubles to. Mostly its just there, a familiar place to go for refuge.

What I like best is the feeling of connection to the other travelers in the “blogosphere”. The people I look forward to visiting each day for words of wisdom or just a glimpse into the daily routines that make up a life. And in a weird way these strangers become your friends. Thanks to all of you for your kind words and encouragement through good times and bad these past twelve months. It’s been a long strange trip, but I still can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner. Thanks for joining me on the ride.

If you are interested, here’s a link to that very first post one year ago today.

Looking back

Last year at this time I was in Istanbul. And while sitting here in Seoul this morning it seems so long ago and far away, it is a still a wonderful memory. Let’s look at some pictures, want to?

The Blue Mosque

The Hagia Sophia

Rumeli Fortress

At the spice market

I didn’t see a Turkish bath, but here’s a Turkish toilet….

The Turks we met were all very friendly, warm and gracious. This shopkeeper at the Arasta Bazaar named Erol was very kind and helpful. Of course, Carol spent a lot of money in his shop. But the apple tea was great!

One of my personal favorites…we saw a show featuring traditional Turkish dancing, including a belly dancer who was gracious enough to pose for this photo.

You can read a little more about the trip here.

Other voices

I’ve noted this week the words of mad Dr. Dean. Today I share these words from William Shawcross, writing in the The Spectator. Shawcross explains why “the struggle in Iraq really is between the worst of humanity and the best of humanity” and why America and Britain, being on the right side, must persevere”:

US and other coalition troops should and will be withdrawn as soon as the legitimate Iraqi government believes its newly created security forces can defend the country. Those who doubt the importance of the commitment should ponder the consequences for the world, not just Iraq, if al-Qa’eda and the Baathist terrorists should succeed in defeating the United States.

Iraqis will make sure that the new Iraq succeeds. The only thing that could stop it now would be if the US and Britain really did abandon the Iraqi people and withdraw prematurely, thus allowing the few thousand terrorists to destroy the future of 26 million people. The Nobel Peace Prize winner from East Timor, José Ramos-Horta, said recently that he too believes the Iraqis can create a decent society. ‘But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible.’

You can read the whole thing over at PowerLine

Regarding Canada

Ok, I admit that like many Americans I know next to nothing about (aboot?) our large neighbor to the north. I think the Canadian government’s policies concerning the GWOT are short sighted at best. I also take some issue with Canadian criticism of U.S. foreign policy when Canada has grown feeble militarily while living under the protection of the American defense umbrella. I wish Canada had maintained the moxie of her Anglo cousins the Aussies and the Brits (ok, Quebec is French, but you don’t want to get me started on the French). To be honest, I guess I just don’t see the relevance of Canada in the grand scheme of things.

But I do tend to like almost all the Canadians I meet, and there are lots of them in Korea. Some of my favorite expat blogs are written by Canadians. I think I can even name most of the provinces (as I was challenged to do one night by some Canadians I was drinking with). I just wanted to be clear in distinguishing my criticism of Canada to my generally positive regard for the people who reside in that beautiful country (I’ve seen pictures).

I actually tried to visit Canada once but they wouldn’t let me in. It was 1974 and me and a friend had hitchiked from our southern California homes to Montana. For the return trip we thought we would enter Canada through Idaho, go west to Vancouver, and back down the coast home. We both had long hair and were looking a little scruffy from our time on the road. And the potato farmers in Idaho weren’t much on giving rides to strangers (at least strangers who looked like us). Which meant we had walked the last 11 miles from Bonners Ferry to the little border crossing of Eastpark (fork?).

The crossing closed at 2100 and we got there around 2050. The Canadian border guards asked us where we were heading, and we explained our objective. They seemed skeptical and were looking at us like the vermin many folks of the time considered long haired hippie freaks to be. Then they asked how much money do you have? I recall we each had 35 or 40 dollars, which in 1974 would have kept us fed for the week we expected to spend hitching home. The guard smirked and said “that’s not enough money to get into Canada”. After the aforementioned 11 mile march I was tired, hungry and in no mood to be dicked with. So I said, how much do I need, I will wire home and get it. The guard got right up in my face and said “son, you will NEVER have enough money to get into Canada.”

Well, I figured I would just wait till the border station closed and sneak in (it’s not exactly a secure border with barbwire fences and landmines like the one just north of Seoul). I guess that border guard was reading my mind because about that time the Bonner’s Ferry Sheriff just happened to arrive. After conversing with the Canadians he says “boys, I’m going to have to take you in and run a records check on you, so just climb into the cruiser over there”. He then drove us back the 11 miles we just walked to the Sheriff’s office. Of course, we had no wants or warrants. He even offered to let us sleep in the jail that night if we wanted. We declined and slept with the mosquitos alongside the Burlington Northern railroad tracks.

Anyway, I haven’t made it back to Canada since then, but when I do go I intend to cross the border from Idaho. It’s a matter of pride.

You may be asking yourself is there a point to this post? As if not having a point has ever stopped me before. But I actually do have a reason for regarding Canada today. I found this post at Assymetrical Information on the political situation in Canada fascinating. Which is saying a lot for me given my general who cares attitude about the Great White North. Give it a read and let me know what you think or even if you care. I would especially enjoy the perspective of my Canadian reader (that would be you Jenn).

Dr. Dean to the rescue

More words of wisdom from the good doctor:

Dean says the Democrat position on the war is ‘coalescing,’ and is likely to include several proposals.
“I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years,” Dean said. “Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don’t belong in a conflict like this anyway.

As Dorkafork at INDC notes:

Dean apparently doesn’t know that the Guard and Reserves contain many of the specialties needed in Iraq:

Civil Affairs soldiers are the field commander’s link to the civil authorities in his area of operation. With specialists in every area of the government, they can assist a host government meet its people’s needs and maintain a stable and viable civil administration.

Civil Affairs soldiers possess unique training, skills and experience. Since the majority of the Civil Affairs forces are in the Reserve component, these soldiers bring to the Army finely honed skills practiced daily in the civilian sector such as judges, physicians, bankers, health inspectors and fire chiefs.

The Democratic National Committee Chairman believes these forces “don’t belong” in this sort of conflict.

My daughter is a Civil Affairs Specialist in the Reserves and has done two deployments to Afghanistan in the past 3 years. These unsung heros are playing a key role in rebuilding infrastructure and establishing civil government in these countries. It sickens me that the leader of the opposition party is so clueless and for purely political purposes advocates a course of action that would almost surely result in unravelling so much of what we have achieved.

I guess I have a low tolerance for ignorance generally. But willful ingnorance to this degree is simply inexcusable. I take solace in the fact that most Americans recognize a fool when they see one. Still, Dr. Dean makes me want to scream “Yeaharrrrrrrrrrrrgh”.

Defining victory

In a comment to my earlier post equating Korea with Iraq, Carol noted that an OpEd by Anne Applebaum in today’s Washington Post made a similar point, although she reached a more ambiguous conclusion. Thought provoking and worth the read.

For me, if 50 years from now Iraq looks anything like the Republic of Korea I’ll call it a win. No, it is not a perfect situation here, but when one considers the alternative of a unified Korean peninsula under the boot of Kim, Jung Il it is hard to dispute that our sacrafice in blood and treasure for the freedom of our Korean brothers and sisters* was worth it.

*I actually mean that literally. I see so many similarities between the physical features of the Korean people and Native Americans that I am convinced it was ancient Koreans who migrated across the land bridge during the ice age to populate North America.

The new Copperheads

Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters posts today on the subject of the Democrats call for retreat in Iraq. He recalls that the Democrats took a similar position in 1864 when the party platform called for a negotiated peace with the Confederate States of America and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South. It’s standard bearer was General George McClellan, who used his military credibility to make the case that the war could not be won.

Not even during the Vietnam War did a major American party position itself to support abject retreat as a wartime political platform. For that, one has to go back to the Civil War, when the Democrats demanded a negotiated peace with the Confederate States of America and a withdrawal from the South. Celebrating the popularity of former General George McClellan, who had come from the battlefield to represent a party whose platform demanded a negotiated settlement (which McClellan later disavowed), the Confederates assumed that the war could be over within days of McClellan’s presumed victory over the controversial and hated Abraham Lincoln. Even some Republicans began to question whether Lincoln should stand for reelection–until Sherman took Atlanta and exposed McClellan as a defeatist and an incompetent of the first order.

Murtha’s demand for a pullout gave the party’s leadership a chance to openly embrace defeatism, much as McClellan did for Northern Democrats in 1864, using McClellan’s field experience for the credibility to argue that the American Army could not hope to defeat the enemy it faced.

History is a funny thing, isn’t it?

Howard Dean is the standard bearer for the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, that standard is now a white flag.

The price of freedom

Interesting post by David Price over at Dean’s World concerning the loss of life during the Korean war. Today the Republic of Korea is an amazing success story, but was the cost too high? Since naysayers like Howard Dean contend we are in an “unwinable” war in Iraq, that we should attribute the 2100 American lives to Bush’s folly and simply leave the Iraqis to whatever the fates dictate, it appears that for many the value of freedom in the 21st century has is no longer worth the effort. Mr. Price notes:

Given that those opposing the war believe the much smaller price paid so far in Iraq is already too high, it’s reasonable to assume they certainly don’t believe Iraqi freedom and democracy is worth 53,000 American casualties and 3 million lives overall. So, assuming they don’t think Iraqis somehow deserve freedom less than Koreans, do they think (all else being equal) we should have allowed S Korea to fall to the North, and saved the vast majority of those lives lost in the war to keep the South free? It’s hard to logically reconcile any other position, esp. given the prevailing view that the subsequent Vietnam War was a terrible mistake, as opposed to a noble cause similar to the Korean War that was tragically left unfinished.

Obviously the state of war itself is never a good thing for anyone involved. But wars are always a contest between different camps that have different reasons for violently resisting the other camp’s right to rule a group of people and different plans for how to conduct post-victory rule of those people, some of which reasons and plans are terribly immoral and oppressive of those people and some of which are not. It seems to me that history has shown going to war against repressive regimes for the purpose of defending or advancing freedom is rarely wrong.

I think he’s right on the mark. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently heard Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the 8th Army commander, Lt. General Campbell, draw comparisons between what we did for Korea over 50 years ago and what we are attempting in Iraq. I certainly think that is a more apt comparison than Howard Dean’s attempt to paint Iraq as another Vietnam.

Like most Americans, I never thought much about Korea one way or the other until I moved here. South Korea is an amazing place and an incredible success story. The people are thriving in a free society. And compared to the living hell that is North Korea, it is an abject lesson in the value of democracy. So, I would love to hear someone explain that the lives expended in defense of the Korean people were not worth the achievement. And while you are at it, tell me why the Iraqis are unworthy of the chance to live as a free people.

find the cost of freedom
buried in the ground
mother earth will swallow you
lay your body down…

—David Crosby

Oh yeah, a commenter at Dean’s World talked about the rampant anti-Americanism in South Korea. Said soldiers can’t walk the street without fear of getting jumped. Bullshit. Yeah, there are some people here who want us gone, but they are a small minority. I have been made to feel very welcome in this country and in 11 months have only had one incident with a Korean telling me to go home. At least that’s what I assumed he was saying, but my Korean is poor and he was drunk. I will note again that the pro-U.S. rallies draw far more people than the anti-America groups can muster.

I along with millions of Koreans live 30 miles from a monster with a 3 million man army who wants nukes. Yeah, our presence here is still worthwhile and thinking Koreans know that.

Looking out my back door

This is the view on this cold (18F) December morning from my balcony:

I am so inspired I might even put in a Christmas CD and get in the spirit of the season. I need to go out and do some shopping for gifts for the family today. So, it looks like I will be “walking through a winter wonderland”.

Yeah, I know.