17 October 2008

A special present from W

This morning (Saturday the 18th) was again spent at the group therapy, where some participants were lamenting the tendency of the South Korean medical establishment to only license those specialties that are recognized by their superiors in the US. Notably, indigenous disciplines, like acupuncture and qi treatments, take a back seat. This is further proof that despite the outward economic growth and political development here, the mentality, especially that of the elite, remains that of a backward colony of some foreign power (traditionally China, then Japan a century ago, and now the Republicans in the US).

On the way to the therapy, in the bus, I was able to listen to a morning news program, which featured snippets of a special speech by W - though, mercifully, dubbed in a female Korean voice. W was announcing the addition of seven extra nations to the US Visa Waiver program, bringing the total to 34; the new nations include such W puppets as Estonia, Latvia, and yes, South Korea. Apparently, all the kowtowing by the Grand Nationals and the economic establishment, pushing of a free trade agreement that W wanted (without the knowledge and approval of the American people), and the government-level funding of the McCain-Palin ticket and other Republican initiatives have paid off.

I am set to actually benefit from W's announcement today handsomely; my visa-free South Korean stays can now extend up to 90 days, in return for South Koreans enjoying the same privileges in the US (they do need a biometric passport and a 72-hour pre-clearance from the Department of Homeland Security website first, however). It is also good news, as more ordinary South Koreans will be allowed to travel to the US, and more ordinary Americans will hopefully return the favor by visiting South Korea. Airline business between the two nations will take off, and I hope the US airlines will be able to offer a viable alternative to the current Korean Air/Asiana duopoly. (Especially, I'd love extra United presence, as well as American, which has never served South Korea so far, also entering the market.) The US-South Korean relationship will see its emphasis shift from a partnership of the elites and the right-wingers to a more normal relationship.

However, I am still concerned. The fact is that W intends this expansion of the Visa Waiver program to be rewards to his puppet states. The fact remains that the Korean-American community is the only non-refugee nonwhite community that consistently votes Republican. The fact also remains that the Korean-Americans were vital in ensuring that the previous leftist "Communist" Roh Moo-hyun regime (which did deserve to go, due to Roh's ineptitude) would be replaced by a W/Republican puppet by the name of Lee Myung-bak, and that W was very elated to see Lee in power. And during the Roh government, many South Koreans critical of Roh applied for tourist US visas, overstayed them, then easily got work permits and green cards, therefore circumventing the normal US immigration process. Many other South Koreans remain in the US illegally - up to 1/6th of the entire ethnic Korean population in the US - and that ought to be grounds for denying the Visa Waiver status. But W is good at rewarding his fellow cronies, and this is the best parting gift he can give to Lee Myung-bak, Reverend Moon, the Grand Nationals, and the Korean-Americans.

The best hope I can have is ensuring that Obama will keep a tight rein on the Korean-American reactionaries and the Lee government, and that the Visa Waiver extension to South Korea will serve the interests of everyone in both countries, not just the elites and the right-wingers.

Update: I have forwarded my first contribution to the Obama campaign. I may forward more before the election, depending on the circumstances.