17 October 2005

News of the weird

Ok, for those of us who know our political scandals, or happenstances.

Does anyone find this terrifying?

Anything having to do with possible death by drowning and Ted Kennedy saving you should give a person pause if they have pissed off God or not.

Update on the Constitution #2

Salahdin province voted down the Constitution 78% said no 20% said yes. So that means the 2 provinces of Iraq that had the most to lose with Hussein being overthrown have now decided they want to remain poor and downtrodden in the new Iraq. Both Salahdin and Al Anbar are where most of Saddam's terror soldiers came from, Fallujah was known as the place where Republican Guard officers came from, Tikrit was Saddam Hometown and the primary recruiting place where Special Republican guards came from. They had the most to lose with Saddam's overthrow and have reacted like spoiled children. Mosul by contrast which was a place many Regular Army officers came from approved the Constitution by a wide margin, showing that only the thugs, tyrants, and former criminal leaders of Baathist Iraq want to see the country fail. Unless MASSIVE voter fraud is uncovered, we can put this baby to bed, the people of Iraq voted with their hearts, they voted for an end to terror, for freedom, and for the future of their children.

On a side note, there is talk of voter fraud here in Iraq in the Shiite South and the Kurdish north. The reason? 90% or more voter turnout. Call me a skeptic, but if I had lived under a dictator for nearly 25 years I would sure as hell make sure I voted for a Constitution that erased the dark legacy of that man. The Shiites and Kurds have been persecuted in Iraq for centuried by whatever country ruled this place, now that the power is in their hands, people are surprised that they voted almost universally as a group? Give me a freakin break!

Watch the antiwar moonbat crowd at DU spin this into the next non story. They will probably believe it as gospel just like they believe 10,000 American soldiers have died here and that Bush used Chemical weapons in Fallujah. But hey, don't believe me, just go to their site and watch the moonbats howl.

Late to the Tag Dance, but gonna play anyway

My good friend over at Ma Deuce Gunner tagged me with 7 questions to answer, I'm a little late in getting the news. Desultory Butterfly had to tell me I had been tagged. I've been a little busy and thought no one cared enough to tag me. I was wrong, so now I shall do my best to answer deez questions.


Seven things I want to do before I die:
1. Write a book about my 10 years of experiences in and out of the military in some of the world's most dangerous places
2. Scuba Dive in Palau
3. Be the best husband I can
4. See the band Dredg in concert
5. Start my own church (but a cool one where all are welcome and we talk about being better people in life instead of focus on dogma)
6. Run for political office in Hawaii
7. Live everyday of my life to its fullest, knowing that when I die I earned the life I was given

Seven things I can do:
1. Fix an ASAS computer (computer used by military intelligence)
2. Give you a history lesson on any war in human history
3. Grill any meat known to man to perfection
4. Scuba Dive
5. Car Dance like a mofo
6. Spend money like a woman (Yeah I know)
7. Predict football game winners with 95% accuracy rate. (Tis true honestly)

Seven things I cannot do:
1. I cannot spell the word voicerferously
2. Make coherent thoughts on my blog, it all seems so random and jumpy to me
3. Understand the difference between Net and Gross income
4. Understand libertarianism (It all seems so selfish and amoral to me)
5. I cannot eat Broccoli, no matter how much cheese is on it
6. I can't run long distances anymore
7. I cannot see myself with another woman for the rest of my life. I got one, she's perfect.

Seven things I say a lot :
1. That's a whole different kind of gay you've got going on.
2. Right on
3. Sorry, I'm not going to be your dancing monkey today.
4. I truly believe our mission in Iraq is one of the most noble things I've ever seen our country do
5. I miss my wife.
6. I miss my dogs
7. God, give me the strength to do my duty, the patience to deal with the people I despise, and the faith to know that our mission here will not be in vain. Amen

Seven things I find attractive in a female:
1. My wife, but for the purpose of science I'll try to think outside the wedding ring
2. Curly hair
3. Tall women
4. Dolphin trainers
5. Intellifunny
6. All of these apply to my wife
7. I could not think outside the wedding ring afterall

Seven celebrity crushes? (My wife thinks it's healthy that I have celeb crushes so here goes)
1. Eliza Dushku
2. Miranda Otto
3. Nicole Kidman
4. I think that's all
5. But I can't really think of anymore
6. My wife probably could
7. But shes's not here

16 October 2005

Update on the Constitution.

I have some raw numbers about the status of the Iraqi Constitution. It looks like I was right on the money in how it was going to breakdown so far. Results are only in for 8 provinces, but 3 of the 8 were crucial to the success of the Constitutional Referendum.

Al Anbar
Yes: 3 percent
No: 97 percent

Let's start with Al Anbar province, heartland of the Sunni insurgency, turnout was minimal in all areas except Fallujah. It looks like almost every voter in Al Anbar voted against the draft document, no surprise there.


DIYALA
Yes: 280,000 (70 percent)
No: 80,000 (20 percent)
Disqualified: 40,000 (10 percent)

Diyala province which is a Sunni majority province (not by a lot though), but also home to a lot of Shia and Kurds was one that I believed would be a bellwether for the referendum. And it was approved despite recent attempts by the insurgents to suppress the voters in Baquaba and other cities in the province. Of note is that 10% of the ballots were disqualified for an unknown reason.

NINEVAH (Mosul)
Yes: 326,774, (78 percent)
No: 90,065, (21 percent)

Nineveh province was the one I mentioned would have the greatest chance of being a strong Sunni majority province that favored the Constitution. I was right, one factor was that many of the Iraqi Islamic Party (a Sunni group that supported the Constitution) are from Mosul in Nineveh province. I said Nineveh would vote to approve, but I'm surprised at home strong the approval is in the raw numbers. Apparently the Sunnis voted Yes in large numbers. One thing of note about Nineveh province is that it is the province where the Coalition has made the most progress in destroying the insurgent networks. Local Iraqis in this province have been ever more supportive of U.S. forces as the insurgency has been taken apart piece by piece. I credit 1st Brigade 25th Infantry Division and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment as well as the brave Iraqi Army soldiers and Commandos as well as the Iraqi people of Nineveh who have recognized that U.S. forces offer hope and economic betterment for all, while the insurgents only offer death and misery.

TAMIM (Kirkuk)
Yes: 341,611 (63 percent)
No: 195,725 (36 percent)

I was surprised at the low percentage for approval in Tamim province (Kirkuk). This is where I am sitting typing right now, I expected it to be higher. My guess is that many of the Turkomen here sided with the Sunni Arabs against the Kurds to lower the percentage of the Yes voters. The turnout here was very high, nearly 80% of the registered voters showed up at the polls.

The other four provinces were all in the Shia heartland of the south of Iraq. No surprises at all in those provinces.

BASRA (Basra)
Yes: 640,200. (97 percent)
No: 19,800. (3 percent)

DHI QAR (Nasiriyah)
Yes: 415,000 (90 percent)
No: 46,000 (10 percent)

KARBALA (Karbala)
Yes: 417,715 (95 percent)
No: 21,985 (5 percent)

WASIT (Kut)
Yes: 494,950. (95 percent)
No: 26,050. (5 percent)

So with nearly half of Iraq's provinces reporting the totals for the vote, here is what I think. There are 5 Shiites provinces still to report in, of which all will pass the Constitution, the 3 Kurdish provinces will due likewise, meaning if the Constitution is to fail Salahdin will have to vote it down as well as Baghdad. I only have one thing to say about that; "NOT GONNA HAPPEN" Salahdin may very well vote it down, but I'm not seeing that right now, and Baghdad will pass it just due to demographics within the city. So the only province to outright reject the referendum is Al-Anbar, what a coincidence, the home of the insurgency, the one area that supports Zarqawi and the one area with nothing to gain from a cessation of violence. What this shows is that a percentage of moderate Sunni Arabs supported this Constitution in clear support of moving Iraq forward.

Personally I believe we will now slowly, start to see a collapse of the insurgency in all areas except Al Anbar. I believe Al Qaeda in Iraq will turn on the Sunnis, so in Sunni Arab areas we will see a spike in violence against civilians as Zarqawi and his cronies lash out at the group they feel has betrayed them. I have done three tours in Iraq now, and I can honestly say there is a faint glimmer of hope in the air, that the insurgency is on its last legs. That doesn't make them less dangerous, in fact it makes them more dangerous as any cornered animal will lash out with all the violence it is capable of. That being said, you can feel the hope radiating from the Iraqi people I see on a daily basis. The long night of the insurgency might be passing into the dawn of peace and freedom. Time will tell.

Caelestis

Information compiled from various sources including Al Jazeera and the AP.

Hat tip to the Mudville Gazette and Right on the Right for the open post.

13 October 2005

A Great Day Dawns Tommorrow

From the port of Um Qasr to the highlands of Zahko on the Turkish border, the people of Iraq face a historic day. Tommorrow as millions of Iraqi citizens flock to the polling places, they have a choice before them that no Arab state has ever put to its citizens. The representatives of the Iraqi people have written a Constitution, take a second and reread that sentence. The ELECTED representatives of an ARAB state have written a governing document for ALL the people of Iraq. It wasn't written by a King who rules a country named after his family's surname, or a military strongman, or a Orwellian authortarian, the people in Iraq elected the men and women, yes women to write this most sacred of documents for a nation state. There were Sunnis Arabs, and Shiites, Christian Arabs that took part in writing this document, and of course the ethnically separate Kurds, Turkomen and Assyrians, I even believe A Chaldean took part. They spent a hot sweltering Mesopotamian Summer much like our founding fathers did in Philadelphia in 1781, engaged in vociferous debates over the future of the Iraqi state. They engaged in deal making with totally disparate groups in Iraq that in the past they would have never sided with. Compromises were made to be as inclusive as possible, while still being true to what their constituents wanted. Is it a perfect document? No, of course not, but neither was our own Constitution, what it is, is a document that could just hold Iraq together long enough to defeat the forces of al Qaeda while the people forge a bond with each other that goes far beyond what the framers of the Iraqi constitution believed possible.

So how will the vote go down? For the Iraqi Constitution to fail, 3 or more provinces in Iraq will have to vote it down by a 2/3 margin. It could fail, but I believe it won't. To start with Iraq is comprised of 18 provinces, only 3 of which are heavily Sunni Arab (we'll return to these 3 in a minute), the group most likely to vote the document down. 3 of Iraq's provinces are Kurdish and are going to vote overwhelmingly YES. Baghdad being a hodgepodge of all Iraqi religious factions and ethnicities, as well as being the home of the most secular Arabs will also vote yes. 2 provinces, Kirkuk (formerly known as At-Tamim) province and Diyala are not demographically Sunni Arab enough to reach the 2/3's needed to reject the Constitution. The 9 remaining provinces of Iraq are heavily Shia and will overwhelmingly approve the Constitution. So that leaves 3 provinces which could still cause the Constitution to be rejected overall, the provinces are Al-Anbar, Salahdin, and Nineveh province. Al-Anbar which is the heart and soul of the insurgency includes the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Haditha, Hit, and Al Qaim, the province is over 90% Sunni Arab and represents the best chance for a province to defeat the referendum. Salahdin province is home to such cities as Tikrit, Samarra, and Bayji and is overwhelmingly Sunni, but with the recent changes that were made to the Amendment process for the Constitution many of the Baathists that may have voted against the process may now be having second thoughts. Right now I say it's 50/50 that 2/3 of the Sunni Arabs will vote NO. Finally we come to Nineveh province, home to Mosul and Tall-Afar. This province is also heavily Sunni Arab, but not to the degree of Al-Anbar or Salahdin. It also is populated by not insignificant groups of Kurds, Turks, and Chaldean Christians. Recently the Coalition forces have taken the fight to the insurgent groups in Nineveh province, and seriously crippled their abilities to effectively influence events within the province. I think Nineveh province is the greatest chance to see a majority of Sunni Arabs vote in favor of the Constitution. For what it's worth, I don't see the Constitution failing, but that's the magic of democracy, we won't know right away, and the people are always in charge.

So, what will passage of the draft Constitution do for Iraq? Well for starters it reinforce the belief among the majority of Iraqis that Democracy works. The Shia and Kurds want this version of the Constitution and with the recent changes it is even palatable to a percentage of Sunni Arabs. It will provide a deathblow to the insurgent forces, primarily to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi is the biggest loser in this drama, with defection of some Sunni Arabs from rejectionists to supporters of the draft document the number of people willing to support him and his murderous ideologues will shrink. I don't see him being a spent entity in Iraq, but the success of the referendum will seriously damage his credibility as a formidable force in Iraq. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Zarqawi doesn't take out his anger on Sunni Arabs for their perceived defection from his camp. Secondly, the passage of this Constitution will further cement the disparate elements of Iraqi society into a more cohesive group. Everyone that votes Yes will understand that as a group, Iraqis can achieve anything they desire. Much as our own Constitution was a glue that bound early American society together, this document will give all of its supporters a stake in a prosperous, peaceful Iraq. Sunni Arabs will finally see that taking part in the democratic process is in their best interests and perhaps a few of the Baathist influenced insurgent groups will lay down their arms and take up the pen instead of the sword. Finally, this will give the fledgling Iraqi govt. momentum going into the December elections for Parliament.

In my own humble opinion the passage of this Constitution will be seen as a watershed moment in the history of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the restoration of Iraq to the community of free nations. The Iraqi people will approve a document that guarantees their rights as a people, that acknowledges their freedoms under the law, acknowledges that Iraq is a federation of various ethnicities and religions, and ensures that women are more free here than in any other Muslim country.

Like I said in the beginning, this is a historic moment not to be thought upon lightly, for me personally my belief in the success of our mission here has been renewed. With that renewal comes the belief that sooner rather than later our victory will be complete and we can return home for good, safe with the knowledge that Iraq is free and prosperous.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open post.

08 October 2005

The 10 songs of the Hummingbird

My wife and I met over 8 years ago on an Army exercise. Our first date was to see the movie "Con Air" with Nicholas Cage. In the movie Nick's character calls his wife his hummingbird, I thought it was pretty cool, so I started calling my wife (girlfriend at the time) "Hummingbird". With my southern drawl, it was something she loved, so it stuck as a name I use to express my love for her. As I've said a couple of times, I'm quite a geek that makes lists, and compiles statistics, so I put together a 10 song list of songs I listen to when I think about my wife and our life together. I'm a little worried how in touch with my feelings I am. I need to go kill a cow and roast it over open flames or something, that would make me feel manly. Anyway here's the list with a brief explanation of each song. These songs are in no order.

10. Bryan Adams-----Heaven
This song was on the first CD I ever borrorwed from her, I told her I lost it, but I really just scratched it and was too embarassed to tell her. I still have this CD.

09. The Cure----Pictures of you
Just a great song, I listen to this one and look at my pictures of her.

08. Foo Fighters----My Hero
My wife grew up in a semi-poor family. She graduated high school, joined the Army, got her degree and made something out of herself in circumstances that would have crushed other people. She and my dad are my 2 greatest heroes.

07. Kelly Clarkson----Breakaway
This song to me is a tribute to both of us, small town kids that went and did something so different and spectacular from our peers. Last year we made a break with everything we knew and stepped off of a giant cliff by moving to Hawaii. It was something we both wanted, but the risks were enormous. We prayed about it, and our faith led us to take that first step. This song to me is about that first step.

06. The smiths----Ask
She might not remember this one, but my memory is long and vast. I had a "the best of the smiths" album and this song was on it. I remember the first time I played this song when we were going somewhere. I have a painful confession to make beforehand. I'm a car dancer, I have a serious case of car dance fever. If there is a song on that I like, I'll "shake it like a Polaroid picture" in the car. Well anyway the first time I played this song, my wife got a case of Car dance fever. Up until that point in our lives, it was one of the cutest things I'd ever seen her do. She has since surpassed this level of cuteness, but as Metallica says "the memory remains".

05. Dashboard Confessional----Hands Down
In this song, the lead singer describes a date with a girl and all the emotions and feelings he is experiencing. This song reminds me of when we were dating before we were married. All of those emotions of not knowing what's going to happen next, the butterflies in your stomach towards someone you truly love. The uncertainess of being, life and love, the hot rush that washes over you at the moment of that first kiss......

04. Evanessence----My Immortal
This song is special to me, because my wife sang it to me once. My God my wife has a voice! At one point she was looking at acting or singing as a career when we were dating, but she found another love in life as a dolphin trainer. I just remember that one moment in time when she sang most of this song to me on a drive home from my parents house in the Texas Hill country.

03. Tonic----If you could only see (Acoustic version)
This was our song, I think it was OUR FIRST song. And for that it makes the list.

02. Ever Stays Red----I'll Let the Whole World Know
My wife has always worn her faith on her sleeve, unafraid to express her love for God. I was not very religious when we met, I had faith, but was cynical. She didn't give up on me, she let me find God on my own. Now he is central to what I believe our lives are about. In the song, there is a line about "God being the one real truth", I think that without my wife I never would have realized that. And as a result of her patience and love, I now am unafraid to "let the world know" about my love for God.

01. 311----Amber
I don't think my wife even really likes this song, but it reminds me of our life in Hawaii. I have a compilation on my IPOD called Hawaii Dreaming, and this is the first song on the list. I close my eyes and I can see us on the beach near our little Hawaiian cottage in Makaha just watching the waves. One more month and I can stop imagining and start living this dream.

Anyway that's the list.

Caelestis

P.S. Hey hummingbird, the night before we go on vacation I want us to check into a Hotel and go hit the dance clubs. <---this doesn't really belong on the blog, but that's amore.

07 October 2005

These are the times....

It should end with "that try men's souls", but I'm not sure that's an apt statement. It's been a strange few weeks for me with regards to my political beliefs. The drumbeat of anger that poured forth from the Libertarian and Fiscally conservative wing of the Republican party over Federal relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina was very distressing. I consider myself a strong Christian and watching the President on TV tell the nation that he would lead an effort to rebuild the Gulf Coast filled my heart with the joy that serving her in Iraq has done. As a Christian I believe sacrifice and compassion are two of the legs that hold up the Christianity table. So watching the criticism that poured forth from the blogosphere was incredibly hard to read about. I see the victims in New Orleans, I see the kids in Kirkuk, they are the same in my eyse. Both of them have had their lives destroyed by forces outside their control, both of them are in pain that is both physical and mental. The people of New Orleans and Mississippi are human beings, and we as their fellow human beings have a duty to appease their suffering. The fact that these people are American citizens makes it all the more our duty. I have avoided writing about Katrina because I was embarrassed that some many of my "so-called" ideological soulmates were more concerned about their pocketbook and less concerned with the responsibility of helping people. I know that many will now label me a "big government conservative" or even a leftist, but you know what labels from strangers don't mean anything to me when I see a chance for my country to right a wrong. The wrong isn't important, some people say race, some say poverty, some have other opinions. The point is, that correcting the wrong matters more than naming the wrong. It's hard to fight the good fight in Iraq when I see so many greedy bastards back home, more concerned with how much is in the bank of man and have not one care in the world how overdrawn they are in the Bank of God.

04 October 2005

What I was listening to in September

Technology is awesome and it allows a statistic geek like me to see what I have been listening to on my IPOD for a month. So the Caelestis Top 25 Countdown for September goes like this:

25. Heaven's a lie---by: Lacuna Coil
24. Pictures of you---by: The Cure
23. Warm Machine---by: Bush
22. Feel Good Imc.---by: Gorillaz
21. Let Go---by: Frou Frou
20. Such Great Heights---by: Postal Service
19. Somewhere over the Rainbow---by: Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole
18. Best of you---by: Foo Fighters
17. Somewhere out There---by: Our Lady Peace
16. American Soldier---by: Toby Keith
15. Enjoy the Silence---by: Depeche Mode
14. Fractions---by: Emery
13. Crash---by: Dave Matthews Band
12. Amber---by: 311
11. The Canyon Behind Her---by: Dredg
10. Bizarre Love Triangle---by: New Order
09. Passive---by: A Perfect Circle
08. Return to Innocence---by: Enigma
07. What it is to Burn---by: Finch
06. Take a Picture---by: Filter
05. Speed of Sound---by: Coldplay
04. Studying Politics---by: Emery
03. Mezmerize---by: System of a Down
02. I'll tell the World---by: Ever Stays Red
01. Bug Eyes---by: Dredg