Friday, April 07, 2006

The Shingle Life

Shingles are clearing up. Thanks for all of the get well messages from NOT A SINGLE GOD DAMNED SUPERFRANKENSTEIN VISITOR. Clearly, the steroids are pissing me off about everything, just as the doctor warned. I only hope to God I run into one of you before they wear off.

And don't embarrass us both by feigning concern now. It's too late.

31 comments:

FroGG NeaL said...

Whoah dude, this is my first time at your blog, so a belated get well from me.

About the blog, I'm lovin' it so far. Not only have I gotten alot of entertainment from your stuff, its also introduced me to a ton of other cool sites and blogs.

Keep your head up!

Superfrankenstein said...

Thanks, FroGG Neal.

This is your first time here, and you're apparently not shy with compliments, so tell you what:

I'm going to give you a free pass on the whole Get Well mess.

My pleasure.

Spysmasher said...

I don't understand.

Cheney accidently shooting someone is funny, yet your shingles are not?!?!

Oh wait -- I forgot. It's only the pain and suffering of OTHERS that's a comedy.

When it happens to YOU, then it's a tragedy.

Typical liberal!

Superfrankenstein said...

spysmasher, don't pretend you didn't laugh when Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington in the face.

EVERYONE laughed when Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington in the face.

You also laughed when I got shingles.

That makes you twice as bad as me.

Hoosier X said...

Spice-Masher,

Is this seriously the best you can do?

Seriously? This is seriously the best you can do?

Really?

The old "typical liberal" routine based on erroneous conservative fantasies about liberal behaviour?

On a humor site?

Go over and read some of the delusional conservative whackos who infest the comments at "Sadly, No" to see how it's done. Some of those people are seriously deranged. You are merely pathetic. And apparently not even half-trying.

(And I'm sorry if I hurt your "feelings." I know how serious conservatives are about political correctness ... when it suits them.)

(And, by the way, Spice-Masher, I must commend you for having the balls to show up after the horrible week the Repugs have had. DeLay dropped out of the campaign and Scooter's testimony proved beyond the shadow of a doubt of any rational person that Dear Leader is total scum. I hope you have the guts and the creativity to come up with SOME rationalization. Here's a little challenge: Try to defend DeLay and the president without saying "Liberal Media (TM).")

El Duque said...

Superfrankenstein,

I thought your shingles was a comedy bit.

Same with Cheney.

Superfrankenstein said...

OK, duque, you get a pass.

Anyone else? Only three passes left.

Spysmasher said...

To Hoser X--

Is this seriously the best you can do?

Seriously? This is seriously the best you can do?

Really?

The old "conservatices suck" routine based on erroneous liberal fantasies about conservative behaviour?

On a humor site?

Go over and read some of the delusional conservative whackos who infest the comments at "Sadly, No" to see how it's done. Some of those people are seriously deranged. You are merely pathetic. And apparently not even half-trying.

(And I'm sorry if I hurt your "feelings." I know how serious liberals are about political correctness.)

(And, by the way, Hoser X, I must commend you for having the balls to show up after the horrible week the Dems have had. The economy is roaring along, American deaths in Iraq are plummeting, and Scooter's testimony (spun by the media to try to make people think Bush OK'ed the leak of Plame's name, when he did not) proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the liberals will do ANYTHING to bash Bush.

I hope you have the guts and the creativity to come up with SOME rationalization. Here's a little challenge: Try to defend the Democrats' smear tactics without bashing Bush.

Superfrankenstein said...

From cut-and-paste to search-and-replace.

You are growing as a writer before our eyes, spysmasher.

I've never been prouder than I am at this moment.

spysmasher said...

From conservative bashing to conservative bashing.

You are NOT growing as a writer, Superfrankenstein.

In fact, you're pretty much a one trick pony.

Your one "trick"?

Life = Bush Sucks.

Christopher said...

Here's a few possible excuses. Please pick the one that seems most likely to you and ignore the others.

1) I thought maybe you were enjoying your shingles. You know, different strokes for different folks.

2) I thought you were talking about getting your roof reshingled.

3) When you said "shingles," I immediately thought of Pringles, and got in my car and went to the grocery store. But they were out of Pringles so I had to drive all the way out to the Pringles factory in Nova Scotia, and even then all they had left was Sour Cream & Onion.

4) In my country, we express our sympathy through stony, inexpressive silence. It means so much more than words.

Superfrankenstein said...

OK, Christopher, you get a pass. Not because I believe you, but because you seem so much better connected than me.

Click on Christopher's name, everyone. You'll find a great, essential link-blog full of asides like "after I finished my white-hot Onion AV Club interview with the latest rapper to die, I wrote this trivia quiz about She's The Sherriff for MSNBC."

So make no mistake, Christopher. You owe me now.

Two left. Anyone?

(spysmasher not eligible)

Gary said...

Sure, I'll take a pass.

Get Well Soon!

(Sorry.)

Hoosier X said...

Can I have a pass, Super-F?

I've had shingles and it wasn't that big a deal, just a little annoying. Sounds like your case is A LOT worse than mine was. So I just blundered along, spending way too much time making Spice-Masher think he matters, and I was insensitive to the severity of your malady.

Glad to hear you're getting better.

(And, c'mon. Give Spice-Masher a pass, too. Can you imagine what it must be like to be a delusional conservative? He only gets his information from other delusional conservatives? A sad and lonely man, Spice-Masher very much needs your generous heart.)

Spysmasher said...

Dear Hoser X,

Regardless of the many U.S. critics of the war in Iraq, the people of that country perceive real progress in the three years since their liberation.

Sunday, April 9 is the three-year anniversary of the day Saddam Hussein fled Baghdad and his statue was toppled – perhaps a critical day in the development of democracy in the Middle East.

Over the last six months, according to recent polling data, two-thirds of Iraqis surveyed have steadily expressed the belief that the Iraqi Security Forces are winning the battle against terrorism.

But with that positive note, comes a negative one in the critical battle for the minds and hearts of the Iraqi people.

When asked to describe those responsible for attacks against Iraqi civilians, only a small percentage chose terms such as "freedom fighter" or "patriot." Instead, the overwhelming majority in every region polled chose the terms "terrorist" and "criminal," terms that may have little distinction among the respondents.

However, when asked to describe those who attack Coalition forces, the response becomes more diverse, with a large number of people selecting "patriot" and "freedom fighter." The exception is the Kurdish areas where "terrorist" and "criminal" remain the overwhelming choice.

But with sectarian violence flaring across Iraq and charges that the media is focusing on the bloodshed and missing the progress, getting a real fix on Iraq may be as difficult a subject for Americans as enemy identification has proven for some Iraqis.

Those confused Americans apparently also include the lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who in an amendment to a block of funding for the war, tacked on a requirement for the administration to periodically report to them -- in detail -- on the sometimes shadowy and elusive progress being bought with the nation's blood and treasure.

Recently, the Pentagon issued its third, semi-regular report to Congress on the progress of the war.

The report, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" is styled as "an attempt to lay down clear, measurable markers documenting a broader view of just how well the U.S. is doing across a range of sectors, from the development of the Iraqi security forces to the reconstruction of the country's infrastructure."

For sure, a copy of the report is hardly sitting worn and dog-eared on coffee tables around the country. Covering scores of pages and interlaced with graphs and charts, some conclusions as to the big picture jump forward:

The Security Environment

The report perhaps predictably highlights the President's decreasing the number of combat brigades in Iraq from 17 to 15 -- a reduction of about 7,000 troops.

This decision was based on several indicators of progress but primarily the growing capability of Iraqi Security Forces, notes the document.

In the security environment in general, the framers of the report note that the single most important indicator of success in meeting security objectives is the failure of anti-Iraqi forces in their campaign to derail the political process and alienate the Iraqi people from democratic governance.

However, there is a down side as well.

As expected during this period, the total number of attacks against Iraqi and Coalition targets has risen. Attacks remain concentrated in four of Iraq's eighteen provinces, and eleven provinces averaged one or fewer attacks per day over the reporting period.

The complexity and effectiveness of these attacks range from a single insurgent executing an ineffective small arms attack to a coordinated attack of several dozen enemy fighters using different weapon systems. However, there have been only four of these more complex coordinated attacks in the last six months.

Over three quarters of all attacks result in no casualties or serious damage and the percentage of car bombs intercepted and defused is steadily increasing.

Terrorist attacks have failed to create and spread sectarian conflict, and polls of Iraqi perceptions continue to show the isolation of terrorists and foreign fighters from the Iraqi people.

Iraqi Security Forces

According to the report, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior forces continue to progress in developing their capabilities and taking ownership of Iraqi security. Key measures of progress highlighted include:

# As of January 23, 2006, 98 Iraqi Army and special operations battalions are now conducting counter-insurgency operations, 11 percent more than reported in October. Fifty-three of these battalions are assessed as being "in the lead or fully independent" – a 47 percent increase since October.

There are 27 National Police Force battalions (formerly the Special Police Forces) and one Emergency Response Unit capable of combat operations, with 10 units assessed as being in the lead.

# Thirty-seven Iraqi Army battalions now control their own battle space. Iraqi Security Forces are responsible for security in roughly 460 square miles of Baghdad and more than 11,600 square miles in other provinces of Iraq, an increase of almost 4,000 square miles since the last report.

# The program of training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces continues on track. Almost 107,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen have now been trained and equipped – an increase of 19,000 since the last report.

More than 82,000 police have been trained and equipped – an increase of over 13,000 since the last report. These police work alongside 38,000 other Ministry of Interior forces.

Overall, there are over 227,000 Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior forces trained and equipped for counterinsurgency operations – an increase of 18 percent since the October 2005 report.

Progress in Everyday Small Steps

In addition to the big picture, the full story of progress in Iraq cannot be fully captured without an understanding of the mundane military routine that every day relentlessly hammers away at the insurgents.

The Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq and Multinational Force Iraq Forces Press Service pumps out a steady grind of the slow history of small successes, day by day. For instance, for April 4, 2006, there were these releases (heavily edited here for the sake of brevity):

# Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, and coalition troops detained five suspects and discovered a weapons cache while patrolling near Khalidiyah...

# Iraqi soldiers from 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, discovered and cleared a cache found during a raid in southeastern Ramadi...

# Two suspected insurgents were captured during a synchronized joint raid led by Iraqi army troops...

# Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, and coalition troops detained four suspects in Khalidiyah...

# Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, and coalition troops detained three suspects and found a weapons cache near Karabilah...

# Iraqi soldiers from the 7th Iraqi Army Division and coalition troops detained eight people near Ramadi...

# Soldiers from the 4th and 6th Iraqi Army Divisions caught and detained a suspected triggerman after a roadside bomb attack in Fallujah...

# In Saqlawiyah Iraqi troops detained a man listed on a suspect roster for questioning...

# Iraqi soldiers from the 7th Iraqi Army Division and coalition troops found and seized a weapons cache near Hit...

No injuries or damages were reported in any of these missions.

For sure, none of the pedestrian nuggets above found their way to front pages of newspapers or filled the screens of TV news reports.

Isolating the Extremists

Returning to the larger picture –

The report to Congress highlights progress in the political-economic-military strategy of isolating hard-core "rejectionists" and terrorists from the mainstream Sunni Arabs.

Some recent indicators of progress on this track include:

# Pre-referendum accord on possible amendments to the constitution, providing an additional incentive for Sunni participation in the government.

# Significant increase in active participation of Sunni Arabs in the political process. In al-Anbar province voter turn-out grew from 2 percent in January 2005 to 86 percent in the December 2005 elections.

# Arab League support and legitimization for Sunni participation in the political process, including hosting a Cairo conference that drove a wedge between Sunnis who desire political representation and Al-Qaida rejection of the political process.

# Sunni tribes in al-Anbar province that formerly fought against the Coalition joined Iraqi Security Forces and support the Coalition in operations against Al-Qaida terrorists.

# A continuing high level of intelligence tips received from the population – to include locations of improvised explosive devices.

Establishing Rule of Law Institutions

There are currently 800 judges in Iraq, including 300 investigative judges. These judges are now working and resolving cases under Iraqi law.

In 2003, approximately 4,000 felony cases were resolved in Iraqi courts. In 2004, they resolved more than twice that number. As of November 2005, the Iraqi courts were on track to resolve more than 10,000 felony cases in 2005.

The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), a Coalition-created entity, is the only court in Iraq with national jurisdiction that tries defendants accused of terrorism and crimes against the Coalition, as well as other serious crimes.

In November 2004, the CCCI had capacity to conduct fewer than 10 trials and investigative hearings per month. In the first two weeks of September 2005 alone, the Court prosecuted more than 50 multi-defendant trials and conducted 100 investigative hearings.

The Court is now expanding its reach throughout Iraq with separate branches in local provinces. Twelve cities have sitting CCCI courts with a total of 57 CCCI judges nationwide.

U.S. Department of Justice advisors working through the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program have trained and mentored Iraqis at every level of the Ministry of Justice since the fall of the Ba'athist regime.

More Mileposts

Political Stability: The Iraqis have now met all of the political benchmarks established by the Transitional Administrative Law and endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, awaiting only the seating of the new Iraqi government.

Negotiations are now underway among many parties and coalitions to ensure broad inclusion in the formation of the constitutionally elected new government.

Economic Activity: Economic indicators continue to be mixed, with some noteworthy achievements. Despite the difficult security environment, the Iraqi economy demonstrated overall macroeconomic stability during the past year.

The currency remains stable; foreign exchange reserves are well above targets; and substantial debt reduction is moving apace.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates real growth in Gross Domestic Product of 2.6 percent for 2005 and projects higher growth for the next two years. Annual inflation is expected to moderate from annual rates above 30 percent in 2004 and 2005.

In key sectors, however, attacks on infrastructure and maintenance problems continue to hamper progress in producing and exporting oil and in delivering reliable electricity, but the communications sector continues its rapid growth with a 40 percent increase in cell phone subscribers since the last report.

Expanding International Support for Iraq

In November 2005, the World Bank approved its first loan to Iraq in 30 years. In December 2005, the International Monetary Fund approved Iraq's request for an economic reform program in the form of a Stand-By Arrangement.

Paris Club creditors continue to sign bilateral debt agreements with Iraq. As of January 2006, 13 out of 18 creditors have signed such agreements. As the first government is formed under the new constitution, increased international engagement, particularly on a bilateral basis, is anticipated.

Iraq is gaining wider support from Arab states as well. In November 2005, the Arab League hosted a meeting in Cairo to promote Iraqi national accord and the political process.

Many Arab countries publicly supported Iraq's constitutional referendum and recent election and called for the broad participation of all Iraqis in Iraq's political process.

Rebuilding the Iraqi Economy

The U.S., in conjunction with the Government of Iraq and international donors, continues to complete projects that are improving Iraqi oil, electricity, water, sewerage, and communications infrastructure.

The U.S. has also been instrumental in building the capacity of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Iraq.

The bad news -- pressures from wages, pensions, and the growth of the security sector are raising government expenditures dramatically. The U.S. and other international advisors are working with the Government of Iraq to keep these pressures under control in order to maintain a stable economic environment.

Part of the solution to promote a sound economy is for the Iraqi government to reduce subsidies on fuel and, to some degree, electricity, water, and food.

On December 18, 2005, the Iraqi government began the first stage of price increases for gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel; the current plans call for the Iraqis to continue reducing these subsidies over the next few years until prices are in line with regional averages.

As part of a broad strategy to revitalize Iraq's private sector, the U.S. also continues to provide micro-credit to emerging Iraqi entrepreneurs and small- and medium-enterprise loans for Iraqi businesses.

Over 20,000 microfinance loans with a value of $44 million have been disbursed to small entrepreneurs creating an estimated 30,000 jobs. Over 2,400 businessmen and women have taken advantage of training programs for small and medium sized enterprises.

Increased budgets, personnel, and authority are being directed towards the organizations that investigate corruption: the Board of Supreme Audit, the Inspectors General of the ministries, and the Commission of Public Integrity.

International Support

Iraq continues to make progress reintegrating into the world economy. The Government of Iraq is receiving substantial reconstruction grants and loans from the U.S. and other foreign donors.

Of the $13.5 billion pledged by donors other than the U.S. at the 2003 Madrid conference, $3.2 billion has been disbursed as of December 2005.

Police Forces' Capabilities

As of the end of January, thirty-seven Iraqi Army battalions now control their own battle space. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are responsible for security in roughly 460 square miles of Baghdad and more than 11,600 square miles in other provinces of Iraq, an increase of over 4,000 square miles since the last report.

Over the last three months, the number of ISF independent operations exceeded the number of Coalition force independent operations. ISF independent operations increased by 24 percent since May 2005.

Ministry of Defense Forces

Ministry of Defense (MOD) forces consist of Army (including Special Forces), Air Force, and Navy (including Marines) personnel. Since the October report, the total number of MOD personnel trained and equipped surpassed 100,000.

The Iraqi Armed Forces are on track to achieve a projected end-strength of approximately 131,000 soldiers by mid-2006.

The MOD is making a focused effort to recruit personnel from across the spectrum of Iraqi society, in accordance with the new Iraqi Constitution that guarantees equal opportunities for all Iraqis. A lack of recruiting centers in largely Sunni areas has been mitigated by mobile recruiting missions throughout areas such as the Euphrates River Valley.

Equipping of the MOD forces has continued this quarter with the procurement and delivery of nearly 9,000 AK-47 rifles, almost 1,800 pistols, more than 4,700 light and medium machine guns, and over 750 light and medium vehicles. Individual soldiers were issued nearly 15,000 sets of body armor and over 9,000 Kevlar helmets.

The number of Iraqi Army units in the lead continued to grow since October, with 37 battalions now controlling their own battle space.

Iraqi Highway Patrol

The Iraqi Highway Patrol (IHP) is a nation-wide force responsible for securing Iraq's highway system, including the performance of armed escort and law enforcement duties. Almost 1,800 IHP personnel have been trained and equipped, an increase of 500 since the last report.

However, on the bad news front, distribution of supplies and equipment, as well as additional logistical and pay issues, continue to challenge the effectiveness of the IHP.

National Police Forces

The National Police Forces (formerly known as the Special Police Forces) are highly trained units comprised of three separate organizations: the Police Commandos (providing light infantry for counter-insurgency operations), the Public Order Police (specializing in re-establishing order in high-risk environments), and the Mechanized Police (providing light armor for counterinsurgency operations).

The 27 National Police battalions and one Emergency Response Unit have continued to improve their capabilities as a national, rapid-response force for countering armed insurgency, large-scale disobedience, and riots and conducting operations throughout Iraq's most contentious areas. They also provided critical security during the referendum and general election.

The Police Commandos consist of nearly 9,000 trained and equipped personnel. The Government of Iraq has authorized a total force of more than 11,800 Commandos, which Are slated to be trained and equipped by December 2006.

Almost 1,500 Mechanized Police have been trained and equipped. This is the target force structure authorized by the Government of Iraq.

Almost 8,100 Public Order Police have been trained and equipped, an increase of over 1,000 since the last report. The Government of Iraq has authorized a total force of approximately 10,600 Public Order Police.

Superfrankenstein said...

Gary,

I'm afraid I can't just hand you a pass because you politely stood in line. I need something to grab onto, a compelling reason, a human story. Did you ever see Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? That's what I'm talking about.

I do, however, appreciate your parenthetical regret.

Still two passes left.

Blind Robin said...

Mr. Superfrankenstein,
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Please accept my apology for my insensitivity. I will say I never once chuckled at your misfortune but you see where I come from maladies like yours go unmentioned. So you should understand my surprise when you let us in on the social disease you had contracted while "planking".

Superfrankenstein said...

Thanks, Blind Robin. And for the record, I don't blame your mother for this. She and I have moved on.

Jim Chadwick said...

In regards to your shingles, you actually didn't make enough of a deal over it to warrant my attention. I think you made one mention in a post about Dan Raspler visiting you. I am admittedly an insensitive, self-centered bastard, and only if you had whined about it incessantly over the course of several long posts would it have gotten my attention enough to think, "Hmm. Maybe I ought to wish SuperFrankenstein a speedy recovery."

Superfrankenstein said...

Blaming the victim? No pass for you, Chadwick.

Blind Robin said...

Spyguy
Life = Bush Sucks.

I would agree wholeheartedly but you have failed to factor in the "Cheney Postulate" and the "Rumsfeld Corollary". By not considering the two your equation for the meaning of life falls short and in my opinion is lacking in the sardonic humor they bring out in everyone.

Ginger Mayerson www.hackenblog.com said...

Oh, shingles, I had those. Owie. Will I get them again if I say I hope you feel better soon? Hm. Too risky, better not try it. I'll just think it and keep my mouth shut.

Thank you for the cookbook plug. We sold a few more copies because of it! Yay!

Oh, and here's some The Clintons! fiction if you run out of things to read while you're recovering from you-know-what

Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow

Mike said...

C'mon, Superfrankenstein, stop whining. Sure, you've only got shingles while others, luckier folk than you, have herpes, or gonorrhea, or AIDS, or Type 2 diabetes, or gout. Yes, there is no trendy shingles charity to give you hope; certainly your shingles are a cry from your inner child, seeking to scar the adult it has become; alleluia, your shingles are a sign that Jerry Falwell has heard your prayers and found you deserving. But for crying out loud, it's not like you're spysmasher, whose only human response is to regurgitate right-wing campaign nonsense; or Les Moonves, who has apparently lost the ability to discern the difference between news and entertainment. No, all you have is crap on your head. Which, really, means you've got the same matching set that many of us have.

Get better. I don't want to catch that crap from you at Jhonny Peralta Fest.

BTW, did I tell you that I work now at a company of flaming right-wingers? It's like trying to put out flames on your jacket in a minefield.

Chris Burnham said...

Shingles? I just saw you last weekend and didn't notice any shingles. Some cedar shake maybe, but definitely not any shingles.

At any rate, I wish you a speedy recovery. And don't count on the CDC coming to your rescue after they read your blog. You know what vindictive fucks Bush and his cronies can be.

Superfrankenstein said...

Ginger, you get a pass. That Clinton fiction is great.

Mike gets a pass, because he's the fantasy baseball commissioner who gets to approve my trades.

The rest of you: grrrr. The shingles are gone, so the 'roids have nothing left to fight but me. Last night I started an argument with Kelly. Over religion, of all things. And neither of us is religious.

Two more weeks of this. Can anyone put me up?

Cole Moore Odell said...

I sent you the Kirby Eyes in an attempt to cure you. Does that count for naught?

Superfrankenstein said...

It made them worse.

Then I did a litte research. Kirby-eyes are for piles. For shingles, you want Ditko.

I relize that sequential holistics is a new field and we still have a lot left to learn, Cole, but you really should have done your homework.

Ginger Mayerson www.hackenblog.com said...

Isn't Kitty Johnson great! And fearless. She just gets right in Bill's head, don't she?

Well, if you liked that one, and still have nothing better to do, here's one I wrote: Darkness at Sunset and Vine

Warning: Low Clinton content. High dystopian LA content.

Bob Kahan said...

Sorry dude.

Especially about the steroids, no baseball for you. Watch out for George Mitchell. And the shingles, I'm kinda sorry about them too. Take care.

mary matalin gisher said...

i'm sorry superfrank, i haven't been around enough. i was unaware that you were ill. i don't want a free pass. i admit that my blogging has fallen by the wayside. we hope you feel better.

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