Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tue Feb 2007 11:19:01 ET
Filed By Mark Silva
White House Correspondent
Chicago Tribune

The vice president left Kabul wearing a black suit and shiny dark cordovan cowboy boots - having just become the highest-level Bush administration official to have spent the night in a war zone - the unscheduled overnighter at Bagram Air Force Base. The vice president spoke on the record with the pool about the attack -- speaking, seated on a desk, in his Airstream, silver-skinned on the outside and leather-seated and wood-paneled on the inside, cabin set up inside the C-17 military cargo transport that had ferried him to Pakistan and Afghanistan and out as well.

He suggested that he never felt threatened, and that no policy of the US ought to be affected by such actions aimed at shaking the stability of the Pakistani govt.

There will be a transcript. The following is from my tape, but I caution that it was loud inside that C-17 - we sat out in the cargo bay with the rest of the administration, military and Service - so I've related the comments from tape and notes I feel most certain about, which is all of the substance of it:

"I was provided quarters overnight," he said of his Bagram stay. "It seems to me it was 10 occlock in the morning. I heard a loud boom... The Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate."

He was moved "for a brief period of time" to one of the base bomb shelters near his quarters, the VP said. "As the situation settled down and they had a better sense of what was going on, I went back to my room."

Asked about Taliban claims of responsibilty, he asked who said that, what did they say. Told that a Taliban was quoted by name as saying Cheney was the target, and asked what this sort of activity says of the overall situation there - and if it might be a way of playing to Taliban tactics of bolstering its own standing among the people, the vice president said, slowly, and calmly: "I think they clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government" there. "Striking at the Bagram (base) with a suicide bomber, I suppose, is one way to do that... It shouldn't affect our behavior."

Pooler's notes:

For whatever claims the Taliban spokesman may be making about having targeted the VP with the bombing at the gate at Bagram, the VP and his retinue were a long way from that gate, well inside that massive base. Take that for whatever it's worth.

The first we heard of the attack was the sirens of the base fire trucks leaving from their station, which was pretty close to the hub of the VP's activities there, including the military transport that he had used to fly in and out of Islamabad and Afghanistan - see the special-edition commemorative pool report on "The Spirit of Strom Thurmond."

The VP was preparing to leave Bagram this morning when the attack occurred, and the Service certainly picked up its step on our staging and sweeps as the base went to code red after attack.

On the flight out of Kabul, a senior administration official spoke to the pool insisting upon anonymity but allowing tapes - and there will be a transcript of that as well.

The president wanted the VP to make this trip because of "the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world," the sao said.

"I've seen some press reports that Cheney went in to beat up" on Karzai, the sao said. "That"s not so." The idea of going in and threatening someone "isn't valid."

There have been successes, more al Qaeda killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan than anywhere else.

"That doesn't mean there's no threat. That doesn't mean a rosy scenario. There's a lot of work to be done."

At Cheney's luncheon with Karzai, the Afghan leader told a story of meeting with tribal leaders and trying to get them to cooperate. "The only question they wanted to ask me, was, 'Is the United States with you?" Karzai said, according to this account.

People are concerned about the US commitment to the region, and Democrats in DC talking about withdrawal from Iraq make them concerned - though that debate back home had no bearing on the VP's decision to come here, sao said. "That would have devastating consequences to what we're trying to do" in this part of the world.

Karzai was reportedly "upbeat" - with all the money and troops that the US is committing to Afghanistan, the sao said, "It's all taken as a sign" of commitment.

"They worry about that... If they see weakness on the part of the US... They worry about our commitment."

The proposals of people in the US to withdraw from Iraq have "consequences in this part of the world," the official said. "The al Qaeda strategy is based on the notion that they can break the will of the American people."

Asked about Cheney's suggestions that talk of withdrawal lend comfort to the terrorists, in the context of his comments last week in the Pacific and his remarks about Speaker Pelosi, the official said no, what was meant was, "It would validate the al Qaeda strategy." Not aid and comfort them.

It was an 18-minute flight from Bagram to Kabul, landing there at 12:19 pm, and the VP was there for a little over two hours. See the Kabul pool, but we had been told the VP would meet with Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai for about an hour - and it seemed to last a little longer, though we were outside holding.

At 2:13 pm local, the armored dust-covered motorcade of the VP left the grounds of the palace and sped through the slalom of cement and sandbag barricades that line the approach, and he boarded the C-17 under partly sunny skies.

....At Least
Mr.Cheney had a room to go back to. Mortar attacks are something that soldiers deal with on an everyday basis in Iraq and Afghanistan. I hope that, if not anything, that Mr. Cheney at least get a sense of how dangerous it is out there and think about how to better take care of the ones who have came back injured and mentally traumatized, and of course, better pay ALWAYS helps!

But Seriously, I hope this war will find a good ending soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Four Degrees of Oprah

I talked to my friend Latonya on the phone last night, I don't think I've talked to her on the phone since we came back from Iraq in late 04'. She was a mutual friend of Chief Debra Ackeret. Since you can only get so much through via instant messenger, I called her and left a message for her to call me back.

It was really nice to hear from her! We talked about what is going on in our lives and also what had happened to Debra Ackeret. You see, even Latonya, before Debra's death, has not seen or heard a lot from Debra. Latonya just chucked it to the results of two busy lives. Debra was still in the army and was thinking about going to another deployment to Iraq. Latonya found out about Debra's death through another army friend of hers, who knew Debra as well.

Shortly, I mean very shortly after Debra died, her father flew down from Wisconsin and collected Debra's body for burial in Milwaukee. Latonya never got to speak to him, or anyone related to Debra. The burial and the service was very quick and hushed. No one really knew what drove Debra to kill herself, there was still the suspecion that her boyfriend might have done it.

Now, this is where Oprah came into the story....

Kim is having trouble coming to terms with the sudden death in November 2006 of her sister—was her death a suicide or a murder?

John says he feels an immediate energy when trying to reach Kim's sister. "Okay, you have these different energies that are coming in," he says. "They're telling me to call you by a different name, Kimmy or Kimberly or something completely different from Kim. But they make me feel, like, don't call you Kim." Kim says that her sister used to call her "Kiminy Cricket," after the Disney character Jiminy Cricket.

John then says he is getting a feeling indicating suicide. "My sister was a warrant officer in the Army," Kim says. "She came back from Iraq late 2004. She passed away November 26th and it was questionable whether it was suicide or murder. I was told that my sister was shot and I think that's why there was the issue of suicide or murder because all of us immediately thought, and that's all we knew, was that it was murder. The forensics are still out, so the case isn't closed."

Kim says the hour-long reading with John has helped ease her worries about what had become of her sister after death. "I was brought up Catholic, so I really was raised to believe that [if you commit] suicide, you end up in the fiery flames of hell," she says. "That was my biggest fear." She says she no longer worries about that.

Two days after Kim met with John, the Sierra Vista Police Department in Arizona officially ruled that the death was a suicide…just as John's reading indicated.

Kim was Debra's sister, and she had appeared on Oprah during the day that John Edward (the bug-eyed psychic) was on the show.
The GF saw that episode and so did Latonya. Now, neither of them watches Oprah much, if at all, and the one episode that they did watch, was about Debra. So what are the four degrees of Oprah? Well it's like this....me, Chief Ackeret, Chief Ackeret sister, Oprah.

I don't know why Debra had killed herself either, and I don't think that I'll ever know. I do know that Debra is not in hell right now. I think maybe she was really depressed over something or some events, and in the spur of the depression, she decided to end her life. Even though we didn't always get along during our deployment, it's all over now and I hope that she's happy and peaceful now, on the other side.

Chinese new year in Houston

I was in Houston for 5 days late last week to early this week, and got to visit with my grandpa, my sister, as well as the rest of the family minus the ones in New Jersey (aunt + her clan).
My sister drove me around so I saved some $ on a rental car. I couldn't say that I've spent a lot of quality time with my grandpa, since he mostly just plays mahjong and sleeps. We slept in the same room during my stay, and I couldn't help it but to feel that somehow, my grandma was there too. Grandpa is doing well for his age, and his new helper is a nice lady who's quite considerate.

My dad and my stepmom are still the same, trying to do their part by visting grandpa, and playing as much mahjong as they can stand. I can't really say that there were any major improvement or damage to our relationship from this visit, buy it was simply nice to have grandpa interact with them.

Chinese new year celebration was good. We catered from this local restaurant but wasn't really satisfied with the food because it was cooked and packed in haste. I so wished that grandma was also there, just have to wait a while longer though.

My sister's dog Woody was as affectionate as a dog can be, he slept with me the whole time that I was there, and I also saw how he'd stick with grandpa. Dogs are such good judge of characters, I think. Even though grandpa is not the most affectionate man around, Woody was nevertheless able to see through that.

Here are some photos from the holiday....and really, the only way to really enjoy Chinese new year is to be in a place where there are lots of Chinese people......happy new year to all!


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Will post about my trip to Houston soon.....


Ackeret, Debra A.
Age 42 years, of Sierra Vista, AZ, formerly of Milwaukee. Sun., Nov. 26, 2006. Loving daughter of Curtis and the late Noreen (nee Wick). Dear sister of Craig, Brent (Bonnie), Lance (Susan), Kim (Raymond) Gregory, Michael, Scott and Daniel. Aunt of Shane, Alexis, April, Leah and Jacob. Dear friend of Laura Ellis. Further survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Sat., Dec. 2, 2006 at 11 AM at St. Boniface Catholic Church, W204 N11940 Goldendale Rd., Germantown. Interment church cemetery. Visitation Sat. at the church from 9 AM until time of Mass at 11 AM. Debra served 16 years in the US Army as a warrant officer and served 2 terms in Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer Debra A Ackeret was deployed with me when I went to Iraq. I found out about her passing via suicide from another friend who was deployed with me. Most of us have since lost touch with each other away from our deployment. Chief Ackeret and I were not great friends, but nevertheless, her passing was quite sad.

May she rest in peace and have finally found resolution to whatever that was troubling her so much.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

To my P.Q.....

Happy Valentines, I love you!

Monday, February 12, 2007


I miss her. I'll be back in Houston this weekend and one of the most important thing that I'll need to do is to visit her in her final resting place. I'm going to make sure that I get the freshest and the prettiest flowers that I can find to put before her gravestone.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Kathy Griffin show last night

I have to say that I was far from disappointed at the Kathy Griffin show, she started the show on time, and did not skip a beat with the jokes. She started with her observation on Pa. weather, then she talked about what she knew best, the world of reality shows and celebrities, to which she's a member of that group.

She stated that lots of talk shows have banned her because of how abrasive she can be, and I just think that these talk show hosts should let their audiences be the judge. Still, I wonder how she felt after finding out the news of Anna Nicole Smith's death, you see, it's no secret that Kathy has made some Anna Nicole Smith/Trimspa jokes from time to time.

Compared to the Wanda Sykes show, Jeanine Garofalo, Ellen DeGeneres, Lewis Black, and Margaret Cho (all the live comedy shows that I've seen), I have to say that Kathy Griffin's persona was much more energetic and even a bit on the manic side, but these characteristics are her trademark. I laughed a lot during Kathy's show, yet a lot of what she had talked about was not things that I can personally identify with. (ie. Hanging out with celebrities, having teams of lawyers, etc.) Yet that doesn't make her material less valid.

Keep up the good work, Kathy, I look forward to watching your show on t.v.!

Rest in peace, Anna Nicole....

What a sad life, I hope she finally has some peace now....

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tomorrow night....

The GF and I are going to brave the cold to see Ms. Kathy Griffin, one of the funniest comediannes around. She's on this show called "Kathy Griffin, my life on the D-List", and she has also volunteered her time to be a guest on the USO tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the days of so many hollywood actors being against the war and ignoring the troops, she's a refreshing breath of fresh air!

Will have the report of the concert on Thursday!

Just because....

Even if you are the best and the brightest......

You can still do some pretty dumb things....

From Houston Chronicle....
ORLANDO, Fla. — A magistrate's hearing on an attempted-murder charge against NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak of Houston has been scheduled for 3 p.m. today.
Authorities said they added the charge based on the fact that the materials Nowak had acquired for a showdown with Air Force Capt. Colleeen Shipman could have been used to kill her.
Until the new charge was lodged today, Nowak was eligible to post bond and return to Houston pending trial on a variety of charges lodged early Monday, including attempted kidnapping and battery of Shipman.
Nowak told police she wanted to confront Shipman because she believed they were competing for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, another NASA astronaut.
Police said Nowak drove 900 miles, donned a disguise and was armed with a BB gun and pepper spray when she confronted Shipman.
Nowak, 43, a Navy captain and married mother of three, flew to the international space station last July aboard space shuttle Discovery.
Oefelein, 41, piloted the space shuttle Discovery in December. He and Nowak trained together but never flew a mission together.
Nowak told police that her relationship with Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to an arrest affidavit. Police found a love letter to Oefelein in her car.
When Nowak found out Shipman was flying to Orlando from Houston, Nowak decided to confront her early Monday, according to the arrest affidavit.
Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers in the car so she wouldn't have to stop to go to the bathroom, authorities said. Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.
Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, she waited for Shipman's plane to land and then boarded the same airport shuttle bus Shipman took to get to her car, police said. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit.
Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying, the statement said. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman's car, the affidavit said. Shipman drove to the parking lot booth and police were called.
An officer reported following Nowak and watching her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. Police also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.
Oefelein and Shipman, who worked at Patrick Air Force Base near the Kennedy Space Center, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said that, as of Monday, Nowak's status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged. "What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate," he said.
Hartsfield said he couldn't recall the last time an astronaut was arrested and said there were no rules against fraternizing among astronauts.
According to NASA's official biography, Nowak is a Naval Academy graduate who has a master's degree in aeronautical engineering. She has a teenage son and younger twin girls.
Oefelein has two children and began his aviation career as a teenager flying floatplanes in Alaska, according to a NASA biography. He studied electrical engineering at Oregon State University and later earned a master's degree in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He has been an astronaut since 1998.

Monday, February 05, 2007

To Doc....

One of these days, Doc, I'll be strolling on the beach with the GF and the dog....I'm glad that life is dandy for you, but why must you rub it in?

I might not have been in the best place in life in the past fews years, and yes, I do gripe a lot, but you know what? I keep on trying, even if the outcomes are not the ones that I would have liked.

It may not be a lot, but that's all that I've got, you know?

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I kinda miss the days that I've spent back in uniform, despite the fact that there were a lot of hassles.

My job right now has became a kind of a farce, and if it was not for the costs of moving again and what I have to pay back to them if I leave before the year ends, I really wouldn't mind wrapping it all up here and move to someplace warmer. I came into a job situation that was really diffucult to began with, and with the previous problems unresolved, I've basically inherited the same problems. You see, I've got this manager who is a very diffucult person to work with but she is the type who could almost walk on water for the upper management since she's good at what she does and manages to bring in contracts for the company every once in a while. I also don't think I know how the in's and outs of the fine art of marketing....I am from a school of those who think that if the product is that good, then the product should sell itself. Did I also tell you that sub-freezing climate is not really my thing either?

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to be working, I just so wish that I could just work and not have to deal with pretentious personalites, control freaks, and ass kissers...wait, that's in every job!

For now I basically have to play along for a little while more. The GF and I are already dreaming and scheming about someplace else. I apologize to the pet for bringing them to a place that's so cold that, as of 2 days ago, this town's temperature beat both the temperatures of Anchorage, Ak, and Siberia!