Ed Morrissey has blogged at Captain's Quarters since 2003, and has a daily radio show at BlogTalkRadio, where he serves as Political Director. Called "Captain Ed" by his readers, Ed is a father and grandfather living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, a native Californian who moved to the North Star State because of the weather.
Day Two Of Transplant
Nothing much new to report on Day Two of the new transplant. The First Mate has been moved to a regular room, and her vital signs continue to look good. She didn't want a lot of conversation today, so as I remarked earlier, my sister and I mostly worked on our computers and watched Bob Newhart Show DVDs. The FM just wanted the company, and has mostly rested or slept the entire day.
I visited the donor and his wife for a while today, until he tired out this afternoon. He's doing remarkably well. They still think he may go home tomorrow, but if not, Monday at the latest. He's looking forward to the NCAA semifinals tonight, and I think he's hoping for a Florida-Ohio State matchup in the finals. He'll get more rest tonight and we will all get together tomorrow.
For those who are interested in the technical details, which are all looking excellent, the new kidney produces around 300-400 cc of urine each hour. The FM's blood pressure has been excellent, but her blood sugar has been high. That's not indicating a problem with her pancreas, but a normal reaction to the high doses of steroids she gets in the first few days after surgery. Except for some nausea, everything has been going according to plan.
The Great Rimpau Medical Co-Op Experiment
One of the ways we're passing the time here at the hospital is watching DVDs of classic TV shows, and today we're watching the Bob Newhart Show. The third season DVD has an episode called "The Great Rimpau Medical Arts Co-Op Experiment," a very funny episode from 1974 which shows the result of the various doctors in the office forming a co-op for medical care between the associates and their families.
The episode starts with Bob complaining that the plastic surgeon on the floor of his office charged him $85 to remove a wart. That got everyone talking about forming a co-op for free medical care. However, as soon as they did, everyone started filling each other's schedules with a never-ending stream of complaints. Bob tries to organize everyone into group therapy, with disastrous results.
It occurred to me while I watched this play out to its comedic conclusion that the episode provides an object lesson in the rationing of services. When a rational basis for regulating the demand for services is removed, the demand increases exponentially. Without that regulating force of money, the demand far outstrips the supply, creating shortages. It shows that money offers an objective control on demand so that the market can have flexibility in increasing supply and benefitting suppliers in a manner that barter simply cannot. Without it, there is no objective way in which to prioritize and ration access to services.
There's a lesson in there for advocates of single-payor systems and nationalized health care, in which decisions on rationing get transferred to the government rather than the consumer or supplier. It's not a direct analogy, but the episode certainly suggests an example for that as well.
NARN, The Transplant Edition
The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line's John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station's Internet stream if you're outside of the broadcast area.
In the earliest days of the NARN, we used to use JB Doubtless' on-air exclamation about "urine-soaked drunks" riding the public transportation system in the Twin Cities as part of our intro. It seems we've gone full circle, because I plan to talk about the urine production of the First Mate during today's show. We'll also be talking about how Nancy Pelosi plans to piss away our alliance with the Turks, how the Senate Democrats managed to dribble out a win on the mandatory timetables for a withdrawal from Iraq, whether the British can hold their water in the crisis over Iran's capture of their sailors, and the general incontinence of Democrat budgeting.
Be sure to call and join the conversation today at 651-289-4488. Kidney and urine allusions are strictly optional.
UPDATE: I've decided to stick around the hospital today, but be sure to tune in to Mitch.
Feed A Foe, Starve A Friend
Let me see if I get this straight. The Democrats want to condemn Turkey for a genocide that the Ottoman Empire committed before the Turks overthrew them, in order to invest Congress with a certain level of moral authority, if not historical illiteracy. At the same time, Nancy Pelosi -- who has pushed for the condemnation of our Muslim ally in the war on terror -- now wants to fly to Damascus to hang on the words of our enemy in the same war (via the indispenable Memeorandum):
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will visit Syria next week, her office announced yesterday, prompting the White House to call the trip "a really bad idea." ...
The White House accuses Syria of sponsoring state terrorism and of fanning sectarian violence in Iraq. The Bush administration has cut off most high-level contacts with Damascus since former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated in February 2005. A United Nations prosecutor has implicated Syrian officials in the Hariri slaying.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday of Pelosi's visit: "Someone should take a step back and think about the message that it sends and the message that it sends to our allies."
Allies? Nancy Pelosi doesn't think we have any, or thinks that the ones we do have are useless. She wants to deliberately antagonize Turkey at a point in time where we need their cooperation, but at the same time wants to suck up to a man who funds, shelters, and organizes the Islamist terrorists who target Israel, the US, and the West.
Is this the kind of foreign policy we can expect from the Democrats if they win the White House in 2008? What kind of message does this send to our allies and enemies? If you work with us, we'll abandon you at the first opportunity, as well as sneer at you for actions your government never took. On the other hand, if you hate us and support religious lunatics in their efforts to murder as many of us and other Westerners as possible, we'll fly to your capitals and prostrate ourselves before you in the name of "diplomacy".
Want to guess which direction this will motivate other nations to turn?
The Democratic leadership has once again demonstrated why no one took them seriously on foreign policy and national security for the last twenty years. It's difficult to achieve this conjunction of idiocy in a single week, but Pelosi & Co have proven themselves just the idiots for the task.
Olmert To Arabs: You Broke It, You Own It
Ehud Olmert has made it clear to the Arabs pushing the 2002 Saudi peace initiative that Israel will not accept even a single Palestinian refugee under a notion of "right of return". Olmert stated yesterday that the Arab nations created the refugee problem with their multinational war of annihilation against Israel, and they can deal with its consequences now:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in interviews published Friday that Israel would not allow a single Palestinian refugee to return to what is now Israel, and that the country bore no responsibility for the refugees because their plight resulted from an attack by Arab nations on Israel when it was a fledgling state. ...
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Mr. Olmert seemed to rule out any negotiation on refugees. He would not accept any notional Palestinian “right of return” to their homes, telling the newspaper: “I’ll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number.”
Mr. Olmert said that the refugee problem was caused by the Arab attack on Israel in 1948 and called it “a moral issue of the highest standard.” He said: “I will not agree to accept any kind of Israeli responsibility for the refugees. Full stop.”
Then he added: “I don’t think we should accept any kind of responsibility for the creation of this problem. Full stop.” He said the return of even one Palestinian refugee to Israel was “out of the question.”
Olmert went farther than Ehud Barak did during his negotiations with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat. In those talks, Barak agreed to a suymbolic return of a small number of refugees if the Palestinians would then agree to a compensation system for the rest of the original refugees. Arafat later rejected the settlement that Barak offered, calling for an intifada instead that claimed thousands of lives in the years since.
Israel understands that the right of return means the end of Israel. The Palestinians would flood into Israel with full voting rights, and they would overthrow the Israeli government and send Jews fleeing for their lives -- again. Any national security system would be destroyed within hours of the return, and Palestinian terrorist groups would have a field day targeting Israelis. It would be preferable for Israel to annex the West Bank instead, although it would eventually produce the same results.
The Arabs know this, too, which is why any initiative that includes a right of return cannot be taken seriously. If the Arabs want to insist on this, they are just posing for domestic consumption. If they seriously want peace, then they have to acknowledge their own complicity in keeping the Palestinians as refugees for their own political purposes rather tham just insisting on a return of the West Bank to Jordan, to which it belonged prior to the 1967 war. Jordan then could declare it a free state on its own.
The entire sad history of Arab futility feeds this demand that Israel grant in peace what the Arabs could not win in war. Even a rather weak leader like Ehud Olmert understands that Israel cannot survive a massive migration of their sworn enemies into their country, and no nation could. If that means the Arab nations want to remain in a state of cold war with Israel, then so be it -- but we will take them seriously only when Saudi Arabia allows a massive migration of Jews and Christians into Mecca.
Willy Wanker And His Chocolate Factory
The display of a life-size, anatomically correct Jesus at an Easter exhibition has been cancelled after a meltdown by Christian critics, including William Donahue of the Catholic League. The hotel in which the exhibition would have appeared booted the display after people began organizing a boycott:
A Manhattan art gallery canceled on Friday its Easter-season exhibit of a life-size chocolate sculpture depicting a naked Jesus, after an outcry by Roman Catholics.
The sculpture "My Sweet Lord" by Cosimo Cavallaro was to have been exhibited for two hours each day next week in a street-level window of the Roger Smith Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan.
The display had been scheduled to open on Monday, days ahead of Good Friday when Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus. But protests including a call to boycott the affiliated Roger Smith Hotel forced the gallery to scrap the showing.
Numerous bloggers have already weighed in on this controversy, and Joe Gandelman has prepared a balanced roundup. Michelle Malkin and My Pet Jawa both make the comparison to the expected Muslim reaction to a naked, genitalia-displaying chocolate Mohammed during Ramadan -- or Eid, or any day ending in a Y, for that matter. Preemptive Karma and Best Week Ever claim that it perfectly satirizes the contemporary Christian celebration of Easter as thoroughly commercialized, with chocolate bunnies taking center stage rather than the resurrected Lord.
If that's the basis for the chocolate Jesus, though, it's rather thin. No doubt that many people, most of them Christians, spend tons of money on sweets and indulge silly fantasies about magical rabbits when celebrating Easter. If that's all they did, it would be worthy of satire. However, almost all of that is employed to give small children a day of fun, a little bit of joy that does no one any harm and gives dentists some extra work. Christians who celebrate Easter are most likely to also spend the day in worship of God and in thanks for the sacrifice they consider the bedrock of their faith, and in gatherings of family to commemorate the day.
The artist could have made his satirical point in any case without showing the genitalia of the crucified Christ. That was needlessly provocative, and certainly intentional. As one person put it, who wouldn't have expected controversy over that particular artistic choice? The artist's assertion that Catholics should let him off with ten Hail Marys after he asks their forgoveness also shows a cluelessness about the Catholic faith. Penance only works when the sinner has truly repented and admitted his sins. It's not a price list for offenses in that the commission of a particular sin costs 10 Hail Marys each time you commit it. For Cosimo Cavallaro to get any benefit from his 10 Hail Marys, he'd have to destroy the chocolate Jesus first.
However, I wouldn't demand that in any case. I can't peer into his soul to determine whether he meant to be deliberately sacrilegious or is just an idiot who didn't know any better. What the Catholics and other Christians did was perfectly legitimate -- boycotting the host and sponsors of exhibits they find offensive. They didn't toss bombs at embassies or threated to destroy New York for blasphemy. Given the sympathetic press that Muslims around the world received for doing exactly that -- including the murder of a Catholic nun -- after the publication of editorial cartoons that depicted Muhammed, the sympathy granted to Cavallaro for his "oppression" in this seems far out of balance to the event.
A Week In The Life Of Robert Mugabe
In a hilarious reminder of why I love the British press, the Times of London runs a supposed diary of Zimbabwe's thugocrat, Robert Mugabe. Hugo Rifkind skewers Mugabe in grand Fleet Street style, and manages to nail South African Mugabe toady Thabo Mbeki along with him. A sample:
Tuesday I cannot see this moustache, although my eyes are not what they were. I would ask my fashionable wife, but she has taken the jumbo jet to Paris to see how many shoes she can get for 20,000 hectares of Matabeleland.
The telephone rings. It is little Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. Although I am careful never to exploit this, I am told he is in awe of me, because I am the original hero of southern African independence. Last month he lent me series five of The West Wing on DVD. He keeps calling to ask for it back. “You can’t have it,” I say.
“I understand,” says Thabo, solemnly. “Might I be permitted to ask why?”
“No,” I say. “Go away.” Little Thabo rings off. Later he rings back to apologise.
The pinnacle of Rifkind's deliciously nasty satire comes when Mugabe writes that British propaganda consistently portrays Zimbabwe's abandoned farms, 1800% inflation, and collapsed economy in a bad light. Read the whole thing; I wish I had written it.
The Long, Interminable Goodbye
Vladimir Putin has arranged Russian politics so that the president -- his current position -- can wield almost unlimited power in the Russian Federation. How inconvenient it is that the Russian constitution limits Putin to two four-year terms, the second of which Putin is now completing! Fortunately for the former spy chief, one of his minions has called for a change in the basic law that will allow Putin to rule as long as he likes:
One of Russia’s most senior politicians called yesterday for changes to the constitution to allow Vladimir Putin to run for a third term as President.
Less than a year before the presidential election, Sergei Mironov demanded the abolition of the two-term limit that prevents Mr Putin from standing. He also proposed extending the term from four years to five or even seven. Mr Mironov spoke out after senators reelected him by 156-0 as Speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, after regional elections.
He described Mr Putin as a guarantee of stability, and said that he was voicing the demand of millions of voters. Mr Mironov urged provincial legislatures to consider the proposal over the next two months.
Such a change “should be debated in light of the possibility, and maybe also the need, for Vladimir Putin to have the legal and constitutional possibility to remain President for one more term”, he said. “The final decision, of course, will be up to Vladimir Putin. Maybe he will listen to the voice of the lawmakers.”
With approval ratings close to 80 per cent, Mr Putin would easily win the election on March 2 next year. He has insisted repeatedly that he would not change the constitution to allow himself a third term, yet has left open the prospect of responding to public demand to stay on. He said on television in the autumn that “although I like my job, the constitution gives me no right to run for a third term”.
As long as the Russian toadies of Putin want to change the constitution, they should ensure that they address all of the outstanding issues. They should do away with the popular elections, since the pollsters have such a great handle on Putin's popularity. Perhaps they should change the name of the office itself, since "president" implies a head of state that responds to a legislature with some power. What Russian term would adequately describe the office that Putin has created?
Ah -- I've got it! They can call it "tsar". That should do nicely.
Telegraph: We're Screwed
The London Telegraph analyzes all of the options open to Britain in the current crisis over the capture of 15 Navy personnel in the Persian Gulf, and comes up with one consistent conclusion -- none of them will work, at least not without the 800-pound American gorilla on their side. Whether sanctions, blockades, or military attacks get reviewed, the Telegraph reports that the UK no longer has the juice to pull them off:
The Government has few options if it wants to pressure Iran into releasing the captured Britons.
Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term.
There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial.
Washington has remained largely subdued on the crisis but some commentators have made clear that the situation would have been very different if it had been 15 American sailors.
Yes, it would have been much different. We would never have allowed the Iranians to threaten our forces without an immediate military response on the spot, for one thing. Had Iran actually succeeded in taking our forces hostage, we would have given them hours to return them, followed by strategic bombing of selected military sites, especially suspected nuclear-developmentr sites, until Iran handed them back. Bushehr would have been reduced to rubble. If the mullahs still refused to release them, we would have commenced targeting their political leadership.
The Iranians know we would have done this -- which is why they didn't capture Americans. They captured British sailors because they knew the British would have done none of this. That's not because the British have any less courage, but because the British are militarily incapable of such a response, and Iran knows it.
Instead, Britain tried to go to the UN, where Russia and China both passed on condemning their client state and source of their energy. They tried cutting off all other diplomatic initiatives except this crisis, but the Iranians still haven't demonstrated that they care at all about it. The Brits could demand tougher sanctions from the EU, and they might get them -- but good luck in enforcing them. It might only be weeks before France and Germany start back-dooring the Brits like they did with Saddam Hussein.
Even America has no particular rush to provide support for the UK. The Bush administration would probably love nothing better than to start taking out Iran's suspected nuclear facilities, but they have a big problem in Congress. The Democrats want to blame a century-old genocide on a country that didn't even exist at the time, but they're willing to flirt with a government that supports terrorism now while refusing to condemn Iran's actions. With such a schizophrenic sense of foreign policy, the Bush administration has its hands tied, at least for the moment.
This gives an object lesson on why the unilateral dismantling of the military by a global power makes no sense. The American nation learned from Pearl Harbor that it takes a strong military to keep troublemakers from causing headaches. Paper tigers get burned quickly -- and the UK has had its status as a power center exposed as exactly that. If they have no willingness to defend their own patrols, no one will consider them a threat at all -- and Britain can look forward to many more such tweakings in their future.
Last Word On Transplant For Today
I decided to post a separate item for a late-night wrapup, since it had been several hours since I updated the live-blog post.
First, let me tell you how much your messages meant to all of us today. We heard from everyone today either in comments or by e-mail, across the political spectrum of the CQ community. We got so much support that I had to have the donor's family take my computer and read all of the messages, just so I could show them what a great family we have here on line.
As I said earlier, the First Mate will spend the night in the ICU, but she's doing great. I called the nurse a few minutes ago to get an update, and she says that the new kidney continues to perform impressively. The FM has mostly stayed asleep, but when she's awake, she's alert. She can take her meds orally, but they're being careful about it. Blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, and all other vital signs look terrific. She should be back in her regular room tomorrow.
The donor is also doing very well. I spoke with him and his wife for a bit while the hospital transferred the FM from post-op to the ICU. He's tired but not in pain, very alert, and happy about the result. Honestly, even though I have known this couple for the past eight years, I have had a tough time knowing what to say to them during this entire process. It's so overwhelming that all I can do is thank them over and over again, and all he says in response is "Praise the Lord". He may go home as soon as Sunday, Monday at the latest.
It's been a good day.
Transplant Update (Update: Success! Update II: FM Speaks!)
Note: This has been bumped to the top; newer posts are below.
I have a few moments to update everyone on the First Mate's progress. She went into surgery around 9:15 CT, about an hour ago. The donor went into surgery earlier, as is normal, and everything we see tells us that both surgeries are going smoothly. Before that, we had an opportunity to gather together in prayer in the staging area, which helped the FM to relax.
I've been joined in the waiting room by my sister and the donor's wife and her friend. So far we've been regaling each other with tales of Marriage Encounter, which is apparently a much wilder group of people than one might think. It's been a good morning so far, and I will update you with any more news.
10:26 - The friend has a son who is working on his doctorate in political science. His topic? The role of Internet advertising in American politics. He has a survey that CQ readers might want to check out ...
10:31 - Well, I thought she had started, but I just got a call from the OR that they just anaesthetized her, and they're starting to clear a space for the new kidney. I'm guessing that they waited until they were sure that they had a viable kidney from the donor, whose surgery probably started an hour ago...
11:01 - The donor's surgical team started isolating the kidney at 10:45. It took two hours of work to get to that point, which underscores the complexity of the procedures here today, and the care that the medical teams take in performing them.
11:12 - Here's the link to the post I wrote about the FM's last kidney transplant, on June 8, 2004.
11:15 - Thanks to all who have offered their prayers in comments and e-mail. Hugh Hewitt, one of the best friends a guy could have in the blogosphere, asks his readers to offer their prayers for us -- and notes that live-blogging is a good way to deal with the stress. He's right ...
12:29 - Went and got some lunch. Nothing much new to report about the FM, but it sounds as if the doctors may have finiished with the donor. They're supposed to be coming out soon.
12:42 - I guess I timed that well. The OR just called to say that they have the artery and vein tied to the new kidney, and they're about to attach the bladder to the ureter. It's looking good, and she's doing very well in the surgery. We're going to offer a few prayers of thanks for the surgeons and nurse on both teams who are working hard to get her healthy again. And a big welcome to Corner readers!
1:24 - Excellent news! The surgery is done, and the kidney is already producing urine. The doctors saw stones in her appendix and decided to do an appendectomy as long as they had her open, especially since stones precede appendicitis. She will be in recovery for two hours and then will return to her room. The donor has also gone to recovery, and except for a little bout of high blood pressure, did just fine. He'll be leaving the hospital perhaps as early as Sunday.
2:34 - The donor has been released from Recovery to go to his room. He's in good shape, and they expect him to heal quickly after the surgery. It looks like it might be an hour or so longer for the FM.
2:44 - I love this comment by James Joyner, on learning that the doctors did an ad-hoc appendectomy: "Try getting that kind of service under socialized medicine!" If I may borrow from Glenn, who also sent his readers here: Heh. Indeed. And please read this kind note from our good friend King Banaian, who has more people that could use our prayers.
4:19 - Looks like they're going to keep her in the ICU for a while, rather than just return her to her room. They've made a point of being very careful with her, and I'm sure this is more of the same.
5:00 - The FM is awake and ready to go to her ICU bed. She wanted me to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughts, and says that she really appreciates all of them. She has made over 1200 cc of urine in the last three hours, so the kidney -- which the donor nicknamed Ricardo -- is already doing its job!
A Bad Time To Pick A Fight
Let's see. The US is in the middle of a fight to secure Iraq, drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan, and end Islamist terrorism. Iran won't stop developing nuclear weapons, Syria assists them in funding and supplying Hezbollah, and Lebanon can't keep control over the sub-Litani region to keep Iranian proxies from antagonizing Israel. We have few allies in the region that supplies most of the world's industrial energy.
Under those circumstances, one would presume that the US would choose its fights carefully with those nations inclined to support us, and only risk their ire for the most pressing of national interests. One would presume that, but one would not have considered the foolishness of Democratic foreign policy:
A planned vote in Congress that would classify the widespread killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government early in the 20th century as genocide is threatening to make bilateral relations unusually tense.
The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, backs the resolution and at first wanted a vote in April. But under Turkish pressure, Bush administration figures have lobbied for the Democrats in charge of Congress to drop the measure.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sent strong letters of protest to her and to Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has not set a date for the vote. “That has had an impact,” said Lynne Weil, a Lantos spokeswoman, referring to the letters. Copies were also sent to Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader. ...
Mr. Gates and Ms. Rice, in joint letters, spoke sympathetically of “the horrendous suffering that ethnic Armenians endured” and called for more study of the events. But they also noted that when the French National Assembly voted last year, the Turkish military responded by deciding to “cut all contacts with the French military and terminated defense contracts under negotiation.”
I agree that the Armenians suffered a genocide at the hands of the Turks. Anyone who reads history understands that. I also understand that it makes it no more true to have Congress pontificate on the issue.
Why do Nancy Pelosi and her party leadership consider this a pressing issue at all, let alone now? The genocide had nothing to do with the US. It happened over 90 years ago, halfway around the world. It has no impact on the US as it is -- but Congress' efforts to stick our nose into the controversy will have a great impact on our foreign policy, and all of it bad.
We need good relations with Turkey, if for no other reason than to use our leverage to keep them from invading northern Iraq and destroying the years of work we have put into our success with the Kurds. Our relations with Ankara are critical in maintaining connections to moderate Muslims, as well as to spread democracy through southwest Asia. They are an important counterweight to Iranian ambitions in the region and allow the West an opening in which to project strength against Teheran and Damascus. And so far, they have mostly stayed on our side during the war, only objecting to transiting American troops during the invasion of Iraq.
The Democrats, with their usual grandstanding on matters of irrelevancy, threaten all of these strategic interests just to pass a resolution that makes them feel important on an issue for which they have no provenance. How utterly typical.
Two For The Price Of One, Redux
Rudy Giuliani told Barbara Walters in an interview that will air tonight that his wife Judi will be welcome to attend Cabinet meetings. Judi Giuliani, a nurse prior to her marriage to Giuliani, has said that she will take a special interest in health-care policy, which raises the specter of a Republican Hillary:
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told ABC News's Barbara Walters that he would welcome his wife, Judith, at White House Cabinet meetings and other policy discussions if he were elected president next year.
"If she wanted to," Giuliani said in the "20/20" interview to be broadcast tonight. "If they were relevant to something that she was interested in. I mean that would be something that I'd be very, very comfortable with."
Giuliani, who is leading the Republican field in early polling, called his wife an important adviser to him. His wife, a nurse, said that she would probably play an important role in developing health-care policy in a Giuliani administration.
Understandably, this has some Republicans annoyed. We do not elect First Ladies (or First Gentlemen, either), we elect Presidents to lead the nation. If Giuliani wants to try the Bill Clinton line about getting two for the price of one, then the Giulianis had better be prepared for double the scrutiny, both in the primaries and in a general election.
However, this really means little in practical terms. Everyone knows that spouses have a great deal of influence on the policies of politicians. After all, people don't marry just to ignore their spouses, and if they do, they don't stay married for long. Nancy had some influence on Ronald, Laura has infuence on George, Rosalynn had influence on Jimmy. Hillary only ran into trouble because she insisted on a formal policy role, and then used it in an ill-considered attempt to nationalize one-seventh of our economy.
If Judi sits in on a Cabinet meeting or two, it will not signal the end of the Republic. If Rudy and Judi insist on campaigning on her ability to do so, it could be the end of his candidacy.
The Democratic Philosophy Enshrined
Gary Gross catches the Minnesota Democratic Party (called the DFL here in the Frozone) in a moment of rare honesty. Cy Thao, a DFL member of the state Legislature, explained his party's philosophy at a committee hearing yesterday:
“When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.”
That was Thao's explanation for how the DFL would raise the money to pay for its slate of new government programs. At least it was an honest answer.
Arab Nations Offer Peace But No Partner
The Saudis have pressed in recent days for Israel to accept in principle their 2002 plan for normalization in the region. Calling on the Israelis to accept a return to 1967 borders and some version of the right of return, the Arab nations endorsing the plan seem to have forgotten that the Palestinians haven't even accepted the pacts that they have already signed with Israel:
Arab leaders on Thursday reiterated their offer to normalize ties with Israel and showed signs of flexibility in their terms for peace.
At a news conference at the end of a summit where the Arab leaders' peace plan was the main issue on the agenda, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Arab countries would establish normal ties with Israel as soon as it had resolved its disputes with its immediate neighbors.
"We cannot change the plan because it offers peace, and changing it would mean we're no longer offering peace," Faisal said, echoing Arab League chief Amr Moussa's insistence that there would be no changes in the plan ahead of negotiations. But Faisal said: "Once Israel returns occupied land and comes to an agreement with the Palestinians, returns occupied land to Syria and comes to an agreement with them, and it resolves its land issues with Lebanon, Arab states will immediately establish relations."
Saud's comments seemed to allow room for discussion on issues that are particularly problematic for Israel, including the final borders of a Palestinian state and the plan's call for a right of return to present-day Israel for Palestinians who fled or were forced out when the Jewish state was created in 1948.
It seems obvious that any eventual peace plan would mean an Israeli evacuation of the land it seized from Jordan after the 1967 war, as well as settling border issues with Syria and Lebanon. The latter would probably be resolved rather easily, although the Israelis would insist on a buffer zone for the Golan Heights, due to its strategic potential. The problem for Israel is the lack of a reliable partner for the former.
Israel has not made itself pristine in this area. The building of settlements in the West Bank continued for years after the complications of the settlements were obvious. Israel refused to annex the land and make its occupants de facto citizens, for clear demographic reasons, but instead carved out the communities by encouraging the expansion among Israelis. Any Palestinian state could not abide having little chunks of its land sovereign to another state.
However, the Palestinians have made it impossible to negotiate on even these grounds. Their charters still demand the destruction of Israel. The government elected by the Palestinians made it their first act to disavow previous agreements, which removed any credibility they have for future treaties. Hamas and Fatah, the only two political parties, both use terrorist attacks on civilians as part of their modus operandi. Even now, while demanding a state, the two terrorist organizations refuse to end their commitment to terrorism in the future.
The Saudis want Israel to commit to the concept of land for peace. Yet when Israel withdrew from Gaza, pulling out their settlements along with the IDF, did peace erupt all over? Most decidedly, no. The Palestinians used Gaza as a launch pad for their rockets, dropping them indiscriminately into Israeli towns, with only Palestinian incompetence keeping more civilians from dying. When that stopped amusing them, Hamas crossed into Israel to abduct Gilad Shalit, whom they still hold for ransom. Under those circumstances, why would Israel accept land for peace when they know they will not get it?
Israel would like peace and quiet. They don't want the peace and quiet of annihilation. Too many of their relatives got that kind of peace from the Nazis. When the Arabs give them true partners for peace, the Israelis will be only too glad to meet them.
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