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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I suppose no one can ever underestimate the dysfunction of African governments, but the support given Robert Mugabe by the Southern African Development Community has to serve as a singular moment of disgrace. The SDAC didn’t just ignore the increasingly brutal methods of Mugabe in clinging to power — they endorsed them:
Zimbabwe’s neighbours fell in behind the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe yesterday and demanded that the West lift all sanctions on his country.
With opposition growing at home and a crumbling economy, pressure was mounting on the heads of surrounding states to urge their friend and comrade to reconsider his position. But in a communiqué issued at the end of what was billed as a make-or-break summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), 14 leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with the veteran President of Zimbabwe.
Their words will come as a crushing blow to campaigners who believed the tide to be turning against his increasingly autocratic 27-year rule.
Mr Mugabe smiled as he pushed past rorters in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, and declared himself satisfied. “Excellent meeting,” he cried, clapping his hands gleefully, before climbing into a waiting limousine.
The SADC claims it pressured Mugabe into beginning a dialogue with his opposition, but Mugabe knows better than that. He just got a blank check from his neighbors to continue his purge. Not only that, but Mugabe got them to fight the Western sanctions on his country for him. It would be difficult to imagine how Mugabe could have gotten more of a free ride from his fellow members, unless they invited him to rule their nations as well.
As the SADC demanded that the West stop picking on poor Robert Mugabe, his goons hauled nine opposition leaders into court to accuse them of — get this — terrorism. They were charged with illegal possession of explosives as part of a conspiracy to set off gasoline bombs, which sounds like they have been charged with buying gasoline; no details on the charges have been brought forth. Their lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, but the court adjourned at night without ever having addressed it.
The moral failure of these African nations is complete. Even South Africa’s Mbeki collaborated in this shameful display, despite his nation’s courageous fight for its own representative government. I recall when people around the world boycotted his nation in solidarity with their struggle for freedom. Now South Africa aids and abets a bloody and incompetent tyrant, even to the point of scolding the same nations that supported his cause for not selling out to a thug. South Africans should feel shame and embarrassment for not assisting their real neighbors — those whom Mugabe has impoverished and oppressed for more than 27 years.
The reputation of Pope Pius XII has suffered from an endless series of accusations of collaboration with the Nazi regime before and during World War II. In books such as John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope and others, the Pope and the Roman Catholic church face accusations of moral cowardice in the face of the most twisted regime in modern human history. However, new documentation shows that the Nazis themselves considered Pius and his Church their enemy — because Pius assisted in the flight of Jews from the Nazi genocidists:
Pius XII, the wartime pontiff often condemned as “Hitler’s Pope”, was actually considered an enemy by the Third Reich, according to newly discovered documents.
Several letters and memos unearthed at a depot used by the Stasi, the East-German secret police, show that Nazi spies within the Vatican were concerned at Pius’s efforts to help displaced Poles and Jews.
In one, the head of Berlin’s police force tells Joachim von Ribbentropp, the Third Reich’s foreign minister, that the Catholic Church was providing assistance to Jews “both in terms of people and financially”.
A report from a spy at work in the Vatican states: “Our source was told to his face by Father Robert Leibner [one of Pius’s secretaries] that the greatest hope of the Church is that the Nazi system would be obliterated by the war.”
After the war, the Pope himself acknowledged that he did not speak out consistently against the Nazis, but claimed he held back in order to save more people from their clutches. In light of this new evidence, he may have done his best under the worst of circumstances. Certainly the Nazis understood him as a threat to their plans to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth, and recorded their concerns.
How did Pius get such a bad rap? Part of it comes from the circumstance of having been Pope during the war. The Vatican, after all, sits within Rome — and the Italians who aligned themselves with Hitler had them surrounded. The Swiss survived under similar circumstances by essentially doing the same thing — remaining quiet while doing what they could under the radar.
Now, though, it looks like there may be more to the story than just circumstance. The discovery of these records within the files of the Stasi — the East German secret police during the Communist era — indicates that the smear may have had political motivations. The Telegraph reports that some believe the story got circulated at the direction of Moscow to discredit the Catholics, which they saw as a potential rival in Eastern Europe. If they could paint the Vatican as Nazi sympathizers, then the Poles and other Catholics in the Soviet sphere of influence would discount them as an anti-Communist force.
In the end, of course, the Soviets failed in their strategy. Their smear lived on, unfortunately.
We have a great show already lined up for tomorrow night at 9 pm CT, as CQ Radio talks with the two front-running Republican campaigns for the 2008 presidential primaries. First, we’ll talk with Jim Dyke from the Rudy Giuliani team. Jim just joined Team Rudy as a senior communications advisor, and we’ll talk about his strategies for Rudy’s message and how the campaign plans to address the concerns of conservatives.
We will also have one of my good friends from the blogosphere, Patrick Hynes, who works for John McCain’s campaign as New Media coordinator. Patrick and I often debate and needle each other on e-mail — all in good fun, though, as you’ll hear during the show. Patrick is an eloquent spokesman for the Senator, and we’ll hear from Patrick about McCain’s strengths as I challenge him on his controversial stands.
Be sure to join the debate! You can call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation.
BUMPED TO TOP: I’m looking forward to this show, and hope we get plenty of calls. Given the developments for both candidates over the last 24 hours, we will have plenty to discuss!
BUMP AGAIN: We’re still going to have the show tonight, so be sure to tune in at 9 pm CT!
UPDATE: Jim Dyke tried his best but could not get through to the show. We’ll have him on soon. However, Patrick Hynes jumped in early and had a terrific appearance. If you missed us live, be sure to download the podcast.
Tony Blair continued to firm his stance towards the Iranians today, stating that Britain will not bargain for the release of the sailors and Marines that Iran has taken hostage. Instead, he demanded that Iran unconditionally release the fifteen detainees, and suspended all communications with the Islamic Republic except for talks specifically about this crisis:
Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Britain would not negotiate over British sailors and marines held hostage by Iran. In an interview with ITV News, Blair again called for the unconditional return of the 15 Royal Navy personnel who were seized by Iranian authorities last week.
Britain’s Sky News meanwhile said Iran had released another letter by captured sailor Faye Turney, this time calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
“The important thing for us is to get them back safe and sound, but we can’t enter into some basis of bargaining,” Blair said. “What you have to do when you are engaged with people like the Iranian regime, you have to keep explaining to them, very patiently, what it is necessary to do and at the same time make them fully aware there are further measures that will be taken if they’re not prepared to be reasonable.
“What you can’t do is end up negotiating over hostages; end up saying there’s some quid pro quo or tit for tat; that’s not acceptable,” he said.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Ari Larijani has been assigned to handle the diplomacy on this crisis, which gives an idea of how critical the Iranians see this. Larijani started off by claiming that the British government has “miscalculated” by refusing to offer an apology for trespassing in Iranian waters. However, it seems clear that, at least so far, the miscalculation has come from Iran.
Teheran knew better than to try this with Americans, because they know that the US Navy would blow any Iranian boat out of the water before they would allow Americans to get captured. The British, they figured, would play ball, and at least during the initial confrontation, they were correct. Since then, Blair has not followed the playbook — and he has made it clear that Britain will keep all of its response options on the table. “Further measures” is diplo-speak for high-powered renovation of Iranian ports, at least in theory.
It comes at a strange moment for the Iranians. They had worked with the British ever since the 1979 revolution, even after the US hostage crisis that broke diplomatic ties between Iran and America. Britain had played a moderating influence on American hard-line approaches to Iran, even after the exposure of their nuclear program. They have worked for years to get the US to agree to restoring relations as a part of a solution to the nuclear standoff, even with Iran funding Islamist terrorism around the world.
Now Iran has insulted and injured one of its connections to the West. Britain exported over $700 million in goods to Iran last year and is one of their major trading partners. An embargo by Britain would hurt an already stumbling economy, and it would cause the Iranian people to wonder how many other nations Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to annoy into military action against Iran.
The only miscalculation appears to have been made in Teheran. If they’re not careful, they’re going to miscalculate themselves into losing a ship or a port as a response to the act of war Iran committed this week.
We’re at about 15 hours and change for the First Mate’s transplant, and it looks like we’re on track. We just met with the doctors, who went over all the risks and the plan for post-surgical treatment. Everyone here is in high spirits and waiting for tomorrow morning. The surgery will come early and last most of the morning, so posting will be very limited tomorrow. I’ll post more updates as we go along.
UPDATE: Please include the donor and his family in your prayers and thoughts as well. He is a good friend of ours through Marriage Encounter — as was the FM’s previous donor. I don’t want to release too many details about him and his family, since I have not asked for his permission to do so, but he and his family have approached this with enthusiasm and joy. God offers special people to help us through difficult times in our lives, and luckily for us He gathered them at Marriage Encounter so we could find so many of them at once.
Also, I’d like to offer a Happy Birthday to the Admiral Emeritus. Dad turned 75 tonight, and he celebrated last Saturday at a party that I could not attend, for obvious reasons (he lives in California). They don’t make them any better than Dad — he has been a rock for me my entire life, and I wish I could have been there to hoist a glass in his honor.