So reads the title of a post from yesterday on Heather Roscoe's wonderful blog about her life and times as a volunteer in Thailand, Lost on Earth. While I would highly recommend the site any day, Roscoe's blurb on the normalcy of life outside of Bangkok during this time of political upheaval is worth checking out.
The Spectacle Blog
Good comments all re: this morning's breakfast -- an excellent event and even better kickoff. And yes, anchoring the awful titular pun is the idea that conservative Republicans will get their comeuppance in '06 according to Pence's zippy formula: what we need are more conservative GOPers, not more liberal democrats. It sounds fine as a stump line, but there's just one problem: Congress is so tightly polarized that a handful of switched seats, particularly in the Senate, can tip the balance in favor of the Dems.
I like and trust Pence -- he has a first-rate team working with him at the RSC, too -- but the argument can be made that the party won't bet on real conservatives unless those conservatives hold seats vital to the party's fortunes. And that means sitting conservatives, the status quo. Regardless of whether or not this is fair, the question must be asked: how can Congress possibly add new -- that is, more -- conservatives, particularly in a hunker-down, circle-the-wagons election cycle? (I'd hoped to ask this question, but duty called in Georgetown.)
After Pence excoriated the GOP for being seduced by big government, I was surprised to hear him say that he thought that the chances of getting more serious spending restraint next year was "better than even." I would have been happier if he had said that the road ahead was difficult--although, to be fair, I did ask him to put the chances in percentage terms.
Wlady -- Actually, when you read the full white paper by the Krieble Foundation (to which I have linked numerous times), which is the basis of the part of the Pence plan that you question, it all does start to make sense. Basically, the plan provides major incentives for employers to buy into it (and disincentives for them not to do so), which means that they WILL NOT hire illegals when/because legal "guest workers" are available. So the "short-term" labor you worry about (outside of proper Ellis Island Center channels) won't even be available, because employers won't be willing to provide it. I, too, had major doubts along the same lines, until I read the plan for about the fourth time AND heard Pence explain it in person. But I've come to believe that it actually is quite workable. --Quin
Quin: Thank you for your comprehensive reports on Rep. Pence's comments at our breakfast earlier today. In keeping with the polite tone of the proceedings, I can understand why you didn't raise your eyebrows (at least in print) regarding the excessively kind words Pence had for Speaker Hastert -- whom you excoriated in excellent column a few months ago ("Hastert La Vista Baby") in calling on him to step down from the leadership for deviating from conservative principles. But right there was a troubling sign -- wouldn't it be better if Hastert felt Pence was planning to oust him rather than butter up to him?
Come on, everybody else who was there, let's keep the conversation going about the Pence meeting this morning. What did I or Philip miss that Pence said that is worthy of discussion? What is your take on all the things he said? Inquiring minds want... etc.
Pence could not have been more clear in his praise of Speaker Dennis Hastert's "integrity" and other good qualities. And he was emphatic in stating that "the antidote to what ails this Congress is not more of them [Democrats; liberals], it's more of us [Republicans; conservatives]." But as I listened to him discuss the frustrations of being a real conservative and thus a minority within the Republican majority in the House, I found it easy to understand why so many conservative voters are intensely displeased with the course of GOP congressional leadership for the past eight years. (To be displeased is not to allow even worse folks to be voted in, but it is to be firm and open about that displeasure in any other way or means possible.) The most jaw-dropping account of Pence's was his description of how the conservative Republican Study Committee in January 2005 had developed a list of some 20 fiscal reform measures that it proposed the House Republican Conference adopt -- and how, one by one by one, the first 15 of them or so were all voted down as if they were nuisances.
Pence also had some interesting things to say on immigration. I've written multiple times in the past about how smart his own immigration proposal is, and intelligent folks like Newt Gingrich and our friend David Keene of the American Conservative Union agree; some other conservatives (especially at NRO) have reacted as if Pence had committed some apostasy. Before we get to what Pence said today, a reminder is in order: the Pence plan incorporates almost the entirety of the House "get tough on the border" bill and then adds a free-market, no-amnesty provision by which wannabe guest workers must first leave the country, and then can return but only through an employment center, for a specified job, with a biometric ID card, after passing a security check, under strict conditions -- and those employment centers would be run by competitive private enterprise, not the government. Still, the good folks at NRO have seemed to miss some crucially important parts of Pence's proposal (this is all Quin's summary so far, not Pence's), so it was good to hear Pence emphasize them in this morning's event sponsored by TAS.
Philip got most of the big points from Pence today; let me add a few more from my notes. First, I found it quite interesting that he said that "the path to the majority [in the House] goes through Indiana." I think he's right, and he was not just exhibiting Hoosier bias. While most of the media focus is on the endangered GOP moderates in the Northeast, the fact is that it's hard to see a scenario where the GOP loses the House if it holds its endangered seats in the heartland; Indiana and Iowa are key here. Pence noted that Indiana Reps. Chocola, Sodrel and Hostettler are all supposedly under the gun, but he offered hope for all of them. Chocola (one of my favorite House conservatives, by the way) has, Pence said, run a "flawless campaign." Sodrel will win, Pence said, because his opponent Baron Hill is wrong on abortion and on homosexual "marriage" in a district that is "pro-family and pro-life." And Hostettler, likened by Pence to a sturdy piece of limestone (or something like that), has "the most effective grassroots apparatus" anywhere in the country.