THE LEFT'S WEDGE ISSUE: REALITY. The Washington Post reported today on a political rebellion in Kansas against the state's notorious Board of Education standards on evolution. In an appearance on PoliticsTV, Tapped 's own Addie Stan explains why she smells political blood in the water in this fight. --The Editors

    WAL-MART FALTERS. Kerry Howley notes that Wal-Mart's long-planned global takeover is being routinely repelled. Be it the resistance in South Korea or Germany, the Arkansas retailer is proving unable to navigate new cultural norms, and is either abandoning ship or resigning itself to minor market status. This, oddly enough, is a rather bad thing. Assuming relatively equal international pricing, if Wal-Mart's low prices are good for Americans, they're far better in country's with smaller GDPs per capita (which is basically everyone save Luxembourg). Indeed, the worry with Wal-Mart is that their near monopoly over the American marketplace will drive all manner of producers into countries more amenable to low-wage labor, thus undercutting America's ability to generate high-wage jobs in return for relatively minor savings in retail goods. For countries whose retailers tend to be multinationals, or whose average incomes are already far lower, Wal-Mart represents a rather impressive deal,...

    THE NEW OLD REGIME. Ed Kilgore �s latest post on Joe Lieberman is really pretty fascinating. It highlights what I think basically amounts to a generation gap in views of politics. That's not quite the correct term, though, because it's not exactly a question of age. Rather, I'd say that there were a series of events from 1998-2003 -- the Clinton impeachment, the Florida recount fiasco, the Iraq War -- which served to draw a lot of people into higher levels of political engagement, sometimes because we were little kids during earlier dramas, but often just because the people in question were doing something else earlier. People who look to those years as their reference points just have very different ideas and perceptions about a lot of things. I always find it intriguing that Bill Clinton , his wife, and his friends, advisors, and collaborators seem to have been a lot less radicalized by the events surrounding his impeachment than, say, I was. Ultimately, it basically comes down to a...

    REDISTRICTING ROUNDTABLE. The folks at the new online strategery webzine The Democratic Strategist have produced a forum on gerrymandering, with Binghamton University political scientist Jon Krasno leading off and responses and reaction pieces from Emory University�s Alan Abramowitz , MyDD�s Jerome Armstrong , New America Foundation�s Mark Schmitt , the DLC�s Ed Kilgore , and yours truly. Worth a read for those interested in how gerrymandering (racial and partisan) affects competitiveness�if at all. --Tom Schaller

    A NEW DIRECTION? I've been a bit remiss in not talking through the Democrats' "New Direction" agenda items -- the so-called Six for '06. As I've long believed that what parties need isn't a ten word philosophy but a pithy agenda, I'm glad to see past platitudes sacrificed for a series of actual policy proposals that could be rapidly instituted given a change in House leadership. As it stands, the agenda, which you can access here , is: � Real Security : Phased redeployment starting before the end of 2006, double the size of the special forces, beef up homeland security in accordance with the 9-11 Commission's recommendations. � Better Pay : Increase the minimum wage, block hikes in congressional pay till that's done, end tax breaks that encourage offshoring. � College Access for All : Make tuition deductible, cut interest rates on student loans, expand Pell Grants. � Energy Independence : Energy boilerplate that doesn't lend itself to specifics. � Affordable Health Care : Empower the...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BRANCHING OUT. After years in which legislators ceded all ground on national security questions to the president and failed to challenge his expansion of executive powers, Hamdan is now forcing Congress to step up and show its cards regarding detention policy. As Jonathan Hafetz explains , "If Congress ends up blessing the executive�s power-grab, it may prove itself to be the most dangerous branch, by giving the president what he has so far lacked -- the stamp of democratic approval." Read the whole thing . --The Editors

    TALKING ABOUT THE WAR. Good for the Democrats. Yesterday's congressional leadership letter on Iraq doesn't really break any new ground, policy-wise. It does, however, break new ground in terms of the Democrats trying to instigate debate on the Iraq War rather than trying to avoid the issue until forced to respond to Republican attacks. This is the right way to go. The politics of Iraq are a bit tricky for the Democrats, but at the end of the day the war is unpopular and substantively disastrous -- it's something the opposition party ought to be on the offensive about. --Matthew Yglesias

    WHEN DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS GO BAD. I was all set to blast Matt Stoller and Markos for putting their agendas before the facts. Carter Eskew may be cashing checks from Big Pharma, but his memo to Democratic candidates that the polling shows solid support for Medicare Part D is fully factual. Indeed, it's inarguable -- I looked into the numbers myself. And believe me, no one is more depressed by that polling than I. But then I erased the post. Those points still stand, and Markos and Matt shouldn't have implied that Eskew was peddling bad information. But the implicit criticism they're offering is a rather important one. Whatever the polling says, Medicare Part D is a bad bill, a giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies that will, over time, cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars. It is also an easy bill to fix: One line empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to bargain down drug prices would largely (though not totally) heal the legislation. Democratic...

    AFTER FIDEL. With Fidel Castro temporarily ceding power to his brother Raul while he undergoes surgery, it's worth asking what happens when Fidel eventually dies. There often seems to be a sense in the United States that the regime will simply die with its founder, but there's no particular reason to believe that's the case. Jonah Goldberg hopes "this administration has a good plan to take advantage" of Castro's death if it happens. He doesn't "want any invasions or whatnot, but maybe some walking-around money and some threats would work nicely." In response, I'll just observe that it's a bad idea to make threats you're not prepared to carry through, so if it's a bad idea to launch "invasions or whatnot" -- and it is -- we also shouldn't threaten to invade or whatnot. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the CANF crowd has an agenda that goes beyond regime change in Havana and includes various deeply unrealistic demands for the return of property that the exiles lost when the pre-Castro...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IT'S THE STUPIDITY, STUPID. Matt thinks the president's an idiot. --The Editors