WAL-MART FALTERS.Kerry Howleynotes 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).
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.
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.
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:
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 Hafetzexplains, "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.
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.
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.
AFTER FIDEL. With Fidel Castrotemporarily 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 Goldberghopes "this administration has a good plan to take advantage" of Castro's death if it happens.
OVERESTIMATING AIPAC. My friend Ari Berman's new Nationpiece on AIPAC gathers some insightful quotes and makes a valid point in the last paragaph about the gap between the moderately high level of public support for Israel and the exceedingly high level of congressional support.