The Note: The Districts of the United States of America

WASHINGTON, June 28

People who think long-term in politics will be watching the Supreme Court today where a decision could come in the consolidated Texas redistricting cases.

If the Supreme Court declines to invalidate the Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) today and affirms the principles of partisan gerrymandering and mid-decade redistricting, DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Democratic strategist Howard Wolfson have speculated in the pages of Roll Call and the Wall Street Journal in recent days that the party might employ DeLay's tactics in states where Democrats are expected to control the governorship and the state legislature after November.

DCCC spokesgal Sarah Feinberg tells ABC News that the campaign arm of House Democrats is focused on November. She adds, however, that "if the Supreme Court says the Tom DeLay Texas map is OK, I think the attitude will be that mid-decade redistricting done in a gerrymandered and unfair way is distasteful, but apparently legal, according to the highest court in the land. And I can't imagine why at that point only Republicans would engage in it."

Such a move on the part of Democrats won't come without controversy. Many high-profile Democrats are on the record denouncing DeLay's tactics; Republicans could also export the tactic; and squeezing more Democratic-leaning districts out of particular states might require splitting minority voters into multiple districts, a move which could run afoul of the Voting Rights Act, as Michael Carvin, a Republican lawyer involved in the Texas case, recently told the Journal.

President Bush travels to St. Louis, MO today where he will meet with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at a VFW post before heading to a 500-person fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) that will raise $1 million. (The money will be split 50-50 by Talent campaign and state party). The President returns to Washington, DC later this evening. Sen. Talent is facing a stiff challenge to his re-election from Democrat Claire McCaskill, in a race that is part of any Democratic equation for taking control of the Senate.

"Despite the fact that President Bush has the job approval of less than 40 percent of the American people," Maggie Creamer of the Columbia Missourian writes that the President's appearance at a fundraiser for Sen. Talent could help his chances of "repelling a challenge" from McCaskill. LINK

Timed with the President's trip, the AP's David Lieb profiles the "great distances" that McCaskill is going to position herself on the "good side" of Missouri's rural voters. LINK

The Bush Administration announces new rules today that will require states to move more poor people from welfare to work. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt holds a presser to discuss this "next phase in welfare reform" at 11:00 am ET.

ABC News' Brian Hartman reports that Leavitt previewed this "next phase" in a speech to the Heritage Foundation in mid-June, saying it will correct the federal government's "over-generosity" in allowing states to define what constituted "work."

More from Robert Pear of the New York Times: LINK

Sen. Obama is expected to say that "secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square." Sen. Obama is also expected to say: "Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith: the politicians who shows up at a black church around election time and claps -- off rhythm -- to the gospel choir." The Associated Press has more: LINK

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) hold a meeting of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus at 2:00 pm ET to discuss innovation and the future of U.S. manufacturing.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) joins religious, civic, and political leaders to urge the legislature meeting in constitutional convention to pass the Protection of Marriage Amendment at 11:00 am ET.

With interest rates set to rise on student loans on July 1, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are holding an 11:00 am ET conference call with reporters to release a state-by-state report and analysis of student debt conducted jointly by the Democratic staff of the Senate HELP Committee and the Democratic Policy Committee.

Immediately following today's meeting of the House GOP Conference, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Conference Chair Deborah Pryce (R-OH) are holding a press conference to discuss the GOP's "continued efforts to secure America's energy future" in HC-6.

GOPers will be talking about America's energy future shortly before House Democrats hold an 11:00 am ET screening of "The Great Warming," a movie which presents scientific research on climate change and discuses the religious and moral aspects of caring for the environment in the Cannon House Office Building.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Michigan today where he will participate in a series of "Dollar-a-Day" fundraisers in Detroit, Macomb County and Flint. Attendees were asked to contribute $365 per person, or a dollar a day for a year, in order to attend the event. There will be approximately 30 people in attendance at each event which are expected to raise a total of $30,000. He will also visit RNC Victory Centers while in Macomb County and Flint, as well.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, and Republican statewide candidates will participate in the official rollout of the GOP's statewide slate of candidates at 1:00 pm ET in Columbia, SC.

The Senate reconvenes at 9:30 am ET for up to two hours of morning business. Roll call votes are possible. The House reconvenes at 10:00 am for legislative business. The chamber is expected to complete debate on the fiscal 2007 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations measure.

Per the Chicago Tribune and The Hill, House GOP leaders are drafting a resolution condemning the news media for disclosing a secret Bush Administration effort to track terrorist financing that could be voted on as early as today. LINK and LINK

"Swing State Ohio," a documentary about the final 30 days of the 2004 election and the issues that divide the American electorate, premieres at the Naval Memorial Theater in Washington, DC at 7:00 pm ET. The documentary touches on the war in Iraq, moral values, national security, and the economy.

The Center for American Progress holds a 6:30 pm ET film screening of "The War Tapes," which is billed as "the first movie filmed by soldiers on the front lines in Iraq."

At 10:00 pm ET this Friday, George Stephanopoulos will host "A Country Divided," on a special edition of 20/20. Stephanopoulos talks with University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein about "the big sort." He talks with Diana Mutz about the implications of "shout TV."

Sen. Obama tells Stephanopoulos: "I think that culturally right now we have a system in which we don't have a broad conversation among people who don't agree with each other. And one of the biggest challenges I think we face as a nation is how do we create those spaces. Supposedly the Senate, the body on which I serve, is supposed to be the greatest deliberative body in the world . . . It's not happening."

Bush Administration agenda:

"The Bush administration plans to issue sweeping new rules on Wednesday that will require states to move much larger numbers of poor people from welfare to work," writes the New York Times' Robert Pear. LINK

More: "Federal and state officials say they expect the new rules to speed the decline in welfare rolls, which has slowed in recent years."

ABC News' Karen Travers Notes, "President Bush strongly indicated [yesterday] that he would not give up on reforming Medicare and Social Security and if it cannot happen this year, he'll keep trying in the coming years.'

"'We can't get it done this year, I'm going to try next year. And if we can't get it done next year, I'm going to try the year after that. Because it is the right thing to do,' the President said."

"Disgraceful" behavior?:

Sen. Roberts has asked DNI Negroponte to assess what kind of national security damage may have occurred due to the recent public disclosures of secret programs, reports the New York Times. LINK

In an exclusive interview with ABC News Radio Special Program Host and Senior Analyst Fred Thompson on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joined the chorus of Administration officials condemning the New York Times for publishing details of a secret government program to monitor international financial transactions related to terror suspects. Rumsfeld also took aim at the unidentified leaker, as he called both "shameful."

"It tells you a lot about the New York Times and it tells you a lot about the individual who did that," said Rumsfeld. ". . . for people to behave in that way, in my opinion, is shameful."

The interview was part of a Fred Thompson July 4th Special to be fed in its entirety to ABC News Radio affiliates later this week entitled, "Inside the Pentagon- A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld."

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz on the "media bashing" focused toward the New York Times: LINK

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the focus should be on the leakers not the press. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper chatted with former Gov. Tom Kean (R-NJ) about why he argued to keep the New York Times from publishing the story about surveilling banking records of suspected terrorists. LINK

Politics of immigration:

"They can call it 'banana' if they want to."

That's what Sen. McCain said on-camera Tuesday in response to Republican efforts to paint his comprehensive immigration reform legislation as a Democratic bill by calling it the "Reid-Kennedy" bill.

Asked on a conference call by ABC News if House Republicans should refer to comprehensive immigration reform as McCain-Kennedy -- instead of Reid-Kennedy -- during their immigration field hearings as a way of "reminding Americans that earned legalization enjoys support from both Republicans and Democrats," Sen. McCain said: "No matter what you call it, the American people know that it is a bipartisan bill. My recommendation is that you call it President Bush's bill since he is in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform approach as well."

Moments after Sen. McCain was asked about the "concerted effort" House Republicans made last week to "disavow" his role in crafting comprehensive immigration reform, House Majority Leader John Boehner's office issued a press release bashing the "Democrat Reid-Kennedy" bill as exemplifying the "notorious weakness" of "Capitol Hill Democrats on defense and border issues."

The Los Angeles Times reports on a potential emerging compromise on immigration reform legislation, that will make a certain op-edder pleased. LINK

". . . some Republican senators are suggesting -- though gingerly -- that they would be willing to agree to some kind of timetable in which goals related to border security and law enforcement must be met before the guest worker and citizenship programs that the senators favor could begin."

Amy Fagan of the Washington Times reports that Sen. Kennedy and Sen. McCain are united once again on immigration, agreeing that border security should supersede "amnesty" or a guest-worker program. LINK

Per the Houston Chronicle, Senate supporters of a broad immigration bill are faulting House members for stalling by conducting nationwide hearings and urging their House counterparts to pass legislation prior to November's elections. LINK

UT-03 Republican primary results:

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT): 56% John Jacob: 44%

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) handily defeated his opponent yesterday in the Republican primary for Utah's 3rd District, reports Glen Warchol of the Salt Lake Tribune.

Though some polls had predicted the race would be nail-bitingly close, Rep. Cannon bested anti-immigration candidate John Jacob by a twelve-point margin. The outcome of the contest, which many saw as a political bellwether for Republicans who supported President Bush's moderate proposal for immigration reform, brings into question the appeal to voters of taking a hard-right stand on immigration; ultimately, Cannon's "'racism and xenophobia are not Republican virtues'" trope, as well as all the advantages inherent to incumbency, won the day, while his allegiance to President Bush and his ties to an unpopular Congress did not cost him his job. LINK

The Utah Daily Herald's Alan Choate: LINK

The Deseret News' Bob Bernick Jr.: LINK

It turns out that invoking Satan in a campaign may not be the most endearing tactic. LINK

"'A lot of money got spent here by outside groups, by people who had a vested interest in not solving the immigration problem,' Cannon said in an interview after Jacob conceded. 'People here in Utah looked at it and said 'we want to solve the problem.'"

With Rep. Cannon's sizable margin of victory, POTUS hopes Republicans' attention on CA-50 shifts to UT-3, and, as Cannon said last night, "I hope what it means is Republicans look at this and realize we don't have to be divided on the issue of illegal immigration." The AP's Brock Vergakis: LINK

Chairman Mehlman reacted to Cannon's victory by saying: "Tonight's well deserved victory by Chris Cannon demonstrates that voters prefer real solutions to our nation's important issues like border security."

Politics of the flag:

By a 66-34 vote, the Senate narrowly defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have empowered Congress to make the desecration of the American flag illegal.

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports that a "statutory alternative" offered by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) also failed 36-64. That bill would have made certain forms of flag burning illegal (if the flag is stolen, if the burning is done to incite violence or breach the peace, etc).

After the flag amendment failed, the White House issued a statement from President Bush commending the Senators who voted for the constitutional amendment and saying that by showing respect for the flag, the country shows appreciation for the men and women who have defended the ideals that guide the nation.

The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck reports that Daniel Wheeler, the president of the Citizens Flag Alliance, a coalition led by the American Legion, said "his group will work to publicize the votes of amendment opponents."

"The coalition plans to highlight the 'no' votes of Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, both of North Dakota, as well as Maria Cantwell of Washington, among others. Mr. Wheeler said Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority whip who voted against the amendment, also would be a target."

New York Times: LINK

Washington Times: LINK

Chicago Tribune: LINK

Washington Post: LINK

The Hill: LINK

Boston Globe: LINK

Los Angeles Times: LINK

Politics of the flag: the '08 tally:

Yes: Sens. George Allen (R-VA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Bill Frist (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ), and Evan Bayh (D-IN).

No: Sens. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John Kerry (D-MA).

Clintons of Chappaqua:

Per the Union Leader's John Distaso, "Former President Bill Clinton said yesterday he and his wife believe the national Democratic Party should 'leave Iowa and New Hampshire alone' and stop tinkering with the 2008 early caucus-primary calendar." Clinton called the move a mistake, according to Distaso. LINK

Bill Clinton insisted his view of New Hampshire is shaped by the person-to-person campaigning rather than his success in New Hampshire, writes the Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan. "The retail campaigning you do in New Hampshire makes you a better candidate and would make you a better president," Clinton said. LINK

President Clinton insisted that his wife hasn't made up her mind about a presidential run and that she will only make that decision after the November election, per the Nashua Telegraph. LINK

Line-item veto:

President Bush has urged Congress to pass a line item veto bill to allow the President to "be a part of the budgetary process," reports Peter Baker of the Washington Post. LINK

The New York Times' Rutenberg on the President's push for the line-item veto: LINK

Estate tax politics:

Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist announced on Tuesday that the estate tax reduction legislation (since the full repeal has already been defeated) passed by the House will not be taken up by the Senate before the July 4 recess next week. Frist urged constituents of Democratic Senators to use the recess to urge their Senators to vote for the tax cut when they return to Washington in mid-July.

Signing statements:

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe reports that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is considering introducing legislation that would allow Congress to sue President Bush over his use of signing statments. LINK

The White House is standing by the President's right to add his own personal flavor to congressional bills he signs, saying "the Constitution grants the executive broad powers and requires the president to uphold the law," per the Washington Times' Joseph Curl. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports on the bi-partisan group of Senators and scholars who oppose President Bush's use of signing statements beyond the scope of there "customary purviews." LINK

Sen. Specter continues to be in the Administration's craw. The New York Times' Zernike has that story. LINK

Niall Stanage of the New York Observer on the UN's new pasttime: divining Ambassador John Bolten's true intentions for being there. LINK

GOP agenda:

Roll Call's Ben Pershing reports that even with the Democratic jabs at base mongering, Republicans are still trying to please their base. Yesterday, "with little fanfare, House Republican leaders on Tuesday unveiled a broad 'American Values Agenda,' composed of bills designed to appeal to the GOP's political base." LINK

Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider told The Note: "The American people will see through the Republican's old playbook of distract, distort, and divide. Pandering to the radical right-wing's wrong priorities does not reflect American value of opportunity, security, and prosperity. Americans are demanding change, and Democrats are offering a New Direction for America with real solutions to our nation's challenges."

Wallace departs:

Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post reports that White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace is leaving her position. However, the move is strictly personal and not related to the White House "shake-up." LINK

Paulson for Treasury Secretary:

The New York Times' Edmund Andrews describes Paulson's performance in his confirmation hearing yesterday as "tentative." LINK

2006: Senate:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) picked up the Connecticut AFL-CIO endorsement (albeit with some "nays" in the voice vote) in his Democratic primary fight against Ned Lamont. The New York Times' Yardley has more: LINK

Staring the 2006 midterms down with intent and his legendary fundraising skills, Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer contends that to Sen. Schumer the November elections are all about President Bush and claiming the Senate for the Democrats. LINK

The Hill's Aaron Blake reports that the Republican Main Street PAC, along with the NRSC and Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) campaign, have called for Chafee's Republican primary challenger to drop out of the Senate race in order to ensure Democratic candidate Sheldon Whitehouse is defeated and a Republican majority is maintained in the Senate. LINK

"GOP Senate hopeful Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland said yesterday her father threatened her with a gun 'on a couple of occasions' when she was a child -- and wondered whether recent revelations about her past made it impossible for her to continue to run," says the New York Post's version of a wire story. However, it is important to Note that there are no quotes about her wondering about the future of her candidacy. LINK

McFarland granted an interview to Pat Healy of the New York Times, in which she discusses her relationship with her now deceased brother. LINK

2006: Governor:

According to a new Washington Post poll, Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R-MD) starts his reelection campaign today significantly trailing Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley. LINK

Per the front page story by the Washington Post's Robert Barnes and Claudia Dean, "Ehrlich is running in an overwhelmingly Democratic state at a time when voters are not happy with the GOP. Maryland voters are more critical than voters nationally of the Bush administration and more strongly opposed to the war in Iraq. And, unlike earlier in Ehrlich's term, more Marylanders than not believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, the poll shows."

Though it was widely assumed but never official until now, Gov. Erlich announces his re-election bid today with a hometown rally, and/but GOP insiders are saying Ehrlich's re-election is useless unless he can sweep Republicans into the state legislature to offset the Democrats' agenda. LINK

Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) scored a major political victory yesterday when he signed a "'property-tax relief'" bill into law. Having negotiated and compromised with a Republican legislature, Gov. Rendell has followed through on a campaign promise to address the severity of property-tax rates, an achievement many say will enhance his prospects for reelection in a tough contest against GOP candidate Lynn Swann, who held a separate press conference to tout his own, more far-reaching tax-cut plan. But yesterday was still Gov. Rendell's day: in the words of political scientist Thomas Baldino, "'It may not be the perfect bill or even the version he would have preferred, but the property-tax-cut plan is certainly something the governor can take to every campaign stop across Pennsylvania, and proclaim: 'I delivered.'" LINK

James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: LINK

2006: House:

The South Carolina State reports that developer and former State Department and FCC employee Randy Maata won the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) of South Carolina's 1st District. In the 62nd District, Robert Williams is the Democrats' choice, while Republican Suzanne Piper is the GOP's candidate in the 119th District. LINK

In an effort to repeat the overwhelming success of the Republicans in 1994, Chairman Emanuel and fellow Democrats now seek to raise the bar with funding and "trash-talking" in the race between NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds (R-NY) and Democrat Jack Davis. The Hill's Jonathan E. Kaplan has the story details. LINK

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) has been a strong incumbent for the past 14 years, yet shifts in demographs and the political climate in Ohio may cause her to have a difficult race against Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy. LINK

2008: the nomination calendar:

Scott Spradling, via Dante Scala's blog, reminds us yet again that New Hampshire may leapfrog ahead of Iowa when Bill Gardner gets his final word in late 2007. LINK

(If you do not know who Scott Spradling, Dante Scala, and Bill Gardner are, you are likely not running for president.)

2008: Democrats:

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times writes that Sen. Clinton's position on flag burning may cause more consternation with her base than her position on Iraq and then allows Steve McMahon to explain all. LINK

"'What's politically pragmatic isn't always what's pleasing to the left,' said Steve McMahon, a Democratic consultant. 'But pragmatism is what wins elections for Democrats.'"

Before you lock up John Edwards as the labor candidate of 2008, be sure to listen to SEIU president Andy Stern's comments about Sen. Clinton on a conference call with reporters yesterday when he was praising her initiative (inspired by an idea from an online SEIU-sponsored contest) to block a congressional pay increase until the minimum wage is increased and linking the two with each other going forward.

Stern thanked Sen. Clinton for "spending her whole life trying to make work pay for all Americans. . .it is much more than the minimum wage in terms of her commitment."

Sen. Clinton Noted that Congress has raised its salary by $31,600 over the last nine years while "stiffing" minimum wage workers.

Sen. Clinton's entertaining off-the-cusp comments away from microphones and pulpits have trickled down to her staff as well. Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers reports that a Clinton spokesperson "reamed out" one of Sen. Reid's spokespersons, yelling "You suck!" and "How could you do this?" in response to Clinton being "left out" of a news conference on Democrats' delay of Congressional pay raises.

Erin Billings of Roll Call quotes "one Senate GOP aide" who is skeptical of Sen. Clinton's legislation to freeze congressional pay raises until Congress approves a minimum wage raise: "In a week where the Democrats' main attack against Republicans is that we are putting politics first, it's an awfully interesting move."

Following speeches by Senators and Congressmen which host Rev. Wallis aptly called a "revival," Sen. Clinton addressed a lively crowd at the Call for Renewal conference of religious activists aiming to end poverty. Although slowed initially by hesitation and vague examples, Clinton enraptured her audience with an impassioned call to raise the minimum wage. "It is a disgrace that this Congress has not raised the minimum wage. People can talk all they want how they want to be a part of ending poverty, but...don't let people get away with nice words. Don't let them come and quote scripture." By the end, she had the few hundred attendees on their feet, even though she did not mention "god" once. Rather, she resorted to her own experiences with faith and the Church, specifically her time as a member of a Methodist Youth Group in Chicago. She added, "I did go to Sunday School and missed the lesson about how we help the poor by giving tax cuts to the rich."

2008: Republicans:

Sen. McCain's first foray into blogging is via porkbusters.org. After the Senator blogs his case against earmarking, he concludes thusly: "I have never blogged before. But I understand readers can leave comments on each post and that these comments can be rather, ahem, blunt. So I am happy to entertain any questions, comments, or insults you might have for me at this time." LINK

Per the Worcestor Telegram, Gov. Romney promises to veto the bill recently cleared by both the House and the Senate to legalize the purchase of hypodermic needles over the counter. LINK

After almost seven months as RGA Chair, Gov. Romney "is still unsure if his party can retain gubernatorial seats this fall, but he believes the races will be decided on local issues rather than national ones," the AP reports. LINK

Al Gore:

"I love Iowa," Al Gore tells Rolling Stone after Will Dana, the magazine's managing editor, tells him that Gore friends say that he wants to be president but doesn't want to spend two years in Iowa. Gore also jokes that Dick Cheney -- but not George W. Bush -- knew about a plan to invade Iraq in 2000.

When Dana asked whether then-Gov. Bush's 2000 campaign pledge to limit CO2 emissions was a smart strategic move, Gore replied thusly: "'Well, if you define the word 'smart' in an antiseptic and clinical way that excludes any ethical dimension, then, yeah, I guess it was smart,' says Gore. 'Smart, if you're willing to say things that you know are not true. But that's what Karl Rove is known for. Bush's whole pose as a compassionate conservative was fraudulent. His budget was fraudulent. Even the idea that he would be staunchly opposed to nation building was fraudulent. I don't mean that he actually knew at the time of the campaign that he was going to invade Iraq -- because I don't think Cheney had told him yet [laughs]. But the statement on global warming, and the specific pledge to reduce CO2 emissions with the force of law, was part of a larger pattern. He was completely fraudulent from head to toe.'"

The magazine hits newsstands nationwide on Friday.

Dean's Democrats:

In his address to those gathered for Pentecost 2006 at the National City Christian Church on Tuesday morning, DNC Chairman Howard Dean spoke passionately about poverty and the initiatives Democrats are championing to defeat it. His remarks, punctuated by questions from Rev. Jim Wallis, Dr. Obery Hendricks, Jr., and Jennifer Kottler, were geared toward the religious crowd (upon entering the room, he said, "Finally I am home [among people who do] just like Jesus did") and rife with choice criticisms of the Republican leadership.

Though he did not slam RNC Chair Ken Mehlman for declining the invitation to join him--and failing to send a proxy--Dean took issue with Wallis' hope for a bipartisan solution to poverty, saying that such problems must be addressed not through bipartisan politics or compromise, but through a reliance on moral principles. He lambasted Bush's tax cuts as "immoral" and blamed them for hurting not just poor people but also members of the middle class, who "are rapidly becoming poor people because of what our government's doing."

Most Notably, Dean compared the current political climate and leadership to those of the 1950s, mentioning "McCarthyism" and "authoritarianism," claiming that Democrats are poised to lead Americans into "the age of enlightenment," a time like the 1960s in which new programs, such as health insurance reform and minimum wage adjustments, will be enacted. Yet this new era of Democratic reform, Dean said, would not parallel the 60s entirely; taking a page out of the conservative handbook, new programs would focus on "empowering people to help themselves," not on handouts.

When panelist Dr. Hendricks said he was "disturbed" by Dean's comments, accusing him of playing into the right's hands, Dean countered, "I mean what I said," claiming what he meant was that the Democrats, when returned to power, would learn from their mistakes a half century ago: "We can do better and we will do better next time and our time has come."

Dean countered President Bush's 2000 catchphrase "fuzzy math" by calling claims that minimum wage would increase unemployment economic "mumbo jumbo," reports the Washington Times. LINK

Casting and counting:

New York University's Brennan Center for Justice has conducted a fictional election, claiming to show just how easy it would be for hackers to manipulate the results, reports Zachary A. Goldfarb for the Washington Post. LINK

Mollohan:

It seems as if Rep. Howard Berman's (D-CA) temporary role as chair of the House ethics committee after Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) resignation just two months ago may well become more permanent, as the panel has once again become more active in its operations and Berman has established a "warm rapport" with Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA). The Hill's Elana Schor has the story. LINK

Campaign finance:

The Hill reports that despite its decision not to implement new regulations for 527s last month, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is now targeting some of the wealthiest campaign donors for questioning to ensure they do not evade contribution limits and campaign-finance law during the upcoming elections. LINK

Ohio:

The ethics scandal surrounding Ohio's GOP widened to include 13 individuals yesterday with the news that four more Republicans will follow in the footsteps of embattled Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH): Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber, Toledo City Councilwoman Betty Shultz, former Toledo Mayor Donna Owens and former state Rep. Sally Perz have each been charged with failing to report donations given to President Bush in 2004 as part of an illegal funneling scheme devised by GOP donor Tom Noe. The AP's John Seewer has the story: LINK

Politics:

Maggie Haberman of the New York Post writes of just how tricky it can be to incorporate humor into politics. LINK