The Note: You Can't Get Elected. . .

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad said that the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime had opened a "Pandora's box" in Iraq of volatile ethnic and sectarian tensions that could engulf the region in all-out war if America pulled out of the country too soon. LINK

Khalilzad added that "potential is there" for sectarian violence to become full-blown civil war and that although they have now pulled back from that prospect another incident could push things over the edge.

According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News, an "overwhelming majority" of Americans believe that fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq will "lead to civil war, and half say the United States should begin withdrawing its forces from that violence-torn country." LINK

The New York Post reports that Cindy Sheehan found herself once again in police custody. LINK

Bush agenda:

The Los Angeles Times has Georgetown Law Prof. Mark Tushnet saying the President's line-item veto proposal "might work" while Walter Dellinger, who as acting solicitor general argued on behalf of the Clinton Administration in favor of the measure the court struck down, was "more certain": "This is unquestionably constitutional," he said. "It is possible to construct a constitutionally defensible provision under which Congress would be required to cast a recorded vote on particular items." LINK

More from the Los Angeles Times: "Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate objected to the plan, but it probably will benefit from the momentum building to rein in 'earmarks' -- the practice of inserting into legislation specific spending measures that benefit only individual projects or communities."

Michael Fletcher's write-up Notes that Sen. Kerry introduced his own version of the line-item veto yesterday which his offices said "appears to be no different from Bush's proposal." LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan Notes the Frist-McCain alliance in sponsoring the legislation. LINK

The Wall Street Journal reports on John Snow's letter to Congress urging passage of new national debt ceiling legislation.

Big Casino budget politics:

Per Roll Call's Emily Pierce: "In what may be more of a face-saving effort than any real attempt to reduce the deficit this year, both the House and Senate Budget panels are looking at including less than $10 billion in savings or mandatory spending cuts in their versions of the budget resolution this year."

The New York Times' Carl Hulse curtain raises the Republican Study Committee's Wednesday release of an "austere alternative spending plan that would pare more than $650 billion over five years, balance the budget, and drastically shrink three cabinet agencies." LINK

"Under the proposal, expected to be introduced by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, and Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, military spending would continue to rise, administration tax cuts would be protected and Social Security would be spared. But many other programs and foreign aid would be greatly scaled back."

Port politics:

The Washington Post fronts a story by Paul Blustein on how the proposed ports deal with Dubai is just part of a flood of oil wealth that is "spilling ashore" in the US. LINK

Politics of abortion:

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