Morning Must Reads — The Creigh Deeds of Kabul

New York Times — Off-Year Races May Provide Insight 

Writer Adam Nagourney provides a useful tip sheet on the big off-year races being contested on Tuesday. He wastes a good bit of copy asking whether or not there are lessons to be learned, but then gives us the stuff.

In my column today I argue that the biggest surprise of them all – the New York congressional race that has turned into a free for all – may help get the Republican Party off its keister. But it’s the governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia that will hold the data over which political operatives will endlessly pore.

“1) Virginia. Mr. Obama won this state, becoming the first presidential candidate to put Virginia in the Democratic column since 1964. That has given Democrats hope that they had found a formula to win, in part, appealing to independent voters while pushing up turnout among Democrats.

With polls suggesting that the Democratic candidate, R. Creigh Deeds, is heading for a loss, here is one important question on Election Night: Do independent voters who rallied around Mr. Obama swing to the Republican candidate, Robert F. McDonnell, as signaled by polls finding that these voters have been put off by Mr. Obama’s policies?|

‘It appeared that the policies of the administration were dragging Deeds down rather than helping him,’ said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who is head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. ‘I think this is the closest thing there is to a referendum on President Obama and his policies.’”

New York Times — With Karzai, U.S. Faces Weak Partner in Time of War

Congratulations, President Karzai.

With no runoff election, Hamid Karzai has been officially declared the winner of another term as the president of the second-worst country in the world.

But, as writer David Sanger points out, corruption in Karzai's administration and the Afgahn aversion to central government make him a weak partner for America and our NATO allies.

One of the reason's that Karzai is in such a bad spot is that upon taking office, President Obama started briefing against him and looking for ways to take him out. When the CIA is the only thing keeping you in office, opportunistic warlords notice these kinds of things.

Faced with a bad situation, Obama reasonably looked for an alternative. The search only made things worse. Then all the alternatives blew away. Now, new demands from the frustrated idealists in the administration will make the Kabul government even weaker.

So I guess Karzai is like the Creigh Deeds of Afghanistan.

‘If this is to be a turning point,’ said Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who helped twist Mr. Karzai’s arm to accept that he must go along with a runoff, ‘we must strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government and insist that its leaders embrace lasting reforms.’

The United States has already spent nearly a quarter-trillion dollars in Afghanistan, all the while talking about those lasting reforms. The Bush administration made periodic efforts to warn Mr. Karzai that his own family’s reputed links to corruption threatened his government. It sent mission after mission to teach good governance, some of which succeeded and some of which ran into what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called ‘the Afghan allergy’ to dictates from foreign occupiers.”

Wall Street Journal — The Worst Bill Ever

The Journal’s editorial page pours out its cup of fury on the almost-final version of the $1.06 trillion House health bill.

The piece is useful because it gets to the central point of the moment in Washington – for 8 months of fairly sustained debate on health care, we’re pretty much back where we started.

For all of the presidential palaver and town halls, the Democratic plan is mostly the same (only longer) that it was when the process began.

Just as we knew in the spring, the Senate will pass a less liberal bill than the House and then the president will try to make a compromise between the two chambers’ plans.

The Journal gives four things for those who love America and capitalism to be frothed about in the Pelosi plan.

“Even so, the House disguises hundreds of billions of dollars in additional costs with budget gimmicks. It “pays for” about six years of program with a decade of revenue, with the heaviest costs concentrated in the second five years. The House also pretends Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 21.5% next year and deeper after that, ‘saving’ about $250 billion. ObamaCare will be lucky to cost under $2 trillion over 10 years; it will grow more after that.”

Washington Post — Bad news for Democrats in revelation of ethics probes

The House Ethics Committee documents inadvertently posted online last week continue to bear fruit.

Democrats are overwhelmingly the targets of the new rules that Speaker Pelosi fought for when she promised to “drain the swamp” as her party took control of the House in 2007.

But she has learned that she cannot do without ethically oleaginous lawmakers like John Murtha and Charlie Rangel and so has preserved them at her own peril.

Writer Paul Kane explains:

“Two and a half years into Pelosi's reign, more than 25 Democrats have been targeted for ethics reviews by the two ethics bodies, while just seven Republicans appeared to be under scrutiny, according to the document.”

Bloomberg — Ford Posts $997 Million Profit, Projects Solid Income for 2011

Ford seems to have benefited greatly by being the last independent American car maker, and from having better-made products than the bankrupted and nationalized General Motors and Chrysler.

The new numbers out today are fueled in part by the Cash for Clunkers program, but industry analysts say the company is going to make it even without a deficit-spending sugar high.

The performance of Ford will continue to be a good barometer of how people feel about the ongoing bailouts and zombie firms left in their wake (CIT, GM, AIG, etc.)

“Headwinds buffeting Ford include a debt load larger than that of restructured rivals and the rejection of cost-cutting contract concessions by United Auto Workers union members. While Detroit-based GM’s liabilities will be $22.3 billion in 2011, Ford’s total will be $38.1 billion, [Barclays Capital auto analyst Brian] Johnson estimated.”

The downturn persists

Examiner analysis reveals that San Francisco’s economy has a long road to recovery

It’s the Year of the S.F. Recall — but who pays and who benefits politically?

Recalls may become more frequent and contribute to political destabilization

Local startup raises billions of dollars to reverse the aging process

Fountain of Youth firm will start with mice, is Jeff Bezos next?