Morning Must Reads -- After the Hopium wears off 

Wall Street Journal -- In Vote, Watch the Intensity Factor

Voters today will choose the governors of Virginia and New Jersey, the representatives of House districts in New York and California, the mayors of New York City, Atlanta, and Detroit, and whether to allow gay marriage in Maine and Washington state and 24 other ballot initiatives (casino gambling, medical marijuana, etc.) across the land.

But only three – New York’s House race, and the governorships – really matter on the national level because they are in places the president won handily last year and now see hotly contested elections. The voters in Virginia and New York’s 23rd Congressional District have swung from party to party of late while New Jersey will vote for GOP candidates only under duress.

Writer Gerald Seib looks at the one thing elections can tell us that even the best poll never can – real voter intensity. Complaining to pollsters is one thing, but driving through the Potomac fog and risking being squirted with hand sanitizer by some swine-flu phobic old person is quite another.

“Virginia: This governor's race is where an intensity gap seems most likely, and most beneficial to Republicans. Final polls by both the Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch show Republican Bob McDonnell with a double-digit lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds…

And the Times-Dispatch poll shows 94% of Republicans planning to vote for their candidate, compared with 85% of Democrats planning to go for Mr. Deeds. The main purpose of a late-campaign visit to the state by Mr. Obama was to energize the Democratic base. Mr. Deeds's campaign doesn't seem to think it has much hope of winning many independents, and that its best shot lies in getting intensity up among core Democrats in the hope they will turn out in larger numbers than polls suggest.”


New York Times -- Karzai Is Vague on Confronting Corruption in Afghanistan

It’s a good thing for President Obama that his acceptance speech wasn't judged on the same grounds that writers Alissa Rubin and Helene Cooper judged the remarks of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the occasion of the start of his second term.

Karzai talked about fighting corruption and bringing rivals into his government, but the ladies from the Times found his remarks short on specific proposals.

Having been made into the Obama administration’s fall guy for the stymied U.S. strategy there, there’s probably not much Karzai can do to please his detractors abroad.

Is this why so many of our Third World friends over the years end up stealing a bundle and heading for the Riviera, getting whacked, or becoming despots?

“After Mr. Karzai was officially declared the winner, Mr. Obama placed a congratulatory call in which he asked for a ‘new chapter’ in the legitimacy of the Afghan government.

What he is seeking, Mr. Obama told reporters afterward, is ‘a sense on the part of President Karzai that, after some difficult years in which there has been some drift, that in fact he’s going to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community’s interest in his country to initiate reforms internally. That has to be one of our highest priorities.’”


Wall Street Journal -- GOP Senators Warn Boxer on Climate-Bill Strategy

Once Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry saw that their global warming legislation was a dead letter in the Senate for the foreseeable future, they turned it into a vanity project – something that would establish their green martyr credentials on par with St. Albert of the Moistened Polar Bears and give the president something to brag about when he faces the skeptical Euros at Kyoto II next month.

But now the bill may not even get out of committee because Boxer refuses to submit the plan for a Congressional Budget Office before a vote.

Boxer doesn’t want to be saddled with a terrible score for something that was just pulling a stunt anyway. Writer Ian Talley has the details:

“Six ranking Republican U.S. senators Monday warned the head of the environment committee that pushing ahead with a vote on a landmark climate bill this week would "severely damage" the chances of passing the legislation.

Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) has said she's prepared to begin consideration of the climate bill Tuesday despite objections by GOP committee members who want a full economic analysis of the proposal.

The six panel members said they would try to block passage of the bill through committee by not attending the scheduled markup. Under committee rules, at least two members of the minority are needed to vote on legislation.”


Washington Post -- Democrats' concerns over abortion may imperil health bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants a House vote this week on her health-care plan, but one point dividing her caucus is funding abortions.
Abortion-rights members want government subsidized policies to cover the procedure, Anti-abortion members want a strict prohibition. The problem is that the health plan is so catholic that following the anti’s request might mean effectively banning all insurance carriers from paying for abortion.

Writer Perry Bacon explains:

“‘I will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for abortion is allowed,’ Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday in a statement. He said last week that 40 Democrats could vote with him to oppose the legislation -- enough to derail the bill.”


New York Times -- Gore’s Dual Role in Spotlight: Advocate and Investor

As skepticism grows about the wisdom of paying a multi-trillion dollar cost to address changes in an ever-changing climate, questions emerge about the greatest prophet of global warmism, Al Gore.

When a Gore-backed car company landed sweet federal freebie loans to build luxury green machines, some wondered if it was kosher.
David Broder seems to be writing in part to inoculate against and knock down growing grumbling on the Web about Gore’s carbon-neutral profiteering, but allows that questions remain about whether it is right for Gore to get richer than Armand Hammer off of government policies that he helps get enacted.

“Mr. Gore and his partners decided to back [Silver Spring Networks, which produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient] and in gratitude Silver Spring retained him [and a partner] as unpaid corporate advisers.

The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts. Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr. Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years.”

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Chris Stirewalt

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Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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