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October Surprises

A Roundup of News that Mattered to Me

It's strange what catches your attention in the news. For me, it's sometimes the same stuff that's on the 30-minute roundup that's considered "news" by the networks. Or the goofy points brought up by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, who I swear has the same take as I do so often that I may just quit watching her, because even what she finds outrageous or amusing is exactly what I find amusing across the TV, Web and blogosphere regarding this election.

But herewith, in lieu of actual insight or thought (which I could never claim, anyway, for this blog, I fear) a collection of things I've noticed, shared on Facebook or in e-mail, or posted elsewhere.

For one thing, starting with today, Obama held a rally under the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, which drew an estimated 100,000 people.

Yesterday, I ran across a link posted on a blog for an article The Onion ran back in January 2001, a satirical look ahead at the Bush Administration just getting ready to take office. It's downright eerie how prescient the gang of comedy writers who put this together was...and downright scary how closely the Bush Administration hewed to a plan that was supposed to be a satire.

Thursday night, both John McCain and Barack Obama put down the gloves and donned white tie just long enough to crack wise about themselves and their opponent at the Al Smith Dinner here in New York. (Al Smith was the Governor of New York who was the first Roman Catholic to run for president as the nominee of a major party in 1928. He lost to Herbert Hoover, so Smith obviously became a cultural favorite in hindsight, even though he also later opposed Roosevelt's New Deal program.) The dinner is sponsored by the Catholic diocese of New York and raises money for Catholic charities, who do a lot of work in this city. By tradition, the two presidential candidates address the dinner every four years (unless abortion politics intervene, as happened in 1996 and 2004).

Both candidates did an exceptional job, especially considering how tense things were between them the night before at the third debate. Definitely worth watching...

John McCain, Part 1

John McCain, Part 2

Barack Obama, Part 1

Barack Obama, Part 2

Speaking of that debate, like all of Barack Obama's supporters and none of John McCain's supporters, I thought the senator from Illinois won it (in a three-peat) over the senator from Arizona. Given this shot that came from the end of the debate, perhaps the gentleman from Arizona even agreed.

Of course, this led to all sorts of Photoshop resourcefulness on the part of many people...

Two other articles that are worth considering: In a recent issue of Vanity Fair, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz had a few good suggestions about where we go, economically, from here (and what got us here in the first place). Read it here.

And, finally, the notion of an October surprise is, actually, a very real threat, and not a very amusing one. It could be that, with the September meltdown of the financial sector, the October surprise came a month early for everyone. Or it could mean that the one person who wants desperately for the Muslim world to be at war with America will do whatever he can and needs to do to swing Americans in as bellicose a direction as possible to further that war. This article reminds us that George Bush is the best thing that ever happened to Osama bin Laden's career. Read it here. What the article doesn't really address, is the equally true obverse: at least as far as George W. Bush's re-election was concerned, Osama bin Laden was the best thing to happen to him, as well. Despite seven years of neglecting bin Laden, not finding him, letting him slip out of our close clutches, and a spate of other al-Qaida action and videos, Republican presidents are still imagined by too many Americans as bin Laden's worst enemy. But given the way they approach international conflict, the most recent or the next possible Republican president continues to be bin Laden's best hope for his goal of total global warfare.


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