From Rolling Stone, Nir Rosen on How We Lost the War We Won: A journey into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Nobody appears to know who is actually in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Why October Surprises Work: It’s the subject no one wants to bring up: What effect could a terrorist attack have in the closing days of the U.S. election? (and more by Joseph Nye) From Guernica, an interview with Joseph Nye on how soft is smart; Anti-Drudge: Until his conscience overcame him, David Brock was conservatives' go-to hitman; and Robert Reich on deficit shackles. How did the world’s financial system get into such a mess? Tyler Cowen investigates. Devil is in bailout's details: Government's $250 billion cash injection sparks welter of issues. Christopher Buckley explains why he left National Review (and more), while Exiled Online punches Christopher Buckley (and again). What are those squiggly lines on CNN telling you? Sam Boyd investigates (and more). Every four years, the two parties and news media collude in the debate PR spectacle — it's time for citizens to reclaim control. Every Man a Derrida: A nation on the verge of self-deconstructing. An interview with BHL: "Everything matters to everybody". Christopher Caldwell on French culture’s existential angst. George Scialabba reviews The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal.