David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy: "Here's your October surprise: October is already over. So is the first week of November. The campaign is over. The voters have decided. The only remaining step is watching as the clock strikes midnight after Election Day is done and Mitt Romney disappears from the American political scene like Cinderella's coach. Poof. What was that fellow's name again?
"This is a surprise because ... opposition to the president remains strong, and his record remains spotty at best. It is a surprise because the past few weeks have seen bad news on the economic front and the unraveling of the story that Barack Obama is a foreign-policy master.
"The race should be closer. ... But every time events have turned against the president -- from weak job numbers to bad manufacturing results, from the debacle in Libya to the rapid deterioration in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and U.S.-Israel relations -- Romney has come to Obama's rescue with a boneheaded statement or some distracting gaffe ... "
Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: "The nation's atheists went to Capitol Hill on Monday to launch an effort that they hope will someday give them the lobbying clout of the Christian conservative movement. They don't have a prayer. But that obvious fact won't stop them from exercising their God-given right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. And their grievances are many, including the 'In God We Trust' national motto, the National Day of Prayer, the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance and the practice of opening sessions of Congress with a prayer and ending oaths of office with 'so help me God.' "
Derek Thompson at TheAtlantic.com: "I've written hundreds of articles about the economy in the last two years. But I think I can reduce those thousands of words to one sentence. Things got better, slowly. ... We tip-toed toward recession last summer. We flirted with a capital-R Recovery in the winter. We returned to the sad new normal in the spring. But basically: Things got better, slowly. ...
"Politicos are wondering now how the president has managed to soar above the gravitational pull of the weak recovery ... but maybe the fault is in us, the prognosticators. Maybe, in a slow but even recovery, the economic numbers were never as damning as we made them out to be. ...
"Our unemployment crisis is tragic. Personal income growth is pathetic. But perhaps the reason the economy has faded as an indicator of doom for the president is that the overall pace of its recovery has been thermostatically mediocre and only-just-barely acceptable to only-just-barely enough voters. As the models predict: Things getting better, slowly puts us in a mood of frustration ... but not quite a mood of change."
Jacob Sullum in Reason magazine: "By the time the 21st Amendment ended national alcohol prohibition in December 1933, more than a dozen states had already opted out. Maryland never passed its own version of the Volstead Act, while New York repealed its alcohol prohibition law in 1923. Eleven other states eliminated their statutes by referendum in November 1932.
"We could see the beginning of a similar rebellion against marijuana prohibition this year as voters in three states -- Washington, Colorado and Oregon -- decide whether to legalize the drug's production and sale for recreational use."
Emily Bazelon of Slate is a big fan of Jennifer Livingston, a Wisconsin news anchor who stood up for herself on air against a fat-shaming email from a viewer, which included lines such as, "Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain."
Part of Ms. Livington's response: "I am overwieght. You can call me fat. Even obese on a doctor's chart. Do you think I don't know that? You're not a friend of mine. You're not part of my family. ... You know nothing about me that you don't see on the outside. I am much more than a number on a scale."
Compiled by Greg Victor (email@example.com).